Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Posts Tagged ‘Bob Dylan’

Gonna Change My Way of Thinking

Posted by M. C. on October 16, 2022

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Slow Train

Posted by M. C. on October 14, 2022

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Gotta Serve Somebody

Posted by M. C. on October 13, 2022

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Bob Dylan and the Ukraine Crisis –

Posted by M. C. on February 23, 2022

By the time legendary foreign-policy sage George F. Kennan issued his unequivocal warning in 1997 – “expanding NATO would be the most fateful error of American policy in the post-Cold War era” – the expansion was already happening.

As Cockburn notes, “By 2014, the 12 new members had purchased close to $17 billion worth of American weapons.”

by Norman Solomon

Fifty-nine years ago, Bob Dylan recorded “With God on Our Side.” You probably haven’t heard it on the radio for a very long time, if ever, but right now you could listen to it as his most evergreen of topical songs:

I’ve learned to hate the Russians
All through my whole life
If another war comes
It’s them we must fight
To hate them and fear them
To run and to hide
And accept it all bravely
With God on my side

In recent days, media coverage of a possible summit between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin has taken on almost wistful qualities, as though the horsemen of the apocalypse are already out of the barn.

Fatalism is easy for the laptop warriors and blow-dried studio pundits who keep insisting on the need to get tough with “the Russians,” by which they mean the Russian government. Actual people who suffer and die in war easily become faraway abstractions. “And you never ask questions / When God’s on your side.”

During the last six decades, the religiosity of U.S. militarism has faded into a more generalized set of assumptions – shared, in the current crisis, across traditional political spectrums. Ignorance about NATO’s history feeds into the good vs. evil bromides that are so easy to ingest and internalize.

On Capitol Hill, it’s hard to find a single member of Congress willing to call NATO what it has long been: an alliance for war (Kosovo, Afghanistan, Libya) with virtually nothing to do with “defense” other than the defense of vast weapons sales and, at times, even fantasies of regime change in Russia.

The reverence and adulation gushing from the Capitol and corporate media (including NPR and PBS) toward NATO and its US leadership are wonders of thinly veiled jingoism. About other societies, reviled ones, we would hear labels like “propaganda.” Here the supposed truisms are laundered and flat-ironed as common sense.

Glimmers of inconvenient truth have flickered only rarely in mainstream US media outlets, while a bit more likely in Europe. “Biden has said repeatedly that the US is open to diplomacy with Russia, but on the issue that Moscow has most emphasized – NATO enlargement – there has been no American diplomacy at all,” Jeffrey Sachs wrote in the Financial Times as this week began. “Putin has repeatedly demanded that the US forswear NATO’s enlargement into Ukraine, while Biden has repeatedly asserted that membership of the alliance is Ukraine’s choice.”

As Sachs noted, “Many insist that NATO enlargement is not the real issue for Putin and that he wants to recreate the Russian empire, pure and simple. Everything else, including NATO enlargement, they claim, is a mere distraction. This is utterly mistaken. Russia has adamantly opposed NATO expansion towards the east for 30 years, first under Boris Yeltsin and now Putin…. Neither the US nor Russia wants the other’s military on their doorstep. Pledging no NATO enlargement is not appeasement. It does not cede Ukrainian territory. It does not undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty.”

Whether or not they know much about such history, the USA’s media elites and members of Congress don’t seem to care about it. Red-white-and-blue chauvinism is running wild. Yet there are real diplomatic alternatives to the collision course for war.

Speaking Monday on Democracy Now, Katrina vanden Heuvel – editorial director of The Nation and a longtime Russia expert – said that implementing the Minsk accords could be a path toward peace in Ukraine. Also, she pointed out, “there is talk now not just of the NATO issue, which is so key, but also a new security architecture in Europe.”

Desperately needed is a new European security framework, to demilitarize and defuse conflicts between Russia and US allies. But the same approach that for three decades pushed to expand NATO to Russia’s borders is now gung-ho to keep upping the ante, no matter how much doing so increases the chances of a direct clash between the world’s two nuclear-weapons superpowers.

The last US ambassador to the Soviet Union before it collapsed, Jack Matlock, wrote last week: “Since President Putin’s major demand is an assurance that NATO will take no further members, and specifically not Ukraine or Georgia, obviously there would have been no basis for the present crisis if there had been no expansion of the alliance following the end of the Cold War, or if the expansion had occurred in harmony with building a security structure in Europe that included Russia.”

But excluding Russia from security structures, while encircling it with armed-to-the-teeth adversaries, was a clear goal of NATO’s expansion. Less obvious was the realized goal of turning Eastern European nations into customers for vast arms sales.

A gripping chapter in “The Spoils of War,” a new book by Andrew Cockburn, spells out the mega-corporate zeal behind the massive campaigns to expand NATO beginning in the 1990s. Huge Pentagon contractors like Lockheed Martin were downcast about the dissolution of the USSR and feared that military sales would keep slumping. But there were some potential big new markets on the horizon.

“One especially promising market was among the former members of the defunct Warsaw Pact,” Cockburn wrote. “Were they to join NATO, they would be natural customers for products such as the F-16 fighter that Lockheed had inherited from General Dynamics. There was one minor impediment: the [George H. W.] Bush administration had already promised Moscow that NATO would not move east, a pledge that was part of the settlement ending the Cold War.”

By the time legendary foreign-policy sage George F. Kennan issued his unequivocal warning in 1997 – “expanding NATO would be the most fateful error of American policy in the post-Cold War era” – the expansion was already happening.

As Cockburn notes, “By 2014, the 12 new members had purchased close to $17 billion worth of American weapons.”

If you think those weapons transactions were about keeping up with the Russians, you’ve been trusting way too much US corporate media. “As of late 2020,” Cockburn’s book explains, NATO’s collective military spending “had hit $1.03 trillion, or roughly 20 times Russia’s military budget.”

Let’s leave the last words here to Bob Dylan, from another song that isn’t on radio playlists. “Masters of War.”

Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good?
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could?

Norman Solomon is the national director of and the author of a dozen books including Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America’s Warfare State, published this year in a new edition as a free e-book. His other books include War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death. He was a Bernie Sanders delegate from California to the 2016 and 2020 Democratic National Conventions. Solomon is the founder and executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy.

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NATO’s German Problem: Who Needs Soldiers or Weapons? | The National Interest

Posted by M. C. on April 29, 2019

Who Needs Soldiers or Weapons?

Germans think they don’t. Why should they? US taxpayers have been shouldering the load up til now. The Germans have no reason to change their way of thinking.

Germans want to be friends with Russia. Russia supplies their natural gas.

Germany is too busy building and creating to get caught up in endless war.

#Gonna change my way of thinking, Make myself a different set of rules

Gonna change my way of thinking, Make myself a different set of rules

Gonna put my good foot forward, And stop being influenced by fools# Bob Dylan

by Doug Bandow

The foreign ministers of America’s European allies visited Washington to celebrate the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)’s seventieth anniversary. Members engaged in an orgy of self-congratulation over an alliance which remains better called “North America and The Others.” One of the meeting highlights was preparing to bring in the military behemoth of (North) Macedonia, following the inclusion of equally mighty Montenegro two years ago.

One discordant subject was Germany’s military outlays, or lack thereof. Berlin had promised to hike expenditures to two percent of GDP by 2024—subsequently downgraded to 1.5 percent—but new budget figures indicated that the real amount would be lower still. Germany’s government evidently lacks the political will to put Europe’s defense first.

Without a hint of shame, the German Foreign Office responded to criticism by tweeting: “Germany wholeheartedly supports @NATO. We will stand by our commitments. True solidarity is measured in terms of commitment, not Euros.” Unfortunately, a barrage of bullets and bombs would be more effective than mere statements of commitments against an aggressor.

Germany has been a “problem” for a century and a half. Originally Berlin was overly-militarized and insufficiently restrained. These failings were on dramatic display in World War II. No wonder General Hastings Ismay, the former Churchill aide tapped to serve as NATO’s first secretary general, allowed that one purpose of the alliance was to “keep the Germans down.”

Moreover, decades later when the Berlin Wall came crashing down, the venerable Margaret Thatcher was not alone in opposing German reunification. Some Europeans saw the specter of the Fourth Reich, and one wit explained that he loved Germany so much he wanted two of them.

However, the Federal Republic’s militaristic heritage has not stirred in the years since; even what passes for Germany’s new nationalistic, xenophobic right offers no politician who hints at being Adolf Hitler reincarnated. Certainly, neither avuncular Helmut Kohl, the first chancellor of a united Germany, nor Angela Merkel, who has dominated German politics for more than a decade, acted the part of dictator-wannabe.

Far from clamoring to create a military capable of turning the country into a Weltmacht, the German people seemed to forget the reason for establishing armed forces. According to a Pew Research Center poll, four of ten Germans don’t want to defend NATO allies from attack. For years among the Bundeswehr’s strongest advocates were social service agencies, which benefited from draftees choosing alternative service. Furthermore, in January the Bundeswehr dispatched mountain troops to Bavaria to… shovel snow from the roofs of homes after a big winter storm.

Berlin’s lack of interest in all things military wouldn’t much matter if the United States wasn’t expected to carry the resulting burden. However, Europeans are counting on America to contribute dollars, lots of them, not just professions of “commitment.” Of course, Germany is not the only free, or more accurately cheap, rider…

Alas, that was then. German outlays ran a dismal 1.27 percent last year and are supposed to hit 1.37 percent in 2020. But Berlin recently projected that number falling to 1.25 percent in 2023. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas insisted that Germany still would meet its commitments, but the prospect of hitting 1.5 percent, let alone 2.0 percent, in a few years, appears to be infinitesimal.

In Berlin’s defense, some German analysts pointed to the steady, though small, increase in military outlays since 2014. Through last year, real spending had increased by almost 12 percent. But that mainly reflected robust economic growth. As a percentage of GDP outlays barely increased, from 1.18 percent to 1.24 percent. Recent expenditure hikes look even less impressive when considering per capita spending. Last year Washington spent $1898 per person on the military. Germany contributed $589. That was up only $56 since 2014.

Overall outlays are important. However, noted Defense & Security Monitor, “the greater concern for core security partners such as France and Britain remains the operational shortcomings of the Bundeswehr.” The Atlantic Council’s Jorge Benitez said simply: “The readiness of the Germany military is abysmal.”…

America and Europe still could cooperate militarily on shared interests. Should an unexpected hegemonic threat arise, the United States could reengage. But after seventy years of NATO, the American people should declare their work in Europe done. It is time for the Europeans to take over responsibility for their security.

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