As the Empire Crumbles: Lessons Unlearned

By JC

I’ve been spending far more time reading than writing lately, as writing and nursing blog posts eats up more time than I’m willing to expend. However, I think it time well spent to point folks to articles that begin to make sense of the precarious position our nation or world finds itself in.

So pull up a comfy chair on this grey and dreary spring day (thought the rain is most wonderful), pour a cup of coffee, tea or what have you and dig in.

Today’s reading comes from William R. Polk, Losing the American Republic. Here’s the end of Part 1 (Part 2 hasn’t been published yet, but I’m looking forward to it).

Lessons Needed Learning

It would be rewarding if one could say that our experience in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan has made us wiser in our approaches to Somalia, Syria, Libya and Yemen, but it is hard to substantiate that conclusion. Yet the lessons are there to be learned. There are more, but consider just these few:

  • Military action can destroy but it cannot build;
  • Counterinsurgency does not work and creates new problems;
  • Nation building is beyond the capacity of foreigners;
  • Piecemeal, uncoordinated actions often exacerbate rather than solve problems;
  • The costs of military action are multifold and usually harm not only the attacked but also the attacker’s society and economy;
  • Reliance on military action and supply of weapons to the client state encourages it to undertake actions that make peace-seeking harder rather than easier;
  • War radiates out from the battlefield so that whole societies are turned into refugees. In desperation they flee even far abroad and create unforeseen problems.
  • The sense that the attacker is a bully spreads and converts outsiders into enemies;
  • Failure to understand the society and culture even of the enemy is self-defeating;
  • Angry, resentful people eventually strike back where they can and so create a climate of perpetual insecurity.

The result of such actions is deforming to the central objective of an intelligent, conservative and constructive American foreign policy — the preservation of our well-being.


  1. I have long abandoned the notion that stated goals are the real ones, so that our job is to search for the real policy objectives. Polk seems preoccupied by the cover of the book. There’s a whole floor of the Pentagon dedicated to putting a layer of disinformation over reality.

    One thing: It is never about the people in an area they attack. They are nothing more than what Kissinger referred to as “eaters.” So destruction of lives and property is of no concern to our policy makers. Often, as in Vietnam, the objective is to kill as many as possible, to destroy hope and future. We are dealing with limited resources. Not everyone gets to enjoy them. Women breed babies who become adults, even soldiers, so they kill them all.

    In Afghanistan two objectives seem dominant (among many): To make the area safe for TAP. It won’t do to have a pipeline in uncontrolled territory.

    Second is to protect and enhance poppy production, since CIA and our major banks and corporations depend to a large degree on the illicit drug trade to stay afloat. It should be no surprise that wherever CIA is running a war, the drug trade is flourishing.

    All of that operates smoothly behind a wall of propaganda, stated objectives having nothign to do with reality.

  2. steve kelly

    TPP could be the final nail in the Republic’s coffin. SCOTUS, Congress and Presidents have been selling out the sovereignty of the United States to foreign and multinational corporations for decades.

    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article41863.htm
    http://ellenbrown.com/2015/04/24/the-trans-pacific-partnership-and-the-death-of-the-republic/

    What is “too big to fail” if not a declaration and realization that corporate sovereignty trumps national and state sovereignty? Big bankers don’t go to jail. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article41863.htm

  3. Take issue with Polk’s 5th and 6th bullet points.

    “Since 1914, we have endured world wars, genocides and government-sponsored famines, not to mention civil strife, riots and murders. Altogether, we have killed a staggering 100 million to 200 million of our own kind. But over the century, about 10 billion lives were lived — which means that just 1 to 2 percent of the world’s population died violently. Those lucky enough to be born in the 20th century were on average 10 times less likely to come to a grisly end than those born in the Stone Age. And since 2000, the United Nations tells us, the risk of violent death has fallen even further, to 0.7 percent.
    As this process unfolded, humanity prospered. Ten thousand years ago, when the planet’s population was 6 million or so, people lived about 30 years on average and supported themselves on the equivalent income of about $2 per day. Now, more than 7 billion people are on Earth, living more than twice as long (an average of 67 years), and with an average income of $25 per day.

    This happened because about 10,000 years ago, the winners of wars began incorporating the losers into larger societies. The victors found that the only way to make these larger societies work was by developing stronger governments; and one of the first things these governments had to do, if they wanted to stay in power, was suppress violence among their subjects.”-Ian Morris.

    • Classic rationalizing, and a load of crap to boot. Where do you mine these snippets? Conservopedia?

      • Ian Morris, professor at Stanford. Article from the WA Times.

        http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/in-the-long-run-wars-make-us-safer-and-richer/2014/04/25/a4207660-c965-11e3-a75e-463587891b57_story.html

        Intelligent and probably wealthy.

        • WA Post, not Times.

      • It has to stand on its own worth, all else aside. It does not. You need to read, I should stop there, more than snippets from people who make you feel good.

        Funny thing is that you don’t even belong to the elite class you support. Rand had that effect, broomstick cowboys.

        • I’m curious Mark why can’t Ian’s three quoted paragraphs above stand up to their own worth?

          And why can’t you respond without personal attacks? Do enjoy looking petty?

          • He is speaking so generally as to be pointless. He assigns no blame, and in so doing exonerates his own people in their own time for their crimes. In fact, there are no crimes at all. There are merely Machiavellian ends justifying means.

            And you are without self-awareness. Anyone who points this out to you is accused of personal attacks. It’s your armor. It allows you to traffic among more knowledgeable people with your little Google device without ever having to look in the mirror. That’s annoying.

            • Your asking if he blames the US? That would be convenient.

              Funny how searching for matching ideologies never causes concern.

            • I’ve been down this road. You are pretending you read the entire piece by Morris when you only stumbled on it in a Google search. I am letting you pretend. Let’s stop right here. You are a product of the Internet, nothing more.

              • This, from a blogger commenting on the internet.




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