Archive for the ‘Empire’ Category
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.
“If you name it, you own it. And they don’t want to own it.”
Well, it was just a matter of time until people started talking about “The War Which Must Not be Named.” I suppose if a war doesn’t have a name, it can’t realistically be called a “war,” right?
There is an interesting dimension to the ongoing circumvention of the Constitution over our latest undeclared war. While some Administration officials are finally calling our attacks in Syria as a “war,” the discomfort over defining this indefinite campaign has led to equal discomfort over naming it. After two months of airstrikes and statements that the campaign will likely go on for years, the Administration still have not named this war. The choice would now seem obvious: Operation Voldemort, the war which must not be named.
Usually, the military loves to give inspiring names to its campaigns, though sometimes the name can reveal a bit of insecurity like “Operation Just Cause” in Panama — a name that only seemed to amplify the questions of the legality or legitimacy of the invasion. Once coined, the name then appears on everything from government contracts to legislation to service medals.
However, the Administration has been in a not-so-private internal debate over what to call the campaign against Islamic State. Like naming a puppy, the naming of a war can create a dangerous achievement to those with commitment issues. As one defense official was quoted as saying “If you name it, you own it. And they don’t want to own it.”
For the moment, Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby says that the Administration currently has “no plans to name the operation”…
The Pentagon, in trying to come up with an internal name for the war, came up with a tongue-in-cheek name that really isn’t so far from the truth:
In the absence of an official name, alternatives are bouncing around the halls of the Pentagon. One top suggestion takes note of how U.S. bombing raids are targeting U.S.-made equipment nabbed by Islamic State fighters. The suggestion: Operation Hey That’s My Humvee.
Thankfully, President Obama’s ex-CIA Director and ex-Pentagon head Leon Panetta has no qualms giving the latest extra-Constitutional imperial incursion into the middle east a name that will resonate through the history books: the “Thirty Year War.”
Americans should be braced for a long battle against the brutal terrorist group Islamic State that will test U.S. resolve — and the leadership of the commander in chief, says Leon Panetta, who headed the CIA and then the Pentagon as Al Qaeda was weakened and Osama bin Laden killed.
“I think we’re looking at kind of a 30-year war,” he says, one that will have to extend beyond Islamic State to include emerging threats in Nigeria, Somalia, Yemen, Libya and elsewhere.
So, as you get ready to head to the polls, and endorse the current crop of candidates, you can rest assured that Democrats, in all their infinite wisdom, have chosen to hunker down to endure war for the long term.
Remember, as you pencil in your absentee ballot or pull the lever on your electronic voting machine, that the stage has been set for indefinite warfare, and your vote for candidates who refuse to take anti-war stances endorses the status quo.
“Look, I’ve been a guy who’s always been honest,” Panetta says. “I’ve been honest in politics, honest with the people that I deal with. I’ve been a straight talker…
Panetta also argues that there is time for Obama to change tactics and recover — and that it is imperative he do so…
“My hope is that the president, recognizing that we are at a kind of critical point in his administration, will take the bit in his teeth and will say, ‘We have got to solve these problems.'”
And Barack Obama’s legacy?
“For the first four years, and the time I spent there, I thought he was a strong leader on security issues… But these last two years I think he kind of lost his way. You know, it’s been a mixed message, a little ambivalence in trying to approach these issues and try to clarify what the role of this country is all about.
“He may have found himself again with regards to this ISIS crisis. I hope that’s the case.
“Kind of lost his way.” Uh huh. I suppose you could say that if you ever believed that he had “his way” in the first place. Nice of the ex-CIA director to feel that our President may have found his way by submerging our country into the “Thirty Year War.” Not to mention the self-delusion about thinking he is honest (“honest CIA Director” is an oxymoron if I ever did hear one).
Must be time to renew my passport (this thought keeps arising)…
Well, it was just a matter of time till President Obama revealed his all-encompassing foreign policy statement. Yesterday, speechifying in front of the U.N. General Assembly, Obama made it perfectly clear what his foreign policy consists of:
“We believe that right makes might…”
Uh, um, ok. I think that historians will have a hey-day with that one. And wedged somewhere in-between ebola and ISIL, he manages to paint Russia even further into a corner:
“We will impose a cost on Russia for aggression, and counter falsehoods with the truth. We call upon others to join us on the right side of history…
This speaks to a central question of our global age: whether we will solve our problems together, in a spirit of mutual interests and mutual respect, or whether we descend into destructive rivalries of the past.”
Unfortunately, Obama has lost Putin’s ear. Once upon a time, those of us who grew up in the Cold War 1.0 found cold comfort of the images of the two presidents of the two superpowers chock full of nuclear weapons carrying around brief cases (we called ours “the football”). Our existential anxiety was ameliorated by the new-fangled communication systems, and photos of the red phone at the desk of each president so they could always be in constant contact with each other (except when Yeltsin was too drunk, or Reagan too senile, or Clinton too… “preoccupied”), and ward off any mistaken notions of aggression that could trigger pushing the fatal fateful button.
But in today’s neocon-fueled foreign policy, we have an administration that relies on subversion, propaganda, strong arm tactics and innuendo to convey a sideways message to our counterpart in eurasia. MAD (mutually assured destruction) foreign policy was based on the notion that there were two rational actors on the world stage, and that given the choice between blowing the world up in a flurry of nuclear strikes or talking, the two actors would talk.
Well, those days are long gone, and while both superpowers have embarked each on a trillion dollar fools errand to “modernize” their nuclear weapons systems, it seems that the comforting visage of MAD has gone south, and rational actors have left the scene. It seems that when Obama calls Putin that he is getting shuffled off on voice mail, only to discover that the mailbox is full, as Andy Borowitz reports:
“In what he called “a provocative and defiant act,” President Obama charged on Tuesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin has started letting his calls go directly to voice mail.”
Sometimes humor is a cruel revealer of what may have come to pass between the world’s superpowers. No longer do we hear of any efforts of diplomacy between Obama and Putin. It is all saber rattling on our side, and disbelief in what an empire in chaos and decline is doing to the “New World Order.” Here’s Henry Kissinger:
“Libya is in civil war, fundamentalist armies are building a self-declared caliphate across Syria and Iraq and Afghanistan’s young democracy is on the verge of paralysis. To these troubles are added a resurgence of tensions with Russia and a relationship with China divided between pledges of cooperation and public recrimination. The concept of order that has underpinned the modern era is in crisis…
But vast regions of the world have never shared and only acquiesced in the Western concept of order. These reservations are now becoming explicit, for example, in the Ukraine crisis and the South China Sea. The order established and proclaimed by the West stands at a turning point.”
I guess when the New World Order starts eroding, and Henry Kissinger becomes worried, and President Obama amplifies the Bush Doctrine, then, what is there left to do… besides renew my passport? Duck & Cover?
“When is the war on terror over?”
So asked Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) today. And then he promptly answered himself:
“I don’t know what the answer is to the question.”
When the head of the Senate Armed Service Committee asks a rhetorical question like this, and then has no answer, quite simply we are fucked.
Terrorism has been around since the dawn of time, and will be with the human species until we evolve socially and culturally beyond using war and violence to resolve our differences.
Given the current climate in Washington, and all over the capitalist world, if we are going to maintain a permanent state of war via the AUMF until terrorism ends, then it will be a cold day in hell before we again see peace in, and being projected from, the United States.
Here’s Levin’s statement in context:
“We should be having a conversation about how to update the authorization of the use of military force, but we still have to protect the country while we’re having that discussion,” [Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas)] said. “Unfortunately, this puts the cart before the horse deciding to repeal [AUMF] before we know what will be used to replace it.”
“The world is still dangerous,” he added. “The terrorists are still coming for us. We need to keep this in place.”
Even if the measure had passed the House, the Senate is similarly ambivalent about taking on the AUMF, which also provides the legal basis for detaining terror suspects indefinitely in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) told HuffPost in an interview that his committee was not looking at a similar provision as it debates its own version of the NDAA bill this week.
“It’s a very complex issue,” Levin said. “If there’s no AUMF, what do you do with guys like Khalid Sheik Mohammed? If there is an AUMF, we have a right to keep people under the laws of war until that’s over.”
Levin admitted he was at a loss as to what to do.
“I’m the first one to acknowledge there’s a real intellectual problem here as to when is the war on terror over, or when does that authorization end,” Levin said. “It’s a huge issue. It needs to be debated. There needs to be hearings on it. I don’t know the answer to the question. Maybe if I knew the answer to the question I’d be a little more sure about an amendment. But I don’t know what the answer is to the question.”
He echoed Thornberry about the ongoing risk of terrorism.
“There continues to be a threat from the same threat or an associated source that existed when we passed the AUMF. That threat continues,” Levin said.
“A real intellectual problem here…”
I’d say. And I’d add that’s just the tip of the iceberg
In today’s edition of “Views From Inside the Fishbowl”, we have retired Congressman and professor Pat Williams weighing in on the putsch in Ukraine, and the subsequent overwhelming vote of Crimeans’ desire for self-determination to return to the Russian Federation.
Seems that it is this sort of world view that separates those that are immersed in American propaganda and empire building, from those who are not:
“…That word “empire” applies to only one nation, the United States. We reject it, of course, because it smacks of imperialism with which we are entirely uncomfortable. Our destiny, as Americans see it, is to be a welcoming beacon of freedom….
Ours is the benevolent voice of benign empire… America accepts the obligation of a powerful and free people to assist others around the world with purity of purpose and without the constant calculation of self-interest….
Perhaps, just perhaps, the nations of the world will adopt responsibility and respect toward neighbors with the understanding that watchful United Nations, NATO and U.S. military forces are ever present just over the horizon.”
Read the whole thing to understand what has happened to Democrat’s vision of foreign policy. Williams deftly outlines what will become known as the Obama Doctrine: “the benevolent voice of benign empire.”
Joseph Goebbels would be proud to see how his writings have reached across time and space to influence empire builders in the 21st century, and the concepts taught to a new generation of youth.