Gaius Publius: They Don’t Hate Us for Our Freedom, They Hate Us for Our Bombs

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Yves here. This post makes a critical point that is deliberately obscured in domestic war mongering discussions of Middle East policy: that invaders and occupiers are never welcomed with open arms (despite Iraq War fantasies to the contrary) and hostility and efforts to make it costly for us to stay should hardly be surprising.

By Gaius Pubius, a professional writer living on the West Coast. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius. Cross posted from AmericaBlog

This is the last of four posts that examine Obama’s big National Security / Drone Strike / War on Terrorism speech. The first three are here:

Protester during Obama’s “I can’t close Guantánamo” speech: “You are commander-in-chief”

Jon Stewart on the sincerity of Obama’s National Security speech

Chris Hayes and guests: The drone program is a failure; why is he defending it?

The first considered Obama’s reaction to the protester; the second considered the folded-back-on-itself aspect of the speech (“I hate the Gitmo force-feeding; stop me before I keep doing it some more”); and the third looked at the drone program and the “War on Terrorism” through the eyes of Chris Hayes and several of his commenters, who concluded that the drone program is hated, yet Obama is spirited in its defense.

There are two more aspects of the speech I want to look at here — Glenn Greenwald’s overview comment about this speech in the context of all Obama speeches, and Guy Saperstein’s perfect capture of the reason Obama’s war-making is a failure, an analysis of the speech I’ve seen nowhere else. (Click to jump to each of these sections.)

Glenn Greenwald: “Seeing What You Want to See”

First Greenwald, writing in The Guardian (all emphasis and some reparagraphing mine):

Obama’s terrorism speech: seeing what you want to see

Some eager-to-believe progressives heralded the speech as a momentous change, but Obama’s actions are often quite different than his rhetoric

The hallmark of a skilled politician is the ability to speak to a group of people holding widely disparate views, and have all of them walk away believing they heard what they wanted to hear. Other than Bill Clinton, I’ve personally never seen a politician even in the same league as Barack Obama when it comes to that ability. His most consequential speeches are shaped by their simultaneous affirmation of conflicting values and even antithetical beliefs, allowing listeners with irreconcilable positions to conclude that Obama agrees with them.

The highly touted speech Obama delivered last week on US terrorism policy was a master class in that technique. If one longed to hear that the end of the “war on terror” is imminent, there are several good passages that will be quite satisfactory. If one wanted to hear that the war will continue indefinitely, perhaps even in expanded form, one could easily have found that. And if one wanted to know that the president who has spent almost five years killing people in multiple countries around the world feels personal “anguish” and moral conflict as he does it, because these issues are so very complicated, this speech will be like a gourmet meal.

But whatever else is true, what should be beyond dispute at this point is that Obama’s speeches have very little to do with Obama’s actions, except to the extent that they often signal what he intends not to do.

I won”t continue, as you can see where this is going. Like myself and Jon Stewart in the first two posts listed at the top, Greenwald questions Obama’s sincerity, yet focuses on the audience, their need to see what they want to see, and Obama’s consummate craftsmanship in giving it to them. It’s sad (and dangerous) that many on the left have come to respond in this way, but there it is.

The rest of Greenwald’s piece is excellent; it looks more broadly at Obama’s value to “guardians of the status quo in placating growing public discontent about their economic insecurity and increasing unequal distribution of power and wealth.” Do read if you’re at all inclined.

Near the end, Greenwald notes, via the inestimable Michael Hastings, what Guy Saperstein has also noted — that the ultimate frame of the war as a fight against “jihadists” is why all related policies are doomed to fail. Hastings, as quoted by Greenwald:

“That speech to me was essentially agreeing with President Bush and Vice President Cheney that we’re in this neo-conservative paradigm, that we’re at war with a jihadist threat that actually is not a nuisance but the most important threat we’re facing today”.

Why does the “war against jihadists” framework doom us to failure? Let’s turn to Saperstein.

Are We Fighting an Ideology, or the Understandable Resistance of Occupied People?

Guy Saperstein is someone not many are familiar with, as much of his work occurs away from the limelight. Yet his influence has been considerable. From his Huffington Post biography:

Guy T. Saperstein graduated law school (UC Berkeley) in 1969, received a poverty law fellowship and represented migrant farmworkers in Colorado; in 1972, he founded a law firm in Oakland which became the largest plaintiffs civil rights law firm in America, in the process successfully prosecuting the largest race, sex and age discrimination class actions in American history. Guy also prosecuted False Claims Act cases against Lockheed Missiles & Space Co. regarding satellite surveillance systems, and against Raytheon, Boeing and TRW regarding the sham National Missile Defense Program. …

In 2006, Guy helped write the “Real Security” plank of the Democratic Party’s New Directions for America, and in 2007, helped found the National Security/Foreign Policy New Ideas Fund, with funding from the Democracy Alliance.

There’s much more in this fascinating biography, but note the last paragraph above. It’s this expertise I want to highlight as you read what follows.

Saperstein points out what is certainly the critical mistake of Obama’s (and America’s) relentless framing of this war. Is the enemy a group of “jihadists” or a large group of angry occupied peoples? Saperstein (via email, reprinted with permission):

This is one of the most important speeches President Obama has ever made, as it represents his first effort to challenge national security orthodoxy in the United States. A fresh approach is badly needed, as the old ways of relying on military power have proven to be both astronomically expensive and almost completely ineffective.

Unfortunately, parts of what Obama said are dangerously inaccurate:

“[W]e must recognize that these threats don’t arise in a vacuum. Most, though not all, of the terrorism we face is fueled by a common ideology – a belief by some extremists that Islam is in conflict with the United States and the West, and that violence against that Western targets, including civilians, is justified in pursuit of a larger cause.”

The meme that terrorism is driven mostly by some form of Muslim ideology was developed and is promoted by conservatives, but it has almost no basis in fact, as studies have shown. Terrorism is driven not by ideology, but by occupation by hostile forces. This has been most famously proven by a conservative scholar, Robert Pape, who examined the motivations of 300+ suicide terrorist bombers, virtually every known act of suicide terrorism from 1980 to 2005, and found that more than 90% of the acts of terrorism were motivated by foreign occupation, not ideology.

Other studies of Osama bin Laden [a Saudi] have shown that while he adhered to a mutated form of Islam, his attack on the World Trade Center was motivated by the role the US plays in propping up the autocratic Saudi Arabian regime—which is a form of occupation.

After Pape’s study, in 2006 the DoD commissioned a study of the roots of terrorism by the RAND Corporation and the Rand study came to exactly the same conclusion as Pape—ideology plays a very small role in fomenting terrorism. The major role is the reaction to occupation, and the Rand report recommended that the most effective way to reduce terrorism in the Middle East would be for the US to vastly reduce its military footprint in the Middle East.

Near as I can tell, both the Pape study and the RAND study have been completely ignored by US policymakers, and Obama’s speech continues the pattern of studied ignorance.

… Indeed, if we fail to understand the roots of terrorism, how can we expect to deal with it effectively over the long-term—which is a major part of Obama’s purpose in making this speech?

Hina Shamsi made the same point in the post that contained the Chris Hayes segments, when she noted hat the drone program is “absolutely hated in the countries where it is being carried out.”

If you have a hard time thinking of cross-border drone strikes as a form of occupation, consider this, my own comment from the same post:

It’s hard to come to grips with that last point from the comfort of your chair — without putting yourself in the shoes of those who constantly watch the skies in fear of soulless, pilotless American planes. If a foreign nation sent a drone to kill someone in your neighbor’s house — in Albuquerque, say, or a Cleveland suburb — and your daughter were visiting at the time, and died … what would be the odds you’d immediately think of revenge?

I’d put those odds at just below 100%, assuming you still had a pulse and weren’t blown up yourself. After all, did not the invasion of Iraq ride a national tidal wave of revenge for piloted attacks against New York and Washington, in other words, “9/11″?

What this says is, they don’t hate us for our freedom, they hate us for our bombs, our support of their dictators, our bases, our need for their oil, our need to make the entire world comply with our desire never to lose and never to change.

Put more simply, is “terrorism” the comforting name we give to what in many cases is, in fact, the growing third-world war against worldwide empire? Is the empire creating its enemies? If so, America is indeed “at a crossroads” — but not the one Obama envisioned.

Saperstein then lays his finger on exactly why this matters, why a change of direction, if it were real and the right one, provides a point of hope:

[E]ven in this mostly great speech, [Obama] fails to come to grips with the gratuitous disaster, the self-inflicted wound, that the Iraq War has been for the US and the huge amount of damage it did to America’s standing in the Middle East. Among other things, the approval of America’s foreign policy in Turkey went from more than 70% to 10% and in Pakistan to 5%, and the war removed Iran’s natural enemy and moved Iraq close to Iran politically …

At great cost, the US has dug a very deep hole for itself and at least Obama wants to stop digging it deeper.

We need to hope he perseveres with real action and that he succeeds.

We can all place odds on whether Obama will persevere; but pressing him to follow through on what this speech starts to acknowledge is critical to America’s success. Put simply, if we continue to frame and fight this endless war as one against “terrorists” — “ideologues” — “jihadists” — we will lose an ever-widening campaign and create a Vietnam-like failure of worldwide proportions. That future is stark, as ever-larger numbers of angry people, justified or not, find each of our vulnerabilities and strike.

Look what 9/11 did — we paid more than $1 trillion and killed tens or hundreds of thousands of people, to avenge 3000 American deaths. And we changed our society (and our air travel) perhaps forever.

What would security in this country look like if someone set off a series of bombs in a group of major shopping malls all in one weekend? When I was in Cairo, every entry into a large building along the Corniche el-Nil — every mall, every office tower, each hotel — meant a security scan and search. Every undercarriage of every car was checked before entering large parking lots. (By the way, Egypt was already perfectly safe; this was Mubarak’s security forces maintaining social control. I walked everywhere, alone, and was never interrupted except by friendly greetings.)

Now imagine America and the American economy if Christmas entry to every Mall of America meant waiting in an airport-style security line? Imagine armed guards at gas stations, with checks for under-car explosives before you could gas up? I won’t add to this list of horrid possibilities — it writes itself.

Bottom Line — Can We Afford not to Engage on “National Security Orthodoxy”?

The choice, as I say, is stark. If we don’t disengage from self-centered hyper-control of the world — if we don’t leave others be — we can never succeed. We’ve reached a tipping point, where an empire of “soft power” will have to decide whether to become an empire of Roman Empire–style hard power (with a homeland of ever-hardened defenses), or back off. Ultimately, this is the question Obama is asking. (And note, the rewards of that empire are not well divided; the barons are taking much more than their share, and openly.)

The speech underplays the devastation of our policies (see Shamsi above) and overplays our self-justification for them (Obama: “this is a just war – a war waged proportionally, in last resort, and in self-defense”). And as Saperstein aptly notes, it completely misunderstands what motivates our combatants. But unless we want to create and sustain a modern “Fortress America” — a land no one but the privileged will want to live in — I think we need to take this speech as a challenge and a way to push back.

In that sense, Saperstein is right. This speech is the first glimmer of recognition by one of Our Betters that “things aren’t right”. Finally.

Do we trust Obama to follow through on his own? Perhaps Greenwald’s “eager-to-believe progressives” do. I sure don’t, and neither do many of those I quoted in this short series.

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take this speech as an opening. It’s a fair statement, that the speech “represents his first effort to challenge national security orthodoxy in the United States.” My suggestion is to take that as a challenge ourselves … and press hard.

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  1. Chris Engel

    While I’m sure many hate us for our ME military actions…

    The Madrid bombings sure weren’t because of an imperial anti-Islam policy (Asnar was certain to make the Iraq involvement non-combat only).

    The Lockeryby bombing wasn’t a response to Scottis haggression.

    Various Bali bombings that affected Westerners before there was any Iraq War were certainly not because of Australia’s (disproportionately affected by Bali violence) an imperial warmonger.

    I think the people who say “these islamic terrorists hate us only because of our bombings, occupation, military bases” are just as disingenuous as those who say “this is because they hate our freedoms.”

    There are of course political motives which are becoming more and more coherent (compared to the attacks in the 90’s by bin laden which were somewhat bizarre because the stated reasons were the Saudi bases and Israel, and some other really bad rationale) as we invade and occupy more of the middle east.

    But the extremists most definitely hate decadent Western culture, the liberal ideas of equality of man(and woman), basic rights, etc. They don’t all have deep well-founded ideologies that justify violence that some label as political. Just look into the various former attacks in Beirut and other places where “blowback” or “imperial consequences” are really not at all identifiable as motives.

    Although now that we’ve invaded Iraq and Afghanistan and we’re drone-murdering people all over the place, there’s plenty of, for lack of a better word, “valid” or coherent reasons for the oppressed in those areas to get revenge on their aggressors (we’ve already seen some consequences at home in Boston for that).

    There is definitely some room in between the “blame US” crowd and the “they hate our freedoms” ‘baggers.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorHAL

      It’s fascinating to look into the minds of the apologists for America’s unending foreign relations holocaust since 9/11. Yes Spain put troops in the MidEast, and expecting the average angry Muslim to parse the niceties of whether their soldiers were technically in combat zones is beyond belief. Secondly, Lockerbie was not aimed at Scotland, I mean duh already, it was aimed at a US airliner. The flight was supposed to fly out over the ocean but happened to divert over Scotland due to winds. Lastly, YES the Bali bombings WERE aimed specifically at Australians who completely toe the American line militarily and otherwise around the world and everyone knows it (except apparently this commenter).
      Anyone trying to apologize for the terrorist-creating actions of America post 9/11 will have to try a bit harder. Take a drone strike in your neighborhood sometime, blow the arms off a five-year old or two and then see how you react. It’s disgusting, and certainly in a world of laws would qualify as a war crime. But unfortunately we no longer live in one of those.

      1. skippy

        “Lastly, YES the Bali bombings WERE aimed specifically at Australians who completely toe the American line militarily and otherwise around the world and everyone knows it (except apparently this commenter).”

        Colour me defective but… word on the street has it was for local infringement[s… treating it as moral sewer more than international commitments.

        skippy… just saying… carry on… although… that is a yank thingy too…

        1. Big Mac

          The focus here is on the ME, thus the lens is on the historical and current grievances of their populace. Having travelled the world, even to “friendly” nations, there is a broad streak of anti-Americanism.
          Political leaders the world over perpetuate a sense of victimhood at the hands of the Americans (or more generally, Imperialists, Westerners, Infidels, Devils) whether the actual basis for their suffering is directly the result of American action, or more appropriately attributable to local leadership issues.

          Thus, the hapless citizens in these countries are in the middle between drone strikes by Americans and their rotten leaders who blame America for all their local woes, while either actively, or incompetently harboring the bad actors who “invite” targeting with those very drones.
          Meanwhile, these same hapless citizens, willingly, or ignorantly blind to the corrupt mess of their local leadership continue to provide them support just to get bread on the table.

          It is a never ending circle – nearly, as we in the west have managed to break out of that cycle, so there is hope.

          1. from Mexico

            Well, if we weren’t there meddling in the internal affairs of these countries, infringing upon their sovereignty, then we wouldn’t get blamed, would we?

            Why should the “corrupt mess of their local leadership,” regardless of whether the charge is true or not, even be a concern of ours?

          2. skippy

            You should bone up on the take over of Indo after a democratically elected prez was deposed awhile back, for incorrect ideological prospective…. sovereignty.

            skippy.. The strange thing was that some commercial ships from the north carrying christian support troops sank inexplicably… HMS were the only other stuff in the area.

    2. Expat

      Okay, so let me get this straight. The US did absolutely nothing bad to the Arabs or Muslims prior to the invasion of Iraq, and any “terrorism” from them was petulance and “freedom-hating”.

      I would draw up a time-line for you, since I suspect your mind is made up. Just one small detail, though. The US invaded and occupied Afghanistan on the 7th of October 2001, less than one month after 9/11 (and we claim the government is inefficient! They should be running EVERYTHING!). The Bali bombing was one year later.

      We have been murdering, torturing, expropriating, and exploiting Arabs and Muslims for a hundred years. There are no Muslim “terrorists”; there are Muslim freedom fighters who are trying to rid the world of its largest, most murderous empire.

      1. Massinissa

        Actually, alot of them are still terrorists. Alot of them are more than willing to kill their own civilians, or at least civilians of other types of islam.

        But it just so happens we are BIGGER terrorists who kill MORE civilians.

        Most of those terrorists are indeed terrorists, but their terror is relatively small and localized.

        Ours is large scale and GLOBAL.

        Im sorry though but I cant really consider Al Qaeda and affiliates ‘freedom fighters’.

        1. expat

          Al Qaeda are simply better organized and have achieved better “branding”. They have been vilified and identified by the US government, media, and corporate world as being terrorists. Ipso facto, they are terrorists.

          I don’t necessarily approve of their tactics, but I have more respect for Al qaeda and its struggle than I do for the myriad branches of the US government which carry out the War on Terror. Drone pilots in Arkansas who do an eight hour shift of blowing up women and children and then go out to Chipotle with their families. Special Ops strike teams raping, torturing and killing entire villages and getting medals. Private contractors who open fire on crowds in occupied territory with impunity.

          When it’s a drone, a B1, an M1, and M16 or waterboarding, it’s War on Terror. When it’s a bomb in a pressure cooker, a gun on a bus, or a knife in the dark, it’s terrorism.

          The only differences I see are that the terrorists don’t get cool uniforms and medalsm and they can’t compete in body count.

        2. from Mexico

          @ Massinissa

          The best analysis I’ve seen on this is John Gray’s Al Qaeda and What it Means to Be Modern.

          The Al Qaeda folks and the American full spectrum dominance folks are cut out of the same cloth.

          1. Nathanael

            The big difference is that the al Qaeda folks understand the correct military doctrines for the current state of military technlogy.

            And the US “full spectrum dominance” people DON’T. Which is why they LOSE, while al-Qaeda WINS.

            What’s really interesting to me is that it’s quite possible to build an empire with the current state of military technology, if you have the right military doctrines. The military situation, strategically, is very similar to that which Britain faced when it was building its empire.

            Britain’s strategy was basically to “go native”, even though they inveighed against that verbally:

            (1) Send people in who actually learned about and understood the locals. Spend some time getting the lay of the political land.
            (2) Only *then* pick which local warlord or prince to back — if you can get him to agree, pick the one who’s likely to win anyway.
            (3) Politely supply him with arms, “advisors”, and a well-run British bureaucracy…
            (4) After a few decades, he’ll be completely dependent on it, a puppet, and part of your Empire.

            The crucial part is step 1. The US has, of course, picked puppet governments and attempted to supplythem with arms, advisors, etc. But the US has been notoriously bad at picking puppet governments. This is partly due to failing to do the research in advance, and partly due to arrogance and greed. When guerrilla warfare is a dominant strategy, you *have* to pick the *correct* local liege-lord — one who actually commands local respect, and who is competent on his own — rather than one who is hated, incompetent, or seen as a worthless puppet locally.

            Someone whose opinion I respect has said that this failure is due to foreign policy decisions being made in DC — whereas the British Empire allowed the “men on the ground” to operate their political strategy semi-autonomously.

          2. Massinissa

            Mexico, I agree that the US is worse with than Al Qaeda in many ways. Well, actually, in almost every way…

            But referring to them as ‘freedom fighters’… Makes me sort of uncomfortable.

            Just because the US is worse than Al Qaeda doesnt make Al Qaeda somehow the good guys. Its bad guys (al qaeda) vs much worse guys (U.S.A.)

          3. Procopius

            When I read William Appleman Williams’s “The Tragedy of American Diplomacy” (a great book, although he was primarily arguing against the Vietnam War), I was astonished to find that in the 1930s the State Department decided to back Batista in Cuba against the then legal government because United Fruit wanted him. Just goes to show how little we learn of our history in school. I think the reason we are so bad at picking the right warlords to back is because our choice is always based on the narrow view of one or two huge profit-making corporations, which are always at least as corrupt as the particular warlord they are backing.

    3. petridish

      America has been at this a LONG time.

      Ever heard this one: “From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of TRIPOLI…..?”

      1. Massinissa

        Is that a reference to that crap America pulled on Tripoli in the early 1800s?

        Yeah, we been pissing off Muslims for MUCH longer than ten years

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          It is a reference, but the line is from the Marine Hymn where the First Barbary War and the Mexican land grab are both mentioned.

        2. petridish

          It is a reference to the First Barbary War fought to protect the private, capitalist shipping industry and paid for by the American public. The war occurred just after the end of the Revolutionary War when France declined continuing the previously provided protection (and its resultant contribution to American GDP?) The Department of the Navy was formed in response to this war.

          Although not mentioned in Wikipedia, it is thought to be the first public-private partnership and the model for all future such associations in which losses are socialized and profits remain private. The publicly protected shipping industry later became the modern day financial empire and defacto American government entity now known as Koch Industries. OK, THIS LAST PARAGRAPH IS SARCASM.

    4. washunate

      Now I understand your support for trickle down economics. There is a larger pattern at work.

    5. nonclassical

      ..obviously, Engel,

      you need an education based upon historical documentation=please view Adam
      Curtis’, “The Power of Nightmares” to comprehend documented history of “terrorism”..then read Amy Goodman’s books on her actual experiences of history of Eastern Timor…then read John Perkins’, “Confessions of An Economic Hit Man”, then William Blum’s, “Killing Hope”.

      Your quite incomplete comprehension of actual history is telling..

      (this from one who trained G-9 anti-terrorism groups while living Europe, with close associates involved, anti-terrorism)

      1. Massinissa

        Is it bad that I have only ever read Perkins? :(

        Though I think I get enough of the picture. At least better than Engel here.

    6. Yalt

      The Lockerbie attack was understood at the time, and with considerable evidence, to have been ordered by Iran in retaliation for the destruction by the US Vincennes of an Iranian civilian Airbus with 290 onboard.

      That evidence needed to be ignored, however, when Iranian co-operation became necessary after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, so an alternative story, with evidence so flimsy I hesitate to even use the word, was cocked up and an embarrassing show trial arranged.

      It’s no accident Megrahi was released on “humanitarian grounds” just before his appeal could be heard–it would have been a most embarrassing appeal indeed.

      So technically it’s true, as you state, that the bombing was not in retaliation for *Scottish* aggression. As a counterexample for the argument at hand, though, it’s very weak.

      1. ohmyheck

        I have heard various theories on Lockerbie, not just the one you mentioned.

        “Among the passengers in the first class and business sections, there was at least one serving Central Intelligence Agency ( CIA) officer, Matthew Gannon; an army officer on secondment to the Defense Intelligence Agency ( DIA), Major Charles McKee; and two bodyguards assigned to one of the men. Major McKee was returning to the U.S. from Beirut where it is believed he was part of an operation trying to find the American hostages being held by the terrorist group Hezbollah.”

        Another states that the two were on their way to the US because they had “found out about the “Operation Corea” drug operation, and were headed to Washington to raise their concerns about its impact on their hostage rescue plans.”

        I’m pretty sure it is a fact that Gannon and McKee were on the flight. Who knows why.

  2. albrt

    President Obama is not nearly as talented a speaker as I wanted to believe he was back in 2008. He can deflect and dissemble as nicely as ever, but he can’t make people want to listen to him anymore.

    I don’t personally know anyone who listened to this speech. I certainly didn’t, and I would expect to get more useful information from a link to kremlinology-style speculation about whose kleenex were found in a West Wing wastebasket than to a discussion of what Obama said in a speech.

    But of course he will persevere – he will continue doing exactly what the neocons and bankers tell him to do until 2016, and then he will be paid a lot of money.

    1. fajensen

      The Danish Foreign Minister, Villy Sövndal, sucked it all right up and even wrote a fawning piece on how everything was now better because it was not Bush-Cheney running things with bad rethoric.

      However – the man is a bumbling idiot, not even a useful idiot, who could perhaps cut peoples lawns or something ;)

      I guess everybody in Europe kind-of just ignores that Obama on every metric (apart from empty-canvassing) is far worse than Bush-Cheney ever was. People are embarrassed over being fooled so easily by such a glib operator and some are even going into deeper denial aboout it. I wonder what they will come up with next?

      1. petridish

        There is a study (sorry, no link) that suggests that people who buy a Mercedes are more likely to rate the car highly even when it has not met their expectations. The conclusion is that they don’t want to appear stupid or duped for having spent so much and gotten less than they paid for.

        In my opinion, this is what’s going on with Obama and his continuing popularity. He got the Nobel Peace Prize PREEMPTIVELY, for chrissakes! How stupid must that group feel now that their sacred prize has been so thoroughly and permanently devalued?

        1. nonclassical

          …not all Mercedes’ are masterpieces…you have to do diligence to discover which models-years-places of manufacture are worthy of “purchase”…

          1. nonclassical

            all of which means, Elizabeth Warren, 2016…no more DLC bought and solders..

            1. Lambert Strether

              You mean, fall for “hope and change” again? How about getting some policy commitments from Warren and then offer up your support? Is there really a reason to throw away your leverage now?

          2. Massinissa

            Real sorry Classical, but im pretty sure Warren would go the same way as Obama.

            To be fair though, its not like there is anyone else worse voting for.

            But most importantly, is she even going to run in 2016? Most dems who can are probably going to stay out of the water since that big shark Hillary is going to be in the primary. Aint any beating THAT.

            Sigh, looks like im going to have to vote for the Greens in the general election AGAIN…

    2. Jim Haygood

      Score one for Gaius Publius; the Drone Laureate is ALREADY doing it again. From the Guardian:

      Senior Taliban militants, including the movement’s second in command, have reportedly been killed by a US drone strike in Pakistan, the first since the country voted for a new government this month [and Obama made a speech].

      Pakistani security officials said on Wednesday that at least four people, including the Taliban’s deputy commander Wali ur-Rehman, had been killed in the attack in the North Waziristan region.

      Looks like the CIA decided to show Potus who’s boss.

      1. davidgmills

        As they have shown every president since JFK. Of course they showed JFK too, just a bit more directly.

  3. Skeptic

    The Law Of Diminishing Returns On Drones

    There may be a Law Of Diminishing Returns On Drones:

    1. Aren’t the targets, unless they do not follow the news, going to start to take evasive action? So, don’t hang out at weddings, etc. Don’t meet out in the middle of the desert, oft cited as a hit location. Maybe instead, meet at a metropolitan Starbucks, lots of these in the Globalized World. Or on a subway, or…… However, it seems to be assumed that Al Qaeda #2, that’s the guy they always get, never learns, performs the same deadly behaviour over and over.

    2. At the outset of the Iraq War Crime, there were reports that the Russians had communication scramblers which would interfere with American plans. Then these reports just disappeared. So, why can’t scramblers render these drones completely useless? Is there some sort of tacit agreement not to use them? Maybe they are being used and we are not told.

    3. Why not just shoot them down? Whatever happened to the Stinger used by the US in Afghanistan to shoot down Russian aircraft? A new generation of surface to air missiles would make drones sitting ducks. Are they being used and we are not told?

    4. Iran was reported to have taken over and landed a US drone. This would severely impact the Drone Racket if true.

    Every action has a reaction; the Drone Bubble may have peaked but the Drone Racketeers aren’t going to tell us that.

    1. Nathanael

      “4. Iran was reported to have taken over and landed a US drone. This would severely impact the Drone Racket if true.”

      Taken over, landed, dismantled and studied, cracked the codes on.

      Iran can probably control US drones now. Though the US military might have had the sense to revise the design. I doubt it, though; our military has mostly been run by complete idiots since Bush fired all the remaining competent generals.

      Even if the US has revised the design, you can be sure Iran has its own, improved drone design and is getting ready to supply it to anyone who is fighting against US military interference. Frankly, good for them; someone needed to level out the battlefield.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorHAL

          Drones have a command called “return to base” if they lose touch with their controller. The Chinese & the Iranians hacked a new command for where “base” was. The code was contained in a .pdf that was uploaded by the US Airforce, then found its way to its network destination. The drone landed in a military airbase in Iran, untouched. Nice work!

      1. Massinissa

        “since bush fired all the competent generals”

        I dont remember Bush firing any generals, though I was pretty young then. Wasnt really following politics that closely in middle school ya know.

        Tell me the names of some of these fired generals so I can look them up?

        1. from Mexico

          ANDREW BACEVICH: My problem with the generals is that, with certain exceptions, one could name as General Shinseki, with certain exceptions-

          BILL MOYERS: Who said, “We are going to need half a million men if we go into Iraq.” And-

          ANDREW BACEVICH: Right.

          BILL MOYERS: -he was shown the door for telling the truth.

          ANDREW BACEVICH: By and large, the generals did not speak truth to power.

  4. F. Beard

    “They hate US cause we’re free?”
    If that would only be!
    No, they hate US cause we’re there.
    Just how is that unfair?

    And what if some came here?
    With troops in combat gear?
    Would we greet them all as friends?
    Or our native soil defend?

    {forgot the last stanza, oh well]

    1. Yalt

      Just before Operation Praying Mantis I got a phone call from a polling service asking me if I would support war if….

      “I think we can save a lot of time if you just register my opposition regardless of the scenario.”

      “No, farther down the list you’ll probably hear some scenarios you’ll say yes too.”

      “OK, try one.”

      “Would you support war if Iran attacked the United States?”

      I had some trouble controlling my laughter but was able to stammer out “I’m sure their ships are sailing up the Potomac as we speak.”

      “Well, would you?”

      “I think the premise is so absurd that it doesn’t deserve an answer. It’s quite literally impossible for Iran to attack the US.”

      “Well, they can’t attack us here, of course. But you don’t understand the question. What if Iran attacked the US over there?”

      And so they did, shortly thereafter–violently assaulting an American guided missile with the body of a civilian airliner.

      1. F. Beard

        Thanks! I just remembered the last stanza!

        Does the Golden Rule apply?
        If not, please tell me why?

      2. H. Alexander Ivey

        So I’m not the only one! Yeah, I liked that verse too. And it was on target, not like most of the postings above it. I’ll have to start cntl-f ‘beard’ more often.

  5. MRW

    Yeah, Gaius weighs in after Glenn Greenwald attacks the breach.

    Try this six years ago on AmericaBlog and no dice.

  6. Jim Haygood

    ‘The meme that terrorism is driven mostly by some form of Muslim ideology was developed and is promoted by conservatives, but it has almost no basis in fact, as studies have shown.’ — Guy Saperstein

    In this sentence, ‘conservatives’ serves as a euphemism for ‘neocons,’ in turn a euphemism for the Israel lobby.

    In a thoroughly-researched Alternet article, Elly Bulkin and Donna Nevel name the names of wealthy U.S. residents who finance both Israeli settlements and anti-Muslim hate speech:,3&paging=off

    Naturally the MSM wouldn’t touch this subject with a three-meter pole. But when Obama talks about ‘the West,’ what he means to say is that ‘Most, though not all, of the terrorism we face is fueled by a common ideology – a belief by some extremists that Islam is in conflict with the United States and Israel.’

    Which should not be surprising, given that the U.S. officially disapproves of Israel’s 45-year illegal occupation of Palestine, but continues to subsidize it with arms and $3 billion a year of tribute.

    In other words, we paid for that terrorism.

    1. from Mexico

      Jim Haygood says:

      In this sentence, ‘conservatives’ serves as a euphemism for ‘neocons,’ in turn a euphemism for the Israel lobby.

      Good catch, Jim. There’s a lot of conservatives (e.g., Andrew Bacevich, Kevin Phillips, John Gray) figting the good fight to put an end to the neoconservative insantity.

      If we paint all conservatives with the neocon brush, we’re playing right into the hands of the neocons.

      But I think it’s just as egregious an error, and one that plays just as much into the hands of the neocons, to paint all neocons as Jews, for instance when you assert that “neocons” are “in turn a euphemism for the Israel lobby.”

      It’s probably fair to say that Jews constitute most of the neocon brain trust and propaganda apparatus. But if we look at the powers behind the throne, I think we’re going to find an armaments industry and an energy industry populated mostly by gentiles. And even the banking industry, the other big benificiary of US militarism, is it really dominated by Jews? Has anyone ever done an empirical study to document this?

      Another fiction that plays into the hands of the neocons, and one which they go to great lengths to promote, is that all Jews are neocons. However, I think if you will take a look at opinion polls, and this is true going back to well before the Iraq war, you will see Jews more solidly aligned against the war than the general population, and by a rather wide margin. This poll, for instance, is typical of what we’ve seen 2002 forward:

      “Among Religious Groups, Jewish Americans Most Strongly Oppose War”

      Most of the neocon foot soldiers are either non-black Protestants or Mormons. And again, this can be demonstrated by an examination of opinion polls going back to 2002.

      1. Not Again Not

        I like my hasbara smooth and light. Thanks.

        “Neoconservatism is essentially a modern Jewish version of Machiavelli’s political strategy. What characterizes the neoconservative movement is therefore not as much Judaism as a religious tradition, but rather Judaism as a political project, i.e. Z****ism, by Machiavellian means. Note that, in an article in the Jewish World Review on June 7th, 1999, the neoconservative Michael Ledeen defends the thesis that Machiavelli was a crypto-Jew, as were at the time thousands of families nominally converted to Catholicism under threat of expulsion of death. “Listen to his political philosophy, and you will hear the Jewish music”, wrote Ledeen, citing in particular Machiavelli’s contempt for the nonviolent ethics of Jesus and his admiration for the pragmatism of Moses, who was able to kill countless men in the interests of enforcing his new law.

        Obviously, if Z***ism is synonymous with patriotism in Israel, it cannot be an acceptable label in American politics, where it would mean loyalty to a foreign power. This is why the neoconservatives do not represent themselves as Z***ists on the American scene. Yet they do not hide it all together either. Elliott Abrams, Deputy National Security Adviser in the administration of Bush’s son, wrote in his book Faith or Fear (1997): “Outside the land of Israel, there can be no doubt that Jews, faithful to the covenant between God and Abraham, are to stand apart from the nation in which they live. It is the very nature of being Jewish to be apart — except in Israel — from the rest of the population”. It is hard to come with a better definition of Z***ism, the corollary of which is the apartheid practiced against non-Jewish peoples in Palestine, defended in the same year by Douglas Feith in his “Reflections on Liberalism, Democracy and Z***ism”, pronounced in Jerusalem, defending the right of Israel to be an “ethnic nation”: “there is a place in the world for non-ethnic nations and there is a place for ethnic nations”.

        If one is entitled to consider the neoconservatives as Z***ists, it is especially in noting that their foreign policy choices have always coincided perfectly with the interests of Israel (as they see it). Israel’s interest has always been understood as dependent on two things: the immigration of Eastern Jews and the financial support of the Jews of the West (American and, to a lesser extent, European). Until 1967, the national interest pushed Israel toward the Soviet Union, while the support of American Jews remained quiet. The socialist and collectivist orientation of the Labor Party in power naturally inclined them in this direction, but Israel’s good relations with the USSR were primarily due to the fact that the mass immigration of Jews was only possible through the good will of the Kremlin. During the three years following the end of the British mandate on Palestine (1948), which had hitherto limited Jewish immigration out of consideration for the Arab population, two hundred thousand Polish Jewish refugees in the USSR were allowed to settle in Palestine, with others coming from Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria.”

        The Six Day War was a decisive turning point: in 1967, Moscow protested against Israel’s annexation of new territories, broke diplomatic relations with Tel Aviv and stopped the emigration of its Jewish citizens, which had accelerated in the previous month. It is from this date that Commentary became, in the words of Benjamin Balint, “the contentious magazine that transformed the Jewish left into the neoconservative right”. The neoconservatives realized that, from that point, Israel’s survival – and its territorial expansion – depended on the support and protection of another super-power, the U.S. military, and concomitantly that their need for Jewish immigrants could only fe fulfilled by the fall of communism. These two objectives converged in the deepening of military power of the United States. This is why Irving Kristol engaged the American Jewish Congress in 1973 to fight George McGovern’s proposal to reduce the military budget by 30%: “this is to drive a knife into the heart of Israel. […] Jews don’t like a big military budget, but it is now an interest of the Jews to have a large and powerful military establishment in the United States. […] American Jews who care about the survival of the state of Israel have to say, no, we don’t want to cut the military budget, it is important to keep that military budget big, so that we can defend Israel”. We now understand better what reality Kristol was referring to, when he famously defined a neoconservative as “a liberal who has been mugged by reality”.

        In the late 60s, the neoconservative support the militarist fringe of the Democratic Party, headed by Senator Henry Scoop Jackson, a supporter of the Vietnam War who challenged McGovern in the 1972 primaries. Richard Perle, parliamentary assistant to Jackson, wrote the Jackson-Vanik amendment, which made food aid to the Soviet Union conditional upon the free emigration of Jews. It is also within the office of Scoop Jackson that an alliance between the neoconservatives and the Rumsfeld-Cheney tandem will be forged, before Rumsfeld and Cheney took advantage of the Watergate scandal to join the Republican camp and infiltrate the White House. Perle placed his protégés Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Pipes in Team B, whose report was published in Commentary. During the Carter period, neoconservatives allied with evangelical Christians, viscerally anti-communist and generally well disposed towards Israel, the foundation of which they see as a divine miracle foreshadowing the return of Christ. The contribution of the neoconservatives to the Reagan victory allowed them to work within the government to strengthen the alliance between the United States and Israel; in 1981, the two countries signed their first military pact, then embarked on several shared operations, some legal and others not so, as evidenced by the network of arms trafficking and paramilitary operations embedded within the Iran-Contra affair. Anti-communism and Z***ism had become so linked in their common cause, that in 1982, in his book The Real Anti-Semitism in America, the director of the Anti-Defamation League Nathan Perlmutter could turn the pacifism of the “peacemakers of Vietnam vintage, [the] transmuters of swords into plowshares”, into a new form of anti-Semitism.

        Much more…

        Hey, aren’t you the poster who regularly defends Reinhold Neibuhr the man whose life’s work was the philosophical underpinning for the concept of “just war” and who also vociferously advocated for the forced removal of the Palestinians being an ardent Christian Z***nist?

        Smooth and light. Nice work.

        1. Not Again Not

          Just to bring us up to speed, more from the link:

          With the end of the Cold War, the national interest of Israel changed once again. Their primary objective became not the fall of communism, but rather the weakening of Israel’s enemies. Thus the neoconservatives underwent their second conversion, from anti-communism to islamophobia, and created new think tanks such as the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) led by Richard Perle, the Middle East Forum led by Daniel Pipes (son of Richard), the Center for Security Policy (CSP) founded by Frank Gaffney, and the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). President George H.W. Bush, however, cultivated friendships with Saudi Arabia and was not exactly a friend of Israel; he resisted in September of 1991 against an unprecedented pro-Israel lobbying campaign that called for $10 billion to help Jews immigrate from the former Soviet Union to Israel. He complained in a televised press conference on September 12th that “one thousand Jewish lobbyists are on Capitol Hill against little old me”, thereby causing Tom Dine, the Executive Director of AIPAC, to exclaim that “September 12, 1991, is a day that will live in infamy”. Bush also resisted the neoconservatives’ advice to invade Iraq after Operation Desert Storm. Finally, Bush’s Secretary of State James Baker was too receptive to Arab proposals throughout the Madrid Conference in November 1991; the neoconservatives, as a result, sabotaged Bush’s chances for a second term and supported Democrat Bill Clinton. After eight years of Clinton, they finally completed their victory by having Bush’s son George W. elected and forcing him into the second Irak war.

          1. Massinissa

            I dont think Hasbara has so much time on their hands to constantly quote people like hannah arendt and… All the other dozens of people Mexico quotes from, on topics that have absolutely nothing to do with Israel.

            If Mexico is Hasbara, then at best its a hasbara who spends all his time slacking off and not doing his job.

          2. Not Again Not

            JimHaywood makes a comment from the article and ties it to the Israeli lobby and it’s influence in regards to American foreign policy namely how they dominate the neocons.

            Then, FromMexico, responds to that comment and then adds a non-sequitur statment about how we shouldn’t really think of Jews when we think of Neocons which a) is something which Jim doesn’t even really address in his original post and 2) which is clearly incorrect as the entire basis of the neoconservative movement in fact is Z****ism which was demonstrated in the linked article and which has as its basis the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish nation state.


            Now, when I see comments that seek to deflect attention or “explain” away the pernicious effects that Z****ism has had upon US foreign policy and that needlessly demonstrate – in an uncalled for situation, nonetheless – that Jews have been at the forefront of anti-war actitivism in the past, I smell hasbara, sorry.

            In addition, FM basically admits that it’s really Z*****ism he’s addressing here when he states that many of the neocon foot soldiers aren’t Jewish so that leads me to conclude that either fM doens’t want to mention Z*****ism because his idol Mr. Neibuhr was a rabid Z*****ist and he feels that it might embarrassing to his legacy in that he advocated for the forceable expulsion of the Palestinians or 2) he’s providing hasbara-esque cover for said Z****ists.

            No one was arguing that Jews aren’t good people but to say that the neoconservative movement doesn’t have its very foundations deep in Jewish/Z****ist roots is blatantly not correct, again so blatant that it sounds suspicious when someone tries to make that claim or – worse yet – knock down a claim that someone else DID NOT make.

            That’s all and that’s how I saw it.

          3. Not Again Not

            Lastly, I was not claiming that fM is a paid hasbara troll but that the argument he was making was awfully close to ones that I HAVE seen made by professional hasbarists in other places, namely, the use of deflection and creation/smacking down of straw men arguments.

            One need not be a professional hasbarist to fall back on hasbara arguments.

          4. from Mexico

            @ Not Again Not

            You managed to spill a great deal of ink there, and despite it all, never once addressed the thrust of my argument. Because the simple fact is this: The most powerful neocons are not and have never been Zionists, much less Jews.

            Perhaps the most avowed neocon on the scene now, the one most aggressively implementing neocon policies, is Barak Obama. And never have we seen anyone use the long arm of the law to persecute those who don’t walk the neocon straight and narrow as Obama. Is he a Zionist, much less a Jew?

            What about George Bush Jr., was he a Zionist, much less a Jew?

            And Dick Cheney, was he a Zionist, much less a Jew?

            Or Donald Rumsfeld, was he a Zionist, much less a Jew?

            If you believe that Zionists and Jews play more than just bit parts in America’s drive towards militarism and permanent war, you’re not thinking very clearly. Actually, there’s a word for what you’re doing. It’s called scapegoating.

          5. from Mexico

            @ Not Again Not

            The reason I’m sensitive to the sort of arguments you are making — brimming with bigotry and irrational prejudice — is because I’ve been a victim of them.

            This one, for instance, comes right straight out of the same playbook you are using:

            Homosexuals are one of the most powerful special interest groups in the U.S. Their success in passing special “gay” rights legislation is unprecedented. Their opponents are silenced by cries of “homophobia,” and their cause has been taken up as a major plank in the Democratic Party’s platform. Their political power goes way beyond what would be expected of a minority that makes up about 2 percent of the population.


            It normally goes hand-in-glove with this one:

            101. Homosexuals are one of the most affluent groups in America. Their average household income is $55,430 compared to the national average of $32,286. Sixty % are college graduates compared to the national average of 18 %. Forty-nine % are in professional and management positions compared to the national average of 16 %. Sixty-six % go on vacations overseas compared to the national average of 14 %.

            There’s nothing new with these type of arguments. According to Nazi propaganda, for instance, Jews were all-powerful in everything from finance to the academe to the arts prior to 1933, and thus were to blame for all of Germany’s ills. Goebbels, for instance, often spoke of “Jewish domination of art.” The word entartet was coined to designate supposedly inferior racial, sexual, and moral types — “degenerates, Jews and other insidious influences which had overrun Germany,” in the words of the Nazi theorists. As Stephanie Barron explains:

            The country had experienced a humiliating defeat and had been assessed for huge war reparations that gievously taxed its already shaky economy. Movements such as Expressionism, Cubism, and Dada were often viewed as intellectual, elitist, and foreign by the demoralized nation and linked to the economic collapse, which was blamed on a supposed international conspiracy of Communists and Jews.

            –STEPHANIE BARRON, “Modern Art and Politics in Prewar Germany,” Degenerate Art

            If the blame for US militarism and permanent war can be laid at the feet of a handful of Jews, I’ll eat my hat.

  7. ck

    You gonna make Obama follow through? How? You got him blanketed with surveillance and control staff, like CIA?
    Can you credibly threaten his life like the military does?

    Obama has one job. He has to make the dogs like the dog food. If Obama fails at that, he doesn’t get to sell something different to the country – Obama is destroyed. Purged or or ruined or offed like JFK. It’s better if we drop these delusions of democracy. This state doesn’t give a shit what you think.

    The outside world will have to stop the US government. Russia has twice as many nukes as the US, and keep-it-simple command and control for a sturdy deterrent. China has wiggled a finger up all the cyber-sphincters of the USA’s exquisitely complex and delicate C3 systems. China has maybe 750 nukes of its own, and, more importantly, an industrial base for the conventional runup. Pakistan’s got 100 nukes or so. Iran and North Korea have some asymmetric tricks up their sleeves. When the wider world puts its foot down, US criminal aggression will end.

    The president is not the pressure point. The pressure point is the cadre who kill for a living. You can’t can’t deter US government criminals without the Rome Statute. When Clandestine Service nomenklatura like Jonathan Banks and Mary Margaret Graham are afraid to leave US turf, illegal use of force will end. When 9/11 terrorists Richard Blee and Spike Bowman are scared to take their foreign holidays, then US government attacks on American civilians will end.

    1. Jim Haygood

      ‘The outside world will have to stop the US government.’

      It’s rather more probable that, like all preceding empires which started yielding negative returns, the US government will take itself out of the game.

      The British empire’s headlong retreat during the 20th century was mirrored in the pound sterling’s repeated devaluations against the ascendant dollar. As with the pound sterling, the US dollar eventually will forfeit its exorbitant privilege as a reserve currency.

      1. nonclassical


        When over half “intel-gathering” in U.S. is PRIVATIZED, I would say we can see where this is all going=PROFIT$$$$…

    2. Gaius Publius

      Can’t disagree, though people can disagree on tactics. But I’m writing to express admiration for this one line:

      “Obama has one job. He has to make the dogs like the dog food.”



      1. Gaius Publius

        Sorry … munged the phrasing of that reply and there’s no Edit button.

        I meant to say that the idea of pushing back on Obama is a tactic about which people can reasonably disagree. After all, he’s drawn the spotlight to himself in fronting the idea. Might as well use it (the ready-made spotlight).

        The underlying analysis — Obama as employee — is one I often make myself, so I don’t dispute it.

        And I still like the line…


  8. from Mexico

    The only thing Obama gives us is a redux of the “just war” rationale that 16th-century Spain invoked to justify its war on the Indians:

    [The Pope] made donation of these isles and Tierra-firme to the…King and Queen…with all that there are in these territories…

    So their Highnesses are kings and lords of these islands and land of Tierra-firme by virtue of this donation…and indeed almost all those to whom this has been notified, have received and served their Highnesses, as lords and kings, in the way that subjects ought to do, with good will, without any resistance, immediately, without delay, when they were informed of the aforesaid facts. And also they received and obeyed the priests whom their Highnesses sent to preach to them and to teach them our Holy Faith; and all these, of their own free will, without any reward or condition, have become Christians, and are so, and their Highnesses have joyfully and benignantly received them, and also have commanded them to be treated as their subjects and vassals; and you too are held and obliged to do the same…

    But, if you do not do this, and maliciously make delay in it, I certify to you that, with the help of God, we shall powerfully enter into your country, and shall make war against you in all ways and manners that we can, and shall subject you to the yoke and obedience of the Church and of their Highnesses; we shall take you and your wives and your children, and shall make slaves of them, and as such shall sell and dispose of them as their Highnesses may command; and we shall take away your goods, and shall do you all the mischief and damage that we can, as to vassals who do not obey, and refuse to receive their lord, and resist and contradict him; and we protest that the deaths and losses which shall accrue from this are your fault, and not that of their Highnesses, or ours, nor of these cavaliers who come with us.

    1. charles sereno

      You probably are already cognizant of their contributions, but I think you should highlight Augustine and Aquinas, especially Aquinas (I love that fatso). BTW, I’m a pacifist and I think Just War theory is crap.

  9. Walter Map

    The ‘they hate us for our freedoms’ meme has another purpose as well. It provides a ‘justification’ for getting rid of those ‘freedoms’. Without those ‘freedoms’ they’ll have no reason to hate you.

    Those ‘freedoms’ are mostly illusory anyway. You do not have any actual ‘rights’, and never did, except for those the State has been willing to support. Good luck with that.

    Obama could have closed Gitmo on day one, but the MIC didn’t want him to, so he didn’t. The president has no power other than to do what the state syndicate wants him to do, and the state syndicate doesn’t want to operate secret concentration camps. It wants to operate concentration camps openly.

    1. banger

      Exactly why we ought to be discussing the “deep politics” behind this issue but few are courageous enough to do so. Obama or any other President does not run foreign or military policy. The actual powers are not hard to locate if you follow the history of the immediate post-WWII era when the national security state was put together. It follows logically (particularly if you are systems analysis nerd like me) that organizations that were able to operate secretly to overthrow governments, assassinate foreign leaders and so on wouldn’t be tempted to turn their eyes towards meddling in the politics of the most powerful country in the world.

      I claim that they did exactly what anyone who studied game-theory would have expected–they got more power because they were not subject to the constraints other organizations were subject to! Thus the events that started in 1963.


    “Fortress Amerika” is what we have already become, as the Plundering Class wants. Martial law in Boston was the latest step. They realize casino capitalism and catastrophic climate chaos have both reached tipping points, so the only way to control an increasingly angry “rabble” (the 95%) is to tighten controls on us, using all means, including the lies about “global jihadism” and more surveillance cameras everywhere. Corporate war-profiteering media including PBS, still do an excellent job of propagandizing for the Plundering Class and keeping as many USans ignorant as necessary. As long as most USans have little time(under-vacationed) and energy (overworked) to access alternate media such as Naked Capitalism (Facebook and other “social” media are effective distractions serving the interests of the Plundering Class), our ignorance will continue to enable the Plundering Class to get away with mass murder, shredding of our civil liberties, and destruction of the global environment. The Plundering Class foolishly deludes itself that its wealth and power will protect it from the environmental disaster already accelerating.

    1. nonclassical


      the only item you didn’t include; “as long as USans are buried in (paper) DEBT”…

    2. Nathanael

      These attempts to “control” the people will fail. They have precisely 0% chance of success. They are just going to annoy people.

      Normally, the only ways to “control” the people are:
      (1) bread and circuses
      (2) the “opiate of the people” (religion)… and bread.
      (3) a loyal military caste comprising at least 10% of the population, who are actually treated really well and fairly

      We do not have #3 — our elites are intent on abusing the military caste, and it’s too small. #1 and #2 require keeping everyone fed. This SOUNDS simple, but our sociopathic elites are unwilling to do it.

      1. Nathanael

        (The “abnormal” situations I’ve seen in history involve unusual historical first-contact situations: invations by an invader with demonstrably superior military technology, which can allow for the favored military caste to be under 10% of the local population.

        Afghanistan has demonstrated that the US has military technology slightly inferior to that the Taliban, so that isn’t going to apply around here.)

      2. fajensen

        Should we not include SAIC, DHS, Boeing, Textron e.t.c. the Military Indsutrial Complex and the Security Industrial Complex in the “loyal millitary caste”?

        If we do that, I think there is probably about 10% there.

        The interesting thing will be the coming fight between the MIC/SIC and Wall Street over ressources and power – the bankers wants it all, a design feature of exponential growth, and under Bush/Obama they got spoiled and pampered. Flushed with success, their power and wealth will continue to grow under the protection of legal- and TBTF-immunity. Eventually they will start to suck the funding from the MIC/SIC’s – which will probably not be amused.

  11. Synopticist

    This is balls.

    Al qeada isn’t going to go away if the west changes it’s foreign policy. It’s driven by a revolutionary totalitarian ideology. It’s not reactive, it’s pro-active. It’s not like old school seventies middle eastern terrorism, which was based around Palestinian causes and arab nationalism. This is extremist Islam. Totally different dynamic.

    The biggest victims of this wave of newly inspired terror are fellow Muslims who follow a different interpretation of Islam. Militants didn’t burn the libraries and shrines of Timbuctu because of US foreign policy. Pakistani Shia and Ahmadiyya are being slaughtered because they’re the wrong sort of muslim.

    1. from Mexico

      Synopticist says:

      Al qeada [is] driven by a revolutionary totalitarian ideology.

      As are the US security state folks.

      The ideology of Al Qaeda is the spitting image of the ideology of the US security state, which John Gray goes to great lengths to explain in Al Qaeda and What it Means to Be Modern.

      1. Synopticist

        Yeah, I agree.
        They feed off each other, but they’d both be there without the other.

        1. Dave

          What about human nature, folks? From my reading of various posts, it appears that most have at least a smattering of higher ed. One of the major themes in those places is that there is no human nature, and we are all blank sheets perfectible through the “proper” conditioning. In other words, we are not really violent and controlling animals down deep inside, just improperly educated.

          How about considering the possibility that America is doing all these things just because we can? Now that we have modern transportation and communication spread throughout the world, might it be that those extremists in the Muslim sector are doing these things just because THEY can?

          The distribution of sociopaths is not limited by nationality, religion, or race. Even in the most highly socialized societies, cruelty comes to the surface. Consider the Japanese treatment of the Chinese during WW 2. However, they are found in greater numbers in the leadership of every government. I’ve noticed that a major theme here is to insist that the government “do something”. Is it possible that might be counterproductive?

        2. nonclassical


          on 911, as I was viewing 2nd tower hit on news, wondering what in hell (no abstraction) was going on, one of my friends, G-9 anti-terror from London called…informing me, Muslims would be the next “soviet threat”…my friend IS Muslim…and he was accurate, then-now.

          Neo-cons concocted this bushit…and you are concocting your own historical bet-you are one of those who believe TRUTH is “subjective”…

          of course you are correct (as my friend and I defined 911-2001, having also prior discussed 911-1973; both poly-sci students): neocons are as much fundamentalist blind believers as Muslim fundamentalists…but of TOTALLY different focus…the latter upon religious dogma (all religious dogma being irrational), the former upon “manifest destiny”, or Spanish version of, intoned by “from mejico”…

          1. Synopticist

            I have no idea what you’re on about with your “subjective truth”, unless it’s trufferism.

            Neo-cons didn’t cause 9-11, or create al qeada. You could say they co-evolved, but that’s different. They both eagerly seized upon the opportunities it opened up for them.

            The ideology which drives al qeada and the radicalism it inspires have made no secret about what it’s aims are. They want a global caliphate, with a super-strict religious society. A lot of people who consider themselves both smart and progressive are willfully ignoring the evidence that proves it.

          2. skippy


            Don’t you remember the text books the neocons gave the now fun]damentalists…

            The neocons energized the religious to combat the Russians.

            skippy… Look you feed a dog black powder to make it hunt better. Now when your pray is killed you better find another object for its attention or its going to go after the kids in the yard or worse yet… you… when your back is turned.

  12. Working Class Nero

    The Pape book about suicide “terrorism” during occupations is a classic example of a “scholar” stretching the truth way past the breaking point to “prove” his pre-determined conclusion.

    To start even the author concedes that his findings do not hold up for all the other non-suicide types of terrorism.

    Worse, in order to arrive at his findings, he has to completely play within the occupier’s propaganda frame by redefining the definition of terrorism. It doesn’t take an expert in international relations to wonder if “terrorism” really is the correct term for any local patriot who launches a suicide attack against a foreign occupying army. Since the suicide portion is just a detail, very quickly any attack on an occupying army morphs into terrorism. Now sure, you will find quite a few occupying armies in history who did indeed declare any attack against them was terrorism. But outside propaganda ministries, the targeting non-combatants is a critical part of any definition of terrorism. In other words, attacking military targets, even in a suicide attack, is not terrorism. Indeed even Title 22 of the US Code, Section 2656f(d) says: “The term “terrorism” means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience.” So if a suicide bomber blows up a civilian bus during an occupation, then it is terrorism. But if militants drive a truck full of explosives into an occupying army’s military base then this is only terrorism in the occupier’s propaganda pronouncements. So according to any correct definition, many of the incidents that Pape studied are simply suicide attacks and have nothing to do with terrorism.

    In any case anyone with half a clue realizes the US is not in a war against terror. If we ever had been we would have simply invaded Saudi Arabia and committed genocide against the Wahhabi sect there. No the US is in a drive for total global domination; it wants to wipe out any regimes that are hostile to the US global system. And it’s well on its way to achieving this goal.

    If we color blue on a map of the world all the nations that are cooperating in the US global system then we would see very few nations left that are still outside this system. Afghanistan and Iraq were added to the blue column last decade. Syria, Iran, North Korea, and Cuba are the only real countries that our outside the US system.

    But how is the US going to flip these last few countries into the blue column?

    Islam means submission, and so it is small wonder that elites of all stripes are interested in an ideology that preaches to its subject total submission. Any elite would have an interest in putting safe puppets in charge that can wield the tool of Islam in their favor.

    The Arab Spring is a move to replace the old pan-Arabic secular socialist dictators with new-fangled Islamist tyrants. Someone somewhere quite wisely decided Islam was a better tool of oppression that secular socialism. And as luck has it, Syria has the old style dictator.

    And so a key ally in this Islamification drive is Al Qaida. So much so that it is Sunni Al Qaida that is doing the brunt of the work to effect regime change in Syria. Not only that, Shiite Hezbollah recently announced they were “all in” in the battle to save the current regime in Syria. Hezbollah has no choice, they will “rot on the vine” if a hostile Sunni regime takes charge in Syria. And Hezbollah’s missiles are a pretty serious deterrent keeping Israel from striking at Iran. But what this means is the Imperial wet dream of a Sunni – Shia conflict in the Middle East is back on. Ever since the 1980’s Iran – Iraq War ended way too soon great minds have been trying to reignite the flames. The Syrian War could spill into Lebanon where — ideally from a US / Israeli point of view — Hezbollah will be defeated. Then either peace with a suddenly pro-American and pro-Islamist President Bashar al-Assad or his defeat to Al Qaida rebels, either way the US wins. With Syria and Hezbollah out of the way, all roads lead to Tehran. Only Russia can stop this, but will they?

    As for North Korea the US has leverage on China. It only grows as the Chinese economy starts to slump. Cutting off Chinese access to the US consumers could be fatal to the Chinese politburo. Getting North Korea to come in from the cold seems a small price to pay.

    This is where the real action is. Obama’s drone speech was just a distraction from prying eyes concentrating on the US / Al Qaida alliance in Syria. Strategically international drone attacks are pretty much limited to wiping out any troubling anti-American power nodes within Al Qaida. What’s interesting is that drone technology is not all that complex. Ultimately any moderately wealthy entity could acquire these attack machines. Hell my son already has a civilian version with a camera built in. Pretty soon, if they become cheap enough, this drone technology will put suicide attackers out of business or at least make them a form of political Luddites. Why bother strapping an explosive-laden backpack on some walking dead man when you can just take that civilian bus out with a cheap drone?

    1. nonclassical

      nice, Nero;

      which brings us to “Trans-Pacific Partnership”…ties up a lot of “loose ends”-sloppy soliloquy…

    2. Yalt

      If the United States were in a war against terror it would have invaded itself. At least, if in your definition of terror you omit the self-serving portion of the official US definition limiting it to non-state actors.

    3. nonclassical

      hmmmnn-Synop said:

      (Neo-cons didn’t cause 9-11, or create al qeada. You could say they co-evolved, but that’s different. They both eagerly seized upon the opportunities it opened up for them.)

      Ever wired tall buildings? (elevator closet access)

      You obviously missed historical narrative of Alan “Buzzy” Krongard…follow the history:




      Michael C. Ruppert

      [© COPYRIGHT, 2001, Michael C. Ruppert and FTW Publications, All Rights Reserved. – May be reprinted or distributed for non-profit purposes only.]

      FTW, October 9, 2001 – Although uniformly ignored by the mainstream U.S. media, there is abundant and clear evidence that a number of transactions in financial markets indicated specific (criminal) foreknowledge of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. In the case of at least one of these trades — which has left a $2.5 million prize unclaimed — the firm used to place the “put options” on United Airlines stock was, until 1998, managed by the man who is now in the number three Executive Director position at the Central Intelligence Agency. Until 1997 A.B. “Buzzy” Krongard had been Chairman of the investment bank A.B. Brown. A.B. Brown was acquired by Banker’s Trust in 1997. Krongard then became, as part of the merger, Vice Chairman of Banker’s Trust-AB Brown, one of 20 major U.S. banks named by Senator Carl Levin this year as being connected to money laundering. Krongard’s last position at Banker’s Trust (BT) was to oversee “private client relations.” In this capacity he had direct hands-on relations with some of the wealthiest people in the world in a kind of specialized banking operation that has been identified by the U.S. Senate and other investigators as being closely connected to the laundering of drug money.

      Krongard (re?) joined the CIA in 1998 as counsel to CIA Director George Tenet. He was promoted to CIA Executive Director by President Bush in March of this year. BT was acquired by Deutsche Bank in 1999. The combined firm is the single largest bank in Europe. And, as we shall see, Deutsche Bank played several key roles in events connected to the September 11 attacks.

      waddayaknow…”Buzzy” went from CIA-A.B.Brown, to “Banker’s Trust”, to Deutche Bank, and AFTER “puts”, to 2nd in charge of Blackwater…

      and the “PUTS” meant absolute knowledge of events prior..

      as did the over 17 warnings from nations all over the world-read more:–/dp/0060783389/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1369891072&sr=1-1&keywords=the+terror+timeline

      After comparing the facts revealed in Paul Thompson’s Terror Timeline to those released in the 9/11 Commission’s Final Report, I was forced to draw the conclusion that the Commission is guilty of issuing an incomplete and misleading account of the events leading up to, the causes of, and the actions during 9/11. Whether it be the dozens of specific warnings or the obstructions into FBI investigations; the ISI’s complicity or the ignored money trail; the 9/11 war games or the unprecedented failure to defend America’s skies; they are just a few of the dozen or so subjects that the 9/11 Commission consciously ignored; and they are critical, not just for the public’s, but for history’s understanding of the attacks. As long as we continue to ignore the problems that caused 9/11, we will be unable to correct them. I urge anybody and everybody — especially my fellow Americans — to read this book and spread the information it provides.

      This book is a number of things. First, it is an exhaustive work of scholarly research with enough footnotes to satisfy and then some. To get a feel for what I am talking about one may view his work in an online version at The shear academic quality is enough reason to buy the book.

      Second, the website mentioned is a relatively new phenomena in that it is an “open source” research site. Mr. Thompson’s work has been posted for comment and criticism for several months now and has been honed to a fine edge.

      And third, this book is the scariest piece of work you will ever read. I’m not kidding you. This is scarey stuff. We’ve been treated like a bunch of sheep being led to the slaughter. There was an old sci-fi film where the aliens came down and presented humanity with a book “The Serving of Humans” or something similar. As the protagonists are boarding the ship to go visit the alien homeworld, a translator bursts in and yells out “It’s a cookbook!”

      That’s the feeling you come away with here. You wont put it down but don’t expect to enjoy it. But for goodness sake, read it.

      I began perusing international media immediately following 911-Thompson did it so well, I followed his reasoned documentation.

      Do you know who “Able-Danger” was? Sybil Edwards? Colleen Rowley? Can you explain Building 7, and the 5 excuses given for destruction of? Have you perused mapping of Twin Towers-building 7, destruction of building 7, and buildings between towers-building 7?..can you explain reason video cameras were removed from Pentagon, and convenience store across street? Have you analyzed actual hole created by Pentagon strike? Fuel burned so hot entire tower metal framing failed, yet at strike of Pentagon, wooden stool holding open leaf book is clearly observable?

      How much study have you done? Read 911 Commission Report and testimony
      by witnesses in report? (trick question)

      Do you realize 911 Commission impetus was provided by families of 911 victims, in coordination with Paul Thompson? WHO?

    4. Anon

      Some great points here. However, I have some difficulties with the “US global system” as implied in the passage and some of the ideas apparently traduced from it. For the same reason, I can’t completely agree with with Publius or our learned hostess- I think it’s simply naive to characterize all attacks on US* (*=and allied) interests as retaliatory.
      As a preface, I agree with your criticism of imperialism and the general point that violence begets violence; I just think these points need to be universalized.
      Where we may differ is that I think the US is far, far from the unipolar hegemon it once was. I think that Russia, China, Iran, and substate pan-Islamic interests all have similar sets of ambitions (dictating law, international trade, relations, and popular conduct according to their own mores and for their own benefit.) So to the extent that the US is trying to dictate activity outside its borders, whether through weapons, intelligence, or aid, it elicits reprisals for those actions. But in its absence, other agencies (in the abstract sense) would occupy that vaccuum, and popular self-determination is really the least likely substitute. In other words, imperialism bad, not US bad.
      Then which substrates contributing to violence toward US* interests aren’t attributable to the US extraterritorial posture? Well, to return to the prior point, other agencies want to project their values, accomplish their theory of the world, benefit themselves. And this is why I can’t completely elide the theological dimension here, whether the animating theology is properly religious, or sociopolitical, racist, economic, and so forth.
      The conspicuous case here is the 9-11 attacks. If they were, as was intermittently claimed, retaliation for the US presence in Saudi Arabia, then weren’t they ridiculously inefficient? Why not attacks on the offending installations? Or more simply, directed against the domestic regime enabling said installations?

      Apologies, battery dying. Conclusion later…

  13. Brooklin Bridge

    Obama’s speech is an opening? Has an opening? Where? Where is the opening? Basically Obama’s speech is exactly as Greenwald states, a what-ever-you-want-to-hear speech. In effect, however, it is a 100% status-quo speech that some invest with a little bit of this and some with a little bit of that, but which in fact has both and neither.

    I see no opening for pressing the “advantage” in that speech. For the rest, this post is an excellent argument that could be called for many, lucid preaching to the choir.

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      Obama is like the Vaudeville or sitcom actor that has an exaggerated trait or characteristic that he or she ultimately can’t get away from and has to play to in every performance for the rest of his or her career. In Obama’s case this “stichk” is his famous Head Fakery. From that first speech, “not red America or blue America…”, a fake DNC speech aimed at tooting his own horn to his incredibly fake acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize to this latest one aimed at obfuscating criminal civil rights overreaches, Obama is now in the situation where he has to out-perform his last head fakery with a new more convincing one each time. The art has overtaken even faking anyone out.

      1. Yalt

        One of the things that confuses me here is the references to “Obama’s speech”. Do we have any reason to believe he’s writing his own material? Do we even have any reason to believe he’s in material control of his own material?

        The first question’s rhetorical but the second isn’t. I honestly don’t have any idea how much freedom of movement he really has. I have little doubt that he allows himself less freedom than he actually has, though.

  14. Generalfeldmarschall Von Hindenburg

    There are people who do in fact hate us for what freedoms remain and our decadence and immorality. On the other hand most mass terrorist episodes seem to involve people with connections to the intelligence underworld. So, if you want to commit an atrocity the best way to go about it seems to be getting involved in low kevel snitching for the CIA, Mukabarat, FSB or whatever local version you can find.

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      “Hating someone for their freedom” as a motivator for an ideology of terrorism is more of an absurdity than “flying elephants”. You are perhaps conflating freedom with decadence as in freedom to pollute or some such. And frankly, hating us for our pollution and material excess is also absurd (it’s why many think they love America) by comparison to hating us for our illegal occupation and ruthless arbitrary killings.

      1. Synopticist

        These people aren’t Marxists or secular leftists. They don’t want a fairer society or a just equality of goods or anything like that. Those guys couldn’t give a flying f*ck about pollution. They want a totally Islamisised order. A society where women don’t go about un-veiled, or without a male relative on hand. A world where alcohol would be banned and pickpockets would get their hands amputated.

        It may seem absurd, but that’s how it is.

        1. Massinissa

          To be fair, they DO want a better world.

          It just so happens that that better world has women wearing scarves.

          And there being no democracy.

          Etc etc…

          1. Brooklin Bridge

            I think you are right that one can’t justify violence against innocent civilians as the acts of “good guys”, but one can argue it as being more understandable than the Monster Islam propaganda meme allows for. If the tables were turned and we were occupied, it’s easy to see how many of us would view such violence as “freedom fighting.” Furthermore, I imagine one could point out historical case after case where countries at conflict invent fictitious ideologies to paint the enemy’s actions as monstrous and irrational. Even the term “enemy” is loaded in this case as many have pointed out. That is, frequently, these are criminal actions by groups and individuals, not actions of war between two or more “enemy” countries, or even between one country and one religion, and the US has used the notion of “war on terror” which is often code for “war on Islam” for all manner of deception against it’s own citizens as well as against the offending groups and individuals. We are NOT at war with Islam -in any meaningful sense beyond propaganda inflammation – any more than we are at war with drugs and neither one of them is at war with us.

        2. Brooklin Bridge

          You are giving your opinion as proof. The post above does better.

          “The meme that terrorism is driven mostly by some form of Muslim ideology was developed and is promoted by conservatives, but it has almost no basis in fact, as studies have shown. Terrorism is driven not by ideology, but by occupation by hostile forces. This has been most famously proven by a conservative scholar, Robert Pape, who examined the motivations of 300+ suicide terrorist bombers, virtually every known act of suicide terrorism from 1980 to 2005, and found that more than 90% of the acts of terrorism were motivated by foreign occupation, not ideology.

          Other studies of Osama bin Laden [a Saudi] have shown that while he adhered to a mutated form of Islam, his attack on the World Trade Center was motivated by the role the US plays in propping up the autocratic Saudi Arabian regime—which is a form of occupation.

          After Pape’s study, in 2006 the DoD commissioned a study of the roots of terrorism by the RAND Corporation and the Rand study came to exactly the same conclusion as Pape—ideology plays a very small role in fomenting terrorism. The major role is the reaction to occupation, and the Rand report recommended that the most effective way to reduce terrorism in the Middle East would be for the US to vastly reduce its military footprint in the Middle East.”

          1. nonclassical

            ..Adam Curtis’ video BBC documentation does even better-on the ground, and right from U.S. television blurts surrounding 911: “The Power of Nightmares”
            (these videos were available, youtube-but for many, many of us who linked to
            documentation over last 10 years-expose’…)


            get your propaganda straight-here’s SYNopsis:

            “This is an important documentary film that covers the time period after WWII to the present, from the United States and Britain to Egypt, Afghanistan and Iraq. The detail and evidence is astonishing, shown far more vividly than can be found in most newspapers or even analytical news magazines. In places it’s even surprisingly funny! It describes the rise of aggressive neoconservatism (most particularly in the US), in parallel with increasingly militant Islam in the Middle East. It shows how those political and religious ideologies are actually dependent upon each other to generate fear in the general population, of people trying to live their daily lives under conditions where those extremists have gained control. Also revealed is the likelihood that al-Qaeda does not exist, at least not as the international terrorist organization normally described in English-language news reporting. Although not for those with a short attention span, this film is recommended for everyone of voting age.”

    2. Nathanael

      People who “hate us for our freedoms” would seem to be folks like the Westboro Baptist Church, and Pat Robertson.

      We do, indeed, seem to have some homegrown, US, Christian terrorists who “hate us for our freedoms” — they wish we didn’t have freedom so that they could be our Christianist theocratic overlords.

      In contrast, *foreign* terrorists are just angry about being bombed.

  15. washunate

    It is good to see Glenn Greenwald getting his due, at least a a little. He was a pretty lonely voice lambasted by virtually the entire Democratic/liberal online universe for several years.

  16. Brooklin Bridge

    The difference between George Bush and Obama is the classic difference between anyone from Yale or Harvard. George was taught that when he pissed all over his hands, his daddy and now his handlers would always always come to wash it off. Obama, on the other hand, was taught that not pissing on his hands in the first place made him an aristocrat.

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      Should have prefaced above point with this quote from the post,
      “That speech to me was essentially agreeing with President Bush and Vice President Cheney that we’re in this neo-conservative paradigm, that we’re at war with a jihadist threat that actually is not a nuisance but the most important threat we’re facing today”.

    2. Brooklin Bridge

      Actually, not at all fair to say, “anyone from Yale or Harvard”. A particular breed of the elite, or soon to be elite, that often come from the Ivy League, would be better.

  17. Nathanael

    “We’ve reached a tipping point, where an empire of “soft power” will have to decide whether to become an empire of Roman Empire–style hard power (with a homeland of ever-hardened defenses), or back off.”

    Not quite. We’ve already lost the ability to project Roman-Empire style hard power, and we can’t get it back.

    US military doctrine is obsolete. While “air power” is still useful right now, it is sinking in its usability. Meanwhile the presence of incredibly cheap electronics everywhere has tilted the balance of warfare in favor of guerillas, and against organized armies (whether elite or mass-conscript type).

    This is a military situation under which the only viable military hard power is a *feudal* power bound by ties of personal or ethnic loyalty. The US as a whole is simply not capable of doing this; which means that the options are (a) abandon the empire, or (b) make sufficient enemies that the empire is forcibly destroyed from outside.

    A similar shift in military technology crashed the Roman Empire and left us with the centuries of medieval feudalism.

    1. Synopticist

      I’m not too sure about the balance of warfare shifting towards guerillas. Look at Syria, were the regular, well trained army seem to be slowly overcoming the irregulars with concentrations of fire power and air power.

      1. Nathanael

        Synopticist: even with constant arms supply from Russia; and reinforced by Lebanese Hezbollah, which uses guerrilla tactics itself, and with the massive advantage he started with, Assad is still losing. (The point at which Assad was guaranteed to lose was when he started carpet-bombing his own cities.)

        It’s important to note that Assad is in fact deploying guerrilla tactics. He’s quicker on the uptake than the US government, and of course it’s more possible to use guerrilla tactics when you’re a local.

        Now, it’s a bit like Vietnam. How long was Ho Chi Minh fighting before he actually won? Decades, I believe. However, he was undefeatable.

        The same situation is in place in Syria; Assad is guaranteed to lose. It’s merely a matter of how much Russia chooses to waste on propping up a deeply unpopular dictator.

        Because Assad has a certain regional base of support where guerrilla operations benefit HIM, it’s possible that the country will end up carved up and he will have part of it. That’s the best that can happen for him.

        In a previous era of warfare, Assad could have actually won outright.

        Now, Russia defeated a number of very long rebellions in the Caucasus, despite having inferior strategy, tactics, and doctine, simply by deploying overwhelming quantities of troops. This will work if you can do it, of course. If Russia decided to send ground troops into Syria equal to a large proportion of the population, then sure they could win.

        That doesn’t change the fact that the balance has shifted in favor of guerrilla warfare, however.

        1. Synopticist

          I’m not convinced by that.

          Anti-tank weapons are improving and will make a big diffence in the future for sure, but drones will give conventionally equipped armies a big advantage, not only for tactical air support, but in reconnisance and constant scanning of the battle area.

          Drones are only useful if you have air superiority. Any drone belonging to an irregular force would quickly get shot out of the sky by fighters or ground to air missiles.

    2. Lambert Strether

      Hmmm. Drawing a blank on the “similar shift” in technology that destroyed the Roman Empire.

      Also, Graeber argues, and I think there’s something to be said for this, that from the bottom, feudalism was preferable to a slave society. In other words, for the Joe Six Pack of the day, feudalism was a win. At least with Lords and Masters there’s some sense of reciprocity; serfs are not things.

      1. Nathanael

        OK, thinking about it, the various changes in technology which doomed the Roman military model were not in any real sense “similar” to the recent changes. They were similar only in that they caused feudal organization to become superior.

        And I agree with you, there are definitely benefits to feudalism. At the time it arose, it was in some ways superior to the degenerate version of the Roman Empire. There’s a reason a lot people didn’t complain too much as Imperial power collapsed.

        1. Synopticist

          The Roman empire didn’t collapse into feudalism. Feudalism evolved from the ninth century or so, gradually taking shape over hundreds of years.

          There were good 500 years between the fall of Rome and the start of feudalism.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        It wasn’t technology as much as money for legions* and roads/infrastructure wasn’t being collected from the rich through the state owned temples which collected dues under the guise of giving out medals (we can thank Christianity for that one) or was being diverted to winning a seat in Byzantium through bribes and bloodshed. Either services and forts were unfunded or the small folk were taxed through devaluation or new fees. The majority didn’t have any reason to defend the elite from foreign invaders.

        The Eastern Empire hummed along in various degrees of power with its commercial location and pilgrimage bonus until the Crusaders sacked the city where they were guests which led to an economic downturn and alternate trade routes.

        *I vaguely remember Churchill claiming the basic Roman legion was the pinnacle of mass-infantry until the U.S. Civil War. He said the English long bow archers were better as units, but they had to be raised from birth which limited their potential numbers. It makes sense.

        1. Lambert Strether

          “The majority didn’t have any reason to defend the elite from foreign invaders.”

          We’re not quite at that point. One at once sees the utility of the idea that Muslim hordes will cross the Atlantic to pillage our cities and force headscarves on our women.

  18. juliania

    Sorry, there’s no ‘glimmer’ in this speech. There’s a narcissistic, psychopathic enjoyment, finger in the eye of protesters – ‘see, I can acknowledge you; I can bow my head graciously in your direction; and now, soon as I like – drone, drone, drone!’

    Good grief, the man’s a sadist along with being a murderer. This is how he gets his kicks.

    But the main point is well taken. Is this who I am? Yes, sir, it bloody well is.

  19. clarence swinney

    Reagan gave Amnesty to three million in 1985.
    Five years later they could apply for citizenship.
    In 1990, 1,500,000 were admitted to America on a 500,000 quota.
    GHW Bush had increased the quota to 700,000.
    The Peso crash under Clinton began a rush of illegals to America for there were few jobs in Mexico.
    When the ones given Amnesty by Reagan gained citizenship we had a massive increase since, ,once they got citizenship, they could bring in the entire immediate family.

  20. clarence swinney

    Reagan gave Amnesty to three million in 1985.
    Five years later they could apply for citizenship.
    In 1990, 1,500,000 were admitted to America on a 500,000 quota.
    GHW Bush had increased the quota to 700,000.
    The Peso crash under Clinton began a rush of illegals to America for there were few jobs in Mexico.
    When the ones given Amnesty by Reagan gained citizenship we had a massive increase since, ,once they got citizenship, they could bring in the entire immediate family.

  21. Wed Wose

    Obama can do anguish no problem. As Ray McGovern reminds us, Obama is not too proud to do Sheriff Bart in Blazing Saddles: [low voice] “Don’t you remember what happened to Dr. King?”

    [high-pitched voice] Oh, lo’dy, lo’d, he’s desp’it! Do what he sayyyy, do what he sayyyy! [Townspeople drop their guns. Bart jams the gun into his neck and drags himself through the crowd towards the station] [holding gun to own head ] Oooh! He’p me, he’p me! Somebody he’p me! He’p me! He’p me! He’p me!

    [low voice] Shut up! [Bart places his hand over his own mouth, then drags himself through the door]

    Mary Margaret Graham: Hello, handsome, is that a ten-gallon hat or are you just enjoying the show?

  22. BITFU

    If you want to know why they hate us, just ask them. No doubt you’ll get many different answers.

    But hate goes both ways.

    Personally…I hate them for the way they treat their women.

    1. Lambert Strether

      Then you have plenty of targets nearer to hand, and political choices that might actually accomplish something (ok, ok, for some definition of “accomplish” — that permathread).

  23. Brooklin Bridge

    I have to admit that Jon Stewart actually did a good job of covering the President’s speech. For someone who has in the past done little more than force feed political criminals guests with Hershey’s kisses, this assessment of Obama’s speech was nothing short of a radical new approach.

  24. banger

    I’m always surprised when intellectuals still basically believe the mainstream narrative in all its strata. All events that are presented to you by the mainstream media are lies even if they are “true.” We are the most advanced country in many technologies but the most robust and powerful technology we possess is not IT but propaganda.

    The crude propaganda invented by the Creel Committee created in 1917 and then copied by Goebbles and the others around the world has morphed into an instrument that can literally control the minds of the majority of people (and even more easily) the minds of intellectuals. We don’t see it because we swim in it everyday. We don’t look at the assumptions the mainstream narrative is founded on–we accept at face value certain truths without investigating them and believe those that step outside that narrow band of acceptable discourse as suffering from delusions, paranoia, fanciful thinking and so on.

    There is a term called “deep politics” coined by Peter Dale Scott which is always absent from any discussion on any subject involving issues of war and peace. To me his idea is merely a continuation of the classical view of politics, i.e., that people who seek power lie, deceive and kill to get what they want and use techniques that Machiavelli provided to us in his works. But, for most American intellectuals, any notion that there are cynical manipulators pulling the strings of someone like Obama is attacked with unanimity on all sides of political spectrum.

    I suggest to you that the Orwellian term “war on terror” is no accident but was promoted nor are the organizations that are said to engage in terror completely independent of intelligence operations of sovereign countries. I can assure you that whatever happened on 9/11 did not come out of nowhere nor was it unanticipated. But to talk about that sort of thing will get you censored on many web sites–for examnple the NYRB blob which censored an entry much like this one. Very rarely if ever are books written by meticulous researchers ever reviewed or note by the major intellectual organs in the U.S. that colors outside the lines.

    Yes, there are terrorists, suicide bombers, terrorist cells, plotters against U.S. interests but these are often connected to intel agencies either our own or our allies (particularly the Saudis and Israelis). Just as many groups were infiltrated and influenced by the American state during the anti-Vietnam war era were infiltrated by the FBI and other organizations. I believe the war on terror is mainly an Orwellian way to keep control and the drone wars a way to increase recruits for the other side to provide fresh enemies that justify the existence of the national security state we live in today.

    1. Massinissa

      Im not as eloquent as you, but I have long believed the same thing.

      Its impossible for the people to preserve their liberties at home when they are constantly threatened from abroad, even if said threats are fictitious.

      1. banger

        Either way they have us whether you believe the more conventional “blowback” idea or not–meaning if you create enemies they are more likely to You know the famous quote from Goering. People will always rally around the flag and will not question any assumptions or the events themselves.

        I’ve been thinking about George Carlin a lot lately. In his later life he urged us to think critically, to question everything we are told. Yet, we are just as sheep like as we were–even more so. The width of our national discussion grows narrower as time passes. As Carlin noted anyone who believes in conspiracies by people in high place is a “kook” as I’ve often been called. Reminds me of the old Soviet notion that if you oppose the worker’s paradise you must be mentally ill.

  25. barrisj

    Speeches, shmeeches, y’all should read Jeremy Scahill’s “Dirty Wars” to understand where the real action is. Everything else is pure Debordian “spectacle”.

    1. banger

      Good to know Debord is not forgotten–sadly, the American intellectual class fears to go deeply into anything–they’re all watching over their shoulders. At what you ask? Well there was an old radio show called *The Shadow* which had as it’s intro: “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!”

      1. nonclassical

        or, as, when bitten with laryngitis, his stand-in intoned, “Da’ Shadow know..”

        (a bit of radio broadcaster historical trivia, courtesy of KATU-Portland…)

  26. Dirk77

    A reference to the RAND study mentioned in the above article would be very appreciated. (And I apologize if I missed it in the comments.)

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