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From Military-Industrial Complex to Media-Military-Industrial Complex: Review of literature

Pseudoscience  > Who Rules America

News Neo-fascism Recommended Links The Deep State The Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum Homepage Predator state Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism
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

Introduction

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

Dwight D. Eisenhower

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

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

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

Peter Phillips. The Tragedy of Nazi Germany

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

At the same time Dwight D. Eisenhower was an architect of the USA "deep state" and subverting by deep state of constitutional republic. Because the backbone of military industrial complex is not Pentagon (although it is definitely a part of it), it is three letter agencies such as CIA, FBI, NSA and DOE.  David Talbot's book The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government fingers CIA director Allen Dulles as the person who plotted and directed the JFK assassination, and portrays him as a psychopath who managed to rise to the high echelons of power. Unfortunately, the book is rather deficient as history, as explained by David M. Barrett in this review

And it was  Dwight D. Eisenhower who appointed Dulles brothers to CIA and State Department creating the most dangerous and reckless tandem the USA history ever known and putting the last nail into the coffin of constitutional republic.  It was his administration that organized coupe on Iran deposing legitimate government and installing a puppet regime, the prolog of many color revolutions accomplished the USA ever since (including Chile, and many other Latin American republics, and later the xUSSR space). See The Brothers John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War Stephen Kinzer. Here is one  enlightening Amazon review of the book

Jacob G. Hornberger  on October 8, 2013
 A Fantastic Book!

The book is fascinating and gripping. I couldn't put it down. It goes a long way in explaining the plight in which the United States finds itself today.

The book's general focus is on the actions of the CIA and the State Department during the early period of the Cold War, specifically 1947 through the late 1960s and the role that the Dulles brothers played during that period of time. John Foster Dulles was serving as Secretary of State and Allen Dulles was serving as director of the CIA. The book specifically focuses on six regime-change operations during the Dulles brothers' tenure: Iran, Guatemala, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cuba, and the Congo, including the first presidentially authorized assassinations of foreign leaders in American history.

We live in a time today when many Americans exalt the national-security state. They honestly believe that if it weren't for the big standing army, the overseas military empire, the CIA, and the NSA, the United States wouldn't exist for very long. Without the national-security state, these Americans honestly believe, America would quickly fall to the communists, the terrorists, the illegal aliens, the drug dealers, or some combination thereof.

They sing the praises of the troops and automatically assume that the more people they kill over there, they safer we are here at home. They glorify the CIA, even while not knowing exactly what it's doing--and, more important, not wanting to know. They like the fact that the NSA is spying on them but would prefer not knowing that it's spying on them. They simply cannot imagine living the life that our American ancestors lived for more than a century and a half before World War II --a life without a national security state.

Such Americans block out of their minds the fact that a free society and a national-security state are irreconcilable. In fact, they've convinced themselves that they're free because of the national security state.

Books like Kinzer's help to pierce through the falsehoods and misconceptions about the military and the CIA that grip the minds of so many Americans. The book shows how the United States veered off into a different direction after World War II, a direction involving much dark-side activity that the national-security state kept secret from the American people and which the American people, for their part, simply didn't want to know about.

It was all justified under fighting the communists or, more specifically, keeping America safe and secure from America's World War II partner and ally, the Soviet Union, which supposedly was orchestrating a worldwide communist movement designed to conquer and control the entire world.

There was the CIA's coup in Iran, which ousted the popular Mohammad Mossadegh from power and reinstalled the brutal dictatorial regime of the Shah. There was the CIA's ouster of the democratically elected president of Guatemala and his replacement by a brutal military dictatorship. There was the CIA's instigation of a horrific civil war in Indonesia. There was the CIA's plan to assassinate the leader of the Congo. There was the CIA's coup and the assassination of the U.S.-appointed leader of South Vietnam. There was the CIA's invasion of Cuba and repeated assassination attempts on the life of Fidel Castro.

Never mind that there were other factors involved, such as the nationalization of British oil interests in Iran or the nationalization of land in Guatemala belonging to a U.S. corporation with which the Dulles brothers had close ties. And never mind that Third World rulers simply wanted to stay out of Cold War politics. What mattered was that whenever any foreign ruler didn't do what U.S. officials wanted him to do, that made his regime a Cold War enemy and, therefore, subject to regime-change, including through assassination. The mindset was "If you're not with us, then you're against us." Neutrality was out of the question.

And never mind that Americans and others around the world are still suffering the horrific results of these regime-change operations. Just look at the state of U.S.-Iran relations. Or the hundreds of thousands of graves in Guatemala as a result of the civil war that the CIA's coup brought about. Or the continuous brutal U.S. embargo against Cuba. Or the families who still grieve the loss of loved ones in Vietnam and here in the United States.

It was all a new direction for America, a dark direction, one that the American people had never before engaged in. And it was all justified under the rubric of "the communist threat," specifically the supposed danger that the communists were everywhere and were coming to get us and take over our country, much like we hear about the terrorists today.

Why is this early period of the Cold War so relevant to today? Because the foreign policy-civil liberties woes that America faces today are rooted in that period. That's why that an understanding of that period is so critically important to understanding what we need to do to extricate ourselves from the morass in which we find ourselves. Restoring the right direction for our nation, a direction based on sound moral, economic, and legal principles, necessarily entails an examination of where American went wrong after World War II.

Another great book about this period is The War State: The Cold War Origins Of The Military-Industrial Complex And The Power Elite, 1945-1963 by Michael Swanson. That book provides the best summary of the military component of the national-security state during the Cold War. If you read both books--The War State and The Brothers -- you will have an almost perfect understanding of how we got into this mess, what the mess has done to our nation, and what we need to do to get out.--Jacob Hornberger, president, The Future of Freedom Foundation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IV.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

V.

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

VI.

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

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

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

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

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

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

From The Sorrows of Empire:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chalmers A. Johnson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Origins and history

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

 Michael Ruppert

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Snowden revelations of NSA activities in the USA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MIC and dynamics of malignant growth of bureaucratic organizations

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

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

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

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

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

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

Principal agent problem and growth of national security oligarchy

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

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

. Here is how Wikipedia defines this relationship

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

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

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

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

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

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

There are three laws that govern this process of corruption:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Security and intelligence bureaucracies as perfect environment for authoritarians and sociopaths

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Blindness To Themselves: self-righteousness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Limits of Power The End of American Exceptionalism

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

David R. Cook, August 15, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

... ... ...

Edwin C. Pauzer VINE VOICE on September 24, 2008

... ... ...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

--without exception.

Also Recommended:

The New American Militarism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

READ THIS BOOK

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

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

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

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

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

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

K. Johnson:

 Relevant and Objective, January 3, 2007

... ... ...

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

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

THE CARTER DOCTRINE:

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

At his State of the Union Address, Carter stated:

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

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

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

WAR AS SPECTATOR SPORT:

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

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

Using Hollywood To Enhance "Honor" and perpetuate myths:

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

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

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

GLORIFICATION OF THE MILITARY THROUGH MOVIES:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

... ... ...

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.

... ... ...

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.

... ... ...

David Friedman:

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

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

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

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

Patrick Connor

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

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

... ... ...

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

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

Andrew S. Rogers:

 Baedecker on the road to perdition, December 5, 2005

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Douglas Doepke:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Militarization of science

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

One of the most notable was COIN system:

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

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

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

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

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

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

In his article The Militarization of American Life  Justin Raimondo notes

March 27, 2013 | Antiwar.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Militarization of cyberspace


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See also:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pentagon's Anual Top Ten Defense Contractors

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

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

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

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

See an excellent review of his book at AlterNet:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Student Pulse 2013, Vol. 5 No. 08

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

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

The Evolving Military-Industrial Complex in the United States

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

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

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

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

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

Cashing In on the War on Terror

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

References


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

[Jul 20, 2016] Obama and Clinton Are Complicit in Creating ISIS

Notable quotes:
"... The FSA exerted zero control over the dozens of rival militias fighting each other and the Assad regime in Damascus. The Syrian Rebel groups were like dozens of hungry baby vultures in a nest all competing for resources, and the worst and meanest destroyed their counterparts using the aid given them by their misguided American benefactors. ..."
"... Erik Prince is a former Navy SEAL, founder of Blackwater, and currently a frontier market investor and concerned parent. ..."
Jun 16, 2016 | breitbart.com

The origins of Daesh, known commonly as the Islamic State or ISIS, tie back directly to Obama and Clinton policy delusions and half measures of the Iraq and Syria conflicts.

With the recent release of an August 2012 classified intelligence memo to then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton detailing the presence of the organization that became ISIS among the Syrian oppositional forces supported by the West, it's important to remember the history of exactly how the Islamic State arose from the ashes of a failed Obama/Clinton foreign policy.

The Syrian "Arab Spring" agitations that began in March 2011, where majority Sunnis rebelled against an Assad run Alawite Shia Ba'th Party, quickly dissolved into a multi sided proxy war. Clinton State Department policy grew into helping these Sunni rebels under the banner of the "Free Syrian Army (FSA)" with weapons, money and diplomatic support.

However, the reality is that the FSA existed only in the minds of the State Department leadership. The FSA exerted zero control over the dozens of rival militias fighting each other and the Assad regime in Damascus. The Syrian Rebel groups were like dozens of hungry baby vultures in a nest all competing for resources, and the worst and meanest destroyed their counterparts using the aid given them by their misguided American benefactors.

The Sunni Arab Gulf states piled on behind the U.S. government to help their Sunni brethren with more arms and cash. The result was a true race to the bottom of Syrian Rebel groups. All the while the Assad regime's traditional allies of Russia and Iran provided weapons, training, and even thousands of fighters themselves to combat the U.S. supported Sunni rebels. The Obama/Clinton team couldn't even do a proxy war correctly.

The chaos sewn globally by ISIS today grew directly from the bad seeds planted by the Clinton/Obama failures in the basics of statecraft.

... ... ...

Obama/Clinton continued to approach the Middle East with the same naivety that led the Bush Administration into Iraq in the first place.

For all of the criticism that Obama levied on Bush, he continued to apply a deeply delusional Washington perspective to Middle Eastern politics and culture - ignoring all we should have learned in 13 years of Iraq conflict and warfare.

Erik Prince is a former Navy SEAL, founder of Blackwater, and currently a frontier market investor and concerned parent.

[Jun 19, 2016] Syria - Russian Surprise Attack Blows Up Kerrys Delaying Tactic

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"... Its so sad how the western presstitutes try and work this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79jQSYQYcW0 Russia seems to have the war part covered while Syria is bringing the diplomatic punch into focus .... ..."
"... Unadulterated BS. As for Obama (see 6) the committee man (he was elected for that role), he is caught between a rock and a hard place. Ukraine was and is an absolute disaster - nothing worked out as wished. (Some may enjoy Helmer, who sometimes must be taken with a dose of salt, linked below, MH17, etc. This war is being fought on 2 fronts, Ukr. + Syria.) ..."
"... Although the US seems to have gotten tough(er) on ISIS in recent months, there are indications that this is just more smokescreen. The Assad must go! Coalition has merely changed tactics. They still support their extremist proxy army(s) (as demonstrated by recent resupply and pleas for Russia to avoid bombing) . ..."
"... Obama warned Putin that he could face a 'quagmire' and 'costs'. To paraphrase Madeline Albright: What good is a proxy army if you don't use it? ..."
"... Obama is a willing and very capable participant in the 'con'. This has been proven in the realm of domestic affairs as well as foreign affairs. james has it right when he says: "this good cop/bad cop (obama/brennan) routine is a pile of bullshite". ..."
"... The Saudis and its allied are too stupid to realize that they have been taken on a ride. Turkey is on the verge of crumbling as Erdogan keeps attacking the USA and Egypt and has not solve the issue with Israel on Hamas and the defunct Moslem Brotherhood. ..."
"... Yes, I suppose it is entirely possible that this "schism" between Obama and the Pentagon is just theatrics, optics, useful in declaring helplessness when "policies" are undone or contradicted ... Obama as victim of palace infighting. ..."
"... "Turkey on the verge of crumbling ..." ..."
"... Egypt has placed the MB on the terror list and has become allied with Saudi Arabia and UAE. Qatar is isolated for its support of the MB. Erdogan is between a rock and a hard place, its foreign policy has been a disaster. Seeking to restore relations with Russia. The intelligence community of Turkey, Israel and Saudi Arabia have joined assets in the Levant. Al Nusra on the Golan must be defeated, the UK/US training camps of rebels in Jordan must be neutralized to fight in the southern corridor to Damascus. ..."
"... To remove any ambiguity about the status of the Free Syrian Army, a representative was present at this year's Herzliya Conference. This annual conference is dedicated to issues relating to Israel's Security. Netanyahu and high level Israeli Military Intelligence leaders state they prefer ISIS to Assad. ..."
"... War criminal Obama was the lead advocate for bombing Syrian government a few years ago, thats until the UK Parliament put a temporary stop to it. So any credit given to Obama by b , or anyone else is ludicrous. LUDICROUS. The destruction of Libya still gets Obama mitigation ? ..."
"... In 2016 we have the batsh*t crazy appointed government bureaucrats siding with the sole interests of a foreign country. Circle talking seems to be the normal state of affairs at State, Executive and MSM. PBS has gone full Karl Marx. Congress has an 16% approval rating, 80% disapproval, and 4% no opinion [1]. So I guess Congress doesn't really matter? And as far as our military command goes, when you can use 'sold out' and 'son of a bitch' in the same sentence, we, as a nation might have a major problemo. ..."
"... Actually, Putin has said that their intervention in Syria is in Russia's strategic interests - making much the same argument that Bush did wrt al Queda: we need to fight them there so that we don't have to fight them here . Russia doesn't want to see extremist control of another failed state like Libya. ..."
"... Clearly there is an ongoing battle in the Obama Administration between Mostly the pentagon (at least some part of it) and the CIA (most part of it). Obama is well aware of this. ..."
"... Obama's Strategy has been to isolate Russia Politically and to shift the main focus of United State Towards Asia however the unexpected resistance of Russia and Syria wasn't forecast by his administration and part of the Deep state. Now part of the heads in the pentagon and the Obama administration want out of this proxy war against Russia as the World and mainly the US public becomes more and more aware of the real nature of the war ongoing in Syria. The heart of the matter is that The members of the oligarchy that rule the united states through revolving doors between the government , their law firms, foundations, banks and corporations can't afford to lose Syria for obvious reason. ..."
"... "But Putin invited the evil US Empire into Syria." ..."
"... I haven't watched or listened to that PBS tripe ever . But considering that PBS is 90% corporate funded, I find it hard to accept your assertion ... it is merely a corporate/permanent government psy-op to keep the intellectually and morally challenged sedated. ..."
"... Obama's Syria SNAFU was always destined to boil down to Yankees playing Russian Roulette - with Russia. They're probably beginning to realise that playing cat and mouse loses a lot of its appeal when the cat starts getting ready to eat you. ..."
"... Hillary's so predictably evil, and he's so officially 'unpredictable' that he's the natural focal point of the selection circus. It's too bad only one of them can lose. ..."
"... Confirmation of other reports ... ..."
"... Obama and his Administration is a collection of lawyers, political pseudo-"scientists", journos etc. They are very good at promoting suicidal social policies but do not and cannot operate with actual operational categories--briefings by CIA or Pentagon (granted that they reflect a reality on the "ground", which is a question) are not designed to teach some Ivy League lawyer fundamentals of international relations, strategy, operational art etc. They merely distill a very complex geopolitical reality to a several catch phrases which could be understood by people of such qualities as W. (his military briefings papers contained headers with Bible excerpts, supposedly applicable to current situation) or Obama, who has no clue on how to assess the world around himself. ..."
"... In relation to Russia what Obama has in mind is beaten to death cliche of Afghanistan (obviously without studying that war) with which he wants to impress Russians, who, meanwhile fought two bloody wars against Wahhabi terrorists on own territory and, somehow, do know, unlike Obama or US liberal political class, what does it take to deal with this huge issue. In the end, during last War in Chechnya US media loved to misuse this very term (quagmire) and completely forgot to mention that Chechnya today is, actually, pretty reliable anti-terrorism entity in Russia. Now, add here most of US "elites" and a population being absolutely oblivious to real war and voila'. You have people speaking in platitudes and ignorant cliches. ..."
www.moonofalabama.org

The U.S. is unwilling to stop the war on Syria and to settle the case at the negotiation table. It wants a 100% of its demands fulfilled, the dissolution of the Syrian government and state and the inauguration of a U.S. proxy administration in Syria.

After the ceasefire in Syria started in late February Obama broke his pledge to separate the U.S. supported "moderate rebels" from al-Qaeda. In April U.S. supported rebels, the Taliban like Ahrar al Sham and al-Qaeda joined to attack the Syrian government in south Aleppo. The U.S.proxies broke the ceasefire.

Two UN resolutions demand that al-Qaeda in Syria be fought no matter what. But the U.S. has at least twice asked Russia not to bomb al-Qaeda. It insists, falsely, that it can not separate its "moderates" from al-Qaeda and that al-Qaeda can not be attacked because that would also hit its "moderate" friends.

The Russian foreign minster Lavrov has talked wit Kerry many times about the issue. But the only response he received were requests to further withhold bombing. Meanwhile al-Qaeda and the "moderates" continued to break the ceasefire and to attack the Syrian government forces.

After nearly four month Kerry still insists that the U.S. needs even more time for the requested separation of its proxy forces from al-Qaeda. Foreign Minister Lavrov recently expressed the Russian consternation:

The Americans are now saying that they are unable to remove the 'good' opposition members from the positions held by al-Nusra Front, and that they will need another two-three months. I am under the impression that there is a game here and they may want to keep al-Nusra Front in some form and later use it to overthrow the [Assad] regime," Lavrov said at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

The bucket was full and Kerry's latest request for another three month pause of attacking al-Qaeda was the drop that let it overflow. Russia now responded by hitting the U.S. where it did not expect to be hit:

Russian warplanes hit Pentagon-backed Syrian fighters with a barrage of airstrikes earlier this week , disregarding several warnings from U.S. commanders in what American military officials called the most provocative act since Moscow's air campaign in Syria began last year.

The strikes hit a base near the Jordanian border, far from areas where the Russians were previously active, and targeted U.S.-backed forces battling the Islamic State militants.
...
These latest strikes occurred on the other side of the country from the usual Russian operations, around Tanf, a town near where the borders of Jordan, Iraq, and Syria meet.
...
The Russian strike hit a small rebel base for staging forces and equipment in a desolate, unpopulated area near the border. About 180 rebels were there as part of the Pentagon's program to train and equip fighters against Islamic State.

When the first strikes hit, the rebels called a U.S. command center in Qatar, where the Pentagon orchestrates the daily air war against Islamic State.

U.S. jets came and the Russian jets went away. The U.S. jets left to refuel, the Russian jets came back and hit again. Allegedly two U.S. proxy fighters were killed and 18 were wounded.

Earlier today another such attack hit the same target.

This was no accident but a well planned operation and the Russian spokesperson's response makes the intend clear:

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov appeared to confirm the attack Friday, telling reporters it was difficult to distinguish different rebel groups from the air.

Translation: "If you can not separate your forces from al-Qaeda and differentiate and designate exclusively "moderate" zones we can not do so either ."

The forces near Tanf are supported by U.S. artillery from Jordan and air power via Iraq. British and Jordan special operations forces are part of the ground component (and probably the majority of the "Syrian" fighters.) There is no al-Qaeda there. The Russians know that well. But they wanted to make the point that it is either separation everywhere or separation nowhere. From now on until the U.S. clearly separates them from AQ all U.S. supported forces will be hit indiscriminately anywhere and anytime. (The Syrian Kurds fighting the Islamic State with U.S. support are for now a different story.)

The Pentagon does not want any further engagement against the Syrian government or against Russia. It wants to fight the Islamic State and its hates the CIA for its cooperation with al-Qaeda and other Jihadi elements. But John Brennan, the Saudi operative and head of the CIA, still seems to have Obama's ear. But what can Obama do now? Shoot down a Russian jet and thereby endanger any U.S. pilot flying in Syria or near the Russian border? Risk a war with Russia? Really?

The Russian hit near Tanf was clearly a surprise. The Russians again caught Washington on the wrong foot. The message to the Obama administration is clear. "No more delays and obfuscations. You will separate your moderates NOW or all your assets in Syria will be juicy targets for the Russian air force. "

The Russian hits at Tanf and the U.S. proxies there has an additional benefit. The U.S. had planned to let those forces move north towards Deir Ezzor and to defeat the Islamic State in that city. Eventually a "Sunni entity" would be established in south east Syria and west Iraq under U.S. control. Syria would be split apart.

The Syrian government and its allies will not allow that. There is a large operation planned to free Deir Ezzor from the Islamic State occupation. Several hundred Syrian government forces have held an isolated airport in Deir Ezzor against many unsuccessful Islamic State attacks. These troops get currently reinforced by additional Syrian army contingents and Hizbullah commandos.A big battle is coming. Deir Ezzor may be freed within the next few month. Any U.S. plans for some eastern Syrian entity are completely unrealistic if the Syrian government can take and hold its largest eastern city.

The Obama administration's delaying tactic will now have to end. Russia will no longer stand back and watch while the U.S. sabotages the ceasefire and supports al-Qaeda.

What then is the next move the U.S. will make?

Posted by b on June 18, 2016 at 11:15 AM | Permalink

Jackrabbit | Jun 18, 2016 11:42:32 AM | 2
b:
But John Brennan, the Saudi operative and head of the CIA, still seems to have Obama's ear.
Please don't be an Obama apologist b. Isn't it clear by now that Obama is not the peace-loving progressive that he pretends to be?
paul | Jun 18, 2016 11:42:53 AM | 3
Putin needs to send a message to Israel that Russia will no longer tolerate Israeli bombing raids in Syria.
Edomac | Jun 18, 2016 12:06:12 PM | 4
Line in the sand now for Israel it's about time.
harrylaw | Jun 18, 2016 12:16:30 PM | 5
Many pundits have argued that there is no military solution in Syria. I disagree, a military solution is the only one possible and it must be decisive. How is it possible for Saudi Arabia to supply and finance thousands of proxy forces to destroy a fellow Arab state, and still claim to be fighting terrorism. Syria and Iran need to take the gloves off and use their own special forces or better still encourage proxy forces of their own [unattributed of course]to cripple the Saudi economy with various 'incidents' at Ras Tamara oil port. "An assault on Ras Tanura, however, would be vastly more serious. As much as 80% of the near 9m barrels of oil a day pumped out by Saudi is believed to end up being piped from fields such as Ghawar to Ras Tanura in the Gulf to be loaded on to supertankers bound for the west". https://www.theguardian.com/world/2004/jun/03/saudiarabia.oil
This would have the benefit of killing two birds with one stone, the fall of one of the most obnoxious regimes known to mankind and with it the cessation of funding for schools of terrorism throughout the world and with it Assads vision of a secular Syrian state as a role model for the rest of the Middle East.
WorldBLee | Jun 18, 2016 12:23:55 PM | 6
@Jackrabbit at 2: Of course Obama is not progressive or peace loving. Only an idiot would argue that he is. But what b is saying is that Obama is weak reed who can be bent depending on which faction has his attention. He both wants to overthrow Assad and to avoid getting pulled into an expensive battle, in my opinion, and in any given week may issue contradictory policies. But it seems he sides more with the CIA than the Pentagon, which is dangerous in this case.
Terry | Jun 18, 2016 12:44:12 PM | 7

Seems as though the pressure is on ...this vid Skype presentation by Syrian presidential adviser Dr Bouthaina Shaaban, to GAFTA (Global Alliance for terminating al Qaeda) conference in Washington, June 2016. is well worth the listen to .

Its so sad how the western presstitutes try and work this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79jQSYQYcW0 Russia seems to have the war part covered while Syria is bringing the diplomatic punch into focus ....

Au | Jun 18, 2016 12:50:42 PM | 8
@2 It's always been clear to me that he is not some tremendous beacon of peace for Syria but the alternative was McCain and he definitely wanted and still wants more w/ ever a burning yearning for absolute overt total war against Syria.

It's tough to tell who Obama listens to; Ben Rhodes? Saudi's (most def) but is it just simply as a sorry for the iran deal or closer ties? The u.s. deep state (i think so but they seemed pretty pissed at him) . . i think he just expected things to go as they did in libya or perhaps as the 2012 dia memo stated, the plan all along was to create a sliver of a sunni state and for the u.s. in that case the objective is coming along whether a kurdistan (hopefully) or a caliphate (hope to god not)... is it a fly trap strategy that'll turn in to a caliphate? hell idk it's going to be insane w/ hillary.

ALberto | Jun 18, 2016 12:54:31 PM | 9
Just a reminder. Russia, Syria and Iran have a 'mutual defense treaty' that states an attack on one is an attack on all ...

http://www.examiner.com/article/the-russia-iran-syria-mutual-defense-treaties-the-western-media-missed

ALberto | Jun 18, 2016 1:10:20 PM | 10
June 18, 2016 - You cannot make this stuff up ...

"On Friday, Defense Secretary Ash Carter called out Russia for bombing a Syrian rebel group that's backed by the U.S.

Since last year, American and Russian warplanes have shared the skies over Syria while supporting different sides in the civil war. Moscow backs the Assad dictatorship; the U.S. is arming rebels who've been trying to overthrow it.

The attack by Russian fighter bombers on American-backed opposition forces appeared to be deliberate and to ignore repeated U.S. warnings."

Once again our so called Department of Defense displays its 'Kindergarten logic' by condemning Russia for acting within the parameters of International Law.

quote source - http://www.cbsnews.com/news/russia-ignores-warnings-bombs-u-s-backed-syrian-rebel-group/

Noirette | Jun 18, 2016 1:13:27 PM | 11
harrylaw at 5, yes, say. They state 'no military solution is possible' because they want a political transition right now. In short, they want the opposing parties to just lie down and die or go off and play WoW or watch Mad Men or sumptin'. Unadulterated BS. As for Obama (see 6) the committee man (he was elected for that role), he is caught between a rock and a hard place. Ukraine was and is an absolute disaster - nothing worked out as wished. (Some may enjoy Helmer, who sometimes must be taken with a dose of salt, linked below, MH17, etc. This war is being fought on 2 fronts, Ukr. + Syria.)

Read in the Swiss Press (no idea if true) that di Mistura is fed up with the lot of them, implied he will throw in the towel. Not that a return to the negotiating table is realistic, that ship has now sailed into the stormy night, the US can't try that move again, nor will the Russians be so compliant next time (imho.) So that is one thing the US won't do (?).. (b's question.) The rubber is going to hit the road on this one. It will be fought out in the corridors of power in Washington first. Putin has been in speech very conciliatory recently to show the usual 'good will'..

http://johnhelmer.net/?p=15859

Jackrabbit | Jun 18, 2016 1:37:26 PM | 13
b:
What then is the next move the U.S. will make?
I will hazard a guess. But first, we should not think that the U.S. will act alone. Direct confrontation with Russia is (of course) too risky.

As I wrote in an earlier comment (includes timeline) , the San Bernandino attack occurred soon after the downing of the Russian airliner on October 31st 2015. This was the first attack against the US despite the US having (supposedly) bombed ISIS for over a year and engaged in a $500 million program to train anti-ISIS fighters.

The long delay in responding to USA's anti-ISIS activities sharply contrasts with the quickness with which ISIS had responded to Russia's intervention. This leads to the question of whether the San Bernandino attack was (hastily) arranged to blunt any attempt to associate USA with the proxy army of Sunni extremists.

Although the US seems to have gotten tough(er) on ISIS in recent months, there are indications that this is just more smokescreen. The Assad must go! Coalition has merely changed tactics. They still support their extremist proxy army(s) (as demonstrated by recent resupply and pleas for Russia to avoid bombing) .

The recent Orlando shooting better establishes ISIS's hate for USA and thereby distances USA/CIA from ISIS. This distancing may simply be misdirection that allows ISIS to carry out spectacular attack(s) against Russian interests. That it pre-dates attacks on Russian interests merely shows that they learned from the San Bernandino experience (where a lack of previous attacks raised suspicions) .

Note:

1) The San Bernandino attackers had visited Saudi Arabia and the wife had lived there. They were well established in the USA and drew little if any suspicion. They could have attacked months before or after the time that they actually did attack.

2) The Orlando attacker had also visited Saudi Arabia. The background of the wife is (as yet) not well understood. She was born in USA but her last name ("Salman") is the same as the Saudi royal family (I'm not sure how relevant that is) . It is now clear that she had some knowledge of the plans of her husband.

3) Both the San Bernandino and Orlando (SB&O) attackers had a young child. As a 'young family' they would be less likely to draw suspicion. Were the SB&O attackers really "radicalized via the Internet"? "ISIS-inspired"? "Lone wolf"? Or, were they 'deep cover' operatives?

4) The FBI has caught/entrapped many potential attackers that were "radicalized over the Internet" but they are invariably clueless and incapable.

5) AFAIK, "ISIS-inspired" attackers in Paris and Brussels didn't have young children and middle-class lifestyle.

Obama warned Putin that he could face a 'quagmire' and 'costs'. To paraphrase Madeline Albright: What good is a proxy army if you don't use it?

Jackrabbit | Jun 18, 2016 1:43:31 PM | 14
WorldBLee @6:
Obama is a weak reed
Obama is a willing and very capable participant in the 'con'. This has been proven in the realm of domestic affairs as well as foreign affairs. james has it right when he says: "this good cop/bad cop (obama/brennan) routine is a pile of bullshite".

virgile | Jun 18, 2016 1:57:06 PM | 15
In public the US criticizes and threatens Russia. In private I think that the Pentagon is more than happy to see Russia blowing up these "moderates" that have become polluted by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and also Turkey.

Using Russia, the USA is giving a good lessons to these 'allies' countries that dare stand against the USA shift on Iran. They are becoming increasingly terrified by their powerlessness.

This has always been the USA double game in the ME: Caress and stab in the back. The Saudis and its allied are too stupid to realize that they have been taken on a ride. Turkey is on the verge of crumbling as Erdogan keeps attacking the USA and Egypt and has not solve the issue with Israel on Hamas and the defunct Moslem Brotherhood.

The tacit agreement between Kerry and Lavrov on crushing the rebels, islamist or not, is very clear.

Susan Sunflower | Jun 18, 2016 2:10:09 PM | 16
Posted by: virgile | Jun 18, 2016 1:57:06 PM | 15

Yes, I suppose it is entirely possible that this "schism" between Obama and the Pentagon is just theatrics, optics, useful in declaring helplessness when "policies" are undone or contradicted ... Obama as victim of palace infighting.

I was noticing how they no longer bother to state objectives to justify our actions (and/or inactions) ... Omar Mateens demand that we "stop bombing Afghanistan" made me wonder if we actually were bombing there, who and what and why ...
Juan Cole/Center from investigative journalism: US still in Conventional War in Afghanistan via . . . Drones? . My impression that our main mission in Afghanistant was "not leaving" ...

ALberto | Jun 18, 2016 2:18:27 PM | 17
PBS TV is running a piece on the military draft. Giving a historical perspective dating back to George Washington's request for a draft during the Revolutionary War to the present.

While stationed at Great Lakes Naval station in 1967 I noticed that all of e gate guards were US Marines. This was during Nam. I asked one Marine how he managed to pull such a plum assignment. He told me that he had been drafted into the Marines. His tour was for two years. He was told that being a draftee he would not serve in a combat unit as a draftee and not an enlistee 'he could not be trusted.'

Let the fragging begin.

karlof1 | Jun 18, 2016 2:34:25 PM | 18
The Outlaw US Empire's behavior regarding the UNSC resolution that al-Qaeda be attacked no matter what proves the Empire's support for that terrorist group absolving its citizens from paying taxes to support terrorism since doing so is against the law. Is my logic sound, or should I rephrase?
Oui | Jun 18, 2016 2:47:29 PM | 20
"Turkey on the verge of crumbling ..."

Egypt has placed the MB on the terror list and has become allied with Saudi Arabia and UAE. Qatar is isolated for its support of the MB. Erdogan is between a rock and a hard place, its foreign policy has been a disaster. Seeking to restore relations with Russia. The intelligence community of Turkey, Israel and Saudi Arabia have joined assets in the Levant. Al Nusra on the Golan must be defeated, the UK/US training camps of rebels in Jordan must be neutralized to fight in the southern corridor to Damascus.

Oui | Jun 18, 2016 2:53:45 PM | 21
It must be the US supported Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) heading towards Deir ez-Zor, a crucial cross-roads for Islamic State between Raqqa and Anbar province in Iraq. The U.S. will do all to help establish an enlarged Sunni enclave as a gift for its Arab patrons. A bit of Syria should suffice as punishment for Assad and allies.

Onslaught on ISIS: Syrian Army enters Raqqa province as Kurds, rebels advance | RT |
ISIS Sanctuary Map – ISW (May 25, 2016)

mik | Jun 18, 2016 2:56:33 PM | 22
Seems like you missed you missed the big news for today:

On Putin´s order, Sergei Shoigu, the Russian defence minister visited Bashar al Assad and the Kmeimim base.
That most certainly mean s that something big will be announced next week. Stay tuned...

jayc | Jun 18, 2016 3:13:17 PM | 24
The Helmer piece on MH17 is interesting. I remember reports that the Australians were prepared to send troops into the area, but if the Dutch were planning the same thing then it was a NATO op in all probability. The utter hysteria that had been unleashed in the Western media at the time would have provided the cover for such bold move. The desired result would not have necessarily been immediate war with Russia, but certainly the instantaneous creation of cold war standoff and militarization which has been happening incrementally instead. This could be considered similar to the sarin attack in Syria, blamed on Assad, with the hasty response of quickly regime-changing the country, which also was called off (and the policy continued incrementally since). This highlights the centrality of false-flag events to realize policy, particularly to those favouring rapid game-changing moves. It is very possible that the next POTUS will be faced with a false-flag atrocity in the Baltics or mid-east early in the first term, with an attendant bold move offered as response.
woogs | Jun 18, 2016 3:13:35 PM | 25
Lol ..... Putin does a Nuland on Kerry.

"U.S. jets came and the Russian jets went away. The U.S. jets left to refuel, the Russian jets came back and hit again. Allegedly two U.S. proxy fighters were killed and 18 were wounded.

Earlier today another such attack hit the same target."

Putin seems quite adept at appearing weak (even to his supporters), then BAM!! IMO, this is not a one-off. No reason to fly clear across Syria to 'make a statement', though it was a helluva statement!

I expect more of the same, with Russia going back to its original strategy, which worked quite well. So much for Obama's foreign policy (don't do stupid shit).

Mina | Jun 18, 2016 3:14:29 PM | 26

Thanks Terry for the Bouthaina Shaaban speech. The most amazing are the questions after the 30 mn speech. A dozen of female hyenas talking non-sense! At some stage one of them is clearly becoming hysterical. Hard to believe they are simply ill-informed. Most of these people are on pay-list, for sure.
It is relieving to see a Muslim woman talking naturally, unveiled, in the middle of Ramadan. Shaaban is really strong to manage to keep her calm.
Oui | Jun 18, 2016 3:28:52 PM | 27
Sergei Shoigu Inspects Khmeimim Airbase in Syria

At the Khmeimim airbase, the General of the army Sergei Shoigu inspected the accommodation of personnel and issues of providing with all types of support, and also met with Russian pilots performing combat missions to destroy the terrorist infrastructure in Syria and military units for the protection and security of the air base. The head of the Russian military tested the combat duty at the command post of the air defense group, and also the starting positions of anti-aircraft missile system S-400, which is stationed at the air base," stated the message of the Defense Ministry.

Speaking at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, Putin said that maintaining Syria's integrity must be the top priority and warned that the disintegration of the Middle Eastern country would be a "destabilizing factor not only for the region, but for the whole world."

"We must act carefully, step by step, aiming to establish trust between all sides to the conflict," the Russian president said, adding that a new and effective government could be formed in Syria once this trust is finally built. A political process is the only way to reach peace, Putin said, stressing that Syrian President Bashar Assad "also agrees to such a process."

Минобороны России

Minister of Defence General of the Army Sergei ‪#‎ Shoigu ‬ ordered the Chief of the Russian Centre for reconciliation of opposing sides Lieutenant General Sergei ‪#‎Chvarkov‬ to build up negotiations with heads of administrations and armed formation commanders on joining national truce process.

Mina | Jun 18, 2016 3:52:12 PM | 30
Saturday night snuff movie on FB! Death for real!! So cool, ain't it?
Moloch is making cash tonigt!
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-36566635
paulmeli | Jun 18, 2016 3:59:22 PM | 32
I have a great deal more respect for Russian leadership than I do American.

This coming from a 70 yr old American 'exceptionalist'. Sad.

Yonatan | Jun 18, 2016 4:11:08 PM | 33
To remove any ambiguity about the status of the Free Syrian Army, a representative was present at this year's Herzliya Conference. This annual conference is dedicated to issues relating to Israel's Security. Netanyahu and high level Israeli Military Intelligence leaders state they prefer ISIS to Assad.

https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/fsa-commander-takes-part-herzliya-conference/

Jack Smith | Jun 18, 2016 4:27:24 PM | 36
b, an excellent piece, if what you alleged were true! It's now or never. The regime in Washington must be stop. If not now, when? You cannot trust Obomo, Hillary, Trump or Bernie, regardless who is in the WH.
james | Jun 18, 2016 4:50:27 PM | 38
@7 terry.. ditto mina's comment @26 - thanks for sharing that video... pretty enlightening how thick the propaganda is inside the usa for them to question Syrian presidential adviser Dr Bouthaina Shaaban in the manner they do... her comment at 49 minutes in is pretty strong and clear..
tom | Jun 18, 2016 4:52:42 PM | 39
War criminal Obama was the lead advocate for bombing Syrian government a few years ago, thats until the UK Parliament put a temporary stop to it. So any credit given to Obama by b , or anyone else is ludicrous. LUDICROUS. The destruction of Libya still gets Obama mitigation ?

But Putin invited the evil US Empire into Syria. What kind of fool would invite humanities worst enemy, as well as Russia's biggest enemy, into a conflict where they oppose each other. Grotesque stupidity.

Jack Smith | Jun 18, 2016 4:54:33 PM | 40
Lets be clear there are meetings behind closed doors among players, we are just speculating. While Syria might be the main focus point, Kiev continues bombing Separatists in Donbass, Venezuela in the blinks of anarchy. In joint military exercises off India's east coast, China and Russia's warships watching war game between US, Japan and India...

Here something you got to watch: TeleSurTV: Media Review: The World According to Seymour Hersh: Part Two

http://videos.telesurtv.net/en/video/557704/media-review-557704

Grieved | Jun 18, 2016 5:00:58 PM | 41
I loved this story. I am somewhat in awe of how the Russians have handled their Syrian presence, and the gains they make with every move. Did they have the moral weight 6 months ago to destroy US assets and perhaps US citizens on the ground in Syria? It seems certain that they do now. They seem to have tested all the players in the US establishment and discovered none who can stand up to them.

What will the US do next? On past performance, all it can do is lie, cheat and steal, but all this within the paradigms set by Russia and the UN. One assumes that Russia's command has every permutation of treachery war-gamed already, with contingency moves in place. I suggest popcorn.

It is to the benefit of world peace that the Syrian part of the war between Russia and the US proceed as slowly and deliberately as possible. With every day that passes Russia becomes militarily stronger and US military force continues to atrophy without renewal, while its policy-making remains frozen with no intellectual refreshment or inventiveness.

Putin and his team are such astonishingly mature peacemakers that every provocation or twitch of malice by the US is net with calm. The global effort continues to allow the US to sink to its knees with as much grace as can be managed. So far, nobody has had to nuke the US, and for this I'm grateful. There is one good and final slapping that the US has to take in public before its time is over, and I yearn for the day, but I think it's far off yet, somewhere in a single-digit range of years.

bbbb | Jun 18, 2016 5:16:13 PM | 42
@39 Russia doesn't want a quagmire, nor does it want Western Sanctions. If Syria wasn't a militarily weak and spent force, things would probably go a lot smoother. Instead, outsiders are having to fight outsiders, and Russia and Iran are not tier-1 allies for whatever reason. Russia and China have never shown much defense against western aggression against 'partner' countries as it is, so Syria has been quite a stretch.

For Iran, Hezbollah and Syrians, Syria is the battle of a lifetime, but for Russia, it's maybe a bargaining chip, or a something less, or something more.. we just don't know. All we can do it wait and see what happens, for we'll never truly know what Russia's intentions in the region are until after the fact.

I personally want the 'evil' side to be thwarted on all fronts, as it's akin to a cancer that will destroy the host (Syria and its society) unless it's excised. There are multiple ways of accomplishing it, but there are multiple ways of failing as well. I guess that's why I'm glad I'm here making opinions, rather than being in any sort of command position. I just hope that the next administration in Washington will be sick of this business, but unfortunately seems more or less to be only one side that probably won't win(Trump)

lebretteurfredonnant | Jun 18, 2016 5:28:16 PM | 44
Hello everyone I heard That France was building a military base near kobane. Is that true ? Can someone knowledgeable in the matter or b shed some light on this news ?
ALberto | Jun 18, 2016 5:37:24 PM | 45
At the least during Nam we were given the 'Domino Theory' which, if you could consume enough alcohol, made perfect sense. The Gulf of Tonkin Incident! Where a country without a Navy attacked our Navy. Where do I enlist!

In 2016 we have the batsh*t crazy appointed government bureaucrats siding with the sole interests of a foreign country. Circle talking seems to be the normal state of affairs at State, Executive and MSM. PBS has gone full Karl Marx. Congress has an 16% approval rating, 80% disapproval, and 4% no opinion [1]. So I guess Congress doesn't really matter? And as far as our military command goes, when you can use 'sold out' and 'son of a bitch' in the same sentence, we, as a nation might have a major problemo.

Just me opinion

[1] - http://www.gallup.com/poll/1600/congress-public.aspx

dahoit | Jun 18, 2016 6:14:46 PM | 48
I think people should note that this is all Russia black eyeing as collusion with Assad the evil dictator,and it all is about the upcoming election,where Trump,contrary to certain misinfo agents here,supports Russias efforts and promises to try and get along with the neolibcons enemies, who will be ejected from their positions by an American nationalist administration.All these creeps have been installed by the shrub.The HB and Obomba,all American zeros.

And look at the Olympic blanket judgement on innocent Russian athletes, more propaganda and demonization.

jfl | Jun 18, 2016 6:43:57 PM | 49
@48 dahoit

I haven't heard anything from Trump since Hillary's apotheosis, actually a little before. Has he stopped talking? Or has the corporate media just stopped publishing him? Obama, Kerry, the 50 dancing diplomats ... all that stuff seems made to order for Trump to roll over.

Jackrabbit | Jun 18, 2016 7:02:33 PM | 50
bbbb @42:
For Iran, Hezbollah and Syrians, Syria is the battle of a lifetime, but for Russia, it's maybe a bargaining chip ...
Actually, Putin has said that their intervention in Syria is in Russia's strategic interests - making much the same argument that Bush did wrt al Queda: we need to fight them there so that we don't have to fight them here . Russia doesn't want to see extremist control of another failed state like Libya.
lebretteurfredonnant | Jun 18, 2016 7:05:52 PM | 51
Clearly there is an ongoing battle in the Obama Administration between Mostly the pentagon (at least some part of it) and the CIA (most part of it). Obama is well aware of this.

Obama's Strategy has been to isolate Russia Politically and to shift the main focus of United State Towards Asia however the unexpected resistance of Russia and Syria wasn't forecast by his administration and part of the Deep state. Now part of the heads in the pentagon and the Obama administration want out of this proxy war against Russia as the World and mainly the US public becomes more and more aware of the real nature of the war ongoing in Syria. The heart of the matter is that The members of the oligarchy that rule the united states through revolving doors between the government , their law firms, foundations, banks and corporations can't afford to lose Syria for obvious reason.

On the geopolitical scale The control of the silk Road and Pipeline is of primary importance especially the latter if the us wants to efficiently keep its grip on Europe for the next 30 years.France and mainly Germany could turn to Russia as noted by the willing of many member of their oligarchy and this would be a near devastating blow for the US empire.To take an example Europe is more or less today what India was for Great Britain back before the end of world war two.It might be difficult accepting or believing that one country in the near east such as Syria could old such a role in the destiny of an empire but that's exactly it.Syria is in our current present the country where channel all the opposition to the new world order made in America and if it wasn't for the inability of The States to wage a war against Russia a world war Three-this time without proxy-would be in the making.

The 50 high ranking diplomats,working for the department of state, asking Kerry to take over the Syrian state military in order to destroy the Islamic state wouldn't disagree with that. For those of you who know how to read Spanish this is the link reading of the desire of this high ranking diplomats http://www.telesurtv.net/news/Piden-funcionarios-de-Washington-derrocar-al-gobierno-sirio--20160617-0004.html .

The Good news is that I have never seen the united States leads a war against adversaries of the same caliber able to efficiently strike back to them (with the exception of japan) as the main lead...Remember It is the Russians who defeated Germany not the US..everything else is just propaganda.The US is more of empire that uses trickery and the weaknesses of its adversaries to forward its agenda more than anything else;otherwise they always ends up negotiating. I will probably be proven wrong at some point but not by the Russians as of now.

Oui | Jun 18, 2016 7:38:57 PM | 52
@tom

"But Putin invited the evil US Empire into Syria."

No he didn't .... UN resolution was approved under Medvedev.

lebretteurfredonnant | Jun 18, 2016 8:36:21 PM | 53
@dahoit

I can't believe there is people still believing in politician more so when they have been proven liars time and time again.I am all for the welcoming of a saviour and providential man but anyone doing a serious background check (as should any voter) on trump knows the man is a crook .I mean I understand the desire for hope but it shouldn't blind us.

Trump is just an Obama from the left and that is about it.The Deep state has gotten stronger since the Kennedy's Assassination and is unlikely to release its grip on Syria knowing its geostrategic necessity to the empire.

Trump will never be ruling the show on the main strategies of the empire, never, unless he wants himself dead. The only thing that will defeat the US empire in Syria is Russian will nothing short of that. Unless The States are able to pull some magic tricks unknown to us at that point. For one thing certain a war is very unlikely (although many want it)against such a mighty foe as Russia-for now.

The story printed out by many mainstream newspapers on Bill Clinton advising Trump on phone to run as a candidate should give anyone pause as to the hidden scheme behind politic and the trump and Clinton family friendship.Yet Some people still believe trump is an opposition to the system. That boggles the mind.Really.The only reason I can find explaining this attitude in someone knowledgeable of the trickery of the States is political correctness (quiet powerful actually) or blindness and irrational hope....now some say faith is irrational...however I was not expecting to see it having such large part in modern politics.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/bill-clinton-called-donald-trump-ahead-of-republicans-2016-launch/2015/08/05/e2b30bb8-3ae3-11e5-b3ac-8a79bc44e5e2_story.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/bill-clinton-called-donald-trump-ahead-of-republicans-2016-launch/2015/08/05/e2b30bb8-3ae3-11e5-b3ac-8a79bc44e5e2_story.html

Macon Richardson | Jun 18, 2016 9:20:58 PM | 54
ALberto @ 45 You say that "PBS has gone full Karl Marx". I haven't watched or listened to that PBS tripe ever . But considering that PBS is 90% corporate funded, I find it hard to accept your assertion ... it is merely a corporate/permanent government psy-op to keep the intellectually and morally challenged sedated.
Robert Roth | Jun 18, 2016 10:08:06 PM | 55
Regarding who Obama listens to, a good analysis is Bob Parry on The State Department's Collective Madness, https://consortiumnews.com/2016/06/17/the-state-departments-collective-madness/.

A piece in today's Wall Street Journal indicates that despite the growing pressure, Obama means to stick by his policy of limited intervention. Of course he's being pig-headed in insisting "Assad must go," but what he's doing beats full-scale US invasion of Syria, "no-fly" zones and similar madness favored by Hillary and likely to lead to WW III although, as John Pilger puts it, WW has already started; on the other hand, it hasn't yet gone thermonuclear, and I see that as a distinct advantage.

juliania | Jun 18, 2016 10:59:14 PM | 56
Thank you Grieved, in particular for reminding us as follows:

". . .malice by the US is met with calm. The global effort continues to allow the US to sink to its knees with as much grace as can be managed."

This was well illustrated at the opening of the St. Petersburg economic conference. Pointed questions about political candidates were countered by Putin in a deft manner that left no doubt of his assessment of the 'leading' candidates, without calling anyone a hitler or any suggestion of interference in the US political process. I don't believe Putin is any fonder of Trump than he is of Ms. Clinton - he stated he'll work with whomever comes out on top (my words) and had kind words to say for Bill - not for his policies but for his encouragement of Putin early on. Very diplomatic, and wise.

Where have our wise politicians gone? We did have a few once. Couldn't we please just sink to our knees gracefully? The world would love us if we did. Here - I'll be first. (Sinks to knees.) After all, tonight is the night of Pentecost and Sunday we do the magnificent kneeling prayers for the first time since before Easter.

It's a good time to kneel.

Hoarsewhisperer | Jun 18, 2016 11:33:28 PM | 57
Obama's Syria SNAFU was always destined to boil down to Yankees playing Russian Roulette - with Russia. They're probably beginning to realise that playing cat and mouse loses a lot of its appeal when the cat starts getting ready to eat you.
PavewayIV | Jun 19, 2016 12:26:40 AM | 60
lebretteurfredonnant@44 - I'm not really knowledgeable in the matter, but I have broadband and type fast for what it's worth.

Little detail is known about the base, but it may be the former Syrian Army Mishtenur/Mushtannour Hill Military Base shown on wikimapia here . The location is just the flat top of Mishtenur Hill (just south of Kobane) with a bulldozed revetment around the periphery. No idea what the Syrian Army used it for - it may have been a simple observation post with a few artillery pieces (long gone). There are no structures on the hilltop other than a commercial radio tower and a few shacks at the northern edge. The hilltop itself isn't much more than 200m x 600m - not large enough for a fixed-wing airstrip but plenty of room for helicopters and a small contingent of French Special Forces. The Kurds probably have a few people there as headchopper lookouts/snipers.

The Mishtenur Hill location should be considered speculative - I only recall a couple of mentions in english-language Kurdish press. It makes sense to put it there, but who knows.

Months ago when the U.S. was building its 'secret' base at the Rmelian airstrip , there were rumors of a second 'U.S. base' being constructed somewhere around Kobane, but nothing was heard after that. Not sure if that rumor was related to the potential Mishtenur Hill location the French may be using.

The Kurds and Kurdish Press have been very tight-lipped about these bases for obvious reasons, so I wouldn't expect to ever see much on them. CNN had a crew run out to Rmeilan so we know it exists and was being worked on, but they were not allowed on the 'base' and couldn't see much over the protective berms surrounding it. There are no pictures or video of the current state. I would imagine the French SF base - wherever it ends up - will remain shrouded in mystery as well.

If you're doing any on-line searches, keep in mind that these locations have proper Turkish/Kurdish/Arabic names, not 'english' ones. There may be half-a-dozen variations on the derived english name used in various media sources as was the case for Rmeilan.

V. Arnold | Jun 19, 2016 12:28:50 AM | 61
paulmeli | Jun 18, 2016 3:59:22 PM | 32
I have a great deal more respect for Russian leadership than I do American.

I'll second your comment; this coming from a self exiled 71 yo American radical.

Joanne Leon | Jun 19, 2016 1:20:31 AM | 63
This is very, very alarming and I get a strong sense it's about a lot more than separating rebels from AQ. I also wonder who is really at that base in Tanf.

Have to also keep in mind the daily escalation of hostility around the NATO meetings leading up to the Warsaw summit.

Putin did a press conf at the end of the St Petersburg econ summit and a Canadian press exec asked about NATO troops deploying to their border. He gave a long answer about US walking away from a missile treaty that had kept the world from serious global war for 70yrs, etc. Had a lot to say about missiles. I wonder.

From The Hague | Jun 19, 2016 1:26:06 AM | 64

@49 jfl
http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-06-17/something-going-%E2%80%93-and-its-worse-you-thought

bbbb | Jun 19, 2016 2:24:34 AM | 66
Here's something to keep in mind as all of this goes on

http://energyskeptic.com/2016/emerging-threats-of-resource-wars-u-s-house-hearing/

DANA ROHRABACHER, California. We import 750,000 tons of vital minerals and material every year. An increasing global demand for supplies of energy and strategic minerals is sparking intense economic competition that could lead to a counterproductive conflict.

A ''zero sum world'' where no one can obtain the means to progress without taking them from someone else is inherently a world of conflict.

Additional problems arise when supplies are located in areas where production could be disrupted by political upheaval, terrorism or war.

jfl | Jun 19, 2016 3:53:38 AM | 67
@49 fth

Thanks. Actually I'd read that one. I rarely read anything of Justin Raimondo's at aw.com, but I read that one for some reason. It's the run down for those who haven't been paying attention, I thought. Let me look again ...yeah, it's not the Republican candidate (yet) talking about it, but for that one cryptic comment, it's Justin Raimondo talking about it, and he ain't running for president. Of course he's write-in candidate, as are about 200 million of the rest of us.

But that is just the kind of a pitch that Trump needs to make, has to make really, to keep from being steamrolled by the DNC machine and all the monied interests to whom its sold-out and who are consequently supporting it. Trump is pretty well-free of supervision by the Republicrat party and he needs something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT from what the Demoblicans are trying to make the election about. He could get a lot of attention, and possibly support, from the antiwar right and left, he could pick up Bernie's betrayed ... if he went after not only the sheer misanthropy of it all but the tawdriness, the treachery, the self-dealing of the neo-cons ... at least he could bring all that into the open. Make the neo-cons, their wars and the MIC a topic in the contest. He made a good start with his remarks on Russian and Putin. I think it's his most promising row to hoe.

But I haven't heard much at all from Trump himself lately, he seems to be 'thinking' ... lining up money, more likely, and tailoring his message accordingly. He's not interested in 'investing' whatever money he actually has in a political campaign. He took money from Adelson, has neo-cons on his payroll.

Hillary's so predictably evil, and he's so officially 'unpredictable' that he's the natural focal point of the selection circus. It's too bad only one of them can lose.

I'm going to write-in a candidate, and I hope that millions more of us will as well. If the write-in/none-of-the-above/spoiled-ballot total exceeded that of either of these two sorry characters we'd be off and running ourselves.

b | Jun 19, 2016 6:07:10 AM | 73
The Russian defense ministry confirms my take. The attack was intended to push the U.S. to documented separation:

Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation

Due to appeal of the American party, representatives of the Russian an US defence departments held videoconference on implementing the Memorandum on preventing incidents while performing military operations in the airspace of Syria dating October 20, 2015.

The American party has informed the Russian one about alleged premeditated strike by the Russian Aerospace Forcers on detachments of the Syrian opposition in the south of Syria on June 16, 2016 in despite of appeals of the US.

Representatives of the Russian Defence Ministry explained that the object, which had suffered bombardment, was located more than 300 km far from borders of territories claimed by the American party as ones controlled by the opposition joined the ceasefire regime.

The Russian Aerospace Forces operated within the agreed procedures and forewarned member states of the US-led coalition about the ground targets to strike on. The American party has not presented coordinates of regions of activity of opposition controlled by the US. This caused impossibility to correct actions of the Russian aviation.

Therefore, actions by the Russian party have been carried out in strict observance of the Joint Russian-American statement and the Memorandum.

Moreover, within last few months, the Russian defence department has been suggesting compiling a joint map with actual information about location of forces active in Syria. However, there has been no significant progress reached.

The parties exchanged their opinions in a constructive manner. They were aimed at strengthening cooperation in fighting against terrorist formations in Syria and preventing all incidents while performing military operations in the territory of Syria

So - either cooperated, or get your "assets" annihilated. Let's see what the U.S. will come up with ...

From The Hague | Jun 19, 2016 6:10:52 AM | 74
@ jfl | 67
Ok.
Trump seems consistent in his ideas: Don't mess in other countries, don't provoke Russia, only secure US-borders.
Now I see the article I gave isn't from Tyler Durden, but from Justin Raimondo.
Harry | Jun 19, 2016 6:37:50 AM | 76
@V. Arnold | 75

Case and point - when Ukie nazis were shelling Donbass cities, resistance went into offensive and broke through the nazis and made them run, Putin forced the resistance to stop immediately, under the gunpoint (literally*). Ukies returned to allowed by Russia front lines right on the outskirts of Donbass cities, and started using artillery and mortars on them again, then Putin acted angry about it.

The choices we have:
a) Putin made a cold calculated deal with his "Western partners" and let it happen, and then acted angry on TV for public perception.
b) Putin couldnt foresee it as he is stupid.

So which is it? I'm pretty sure everyone here will agree Putin is anything but stupid, which leaves us with option a)

*Idealistic Donbass resistance leaders who wanted to continue offensive and at the very least push nazis away from the cities, were removed by Russia. Either under blackmail and death threats (like Strelkov), or literally assassinated them (like Batman and others). Follow the history and facts, Russia's leadership arent idealist do-gooders as some like to imagine. Just because they are against even bigger evil like US, doesnt make Russia saintly.

V. Arnold | Jun 19, 2016 7:02:29 AM | 77
Harry | Jun 19, 2016 6:37:50 AM | 76
Just because they are against even bigger evil like US, doesnt make Russia saintly.

Well, if your comparing the U.S. and Russia for saintly-ness; Russia wins, hands down.
Again; the differences are chess to checkers; I just like and enjoy Pres. Putin's style; a class act under duress.
I'm glad you recognise the U.S. as the greater evil (by orders of magnitude).

MadMax2 | Jun 19, 2016 7:18:05 AM | 78
@48 dahoit

Demonisation...? What do you mean...?

Whitehall fears Russian football hooligans had Kremlin links

https://www.theguardian.com/football/2016/jun/18/whitehall-suspects-kremlin-links-to-russian-euro-2016-hooligans-vladimir-putin?CMP=fb_gu

Harry | Jun 19, 2016 7:26:52 AM | 79
@V. Arnold | 77

Putin is leaps and bounds ahead of someone like Obama, there is no question. However I respect other resistance leaders even more, who are greater class acts, dont betray alies and are under much greater duress than Putin ever experienced, like Nasrallah, Khameinei (before nuke deal) and especially Assad. There is much to admire about them.

V. Arnold | Jun 19, 2016 7:31:51 AM | 80
Harry | Jun 19, 2016 7:26:52 AM | 79

No argument there; but all of the above (including Putin) are facing annihilation from/by the hegemon.
It's the main reason I fear war is immanent.
The insanity is palpable, no?

From The Hague | Jun 19, 2016 8:56:30 AM | 82
@ Harry | 81

I already posted that in #64
and jfl reacted in #67

In the article a remarkable fragment about Gen. Michael Flynn:

The Washington Post, in its mission to debunk every word that comes out of Trump's mouth, ran an article by Glenn Kessler minimizing the DIA document, claiming that it was really nothing important and that we should all just move along because there's nothing to see there. He cited all the usual Washington insiders to back up his thesis, but there was one glaring omission: Gen. Michael Flynn, who headed up the DIA when the document was produced and who was forced out by the interventionists in the administration. Here is what Flynn told Al-Jazeera in an extensive interview:

Al-Jazeera: "You are basically saying that even in government at the time you knew these groups were around, you saw this analysis, and you were arguing against it, but who wasn't listening?

Flynn: I think the administration.

Al-Jazeera: So the administration turned a blind eye to your analysis?

Flynn: I don't know that they turned a blind eye, I think it was a decision. I think it was a willful decision.

Al-Jazeera: A willful decision to support an insurgency that had Salafists, Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood?

Flynn: It was a willful decision to do what they're doing."

Of course, Glenn Kessler and the Washington Post don't want to talk about that. Neither do the Republicans in Congress, who supported aid to the Syrian rebels and wanted to give them much more than they got. They're all complicit in this monstrous policy – and they all bear moral responsibility for its murderous consequences.

Gen. Flynn, by the way, is an official advisor to Trump, and is often mentioned as a possible pick for Vice President.

Oui | Jun 19, 2016 10:19:09 AM | 85
Confirmation of other reports ...
Western states amass forces in Syria | Southfront|

Rumors are growing that Germany is set to deploy special operation forces in Northern Syria in order to assist the predominantly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces that has laid a siege on the strategic ISIS-controlled city of Manbij . Reports look realistic amid a series of deployments by different Western states.

The US built a base in an abandoned airport in the Syrian Kurdish region Hasakah in 2015 and American troops have been participating in clashes against ISIS near Manbij since May 2016.

France's Defense Ministry admitted the presence of its special forces on the ground in Syria on June 9. French troops have reportedly built a military base near the city of Kobane and are participating in clashes with ISIS along with SDF and US units.

Meanwhile, UK special forces operating on the front line alongside rebels in Syria near the Jordanian border. They participate in direct clashes, provide training and manage of the opposition group, called " New Syrian Army ."

jflk | Jun 19, 2016 10:25:47 AM | 86
@74 fth, 'Trump seems consistent in his ideas: Don't mess in other countries, don't provoke Russia, only secure US-borders.'

Trump Says Britain Should Leave EU

"I would personally be more inclined to leave, for a lot of reasons like having a lot less bureaucracy," he told the Sunday Times. "But I am not a British citizen. This is just my opinion."

The billionaire businessman also told the newspaper that he would seek to have good relationships internationally if he were elected president in November, including with David Cameron. The British Prime Minister has in the past called Trump's proposed temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States "divisive, stupid and wrong".

Trump also said that if he became president he would try to improve the trade deals the U.S. has with China, and work more closely with Russia and that could include co-operating with Russia in the fight against Islamic State.

The only thing with quotes is the first, the rest is 'old' news, isn't it? "try to improve the trade deals the U.S. has with China, ... work more closely with Russia ... co-operating with Russia in the fight against Islamic State" That's the kind of stuff that draws a line between himself and Hillary, the harridan horde, and the 50 dancing diplomats. I think that's the vein I would mine if I were The Donald. But I'm not. As I'm sure you've noticed.
harrylaw | Jun 19, 2016 10:26:04 AM | 87
Wayoutwest@84 John McCain has already advocated for man pads to be supplied to the US "good terrorists". The Russians can handle that situation simply by flying higher. The unknown repercussions are a different matter. Ben Gurion airport the only International airport in Israel and the hub of its commerce and tourist industry, some analysts say the closure of Ben Gurion for an extended period of time could wreck the Israeli economy. All the Israelis need is a few manpads operating a few miles from Ben Gurion airport or even the threat thereof of bringing down civilian airliners should concentrate the mind. Remember just one wayward missile fired by Hamas, which landed 1 mile from the airport was enough for the FAA to cancel all flights into and out of Ben Gurion.
okie farmer | Jun 19, 2016 10:30:33 AM | 88
Russia Dismantles the Myth of the American Navy's Invincibility
~~~
Russian hypersonic weapons

The main Russian hypersonic weapon are derived from space glider Yu-71 (Project 4202), which flew during tests at a speed of 6000-11200 km/h over a distance of 5,500 km at a cruising altitude below 80,000 m, receiving repeated pulses from a rocket engine to climb, execute maneuvers and cornering trajectory. It is estimated that the glider is armed with warheads that are spatially independent, with autonomous guidance systems similar to the air-ground missiles Kh-29 L/T and T Kh-25 (which provides a probable deviation of 2-6 m). Although it may take nuclear warheads, the space glider will be armed with conventional warheads and will be powered by a rocket launched normally from nuclear-powered Russian submarines.
~~~
Hypersonic concept for a war

The new Russian military doctrine states that an attack on the American invasion fleet is to be executed in three waves, three alignments, thus preventing American expeditionary naval groups from positioning themselves near the Russian coast of the Baltic Sea. The first wave of hypersonic weapons, consisting of space gliders arranged on Russian nuclear-powered submarines under immersion in the middle of the Atlantic, starts fighting US naval expeditionary groups as they start crossing the Atlantic to Europe. The American naval groups need 7-8 days to cross the Atlantic; the plane Il-76MD-90A has a maximum flight distance of 6300 km and can be powered in the air, reaching the middle of the Atlantic Ocean in a few hours.
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article44902.htm

Oui | Jun 19, 2016 10:34:27 AM | 89
@tom @Harry @From The Hague

Putin and Medvedev spar over UN resolution on Libya - March 2011
Medvedev imposes sanctions on Libya | RT – Aug. 2011

Oui | Jun 19, 2016 10:42:38 AM | 91
@FTH | #90

It was Medvedev's call to abstain at the UNSC on Libya ... power of the president. Putin did not agree.

okie farmer | Jun 19, 2016 10:47:48 AM | 92
Associated Press 6/19/2016
Russia says US failed to provide Syrian opposition locations
MOSCOW - The Russian military on Sunday rejected the Pentagon's accusations that it had deliberately targeted U.S.-backed Syrian opposition forces, arguing the U.S. had failed to warn about their locations.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman, Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, said the area targeted in the strike was more than 300 kilometers (186 miles) away from locations earlier designated by the U.S. as controlled by legitimate opposition forces.

The Pentagon said it held a video conference Saturday with the Russian military to discuss Russian air strikes Thursday on the At-Tanf border garrison, which targeted Syrian opposition forces fighting the Islamic State group.

"Russia's continued strikes at At-Tanf, even after U.S. attempts to inform Russian forces through proper channels of ongoing coalition air support to the counter-ISIL forces, created safety concerns for U.S. and coalition forces," it said in a statement.

Konashenkov retorted that the Russian military had warned the U.S. in advance about the planned strike, but the Pentagon had failed to provide coordinates of legitimate opposition forces, "making it impossible to take measures to adjust the Russian air force action."

He added that the Russian military had proposed months ago to share information about locations of various forces involved in military action in Syria to create a comprehensive map, but the Pentagon hasn't been forthcoming.

okie farmer | Jun 19, 2016 11:24:47 AM | 94
OT (Full Article)
Turkey border guards 'shot Syrian children' - monitors

Turkish border guards have shot dead at least eight Syrians, including four children, who were trying to cross into Turkey, activists say.

A further eight people were injured, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group.

The shooting took place at a border crossing north of the Syrian town of Jisr al-Shugour, which is controlled by jihadist groups.

Turkey has repeatedly denied its guards shoot at Syrians crossing the border.

More than 2.5 million Syrians who fled the war have taken refuge in Turkey. Turkey has now closed its borders to Syrians.

The Associated Press news agency quoted a senior Turkish official as saying: "We are unable to independently verify the claims" regarding the shooting, but said authorities were investigating.

As well as four children, three women and a man were also killed, the Observatory said.

Other Syrian opposition groups put the death toll at 11.

Since the beginning of 2016, nearly 60 civilians have been shot while trying to flee across the border from Syria into Turkey, the Observatory says.

Noirette | Jun 19, 2016 12:42:47 PM | 95
IMHO the political solution just doesn't exist, because most of the fighters are likely foreigners who don't give a sh!t about Syria or Syrians. bbb @ 23.

I have read that there are about 30-40K of them, a large number (?) imho, because one tends to underestimate the mayhem well-organised small groups can cause in a fractured, now extremely vulnerable, shattered, society.

One of the problems for the pro-Assad side, I read, is that once some or many opponents are killed others just show up!

This last argument is faulty, because while the West likes to paint these forces as either: ideologically/religiously motivated by IS, or even politically-nationally in the sense of a 'New Caliphate', or, alternatively, as rebels against a corrupt despotic national order (freedom-fighters against Assad.)

All descriptions miss the mark (there might be some slivers of truth in the sense of 'rationalisations'…)

The bulk of them are mercenaries, imho, lost young men who are paid, regain agency, can send money to families, participate in a cause, and experience soldered group-think and communal 'being,' violent life to perpetrate barbaric acts on occasion, particularly against villagers, women, all would be repressed at home. Their pay is collapsing, at least halved (IS has been fractured and various income streams have become dodgy, oil for ex., support for losers always plummets) and so they leave, the hook becomes less glam, etc. Death also more certain. This one jihad is no longer *that* attractive.

Yes, these fighters don't give a sh*t about Syrians. They are fighting their 'own' war against the all the West (their enemy indeed), and therefore against Assad as afforded the opportunity. 'Islamist' forces *instrumentalised*, not a new move or flash news..the contradictions are ignored.

The fighters are patsy-cum-proxy forces, expendable. No seat at the High Table for them.

A more informed, better picture of the forces on the ground ? .. ??

SmoothieX12 | Jun 19, 2016 1:35:42 PM | 96
@13
Obama warned Putin that he could face a 'quagmire' and 'costs'. To paraphrase Madeline Albright: What good is a proxy army if you don't use it?

Obama and his Administration is a collection of lawyers, political pseudo-"scientists", journos etc. They are very good at promoting suicidal social policies but do not and cannot operate with actual operational categories--briefings by CIA or Pentagon (granted that they reflect a reality on the "ground", which is a question) are not designed to teach some Ivy League lawyer fundamentals of international relations, strategy, operational art etc. They merely distill a very complex geopolitical reality to a several catch phrases which could be understood by people of such qualities as W. (his military briefings papers contained headers with Bible excerpts, supposedly applicable to current situation) or Obama, who has no clue on how to assess the world around himself.

In this case the term "quagmire" is merely a simulacra produced by US media (this part Obama understands) to represent a huge number of military and political factors which influence achieving objectives of any campaign (or war) and which require addressing by professionals -- this is NOT Modus Operandi by US top political "elite".

In relation to Russia what Obama has in mind is beaten to death cliche of Afghanistan (obviously without studying that war) with which he wants to impress Russians, who, meanwhile fought two bloody wars against Wahhabi terrorists on own territory and, somehow, do know, unlike Obama or US liberal political class, what does it take to deal with this huge issue. In the end, during last War in Chechnya US media loved to misuse this very term (quagmire) and completely forgot to mention that Chechnya today is, actually, pretty reliable anti-terrorism entity in Russia. Now, add here most of US "elites" and a population being absolutely oblivious to real war and voila'. You have people speaking in platitudes and ignorant cliches.

Grieved | Jun 19, 2016 2:39:37 PM | 97
@ Noirette #95 - Thank you for putting into words the diminishing appeal of being mercenaries for the losing side.

It's an important dynamic that extends throughout the world and across many fields, not just in local battles by fighters with guns. It's a way in which wars are lost without being obvious at first. It parallels the way in which the US is losing its war against Russia and China in so many ways that are not completely obvious.

The US military is losing to Russia. The US dollar is losing to the Shanghai Gold Exchange. But neither Russia nor China have any reason to overpower the US in either of these fields, not today at least. Meanwhile, on the sidelines, all the mercenary instincts of players in all fields and all nations and with all interests are finely attuned to the quiet calculation of which side is winning or losing.

And out of the blue at times we see moments of disaffection - the UK of all allies, against the wishes of its sponsor the US, joins the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, because being on the winning side in some areas matters more than staying with the loser.

It takes time to create critical mass and tipping points, but we can see the pot coming to the boil if we want to.

bored muslim | Jun 19, 2016 3:02:52 PM | 99
@5 Harrylaw,

Yes, if only the Yemeni army and Houthi's had ballistic missiles capable of reaching Saudi oil facilities. Remember, Saudi's Shiite minority live right on top of its vast oil fields.

[Jun 18, 2016] Why Did 51 American State Department Officials Dissent Against Obama and Call for Bombing Syria?

Notable quotes:
"... By Vijay Prashad, professor of international studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. He is the author of 18 books, including Arab Spring, Libyan Winter (AK Press, 2012), The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South (Verso, 2013) and the forthcoming The Death of a Nation and the Future of the Arab Revolution (University of California Press, 2016). Originally published at Alternet ..."
"... Seymour Hersh has reported that Obama was forced to call off the attack on Syria on 30 August 2013 because General Dempsey informed him that the British defence lab at Porton Down had analysed environmental samples from the Ghouta chemical attack and had established that the sarin was "kitchen sarin" that could not have come from Syrian military stocks. Hersh reports that Dempsey effectively threatened Obama by warning him that he would testify to Congress (and would prime them to ask the question) on what he had told Obama. Hersh names Sir Peter Wall, then the head of the British army, as the officer who had briefed Dempsey on Porton Down's findings. ..."
"... I vividly recall how irate Obama was during that Rose Garden press conference when he backed down from bombing Syria. He was not pleased. Attempting to rewrite the historical record doesn't wash for anyone with a memory of the Kerry statement about chemical weapons and the alacrity with which Lavrov responded. Obama was boxed in, and he didn't like it one bit. ..."
"... If she had any involvement in this it certainly shows her contempt for Obama just a few days after he endorsed her and while the FBI investigation still plods on. Beyond that, I think the cable directly reflects the power of the Israeli lobby and the perceived benefits of a destroyed Syria. ..."
"... We make out that the national security apparatus taken as a system - and singling out the rare exceptions, who help the country by whistleblowing, leaking, and throwing bureaucratic obstacles in the way of the bad craziness - is corrupt to the bone. Also too insane. And that both characteristics are rewarded, and that individuals who display them tend to rise to the top. ..."
"... That the State Dept should be populated by neocons seems a logical consequence of the political leadership assigned to it. ..."
"... The story of the arrest in May 2013 of the Nusra Front sarin procurement team in Turkey, and the prosecutors' report completed in July 2013, was no longer a "bombshell" when reported by Hersh and raised by Turkish opposition MPs. A careful reading of Hersh's articles shows that this report was available to US Defence Intelligence agencies by summer 2013. Two other lines of evidence were available to US and UK intelligence agencies by summer 2013 that pointed to sarin production by the opposition. ..."
"... but given the idiocy shown by repeated US governments, it still shows a scintilla of sentience on Obama's part ..."
"... But in the world of those who wish to keep their jobs as good lap dogs to the Beltway conventional wisdom and not so accurate facts, ..."
"... Victoria Nuland and Robert Kagan have a great mom-and-pop business going. From the State Department, she generates wars and from op-ed pages he demands Congress buy more weapons. There's a pay-off, too, as grateful military contractors kick in money to think tanks where other Kagans work, writes Robert Parry. ..."
"... If you'll allow a bit of speculation, I would argue that this push for war was created because it creates opportunities to loot the US treasury. It is of course backed by the ideology of US supremacy and invincibility which allows these people push for war against Russia. ..."
"... Its is pretty horrifying that professional diplomats could sign something so simpleminded, even within the context of neocon policy. ..."
"... Victoria Nuland could not have instigated the neo-nazi coup in Ukraine without her superiors' knowledge and approval. I still wonder who told L. Paul Bremer that disbanding the Iraqi Army before disarming its soldiers was a good idea. When asked about it Bush acted as if he never actually heard about it. ..."
"... Interesting War Nerd podcast#36 featuring American Conservative writer Kelley Vlahos. The basic claim is that the US security state which includes the State Dept., the MIC and the various think tanks and Universities surrounding Washington DC has produced dynastic clans which suck money from the defense budgets to fund lavish lifestyles. These 51 players are merely cheer leading for more war because there is simply not enough money in peace to keep the generational Ponzi going in luxury. ..."
"... Seems Cheny and Rumsfeld were successful stocking the State Dept shelves with career neocon bureaucrats. ..."
"... I've finally put my finger on why I will not vote for HRC. HRC is the embodiment of the notion that "ends justify the means". You cannot believe this and believe in the law … ethics … morality … at the same time. ..."
"... There have been rumblings over the years that many of the coalitions in the current Syria conflict are the result of countries competing for a Natural Gas pipeline between the Middle East and Europe: ..."
"... the old-guard professionals left, a new breed of aggressive neoconservatives was brought in, the likes of Paul Wolfowitz, Robert McFarlane, Robert Kagan and Abrams. After eight years of Reagan and four years of George H.W. Bush, the State Department was reshaped into a home for neocons[…] ..."
"... As the 1990s wore on, the decimation of foreign policy experts in the mold of White and Derian left few on the Democratic side who had the courage or skills to challenge the deeply entrenched neocons. Many Clinton-era Democrats accommodated to the neocon dominance by reinventing themselves as "liberal interventionists," sharing the neocons' love for military force but justifying the killing on "humanitarian" grounds.[…] ..."
www.nakedcapitalism.com
By Vijay Prashad, professor of international studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. He is the author of 18 books, including Arab Spring, Libyan Winter (AK Press, 2012), The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South (Verso, 2013) and the forthcoming The Death of a Nation and the Future of the Arab Revolution (University of California Press, 2016). Originally published at Alternet

Close to half a million people are dead in Syria, as the country falls further and further into oblivion. Data on the suffering of the Syrians is bewildering, but most startling is that the Syrian life expectancy has declined by over 15 years since the civil war started. On the one side, ISIS holds territory, while on the other a fratricidal war pits the Assad government against a motley crew of rebels that run from small pockets of socialists to large swathes of Al Qaeda-backed extremists. No easy exit to this situation seems possible. Trust is in short supply. The peace process is weak. Brutality is the mood.

What should America do? In the eyes of 51 U.S. diplomats who still haven't grasped the negative outcomes of the disastrous wars launched since 2002, the solution is to bomb the world into America's image. In an internal dissent cable addressed to Barack Obama, seasoned diplomats have urged airstrikes on the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

... ... ..

Why did the diplomats write their dissent now, and why was it leaked to the press? A former ambassador, with deep experience in the Middle East, told me it was an error to leak the cable.

"Someone decided to leak it," he said, "for whatever irrational reason, an action as blatantly incorrect as it is most certainly politically and diplomatically counterproductive."

pmr9 , June 18, 2016 at 6:27 am

"Obama did not strike Syria in 2013 because he recognized, correctly, that the Russians, Chinese and most of the major countries of the Global South (including India) deeply opposed regime change"

This version of events gives undeserved credit to Obama. Seymour Hersh has reported that Obama was forced to call off the attack on Syria on 30 August 2013 because General Dempsey informed him that the British defence lab at Porton Down had analysed environmental samples from the Ghouta chemical attack and had established that the sarin was "kitchen sarin" that could not have come from Syrian military stocks. Hersh reports that Dempsey effectively threatened Obama by warning him that he would testify to Congress (and would prime them to ask the question) on what he had told Obama. Hersh names Sir Peter Wall, then the head of the British army, as the officer who had briefed Dempsey on Porton Down's findings.

On 29 August 2013 the UK Joint Intelligence Committee had reported to the Prime Minister, in a summary that was made available before the House of Commons debate on war with Syria, that there was "no evidence for an opposition CW capability" and "no plausible alternative to a regime attack scenario". It is clear from Hersh's report (and other sources that corroborate it) that this was misleading, and that officials in UK Defence Intelligence were aware, as were the Russians, that the Ghouta attack was a false flag using sarin produced by the opposition. To mislead the House of Commons is "contempt of Parliament" a crime against the British constitution that the House has powers to investigate and punish. Unfortunately no MP and no journalist has been prepared to ask the relevant questions.

James Levy , June 18, 2016 at 6:53 am

Excellent comment. Nevertheless, Obama deserves some credit, as the sad tale of General Shinseki and the invasion of Iraq shows. Obama had to listen to reason, and actually did. This is an incredibly low bar for praise, but given the idiocy shown by repeated US governments, it still shows a scintilla of sentience on Obama's part.

Would such a warning stop Clinton? Would it stop Trump if his ego was tied up in such a venture? I doubt it.

pretzelattack , June 18, 2016 at 7:36 am

it's very plausible that clinton coordinated the leak, as the article suggests. save us, cthulhu.

juliania , June 18, 2016 at 10:27 am

I vividly recall how irate Obama was during that Rose Garden press conference when he backed down from bombing Syria. He was not pleased. Attempting to rewrite the historical record doesn't wash for anyone with a memory of the Kerry statement about chemical weapons and the alacrity with which Lavrov responded. Obama was boxed in, and he didn't like it one bit.

sleepy , June 18, 2016 at 10:17 am

If she had any involvement in this it certainly shows her contempt for Obama just a few days after he endorsed her and while the FBI investigation still plods on. Beyond that, I think the cable directly reflects the power of the Israeli lobby and the perceived benefits of a destroyed Syria.

Lambert Strether , June 18, 2016 at 12:51 pm

> What do we as American citizens make out of 51 diplomats proposing war?

We make out that the national security apparatus taken as a system - and singling out the rare exceptions, who help the country by whistleblowing, leaking, and throwing bureaucratic obstacles in the way of the bad craziness - is corrupt to the bone. Also too insane. And that both characteristics are rewarded, and that individuals who display them tend to rise to the top.

Kudos to President Obama, which I very rarely say, for not being deked by these guys.

John Merryman , June 18, 2016 at 1:27 pm

That the State Dept should be populated by neocons seems a logical consequence of the political leadership assigned to it.

John Merryman , June 18, 2016 at 1:24 pm

Wasn't Baal an Assyrian deity? One which drew a bad rap for being opposed to our own preferred God of the Israelites. In which case, not likely one to promote bombing Syria.

pmr9 , June 18, 2016 at 2:27 pm

The story of the arrest in May 2013 of the Nusra Front sarin procurement team in Turkey, and the prosecutors' report completed in July 2013, was no longer a "bombshell" when reported by Hersh and raised by Turkish opposition MPs. A careful reading of Hersh's articles shows that this report was available to US Defence Intelligence agencies by summer 2013. Two other lines of evidence were available to US and UK intelligence agencies by summer 2013 that pointed to sarin production by the opposition.

1. a report to the UNSG from Mokhtar Lamani, the UN Special Representative in Damascus, that the Nusra Front was bringing nerve agent through the border from Turkey.

2. analyses by Porton Down and its Russian counterpart of environmental samples from two incidents in March 2013, showing that the agent was "kitchen sarin".

This has been discussed in some detail on Pat Lang's blog. By summer 2013 it was clear to US and UK defence intelligence staff that a false flag operation using sarin was being planned, and that their civilian counterparts were at least tacitly colluding with this. The analysis of samples from Ghouta and the use of the results to threaten Obama appears to have been a last-minute effort to block the use of this to start a war

MikeNY , June 18, 2016 at 9:55 am

but given the idiocy shown by repeated US governments, it still shows a scintilla of sentience on Obama's part

+1

"We had to destroy the village in order to save it". I marvel that there is anything still standing in Syraqistan; from the pictures I see, it looks like a gravel quarry. And now blowback has metastasized into domestic mass-shootings, sufficient to stain the Mississippi red; we wring our national hands in a Hamlet-like production of anguish and earnestness, and then change precisely NOTHING about how we conduct our affairs. We are insane.

tegnost , June 18, 2016 at 1:07 pm

Nor did hillary fight the nazi's, she has, however, viewed the atrocities for which she is largely responsible on tv and seemed quite pleased (wondering where the trump thing came from, I thought the discussion was about A.S.?). Nice of me to mention each of them once, gives a sense of balance or something. And your final sentence, you could put either name and corresponding gender identity there, both statements would be true. Googed robert kagan/Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and found this article that was interesting it's from 2014 so it's funny how events then rhyme with events currently. Never heard of the publication before but found it interesting, bonus points for featuring debate footage between richard dawkins and john lennox
http://www.veteranstoday.com/2014/07/08/the-people-vs-former-trotskysts-neo-bolsheviks-and-intellectual-whores
I'd be interested in your views on this

jawbone , June 18, 2016 at 2:53 pm

Friday's PBS NewHour demonstrated in a segment with Judy Woodruff and Margaret Warner that the program is remarkably good at "catapulting the propaganda", in this case that Assad's government used chemical weapons to kill a thousand of his own people. Factually, most of the dead were supporters of the government, which, if Assad ordered such an attack, would have made it even more evil. And only by knowing the actual facts about the chemicals involved does it belie the initial US assertions that Assar was responsible.

In due time, it was made known to those who read and retain information that, indeed, it was not an attack by the Syrian government, that the chemical signatures indicated "kitchen sarin," as pmr9's quote about Gen. Dempsey and results from the British defense lab at Porton Down showed.

But in the world of those who wish to keep their jobs as good lap dogs to the Beltway conventional wisdom and not so accurate facts, Margaret Warner made a special point of saying that Obama had backed down on enforcing his promise to go after Assad if Syria used chemical weapons.

After a video quote from Obama, Warner immediately repeated the now discounted charge.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: A red line for us is, we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus.

MARGARET WARNER: But after a regime chemical attack killed more than 1,000 Syrians in August 2013, the president didn't launch military strikes, nor step up arming the Syrian rebels. ….

She's not the only public broadcast reporter to say exactly the same thing. It's now become one of those zombie lies: Nothing can keep them down.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/state-department-officials-push-for-military-intervention-in-syria/

The segment isn't very long, and the sad and worried expression on Warner's face at the end, where she talks about how sincere the signers of the letter are, is well worth looking at. And wondering about how they do it - how do they keep repeating lies?

Probably because no one calls them on it, no one who matters. And everyone they talk to repeats the same untruths.

Sheesh.

tony , June 18, 2016 at 6:52 am

Victoria Nuland and Robert Kagan have a great mom-and-pop business going. From the State Department, she generates wars and from op-ed pages he demands Congress buy more weapons. There's a pay-off, too, as grateful military contractors kick in money to think tanks where other Kagans work, writes Robert Parry. A Family Business of Perpetual War

If you'll allow a bit of speculation, I would argue that this push for war was created because it creates opportunities to loot the US treasury. It is of course backed by the ideology of US supremacy and invincibility which allows these people push for war against Russia.

PlutoniumKun , June 18, 2016 at 7:37 am

Its an interesting article, but (not I assume the authors fault) doesn't actually answer the question. I'd always assumed that the diplomatic corps was significantly more pragmatic and anti-military intervention than other arms of the US foreign policy establishment, but this would seem evidence otherwise. Its is pretty horrifying that professional diplomats could sign something so simpleminded, even within the context of neocon policy. It doesn't say much for the quality of people involved. Perhaps its not just the military that has been degraded by a decade and a half of the war on terror, it may well be degrading the quality of people attracted to, and recruited by, all elements of the government establishment.

The other explanation – and its not all that encouraging – is that this is simply an attempt by a certain level of diplomats to say 'hey, its not our fault'. But I would have thought they would have picked a different target for their complaints than Obama if that was the case. It does seem more likely that this is a deliberate attempt by the Samantha Power/Hilary wing of the establishment to stake a claim to the high ground.

Procopius , June 18, 2016 at 8:16 am

A lot of what I've seen over the last few years only makes sense if I believe the State Department is the last bastion of PNAC (Project for a New American Century). There is no acknowledged strategy in Syria, no end game, no way to tell when/if we've won, except regime change. The CIA and the Pentagon seem to be backing different factions who are hostile to each other and both seem to be providing weapons to ISIS (perhaps, but not certainly, unintentionally). Victoria Nuland could not have instigated the neo-nazi coup in Ukraine without her superiors' knowledge and approval. I still wonder who told L. Paul Bremer that disbanding the Iraqi Army before disarming its soldiers was a good idea. When asked about it Bush acted as if he never actually heard about it.

art guerrilla , June 18, 2016 at 9:53 am

"A former ambassador told me that many of the diplomats have great fealty to Hillary Clinton. Could they have leaked this cable to boost Clinton's narrative that she wanted a more robust attack on Damascus as early as 2012? Is this a campaign advertisement for Clinton, and a preparation for her likely Middle East policy when she takes power in 2017?"

um, there is your answer right there, plutonium, all the rest is inside-inside baseball bullshit…

besides essentially using their gummint positions in an unusual calculated political manner, i am sure all these knob-polishers are simply jockeying for positions in Empress Cliton the First's reign of Empire… pass the soma, please…

DJG , June 18, 2016 at 10:50 am

Yes: And the use of the world fealty astounds me. Fealty, as in feudal relations? As in clientelism? These people shouldn't be allowed near foreign policy at all. Fealty indeed.

JTMcPhee , June 18, 2016 at 1:00 pm

But they dedicate themselves and bend all their efforts toward getting themselves into these positions where they get to use the wealth and credulity of ordinary people to "advance," and I use that word quite advisedly given where it's taking all of us, their interests and friends and agendas…

Not man of the rest of us, who might be interested in survival and sustainability and comity and all that, have the skills, schooling, connections and inclination to take part in the fokking Great Game, in all its parts and parameters…

ex-PFC Chuck , June 18, 2016 at 2:56 pm

Speaking of fealty, this from John Robb of Global Guerillas a few days ago.

craazyboy , June 18, 2016 at 11:58 am

There's a simple solution, however. Congress can cut the State Dept. budget to zero.

There's an old saying, "If you stop paying them, they stop showing up for work."

wellclosed , June 18, 2016 at 7:40 am

It is a pathetic sign of our times that the narrative of the " Fabulous 51 " has any traction at all, when such perspective is so demonstrably flawed. Pat Lang (and too few others) has been chronicling this neocon "Borg" delusion for quite some time – not unlike efforts here with respect to orthodox neo-econs, libertards, etc. It was pretty easy to assume, as the Kennedy administration must have, the outcome of belligerent threats against the evil Ruskies when they were way beyond their capacities in Cuba. But to threaten a modern, very militarily capable state with Neocon Wargasm Regime Change – – is truly insane. They really do have WMDs – like the ones only we have ever used.

tegnost , June 18, 2016 at 9:50 am

Hey, cmon, we've get the f-35, think of the boost to gdp when the russkis shoot down one or ten of those overweight video game platforms! We need some more heros like pat tillman (not dissing tillman, but the people who tried to use his good name for their own bitter ends), you know, to garner support for our noble casus belli.

twonine , June 18, 2016 at 7:42 am

Per Ray McGovern (RT interview this AM), the 51 are bucking for a promotion with the prospective new boss.

grizziz , June 18, 2016 at 9:00 am

Interesting War Nerd podcast#36 featuring American Conservative writer Kelley Vlahos. The basic claim is that the US security state which includes the State Dept., the MIC and the various think tanks and Universities surrounding Washington DC has produced dynastic clans which suck money from the defense budgets to fund lavish lifestyles. These 51 players are merely cheer leading for more war because there is simply not enough money in peace to keep the generational Ponzi going in luxury.

JTMcPhee , June 18, 2016 at 10:53 am

Once upon a time, even some editor at the WaPo let a little corner of the seraglio tent get lifted:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/petraeus-scandal-puts-four-star-general-lifestyle-under-scrutiny/2012/11/17/33a14f48-3043-11e2-a30e-5ca76eeec857_story.html

And of course you have a recent general officer who out-grabbed himself, selling very top secret Navy info on for money, prostitutes etc. to a guy nicknamed "Fat Leonard." Was allowed to plead to the lesser offense of lying to investigators. Bullshit, Just fokking bullshit. http://www.foxnews.com/us/2016/06/10/us-navy-admiral-pleads-guilty-to-lying-to-investigators-in-fat-leonard-bribery-case.html

An enlisted guy in my unit in Vietnam got drunk, convinced himself he could fly an Army Sioux helicopter. Started it, got it up out of the revetment, then when setting back down caught the left skid on the 4 foot high revetment wall and crashed it. He was court-martialed, jailed at Long Binh, busted to permanent E-1, denied even a discharge, and may still be paying off the $125,000 the Army said that broke-down chopper was worth on that E-1 pay. How many tiers of "justice" in "the system?"

Sam Adams , June 18, 2016 at 7:57 am

Seems Cheny and Rumsfeld were successful stocking the State Dept shelves with career neocon bureaucrats.

John , June 18, 2016 at 8:00 am

Regardless of the motivations first of the message itself and secondly of its purpose, my first thought was that the Clinton camp directly or indirectly was behind it. But it is such a ham fisted ploy; you would have to be a political idiot, wouldn't you? Then I recalled the other boneheaded moves and dismissed it.

ArkansasAngie , June 18, 2016 at 8:12 am

I've finally put my finger on why I will not vote for HRC. HRC is the embodiment of the notion that "ends justify the means". You cannot believe this and believe in the law … ethics … morality … at the same time.

HRC is no Gandhi.

False flags
Circumventing laws

Slippery slope? HRC has her skis on and her goggles down.

That is change I do not believe in.

ex-PFC Chuck , June 18, 2016 at 8:18 am

See also Pat Lang's post on this yesterday. As is the case with Naked Capitalism, the comment threads there are worth thorough reads as well as the posts. The consensus there seems to be that it demonstrates the success of the neo-con infiltration of the State Department, the signers' utter lack of experience in understanding of the military and warfare, and finally the results of the demise of DoS's area expertise in the Middle East.

afisher , June 18, 2016 at 9:17 am

I agree. I would add that Victoria Nuland has been in DC with week being grilled (/s) by Congress.

JTMcPhee , June 18, 2016 at 10:55 am

"Are you, or have you ever been, a member of the People for a New American Century or any other neoconservative group? I remind you that you are under oath to testify truthfully to Congress…"

Carolinian , June 18, 2016 at 8:21 am

Cutting to the chase.

A former ambassador told me that many of the diplomats have great fealty to Hillary Clinton.

Hugo Chavez joked that you would never have a coup in Washington because it has no US embassy. But it does have the State Department itself and it now appears they are using their partners in the press to help shape the coming regime change in our own country. How long before Vicky appears out on the Mall, giving out cookies?

Ignim Brites , June 18, 2016 at 8:43 am

Maybe the notion is that bombing the Assad military would provoke a military confrontation with Russia in Syria but more importantly in Eastern Europe. This will bolster the case for NATO which will face increased scrutiny in the upcoming POTUS campaign.

Cry Shop , June 18, 2016 at 9:33 am

Circulating the cable to get signatures is probably Clinton's attempt to push the Overton Window on Obama's dime, but leaking the cable was probably a jerk on Obama's chain for "leaking" their concerns to Carl Bernstein, which was covered on NC earlier this month.

Top Democrat officials are TERRIFIED that Hillary campaign IS IN FREEFALL! – Carl Bernstein

Mark John , June 18, 2016 at 9:48 am

The leak is ridiculous and ham-handed, but that is nothing new.

I hope we will all keep in mind what starts these wars and keeps them alive, as well as global warming and wealth inequality. THE PROFIT MOTIVE.

Harold , June 18, 2016 at 9:49 am

This whole election is like a military coup.

redleg , June 18, 2016 at 11:13 am

Corporate. The military would have some kind of plan for afterward. HRC and the Clintonian daleks see the election itself as the end game.

NYPaul , June 18, 2016 at 9:52 am

Questions, questions.

Seems to me like C.I.C. Clinton just can't wait another 6 months to start blowing the world up. I, too, believe Hillary is behind this gang of 51's insubordinate pronouncement. It's got her signature, intemperance and incompetence, written all over it. And, where's the current S.O.S. Cat, Kerry, while the Foggy Bottom mice are stirring this very dangerous Vladimir cauldron? So, maybe Obama kinda wishes he waited a little longer with his demented endorsement, "I don't think there's ever been someone so qualified to hold this office.".

Harold , June 18, 2016 at 10:19 am

Is it true that State Dept. employees are investing in Ukrainian utilities?

oho , June 18, 2016 at 10:38 am

yesterday morning, the NYT headlined its site w/this story. then anti-war/anti-neocon comments and upvotes flooded.

by lunch this story was buried well below the fold.

Automated analytics downgrading an unread story? Or an editorial decision by someone "surprised" that even the NYT bobbleheads don't buy the Neo-Con lies?

nothing but the truth , June 18, 2016 at 10:45 am

these guys are sending a "hire me" signal to goldman sachs and other (((tribe))) operations.

Chauncey Gardiner , June 18, 2016 at 11:00 am

Since they disagree with this president's policies, the honorable course of action by these 51 State Department employees would be to resign. Absent that, I believe the president can require their resignations.

steelhead23 , June 18, 2016 at 11:21 am

Bingo. It strikes me as analogous to holding a seance at church for seasoned diplomats to lobby for war. The stumbling block is that the document itself followed existing protocol for dissent. Its release to the public is the fire-able offense. I wonder if Obama is investigating.

Denis Drew , June 18, 2016 at 11:43 am

So Al Qaeda takes over Syria; so what? Al Qaeda would not kill half a million Syrians! !!! Once Al Qaeda takes over a country it is on its way to becoming a large bureaucratic entity - more inherently conservative. What are they going to do, declare war on the US; throw their government behind crashing airliners? The specter of a million US boots on the ground would squash that. We do have a reputation for that sort of thing going back to Korea.

My view of the world is the Rick Steves, Anthony Bourdain view - not their ideology (if any) but the Marshall McLuhan/medium-is-the-message view. It's just land and people - people like us.

If Obama cared about the Iraqi people he would have/could have gotten our reverse Saddam, Maliki, under control and coerced him in the direction of greater inclusion of the Sunni into a new coalition - instead of terrorizing them and forcing them into the open arms of ISIS. Ditto for arming and training the vast majority of innocents. We could have identified most people (the vast majority) that's not hard, and worked with them.

We could have tried to do both. But, as usual, Obama doesn't care.

craazyboy , June 18, 2016 at 12:29 pm

One real problem is they set up terrorist training camps, similar to the Taliban in Afgan. These are then organized terrorists they send out elsewhere in the world, even the USofA, if they can sneak past the TSA in airports.

However, Saddam never did that and neither did Assad. So our State Dept's strategy seems to be give terrorists a training ground so they can export a trained and organized terrorist network around the world. And this is after we've had at least 15 years to observe how it works. Note that the reason we felt we had to go into into Afgan originally was that the Taliban was running terrorist training camps.

Not to mention arming these "moderate Arabs" to overthrow Assad.

jawbone , June 18, 2016 at 2:57 pm

Another real problem is how Al Q tend to terrorize the captive populations, especially the females.

craazyboy , June 18, 2016 at 3:03 pm

I guess we could call that the worser of two evils?

JimTan , June 18, 2016 at 11:57 am

There have been rumblings over the years that many of the coalitions in the current Syria conflict are the result of countries competing for a Natural Gas pipeline between the Middle East and Europe:

http://www.news.com.au/world/middle-east/is-the-fight-over-a-gas-pipeline-fuelling-the-worlds-bloodiest-conflict/news-story/74efcba9554c10bd35e280b63a9afb74

I genuinely hope that our current state of foreign relations is not filled with actors following a 'Realist' school of thought:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Realism_(international_relations)

Ultimately who knows, but this might be one motivation behind 51 diplomats calling for the bombing of Syria.

JimTan , June 18, 2016 at 12:27 pm

International relations following Machiavelli and Hobbes is a very bad thing.

Carolinian , June 18, 2016 at 12:03 pm

Robert Parry – with sources inside the State Dept. – offers up some insight on this story

But the descent of the U.S. State Department into little more than well-dressed, well-spoken but thuggish enforcers of U.S. hegemony began with the Reagan administration. President Ronald Reagan and his team possessed a pathological hatred of Central American social movements seeking freedom from oppressive oligarchies and their brutal security forces.[…]

As the old-guard professionals left, a new breed of aggressive neoconservatives was brought in, the likes of Paul Wolfowitz, Robert McFarlane, Robert Kagan and Abrams. After eight years of Reagan and four years of George H.W. Bush, the State Department was reshaped into a home for neocons[…]

As the 1990s wore on, the decimation of foreign policy experts in the mold of White and Derian left few on the Democratic side who had the courage or skills to challenge the deeply entrenched neocons. Many Clinton-era Democrats accommodated to the neocon dominance by reinventing themselves as "liberal interventionists," sharing the neocons' love for military force but justifying the killing on "humanitarian" grounds.[…]

when Obama entered the White House, he faced a difficult challenge. The State Department needed a thorough purging of the neocons and the liberal hawks, but there were few Democratic foreign policy experts who hadn't sold out to the neocons. An entire generation of Democratic policy-makers had been raised in the world of neocon-dominated conferences, meetings, op-eds and think tanks, where tough talk made you sound good while talk of traditional diplomacy made you sound soft.

More here–all good.

https://consortiumnews.com/2016/06/17/the-state-departments-collective-madness/

Personally I'd say "blame it on Reagan" is a good all purpose explanation for current ills. This response also takes in the Dems since they so often knuckled under to the Gipper.

Gaylord , June 18, 2016 at 12:13 pm

The MIC must be pushing for more gravy to buoy the fake economy. This Empire based on greed, exploitation and chaos will take the whole of life down with itself.

oh , June 18, 2016 at 1:25 pm

I wonder if this memo is really meant to the legacy of the current administration by showing how it resisted the efforts of the hawks?

Sluggeaux , June 18, 2016 at 1:33 pm

All this foreign policy discussion is a bit over my head, but couldn't the leaked "dissent" have come from the White House ?

Isn't it most likely that Obama's concern for his "legacy" is going to make him want to out HRC and her grossly incompetent sycophants and cronies at State as the Bomb-Baby-Bomb crowd who goaded him to the brink of war with Russia over Syria based on faulty false-flag intelligence?

[Jun 17, 2016] http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/36368-one-man-s-war-bringing-iraq-to-the-united-states

Notable quotes:
"... Born On The Fourth Of July ..."
"... All Quiet On The Western Front ..."
"... Who Are You: The Life of Pete Townshend ..."
"... Pearl Jam Twenty ..."
"... Tomas Young's War ..."
www.truth-out.org

One Man's War: Bringing Iraq to the United States

Thursday, 09 June 2016 10:21 By Mark Wilkerson , TomDispatch | Op-Ed (Image: Haymarket Books) Memorial Day is over. You had your barbeque. Now, you can stop thinking about America's wars and the casualties from them for another year. As for me, I only wish it were so.

It's been Memorial Day for me ever since I first met Tomas Young. And in truth, it should have felt that way from the moment I hunkered down in Somalia in 1993 and the firing began. After all, we've been at war across the Greater Middle East ever since. But somehow it was Tomas who, in 2013, first brought my own experience in the US military home to me in ways I hadn't been able to do on my own.

That gravely wounded, living, breathing casualty of our second war in Iraq who wouldn't let go of life or stop thinking and critiquing America's never-ending warscape brought me so much closer to myself, so bear with me for a moment while I return to Mogadishu, the Somalian capital, and bring you -- and me -- closer to him.

Boom!

In that spring of 1993, I was a 22-year-old Army sergeant, newly married, and had just been dropped into a famine-ridden, war-torn country on the other side of the planet, a place I hadn't previously given a thought. I didn't know what hit me. I couldn't begin to take it in. That first day I remember sitting on my cot with a wet t-shirt draped over my head, chugging a bottle of water to counter the oppressive heat.

I'd trained for this -- a real mission -- for more than five years. I was a Black Hawk helicopter crew chief. Still, I had no idea what I was in for.

So much happened in Somalia in that " Black Hawk Down " year that foreshadowed America's fruitless wars of the twenty-first century across the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa, but you wouldn't have known it by me. That first day, sitting in a tent on the old Somali Air Force base in Baledogle, a couple of hours inland from the capital city of Mogadishu, I had a face-to-face encounter with a poisonous black mamba snake. Somehow it didn't register. Not really.

This is real , I kept telling myself in the six months I spent there, but in a way it wasn't or didn't seem to be.

After about a month, my unit moved to the airport in Mogadishu -- away from the snakes, scorpions, and bugs that infested Baledogle, but closer to dangers of a more human sort. Within a few weeks, I became used to the nightly rat-tat-tat of machine gun fire coming at us from the city. I watched the tracers streak by as we crouched behind our sandbagged fighting positions. We would return from missions to find bullet holes in the skin or rotor blades of our Black Hawk helicopters, or in one case a beer-can-sized hole that a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) round punched cleanly through the rear stabilizer without -- mercifully -- detonating.

And yet none of it felt like it was quite happening to me. I remember lying on my cot late at night, not far from the flight line full of Black Hawks and Cobras, hearing the drone of low-flying American AC-130 gunships firing overhead for hours on end. The first boom would come from the seaward side of the field as the gunship fired its M102 howitzer. A few seconds later, another boom would mark the round's arrival at its target across town, sometimes with secondary explosions as ammunition stores went up. Lying there, I remember thinking that those weren't the routine training rounds I'd heard a hundred times as they hit some random target in a desolate training area. They were landing on real targets, actual people.

Two other memorable boom s come to mind -- one as we waited in the back of a sun-baked supply truck, heading out on a volunteer mission to give inoculations to kids at a Somali orphanage. Boom . The ground shook to the sound of one of our Humvees and the four Army soldiers in it being blown apart by the sort of remote-controlled bomb that would become a commonplace of insurgents in America's twenty-first century wars. And a second, the loudest during my six months there, as a generator perhaps 20 feet from our tent exploded into flames from an incoming RPG round that found its target in the middle of the night.

This is real . I kept saying that to myself, but truthfully the more accurate word would have been surreal . The care packages I was receiving, the Tootsie Rolls and Cracker Jacks and letters from my wife back home telling me how much she missed me might as well have been from another planet.

Our helicopters flew daily reconnaissance missions ("Eyes over Mog" we called them) above the Somali capital. We did battle damage assessments, checking out pockmarked buildings the AC-130s had targeted the night before, or the shot-up safe house that Somali warlord Mohamed Aidid -- our operation's target (just as the US would target Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi, and the leaders of various terror groups) -- had reportedly been using as a control center. Once a beautiful mansion, it was now riddled with thousands of bullet holes and TOW missile craters.

We flew over Mogadishu's bustling marketplace, sometimes so low that the corrugated metal roofs of the stalls would blow off from our rotor wash. We were always looking for what we called "technicals" -- pick-up trucks with machine guns mounted in their beds -- to take out. Viewing that crowded marketplace through the sight of a ready-to-rock M-60 machine gun helped reinforce the message that all of this was beyond surreal.

Lives were ending violently here every day, and my own life, too, could have ended at any moment. Yet it was just about impossible to believe that all of a sudden I was in the middle of a violent set of incidents in a third-world hellhole, the sort of thing you might read about in the paper, or more likely, would never hear about at all. You'd never know about our near-nightly scrambles to our fighting positions behind a pile of sandbags, as the AK-47s cracked and the tracers flew overhead. It wouldn't even register as a blip in the news back home. In some bizarre way, I was there and it still wasn't registering.

A Soldier Just Like Me

Just days after returning home from Somalia, I (like so many others) watched the footage of dead American soldiers -- at least one a Black Hawk crew chief -- being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu by cheering Somalis. For the first time, I found myself filled with a sense of dread, a profound that-could-have-been-me feeling. I imagined my mother looking at such a photo of me, of her dead son's body -- as someone's mother was undoubtedly doing.

If my interior landscape was beginning to shift in unsettling ways, if the war, my war, was finally starting to come home, I remained only minimally aware of it. My wife and I started a family, I got a civilian job, went to college in the evening using the GI Bill, and wrote a couple of books about music -- my refuge.

Still, after Somalia, I found myself drawn to stories about war. I reread Stephen Ambrose's blow-by-blow account of the D-Day landings, picked up Ron Kovic's Vietnam memoir, Born On The Fourth Of July , for the first time, and even read All Quiet On The Western Front . And all of them somehow floored me. But it wasn't until I watched Body of War , Phil Donahue's 2008 documentary about Iraq war veteran and antiwar activist Tomas Young, that something seemed truly different, that I simply couldn't shake the feeling it could have been me.

Tomas was a kid who had limited options -- just like me. He signed up for the military, at least in part, because he wanted to go to college -- just like me. Yes, just like so many other kids, too -- but above all, just like me.

He, too, was deployed to one of America's misbegotten wars in a later hellhole, and that's where our stories began to differ. Five days after his unit arrived in Iraq -- a place he deployed to grudgingly, never understanding why he was being sent there and not Afghanistan -- Tomas was shot, his spinal cord severed, and most of his body paralyzed. When he came home at age 24, he fought the natural urge to suffer in silence and instead spoke out against the war in Iraq. Body of War chronicled his first full year of very partial recovery and the blossoming of his antiwar activism.

Just a few weeks after the film's release, however, it all came crashing down. He suffered a pulmonary embolism and sank into a coma, awakening to find that he'd suffered a brain injury and lost much of the use of his hands and his ability to speak clearly. The ensuing years were filled with pain and debilitating health setbacks. By early 2013, he was in hospice care, suffering excruciating abdominal pain, without his colon, and on a feeding tube and a pain pump. Gaunt, withered, exhausted, he continued to agitate against America's never-ending war on terror from his bed, and finally wrote a " last letter " to former President George W. Bush and former Vice President Dick Cheney, airing his grievances, which got significant media attention .

When I read it, I felt that he might have been me if I hadn't lucked out in Mogadishu two decades earlier. Maybe that's what made me reach out to him that April and tell him I wanted to learn more about what had happened to him in the years between Body of War and his last letter, about what it meant to go from being an antiwar agitator in a manual wheelchair to a bedridden quadriplegic on a feeding tube and under hospice care, planning to soon end his own life.

A Map of the Ravages of War

When I finally met Tomas, I realized how much he and I had in common: the same taste in music and books, the same urge to be a writer. We were both quick with the smart-ass comment and never made to be model soldiers because we liked to question things.

Each moment we spent together only connected us more deeply and brought me closer to the self that war had created in me, the self I had kept at such a distance all these years. I began writing his story because I felt compelled to show other Americans someone no different from them who had had his life, his reality, upended by one of our military adventures abroad, by deployment to a country so distant that it's an abstraction to most of us who, in these days of the All-Volunteer Army, don't have a personal connection either to the US military or to the wars it so regularly fights.

A historically low percentage of our population -- less than half a percent -- actually serves in the military. Compare that to around 9% during the Vietnam War, and 12% during World War II. Remarkably few of us ever see combat, ever even know anyone who was in combat, ever get to hear firsthand stories of what went on or witness what life is like for such a returning veteran. Not surprisingly, America's wars now largely go on without us. There is no personal connection. Here in "the homeland" -- despite the overblown fears of "terrorism" -- it remains "peacetime." As a consequence, few of us are engaged by veterans' issues or the prospect -- essentially, the guarantee -- of more war in the American future.

Tomas understood the importance of sharing the brutal fullness of his story. For him, there were to be no pulled punches. When I told him I wanted others to learn of his harrowing tale, of his version of the human cost of war, that I wanted to help him to tell that story, he responded that he had indeed wanted to write his own book. He'd scrapped the project because he could no longer write, and even Dragon voice-to-text software wouldn't work because his speech had become so degraded after the embolism struck.

Instead, he shared everything. Tomas and his wife, Claudia, opened their lives to me. I slept in their basement. During my periodic visits, he introduced me to an expansive mind in a shrunken world, a mind that wanted to range widely in a body mostly confined to a hospital bed, surrounded by books, magazines, and an array of tubing that delivered medications and removed bodily wastes in a darkened bedroom.

"I need to be fed," he said to me one day. "Do you want to see what that's like?" Then, he lifted his shirt and showed me the maze of tubing and scars on his body. It was a map of the ravages of war.

He was unflinchingly honest, sensing the importance of his story in a country where such experiences have become uncommon fare. Like his comic book heroes Batman and the Punisher, he wanted to make sure that no one would have to endure what he'd gone through.

An All-Too-Real Life and Surreal Wars

Tomas Young's war ended on the night before Veterans' Day 2014 when he passed away quietly in his sleep. His pain finally came to an end.

Body of War By Phil Donahue, Ellen Spiro, The Real News Network | Film Veterans, We're Sorry for How Our Country Treated You By The Daily Take Team, The Thom Hartmann Program | Op-Ed Veterans Urge Presidential Candidates to Say No to Militarism

The bullets that hit him in the streets of Baghdad in 2004 brought on more than a decade of agony and hardship, not only for him, but for his mother, his siblings, and his wife. Their suffering has yet to end.

Stories of the reality of war and its impact on this country are more crucial now than ever as America's wars seem only to multiply. Among us are more than 2.5 million veterans of our recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. We owe it to them to read their accounts -- and an increasing number of them are out there -- and do our best to understand what they've been through, and what they continue to go through. Then perhaps we can use that knowledge not only to properly address their needs, but to properly debate and possibly -- like Tomas Young -- even protest America's ongoing wars.

It would have been perfectly understandable for Tomas to have faced the pain, frustration, and failing health of his final years privately and in silence, but that wasn't him. Instead, he made his story part of our American record. To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.com here .

Mark Wilkerson

Mark Wilkerson spent eight years in the US Army as an AH-1 Cobra and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crew chief with the 3rd Infantry and 101st Airborne Divisions. He was deployed with the 101st to Somalia for six months in 1993. He is the author of Who Are You: The Life of Pete Townshend and co-wrote Pearl Jam Twenty . He has three children: Alex, Nick and Sam. He lives in Louisville, Kentucky, with his wife, Melissa. His latest book is Tomas Young's War (Haymarket Books).

[Jun 10, 2016] In 2009 it was immediately obvious Obama was a complete and total fraud and he has governed center right because he has a neocon much like Bush 11 and Clinton were

Notable quotes:
"... Obama implemented health care "reforms" that were written by a health care industry lobbyist and have further enriched Big Pharma and health insurers. ..."
"... Oh, come on. Lots of people have covered this at length. The country was petrified when Obama took office. He had a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate and the House. He could has passed anything he wanted. It was his own Robert Rubin holdover, bank friendly neoliberal Larry Summers, who argued for a smaller stimulus and bullied Christine Romer, whose modeling called for more. He could have passed real health care reform and didn't. ..."
"... Obama has governed center right because he has a center right world view. Presidents have enormous bully pulpits. They can move the Overton window if they choose to. He didn't make an effort because that is what he believes. I saw that with his disappointing first inauguration speech. He has even failed to do things that were entirely within his power, like his promised "first action" of his Administration of closing Gitmo. ..."
"... However, come 2009 it was immediately obvious Obama was a complete and total fraud ..."
"... With the help of the IM, by mid-2009 I fully understood that Obama was a continuation of Bush, and Bush was a continuation of Clinton. ..."
"... ike Clinton and Bush, Obama has done nothing but aggressively push this country, and the world, to the FAR right… by embracing a Global Corporate/Mafia/Neoliberal/Neocon 'New World Order' that exclusively privileges the 5% capitalist class over the 95% working class. ..."
"... You admit "Bill Clinton took the Democratic Party in a neoliberal direction"… but don't see that Obama did the exact same thing? How is that possible? ..."
"... NO WAY, NEVER EVER KILLERY. ..."
www.nakedcapitalism.com
Yves Smith Post author

Huh? Obama has not moved the US to the left. He had the opportunity to come down hard on Wall Street and didn't. He even engineered a second huge bailout for Wall Street, in the form of the "get out of liability almost free" card of the 2012 National Mortgage Settlement. He is keen to implement trade deals that would be huge wins for multinationals at the expense of national sovereignity, including the ability of the US to regulate product safety, financial services, and the environment. His Presidency has seen profit share of GDP rise to record levels, and a "recovery" where the 1% gained at the expense of everyone else.

Google "Jane Hamsher" and "veal pen". Obama from the very start of his presidency targeted well funded leftist groups and got them defunded, systematically.

Obama implemented health care "reforms" that were written by a health care industry lobbyist and have further enriched Big Pharma and health insurers. He made promises to raise the minimum wage that he failed to act on. His Supreme Court picks were centrist at best. His Department of Justice has been soft on anti-trust, soft on elite white collar crime. He's routinely used the Republicans as an excuse to do what he wanted, which was to govern center-right. He'd regularly concede 75% of what they asked for as his opening gambit. And then he'd move further right to get bills passed.

Yves Smith Post author

Oh, come on. Lots of people have covered this at length. The country was petrified when Obama took office. He had a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate and the House. He could has passed anything he wanted. It was his own Robert Rubin holdover, bank friendly neoliberal Larry Summers, who argued for a smaller stimulus and bullied Christine Romer, whose modeling called for more. He could have passed real health care reform and didn't.

He similarly could have passed real financial services industry reform and didn't. Dodd Frank was weak tea and had many of its provisions kicked over for study and later rulemaking, which was designed to let the industry have another go at watering it down. Danny Tarullo at the Fed singlehandedly has been a more effective force for reform than the Obama Administration.

The Obama administration enabled the taking by bank servicer of millions of homes when investors in those securitizations preferred modifications.

And please tell me what Obama has done in terms of improvements in consumer rights. The only thing I can think of is the CFPB's proposed rulemaking on mandatory arbitration. The only reason we got that is basically due to how Elizabeth Warren started up the CFPB, by creating a solid culture that held up over time. And he gave her that job with the hope she'd screw it up, not succeed. She had become a huge thorn in Timothy Geithner's side and they wanted to take her down a peg. But that plan backfired.

We wrote at GREAT length at the time how the FCIC was designed to do a crappy job and it did. By contrast, Ronald Reagan formed the Brady Commission to investigate the 1987 crash ten days after it happened, had it staffed with serious people, not lightweights like Phil Angildes (well meaning but out of his depth) and a subpoena process that guaranteed that no real investigation could or would be done. Obama reappointed Ben Bernanke, a Bush holderover who represented a continuation of the Greenspan policies that led to the crisis and bailed out the banks, imposed no executive or board changes, and did not pump for reform. By contrast, the Bank of England was much tougher with banks and fought tooth and nail for a Glass-Steagall type breakup of banks (it was stymied by the UK Treasury and got a partial win).

Gay rights? You mean Obama's weak and late endorsement of gay marriage? That's not legal action.

And the ACA was not "reform" but a program for more rent extraction by pharma and insurers. Did you manage to miss that the biggest groups funding the Obama campaign were the financial services industry, tech, and the medical/industrial complex?

It strengthened the position of insurers, and allows for profit levels that were higher than the industry enjoyed before the bill was passed. Obama never tried to sell single payer (in fact, his operatives targeted groups that advocated it), and was never serious about a public option. He took that off the table and got no concession from the other side. You never give a free concession in bargaining, ever. He just didn't want people talking about it any more.

The ACA has harmed a lot of people. Everyone I know who has to get a policy under the ACA is worse off. It is a nightmare for self employed people and people with erratic incomes. The only real benefit has been Medicaid expansion. And the ACA is going into a death spiral anyhow.

You really need to get out and deal with facts, not Democratic party/Administration PR.

More generally, you are selling the line "Obama was constrained." Bollocks. Obama has governed center right because he has a center right world view. Presidents have enormous bully pulpits. They can move the Overton window if they choose to. He didn't make an effort because that is what he believes. I saw that with his disappointing first inauguration speech. He has even failed to do things that were entirely within his power, like his promised "first action" of his Administration of closing Gitmo.

The success of the Sanders campaign, despite the MSM efforts to first ignore it and then ridicule it, shows how strong public support is for true progressive positions. If the Administration had gone in that direction, it would have had public opinion behind it and the media would have fallen in line.

I suggest you read:

Felix_47

Thank you for saying the obvious. And thank you for the Politico article which formulated my view as well and I am easily in the 1%, white, over educated and travelled, male and in the sixth decade. And I have mailed in my vote for Bernie. However in the cafeteria today one of the workers was talking about how he thought Bernie would kill in in CA and I reminded him he needed to vote since he was for him and his comment scared me…….He said he would vote for Bernie in the general but that he was registered as an independent because he does not believe in any of the parties and that he could not vote for Bernie……..but he said it did not matter…..unfortunately our precariate is not necessarily fully aware of the hoops required to vote…..and I am certain he is not alone…..there are many that want Bernie but just don't have it together to be able to vote for him.

Waldenpond

Yes, I just posted this…. 40% of NPPs that claimed to want to vote for Sanders just sent in their NPP ballots. They simply did not bother to request a D ballot.

Lambert Strether
  • Print this out and put it on the fridge, if you have a fridge.
  • (I'd also add that prosecuting banksters for accounting control fraud was under Obama's control at Justice, and would have been wildly popular across the political spectrum. Instead we got "I stand between you and the pitchforks."
  • Waldenpond

    Your back on memeorandum….which is pro-Clinton, ignore/excoriate Sanders today (well, most days)

    I did not read any of them, just the highlight that pops up….

    LGM… the people you know are 'dumb'
    DeLong is sorry he ever linked to you….
    Echidne of the Snakes… rotting, stinking something or other and your commenters are not representative of the D party.

    Steve in Dallas

    Yikes… "Barack Obama, a transformational figure, has moved the US back to the left – as much as possible"???

    At 45yo in late 2007 I was a "political naif"… still trusting the mainstream media. However, the Murdoch/FOX takeover of the WSJ pushed me to the internet… to follow the 'big crash'. Independent media sites like NakedCapitalism were so obviously and infinitely better to anything in the MSM I quickly was begging family/friends/everybody… "Please turn off the MSM. I learned more in one month reading the IM than I learned reading the WSJ daily for 20 years! The MSM is total garbage and totally corrupt"… BOYCOTT the MSM.

    Regarding Obama? All through 2008 I followed the IM election coverage, listened to his and Michael's campaign speeches. The message was clear… Obama was going to stop the out-of-control criminal banksters and Wall Streeters… AND stop the crazed out-of-control war criminals… MUCH more than Hillary! However, come 2009 it was immediately obvious Obama was a complete and total fraud. He immediately surrounded himself with the exact same economic and war criminals from the Clinton and Bush administrations. With the help of the IM, by mid-2009 I fully understood that Obama was a continuation of Bush, and Bush was a continuation of Clinton.

    Like Clinton and Bush, Obama has done nothing but aggressively push this country, and the world, to the FAR right… by embracing a Global Corporate/Mafia/Neoliberal/Neocon 'New World Order' that exclusively privileges the 5% capitalist class over the 95% working class.

    1) You admit "Bill Clinton took the Democratic Party in a neoliberal direction"… but don't see that Obama did the exact same thing? How is that possible?

    2) Even more audaciously disingenuous… "Clinton – pushed by progressive supporters – would continue that transformation". Bill's a neolib and Hillary is not? How is that possible?

    3) Reagan-Bush-Clinton-Bush-Obama were all consistent at creating your list of problems… "social justice issues, living wages, reversal of supply-side economic policy, protecting Social Security and other government agencies from privatization, and ending the Citizens United campaign finance regime… Supreme Court justice… Senate to provide its advice and consent"… and Hillary is here to fix those problems?

    4) To me your post sounds like just another TINA (there is no alternative) threat from the 5% telling the working class 95% slobs to back down and just take what they're given.

    I'm totally 100% with Yves' description of NC readers… NO WAY, NEVER EVER KILLERY.

    Thank you so much Yves… we/I love you!!!

    [Jun 10, 2016] This despicable, corrupt Clinton-style neocon Obama

    Notable quotes:
    "... He is keen to implement trade deals that would be huge wins for multinationals at the expense of national sovereignty, including the ability of the US to regulate product safety, financial services, and the environment. ..."
    "... His Presidency has seen profit share of GDP rise to record levels, and a "recovery" where the 1% gained at the expense of everyone else. ..."
    "... Obama implemented health care "reforms" that were written by a health care industry lobbyist and have further enriched Big Pharma and health insurers. ..."
    "... He made promises to raise the minimum wage that he failed to act on. ..."
    "... His Supreme Court picks were centrist at best. ..."
    "... His Department of Justice has been soft on anti-trust, soft on elite white collar crime. ..."
    "... He's routinely used the Republicans as an excuse to do what he wanted, which was to govern center-right. ..."
    "... He'd regularly concede 75% of what they asked for as his opening gambit. And then he'd move further right to get bills passed. ..."
    www.nakedcapitalism.com
    Yves Smith Post author

    Huh? Obama has not moved the US to the left. He had the opportunity to come down hard on Wall Street and didn't. He even engineered a second huge bailout for Wall Street, in the form of the "get out of liability almost free" card of the 2012 National Mortgage Settlement.

    He is keen to implement trade deals that would be huge wins for multinationals at the expense of national sovereignty, including the ability of the US to regulate product safety, financial services, and the environment.

    His Presidency has seen profit share of GDP rise to record levels, and a "recovery" where the 1% gained at the expense of everyone else.

    Google "Jane Hamsher" and "veal pen". Obama from the very start of his presidency targeted well funded leftist groups and got them defunded, systematically.

    1. Obama implemented health care "reforms" that were written by a health care industry lobbyist and have further enriched Big Pharma and health insurers.
    2. He made promises to raise the minimum wage that he failed to act on.
    3. His Supreme Court picks were centrist at best.
    4. His Department of Justice has been soft on anti-trust, soft on elite white collar crime.
    5. He's routinely used the Republicans as an excuse to do what he wanted, which was to govern center-right.
    6. He'd regularly concede 75% of what they asked for as his opening gambit. And then he'd move further right to get bills passed.

    [May 31, 2016] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_profiteering

    en.wikipedia.org

    mikedow. 3d ago

    Ambrose Bierce lost much public cachet when he predicted(?) McKinley would meet with a bullet, as some believed his words were assumed as justification by the assassin.

    From his "Devil's Dictionary":

    WAR, n. A by-product of the arts of peace. The most menacing political condition is a period of international amity. The student of history who has not been taught to expect the unexpected may justly boast himself inaccessible to the light. "In time of peace prepare for war" has a deeper meaning than is commonly discerned; it means, not merely that all things earthly have an end-that change is the one immutable and eternal law-but that the soil of peace is thickly sown with the seeds of war and singularly suited to their germination and growth. It was when Kubla Khan had decreed his "stately pleasure dome"-when, that is to say, there were peace and fat feasting in Xanadu- that he heard from afar Ancestral voices prophesying war.

    One of the greatest of poets, Coleridge was one of the wisest of men, and it was not for nothing that he read us this parable. Let us have a little less of "hands across the sea," and a little more of that elemental distrust that is the security of nations. War loves to come like a thief in the night; professions of eternal amity provide the night.

    His entry just previous to this is for:

    WALL STREET, n. A symbol of sin for every devil to rebuke. That Wall Street is a den of thieves is a belief that serves every unsuccessful thief in place of a hope in Heaven...

    I have a copy of his book "Tales of Soldiers and Civilians"; it's like reading a depressive version of Edgar Allen Poe, all foreboding and involving some supernatural force. Perhaps that's all he could find to explain the madness of the Civil War.

    [May 30, 2016] Endless war: Trump and the fantasy of cost-free conflict

    Wrapped in the flag  neocon bottom feeders like Hillary (and quite possibly Trump, although this article is from Guardian which is a fiercely pro-Clinton rag) might eventually destroy this nice country.
    Notable quotes:
    "... the Golden Era of the Chickenhawk. We keep electing leaders who, on the most basic experiential level, literally have no idea what they're doing. ..."
    "... Maybe they get away with it because we the people who keep voting them into office don't know anything about war ourselves. ..."
    "... As long as we're cocooned in our comfortable homeland fantasy of war, one can safely predict a long and successful run for the Era of the Chickenhawk ..."
    "... The author, like most Americans, is in denial about America's role in the world. The reason the US spends more on defense than the next 12 countries has nothing to do with self-defense. America wants to maintain its global military dominance. Both parties agree on this. Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, the war's purpose was to demonstrate American military power. Bill Kristol takes this a stage further and wants America to play the role of global hegemon and be in a state of constant war. This is a stupid idea. ..."
    "... It is a simple an obvious fact that the people most eager to see the US go to war, in every generation, are not the people who will suffer and die in those wars. Today is our Memorial Day. This is an article suggesting we, as Americans, stop and think about the people who were wounded and those who died in service to our country. Set aside your partisan rage and consider those people and their deaths, before you listen to words from any politician calling for more of those deaths. ..."
    "... And the hypocrisy of all this is how Hillary Clinton doesn't have a problem with war. She participated in toppling Libya and she was doing the same to Syria. So how is it all about Trump and what a war monger he is? ..."
    "... The corporations that sell war materiel actively push their products, ensure the support of the government through political contributions, and engage in blackmail by spreading out manufacturing over many locations. In this manner, the only way to profit is by selling weapons, killing more people. What state or city will want to lose employment by letting a manufacturer close? It is incredibly difficult to close an un-needed military base for the same reason, whether here or abroad. War is a great racket, the US has it down pat. ..."
    "... Hillary Clinton has started more wars, caused more death than Donald Trump....and yet....you don't mention that do you "We came, He died, We Laughed" ..."
    "... Unfortunately we're in a position where the United States is a debtor nation, and the easiest way to keep the house of cards from falling is to maintain "full spectrum dominance" in the words of the Pentagon. There's no easy way to unwind this situation. It is, however, absolutely crucial to keep a known psychopath like Clinton out of the command chair. ..."
    "... When congress votes to fund wars then [they need to] add 75% more for after care. As a combat veteran it pisses me off that [instead] charities are used to care for us. Most are run by want a be military, Senease, types. No charities, it's up to American people to pay every penny for our care, they voted for the war mongers so, so pay up people. Citizens need to know true costs, tax raises, cuts in SS , welfare, cuts in schools. Biggest thing, all elected officials and families and those work for them must use VA hospitals, let's see how that works out. ..."
    "... we insulate ourselves in a nice, warm cocoon of "Support Our Veterans" slogans and flag waving. ..."
    "... "Endless war: Trump and the fantasy of cost-free conflict " How about Hillary and the fantasy of war, PERIOD. There hasn't been a war she didn't like. Did you listen to her AIPAC speech? No 2 State solution there. ..."
    "... So easy to be the hero in your wet dreams, your shooter games, your securely located war rooms stocked with emergency rations and the external defibrillator. This sort of unhinged fantasizing has been the defining pattern of the Era of Endless War, in which people – old men, for the most part, a good number of them rich – who never experienced war – who in their youth ran as fast from it as they could – send young men and women – most of them middle- and working-class – across oceans to fight wars based on half-facts, cooked intelligence, and magical thinking on the grand geopolitical scale. Surely it's no coincidence that the Era of the AUMF, the Era of Endless War, is also the Golden Era of the Chickenhawk. We keep electing leaders who, on the most basic experiential level, literally have no idea what they're doing. ..."
    "... It is actually NOT Donald Trump who is advocating the endless global conflict and confrontation with Russia, China, India, Iran, Europe and North Korea. The candidate secretly advocating a never-ending war with the rest of the world is -- Madame Secretary, Hillary Clinton, in person. Aided and abetted - publicly - by her right-hand woman, another Madame Secretary, Madeleine Albright and yet another Madame Undersecretary, Samantha Power. All chicken hawks, all neoconservatives, all pseudo-democrats, all on Wall Street payroll, all white, and all women who will never see a second of combat for the rest of their lives. ..."
    "... So, the very major premise of the article is flawed and unsustainable. Which, of course, then makes the entire article collapse as false and misleading. ..."
    "... John Mearsheimer who is a history professor at the University of Chicago wrote a great book about American foreign policy. Mearsheimer explains how American foreign policy has developed over the centuries. He argues that it firs objective was to dominate the Western Hemisphere before extending its reach to Asia and Europe. The War of 1812 and the Monroe Doctrine was part of a plan to dominate the Americas. The U.S. stopped Japan and Germany dominating Asia and Europe in the 20th century. The U.S. continued to view the British Empire as its greatest threat and Roosevelt set about dismantling it during WW2. Once WW2 was won, the Soviet Union became America's new adversary and it maintained forces in Europe to check Soviet expansion. ..."
    "... Mearsheimer argues that the U.S. is often in denial about its behavior and Americans are taught that the U.S. is altruistic and a force for good in the world. Measheimer states that "idealist rhetoric provided a proper mask for the brutal policies that underpinned the tremendous growth of American power." In 1991 the U.S. became the world's only super-power and according to Mearsheimer its main foreign policy objective was to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival. ..."
    "... Mearsheimer claims that America's foreign policy elite is still largely made up of people who want to keep America on top, but these days they usually prefer to keep their views under wraps. ..."
    "... Trump is the only candidate I've ever heard question the cost of war, it's part of the reason he said we should flush NATO and we can't police the world for free any longer. ..."
    "... I have no problem with destroying ISIS. I have a problem with fighting Russia over every former Soviet state on their doorstep ala Madam Secretary. The best way to remember the war dead is to work to ensure that their ranks do not swell. ..."
    May 28, 2016 | theguardian.com

    As America marks Memorial Day, politicians should spare us the saber-rattling and reserve some space for silence

    ... ... ...

    The times are such that fantasy war-mongering is solidly mainstream. We've seen candidates call for a new campaign of "shock and awe" (Kasich), for carpet-bombing and making the desert glow (Cruz), for "bomb[ing] the shit out of them" (Trump), for waterboarding "and a hell of a lot worse" (Trump again), and for pre-emptive strikes and massive troop deployments (Jeb). One candidate purchased a handgun as "the last line of defense between Isis and my family" (Rubio), and the likely Democratic nominee includes "the nail-eaters – McChrystal, Petraeus, Keane" among her preferred military advisers, and supports "intensification and acceleration" of US military efforts in Iraq and Syria. Yes, America has many enemies who heartily hate our guts and would do us every harm they're able to inflict, but the failures of hard power over the past 15 years seem utterly lost on our political class. After the Paris attacks last December, Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard suggested that a force of 50,000 US troops deployed to Syria, supported by air power, would crush Isis in short order, leading to the liberation of Fallujah, Mosul, and other Isis strongholds. "I don't think there's much in the way of unanticipated side-effects that are going to be bad there," opined Kristol – funny guy! – who back in 2002 said that removing Saddam Hussein "could start a chain reaction in the Arab world that would be very healthy".

    ... ... ...

    "A night of waking," as Bierce tersely described it years later. The sheer volume and accuracy of ordnance made this a new kind of war, a machine for pulping acres of human flesh. Regardless of who was winning or losing, shock-and-awe was the common experience of both sides; Confederate and Union soldiers alike could hardly believe the things they were doing and having done to them, and when Bierce turned to the writer's trade after the war, some fundamental rigor or just plain contrariness wouldn't let him portray his war in conventionally heroic terms. In his hands, sentimentality and melodrama became foils for twisted jokes. Glory was ambiguous at best, a stale notion that barely hinted at the suicidal nature of valor in this kind of war. A wicked gift for honesty served up the eternal clash between duty and the survival instinct, as when, early in the war, Bierce and his fellow rookies come across a group of Union dead:

    How repulsive they looked with their blood-smears, their blank, staring eyes, their teeth uncovered by contraction of the lips! The frost had begun already to whiten their deranged clothing. We were as patriotic as ever, but we did not wish to be that way.

    ... ... ...

    Black humor sits alongside mordantly cool accounts of battles, wounds, horrors, absurd and tragic turns of luck. There are lots of ghosts in Bierce's work, a menagerie of spirits and bugaboos as well as hauntings of the more prosaic sort, people detached in one way or another from themselves – amnesiacs, hallucinators, somnambulists, time trippers. People missing some part of their souls. Often Bierce writes of the fatal, or nearly so, shock, the twist that flips conventional wisdom on its back and shows reality to be much darker and crueler than we want to believe. It's hard not to read the war into much of Bierce's writing, even when the subject is ostensibly otherwise. He was the first American writer of note to experience modern warfare, war as mass-produced death, and the first to try for words that would be true to the experience. He charted this new terrain, and it's in Bierce that we find the original experience that all subsequent American war writers would grapple with. Hemingway and Dos Passos in the first world war; Mailer, Heller, Jones and Vonnegut in the second world war; O'Brien, Herr and Marlantes in Vietnam: they're all heritors of Bierce.

    It's not decorative, what these writers were going for. They weren't trying to write fancy, or entertain, or preach a sermon; they weren't writing to serve a political cause, at least not in any immediate sense. One suspects that on some level they didn't have a choice, as if they realized they would never know any peace in themselves unless they found a way of writing that, if it couldn't make sense of their war, at least respected it. Words that represented the experience for what it was, without illusion or fantasy. Words that would resist the eternal American genius for cheapening and dumbing down.

    .... ... ...

    ...unhinged fantasizing has been the defining pattern of the Era of Endless War, in which people – old men, for the most part, a good number of them rich – who never experienced war – who in their youth ran as fast from it as they could – send young men and women – most of them middle- and working-class – across oceans to fight wars based on half-facts, cooked intelligence, and magical thinking on the grand geopolitical scale. Surely it's no coincidence that the Era of the AUMF, the Era of Endless War, is also the Golden Era of the Chickenhawk. We keep electing leaders who, on the most basic experiential level, literally have no idea what they're doing.

    Maybe they get away with it because we the people who keep voting them into office don't know anything about war ourselves. We know the fantasy version, the movie version, but only that 1% of the nation – and their families – who have fought the wars truly know the hardship involved. For the rest of us, no sacrifice has been called for: none. No draft. No war tax (but huge deficits), and here it bears noting that the top tax rate during the second world war was 90%. No rationing, the very mention of which is good for a laugh. Rationing? That was never part of the discussion. But those years when US soldiers were piling sandbags into their thin-skinned Humvees and welding scrap metal on to the sides also happened to coincide with the heyday of the Hummer here at home. Where I live in Dallas, you couldn't drive a couple of blocks without passing one of those beasts, 8,600 hulking pounds of chrome and steel. Or for a really good laugh, how about this: gas rationing. If it's really about the oil, we could support the troops by driving less, walking more. Or suppose it's not about the oil at all, but about our freedoms, our values, our very way of life – that it's truly "a clash of civilizations", in the words of Senator Rubio. If that's the case, if this is what we truly believe, then our politicians should call for, and we should accept no less than, full-scale mobilization: a draft, confiscatory tax rates, rationing.

    Some 3.5 million Americans fought in the civil war, out of a population of 31 million. For years the number killed in action was estimated at 620,000, though recent scholarship suggests a significantly higher figure, from a low of 650,000 to a high of 850,000. In any case, it's clear that the vast majority of American families had, as we say these days, skin in the game. The war was real; having loved ones at risk made it real. Many saw battles being fought in their literal backyards. Lincoln himself watched the fighting from the DC ramparts, saw men shot and killed. The lived reality of the thing was so brutally direct that it would be more than 50 years before the US embarked on another major war. To be sure, there was the brief Spanish-American war in 1898, and a three-year native insurgency in the Philippines, and various forays around the Caribbean and Central America, but the trauma of the civil war cut so deep and raw that the generation that fought it was largely cured of war. Our own generation's appetite seems steadily robust even as we approach the 15th anniversary of the AUMF, which, given the circumstances, makes sense. As long as we're cocooned in our comfortable homeland fantasy of war, one can safely predict a long and successful run for the Era of the Chickenhawk

    Bierce survived his own war, barely. Two weeks after writing to a friend "my turn will come", and one day before his 22nd birthday, he was shot in the head near Kennesaw Mountain, Georgia. The sniper's ball broke his skull "like a walnut", penetrating the left temple, fracturing the temporal lobe and doglegging down and around behind his left ear, where it stayed. Head shots in that era were almost always fatal, but Bierce survived not only the initial wound, but an awful two-day train ride on an open flatcar to an army hospital in Chattanooga.

    He recovered, more or less. Not the easiest personality to begin with, Bierce showed no appreciable mellowing from his war experience. His life is an ugly litany of feuds, ruptures, lawsuits, friends betrayed or abandoned, epic temper tantrums and equally epic funks. He was a lousy husband – cold, critical, philandering – and essentially abandoned his wife after 17 years of marriage. His older son shot himself dead at age 16, and the younger drank himself to death in his 20s; for his own part, Bierce maintained a lifelong obsession with suicide. In October 1913, after a distinguished, contentious 50-year career that had made him one of the most famous and hated men in America, Bierce left Washington DC and headed for Mexico, intending to join, or report on – it was never quite clear – Pancho Villa's revolutionary army. En route, dressing every day entirely in black, he paid final visits to the battlefields of his youth, hiking for miles in the Indian summer heat around Orchard Knob, Missionary Ridge, Hell's Half-Acre. For one whole day at Shiloh he sat by himself in the blazing sun. In November he crossed from Laredo into Mexico, and was never heard from again, an exit dramatic enough to inspire a bestselling novel by Carlos Fuentes, The Old Gringo, and a movie adaptation of the same name starring Gregory Peck.

    Late in life, Bierce described his military service in these terms:

    It was once my fortune to command a company of soldiers – real soldiers. Not professional life-long fighters, the product of European militarism – just plain, ordinary American volunteer soldiers, who loved their country and fought for it with never a thought of grabbing it for themselves; that is a trick which the survivors were taught later by gentlemen desiring their votes.

    About those gentlemen – and women – desiring votes: since when did it become not just acceptable but required for politicians to hold forth on Memorial Day? Who gave them permission to speak for the violently dead? Come Monday we'll be up to our ears in some of the emptiest, most self-serving dreck ever to ripple the atmosphere, the standard war-fantasy talk of American politics along with televangelist-style purlings about heroes, freedoms, the supreme sacrifice. Trump will tell us how much he loves the veterans, and how much they love him back. Down-ticket pols will re-terrorize and titillate voters with tough talk about Isis. Hemingway, for one, had no use for this kind of guff, as shown in a famous passage from A Farewell to Arms:

    There were many words that you could not stand to hear and finally only the names of the places had dignity. Certain numbers were the same way and certain dates and these with the names of the places were all you could say and have them mean anything. Abstract words such as glory, honor, courage, or hallow were obscene beside the concrete names of villages, the numbers of roads, the names of rivers, the numbers of regiments and the dates.
    caravanserai , 2016-05-31 01:46:32
    The author, like most Americans, is in denial about America's role in the world. The reason the US spends more on defense than the next 12 countries has nothing to do with self-defense. America wants to maintain its global military dominance. Both parties agree on this. Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, the war's purpose was to demonstrate American military power. Bill Kristol takes this a stage further and wants America to play the role of global hegemon and be in a state of constant war. This is a stupid idea.

    Even if Saddam had WMDs, he still had nothing to do with 9/11. The politicians are very good at finding new scapegoats and switching the blame. A bunch of Saudis attacked the US on 9/11 so invade Iraq and Afghanistan. Bin Laden moves to Pakistan so pretend you don't know where he is. Some European terrorists kill other Europeans so Hillary wants to invade Syria. The assumption seems to be that all Muslims are the same, it does not matter where you kill them.

    JohnManyjars , 2016-05-31 01:12:38
    Fantastic writing...shame Murika won't listen to any of it.

    charlieblue

    Reading the comments and conversations below, I found myself sickened and saddened by how many of my fellow Americans can read a considered and well written article like this and imagine it is a partisan screed.

    It is a simple an obvious fact that the people most eager to see the US go to war, in every generation, are not the people who will suffer and die in those wars. Today is our Memorial Day. This is an article suggesting we, as Americans, stop and think about the people who were wounded and those who died in service to our country. Set aside your partisan rage and consider those people and their deaths, before you listen to words from any politician calling for more of those deaths.

    lattimote, 2016-05-30T13:08:53Z
    "Endless war," but it's not only attacks against other nations, it's a war against civil liberties thus leading to a state in which, whistle blowers, folks who poke holes in the government's 911 theory or complain about military operations in the China Sea may be considered unpatriotic, maybe worse.
    Dubikau
    A friend recently asked, "What's the big deal about wars? I'v seen them on TV lots of times. They have nothing to do with me." Alas, a generation or two after a devastating conflict, it seems people forget. The lessons of history are unknown or irrelevant to the ignorant, the horror beyond imagination. That the clown, Trump, has made it this far is a living horror movie. As Emerson said about someone:

    "The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons."

    He's a liar and a joke. Neither friends nor enemies can take him seriously and he is unpredictable.

    Bellanova Nova
    Excellent article.

    We must start talking seriously about Trump's pathology guarantees conflict and chaos, and should he get elected, an escalation of an endless war. The ramifications of his incurable and uncontrollable character defect in a political leader are dire and people should be educated about them before it's too late: https://medium.com/@Elamika/the-unbearable-lightness-of-being-a-narcissist-251ec901dae7#.xywh6cceu

    Philip Lundt
    As a veteran I have to ask you Ben: who gave you "permission to speak for the violently dead?"

    A lot of people love Donald Trump. It's not because they are racists warmongers, ignorant, misinformed or stupid. Veterans overwhelmingly support Donald trump. Go ahead call us racists and warmongers too.

    And the hypocrisy of all this is how Hillary Clinton doesn't have a problem with war. She participated in toppling Libya and she was doing the same to Syria. So how is it all about Trump and what a war monger he is?

    villas1
    Bravo. War is a racket.
    olman132 -> villas1
    As practiced in the US, certainly. The corporations that sell war materiel actively push their products, ensure the support of the government through political contributions, and engage in blackmail by spreading out manufacturing over many locations. In this manner, the only way to profit is by selling weapons, killing more people. What state or city will want to lose employment by letting a manufacturer close? It is incredibly difficult to close an un-needed military base for the same reason, whether here or abroad. War is a great racket, the US has it down pat.
    Jim Given
    When your'e putting your life at risk in a war zone wondering if you're going to make it back home, there's damned little discussion about politics. Whatever your reasons might have been for signing on the dotted line, all that matters then is the sailor, soldier, marine or airman standing beside you. It's discouraging, although painfully predictable, to read so few comments about veterans and so many comments about divisive politics.
    Mshand
    Hillary Clinton has started more wars, caused more death than Donald Trump....and yet....you don't mention that do you "We came, He died, We Laughed"
    USApatriot12
    Unfortunately we're in a position where the United States is a debtor nation, and the easiest way to keep the house of cards from falling is to maintain "full spectrum dominance" in the words of the Pentagon. There's no easy way to unwind this situation. It is, however, absolutely crucial to keep a known psychopath like Clinton out of the command chair.

    talenttruth

    For over 30 years, Americans have been carefully "programmed" 24/7, by deliberate Fear / Fear / Fear propaganda, so we would believe that the entire world is full of evil, maniacal enemies out to "get us."

    Of course there always ARE insane haters out there, who are either jealous of America's wealth, or who (more sophisticated than that) resent America's attempt to colonize-by-marketing, the entire world for its unchecked capitalism. Two sides of the same American "coin." Those who are conscripting jobless, hopeless young men overseas to be part of an equally mad "fundamentalist" army against America ~ benefit hugely FROM our militarism, which "proves their point," from their warped perspective.

    Thus do the (tiny minority) of crazy America-haters out there (who we help create WITH our militarism), serve as ongoing Perfectly Plausible Proof for Paranoia ~ the fuel for 24/7 fear/fear/fear propaganda. And who benefits from that propaganda? Oh wait, let us all think on that. For five seconds.

    In 1959, Republican war hero and President Dwight David Eisenhower warned us against combining the incentives of capitalism with the un-audited profitability of wars: the "military industrial complex." But in we Americans' orgy of personal materialism since the 1960's, we all forgot his warning and have let that "complex" take over the nation, the world, all our pocketbooks (53% or more of our treasury now goes to "defense" ~ what a lying word THAT is).

    Answer? It it the 1-percent, crazily Wealth Hoarder super-rich who (a) profit insanely from Eternal War and who now own (b) America's so-called "free press" (ha ha), the latter of which now slants all news towards Threat, Fear, and War, again, 24/7. And now that "their" Nazi Supreme Court has ruled that "money" = free speech, that same of sociopathic criminal class ALSO is coming to own politics. Welcome to fully blooming Corporate Fascism, folks.

    bullypulpit

    In his book "1984" George Orwell wrote, "War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength." Have we fallen so far that we are living that nightmare without question? When we hear the voices of politicians, with those on the political right being the most egregious offenders, clamoring for war, we must not forget the cost. Not just in terms of treasure, but especially of the blood spilled by our men and women in uniform. Ask, "Are the causes they are being asked to fight...and die...for, worthy of the sacrifice?"

    Jim Given -> bullypulpit

    I'm afraid that yes, we actually have fallen that far. The Patriot Act is the quintessential example. Who could possibly oppose something called The Patriot Act?

    Jim Given -> bullypulpit

    The War on Terror, another fine example. What, you oppose fighting terrorists? The language stifles (reasoned) dissent. It's brilliant, really.

    Tom Farkas

    Every year I get an uncomfortable sensation around Memorial Day. I know why now thanks to this article. I didn't serve in the armed forces. Not for want. I was a post Vietnam teenager. The armed forces were a joke during the Carter years and the US was in the middle of detante with the USSR. Nothing to fight about and the word terrorist was still a few years away from being reinvented. My Dad was a decorated veteran of the police action in Korea. He lost his best friend there. He rarely talked about it. He and I sat on the couch watching the fall of Saigon on TV. He silently cried. It was all for not. All those lives, all that misery, all for nothing but power and glory. He knew it and I've known it since but just couldn't put a finger on it. Thanks for this article.

    talenttruth -> Tom Farkas

    Tom, what a beautiful post. My husband and I (recently married after we were finally "allowed" to, just like "real people"), are both Vietnam veterans (we had to "hide" in order to serve). And I had majored in college in "U.S. Constitutional History," then worked worked (ironically!) in the advertising "industry" (the Lie Factory) for enough years to see how America, business and our society actually works, INSTEAD of "constitutionally."

    My self-preoccupied generation sleepwalked from the 1960's until now, foolishly allowing the super-rich to gradually make nearly every giant corporation dependent on military contracts.

    Example? The European Union has openly subsidized its aircraft manufacturer, Airbus. But here, in the USA ~ that would be "socialism," and so Boeing was forced instead (in order to compete) to rely on military contracts ("military welfare.") They're both "government subsidization," but ours is crooked.

    So what do we get when all corporations "must have" ongoing Business, in order to keep their insatiable profits rolling in? Eternal War. And its "unfortunate side effects" - maimed veterans, dead soldiers, sailors and airmen, and the revolting hypocrisy of "Memorial Day."

    On that day, we pay "respect" to those who died serving the Military Marketing Department for America's totally out of control, unchecked capitalism, which only serves the overlords at the top.

    Sorry to sound so grim, but I did not serve my country, to have it thus stolen.

    Barclay Reynolds

    When congress votes to fund wars then [they need to] add 75% more for after care. As a combat veteran it pisses me off that [instead] charities are used to care for us. Most are run by want a be military, Senease, types. No charities, it's up to American people to pay every penny for our care, they voted for the war mongers so, so pay up people. Citizens need to know true costs, tax raises, cuts in SS , welfare, cuts in schools. Biggest thing, all elected officials and families and those work for them must use VA hospitals, let's see how that works out.

    Jim Given -> Barclay Reynolds

    Failure to care for our veterans is a national disgrace. Thanks for your service brother.

    SusanPrice58 -> Barclay Reynolds

    I agree. While I'm sure that most of these charities try to do well, it always makes me angry to think about why the need for charities to care for veterans exists. If we are determined to fight these wars - then every citizen should have to have deep involvement of some sort. Raise taxes, ration oil, watch footage of battles, restore the draft - whatever. Instead, we insulate ourselves in a nice, warm cocoon of "Support Our Veterans" slogans and flag waving.

    Tom Wessel

    "Endless war: Trump and the fantasy of cost-free conflict "

    How about Hillary and the fantasy of war, PERIOD. There hasn't been a war she didn't like. Did you listen to her AIPAC speech? No 2 State solution there.

    gwpriester
    The obscene amount of money the US pays just on the interest on the trillions "borrowed" for the Afghanistan and Iraq adventures would fix most that is wrong with the world. Bush & Cheney discovered if you don't raise taxes, require financial sacrifices, and do not have a draft, that you can wage bogus wars of choice for over a decade without so much as a peep of protest from the public. It is sickening how much good that money could do instead of all the death and destruction it bought.
    AllenPitt
    "So easy to be the hero in your wet dreams, your shooter games, your securely located war rooms stocked with emergency rations and the external defibrillator. This sort of unhinged fantasizing has been the defining pattern of the Era of Endless War, in which people – old men, for the most part, a good number of them rich – who never experienced war – who in their youth ran as fast from it as they could – send young men and women – most of them middle- and working-class – across oceans to fight wars based on half-facts, cooked intelligence, and magical thinking on the grand geopolitical scale. Surely it's no coincidence that the Era of the AUMF, the Era of Endless War, is also the Golden Era of the Chickenhawk. We keep electing leaders who, on the most basic experiential level, literally have no idea what they're doing."

    EXACTLY!

    OZGODRK

    It is actually NOT Donald Trump who is advocating the endless global conflict and confrontation with Russia, China, India, Iran, Europe and North Korea. The candidate secretly advocating a never-ending war with the rest of the world is -- Madame Secretary, Hillary Clinton, in person. Aided and abetted - publicly - by her right-hand woman, another Madame Secretary, Madeleine Albright and yet another Madame Undersecretary, Samantha Power. All chicken hawks, all neoconservatives, all pseudo-democrats, all on Wall Street payroll, all white, and all women who will never see a second of combat for the rest of their lives.

    So, the very major premise of the article is flawed and unsustainable. Which, of course, then makes the entire article collapse as false and misleading.

    MOZGODRK -> arrggh

    But you are missing the entire point. Trump is NOT advocating the conflict; he is advocating that we TALK to our enemies, so his lack of combat experience is a moot point.

    On the other hand, the Clintons, the Alzhe...er, Albright, and the Samantha Power-Tripp are all totally kosher with sending millions to die, knowing that they themselves will not experience a nanosecond of hot cognitive experience.

    caravanserai

    John Mearsheimer who is a history professor at the University of Chicago wrote a great book about American foreign policy. Mearsheimer explains how American foreign policy has developed over the centuries. He argues that it firs objective was to dominate the Western Hemisphere before extending its reach to Asia and Europe. The War of 1812 and the Monroe Doctrine was part of a plan to dominate the Americas. The U.S. stopped Japan and Germany dominating Asia and Europe in the 20th century. The U.S. continued to view the British Empire as its greatest threat and Roosevelt set about dismantling it during WW2. Once WW2 was won, the Soviet Union became America's new adversary and it maintained forces in Europe to check Soviet expansion.

    Mearsheimer argues that the U.S. is often in denial about its behavior and Americans are taught that the U.S. is altruistic and a force for good in the world. Measheimer states that "idealist rhetoric provided a proper mask for the brutal policies that underpinned the tremendous growth of American power." In 1991 the U.S. became the world's only super-power and according to Mearsheimer its main foreign policy objective was to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival. Following the difficult wars in Afghanistan and Iraq the U.S. is less certain of its global role. Mearsheimer claims that America's foreign policy elite is still largely made up of people who want to keep America on top, but these days they usually prefer to keep their views under wraps. Trump seems to be proposing something completely different.

    Rescue caravanserai
    Trump is not proposing anything different. His foreign policy is the same as the establishment. He is not anti-war, nor more hawkish than Obama or Clinton. Trumps FP is unilateral i.e. The US will go it alone without the UN or anyone else, attack any country he feels is threatning, without paying attention to intl. law, or "political correctness" as he calls it, i.e. the US will kill and torture as many ppl as it feels like to feel safe, and pay no attention to the Geneva Conventions. Other statements about his intended FP, that the msm calls shocking, has already been done, i.e. bomb the crap out of people, kill families of terrorists, waterboarding and much worse. These have been common policies since 9/11 & before. Another policy is to steal Iraq's oil. This has been de facto US FP in the Middle East since Eisenhower. The difference is that Trump says it outright. He makes subtext into the text.
    Falanx
    I agree with the overall point of this article... but focusing on the GOP and Trump, detracts from its otherwise valid points. What about Wilson, Truman, Johnson, Clinton, Obama and Hillary? Especially Hillary ("We came, We saw, He died") who evidently considers herself a latter day Caesar. The plain fact is that the US was conceived as a warmongering nation. Everyone else in the world understands this.
    DanInTheDesert
    Wow. What a fantastic article . This is what we need in the era of twitter journalism -- a long think piece. Thank you.[*]

    Having said that I have disagree with the conclusion -- we have just a little over a week to avoid a forced choice between two hawks. The chances are slim but not impossible -- be active this weekend. Phonebank for Sanders. Convince a Californian to show up and vote.

    PrinceVlad

    Trump is the only candidate I've ever heard question the cost of war, it's part of the reason he said we should flush NATO and we can't police the world for free any longer.

    Kenarmy -> PrinceVlad

    "Donald Trump would deploy up to 30,000 American soldiers in the Middle East to defeat the Islamic State, he said at Thursday night's debate."
    http://www.politico.com/blogs/2016-gop-primary-live-updates-and-results/2016/03/trump-iraq-syria-220608#ixzz49yJWQras

    30,000? More like 300,000! The 30,000 will be the dead and wounded. But hey, Trump went to a military academy high school, and thus he has a military background ("always felt that I was in the military" because he attended a military boarding school)- http://www.politico.com/story/2015/09/donald-trump-military-service-213392#ixzz49yKU9awC

    PrinceVlad -> Kenarmy

    I have no problem with destroying ISIS. I have a problem with fighting Russia over every former Soviet state on their doorstep ala Madam Secretary. The best way to remember the war dead is to work to ensure that their ranks do not swell.

    [*] and if anyone is reading who deals with such things -- y'all need to accept paypal or bitcoin so I can subscribe. Who uses their credit card online anymore?

    [May 30, 2016] Red Hot Jingoism, With a Side of Apple Pie

    marknesop.wordpress.com
    Peruse, if you will, this sabre-rattling pile of poop . Coming on the heels of recent articles which warn that the west sees a nuclear war as both winnable and possible , even probable, and the conviction that a new western strategy is the attempt to initiate a Kremlin palace coup by Russian nationalist hardliners fed up with Putin's squishiness because he will not respond more aggressively to NATO provocations on Russia's doorstep, it's hard not to conclude that the west has lost its mind. If the fear of a planet-devastating nuclear war – in which the two major world nuclear powers pull out all the stops in an unrestricted attempt to annihilate one another – no longer holds our behaviors in check…what's scarier than that?

    We seriously need to persuade our leaders, in the strongest terms, that they cannot talk smack like that. It might seem funny to you to hear a senior government official from the country that fabricated a case for war so it could destroy its old enemy, Saddam Hussein, and lay waste to his country and people, prattling on about 'the rules-based international order', just as if the United States recognizes any limitations on its application of raw power, anywhere on the globe, in its own interests. It's quite true that whenever the USA wants to start a war with someone, it first makes out a case that this is a situation in which it must act. And even its critics would have to acknowledge that it is damned good at this sort of fakery, and has come a long way since one of its premiere PR firms – Hill & Knowlton – coached the daughter of the Kuwaiti Ambassador to the United States through her performance as a make-believe Kuwaiti nurse devastated by Saddam's forces' make-believe plundering of a Kuwaiti hospital, something which did not happen. It did, however, strike precisely the right responsive chord in public anger and disgust to kick off Gulf War I. Both wars against Iraq got off the ground on entirely fabricated scenarios calculated to get the rubes all in a lather to do the right thing. To hear a self-righteous assrocket like Ashton Carter maunder on about the rules-based international order, considering the United States encouraged the military campaign by the Ukrainian government to kill its own citizens in a blatant violation of the very core principles of the imaginary rules-based international order…why, it's a little like listening to Imelda Marcos teaching a seminar on how to take care of your shoes so they'll last a long time and you won't have to buy more. I have to say, it just… it makes me mad.

    What has really brought us to this point in the history of the Big Blue Marble is that despite the progress we've made together since the end of the Cold War, the indispensable and exceptional nation has in recent years tried by various means to overthrow the government of Russia, without success. It has tried incentivizing and supporting opposition movements, and got most of its NGO's kicked out of the country for its pains. It has tried sexual politics, hoping to mobilize the world's homosexuals against 'Putin's draconian anti-gay laws', only to have the effort fall flat. It has tried open economic warfare, which worked just long enough for President Obama to take credit for it , then Russian counter-sanctions made European businesses wish they had never heard of President Obama . Shortly after that, Russia began to muscle in on US agricultural markets ; a startlingly lifelike performance for a dying country. It looks like everything that has been tried in the effort to send Russia down for a dirtnap has failed. What's left? They're running out of war-alternative regime-change efforts.

    And what has made Washington suddenly so cocky with the nuclear stick? Could it be that its European-based missile defense system has just gone live ? After all Obama's waffling, after his backing away from the missile defense the hawks wanted, in the winding-down days of his presidency he re-committed to it, and the site in Romania has started up, with great fanfare. Washington continues to insist, tongue in cheek, that the system is not and cannot be targeted against Russia's nuclear deterrent, but for what other purpose could it be there? The rogue-missiles-from-Iran canard is pretty much played out. It seems pretty clear that Washington figures its interceptors (the Standard series SM3) give it a potential first-strike capability, which would – in theory – see Washington's unalerted launch taking out most of Russia's ICBM's in their silos, and the forward-based interceptors taking out the few missiles that avoided Washington's hammer-blow. If they don't believe that, why the sudden nuclear-weapons nose-thumbing?

    If they do believe that, it's a big mistake. First of all, where the USA relies on a nuclear triad deterrent – land-based, air-deployable and seaborne nuclear missiles – Russia adds a fourth leg; mobile Transporter/Erector/Launcher (TEL) vehicles which have a demonstrated off-road capability, so that they could be most anywhere. The USA could not be sure of hitting all Russia's land-based missiles before launch. Then there is the sea-based component, in SSBN's, ballistic-missile submarines. The BOREI Class carries the Bulava missile. Each of the 20 missiles can carry up to 10 MIRV warheads of 150 kilotons yield. The USA is already worried that it is falling behind Russia and China in submarine capability. Finally, Russia has the 'dead hand' system, which is an automatic program that will launch all undestroyed fixed-site missiles even if everyone in Russia is dead.

    ... ... ...

    This is an existential battle for Russia. No amount of conciliatory gestures will buy it peace, and the United States is determined to push it off the edge of the world. With NATO surrounding it, even if it disbanded its military and plowed all its croplands into flowerbeds, the west would still pretend to see it as a threat, and would foment internal discord until it broke apart. Russia's leaders know this. Its people know this. Strutting up and down the border and waving the NATO flag is not going to make Russia get scared about 'consequences', and kneel in the dirt. NATO's fundamental problem is that it understands neither the Russian character or the true circumstances in the country, preferring to rely on rosy estimates presented by its think tanks.

    The biggest 'consequence' of this dick-waving and posturing is that we are back where we were in 1947.

    Patient Observer , May 24, 2016 at 10:16 am
    Mark, a very timely and well-written post! The red hot approaching white hot rhetoric is unnerving to the sane. Yet, there is virtually no chance of a successful US first strike for the reasons you mentioned. If some breakthrough in ABM technology were to occur that could be quickly retrofit to existing installations then a strategic imbalance could occur. I suppose Russia must assume that is the US thinking so such a worst-case scenarios needs to be part of their strategic planning.

    We had Star Wars back in the 80's designed to render Soviet missiles useless. Yet any competent scientist or engineer could determine that it was ALL BS. A favorite story was that a scientist indicated an anti-missile laser system they were working on had achieve 10 to the 7th power output (don't remember the units) but they needed to reach 10 to the 14th power output. An eager politician reported to the administration that all they needed was TWO of the lasers to shoot down Soviet missiles.

    So, my take is that the US rhetoric is based on two possibilities – one that you mentioned is that everything else has failed so why not give war a chance. The Russians, being substantially saner that the West, and knowing the horrors of war, could back down in deference to the survival of humanity. The other ploy could be to induce Russia into another arms race to bankrupt their economy. This later strategy, if it is the case, would have been formulated from the widely mistaken belief that the 80's Star Wars eventually forced the collapse of the Soviet Union. That is the danger of using sustained propaganda indiscriminately, your own side may end up believing it.

    One last thought is that no one foresaw the collapse of the Soviet Union. By poking around enough, perhaps the West thinks something can trigger a similar cascade of events resulting in the collapse of Russia. Its sort of magical thinking without basis in reality but its good enough for politicians and think tanks. Just keep Gorbachev out of Russia:)

    Your warning about how the West, having given up on a liberal revolution, would now like a nationalistic coup in Russia was spot on. Nothing could be worse for Russia than engaging in a tit-for-tat battle with the West. The Russian strategy seems to be working quite nicely as its economy adjusts to life without the West, it outsmarts the Empire at every turn and the Eurasian Union proceeds.

    Northern Star , May 24, 2016 at 1:12 pm
    Depending on how things go in November….one must remember that Santa Coup could come down the White House chimney….
    et Al , May 24, 2016 at 2:08 pm
    …everything else has failed so why not give war a chance
    ####

    John Lennon would have wept. Genius PO! Genius!

    It looks like we all agree that the US is at loose ends. So far all its plans have come to naught, so trying a little bit of everything in the hope that something magical will happen (as noted), is a massive indictment on US governmental institutions. Damned stubborn Russians.

    [May 26, 2016] Out of the Cold War?

    Notable quotes:
    "... The basic foreign policy here is one of liberal hegemony-and it has two dimensions to it. The first is that we're bent on militarily dominating the entire globe-there's no place on the planet that doesn't matter to the indispensable nation, we care about every nook and cranny of the planet and we're interested in being militarily dominate here, there, and everywhere. That's the first dimension. The second dimension is we're deeply committed to transforming the world-we're deeply committed to making everybody look like us. ..."
    "... Without a strategic rethink in U.S.-Russian relations, Mearsheimer warned that Russian paranoia and sense of vulnerability could ignite conflict. When asked about the biggest foreign policy mistake of the last 25 years, Mearsheimer first said Iraq, and then added the crisis in Ukraine and the resulting destabilization of U.S.-Russian relations: "If you take a country like Russia, that has a sense of vulnerability, and you push them towards the edge, you get in their face, you're asking for trouble." ..."
    May 23, 2016 | theamericanconservative.com
    "CKI Vice President William Ruger began by posing the question: "Has there been a coherent theme to U.S. foreign policy over the last 25 years?" In response, Mearsheimer dove into a description of liberal hegemony over the last two decades, which essentially amounts to the U.S. being involved everywhere to avoid a problem popping up anywhere. He argued that the U.S. undertook this commitment to direct globalization and proceeded to muck up the Middle East and Europe. To most people, this sounds a lot like a vestige of post-Cold War triumphalism:

    The basic foreign policy here is one of liberal hegemony-and it has two dimensions to it. The first is that we're bent on militarily dominating the entire globe-there's no place on the planet that doesn't matter to the indispensable nation, we care about every nook and cranny of the planet and we're interested in being militarily dominate here, there, and everywhere. That's the first dimension. The second dimension is we're deeply committed to transforming the world-we're deeply committed to making everybody look like us.

    ... ... ...

    Without a strategic rethink in U.S.-Russian relations, Mearsheimer warned that Russian paranoia and sense of vulnerability could ignite conflict. When asked about the biggest foreign policy mistake of the last 25 years, Mearsheimer first said Iraq, and then added the crisis in Ukraine and the resulting destabilization of U.S.-Russian relations: "If you take a country like Russia, that has a sense of vulnerability, and you push them towards the edge, you get in their face, you're asking for trouble."

    [May 09, 2016] Whats a Neoconservative

    Notable quotes:
    "... Your piece leaves out three important threads in understanding neoconservatives. First, the movement was started by and is largely populated by Jews. The so-called "father of the neoconservative movement" was Irving Kristol, the father of William Kristol, the editor of The Weekly Standard. Another prominent founder was Norman Podhoretz, who succeeded the elder Kristol as editor of Commentary. Many of the most prominent neoconservatives are Jewish: Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, John Bolton, etc., etc. ..."
    "... " For the neoconservatives, religion is an instrument of promoting morality. Religion becomes what Plato called a noble lie. It is a myth which is told to the majority of the society by the philosophical elite in order to ensure social order… In being a kind of secretive elitist approach, Straussianism does resemble Marxism. These ex-Marxists, or in some cases ex-liberal Straussians, could see themselves as a kind of Leninist group, you know, who have this covert vision which they want to use to effect change in history, while concealing parts of it from people incapable of understanding it." ..."
    "... Neocons are mostly Zionist who put Israel interest above that of their country the USA. The majority are chicken hawks who never served a day in the military and have no problem sending other people kids to fight their wars. ..."
    "... Exceptional is something I would hope other countries would say about us without having to remind them or ourselves. It's a form of group narcissism to keep bringing it up to convince ourselves our actions are just. ..."
    "... What a fascinating article. The last paragraph was particularly smack on. When I spoke to a conservative friend recently, I was inflamed about our hyper-sized military and our overseas adventures as an example of very big government. ..."
    "... Wish neoconservatism was a philosophy, but its not, only a bait-and-switch sales pitch for the military industrial complex. Since Scoop Jackson, the senator from Boeing, America's political-police-the-world crowd has been the complex's marketing firm. ..."
    "... Re "American exceptionalism:" I am sixty-seven years old. When I was a child, my Dad (A Mustang officer), told me that the United States was exceptional for reason that the privileges of aristocracy in Europe were the ordinary civil rights of common equals here. ..."
    "... I had forgotten that I saved a copy of a book review by David Gordon that appeared in TAC this past October, entitled "Neoconservatism Defined." Actually, it is a combined review of two books, and it is a pretty good introduction to neoconservatism. http://www.amconmag.com/blog/anatomy-of-neoconservatism/ ..."
    "... "Most, though certainly not all, of the leading neocons are Jewish and the defense of Israel is central to their political concerns." ..."
    www.theamericanconservative.com

    This is a jingoistic political ideology of the Us elite preached by Killary and characterized by an emphasis on free-market capitalism and an interventionist foreign policy.

    The American Conservative

    The "neocons" believe American greatness is measured by our willingness to be a great power-through vast and virtually unlimited global military involvement. Other nations' problems invariably become our own because history and fate have designated America the world's top authority.

    Critics say the US cannot afford to be the world's policeman. Neoconservatives not only say that we can but we must-and that we will cease to be America if we don't. Writes Boston Globe neoconservative columnist Jeff Jacoby: "Our world needs a policeman. And whether most Americans like it or not, only their indispensable nation is fit for the job." Neocon intellectual Max Boot says explicitly that the US should be the world's policeman because we are the best policeman.

    Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) heartily champions the neoconservative view.

    ...neoconservatism has always been sold through the narrative of America's "greatness" or "exceptionalism." This is essentially the Republican Party's version of the old liberal notion promoted by President Woodrow Wilson that it is America's mission to "make the world safe for democracy." (meaning for international corporations). Douthat describes Rubio as the "great neoconservative hope" because the freshman senator is seen by the neocon intelligentsia as one of the few reliable Tea Party-oriented spokesman willing to still promote this ideology to the GOP base. I say "still" because many Republicans have begun to question the old neocon foreign policy consensus that dominated Bush's GOP. Douthat puts the neoconservatives' worries and the Republicans' shift into context...

    ...But this has always been the neocon ruse-if neoconservatives can convince others that fighting some war, somewhere is for America's actual defense, they will always make this argument and stretch any logic necessary to do so. Whether or not it is true is less important than its effectiveness. But their arguments are only a means to an end. Neoconservatives rarely show any reflection-much less regret-for foreign policy mistakes because for them there are no foreign policy mistakes. America's wars are valid by their own volition. America's "mission" is its missions. Writes Max Boot: "Why should America take on the thankless task of policing the globe… As long as evil exists, someone will have to protect peaceful people from predators."

    bc3b , June 23, 2011 at 8:51 am
    Easy Jack.

    Neoconservatives are primarily socially liberal hawks. Almost to a man they have done everything possible to avoid serving in the military as have their children. Next to liberals they are the greatest danger to our country.

    squib , June 23, 2011 at 10:09 am
    Re "American exceptionalism". I thought America was exceptional until it started acting like any old cynical, corrupt, doomed empire. It's silly to go about boasting of your exceptionalism even as you repeat every hackneyed error of your predecessors, and trade your true character for a handful of dust.

    The problem with the neoconservatives isn't that they flog American exceptionalism, it's that they aren't really Americans.

    Steve , June 23, 2011 at 11:10 am
    Oh, come on guys.

    In 2011, a neoconservative is the person who always answers yes to the question "Are Israel's objectives always more important than the objectives of the USA?"

    Folks will say this is unfair and a gross distortion of reality, if not in fact a bigoted assertion, but can you name any current neoconservative who is oppossed to US support for Israel? Or even just wants tosee it reduced a bit. I suspect not.

    On domestic issues, there's a greater range of variation across the neocon spectrum, but, unlike the case back in the middle 70s when we first began to hear of this troubling new breed of political apostates in the making, it's clear that foreign policy is of much greater importance to the neocons than is domestic policy.

    By the middle eastern sympathiesyou shall know them.

    tbraton , June 23, 2011 at 11:13 am
    "My father suggested to me recently that it might be helpful to better explain what the term "neoconservative" means. "A lot of people don't know," he said. As usual, Dad was right."

    One of those people who didn't know what a "neoconservative" was is our former President, George W. Bush. I remember reading somewhere that, when he was running for President in the late 90's, George W. asked his father what a neoconservative was, and George H. W. replied that he had only to remember one word to understand what a neoconservative was: Israel.

    Your piece leaves out three important threads in understanding neoconservatives. First, the movement was started by and is largely populated by Jews. The so-called "father of the neoconservative movement" was Irving Kristol, the father of William Kristol, the editor of The Weekly Standard. Another prominent founder was Norman Podhoretz, who succeeded the elder Kristol as editor of Commentary. Many of the most prominent neoconservatives are Jewish: Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, John Bolton, etc., etc.

    Secondly, the roots of neoconservatism traces back to very liberal political leanings, bordering on socialism and even communism. The elder Kristol was a Trotskyite into his 20's. That would explain their tendency to favor a strong central government, which, of course, allows them to exert their influence more effectively despite their small numbers. It is also consistent with the views of Leo Strauss, one of the great intellectual shapers of neoconservatism. According to an account by a former neoconservative:

    " For the neoconservatives, religion is an instrument of promoting morality. Religion becomes what Plato called a noble lie. It is a myth which is told to the majority of the society by the philosophical elite in order to ensure social order… In being a kind of secretive elitist approach, Straussianism does resemble Marxism. These ex-Marxists, or in some cases ex-liberal Straussians, could see themselves as a kind of Leninist group, you know, who have this covert vision which they want to use to effect change in history, while concealing parts of it from people incapable of understanding it."

    Thirdly, as evidenced by the George H.W. Bush comment above, a strong underlying belief that seems to unite the neoconservatives is in the perceived need, above all, to make the world safe for Israel.

    Philip Giraldi, June 23, 2011 at 11:22 am
    Great piece Jack! Neoconservatives started out as Scoop Jackson Democratic Hawks. The several that I know well enough to know their non-war views are pretty much conventional Democrats in that they are pro-abortion, pro-gay, pro-immigration, pro-big government. Their shift to the Republicans was tactical when they, led by Richard Perle, got their foot in the door of the Pentagon under Reagan. Under Bush 2, they completed the process and more-or-less took over the DoD. I expect they are now triangulating frantically to determine if it in their best interests to remain nominally Republicans or to slowly drift back to their natural habitat in the Democratic Party.
    ED. K., June 23, 2011 at 12:28 pm
    Neocons are mostly Zionist who put Israel interest above that of their country the USA. The majority are chicken hawks who never served a day in the military and have no problem sending other people kids to fight their wars.
    eeyore , June 23, 2011 at 2:23 pm
    let us not forget the distinction of constitutional authority for past interventions and the "now in violation of the war powers act" Lybian effort. Those who call themselves conservatives, neo-con or otherwise would do well to refer to their pocket constitution they claim to follow and carry. Criticism of fellow party members who constitutionally oppose these interventions employ the same hate-mongering tactics of the left. Silence the opposition at any cost and never stop feeding the federal leviathan. Thanks to Church and Wilkow for the education.
    Jane Marple , June 23, 2011 at 3:10 pm
    What's a neoconservative? An unrepentant Trotskyite, who recognized that Marxism wasn't the viable way to take over the world and so now proudly (and openly) pledges allegiance to America but always keeps Israel first in his heart.
    Ben, Okla. City , June 23, 2011 at 4:30 pm
    Exceptional is something I would hope other countries would say about us without having to remind them or ourselves. It's a form of group narcissism to keep bringing it up to convince ourselves our actions are just.

    How about some American humility? More Gary Cooper and less Richard Simmons.

    Jack , June 23, 2011 at 5:34 pm
    What a fascinating article. The last paragraph was particularly smack on. When I spoke to a conservative friend recently, I was inflamed about our hyper-sized military and our overseas adventures as an example of very big government.

    The kind that he, as a conservative, should oppose. His retort, of course, was that national security is one of the constitutional purposes of our government. There it is. This friend really thinks that Iraq, Libya, our 1000's of bases all over the world, is what national defense is all about. With his argument, there is literally no limit to the size of the military or the scope of its mission. The neocons have defined it that way. The only thing I said in response was that he should take his 18 year old son by the arm and require him to sign up for the military to fight the battles he thinks we should be fighting. His response: "but he would rather go to college". I then reminded him that no American soldier has died for my freedom in my lifetime (I am 49 years old). That seemed to rankle him because the neocon argument concerning national defense requires that you buy into the propaganda that these soldiers are fighting for our freedom as a nation.

    DirtyHarriet , June 23, 2011 at 7:44 pm
    Patrick J. gave a great definition in his Whose War article:

    http://www.amconmag.com/article/2003/mar/24/00007/

    It's one of the best articles ever. TAC should re-run it from time to time, lest we all forget what it's all about.

    Buzz Baldrin , June 24, 2011 at 5:08 am
    Wish neoconservatism was a philosophy, but its not, only a bait-and-switch sales pitch for the military industrial complex. Since Scoop Jackson, the senator from Boeing, America's political-police-the-world crowd has been the complex's marketing firm.

    All work to keep the US government spending billions of dollars on mostly irrelevant military items. None seriously care about national defense: that's why no heads rolled when our billion-dollar air defense was helpless to protect the Pentagon against a small group of Moslem fanatics with box cutters.

    Worse, the military industrial complex will be entrenched until serious elected officials, in the tradition of Dwight Eisenhower, create a peacetime economy to replace our warfare state.

    Until then, too much money, too many jobs in America depend on the complex.

    Nel , June 24, 2011 at 5:10 am
    A Neocon is a con artist.
    Robert Pinkerton , June 24, 2011 at 5:17 am
    Re "American exceptionalism:" I am sixty-seven years old. When I was a child, my Dad (A Mustang officer), told me that the United States was exceptional for reason that the privileges of aristocracy in Europe were the ordinary civil rights of common equals here.

    If I believe in "national greatness," by that I mean a nation of great- soul people, the kind Aristotle calls megalopsychic .

    Nebulosis , June 24, 2011 at 5:49 am
    "On domestic issues, there's a greater range of variation across the neocon spectrum,"

    True, but then domestic issues cause a dull glaze to form over neoconservative eyes. They stand ready to compromise or to countenance disagreement on almost any strictly parochial American social or economic concern, so long as their foreign policy and other "high political" objectives are met.

    samwitwicky , June 24, 2011 at 6:23 am
    Revolutions are internal matters of a country … the revolution in Gypto was successful internally … people were not killed, cities were not bombed, war was not raged, outside countries didn't send their forces … whatever was done … it was within the country and by the people … without outside support … that's a revolution.

    Look at the massacre they are carrying out in Tibby … you call that a revolution man … you call that an operation for the people?

    Read more:

    http://godinthejungle.com/index.php/story-notes/390-saturday-june-18-2011.html

    Bill R. , June 24, 2011 at 11:44 am
    Strictly speaking, a neoconservative, is a member of the traditional FDR coalition (unions, minorities – including Catholics, Jews and African Americans, even Southern whites) who flipped to the Republican party and some element of conservative ideology back in the 1970s. As a former FDR Democrat, Ronald Reagan had elements of neoconservatism in his past.

    And social liberalism is far from neocon orthodoxy. People like Gertrude Himmelfarb and John Neuhaus were at the forefront of neoconservatism. Jeane Kirpatrick, by no means a wobbly or wimpy neoconservative, had roots in socialist activism together with Irving Kristol and the like. Indeed, losing its conservative moral sensibilities helped drive the Democratic Party mad.

    It is only relatively recently that a few – but hardly all – Boom generation neocons such as David Frum and David Brooks also contracted the same form of mental illness. Otherwise, this group has become largely indistinguishable from the Republican mainstream, which draws its roots from Roosevelt, Lincoln, Henry Clay and Alexander Hamilton.

    Of course, with the onset of southern neocons with states rights and libertarian ideology, the demographic advances of the GOP in the late 20th century imported Civil War divisions into the party, a theme that Kevin Phillips has – sadistically – played upon. Still, one might well say that there is nothing wrong with neoconservatism except for its detractors. Down with the Traitor. Up with the Star.

    James deLaurier , June 24, 2011 at 1:50 pm
    Jack Hunter: 6/24/2011
    A "great" power can be and is often less than a "good" power. So, the Neoconservatives manifesto mandates foreign policy from the top – down! Who then, is there that stands – up for and represents,"We the People"?
    Thank you – # 16
    tbraton , June 24, 2011 at 3:45 pm
    I had forgotten that I saved a copy of a book review by David Gordon that appeared in TAC this past October, entitled "Neoconservatism Defined." Actually, it is a combined review of two books, and it is a pretty good introduction to neoconservatism. http://www.amconmag.com/blog/anatomy-of-neoconservatism/ In the course of the review, Gordon makes the following observation:

    "Most, though certainly not all, of the leading neocons are Jewish and the defense of Israel is central to their political concerns."

    One of the books concentrates on the intellectual founder of neoconservatism, Leo Strauss, and the review makes some consise observations about him.

    tbraton , June 24, 2011 at 3:54 pm
    David Gordon's book review also contains the following observations:

    "No one who absorbs Vaïsse's discussion of this second age can harbor any illusions about whether the neocons count as genuine conservatives. [Senator Henry] Jackson made no secret of his statist views of domestic policy, but this did not in the least impede his neocons allies from enlisting in his behalf. Vaïsse by the way understates Jackson's commitment to socialism, which dated from his youth. Contrary to what our author suggests, the League for Industrial Democracy, which Jackson joined while in college, was not "a moderate organization that backed unions and democratic principles." It was a socialist youth movement that aimed to propagate socialism to the public.

    It was not Jackson's domestic policy, though, that principally drew the necons to him. They had an elective affinity for the pursuit of the Cold War. Vaïsse stresses in particular that they collaborated with Paul Nitze and other Cold War hawks. In a notorious incident, "Team B," under the control of the hawks, claimed that CIA estimates of Russian armaments were radically understated. It transpired that the alarms of Team B were baseless; they nevertheless served their purpose in promoting a bellicose foreign policy.

    The neocons of the second age did not quit the Democratic Party until, after prolonged struggle, they had failed to take it over. They then discovered in the rising popularity of Ronald Reagan a new strategy to advance their goals; but even when Reagan and his aides received them warmly, many found it distinctly against the grain to vote for a Republican. Once they had overcome this aversion, the neocons proved able markedly to expand their political power and influence. Nevertheless, some neocons found Reagan insufficiently militant. For Norman Podhoretz, a literary critic who imagined himself a foreign policy expert, Reagan became an appeaser reminiscent of Neville Chamberlain. "In 1984-85, however, Podhoretz finally lost hope in his champion; he … lamented the president's desire to do whatever it took to present himself to Europeans and above all to American voters as a 'man of peace,' ready to negotiate with the Soviets."

    The "national greatness" neocons of our day continue the pattern of their second age predecessors in their constant warnings of peril and calls for a militant response. They do not apply the law of unintended consequences to foreign policy: skepticism about the efficacy of government action ends at the doors to the Pentagon."

    Masood , June 24, 2011 at 4:44 pm
    Should "the American Policeman" police the rogue state of Israel? I wonder how many neocons will fo for it.
    DirtyHarriet , June 24, 2011 at 9:17 pm
    Masood, your post reminds me of an article that was published in the New York Times on September 10, 2001, of all dates.

    http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-78029147.html

    "U.S. troops would enforce peace under Army study"

    Excerpt:

    The exercise was done by 60 officers dubbed "Jedi Knights," as all second-year SAMS students are nicknamed.

    The SAMS paper attempts to predict events in the first year of a peace-enforcement operation, and sees possible dangers for U.S. troops from both sides.

    It calls Israel's armed forces a "500-pound gorilla in Israel. Well armed and trained. Operates in both Gaza and the West Bank. Known to disregard international law to accomplish mission. Very unlikely to fire on American forces. Fratricide a concern especially in air space management."

    Of the MOSSAD, the Israeli intelligence service, the SAMS officers say: "Wildcard. Ruthless and cunning. Has capability to target U.S. forces and make it look like a Palestinian/Arab act."

    Henry Drummond , June 25, 2011 at 5:59 am
    This would have had some point 200 years ago. Unfortunately,cannon now shoot more than three miles, the 3 mile limit on national soverignty is obsolete. You cannot distinguish between an offensive and defensive opponent.
    tbraton , June 25, 2011 at 9:48 am
    "You cannot distinguish between an offensive and defensive opponent."

    If military hostilities were actually going on in Libya, it certainly would be easy to distinguish between the offensive opponent (all the foreign countries operating under the NATO umbrella and firing all the missiles into Libya and dropping all the bombs on Libyan forces loyal to Qaddafi) and the defensive opponent (the Libyan forces loyal to Qaddafi, the nominal leader of Libya).

    Gil , June 26, 2011 at 7:46 pm
    Nice article! I believe that what constitutes a neoconservative has changed over the years. Sure, in an academic sense, a "neoconservative" is someone who might have supported Scoop Jackson in Washington or Strauss at U of Chicago in the 70's- in essence, someone with democratic roots who became more hawkish on foreign policy. However, most conservative pundits- Rush, Hannity, Beck, etc, support projecting US power in order to achieve Democracy overseas. As do Bachmann, Palin, Romney, Gingrich, Boener, Perry and most other establishment Republicans. They all supported war in Afghanistan and Iraq, all support Saudi Arabia, Israel, Kuwait, Bahrain, and big oil, and all fundamentally decry any attempt to cut the US military budget. What troubles me is that "Neoconservatism" has become mainstream Republicanism. In fact Ronald Reagan was perhaps the first Neocon president. And it looks as if the Tea Party has been hijacked by Palin, Bachmann and Rubio et al . Trying to change the Republican party from within simply will not work- for Neocons don't just control the Republican party, they ARE the Republican party. We need a third party that overtly champions fiscal and social conservatism and international isolationism as its three main pillars!
    Steve in Ohio , June 27, 2011 at 11:04 am
    Gil, the GOP leadership may be neocon, but the grassroots are more or less non-interventionist. We see the same split on immigration. I think its too early to give up on the party.

    By the way, I don't consider RR a neocon President. Along with Eisenhower, he was the most non interventionist prez in recent history.

    Allen , June 28, 2011 at 5:32 am
    WE HAVE A WINNER!;
    'Steve, on June 23rd, 2011 at 11:10 am Said:
    Oh, come on guys.
    In 2011, a neoconservative is the person who always answers yes to the question "Are Israel's objectives always more important than the objectives of the USA?"
    Gil , June 28, 2011 at 11:42 am
    Steve-

    Sure, much of the grassroots is non-interventionist, although many, many Evangelicals support the Likud party in Israel for biblical reasons, and those Republicans who listen regularly to Neocons like Hannity and Limbaugh and Dennis Miller, or watch Krauthammer, Kristol and O'Reilly are influenced to support an interventionist foreign policy. Here is the problem! How can you change the Republican party from within when the Tea Party Caucus is headed by an interventionist Neocon like Michelle Bachmann?

    Ronald Reagan was a semi-isolationist. Except, of course, for bombing Libya, stationing troops in Lebanon, and docking the 6th fleet in Israel. Sorry, I know many people consider him a saint, and on both fiscal and social issues he was wonderful. But let's face it- Reagan was a former democratic Union head who became a conservative later on in life and projected US power overseas when it wasn't necessary. A Neocon? At least 75%

    Wesley Mcgranor , June 29, 2011 at 11:54 am
    A neoconservative as an actual social phenomenon–free from intellectual definition–is from the social upheavel of the 'spirit of the 60's'. With all their socialism and revolution against white-western-protestant civilization.
    Gil , June 29, 2011 at 2:01 pm
    Wesley,

    You are fundamentally correct with respect to the origins of most Neoconservative "intellectuals." However, definitions morph and change over time until their origins become so cloudy as to be practically irrelevant. Let's get real- how many young people know that Bill Kristol's dad used to be a Socialist? How many people even know who Bill Kristol is or Scoop Jackson was?

    Ultimately one can only judge people by their actions. And, in my definition, anyone who ACTS like a Neoconservative- or puts others in harm's way in order to further their expansionist aims- IS a Neoconservative. And we will never win our battle against the Neoconservatives unless we call things as they are, without getting bogged down in biographical details about people and philosophers who nobody ever hears about. So, while David Frum, Bill Kristol, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Lindsay Graham Michelle Bachmann and just about every modern republican congressman or senator or conservative think tank member inside the Washington Beltway may never have been hippies in the 60's, and almost all can claim to have been lifelong conservatives, 99% are Neoconservatives because their ACTIONS define who they are. They all believe in projecting US military might in order to foster democracy overseas. They ultimately seem to care more about the welfare of Israel, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq and, Afghanistan than the United States.

    Patrick , July 6, 2011 at 6:26 am
    What bothers me is what we consider "mainstream" conservatism today in the form of talk radio, Rush, and others is basically a neconservative movement. What I would consider true conservatism you find here in TAC and also in the Libertarian publications like Reason and Liberty but the reach of talk radio and the neocon blogs seems to be far greater than that of real conservatives and the neocons appear to be setting the agenda these days. It is nothing short of appalling isn't it to see "conservatives" defending torture and the secret prisons run under the Bush administration, all in the name of "defending" the country. It never ceases to amazes me why any true conservative would go any where near a member of the Bush administration and yet Sean has Rove and others on his show routinely when a case can be made that they should stand trial for being responsible for the abuse of those detainees. I have been student of the Holocaust my entire life and to see some of the circumstances of pre war Germany unfold in front of me, the "we have to take these steps in the name of defending the country" the dehumanizing of the muslims which made it easy to justify torturing them, it is all so very scary.

    [May 05, 2016] Nuland Tells Cyprus To Cut Russian Ties – Pressures Anastasiades To Accept Nato Plan For Turkish Troops In Cyprus

    Notable quotes:
    "... After 25 years of not seeming to car at all, now the US wants to make the problem worse by polishing apples for Erdogan for some reason I really cannot fathom. Cui bono indeed. ..."
    "... Looks pretty clear cut to me. Turkey is an ally. Russia most definitely not. Turkey could use somewhere to store all that surplus ME oil they've been buying. The USA(Nuland) can even kick in a few bucks for infrastructure. It all makes sense. Win-Win all around. ..."
    "... That Nuland is still around is all that I have to know about HRClinton's vaunted foreign-policy experience. That Nuland is still around is all that I have to know about Obama, American exceptionalism, and this supposedly scandal-free administration. And the Democratic elites want to get all snotty about Trump? ..."
    "... I am really really worried about how aggressive our foreign policy is, and this remarkable essay shows how dangerous our policy with respect to Russia can be. ..."
    "... Where Neocons like Nuland go, death and destruction follow in their wake. Look at Ukraine. ..."
    "... Instead we might already be into a countdown on a shooting war with Russia. This wouldn't just rally all Americans to the imperial cause, it was also force President Trump to rely on his nationalistic traits. ..."
    May 4, 2016 | nakedcapitalism.com

    Yves here. We were one of the few sites to follow the brutal handling of the Cyprus banking system when one of its major banks got wobbly in 2013. Cyprus was demonized as a money laundering center , when its main sin was that it served as a conduit for inbound investment into Russia, including investment by large, well-recognized companies. The reason for structuring investments via entities in Cyprus was that that enabled them to be subject to British law, which investors greatly preferred to relying on Russian law and courts. Cyprus thus has a significant amount of its economy dependent on lawyers and bankers to structure these deals. The ECB lowered the boom and forced bail-ins, which were more severe than they needed to be by virtue of one of the major banks being restructured in a way that led to a significant subsidy to a Greek bank that bought some of its operations. In other words, while something may well have needed to be done with the Cyprus banks, the brutality of the operation was driven by geopolitics, not the professed reasons.

    The geopolitical angle of the West's meddling in Cyprus a bit more obvious in this John Helmer sighting.

    By John Helmer , the longest continuously serving foreign correspondent in Russia, and the only western journalist to direct his own bureau independent of single national or commercial ties. Helmer has also been a professor of political science, and an advisor to government heads in Greece, the United States, and Asia. He is the first and only member of a US presidential administration (Jimmy Carter) to establish himself in Russia. Originally published at Dances with Bears

    The US is intensifying the pressure on Cyprus to accept a secret NATO plan to keep Turkish forces on the island.

    Victoria Nuland, the State Department official in charge of regime change in Russia and Ukraine, met for talks last week with the President of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, and with Turkish Cypriot figures. The State Department and US Embassy in Nicosia have kept silent on what was said. A well-informed Cypriot source reports Nuland "was in Cyprus to pre-empt any likelihood of future deepening in relations with Russia. Anastasiades may not want to, but he may have no other option." A second Cypriot political source said: "[Nuland] will try to blackmail him. I'm not sure how he will react."

    lyman alpha blob, May 4, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    Greece isn't happy about the Turks in Cyprus, period.

    I was in Greece about 25 years ago when poppy Bush was president and paid a visit. That was the first glimpse I had of US power first hand – there were hundreds of suits talking into their sleeves lining the major route through Athens taken by the Bush motorcade. The whole city was essentially shut down and I couldn't believe that the US could project that kind of power in a foreign country. Later while I was at the Thessalonike airport coincidentally at the same time Bush was there, our flight was delayed due to a bomb threat presumably directed at Bush. Never did find out if it was a real bomb or not.

    Don't remember the ostensible reason for the Bush visit to Greece but I do remember the Greeks wanting the question Bush about the Turks occupying Cyprus and if the US would help end it. I remember thinking Bush probably doesn't even know where Cyprus is but even if he did, the US wasn't interested and weren't going to do a damn thing about it.

    After 25 years of not seeming to car at all, now the US wants to make the problem worse by polishing apples for Erdogan for some reason I really cannot fathom. Cui bono indeed.

    craazyboy, May 4, 2016 at 10:39 am

    Looks pretty clear cut to me. Turkey is an ally. Russia most definitely not. Turkey could use somewhere to store all that surplus ME oil they've been buying. The USA(Nuland) can even kick in a few bucks for infrastructure. It all makes sense. Win-Win all around.

    ambrit, May 4, 2016 at 11:26 am

    Poor Cyprus. We might as well revive the Crusader Kingdom of Cyprus. Are there any Lusignans alive today?

    John Wright , May 4, 2016 at 2:22 pm

    Here is a recent comment I made that includes Nuland and her immediate family.

    Note that the establishment's candidate HRC "remains the vessel into which many interventionists are pouring their hopes"

    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2016/05/open-thread-debacle-for-us-iraq-policy-as-protesters-seize-parliament-in-green-zone.html#comment-2589491

    DJG , May 4, 2016 at 3:16 pm

    That Nuland is still around is all that I have to know about HRClinton's vaunted foreign-policy experience. That Nuland is still around is all that I have to know about Obama, American exceptionalism, and this supposedly scandal-free administration. And the Democratic elites want to get all snotty about Trump?

    After the streaming of the video-assassination of Osama bin Laden of the last few days, and after this maneuver, which is assassination of a small and vulnerable state, I respect George Orwell even more as a voice of prophecy.

    apber , May 5, 2016 at 7:35 am

    With Nuland, the ultimate neocon, we get WWIII in a Clinton Presidency. The key to Trump will be his proposed cabinet, VP, advisors etc. If nary a dual citizen neocon or a Goldman Treasury Secretary, we may have a chance; otherwise Trump will be outed as just another globalist stooge.

    TheCatSaid , May 4, 2016 at 5:42 pm

    Are the oil discoveries off of Cyprus (announced in 2014) be part of the geopolitics discussed here? Cyprus made an agreement with Greece & Egypt according to the Guardian .

    ltr , May 4, 2016 at 5:44 pm

    I am really really worried about how aggressive our foreign policy is, and this remarkable essay shows how dangerous our policy with respect to Russia can be.

    RBHoughton , May 4, 2016 at 11:00 pm

    Resuscitating the Turkish part of Cyprus may be a great money-maker for Ms Nuland's friends. You can wander though entire deserted towns and villages. Everyone's voted with their feet and land can be had at a fraction of its cost in the south. It used to have the added advantage of being immune to extradition requests (remember Polly Peck?) but I am unsure if that continues.

    This looks like another aspect of Erdogan's vice-like grip on the reproductive glands of the European Commission and ECB. It really is quite funny to see the two countries directing EU policy these days are USA and Turkey.

    Punxsutawney , May 4, 2016 at 11:04 pm

    Where Neocons like Nuland go, death and destruction follow in their wake. Look at Ukraine.

    EoinW , May 5, 2016 at 8:47 am

    I have been thinking that the NeoCon response to a Trump Presidency will be assassination. Naturally an assassination blamed on some left wing fanatic – will the next Oswald please stand up! Could it be, however, that the NeoCons recognize their problem isn't Trump, it's the people supporting Trump and their anti-establishment views? In that case, the only way to whip them into line is falling back on the most tried and true form of of social conditioning: nationalism/patriotism. Perhaps it won't be a countdown to knock off Trump before January. Instead we might already be into a countdown on a shooting war with Russia. This wouldn't just rally all Americans to the imperial cause, it was also force President Trump to rely on his nationalistic traits.

    I wonder if the NeoCons could be that clever. They have succeeded in running the most powerful country in the world for 15 years in spite of countless disasters. Maybe they are clever enough to achieve their next great misadventure, one ending in nuclear war.

    [May 01, 2016] Credentialism and Corruption Neoliberalism in The News Room

    Notable quotes:
    "... Las Vegas Review-Journa ..."
    "... The New York Times ..."
    "... at the same URL ..."
    "... Woman on the Edge of Time ..."
    "... One problem with reporters is that they aren't a separate profession with a standard code of ethics or standard form of credentials. And journalists should not be like lawyers, organized before the bar into a self-perpetuating and self-serving organization. That written, Frank Bruni is the great mysterious counterexample (what credentials? what qualifications? why?). ..."
    "... Yet the lack of an organization with "teeth" keeps reporters on the defensive against the accommodationist editors, the advertisers, and the board of directors larded with the usual knuckleheads. Would that the Newspaper Guild had more power. ..."
    "... The development of the M.B.A. and M.F.A. in the last thirty or so years attests to a degree as time served to get a better job. So the M.B.A. has given us endless talent-free bean counters trained in bad business practices and shoddy economics. The M.F.A. gives us endless first novels of a uniform middling quality and careers in burgeoning writing programs producing more of such snooze-filled novels. Among journalists, the masters in journalism has not proved to be protection or a stamp of quality, either. ..."
    May 1, 2016 | naked capitalism
    By Lambert Strether of Corrente .

    Readers liked our last post on life under neoliberalism and the salaried (or professional (or " 20%") ) classes, and the question we posed: "How do these people live with themselves?" So here's another one! This time, I'm going to compare and contrast life in the newsroom at the Las Vegas Review-Journa and The New York Times .

    Looking at these classes, credentials matter. (Again, I should caveat that these are my people; I was raised the child of professors in America's Golden Age of higher education and shaped for that sort of career myself; back in the day, when tenure was a realistic possibility for many, and academics didn't have to hold outside fundraisers for their projects. And when there were careers.) For example, attaining an M.D. is different from learning a skill; as a doctor, one takes the Hippocratic Oath. CPAs have a required ethics exam. Even lawyers!

    If economists ask themselves "What good is a degree?" the answer is "to signal a requirement for a higher salary!" (because it's not easy to rank the professions by the quality of what they deliver). We as citizens might answer that professionals are in some ways amphibians: They serve both private ends and preserve public goods, and the education for which they are granted their credentials forms them for this service. For example, a doctor who prescribes medications for his patients because Big Pharma takes him golfing is no doctor but corrupt; he's mixed up public and private. He didn't follow his oath. Similarly, a reporter (see Terry Pratchett's wonderful The Truth ) who only serves the interests of his publication's owner is no reporter but corrupt; a public relations specialist, say. Or a servant.

    The Las Vegas Review-Journal

    First, let's look at an episode at the Las Vegas Review-Journal. As readers may remember, the LVJR was purchased by Sheldon Adelson, international gambling squillionaire, publisher , and campaign contributor ( Israel ). I won't use the word "corrupt," but feel free to think it . Hilariously, Adelson did not disclose his purchase - no problems with optics there! - and it was left to the LVJR reporting staff to treat the matter as a story, and reveal their new owner. Here's the story the LVJR broke:

    After six days of uncertainty surrounding News + Media Capital Group LLC - a newly formed Delaware-domiciled company backed by "undisclosed financial backers with expertise in the media industry" - the Review-Journal on Wednesday confirmed that Adelson's son-in-law, Patrick Dumont, arranged the company's $140 million purchase of the newspaper on behalf of the chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands. …

    Last week's sale saw News + Media pay around $38 million more than New Media Investment Group paid in March for all of Stephens Media LLC, a national chain of eight daily newspapers that included the Review-Journal.

    It remains unclear if that inflated purchase price came with strings attached to the Adelsons.

    "The way the Adelson family began its ownership of the Review-Journal - with secrecy, deception, and one opaque announcement after another - does not inspire confidence," said media critic and New York University professor Jay Rosen. "Possibly this rocky start could be overcome, but the place to begin would have been with the public announcement of the purchase. In that announcement there is nothing about preserving the independence of the Review-Journal newsroom from undue influence by Sheldon Adelson, who as everyone knows is one of the most powerful people in the state and in Republican politics nationwide.

    "What creative measures were announced to insulate news coverage from the enormous wealth and power of the Adelson family? None that I can see. And that does not inspire confidence," Rosen said.

    (This post only scratches the surface of the carnage . What you're going to read is bad enough.) To nobody's surprise, Rosen's concerns for the independence of the newsroom were all too prescient. From the New York Times :

    Whether Mr. Adelson will ultimately try to shape the paper's coverage remains to be seen. But in the weeks since he has owned the paper, reporters said, several articles about the paper have been heavily reviewed and edited to remove quotes that could be viewed as unfavorable to the new owners.

    An article about Mr. Hengel's resignation was trimmed before it was published from about 20 paragraphs to three and stripped of nearly all of Mr. Hengel's comments, according to people familiar with the article. The article ran on Wednesday inside the paper. Similarly, an initial article on the paper's website about the sale was edited after it was published to remove references to the buyer's unknown identity.

    It got worse. From Politico :

    Within five hours, the immediate inherent conflicts of Adelson ownership made themselves highly apparent. The Review-Journal reported that Adelson had met with the ownership of Oakland Raiders football team, hoping to lure them to Las Vegas and into a new "public/private"-funded $1 billion domed stadium.

    The new publisher has reviewed each stadium story since, and the stories have seen numerous Moon-directed edits, several sources confirm. Those edits include removing key points of fact on what may turn out to become a $600 million-plus public investment in a football stadium. At least one stadium story was killed, as well, my sources confirm.

    It is near impossible to overestimate the depth of the conflict involved in the Adelson ownership. As a major player in the gaming industry in Las Vegas, Macau and Singapore, top donor to Republican Party candidates and now the booster of a "public-private" funded football stadium, Adelson-related stories have appeared in the R-J for years. For years, the paper has "lawyered" each Adelson-related story, given the magnate's history of litigiousness. Now that review is being done in house, with very different results.

    And now the latest, from NPR :

    Las Vegas Columnist Quits After Ban On Writing About Adelson

    "If I can't do my job, if I can't hold the heavyweights in the community to account, then I'm just treading water," the columnist, John L. Smith, told NPR in an interview. "It wasn't an easy decision to make, but there was no other decision to make - at least in my mind."

    Smith had written columns for the Review-Journal for nearly three decades, with a frequent focus on Adelson, one of the most powerful figures in Nevada gambling and national Republican politics. The billionaire sued Smith for libel over a passage in a 2005 book about power players of Las Vegas.

    Smith prevailed in court, but paying the fees helped bankrupt him. (NPR told that remarkable story, including a rabbi's offer of a secret $200,000 payoff from Adelson for Smith to admit libel, earlier this year.) Years later, the case has helped trigger the end of Smith's career at the Review-Journal, as his new bosses cited it as a conflict of interest [!!!].

    Now, all of the above is prelude to John L. Smith's resignation letter, of which he left a copy on every desk in the LVJR news-room:

    smith_letter

    Clearly, John L. Smith is somebody who can live with himself.[1] And now we turn to the New York Times.

    The New York Times

    Here, I'm simply going to quote a great slab of Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan's column (who ought to be missed by Times executives, but probably will not be[2]).

    Were Changes to Sanders Article 'Stealth Editing'?

    An article by Jennifer Steinhauer, published online, carried the headline "Bernie Sanders Scored Victories for Years via Legislative Side Doors." It described the way the Vermont senator had managed a significant number of legislative victories in Congress despite the political independence that might have hindered him.

    The article stayed in essentially that form for several hours online – with some very minor tweaks - but in the late afternoon, Times editors made significant changes to its tone and content, turning it from almost glowing to somewhat disparaging. The later headline read : "Via Legislative Side Doors, Bernie Sanders Won Modest Victories."

    And these two paragraphs were added:

    But in his presidential campaign Mr. Sanders is trying to scale up those kinds of proposals as a national agenda, and there is little to draw from his small-ball legislative approach to suggest that he could succeed.

    Mr. Sanders is suddenly promising not just a few stars here and there, but the moon and a good part of the sun, from free college tuition paid for with giant tax hikes to a huge increase in government health care, which has made even liberal Democrats skeptical.

    (Readers will recognize that both paragraphs are heavily larded with Clinton campaign talking points.) Here I'll skip Sullivan's summary of the obvious problems with these changes; in addition to several readers, she links to Medium , Matt Taibbi , and Robert Reich , too. So, to the institutional issues:

    I asked top editors at The Times, along with Ms. Steinhauer and her immediate editor, for response. (The executive editor, Dean Baquet, also responded to Erik Wemple of The Washington Post on Tuesday night, and Ms. Steinhauer responded to the Rolling Stone piece. Both said, in essence, that the changes were routine efforts to add context to an evolving story.)

    [The reporter, Jennifer] Steinhauer, in a response to my email, suggested that I speak to editors because "it was an editing decision."…

    So, what happened here? Matt Purdy, a deputy executive editor, said that when senior editors read the piece after it was published online, they thought it needed more perspective about whether Mr. Sanders would be able to carry out his campaign agenda if he was elected president.

    "I thought it should say more about his realistic chances" of doing that, Mr. Purdy told me. As first published, he said, editors believed that the article "didn't approach that question."

    "There was a feeling that the story wasn't written into this moment," Mr. Purdy said. After the editing changes, he said, "it got to be a deeper story," with greater context.

    Three editors told me in no uncertain terms that the editing changes had not been made in response to complaints from the Clinton camp. Did the Clinton people even reach out?

    "Not that I know of," Mr. Baquet told me in an email. The article's immediate editor, Michael Tackett, agreed: "There's zero evidence of that."

    ("Not that I know of" and "There's zero evidence of that" are both what somebody with a sufficiently cynical cast of mind might call non-denial denials.)

    My take: The changes to this story were so substantive that a reader who saw the piece when it first went up might come away with a very different sense of Mr. Sanders's legislative accomplishments than one who saw it hours later. (The Sanders campaign shared the initial story on social media; it's hard to imagine it would have done that if the edited version had appeared first.)

    (Note that the Sanders campaign had distributed the URL to original Times article. So, when the Times editors made their unannounced changes at the same URL , they pulled the rug out from the Sanders campaign, who would hardly have distributed a link to an article that supported major Clinton campaign talking points.

    Comparing and Contrasting

    From the reader's perspective, is there any substantive difference between what the Adelson-owned LVJR did to its stories on Adelson, and what the Times did to its story on Sanders? Is there a substantive difference between removing material unfavorable to the owner or suppressing stories unfavorable to his business interests, and gratuitously inserting material egregiously favorable to a newspaper's endorsed candidate? Especially when, in each case, the paper makes no mention of the change? I don't think so.

    However, from the newsroom's perspective, there's a very great difference indeed. The LVJR is a small paper; John L. Smith is two or three degrees of separation at most from Adelson himself, so its very clear who's giving direction and why. The New York Times is a very large paper; the reporter, Jennifer] Steinhauer, was able to say "Talk to the editors," and Sullivan, the Public Editor, talked to three of them. In other words, the social relations - we might even say the realities - at the Journal-Review and the Times are very different; the Journal-Review's are so simple and clean that "How can you live with yourself?" questions come to the fore under stress. Not so at the Times; the institutional complexities make it possible for such questions to be masked or muffled. Corruption is clear at the LVJR; but corruption scuttles away into the masthead at the Times.

    However, if we ask ourselves what the future of the average newsroom - modulo algos - is likely to be, I would imagine life will be a lot more like the LVJR than the NYT. I mean, who wants a masthead cluttered with supernumeraries? It's going to be interesting to see what John L. Smith will do. Maybe he'll start a blog?

    NOTES

    [1] Let me add my standard disclaimer: I don't want to come off as priggish. I don't have dependents, and so my choices are simpler. If I had to support a family, especially in today's new normal, I might put my head down and save ethics for the home. "Person must not do what person cannot do." - Marge Piercy, Woman on the Edge of Time .

    [2] Sullivan actually reads the Comments, and sometimes integrated them into her column.

    About Lambert Strether

    Lambert Strether has been blogging, managing online communities, and doing system administration 24/7 since 2003, in Drupal and WordPress. Besides political economy and the political scene, he blogs about rhetoric, software engineering, permaculture, history, literature, local politics, international travel, food, and fixing stuff around the house. The nom de plume "Lambert Strether" comes from Henry James's The Ambassadors: "Live all you can. It's a mistake not to." You can follow him on Twitter at @lambertstrether. http://www.correntewire.com

    John k , May 1, 2016 at 1:07 pm

    Subscribed for years, then just on line, but becoming so slanted, cut the cord last year.
    Worth exploring the various links between times and Clintons…
    Probably web like Corp structure. Must be a new culture there, Think op K etc.
    Wonder why circulation in decline… Maybe they'll turn into a blog… Or frog… Frogs are kind of slimy…

    DJG , May 1, 2016 at 1:11 pm

    One problem with reporters is that they aren't a separate profession with a standard code of ethics or standard form of credentials. And journalists should not be like lawyers, organized before the bar into a self-perpetuating and self-serving organization. That written, Frank Bruni is the great mysterious counterexample (what credentials? what qualifications? why?).

    Yet the lack of an organization with "teeth" keeps reporters on the defensive against the accommodationist editors, the advertisers, and the board of directors larded with the usual knuckleheads. Would that the Newspaper Guild had more power.

    Further, the credentials in the U S of A are now distinctly murky. Your quote:

    If economists ask themselves "What good is a degree?" the answer is "to signal a requirement for a higher salary!"

    The development of the M.B.A. and M.F.A. in the last thirty or so years attests to a degree as time served to get a better job. So the M.B.A. has given us endless talent-free bean counters trained in bad business practices and shoddy economics. The M.F.A. gives us endless first novels of a uniform middling quality and careers in burgeoning writing programs producing more of such snooze-filled novels. Among journalists, the masters in journalism has not proved to be protection or a stamp of quality, either.

    jrs , May 1, 2016 at 1:39 pm

    Yea lawyers so self-serving at protecting their own profession that the laws are deliberately undecipherable.

    I suppose what the journalists need is just what anyone who works for a living needs: a good union to protect them and fight for them. Every worker should have one.

    I have my doubts anyone gets an M.F.A. to signal a higher salary though. Are they like "I wanted a higher salary so I figured I'd get the most economically worthless degree conceivable …" (even a bachelors in liberal arts indicates you at least got a bachelors which is seen to one's credit – but an M.F.A. – really does anyone care you have an advance degree in something with no economic value?). I think people do the M.F.A. for love (or else pretentiousness). But love may be no guarantee of talent.

    diptherio , May 1, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    Allow me to translate for the Times' editors:

    The story, as originally written, was based exclusively on verifiable facts. This is a great weakness in a modern news story and so we decided to add in some speculation and thinly veiled insults in order to bring it into line with contemporary journalistic standards. The job of a modern journalist is not simply to report the facts, but also to help people decide what to think about those facts…also we predict the future. Our critics have an outdated view of what a responsible journalism looks like in today's hyper-competitive media environment.

    jrs, May 1, 2016 at 1:21 pm

    How are the people without a family to support supposed to be courageous and do the right thing, if most of the people around them don't because "they have a family to support". Or are they not supposed to pick up anything at all from their social context? I don't think it usually works this way. I'm all for heroes, I just don't think expecting ethical heroes to be the norm, if most people are selling their souls to survive, and we even make excuses for them, is likely to produce all that many.

    And by the way from whom besides their coworkers etc., did they learn to compromise their principles even if they don't have a family to support? Why maybe from their parents! Who afterall had to do it "because they had family to support"! And round and round it goes. Yes I do believe we need a social solution (ie don't let people and their families fall into poverty and/or unemployment so easily and they won't be so eager to do anything to keep a job. Although some people seem attached to their jobs for irrational reasons like prestige rather than just the nuts and bolts of needing a means to pay their bills).

    Guaranteed survival is a radical proposal though when the ENTIRE economic system is premised on relying on the threat of starvation and homelessness to get people to do what it wants (and that includes ethically indifferent as well as entirely unethical things). I just don't think the "get out of ethics free" cards (because you have a family etc.) help anything though.

    What was added to the Sander's story is mostly notable for it's complete absence of ANY actual content. And that really makes one wonder why they added it. The added part is like: but but .. Sanders success doesn't guarantee he will be good at achieving things as President. Yes and it doesn't guarantee he won't either! But either Hillary or Sanders will face congress and anyone who took high school civics knows that. That additions are like: NEWSFLASH: FUTURE IS UNPREDICTABLE!!! Uh that's not adding any news to the world at all. Might as well just add a tiny disclaimer: past performance is no guarantee of future results like the investments have.

    [Apr 24, 2016] Ron Paul on the Military-Industrial Complex's Role in US Militarism from Latin America to Europe

    Notable quotes:
    "... Speaking of the US putting more troops in Europe near the Russian border, Paul notes that he doesn't think "they have strong evidence that the Russians are about to roll in tanks." Instead, a motivation for the military build-up, Paul says, is "stirring up troubles to justify more military expenditures." ..."
    The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity
    Speaking last week with host Scott Horton on the Scott Horton Show, three-time presidential candidate and former Republican member of the US House of Representatives Ron Paul discussed the military-industrial complex's role in US militarism across the world, including in Latin America and Europe.

    After Horton introduced Paul as "the greatest American hero," Paul and Horton entered a fascinating discussion of US foreign policy. Their wide-ranging discussion concerns matters including US intervention in Iraq and Ukraine, a potential "Brexit" - exit of Great Britain from the European Union (EU), and Paul's preference for free trade over international trade deals that Paul says put in place "managed trade to serve the interests of some special interests."

    Addressing the influence of the military-industrial complex, Paul comments in the interview on examples in Europe and Latin America.

    Speaking of the US putting more troops in Europe near the Russian border, Paul notes that he doesn't think "they have strong evidence that the Russians are about to roll in tanks." Instead, a motivation for the military build-up, Paul says, is "stirring up troubles to justify more military expenditures."

    Paul also comments on the military-industrial complex when he discusses how a dispute over which company would profit from its helicopters being used in the US government's "Plan Columbia" was resolved by sending both companies' helicopters to Latin America for use in the drug war effort.

    Listen to Paul's complete interview here.

    Listen through the end of the interview and you will hear Horton's strong praise for the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity (RPI). Paul founded RPI in 2013 after retiring from the House of Representatives. Says Horton:

    Check out the Ron Paul Institute at ronpaulinstitute.org. They put out great antiwar propaganda all day long seven days a week - the great Dan McAdams, Dr. Paul, Adam Dick and others there at the Ron Paul Institute, ronpaulinstitute.org.
    Read here Paul's April 10 editorial "As Ukraine Collapses, Europeans Tire of US Interventions" discussed in the interview.
    Copyright © 2016 by RonPaul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.
    Please donate to the Ron Paul Institute

    [Apr 23, 2016] My support for Obama evaporated as it became apparent that, rather than fighting for civil rights, he was doubling down on Bush/Cheneys totalitarian approach to all issues of security

    Notable quotes:
    "... This question contains one truly huge assumption: that liberals actually support Obama and Clinton. My support for Obama evaporated as it became apparent that, rather than fighting for civil rights, he was doubling down on Bush/Cheney's totalitarian approach to all issues of security. ..."
    "... The only time I've really thought he was fighting for anything was against Hillary during the latter part of his first nominating process. Since then he's been fairly spineless. ..."
    "... The Clintons have never been liberal. They're all about taking the safe middle of the road; they'd never take on the corporate interests because they want their donations just like the right wing. ..."
    "... If you want to find liberals, find folks like me that are at least interested in Sanders. Or at least initiate political conversations on your own. Educate yourself on the issues that are important to you and start talking with the people around you. ..."
    www.quora.com

    This question contains one truly huge assumption: that liberals actually support Obama and Clinton. My support for Obama evaporated as it became apparent that, rather than fighting for civil rights, he was doubling down on Bush/Cheney's totalitarian approach to all issues of security. His incessant compromises with GOP on health-care during his first year or two left us with an ACA that is somewhat better than nothing but falls dramatically far short of what it should have been; and the compromises were just tricks, the GOP intended to stonewall it from the beginning.

    His FCC's actions on net neutrality were essential but don't outweigh his failings on liberty, privacy, and other issues. His failures to respond to the Bundy family's two armed insurrections are typical of his passive afraid-of-the-backlash approach to just about everything.

    His administration is complicity embedded with the Content Ownership industry to eliminate the fair-use exception to copyright law. The only time I've really thought he was fighting for anything was against Hillary during the latter part of his first nominating process. Since then he's been fairly spineless.

    Only reason I don't usually air these concerns publicly is the scandalous amount of racism and sheer hatred in the heart of the GOP's nut-job opposition.

    The Clintons have never been liberal. They're all about taking the safe middle of the road; they'd never take on the corporate interests because they want their donations just like the right wing.

    ... ... ... ...

    If you want to find liberals, find folks like me that are at least interested in Sanders. Or at least initiate political conversations on your own. Educate yourself on the issues that are important to you and start talking with the people around you.

    [Apr 10, 2016] Writing a Blank Check on War The American Conservative

    Notable quotes:
    "... with legislators largely consigned to the status of observers, presidents pretty much wage war whenever, wherever, and however they see fit. ..."
    www.theamericanconservative.com
    by Andrew J. Bacevich

    Let's face it: in times of war, the Constitution tends to take a beating. With the safety or survival of the nation said to be at risk, the basic law of the land-otherwise considered sacrosanct-becomes nonbinding, subject to being waived at the whim of government authorities who are impatient, scared, panicky, or just plain pissed off.

    The examples are legion. During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln arbitrarily suspended the writ of habeas corpus and ignored court orders that took issue with his authority to do so. After U.S. entry into World War I, the administration of Woodrow Wilson mounted a comprehensive effort to crush dissent, shutting down anti-war publications in complete disregard of the First Amendment. Amid the hysteria triggered by Pearl Harbor, Franklin Roosevelt issued an executive order consigning to concentration camps more than 100,000 Japanese-Americans, many of them native-born citizens. Asked in 1944 to review this gross violation of due process, the Supreme Court endorsed the government's action by a 6-3 vote.

    More often than not, the passing of the emergency induces second thoughts and even remorse. The further into the past a particular war recedes, the more dubious the wartime arguments for violating the Constitution appear. Americans thereby take comfort in the "lessons learned" that will presumably prohibit any future recurrence of such folly.

    Even so, the onset of the next war finds the Constitution once more being ill-treated. We don't repeat past transgressions, of course. Instead, we devise new ones. So it has been during the ongoing post-9/11 period of protracted war.

    During the presidency of George W. Bush, the United States embraced torture as an instrument of policy in clear violation of the Eighth Amendment prohibiting cruel and unusual punishment. Bush's successor, Barack Obama, ordered the extrajudicial killing of an American citizen, a death by drone that was visibly in disregard of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. Both administrations-Bush's with gusto, Obama's with evident regret-imprisoned individuals for years on end without charge and without anything remotely approximating the "speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury" guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment. Should the present state of hostilities ever end, we can no doubt expect Guantánamo to become yet another source of "lessons learned" for future generations of rueful Americans.

    ♦♦♦

    Yet one particular check-and-balance constitutional proviso now appears exempt from this recurring phenomenon of disregard followed by professions of dismay, embarrassment, and "never again-ism" once the military emergency passes. I mean, of course, Article I, section 8 of the Constitution, which assigns to Congress the authority "to declare war" and still stands as testimony to the genius of those who drafted it. There can be no question that the responsibility for deciding when and whether the United States should fight resides with the legislative branch, not the executive, and that this was manifestly the intent of the Framers.

    On parchment at least, the division of labor appears straightforward. The president's designation as commander-in-chief of the armed forces in no way implies a blanket authorization to employ those forces however he sees fit or anything faintly like it. Quite the contrary: legitimizing presidential command requires explicit congressional sanction.

    Actual practice has evolved into something altogether different. The portion of Article I, Section 8, cited above has become a dead letter, about as operative as blue laws still on the books in some American cities and towns that purport to regulate Sabbath day activities. Superseding the written text is an unwritten counterpart that goes something like this: with legislators largely consigned to the status of observers, presidents pretty much wage war whenever, wherever, and however they see fit. Whether the result qualifies as usurpation or forfeiture is one of those chicken-and-egg questions that's interesting but practically speaking beside the point.

    This is by no means a recent development. It has a history. In the summer of 1950, when President Harry Truman decided that a U.N. Security Council resolution provided sufficient warrant for him to order U.S. forces to fight in Korea, congressional war powers took a hit from which they would never recover.

    Congress soon thereafter bought into the notion, fashionable during the Cold War, that formal declarations of hostilities had become passé. Waging the "long twilight struggle" ostensibly required deference to the commander-in-chief on all matters related to national security. To sustain the pretense that it still retained some relevance, Congress took to issuing what were essentially permission slips, granting presidents maximum freedom of action to do whatever they might decide needed to be done in response to the latest perceived crisis.

    The Tonkin Gulf Resolution of 1964 offers a notable example. With near unanimity, legislators urged President Lyndon Johnson "to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression" across the length and breadth of Southeast Asia. Through the magic of presidential interpretation, a mandate to prevent aggression provided legal cover for an astonishingly brutal and aggressive war in Vietnam, as well as Cambodia and Laos. Under the guise of repelling attacks on U.S. forces, Johnson and his successor, Richard Nixon, thrust millions of American troops into a war they could not win, even if more than 58,000 died trying.

    To leap almost four decades ahead, think of the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) that was passed by Congress in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 as the grandchild of the Tonkin Gulf Resolution. This document required (directed, called upon, requested, invited, urged) President George W. Bush "to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations, or persons." In plain language: here's a blank check; feel free to fill it in any way you like.

    ♦♦♦

    As a practical matter, one specific individual-Osama bin Laden-had hatched the 9/11 plot. A single organization-al-Qaeda-had conspired to pull it off. And just one nation-backward, Taliban-controlled Afghanistan-had provided assistance, offering sanctuary to bin Laden and his henchmen. Yet nearly 15 years later, the AUMF remains operative and has become the basis for military actions against innumerable individuals, organizations, and nations with no involvement whatsoever in the murderous events of September 11, 2001.

    Consider the following less than comprehensive list of four developments, all of which occurred just within the last month and a half:

    • In Yemen, a U.S. airstrike killed at least 50 individuals, said to be members of an Islamist organization that did not exist on 9/11.
    • In Somalia, another U.S. airstrike killed a reported 150 militants, reputedly members of al-Shabab, a very nasty outfit, even if one with no real agenda beyond Somalia itself.
    • In Syria, pursuant to the campaign of assassination that is the latest spin-off of the Iraq War, U.S. special operations forces bumped off the reputed "finance minister" of the Islamic State, another terror group that didn't even exist in September 2001.
    • In Libya, according to press reports, the Pentagon is again gearing up for "decisive military action"-that is, a new round of air strikes and special operations attacks to quell the disorder resulting from the U.S.-orchestrated air campaign that in 2011 destabilized that country. An airstrike conducted in late February gave a hint of what is to come: it killed approximately 50 Islamic State militants (and possibly two Serbian diplomatic captives).

    Yemen, Somalia, Syria, and Libya share at least this in common: none of them, nor any of the groups targeted, had a hand in the 9/11 attacks.

    Imagine if, within a matter of weeks, China were to launch raids into Vietnam, Thailand, and Taiwan, with punitive action against the Philippines in the offing. Or if Russia, having given a swift kick to Ukraine, Georgia, and Azerbaijan, leaked its plans to teach Poland a lesson for mismanaging its internal affairs. Were Chinese President Xi Jinping or Russian President Vladimir Putin to order such actions, the halls of Congress would ring with fierce denunciations. Members of both houses would jostle for places in front of the TV cameras to condemn the perpetrators for recklessly violating international law and undermining the prospects for world peace. Having no jurisdiction over the actions of other sovereign states, senators and representatives would break down the doors to seize the opportunity to get in their two cents worth. No one would be able to stop them. Who does Xi think he is! How dare Putin!

    Yet when an American president undertakes analogous actions over which the legislative branch does have jurisdiction, members of Congress either yawn or avert their eyes.

    In this regard, Republicans are especially egregious offenders. On matters where President Obama is clearly acting in accordance with the Constitution-for example, in nominating someone to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court-they spare no effort to thwart him, concocting bizarre arguments nowhere found in the Constitution to justify their obstructionism. Yet when this same president cites the 2001 AUMF as the basis for initiating hostilities hither and yon, something that is on the face of it not legal but ludicrous, they passively assent.

    Indeed, when Obama in 2015 went so far as to ask Congress to pass a new AUMF addressing the specific threat posed by the Islamic State-that is, essentially rubberstamping the war he had already launched on his own in Syria and Iraq-the Republican leadership took no action. Looking forward to the day when Obama departs office, Senator Mitch McConnell with his trademark hypocrisy worried aloud that a new AUMF might constrain his successor. The next president will "have to clean up this mess, created by all of this passivity over the last eight years," the majority leader remarked. In that regard, "an authorization to use military force that ties the president's hands behind his back is not something I would want to do." The proper role of Congress was to get out of the way and give this commander-in-chief carte blanche so that the next one would enjoy comparably unlimited prerogatives.

    Collaborating with a president they roundly despise-implicitly concurring in Obama's questionable claim that "existing statutes [already] provide me with the authority I need" to make war on ISIS-the GOP-controlled Congress thereby transformed the post-9/11 AUMF into what has now become, in effect, a writ of permanent and limitless armed conflict. In Iraq and Syria, for instance, what began as a limited but open-ended campaign of air strikes authorized by President Obama in August 2014 has expanded to include an ever-larger contingent of U.S. trainers and advisers for the Iraqi military, special operations forces conducting raids in both Iraq and Syria, the first new all-U.S. forward fire base in Iraq, and at least 5,000 U.S. military personnel now on the ground, a number that continues to grow incrementally.

    Remember Barack Obama campaigning back in 2008 and solemnly pledging to end the Iraq War? What he neglected to mention at the time was that he was retaining the prerogative to plunge the country into another Iraq War on his own ticket. So has he now done, with members of Congress passively assenting and the country essentially a prisoner of war.

    By now, through its inaction, the legislative branch has, in fact, surrendered the final remnant of authority it retained on matters relating to whether, when, against whom, and for what purpose the United States should go to war. Nothing now remains but to pay the bills, which Congress routinely does, citing a solemn obligation to "support the troops." In this way does the performance of lesser duties provide an excuse for shirking far greater ones.

    In military circles, there is a term to describe this type of behavior. It's called cowardice.

    Andrew J. Bacevich is the author of America's War for the Middle East: A Military History , which has just been published by Random House.

    Copyright 2016 Andrew J. Bacevich

    [Apr 10, 2016] Russias Lethal Military vs. Americas Third Offset Who Wins

    Junk article, interesting comments.
    Notable quotes:
    "... Actually, he upgraded his army after Georgia launched a surprise blitzkrieg operation on S. Ossetia, killing UN-mandated Russian peacekeepers and a few hundred sleeping Ossets, with or without a wink and a nod from the US. Verdict's still out on that last one. You'll have to wait for Karl Rove's posthumous memoirs for that insight. ..."
    "... Another silly "what if" article. A conflict between Nato and Russia will very quickly go nuclear. Nobody wins. Taking the three tiny Baltic countries into Nato was an incredibly stupid move. The purpose was purely to provoke Russia. They can't be defended without going nuclear. They will be lost forever. Nato gains nothing except the claim of being the victim. ..."
    "... The NATO-bloc spends about a trillion dollars each year on the military -- as much as is spent by all other countries in the world combined, and an order of magnitude more than what Russia spends. ..."
    "... If NATO is defending "Freedom", as we're told, then why does it require such a titanic amount of force and money? If U.S.-style "Freedom" is such a good thing, if this Exceptional "Freedom" is something that every sane person wants, then why does it take so much force to impose this "Freedom" on people ? ..."
    "... NATO is selling death and destruction, repackaged as "Freedom and Democracy". Ask what is inside the pretty package! -- then you will understand why this "Freedom" is such a hard sell. ..."
    "... The Baltic leaders are just milking NATO, with their constant 'threat alerts'. And NATO milks them right back. It's a symbiotic milk maid festival. ..."
    April 8, 2016 | The National Interest Blog
    Mark, 2 days ago
    Just typical propaganda to justify endless billions for a nonexistent threat. ,you have to be a brainwashed neocon idiot or have stock in defense corporations or likely both to believe Russia has any interest in invading anyone. How would we feel if Russia moved missiles and troops to our borders?

    iberaldisgust -> Mark , link

    Ukraine ..... so much for brain washed .....
    Robert Duran -> liberaldisgust , link
    What about Ukraine?
    Nawaponrath -> liberaldisgust, a day ago
    Yes US funded riots that kicked out a democratically elected government
    Brian -> Nawaponrath , a day ago
    What's wrong with that?

    You lost - get over it.

    You should be use to it by now since all of your former allies have either joined NATO or want to join NATO as protection against Russia.

    You see - we actually don't have to do anything to convince nations to work with us - we just let Russia act the way it normally acts and the rest falls into place.

    I'm fond of saying that Putin is our best man in Russia. We couldn't ask for a better ally in helping us dismantle Russia.

    R.W. Emerson II -> Brian , a day ago
    Actually, it's the hack politicians who join NATO as protection against the people.

    The people oppose the politicians in these "Democracies", but that doesn't seem to matter.

    * "Over 10,000 Participate in Anti-NATO Rally in Serbia" , Sputnik News , 27 Mar 2016

    * "'Neutrality is Beautiful': Majority of Finns Want to Stay Away From NATO" , Sputnik News , 30 Jan 2016

    Brian -> Mark , link
    Then we can tell Putin that he doesn't need to modernize his upgrades? Ok - you tell your comrades to stand down and we'll do the same.
    Sinbad2 -> Brian , link
    The Russians do defense, the US is invader uno numero.
    Michael DeStefano -> Brian , a day ago
    Russia should stand down where exactly?
    Nawaponrath -> Brian , a day ago
    He upgraded his army after US funded regime change in Ukraine get your facts right
    Michael DeStefano -> Nawaponrath , a day ago
    Actually, he upgraded his army after Georgia launched a surprise blitzkrieg operation on S. Ossetia, killing UN-mandated Russian peacekeepers and a few hundred sleeping Ossets, with or without a wink and a nod from the US. Verdict's still out on that last one. You'll have to wait for Karl Rove's posthumous memoirs for that insight.
    Nawaponrath -> Michael DeStefano , an hour ago
    You are right and Georgia was armed and trained by US and instigated by US to attack Russia and what happened it took Russia 5 days to defeat the well armed US backed Georgians and this is an indicator how the US will fare against a war with Russia - FULL RETREAT
    Brian -> Michael DeStefano , a day ago
    Oh, the story is that Russia invaded Georgia lands.

    I'm glad Russians were killed. Good.

    Michael DeStefano -> Brian , a day ago
    Well, we already know you're a psychopath. No need to repeat yourself ad nauseam.
    Ted Jebb -> Brian , link
    Brian you really don't know what you are talking about. I doubt you ever have left your neighborhood let alone the state. You talk down about Russia and how great the American military is. But then again like all talk it is just talk. In a real war Russia has many more nukes then we do. They kept their nuclear program up while ours has fallen. Should a real war happen all you will see Brian is flashes of of light everywhere and that will be the end. GET IT WAKE UP !!!
    Brian -> Nawaponrath , a day ago
    And we did it without firing a shot....

    Another win for the U.S.A.

    Not our fault that most of your former allies/republics prefer the U.S. to Russia.

    Heh heh.

    Vasya Pypkin -> Brian , a day ago
    Good. Now you gotta feed them ;)
    Michael DeStefano -> Brian , a day ago
    Without firing a shot? Apparently, you missed the right sector snipers in the Hotel Ukraina, the Azov battalion civilian massacres in Mariupol and the Odessa holocaust, eh?

    But we know, you loved every bullet of it. Psychopaths are as psychopaths do.

    And BTW, speak for yourself. This 'we' thing is delusional. If 'we' met, you'd understand that quick enough.

    Brian -> Michael DeStefano , a day ago
    The Russians brought it upon themselves with their history of bullying...

    Your neighbors will continue to hate you, and we don't need to do anything about it.

    I'll be happy to send a donation to Ukraine so they can buy more defensive weapons - the more Russians that invade their land, the more body bags they can send back to Russia.

    Sinbad2 -> Brian , link
    The US is the bully, and you will pay the price, big time.
    Michael DeStefano -> Brian , a day ago
    The Ukrainians brought it upon themselves, sir. You obviously share in that endearing Ukrainian trait to blame everyone but yourself for the consequences of your actions. Next time, try to keep your banderite fascist ideologues at bay and maybe you'll learn something about those 'European values' that Poroshenko seems to like to lecture the Europeans about, if that ain't a hoot in itself.
    Ted Jebb -> Brian , link
    Alright keyboard commando Brian time for your cookies and milk. Then you will need to return to your padded cell !!!
    Vin -> Mark , link
    nonexistent?

    What just happened in Syria?
    What about the untraceable subs Russia has that can knock out our aircraft carries easily? PS: Iran has one and we lost track of it shortly after they purchased it from Russia.
    What about the large number of nuclear weapon Russia has and has used this threat in an offensives manor lately?

    Are you the type of person who leaves his front door unlocked when you go to work?
    Just type up your SS#, Credit Cards, and Name for us please...along with you address since you do not believe in preventive measures to safeguard yourself.

    Nawaponrath -> Vin , a day ago
    What about US bombing Syria before Russia intervene 4 years before killing at least 300,000 civilians
    James Johnson -> Vin , link
    You keep burning the fascist candlestick at both home and abroad your going to get burned.
    JB 1969 -> Vin , a day ago
    The untraceable diesel electric are very short range by ocean going standard AND become more visible it they need to approach the target (The hope to submerge, sit and have a vessel pass very close).
    Michael DeStefano -> Vin , a day ago
    Oh God, get a dozen cartons of worry beads and geriatric diapers off Amazon and leave the bullcrap where it belongs.
    Che Guevara , a day ago
    The Baltics and Poland should take an example from Finland. Finland has managed to avoid conflict with Russia, without any help from the U.S. or NATO. Threats of imminent Russian invasion are fairy tales.
    strayshot -> Che Guevara , a day ago
    Up until they show up on your doorstep asking for a cup of sugar...... and your surrender of the property.
    Che Guevara -> strayshot , a day ago
    Are you from Finland?
    Ex Pat , link
    Another silly "what if" article. A conflict between Nato and Russia will very quickly go nuclear. Nobody wins. Taking the three tiny Baltic countries into Nato was an incredibly stupid move. The purpose was purely to provoke Russia. They can't be defended without going nuclear. They will be lost forever. Nato gains nothing except the claim of being the victim.
    liberaldisgust -> Ex Pat , link
    I doubt that it would " Quickly go Nuclear " as once that line is crossed as you say there is no winner ...... on any level ....
    Jose Luiz Costa Sousa -> Ex Pat , a day ago
    MY CONGRATULATIONS FOR YOU OPINION WHICH IS MY OPINION. I AM A PROFESSIONAL ARMY OFFFICER. YOUR OPINION IS THE CORRECT AND THE REAL ONE. ALL THOSE DISCUSSIONS ABOUT WHATEVER STRENGTH AND KIND OF TROOPS OR WEAPONS NATO MIGTH HAVE WHEREVER... WITHIN EUROPE IS SIMPLY SILLY...

    I THINK ANY ARMY OFFICER KNOWS WHAT YOU JUST TOLD... SO EITHER ALL THIS SHIT AROUND WHOM, WHAT AND WHERE TO DEPLOY MILITARY POWER TO STOP THE RUSSIANS IS JUST TO HAVE THE STUPID EUROPEANS SPENDING MORE MONEY BUYING USA WEAPONS OR IF NATO BELIEVES WHAT THEY ARE DOING... THEN THE GENERALS IN CHARGE ARE JUST DONKEYS ... AND I APOLOGIZE TO DONKEYS... OF COURSE ANY VERY FIRST MILITARY ACTION FROM RUSSIA EITHER TO DEFEND ITSELF FROM A NATO/ USA ATTACK OR TO CARRY OUT A PRE EMPTIVE ATTACK WILL BE IMMEDIATELY NUCLEAR... MORE THAN THAT IT WILL BE GLOBAL.... NOT ONLY AGAINST EUROPE... THE MAIN TARGET WILL BE USA AND ITS MILITARY BASES AROUND THE WORLD... AND OF COURSE EUROPE... SO CONVENCIONAL MILITARY MEANS IN SUCH A CONTEXT THEY SHALL BE BASICALLY TROOPS AND EQUIPMENT ABLE TO OPERATE IN A NUCLEAR AND NBQ ENVIRONMENT.

    Sinbad2 -> Jose Luiz Costa Sousa , link
    Which Army?
    Sinbad2 -> Ex Pat , link
    Russia wouldn't have to go nuclear to defeat Europe, so if it does go nuclear, it will be the US that pushes the button.
    As the Russian army would be in Europe, the US would nuke Europe.
    strayshot -> Ex Pat , a day ago
    "Taking the three tiny Baltic countries into NATO was an incredibly stupid move."

    I disagree. Americas' Principles have always stressed spreading Freedom & Liberty as far as possible. Where "we" Americans went wrong was not electing leadership who understood this principle.

    I can agree with the Far Left on one thing: Europeans need to bring their military strength back up. It's obvious that my country (USA) is headed down a path of isolationism. A pity, really. Has the Europeans learned to value each other as equals...... or will ancient rivalries tear them apart?

    R.W. Emerson II -> strayshot , a day ago
    The NATO-bloc spends about a trillion dollars each year on the military -- as much as is spent by all other countries in the world combined, and an order of magnitude more than what Russia spends.

    If NATO is defending "Freedom", as we're told, then why does it require such a titanic amount of force and money? If U.S.-style "Freedom" is such a good thing, if this Exceptional "Freedom" is something that every sane person wants, then why does it take so much force to impose this "Freedom" on people ?

    If I invent something that people want -- a better mouse-trap, say -- do I have to bomb people into buying my product? Do I have to use "police" armed with tanks and machine-guns to round people up and force them into the store where my mouse-trap is sold?

    Real freedom is something that sells itself. Freedom is something to live for, not something to kill and be killed for. We develop freedom by exercising our rights, not by turning other countries into rubble!

    NATO is selling death and destruction, repackaged as "Freedom and Democracy". Ask what is inside the pretty package! -- then you will understand why this "Freedom" is such a hard sell.

    Nawaponrath -> strayshot , a day ago
    Freedom & Liberty via bombs in invasion! Democracy only when US puppet will win otherwise regime change like in Syria and in the past many other countries
    Sinbad2 -> strayshot , link
    BS, the US is a tyrant.
    Donald Neuland -> strayshot , a day ago
    your reply is silly and stupid. Principles never won anything. You are one of those pedantic liberals who think we (but, of course, not you) need to save everyone. Reality says most would rather give up than fight themselves.
    David James -> Donald Neuland , a day ago
    I agree with principles (They should not be underestimated!) however I think as Americans we are going to have to be a bit more pragmatic going forward.
    Brian -> Donald Neuland , a day ago
    As the big bad bully in Europe, it would be in your benefit if the U.S. stayed out of things.

    Too bad your former republics and allies prefer the U.S. to Russia.

    R.W. Emerson II -> Brian , a day ago
    The politicians prefer the U.S. to Russia, perhaps. But I'm not sure that the same can be said of the people.
    A referendum on the future of the Soviet Union was held on 17 March 1991. The question put to voters was: "Do you consider necessary the preservation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics as a renewed federation of equal sovereign republics in which the rights and freedom of an individual of any nationality will be fully guaranteed?"

    Russia SFSR:
    Choice .......... ------Votes . -----%
    For .............. 56,860,783 .. 73.00
    Against .......... 21,030,753 .. 27.00
    Invalid ........... 1,809,633 ...... -
    Total ............ 79,701,169 . 100.00
    Reg., Turnout ... 105,643,364 .. 75.44

    Ukrainian SSR:
    Choice .......... ------Votes . -----%
    For .............. 22,110,899 .. 71.48
    Against ........... 8,820,089 .. 28.52
    Invalid ............. 583,256 ...... -
    Total ............ 31,514,244 . 100.00
    Reg., Turnout .... 37,732,178 .. 83.52

    Source: Nohlen & Stöver, "Soviet Union Referendum, 1991 , wikipedia , 14 Oct 2015

    -- "Soviet Union referendum, 1991" , US Wow

    A similar referendum was held 22 years later, by Gallup. In the 2013 Gallup poll , people in countries formed by the Soviet dissolution said, by a two-to-one margin, that they were worse off than before the Soviet break-up .

    But it doesn't matter, of course, what the people think. The "West" -- the U.S. Empire -- decided that the Soviet Union was bad, and the rulers/bankers/gangsters of the "West" know what is best for everyone everywhere . That's because the rulers/bankers of the U.S. Empire are Exceptional, Enlightened and Inherently Superior. They were Born Without Sin, their intentions are Pure and Holy, and they Know More Than God.

    Zero -> Donald Neuland , a day ago
    "Reality says most would rather give up than fight themselves."

    That much is certainly true...

    Michael DeStefano -> strayshot , a day ago
    It was foolish. How did Finland survive as a neutral country? If anyone had any justification for joining NATO after WWII, it was certainly Finland, yet it prospered undisturbed, even benefiting from Russia trade.

    The Baltic leaders are just milking NATO, with their constant 'threat alerts'. And NATO milks them right back. It's a symbiotic milk maid festival.

    Peter Tam -> Ex Pat , link
    If that happened the Iranian will inherit the world
    jimdeim -> Peter Tam , a day ago
    No no one would when fallout kills everyone. Fact is if they just blew us up and we never fire one nuke, world ends from fallout.

    [Apr 10, 2016] Why David Cameron Went Neocon

    Notable quotes:
    "... Cameron's attempts to look perspicacious in foreign affairs only show him once again to be over impulsive and delusional-proof once again that the prime minister's foreign policy is, as General Richards had put it, "more about the Notting Hill liberal agenda rather than statecraft." ..."
    February 22, 2016 |
    FAR FROM BEING an example of successful intervention, however, Libya has turned into a study in how the West makes things worse. It is now a failed state, a vast ungoverned space. The World Food Program says that 2.4 million Libyans are in need of humanitarian assistance; the country's population is 6.2 million. Its economy is at one quarter of its capacity. Instead of fostering democracy in the Maghreb, Libya has become a breeding ground for Islamist terror-security analysts call it "Scumbag Woodstock"-and a springboard for the refugee crisis into Europe. Towards the end of 2015, Abdullah al-Thani, one of Libya's competing prime ministers, wrote to Philip Hammond, Cameron's foreign secretary, offering to cooperate against ISIS and the people-smuggling rackets that bring so many migrants across the Mediterranean into Europe. He didn't receive a reply.

    The Cameroons ignore the reality of Libya in favor of congratulating themselves on a job well done. As one Cabinet minister put it to the journalist Matthew D'Ancona, "whenever things get bad, and the press are saying what a rubbish government we are, I remind myself that there are people alive in Benghazi tonight because we decided to take a risk." In a Christmas interview with the Spectator magazine, Cameron insisted that

    "Libya is better off without Qaddafi. What we were doing was preventing a mass genocide. Then, as you say, the coalition helped those on the ground to get rid of the Qaddafi regime and it's very disappointing that there hasn't been an effective successor regime."

    Yet the idea of an imminent Libyan genocide in 2011 seems to have been exaggerated. The International Crisis Group concluded by the end of that year: "There are grounds for questioning the more sensational reports that the regime was using its air force to slaughter demonstrators, let alone engaging in anything remotely warranting use of the term 'genocide.'"

    Moreover, Cameron's insistence that his intervention saved lives-when in the long run, it did not-and his use of word "disappointing" is telling. It suggests a near pathological unwillingness to accept mistakes. To admit failure in Libya would be to undermine the prime minister's judgment, and he can't have that. He would rather blame Libyans for not taking their big shot at democracy. This stubbornness seems to have driven him to be hawkish over Syria. Cameron and his friends want to recapture some of the magic they felt when they rid the world of a tyranny. It doesn't matter whether Britain is tackling Assad, or attacking Assad's enemy. It doesn't even matter that Britain is making a pathetically insignificant contribution. What counts is that the Tory top brass can feel they are fighting the good fight. When it comes to international statesmanship, the Cameroons prefer West Wing–style fantasy to realpolitik.

    Cameron is aware of this criticism, which is why he has tried to pretend that he had thought through his latest adventure in Syria. But his strategy didn't stand up to much scrutiny. The prime minister's office issues a document claiming that while the immediate motive for airstrikes was to degrade ISIS, there was a medium-term plan to work with seventy thousand "Syrian opposition fighters on the ground who do not belong to extremist groups." This was an obvious fudge to suggest that destroying ISIS did not mean propping up Assad; that a third force existed in Syria, one which could be brought to the fore, with Western help. Unfortunately for democrats everywhere, this idea seems based on wishful thinking. Experts maintain that the armed opposition to Assad is dominated by ISIS, as well as the Al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra and the equally Islamist Ahrar al-Sham. The smaller rebel groups might be labeled moderate, but they are able to operate only with the blessing of the jihadists. Besides, as journalist Patrick Cockburn, citing Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi of the Middle East Forum, writes, these groups "commonly exaggerate their numbers, are very fragmented and have failed to unite, despite years of war."

    Cameron's attempts to look perspicacious in foreign affairs only show him once again to be over impulsive and delusional-proof once again that the prime minister's foreign policy is, as General Richards had put it, "more about the Notting Hill liberal agenda rather than statecraft."

    [Apr 04, 2016] Vietnam War at 50 Have We Learned Nothing

    Notable quotes:
    "... When President George HW Bush invaded Iraq in 1991, the warhawks celebrated what they considered the end of that post-Vietnam period where Americans were hesitant about being the policeman of the world. President Bush said famously at the time, "By God, we've kicked the Vietnam Syndrome once and for all." ..."
    "... Last month was another anniversary. March 20, 2003 was the beginning of the second US war on Iraq. It was the night of "shock and awe" as bombs rained down on Iraqis. Like Vietnam, it was a war brought on by government lies and propaganda, amplified by a compliant media that repeated the lies without hesitation. ..."
    ronpaulinstitute.org

    The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity

    Last week Defense Secretary Ashton Carter laid a wreath at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington in commemoration of the "50th anniversary" of that war. The date is confusing, as the war started earlier and ended far later than 1966. But the Vietnam War at 50 commemoration presents a good opportunity to reflect on the war and whether we have learned anything from it.

    Some 60,000 Americans were killed fighting in that war more than 8,000 miles away. More than a million Vietnamese military and civilians also lost their lives. The US government did not accept that it had pursued a bad policy in Vietnam until the bitter end. But in the end the war was lost and we went home, leaving the destruction of the war behind. For the many who survived on both sides, the war would continue to haunt them.

    It was thought at the time that we had learned something from this lost war. The War Powers Resolution was passed in 1973 to prevent future Vietnams by limiting the president's ability to take the country to war without the Constitutionally-mandated Congressional declaration of war. But the law failed in its purpose and was actually used by the war party in Washington to make it easier to go to war without Congress.

    Such legislative tricks are doomed to failure when the people still refuse to demand that elected officials follow the Constitution.

    When President George HW Bush invaded Iraq in 1991, the warhawks celebrated what they considered the end of that post-Vietnam period where Americans were hesitant about being the policeman of the world. President Bush said famously at the time, "By God, we've kicked the Vietnam Syndrome once and for all."

    They may have beat the Vietnam Syndrome, but they learned nothing from Vietnam.

    Colonel Harry Summers returned to Vietnam in 1974 and told his Vietnamese counterpart Colonel Tsu, "You know, you never beat us on the battlefield." The Vietnamese officer responded, "That may be so, but it is also irrelevant."

    He is absolutely correct: tactical victories mean nothing when pursuing a strategic mistake.

    Last month was another anniversary. March 20, 2003 was the beginning of the second US war on Iraq. It was the night of "shock and awe" as bombs rained down on Iraqis. Like Vietnam, it was a war brought on by government lies and propaganda, amplified by a compliant media that repeated the lies without hesitation.

    Like Vietnam, the 2003 Iraq war was a disaster. More than 5,000 Americans were killed in the war and as many as a million or more Iraqis lost their lives. There is nothing to show for the war but destruction, trillions of dollars down the drain, and the emergence of al-Qaeda and ISIS.

    Sadly, unlike after the Vietnam fiasco there has been almost no backlash against the US empire. In fact, President Obama has continued the same failed policy and Congress doesn't even attempt to reign him in. On the very anniversary of that disastrous 2003 invasion, President Obama announced that he was sending US Marines back into Iraq! And not a word from Congress.

    We've seemingly learned nothing.

    There have been too many war anniversaries! We want an end to all these pointless wars. It's time we learn from these horrible mistakes.

    [Mar 29, 2016] Is Trump Right About NATO Zero Hedge

    www.zerohedge.com

    Submitted by Patrick Buchanan via Buchanan.org,

    I am "not isolationist, but I am 'America First,'" Donald Trump told The New York times last weekend. "I like the expression."

    Of NATO, where the U.S. underwrites three-fourths of the cost of defending Europe, Trump calls this arrangement "unfair, economically, to us," and adds, "We will not be ripped off anymore."

    Beltway media may be transfixed with Twitter wars over wives and alleged infidelities. But the ideas Trump aired should ignite a national debate over U.S. overseas commitments - especially NATO.

    For the Donald's ideas are not lacking for authoritative support.

    The first NATO supreme commander, Gen. Eisenhower, said in February 1951 of the alliance: "If in 10 years, all American troops stationed in Europe for national defense purposes have not been returned to the United States, then this whole project will have failed."

    As JFK biographer Richard Reeves relates, President Eisenhower, a decade later, admonished the president-elect on NATO.

    "Eisenhower told his successor it was time to start bringing the troops home from Europe. 'America is carrying far more than her share of free world defense,' he said. It was time for other nations of NATO to take on more of the costs of their own defense."

    No Cold War president followed Ike's counsel.

    But when the Cold War ended with the collapse of the Soviet Empire, the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, and the breakup of the Soviet Union into 15 nations, a new debate erupted.

    The conservative coalition that had united in the Cold War fractured. Some of us argued that when the Russian troops went home from Europe, the American troops should come home from Europe.

    Time for a populous prosperous Europe to start defending itself.

    Instead, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush began handing out NATO memberships, i.e., war guarantees, to all ex-Warsaw Pact nations and even Baltic republics that had been part of the Soviet Union.

    In a historically provocative act, the U.S. moved its "red line" for war with Russia from the Elbe River in Germany to the Estonian-Russian border, a few miles from St. Petersburg.

    We declared to the world that should Russia seek to restore its hegemony over any part of its old empire in Europe, she would be at war with the United States.

    No Cold War president ever considered issuing a war guarantee of this magnitude, putting our homeland at risk of nuclear war, to defend Latvia and Estonia.

    Recall. Ike did not intervene to save the Hungarian freedom fighters in 1956. Lyndon Johnson did not lift a hand to save the Czechs, when Warsaw Pact armies crushed "Prague Spring" in 1968. Reagan refused to intervene when Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, on Moscow's orders, smashed Solidarity in 1981.

    These presidents put America first. All would have rejoiced in the liberation of Eastern Europe. But none would have committed us to war with a nuclear-armed nation like Russia to guarantee it.

    Yet, here was George W. Bush declaring that any Russian move against Latvia or Estonia meant war with the United States. John McCain wanted to extend U.S. war guarantees to Georgia and Ukraine.

    This was madness born of hubris. And among those who warned against moving NATO onto Russia's front porch was America's greatest geostrategist, the author of containment, George Kennan:

    "Expanding NATO would be the most fateful error of American policy in the post-Cold War era. Such a decision may be expected to impel Russian foreign policy in directions decidedly not to our liking."

    Kennan was proven right. By refusing to treat Russia as we treated other nations that repudiated Leninism, we created the Russia we feared, a rearming nation bristling with resentment.

    The Russian people, having extended a hand in friendship and seen it slapped away, cheered the ouster of the accommodating Boris Yeltsin and the arrival of an autocratic strong man who would make Russia respected again. We ourselves prepared the path for Vladimir Putin.

    While Trump is focusing on how America is bearing too much of the cost of defending Europe, it is the risks we are taking that are paramount, risks no Cold War president ever dared to take.

    Why should America fight Russia over who rules in the Baltic States or Romania and Bulgaria? When did the sovereignty of these nations become interests so vital we would risk a military clash with Moscow that could escalate into nuclear war? Why are we still committed to fight for scores of nations on five continents?

    Trump is challenging the mindset of a foreign policy elite whose thinking is frozen in a world that disappeared around 1991.

    He is suggesting a new foreign policy where the United States is committed to war only when are attacked or U.S. vital interests are imperiled. And when we agree to defend other nations, they will bear a full share of the cost of their own defense. The era of the free rider is over.

    Trump's phrase, "America First!" has a nice ring to it.

    greenskeeper carl

    Trumps statements are true, but don't go far enough. Since the Soviet Union doesn't exist anymore, there is no reason for NATO to exist, or especially for us to be a part of it. We gain nothing except the promises to go to nuclear war with Russia, even over a shitshow country like turkey, who shot down a fucking Russia plane.

    It would also be interesting to see what happens to the welfare states of Western Europe if they were forced to pay for all this shit, or the US left all together.

    SteveNYC

    Surely Trump is not so stupid to believe that we are being "had" by the Europeans in regards to the collective NATO defense budget? Surely he understands NATO is merely a captive audience for arms sales ex USA?

    Surely he understands that by paying "more than our share" we are utilizing it to push a fucked up agenda abroad with the complicity of those who are "not paying their share"?

    Come on Donald......get with the program.

    Canadian Dirtlump

    In a manner of speaking he's right. Other countries don't pay their fair share of the expenses. However, the size and scope of what exists now is orders of magnitude TOO BIG. So everyone else shouldn't pay more, the US should scale back and spend WAY less.

    That is what will get someone killed. Scaling back at all and therefore costing any private predatory military supplier / contractor money..

    Duc888

    NATO should have been disbanded when USSR was toppled. It's that simple. It's a fucking MIC jobs program now. Let Europe sink or swim on it's own.

    skepsis101

    Something extraordinary has taken place in the last few weeks.

    More and more old-time Republican stalwarts and leaders have laid their voices bare, if not defending Donald Trump, then for certain excoriating the three decade long NeoLib/NeoCon pact that is strangulating American sovereignty and paving the way for a NWO. Paul Craig Roberts, as always, was perhaps the first. But now David Stockman (Reagan's Budget Director), Peggy Noonan (Reagan's speechwriter), Patrick Buchanan (another Reaganite and erstwhile Republican curmudgeon), Robert Bennett (Reagan's head of the Department of Education), and perhaps many more that I am not aware of are coming out of the closet.

    It is almost as though Trump's 'take-no-prisoners' ethos, and getting away with it and media and political correctness be damned, is actually creating enough breathing space for others to say what's been on their mind but have been too frightened to speak out about. Well spoken, known, and credible voices are pushing back. This could be a snowball careening downhill turning into an avalanche. If enough of these folks keep emerging from dark corners they could well provide Trump with a political phalanx that diminish the probabliity of something as outrageous as stealing the nomination or even assassination.

    One thing is for certain. A civil war is taking place already, and its in the Republican Party.

    alexcojones

    Smedley Butler would never have the USA in such a criminal organizations.

    But then Wall Street and the City of London, plus the Vatican and Tel Aviv call ALL the shots here in 'Murica

    DCon

    Only 725 bases

    Hillary can double that

    http://www.kelebekler.com/occ/bas_gb.htm

    MrBoompi

    Maybe NATO will come to rescue and save the US from the likes of Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz.

    Batman11 , Tue, 03/29/2016 - 15:58

    The thing is Europe doesn't need any defence.

    The Putin bogeyman, well if we keep our closet doors shut I am sure we will be OK without any military spending at all.

    Russian paranoia is an American thing and we never got into that "checking under the bed for Reds" thing in Europe.

    Well maybe we will need some spending after the US turned Afghanistan and the Middle East into terrorist training centres.

    NATO is just US sponsored interference and we could all do without it.

    Come on Trump the world will get on much better without US military spending causing problems.

    Freddie , Tue, 03/29/2016 - 15:58

    NATO? The USA and European nations cannot even protect their borders from invasion. End NATO. It is only good for genocide against small unarmed countries.

    [Mar 25, 2016] Tony Blair is right: without the Iraq war there would be no Islamic State

    www.theguardian.com

    16/3/2013
    Iraq war and its aftermath failed to stop the beginning of peak oil in 2005

    http://crudeoilpeak.info/iraq-war-and-its-aftermath-failed-to-stop-the-beginning-of-peak-oil-in-2005

    Uploaded 5/7/2007

    Government admits oil is the reason for war in Iraq

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7t_u641NyM

    [Mar 24, 2016] Brussels 'Terrorism' - Gladio at its Finest

    Notable quotes:
    "... This type of 'terrorism' fits other well established models that are characterized as a 'strategy of tension', and these historically were planned and executed by assets of US-NATO military intelligence themselves, as part of the Gladio program. ..."
    "... So we have to divide between military ISIS - that army of mercenaries, misled youth, drug addicts, ex-prisoners, and religious fanatics on the one hand, backed by Turkey and Gulf monarchies, from the 'ISIS' that is more like Al Qaeda - specially trained intelligence and security assets with knowledge of electronics, bomb making, counter-security/penetration, etc. - who are directly controlled by CIA/Mossad/MI6 and Saudi security and Pakistani ISI. ..."
    "... The US-NATO intelligence program, through Gladio has long time assets in Europe, and the last year has been reminiscent of a time during the Cold War when this strategy of tension reached its peak in Europe during the 1970's. ..."
    March 23, 2016 | Fort Russ

    Editorial


    Words always fail to speak to the human tragedy component of yesterday's 'terrorist' attacks, and my words cannot adequately address them either.

    Moreover, it seems in poor judgment to specifically lament over one criminal tragedy, when such criminal tragic events are so rampant around the world, and are often the product of US-NATO operations globally.

    The terrorist attacks in Belgium are a direct part of US-NATO's plans to perpetuate war and instability, and destabilization anywhere that the US senses hesitation to fully support its plans.

    I have not yet seen evidence that the individuals who pulled off these attacks have any connection to any of the named or known 'terrorist' networks. What I have read so far as a Kurdish media sources claiming that ISIS had claimed responsibility.

    For those linking these attacks to the known and documented ISIS/FSA members/soldiers that have now decided to seek 'refuge' in Europe from the way which they created, I would say that while it is possible that any such individuals who came as refugees in the recent wave could have been used in these attacks, such assets already existed and lived in Europe for an indeterminably long time.

    There is a link, however, between the 'refugee' crisis and these terrorist attacks, - and that is that these are both components of the general destabilization of the middle-east and now, Europe. From a sociological and strategic point of view, it is difficult to imagine that such 'reverberations' were not foreseen, and therefore expected, and as such perhaps even viewed as desirable by the powers that be. Which powers that be do I speak of?

    This type of 'terrorism' fits other well established models that are characterized as a 'strategy of tension', and these historically were planned and executed by assets of US-NATO military intelligence themselves, as part of the Gladio program.

    It is unlikely in my view that ISIS, in the meaningful sense of the term, was behind this. Terrorist attacks such as this have a purpose for actual terrorist groups when they are linked with demands, a quid pro quo, release of prisoners, or some change in policy, recognition, or even a cash payment. They come after general warnings, and some inability of the terrorist group to get its demands met.

    At the same time we have another 'ISIS' or, if you will, Al Qaeda - as a western intelligence and operations program designed to attack targets designated by their US/NATO handlers.

    So we have to divide between military ISIS - that army of mercenaries, misled youth, drug addicts, ex-prisoners, and religious fanatics on the one hand, backed by Turkey and Gulf monarchies, from the 'ISIS' that is more like Al Qaeda - specially trained intelligence and security assets with knowledge of electronics, bomb making, counter-security/penetration, etc. - who are directly controlled by CIA/Mossad/MI6 and Saudi security and Pakistani ISI.

    These 'random' attacks serve no tactical purpose for an actual terrorist group in my view, and only increase the chances that European voters or citizens will support some action, direct or kinetic, against ISIS. So this does not serve ISIS's interests.

    The US-NATO intelligence program, through Gladio has long time assets in Europe, and the last year has been reminiscent of a time during the Cold War when this strategy of tension reached its peak in Europe during the 1970's.

    Then, as perhaps now, the goal was to push European citizens/voters into a hostile position against a generally described 'enemy' - then communism, today 'Islamicism/Islamism'.

    [Mar 13, 2016] http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/mar/12/five-foreign-policy-questions-us-election-candidates

    Notable quotes:
    "... Yeah. Painting the Syria/Libya crisis as Hillary vs the Repubs however is dishonest. not lacking insight or clarity. dishonest. On the Repubs: all the candidates except Trump said at the debate a few days ago that peace was not in the interests of Israel and therefore a US President would betray Israel by SEEKING peace. ..."
    "... Hillary said at the townhall before Miss/MI that 'if we'd taken out Assad earlier like we did Gaddafi then Syria would only be as bad as Libya'. Your Hillary vs the Repubs routine is dishonest. This is the neocon oligrachy fighting for its life election. do not fake it in the name of Hillary. ..."
    "... The Obama administration has redefined the word "militant " to be a "male of military age within the strike zone" and here's the killer ..."unless POSTHUMOUSLY proven to be innocent" ..."
    "... Ramos ought to have asked Hilary exactly why Gadaffi was deposed, and came back at her fiercely with statistics and independent reports if she dared to even muse the suggestion that it was another "humanitarian intervention". ..."
    "... If Hillary's two decade history of war mongering was exposed for what it really represents by "journalists" in the corporate media, she would no longer be insulated from the scrutiny her deeply flawed decision making warrants. ..."
    "... Unfortunately, the American public have only independent news sites like the Intercept, Truthdig, the Jacobin, Harpers Magazine, Mondoweiss, and a few others from which to evaluate the real damage Hillary has caused. ..."
    "... What gives Amerika the right to intervene in the affairs of other nations in the first place? Are they unaware that the rest of the world fears American terrorism more that anything else, or more likely, do they care? No wonder Hillary and the Republican hawks are worrying the planet. ..."
    www.theguardian.com
    jparmetler , 2016-03-13 08:44:03
    You are absolutely right as far as these five questions are concerned. Yet you forgot an important one: TTIP as well as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. These so-called free trade agreements are a fatal threat to democracy as they invest more power in corporations than in parliaments and additionally they are detrimental to labour and the environment in the concerned countries.
    Robert Maxwell , 2016-03-13 02:59:28
    It's a good article and reflects some of the questions I've been having.

    My curiosity was aroused when the first CIA-directed drone killed its first victims, a terrorist leader and some comrades in Yemen years ago. I'd thought that the CIA's assassination of anyone in a foreign country was illegal. Evidently the rules have changed but I don't recall hearing about it.

    The media are always an easy target but lately I think their responsibility for our collective ignorance has increased. The moderators in the TV debates seem deliberately provocative. I can remember the first televised debate -- Kennedy vs. Nixon -- when both men soberly addressed the camera when answering questions of substance.

    The first interaction BETWEEN debators was a brief remark in 1980 by Reagan aimed at Jimmy Carter. "There you go again." Before then, the debates were sober and dignified, as in a courtroom. After that, the debates slowly slid into the cage fights they've become.

    I'm afraid I see the media as not setting the proper ground rules. Fox News is the absolute worst. The result is a continuous positive feedback loop in which we are gradually and unwittingly turned into those people who buy gossip tabloids at the supermarket checkout counter.

    BREAKING NEWS! HILLARY WETS BED UNTIL TWELVE YEARS OLD!

    If we wind up with one of these egomaniacal clowns in the White House, we'll deserve what we get.

    mothersuperior5 , 2016-03-13 01:34:11
    here it is again Cruz: right now in Fox: Iran wants to kill us; 'Donald' wants to negotiate deals with Iran and Cuba. We don't negotiate with terrorists. By failing to note what Trump actually says and by pretending that Hillary is not a neocon - a subtle one to be sure - you are revising the facts. actually as the facts appear. think about it and be clear. the moderate Islam routine BY Cruz Rubio Kasich is not about islam. its about the supposed sunni supposed allies. like please. add some insight. at least a bit.
    mothersuperior5 , 2016-03-13 01:20:33
    Yeah. Painting the Syria/Libya crisis as Hillary vs the Repubs however is dishonest. not lacking insight or clarity. dishonest. On the Repubs: all the candidates except Trump said at the debate a few days ago that peace was not in the interests of Israel and therefore a US President would betray Israel by SEEKING peace.

    Trump said he'd be even-handed for the purpose of negotitating a peace deal. the other candidates say - reading from a script, certainly not thinking - that the trick was to get Saudi Arabia and Turkey to fight ISIS. sure, except they wont. Their agenda is anti-Assad in the name of conservative sunni-ism. the moderate arab sheikdom theocracy routines IS part of the problem. frankly the other Repub candidates would flirt with nuking Iran. Iran must be part of the solution like it or not. Hillary said at the townhall before Miss/MI that 'if we'd taken out Assad earlier like we did Gaddafi then Syria would only be as bad as Libya'. Your Hillary vs the Repubs routine is dishonest. This is the neocon oligrachy fighting for its life election. do not fake it in the name of Hillary.

    michtom , 2016-03-12 20:10:53
    Isn't the reason for most foreign policy decisions that they will make money for the Military Industrial Complex?

    "Modernizing" nuclear weapons? Helping Saudi Arabia slaughter citizens of Yemen? Destabilizing multiple countries so that MORE weapons become "necessary" to deal with the instability?

    All the question should be framed on that basis: "Is there any reason to 'modernize' our nuclear weapons other than to enhance the bottom line of the companies involved, especially when we are supposed to be working against nuclear proliferation?"

    Powerspike michtom , 2016-03-12 22:29:01
    An excellent statement of reality - sometimes it needs saying.
    http://fff.org/2016/03/11/the-u-s-middle-east-killing-racket /
    normankirk , 2016-03-12 19:06:03
    Fantastic article, absolutely spot on. Its been a long wait , thank you.

    The Obama administration has redefined the word "militant " to be a "male of military age within the strike zone" and here's the killer ..."unless POSTHUMOUSLY proven to be innocent"

    Democrats or Republicans alike, foreign policy is predicated on the American drive to maintain global dominance, whatever illegal murderous callous action it takes.

    Powerspike lorimerhotshot , 2016-03-12 21:56:21
    Try this website
    http://www.antiwar.com /
    Featherstone1 , 2016-03-12 17:41:16
    Ramos ought to have asked Hilary exactly why Gadaffi was deposed, and came back at her fiercely with statistics and independent reports if she dared to even muse the suggestion that it was another "humanitarian intervention".

    Sanders should be pressed on Israel, and whether he can formally condemn the state for repeatedly breaking promises re: settlement on the West Bank and for committing war crimes during the Gaza strip conflict.

    Michronics42 , 2016-03-12 17:34:44
    If Hillary's two decade history of war mongering was exposed for what it really represents by "journalists" in the corporate media, she would no longer be insulated from the scrutiny her deeply flawed decision making warrants. If democracy and transparency actually functioned in the media, Hillary would be exposed as a neocon, whose terrible policy decisions have led to one global disaster after another, fomenting terrorism. (Even the New York Times-which endorsed Hillary-detailed her disastrous decisions in Libya).

    Unfortunately, the American public have only independent news sites like the Intercept, Truthdig, the Jacobin, Harpers Magazine, Mondoweiss, and a few others from which to evaluate the real damage Hillary has caused.

    But, like her domestic policies-historically: from Clintonomics to mass incarceration; welfare reform; the war on drugs; education (especially in Arkansas); disastrous "free" trade agreements; rampant fascism in the form of corporatism; plus, the millions donated to her campaign from dark money super pacs; and her sham "foundation; Hillary continues to represent the worst that politics offers, both globally and domestically.

    And the list above also includes the devolution of the Democratic Party from FDR-like socialism to Clinton dominated corporate hacks, since Bill's election in 1992.

    Until Clinton, Inc is stopped from commanding allegiance from "democratic" politicians on everything from the macro to micro levels of Democratic Party matters, voters will continue to be denied a true forum for change.

    FraidyMan , 2016-03-12 16:46:27
    What gives Amerika the right to intervene in the affairs of other nations in the first place? Are they unaware that the rest of the world fears American terrorism more that anything else, or more likely, do they care? No wonder Hillary and the Republican hawks are worrying the planet.
    jokaz , 2016-03-12 16:34:27
    "Currently Saudi Arabia is engaged in an indiscriminate bombing campaign in one of the world's poorest.."
    Saudi Arabia is bombing with logistical help from US and UK, we're not only silent on the crimes of KSA, we help them
    jokaz , 2016-03-12 16:34:27
    "Currently Saudi Arabia is engaged in an indiscriminate bombing campaign in one of the world's poorest.."
    Saudi Arabia is bombing with logistical help from US and UK, we're not only silent on the crimes of KSA, we help them
    Bogdanich , 2016-03-12 16:01:59
    Hillary was the push behind the U.S. Participation in Ukraine, Syria and Libya. Just a pathological warlord. She appointed VIc Nuland as undersecretary of state for Gods sake. A neo-con. The people that brought us the Iraq war. If she's elected you will get more of the same in a big way as she will increase the force structure and the involvement.
    no1ban , 2016-03-12 15:55:05
    This is the kind of informative and vital article I am buying the Guardian to read and which these days is all too rarely printed.
    Hanwell123 no1ban , 2016-03-12 16:49:52
    Try the Independent, it is much more forthcoming about foreign affairs and doesn't just parrot the stock Neo conservative stance.
    alberto grieve , 2016-03-12 15:20:07
    It is futile to expect reason from people whose foreign policy education comes primarily from Hollywood. It used to be that 96 % of people in congress had never left the country, even less lived abroad with other people and learned a foreign language. The ignorance is truly amazing and it would be funny if these people were not those that decide what happens in the world.
    If the US keeps meddling in world affairs then the whole world should vote in their elections.
    MrConservative2016 David Ellis , 2016-03-12 14:45:33
    Don't exactly celebrate the US 'wag my tail' relationship with Wahhabi Arabia but on Syria, the only good option is to ally with President Assad and bomb out the Wahhabi infestation.
    knightpestle , 2016-03-12 14:26:03
    Libya is the dog that doesn't bark in the night in UK politics too.

    During the debate on bombing Syria, speaker after speaker alluded to the disastrous intervention in Iraq, for which the guilty parties are no longer in the house.

    But not one brought up the disastrous intervention in Libya, for which the guilty party was currently urging us into another intervention.

    Having an amateurish, inward-looking Labour party doesn't help, of course.

    The only people who have called Cameron out on Libya in the past year are Nigel Farage and Barack Obama. Ye gods.

    Kevin P Brown MrConservative2016 , 2016-03-12 14:35:03
    "According to the 24 February 2010 policy analysis "The Year of the Drone", released by the New America Foundation, the civilian fatality rate since 2004 is approximately 32%. The study reports that 114 reported UAV-based missile strikes in northwest Pakistan from 2004 to present killed between 830 and 1,210 individuals, around 550 to 850 of whom were militants."

    You can quibble about the exact number of civilians killed, but the moment you approve of your local police bagging bad guys even if your family gets killed then you can maybe make a comment.

    nnedjo , 2016-03-12 14:18:49

    Many human rights organizations have called them illegal, and retired military leaders have said they backfire, creating more terrorists than they kill.

    After reading " The Dron Papers " Edward Snowden came to the conclusion that drones do not really chase the terrorists, but they chase their mobile phones. Hence so many innocent victims, because who can guarantee that the mobile phone which was earlier in the possessions of some terrorist, is not now in the hands of entirely innocent people.
    So, in addition to many ethical questions about the use of drones, this raised another question on how much "high-tech killing" is indeed reliable.
    mothercourage , 2016-03-12 14:13:56
    Excellent article.
    Informative and quite rightly challenging.
    America is really running away with itself on who, where, how and why they attack.
    Britains 'special' relations with the US, should be curtailed, forthwith, because they have the audacity to now start pressuring us about the EU refferendum, too.
    Obama had the nerve to say that we were free loading on the back of "US might" and their attempts at "global order", his words. While neatly avoiding the questions you ask here, about their role in Libya, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, drones etc., etc, etc.
    Britain should fight back with these facts and distance ourselves from this aggression.
    SergeantPave , 2016-03-12 14:10:37
    Hardly amazing. There's not one American in a thousand for whom these issues will determine their vote.
    jez37med SergeantPave , 2016-03-12 14:24:56
    quite right
    nnedjo , 2016-03-12 13:55:54

    While an enormous amount of time during this campaign has focused around the Iran nuclear deal, almost no attention has been given to any country that actually has nuclear weapons and what they plan to do with them over the coming years and decades.

    This is also a proof of the "schizophrenic" Obama-Clinton foreign policy. US administration is doing everything to solve the problem of the Iranian nuclear program, and at the same time doing everything to spoil relations with the other nuclear power in the world, Russia.
    The curiosity of its kind is that Russia, which is also affected by the US sanctions, helps US to resolve its dispute with Iran and suspend sanctions against this country. And not only that, but Russia agrees to relocate enriched uranium from Iran to its territory and thus provide a practical implementation of the agreement on the Iranian nuclear program.
    nnedjo , 2016-03-12 13:43:40

    yet the presidential candidates are almost never asked about why congress has not authorized the military action like the constitution requires.

    Yes, Trevor Timm also criticized this in some of his previous articles, as well as Ron Paul, who also often criticized Obama for this fact. It's completely unclear why Obama continues to rely on the two authorizations that George W. Bush has got from Congress "to punish the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks", and for "the destruction of Saddam Hussein's [non-existent] WMD". This is particularly unclear given that Obama himself came to power mainly due to his criticism of Bush's war adventures.

    It is possible that Obama does not have enough confidence that he can get authorization from the GOP dominant Congress to combat Isis in Syria and Iraq. However, by using authorizations for the old wars for something that has nothing to do with the new wars, Obama is not only acting illegally, but also provides an opportunity for the conclusion that he now supports Bush for the same thing for which he criticized him earlier, that is, for the Afghan and Iraq war.

    kattw Kevin P Brown , 2016-03-12 14:57:33
    'course I wouldn't approve. And I doubt most countries approve of being invaded (except for the folks who DO approve anyways).

    "The US must stop acting as the world police.' Great phrase. You hear it a lot. Totally insupportable. Here's the fundamental problem: the globe is a small place these days. Countries really are no longer isolated entities than can act with little to no impact on anybody else. What one does, others feel. And leadership is a thing - somebody will always lead. Right now, there are very few candidates for that. With the fall of imperial England, the US became the only real superpower left (other than Russia, which has since collapsed, and is busy trying to come back). Thus, whether it likes it or not, the US has a leadership role to play. If it abdicates that position, and does as you and so many other less-than-brilliant folks demand? Power abhors a vacuum. Most likely is that either Russia or China will take over the role currently played by the US. And if you think either of THOSE countries will do a better job than the US, well... enjoy your personal delusion.

    As for 'scratching heads and bleating' about intervention... we did not have to intervene. Said that before, saying it again, get it through your skull - we did not have to intervene. We could, in fact, totally disarm and just sit back and do nothing, anywhere. But. THIS WOULD HAVE CONSEQUENCES TOO. Seriously. Understand that. Doing nothing is doing something. Sitting out is still an action one can take. And it is INCREDIBLY likely that things would be WORSE in Libya right now had we not intervened. Not guaranteed, but likely.

    The situation sucks. It would have been great if it had all turned out better. It didn't. But it probably would have been worse had we made a substantially different choice. Yeah, sure, you could then pat yourself on the back, and pretend that at least the US wasn't responsible, but, well, as a certain red-and-blue clad superhero says, with great power comes great responsibility. The US has great power - if we didn't intervene, and horrible things happened, it'd be just as much our fault as it is now that we DID intervene, and bad things happened. Because it would have been in our power to stop it, and we didn't.

    [Mar 13, 2016] There's no such thing as imperialism-lite, Obama. Libya has shown that once again

    Notable quotes:
    "... Besides which, it's hard to buy the idea that Gaddafi was "rogue" or " a threat" when both parties named here were "rendering" secret prisoners to him for outsourced torture. ..."
    "... There is no honour among thieves, clearly. But it would be folly to depict a squabble among them as a narrative of sinner vs saint... ..."
    "... After the cold war, the US and had the chance to lead to a new world order based on democracy and human rights. Yet instead, its politics based became based on bullying and warmongering, and joined by their European allies. As a result we have a world entrenched in chaos and violence. ..."
    "... To top it off, there is also their allies, the Saudi and Gulf allies. Therefore, if you want to know how bad the world has become as a result of the US, European and Gulf allies, their hypocrisy, criminal behavior, destruction of countries, and total disregard of international law, all you need to see is the war in Yemen. ..."
    "... Imperialism never left,.. The Capitalists are always working at complete control, it has no problem dancing with Dictators and Authoritarian rulers when it suites its purpose. Its just now they appear to be wanting to improve their image by changing their partners who stepped on their toes and Israel's on occasion .. ..."
    "... Yes, I will claim it as a U.S. inspired regime change policy, in all those Middle East secular and sovereign countries, by our own beloved War Mongering Nationalistic Neo Cons.. That is already being shown as a complete disaster.. Only 2 million dead so far and just wait until the religious fanatics are in complete control.. ..."
    "... "keeping alive the military-industrial lobbies" mmm. An incomplete reading I think. What about oil and gas? Libya is north African richest country if I'm not mistaken ... Is Britain (and France) still trying to get its share there? ..."
    "... "Western [ mostly american and british ] warmongering over the past two decades has had nothing to do with the existential defense of territory. "Defense" has become attack, keeping alive the military-industrial lobbies and lumbering military establishments that depend on it." ..."
    "... "The result has been mass killing, destruction and migration on a scale not seen, at least outside Africa, since the second world war." ..."
    "... The Sykes-Picot agreement was one of the secrets uncovered by the Russian Revolution: it was in the files of the newly-overthrown government, and promptly publicized by the Bolsheviks, along with lots of other documents relating to imperialist secret diplomacy. Sound familiar? ..."
    "... The interventionist model that the West has carried out recently is really an extension of the old colonialism in a different guise. In the olden days, the excuse was to spread Western civilization and Christianity to the world living in backwardness. In the modern era, it's democracy. Unfortunately democracy cannot be installed by force. Even if the people of the country being invaded wanted it, the opportunists (either among them or the outsiders) would find ways to exploit the chaos for their own benefits. We have seen different forms of such evolution in Libya, Egypt, Syria, Iraq. ..."
    "... The CIA funded and trained the Mujahideen in Afghanistan, to fight the Russians, just as they backed Saddam against Iran. And the US has been mucking about in the Middle East since the 50s, the Brits since the late 19th century. Yours is a very selective reading of history. ..."
    "... No, small groups of people with their own particular interests "begged for help." The "Arab Spring" was a Western media confection used to justify Western intervention to get rid of Gaddafi and Assad. Worked with Gaddafi, Assad not so well. ..."
    "... You forget who triggered the French intervention. Another neo-con working for Israel. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/02/world/africa/02levy.html?_r=2 ..."
    "... Israel does not want a functioning Arab State left in the Middle-East. ..."
    "... It's like the Soviet Union invading the US because a few militiamen holed up in a wildlife refuge in Oregon. The neo-con press feeds us this propaganda and the willing idiots lap it up and deny responsibility when everything falls apart. ..."
    "... Jihad Dave is supporting islamist maniacs in Libya and Syria. He succeeded in Libya, along with the ludicrous Sarkozy clown, but Russia and Iran have stood up to the plate in Syria. ..."
    "... However much we might sympathise with fellow human beings living under brutal dictators and governments, a country can only really progress from within. Certainly, dialogue, sanctions and international cooperation can help foster change, but ultimately countries must want to change. ..."
    "... No, Gaddafy's crime was actually to spend the bulk of Libya's oil revenues on useless things such as schools, hospitals, housing and subsidised food when that money could have been flowing into the pockets of the West. ..."
    "... Taliban has been trained in the Saudi religious schools in Pakistan. Wahhabism is the official ideology of Saudi Arabia. 10 out of 11 terrorists 9/11 were the Saudis. All the Islamic terror in the last two decades was sponsored by the Saudis, including ISIS. ..."
    "... Bosnia - a slow ticking bomb. Just bubbling under the surface. Kosovo - a mafia state run by drug lord Thaci, supported by the US. It is no secret that the main source of income in Kosovo today is drugs, prostitution, organ trafficking. ..."
    "... There are no winners or losers in Iraq, everyone lost. Not a single group benefited from that western backed regime change, same in Libya and Syria. ..."
    "... The US empire blew up Libya with some help from it's puppets, Sarkozy and Cameron. 100% imperialism. ..."
    "... The USA - and its mini-me, the UK - have so blatantly bombed societies, manipulated governments and undermined social change in so many parts of the world that their trading positions are under real threat from emerging economic powers. ..."
    "... Yes, Obama shows himself for the buffoon he really is. ..."
    "... I, however, would caution against thinking the US led Neoliberal Empire of the Exceptionals is weakening. Its economic hegemony is almost complete only China and Russia remaining, and Obama with his "Pivot to Asia" (TM) has them surrounded and all set up for the female Chaney - Clinton the warmonger to get on with it. ..."
    "... The Empire will only get more and more brutal - it has absolutely no concern for human life or society - power over the globe as the Pentagon phrases it: "Global full spectrum domination" don't kid yourself they are going all out to reach their goal and a billion people could be killed - the Empire would say - so what, it was in our strategic interest. ..."
    "... Very well put, Sir. Obama's self-serving statement is borderline stupid. I constantly wonder why I voted for him twice. His Deep State handlers continue from the Bush period and having installed their coterie of right-wing extremists from Hillary to the Directors of the CIA, FBI, NSA, DOD, ad nauseum Obama has not had the courage at any point to admit not only the "mess" he makes, but the he is a captive mess of the shadow government. ..."
    "... Your comment is so stereotyped: when British aggression or war crimes are involved, every excuse is trundle out, every nuance examined, every extenuating circumstance and of course there is always a convenient statute of limitations. But when others are involved, specifically America and Israel, the same Guardian readers allow no excuses or nuances and every tiny detail going back hundreds of years is repeatedly and thoroughly examined. ..."
    "... Smith was murdered by extremists that took over Libya precisely because the death of Gadaffi left a dangerous power vacuum. The US aided and abetted certain groups, weapons found their way to the worse groups and Smith, a brave man, was his own country's victim in one sense. Hilary Clinton who should have known better publicly gloated over Gadaffi's death. Since his death the victimisation of black Libyans and other black Africans has become common, Libya has been overrun by extremists, and as we write is being used as a conduit for uncontrolled entry into Europe. ..."
    "... The biggest unanswered and puzzling question, is that of how could Obama have expected or assumed that Britain and France would have stayed behind and clean up the mess they and the Americans have made of Libya? Why did the Americans resolved to play only the part of 'hired guns' to go in and blitzed the Libyan Government and its armed forces, and neglected to learn the lesson of planning what should follow after the destruction? ..."
    "... The argument that the Americans had assumed that France and Britain would clean up the euphemistic mess has little or no credibility, since all three countries had been very clear about not wanting American, British and French 'boots on the ground.' ..."
    "... "The result has been mass killing, destruction and migration on a scale not seen, at least outside Africa, since the second world war." ..."
    "... We bombed in support of competing Jihadis groups, bandits and local war Lords then our well laid plans for a Utopian peace were thwarted because of the unforeseen chaos created as the Militias we gave close airsupport to fought over the spoils. ..."
    "... We should remember that we funded the terrorists in Libya and then sent weapons to ISIS from Libya to Syria that is we again used Al Qaeda as a proxy force. We then again used the "threat" from the proxy forces i,e. Al Qaeda to justify mass surveillance of the general population. ..."
    "... Of its 237 years of existence it has been at war or cold war for 222 of those years. ..."
    "... NATO is behind ISIS and the wars in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Chechen, Afghanistan, Libya and Ukraine. ..."
    "... Jane they didn't "come apart" and Libya and Syria were the most stable and least under the thumb of radicals. Syria had equality and education for women who could wear whatever they wanted. Furthermore they did not fall apart they were attacked by the largest military forces in the world excluding Russia. NATO sent in special operations forces to destabilise the government. They along with Al Nusra and other violent Wahabi terrorists attacked police and army barracks, and when Assads police and military hit back it was presented by the Western media and propagandists as an attack on the people of Syria. Do you think any other country would allow terrorists to attack police and other public institutions without retaliating and restoring order. ..."
    "... Many people who do not accept the Western medias false reporting at face value know that the wars in Syria were about changing the leaders and redrawing national boundaries to isolate Iran and sideline Russian influence. It was and is an illegal war and it was the barbarity of our Western leaders that caused the terrible violence. It was a pre planned plan and strategy outlined in the US Special Forces document below. http://nsnbc.me/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/special-forces-uw-tc-18-01.pdf ..."
    "... In the Libyan case, it was a clear US strategy to put in the forefront their English and French valets, in a coup (euphemistically called "regime change") wanted by them. The nobel peace winner got some nerves to put the blame on his accomplices for the chaos in Libya, while the permanent objective of the US is to divide and conquer, sowing chaos wherever it occurs: Afghanistan, Sudan, Iraq, Syria. Also Hillary is no stranger to the actions in Libya. ..."
    "... Simon Jenkins, don't pretend you were against American punitive expeditions around the world to overthrow third world dictators. You worked from the same neo-con ideological script to defend the ultra-liberal, military industrial economy; scare mongering in the pages of the Guardian, as far back as I can remember. You lot are as totally discredited as Bush, Cheney, Rumsfield and American Nato toadies. ..."
    "... Libya , Ukraine ,Syria have had the same recipe of de-stabilisation by the US and NATO. The so called popular rebels were in fact CIA trained and financed. Jihadist in Libya and Syria and neo-Nazis in Ukraine. After completing regime change in Libya as planned ,the Jihadist, with their looted arms were transferred to Syria and renamed ISIS. ISIS is Washingtons Foreign Legion army, used as required for their Imperial ends. Renamed as required on whichever territory they operate ..."
    "... Cameron has been given a free pass on Libya. It really is quite astonishing. The man has turned a functioning society into a jihadi infested failed state which is exporting men and weapons across North Africa and down the Sahara and now serves as a new front line for ISIS ..."
    "... Attacking Libya and deposing Gaddafi was down to enforcing the R2P doctrine on the pretext of "stopping another Rwanda". But it was a pretext. Islamist rebels attacked the armouries within Libya and the Libyans had every right to try and put down the rebellion. Samantha Powers et al were the war mongers. ..."
    "... The 2011 regime change shenanigans of the west against Libya is colonialism at its worst from all the parties who instigated it. The aftermath, the resultant mayhem and chaos, was in itself adding insult to injury. Gaddafi was no saint, but the militias, Muslim Brotherhood and ISIS now running rampant in the country are infinitely worse. This is a war crime of the first magnitude and no effort should be spared to address it ..."
    "... The west who has assassinated or organised coups against democratically elected secular leaders who didn't give us their natural resources (eg iran) and installed brutal, clepto dictatorships who also take part in plundering the resources leaving the general population poor, uneducated and susceptible to indoctrination from Islamists. ..."
    www.theguardian.com
    So Barack Obama thinks Britain in 2011 left Libya in chaos – and besides it does not pull its weight in the world. Britain thinks that a bit rich, given the shambles America left in Iraq. Then both sides say sorry. They did not mean to be rude.

    Thus do we wander across the ethical wasteland of the west's wars of intervention. We blame and we name-call. We turn deaf ears to the cries of those whose lives we have destroyed. Then we kiss and make up – to each other.

    Related: David Cameron was distracted during Libya crisis, says Barack Obama

    Obama was right first time round about Libya's civil war. He wanted to keep out. As he recalls to the Atlantic magazine , Libya was "not so at the core of US interests that it makes sense for us to unilaterally strike against the Gaddafi regime". He cooperated with Britain and France, but on the assumption that David Cameron would clear up the resulting mess. That did not happen because Cameron had won his Falklands war and could go home crowing.

    Obama is here describing all the recent "wars of choice".

    America had no "core interest" in Afghanistan or Iraq, any more than Britain had in Libya . When a state attacks another state and destroys its law and order, morally it owns the mess. There is no such thing as imperialism-lite. Remove one fount of authority and you must replace and sustain another, as Europe has done at vast expense in Bosnia and Kosovo.

    America and Britain both attacked countries in the Middle East largely to satisfy the machismo and domestic standing of two men, George Bush and Tony Blair. The result has been mass killing, destruction and migration on a scale not seen, at least outside Africa, since the second world war. In this despicable saga, Cameron's Libyan venture was a sideshow, though one that has destabilised north Africa and may yet turn it into another Islamic State caliphate. It is his Iraq.

    Related: The Guardian view on Libya: yet another messy frontier in the war on Isis | Editorial

    As for Obama's charge that Britain and other countries are not pulling their weight and are "free riders" on American defence spending, that too deserves short shrift. British and French military expenditure is proportionately among the highest in the world, mostly blown on archaic weapons and archaic forms of war. Western warmongering over the past two decades has had nothing to do with the existential defence of territory. "Defence" has become attack, keeping alive the military-industrial lobbies and lumbering military establishments that depend on it.

    Meanwhile the bonds between America and Britain will continue to strengthen. They do so, against all the odds, because they grow from one culture and one outlook on life. That mercifully has nothing to do with politicians.

    Manveer95 , 2016-03-13 11:04:35

    I'm stunned that Obama has been able to get away with his absolutely abysmal record with foreign policy. Libya was a complete disaster and there is evidence to suggest that Libya was a much better place under Gaddafi. And the fact that once they were in Iraq (something started by his predecessor) he wasn't committed to bringing about serious change, thus leaving a giant vacuum which, coincided with the Syrian Civil War, has now been filled by ISIS.

    That's not even talking about the Iran deal, Benghazi and the disastrous "Bring Back our Girls" campaign.

    JaneThomas -> grauniadreader101 , 2016-03-13 10:59:42
    I take it that you do not think that the Guardian is making up such stories as these in dated order:

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/apr/01/libyan-revolution-battle-torn-families

    "People find it very hard," said Iman Fannoush, with her two children in tow and a husband she knows not where. "They are up all night shooting because of good news. We hear the UN is coming to help us or our fighters have taken Brega or the air strikes have destroyed Gaddafi's tanks. Then everyone is afraid again when they hear Gaddafi's army is coming and they all want to know where is France, where are the air strikes, why is the west abandoning us?

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/sep/27/revolution-belongs-to-all-libyans
    We are grateful for the role played by the international community in protecting the Libyan people; Libyans will never forget those who were our friends at this critical stage and will endeavour to build closer relations with those states on the basis of our mutual respect and common interests. However, the future of Libya is for the Libyans alone to decide. We cannot compromise on sovereignty or allow others to interfere in our internal affairs, position themselves as guardians of our revolution or impose leaders who do not represent a national consensus.
    http://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/apr/27/sandstorm-libya-revolution-lindsey-hilsum-review
    Hilsum gives a riveting account of the battle for Tripoli, with activists risking their lives to pass intelligence to Nato, whose targeting – contrary to regime propaganda – was largely accurate, and too cautious for many Libyans.
    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jan/08/libyan-revolution-casualties-lower-expected-government
    The UN security council authorised action to protect Libyan civilians from the Gaddafi regime but Russia, China and other critics believe that the western alliance exceeded that mandate and moved to implement regime change.
    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/16/libyas-arab-spring-the-revolution-that-ate-its-children
    Libya's Arab spring was a bloody affair, ending with the killing of Gaddafi, one of the world's most ruthless dictators. His death saw the rebel militias turn on each other in a mosaic of turf wars. Full-scale civil war came last summer, when Islamist parties saw sharp defeats in elections the United Nations had supervised, in the hope of bringing peace to the country. Islamists and their allies rebelled against the elected parliament and formed the Libya Dawn coalition, which seized Tripoli. The new government fled to the eastern city of Tobruk and fighting has since raged across the country.
    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/16/libyas-arab-spring-the-revolution-that-ate-its-children
    With thousands dead, towns smashed and 400,000 homeless, the big winner is Isis, which has expanded fast amid the chaos. Egypt, already the chief backer of government forces, has now joined a three-way war between government, Libya Dawn and Isis.

    It is all a long way from the hopes of the original revolutionaries. With Africa's largest oil reserves and just six million people to share the bounty, Libya in 2011 appeared set for a bright future. "We thought we would be the new Dubai, we had everything," says a young activist who, like the student, prefers not to give her name. "Now we are more realistic."
    Anthony J Petroff -> fairviewplz , 2016-03-13 00:46:41
    Perpetually engineered destabilization is highly lucrative and has been for 200 years, but I don't know what's Central or Intelligent about it......except for a tiny handful at the top globally.
    Ziontrain -> Monrover , 2016-03-13 00:25:45

    On balance, is Libya worse off now than it would have been, had Gaddaffi been allowed free rein in Benghazi?

    No-one can possibly know the answer to that, certainly not Mr Jenkins.

    Clearly it was a dictatorship like say Burma is today.....but....from an economic point of view, it was like the Switzerland of Africa. And actually tons of European companies had flocked over there to set up shop. In contrast to now where its like the Iraquistan of Africa. No contest in the comparison there...

    Besides which, it's hard to buy the idea that Gaddafi was "rogue" or " a threat" when both parties named here were "rendering" secret prisoners to him for outsourced torture.

    There is no honour among thieves, clearly. But it would be folly to depict a squabble among them as a narrative of sinner vs saint...

    Ziontrain , 2016-03-13 00:16:06
    I wonder what the Nobel Peace Prize Committee is thinking. "Oh god - we made the mother of all #$%ups"? Surely...
    fairviewplz , 2016-03-13 00:04:24
    After the cold war, the US and had the chance to lead to a new world order based on democracy and human rights. Yet instead, its politics based became based on bullying and warmongering, and joined by their European allies. As a result we have a world entrenched in chaos and violence.

    To top it off, there is also their allies, the Saudi and Gulf allies. Therefore, if you want to know how bad the world has become as a result of the US, European and Gulf allies, their hypocrisy, criminal behavior, destruction of countries, and total disregard of international law, all you need to see is the war in Yemen.

    SUNLITE -> lestina , 2016-03-12 22:59:05
    Imperialism never left,.. The Capitalists are always working at complete control, it has no problem dancing with Dictators and Authoritarian rulers when it suites its purpose. Its just now they appear to be wanting to improve their image by changing their partners who stepped on their toes and Israel's on occasion ..
    SUNLITE -> buticomillas , 2016-03-12 22:39:23
    Yes, I will claim it as a U.S. inspired regime change policy, in all those Middle East secular and sovereign countries, by our own beloved War Mongering Nationalistic Neo Cons.. That is already being shown as a complete disaster.. Only 2 million dead so far and just wait until the religious fanatics are in complete control..
    grauniadreader101 -> JaneThomas , 2016-03-12 22:36:33
    Yep, many pictures, as there always are with media confections. Remember the footage of Saddam's statue being torn down in front of a huge crowd? It was only months later we saw the wide angle shot that showed just how few people there really were there.
    grauniadreader101 -> JaneThomas , 2016-03-12 22:34:20
    These US and UK involvement in the ME are matters of official record; are you really denying the CIA trained the Mujahideen, or that both the UK and US propped up Saddam? Even Robert Fisk acknowledges that! And please, don't patronise me. You have no idea what I've read or haven't.
    Anthony J Petroff , 2016-03-12 22:32:36
    ......c'mon, the powers behind the powers intentionally engineer mid-East destabilization to keep the perpetual war pumping billions to the ATM's in their living rooms; then, on top of it, they send the bill to average joe's globally; when is this farce going to be called out ?

    It is completely illogical, can't stand even eye tests, yet continues like an emperor with new clothes in our face.

    pierotg -> pierotg , 2016-03-12 22:23:48
    "keeping alive the military-industrial lobbies" mmm. An incomplete reading I think. What about oil and gas? Libya is north African richest country if I'm not mistaken ... Is Britain (and France) still trying to get its share there?

    Syria has the misfortune to be somehow in the middle of a proposed natural gas pipeline ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qatar-Turkey_pipeline ) too ...

    Just add a couple of paragraphs Mr. Jenkins in order to complete your article which, I'm sorry to say, told me nothing I didn't know already .

    pierotg , 2016-03-12 22:00:04
    "Western [ mostly american and british ] warmongering over the past two decades has had nothing to do with the existential defense of territory. "Defense" has become attack, keeping alive the military-industrial lobbies and lumbering military establishments that depend on it."

    "The result has been mass killing, destruction and migration on a scale not seen, at least outside Africa, since the second world war."

    Clear and concise.
    Thank you Mr. Jenkins

    jdanforth -> coombsm , 2016-03-12 21:45:36
    The Sykes-Picot agreement was one of the secrets uncovered by the Russian Revolution: it was in the files of the newly-overthrown government, and promptly publicized by the Bolsheviks, along with lots of other documents relating to imperialist secret diplomacy. Sound familiar?
    skepticaleye -> ID9108400 , 2016-03-12 20:49:36
    The interventionist model that the West has carried out recently is really an extension of the old colonialism in a different guise. In the olden days, the excuse was to spread Western civilization and Christianity to the world living in backwardness. In the modern era, it's democracy. Unfortunately democracy cannot be installed by force. Even if the people of the country being invaded wanted it, the opportunists (either among them or the outsiders) would find ways to exploit the chaos for their own benefits. We have seen different forms of such evolution in Libya, Egypt, Syria, Iraq.
    grauniadreader101 -> JaneThomas , 2016-03-12 19:35:02

    Get your facts right. Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan were all states that crumbled after the demise of the USSR.

    Bullshit. The CIA funded and trained the Mujahideen in Afghanistan, to fight the Russians, just as they backed Saddam against Iran. And the US has been mucking about in the Middle East since the 50s, the Brits since the late 19th century. Yours is a very selective reading of history.

    grauniadreader101 -> JaneThomas , 2016-03-12 19:32:20
    No, small groups of people with their own particular interests "begged for help." The "Arab Spring" was a Western media confection used to justify Western intervention to get rid of Gaddafi and Assad. Worked with Gaddafi, Assad not so well.
    coombsm -> buticomillas , 2016-03-12 19:09:34
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qatar-Turkey_pipeline

    this might answer your question. Syria has suffered for its geography since it was artificially created by the Sykes Picot agreement at the end of the Ottoman Empire.

    IamBaal -> Hanwell123 , 2016-03-12 18:36:40
    Don't forget the French "Philosopher" Bernard Henri-Levy

    Levy on the Libyan insurgents

    http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Global-Viewpoint/2011/0326/Bernard-Henri-Levy-War-in-Iraq-was-detestable.-War-in-Libya-was-inevitable

    "Libyan rebels are secularists, want unified country

    Gardels: If the French aim is successful and Qaddafi falls, who are the rebels the West is allying with? Secularists? Islamists? And what do they want?

    Levy: Secularists. They want a unified Libya whose capital will remain Tripoli and whose government will be elected as a result of free and transparent elections. I am not saying that this will happen from one day to the next, and starting on the first day. But I have seen these men enough, I have spoken with them enough, to know that this is undeniably the dream, the goal, the principle of legitimacy.

    IamBaal -> FelixMyIcecream , 2016-03-12 18:13:17
    You forget who triggered the French intervention. Another neo-con working for Israel. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/02/world/africa/02levy.html?_r=2
    IamBaal -> TonyBlunt , 2016-03-12 18:11:45
    Israel does not want a functioning Arab State left in the Middle-East.
    IamBaal -> Bilingual , 2016-03-12 18:09:37
    It's like the Soviet Union invading the US because a few militiamen holed up in a wildlife refuge in Oregon. The neo-con press feeds us this propaganda and the willing idiots lap it up and deny responsibility when everything falls apart.
    IamBaal -> JohnHawkwood , 2016-03-12 18:07:15
    The French led the way, with the French "Philosopher" Bernard-Henri Levy doing all the behind the scenes manipulation.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/02/world/africa/02levy.html?_r=2

    IamBaal , 2016-03-12 18:01:58
    Britain started the mess in the Middle-East with the Balfour declaration and the theft of Palestinian land to create an illegal Jewish state. Europe should pay massive reparations of money and equivalent land in Europe for the Palestinian refugees living in squalid camps. Neo-con Jews who lobbied for the Iraq, Syria and Libyan wars should have their wealth confiscated to pay for the mess they created.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/02/world/africa/02levy.html?_r=2
    ID4352889 , 2016-03-12 15:31:41
    Jihad Dave is supporting islamist maniacs in Libya and Syria. He succeeded in Libya, along with the ludicrous Sarkozy clown, but Russia and Iran have stood up to the plate in Syria.

    Presumably he's going down the Blair/Clinton route of cosying up to Middle Eastern Supremacist Cults in the hope that he can increase his income by tens of millions within the next 10 years. There can be no other explanation for his actions, that have never had anything whatsoever to do with the interests of either Britain or the wider European community.

    ID9108400 , 2016-03-12 15:07:56
    For me, the bottom line is that, however much might like to believe it, military intervention does not create nice, liberal, secular democracies. These can only be fostered from within.

    However much we might sympathise with fellow human beings living under brutal dictators and governments, a country can only really progress from within. Certainly, dialogue, sanctions and international cooperation can help foster change, but ultimately countries must want to change.

    The military, under the instruction of politicians, of the West should be pro-defence but anti-regime change or "nation building".

    I'm not suggesting a completely isolationist position, but offensive military action should be seen as a last resort.

    SomlanderBrit -> JustARefugee , 2016-03-12 15:05:53
    Mr Jenkins is a knowledgeable man but should've thought through this a bit more before so casually associating death and destruction and misery with Africa.

    China's cultural revolution and the Great Leap Forward alone killed and displaced more people after the second world war than all the conflicts in Africa put together. How about the break up of India in 1947? Korean War?

    But no when he thought about misery Africa popped into his mind..

    totemic , 2016-03-12 10:58:16

    Meanwhile the bonds between America and Britain will continue to strengthen. They do so, against all the odds, because they grow from one culture and one outlook on life. That mercifully has nothing to do with politicians.

    One culture?
    One outlook?
    Sounds all very Soviet.
    So, all Enlightened souls are reduced to a monoculture, within the Anglo American Empire.

    NezPerce , 2016-03-12 10:45:56
    Obama is a bill of goods. The Voters that choose him thought that they were getting a progressive, Obama used the reverend Wright to make himself seem like a man committed to radical change, but behind Obama was Chicago investment banker Louis Susman (appointed ambassador to Britain).

    Obama, a Harvard law professor, is the choice of the bankers, he does not play a straight bat, all the wars and killing are someone else's fault. Banking wanted rid of Gaddafi since he threatened the dollar as the reserve currency (as did Dominique Strauss-Kahn) as does the Euro, Obama let Cameron think he was calling the shots but he was just Obama's beard. Obama is nothing if not cunning, when he says stay in Europe but the Elites of the Tory party are pushing for out guess what, they got the nod from Obama and the Banks.

    titorelli -> Histfel , 2016-03-12 10:25:33
    So? All the numbers in the world can't undo Jenkins' thesis: there is no imperialism-lite. Imperialist wars are imperialist wars no matter how many die, and whether chaos, or neo-colonial rule follow. In his interview, Obama claims a more deliberate, opaque, and efficient war machine. To him, and his conscience, John Brennan, these metrics add up to significant moral milestones. To us innumerates, it's just more imperialist b.s.
    chaumont , 2016-03-12 08:21:52
    Gadaffy had since long planned to free his country and other African states from the yoke of being forced to trade within the American dollar sphere. He was about to lance his thoroughy well prepared alternative welcomed not the least by the Chinese when Libya was attacked. Obama is not truthful when suggesting the attack was not a "core" interest to the US. It was of supreme interest for the US to appear with its allies, Gadaffy´s independence of mind being no small challenge.
    backtothepoint , 2016-03-12 07:00:41
    Gadafy may have been particularly nasty with dissidents, but the UK has plenty of allies in the Muslim world that are far worse: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain... The Gulf States work their imported slaves to death and the UK kowtows to them. The UK has supplied billions of pounds worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia and sent military advisors to advise them how to use them to bomb Yemeni schools and hospitals.

    No, Gaddafy's crime was actually to spend the bulk of Libya's oil revenues on useless things such as schools, hospitals, housing and subsidised food when that money could have been flowing into the pockets of the West.

    Kosovo is also mentioned. There was a relatively low-level conflict (much like the Northern Ireland 'troubles') there until NATO started bombing and then oversaw the massive ethnic cleansing of Kosovo Serbs from their homeland (Serbs are the most ethnically-cleansed group in the former Yugoslavia: around 500,000 refugees).

    Yugoslavia's real crime? It was the last country in Europe to refuse the market economy and the hegemony of Western banks and corporates.

    The message is, 'Accept capitalism red in tooth or claw, or we'll bomb the crap out of you.'

    backtothepoint -> Nola Alan , 2016-03-12 06:44:38
    Did the attack on Afghanistan improve the situation? Perhaps temporarily in the cities, some things got a little better as long as you weren't shot or blown up. Over the country as a whole, it made the situation much worse.

    I remember John Simpson crowing that the Western invaders had freed Afghanistan when they entered Kabul. My reaction at the time was, 'Well, the Soviets had no problem holding the cities. Wait until you step outside them.' There followed many years of war achieving pretty much nothing except to kill a lot of people and get recruits flocking to the Taliban.

    It seemed we had learned absolutely nothing from the British and Soviet experiences.

    And you seem to have forgotten the multitude of US terror attacks on Muslims before the Afghan invasion, repackaged for our media as 'targeted attacks with collateral damage'. Bombing aspirin factories and such. And the First Gulf War. And US bases occupying the region. And the fact that the situation in Afghanistan was due to the Americans and Saudis having showered weapons and cash on anyone who was fighting the Soviets, not giving a damn about their aims. Bin Laden, for instance.

    And one aspect of law and order under the Taliban was that they virtually stopped opium production. After the invasion, it rose again to dizzying heights.

    The only way to deal with countries such as Afghanistan as it returns to its default system, along with other, more aggressive rogue states such as Saudi Arabia, is to starve them of all weapons and then let their peoples sort it out. It may take a long time but it's the sole possibility.

    As long as we keep pouring weapons into the Middle East for our own shameful purposes, the apocalypse will continue.

    Bosula , 2016-03-12 00:43:38
    Reading this excellent article one wonders how the war criminal Blair can be offered any peace-keeping role in the world or continue to get any air or press time.
    wmekins , 2016-03-12 00:08:02
    This is what Cameron's promises are worth, after boasting how he helped to topple Gadaffi. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_OFaE19myg
    enocharden -> honeytree , 2016-03-11 23:50:37
    Taliban has been trained in the Saudi religious schools in Pakistan. Wahhabism is the official ideology of Saudi Arabia. 10 out of 11 terrorists 9/11 were the Saudis. All the Islamic terror in the last two decades was sponsored by the Saudis, including ISIS.

    MissSarajevo , 2d ago

    Bosnia - a slow ticking bomb. Just bubbling under the surface. Kosovo - a mafia state run by drug lord Thaci, supported by the US. It is no secret that the main source of income in Kosovo today is drugs, prostitution, organ trafficking. Tear gas in Parliament for the third time in as many months. While the squares full of unemployed young and old are adorned with statues of those that gave them this opportunity Tony Blair and Bill Clinton were popular but I think their halos are tarnished somewhat. The situation is so serious that the US is beefing up its presence in camp Bondsteel but you won't read about it in the Guardian.
    AssameseGuy87 , previous , 2016-03-11 22:34:48

    when British aggression or war crimes are involved, every excuse is trundle out, every nuance examined, every extenuating circumstance and of course there is always a convenient statute of limitations

    So true . "Oh, oh, but the Spanish/Mongols/Romans etc etc", "Oh, like they were all so peaceful before Empire came along", "Oh, but but" (ad infinitum).

    Mick James -> Andrew Nichols , 2016-03-11 22:25:02
    End of Roman empire 476 AD
    End of Byzantine Empire 1453 AD

    Happy days.

    JacobJonker , 2016-03-11 21:31:10
    The bonds between America and Britain will continue to strengthen? Here's hoping. The neo-con cum neo-ultra liberal dream keeps on giving. Even after Brexit, Britain remains America's poodle at its peril. The rest of the article is right, but by now accepted wisdom amongst those capable of independent and rational thought.
    redleader -> Rudeboy1 , 2016-03-11 21:01:53
    The usual ways are carpet bombing (perhaps with incendiaries) or artillery bombardment (perhaps with phosphorus "shake and bake" shells).
    Bilingual -> ohhaiimark , 2016-03-11 19:52:11
    Here we go again, off course next phase is the "enlightment" in Al-Andalus...

    1. Conflict between sunni and shiites has been dormant for decades. Saudi Arabias promotion of Wahhabism has awoken it again, along with the catalyst for the recent bloodshed, the invasion of Iraq. That placed it back in the hands of the majority Shia and upset radical sunnis (eg the Saudis).

    Wahabism grew because of the oil export from Saudi Arabia which started way before World war II.

    Bollocks, there was a short period of calm while Europe defeated the Ottoman empire , but the Mughal empire took great pleasure in slaughtering shiites, and the Ottoman empire had huge conflicts with the Safavid empire.

    2. Pogroms were common against Jews in Europe and Europe has a far worse history of treating Jews than Muslims ever had. The "golden age of Judaism" in Europe was under Muslim rule in Spain. Need I mention that the Holocaust was perpetrated by European Christians?

    He-he, the fabulous golden age which is always mentioned, no doubt they were golden at that time compared to Europe, but to compare it today, it would be like living in Nazi Germany as a Jew before the Nürnberg laws were implemented.

    Would you like to pay a special non-muslim tax, step aside when a Muslim passed the street, be unable to claim any high positions in society to due to your heritage?

    3. Didnt forget. the USSR didnt hand them chemical weapons though. That would be the West. And it wasnt Russia who invaded Iraq later over the scam that they had WMDs.

    The Iran-Iraq war made the millions of dead possible primarily due to Soviet equipment, Halabja killed 5000. No, Russia prefered Chechnya and directly killed 300.000 civilians with the Grad bombings of cities and villages, whereas the casualties in Iraq primarily can be contributed to sectional violence.

    4. I think you are forgetting Mossadeq in Iran in the 50s. Nasser in Egypt and any Pan-Arab group that was secular in nature. Pan-Arabism is now dead and radical Islamism is alive and well thanks to our lust for control over the region.

    None of the mentioned were prime examples of democracy, Nasser for example had no problems in eliminating the Muslim brotherhood or killing 10s of thousands of rebels and civilians in Yemen with mustard gas.
    Hanwell123 , 2016-03-11 18:55:47
    Obama's remark that the Europeans and Gulf States "detested" Gaddafi and wanted to get rid of him while others had "humanitarian concerns" is of interest. It's unlikely the Arabs had humanitarian concerns in all the circumstances; they just wanted Regime Change. It is the lethal combination of Gulf Arabs and Neo-colonial France and Britain that has driven the Syrian war too- and continues to do so. No wonder America claims these countries enthuse about war until it comes and then expect them to fight it. France currently demands the surrender of Assad and for Russia to "leave the country immediately". Britain says there can be no peace while he remains and that Russia's "interference" is helping IS.
    Mary Yilma , 2016-03-11 18:55:22
    It's your prerogative whether or not you believe that the US and NATO intervene in countries based on moral grounds. But if you do want to delude yourself, remember that they only intervene in countries where they can make money off resources, like Libya and Iraq's oil revenues. If it were about morality, don't you think NATO and the West would have rushed to help Rwanda during the genocide?
    smush772 -> SomlanderBrit , 2016-03-11 18:45:30
    There are no winners or losers in Iraq, everyone lost. Not a single group benefited from that western backed regime change, same in Libya and Syria. You do not win when your situation is worse than it was before Saddam. You can't be a winner when you life in generally worse off than it was before. basically there is no rule of law now in these nations. Saddam was no monster like you want to portray him.
    Serv_On -> Monrover , 2016-03-11 18:47:01
    Gaddafi wanted a United Africa
    and was pushing for oil trading for gold not dollars

    World would have been better

    zolotoy -> PVG2012 , 2016-03-11 18:05:53
    Actually, some of those Latin American governments we overthrew were indeed liberal democracies.

    As for Canada, there are several reasons we haven't invaded. Too big, too sparse too white...and economically already a client state. Of course, we did try once: the War of 1812.

    dragonpiwo -> pinarello , 2016-03-11 17:37:03
    Libya is sitting on a lake of oil also. I worked for an oil company there for a decade.
    Scratcher99 -> thenewcat , 2016-03-11 17:36:32
    "When the same leaders did initially stand aside (as in Syria) "

    They didn't stand aside though, they helped create the trouble in the first place, as too with Libya; gather intelligence to find out who will take up arms, fund, train and give them promises, get them to organize and attack, then when the dictator strikes back the press swing into action to tell us all how much of a horrible bastard he is(even though we've been supporting and trading with him for eons), ergo, we have to bomb him! It's HUMANITARIAN! Not. It would be conquest though. Frightening.

    patricksteen -> JohnHawkwood , 2016-03-11 17:15:07
    Wrong. American fighters flew 27% of the sorties - the rest were conducted by other NATO members and primarily by the British and the French.
    midnightschild10 , 2016-03-11 17:09:42
    Obama has done everything in his power to morph into Bush including hiring a flaming chicken hawk in Ash Carter to play the role of Dick Cheyney. Bush left us with Iraq and Afghanistan, to which Obama added Egypt with the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood, Libya, Syria and Yemen. He also restarted the Cold War with Russia. He is now going after China for building islands in the South China Sea, a disputed area, something he as well as other Presidents before him has allowed Israel to build settlements on disputed land for the past fifty years and throughthrough $ 3.5 billion in gifts annually, has provided for enough concrete to cover all the land the Palestinians live on.

    The 3.5 billion annually will increase by $40 billion over ten years, unless Netanyahu gets the increase he wants to 15 billion per year. So Obama must settle on a legacy which makes him both a warmonger and one of the very best arms dealer in the world. His family must be so proud.

    Serv_On -> SomlanderBrit , 2016-03-11 17:08:19
    Iraq was an illegal war
    journeyinthewest -> kippers , 2016-03-11 17:06:14

    To be a humanitarian intervention, a military intervention has to avoid causing regime collapse, because people will die because of regime collapse. This is an elementary point that the political class appears not to want to learn.

    I agree with your analysis except the last paragraph. Pretty much in all interventions that we have witnessed, the political class deliberately caused the regimes to collapse. That was always the primary goal. Humanitarian intervention were never the primary, secondary or even tertiary objective.

    If the political class want to do some humanitarian interventions, they can always start with Boko Haram in Nigeria.

    EamonnStircock , 2016-03-11 16:37:40

    America had no "core interest" in Afghanistan or Iraq

    The USA was enforcing the UN blockade of Iraq, and had massive forces in place to do it. It was costing a fortune and there were regular border skirmishes taking place. It has been suggested that Bush and his advisors thought that they could take out Saddam and then pull all their forces back to the US. They won't admit it now because of the disaster that unfolded afterwards.
    JanePeryer , 2016-03-11 16:36:32
    Another good piece. What about all the weapons we sold Israel after they started their recent slaughter in Gaza and the selling of weapons to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen (one of the poorest country's in the world) says everything you need to know about the tory party. They are sub humans and as such should be treated like dirt. I don't believe in the concept of evil...all a bit religious for me but if I did, it's what they are.
    B5610661066 -> WankSalad , 2016-03-11 16:23:10

    Describing the intervention in Libya as imperialism - 'lite' or otherwise - is ridiculous.

    The US empire blew up Libya with some help from it's puppets, Sarkozy and Cameron. 100% imperialism.

    Donald Mintz , 2016-03-11 16:21:59
    It astonishes me that these great men and women-I include Sec'y Clinton here-give no indication that their calculations were made without the slightest knowledge of the countries they were preparing to attack in one way or another. From what one read in the long NYTimes report on preparations for the Libyan intervention, the participants in the planning knew a great deal about military matters and less about Libya than they could have found out in a few minutes with Wikipedia. Tribal societies are different from western societies, dear people, and you damn well should have known that.
    willpodmore -> jezzam , 2016-03-11 16:21:31
    Honduras. The USA backed the coup there. Honduras is now run by generals and is the world's murder capital. I could go on, jezzam. Please read William Blum's books on US foreign policy. They provide evidence that the US record is not good.
    B5610661066 , 2016-03-11 16:20:50
    Without the US the UK and France couldn't have overthrown Gaddafi. The jihadis would have been killed or fled Libya. I don't believe any post-Gaddafi plan existed. Why would there have been one? Killing Gaddafi was the war's aim. A western puppet strong man leader grabbing power would have been icing on the cake of course but why would the US care about Libya once Gaddafi was gone?
    fanUS , 2016-03-11 16:20:16
    Well, Cameron just followed Obama's 'regime change' bad ideas.
    Obama is a failed leader of the World who made our lives so much worse.
    Obama likes to entertain recently, so after his presidency the best job for him is a clown in a circus.
    NYbill13 -> NezPerce , 2016-03-11 16:19:43
    We will never know why Stevens and the others were killed.

    Absent reliable information, everyone is free to blame whomever they dislike most.

    Based on zero non-partisan information, Hillary is the media's top choice for Big Villain. She may in fact be more responsible than most for this horror, but she may not be too.

    Who ya gonna ask: the CIA, the Pentagon, Ted Cruz?

    It seems everyone who's ever even visited Washington,D.C., has some anonymous inside source that proves Hillary did it.

    To hear the GOP tell it, she flew to Libya secretly and shot Stevens herself just because she damn well felt it, o kay ! (female troubles)

    My question is: Where has US/Euro invasion resulted in a better government for all those Middle Eastern people we blasted to bits of blood and bone? How's Yemen doin' these days?

    Hope Europe enjoys assimilating a few million people who share none of Europe's customs, values or languages.

    I'm sure euro-businesses would never hire the new immigrants instead of union-backed locals.

    Why, that would almost be taking advantage of a vast reservoir of ultra-cheap labor!

    Nor will the sudden ocean of euro-a-day workers undercut unions or wages in the EU. No siree, not possible.

    Just like unions have not been decimated, and wages have not stagnated in the US since 1980 or so. No siree. Not in Europe .

    willpodmore -> jezzam , 2016-03-11 16:18:31
    jezzam writes, "the dictator starts massacring hundreds of thousands of his own civilians." But he didn't. Cameron lied.

    The rebellion against Gaddafi began in February 2011. The British, French and US governments intervened on their usual pretext of protecting civilians. The UN said that 1,000-2,000 people had been killed before the NATO powers attacked.

    Eight months later, after the NATO attack, 30,000 people had been killed and 50,000 wounded (National Transitional Council figures).

    Cameron made the mess; Cameron caused the vast refugee crisis. The NATO powers are getting what they want – the destruction of any states and societies that oppose their rule, control over Africa's rich resources. Libya is now plagued by "relentless warfare where competing militias compete for power while external accumulators of capital such as oil companies can extract resources under the protection of private military contractors."

    sarkany -> xyz123xyz321 , 2016-03-11 15:59:16
    any state that wishes to be taken seriously as a player on the world stage

    The classic phrase of imperialism - an attitude that seems to believe any nation has the right to interfere in, or invade, other countries'.
    Usually done under some pretence of moral superiority - it used to be to 'bring the pagans to God', these days more 'they're not part of our belief system'. In fact, it only really happens when the imperial nations see the economic interests of their ruling class come under threat.

    The USA - and its mini-me, the UK - have so blatantly bombed societies, manipulated governments and undermined social change in so many parts of the world that their trading positions are under real threat from emerging economic powers.

    The two that they are most scared of are Russia and China, who combined can offer the capital and expertise to replace the old US / European axis across Africa, for instance. The war is already being fought on many fronts, as this article makes clear.

    Corrections -> xyz123xyz321 , 2016-03-11 15:44:02
    When Dubya was POTUS, the EU wanted to create its own military force. The US insisted Nato be the only regional force. Just sayin'....
    Lafcadio1944 , 2016-03-11 15:33:46
    Yes, Obama shows himself for the buffoon he really is. Clinton had it right when the going gets tough Obama gives a speech (see Cairo).

    I, however, would caution against thinking the US led Neoliberal Empire of the Exceptionals is weakening. Its economic hegemony is almost complete only China and Russia remaining, and Obama with his "Pivot to Asia" (TM) has them surrounded and all set up for the female Chaney - Clinton the warmonger to get on with it.

    The Empire will only get more and more brutal - it has absolutely no concern for human life or society - power over the globe as the Pentagon phrases it: "Global full spectrum domination" don't kid yourself they are going all out to reach their goal and a billion people could be killed - the Empire would say - so what, it was in our strategic interest.

    zkiwi , 2016-03-11 15:27:56
    The odd thing is, Obama didn't seem to think getting rid of Gaddafi a bad thing at all at the time. Clinton was all, "We came, we saw, he died." And this bit about "no core interest" in Afghanistan and Iraq is just bizarre. Given the mess both countries are in, and the resurgence of the Taliban and zero clue about Iraq it was clearly a master stroke for Obama to decide the US exit both with no effective governments in place, ones that could deal with the Taliban et al. Never mind, he can tootle off and play golf.
    fragglerokk -> fragglerokk , 2016-03-11 15:25:04
    here's a decent summing up of the state of play in Libya and Hilarys role in it

    http://chinamatters.blogspot.co.uk/2016/03/libya-worse-than-iraq-sorry-hillary.html

    Anonymot , 2016-03-11 15:24:49
    Very well put, Sir. Obama's self-serving statement is borderline stupid. I constantly wonder why I voted for him twice. His Deep State handlers continue from the Bush period and having installed their coterie of right-wing extremists from Hillary to the Directors of the CIA, FBI, NSA, DOD, ad nauseum Obama has not had the courage at any point to admit not only the "mess" he makes, but the he is a captive mess of the shadow government.

    America has a historic crisis of leadership and being the sole model left in that field, the world has followed, the UK and all of Europe included.

    fragglerokk , 2016-03-11 15:21:07
    Libya is all Hilarys work so expect to return with boots on the ground once Wall Sts finest is parked in the Oval office. She has the midas touch in reverse and Libya has turned (and will continue) to turn out worse than Iraq and Syria (believe me its possible) There is absolutely no one on the ground that the west can work with so the old chestnut of arming and training al qaeda or 'moderate' opposition is not an option. ISIL are solidifying a base there and other than drones there is zip we can do.

    Critising Cameron just shows how insecure Obama is, lets be honest the middle east and afghanistan are in the state they are because Obama had zero interest in foreign policy when his first term started, thus allowing the neocons to move into the vacuum and create the utter disaster that is Syraq and Ukraine. We in europe are now dealing with the aftermath of this via the refugee crisis which will top 2 million people this year. Obamas a failure and he knows it, hence the criticism of other leaders. Cameron is no different, foreign policy being almost totally abandoned to the US, there is no such thing as independent defence policy in the UK, everything is carried out at the behest of the US. Don't kid yourself we have any autonomy, we don't and there are plenty of high level armed forces personnel who feel the same way. Europe is leaderless in general and with the economy flatlining they too have abandoned defence and foreign affairs to the pentagon.

    Right now we're in the quiet before the storm, once HRC gets elected expect the situation to deteriorate rapidly, our only hope is that someone has got the dirt to throw her out of the race.

    previous -> thenewcat , 2016-03-11 15:03:43
    "Not Syria"

    ISIS established itself in Iraq before moving into Syria. Would ISIS exist is Britain had not totally destabilized Iraq? Going back even further, it is the 100th anniversary of the Sykes-Picot agreement, that great exercise in British Imperialism that created the artificial nations in the Middle East that are collapsing today.

    Your comment is so stereotyped: when British aggression or war crimes are involved, every excuse is trundle out, every nuance examined, every extenuating circumstance and of course there is always a convenient statute of limitations. But when others are involved, specifically America and Israel, the same Guardian readers allow no excuses or nuances and every tiny detail going back hundreds of years is repeatedly and thoroughly examined.

    Transparent hypocrisy. Accept responsibility and stop offloading it to Calais.

    NezPerce -> nemesis7 , 2016-03-11 15:00:09
    Ambassador Stevens was killed in a cover up over the arms dealing from Libya to Syria, (weapons and fighters to ISIS). It seems more likely that he was killed because he was investigating the covert operation given that he was left to fend for himself by all US military forces but in a classic defamation strategy he has been accused of being behind the operation. Had he been he would have been well defended.
    nofatebutwhatyoumake , 2016-03-11 14:50:24

    "Defense" has become attack, keeping alive the military-industrial lobbies and lumbering military establishments that depend on it.

    Couldn't put it better myself. Yes, America is a full blown Empire now. Evil to it's very core. Bent on world domination and any cost. All we lack is a military dictatorship. Of course, with the nation populated by brainwashed sheep, a "Dear Leader" is inevitable,

    nemesis7 , 2016-03-11 14:48:17
    President Obama was correct in keeping US boots off the ground in Syria. An active US troop presence would have resulted in an even greater level of confusion and destruction on all sides. However, it was precisely the US' meddling in Libya that helped pave the way for its current dysfunctional, failed state status, riven by sectarian conflicts and home to a very active Al Quaida presence.

    US interference in Libya saw Gadaffi backstabbed by the US before literally being stabbed to death although he had been given assurances that the US would respect his rule particularly as he had sought to become part of the alliance against the likes of Al Quaida.

    Obama was behind the disgraceful lie that the mob that attacked the US' Benghazi Embassy and murdered Ambassador Smith y was 'inflamed' by an obscure video on youtube that attacked extremist elements of the Islamic faith. Smith deserved better than this blatant lie and the grovelling, snivelling faux apologies Obama and then Secretary of State Hilary Clinton made to the Muslim world for something that had nothing to do with 99.9 percent of non Muslims.

    Smith was murdered by extremists that took over Libya precisely because the death of Gadaffi left a dangerous power vacuum. The US aided and abetted certain groups, weapons found their way to the worse groups and Smith, a brave man, was his own country's victim in one sense. Hilary Clinton who should have known better publicly gloated over Gadaffi's death. Since his death the victimisation of black Libyans and other black Africans has become common, Libya has been overrun by extremists, and as we write is being used as a conduit for uncontrolled entry into Europe.

    Disappointingly, President Obama forgets the Biblical saying about pointing out a speck in somebody's eye while ignoring the plank in his own.

    markdowe , 2016-03-11 14:46:54
    Mr President doesn't privately refer to the Libyan upheaval as the "shit show" for no good reason. The chaos and anarchy that have ensued since, including the migrant crisis in Europe and the rise of Islamic State, is directly attributable to the shoddy interventionist approach used by both Britain and France.
    FelixMyIcecream -> Hanwell123 , 2016-03-11 14:42:30

    it seems Cameron jumped on the bandwagon in fear France would take all the glory.

    He wanted his Falklands moment .

    Taku2 , 2016-03-11 14:37:45
    Good article, with justified moral indignation. Only thing I would have changed, is "imperialism-lite" to 'lesser and greater imperialism.

    Would it not have been a great contribution towards peace and justice, had the US decided not to invade Iraq and Libya, on account that other western countries were "free-riders" and would not have pulled their weight?

    So, what does the world needs now? More 'free-riding countries' to dissuade so-called responsible countries - Britain, France, America, Italy - from conspiring to invade other countries, after consulting in the equivalent of a 'diplomatic toilet and drawing up their war plans on the back of the proverbial cigarette packet.'

    For all Obama's niceties, it would now appear that he has been seething and mad as hell about his perception of Britain and France 'abandoning' Libya and watching it perceptible destabilizing the region and the flames fanning farther afield.

    The biggest unanswered and puzzling question, is that of how could Obama have expected or assumed that Britain and France would have stayed behind and clean up the mess they and the Americans have made of Libya? Why did the Americans resolved to play only the part of 'hired guns' to go in and blitzed the Libyan Government and its armed forces, and neglected to learn the lesson of planning what should follow after the destruction?

    The argument that the Americans had assumed that France and Britain would clean up the euphemistic mess has little or no credibility, since all three countries had been very clear about not wanting American, British and French 'boots on the ground.'

    Is the Americans now telling the world that they went into Libya without planning for the aftermath, because it was 'an emergency to save lives' and they had to go in immediately?

    Well, if so, that is now how nations behave responsibly, and it is now clear that more lives have probably been lost and continue to be sacrificed, than those which might have been saved as a result of the West invading and attacking Libya.

    FelixMyIcecream -> Hanwell123 , 2016-03-11 14:35:04

    the Europeans expected America to pick up the tab for reconstruction

    I don't think there would be many complaints from Halliburton or other American companies to help with the reconstruction, if the place wasn't such a shit-storm right now.

    previous , 2016-03-11 14:32:31
    "The result has been mass killing, destruction and migration on a scale not seen, at least outside Africa, since the second world war."

    Judging from the sentiments expressed in the overwhelming majority of comments posted on multiple threads on this forum, the British people don't want to accept responsibility for "migration on a scale not seen... since the second world war". The almost universal resistance to accepting refugees and migrants that fled their homes due to unprovoked British aggression is disgusting and pathetic. It highlights the hypocrisy of those who see themselves morally fit to judge almost everyone else.

    NezPerce , 2016-03-11 14:25:27
    Mitchell says that we had a plan to stabilise Libya but that it could not be implement the plan because there was no peace?#*^..... Der

    We bombed in support of competing Jihadis groups, bandits and local war Lords then our well laid plans for a Utopian peace were thwarted because of the unforeseen chaos created as the Militias we gave close airsupport to fought over the spoils.

    Well there you have it- its the fault of the Libyans.

    Hanwell123 , 2016-03-11 14:05:15
    Hilary Clinton recently blamed Sarkozy for Libya describing him as so "very excited" about the need to start bombing that he persuaded her and she, Nuland and Power persuaded a reluctant Obama. Three civilian females argued down the military opinion that it was unnecessary and likely to cause more trouble than it was worth.

    As this was clearly to support French interests the Americans insisted the Europeans do it themselves if they were that keen. Old Anglo-French rivalry has never been far from the surface in the ME and it seems Cameron jumped on the bandwagon in fear France would take all the glory. Neither of them appear to have given any thought about reconstruction. The blame is mostly Cameron's as Sorkozy was chucked out of office just months later. Did Cameron have a plan at all? If so it was his biggest mistake and one we'll be paying for over the coming years.

    SHappens -> jezzam , 2016-03-11 14:03:29

    Without Putin's mischief making though, this would have been sorted out long ago.

    Putin intervened in September 2015. What have the West been doing since 2011 to stop the conflict, one wonders.

    Russia vetoes any UN attempt to sort out the mess

    Looking bad you'd realize that it at least prompted Obama to retract in 2013. Since then though support to Saudi and proxies destabilizing Syria has only increased.

    Russia is clearing the mess of the West, and they should be grateful. Obama might be from what I read today from his "confessions".

    grauniadreader101 -> JaneThomas , 2016-03-11 14:03:19
    Yes. I don't think that is a pro-imperialist stance. He's arguing that there is no middle ground; getting rid of dictators you don't like is imperialism, and whether you follow through or not, there are serious consequences, but to not follow through is an abnegation of moral responsibility to the people you are at attemting to "free". It seems to me he is arguing against any foreign intervention, hence his castigation of Obama and Cameron for the "ethical wasteland of their wars of intervention."
    ohhaiimark -> PVG2012 , 2016-03-11 13:53:27
    Please do me a favour and study 20th century history a little more. The US overthrow countless democracies in Latin America and the Middle East and installed fascist dictatorships.

    Liberal Democracy haha come on now. They dont care about Democracy. They care about money. They will install and support any dictatorship (look at Saudi Arabia for example) as long as they do as they are told economically.

    I love western values, dont get me wrong. It is the best place to live freely. However, if you werent lucky enough to be born in the west and the west wants something your country has (eg. oil).....you are in for a lot of bad times.

    I just wish western leaders/governments actually followed the western values that we all love and hold dear.

    NezPerce , 2016-03-11 13:49:00
    We should remember that we funded the terrorists in Libya and then sent weapons to ISIS from Libya to Syria that is we again used Al Qaeda as a proxy force. We then again used the "threat" from the proxy forces i,e. Al Qaeda to justify mass surveillance of the general population.

    The solution as Corbyn pointed out is to stop funding the Terrorists.

    http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n08/seymour-m-hersh/the-red-line-and-the-rat-line

    By the terms of the agreement, funding came from Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar; the CIA, with the support of MI6, was responsible for getting arms from Gaddafi's arsenals into Syria. A number of front companies were set up in Libya, some under the cover of Australian entities. Retired American soldiers, who didn't always know who was really employing them, were hired to manage procurement and shipping. The operation was run by David Petraeus, the CIA director who would soon resign when it became known he was having an affair with his biographer.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06s0qy9

    Peter Oborne investigates claims that Britain and the West embarked on an unspoken alliance of convenience with militant jihadi groups in an attempt to bring down the Assad regime.

    He hears how equipment supplied by the West to so called Syrian moderates has ended up in the hands of jihadis, and that Western sponsored rebels have fought alongside Al Qaeda. But what does this really tell us about the conflict in Syria?

    This edition of The Report also examines the astonishing attempt to re brand Al Nusra, Al Qaeda's Syrian affiliate, as an organisation with which we can do business.

    pfbulmer , 2016-03-11 13:46:44
    What is good that this is finally coming out ,the denial by both Obama and a very left wing media has failed to confront this issue in what is an incredibly low point for Obama and Hilary Clinton and their naive ideas about the Arab Spring.

    As it is equally so for David Cameron and William Hague. Sarkozy is different he was not naive he knew exactly what he was doing thais was about saving french influence in North Africa,he was thinking about Tunisa, Algeria which he was keen to drag others into ! He was the most savvy of all those politicians at least he was not a fool,but France priorities are not the same as the UK !

    Obama's comments once again as usual do not really confront the real problems of Libya and gloss over the key issues and ending up passing the buck, he can do no wrong ? It was not the aftermath of Libya but the whole idea of changing the controlling demographics of the country which he played a major part in destabilising through the UN AND Nato which was the problem !

    It was thought the lessons of Iraq was all about not putting boots on the ground ,or getting your feet dirty ,as this antagonises the locals and that a nice clinical arms length bombardment creating havoc ,is the best way to go .

    This was not the lesson of Iraq , which was actually not to destabilise the controlling demographics of the country which will never recover if you do ..It is one thing to depose a leader or ask a leader to step down but do not disturb 100 of years controlling demographics, sectarian or not in these countries is not wise . To do so is a misstep or misjudgement !

    Demographics are like sand dunes they have taken many years to evolve and rest uneasy, in the highly religious and sectarian landscape but can be unsettled over night, grain by grain even by a small shift in the evening night breeze , a small beetle can zig zag across and the whole dune will crumble

    Once again the US pushed the UK who vied with France at how high they could jump, using the UN blank cheque as cover ,for melting down the country and has left UN credibilty in taters has now no credibility and Nato is now not trusted .

    They took disgracefully no less the UN 1973 Peace Resolution , point one, Cease fire and point two No Fly Zone .They bent it , twisted it , contorted it into blatant out right support of the eastern shiite sympathisers sectarian group, against the more secular Sunni Tripoli groups .

    (Gaddafi was not one man Mr apologist Rifkind he was the tribal leaders of a quite a large tribe !)

    Which has been part of a historic rivalry going back hundreds of years . They killed more civilians that Gaddafi ever had or could have done . They even attacked in a no fly zone government troops retreating and fired on government planes on the ground in a non fly zone .

    Then they refused to negotiate with the government or allow the Organisation of African states to mediate who had agreed general elections .They went on bombing until there was no infrastructure no institutions or sand dunes ,or beetles left !

    It was done after Iraq and that is why it is so shameful and why Obama , Cameron, Sarkozy , the UN , Nato must face up to what they have done , and after the Chilcot enquiry there needs to be a Cameron enquiry . Presumably it will have the backing of Obama !

    What is worse is the knock on effect on this massive arm caches and fighters from Libya then went on to Syria, reek havoc and destabilised the country . Because Russia and China could never trust again the UN , the UN has been ineffective in Syria for that very reason .The deaths of British tourist in next door Tunisia has to laid firmly at David Cameron's and the foreign office door !

    No wonder Libya is keeping Obama awake at night , no wonder he is indulging in damage limitation , no wonder he is trying to re write history ? How can I get this out of my legacy . If only I had not met Mr Cameron a yes man ! If only I had been told by some with an once of common sense , not to touch this country with a barge pole ?

    The poor Libyan people will agree with him !

    The lesson for the UK is do want you think is right not what the US thinks as right , a lesson that David Cameron has failed to learn , and has shown he is not a safe pari of hands and lacks judgement !

    ohhaiimark -> Bilingual , 2016-03-11 13:45:40
    1. Conflict between sunni and shiites has been dormant for decades. Saudi Arabias promotion of Wahhabism has awoken it again, along with the catalyst for the recent bloodshed, the invasion of Iraq. That placed it back in the hands of the majority Shia and upset radical sunnis (eg the Saudis).

    2. Pogroms were common against Jews in Europe and Europe has a far worse history of treating Jews than Muslims ever had. The "golden age of Judaism" in Europe was under Muslim rule in Spain. Need I mention that the Holocaust was perpetrated by European Christians?

    3. Didnt forget. the USSR didn't hand them chemical weapons though. That would be the West. And it wasn't Russia who invaded Iraq later over the scam that they had WMDs.

    4. I think you are forgetting Mossadeq in Iran in the 50s. Nasser in Egypt and any Pan-Arab group that was secular in nature. Pan-Arabism is now dead and radical Islamism is alive and well thanks to our lust for control over the region.

    mothersuperior5 , 2016-03-11 13:45:06
    Obama? Censored? You forgot Hillary. she even said the other day at the townhall before Miss/MI to the effect 'if Assad had been taken out early like Gaddafi then Syria would only be as bad as Libya'. laughable really. i presume you aren't criticising Hillary Clinton?
    upthecreek -> Colossian , 2016-03-11 13:41:18

    Gaddafi who was openly threatening to massacre all rebels in Benghazi.

    Yes that was the narrative that Western media wanted to portray but in reality was not the reason Libya was attacked !

    NezPerce , 2016-03-11 13:37:15
    Kosovo is now basket case that we are paying for but it is small. Now we have also backed NeoCon regime change in Ukraine which we are going to be paying for. Libya will soon have enough Jihadist training camps to be a direct threat.

    What we see is a Strategy of Chaos from the US NeoCons but what we have failed to notice is that the NeoCons see us as the target, as the enemy.

    david119 , 2016-03-11 13:35:56
    Totally agree that there is no such thing as Imperialism Lite, just as there is no such thing as Wahabi Lite or Zionism Lite. So I wonder why Hilary Benn thinks Britain has anything to feel proud about our foreign policy. It seems to me Britain's Foreign Policy is a combination of incompetence, jingoism and pure evil.
    What is the point of employing the brightest brains in the land at the Foreign Office when we get it wrong almost all the time ?
    James Barker , 2016-03-11 13:29:27
    "Western warmongering over the past two decades has had nothing to do with the existential defence of territory. "Defence" has become attack, keeping alive the military-industrial lobbies and lumbering military establishments that depend on it."
    Attacking Al qaeda in Afghanistan had nothing to do with defending territory?
    John Smith -> AddisLig , 2016-03-11 13:26:33
    Libyan 'rebels' were armed and trained by 'the West' in a first place. The plan was the same for Syria but Russians stopped it with not allowing 'no fly zone' or to call it properly 'bomb them into the stone age'.

    You probably don't know how 'bloody' Gaddafi was to the Libyans.

    * GDP per capita - $ 14,192.
    * For each family member the state pays $ 1000 grants per year.
    * Unemployment - $ 730.
    * Salary Nurse - $ 1000.
    * For every newborn is paid $ 7000.
    * The bride and groom given away $ 64,000 to buy an apartment.
    * At the opening of a one-time personal business financial assistance - $ 20,000.
    * Large taxes and extortions are prohibited.
    * Education and medicine are free.
    * Education and training abroad - at the expense of the state.
    * Store chain for large families with symbolic prices of basic foodstuffs.
    * For the sale of products past their expiry date - large fines and detention.
    * Part of pharmacies - with free dispensing.
    * For counterfeiting - the death penalty.
    * Rents - no.
    * No Fees for electricity for households!
    * Loans to buy a car and an apartment - interest free.
    * Real estate services are prohibited.
    * Buying a car up to 50% paid by the state, for militia fighters - 65%.
    * Gasoline is cheaper than water. 1 liter - 0,14 $.
    * If a Libyan is unable to get employment after graduation the state would pay the average salary of the profession as if he or she is employed until employment is found.
    * Gaddafi carried out the world's largest irrigation project, known as the Great Man-Made River project, to make water readily available throughout the desert country

    antipodes -> Jeshan , 2016-03-11 13:19:04
    The Gadaffi regime had upset the USA because Gadaffi was setting up an oil currency system based on gold rather than US dollars. While this was not the sole reason the West turned against him it was an important factor. The largest factor for the wars so far, and the planned war against Iran was to cut out the growing Russian domination of the oil supply to Europe, China and India.
    Potyka Kalman , 2016-03-11 13:18:58
    A decent article as we could expect from the author.

    However personally I doubt there was no ulterior motive in the case of Lybia. Lybia was one of the countries who tried the change the status quo on the oil market and it has huge reserves too (as we know Europe is running out of oil, at least Great Britain is).

    It is very likely that the European countries retreated because Libya started to look like another Iraq.

    TatianaAD -> David Ellis , 2016-03-11 13:16:32
    When you are talking about "democratic forces of the revolution.." i imagine you being an enthusiastic teenager girl who hardly knows anything about the world but goes somewhere far for a gap year as a volunteer to make locals aware of something that will help them forever. It is instead of demanding responsible policies and accountability from her own government.
    antipodes -> MarkB35 , 2016-03-11 13:12:18
    Sorry!!!
    What planet have you been living on. What do you read apart from lifestyle magazines full of shots of celebrity boobs and bums.
    The United states is the most interventionist country in history. Of its 237 years of existence it has been at war or cold war for 222 of those years.
    NATO is behind ISIS and the wars in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Chechen, Afghanistan, Libya and Ukraine.
    If the West stopped intervening there would be very few wars and if the West used its influence for peace rather than control there would rarely be any was at all.
    Nothingness -> ohhaiimark , 2016-03-11 13:04:10
    Well put. People forget the importance of oil in maintaining the standard of living in our western democracies. Controlling it's supply trumps all other issues.
    antipodes -> JaneThomas , 2016-03-11 12:57:20
    Jane they didn't "come apart" and Libya and Syria were the most stable and least under the thumb of radicals. Syria had equality and education for women who could wear whatever they wanted. Furthermore they did not fall apart they were attacked by the largest military forces in the world excluding Russia. NATO sent in special operations forces to destabilise the government. They along with Al Nusra and other violent Wahabi terrorists attacked police and army barracks, and when Assads police and military hit back it was presented by the Western media and propagandists as an attack on the people of Syria. Do you think any other country would allow terrorists to attack police and other public institutions without retaliating and restoring order.

    Many people who do not accept the Western medias false reporting at face value know that the wars in Syria were about changing the leaders and redrawing national boundaries to isolate Iran and sideline Russian influence. It was and is an illegal war and it was the barbarity of our Western leaders that caused the terrible violence. It was a pre planned plan and strategy outlined in the US Special Forces document below.
    http://nsnbc.me/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/special-forces-uw-tc-18-01.pdf

    If you get your facts right it ruins your argument doesn't it.

    SHappens , 2016-03-11 12:56:32
    In the Libyan case, it was a clear US strategy to put in the forefront their English and French valets, in a coup (euphemistically called "regime change") wanted by them. The nobel peace winner got some nerves to put the blame on his accomplices for the chaos in Libya, while the permanent objective of the US is to divide and conquer, sowing chaos wherever it occurs: Afghanistan, Sudan, Iraq, Syria. Also Hillary is no stranger to the actions in Libya.

    These Middle East countries should have been left alone by the West. Due to their nature, these countries have strong divisions and battle for their beliefs and a strong man, a dictator is what prevented them to fall into the chaos they are today. Without the Western meddling, arming and financing various rebel groups, Isis would not exist today.

    BlackBlue1984 -> CABHTS , 2016-03-11 12:49:40
    Neither is putting political opponents in acid baths and burning tyres, as Tony Blair's friends in the central Asian Republics have been doing, neither is beheading gays, raped women and civil rights protesters, as Cameron's Saudi friends have been enjoying, the latter whilst we sell them shit loads of munitions to obliterate Yemeni villagers. I wonder how the Egyptian president is getting on with all that tear gas and bullets we sold him? And are the Bahrani's, fresh from killing their own people for daring to ask for civil rights, enjoying the cash we gave them for that new Royal Navy base? Our foreign policy is complacent and inconsistent, we talk about morality but the bottom line is that that doesn't come into it when BAE systems and G4S have contracts to win. Don't get me wrong, Britain has played a positive role internationally in many different areas, but there is always a neo-liberal arsehole waiting to pop up and ruin the lives of millions, a turd with a school tie that just wont be flushed away.
    tonall -> TidelyPom , 2016-03-11 12:46:45
    Simon Jenkins, don't pretend you were against American punitive expeditions around the world to overthrow third world dictators. You worked from the same neo-con ideological script to defend the ultra-liberal, military industrial economy; scare mongering in the pages of the Guardian, as far back as I can remember. You lot are as totally discredited as Bush, Cheney, Rumsfield and American Nato toadies.
    Newmacfan , 2016-03-11 12:25:21
    It is high time that Europe reviewed and evaluated its relationship with the United States, with NATO, Russia and China. The world needs to be a peaceable place and there needs to be more legislation imposed upon the Financial Markets to stop them being a place where economic destabilisation and warfare can and do take place. The United States would not contemplate these reviews taking place as they are integral to their continuing position in the world but also integral to the problems we are all experiencing? It will take a brave Europe to do this but it is a step that has to be taken if the world is to move forward! Britain should be a huge part of this, outside a weakend EU this would benefit the United States from Britains lack of input, another reason we should vote to stay and be positive to our European position. The most vulnerable herring is the one that breaks out of the shoal?
    SalfordLass , 2016-03-11 12:24:58
    Libya , Ukraine ,Syria have had the same recipe of de-stabilisation by the US and NATO. The so called popular rebels were in fact CIA trained and financed. Jihadist in Libya and Syria and neo-Nazis in Ukraine. After completing regime change in Libya as planned ,the Jihadist, with their looted arms were transferred to Syria and renamed ISIS. ISIS is Washingtons Foreign Legion army, used as required for their Imperial ends. Renamed as required on whichever territory they operate
    Scahill , 2016-03-11 11:52:53
    Cameron has been given a free pass on Libya. It really is quite astonishing. The man has turned a functioning society into a jihadi infested failed state which is exporting men and weapons across North Africa and down the Sahara and now serves as a new front line for ISIS

    Cameron's Libya policy from start to finish is a foreign policy catastrophe and in a just world would have seen him thrown out of office on his ear

    Newsel -> IntoTheSilence , 2016-03-11 11:50:06
    Attacking Libya and deposing Gaddafi was down to enforcing the R2P doctrine on the pretext of "stopping another Rwanda". But it was a pretext. Islamist rebels attacked the armouries within Libya and the Libyans had every right to try and put down the rebellion. Samantha Powers et al were the war mongers.

    Then there is this gem: "Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has called for a United Nations resolution allowing international forces to intervene in Libya.
    There was no other choice, he told French radio. "We will not allow them to cut off the heads of our children."

    "We abandoned the Libyan people as prisoners to extremist militias," Mr Sisi told Europe 1 radio. He was referring to the aftermath of the 2011 war in which Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was toppled with the help of an international coalition.
    That intervention was "an unfinished mission", he said."

    The US, France and the UK own this ongoing mess but do not have the moral fortitude to clean it up. As with the "Arab Spring", this will not end well.

    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-31500382?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=%2AMorning%20Brief&utm_campaign=2015_MorningBrief_New_America_PROMO

    SilkverBlogger , 2016-03-11 11:49:56
    The 2011 regime change shenanigans of the west against Libya is colonialism at its worst from all the parties who instigated it. The aftermath, the resultant mayhem and chaos, was in itself adding insult to injury. Gaddafi was no saint, but the militias, Muslim Brotherhood and ISIS now running rampant in the country are infinitely worse. This is a war crime of the first magnitude and no effort should be spared to address it
    ohhaiimark -> Bilingual , 2016-03-11 11:43:08
    The west who propped up the Saudis, who's crazy wahhabi brand of Islam helped radicalise the Islamic world with 100 billion dollars spent on promoting it.

    The west who created israel and then has done nothing to stop israels ever growing land theft and occupation over decades (not even a single sanction)...leading the Muslim world to hate us more for our hypocrisy and double standards.

    The west who has assassinated or organised coups against democratically elected secular leaders who didn't give us their natural resources (eg iran) and installed brutal, clepto dictatorships who also take part in plundering the resources leaving the general population poor, uneducated and susceptible to indoctrination from Islamists.

    The west who arms brutal dictators to wage proxy wars and then invades and bombs these same dictators countries over claims they have WMDs (that we sold to them).

    The west has been intervening in the middle east alot longer than post 9/11. We are very very culpable for the disasters engulfing the region.

    Jeshan , 2016-03-11 11:42:44
    Libya was "not so at the core of US interests that it makes sense for us to unilaterally strike against the Gaddafi regime"

    Let's examine what Obama is saying here: when it is perceived to be at the core of US interests, the USA reserves the right to attack any country, at any time.

    The world inhabits a moral vacuum, and in that state, any country can justifiably choose to do anything, against anyone, for any reason. And this guy got the Nobel Peace Prize.

    FelixMyIcecream , 2016-03-11 11:42:29

    In this despicable saga, Cameron's Libyan venture was a sideshow, though one that has destabilised north Africa and may yet turn it into another Islamic State caliphate.

    You forgot to mention Cameron was only following Sarkozy .

    Don't forget the French role .

    25 February 2011: Sarkozy said Gaddafi "must go."

    28 February 2011: British Prime Minister David Cameron proposed the idea of a no-fly zone

    11 March 2011: Cameron joined forces with Sarkozy after Sarkozy demanded immediate action from international community for a no-fly zone against air attacks by Gaddafi.

    14 March 2011: In Paris at the Élysée Palace, before the summit with the G8 Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sarkozy, who is also the president of the G8, along with French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé met with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and pressed her to push for intervention in Libya

    .

    19 March 2011: French[72] forces began the military intervention in Libya, later joined by coalition forces


    2011_military_intervention_in_Libya#Chronology
    Sal2011 , 2016-03-11 11:41:36
    Well said in the headline. Imperialism-lite/heavy, colonialism, and neo-colonialism don't work, should be a thing of the past. Intervening in the politics of another country is a mug's game.

    Don't understand why Obama is blaming Cameron for it, perhaps playing to his domestic gallery. Blair's love fest with the deluded Gaddafi family, followed by the volte-face of pushing for his violent overthrow by the next government, were both severely misguided policies. Need to diplomatically encourage change, in foreign policy, and the desired type of political movements to take hold. Military interventions have the opposite effect, so does propping up dictators, religiously fanatical regimes, proven time and time again.

    WarrenDruggs -> KinoLurtz , 2016-03-11 11:41:07

    Gadaffi was on the verge of massacring an entire city of people

    Who needs well paid journalists when you can get this level of propaganda for free?

    DavidGW -> TruffleWednesday , 2016-03-11 11:40:31

    So the choices are to do nothing, or invade and create a colony?

    Pretty much. As Jenkins rightly says, if you want to launch an aggressive war you either do it or you don't. If you do it then it is your responsibility to clear up the mess, however many of your own lives are lost and however much it costs. Trashing a country and then buggering off is not an option.

    Of course, using force for defensive reasons is fine. That's why modern warmongering politicians always call it "defence" when they drop bombs on innocent people in faraway countries. It is no such thing.

    David Hart -> AmandaLothian , 2016-03-11 11:22:15
    There was no massacre, not even a hint of one. Total obfuscation to give Hillary Clinton a foreign policy "success" so that she could use it as a springboard to the presidency. "Hillary Clinton was so proud of her major role in instigating the war against Libya that she