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[Oct 16, 2014] Bill Moyers Extended Interview with Andrew Bacevich

June 20, 2014 | billmoyers.com

BILL MOYERS: I'm Bill Moyers and my conversation with Andrew Bacevich continues here at BillMoyers.com.

Bacevich is a veteran of 23 years in the US Army, including service in Vietnam. He graduated from West Point and teaches history and international relations at Boston University. His articles and essays have appeared in journals of both the left and right. Welcome back.

ANDREW BACEVICH: Thank you very much.

BILL MOYERS: How can one hold to the notion of exceptionalism when America performs so miserably in Vietnam and Iraq? Failed in those two wars fought within 30--

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, the, I mean, the belief in American exceptionalism is accompanied by a very specific, historical narrative. I mean, a story of contemporary history to which we swear fealty or give our allegiance. And that's the story which is centered on World War II. And centered on a very specific interpretation of World War II as a fight of good against evil, in which the United States liberated Western Europe and overthrew Nazi Germany. Now, that story's not wrong. It's just radically incomplete.

And the preoccupation with World War II, particularly the European war, then makes it possible to gloss over much of what followed World War II, during the Cold War, those episodes like overthrowing governments that we didn't like, befriending autocrats and corrupt dictators around the world making monumental mistakes such as the Vietnam War.

BILL MOYERS: What's the conclusion you draw from that reading of history?

ANDREW BACEVICH: My reading is that there are no simple, moral lessons to be drawn. My reading is one in which yes, of course, there is evil in the world that needs to be taken into account. And some time must be confronted. But my reading would be, let's not kid ourselves in somehow imagining that the United States represents all that is good and virtuous, we, ourselves, have committed many sins. And we ought to be cognizant of those sins before we go pronouncing about how the world ought to be run.

BILL MOYERS: Right now the Iraqis confront the fate that befell the South Vietnamese. Do we just walk away from what's happening there?

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, I don't think they face the fate of the South Vietnamese--

BILL MOYERS: You don't?

ANDREW BACEVICH: --in this sense, we must exercise care in predicting what's going to happen operationally next week and the week after. But my sense is that this ISIS force, obviously fierce. It's also relatively small. It doesn't possess tank divisions. It doesn't have an air force. It has enjoyed great success in penetrating into the predominately Sunni parts of Iraq. And it professes to wish to overthrow the predominately Shiite government.

My expectation would be that as the Shiites themselves face this prospect that they'll rally. Not rally in a sense that they're going to defeat ISIS and eject them from Iraqi territory. But rally in a sense that they'll be able to deny Baghdad to ISIS, which doesn't really point to a happy outcome.

It points to the outcome of what could well be a protracted and bloody civil war with the Shiites controlling one part of the country, Sunnis controlling another part of the country and Kurds a third party of the country. That's not a happy prospect. But I think that's actually more likely than the scenario we saw in Vietnam back in 1975 where the north simply swept across all of South Vietnam and seized Saigon.

BILL MOYERS: You have recently in "The Los Angeles Times" last week call for rethinking our relationship with Iran. Just as Nixon after Vietnam rethought and reshaped our relationship with our once mortal enemy, China. But that's the very thing right now, today, the neo-conservatives are opposing. They do not want to change our hostile relationship with Iran.

ANDREW BACEVICH: The fathers of today's neo-cons were among the people who, back in the 1960s and 1970s, were insisting that unless we fought on to final victory in Vietnam, that the consequences would be catastrophic. That the dominos would fall. That the communists would enjoy a great victory. That victory was not in the offing. And to his considerable credit, the cynical and in many respects amoral Richard Nixon realized that there was one way to salvage at least some positive aspects from this catastrophe in Vietnam.

And that was opening to China. Bringing China, beginning the process of bringing China back into the international community. Making China something other than an enemy of the United States. And that's what he did. And the notion now it seems to me is that if we had sufficiently bold and creative people guiding U.S. foreign policy today, they might consider a comparable turn with regard to Iran.

ANDREW BACEVICH: I think that it's manifestly the case that excluding Iran from the international order with the expectation that somehow peace and democracy are going to bloom in Iran, that that's failed. Iran is an important country. And in many respects, Iranian interests do coincide with American interests. And I think Iraq actually is an example of that.

BILL MOYERS: But the neo-cons are defiantly against collaborating with Iran for any reason because they see that as a potential threat to the survival of Israel.

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, they do. And, I mean, the first point would be why should we listen to them at this stage of the game? But the second thing, I think, is to assess pragmatically this Iranian regime. Now it is possible to build the case, particularly back when Mr. Ahmadinejad was the President of Iran that this a country governed by madmen who wanted nothing more than to wipe Israel off the map and would be willing to sacrifice Iran itself in order to achieve that. It's possible to build that case.

But I think the case is a false one. I think that, first of all, Ahmadinejad is passed from the stage. We've got a new president. A new president's language is considerably different. But more broadly, if you look at the behavior of the Iranian regime, since the revolution back in the late 1970s, they've actually performed pretty rationally. They're not irrational. They're not madmen. They're people, frankly, who you can deal with if you can find those points of interest that coincide.

And my preference, as opposed to, confrontation with Iran, war with Iran, as indeed some neoconservatives would propose, my proposition would be that we should explore carefully whether or not that rational regime can be brought to a point where we can strike a deal with them.

BILL MOYERS: You asked, and I don't think it was rhetorically a moment ago, why should we be listening to them? And that raises the old question, how do they get the audience and the forum that they have despite a record of failure, deception, and as you say, duplicity?

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, I puzzle over that. And the only answer I've been able to come up with has to do with the mindset of Washington journalists. You know, the people who book you to come on the Sunday talk shows, the people who decide whether or not your op-ed submission's going to be accepted by the Washington Post are people who live within this bubble, this Washington milieu in which everything, it seems to me, gets viewed through the lens of partisanship.

Everything is assumed to be an issue of Republicans versus Democrats, left versus right. You know, the people who like Obama and the people who loathe Obama. And so when the booker for some network news show says, well, gosh, Iraq's falling apart. Who should we get to come on the show on Sunday? Their little rolodex turns up the pro-Iraq war, anti-Obama typical cast of characters.

Rather than thinking about, gosh, isn't this a historical development of very considerable magnitude. Who are the voices, who are the people who might have something to reflect on? Who are the people who have might have something to say that's simply not regurgitating the same sort of talking points that we heard last week and the week before?

I mean, I'm struck by how thin the intellectual discourse is when it comes to foreign policy. There was a time in this country when we had very serious thinkers who were taken seriously and who illuminated the fundamental difficulties that we faced in the world.

They weren't necessarily-- they didn't get everything right. But what they did was to challenge the conventional wisdom and invite people to look beyond simply the partisan debate of the day. I'm not sure who on our national stage today fills that sort of role. And frankly, the absence of these people is a great misfortune.

BILL MOYERS: What price do we pay for the absence of this critical thinking and inquiry?

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, the debate that goes nowhere. I mean, it's the same talking points are endlessly repeated. That, you know, the warnings against isolationism. The demands for American global leadership, the comparisons with Adolf Hitler.

Whoever the bad guy of the day happens to be, he's cited as the next Hitler. The recollection of Munich and the warning against appeasement over and over and over again these points are repeated. And they don't illuminate.

BILL MOYERS: You wrote that a handful of randomly selected citizens of Muncie, Indiana would probably be more reliable on what to do than these oracles in Washington.

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, I was only half kidding. And what I mean by that is it seems to me that there-- that every day citizens would be more likely to view things realistically, pragmatically and would not be swayed by theological or ideological considerations.

BILL MOYERS: We saw that in their outspoken response and felt response when Obama was considering going into Syria. Public opinion really turned that course.

ANDREW BACEVICH: That was the striking moment. Of course from the point of view of people like Kagan, the president was guilty of great folly and not following through on his threat to go to war with Syria. But I think you're exactly right. The American people would seem to have learned some important lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan and are not eager to embroil themselves in yet another major war. And I think to his credit, Barack Obama has now acknowledged that.

BILL MOYERS: Kagan, however, laments the fact that Americans show these signs of being world weary. You can hardly blame them.

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, I mean, he calls it world weariness. One could also call it world wisdom. I mean, that it shows the capacity of the American people to learn.

BILL MOYERS: But Kagan and his crowd claim that, in your words, that, feckless, silly Americans with weak-willed Barack Obama, their enabler, are abdicating their obligation to lead the planet.

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, it's not true. Again, here Kagan is playing to this mythic interpretation of U.S. history which contends that the American people are instinctively isolationist. That all we want to do is to turn away from the world. And that's simply a false narrative.

The American people even before there was an America that is to say before there was a United States, have been engaged in the world commercially, culturally. Once this republic was created the founders and their successors set out to expand this nation to acquire power, to build wealth. That was a project that began in early in the 19th century. And in many respects reached its culmination with World War II. So the notion that there's this instinct towards isolationism, although it certainly, you know, that's a piece of propaganda that has been, rather successfully sold, it is simply propaganda. It's not true.

BILL MOYERS: What does it say to you that at a time when our country can't stop the killing of children in Chicago or prevent homegrown terrorists from attacking schools with their own private arsenals or cope with the chaos on the border with Mexico or rebuild our broken bridges and highways that there is still this cadre, this body, this community of people who believe we can police the Middle East?

ANDREW BACEVICH: They're deluded. And I think the point implicit in your question is a very good one. Our power is limited. What are the priorities? And there are domestic priorities that are achingly ignored. And yet are arguably far more amenable to solutions than anything in the greater Middle East. So where you want to spend your money? I think we'd be better off spending some of that money in Muncie, Indiana than in Baghdad.

BILL MOYERS: Back when you published "The Limits of Power" you had hope that the lessons we would learn from Iraq, the financial crash, the great recession that followed would lead to a wakeup call. That we would turn around, turn in a better direction. Things would take off in the right direction. What happened to that hope?

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, it was not fulfilled. There certainly were signs of political change on the left and on the right. The Occupy movement on the left, the Tea Party on the right. But both of those were marginalized I think by the political center, Republican and Democrat which is deeply invested in maintaining the status quo.

Because the Republican party and the Democratic party are supported by, integrated with, a set of structures - whether we're talking about the National Security bureaucracy or Wall Street - that views change as a threat to their own well-being. And thus far, those proponents of the status quo have succeeded. They've gotten their way.

BILL MOYERS: Andrew Bacevich, thank you for being with me.

ANDREW BACEVICH: Thank you.

[Sep 07, 2014] The Why is Behind the Ukraine Crisis by Robert Parry

Ukraine was a typical neoliberal color revolution. With standard set of players known from Iraq and Libya. And standard methods. But this time the goal was actually not Ukraine but Russia. And this crisis has shown pretty well that the EU is not an independent player. It is a vassal of Washington.
Notable quotes:
"... by a combination of the European Union's reckless move to expand its influence eastward and the machinations of U.S. neoconservatives who were angered by Putin's collaboration with President Barack Obama to tamp down confrontations in Syria and Iran, two neocon targets for "regime change." ..."
"... Feb. 22, the agreement was brushed aside as neo-Nazi militias stormed presidential buildings and forced Yanukovych and other officials to flee for their lives. ..."
"... There's also the issue of Russia's interest in exploring with China and other emerging economies the possibility of escaping the financial hegemony of the U.S. dollar, a move that could seriously threaten American economic dominance. ..."
"... Those Obama-Putin diplomatic initiatives frustrated the desires of Israeli officials and the neocons to engineer "regime change" in those two countries. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu even believed that bombing Iran's nuclear plants was an "existential" necessity. ..."
"... "You support an uprising against elected President Viktor Yanukovych, even though neo-Nazi militias are needed to accomplish the actual coup. You get the U.S. State Department to immediately recognize the coup regime although it disenfranchises many people of eastern and southern Ukraine, where Yanukovych had his political base. ..."
"... "When Putin steps in to protect the interests of those ethnic Russian populations and supports the secession of Crimea (endorsed by 96 percent of voters in a hastily called referendum), your target shifts again. Though you've succeeded in your plan to drive a wedge between Obama and Putin, Putin's resistance to your Ukraine plans makes him the next focus of 'regime change.' ..."
Sep 03, 2014 | consortiumnews.com

Given the very high stakes of a nuclear confrontation with Russia, some analysts wonder what's the real motive for taking this extraordinary risk over Ukraine. Is it about natural gas, protection of the U.S. dollar's dominance, or an outgrowth of neocon extremism, asks Robert Parry.

A senior U.S. diplomat told me recently that if Russia were to occupy all of Ukraine and even neighboring Belarus that there would be zero impact on U.S. national interests. The diplomat wasn't advocating that, of course, but was noting the curious reality that Official Washington's current war hysteria over Ukraine doesn't connect to genuine security concerns.

So why has so much of the Washington Establishment – from prominent government officials to all the major media pundits – devoted so much time this past year to pounding their chests over the need to confront Russia regarding Ukraine? Who is benefiting from this eminently avoidable – yet extremely dangerous – crisis? What's driving the madness?

Of course, Washington's conventional wisdom is that America only wants "democracy" for the people of Ukraine and that Russian President Vladimir Putin provoked this confrontation as part of an imperialist design to reclaim Russian territory lost during the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. But that "group think" doesn't withstand examination. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Who's Telling the Big Lie on Ukraine?"]

The Ukraine crisis was provoked not by Putin but by a combination of the European Union's reckless move to expand its influence eastward and the machinations of U.S. neoconservatives who were angered by Putin's collaboration with President Barack Obama to tamp down confrontations in Syria and Iran, two neocon targets for "regime change."

Plus, if "democracy promotion" were the real motive, there were obviously better ways to achieve it. Democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovych pledged on Feb. 21 – in an agreement guaranteed by three European nations – to surrender much of his power and hold early elections so he could be voted out of office if the people wanted.

However, on Feb. 22, the agreement was brushed aside as neo-Nazi militias stormed presidential buildings and forced Yanukovych and other officials to flee for their lives. Rather than stand behind the Feb. 21 arrangement, the U.S. State Department quickly endorsed the coup regime that emerged as "legitimate" and the mainstream U.S. press dutifully demonized Yanukovych by noting, for instance, that a house being built for him had a pricy sauna.

The key role of the neo-Nazis, who were given several ministries in recognition of their importance to the putsch, was studiously ignored or immediately forgotten by all the big U.S. news outlets. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Ukraine's 'Dr. Strangelove' Reality."]

So, it's hard for any rational person to swallow the official line that the U.S. interest in the spiraling catastrophe of Ukraine, now including thousands of ethnic Russians killed by the coup regime's brutal "anti-terrorist operation," was either to stop Putin's imperial designs or to bring "democracy" to the Ukrainians.

That skepticism – combined with the extraordinary danger of stoking a hot war on the border of nuclear-armed Russia – has caused many observers to search for more strategic explanations behind the crisis, such as the West's desires to "frack" eastern Ukraine for shale gas or the American determination to protect the dollar as the world's currency.

Thermo-Nuclear War Anyone?

The thinking is that when the potential cost of such an adventure, i.e. thermo-nuclear warfare that could end all life on the planet, is so high, the motivation must be commensurate. And there is logic behind that thinking although it's hard to conceive what financial payoff is big enough to risk wiping out all humanity including the people on Wall Street.

But sometimes gambles are made with the assumption that lots of money can be pocketed before cooler heads intervene to prevent total devastation - or even the more immediate risk that the Ukraine crisis will pitch Europe into a triple-dip recession that could destabilize the fragile U.S. economy, too.

In the Ukraine case, the temptation has been to think that Moscow – hit with escalating economic sanctions – will back down even as the EU and U.S. energy interests seize control of eastern Ukraine's energy reserves. The fracking could mean both a financial bonanza to investors and an end to Russia's dominance of the natural gas supplies feeding central and eastern Europe. So the economic and geopolitical payoff could be substantial.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Ukraine has Europe's third-largest shale gas reserves at 42 trillion cubic feet, an inviting target especially since other European nations, such as Britain, Poland, France and Bulgaria, have resisted fracking technology because of environmental concerns. An economically supine Ukraine would presumably be less able to say no. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Beneath the Ukraine Crisis: Shale Gas."]

Further supporting the "natural gas motive" is the fact that it was Vice President Joe Biden who demanded that President Yanukovych pull back his police on Feb. 21, a move that opened the way for the neo-Nazi militias and the U.S.-backed coup. Then, just three months later, Ukraine's largest private gas firm, Burisma Holdings, appointed Biden's son, Hunter Biden, to its board of directors.

While that might strike some of you as a serious conflict of interest, even vocal advocates for ethics in government lost their voices amid Washington's near-universal applause for the ouster of Yanukovych and warm affection for the coup regime in Kiev.

For instance, Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, dismissed the idea that Hunter Biden's new job should raise eyebrows, telling Reuters: "It can't be that because your dad is the vice president, you can't do anything,"

Who Is Behind Burisma?

Soon, Burisma – a shadowy Cyprus-based company – was lining up well-connected lobbyists, some with ties to Secretary of State John Kerry, including Kerry's former Senate chief of staff David Leiter, according to lobbying disclosures.

As Time magazine reported, "Leiter's involvement in the firm rounds out a power-packed team of politically-connected Americans that also includes a second new board member, Devon Archer, a Democratic bundler and former adviser to John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign. Both Archer and Hunter Biden have worked as business partners with Kerry's son-in-law, Christopher Heinz, the founding partner of Rosemont Capital, a private-equity company."

According to investigative journalism in Ukraine, the ownership of Burisma has been traced to Privat Bank, which is controlled by the thuggish billionaire oligarch Ihor Kolomoysky, who was appointed by the coup regime to be governor of Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, a south-central province of Ukraine. Kolomoysky also has been associated with the financing of brutal paramilitary forces killing ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine.

Also, regarding this energy motive, it shouldn't be forgotten that on Dec. 13, 2013, when neocon Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland reminded Ukrainian business leaders that the United States had invested $5 billion in their "European aspirations," she was at a conference sponsored by Chevron. She even stood next to the company's logo.

So, clearly energy resources and the billions of dollars that go with them should be factored in when trying to solve the mystery of why Official Washington has gone so berserk about a confrontation with Russia that boils down to whether ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine should be allowed some measure of autonomy or be put firmly under the thumb of U.S.-friendly authorities in Kiev.

There's also the issue of Russia's interest in exploring with China and other emerging economies the possibility of escaping the financial hegemony of the U.S. dollar, a move that could seriously threaten American economic dominance. According to this line of thinking, the U.S. and its close allies need to bring Moscow to its geopolitical knees – where it was under the late Boris Yeltsin – to stop any experimentation with other currencies for global trade.

Again, the advocates for this theory have a point. Protecting the Mighty Dollar is of utmost importance to Wall Street. The financial cataclysm of a potential ouster of the U.S. dollar as the world's benchmark currency might understandably prompt some powerful people to play a dangerous game of chicken with nuclear-armed Russia.

Of course, there's also the budgetary interest of NATO and the U.S. "military-industrial complex" (which helps fund many of Washington's "think tanks") to hype every propaganda opportunity to scare the American people about the "Russian threat."

And, it's a truism that every major international confrontation has multiple drivers. Think back on the motives behind the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. Among a variety of factors were Vice President Dick Cheney's lust for oil, President George W. Bush's psychological rivalry with his father, and the neocons' interest in orchestrating "regime change" in countries considered hostile to Israel. [See Consortiumnews.com's "The Mysterious Why of the Iraq War."]

There are also other reasons to disdain Putin, from his bare-chested horseback riding to his retrograde policies on gay rights. But he is no Stalin and surely no Hitler.

The Neocons' 'Samson Option'

So, while it's reasonable to see multiple motives behind the brinksmanship with Russia over Ukraine, the sheer recklessness of the confrontation has, to me, the feel of an ideology or an "ism," where people are ready to risk it all for some larger vision that is central to their being.

That is why I have long considered the Ukraine crisis to be an outgrowth of the neoconservative obsession with Israel's interests in the Middle East.

Not only did key neocons – the likes of Assistant Secretary Nuland and Sen. John McCain – put themselves at the center of the coup plotting last winter but the neocons had an overriding motive: they wanted to destroy the behind-the-scenes collaboration between President Obama and President Putin who had worked together to avert a U.S. bombing campaign against the Syrian government a year ago and then advanced negotiations with Iran over limiting but not eliminating its nuclear program.

Those Obama-Putin diplomatic initiatives frustrated the desires of Israeli officials and the neocons to engineer "regime change" in those two countries. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu even believed that bombing Iran's nuclear plants was an "existential" necessity.

Further, there was the possibility that an expansion of the Obama-Putin cooperation could have supplanted Israel's powerful position as a key arbiter of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Thus, the Obama-Putin relationship had to be blown up – and the Ukraine crisis was the perfect explosive for the destruction. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Why Neocons Seek to Destabilize Russia."]

Though I'm told that Obama now understands how the neocons and other hardliners outmaneuvered him over Ukraine, he has felt compelled to join in Official Washington's endless Putin-bashing, causing a furious Putin to make clear that he cannot be counted on to assist Obama on tricky foreign policy predicaments like Syria and Iran.

As I wrote last April, "There is a 'little-old-lady-who-swallowed-the-fly' quality to neocon thinking. When one of their schemes goes bad, they simply move to a bigger, more dangerous scheme. If the Palestinians and Lebanon's Hezbollah persist in annoying you and troubling Israel, you target their sponsors with 'regime change' – in Iraq, Syria and Iran. If your 'regime change' in Iraq goes badly, you escalate the subversion of Syria and the bankrupting of Iran.

"Just when you think you've cornered President Barack Obama into a massive bombing campaign against Syria – with a possible follow-on war against Iran – Putin steps in to give Obama a peaceful path out, getting Syria to surrender its chemical weapons and Iran to agree to constraints on its nuclear program. So, this Obama-Putin collaboration has become your new threat. That means you take aim at Ukraine, knowing its sensitivity to Russia.

"You support an uprising against elected President Viktor Yanukovych, even though neo-Nazi militias are needed to accomplish the actual coup. You get the U.S. State Department to immediately recognize the coup regime although it disenfranchises many people of eastern and southern Ukraine, where Yanukovych had his political base.

"When Putin steps in to protect the interests of those ethnic Russian populations and supports the secession of Crimea (endorsed by 96 percent of voters in a hastily called referendum), your target shifts again. Though you've succeeded in your plan to drive a wedge between Obama and Putin, Putin's resistance to your Ukraine plans makes him the next focus of 'regime change.'

"Your many friends in the mainstream U.S. news media begin to relentlessly demonize Putin with a propaganda barrage that would do a totalitarian state proud. The anti-Putin 'group think' is near total and any accusation – regardless of the absence of facts – is fine."

Yet, by risking a potential nuclear confrontation with Russia - the equivalent of the old lady swallowing a horse – the neocons have moved beyond what can be described in a children's ditty. It has become more like a global version of Israel's "Samson Option," the readiness to use nuclear weapons in a self-destructive commitment to eliminate your enemies whatever the cost to yourself.

But what is particularly shocking in this case is how virtually everyone in U.S. officialdom – and across the mainstream media spectrum – has bought into this madness.

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

[May 27, 2014] Albright the Second -- bellicose and incompetent chicken hawk Hilary Clinton

thenation.com

Since it's foreign policy week this week, with President Obama delivering a major speech on Wednesday at West Point, Christie Watch will spend the next few days looking at the foreign policy views of the various 2016 candidates, starting today with the presumptive Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton.

When it comes to Hillary Clinton's foreign policy, start first by disentangling the nonsense about Benghazi-a nonexistent scandal if ever there was one-from the broader palette of Clinton's own, relatively hawkish views. As she consolidates her position as the expected nominee in 2016, with wide leads over all the likely GOP challengers, it ought to worry progressives that the next president of the United States is likely to be much more hawkish than the current one. Expect to be deluged, in the next few weeks, with news about Hard Choices, the memoir of her years as secretary of state under President Obama, to be released June 10.

But we don't need a memoir to know that, comparatively speaking, two things can be said about her tenure at the State Department:

In the brief excerpt that's been released by her publisher, Clinton notes that as secretary of state she "ended up visiting 112 countries and traveling nearly one million miles." But what, if anything, did she accomplish with all that to-ing and fro-ing? Not a lot. She largely avoided the Israel-Palestine tangle, perhaps because she didn't want to risk crossing the Israel lobby at home, and it's hard to see what she actually did, other than to promote the education and empowerment of girls and women in places where they are severely beaten down. And, while it's wrong (and really silly) to call Clinton a neoconservative, she's more of-how to put it?-a "right-wing realist" on foreign policy, who often backed military intervention as a first or second resort, while others in the White House-especially Obama's national security staff and Vice President Biden's own aides, were far more reluctant to employ the troops.

In that vein, it's useful to explore the memoirs of Robert Gates, who was secretary of defense under George W. Bush and then, inexplicably, under President Obama, too. In Duty: Memoir of a Secretary at War (which could also be the subtitle of Clinton's own memoir), Gates says several times that he and Clinton saw eye to eye. (This has also been extensively documented by Bob Woodward, if more narrowly focused, in his 2010 book, Obama's Wars.) In Duty, Gates says that he formed an alliance with Clinton because both he and her had independent power bases and were, in his words, "un-fireable":

Commentators were observing that in an administration where all power and decision making were gravitating toward the White House, Clinton and I represented the only independent "power center", not least because…we were both seen as "unfire-able." [page 289]

Gates confirms that he and Clinton lined up with the hawks against the doves on Afghanistan:

The Obama foreign policy team was splintering. [Joe] Biden, his chief of staff, [Rahm] Emanuel, some of the National Security Council staff, and probably all of the president's White House political advisers were on a different page with respect to Afghanistan than Clinton, [Chairman of the Joint Chiefs] Mullen, [Dennis] Blair, and me. [page 350]

And Gates says that on the crucial decision to escalate the Afghan war in 2009 and then to slow the drawdown in 2010, he and Clinton were on the same side:

Yet again the president had mostly come down on Hillary's and my side. And yet again the process was ugly and contentious, reaffirming that the split in Obama's team over Afghanistan, after two years in office, was still very real and very deep. [page 502]

And, says Gates (page 587), Obama's efforts to centralize foreign policy decision-making inside the White House "offended Hillary Clinton as much as it did me."

As The Nation noted in 2013, just before the November 2012 election-after Gates had left the administration and was replaced by Leon Panetta-Clinton joined Panetta, CIA Director David Petraeus and the military in proposing that the United States go to war in Syria. (That the United States didn't act more aggressively in Syria back then was entirely due to President Obama's decision to resist Clinton and the other hawks.)

And, more famously, Clinton-joined by several other administration officials, including Samantha Power and Susan Rice-pushed hard, and successfully, for the United States to go to war in Libya. For Republicans who've endlessly waved the bloody flag of Benghazi, Clinton's hawkish view on Libya contradicts much of the nonsense they go on about. But for progressives, it's an ugly blot on Clinton's rιsumι. Not only did the war in Libya go far to inflame Russian nationalism, it also created a terrible vacuum in North Africa, toppling Muammar Qaddafi but leaving hundreds of armed militias in his stead, creating chaos and anarchy. (And, because the war against Qaddafi followed the Libyan leader's decision to forgo a nuclear arms program, it also sent the wrong message to Iran, namely, give up your nuclear program and we'll attack you anyway.)

In their book about Clinton's tenure as secretary of state, HRC, Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes don't provide much insight into Clinton's role as maker of foreign policy decisions, preferring to concentrate far too much on the politics of the Clinton people vs. the Obama people. But they do suggest that there was far more tension between the White House and the State Department under Clinton than is usually cited. For instance, they write:

Many of the White House aides saw the Clinton network as part of a bipartisan Washington foreign policy establishment that kept getting it wrong. [page 143]

As background, Allen and Parnes note that Clinton's relationship with Gates was founded in part on the fact that both Clinton and Gates backed Barry Goldwater in 1964-Clinton was a "Goldwater Girl"-and that Gates took note of the fact that Clinton, as senator from New York, "had made friends with a number of high-level flag officers-three- and four-star generals and admirals-during her time on Armed Services." She was, Gates noted, "an ardent advocate of a strong military" and "believed in all forms of American power, including force." As important decisions were imminent during the Obama administration, Allen and Parnes quote a "high-ranking Pentagon source" who says:

[Gates and Clinton] often compared notes in advance of some of those meetings to find common ground to allow them to influence or drive the direction of policy on a given issue.

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In its summary of Clinton's tenure as secretary of state, The New York Times suggests that even Clinton herself has a hard time deciding what her real accomplishments were, noting that she "seemed flustered" when asked about it at a public forum. In the end, the way she responded was, well, meaningless:

"I really see my role as secretary, and, in fact, leadership in general in a democracy, as a relay race," Mrs. Clinton finally said at the Women in the World meeting, promising to offer specific examples in a memoir she is writing that is scheduled to be released in June. "I mean, you run the best race you can run, you hand off the baton."

But the Times adds that, after countless interviews, it is clear that Clinton was the administration's hawk:

But in recent interviews, two dozen current and former administration officials, foreign diplomats, friends and outside analysts described Mrs. Clinton as almost always the advocate of the most aggressive actions considered by Mr. Obama's national security team-and not just in well-documented cases, like the debate over how many additional American troops to send to Afghanistan or the NATO airstrikes in Libya.

Mrs. Clinton's advocates-a swelling number in Washington, where people are already looking to the next administration-are quick to cite other cases in which she took more hawkish positions than the White House: arguing for funneling weapons to Syrian rebels and for leaving more troops behind in postwar Iraq, and criticizing the results of a 2011 parliamentary election in Russia.

And the Times quotes Dennis Ross, the pro-Israel advocate who worked for both Clinton and for the White House on Iran: "It's not that she's quick to use force, but her basic instincts are governed more by the uses of hard power."

Since leaving office, Clinton has gone out of her way to sound more hawkish than Obama on a range of issues, including expressing skepticism on the negotiations with Iran. Some observers say that it's just politics, and that Clinton is positioning herself for 2016. Maybe so. But it sounds a lot like Hillary Clinton is just being, well, Hillary Clinton.

Read Next: Bob Dreyfuss questions Obama's "Goldilocks" approach to foreign policy.

[Jan 16, 2014] One Percent Republic By Andrew J. Bacevich

Having forfeited responsibility for war's design and conduct, the American people may find that Washington considers that grant of authority irrevocable.
Apathy is carefully cultivated as a tool to escape top 1% from the control of the rest of population. Without citizen soldiers, and personal stake in foreign wars, plutocracy rises unchecked. "Public apathy presents a potential opportunity," making it possible to prolong "indefinitely" conflicts in which citizens are not invested.
December 18, 2013 | The American Conservative

With the ongoing "war" approaching the 10-year mark, the U.S. economy shed a total of 7.9 million jobs in just three years. For only the second time since World War II, the official unemployment rate topped 10 percent. The retreat from that peak came at an achingly slow pace. By some estimates, actual unemployment-including those who had simply given up looking for work-was double the official figure. Accentuating the pain was the duration of joblessness; those laid off during the Great Recession stayed out of work substantially longer than the unemployed during previous postwar economic downturns. When new opportunities did eventually materialize, they usually came with smaller salaries and either reduced benefits or none at all.

As an immediate consequence, millions of Americans lost their homes or found themselves "underwater," the value of their property less than what they owed on their mortgages. Countless more were thrown into poverty, the number of those officially classias poor reachingthe highest level since the Census Bureau began tracking such data. A drop in median income erased gains made during the previous 15 years. Erstwhile members of the great American middle class shelved or abandoned outright carefully nurtured plans to educate their children or retire in modest comfort. Inequality reached gaping proportions with 1 percent of the population amassing a full 40 percent of the nation's wealth.

Month after month, grim statistics provided fodder for commentators distributing blame, for learned analysts offering contradictory explanations of why prosperity had proven so chimerical, and for politicians absolving themselves of responsibility while fingering as culprits members of the other party. Yet beyond its immediate impact, what did the Great Recession signify? Was the sudden appearance of hard times in the midst of war merely an epiphenomenon, a period of painful adjustment and belt-tightening after which the world's sole superpower would be back in the saddle? Or had the Great Recession begun a Great Recessional, with the United States in irreversible retreat from the apex of global dominion?

The political response to this economic calamity paid less attention to forecasting long-term implications than to fixing culpability. On the right, an angry Tea Party movement blamed Big Government. On the left, equally angry members of the Occupy movement blamed Big Business, especially Wall Street. What these two movements had in common was that each cast the American people as victims. Nefarious forces had gorged themselves at the expense of ordinary folk. By implication, the people were themselves absolved of responsibility for the catastrophe that had befallen them and their country.

Yet consider a third possibility. Perhaps the people were not victims but accessories. On the subject of war, Americans can no more claim innocence than they can regarding the effects of smoking or excessive drinking. As much as or more than Big Government or Big Business, popular attitudes toward war, combining detachment, neglect, and inattention, helped create the crisis in which the United States is mired.

A "country made by war," to cite the title of a popular account of U.S. military history, the United States in our own day is fast becoming a country undone by war. Citizen armies had waged the wars that made the nation powerful (if not virtuous) and Americans rich (if not righteous). The character of those armies-preeminently the ones that preserved the Union and helped defeat Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan-testified to an implicit covenant between citizens and the state. According to its terms, war was the people's business and could not be otherwise. For the state to embark upon armed conflict of any magnitude required informed popular consent. Actual prosecution of any military campaign larger than a police action depended on the willingness of citizens in large numbers to become soldiers. Seeing war through to a conclusion hinged on the state's ability to sustain active popular support in the face of adversity.

In their disgust over Vietnam, Americans withdrew from this arrangement. They disengaged from war, with few observers giving serious consideration to the implications of doing so. Events since, especially since 9/11, have made those implications manifest. In the United States, war no longer qualifies in any meaningful sense as the people's business. In military matters, Americans have largely forfeited their say.

As a result, in formulating basic military policy and in deciding when and how to employ force, the state no longer requires the consent, direct participation, or ongoing support of citizens. As an immediate consequence, Washington's penchant for war has appreciably increased, without, however, any corresponding improvement in the ability of political and military leaders to conclude its wars promptly or successfully. A further result, less appreciated but with even larger implications, has been to accelerate the erosion of the traditional concept of democratic citizenship.

In other words, the afflictions besetting the American way of life derive in some measure from shortcomings in the contemporary American way of war. The latter have either begotten or exacerbated the former.

Since 9/11, Americans have, in fact, refuted George C. Marshall by demonstrating a willingness to tolerate "a Seven Years [and longer] War." It turns out, as the neoconservative pundit Max Boot observed, that an absence of popular support "isn't necessarily fatal" for a flagging war effort. For an inveterate militarist like Boot, this comes as good news. "Public apathy," he argues, "presents a potential opportunity," making it possible to prolong "indefinitely" conflicts in which citizens are not invested.

Yet such news is hardly good. Apathy toward war is symptomatic of advancing civic decay, finding expression in apathy toward the blight of child poverty, homelessness, illegitimacy, and eating disorders also plaguing the country. Shrugging off wars makes it that much easier for Americans-overweight, overmedicated, and deeply in hock-to shrug off the persistence of widespread hunger, the patent failures of their criminal justice system, and any number of other problems. The thread that binds together this pattern of collective anomie is plain to see: unless the problem you're talking about affects me personally, why should I care?

>[Aug 14, 2013] Umpire Strikes Out By Andrew J. Bacevich
Review of American Umpire, Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman, Harvard University Press, 440 pages
August 13, 2013 | The American Conservative

ArizonaBumblebee:

I could make a strong argument about the benefits to mankind of imperial regimes. Certainly this was the case with the Han Chinese, Roman, Ottoman, and British empires. But we would be amiss if we didn't briefly address the downsides to empire.

Finally, the idea that the United States is not an imperial power is preposterous on its face. Ask Evo Morales, whose presidential plane was forced down recently on the rumor he just might have Mr. Snowden on board. Or ask the leaders of countries in Latin America who have had to endure in recent decades death squads, resource exploitation, and invasions directed by the Washington elites. Or ask former President Morsi of Egypt, if you can locate him. The idea that America is not an imperialist power is amazing rubbish!

James Canning:

Yes, how convenient to omit discussion of the idiotic and illegal American invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Reinhold:

I don't think this article denounces American Umpire strongly enough for its clear triumphantilism and exceptionalism; it's a shameless case of propaganda and imperial apologetics. As is usual for propagandists, Hoffman claims that it's really the ones who CRITICIZE American imperialism who are contributing to Islamist terrorism, and not American imperialism itself; those who claim the latter are anti-American and, evidently if not directly, pro-Islamist. It's a sick joke and shouldn't be taken seriously as scholarship; it is not only a selective memory, but a deliberate falsification and misdirection of memory.

4-3-13 Andrew Bacevich The Scott Horton Show

Andrew Bacevich, professor of international relations at Boston University, discusses his open letter to Iraq War architect Paul Wolfowitz; the long overdue accounting of the Bush administration's real reasons for waging an unnecessary war in Iraq; the dumb ideas floating around in the brains of very smart guys; and Obama's continuation of Bush's preventive war doctrine.

Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 16:38 - 3.8MB)

[Apr 07, 2013] Antiwar.com weekend reviews

[Apr 05, 2013] The Militarization of American Life by Justin Raimondo

March 27, 2013 | Antiwar.com

The Militarization of American Life: From women in combat to the invasion of the sciences

As the American Empire transforms itself from a constitutional republic into a social democratic monstrosity – where everyone is "equal," and no one is free – egalitarianism is the fuel that runs the engine of imperialism. A perfect example is the recent announcement that the US military is getting with the times and allowing women in combat. What's pretty disheartening is that not even the woman's-place-is-in-the-home Neanderthals of the "traditionalist" camp even bothered to oppose this: for them, a more efficient war machine is much more important than any attachment to such "archaic" ideas as the men do the fighting while the women wait at home.

This innovation was followed up pretty quickly by a new proposal: that as long as we allow gays in the military we ought to allow transsexuals in, too. After all, the usual objections to women in combat don't apply to them: they have the genetic makeup of men, and the sexual equipment of women (or as close as surgical science can conjure) – so why not?

In America, everyone has the "equal right" to kill, torture, maim, and otherwise abuse those who dare defy the wishes of our wise and benevolent rulers. This is what happens when egalitarianism displaces liberty at the core of the American psyche.

Women, gays, transsexuals, and presumably dwarves afflicted with Tourette's Syndrome – all have an "equal right" to commit mass murder. Did the leftists who brought this Political Correctness down on our heads ever dream of the uses to which it would be put? And now that they've "grown up" and made their peace with the Empire, do they even care? Of course they don't. All they care about is the great god Equality, on whose altar every value they every pretended to hold is being slaughtered.

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.

[Oct 24, 2012] Moyers and Bacevich: Endless War

"As prophet, Reinhold Niebuhr warned that what he called 'our dreams of managing history' - dreams borne out of a peculiar combination of arrogance, hypocrisy, and self-delusion - posed a large and potentially mortal threat to the United States. Today we ignore that warning at our peril.

Since the end of the Cold War the management of history has emerged as the all but explicitly stated purpose of American statecraft. In Washington, politicians speak knowingly about history's clearly discerned purpose and about the responsibility of the United States, at the zenith of its power, to guide history to its intended destination.

In Niebuhr's view, although history may be purposeful, it is also opaque, a drama in which both the story line and the dιnouement remain hidden from view. The twists and turns that the plot has already taken suggest the need for a certain modesty in forecasting what is still to come. Yet as Niebuhr writes, 'modern man lacks the humility to accept the fact that the whole drama of history is enacted in a frame of meaning too large for human comprehension or management.'

Such humility is in particularly short supply in present-day Washington. There, especially among neoconservatives and neoliberals, the conviction persists that Americans are called up on to serve, in Niebuhr's most memorable phrase, 'as tutors of mankind in its pilgrimage to perfection.'"

Andrew J. Bacevich


I might have subtitled this, A Plunder Society: The Three Trillion Dollar self-serving adventures of the military-industrial empire.

Auferre, trucidare, rapere, falsis nominibus imperium; atque, ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant.

Calgacus, as chronicled by Tacitus in his Agricola


The homepage for this interview is here.

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Category: arrogance, dollar hegemony

[Sep 18, 2012] Bacevich What the Arab Movie Riots Mean for U.S. Foreign Policy by Andrew J. Bacevich

Sep 17, 2012 | Newsweek and The Daily Beast

The death of a U.S. ambassador raises questions about America's foreign-policy assumptions. PrintEmailComments (5) Visibly shocked and grief-stricken, Hillary Clinton gave voice to a question many Americans were asking last week: "How could this happen in a country we helped liberate, in a city we helped save from destruction?" She was responding to the news that the U.S. ambassador to Libya and members of his staff had been killed during an attack on the American Consulate in the cradle of the Libyan revolution, Benghazi.

The Tahrir Square protesters wanted more than just a change of presidents. (Johann Rousselot)

The question is as apt as it is poignant. America's role in helping to topple the Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi had been counted as one of the Obama administration's few clear-cut foreign-policy successes. Good had triumphed over evil. Prompt and timely action by the United States had averted genocide. When victorious rebels finally dragged Gaddafi from a culvert and killed him, Clinton summed it up crisply: "We came, we saw, he died." The outcome seemed definitive.

As it turned out, things weren't as simple as they looked. In the Arab world, the overthrow of tyrants-however welcome-settles little and unsettles much. The story has been the same in Iraq, Egypt, and Yemen. In all likelihood it will repeat itself yet again if the Free Syrian Army prevails in its struggle against the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

But why the Arab anger against the United States? Why the absence of gratitude among the very people the United States helped save, in the very countries Americans helped liberate? The way Secretary Clinton frames the question practically guarantees a self-satisfying but defective answer. Still, don't blame her: the rest of the foreign-policy establishment isn't doing any better.

The question is predicated on three propositions that are regarded as sacrosanct in the venues where U.S. policymakers and would-be policymakers congregate and exchange business cards. First: humanity yearns for liberation, as defined in Western (meaning predominantly liberal and secular) terms. Second: the United States has a providentially assigned role to nurture and promote this liberation, advancing what George W. Bush once termed the Freedom Agenda. Third: given that America's intentions are righteous and benign-okay, maybe not always, but most of the time-the exercise of U.S. power on a global scale merits respect and ought to command compliance.

Belief in these three propositions depends on viewing history as ultimately a good-news story. If the good news appears mingled with bad, the imperative for the faithful is to try harder. Forget about Baghdad and Kabul: onward to Damascus and Tehran.

Yet history is not a good-news story. Its destination and purpose remain indecipherable, even (or especially) to an "intelligence community" that purports to peer into the future, but cannot even provide adequate warning of attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities. Not that our civilian thinkers are doing much better. These days the shelf life of the Big Idea that's marketed as explaining everything in three words or less-Unipolar Moment, End of History, Clash of Civilizations, Indispensable Nation-is about six months.

What's the next surprise lurking just around the bend? Long before last week's sudden eruption of anti-American violence across the Muslim world, the answer to that question was clear: God knows, and he's not saying.

The notion that American power can be counted on to deliver American-style freedom is particularly wrongheaded when applied to the Muslim world. The problem is not that Arabs, Iranians, Afghans, or Pakistanis have an aversion to freedom. On the contrary, they've provided abundant evidence that they hunger for it. Rather, the problem is that 21st-century Muslims don't necessarily buy America's 21st-century definition of the term-a definition increasingly devoid of moral content. Instead, the varied inhabitants of a dauntingly complex Islamic world want to decide for themselves what the exercise of freedom should entail. Many of them believe it should consist of something more than individual autonomy and conspicuous consumption.

What they are demanding, in short, is their collective right to self-determination. That desire has made them seem stubbornly unreceptive to outside tutelage, and painfully sensitive to perceived expressions of disrespect, no matter how insignificant the source-even in the form of a preposterously bad film made by some demented jackass. Insults directed at the Prophet Mohammad are going to provoke a hostile response among the world's Muslims, much as Christians once reacted to the heresies propounded by those who dared to question the doctrines and prerogatives of the Holy Roman Church. Back then, defying the pope could land you in serious trouble.

The problem with the foreign-policy tradition to which Secretary Clinton adheres (and to which any secretary of state appointed by a President Romney undoubtedly would also subscribe) is that it refuses to allow Muslims to set their own course. In fact, U.S. foreign policy is fundamentally incapable of permitting it. For Washington simply to step aside, letting Libyans and Egyptians work out their own problems in their own way, would imperil certain moderately important American interests. More important, it would imply giving up the illusion that the United States models freedom in its truest form and that it can identify and direct history's course. In effect, it would concede the limitations of American power and American perspicacity.

This country's political class is unwilling to make any such concessions. That much is obvious to anyone who bothered to watch the twin celebrations of American exceptionalism that constituted the Republican and Democratic national conventions. Several commentators noted the paucity of attention given by either party to the war in Afghanistan, now approaching its 11th anniversary with victory nowhere in sight. With even greater justification they might have noted the two parties' reticence regarding the even more disastrous and utterly unnecessary Iraq War. Seldom has the American propensity for turning away from unpleasant facts been more vividly and irresponsibly displayed. This avoidance testifies to a refusal to learn.

Egyptian revolutionaries shared a desire with other Muslims: self-determination. (Johann Rousselot)

The murder of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and his colleagues was a despicable act. The Obama administration is right to demand that the Libyan government bring the perpetrators to justice, and the United States should apply whatever pressure is necessary to ensure compliance. Yet whatever the outcome of this particular crisis, the underlying problems will remain unaltered between the United States and the nations of the Islamic world.

Diplomats like Ambassador Stevens are willing to put their lives at risk "because they believe that the United States must be a force for peace and progress," Secretary Clinton said last week. Who could doubt her sincerity? But in the face of decade upon decade of contrary experience, what could possibly convince Libyans or Egyptians, Iraqis or Iranians, Afghans or Pakistanis that such faith in America's idealism has any basis in fact? No doubt the United States has helped on occasion to advance the cause of peace and progress in the Islamic world. Washington did finally abandon the dictatorship of Egypt's Hosni Mubarak. But it happened only after decades of unstinting support for his regime. The United States has aligned itself all too often with the forces of despotism and oppression. And this tendency has persisted even on Secretary Clinton's watch; just look at the U.S. response to the Arab Awakening's appearance in Bahrain.

Sometimes the only remedy for a badly damaged relationship is to give it a protracted cooling-off period. Time and distance may not make hearts grow fonder, but they can allow old grudges to ease. Stay away from your philandering ex-husband awhile and the old rogue might not seem so bad after all.

Such a breathing spell is very much in order for America's dealings with the nations of the Islamic world. No preaching; no getting in their knickers; please, God, no "nation building." For how long? Given the poisonous nature of existing relations, an intermission of something like a century sounds about right.

In the meantime, if we Americans think we have something to teach others, let's do it as exemplars-that is, assuming we're willing to close the yawning gap between the values we loudly profess and the way we actually behave.

Andrew J. Bacevich is currently a visiting fellow at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame.

The Golden Age of Special Operations by Andrew J. Bacevich and Tom Engelhardt

May 30, 2012 | Antiwar.com

They have a way of slipping under the radar, whether heading into Pakistan looking for Osama bin Laden, Central Africa looking for Joseph Kony, or Yemen presumably to direct local military action against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. I'm talking, of course, about U.S. special operations forces. These days, from Somalia to the Philippines, presidential global interventions are increasingly a dime a dozen; and they are normally spearheaded by those special ops troops backed by CIA or Air Force drones. Few Americans even notice.

An ever expanding secret military cocooned inside the U.S. military, special operations types remain remarkably, determinedly anonymous. With the exception of their commander, Admiral William McRaven, they generally won't even reveal their last names in public, which only contributes to their growing mystique in this country.

But for a crew so dedicated to anonymity, they also turn out to be publicity hounds of the first order. In 2011, for instance, active-duty U.S. Navy Seals (first-name only please!) became movie stars, spearheading a number one box office hit, Act of Valor. It was the film equivalent of a vanity-press production, focused as it did on their own skills in battle in… hmm, the Philippines (to prevent a terror strike against the U.S.). A team of SEALs even parachuted onto Sunset Boulevard for the film's Hollywood premiere.

Then last week another special ops team, in coordination with their Norwegian and Australian counterparts, heroically rescued the mayor of Tampa Bay, held " hostage." They also rappelled down from helicopters and arrived in Humvees to secure the area around the Tampa Convention Center, which will service 15,000 members of the media when the Republicans hit town to nominate Mitt Romney for president. Whew! Another close publicity call!

It was a mock assault on terror watched by thousands of Tampa residents, all timed to the annual Special Operations Forces Industry Conference, also in town and swarmed by 8,000 attendees, including McRaven. Its goal: to bring together special operators from around the world and the industry that arms and accessorizes them. (U.S. special ops forces have a $2 billion purchasing budget each year for all the gadgets the defense industry can produce.)

Oh, and if you want a measure of how hot the special ops guys are these days, how much everyone wants to horn in on their act, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke before the conference, offering, according to Danger Room's David Axe, "a vision in which shadowy U.S. and allied Special Operations Forces, working hand in hand with America's embassies and foreign governments, together play a key role preventing low-intensity conflicts." And if those conflicts aren't prevented, then the Foreign Service, Clinton assured her listeners, will be happy to lend its "language and cultural skills" to the fighting prowess of the special ops troops. Diplomacy? It's so old school in such a sexy, new, "covert" war-fightin' world.

The basic principle is simple enough: if you see a juggernaut heading your way, duck. As TomDispatch regular Andrew Bacevich, editor most recently of The Short American Century, makes clear, war American-style is heading back "into the shadows" and it's going to be one roller-coaster of a scary ride. (To catch Timothy MacBain's latest Tomcast audio interview in which Bacevich discusses what we don't know about special operations forces, click here or download it to your iPod here.) Tom

Unleashed

Globalizing the Global War on Terror
by Andrew J. Bacevich

As he campaigns for reelection, President Obama periodically reminds audiences of his success in terminating the deeply unpopular Iraq War. With fingers crossed for luck, he vows to do the same with the equally unpopular war in Afghanistan. If not exactly a peacemaker, our Nobel Peace Prize-winning president can (with some justification) at least claim credit for being a war-ender.

Yet when it comes to military policy, the Obama administration's success in shutting down wars conducted in plain sight tells only half the story, and the lesser half at that. More significant has been this president's enthusiasm for instigating or expanding secret wars, those conducted out of sight and by commandos.

President Franklin Roosevelt may not have invented the airplane, but during World War II he transformed strategic bombing into one of the principal emblems of the reigning American way of war. General Dwight D. Eisenhower had nothing to do with the Manhattan Project that developed the atomic bomb. Yet, as president, Ike's strategy of Massive Retaliation made nukes the centerpiece of U.S. national security policy.

So, too, with Barack Obama and special operations forces. The U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) with its constituent operating forces - Green Berets, Army Rangers, Navy SEALs, and the like - predated his presidency by decades. Yet it is only on Obama's watch that these secret warriors have reached the pinnacle of the U.S. military's prestige hierarchy.

John F. Kennedy famously gave the Green Berets their distinctive headgear. Obama has endowed the whole special operations "community" with something less decorative but far more important: privileged status that provides special operators with maximum autonomy while insulating them from the vagaries of politics, budgetary or otherwise. Congress may yet require the Pentagon to undertake some (very modest) belt-tightening, but one thing's for sure: no one is going to tell USSOCOM to go on a diet. What the special ops types want, they will get, with few questions asked - and virtually none of those few posed in public.

Since 9/11, USSOCOM's budget has quadrupled. The special operations order of battle has expanded accordingly. At present, there are an estimated 66,000 uniformed and civilian personnel on the rolls, a doubling in size since 2001 with further growth projected. Yet this expansion had already begun under Obama's predecessor. His essential contribution has been to broaden the special ops mandate. As one observer put it, the Obama White House let Special Operations Command "off the leash."

As a consequence, USSOCOM assets today go more places and undertake more missions while enjoying greater freedom of action than ever before. After a decade in which Iraq and Afghanistan absorbed the lion's share of the attention, hitherto neglected swaths of Africa, Asia, and Latin America are receiving greater scrutiny. Already operating in dozens of countries around the world - as many as 120 by the end of this year - special operators engage in activities that range from reconnaissance and counterterrorism to humanitarian assistance and "direct action." The traditional motto of the Army special forces is "De Oppresso Liber" ("To Free the Oppressed"). A more apt slogan for special operations forces as a whole might be "Coming soon to a Third World country near you!"

The displacement of conventional forces by special operations forces as the preferred U.S. military instrument - the "force of choice" according to the head of USSOCOM, Admiral William McRaven - marks the completion of a decades-long cultural repositioning of the American soldier. The G.I., once represented by the likes of cartoonist Bill Mauldin's iconic Willie and Joe, is no more, his place taken by today's elite warrior professional. Mauldin's creations were heroes, but not superheroes. The nameless, lionized SEALs who killed Osama bin Laden are flesh-and blood Avengers. Willie and Joe were "us." SEALs are anything but "us." They occupy a pedestal well above mere mortals. Couch potato America stands in awe of their skill and bravery.

This cultural transformation has important political implications. It represents the ultimate manifestation of the abyss now separating the military and society. Nominally bemoaned by some, including former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and former Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen, this civilian-military gap has only grown over the course of decades and is now widely accepted as the norm. As one consequence, the American people have forfeited owner's rights over their army, having less control over the employment of U.S. forces than New Yorkers have over the management of the Knicks or Yankees.

As admiring spectators, we may take at face value the testimony of experts (even if such testimony is seldom disinterested) who assure us that the SEALs, Rangers, Green Berets, etc. are the best of the best, and that they stand ready to deploy at a moment's notice so that Americans can sleep soundly in their beds. If the United States is indeed engaged, as Admiral McRaven has said, in "a generational struggle," we will surely want these guys in our corner.

Even so, allowing war in the shadows to become the new American way of war is not without a downside. Here are three reasons why we should think twice before turning global security over to Admiral McRaven and his associates.

Goodbye, accountability. Autonomy and accountability exist in inverse proportion to one another. Indulge the former and kiss the latter goodbye. In practice, the only thing the public knows about special ops activities is what the national security apparatus chooses to reveal. Can you rely on those who speak for that apparatus in Washington to tell the truth? No more than you can rely on JPMorgan Chase to manage your money prudently. Granted, out there in the field, most troops will do the right thing most of the time. On occasion, however, even members of an elite force will stray off the straight-and-narrow. (Until just a few weeks ago, most Americans considered White House Secret Service agents part of an elite force.) Americans have a strong inclination to trust the military. Yet as a famous Republican once said: trust but verify. There's no verifying things that remain secret. Unleashing USSOCOM is a recipe for mischief.

Hello, imperial presidency. From a president's point of view, one of the appealing things about special forces is that he can send them wherever he wants to do whatever he directs. There's no need to ask permission or to explain. Employing USSOCOM as your own private military means never having to say you're sorry. When President Clinton intervened in Bosnia or Kosovo, when President Bush invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, they at least went on television to clue the rest of us in. However perfunctory the consultations may have been, the White House at least talked things over with the leaders on Capitol Hill. Once in a while, members of Congress even cast votes to indicate approval or disapproval of some military action. With special ops, no such notification or consultation is necessary. The president and his minions have a free hand. Building on the precedents set by Obama, stupid and reckless presidents will enjoy this prerogative no less than shrewd and well-intentioned ones.

And then what…? As U.S. special ops forces roam the world slaying evildoers, the famous question posed by David Petraeus as the invasion of Iraq began - "Tell me how this ends" - rises to the level of Talmudic conundrum. There are certainly plenty of evildoers who wish us ill (primarily but not necessarily in the Greater Middle East). How many will USSOCOM have to liquidate before the job is done? Answering that question becomes all the more difficult given that some of the killing has the effect of adding new recruits to the ranks of the non-well-wishers.

In short, handing war to the special operators severs an already too tenuous link between war and politics; it becomes war for its own sake. Remember George W. Bush's "Global War on Terror"? Actually, his war was never truly global. War waged in a special-operations-first world just might become truly global - and never-ending. In that case, Admiral McRaven's "generational struggle" is likely to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Andrew J. Bacevich is professor of history and international relations at Boston University and a TomDispatch regular. He is editor of the new book The Short American Century, just published by Harvard University Press. To listen to Timothy MacBain's latest Tomcast audio interview in which Bacevich discusses what we don't know about special operations forces, click here or download it to your iPod here.

Copyright 2012 Andrew J. Bacevich

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[May 29, 2012] Appetite for Destruction

September 08, 2008 | The American Conservative

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Never have so many shoppers owed so much …

By Andrew J. Bacevich

No less than in 1776, a passion for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness remains at the center of America's civic theology. The Jeffersonian trinity summarizes our common inheritance, defines our aspirations, and provides the touchstone for our influence abroad.

Yet if Americans still cherish the sentiments contained in the Declaration of Independence, they have radically revised their understanding. For the majority of contemporary Americans, the essence of those "inalienable rights" centers on a relentless quest to acquire, to consume, to indulge, and to shed whatever constraints might interfere with those endeavors.

Others have bemoaned the cultural implications of this development. Few, however, have considered how an American preoccupation with "more" has affected U.S. relations with the rest of the world. Yet the foreign-policy implications of our self-indulgence are almost entirely negative. Over the past six decades, efforts to satisfy spiraling consumer demand have given birth to a condition of profound dependency. The ethic of self-gratification saddles us with costly commitments abroad that we are increasingly ill-equipped to sustain while confronting us with dangers to which we have no ready response. As the prerequisites of the American way of life have grown, they have outstripped the means to satisfy them.

The restless search for a buck and the ruthless elimination of anything standing in the way have long been central to the American character. Touring the United States in the 1830s, Alexis de Tocqueville noted the "feverish ardor" of its citizens to accumulate. Yet even as the typical American "clutches at everything," the Frenchman wrote, "he holds nothing fast, but soon loosens his grasp to pursue fresh gratifications."

To quench their ardor, Americans looked abroad, seeking to extend the reach of U.S. power. The pursuit of fresh gratifications expressed itself collectively in an urge to expand territorially and commercially. This expansionist project was well begun when Tocqueville's Democracy in America appeared, most notably through Jefferson's acquisition of the Louisiana Territory and through ongoing efforts to remove (or simply eliminate) Native Americans.

Preferring to remember their story somewhat differently, Americans look to politicians to sanitize their past. When, in his 2005 inaugural address, George W. Bush identified the promulgation of freedom as "the mission that created our nation," neoconservative hearts beat a little faster, as they did when he went on to declare that America's "great liberating tradition" now required the U.S. to devote itself to "ending tyranny in our world." But Bush was simply putting his own gloss on a time-honored conviction ascribing to the United States a uniqueness of character and purpose. From its founding, America has expressed through its behavior a providential purpose. Renewing this tradition of American exceptionalism has long been one of the presidency's primary extraconstitutional obligations.

Yet to credit the United States with possessing a liberating tradition is equivalent to saying that Hollywood has a "tradition of artistic excellence." The movie business is just that-a business. If a studio occasionally produces a film of aesthetic value, that may be cause for celebration, but profit, not revealing truth and beauty, defines the purpose of the enterprise.

The same can be said of the enterprise launched on July 4, 1776. The hardheaded lawyers, merchants, farmers, and plantation owners gathered in Philadelphia did not set out to create a church. They founded a republic. Their purpose was not to save mankind. It was to ensure that people like themselves enjoyed unencumbered access to the Jeffersonian trinity.

In the years that followed, the U.S. achieved remarkable success in making good on those aims. But never during the course of America's transformation from a small power to a great one did the United States exert itself to liberate others absent an overriding perception that the nation had security or economic interests at stake. From time to time, although not nearly as frequently as we like to imagine, some of the world's unfortunates managed as a consequence to escape from bondage. The Civil War did produce emancipation. Yet to explain the conflagration as a response to the plight of enslaved African-Americans is to engage in immense oversimplification. Near the end of World War II, GI's did liberate the surviving inmates of Nazi death camps. Yet for those who directed the American war effort, the fate of European Jews never figured as more than an afterthought.

Crediting the United States with a great liberating tradition distorts the past and obscures the motive behind U.S. foreign policy. To insist that the liberation of others has never been more than an ancillary motive of U.S. policy is not cynicism; it is a prerequisite to self-understanding

If the young United States had a mission, it was not to liberate but to expand. "Of course," declared Theodore Roosevelt in 1899, "our whole national history has been one of expansion." TR spoke truthfully. The founders viewed stasis as tantamount to suicide. From the outset, Americans evinced a compulsion to acquire territory and extend their commercial reach.

Depending on the circumstances, the U.S. relied on diplomacy, hard bargaining, bluster, chicanery, intimidation, or naked coercion. We infiltrated land belonging to our neighbors and proclaimed it our own. We harassed, filibustered, and launched full-scale invasions. We engaged in ethnic cleansing. At times, we insisted that treaties be considered sacrosanct. On other occasions, we jettisoned agreements that had outlived their usefulness.

As the methods varied, so did the rationales. We touted our status as God's new Chosen People, erecting a "city upon a hill" to illuminate the world. We acted at the behest of providential guidance or responded to the urgings of our "manifest destiny." We declared our obligation to spread the Gospel or to "uplift little brown brother." With Woodrow Wilson as our tutor, we shouldered our responsibility to "show the way to the nations of the world how they shall walk in the paths of liberty." Critics who derided these claims as bunkum-the young Lincoln during the war with Mexico, Mark Twain after the imperial adventures of 1898, Sen. Robert La Follette amid "the war to end all wars"-scored points but lost the argument. Periodically revised and refurbished, American exceptionalism only gained currency.

From expansion came abundance. Out of abundance came substantive freedom. Documents drafted in Philadelphia promised liberty. Making good on those promises required a political economy that facilitated the creation of wealth on an enormous scale.

Writing over a century ago, historian Frederick Jackson Turner made the essential point. "Not the Constitution, but free land and an abundance of natural resources open to a fit people," he wrote, made American democracy possible. William Appleman Williams found an even tighter correlation. For Americans, he observed, "abundance was freedom and freedom was abundance."

In short, expansion fostered prosperity, which in turn created the environment within which Americans pursued their dreams of freedom even as they argued about just who deserved to share in that dream. The promise-and reality-of ever-increasing material abundance kept that argument within bounds. As the Industrial Revolution took hold, Americans came to count on an ever larger economic pie to anesthetize the unruly and ameliorate tensions related to class, race, religion, and ethnicity. Money became the preferred lubricant for keeping social and political friction within tolerable limits. Americans, Reinhold Niebuhr observed, "seek a solution for practically every problem of life in quantitative terms," certain that more is better.

This relationship between expansion, abundance, and freedom reached its apotheosis in the aftermath of World War II. Assisted by the fratricidal behavior of the European powers and reckless Japanese policies that culminated in the attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. emerged as a global superpower, while the American people came to enjoy a standard of living that made them the envy of the world. By 1945, the "American Century" forecast by Henry Luce only four years earlier seemed miraculously at hand. The United States was the strongest, the richest, and-in the eyes of its white majority at least-the freest nation in the world.

It possessed nearly two-thirds of the world's gold reserves and more than half its manufacturing capacity. As measured by value, its exports more than doubled its imports. The dollar had displaced the British pound sterling as the global reserve currency, making the United States the world's money manager. Among the world's producers of oil, steel, airplanes, automobiles, and electronics, it ranked first.

Militarily, the United States possessed unquestioned naval and air supremacy, underscored until August 1949 by an absolute nuclear monopoly, affirmed thereafter by an indisputable edge in military technology. Immediate neighbors were weak and posed no threat. Adversaries were far away and possessed limited reach.

The two decades following World War II marked the zenith of what historian Charles Maier called the Empire of Production. Unquestioned economic superiority endowed the United States with a high level of strategic self-sufficiency, translating into remarkable freedom of action. In his Farewell Address, George Washington dreamed of the day when the U.S. might acquire strength sufficient "to give it, humanly speaking, the command of its own fortunes." Strength, the first president believed, would allow the nation to assert real independence, enabling Americans to "choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice, shall counsel." In the wake of World War II, that moment had emphatically arrived.

It soon passed. Even before 1950, the United States had begun to import foreign oil. At first, the quantities were trifling. Over time, they grew. Yet the U.S. continued churning out a never-ending array of goods, its preeminence seemingly beyond challenge.

In the 1960s, however, the empire of production began to come undone. Within another 20 years-thanks to permanently negative trade balances, a crushing defeat in Vietnam, oil shocks, stagflation, the shredding of a moral consensus that could not withstand the assaults of Elvis Presley, "the pill," and the counterculture, along with news reports that God had died-it had become defunct. In its place, according to Maier, there emerged a new Empire of Consumption. Just as the lunch-bucket-toting factory worker has symbolized the empire of production in its heyday, the teenager, daddy's credit card in her blue jeans and headed to the mall, now emerged as the empire of consumption's emblematic figure.

We can fix the tipping point with precision. Prior to the Vietnam War, efforts to expand American power to promote American abundance usually proved conducive to American freedom. After Vietnam, efforts to expand American power continued; but when it came to either abundance or freedom, the results became increasingly problematic.

In retrospect, the economic indicators signaling an erosion of dominance seem obvious. The costs of the Vietnam War-and President Johnson's attempt to conceal them while pursuing his vision of a Great Society-destabilized the economy, as evidenced by deficits, inflation, and a weakening dollar. In August 1971, Nixon tacitly acknowledged the disarray by devaluing the dollar and suspending its convertibility into gold.

That was only the beginning. Prior to the 1970s, because the U.S. had long been the world's producer of petroleum, American oil companies determined the global price of oil. In 1972, domestic production peaked and began its irreversible decline. The year before, the prerogative of setting the price of crude had passed to a new producer's group, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

With U.S. demand for oil steadily increasing, so did reliance on imports. In 1971, after decades in the black, the United States had a negative trade balance. In 1973, and again in 1975, exports exceeded imports in value. From then on, it was all red ink; never again would American exports equal imports.

By the late 1970s, a period of slow growth and high inflation, the still-forming crisis of profligacy was already causing distress. The first protracted economic downturn since World War II confronted Americans with a fundamental choice. They could curb their appetites and learn to live within their means or deploy dwindling reserves of U.S. power in hopes of obliging others to accommodate their penchant for conspicuous consumption. They opted for the latter.

Here lies the true pivot of contemporary American history, far more relevant to our present predicament than events like the fall of the Berlin Wall or the collapse of the Soviet Union. Between the summer of 1979 and the spring of 1983, "global leadership," the signature claim of U.S. foreign policy, underwent a subtle transformation. Although the United States kept up the pretense that the rest of the world could not manage without its guidance and protection, leadership became less a choice than an imperative. The exercise of global primacy offered a way of compensating for the erosion of dominant economic position. Yet whatever deference Washington was able to command could not conceal the extent to which the U.S. was becoming beholden to others.

On July 15, 1979, Jimmy Carter delivered the first of two pivotal speeches. Although widely regarded as a failed president, Carter, in this instance at least, demonstrated remarkable foresight. He not only appreciated the looming implications of dependence but anticipated the implications of allowing this condition to fester.

In the summer of 1979, inflation had reached 11 percent, 7 percent of American workers were unemployed, and the prime lending rate stood at 15 percent and was still rising. Worse yet, in January, Iranian revolutionaries ousted the shah, resulting in a second "oil shock." If Carter hoped to win a second term, he needed to turn things around quickly.

The president had originally intended to speak on July 5, focusing his address exclusively on energy. At the last minute, he decided to postpone it. Instead, he spent ten days sequestered at Camp David, using the time "to reach out and listen to the voices of America." The speech he delivered bore little resemblance to the one he had planned to give ten days earlier. The energy crisis, he suggested, was a symptom of a far greater crisis: "I want to speak to you first tonight about a subject even more serious than energy or inflation. I want to talk to you right now about a fundamental threat to American democracy."

Carter then proceeded to kill any chance of re-election. In American political discourse, fundamental threats are by definition external. Nazi Germany, imperial Japan, or international communism could threaten the United States. That very year, Iran's Islamic revolutionaries had emerged to pose another such threat. That the actions of everyday Americans might pose a comparable threat amounted to heresy. Yet Carter dared to suggest that the real danger to American democracy lay within.

The nation was experiencing "a crisis of confidence," he announced. "It is a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will. We can see this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our nation." This erosion of confidence threatened "to destroy the social and the political fabric of America."

Americans had strayed from the path of righteousness. "In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities, and our faith in God," the president continued,

too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns. But we've discovered that owning things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning. We've learned that piling up material goods cannot fill the emptiness of lives which have no confidence or purpose.

The American crisis of confidence was an outward manifestation of an underlying crisis of values. Carter implied that he was merely voicing concerns that his listeners already shared: that average Americans viewed their lives as unsatisfying rituals of buying and longed for something more meaningful.

"We are at a turning point in our history," Carter announced.

There are two paths to choose. One is a path I've warned about tonight, the path that leads to fragmentation and self-interest. Down that road lies a mistaken idea of freedom, the right to grasp for ourselves some advantage over others. That path would be one of constant conflict between narrow interests ending in chaos and immobility.

The continued pursuit of this idea of freedom was "a certain route to failure." The alternative-a course consistent with "all the traditions of our past [and] all the lessons of our heritage"-pointed down "another path, the path of common purpose and the restoration of American values."

As portrayed by Carter, the mistaken idea of freedom was quantitative: it centered on the never-ending quest for more while exalting narrow self-interest. His conception of authentic freedom was qualitative: it meant living in accordance with permanent values. At least by implication, it meant settling for less.

How Americans dealt with the question of energy, the president believed, would determine which idea of freedom would prevail. With this in mind, Carter outlined a six-point program designed to end what he called "this intolerable dependence on foreign oil." Although he expressed confidence that the United States could one day regain energy independence, he acknowledged that in the near term "there [was] simply no way to avoid sacrifice." Implicit in Carter's speech was the suggestion that sacrifice just might be a good thing. For the sinner, penance must necessarily precede redemption.

As an effort to reorient public policy, Carter's appeal failed completely. Americans showed little enthusiasm for the president's brand of freedom with its connotations of virtuous austerity. Not liking the message, Americans shot the messenger.

Carter's speech did enjoy a long and fruitful life-chiefly as fodder for his political opponents. The most formidable was Ronald Reagan. He portrayed himself as conservative but was, in fact, the modern prophet of profligacy-the politician who gave moral sanction to the empire of consumption. Beguiling his fellow citizens with talk of "morning in America," Reagan added to America's civic religion two crucial beliefs: credit has no limits, and the bills will never come due. Balance the books, pay as you go, save for a rainy day-Reagan's abrogation of these ancient bits of folk wisdom did as much to recast America's moral constitution as did sex, drugs, and rock and roll.

When it came to confidence, the former governor wanted it known that he had lots of it. In a jab at Carter, he alluded to those "who would have us believe that the United States, like other great civilizations of the past, has reached the zenith of its power" and who "tell us we must learn to live with less." Reagan rejected these propositions. He envisioned a future in which the U.S. would gain even greater power while Americans would enjoy ever greater prosperity. The sole obstacle was the federal government. His solution was to pare down the bureaucracy, reduce federal spending, and cut taxes.

On one point at least, Reagan agreed with Carter: "The only way to free ourselves from the monopoly pricing power of OPEC is to be less dependent on outside sources of fuel." Yet Reagan had no interest in promoting energy independence through reduced consumption. When it came to energy, he was insistent: "We must decide that 'less' is not enough."

History remembers Reagan as a fervent Cold Warrior. Yet, in announcing his candidacy, he devoted little attention to the Soviet Union. His language was measured, not belligerent. He did not denounce the Soviets for being "evil." He made no allusions to rolling back communism. In outlining his views on foreign policy, he focused on his vision of a "North American accord," an economic union linking the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

He approvingly quoted Tom Paine on Americans having the power to "begin the world over again." He endorsed John Winthrop's charge that God had commanded Americans to erect "a city upon a hill." And he cited (without attribution) Franklin D. Roosevelt's entreaty for Americans to keep their "rendezvous with destiny." Reagan did not call on Americans to tighten their belts. He saw no need for sacrifice. He rejected Carter's dichotomy between quantity and quality. Above all, he assured his countrymen that they could have more.

Despite the advantages of incumbency, Carter suffered a crushing defeat. Reagan carried all but four states and won the popular vote by well over eight million. It was a landslide and a portent.

Reagan's inaugural address served as an occasion to recite conservative bromides. He made a show of decrying the profligacy of the recent past: "For decades we have piled deficit upon deficit, mortgaging our future and our children's future for the temporary convenience of the present. To continue this long trend is to guarantee tremendous social, cultural, political, and economic upheavals." He vowed to put America's economic house in order: "You and I, as individuals, can, by borrowing, live beyond our means, but for only a limited period of time. Why, then, should we think that collectively, as a nation, we're not bound by that same limitation?" Reagan reiterated an oft-made promise "to check and reverse the growth of government."

He would do none of these things. In each case, he did just the reverse. During the Carter years, the federal deficit had averaged $54.5 billion annually. During the Reagan era, deficits skyrocketed, averaging $210.6 billion over the course of Reagan's two terms. Federal spending nearly doubled, from $590.9 billion in 1980 to $1.14 trillion in 1989. The federal government did not shrink. It grew, the bureaucracy swelling by nearly 5 percent.

To call Reagan a hypocrite is to miss the point. The Reagan Revolution was never about fiscal responsibility or small government. Far more accurately than Carter, Reagan understood what made Americans tick: they wanted self-gratification, not self-denial. Although always careful to embroider his speeches with inspirational homilies and testimonials to old-fashioned virtues, Reagan mainly indulged American self-indulgence.

There was a revolution; it just had little to do with the tenets of conservatism. The true nature of the revolution becomes apparent only in retrospect. Reagan unveiled it in remarks that he made on March 23, 1983. History remembers this as the occasion when the president announced his Strategic Defense Initiative. Embedded in Reagan's remarks were two radical propositions: the minimum requirements of U.S. security required a status akin to invulnerability and modern technology was bringing this utopian goal within reach. Star Wars introduced into mainstream politics the proposition that Americans could be safe only if the United States enjoyed permanent global military supremacy. Here was Reagan's preferred response to the crisis that Carter had identified. Here, too, can be found the strategic underpinnings of George W. Bush's global war on terror.

Whereas Carter had summoned Americans to mend their ways, Reagan obviated any need for soul-searching by inviting his fellow citizens to carry on. For Carter, ending American dependence on foreign oil meant promoting moral renewal at home. Reagan-and Reagan's successors-mimicked Carter in bemoaning the nation's growing energy dependence but did next to nothing to curtail that dependence. Instead, they wielded U.S. military power to ensure access to oil, hoping thereby to prolong the empire of consumption. Carter had portrayed quantity (the American preoccupation with what he had called "piling up material goods") as fundamentally at odds with quality (authentic freedom as he defined it). Reagan reconciled what was, to Carter, increasingly irreconcilable. In Reagan's view, quality (advanced technology converted to military use by highly skilled soldiers) could sustain quantity (a consumer economy based on the availability of cheap credit and cheap oil).

A consensus emerged based on the conviction that the American military could dominate the planet as Reagan had proposed to dominate outer space. In Washington, confidence that a high-quality military establishment, dexterously employed, could enable the U.S., always with high-minded intentions, to organize the world to its liking became a self-evident truth. In this malignant expectation-not in any of the conservative ideals for which he is retrospectively venerated-lies the essence of the Reagan legacy.

By the end of his presidency, 41 percent of the oil consumed domestically came from abroad. It was during his first term that growing demand for Chinese goods produced the first negative trade balance with that country. In the same period, Washington-and the American people more generally-resorted to borrowing. The U.S. had long touted its status as a creditor nation as a symbol of overall economic strength. That, too, ended during the Reagan era. Even as the United States began accumulating trillions of dollars of debt, the inclination of individual Americans to save began to disappear. For most of the postwar era, personal savings had averaged a robust 8-10 percent of disposable income. In 1985, that figure began a slide toward zero.

American profligacy during the 1980s had a powerful effect on foreign policy. On one hand, Reagan's willingness to spend without limit helped bring the Cold War to a peaceful conclusion. On the other, American habits of conspicuous consumption drew the U.S. ever more deeply into the vortex of the Islamic world, saddling an increasingly debt-ridden and energy-dependent nation with commitments it could neither shed nor sustain.

Yet it would be a mistake to imply that there were two Reagans-the farsighted statesman who won the Cold War and the chucklehead who bollixed up U.S. relations with the Islamic world. Cold War policy and Middle Eastern policy did not exist in separate compartments. Reagan-era exertions undertaken to win "World War III" inadvertently paved the way for "World War IV," while leaving the United States in an appreciably weaker position to conduct that struggle.

Reagan never questioned the proposition that the American way of life required ever larger quantities of energy. Since satisfying American demand by expanding domestic oil production was never anything but a mirage, Reagan instead crafted policies to alleviate the risks associated with dependency. The splendid army he helped create found eventual employment not in defending the West against totalitarianism but in trying to impose an American imperium on the Persian Gulf.

Whatever their professed ideological allegiance, Reagan's successors have all adhered to the hallowed tradition of decrying America's energy dependence without taking any meaningful action to address this addiction. That Americans might shake the habit by choosing a different course is a possibility few are willing to contemplate. After all, as George H.W. Bush declared in 1992, "The American way of life is not negotiable."

The presidents who followed have relied increasingly on military power to sustain that way of life. The unspoken assumption has been that profligate spending on what politicians euphemistically refer to as "defense" can sustain profligate domestic consumption of energy and imported manufactures. That the antidote to our ailments might lie within rather than on the other side of the world received no consideration at all.

The events of Sept. 11, 2001 only hardened this disposition. Donald Rumsfeld summarized the prevailing view: "We have two choices. Either we change the way we live, or we must change the way they live. We choose the latter."

As it trained its sights on modifying the way "they" lived, the Bush administration looked to America's Armed Forces as its agent of change. Through a war of liberation, the United States intended to convert Iraq into what Paul Wolfowitz termed the first Arab democracy. Yet, as they prepared for a showdown with Saddam, Wolfowitz and others in the administration were looking beyond Baghdad. Iraq only qualified as an interim objective. The ultimate purpose was to transform a huge swath of the Islamic world from Morocco through Pakistan and Central Asia to Indonesia and the southern Philippines. Here was an imperial vision on a colossal scale, a worthy successor to older claims of "manifest destiny" or an American mission to "make the world safe for democracy."

One might have thought that implementing such a vision would require sustained and large-scale national commitment. "War costs money," Franklin D. Roosevelt reminded his countrymen after Pearl Harbor. "That means taxes and bonds and bonds and taxes. It means cutting luxuries and other non-essentials." At the outset of its war on terrorism, the Bush administration saw things differently. Even as the U.S. embarked on a global conflict expected to last decades, the president reduced taxes. Rather than asking Americans to trim their appetite for luxuries, he called on them to carry on as if nothing had occurred. Barely two weeks after the World Trade Center collapsed, the president was prodding citizens to "Fly and enjoy America's great destination spots. Get down to Disney World in Florida." As late as December 2006, with the situation in Iraq looking grim, the wartime president noted with satisfaction that the holiday spending binge was off to "a strong beginning." Yet he summoned Americans to make even greater exertions: "I encourage you all to go shopping more."

The role allotted to the American people was to pretend that the conflict did not exist. Despite claims that his would be a generational struggle, the president never considered restoring the draft. Nor did he expand the size of the Armed Forces. This guaranteed that the 0.5 percent of the population that made up the all-volunteer force would bear the brunt of any sacrifice. With only a handful of dissenters, the remaining 99.5 percent of Americans happily endorsed this distribution of effort.

Predictably, as the scope of military operations grew, so did the level of military spending. During the Bush years, the Pentagon's budget more than doubled, reaching $700 billion by 2008. Unlike in Operation Desert Storm when Germany, Japan, and friendly Gulf states ponied up tens of billions, the burden fell entirely on Washington.

Less predictably, although perhaps not surprisingly, spending on entitlements also rose in the years after 9/11. Abetted by Congress, the administration conducted a war of guns and butter, including huge increases in Medicare and Social Security. The federal budget went into the red and stayed there.

In the name of preserving the American way of life, President Bush and his lieutenants committed the nation to a breathtakingly ambitious project of near global domination. Hewing to a tradition that extended at least as far back as Jefferson, they intended to expand American power to further the cause of American freedom. Freedom assumed abundance. Abundance seemingly required access to cheap and abundant oil. Guaranteeing access to that oil demanded that the U.S. remove all doubts about who called the shots in the Persian Gulf.

Yet that way of life, based for at least two generations on an ethic of excess, drastically reduced the resources available for such an all-encompassing imperial enterprise. Encouraged by President Bush to attend to their personal priorities, Americans lost no time disengaging from the war he had launched. While soldiers fought, people consumed. With the United States possessing less than 3 percent of the world's known oil reserves and Americans burning one out of every four barrels of petroleum produced worldwide, oil imports reached 60 percent of daily national requirements and kept rising. The personal-savings rate continued to plummet. In 2006, total public debt topped $9 trillion, nearly 70 percent of the gross national product.

In February of that year, a provocative article in the New York Times Magazine posed the question, "Is freedom just another word for many things to buy?" Through their actions after 9/11, as before, tens of millions of Americans answered in the affirmative. Given the extent to which consumption had become the driveshaft of the global economy, the Bush administration welcomed the average citizen's inclination to ignore the war and return to the mall.

Yet once the Iraq War demonstrated the shortcomings of shock and awe, there was no obvious way to reconfigure the empire of consumption into an empire of global liberation. The horrors of Sept. 11 notwithstanding, most Americans subscribed to a limited-liability version of patriotism, one that emphasized the display of bumper stickers in preference to shouldering a rucksack.

As conditions in Iraq worsened, the disparity between pretensions and capacities became painfully evident. A generation of profligacy had produced strategic insolvency. The administration had counted on the qualitative superiority of U.S. forces compensating for their limited numbers. The enemy did not cooperate. And although the United States is a wealthy nation with a population of over 300 million, closing the gap between means and ends posed a daunting task. By February 2005, Max Boot was suggesting that the armed forces "open up recruiting stations from Budapest to Bangkok, Cape Town to Cairo, Montreal to Mexico City."

The United States had a shortage of soldiers; it also lacked funds. The longer the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan raged, the more costly they became. By 2007, to sustain its operations the U.S. command in Baghdad was burning through $3 billion per week. That same year, the overall costs of the Iraq War topped the $500 billion mark, with some estimates suggesting that the final bill could reach $2 trillion.

Although these figures were widely reported, they had almost no political impact in Washington, indicating the extent to which habits of profligacy had become entrenched. Congress responded to budget imbalances not by trimming spending or increasing revenues but by raising the debt ceiling by $3.015 trillion between 2002 and 2006. Future generations could figure out how to pay the bills.

All this red ink finally began to generate nervous speculation about a coming economic collapse comparable in magnitude to the Great Depression. Americans continued to insist, however, that the remedy to the nation's problems lay in the Persian Gulf rather than at home. The slightest suggestion that the United States ought to worry less about matters abroad and more about setting its own house in order elicited from the political elite shrieks of "isolationism," the great imaginary sin to which Americans are allegedly prone. Yet beginning to put our house in order would be to open up a whole new array of options, once again permitting the United States to "choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice, shall counsel."

Long accustomed to thinking of the U.S. as a superpower, Americans have yet to realize that they have forfeited command of their own destiny. The reciprocal relationship between expansionism, abundance, and freedom-each reinforcing the other-no longer exists. If anything, the reverse is true: expansionism squanders American wealth and power, while putting freedom at risk. As a consequence, the strategic tradition to which Jefferson and Polk, Lincoln and McKinley, TR and FDR all subscribed has been rendered not only obsolete but pernicious.

Rather than confronting this reality, American grand strategy since the era of Reagan, and especially throughout the era of George W. Bush, has been characterized by attempts to wish reality away. Policy-makers have been engaged in a de facto Ponzi scheme intended to extend indefinitely the American line of credit. The fiasco of the Iraq War and the quasi- permanent U.S. occupation of Afghanistan illustrate the results and prefigure what is yet to come if the crisis of American profligacy continues unabated.
__________________________________________

Andrew J. Bacevich teaches international relations at Boston University. This essay is adapted from The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism by Andrew J. Bacevich. Reprinted by arrangement with Metropolitan Books, an imprint of Henry Holt and Company, LLC. Copyright © 2008 by Andrew J. Bacevich. All rights reserved.

The American Conservative welcomes letters to the editor.
Send letters to: letters@amconmag.com<

Is This The 'End Of American Exceptionalism' NPR

Amazon.com The Limits of Power The End of American Exceptionalism Andrew Bacevich Books

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.

American exceptionalism is coming to an end and it will be painful for both individual citizens and our democracy and government to get beyond it. But we have no choice. Things will get worse before they get better. Bacevich suggests some of the basic ways that we need to go to reverse the path to folly. He holds out no illusions that one political party or the other, one presidential candidate or the other, has the will or the leadership qualities to change directions. It is up to American citizens to demand different policies as well as to govern our own appetites.

While this is a sobering book, it is not warning of doomsday. Our worst problems are essentially of our own making and we can begin to unmake them. But we first have to come to terms with our own exceptionalism. We cannot manage history and there are no real global problems that can be solved by military means, or certainly not by military means alone.

Cliche or not, this is a "Must Read" book, August 15, 2008

Fellow citizen, you need to read this book!

[May 28, 2012] Guest Post War Pigs - The Fall Of A Global Empire ZeroHedge

Submitted by Jim Quinn from The Burning Platform

War Pigs - The Fall Of A Global Empire

We will bankrupt ourselves in the vain search for absolute security." -Dwight D. Eisenhower

"How far can you go without destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without?" -Dwight D. Eisenhower

Generals gathered in their masses
Just like witches at black masses
Evil minds that plot destruction
Sorcerers of deaths construction

In the fields the bodies burning
As the war machine keeps turning
Death and hatred to mankind
Poisoning their brainwashed minds, oh lord yeah!
Black Sabbath – War Pigs

As Americans mindlessly celebrate another Memorial Day with cookouts, beer and burgers, the U.S. war machine keeps churning. As we brutally enforce our will on foreign countries, we create more people that hate us. They don't hate us for our freedom. They hate us because we have invaded and occupied their countries. They hate us because we kill innocent people with predator drones. They hate us for our hypocrisy regarding democracy and freedom. Just when we had the opportunity to make a sensible decision by leaving Iraq and exiting the Middle East quagmire, Obama made the abysmal choice to casually sacrifice more troops in the Afghan shithole. We have thrown over $1.3 trillion down Middle East rat holes over the last 11 years with no discernible benefit to the citizens of the United States. George Bush and Barack Obama did this to prove they were true statesmen. The Soviet Union killed over 1 million Afghans, while driving another 5 million out of the country and retreated as a bankrupted and defeated shell after ten years. Young Americans continue to die, for whom and for what? Our foreign policy during the last eleven years can be summed up in one military term, SNAFU – Situation Normal All Fucked Up. These endless foreign interventions under the guise of a War on Terror are a smoke screen for what is really going on in this country. When a government has unsolvable domestic problems, they try to distract the willfully ignorant masses by proactively creating foreign conflicts based upon false pretenses. General Douglas MacArthur understood this danger to our liberty.

"I am concerned for the security of our great Nation; not so much because of any threat from without, but because of the insidious forces working from within."

[Aug 18, 2008] McCain's Mob Connections by Michael Collins Piper

Aug 18, 2008 | www.americanfreepress.net

Now It's The Post Covering Up John McCain's Mob Connections

AN AFP EXCLUSIVE

IF YOU STILL DOUBT that the big media is determined to keep under wraps the organized crime origins of the $200 million fortune of John McCain and his wife Cindy, take note of how the prestigious Washington Post touched on the issue in its July 22 edition. Rather, instead, note how the Post covered up the matter.

The Post reported: Cindy Lou Hensley grew up as an only child, and a privileged one, in a large rancher in an upper-class section of Phoenix. Her dad, Jim Hensley, founded what became a large Anheuser-Busch distributorship, and her mom, Marguerite, was a proper belle who emphasized impeccable manners.

The Post also added, almost discretely, that Mrs. McCain's wealth "may" exceed $100 million (although most sources estimate it is worth $200 million or more) and -- for the record -- that "she was the apple of her father's eye."

The Post did not mention that Mrs. McCain's father was a highly-placed fixture in the Arizona branch of the national organized crime syndicate: He was the chief henchman of the late Kemper Marley, Arizona point man for infamous mob chief Meyer Lansky and his powerful partners-in-crime, the super-rich Bronfman family of Montreal.

In that capacity -- for 40 years until his death in 1990 -- Marley was undisputed political boss of Arizona, acting as the behind-the-scenes power over both the Republican and Democratic parties.

As such, his wealth and connections played the primary role in advancing John McCain's political career from the start.

Although some Democrats have muttered that Mrs. McCain's business interests could impact on her husband's decision-making as president, none has dared cross the line and make reference to the fact this vast wealth was spawned by what others have indelicately (although quite correctly) called "the Jewish Mafia."

Correspondents for American Free Press have repeatedly referenced the McCain fortune's ties to the Lansky-Bronfman syndicate going back to 2000 when McCain first ran for president. Most recently, in its July 14/21 issue AFP reported the story again. At that time, AFP pointed out that in its June 30 edition, Newsweek (owned by the Washington Post's parent company) also suppressed McCain's mob link.

Newsweek said Mrs. McCain's family "was deeply rooted in Arizona," and that her father "was one of the most prominent men in the state," who was "a World War II bombardier . . . shot down over the English channel," -- in other words, a war hero like McCain.

Newsweek did not mention (or even hint of) the racketeering, corruption and murder associated with Hensley and his patrons.

Newsweek said Hensley "borrowed $10,000 to start a liquor business" which became one of the largest Anheuser-Busch distributorships in the country and pointed out that the vast Hensley influence and fortune "got [McCain] access to money and connections" after he divorced his ailing first wife and married his then mistress, Cindy Hensley, and settled in Arizona where he first ran for office in 1982. But there was much more to the story.

Newsweek did not mention what AFP had reported and which is republished here in order to keep this important story before the American public:

To repeat: McCain's father-in-law was the top

lieutenant for Kemper Marley, the Lansky syndicate's chief Arizona operative who acted, in turn, as the front man for the Bronfman family -- key players in the Lansky syndicate.

During Prohibition, the Canadian-based Bronfmans supplied -- and thus controlled -- the "spigot" of liquor funneled to Lansky syndicate functionaries in the United States, including Al Capone in Chicago.

After Prohibition, Lansky-Bronfman associates such as Marley got control of a substantial portion of liquor (and beer) distribution across the country. Marley's longtime public relations man, Al Lizanitz, revealed that it was the Bronfmans who set Marley up in the alcohol business.

In 1948, 52 of Marley's employees (including Jim Hensley, the manager of Marley's company) were prosecuted for federal liquor violations. Hensley got a six month suspended sentence and his brother Eugene went to prison for a year.

In 1953 Hensley and (this time) Marley were prosecuted by federal prosecutors for falsifying liquor records, but young attorney William Rehnquist acted as their "mouthpiece" (as mob attorneys are known) and the two got off scot-free. Rehnquist later became chief justice of the Supreme Court and presided over the "fix" that made George W. Bush president in a rightly disputed election.

Arizona insiders say Hensley "took the fall" for Marley in 1948 and Marley paid back Hensley by setting him up in his own beer distribution business.

Newsweek implied Hensley's company was a "mom and pop" operation that became a big success, but the real story goes to the heart of the history of organized crime.

Hensley's sponsor, Marley, was also a major player in gambling, a protégé of Lansky associate Gus Greenbaum who, in 1941, set up a national wire for bookmakers. After Lansky ordered a hit on his own longtime partner, Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel, who was stealing money from the Flamingo Casino in Las Vegas -- which was financed in part by loans from an Arizona bank chaired by Marley -- Greenbaum turned operations of the wire over to Marley while Greenbaum took Siegel's place in tending to Lansky's interests in Las Vegas.

In 1948 Greenbaum was murdered in a mob "hit" that set off a series of gang wars in Phoenix, but Marley survived and prospered as did Jim Hensley, who sponsored McCain's rise to power.

McCain's father-in-law also dabbled in dog racing and expanded his fortune by selling his track to an individual connected to the Buffalo-based Jacobs family, key Prohibition-era cogs in the Lansky network as distributors of Bronfman liquor.

Expanding over the years, buying up race tracks and developing food and drink concessions at sports stadiums, Jacobs enterprises were described as being "probably the biggest quasi-legitimate cover for organized crime's money-laundering in the United States."

In 1976, Hensley's mentor -- Marley (at the height of his power) -- was the key suspect behind the contract murder of journalist Don Bolles who was investigating the mob in Arizona, but Marley was never prosecuted.

Since McCain's career was sponsored by the Lansky-Bronfman syndicate, it is no coincidence McCain recently traveled to London where Lord Jacob Rothschild of the international banking empire raised money among American expatriates on McCain's behalf.

Rothschild has long been allied with the Bronfman family as major patrons of Israel.

A journalist specializing in media critique, Michael Collins Piper is the author of Final Judgment , the controversial "underground bestseller" documenting the collaboration of Israeli intelligence in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. He is also the author of The High Priests of War , The New Jerusalem , Dirty Secrets , The Judas Goats: The Enemy Within and The Golem: Israel's Nuclear Hell Bomb . All are available from AFP: 202-547-5585. He has lectured on these topics in places as diverse as Malaysia, Japan, Iran, Canada, Russia and the United Arab Emirates.

(Issue # 33, August 18, 2008)

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[Mar 11, 2018] I often think that, a the machinery of surveillance and repression becomes so well oiled and refined, the ruling oligarchs will soon stop even paying lip service to 'American workers', or the "American middle class" and go full authoritarian

[Mar 06, 2018] The U.S. Returns to 'Great Power Competition,' With a Dangerous New Edge

[Mar 06, 2018] The current anti-Russian sentiment in the West as hysterical. But this hysteria is concentrated at the top level of media elite and neocons. Behind it is no deep sense of unity or national resolve. In fact we see the reverse - most Western countries are deeply divided within themselves due to the crisis of neolineralism.

[Mar 06, 2018] The U.S. Returns to 'Great Power Competition,' With a Dangerous New Edge

[Mar 06, 2018] The current anti-Russian sentiment in the West as hysterical. But this hysteria is concentrated at the top level of media elite and neocons. Behind it is no deep sense of unity or national resolve. In fact we see the reverse - most Western countries are deeply divided within themselves due to the crisis of neolineralism.

[Mar 02, 2018] The main reason much of the highest echelons of American power are united against Trump might be that they're terrified that -- unlike Obama -- he's a really bad salesman for the US led neoliberal empire. This threatens the continuance of their well oiled and exceedingly corrupt gravy train

[Mar 02, 2018] Fatal Delusions of Western Man by Pat Buchanan

[Mar 02, 2018] The main reason much of the highest echelons of American power are united against Trump might be that they're terrified that -- unlike Obama -- he's a really bad salesman for the US led neoliberal empire. This threatens the continuance of their well oiled and exceedingly corrupt gravy train

[Mar 02, 2018] Fatal Delusions of Western Man by Pat Buchanan

[Feb 28, 2018] Perjury traps to manufacture indictments to pressure people to testify against others is a new tool of justice in a surveillance state

[Feb 28, 2018] Perjury traps to manufacture indictments to pressure people to testify against others is a new tool of justice in a surveillance state

[Feb 27, 2018] Alfred McCoy The Rise and Decline of US Global Power

[Feb 27, 2018] On Contact Decline of the American empire with Alfred McCoy

[Feb 26, 2018] Why one war when we can heve two! by Eric Margolis

[Feb 27, 2018] Alfred McCoy The Rise and Decline of US Global Power

[Feb 27, 2018] On Contact Decline of the American empire with Alfred McCoy

[Feb 26, 2018] Why one war when we can heve two! by Eric Margolis

[Feb 20, 2018] Russophobia is a futile bid to conceal US, European demise by Finian Cunningham

[Feb 18, 2018] Had Hillary Won What Now by Andrew Levine

[Feb 20, 2018] Russophobia is a futile bid to conceal US, European demise by Finian Cunningham

[Feb 18, 2018] Had Hillary Won What Now by Andrew Levine

[Feb 16, 2018] A Dangerous Turn in U.S. Foreign Policy

[Feb 16, 2018] The Deep Staters care first and foremost about themselves.

[Feb 16, 2018] A Dangerous Turn in U.S. Foreign Policy

[Feb 16, 2018] The Deep Staters care first and foremost about themselves.

[Feb 14, 2018] The FBI and the President – Mutual Manipulation by James Petras

[Feb 12, 2018] The Age of Lunacy: The Doomsday Machine

[Feb 14, 2018] The FBI and the President – Mutual Manipulation by James Petras

[Feb 12, 2018] The Age of Lunacy: The Doomsday Machine

[Feb 12, 2018] Ike's Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex Is Alive and Very Well by William J. Astore

[Feb 12, 2018] Ike's Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex Is Alive and Very Well by William J. Astore

[Feb 10, 2018] The generals are not Borgists. They are something worse ...

[Feb 10, 2018] The generals are not Borgists. They are something worse ...

[Jan 30, 2018] The Unseen Wars of America the Empire The American Conservative

[Jan 30, 2018] The Unseen Wars of America the Empire The American Conservative

[Jan 29, 2018] It is OK for an empire to be hated and feared, it doesn t work so good when Glory slowly fades and he empire instead becomes hated and despised

[Jan 29, 2018] It is OK for an empire to be hated and feared, it doesn t work so good when Glory slowly fades and he empire instead becomes hated and despised

[Jan 28, 2018] Russiagate Isn t About Trump, And It Isn t Even Ultimately About Russia by Caitlyn Johnstone

[Jan 28, 2018] Russiagate Isn t About Trump, And It Isn t Even Ultimately About Russia by Caitlyn Johnstone

[Jan 22, 2018] Pentagon Unveils Strategy for Military Confrontation With Russia and China by Bill Van Auken

[Jan 22, 2018] Pentagon Unveils Strategy for Military Confrontation With Russia and China by Bill Van Auken

[Jan 19, 2018] No Foreign Bases Challenging the Footprint of US Empire by Kevin B. Zeese and Margaret Flowers

[Jan 19, 2018] No Foreign Bases Challenging the Footprint of US Empire by Kevin B. Zeese and Margaret Flowers

[Jan 06, 2018] Trump's triumph revealed the breadth of popular anger at politics as usual the blend of neoliberal domestic policy and interventionist foreign policy that constitutes consensus in Washington

[Jan 06, 2018] Trump's triumph revealed the breadth of popular anger at politics as usual the blend of neoliberal domestic policy and interventionist foreign policy that constitutes consensus in Washington

[Jan 02, 2018] Neocon warmongers should be treated as rapists by Andrew J. Bacevich

[Jan 02, 2018] Jill Stein in the Cross-hairs by Mike Whitney

[Jan 02, 2018] Neocon warmongers should be treated as rapists by Andrew J. Bacevich

[Jan 02, 2018] Jill Stein in the Cross-hairs by Mike Whitney

[Jan 02, 2018] American exceptionalism extracts a price from common citizens

[Jan 02, 2018] American exceptionalism extracts a price from common citizens

[Dec 31, 2017] How America Spreads Global Chaos by Nicolas J.S. Davies

[Dec 31, 2017] Brainwashing as a key component of the US social system by Paul Craig Roberts

[Dec 31, 2017] How America Spreads Global Chaos by Nicolas J.S. Davies

[Dec 31, 2017] How America Spreads Global Chaos by Nicolas J.S. Davies

[Dec 31, 2017] Brainwashing as a key component of the US social system by Paul Craig Roberts

[Dec 31, 2017] How America Spreads Global Chaos by Nicolas J.S. Davies

[Jun 11, 2019] The Omnipresent Surveillance State: Orwell s 1984 Is No Longer Fiction by John W. Whitehead

[Jun 11, 2019] A Word From Joe the Angry Hawaiian

[Jun 05, 2019] Due to the nature of intelligence agencies work and the aura of secrecy control of intelligence agencies in democratic societies is a difficult undertaking as the entity you want to control is in many ways more politically powerful and more ruthless in keeping its privileges then controllers.

[Jun 05, 2019] Do Spies Run the World by Israel Shamir

[Jun 02, 2019] Somer highlights of Snowden spreach at Dalhousie University

[May 28, 2019] Any time you read an article (or a comment) on Russia, substitute the word Jew for Russian and International Jewry for Russia and re-read.

[May 20, 2019] "Us" Versus "Them"

[May 19, 2019] Intel agencies of the UK and US are guilty of fabricating evidence, breaking the laws (certainly of the targeted countries, but also of the UK and US), providing fake analysis and operating as evil actors on the dark side of humanity

[May 14, 2019] Despite a $ 22 Trillion National Debt, America Is on a Military Spending Spree. 800 Overseas US Military Bases by Masud Wadan

[May 11, 2019] Leaked USA s Feb 2018 Plan For A Coup In Venezuela

[May 08, 2019] Obama Spied on Other Republicans and Democrats As Well by Larry C Johnson

[May 07, 2019] Chris Hedges: The Demonization of Russia is Driven by Defense Contractors

[May 05, 2019] The Left Needs to Stop Crushing on the Generals by Danny Sjursen

[Apr 28, 2019] The British Role in Russiagate Is About to Be Fully Exposed

[Apr 22, 2019] FBI top brass have been colluding with top brass of CIA and MI6 to pursue ambitious anti-Russian agenda

[Apr 21, 2019] Makes me wonder if this started out as a standard operation by the FBI to gain leverage over a presidential contender

[Apr 21, 2019] Psywar: Propaganda during Iraq war and beyond

[Apr 21, 2019] Deciphering Trumps Foreign Policy by Oscar Silva-Valladares

[Apr 17, 2019] Deep State and the FBI Federal Blackmail Investigation

[Apr 17, 2019] Did CIA Director William Casey really say, We ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false

[Apr 16, 2019] The incompetent, the corrupt, the treacherous -- not just walking free, but with reputations intact, fat bank balances, and flourishing careers. Now they re angling for war with Iran.

[Apr 16, 2019] CIA Director Used Fake Skripal Incident Photos To Manipulate Trump

[Apr 12, 2019] Putin was KGB agent crowd forgets that Bush Sr was long time senior CIA operative and the director of CIA

[Apr 09, 2019] The ruthless neo-colonialists of 21st century

[Apr 06, 2019] Trump is for socialism but only when it comes to funding US military industry Tulsi Gabbard

[Apr 03, 2019] What We Can Learn From 1920s Germany by Brian E. Fogarty

[Mar 20, 2019] In a remarkable report by British Channel 4, former CIA officials and a Reuters correspondent spoke candidly about the systematic dissemination of propaganda and misinformation in reporting on geopolitical conflicts

[Mar 18, 2019] Journalists who are spies

[Mar 18, 2019] FULL CNN TOWN HALL WITH TULSI GABBARD 3-10-19

[Mar 18, 2019] Doublethink and Newspeak Do We Have a Choice by Greg Guma

[Mar 18, 2019] The Why are the media playing lapdog and not watchdog – again – on war in Iraq?

[Mar 07, 2019] Are you ready? Here is all the data Facebook and Google have on you by Dylan Curran

[Mar 06, 2019] American Meddling in the Ukraine by Publius Tacitus

[Mar 05, 2019] The Shadow Governments Destruction Of Democracy

[Feb 19, 2019] Tulsi Gabbard kills New World Order bloodbath in thirty seconds

[Feb 19, 2019] Warmongers in their ivory towers - YouTube

[Feb 17, 2019] The goal of any war is the redistribution of taxpayer money into the bank accounts of MIC shareholders and executives

[Feb 13, 2019] Making Globalism Great Again by C.J. Hopkins

[Jan 26, 2019] Can the current US neoliberal/neoconservative elite be considered suicidal?

Sites



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Society

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Quotes

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Bulletin:

Vol 25, No.12 (December, 2013) Rational Fools vs. Efficient Crooks The efficient markets hypothesis : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2013 : Unemployment Bulletin, 2010 :  Vol 23, No.10 (October, 2011) An observation about corporate security departments : Slightly Skeptical Euromaydan Chronicles, June 2014 : Greenspan legacy bulletin, 2008 : Vol 25, No.10 (October, 2013) Cryptolocker Trojan (Win32/Crilock.A) : Vol 25, No.08 (August, 2013) Cloud providers as intelligence collection hubs : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : Inequality Bulletin, 2009 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Copyleft Problems Bulletin, 2004 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Energy Bulletin, 2010 : Malware Protection Bulletin, 2010 : Vol 26, No.1 (January, 2013) Object-Oriented Cult : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2011 : Vol 23, No.11 (November, 2011) Softpanorama classification of sysadmin horror stories : Vol 25, No.05 (May, 2013) Corporate bullshit as a communication method  : Vol 25, No.06 (June, 2013) A Note on the Relationship of Brooks Law and Conway Law

History:

Fifty glorious years (1950-2000): the triumph of the US computer engineering : Donald Knuth : TAoCP and its Influence of Computer Science : Richard Stallman : Linus Torvalds  : Larry Wall  : John K. Ousterhout : CTSS : Multix OS Unix History : Unix shell history : VI editor : History of pipes concept : Solaris : MS DOSProgramming Languages History : PL/1 : Simula 67 : C : History of GCC developmentScripting Languages : Perl history   : OS History : Mail : DNS : SSH : CPU Instruction Sets : SPARC systems 1987-2006 : Norton Commander : Norton Utilities : Norton Ghost : Frontpage history : Malware Defense History : GNU Screen : OSS early history

Classic books:

The Peter Principle : Parkinson Law : 1984 : The Mythical Man-MonthHow to Solve It by George Polya : The Art of Computer Programming : The Elements of Programming Style : The Unix Hater’s Handbook : The Jargon file : The True Believer : Programming Pearls : The Good Soldier Svejk : The Power Elite

Most popular humor pages:

Manifest of the Softpanorama IT Slacker Society : Ten Commandments of the IT Slackers Society : Computer Humor Collection : BSD Logo Story : The Cuckoo's Egg : IT Slang : C++ Humor : ARE YOU A BBS ADDICT? : The Perl Purity Test : Object oriented programmers of all nations : Financial Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : The Most Comprehensive Collection of Editor-related Humor : Programming Language Humor : Goldman Sachs related humor : Greenspan humor : C Humor : Scripting Humor : Real Programmers Humor : Web Humor : GPL-related Humor : OFM Humor : Politically Incorrect Humor : IDS Humor : "Linux Sucks" Humor : Russian Musical Humor : Best Russian Programmer Humor : Microsoft plans to buy Catholic Church : Richard Stallman Related Humor : Admin Humor : Perl-related Humor : Linus Torvalds Related humor : PseudoScience Related Humor : Networking Humor : Shell Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2012 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2013 : Java Humor : Software Engineering Humor : Sun Solaris Related Humor : Education Humor : IBM Humor : Assembler-related Humor : VIM Humor : Computer Viruses Humor : Bright tomorrow is rescheduled to a day after tomorrow : Classic Computer Humor

The Last but not Least Technology is dominated by two types of people: those who understand what they do not manage and those who manage what they do not understand ~Archibald Putt. Ph.D


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Last modified: January, 02, 2020