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Posts Tagged ‘Interventionism’

The Middle of the Road Leads to Socialism

Posted by M. C. on October 30, 2021

https://mises.org/library/middle-road-leads-socialism

Ludwig von Mises

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The fundamental dogma of all brands of socialism and communism is that the market economy or capitalism is a system that hurts the vital interests of the immense majority of people for the sole benefit of a small minority of rugged individualists. It condemns the masses to progressing impoverishment. It brings about misery, slavery, oppression, degradation and exploitation of the working men, while it enriches a class of idle and useless parasites.

This doctrine was not the work of Karl Marx. It had been developed long before Marx entered the scene. Its most successful propagators were not the Marxian authors, but such men as Carlyle and Ruskin, the British Fabians, the German professors, and the American Institutionalists. And it is a very significant fact that the correctness of this dogma was contested only by a few economists who were very soon silenced and barred from access to the universities, the press, the leadership of political parties and, first of all, public office. Public opinion by and large accepted the condemnation of capitalism without any reservation.

1. Socialism

But, of course, the practical political conclusions which people drew from this dogma were not uniform. One group declared that there is but one way to wipe out these evils, namely to abolish capitalism entirely. They advocate the substitution of public control of the means of production for private control. They aim at the establishment of what is called socialism, communism, planning, or state capitalism. All these terms signify the same thing. No longer should the consumers, by their buying and abstention from buying, determine what should be produced, in what quantity and of what quality. Henceforth a central authority alone should direct all production activities.

2. Interventionism, Allegedly a Middle-of-the-Road Policy

A second group seems to be less radical. They reject socialism no less than capitalism. They recommend a third system, which, as they say, is as far from capitalism as it is from socialism, which as a third system of society’s economic organization, stands midway between the two other systems, and while retaining the advantages of both, avoids the disadvantages inherent in each. This third system is known as the system of interventionism. In the terminology of American politics it is often referred to as the middle-of-the-road policy.

What makes this third system popular with many people is the particular way they choose to look upon the problems involved. As they see it, two classes, the capitalists and entrepreneurs on the one hand and the wage earners on the other hand, are arguing about the distribution of the yield of capital and entrepreneurial activities. Both parties are claiming the whole cake for themselves. Now, suggest these mediators, let us make peace by splitting the disputed value equally between the two classes. The State as an impartial arbiter should interfere, and should curb the greed of the capitalists and assign a part of the profits to the working classes. Thus it will be possible to dethrone the moloch capitalism without enthroning the moloch of totalitarian socialism.

Yet this mode of judging the issue is entirely fallacious. The antagonism between capitalism and socialism is not a dispute about the distribution of booty. It is a controversy about which two schemes for society’s economic organization, capitalism or socialism, is conducive to the better attainment of those ends which all people consider as the ultimate aim of activities commonly called economic, viz., the best possible supply of useful commodities and services. Capitalism wants to attain these ends by private enterprise and initiative, subject to the supremacy of the public’s buying and abstention from buying on the market. The socialists want to substitute the unique plan of a central authority for the plans of the various individuals. They want to put in place of what Marx called the “anarchy of production” the exclusive monopoly of the government. The antagonism does not refer to the mode of distributing a fixed amount of amenities. It refers to the mode of producing all those goods which people want to enjoy.

The conflict of the two principles is irreconcilable and does not allow for any compromise. Control is indivisible. Either the consumers’ demand as manifested on the market decides for what purposes and how the factors of production should be employed, or the government takes care of these matters. There is nothing that could mitigate the opposition between these two contradictory principles. They preclude each other. Interventionism is not a golden mean between capitalism and socialism. It is the design of a third system of society’s economic organization and must be appreciated as such.

3. How Interventionism Works

It is not the task of today’s discussion to raise any questions about the merits either of capitalism or of socialism. I am dealing today with interventionism alone. And I do not intend to enter into an arbitrary evaluation of interventionism from any preconceived point of view. My only concern is to show how interventionism works and whether or not it can be considered as a pattern of a permanent system for society’s economic organization.

The interventionists emphasize that they plan to retain private ownership of the means of production, entrepreneurship and market exchange. But, they go on to say, it is peremptory to prevent these capitalist institutions from spreading havoc and unfairly exploiting the majority of people. It is the duty of government to restrain, by orders and prohibitions, the greed of the propertied classes lest their acquisitiveness harm the poorer classes. Unhampered or laissez-faire capitalism is an evil. But in order to eliminate its evils, there is no need to abolish capitalism entirely. It is possible to improve the capitalist system by government interference with the actions of the capitalists and entrepreneurs. Such government regulation and regimentation of business is the only method to keep off totalitarian socialism and to salvage those features of capitalism which are worth preserving. On the ground of this philosophy, the interventionists advocate a galaxy of various measures. Let us pick out one of them, the very popular scheme of price control.

4. How Price Control Leads to Socialism

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Ludwig von Mises

Ludwig von Mises was the acknowledged leader of the Austrian school of economic thought, a prodigious originator in economic theory, and a prolific author. Mises’s writings and lectures encompassed economic theory, history, epistemology, government, and political philosophy. His contributions to economic theory include important clarifications on the quantity theory of money, the theory of the trade cycle, the integration of monetary theory with economic theory in general, and a demonstration that socialism must fail because it cannot solve the problem of economic calculation. Mises was the first scholar to recognize that economics is part of a larger science in human action, a science that he called praxeology.

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Woodrow Wilson’s “Second Personality” | Mises Institute

Posted by M. C. on July 10, 2021

One of the original Progressives

In April, 1914, a group of American sailors landed their ship in Tampico without permission of the authorities and were arrested. As soon as the Mexican commander heard of the incident, he had the Americans released and sent a personal apology. That would have been the end of the affair “had not the Washington administration been looking for an excuse to provoke a fight,” in order to benefit the side Wilson favored in the civil war.

https://mises.org/library/woodrow-wilsons-second-personality

Ralph Raico

Wherever blame for the war might lie, for the immense majority of Americans in 1914 it was just another of the European horrors from which our policy of neutrality, set forth by the Founding Fathers of the Republic, had kept us free. Pašić, Sazonov, Conrad, Poincaré, Moltke, Edward Grey, and the rest—these were the men our Fathers had warned us against. No conceivable outcome of the war could threaten an invasion of our vast and solid continental base. We should thank a merciful Providence, which gave us this blessed land and impregnable fortress, that America, at least, would not be drawn into the senseless butchery of the Old World. That was unthinkable.

However, in 1914 the president of the United States was Thomas Woodrow Wilson.

The term most frequently applied to Woodrow Wilson nowadays is “idealist.” In contrast, the expression “power-hungry” is rarely used. Yet a scholar not unfriendly to him has written of Wilson that “he loved, craved, and in a sense glorified power.” Musing on the character of the US government while he was still an academic, Wilson wrote: “I cannot imagine power as a thing negative and not positive.”1 Even before he entered politics, he was fascinated by the power of the presidency and how it could be augmented by meddling in foreign affairs and dominating overseas territories. The war with Spain and the American acquisition of colonies in the Caribbean and across the Pacific were welcomed by Wilson as productive of salutary changes in our federal system. “The plunge into international politics and into the administration of distant dependencies” had already resulted in “the greatly increased power and opportunity for constructive statesmanship given the President.”

When foreign affairs play a prominent part in the politics and policy of a nation, its Executive must of necessity be its guide: must utter every initial judgment, take every first step of action, supply the information upon which it is to act, suggest and in large measure control its conduct. The President of the United States is now [in 1900], as of course, at the front of affairs…. There is no trouble now about getting the President’s speeches printed and read, every word…. The government of dependencies must be largely in his hands. Interesting things may come of this singular change.

Wilson looked forward to an enduring “new leadership of the Executive,” with even the heads of Cabinet departments exercising “a new influence upon the action of Congress.”2

In large part Wilson’s reputation as an idealist is traceable to his incessantly professed love of peace. Yet as soon as he became president, prior to leading the country into the First World War, his actions in Latin America were anything but pacific. Even Arthur S. Link (whom Walter Karp referred to as the keeper of the Wilsonian flame) wrote, of Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean: “the years from 1913 to 1921 [Wilson’s years in office] witnessed intervention by the State Department and the navy on a scale that had never before been contemplated, even by such alleged imperialists as Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft.” The protectorate extended over Nicaragua, the military occupation of the Dominican Republic, the invasion and subjugation of Haiti (which cost the lives of some 2,000 Haitians) were landmarks of Wilson’s policy.3 All was enveloped in the haze of his patented rhetoric of freedom, democracy, and the rights of small nations. The Pan-American Pact which Wilson proposed to our southern neighbors guaranteed the “territorial integrity and political independence” of all the signatories. Considering Wilson’s persistent interference in the affairs of Mexico and other Latin states, this was hypocrisy in the grand style.4

The most egregious example of Wilson’s bellicose interventionism before the European war was in Mexico. Here his attempt to manipulate the course of a civil war lead to the fiascoes of Tampico and Vera Cruz.

In April, 1914, a group of American sailors landed their ship in Tampico without permission of the authorities and were arrested. As soon as the Mexican commander heard of the incident, he had the Americans released and sent a personal apology. That would have been the end of the affair “had not the Washington administration been looking for an excuse to provoke a fight,” in order to benefit the side Wilson favored in the civil war. The American admiral in charge demanded from the Mexicans a 21-gun salute to the American flag; Washington backed him up, issuing an ultimatum insisting on the salute, on pain of dire consequences. Naval units were ordered to seize Vera Cruz. The Mexicans resisted, 126 Mexicans were killed, close to 200 wounded (according to the US figures), and, on the American side, 19 were killed and 71 wounded. In Washington, plans were being made for a full-scale war against Mexico, where in the meantime both sides in the civil war denounced Yanqui aggression. Finally, mediation was accepted; in the end, Wilson lost his bid to control Mexican politics.5

Two weeks before the assassination of the archduke, Wilson delivered an address on Flag Day. His remarks did not bode well for American abstention in the coming war. Asking what the flag would stand for in the future, Wilson replied: “for the just use of undisputed national power … for self-possession, for dignity, for the assertion of the right of one nation to serve the other nations of the world.” As president, he would “assert the rights of mankind wherever this flag is unfurled.”6

Wilson’s alter ego, a major figure in bringing the United States into the European War, was Edward Mandell House. House, who bore the honorific title of “Colonel,” was regarded as something of a “Man of Mystery” by his contemporaries. Never elected to public office, he nonetheless became the second most powerful man in the country in domestic and especially foreign affairs until virtually the end of Wilson’s administration. House began as a businessman in Texas, rose to leadership in the Democratic politics of that state, and then on the national stage. In 1911, he attached himself to Wilson, then Governor of New Jersey and an aspiring candidate for president. The two became the closest of collaborators, Wilson going so far as to make the bizarre public statement that: “Mr. House is my second personality. He is my independent self. His thoughts and mine are one.”7

Light is cast on the mentality of this “man of mystery” by a futuristic political novel House published in 1912, Philip Dru: Administrator. It is a work that contains odd anticipations of the role the Colonel would help Wilson play.8 In this peculiar production, the title hero leads a crusade to overthrow the reactionary and oppressive money-power that rules the United States. Dru is a veritable messiah-figure: “He comes panoplied in justice and with the light of reason in his eyes. He comes as the advocate of equal opportunity and he comes with the power to enforce his will.” Assembling a great army, Dru confronts the massed forces of evil in a titanic battle (close to Buffalo, New York): “human liberty has never more surely hung upon the outcome of any conflict than it does upon this.” Naturally, Dru triumphs, and becomes “the Administrator of the Republic,” assuming “the powers of a dictator.” So unquestionably pure is his cause that any attempt to “foster” the reactionary policies of the previous government “would be considered seditious and would be punished by death.” Besides fashioning a new Constitution for the United States and creating a welfare state, Dru joins with leaders of the other great powers to remake the world order, bringing freedom, peace, and justice to all mankind.9 A peculiar production, suggestive of a very peculiar man, the second most important man in the country.

Wilson utilized House as his personal confidant, advisor, and emissary, bypassing his own appointed and congressionally scrutinized officials. It was somewhat similar to the position that Harry Hopkins would fill for Franklin Roosevelt some 20 years later.

When the war broke out, Wilson implored his fellow citizens to remain neutral even in word and thought. This was somewhat disingenuous, considering that his whole administration, except for the poor baffled secretary of state, William Jennings Bryan, was pro-Allied from the start. The president and most of his chief subordinates were dyed-in-the-wool Anglophiles. Love of England and all things English was an intrinsic part of their sense of identity. With England threatened, even the chief justice of the United States Supreme Court, Edward D. White, voiced the impulse to leave for Canada to volunteer for the British armed forces. By September 1914, the British ambassador in Washington, Cecil Spring-Rice, was able to assure Edward Grey, that Wilson had an “understanding heart” for England’s problems and difficult position.10

This ingrained bias of the American political class and social elite was galvanized by British propaganda. On August 5, 1914, the Royal Navy cut the cables linking the United States and Germany. Now news for America had to be funneled through London, where the censors shaped and trimmed reports for the benefit of their government. Eventually, the British propaganda apparatus in the First World War became the greatest the world had seen to that time; later it was a model for the Nazi Propaganda Minster Josef Goebbels. Philip Knightley noted:

British efforts to bring the United States into the war on the Allied side penetrated every phase of American life…. It was one of the major propaganda efforts of history, and it was conducted so well and so secretly that little about it emerged until the eve of the Second World War, and the full story is yet to be told.

Already in the first weeks of the war, stories were spread of the ghastly “atrocities” the Germans were committing in Belgium.11 But the Hun, in the view of American supporters of England’s cause, was to show his most hideous face at sea.

Excerpted from Great Wars and Great Leaders: A Libertarian Rebuttal (2010).

  • 1. Walter A. McDougall, Promised Land, Crusader State: The American Encounter with the World since 1776 (Boston/New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1997), pp. 126, 128.
  • 2. Woodrow Wilson, Congressional Government: A Study in American Politics (Gloucester, Mass.: Peter Smith, 1973 [1885]), pp. 22–23. These statements date from 1900. Wilson also assailed the Constitutional system of checks and balances as interfering with effective government, pp. 186–87.
  • 3. Arthur S. Link, Woodrow Wilson and the Progressive Era, 1910–1917 (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1954), pp. 92–106.
  • 4. Even Link, Woodrow Wilson, p. 106, stated that Wilson and his colleagues were only paying “lip service” to the principle they put forward, and were not prepared to abide by it.
  • 5. Link, Woodrow Wilson, pp. 122–28; and Michael C. Meyer and William L. Sherman, The Course of Mexican History, 5th ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), pp. 531–34.
  • 6. The Papers of Woodrow Wilson, Arthur S. Link, ed. (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1979), vol. 30, pp. 184–86. Wilson’s gift of self-deception was already evident. “I sometimes wonder why men even now take this flag and flaunt it. If I am respected, I do not have to demand respect,” he declared. Apparently the Tampico incident of two months earlier had vanished from his mind.
  • 7. Seymour, The Intimate Papers of Colonel House, vol. 1, pp. 6, 114.
  • 8. dward M. House, Philip Dru: Administrator. A Story of Tomorrow, 1920–1935 (New York: B. W. Huebsch, 1920 [1912]).
  • 9. Ibid., pp. 93, 130, 150, 152, and passim.
  • 10. Charles Callan Tansill, America Goes to War (Gloucester, Mass.: Peter Smith, 1963 [1938]), pp. 26–28. Cf. the comment by Peterson, Propaganda for War, p. 10: “The American aristocracy was distinctly Anglophile.”
  • 11. Philip Knightley, The First Casualty (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1975), pp. 82, 120–21; Peterson, Propaganda for War; John Morgan Read, Atrocity Propaganda, 1914–1919 (New Haven, Co.: Yale University Press, 1941); and the classic by Arthur Ponsonby, Falsehood in Wartime (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1928). That unflagging apologist for global interventionism, Robert H. Ferrell, in American Diplomacy: A History, 3rd ed. (New York: W. W. Norton, 1975), pp. 470–71, could find nothing to object to in the secret propaganda effort to embroil the United States in a world war. It was simply part of “the arts of peaceful persuasion,” of “Public Relations,” he claimed to believe, since “there is nothing wrong with one country representing its cause to another country.” One wonders what Ferrell would have said to a similar campaign by Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union.

Author:

Ralph Raico

Ralph Raico (1936–2016) was professor emeritus in European history at Buffalo State College and a senior fellow of the Mises Institute. He was a specialist on the history of liberty, the liberal tradition in Europe, and the relationship between war and the rise of the state. He is the author of The Place of Religion in the Liberal Philosophy of Constant, Tocqueville, and Lord Acton.

A bibliography of Ralph Raico’s work, compiled by Tyler Kubik, is found here.

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Interventionism Turns Crisis into Depression | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on June 29, 2021

The reason that interventionism does not work is that it misallocates more resources in the economy. More importantly, it disturbs, distorts, and destroys the corrective process whereby entrepreneurs, the price system, and the bankruptcy and foreclosure procedures do their jobs in reallocating resources and prices back into a sustainable framework.

https://mises.org/wire/interventionism-turns-crisis-depression

Austrian economists have a well-developed theory that explains the boom, bubble, bust, and recovery. A good introduction to the Austrian theory of the business cycle can be found in Larry Sechrest’s article “Explaining Malinvestment and Overinvestment.” Larry wrote the article to provide a pedagogical device for economics students, but academic economists will probably be able to understand it as well.

Here we examine the case of business cycles where instead of recovery, the economy enters a prolonged economic depression or recession. The types of intervention that cause business cycles are restricted to money and credit. The types of intervention that cause depressions can be of a monetary, fiscal, or regulatory nature. Even moral suasion can contribute to the making of a depression, as was the case with Herbert Hoover.

The most effective depression-producing program would include a variety of interventions. The only necessary requirement is that the interventions help to forestall the correction process and that the interventions collectively undermine the ability of the price system and the system of profit and loss to properly reallocate resources. Austrians find that the cycle is the result of monetary intervention and that depressions emerge as the result of subsequent interventions designed to forestall the corrective processes of the bust.

Among all business cycles, few have degenerated into prolonged depressions or recessions. Most business cycles come and go so quickly that received wisdom recommends that the government do nothing except for minor adjustments to monetary and fiscal policy along with so-called “automatic stabilizers.” The exceptions to this rule include the Great Depression, the stagflation of the 1970s, Japan’s Lost Decade, and possibly the [Great Recession].

What makes the difference between the ordinary business cycle and an extraordinary depression? The one factor that is consistent in all four of the major crises is massive government intervention to address the initial economic crisis. In all four cases, the government responded not in the traditional laissez-faire manner of leaving things alone but instead with policies that attempted to reverse the economic crisis.

In the first three major depressions, governments consistently intervened in the economy and made long-term institutional changes in the economy. In the case of the stagflation of the 1970s, the government met the initial crisis with comprehensive wage and price controls and the closing of the gold window, along with a loose monetary policy, deficit spending, and bailouts. The Japanese bubble-bust was also met with intervention on a massive scale, including bailouts, zero-percent interest rates, public-works spending, and huge budget deficits. Even Paul Krugman was impressed with Japan’s efforts:

Think of it as the W.P.A. on steroids. Over the past decade Japan has used enormous public works projects as a way to create jobs and pump money into the economy. The statistics are awesome. In 1996 Japan’s public works spending, as a share of G.D.P., was more than four times that of the United States. Japan poured as much concrete as we did, though it has a little less than half our population and 4 percent of our land area. One Japanese worker in 10 was employed in the construction industry, far more than in other advanced countries. (Krugman 2001)

Unfortunately it did not work, the stagnation continued, and all that deficit spending has left Japan with a staggering national debt.

The reason that interventionism does not work is that it misallocates more resources in the economy. More importantly, it disturbs, distorts, and destroys the corrective process whereby entrepreneurs, the price system, and the bankruptcy and foreclosure procedures do their jobs in reallocating resources and prices back into a sustainable framework.

In dealing with economic crisis, one prominent weapon in the arsenal of interventionist economic policy is a loose money and credit policy. This policy has the defect of preventing, or at least stalling and distorting, the process of deflation that provides the cleansing and rebalancing effect on the economy where resources can be reallocated to more valuable and sustainable uses. Loose monetary policy also sets up expectations for a more restrictive monetary policy in the future, while its low interest rates discourage savings and future growth. Loose monetary policy in the 1970s (United States), 1990s (Japan), and today (globally) have produced no curative effect; and notice that most economists consider Paul Volcker’s restrictive monetary policy in the early 1980s a success.

Public-works spending, stimulus packages, and deficit spending are also (wrongly) considered important policies to address economic contractions. The idea is that government spending replaces declining private-sector spending in order to maintain the level of GDP.

However, it is easy to recognize that such policies also stifle the reallocation of resources that are called for in any type of correction process. Government spending is determined politically and bureaucratically, so there will inevitably be mismatches in resources in the economy. As government spends it creates relative scarcities in resources like cement and bulldozers and relative abundances in resources like golf carts and electrical engineers.

Such micromisalignments create new roadblocks on the path to economic recovery. In the short-run, such policies produce less than a dollar’s worth of bang for the buck (even if it does increase GDP by a dollar). In the longer term, this approach increases the government debt and tax burdens on the economy.

The evidence from the Great Depression, the stagflation of the 1970s, and the Japanese malaise clearly suggests that the government-spending approach has more of a debilitating than a remedial effect. In the [Great Recession], the stimulus package of $787 billion has failed by a wide margin to meet projections of the Obama administration of containing the unemployment rate at less than 8 percent.7

Bailouts are simply a hidden form of discretionary protectionism and should be the poster child for the ill effects of interventionism. Instead of allowing for entrepreneurial-driven change (restructuring, downsizing, outsourcing, takeovers, mergers, etc.), bankruptcy and foreclosure, and other forms of adjustment to take place, bailouts forestall the adjustment process, engender rent-seeking, and create a moral hazard.

In the absence of bailouts, there are myriad ways in which individuals adjust to economic downturns that are largely “unseen” by politicians and bureaucrats but are nonetheless the basic elements of the corrective process. The presence of bailouts turns the attention of entrepreneurs away from such adjustments and toward the acquisition of bailouts and other rent-seeking and nonproductive activities.

Bailouts also set a precedent and thereby create a moral hazard that destabilizes rather than stabilizes the economy. In the [Great Recession] we [saw] everything from bailouts for banks that are “too big to fail,” to the takeovers of AIG, GM, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac, and forbearance laws and policies that prevent foreclosure on homeowners who are delinquent on their mortgages. Many of the same effects caused by protectionist trade policies also apply to bailouts.

There is yet another negative effect from interventionist policies that is important to consider. The combination of interventionist policies, quickly conceived, implemented, and often altered, fosters an environment of “regime uncertainty.” Higgs (1997) described this concept as entrepreneurial uncertainty brought about by uncertainty regarding the future of economic policy, or simply policy that threatens entrepreneurs and investors.

You might imagine the entrepreneur who is trying to digest several policy changes being told that there is a crisis and that policy X will save him, only to learn that policy X has failed and will be replaced by policy Y, which will save the day, only to learn that policy Y has not worked but that policy Z will get the job done.

All of this confusion causes entrepreneurs to suffer from “regime uncertainty,” which in turn reduces investment and the hiring of labor. As the fog clears, entrepreneurs realize that the general economic environment has changed. New entry and profit opportunities for entrepreneurs have been reduced while at the same time economic policy is delaying the exit of firms suffering large economic losses. In other words, the price system is hampered and the economy is no longer competitive. It would be hard to disagree with Ben Powell (2009, p. 20) who characterizes the current political environment as one of “regime worsening.”

[This article is a selection from “Hoover, Bush, and Great Depressions” in the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics, vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 86–100 (2010).] Author:

Contact Mark Thornton

Mark Thornton is a Senior Fellow at the Mises Institute and the book review editor of the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics. He has authored seven books and is a frequent guest on national radio shows.

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[Essay] The Old Normal, by Andrew J. Bacevich | Harper’s Magazine

Posted by M. C. on July 8, 2020

For the United States today, the problem turns out to be similar to the one that beset the nation during the period leading up to World War II: not isolationism but overstretch, compounded by indolence. The present-day disparities between our aspirations, commitments, and capacities to act are enormous.

The core questions, submerged today as they were on the eve of U.S. entry into World War II, are these: What does freedom require? How much will it cost? And who will pay?

https://harpers.org/archive/2020/03/the-old-normal-united-states-addiction-to-war-andrew-bacevich/

Why we can’t beat our addiction to war

By

Addressing the graduating cadets at West Point in May 1942, General George C. Marshall, then the Army chief of staff, reduced the nation’s purpose in the global war it had recently joined to a single emphatic sentence. “We are determined,” he remarked, “that before the sun sets on this terrible struggle, our flag will be recognized throughout the world as a symbol of freedom on the one hand and of overwhelming force on the other.”

At the time Marshall spoke, mere months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, U.S. forces had sustained a string of painful setbacks and had yet to win a major battle. Eventual victory over Japan and Germany seemed anything but assured. Yet Marshall was already looking beyond the immediate challenges to define what that victory, when ultimately— and, in his view, inevitably—achieved, was going to signify.

This second world war of the twentieth century, Marshall understood, was going to be immense and immensely destructive. But if vast in scope, it would be limited in duration. The sun would set; the war would end. Today no such expectation exists. Marshall’s successors have come to view armed conflict as an open-ended proposition. The alarming turn in U.S.–Iranian relations is another reminder that war has become normal for the United States.

The address at West Point was not some frothy stump speech by a hack politician. Marshall was a deliberate man who chose his words carefully. His intent was to make a specific point: the United States was fighting not to restore peace—a word notably absent from his remarks—nor merely to eliminate an isolated threat. The overarching American aim was preeminence, both ideological and military: as a consequence of the ongoing war, America was henceforth to represent freedom and power—not in any particular region or hemisphere but throughout the world. Here, conveyed with crisp military candor, was an authoritative reframing of the nation’s strategic ambitions.1

Marshall’s statement captured the essence of what was to remain America’s purpose for decades to come, until the presidential election of 2016 signaled its rejection. That year an eminently qualified candidate who embodied a notably bellicose variant of the Marshall tradition lost to an opponent who openly mocked that tradition while possessing no qualifications for high office whatsoever.

Determined to treat Donald Trump as an unfortunate but correctable aberration, the foreign-policy establishment remains intent on salvaging the tradition that Marshall inaugurated back in 1942. The effort is misguided and will likely prove futile. For anyone concerned about American statecraft in recent years, the more pressing questions are these: first, whether an establishment deeply imbued with Marshall’s maxim can even acknowledge the magnitude of the repudiation it sustained at the hands of Trump and those who voted him into office (a repudiation that is not lessened by Trump’s failure to meet his promises to those voters); and second, whether this establishment can muster the imagination to devise an alternative tradition better suited to existing conditions while commanding the support of the American people. On neither score does the outlook appear promising.

General George C. Marshall at the headquarters of the War Department, 1943 © Bettmann/Getty Images

General Marshall delivered his remarks at West Point in a singular context. Marshall gingerly referred to a “nationwide debate” that was complicating his efforts to raise what he called “a great citizen-army.” The debate was the controversy over whether the United States should intervene in the ongoing European war. To proponents of intervention, the issue at hand during the period of 1939 to 1941 was the need to confront the evil of Nazism. Opponents of intervention argued in the terms of a quite different question: whether or not to resume an expansionist project dating from the founding of the Republic. This dispute and its apparent resolution, misunderstood and misconstrued at the time, have been sources of confusion ever since.

Even today, most Americans are only dimly aware of the scope—one might even say the grandeur—of our expansionist project, which stands alongside racial oppression as an abiding theme of the American story. As far back as the 1780s, the Northwest Ordinances, which created the mechanism to incorporate the present-day Midwest into the Union, had made it clear that the United States had no intention of confining its reach to the territory encompassed within the boundaries of the original thirteen states. And while nineteenth-century presidents did not adhere to a consistent grand plan, they did pursue a de facto strategy of opportunistic expansion. Although the United States encountered resistance during the course of this remarkable ascent, virtually all of it was defeated. With the notable exception of the failed attempt to annex Canada during the War of 1812, expansionist efforts succeeded spectacularly and at a remarkably modest cost to the nation. By midcentury, the United States stretched from sea to shining sea.

Generations of Americans chose to enshrine this story of westward expansion as a heroic tale of advancing liberty, democracy, and civilization. Although that story certainly did include heroism, it also featured brute force, crafty maneuvering, and a knack for striking a bargain when the occasion presented itself.

In the popular imagination, the narrative of “how the West was won” to which I was introduced as a youngster has today lost much of its moral luster. Yet the country’s belated pangs of conscience have not induced any inclination to reapportion the spoils. While the idea of offering reparations to the offspring of former slaves may receive polite attention, no one proposes returning Florida to Spain, Tennessee and Georgia to the Cherokees, or California to Mexico. Properties seized, finagled, extorted, or paid for with cold, hard cash remain American in perpetuity.

Battlefield memorial for a dead U.S. soldier, Normandy, France, 1944 (detail)

Back in 1899, the naturalist, historian, politician, sometime soldier, and future president Theodore Roosevelt neatly summarized the events of the century then drawing to a close: “Of course our whole national history has been one of expansion.” When T.R. uttered this truth, a fresh round of expansionism was under way, this time reaching beyond the fastness of North America into the surrounding seas and oceans. The United States was joining with Europeans in a profit-motivated intercontinental imperialism.

Read the rest of this entry »

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David Petraeus and the Art of Staying the Same | The American Conservative

Posted by M. C. on February 28, 2020

But what was really accomplished here? Frankly, having Petraeus speak laid down some simple but important markers. He was never a man of “big ideas,” just a man with political survival instincts who always said exactly what people wanted to hear. But I think we saw his limits here.

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/state-of-the-union/david-petraeus-and-the-art-of-staying-the-same/

David Petraeus hasn’t changed a bit.

There was some vexation over his invitation to speak at today’s Quincy Institute/Foreign Policy conference, considering the event, entitled, “A New Vision for America in the World” was widely seen as a coming out of sorts for the ascendent restrainers and non-interventionist movement in Washington. Quincy, having brought together the powerhouse backers of both the Koch and Soros orbits, is in a way a manifestation of this moment, and a real Left-Right alignment against the old world order.

In response to some of the negative Petraeus buzz, some suggested that his presence might indicate that he is “coming around” to the new foreign policy approach, that the place to be right now is among a growing consensus against endless, expeditionary wars, and for rethinking our role in the world.

His remarks Wednesday, however, put that rosy notion to rest, quick.

In short, the “sycophant savior” believes the U.S. still needs to be deployed abroad (including Afghanistan) to control terrorism; we “almost always have to lead,” and yes, this “campaign” can be forever, as long as we are willing to spend the blood and treasure to sustain it.

And he really, really doesn’t like the word “interventionism.”

“Are we ‘intervening’ by having 30,000 troops in Korea? What do you mean by intervention?” he quipped to Jonathan Tepperman, editor of Foreign Policy, who had gently raised the idea that the American public was ripe for new non-interventionist approaches. It was Petraeus’s first flash of real personality in the 30-minute exchange, but it came off a bit testy. He ticked off a few other “endless” (and ultimately positive) U.S. occupations, including Germany and Japan. The usual jive, and a non-starter with this crowd—they’d heard that tune before.

Plus, wasn’t this supposed to be about a “new vision for America in the world”? The problem with Petraeus, a former general and CIA director who spent years around yes-men and failed up into a lucrative consulting career for the military industrial complex, is that he hasn’t had to be “new” at anything. Like Wednesday, he sprinkles a few anecdotes about being “downrange” in the last six years of his military career, and how “nobody wants to end endless wars more than those who have been fighting endless wars,” before offering assessments and solutions that are barely distinguishable from what he has prescribed for audiences over the last decade. More importantly, there is no sense of enlightenment or growth. Just a stubborn adherence to the status quo.

His “big ideas” amount to the same old dogma. If we leave Afghanistan it will create a haven for terrorists. Like Iraq. Then we’ll have to do something about it. “The problems just don’t go away.”

“Generally the U.S. has to lead,” he said, because we spend more and have superior capability than anyone else in the world. He talked about global drone surveillance, like a paternalistic watchman in the sky. “Having said that, we have to have allies, coalitions… And we want Muslim coalitions. This is a fight for the heart of the Muslim world, this is an existential struggle.”

And, “you cannot counter terrorists with just counterterrorism operations.” There has to be a “comprehensive civilian-military campaign,” although “host nations” will be doing all the fighting and negotiating. In other words, we’ll continue to put our troops and contractors in vulnerable positions in places where really angry people want to kill us, begetting more angry people who want to kill us the longer we have a presence there, while pouring all of our resources down an interminable black hole. But if we don’t lose a lot of guys and no one feels the pinch in the pocketbook, “then people will regard it like the long commitment we’ve had in Korea.”

Was he so elevated at the end of his career, so disconnected that he did not see the devastating toll the multiple deployments had taken on our armed forces? Does he not acknowledge the PTSD, the toxic exposures, the brain injuries? The painful family separations? Sure the military has “sustained” its tempo over the years, but at what cost to the rank-and-file?

“I was wondering when he was going to say something ‘new,’ something we haven’t heard in the last 20 years,” charged Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., who spoke after Petraeus had made a beeline for the door, no time for questions from the audience. Khanna, unlike the man once referred to as “King David,” has only grown in stature as he has found common ground with other restrainers across the spectrum over the last two years. He even spoke at TAC’s foreign policy conference in 2018. And he stayed for questions.

There seems to be no other explanation for Petraeus’s presence here other than he provided a good foil for the non-interventionists who followed—Khanna, Will Ruger, Mark Perry, and others. We suppose someone thought he added a sheen to the proceedings, though there was really no opportunity for a “debate” as suggested. His appearance took place in a carefully controlled format—a “conversation” opposite a sympathetic host (Tepperman) who actually spent time afterwards “clarifying” some the ex-general’s comments for the audience (he’s a general, “not a politician”). Cue laugh track.

But what was really accomplished here? Frankly, having Petraeus speak laid down some simple but important markers. He was never a man of “big ideas,” just a man with political survival instincts who always said exactly what people wanted to hear. But I think we saw his limits here. He knew what we wanted to hear, and he couldn’t say it. It will take a very long time for someone like him to come over to our way of thinking (if ever) because his very identity, his livelihood, is tied to the old order and any new approach that would cut off lifeblood to his world is a threat.

There are countless men and women just like Petraeus in Washington. Quincy will have a hard time winning them over. And maybe that doesn’t matter, just as long as they know, at some point, that a new vision, is winning. His hasty exit today suggests that at some level, he knows that already.

UPDATE 2/27 : This Free Beacon article notes that Petraeus’s remarks drew serious fire from members of the Quincy Institute as well, and appears to confirm my own suspicions, that the ex-general was brought in by the Foreign Policy magazine partner, not Quincy.

Be seeing you

?u=http2.bp.blogspot.com-qrBofyYyI84VGuGQWcvWsIAAAAAAAAV1Y9nOh7i099SEs1600endless_war.jpg&f=1&nofb=1

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Brain Injuries from Interventionism – The Future of Freedom Foundation

Posted by M. C. on February 15, 2020

One thing is for certain: If those U.S. troops were not in Iraq and were
instead here at home, where they belong, they would not be suffering
from those brain injuries. They suffered those brain injuries because
they were over there occupying a foreign country, where they don’t
belong.

Notice how over 100 soldiers with brain trauma went unnoticed until someone decided an attack by Iran that produced no injuries was traumatic?

Imagine how bad the injuries would have been if there had not been several hours notice and no bunkers to hunker in?

https://www.fff.org/2020/02/11/brain-injuries-from-interventionism/

by

The number of U.S. soldiers who have suffered traumatic brain injuries from the Iranian missile attack last month in Iraq has now risen to more than 100. The injuries demonstrate the sheer inanity of foreign interventionism.

The Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises pointed out that when a government intervenes in economic affairs, the intervention inevitably produces a bad result, which then requires another intervention to fix the problem. But then that intervention causes even more problems, which then necessitates more interventions. By the time the process is over, the interventions have led to a government takeover of that part of the economy, along with the destruction of liberty in the process.

While Mises was referring to economic policies, the principle he enunciated applies equally well in foreign policy. The federal government’s history with Iran is a classic example of this phenomenon. And those U.S. soldiers who suffered those brain injuries are only the latest group of soldiers who are paying the price for U.S. interventionism against Iran.

The interventionist process with Iran began in 1953, when the CIA initiated a coup in Iran that succeeded in ousting the democratically elected prime minister of the country, a man named Mohammad Mossadegh, from his position and restoring the omnipotent, unelected dictatorship of the Shah of Iran.

The purpose of the CIA’s intervention? Mossadegh had nationalized British oil interests in the country and had thrown British officials out of the country. The British Empire did not take kindly to that type of treatment. It sought the help of the CIA, which tied Mossadegh to the supposed worldwide communist conspiracy to take over the world during the Cold War.

That intervention led to another intervention. To ensure that the Iranian people could not succeed in restoring their experiment with democracy, the CIA helped the Shah to establish a domestic police force called the SAVAK, which was a combination Pentagon, CIA, NSA, and FBI. The CIA then proceeded to train SAVAK agents in the arts of torture, indefinite detention, secret surveillance, and other dark-side practices to ensure that no one could resist the oppressive tyranny of the Shah.

In 1979, the Iranian people revolted against the CIA’s dictatorship by forcibly ousting the Shah from power. Fearful that the CIA would restore the Shah to power, the revolutionaries took U.S. diplomats hostage to make sure that that wouldn’t happen.

Unfortunately, the Iranian revolution was unsuccessful in restoring its experiment with democracy that the CIA had destroyed some 26 years before. They ended up with a theocracy that turned out to be every bit as tyrannical as the regime of the Shah.

The Iranian revolution led to more U.S. interventions. One big one was when Iraq’s dictator Saddam Hussein initiated a war against Iran. The U.S. national-security establishment came to his assistance and helped him kill, injure, and maim tens of thousands of Iranian soldiers.

After Iran defeated Iraq in their 8-year war, the U.S. government turned on its old partner and ally Saddam Hussein by intervening in the Persian Gulf War in 1991. That intervention, however, failed to oust Saddam from power. That led to more interventions, such as 11 years of economic sanctions that contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children. Other interventions included so-called no-fly zones, stationing of U.S. troops on Islamic holy lands, and unconditional support of the Israeli government.

Those interventions produced  deep anger and hatred for the United States in the Middle East, which led to anti-American terrorism, including the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, the attack on the USS Cole, the attacks on the U.S. embassies in East Africa, the 9/11 attacks, the Fort Hood attacks, and more.

The 9/11 attacks, which U.S. officials blamed on hatred for America’s “freedom and values,”
led, not surprisingly, to even more U.S. interventionism, including the U.S. invasion and long-term occupation of Iraq, which ended up, ironically enough, with a regime that is more closely aligned with Iran than with the United States.

That intervention led to the rise of ISIS, which U.S. officials maintained was a grave threat to U.S. “national security,” even though ISIS was not threatening to invade and occupy the United States.

In the meantime, U.S. relations with Iran led to more U.S. interventions, including economic sanctions that target the Iranian populace with death and impoverishment as well as the recent assassination of an Iranian major general who was visiting Iraq with the consent of the Iraqi regime. Ironically, and less noticed but no less important, U.S. officials assassinated an Iraqi official at the same time.

The assassination of that Iranian official is what motivated Iran to fire missiles at the military base in Iraq where those U.S. soldiers were stationed.

One thing is for certain: If those U.S. troops were not in Iraq and were instead here at home, where they belong, they would not be suffering from those brain injuries. They suffered those brain injuries because they were over there occupying a foreign country, where they don’t belong. They are only the latest example of the destructive consequences of foreign interventionism.

 

 

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Tulsi Gabbard Is Driving The MSM Bat Shit Crazy – Caitlin Johnstone

Posted by M. C. on August 4, 2019

https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2019/02/07/tulsi-gabbard-is-driving-the-msm-bat-shit-crazy/

When Tulsi Gabbard announced her plans to run in the 2020 presidential election, I predicted that it would disrupt war propaganda narratives and force a much-needed conversation about US interventionism, but I didn’t realize that it would happen so quickly, so ubiquitously, and so explosively. Gabbard officially began her campaign for president a mere three days ago, and already she’s become the front line upon which the debate about US warmongering is happening. Even if you oppose Gabbard’s run for the presidency, this should be self-evident to you by now.

This dynamic became more apparent than ever today in Gabbard’s appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, hosted by spouses Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. It should here be noted since we’re talking about war propaganda that in 2009 Scarborough turned down an easy run for the US Senate because he decided that he could have more influence on public policy as the host of Morning Joe than he could as one of 100 US senators, which tells you everything you need to know about why I focus more on US mass media propaganda than I do on US politics. It should also be noted that Brzezinski is the daughter of the late Carter administration cold warrior Zbigniew Brzezinski, whose influential ideas about US world domination, arming extremist factions to advance US interests, and hawkish agendas against Russia continue to infect US foreign policy to this day. Mika is part of a political dynasty, with both brothers being US political insiders as well.

So if you’ve ever wondered how outlets like MSNBC keep everyone on message and fully in alignment with the US war machine’s agendas, there’s a good insight into how. Combine that with the way they stock their punditry lineup with US intelligence community insiders and fire any pundit who refuses to toe the military-industrial complex line, and it’s not hard to see how they’ve developed such a tight echo chamber of hostility toward any resistance to US interventionism. Which explains what we’re about to discuss next.

Morning Joe’s pile-on against Gabbard began when the subject of Syria came up, and panelist Kasie Hunt instantly began losing her shit.

“Do you think Assad is our enemy?” Hunt interrupted during Gabbard’s response to a question about her meeting with Syria’s president in 2017, her voice and face both strained with emotion.

“Assad is not the enemy of the United States because Syria does not pose a direct threat to the United States,” Gabbard replied.

“What do you say to Democratic voters who watched you go over there, and what do you say to military members who have been deployed repeatedly in Syria pushing back against Assad?” Hunt replied, somehow believing that US soldiers are in Syria fighting against the Syrian government, which would probably come as a shock to the troops who’ve been told that they are there to defeat ISIS.

Journalist Rania Khalek summed up this insanity perfectly, tweeting, “The journalist interrogating Tulsi seems to believe that US forces in Syria are fighting Assad. Tulsi corrects her, says those troops were deployed there to fight ISIS. These people don’t even know what’s happening in the places they want the US to occupy.”

“This is such an embarrassing look at the state of corporate American regime media,” tweeted journalist Max Blumenthal. “@kasie doesn’t know the most basic facts about Syria and along with the smug co-hosts, doesn’t care to learn.”

And it didn’t get any better from there. After Gabbard took some time to explain to a professional cable news reporter the basic fundamentals of the US military’s official involvement in Syria, Scarborough interjected to ask if Assad isn’t an enemy, would Gabbard at least concede that he is “an adversary of the United States.”

Whatever the fuck that means. What Assad is is the leader of a sovereign nation which has nothing to do with the United States and isn’t taking anything from or harming the United States in any way.

Scarborough and Gabbard went back and forth about this stupid, nonsensical question before Brzezinski interjected to ask “So what would you say he is to the United States? If you cannot say that he’s an adversary or an enemy, what is Assad to the U.S.? What is the word?”

“You can describe it however you want to describe it,” Gabbard responded, explaining that whether a nation is adversarial or not comes down to whether or not they are working against US interests.

“Are Assad’s interests aligned with ours?” asked Hunt.

“What are Assad’s interests?” Gabbard countered.

“Assad seems interested primarily in the slaughter of his own people,” Hunt replied with a straight face.

“Survival,” Scarborough interjected, trying to save his colleague some embarrassment with a less insane response to the question of Assad’s interests.

Other bat shit crazy questions Gabbard was asked during her appearance include the following:

“You know there are people who will watch this have heard your previous comments who will wonder, what’s going on here? Why you met with Assad, why it looks like you were very cozy with Assad and why you’ve sort of taken his side in this argument. What would you say to that?”

“Do you think that Assad is a good person?”

“Your hometown paper said that you should focus on your job and talked about your presidential campaign being in disarray. How would you respond to your hometown paper?”

“Any idea why David Duke came out and supported you?”

“There have been reports that that Russian apparatus that interfered in 2016 is potentially trying to help your campaign. Why do you think that is?”

“Have you met with any Russians over the past several years?”

Gabbard shoved back against the various accusations of alignment with Trump, Putin and Assad, asserting correctly that those lines are only being used to smear anyone who voices an objection to endless war and insane nuclear escalations. She pushed back particularly hard on Kasie Hunt’s reference to the obscene NBC smear piece which cited the discredited narrative control firm New Knowledge to paint Gabbard as a favorite of the Kremlin, claiming that the article has been thoroughly debunked (and it has).

After the show, still unable to contain herself, Hunt jumped onto Twitter to share the discredited NBC smear piece, writing, “Here is @NBCNews’ excellent reporting on the Russian machine that now appears to be boosting Tulsi Gabbard.”

Hunt then followed up with a link to an RT article which she captioned with an outright lie: “Here is the ‘debunking’ of the NBC News report from RT, the Russian state media. You tell me which you think is more credible.”

I say that Hunt is lying because the RT article that she shared to falsely claim that the only objection to NBC’s smear piece came from Russia explicitly names an Intercept article by American journalist Glenn Greenwald, upon which the RT article is based and which does indeed thoroughly discredit the NBC smear piece. If Hunt had read the article that she shared, she necessarily would have known that, so she was either lying about the nature of the article she shared or lying about knowing what was in it.

So that was nuts. We can expect to see a whole, whole lot more of this as the plutocratic media works overtime to undermine Gabbard’s message in order to keep her from disrupting establishment war narratives, and I’m pleased as punch to see Gabbard firing back and calling them out for the sleazy war propagandists that they are. Her presidential campaign is shaking the foundations of the establishment narrative control matrix more than anything else that’s going on right now, so it looks like writing about these embarrassing mass media debacles she’s been provoking may be a big part of my job in the coming months.

Military interventionism is by far the most depraved and destructive aspect of the US-centralized power establishment, and it is also the most lucrative and strategically crucial, which is why so much energy is poured into ensuring that the American people don’t use the power of their numbers to force that interventionism to end. Anyone who throws a monkey wrench in the works of this propaganda machine is going to be subjected to a tremendous amount of smears, and I’m glad to see Gabbard fighting back against those smears. From personal experience I know that smear campaigns must be fought against ferociously, because the only alternative is to allow your detractors to control the narrative about you, which as far as your message goes is the same as allowing them to control you. It’s not fun, it’s not clean, but it’s necessary.

The narrative control war keeps getting hotter and hotter, ladies and gentlemen. Buckle up.

____________________________

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How Russia’s President Putin Explains – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on July 1, 2019

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2019/07/no_author/how-russias-president-putin-explains-the-end-of-the-liberal-order/

Moon of Alabama.

Putin explains why U.S. President Donald Trump was elected:

Has anyone ever given a thought to who actually benefited and what benefits were gained from globalisation, the development of which we have been observing and participating in over the past 25 years, since the 1990s?China has made use of globalisation, in particular, to pull millions of Chinese out of poverty.

What happened in the US, and how did it happen? In the US, the leading US companies — the companies, their managers, shareholders and partners — made use of these benefits. [..] The middle class in the US has not benefited from globalisation; it was left out when this pie was divided up.

The Trump team sensed this very keenly and clearly, and they used this in the election campaign. It is where you should look for reasons behind Trump’s victory, rather than in any alleged foreign interference.

On Syria:

Primarily, this concerns Syria, we have managed to preserve Syrian statehood, no matter what, and we have prevented Libya-style chaos there. And a worst-case scenario would spell out negative consequences for Russia.

I believe that the Syrian people should be free to choose their own future.

When we discussed this matter only recently with the previous US administration, we said, suppose Assad steps down today, what will happen tomorrow?Your colleague did well to laugh, because the answer we got was very amusing. You cannot even imagine how funny it was. They said, “We don’t know.” But when you do not know what happens tomorrow, why shoot from the hip today? This may sound primitive, but this is how it is.

On ‘western’ interventionism and ‘democracy promotion’: Read the rest of this entry »

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Memo to Trump: Trade Bolton for Tulsi – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on June 28, 2019

Can Ryan really be that dumb?

In a fiery exchange, Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio countered that America cannot disengage from Afghanistan: “When we weren’t in there they started flying planes into our buildings.”

“The Taliban didn’t attack us on 9/11,” Gabbard replied, “Al-Qaida attacked us on 9/11. That’s why I and so many other people joined the military, to go after al-Qaida, not the Taliban.”

Can Ryan really be that dumb?

Ryan is typical of those that run this country. They chose to espouse the government’s own liars press. It is easy, you don’t have to think, and most of all, that is what brings in the money.

Can Ryan really be that dumb?

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2019/06/patrick-j-buchanan/memo-to-trump-trade-bolton-for-tulsi/

By

…“For too long our leaders have failed us, taking us into one regime change war after the next, leading us into a new Cold War and arms race, costing us trillions of our hard-earned tax payer dollars and countless lives. This insanity must end.”

Donald Trump, circa 2016?

Nope. That denunciation of John Bolton interventionism came from Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii during Wednesday night’s Democratic debate. At 38, she was the youngest candidate on stage.

Gabbard proceeded to rip both the “president and his chickenhawk cabinet (who) have led us to the brink of war with Iran.”

In a fiery exchange, Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio countered that America cannot disengage from Afghanistan: “When we weren’t in there they started flying planes into our buildings.”

“The Taliban didn’t attack us on 9/11,” Gabbard replied, “Al-Qaida attacked us on 9/11. That’s why I and so many other people joined the military, to go after al-Qaida, not the Taliban.”

When Ryan insisted we must stay engaged, Gabbard shot back:

“Is that what you will tell the parents of those two soldiers who were just killed in Afghanistan? ‘Well, we just have to be engaged.’ As a solider, I will tell you, that answer is unacceptable. … We are no better off in Afghanistan that we were when this war began.”

By debate’s end, Gabbard was the runaway winner in both the Drudge Report and Washington Examiner polls and was far in front among all the Democratic candidates whose names were being searched on Google.

Though given less than seven minutes of speaking time in a two-hour debate, she could not have used that time more effectively. And her performance may shake up the Democratic race.

If she can rise a few points above her 1-2% in the polls, she could be assured a spot in the second round of debates.

If she is, moderators will now go to her with questions of foreign policy issues that would not have been raised without her presence, and these questions will expose the hidden divisions in the Democratic Party.

Leading Democratic candidates could be asked to declare what U.S. policy should be — not only toward Afghanistan but Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Jared Kushner’s “Deal of the Century,” and Trump’s seeming rejection of the two-state solution.

If she makes it into the second round, Gabbard could become the catalyst for the kind of globalist vs. nationalist debate that broke out between Trump and Bush Republicans in 2016, a debate that contributed to Trump’s victory at the Cleveland convention and in November…

Be seeing you

 

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Understanding the Failure of U.S. Foreign Policy: The Albright Doctrine | The National Interest

Posted by M. C. on June 7, 2019

As Albright famously asked Colin Powell in 1992: “What’s the use of having this superb military you’re always talking about if we can’t use it?” To her, American military personnel apparently were but gambit pawns in a global chess game, to be sacrificed for the interest and convenience of those playing.

https://nationalinterest.org/blog/skeptics/understanding-failure-us-foreign-policy-albright-doctrine-60477

by Doug Bandow

Albright typifies the arrogance and hawkishness of Washington blob.

How to describe U.S. foreign policy over the last couple of decades? Disastrous comes to mind. Arrogant and murderous also seem appropriate.

Since 9/11, Washington has been extraordinarily active militarily—invading two nations, bombing and droning several others, deploying special operations forces in yet more countries, and applying sanctions against many. Tragically, the threat of Islamist violence and terrorism only have metastasized. Although Al Qaeda lost its effectiveness in directly plotting attacks, it continues to inspire national offshoots. Moreover, while losing its physical “caliphate” the Islamic State added further terrorism to its portfolio.

Three successive administrations have ever more deeply ensnared the United States in the Middle East. War with Iran appears to be frighteningly possible. Ever-wealthier allies are ever-more dependent on America. Russia is actively hostile to the United States and Europe. Washington and Beijing appear to be a collision course on far more than trade. Yet the current administration appears convinced that doing more of the same will achieve different results, the best definition of insanity.

Despite his sometimes abusive and incendiary rhetoric, the president has departed little from his predecessors’ policies. For instance, American forces remain deployed in Afghanistan and Syria. Moreover, the Trump administration has increased its military and materiel deployments to Europe. Also, Washington has intensified economic sanctions on Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Russia, and even penalized additional countries, namely Venezuela.

U.S. foreign policy suffers from systematic flaws in the thinking of the informal policy collective which former Obama aide Ben Rhodes dismissed as “The Blob.” Perhaps no official better articulated The Blob’s defective precepts than Madeleine Albright, United Nations ambassador and Secretary of State.

First is overweening hubris. In 1998 Secretary of State Albright declared that “If we have to use force, it is because we are America: we are the indispensable nation. We stand tall and we see further than other countries into the future, and we see the danger here to all of us.”

Even then her claim was implausible. America blundered into the Korean War and barely achieved a passable outcome. The Johnson administration infused Vietnam with dramatically outsize importance. For decades, Washington foolishly refused to engage the People’s Republic of China. Washington-backed dictators in Cuba, Nicaragua, Iran, and elsewhere fell ingloriously. An economic embargo against Cuba that continues today helped turn Fidel Castro into a global folk hero. Washington veered dangerously close to nuclear war with Moscow during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 and again two decades later during military exercises in Europe.

U.S. officials rarely were prepared for events that occurred in the next week or month, let alone years later. Americans did no better than the French in Vietnam. Americans managed events in Africa no better than the British, French, and Portuguese colonial overlords. Washington made more than its share of bad, even awful decisions in dealing with other nations around the globe.

Perhaps the worst failing of U.S. foreign policy was ignoring the inevitable impact of foreign intervention. Americans would never passively accept another nation bombing, invading, and occupying their nation, or interfering in their political system. Even if outgunned, they would resist. Yet Washington has undertaken all of these practices, with little consideration of the impact on those most affected—hence the rise of terrorism against the United States. Terrorism, horrid and awful though it is, became the weapon of choice of weaker peoples against intervention by the world’s industrialized national states.

The U.S. record since September 11 has been uniquely counterproductive…

Such a philosophy explains a 1997 comment by a cabinet member, likely Albright, to General Hugh Shelton, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: “Hugh, I know I shouldn’t even be asking you this, but what we really need in order to go in and take out Saddam is a precipitous event—something that would make us look good in the eyes of the world. Could you have one of our U-2s fly low enough—and slow enough—so as to guarantee that Saddam could shoot it down?” He responded sure, as soon as she qualified to fly the plane.

For Albright, war is just another foreign policy tool. One could send a diplomatic note, impose economic sanctions, or unleash murder and mayhem. No reason to treat the latter as anything special. Joining the U.S. military means putting your life at the disposal of Albright and her peers in The Blob…

Be seeing you

madeleine-albright

 

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