|May the source be with you, but remember the KISS principle ;-)|
|Contents||Bulletin||Scripting in shell and Perl||Network troubleshooting||History||Humor|
|News||Neoconservatism||Recommended Links||Anatol Leiven on American Messianism||New American Militarism||American Exceptionalism||Media-Military-Industrial Complex|
|Inside "democracy promotion" hypocrisy fair||Energy returned on energy invested (EROEI)||The fiasco of suburbia||Neoliberalism||Neocolonialism||Predator state||Russian Ukrainian Gas Wars|
|Diplomacy by deception||Terrorism as a smokesreen for National Security State implementation||Narcissism as Key American Value||Right to protect||Corporatism||National Security State||Resurgence of neo-fascism as reaction on neoliberalism|
|Antiamericanism as a Blowback to American Empire||Philippics||Hyman Minsky||John Kenneth Galbraith||Understanding Mayberry Machiavellians||Humor||Etc|
American exeptionalism which should be property called American far right nationalism (if as Anatol Lieven calls in American messianism) now morphed into open, aggressive militarism directed toward the world domination "at any cost". And the costs are considerable.
Although many in this country are paying a heavy price for US domestic and foreign policy decisions, millions of Americans simply continue to shop, spend and satisfy their appetite for cheap oil, and cheap credit. Population is completely brainwashed with consumerism and militarism. Strange mixture, but it does exists. In any case it is willing without revols bear the outsize costs of the US militarism and outsize military-industrial complex which is larger that in all other industrialized nations combined and consumes the lion share of tax receipts. So instead of "guns and butter" the US population now is getting classic "guns instead of butter".
To satisfy cravings for cheap energy and cheap goods the US elite since early 80th (simultaneously with the raise on neoliberalism in the USA and resurfacing of financial oligarchy in its dominant role, much like at the beginning of the century) resorted to blatant, open militarism, which means that media-military-industrial-intelligence complex like cancer grows uncontrollably consuming larger and larger part of tax revenue of the government. The lead to infrastructure decay within the USA, much like in USSR and British empire before that. Potholes on the roads, rusty and sometimes outright dangerous bridges are now the norm not an exception. Exchanged by population (not only by the elite, but by brainwashed population as well) for the questionable opportunity to buy cheap junk in WalMart. The US mass culture is now completely militaristic and in many ways the US media outdo what the USSR propaganda did as for promoting militarism. Here is what Anatoly Leiven, one of the best observer of contemporary USA writes on the subject:
Important sections of contemporary US popular culture are suffused with the language of militarism. Take Bacevich on the popular novelist Tom Clancy:
In any Clancy novel, the international order is a dangerous and threatening place, awash with heavily armed and implacably determined enemies who threaten the United States. That Americans have managed to avoid Armageddon is attributable to a single fact: the men and women of Americas uniformed military and its intelligence services have thus far managed to avert those threats. The typical Clancy novel is an unabashed tribute to the skill, honour, extraordinary technological aptitude and sheer decency of the nations defenders. To read Red Storm Rising is to enter a world of virtuous men and perfect weapons, as one reviewer noted. All the Americans are paragons of courage, endurance and devotion to service and country. Their officers are uniformly competent and occasionally inspired. Men of all ranks are faithful husbands and devoted fathers. Indeed, in the contract that he signed for the filming of Red October, Clancy stipulated that nothing in the film show the navy in a bad light.
Such attitudes go beyond simply glorying in violence, military might and technological prowess. They reflect a belief genuine or assumed in what the Germans used to call Soldatentum: the pre-eminent value of the military virtues of courage, discipline and sacrifice, and explicitly or implicitly the superiority of these virtues to those of a hedonistic, contemptible and untrustworthy civilian society and political class. In the words of Thomas Friedman, the ostensibly liberal foreign affairs commentator of the ostensibly liberal New York Times, we do not deserve these people. They are so much better than the country they are fighting for. Such sentiments have a sinister pedigree in modern history.
As the result the country was converted by the US elite into National Security State in which "prols" and mille class incomes are suppressed to provide funds for military-industrial complex. Standard of living of lower middle class in the USA is dropping since late 90th. Now GINI coefficient became so high educational opportunities became so unequal, that we can talk about the USA as extremely militarized oligarchic society. In his book "Brave New World Order" (Orbis Books, 1992, paper), Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer identified seven characteristics of a National Security State :
All those features were also typical for Bolsheviks regime in the USSR, so the term "neo-bolshevism" is also applicable. Here is a pretty telling Amazon review of The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (The American Empire Project)
'War is a Racket' - General Smedley Butler USMC, April 1, 2004
Am I the only one who thinks the the rest of his countryman are nuts? For the past 60 years and three generations, Americans have been led to believe that that spending billions for the Defense of the country is not only necessary but patriotic.
Forget conspiracy theories and ideological agendas, just contemplate one fact: The USA spends more on military and intelligence funding in 2004 than it has spent at any one time in history. Fourteen carrier groups to defeat the two remaining countries of the axis of evil, N. Korea and Iran? 750 and counting military bases outside the USA? However, the government tells us it is powerless to defend the country against an attack from a terrorist group with WMD???
So, the next time you watch television and the commentator tells you why we need another aircraft carrier, more tanks, more F-16's, etc., ask yourself: Who are we defending ourselves against? And, as Chalmers Johnson points out, follow the money!
This book is an excellent primer on how our beloved country is being led down the road to ruin by a group of people who are lining the pockets of themselves and their friends and supporters. All of this is being done in the name of Democracy, Freedom and Globalization. But, why do we want to liberate people who sit on oil while those countries being ruthlessly exploited and practically enslaved are ignored since they can contribute little or nothing to the "world economy" (pick any poor third world country)?
This review is written by a conservative American, cold war supporter and US Navy veteran (like Chalmers Johnson) who believes in the old Republic (when is the last time you heard that word mentioned in the era of the imperial presidency). Forget whether you are democrat or republican, take the blinders off and seek the truth, excellently told by Chalmers Johnson.
The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War by Andrew Bacevich
Oxford, 270 pp, £16.99, August 2005, ISBN 0 19 517338 4
A key justification of the Bush administration's purported strategy of 'democratising' the Middle East is the argument that democracies are pacific, and that Muslim democracies will therefore eventually settle down peacefully under the benign hegemony of the US. Yet, as Andrew Bacevich points out in one of the most acute analyses of America to have appeared in recent years, the United States itself is in many ways a militaristic country, and becoming more so:The president's title of 'commander-in-chief' is used by administration propagandists to suggest, in a way reminiscent of German militarists before 1914 attempting to defend their half-witted kaiser, that any criticism of his record in external affairs comes close to a betrayal of the military and the country. Compared to German and other past militarisms, however, the contemporary American variant is extremely complex, and the forces that have generated it have very diverse origins and widely differing motives:
at the end of the Cold War, Americans said yes to military power. The scepticism about arms and armies that informed the original Wilsonian vision, indeed, that pervaded the American experiment from its founding, vanished. Political leaders, liberals and conservatives alike, became enamoured with military might.
The ensuing affair had, and continues to have, a heedless, Gatsby-like aspect, a passion pursued in utter disregard of any consequences that might ensue.
The new American militarism is the handiwork of several disparate groups that shared little in common apart from being intent on undoing the purportedly nefarious effects of the 1960s. Military officers intent on rehabilitating their profession; intellectuals fearing that the loss of confidence at home was paving the way for the triumph of totalitarianism abroad; religious leaders dismayed by the collapse of traditional moral standards; strategists wrestling with the implications of a humiliating defeat that had undermined their credibility; politicians on the make; purveyors of pop culture looking to make a buck: as early as 1980, each saw military power as the apparent answer to any number of problems.
Two other factors have also been critical: the dependence on imported oil is seen as requiring American hegemony over the Middle East; and the Israel lobby has worked assiduously and with extraordinary success to make sure that Israel's enemies are seen by Americans as also being those of the US. And let's not forget the role played by the entrenched interests of the military itself and what Dwight Eisenhower once denounced as the 'military-industrial-academic complex'.
The security elites are obviously interested in the maintenance and expansion of US global military power, if only because their own jobs and profits depend on it. Jobs and patronage also ensure the support of much of the Congress, which often authorises defence spending on weapons systems the Pentagon doesn't want and hasn't asked for, in order to help some group of senators and congressmen in whose home states these systems are manufactured. To achieve wider support in the media and among the public, it is also necessary to keep up the illusion that certain foreign nations constitute a threat to the US, and to maintain a permanent level of international tension.
That's not the same, however, as having an actual desire for war, least of all for a major conflict which might ruin the international economy. US ground forces have bitter memories of Vietnam, and no wish to wage an aggressive war: Rumsfeld and his political appointees had to override the objections of the senior generals, in particular those of the army chief of staff, General Eric Shinseki, before the attack on Iraq. The navy and air force do not have to fight insurgents in hell-holes like Fallujah, and so naturally have a more relaxed attitude.
To understand how the Bush administration was able to manipulate the public into supporting the Iraq war one has to look for deeper explanations. They would include the element of messianism embodied in American civic nationalism, with its quasi-religious belief in the universal and timeless validity of its own democratic system, and in its right and duty to spread that system to the rest of the world. This leads to a genuine belief that American soldiers can do no real wrong because they are spreading 'freedom'. Also of great importance at least until the Iraqi insurgency rubbed American noses in the horrors of war has been the development of an aesthetic that sees war as waged by the US as technological, clean and antiseptic; and thanks to its supremacy in weaponry, painlessly victorious. Victory over the Iraqi army in 2003 led to a new flowering of megalomania in militarist quarters. The amazing Max Boot of the Wall Street Journal an armchair commentator, not a frontline journalist declared that the US victory had made 'fabled generals such as Erwin Rommel and Heinz Guderian seem positively incompetent by comparison'. Nor was this kind of talk restricted to Republicans. More than two years into the Iraq quagmire, strategic thinkers from the Democratic establishment were still declaring that 'American military power in today's world is practically unlimited.'
Important sections of contemporary US popular culture are suffused with the language of militarism. Take Bacevich on the popular novelist Tom Clancy:
In any Clancy novel, the international order is a dangerous and threatening place, awash with heavily armed and implacably determined enemies who threaten the United States. That Americans have managed to avoid Armageddon is attributable to a single fact: the men and women of America's uniformed military and its intelligence services have thus far managed to avert those threats. The typical Clancy novel is an unabashed tribute to the skill, honour, extraordinary technological aptitude and sheer decency of the nation's defenders. To read Red Storm Rising is to enter a world of 'virtuous men and perfect weapons', as one reviewer noted. 'All the Americans are paragons of courage, endurance and devotion to service and country. Their officers are uniformly competent and occasionally inspired. Men of all ranks are faithful husbands and devoted fathers.' Indeed, in the contract that he signed for the filming of Red October, Clancy stipulated that nothing in the film show the navy in a bad light.
Such attitudes go beyond simply glorying in violence, military might and technological prowess. They reflect a belief genuine or assumed in what the Germans used to call Soldatentum: the pre-eminent value of the military virtues of courage, discipline and sacrifice, and explicitly or implicitly the superiority of these virtues to those of a hedonistic, contemptible and untrustworthy civilian society and political class. In the words of Thomas Friedman, the ostensibly liberal foreign affairs commentator of the ostensibly liberal New York Times, 'we do not deserve these people. They are so much better than the country they are fighting for.' Such sentiments have a sinister pedigree in modern history.
In the run-up to the last election, even a general as undistinguished as Wesley Clark could see his past generalship alone as qualifying him for the presidency and gain the support of leading liberal intellectuals. Not that this was new: the first president was a general and throughout the 19th and 20th centuries both generals and more junior officers ran for the presidency on the strength of their military records. And yet, as Bacevich points out, this does not mean that the uniformed military have real power over policy-making, even in matters of war. General Tommy Franks may have regarded Douglas Feith, the undersecretary of defense, as 'the stupidest fucking guy on the planet', but he took Feith's orders, and those of the civilians standing behind him: Wolfowitz, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the president himself. Their combination of militarism and contempt for military advice recalls Clemenceau and Churchill or Hitler and Stalin.
Indeed, a portrait of US militarism today could be built around a set of such apparently glaring contradictions: the contradiction, for example, between the military coercion of other nations and the belief in the spreading of 'freedom' and 'democracy'. Among most non-Americans, and among many American realists and progressives, the collocation seems inherently ludicrous. But, as Bacevich brings out, it has deep roots in American history. Indeed, the combination is historically coterminous with Western imperialism. Historians of the future will perhaps see preaching 'freedom' at the point of an American rifle as no less morally and intellectually absurd than 'voluntary' conversion to Christianity at the point of a Spanish arquebus.
Its symbols may be often childish and its methods brutish, but American belief in 'freedom' is a real and living force. This cuts two ways. On the one hand, the adherence of many leading intellectuals in the Democratic Party to a belief in muscular democratisation has had a disastrous effect on the party's ability to put up a strong resistance to the policies of the administration. Bush's messianic language of 'freedom' supported by the specifically Israeli agenda of Natan Sharansky and his allies in the US has been all too successful in winning over much of the opposition. On the other hand, the fact that a belief in freedom and democracy lies at the heart of civic nationalism places certain limits on American imperialism weak no doubt, but nonetheless real. It is not possible for the US, unlike previous empires, to pursue a strategy of absolutely unconstrained Machtpolitik. This has been demonstrated recently in the breach between the Bush administration and the Karimov tyranny in Uzbekistan.
The most important contradiction, however, is between the near worship of the military in much of American culture and the equally widespread unwillingness of most Americans elites and masses alike to serve in the armed forces. If people like Friedman accompanied their stated admiration for the military with a real desire to abandon their contemptible civilian lives and join the armed services, then American power in the world really might be practically unlimited. But as Bacevich notes,
having thus made plain his personal disdain for crass vulgarity and support for moral rectitude, Friedman in the course of a single paragraph drops the military and moves on to other pursuits. His many readers, meanwhile, having availed themselves of the opportunity to indulge, ever so briefly, in self-loathing, put down their newspapers and themselves move on to other things. Nothing has changed, but columnist and readers alike feel better for the cathartic effect of this oblique, reassuring encounter with an alien world.
Today, having dissolved any connection between claims to citizenship and obligation to serve, Americans entrust their security to a class of military professionals who see themselves in many respects as culturally and politically set apart from the rest of society.
This combination of a theoretical adulation with a profound desire not to serve is not of course new. It characterised most of British society in the 19th century, when, just as with the US today, the overwhelming rejection of conscription until 1916 meant that, appearances to the contrary, British power was far from unlimited. The British Empire could use its technological superiority, small numbers of professional troops and local auxiliaries to conquer backward and impoverished countries in Asia and Africa, but it would not have dreamed of intervening unilaterally in Europe or North America.
Despite spending more on the military than the rest of the world combined, and despite enjoying overwhelming technological superiority, American military power is actually quite limited. As Iraq and to a lesser extent Afghanistan has demonstrated, the US can knock over states, but it cannot suppress the resulting insurgencies, even one based in such a comparatively small population as the Sunni Arabs of Iraq. As for invading and occupying a country the size of Iran, this is coming to seem as unlikely as an invasion of mainland China.
In other words, when it comes to actually applying military power the US is pretty much where it has been for several decades. Another war of occupation like Iraq would necessitate the restoration of conscription: an idea which, with Vietnam in mind, the military detests, and which politicians are well aware would probably make them unelectable. It is just possible that another terrorist attack on the scale of 9/11 might lead to a new draft, but that would bring the end of the US military empire several steps closer. Recognising this, the army is beginning to imitate ancient Rome in offering citizenship to foreign mercenaries in return for military service something that the amazing Boot approves, on the grounds that while it helped destroy the Roman Empire, it took four hundred years to do so.
Facing these dangers squarely, Bacevich proposes refocusing American strategy away from empire and towards genuine national security. It is a measure of the degree to which imperial thinking now dominates US politics that these moderate and commonsensical proposals would seem nothing short of revolutionary to the average member of the Washington establishment.
They include a renunciation of messianic dreams of improving the world through military force, except where a solid international consensus exists in support of US action; a recovery by Congress of its power over peace and war, as laid down in the constitution but shamefully surrendered in recent years; the adoption of a strategic doctrine explicitly making war a matter of last resort; and a decision that the military should focus on the defence of the nation, not the projection of US power. As a means of keeping military expenditure in some relationship to actual needs, Bacevich suggests pegging it to the combined annual expenditure of the next ten countries, just as in the 19th century the size of the British navy was pegged to that of the next two largest fleets it is an index of the budgetary elephantiasis of recent years that this would lead to very considerable spending reductions.
This book is important not only for the acuteness of its perceptions, but also for the identity of its author. Colonel Bacevich's views on the military, on US strategy and on world affairs were profoundly shaped by his service in Vietnam. His year there 'fell in the conflict's bleak latter stages long after an odour of failure had begun to envelop the entire enterprise'. The book is dedicated to his brother-in-law, 'a casualty of a misbegotten war'.
Just as Vietnam shaped his view of how the US and the US military should not intervene in the outside world, so the Cold War in Europe helped define his beliefs about the proper role of the military. For Bacevich and his fellow officers in Europe in the 1970s and 1980s, defending the West from possible Soviet aggression, 'not conquest, regime change, preventive war or imperial policing', was 'the American soldier's true and honourable calling'.
In terms of cultural and political background, this former soldier remains a self-described Catholic conservative, and intensely patriotic. During the 1990s Bacevich wrote for right-wing journals, and still situates himself culturally on the right:
As long as we shared in the common cause of denouncing the foolishness and hypocrisies of the Clinton years, my relationship with modern American conservatism remained a mutually agreeable one But my disenchantment with what passes for mainstream conservatism, embodied in the Bush administration and its groupies, is just about absolute. Fiscal irresponsibility, a buccaneering foreign policy, a disregard for the constitution, the barest lip service as a response to profound moral controversies: these do not qualify as authentically conservative values.
On this score my views have come to coincide with the critique long offered by the radical left: it is the mainstream itself, the professional liberals as well as the professional conservatives, who define the problem The Republican and Democratic Parties may not be identical, but they produce nearly identical results.
Bacevich, in other words, is sceptical of the naive belief that replacing the present administration with a Democrat one would lead to serious changes in the US approach to the world. Formal party allegiances are becoming increasingly irrelevant as far as thinking about foreign and security policy is concerned.
Bacevich also makes plain the private anger of much of the US uniformed military at the way in which it has been sacrificed, and its institutions damaged, by chickenhawk civilian chauvinists who have taken good care never to see action themselves; and the deep private concern of senior officers that they might be ordered into further wars that would wreck the army altogether. Now, as never before, American progressives have the chance to overcome the knee-jerk hostility to the uniformed military that has characterised the left since Vietnam, and to reach out not only to the soldiers in uniform but also to the social, cultural and regional worlds from which they are drawn. For if the American left is once again to become an effective political force, it must return to some of its own military traditions, founded on the distinguished service of men like George McGovern, on the old idea of the citizen soldier, and on a real identification with that soldier's interests and values. With this in mind, Bacevich calls for moves to bind the military more closely into American society, including compulsory education for all officers at a civilian university, not only at the start of their careers but at intervals throughout them.
Or to put it another way, the left must fight imperialism in the name of patriotism. Barring a revolutionary and highly unlikely transformation of American mass culture, any political party that wishes to win majority support will have to demonstrate its commitment to the defence of the country. The Bush administration has used the accusation of weakness in security policy to undermine its opponents, and then used this advantage to pursue reckless strategies that have themselves drastically weakened the US. The left needs to heed Bacevich and draw up a tough, realistic and convincing alternative. It will also have to demonstrate its identification with the respectable aspects of military culture. The Bush administration and the US establishment in general may have grossly mismanaged the threats facing us, but the threats are real, and some at least may well need at some stage to be addressed by military force. And any effective military force also requires the backing of a distinctive military ethic embracing loyalty, discipline and a capacity for both sacrifice and ruthlessness.
In the terrible story of the Bush administration and the Iraq war, one of the most morally disgusting moments took place at a Senate Committee hearing on 29 April 2004, when Paul Wolfowitz another warmonger who has never served himself mistook, by a margin of hundreds, how many US soldiers had died in a war for which he was largely responsible. If an official in a Democratic administration had made a public mistake like that, the Republican opposition would have exploited it ruthlessly, unceasingly, to win the next election. The fact that the Democrats completely failed to do this says a great deal about their lack of political will, leadership and capacity to employ a focused strategy.
Because they are the ones who pay the price for reckless warmongering and geopolitical megalomania, soldiers and veterans of the army and marine corps could become valuable allies in the struggle to curb American imperialism, and return America's relationship with its military to the old limited, rational form. For this to happen, however, the soldiers have to believe that campaigns against the Iraq war, and against current US strategy, are anti-militarist, but not anti-military. We have needed the military desperately on occasions in the past; we will definitely need them again.
Vol. 27 No. 20 · 20 October 2005 " Anatol Lieven " We do not deserve these people
pages 11-12 | 3337 words
Mar 18, 2015 | Russia Insider
Washington is betraying the best interests of the American people through its current foreign policy... European democracy is threatened by US, not Russian, foreign policy
The avalanche of commentary since the Ukrainian crisis erupted a year ago has overshadowed any reflections on the immense forgone benefits (technically speaking, the "opportunity cost") of what might have been if Washington had been working for peace and stability instead of war and chaos.
Imagine the following: After the unraveling of the Communist bloc, Europe, in partnership with the US, had forged a new security system in which Russia was treated as a valued and equal partner one whose interests were respected. Russia, decimated by a century of wars and Communist imperialism, would doubtless have eagerly reciprocated in kind. Most countries of the former Soviet Union would have then proceeded to build a new Eurasian structure of which Russia would have served as the natural umbrella, given its long-standing interaction with the region's diverse nations and cultures.
Indeed, as Putin himself had proposed in his visionary October 2011 article, the Eurasian Union could have become one of the pillars of a huge harmonized economic area stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok and based on the EU's single-market rules (acquis communautaire). The rising Far Eastern economic powerhouse, with the world's most populous country, China, at its centre, would have linked up with the world's largest economy (the EU). An enormous Eurasian production and financial bloc would have been created one that drew primarily on secure supplies of Russian energy and other natural resources. Untold investment opportunities would have opened up in Siberia and Russia's Far East as well as in Central Asia. Hundreds of millions of people in Eurasia and elsewhere would have been lifted out of poverty. And, not least, the EU would have been refashioned as an integral part of the dynamic trans-Eurasian economy (rather than as a German-centred empire, as appears to be the case today), thereby making a major contribution to overcoming the ongoing global economic depression.
All of this was not to be, however. Why not? First and foremost, because the self-proclaimed "exceptional" power (actually, a mere "outlying island" in the Atlantic, according to the founder of geopolitics, Halford Mackinder) and its dysfunctional "deep-state" officialdom did not want it to be. How could they have permitted such a thing? How could they have allowed other countries to get on with improving the lives of their citizens without being obliged to seek Washington's approval every step of the way?
European democracy is threatened by US, not Russian, foreign policy
In order to make sure that they were not side-lined, the US elites had to intervene. The Western propaganda machine started churning out all sorts of nonsense that Putin is a new Hitler who is bent on restoring the Soviet empire and who is bullying Europe, while continuing to bang on about his "increasingly autocratic rule". Deadly attacks by chauvinistic proxies were launched on the Russophone people in South Ossetia, Georgia in 2008 and more recently in Ukraine. And in what is eerily reminiscent of Stalinist "bloc discipline", the EU/NATO nomenclature was ordered to implement the absurd strategy of severing the Russian economy from the EU. For their part, the cowering Eurocrats willingly obliged by imposing sanctions on Russia that, perversely, have had a negative impact on their own economies (but, let it be stressed, not that of the US). No questions raised and no public debate on the wisdom of such a strategy permitted.
Stuck in an Orwellian nightmare, Europe has to demonstrate its unfailing loyalty to Big Brother and go along with the view that Russia, an intrinsic and valuable part of the European mainstream both historically and culturally, represents universal evil and that the Earth will not be safe until the Federation has been dismembered and Putinism wiped out once and for all.
This abuse and humiliation of Europe is unparalleled. The continent that gave the world the wonders of the Antiquity, modern democracy, the industrial revolution and what is arguably the greatest tradition of philosophy, fine arts and classical music is being bullied by its oversized offspring. Having self-destructed in two world wars, it has become an easy and even willing prey to an arrogant, ignorant and power-drunk predator that has never experienced the hardships and horrors that Europe has. War and extermination camps are etched into the European DNA. America "knows" about them only from afar and, not least, from the Hollywood entertainment industry.
Even more terrifying, intellectually third-rate Washington viceroys such as Victoria Nuland and the freelancing armchair warrior Senator McCain are allowed to play God with our continent. The so-called European "leaders" are colluding with them in plunging Europe into the abyss and thereby risking nuclear confrontation.
America, too, is a loser
But this is not just a tragedy for Europe and Eurasia. We are also witnessing the wilful misrule of America and, by default, of the entire West. Indeed, Washington is betraying the best interests of the American people through its current foreign policy. The "democracy-promoters" running Washington's foreign-policy apparatus apparently do not understand that America has nothing to lose and a lot to gain from the Eurasian economic project: the rising tide of global economic welfare would lift everyone's boats, including its own. Why should it matter to Washington if the rising tide comes from other quarters beyond its control?
Indeed, the damage extends beyond the economy. By aligning with the forces of chaos such as chauvinistic extremists in Ukraine Washington and its Euro-vassals are corrupting the moral (and intellectual) core of the West. If it continues to support such forces against Russia, united Europe will lose not only its backbone but its very soul. The moral consequences of this loss will be enormous and could lead to the precipitous erosion of Western democracy.
The 'autocrats' want to work with the West, not against it
US and EU leaders believe that the Russian and Chinese "autocrats" are out to destroy the West because the latter hate freedom (as George W. Bush might have put it). And hence, they argue, the autocrats must be stopped in their tracks. The simple truth is that Western leaders are too blinkered to understand that far from desiring to destroy the West, Russia and China want it to prosper so that they can work with it to everyone's benefit. Having enjoyed a privileged position over several centuries and having attained unprecedented prosperity in recent decades, the West simply cannot understand that the rest of humanity has no interest in fomenting the "clash of civilizations" but rather craves peace and stability so that it can finally improve its economic lot.
Perhaps, however, all is not yet lost. It is still possible that reason and economic forces will prevail and force the West to correct the errors of its ways. What we need, perhaps, more than ever is the ability to step out of the box, question our fundamental assumptions (not least about Russia and China) and find the courage to change policies that have proved disastrous. After all, critical thought, dispassionate analysis and the ability to be open to new ideas is what made the West so successful in the past. If we are to thrive once again in the future, we must resurrect these most valuable and unsurpassed assets.
Vlad Sobell teaches political economy in Prague and Berlin
Europeans Look On as US Sows Discord on the Continent
Wed, Nov 2
What I cannot understand is the naive belief that elected politicians would act in the interests of those whom they represent. Under what other circumstances do we see human beings act with disinterested altruism? So why would a bunch of people who have been ruthlessly selected for selfishness, arrogance, and callousness - a bunch of carefully chosen psychopaths, if you will - behave in that way?
'My Ph.D. dissertation chairman, who became a high Pentagon official assigned to wind down the Vietnam war, in answer to my question about how Washington gets Europeans to always do what Washington wants replied: "Money, we give them money." "Foreign aid?" I asked. "No, we give the European political leaders bagfuls of money. They are for sale. We bought them. They report to us." Perhaps this explains Tony Blair's $50 million fortune one year out of office'.
- Paul Craig Roberts
"Washington is betraying the best interests of the American people through its current foreign policy".
Not only it's foreign policy but it's domestic policy as well. Let's call it for what it really is. The Wall Street/Corporate policy which is the driving force behind behind everything the US does
"We, the [CENSORED] people, control America and the Americans know it."
-- Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of [CENSORED]
"When we're done with the U.S. it will shrivel up and blow away."
-- Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of [CENSORED]
The welfare or future of the American people are not part of the equation.
March 14, 2015 | ronpaulinstitute.org
The American Empire has been long in the making. A green light was given in 1990 to finalize that goal. Dramatic events occurred that year that allowed the promoters of the American Empire to cheer. It also ushered in the current 25-year war to solidify the power necessary to manage a world empire. Most people in the world now recognize this fact and assume that the empire is here to stay for a long time. That remains to be seen.
Empires come and go. Some pop up quickly and disappear in the same manner. Others take many years to develop and sometimes many years to totally disintegrate. The old empires, like the Greek, Roman, Spanish and many others took many years to build and many years to disappear. The Soviet Empire was one that came rather quickly and dissipated swiftly after a relatively short period of time. The communist ideology took many decades to foment the agitation necessary for the people to tolerate that system.
Since 1990 the United States has had to fight many battles to convince the world that it was the only military and economic force to contend with. Most people are now convinced and are easily intimidated by our domination worldwide with the use of military force and economic sanctions on which we generously rely. Though on the short term this seems to many, and especially for the neoconservatives, that our power cannot be challenged. What is so often forgotten is that while most countries will yield to our threats and intimidation, along the way many enemies were created.
The seeds of the American Empire were sown early in our history. Natural resources, river transportation, and geographic location all lent itself to the development of an empire. An attitude of "Manifest Destiny" was something most Americans had no trouble accepting. Although in our early history there were those who believed in a powerful central government, with central banking and foreign intervention, these views were nothing like they are today as a consequence of many years of formalizing the power and determination necessary for us to be the policeman of the world and justify violence as a means for spreading a particular message. Many now endorse the idea that using force to spread American exceptionalism is moral and a force for good. Unfortunately history has shown that even using humanitarian rhetoric as a justification for telling others what to do has never worked.
Our move toward empire steadily accelerated throughout the 20th century. World War I and World War II were deadly for millions of people in many countries, but in comparison the United States was essentially unscathed. Our economic power and military superiority steadily grew. Coming out of World War II we were able to dictate the terms of the new monetary system at Bretton Woods as well as the makeup of all the international organizations like NATO, the United Nations, and many others. The only thing that stood in America's way between 1945 and 1990 was the Cold War with the Soviet Union. Significant events of 1990 sealed the fate of the Soviet Empire, with United States enjoying a green light that would usher in unchallenged American superiority throughout the world.
Various names have been given to this war in which we find ourselves and is which considered necessary to maintain the empire. Professor Michael Rozeff calls it the "Great War II" implying that the Great War I began in 1914 and ended in 1990. Others have referred to this ongoing war as "The Long War." I hope that someday we can refer to this war as the "The Last War" in that by the time this war ends the American Empire will end as well. Then the greatness of the experiment in individual liberty in our early history can be resumed and the force of arms can be replaced by persuasion and setting an example of how a free society should operate.
There are several reasons why 1990 is a significant year in the transition of modern day empires. It was a year that signaled the end of the USSR Empire and the same year the American Empire builders felt vindicated in their efforts to assume the role of the world's sole superpower.
On February 7, 1990 the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union met and ceded its monopoly political power over its empire. This was followed in a short period of time with the breakup of the Soviet system with 15 of the 17 republics declaring their independence from Moscow. This was not a total surprise considering the fact that the Soviets, in defeat, were forced to leave Afghanistan in February 1989. Also later that year, on November 9, 1989, the Berlin wall fell. Obviously the handwriting was on the wall for the total disintegration of the Soviet system. The fact that the Communist Party's leaders had to concede that they no longer could wield the ominous power that the Communist Party exerted for 73 years was a seminal event. None of this could have been possible without significant policy changes instituted by Mikhail Gorbachev after his assuming power as president in 1985, which included Glasnost and Perestroika-policies that permitted more political openness as well as significant economic reforms. These significant events led up to the Soviet collapse much more so than the conventional argument that it was due to Ronald Reagan's military buildup that forced the Soviets into a de facto "surrender" to the West.
The other significant event of 1990, and not just a coincidence, was the "green light" message exchanged between April Glaspie and Saddam Hussein on July 25, 1990. Though the details of this encounter have been debated, there is no doubt that the conclusion of it was that Saddam Hussein was convinced that the United States would not object to him using force to deal with a dispute Iraq had with Kuwait. After all, the US had just spent eight years aligning itself with him in his invasion and war with the Iranians. It seemed to him quite logical. What he didn't realize was the significance of the changes in the world powers that were ongoing at that particular time. The Soviets were on their way out and the American Empire was soon to assert its role as the lone super power. The US was anxious to demonstrate its new role.
When one reads the communications between Washington and Iraq, it was not difficult to believe that a green light had been given to Saddam Hussein to march into Kuwait without US interference. Without this invasion, getting the American people to support a war with Iraq would have been very difficult. Before the war propaganda by the US government and the American media began, few Americans supported President Bush's plans to go to war against an ally that we assisted in its eight-year war against Iran. After several months of propaganda, attitudes changed and President Bush was able to get support from the US Congress, although he argued that that was unnecessary since he had obtained a UN resolution granting him the authority to use his military force to confront Saddam Hussein. The need for Constitutional authority was not discussed.
US ambassador April Glaspie was rather explicit in her comments to Saddam Hussein: "we have no opinion on Arab Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait." The US State Department had already told Saddam Hussein that Washington had "no special defense or security commitments to Kuwait." It's not difficult interpreting conversations like this as being a green light for the invasion that Hussein was considering. Hussein had a list of grievances regarding the United States, but Glaspie never threatened or hinted about how Washington would react if Hussein took Kuwait. Regardless, whether it was reckless or poor diplomacy, the war commenced. Some have argued that it was deliberate in order to justify the beginning of the United States efforts in rebuilding the Middle East a high priority for the neoconservatives. Actually whether the invasion by Saddam Hussein into Kuwait was encouraged or permitted by deliberate intentions or by miscalculations, the outcome and the subsequent disaster in Iraq for the next 25 years was a result of continued bad judgment in our dealing with Iraq. That required enforcing our goals with military intervention. The obvious failure of this policy requires no debate.
On August 1, 1990, one week after this exchange between ambassador Glaspie and Saddam Hussein, the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq occurred. Immediately following this attack our State Department made it clear that this invasion would not stand and President Bush would lead a coalition in removing Iraqi forces from Kuwait. On January 17, 1991, that military operation began. The forced evacuation of Iraqi troops from Kuwait was swift and violent, but the war for Iraq had just begun and continues to this day. It also ushered in the climactic struggle for America's efforts to become the official and unchallenged policeman of the world and to secure the American Empire.
President Bush was not bashful in setting the stage for this clearly defined responsibility to assume this role since the Soviet Empire was on the wane. A very significant foreign policy speech by Bush came on September 11, 1990 entitled, "Toward a New World Order." This was a clear definition of internationalism with United States in charge in the tradition of Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D Roosevelt. In this speech there was a pretense that there would be Russian and United States cooperation in making the world safe for democracy-something that our government now seems totally uninterested in. Following the speech, the New York Times reported that the American left was concerned about this new world order as being nothing more than rationalization for imperial ambitions in the middle 1980s. Obviously the geopolitics of the world had dramatically changed. The green light was given for the American hegemony.
This arrogant assumption of power to run the world militarily and to punish or reward various countries economically would continue and accelerate, further complicating the financial condition of the United States government. Though it was easy for the United States to push Hussein back into Iraq, subsequent policy was destined to create havoc that has continued up to the present day. The sanctions and the continuous bombing of Iraq were devastating to the infrastructure of that country. As a consequence it's been estimated that over 500,000 Iraqis died in the next decade, many of them being children. Yet there are still many Americans who continue to be mystified as to why "they Arabs and Muslims hate us." By the end of 1991, on Christmas Day, the final blow to the Soviet system occurred. On that date Gorbachev resigned and the Soviet flag was lowered for the last time, thus officially ending the Soviet Empire. Many had hoped that there would be "a peace dividend" for us since the Cold War was officially ended. There's no reason that could not have occurred but it would have required us to reject the notion that it was our moral obligation and legal responsibility to deal with every crisis throughout the world. Nevertheless we embarked on that mission and though it continues, it is destined to end badly for our country. The ending of the Soviet Empire was a miraculous event with not one shot being fired. It was a failed system based on a deeply flawed idea and it was destined to fail. Once again this makes the point that the use of military force to mold the world is a deeply flawed policy. We must remember that ideas cannot be stopped by armies and recognize that good ideas must replace bad ones rather than resorting to constant wars.
It should surprise no one that a policy endorsing the use of force to tell others how to live will only lead to more killing and greater economic suffering for those who engage in this effort, whether voluntarily or involuntarily. Twenty five years have passed since this green light was given for the current war and there's no sign that it will soon end. So far it has only emboldened American political leaders to robustly pursue foreign interventionism with little thought to the tremendous price that is continuously paid.
During the 1990s there was no precise war recognized. However our military presence around the world especially in the Middle East and to some degree in Africa was quite evident. Even though President George HW Bush did not march into Baghdad, war against the Iraqi people continued. In an effort to try to get the people to rebel against Saddam Hussein, overwhelming sanctions and continuous bombing were designed to get the Iraqi people to rebel and depose Hussein. That did not work. Instead it worked to continue to build hatred toward America for our involvement in the entire region.
Our secretive influence in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation had its unintended consequences. One was that we were fighting on the side of bin Laden and we all know how that turned out. Also, in an effort to defeat communism, the CIA helped to promote radical Islam in Saudi Arabia. Some argue that this was helpful in defeating the Soviets in Afghanistan. This most likely is not true since communism was doomed to fail anyway, and the cost to us by encouraging radical Islam has come back to haunt us.
It has been estimated that our policies directed at Iraq during the 1990s caused the death of thousands of Iraqis, many of these coming from the destruction of their infrastructure and creating a public health nightmare. When Madeleine Albright was asked about this on national TV she did not deny it and said that that was a price that had to be paid. And then they wonder why there is so much resentment coming from these countries directed toward United States. Then George Bush Junior invaded Iraq, his justification all based on lies, and another 500,000 Iraqis died. The total deaths have been estimated to represent four percent of the Iraqi population. The green light that was turned on for the Persian Gulf War in 1990 stayed lit and even today the proponents of these totally failed wars claim that the only problem is we didn't send enough troops and we didn't stay long enough. And now it's argued that it's time to send ground troops back in. This is the message that we get from the neoconservatives determined that only armed might can bring peace to the world and that the cost to us financially is not a problem. The proponents never seem to be concerned about the loss of civil liberties, which has continued ever since the declaration of the Global War on Terrorism. And a good case can be made that our national security not only has not been helped, but has been diminished with these years of folly.
And the true believers in empire never pause. After all the chaos that the US government precipitated in Iraq, conditions continue to deteriorate and now there is strong talk about putting troops on the ground once again. More than 10,000 troops still remain in Afghanistan and conditions there are precarious. Yemen is a mess as is also Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, and Ukraine - all countries in which we have illegally and irresponsibly engaged ourselves.
Today the debate in Congress is whether or not to give the President additional authority to use military force. He asked to be able to use military force anyplace anytime around the world without further congressional approval. This is hardly what the Founders intended for how we dealt with going to war with other nations. Some have argued, for Constitutional reasons, that we should declare war against ISIS. That will prove to be difficult since exactly who they are and where they are located and how many there are is unknown. We do know it is estimated that there are around 30,000 members. And yet in the surrounding countries, where the fighting is going on and we are directly involved, millions of Muslims have chosen not to stand up to the ruthless behavior of the ISIS members.
Since declaring war against ISIS makes no more sense than declaring war against "terrorism," which is a tactic, it won't work. Even at the height of the Cold War, in a time of great danger to the entire world, nobody suggested we declare war against "communism." Islamist extremism is based on strong beliefs, and as evil as these beliefs may be, they must be understood, confronted, and replaced with ideas that all civilized people in the world endorse. But what we must do immediately is to stop providing the incentive for the radicals to recruit new members and prevent American weapons from ending up in the hands of the enemy as a consequence of our failed policies. The incentives of the military-industrial complex along with the philosophy of neoconservatism that pushes us to be in more than 150 countries, must be exposed and refuted. Occupation by a foreign country precipitates hatred and can never be made acceptable by flowery words about their need for American-style "democracy." People who are occupied are always aware of the selfish motivation of the occupiers.
The announcement by President George HW Bush on September 11, 1990 about the new world order was well received. Prior to that time it was only the "conspiracy theorists" who constantly talked about and speculated about the New World Order. Neoconservative ideas had been around for a long time. They were endorsed by many presidents and in particular Woodrow Wilson with his goal of spreading American goodness and making the "world safe for democracy" none of which can be achieved by promoting war. In the 1990s the modern day neoconservatives, led by William Kristol and Robert Kagan, enjoyed their growing influence on America's foreign policy. Specifically, in 1997 they established the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) for the specific purpose of promoting an aggressive foreign policy of interventionism designed to promote the American Empire. This policy of intervention was to be presented with "moral clarity." "Clarity" it was, but "moral" is another question. Their goal was to provide a vision and resolve, "to shape a new century favorable to American principles and interest."
It was not a surprise that admittedly the number one goal for the New World order was to significantly increase military spending and to be prepared to challenge any regime hostile to America's interests. They argued that America had to accept its unique role as the sole superpower for extending international order as long as it served America's interests. Although neoconservatives are thought to have greater influence within the Republican Party, their views have been implemented by the leadership of both Republicans and Democrats. First on PNAC's agenda was to continue the policy designed to undermine Saddam Hussein with the goal of eventually invading Iraq once they had an event that would galvanize public support for it. Many individuals signed letters as well as the statement of principles and most were identified as Republicans. Interestingly enough, the fourth person on the list of signatories for the statement of principles was Jeb Bush, just as he was planning his first run for governor of Florida. The neoconservatives have been firmly placed in a position of influence in directing America's foreign policy. Though we hear some debate between the two political parties over when and whom to strike, our position of world policeman is accepted by both. Though the rhetoric is different between the two parties, power always remains in the hands of those who believe in promoting the empire.
The American Empire has arrived, but there's no indication that smooth sailing is ahead. Many questions remain. Will the American people continue to support it? Will the American taxpayer be able to afford it? Will those on the receiving end of our authority tolerate it? All empires eventually end. It's only a matter of time. Since all empires exist at the expense of personal liberty the sooner the American Empire ends the better it will be for those who still strive to keep America a bastion for personal liberty. That is possible, but it won't be achieved gracefully.
Though the people have a say in the matter, they have to contend with the political and financial power that controls the government and media propaganda. The powerful special interests, who depend on privileges that come from the government, will do whatever is necessary to intimidate the people into believing that it's in their best interest to prop up a system that rewards the wealthy at the expense of the middle class. The nature of fiat money and the privileges provided to the special interests by the Federal Reserve makes it a difficult struggle, but it's something that can be won. Unfortunately there will be economic chaos, more attacks on our civil liberties, and many unfortunate consequences coming from our unwise and dangerous foreign policy of interventionism.
Since all empires serve the interests of a privileged class, the people who suffer will constantly challenge their existence. The more powerful the empire, the greater is the need for the government to hold it together by propaganda and lies. Truth is the greatest enemy of an abusive empire. Since those in charge are determined to maintain their power, truth is seen as being treasonous. Whistleblowers and truth tellers are seen as unpatriotic and disloyal. This is why as our empire has grown there have been more attacks on those who challenge the conventional wisdom of the propagandists. We have seen it with the current administration in that the president has used the Espionage Act to curtail freedom of the press more than any other recent president. Fortunately we live in an age where information is much more available than when it was controlled by a combination of our government and the three major networks. Nevertheless it's an uphill struggle to convince the people that it is in their best interests to give up on the concept of empire, foreign interventionism, allowing the special interests to dictate foreign policy, and paying the bills with the inflation of the money supply provided by the Federal Reserve. The laws of economics, in time, will bring such a system to an end but it would be nice if it would be ended sooner through logic and persuasion.
If it's conceded that there was a dramatic change with the green light given by April Glaspie and President Bush in 1990, along with the collapse, almost simultaneously, of the Soviet system, the only question remains is when and who will turn on the red light to end this 25 year war. Sometime it's easier to establish an empire than it is to maintain and pay for it. That is what our current political leaders are in the business of currently doing and it's not going well. It appears that a comparatively small but ruthless non-government entity, ISIS, is playing havoc with our political leaders as well as nearly all the countries in the Middle East. Because there is no clear understanding of what radical Islam is all about -since it is not much about Islam itself - our policies in the Middle East and elsewhere will continue to drain our resources and incite millions more to join those who are resisting our occupations and sanctions. The day will come when we will be forced to give up our role as world policeman and resort to using a little common sense and come home.
This will only occur when the American people realize that our presence around the world and the maintenance of our empire has nothing to do with defending our Constitution, preserving our liberties, or fulfilling some imaginary obligation on our part to use force to spread American exceptionalism. A thorough look at our economic conditions, our pending bankruptcy, our veterans hospitals, and how we're viewed in the world by most other nations, will compel Americans to see things differently and insist that we bring our troops home the sooner the better.
Vocal proponents of the American Empire talk about a moral imperative that requires us to sacrifice ourselves as we try to solve the problems of the world. If there was even a hint this effort was accomplishing something beneficial, it might be more difficult to argue against. But the evidence is crystal-clear that all our efforts only make things worse, both for those we go to teach about democracy and liberty and for the well-being of all Americans who are obligated to pay for this misplaced humanitarian experiment. We must admit that this 25-year war has failed. Nevertheless it's difficult to argue against it when it requires that that we not endorse expanding our military operations to confront the ISIS killers. Arguments against pursuing a war to stop the violence, however, should appeal to common sense. Recognizing that our policies in the Middle East have significantly contributed to the popular support for radical Islam is crucial to dealing with ISIS. More sacrifices by the American people in this effort won't work and should be avoided. If one understands what motivates radical Islam to strike out as it does, the solution would become more evident. Voluntary efforts by individuals to participate in the struggle should not be prohibited. If the solution is not more violence on our part, a consideration must be given to looking at the merits of a noninterventionist foreign policy which does not resort to the killing of hundreds of thousands of individuals who never participated in any aggression against United States - as our policies have done since the green light for empire was given.
How is this likely to end? The empire will not be ended legislatively or by the sudden embrace of common sense in directing our foreign policy. The course of interventionism overseas and assuming the role of world policeman will remain for the foreseeable future. Still the question remains, how long will that be since we can be certain that the end of the empire will come. Our military might and economic strength is now totally dependent on the confidence that the worldwide financial markets give to the value of the US dollar. In spite of all the reasons that the dollar will eventually be challenged as the world reserve currency, the competition, at present, by other currencies to replace it, is nil. Confidence can be related to objective facts such as how a country runs its fiscal affairs and monetary policy. Economic wealth and military strength also contribute artificial confidence to a currency. Perceptions and subjective reasons are much more difficult to define and anticipate. The day will come when the confidence in the dollar will be greatly diminished worldwide. Under those conditions the tremendous benefits that we in the United States have enjoyed as the issuer of the reserve currency will be reversed. It will become difficult if not impossible for us to afford huge budget deficits as well as very large current account deficits. National debt and foreign debt will serve as a limitation on how long the empire can last. Loss of confidence can come suddenly and overwhelmingly. Under those conditions we will no longer be able to afford our presence overseas nor will we be able to continue to export our inflation and debt to other nations. Then it will require that we pay for our extravagance, and market forces will require that we rein in our support for foreign, corporate, and domestic welfare spending. Hopefully this will not come for a long time, giving us a chance to educate more people as to its serious nature and give them insight into its precise cause. Nevertheless we live in a period of time when we should all consider exactly what is the best road to take to protect ourselves, not only our personal wealth but also to prepare to implement a system based on sound money, limited government, and personal liberty. This is a goal we can achieve. And when we do, America will enjoy greater freedom, more prosperity and a better chance for peace.
Copyright © 2015 by RonPaul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.
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Mar 14, 2015 | RT News
Moscow has warned Washington a potential policy shift from supplying Kiev with "non-lethal aid" to "defensive lethal weapons", mulled as US Vice President visits Ukraine, would be a direct violation of all international agreements.
A Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson said that reports of possible deliveries of American "defensive weapons" to Ukraine would be viewed by Russia as a "very serious signal."
"We heard repeated confirmations from the [US] administration, that it only supplies non-lethal aid to Ukraine. If there is a change of this policy, then we are talking about a serious destabilizing factor which could seriously affect the balance of power in the region," Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich cautioned.
His remarks follow US deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken Wednesday's statement at a hearing before the Senate Committee for Foreign Affairs, in which he said that Biden may offer the provision of "lethal defensive weapons" as he visits Ukraine. Lethal assistance "remains on the table. It's something that we're looking at," Blinken said.
"We paid attention not only to such statements, but also to the trip of representatives of Ukrainian volunteer battalions to Washington, who tried to muster support of the US administration," Lukashevich said.
The Ministry made it clear that such a move by Washington would violate a number of agreements.
"This is a very serious signal for several reasons. First of all, this is a direct violation of agreements, including the ones achieved in partnership with the United States. I mean the Geneva Declaration from 17 April," said the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko requested lethal aid from the US during a visit to Washington in September.
READ MORE: Obama declines to give Ukraine 'lethal aid' despite Poroshenko's plea
The American Vice President who has arrived in Kiev late Thursday has not yet made any official announcement, but Reuters' sources point to the possibility that US might increase a "non-lethal" aid package to Kiev instead of opting to supply arms.
Under the non-lethal aid package, the US could deliver to Ukraine first Humvee vehicles and radars but as officials pointed out such deliveries would unlikely alter the conflict. Previous non-lethal aid to Ukraine announced in September included military equipment such as counter-mortar detection units, body armor, binoculars and other gear worth $53 million.
At the same time the US diplomatic branch announced that it will continue to send advisers to Kiev and has allocated funds to Ukraine to battle what both the US and Ukraine see as a threat from Russia.SOIC 2 hours ago
This Slavic, territorial 'domestic' conflict must be approached with extreme prudence.
The US interests (real or manifested) do not justify inciting unrestrained escalation of force in proxy.
Despite what social antagonisms are perpetrated and the 'trajectory' of global sentiment, the Russian Federation will stand united and abreast, not in opposition to Ukraine but to the United States.
War has an intoxicating effect on nonobjective and narrowly fixated policy makers in industrial military nation states!
Robin Bolt 5 hours agoP.S. Mustafa Masi Nayyem is still breathing because??? I have no respect for men anywhere when people like this can cause thousands to die on both sides, and then he is given a high profile job in the new Ukrainian government, and continues to work the media? He should be charged with inciting a war, not given a free pass & citizenship, what is wrong with people????
Robin Bolt 5 hours ago
Manuel GarciaGod have mercy...The worst is yet to come. Prepare for the worst on both sides.
I think we are worrying for nothing.... the people of Russia & the USA are far greater than these foreign invaders who are inciting wars everywhere...
If people would set their "religions of peace" aside for a minute & stop feeding the animals, they'd see some of the main issues... Mustafa Masi Nayyem for instance.... How is this not a topic of interest????
Robin Bolt 5 hours agoUnreal.... Complete ignorance. EU, UN & NATO should step-off, same with the US. It amazes me how so many ignore the plain truth. The people in change of Ukraine now, are no better than our own typical American street gangs & deserve 0 support, they caused 1000s of people on both sides of this issue to suffer a great deal, all so they could illegally take office & not have to pay what was owed to Russia. I am grateful for whoever got rid of Nemtsov, it kept them from trying to create the same ordeal they did in Ukraine, in Moscow.... 1 vs. 100s of 1000s, I'm all for it. I don't agree with certain things about Russia, but what happened in Ukraine is completely insane... I hold the EU, UN & Nato responsible for what happened, and the rest of the world is just as bad for staying silent or neutral. Ignorance isn't always bliss... As much as I don't like our current US President, I would never agree to illegal activity that overthrew the Government and replaced the Obama Administration with people who respect laws even less.... why then are people ignoring that this happened to the Pro-Russian leaders who were in office, and that crooks are running Ukraine now & would rather create more strife than pay their bills & act like men?
Mar 05, 2015 | hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk
You might have thought that a serious book on the Ukraine crisis, written by a distinguished academic in good clear English, and published by a reputable house, might have gained quite a bit of attention at a time when that country is at the centre of many people's concerns.
But some readers here now understand that publishing, and especially the reviewing of books, are not the simple marketplaces of ideas which we would all wish them to be.
And so, as far as I can discover, this book :
'Frontline Ukraine : Crisis in the Borderlands , by Richard Sakwa. Published by I.B.Tauris
though it came out some months ago, has only been reviewed in one place in Britain, the Guardian newspaper, by Jonathan Steele, the first-rate foreign correspondent whose rigour and enterprise (when we were both stationed in Moscow) quite persuaded me to overlook his former sympathy for the left-wing cause (most notably expressed in a 1977 book 'Socialism with a German Face' about the old East Germany, which seemed to me at the time to be ah, excessively kind).
Mr Steele's review can be read here
I have said elsewhere that I would myself be happier if the book were more hostile to my position on this conflict. Sometimes I feel that it is almost too good to be true, to have my own conclusions confirmed so powerfully, and I would certainly like to see the book reviewed by a knowledgeable proponent of the NATO neo-conservative position. Why hasn't it been?
But even so I recommend it to any reader of mine who is remotely interested in disentangling the reality from the knotted nets of propaganda in which it is currently shrouded.
Like George Friedman's interesting interview in the Moscow newspaper 'Kommersant' ( you can read it here http://russia-insider.com/en/2015/01/20/2561 ) , the book has shifted my own view.
I have tended to see the *basic* dispute in Ukraine as being yet another outbreak of the old German push into the east, carried out under the new, nice flag of the EU, a liberal, federative empire in which the vassal states are tactfully allowed limited sovereignty as long as they don't challenge the fundamental politico-economic dominance of Germany. I still think this is a strong element in the EU's thrust in this direction.
But I have tended to neglect another feature of the new Europe, also set out in Adam Tooze's brilliant 'The Deluge' the firm determination of the USA to mould Europe in its own image (a determination these days expressed mainly through the EU and NATO).
I should have paid more attention to the famous words 'F*** the EU!' spoken by the USA's Assistant Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland, in a phone call publicised to the world by (presumably) Russian intelligence. The EU isn't half as enthusiastic about following the old eastern road as is the USA. Indeed, it's a bit of a foot-dragger.
The driving force in this crisis is the USA, with the EU being reluctantly tugged along behind. And if Mr Friedman is right (and I think he is), the roots of it lie in Russia's decision to obstruct the West's intervention in Syria.
Perhaps the key to the whole thing (rather dispiriting in that it shows the USA really hasn't learned anything important from the Iraq debacle) is the so-called 'Wolfowitz Doctrine' of 1992, named after the neo-con's neo-con, Paul Wolfowitz, and summed up by Professor Sakwa (p.211) thus: 'The doctrine asserted that the US should prevent "any country from dominating any region of the world that might be a springboard to threaten unipolar and exclusive US dominance"'.
Note how neatly this meshes with what George Friedman says in his interview.
Now, there are dozens of fascinating things in Professor Sakwa's book, and my copy is scored with annotations and references. I could spend a week summarising it for you. (By the way, the Professor himself is very familiar with this complex region, and might be expected, thanks to his Polish ancestry, to take a different line. His father was in the Polish Army in 1939, escaped to Hungary in the chaos of defeat, and ended up serving in Anders's Second Corps, fighting with the British Army at El Alamein, Benghazi, Tobruk and then through Italy via Monte Cassino. Then he was in exile during the years of Polish Communism. Like Vaclav Klaus, another critic of current western policy, Professor Sakwa can hardly be dismissed as a naif who doesn't understand about Russia, or accused of being a 'fellow-traveler' or 'useful idiot'.
He is now concerned at 'how we created yet another crisis' (p xiii) .
But I would much prefer that you read it for yourself, and so will have to limit my references quite sternly.
There are good explanations of the undoubted anti-Semitism and Nazi sympathies of some strands in Ukrainian politics. Similar nastiness, by the way, is to be found loose in some of the Baltic States. I mention this n because it justified classifying the whole movement as 'Neo-Nazi', which is obviously false, but because it tells us something very interesting about the nature of nationalism and Russophobia in this part of the world. No serious or fair description of the crisis can ignore it. Yet, in the portrayal of Russia as Mordor, and the Ukraine as Utopia, western media simply leave out almost everything about Ukraine that doesn't appeal to their audiences, the economic near collapse, the Judophobia and Russophobia (the derogatory word 'Moskal', for instance, in common use), the worship of the dubious (this word is very generous, I think) Stepan Bandera by many of the Western ultra-nationalists, the violence against dissenters from the Maidan view ( see http://rt.com/news/ukraine-presidential-candidates-attacked-516/). The survival and continued power of Ukraine's oligarchs after a revolution supposedly aimed at cleaning up the country is also never mentioned. We all know about Viktor Yanukovych;s tasteless mansion, but the book provides some interesting details on President Poroshenko's residence (it looks rather like the White House) , which I have not seen elsewhere.
The detailed description of how and why the Association Agreement led to such trouble is excellent. I had not realised that, since the Lisbon Treaty, alignment with NATO is an essential part of EU membership (and association) hence the unavoidable political and military clauses in the agreement.
So is the filleting of the excuse-making and apologetics of those who still pretend that Yanukovych was lawfully removed from office: the explicit threat of violence from the Maidan, the failure to muster the requisite vote, the presence of armed men during the vote, the failure to follow the constitutional rules (set beside the available lawful deal, overridden by the Maidan, under which Yanukovych would have faced early elections and been forced to make constitutional changes) .
Then here we have Ms Nuland again, boasting of the $5 billion (eat your heart out, the EU, with your paltry £300 million) http://www.state.gov/p/eur/rls/rm/2013/dec/218804.htm which the USA has 'invested in Ukraine. 'Since Ukraine's independence in 1991, the United States has supported Ukrainians as they build democratic skills and institutions, as they promote civic participation and good governance, all of which are preconditions for Ukraine to achieve its European aspirations. We've invested over $5 billion to assist Ukraine in these and other goals that will ensure a secure and prosperous and democratic Ukraine.
It's worth noting that in this speech, in December 2013, she still envisages the supposedly intolerable Yanukovych as a possible partner.
Other points well made are the strange effect of NATO expansion into Eastern Europe, which has created the very tension against which it now seeks to reassure border nations, by encouraging them, too, to join, the non-binding nature of the much-trumpeted Budapest memorandum, the lack of coverage of the ghastly events in Odessa, the continuing lack of a proper independent investigation into the Kiev mass shootings in February 2014 .
Also examined is the Russian fear of losing Sevastopol, an entirely justified fear given that President Yushchenko had chosen to say in Georgia, during the war of August 2008, that Russia's basing rights in the city would end in 2017. The 'disappearance; of the 'Right Sector' and 'Svoboda' vote in recent elections is explained by their transfer to the radical Party led by Oleh Lyashko.
Professor Sakwa also explores Russia's behaviour in other border disputes , with Norway and China, in which it has been far from aggressive. And he points out that Ukraine's nationalists have made their country's life far more difficult by their rigid nationalist approach to the many citizens of that country who, while viewing themselves as Ukrainian, do not share the history or passions of the ultra-nationalists in the West.
Likewise he warns simple-minded analysts that the conflict in the East of Ukraine is not desired by Russia's elite, which does not wish to be drawn into another foreign entanglement (all Russian strategists recall the disastrous result of the Afghan intervention). But it may be desired by Russian ultra-nationalists, not necessarily controllable.
He points out that Russia has not, as it did in Crimea, intervened decisively in Eastern Ukraine to ensure secession. And he suggests that those Russian nationalists are acting in many cases independently of Moscow in the Donetsk and Lugansk areas. Putin seeks to control them and limit them, but fears them as well.
In general, the book is an intelligent, well-researched and thoughtful attempt to explain the major crisis of our time. Anybody, whatever he or she might think of the issue, would benefit from reading it. It is shocking that it is not better known, and I can only assume that its obscurity, so far is caused by the fact that it does not fit the crude propaganda narrative of the 'Putin is Hitler' viewpoint.
How odd that we should all have learned so little from the Iraq debacle. This time the 'WMD' are non-existent Russian plans to expand and/or attack the Baltic states. And of course the misrepresentation of both sides in the Ukrainian controversy is necessary for the portrayal of Putin as Hitler and his supporters as Nazis, and opponents of belligerence as Nazi fellow-travellers. The inconvenient fact , that if there are Nazis in this story , they tend to be on the 'good' side must be ignored. Let us hope the hysteria subsides before it carries us into another stupid war.
March 5, 2015 Comments (54) Categories: Cold War , History , New Cold War , Russia , Ukraine | Permalink
LornaJean | 10 March 2015 at 09:00 AM
There should be a proper inquiry into who really started this conflict I recall watching on TV as the boxer who was leading the Kiev mob came out of lengthy negotiations with the 3 EU ministers and the crowds booing and erupting The infamous Julia also appeared on the scene. this was of course after only a few hours previously that Obama announced that he had agreement with Putin to have a peaceful resolution and elections in 3 months.
As I watched the eruption of the mob I Thought this will end badly and at that point the EU should have withdrawn. However the subsequent violence and the removal of the elected leader followed. All interviews with the people in the East and Crimea showed their distrust of the Kiev crowd and it was clear that the oligarchs on the East who had many workers and controlled the manufacturing would not support the East. Putin is a nasty man but to suggest that he deliberately caused this situation is a travesty.Russia with refugees pouring over the border reacted to the situation and who can blame them.? Now a less belligerent and frankly dishonest approach needs to be taken by the EU I can not see that the Kiev regime can ever win the loyalty of the East after this bitter war.the only solution is some sort of autonomous regios that allows the Esst of Ukraine to rule themselves.
Bill Jones | 10 March 2015 at 01:28 AM
This made me smile:
" I would certainly like to see the book reviewed by a knowledgeable proponent of the NATO neo-conservative position. Why hasn't it been? "
Because to be knowledgeable is not to be a Neo-conservative.
Mr Rob | 09 March 2015 at 02:45 PM
"I haven't responded to your comments on McCain and Nuland because I thought that I had made it clear that I thought external interference from any quarter was undesirable and I accept that there has been such interference from both sides."
Oh really? You do not remember writing this then?
"It was Ukrainians, not the EU, who ousted Yanukovych. They should be allowed to deal with their internal disputes and decide their future alliances and associations."
"However, the EU, whatever its faults (and, believe me, it is not my "beloved" EU) did not organise his removal. It was carried out by, and on behalf of, Ukrainians. It was an internal matter and, whatever the faults on either side, should have been left at that."
And on this thread you had not even mentioned the USA involvement. You have been consistently dishonest by omission. Well, at least you're consistent.
And now you manage the immortal words
"I do maintain, though, that the interference of the EU and USA" [well done for mentioning them at last],"which cannot be denied" [but can, it seems, be ignored...] "and which was reflected in Russia's own behaviour cannot be compared with Russia's subsequent blatant military involvement in a sovereign country's internal conflict."
So on the one hand the EU and the USA have interfered, but on the other it is an "internal conflict".
Roy Robinson | 08 March 2015 at 05:48 PM
@Alan Thomas By my reading of certain facts I deduce there is a de facto alliance between Russia and China. These facts being that Russia trades arms to China but the USA will not trade arms to either. On May 8th Xi Jingping will attend the Victory Day celebrations in Moscow accompanied by his junk yard dog Kim Jong Un of North Korea. No Western leaders as far as I know will be in attendance. De facto alliances such as the one Britain had with France in 1914 are always hard to call because unlike formal ones such as Nato there is nothing in writing. I also suspect that one reason China has not tried to match America in nuclear weapons so far is because Russia already does so. North Korea is also very useful in that it can be used to threaten Japan without China appearing to be the aggressor.
Mr Rob | 08 March 2015 at 11:16 AM
@ Mike B
I see you have ignored my request to answer the questions I posed to Hector (who has also yet to respond) about the US presence at the Maidan. Perhaps you needed to ignore my request in order to write this drivel with a straight face:
Re Yanukovych: "However, the EU, whatever its faults (and, believe me, it is not my "beloved" EU) did not organise his removal. It was carried out by, and on behalf of, Ukrainians. It was an internal matter and, whatever the faults on either side, should have been left at that."
Some Ukrainians carried out the WW2 massacre at Khatyn (not Katyn) - does that mean that all Ukrainians are responsible for it, approved of it, or that it was carried out on behalf of Ukrainians? Of course not.
You have also studiously avoided mention of the presence at the Maidan of US Senator McCain and US Assistant Secretary of State Nuland, and the latter's meetings with the Maidan leaders, co-ordinated with US Ambassador Pyatt.
You have also somehow omitted to mention Yatseniuk's ("Yats") lightning visit to Washington days after the overthrow of Yanukovych, or the visit of CIA Director Brennan to Kiev.
And just for the record, I have first-hand oral evidence of people in Minsk, Belarus, being offered money to go to the Maidan - so even that the Maidan crowd was completely Ukrainian is probably untrue.
You accuse Mr Klimenko of bias, and yet you yourself give and repeat a dishonest account of what is known to have happened at the Maidan.
Such behaviour has no place in proper debate.
Ian | 08 March 2015 at 11:04 AM
To Mike B and others...
It's all very well to agonize about what Ukrainians may or may not want. We could all weep huge quantities of crocodile tears over Ukraine's thwarted "self determination", but the essential fact is that Ukrainians are not agreed about what they want. Some appear to want closer ties with the EU, some appear to want to maintain the status quo and some appear to want closer ties with the Russian Federation.
All of which is "interesting" until different factions within Ukraine start calling on their preferred partners to back them up. It seems to me that the US and the EU have contributed more than one would reasonably expect to the discord in Ukraine and silly expectations in a great many Ukrainians. To describe this as "irresponsible" is something of an understatement.
We are now in a situation where the "preferred partners" might come to blows over the confused and discordant expectations of Ukraine. In such a situation. it would be hard for me to care less about what Ukrainians want especially when some of Ukraine's politicians sound as though they would happily see the world burn if only it ensures "territorial Integrity" for Ukraine.
It's a very old trick for which "socialists" should be famous. Describe a group as deserving, noble and disadvantaged... and use this supposed circumstance to justify the most ridiculous, regressive and destructive policy the human mind can invent. Of course, with our own "socialists", the all important thing is that they are not only well rewarded with a reputation for being "caring sharing human beings"... but also very well paid for the disasters they inflict on us.
Edward Klimenko | 08 March 2015 at 10:50 AM
'did not organise his removal. It was carried out by, and on behalf of, Ukrainians. It was an internal matter'
What the EU did was the equivalent of persuading one party in a Mexican stand-off to lower his weapon so that the other can shoot him safely. Yes, the EU most certainly organized Yanukovich's removal - the EU normally takes a dim view of governments established by putsch, but recognized this particular band of putschists almost immediately.
And why was it not an internal matter when Ukrainian police were attempting to clear Maidan of the lawless occupying mob, but instead a human rights crisis demanding sanctions against everyone from the Prosecutor-General to Yanukovich's barber?
'You should note, however, that he fled his country on the same day that he announced an agreement with his opponents.'
You are mistaken, he did not flee the country the day the agreement was made. He left the city of Kiev for Kharkov, his motorcade coming under fire as he did so. As the putsch developed, he called a conference in Kharkov of regional governors still loyal to the rightful president, the participants agreeing to administer their own regions until lawful authority could be reestablished in the rest of the country.
Two factors brought about the failure of this effort: the first was the success of Valentin Nalivaichenko's takeover of the SBU, and the second was the cowardly betrayal by Kharkov regional governor Mikhail Dobkin and Kharkov city mayor Gennady Kernes, who panicked and fled when they heard that the SBU was after them (both would later cut deals with the Maidan regime for their own survival). Fearing capture by the SBU and feeling unable to trust anybody, Yanukovich then departed for the Crimea.
You might think this would be safe place for him to make his stand. You would be wrong - the mood in Crimea at the time was one of utter disgust for Yanukovich and the Regions Party on account of their utter failure to defend the state and the people, which only grew after it came to light that the scum Yanukovich had appointed as mayor of Sevastopol had been conspiring to surrender the city to the Right Sector. Crimea wanted out of the Ukraine, and had no interest in helping Yanukovich get his seat back. Out of options, he finally fled to the Russian mainland on or about February 26.
As for the rest, I'll say it again: the 'Holodomor' is a fiction, an attempt to portray a famine that affected a vast swathe of the USSR as campaign against Ukrainians specifically, when in truth it most heavily affected the non-Ukrainian Donbass region. It is invoked by western Ukrainians whose ancestors did not experience it to justify their racial hatred for eastern Ukrainians whose ancestors did. You ought to be ashamed of spreading such rot, and you should stop trying to frame your own biases as 'objectivity'.
Grant | 07 March 2015 at 08:32 PM
I listened to that.
Everything Peter said was spot on. That other bloke who was challenging you is a dangerous idiot. You pointed out to him that we do not call Chinese regime tyrants, or the Saudis, yet he immediately replies calling Putin a vile tyrant. Totally obvious to what you just told him like he is a brainwashed stuck record.
NATO is now the armed wing of EU expansion. They intentionally sent Russia that message during the Kosovo war by including the Luftwaffe bombing in previous Russia spheres of influence.
mikebarnes | 07 March 2015 at 07:13 PM
@ Edward Klimenko
If nothing else I like your style . Many contributors here think they know. And a few think you know more than them. I think on this subject you certainly know more than I . Whether your correct is unknown at least by me . But.
Oh that our snot brained, could have need for the dentistry they so deserve.
No matter whose in the right here , and I suspect neither are. Its their business and that of the federation they once belonged . Just as northern Island was our business . But Clinton poked his snout in .
The compromise, killers and bombers running the country might well be repeated with a split country just like the many created since the chaos following WWII.
Roy Robinson | 07 March 2015 at 05:42 PM
@Alan Thomas The Eurasian hard men such as Putin, Erdogan , Modi and XI Jinping all seem to understand one another and are doing business together.
They all lead countries which have been on the receiving of Western aggression over the last few centuries Modern Westerners with their naive PC outlook like to overlook this but the people in those countries have not forgotten from which direction the threat to them has usually come from and the past losses and humiliations which resulted.
When someone sees themselves as a benefactor to mankind but others see as a thief with a violent history there is always going to be room for a big understanding.
Alan Thomas | 07 March 2015 at 03:44 PM
Perhaps, when it comes to China, the 'west' cannot see a solution, in which case hurling - or even simply registering - criticism might be seen as a waste of time and effort. In any case, since when did it make sense to ignore lesser villains simply because one can't take on the bigger ones?
Steve Jones | 07 March 2015 at 03:11 PM
I suspect the neocons are now looking at the General Patton play of outsourcing a war against Russia to Germany.
Germany should leave the EU together with France and the PIGS using the euro as an excuse. Their departure might shake out a few others like Croatia, Hungary and Austria plus a few more. Let the banks fail then go in with Russia and the other BRICS.
Edward Klimenko | 07 March 2015 at 02:04 PM
' Are you so sure that Ukrainians wanted their now ex-president?'
Almost twelve and a half million Ukrainians voted for him in 2010, and that is a far better indicator of what Ukrainians wanted than the actions of around ten thousand Nazi terrorists in February 2014.
' It was Ukrainians, not the EU, who ousted Yanukovych'
What a nonsensical and disingenuous remark. Yanukovich was the democratically -elected president(most likely the last that the Ukraine will ever have). EuroMaidan was an assembly of Nazi terrorists and their apologists. Europe used threats and blackmail to prevent Yanukovich from doing his duty and protecting the country from this violent mob. Europe then tricked him into signing a 'peace agreement' and pulling back the police from their positions, allowing the terrorist mob and its sponsors to rampage freely through Kiev and seize the institutions of the state.
You will probably cite the lack of an immediate militant response to the putsch as proof that Ukrainians wanted this abomination of a government. Well, there we have democracy according to Mike! No need for elections, might makes right and proves the existence of an underlying consensus! Brilliant.
Let's take your logic a bit further. The rebellion now rules in Donbass, and no armed movement has arisen there to demand the return of the region to Ukrainian rule. Do you accept this as evidence of the people's wish not to be ruled by the Maidan regime? If the rebels break the Ukrainian lines, and take control of the rest of the country, will you shrug and conclude that Ukrainians wanted to be with Russia after all?
' , I would prefer people to be aggressive with me by throwing money in my direction, rather than launching rockets,
Throwing money at the Ukraine enables the Maidan regime to throw rockets at Ukrainian citizens. Poroshenko and Yatsenyuk have no legal authority to rule over anybody, yet your beloved EU insists that these putsch-installed thugs are the government of the Ukraine, and that all Ukrainians must obey them or die.
' Nothing the EU has done, though, justifies Russian military intervention in Ukraine'
Everything the EU has done justifies everything Russia has done, and would justify a good deal more. The European officials who formulated European policy toward the Ukraine in the past year are responsible for the war and for all the crimes of the Maidan regime, and they should all face the death penalty - starting with Ashton.
Think on this: if not for the Crimea operation, all the depravity that the Ukraine has heaped upon Donetsk would have been visited upon Crimea. You think that Crimeans would have been better off being shelled, shot, raped and tortured by the Ukrainian military? Go and tell them so!
Just make sure that your health insurance covers reconstructive dentistry first.
Paul Taylor | 07 March 2015 at 12:00 PM
Hector. You clearly have no idea about Hitler and Germany in the late 1930s.Germany was just taking back land that was stolen in June 1919. Hitler had mass support from the Germanic people in those parts and in some areas such as parts of Austria he was even more popular than he was in Germany itself.
It was madness that we went to war against Germany,we should have remained neutral like Spain or Switzerland and let Hitler defeat Stalin on his own.
Paulus M | 07 March 2015 at 10:46 AM
@ kevin 1
"Personally, I have difficulty with this quote because I don't think facts do change, that's why they are called facts. New information may come to light but the facts though temporarily hidden from view remain constant. But that's just my opinion."
It all depends on whether the facts/evidence supports the hypothesis. If they don't then no matter how erudite it appears - it's wrong. What our media don't want you to question or look at is who started this conflict. From day one, I've never been in doubt that Washington is the main driver and the EU the junior partner. The Nato alliance acts as a bind and a figleaf. Time and again the facts sindicates that the "west" is an aggressor bloc which tramples over sovereignty and makes a mockery of supposed international law.
Mr Rob | 07 March 2015 at 10:08 AM
Are you claiming that prior to the "removal" of Yanukovych
US Senator McCain did not appear at the Maidan,
and that US Assistant Secretary of State Nuland did not appear at the Maidan,
and that she did not hold a series of meetings with its leaders,
and that she and US Ambassador Pyatt did not co-ordinate these efforts with a clear aim as to who they wanted to see in power (our man "Yats"),
and that only days after Yanukovych fled,
Yatseniuk was not shaking hands with US President Obama at the White House
and that US Director of the CIA Brennan was not in Kiev?
Do you claim that the US was leaving Ukraine to "sort out it's [sic] own issues"?
Please do respond rather than lapse into silence, I'd be fascinated to see how you have reached your conclusions in the face of the known facts.
Kevin 1 | 07 March 2015 at 09:27 AM
I think you'll find that, in circumstances such as those you describe, PH tends to quote the famous retort attributed to Keynes, "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?" I'm just surprised that he hasn't done so (yet) in this instance.
Personally, I have difficulty with this quote because I don't think facts do change, that's why they are called facts. New information may come to light but the facts though temporarily hidden from view remain constant. But that's just my opinion.
N.Belcher | 07 March 2015 at 01:28 AM
Dear Mr Hitchens
In December 2011 The U.S Federal Reserve bailed out European banks to the
tune of Billions of Dollars.
It is reported that they tried to keep this bailout a secret at the time.
Do you think that this , and the latest E.U initiative to have The Ukraine
are linked ? i.e that it was a condition of the U.S bailout or expected of The
E.U that they continue to expand into The Ukraine in return for these U.S Dollars?
Roy Robinson | 07 March 2015 at 01:04 AM
While the West obsesses about the supposed threat from Putin it seems totally oblivious to the rise of Xi Jinping a Chinese leader who looks like being of the magnitude of Mao.
He has described himself as the leader of a party wedded to the ideology of Lenin, Stalin and Mao and is concentrating all the power in his own hands.
There is no Western propaganda campaign against him yet although think about it, ten years ago there wasn't one against Putin.
Xi has stated that he gets on well with Putin as they have similar personalities.
Edward Klimenko | 06 March 2015 at 08:44 PM
'Might there be the slightest chance of Ukrainians' wishes being given some consideration?'
Capital idea. But you know what the Ukrainians wanted? They wanted Viktor Yanukovich as President and they wanted the Parliament they elected in 2012. What scant regard America and Europe gave their wishes!
Bob | 06 March 2015 at 06:42 PM
Ronnie that purported paper was presented in early Feb 2014 well after Maidan was underway, not exactly planned from day one. It was also Kiev at the behest of the US who started the ATO, resorting to violence away from the Franco-German and Russian negotiations.
I might add the anti Russian propaganda in the media had started well before Sochi started. This was all planned a while back and not by Russia.
Ian | 06 March 2015 at 03:49 PM
It does not seem to me there is a "change of mind" or any inconsistency implied in Mr Hitchens's recommendation of Richard Sakwa's book. There may be a slight change of emphasis but it was always understood and mentioned that the US of A was an additional driving force to events in eastern Europe. It does not alter the validity of the view that the EU is "Germany by other means" and that the EU/Germany covets "lebensraum" in the east. So far as I can see, it can only be of academic interest whether the developing crisis is primarily EU or US led.
Nor has Mr Hitchens ever attempted to exonerate President Putin or Russia, giving more than sufficient emphasis to "Russian interests" and "Russia's perceived sphere of influence" ... to crudely paraphrase. It does not matter if Russia is or is not entitled to these perceptions. That the perceptions exist should be a major consideration in the policy of any other "player" who would prefer a continued, peaceful existence.
What is important is whether either side can afford to "back down" and which side is "most guilty" with regards creating this crisis. It seems fairly obvious that it is the US and the EU who can best afford to "back off"... and it is the US and the EU whose posturing and behavior have contributed most to the current situation.
For those who adhere to the "bad Putin"/"Naughty Russia" model, rest assured that the US and the EU are unlikely to give up on this one. They are determined to give the big bad bear a spanking.
I fear that they have got it badly wrong, seriously misjudged Russia's president and relied to heavily on dated intelligence about Russian capabilities.
Posted by: Incognito | 06 March 2015 at 12:41 PM
I think it's an oversight on PH's part (we're all human, right?) to have placed so much emphasis on Germany in his analysis of the the crisis, and, in so doing to have tacitly downplayed the role of the US. Plainly put Germany-although it is the de facto seat of power in the EU- doesn't have the brass to so flagrantly antagonise Russia without back-up.
Moreover, if anyone doesn't think the EU is 'briefed' on foreign policy by the US state department, they are living in an alternate reality. America is a continuation of the British Empire by other means.
Grant | 06 March 2015 at 12:23 PM
Pat Davers "Indeed, I think that European leaders acted naively in aligning with the US, and were genuinely dismayed at the outcome of their tacit support for the coup in Ukraine"
I do wish people would study the comments made by the EU leaders when initial proposals for third way consultations with the Russians was proposed, they said things like "the last people we would speak to over this would be the Russians".
The EU leaders detest everything Russia stands for, as they are enlightened supra nationalists. It was precisely their arrogant and dismissive attitude that led to armed conflict and only after thousands had died did they come to meet Putin in Russia to seek a peace.
Pat Davers | 06 March 2015 at 11:46 AM
"Are we witnessing a Hitchens change of mind?"
I think we are seeing a shift of opinion as to who has the been the main driver behind the Ukraine conflict; it was not so much EU (ie German-led) expansionism as NATO (ie US-led) imperialism that brought us where we are now, as of course many people have been saying all along.
Indeed, I think that European leaders acted naively in aligning with the US, and were genuinely dismayed at the outcome of their tacit support for the coup in Ukraine, and are probably now regretting their actions. The fact that is was Merkel and Hollande who brokered the Minsk agreement without US involvement would seem to support this.
Bob | 06 March 2015 at 10:51 AM
Ronnie you have clearly have never done any scenario planning or read position papers, obviously the Kremlin would have several plans of action for the breakdown of the Ukraine. Regardless of the document's validity, the title is invalid. "Direct interstate relations" cannot exist between Moscow and regions annexed to Russia, the plan is obviously talking about a political breakup of Ukraine, not annexation. Even then though, i dont entirely believe it.
If Russia's plan was to break up Ukraine into statelets, I see no reason why it still hasn't recognized the independence of LPR and DPR and instead continues to treat them, in both language and action, as regions of Ukraine seeking federalization. A federal and perhaps confederate Ukraine would obviously be to Russia's interest. Complete breakup of Ukraine -maybe but it's difficult to see how.
Daniel | 06 March 2015 at 07:25 AM
Thank you for another thought-provoking article. It's nice to have some measured thinking amongst the media-mob's clamour.
A little off the current topic but I was expecting to see a comment on the recent ACMD report in which the scientist's covering letter states: 'international evidence suggests many popular types of prevention activity are ineffective at changing behaviour, and a small number may even increase the risks for drug use' . Paradoxically, thought not unexpectedly, the report ends up stating the that the solution is more drugs education in schools.. Just thought it may be worth flagging as it reminded me of your previous posts regarding sex education and its supposed 'benefits'.
S. Coleman | 05 March 2015 at 09:36 PM
I would not be alone here in welcoming PH's recognition of the importance of the role of the US. I think Brian Meredith also expressed this view.
Michael Hudson (the American economist) expresses it up pithily: the US is saying to Europe, 'Let's you and Russia fight' and Europe in going along with this invitation is damaging her own vital interests.
Edward Klimenko | 05 March 2015 at 08:31 PM
The Ukrainian Parliament has already moved 'Defender of the Fatherland Day' to October 14th - the official founding date of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army. If anybody thinks that this is a coincidence, they haven't been paying attention.
This very Thursday the Parliament of Ukraine reached a milestone - honoring with a minute's silence the memory of UPA genocidaire Roman Shukhevich. I won't bother listing in detail the depravities that Shukhevich organised in his capacity as a UPA commander - suffice it to say that women and children were favourite targets, and blades were generally preferred to bullets - but those not familiar with the subject are encouraged to look it up. In particular, search the name 'Zygmunt Rumel' to find out what comes of trying to negotiate with Ukrainian nationalists.
The only consolation is that the Maidan project is less a political movement than organised mental illness, and that failure is written in its DNA.
Mar 11, 2015 | The National Interest Blog
The connection between the sort of behavior we are talking about and the standing of the United States overseas, however, is even broader than that and extends to the handling of domestic policy. Foreigners and foreign governments observe how the United States, the superpower with the world's largest economy, handles its own affairs, and they draw conclusions about how viable and reliable an interlocutor the United States would be on international matters. The foreigners are looking to see whether there is consistency and rationality in how the U.S. political system pursues U.S. national interests. If they do see those things, then the United States is someone they can do business with, whether as a rival or as an ally, even if U.S. interests differ from their own. If they do not see those things, then opportunities are lost for doing business that would benefit both the United States and the foreign state.
A nation does not represent itself as a viable interlocutor, whose execution of policy can be trusted by other nations, if passionate internal divisions supersede sober pursuit of the nation's interests. As an outsider we encounter such situations in, say, Iraq, where sectarian loyalties and hatreds make it impossible to rely on a government in Baghdad consistently pursuing an Iraqi national interest. We also see it in Bangladesh, where the personal animosity between the "two begums" who head each of the major political parties there have made Bangladeshi politics so dysfunctional that in the recent past the military has had to step in.
A pattern that is similar in some respects has, tragically, come to prevail in the United States. Foreigners could hear the then minority (now majority) leader of the United States Senate state a few years ago that his number one priority was not any particular U.S. national interest in either domestic or foreign affairs but instead the prevention of a second term for the incumbent U.S. president.
Foreigners then were able to see the senator's party act along the same lines, using extortionate legislative methods to push a partisan agenda even at the expense of damaging the country's credit rating and causing disruptive interruptions to government operations. Once the same party achieved a majority in both houses of Congress there was much talk about how this would lead to newly responsible behavior, but the opening gavel of the new Congress had hardly fallen when once again there was the tactic of holding the operations of a government department hostage to press a specific partisan demand (this time on immigration) in opposition to the president's policies.
Sometimes there is an interview, an interviewee, and an interviewer that brings it all so tightly into focus. This is one of those moments. Bill Moyers -- who I've celebrated on this site before -- caught up with Boston University Professor of International Relations Andrew J. Bacevich, on a recent broadcast of Bill Moyers Journal.
I won't spend too much time dissecting Bacevich's eloquent and brilliant critique of American foreign policy, all of which is found in his book The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism. I just implore you to at least do what I did and watch the two-part interview.
Before any right or left knee-jerking ensues, note that Bacevich takes both political camps to task (questioning whether either Obama or McCain, for example, will bring substantive change to America's geopolitical center of gravity. The short answer: No). And he has a stinging indictment of the self-serving Democratic leadership of Pelosi and Reid. He asks all Americans to take a look at themselves, from support of the troops (beyond flag pins) to energy conservation. He draws clear lines of accountability from the general public directly to the halls of power. Bacevich never let's you easily and conveniently point the finger at rogue political leaders, showing them as part of the continuum that includes the American citizen.
And, offered up almost reluctantly, you learn of Bacevich's real life tragedy: the loss of his son, a soldier in Iraq, in 2007. He then reminds us of, and without a hint of condemnation, the obscenity of America sending troops on their third and fourth Mideast deployment while we at home merely "chill out."
Lastly, if you needed a more resounding assurance of what public television does right, this is it. And I doubt you could easily find a more studied and restrained agent of the socio-political introspection we desperately need.
The Crisis of Profligacy
Today, 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 Jefferson's Declaration of Independence, they have, over time, radically revised their understanding of those "inalienable rights." Today, individual Americans use their freedom to do many worthy things. Some read, write, paint, sculpt, compose, and play music. Others build, restore, and preserve. Still others attend plays, concerts, and sporting events, visit their local multiplexes, IM each other incessantly, and join "communities" of the like- minded in an ever- growing array of virtual worlds. They also pursue innumerable hobbies, worship, tithe, and, in commendably large numbers, attend to the needs of the less fortunate. Yet none of these in themselves define what it means to be an American in the twenty-first century.
If one were to choose a single word to characterize that identity, it would have to be more. For the majority of contemporary Americans, the essence of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness centers on a relentless personal quest to acquire, to consume, to indulge, and to shed whatever constraints might interfere with those endeavors. A bumper sticker, a sardonic motto, and a charge dating from the Age of Woodstock have recast the Jeffersonian trinity in modern vernacular: "Whoever dies with the most toys wins"; "Shop till you drop"; "If it feels good, do it."
It would be misleading to suggest that every American has surrendered to this ethic of self-gratification. Resistance to its demands persists and takes many forms. Yet dissenters, intent on curbing the American penchant for consumption and self- indulgence, are fighting a rear- guard action, valiant perhaps but unlikely to reverse the tide. The ethic of self- gratification has firmly entrenched itself as the defining feature of the American way of life. The point is neither to deplore nor to celebrate this fact, but simply to acknowledge it.
Others have described, dissected, and typically bemoaned the cultural-and even moral-implications of this development. Few, however, have considered how an American preoccupation with "more" has affected U.S. relations with rest of the world. Yet the foreign policy implications of our present- day penchant for consumption and 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 United States may still remain the mightiest power the world has ever seen, but the fact is that Americans are no longer masters of their own fate.
The ethic of self- gratification threatens the well- being of the United States. It does so not because Americans have lost touch with some mythical Puritan habits of hard work and self- abnegation, but because it 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 available to satisfy them. Americans of an earlier generation worried about bomber and missile gaps, both of which turned out to be fictitious. The present- day gap between requirements and the means available to satisfy those requirements is neither contrived nor imaginary. It is real and growing. This gap defines the crisis of American profligacy.
Power and Abundance
Placed in historical perspective, the triumph of this ethic of self- gratification hardly qualifies as a surprise. The restless search for a buck and the ruthless elimination of anyone-or anything-standing in the way of doing so have long been central to the American character. Touring the United States in the 1830s, Alexis de Tocqueville, astute observer of the young Republic, 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." However munificent his possessions, the American hungered for more, an obsession that filled him with "anxiety, fear, and regret, and keeps his mind in ceaseless trepidation."
Even in de Tocqueville's day, satisfying such yearnings as well as easing the anxieties and fears they evoked had important policy implications. 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 already well begun when de Tocqueville's famed Democracy in America appeared, most notably through Jefferson's acquisition of the Louisiana territory in 1803 and through ongoing efforts to remove (or simply eliminate) Native Americans, an undertaking that continued throughout the nineteenth century.
Preferring to remember their collective 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 certainly beat a little faster, as they undoubtedly did when he went on to declare that America's "great liberating tradition" now required the United States to devote itself to "ending tyranny in our world." Yet 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 and its evolution a providential purpose. Paying homage to, and therefore renewing, this tradition of American exceptionalism has long been one of the presidency's primary extra constitutional obligations.
Many Americans find such sentiments compelling. 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. Its purpose is to make money. If once in a while a studio 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.
Something of the same can be said of the enterprise launched on July 4, 1776. The hardheaded lawyers, merchants, farmers, and slaveholding plantation owners gathered in Philadelphia that summer 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 United States achieved remarkable success in making good on those aims. Yet 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 large 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, for instance, produce emancipation. Yet to explain the conflagration of 186165 as a response to the plight of enslaved African Americans is to engage at best in an immense oversimplification. Near the end of World War II, GIs did liberate the surviving inmates of Nazi death camps. Yet for those who directed the American war effort of 194145, 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 actual motive force behind American politics and U.S. foreign policy. It transforms history into a morality tale, thereby providing a rationale for dodging serious moral analysis. 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, as if explaining the self- evident to the obtuse, "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 abroad.
How was expansion achieved? On this point, the historical record leaves no room for debate: by any means necessary. Depending on the circumstances, the United States relied on diplomacy, hard bargaining, bluster, chicanery, intimidation, or naked coercion. We infiltrated land belonging to our neighbors and then brazenly proclaimed it our own. We harassed, filibustered, and, when the situation called for it, launched full- scale invasions. We engaged in ethnic cleansing. At times, we insisted that treaties be considered sacrosanct. On other occasions, we blithely jettisoned solemn agreements that had outlived their usefulness.
As the methods employed varied, so too did the rationales offered to justify action. We touted our status as God's new Chosen People, erecting a "city upon a hill" destined 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 of Jesus Christ 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, Senator Robert La Follette amid "the war to end all wars"- scored points but lost the argument. Periodically revised and refurbished, American exceptionalism (which implied exceptional American prerogatives) only gained greater currency.
When it came to action rather than talk, even the policy makers viewed as most idealistic remained fixated on one overriding aim: enhancing American influence, wealth, and power. The record of U.S. foreign relations from the earliest colonial encounters with Native Americans to the end of the Cold War is neither uniquely high- minded nor uniquely hypocritical and exploitive. In this sense, the interpretations of America's past offered by both George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden fall equally wide of the mark. As a rising power, the United States adhered to the iron laws of international politics, which allow little space for altruism. If the tale of American expansion contains a moral theme at all, that theme is necessarily one of ambiguity.
Excepted from The Limits of Power by Andrew J. Bacevich. Copyright @ 2008 by Andrew J. Bacevich. Published in 2008 by Henry Holt and Company, LLC. All rights reserved.
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REPENT ye! cries Andrew Bacevich. With the fervour of the prophet Jeremiah, but with more wit, he denounces the profligacy of modern America. If there is one word that defines the identity of what the republic has become, he says, echoing a later prophet, Saul Bellow, it is "more".
Mr Bacevich's strongly felt and elegantly written book is indeed a jeremiad. He claims that the constitution has been perverted by the expansion of the presidency and by national security, at the expense of Congress. Concluding that America's military power "turns out to be quite limited", he argues that the country "doesn't need a bigger army. It needs a smaller-that is, more modest-foreign policy, one that assigns soldiers on missions that are consistent with their capabilities."
This might sound as though his was a shrill voice of the left. It is not. Mr Bacevich is a former colonel in the American army who is now a professor of international relations and history at Boston University. But he does share much of the left's analysis of what has gone wrong. This includes both its dislike of what he calls (quoting the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr) the "most grievous temptations to self-adulation" brought about by American exceptionalism, and its perception that America has long been accumulating an empire. But he comes to these conclusions from the position of a genuine conservative.
He expresses his judgments, some grumpy, some anguished, in sharp, epigrammatic language. "A grand bazaar", he writes, "provides an inadequate basis upon which to erect a vast empire." Americans have recast the Jeffersonian trinity-life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness-to read: "Whoever dies with the most toys wins"; "Shop till you drop"; and "If it feels good, do it."
"Citizens", he remarks with justice, "yearn for a restoration of a mythical Old Republic. Yet one might as well hope for the revival of the family farm or for physicians to resume making house calls." Beginning with the election of John Kennedy, he writes, "the occupant of the White House has become a combination of demigod, father figure, and, inevitably, the betrayer of inflated hopes."
People complain of what Arthur Schlesinger called "the imperial presidency". But this, snorts Mr Bacevich, is "mere posturing". For members of the political class, serving, gaining access to, reporting on, second-guessing or gossiping about the emperor-president (or about those aspiring to succeed him) has become an abiding preoccupation.
He is an acidulous critic of the incumbent administration and its military servants. Yet he does not comfort himself with the idea that the election of a new president would easily change things for the better. "No doubt the race for the presidency matters. It just doesn't matter as much as the media's obsessive coverage suggests."
This is an astringent book and at times, like any Old Testament prophet, its author is too harsh in his demands on mere mortal politicians and generals. It is also painfully clear-sighted and refreshingly uncontaminated by the conventional wisdom of Washington, DC. Listen to Jeremiah again: "My people, saith this prophet, hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray."
... Mr Bacevich's strongly felt and elegantly written book is indeed a ... Mr Bacevich is a former colonel in the American army who is now a ...
Andrew Bacevich is a conservative historian who spent twenty-three years serving in the US Army. He also lost his son in Iraq last year. In a new book titled The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism, Bacevich argues that although many in this country are paying a heavy price for US domestic and foreign policy decisions, millions of Americans simply continue to shop, spend and satisfy their appetite for cheap oil, credit and the promise of freedom at home. Bacevich writes, "As the American appetite for freedom has grown, so too has our penchant for empire." [includes rush transcript]
Aired, Podcast, Shows | chris, October 10th, 2008Recorded
Fri, October 10
Andrew Bacevich: realism and remorse
Andrew Bacevich incandesces with the rage of a serious professional: with a West Pointer's scorn for political weasels and embarrassment at incompetent generalship; with a citizen's horror at the Long Peace that became the Long War - war today as "a seemingly permanent condition." He burns with a Nieburhian realist's dread of our imperial self-destruction; with a father's remorse at the loss of his son and namesake on Army duty in Iraq. Representative prat boys in Bacevich's account (and there are many of them) are the "insufferable" Doug Feith, #2 in the Rumsfeld Pentagon who was dubbed by General Tommy Franks "the stupidest fucking guy on the planet," and also the same Tommy Franks, who spun the vulgar celebration of himself as an all-conquering hero in quick wins over the Taliban and Saddam Hussein.Click to listen to Chris's conversation with Andrew Bacevich (27 minutes, 12 mb mp3)
The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism is the distillation of Andy Bacevich's fury. It is the single best stab I've read at accounting for the general "meltdown," the political, military, financial, cultural and moral disarray we are still heading into; and amazingly it's a best-seller (7 weeks on the New York Times list, as high as #4 in hardcover non-fiction). The short form of a compact book is this: bullying abroad cannot sustain an orgy of consumption back home. Or conversely, as Bacevich puts it: "A grand bazaar provides an inadequate basis on which to erect a vast empire."
In Bacevich's neat-but-not-too-neat formulation, a single year set the trap we're now in - the twelvemonth between August 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union started to sink, and August 1990, when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and dared the US and its allies to undo the deed. American mythmaking spun the first into a war victory, not Russia's internal collapse, and it hyped the second, an overmanned police action, into a world-historical invitation to redesign the Middle East. Thus did hubris gear up for nemesis.
Not the least appealing thing about Andy Bacevich is that his mind is in motion. I first encountered him six years ago, in the week that the Bush Doctrine (written for "the boys in Lubbock," as the president said) foretold an era of unilateral arrogance, pugnacity and preemption. On a panel with Andy before a mass of Boston University freshman, I blurted out the Founders' warning against empire and Jefferson's caution about a "decent respect to the opinions of mankind." My memory is that Andy Bacevich blew me off and argued that the Bush Doctrine was no worse than the Clinton record. He had just published a half-hopeful account of American Empire. We recall that symposium in our conversation the other day:You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
I may have said 'there is an American Empire; get used to it,' because my own evolving, and there's no question about it, evolving thinking about US foreign policy especially after the Cold War ended, persuaded me that we needed to think in terms of an imperial presence. We need to see that we're imperial, not to brag about it but to recognize the course we had embarked upon and where it had brought us. If you insist, and many people in my conversations and talks insist on this, we're not an empire, we don't have colonies, we're not like Britain, we're not like Rome. In a formal sense you can make that case, you know we don't have colonies that's true, but we are an empire in the most fundamental sense in terms of our expectations, the expanse of our influence, the prerogatives that we insist upon. Now if I said 'we're an empire; get used to it,' I'm guessing what I meant was we're an empire and by recognizing that we're an empire it might be possible for us to manage the empire in ways that the empire will be sustainable. That the empire might at least minimize the moral offenses that it commits. That an empire can be managed in a way to serve the larger interests and purposes of a variety of people. I don't think empires have to be evil and oppressive and stupid. Now the direction that my thinking has evolved since that time 6 years ago is I've become persuaded that at least with this administration that its recklessness, its arrogance, its hubris has been very much at odds with the notion of an empire wisely managed. And the actions of this administration have so squandered American power and influence in the world that they have rapidly accelerated the decline of the American empire. Again, it's not that I'm interested in the empire as such. I am interested in the well-being of the United States of America. And I think this administration has done great damage to our well-being.
Andrew Bacevich of Boston University and The Limits of Power in conversation with Chris Lydon, September 30, 2008
October 10th, 2008
'We should ask why incompetent people are entrusted with positions of great responsibility.' Yes, we should, but we shouldn't expect an answer
jazzman Says:01.10.2008 Andrew J. Bacevich on How America Will Changetimteeter
In an effort to start making sense of what is an indisputably confusing situation, we asked some of the most thoughtful people we know the question: How will America change as a result of the economic downturn? Here's Andrew J. Bacevich, a professor at Boston University and the author of The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism.
We can now finally chuck overboard all of the bloated and self-congratulatory language of the post-Cold War era: the claims made of a Sole Superpower serving as the Indispensable Nation during a Unipolar Moment at the End of History. Each and every one of these notions was pernicious from the moment it was uttered. Events have now decisively demonstrated each to be absurdly false.
When it comes to statecraft, the chief lessons of the Bush era are these:
- Arrogance and hubris have revealed the very real limits of American global leadership; recklessness and ineptitude have revealed the limits of American military power;
- a foolish and self-indulgent unwillingness to live within our means has now made clear the limits--and the fragility--of American prosperity.
- We may choose to ignore these lessons--neoconservatives will insist upon it--but the consequences of doing so will be severe.
A season of reckoning is upon us. To say that is not to imply that the United States is now condemned to an irreversible downward spiral. It's not. It is, however, time for us to clean up our act and to put our own house in order. When it comes to foreign policy, that means restoring a balance between our commitments and the means that we have at hand to meet those commitments.
And that means, above all, revisiting and revising the deeply defective notion of open-ended "global war"--World War IV!--as the proper response to the threat posed by violent Islamic radicalism. We need a new framework for national security strategy, one that junks the global war on terror in favor of an alternative that is affordable, sustainable, and relevant to the variety of challenges that we face. Realism and modesty must become our watchwords.
One might think that a presidential campaign would provide the occasion to debate strategic alternatives. Unfortunately, there is precious little evidence that the current campaign is going to produce such a result. In that regard, the final lesson of the Bush era has been to demonstrate just how vapid and unimaginative our politics have become.
--Andrew J. Bacevich
"And that means, above all, revisiting and revising the deeply defective notion of open-ended "global war"--World War IV!--as the proper response to the threat posed by violent Islamic radicalism . . .
One might think that a presidential campaign would provide the occasion to debate strategic alternatives. Unfortunately, there is precious little evidence that the current campaign is going to produce such a result."
I agree. However, it was a foregone conclusion that, in the current political climate, no candidate was going to say the obvious, even admitted now by the Bush administration, that the "war" on terror needs to give way to something more like a long-term multinational police operation. Anyone who points this out will suffer the fate of John Kerry. We can only hope that a President Obama will be able to articulate how we should recalibrate our efforts.October 1, 2008 10:46 PM
MichLibThoughtful article, but I think you give too much credit to Bush. And I take exception to some of the observations.teplukhin2you
"We can now finally chuck overboard all of the bloated and self-congratulatory language of the post-Cold War era: the claims made of a Sole Superpower serving as the Indispensable Nation during a Unipolar Moment at the End of History. Each and every one of these notions was pernicious from the moment it was uttered. Events have now decisively demonstrated each to be absurdly false."
This attitude of national pride and even bravado was not only common after the Cold-War but throughout history at times more than others. Ever since Manifest Destiny this has been a typical American attitude. It's not even always a bad thing such as it has been with Bush - it's motivated Americans to consistently be innovators, from being the first to fly and the first to fly to the moon, to developing the worlds largest economy. America has usually been seen as the "shining city on a hill" that those who don't come here to live, wish to be like Americans - for example, my cousins in Eastern Europe *insisted* on "authentic" "Made in the USA" Levi jeans for Christmas in the mid-1990s. The US has protected Europe nobly especially during the World Wars and has consistently been a leader in world aide projects and the like.
To dismiss all that as "absurdly false" is pretty ignorant of real history. And don't get me wrong, I'm not saying it's all been good. Except it's actually more the fact that Bush's Administration (Rumsfeld, Cheney, Wolfowitz, usual suspects) are more consumed by greed than likely any previous administration. I won't go through the laundry list of examples for this but the insane amount of Halliburton contracts in Iraq is one that speaks for itself. But why else would that clique construct a worldview (wholly different from the description of America's history I wrote of above) that centers around a perpetual "war on terror" that will traverse the entire globe and pit 'us vs them' and on and on? It's all the power of money. It smells of Orwellianism. The whole thing almost makes me believe Bush is more innocent than anyone thinks - that he truly buys into all the great stuff in history and is just too dense to realize that the ones around him are taking advantage of him. Almost...October 2, 2008 12:09 AMWow. So now we're turning against liberal internationalism as well? Let's throw the baby out with the bathwater!ironyroad
Paging Marty Peretz. Someone let the Henry Wallace brigades in while you were on vacation....October 2, 2008 12:43 AMTep, it's not as bad as you think. Bacevich says:teplukhin2you
"When it comes to foreign policy, that means restoring a balance between our commitments and the means that we have at hand to meet those commitments."
A reasonable judgment -- about which one can also disagree -- but not an abandoning of liberal internationalism. Certainly, though, a refusal to continue on with a foreign policy that consists of unproductive bluster and promises made on the spur of the moment that cannot be kept.October 2, 2008 1:27 AMThat quote isn't evidence of good judgment, it's banality pretending to be wise. I bet Bacevich is for motherhood too. "Vapid and unimaginative", indeed.
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