One reason I am particularly taken with this segment on Bill Moyers is that Andrew Bacevich’s incisive remarks are a departure from the usual Serious Television convention of muted, “reasonable” criticism, even when the policies at issue are obviously bankrupt.
Some extracts from the interview:
BILL MOYERS: Among the most celebrated of these hawks is Robert Kagan…Kagan is stirring controversy again with this lengthy article in “The New Republic,” “Superpowers Don’t Get To Retire: What our tired country still owes the world.” He calls for America to return to muscular, global activism.
ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, Kagan’s essay, which does deserve to be read, simply because of Kagan’s stature in Washington, gives us a falsified, sanitized, and in some respects, illusory account of recent American history.
BILL MOYERS: How so?
ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, his notion of American history, particularly since 1945, is one that we might term an extended liberation narrative where the United States devoted itself, in the wake of World War II, to promoting liberal values, democracy everywhere, fighting against evildoers, and he concludes that this success is being squandered by Barack Obama and those who are unwilling to continue this crusade.
Now, that narrative is only sustainable if you leave a lot of important facts out, or if you distort those facts. So we get no mention of overthrowing Mossadegh in Iran in 1953. We get no mention of the CIA overthrowing the president of Guatemala. We get virtually no mention of the Vietnam War, which he dismisses as sort of an unfortunate incident of no particular significance. And perhaps most egregiously, he utterly ignores the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which he served as a cheerleader for. And which to a very large extent, account for the problem that we’re dealing with today in the greater Middle East…
When Kagan uses phrases like world order, he’s describing something that never really existed except in his own imagination. But again, the point is worth reflecting on. Kagan believes, many people in Washington believe, perhaps too many people in the hinterland also believe, that the United States shapes the global order. That there is an order for which we alone are responsible.
Where does this kind of thinking come from? I mean, I think in many respects, what we see here is the contemporary expression of the whole notion of American exceptionalism. That we are chosen. We are called upon, called upon by God, called upon by providence, to somehow transform the world and remake it in our own image. Now, Robert Kagan wouldn’t state it as bluntly as I just did. But that is the kind of thinking that I think makes it very difficult for us to have a genuine and serious foreign policy debate.
You can read the transcript here.
It is still incredible Iraqi war architects are not in The Hague with orange jumpsuits on. The premise the intelligence guys had bad intel so they had to go in is criminal. I spent years in the Iraqi zone and will add we squandered everything.
Now congress, Pentagon and White House are trying to push the cost of the war on to active duty military and veterans. This is where Obama is getting his way with his Grand Bargain he could not implement on the general public. Unfortunately, this is not covered in the press.
The price tag for the Iraq and afghan engagements will run into the trillions of dollars, which we will be paying on for decades.
Besides the goods on war profiteers, I have no doubt Cheney informed Team Blue leadership of torture, depleted uranium, surveillance, etc.. If Cheney goes down, Pelosi, Reid, and co. go down too, and plenty just support Cheney anyway.
But Bremer and Tenet received the Medal of Freedom! Are you saying that was some cheesy pomp and circumstance joke?
Our military engagement in the region goes back further than 30-years. We were sending troops to Saudi Arabia way back into the 1940s and we stayed until we were kicked out in the ’90s. The reason for our hanging out in the area? Oil. The treasure and blood spilt to keep this so called vital national security pipeline in our control is immeasurable.
The war architects are ventilating over continued warring in the region is because of oil, that so 20th century commodity. Costs and repercussions are not considered.
“…that so 20th century commodity”.
You can not truly be that naive. Oil is everything. Oil is the master resource from which everything, I mean everything in your life comes from. Everything in the room you are in is either made from it or flat out could not be made with out it. The future of life on this planet is 100% dependent on fossil fuels and how we use them. Humanity only transitions into better, higher quality energy paradigms not into lower energy sources. What ever transition we might make it will be with the use of FFs.
Had we started that transition 50 years ago we would certainly be in an entirely different situation right now. Interesting to think about.
It will not be lack of oil nor real alternatives that transitions humanity to the next stage – that is, down the energy type slope and the energy usage slope – it will be the flat out refusal of the Global Comfortable to be bothered.
Robert Kagan is married to Victoria (“F’k the EU”) Nuland, Obama’s Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, who was caught on tape, conspiring with the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine to carry out regime-change in Ukraine, the overthrow of an elected pro-Russian government. Nuland served as odious Vice President Dick Cheney’s deputy national security adviser from July 2003 to May 2005.
Robert Kagan, whose works justify the bullying and violence of United States foreign policy, served on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Affairs Policy Board at the State Department, where his wife worked as her spokeswoman. The NY Times recently described Clinton as “the vessel into which many interventionists (like Kagan) are pouring their hopes.”
Andrew Bacevich’s takedown of Robert Kaplan in “The Duplicity of the Ideologues,”
“William Buckley once remarked that the country would be better off governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston phone book than by the faculty of Harvard University. Here’s a corollary: When it comes to foreign policy, the president of the United States would be better served to consult a few reasonably informed citizens from Muncie, Indiana, than to take seriously advice offered by seers such as Robert Kagan.“
That so many so-called liberal/progressive Democrats want Hillary Clinton, unrepentant hawk and militarist, to run for president in 2016 is simply astounding.
Andrew Bacevich, “Hillary Clinton’s ‘American Moment’ Was Nothing But American Blather,”
“The central problem bedeviling American diplomacy: Infested with people who (like Clinton) are infatuated with power, Washington has increasingly become a city devoid of people who actually understand power…
Banalities laced with smug self-delusion: In the new American Moment this is what passes for smart thinking. Meanwhile, in present-day Washington, the capacity for serious strategic analysis—not to mention a once-vibrant American tradition of plain speaking—has seemingly vanished.”
Opposition to Clinton is going to be depicted as misogynistic, like opposition to Obama has been depicted as racist.
The Executive branch of government depends on the power of the Presidency and that power was relatively limited. One of the main sources of increased power in the Presidency was the ability to say that there are major threats in the world that require large armed forces. Presidents have been able to declare war without Congress and Congress, grown fat and lazy with massive military spending in their districts has winked at the Executive branch. The more conflict, the more power the Executive can garner thus the foreign policy task of that section of government is to create or jizz up conflicts around the world. And here’s the kicker–the enemy is not Al-qaida, or the old USSR, or the Taliban, Iran, or the ISIS–the enemy is the American people. War has usually been fought for plunder, while there is a kind of indirect plunder from our full-spectrum dominance guaranteeing dollar hegemony the main theater of operations is the mainland of the USA where plunder is taken from the taxpayers to fund the MIC which include quite a large number of Star-Wars cafe characters who one would have to describe as gangsters operating not only on the edge of legality but over the edge.
I’m very serious in saying this: the main task and reason for the national security state is to feed on the American people–just look at the funds involved. Look at the fact the Pentagon does not have to account for its budget–where is the money going? Who knows? Some we do know some we don’t know. These pirates that run our society also run the propaganda organs (including the entertainment industry) that give an utterly false vision of the world as filled with evil and completely crazy fanatics out to get us. This is simply not the case, even remotely–most of the “terror” threats are manufactured by criminals and dupes in the pay of intel services of the U.S., U.K. Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Pakistan and all this is hidden in plain sight.
Thank you, Banger.
Although what you say is largely true, your focus on the National Security State is fatalistic. There is nothing we can DO about that.
The Presidency had/has more power than you suggest. The office always had the power to hold people accountable and to choose who is going to run various parts of the government (in addition to being Commander-in-Chief). Naturally, once the Presidency is captured, the next step is to increase the Power of the Executive. This is exactly what we have seen with ‘signing statements’, secret orders, secret interpretations, nsa spying, war on whistle-blowers, etc. Now we have yet another accumulation of power via access journalism.
NB: Obama broke a campaign promises to make government more transparent, to stop signing statements, to reign in sping (at the time known as “warrantless wiretapping”)
The REAL enemy
To say that the National Security State “feeds” on the American people is a truism. The REAL enemy is our “vote with your money” political system which has allowed special interests to capture the Presidency and greatly influence those in other elected offices.
ALL of these special interests “feed” on the American people in one big circle jerk. It is this abomination that is leading us over a cliff.
H O P
William Buckley once remarked that the country would be better off governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston phone book than by the faculty of Harvard University. Here’s a corollary: When it comes to foreign policy, the president of the United States would be better served to consult a few reasonably informed citizens from Muncie, Indiana, than to take seriously advice offered by seers such as Robert Kagan.
What lies behind this quote are the two sides of an ethnic and ideological struggle between the two relatively newly arrived tribes that have fought for — and for the most part won — elite power in the “post-Wasp” era of the United States. Both Bacevich and Buckley represent the offspring of the Catholic immigrants who shuffled their way through Ellis Island a few generations before, as does, in a very general sense, the “Boston phone book”. Kagan and the “faculty of Harvard University” represent the other tribe, but since I want to avoid comment moderation triggers, bear with me and let’s call them for the rest of this comment the “Jays”. For example, in an exaggerated way, you can see the post-Wasp era embodied in the current ethic make-up of the US Supreme Court with its six Catholics and three Jays. Now obviously I am speaking very generally and I am well aware that not “all” members of either group follow the ideological lines I am about to describe. But I believe this type of very general critical analysis is important in order to create an admittedly imperfect framework to understand the world, and to also assist in establishing principles that could be used in creating resistance to the dominant paradigms.
So in a very general sense, post WW2 WASP foreign policy was just a continuation of both British 19th century economic imperialism combined with the Great Game struggle against Russia, this time called the Soviet Union. Many of the leading Wasp’s would graduate from Yale, enter the intelligence services and oil industry (notice I didn’t use an “or”), and go on to fight a global war for American access to markets and American containment of the Soviet menace just as their British cousins had done generations before. There was also a strong strain of post war WASP “one-worlder” World Federalist Movement adherents. This foreign policy line was very popular and straight forward among elites.
In the Sixties the two new ethnic groups, the Catholics and the Jays started flexing more ideological and institutional muscle. One strain of Catholic power, represented by William Buckley, started gathering power on the right. Bacevich is in some ways an intellectual offspring of Buckely and I do not mean this in a bad way. The Catholic world view as expressed by Bacevich is similar to their religious view; America is like their God, a universal power that should vaguely be doing good and moral things, but despite the occasional miracle or saint, is not a God that actively intervenes often in the everyday life of the various nations. As you can see this foreign policy is universalist but somewhat vague; as were Bacevich’s responses to what America should be doing in the world.
So during the Cold War, given the perceived evil nature of the Soviet Union, the Catholics would generally have supported the aims of the WASP foreign policy line but would have done it in a softer and less militant way. In contrast the Jays constituted one of the only sources of resistance to the early post war WASP version of foreign policy, there were factions of Jayish intellectual who had been close to the unversalist creed of Communism. But these pockets of resistance were crushed or at least marginalized by combinations of WASPs and Catholics.
But as time went on, and Israeli nationalism became an intellectual and ideological fact, a group of universalist Trotskyite Jays created a new strain of foreign policy thought that was actually extremely coherent with Jayish religious thought (not that the architects of this ideology were necessarily religious). In their new neoconservative scheme, a universal G*d (the United States) would gain power in order exalt and protect the particular interests of Israel and Jayish oligarchs in other countries (like Ukraine) while mightily smiting any enemies of the chosen few. This is a clear and powerful idea that is straight forward to implement. The problem is that its true goals cannot really be stated too openly so some obfuscation is required and so the ideas of Leo Strauss were used to help hide the true nature of this project.
What’s interesting is that as WASP power declined, the Jays are more powerful politically on the left but created a foreign policy that is now regarded as right wing. The Catholic tribe is more right wing on domestic issues but are now considered leftist (less interventionist) on foreign policy. WASPs generally tend to join one side or the other. And of course once again, the standard caveat applies, these classifications are not categorical, there are plenty of examples of a member of one ethnic tribe being part of the opposing intellectual tribe.
Post Bush 1 WASPs seem to be rudderless and spent force and so they are limited to just choosing between the two competing camps. WASPs still hold symbolic high positions but do not really have an ideological base to power any of their own ideas beyond just a general appreciation for globalization. So you can see this in for example Dick Cheney moving from defending caution in Iraq during what was the last gasp of WASP (CIA + oil) power (Bush 1) to his move towards exuberant imperialism and the Jayish neoconservative camp while working for Bush 2 (it is far better to have a sacrificial WASP taking the blame for insanely Machiavellian neoconservative policies in order to avoid a harsh ethnic backlash that may happen if an openly Jayish President were ordering troops into neocon wars). Hilary Clinton is as boring as ever and will undoubtedly just triangulate between the two camps as she always does on any issue.
What we can see from these slightly varying foreign policy strains is that universalism (in the form of a powerful America) is a crucial element of all three. So one possible ideology of resistance that would act as a countervailing force would be to reawaken a long dormant strain of US foreign policy, isolationism, or in intellectual terms, US particularism. The key is that it must be anti-imperialist as well. In this scenario the US would be just one of a family of many nations, but one that looks out for the interests of the United States and the United States only. The idea would be to withdraw all US military installations for any foreign soil and to spend military budgets on actually controlling American borders in the service of keeping American labor somewhat scarce.
The result of such a policy would undoubtedly be an increase in international wars. In some ways from a nationalist point of view, this is a admittedly cruel feature and not a bug because without the US navy working as a “global force for good”, shipping lanes might not be quite as easy to navigate. In fact a US exodus from the world stage would put in peril the entire globalization economic model since all those goodies being manufactured in China might very well end up getting torpedoed to the bottom of the ocean instead of arriving safely in a US port. But the US enjoys a strongly defendable geographic position and so could very well thrive while the rest of the world fights it out, if that is indeed what happens. In any case, sooner the later the current Pax Americana will collapse as empires always do and so it might just be better for America to instigate the collapse on her own terms.
Nero – what you say is right on the spot. Scratch most neo-cons and very shallowly below the surface you will find a specific ethnic group. Then you have to ask qui bono. Until most Americans understand this and PC correctiveness is over ridden we will continue to march, for most Americans, down the road of disaster in multiple ways.
One sure way of identifying how broken our media has become is no one ever questions the motivations of the people they are interviewing.
Beautifully done. As a general overview, it is excellent. My only significant disagreements are that a withdrawal into Splendid Isolation need not involve a withdraw from the global sea lanes. America has a long tradition of supporting a global naval presence, and could continue to with only a few treaty ports here and there–naval logistics today allow for long deployments, the longest since the age of sail. The other part of your summary I think is contentious is in the area of Jay pacifism and internationalism, which I think still exists as a definable intellectual tradition (and there is also a distinct black intellectual tradition which you do not address). There are still educated Jays and Quakers around pushing for a better world, and their voices, although ignored, are long-standing and not silent even today (as someone who contributes what little I have to give to the Friends Committee on National Legislation, I can vouch for this).
Thanks. I agree on your point on naval retrenchment and in fact even in a pretty strict America First framework you would still want the capability to project naval power pretty much anywhere. One of my concerns with the comment was that I wasn’t capturing the rich diversity of Jay intellectual tradition and so a small step in that direction would be two shout-outs, one to Noam Chomsky, and the other, for Iraq in particular, Naomi Klein’s Baghdad Year Zero which has to win the award as the most devastating single article about the misadventure in Iraq.
On black intellectual tradition I am pretty disappointed with most recent examples of the mainstream bourgeois examples (Ta-Nehisi Coats) but the Black Agenda Report is pretty good. What I really miss are the more radical Black Nationalist points of view. For example in the late sixties the Malcolm X Society came out with a bold proposal for slavery reparations that included an independent black nation in the southeastern US called the Republic of New Afrika. Now that’s the way you start a discussion on reparations, not Coates’ crybaby article.
One other thing I wasn’t happy about is my lack of warmth towards Andrew Bacevich himself. I was motivated to write the comment by the absence of strong alternatives in his discussion of US foreign policy. But I have to point out that he lost his only son in the Iraq war and for him to be able to discuss the conflict with such grace and composure considering the circumstances is surely a testament to the fact that he has something (faith?) that most of us will never have.
A few years ago, I read two books that I found in a dollar-type store.
Between War and Peace; How America Ends its Wars–edited by Col. Matthew Moten 2008 and …
They Knew They Were Right: The Rise of the Neocons–by Jacob Heilbraun 2008 Doubleday
What I learned from the first book written by 15 military historians including an essay by Andrew Bacevich on the Gulf War was that America;s leaders–government or military– never have considered the dynamics that will necessarily and naturally emerge as a war draws down to its end, despite a long list of conflicts on the books for study. But “Victory” is not a word used in military manuals anymore. Also, and more chilling is that we have practiced hegemony repeatedly, for whatever reason of the given time.
What I gleaned from the second book (with difficulty because my formal study of history was limited to three college courses –but historical fiction is my lifelong favorite) was that the Jewish neocons emerged in the 1930’s with a passion for intellectualism–but not necessarily religion. And their passive and safe position in the US while their ethnic group(s) were slaughtered in Europe caused sorrow, guilt and angst–and prompted determination and political action to at least keep Israel safe forever. Their powerlessness against the Third Reich’s decimation of their people, and their frustration at being outsiders in WASPish Washington (it was even stated that the originators of the Super Hero comic books on which many baby-boomers learned to read were written by Jewish neocons as an artistic expression of their desire for strength and power) forced them to New York City and Wall Street instead–where they gained ground and traction– and eventually respect and support in Washington D.C. from the Right and from former moderates of both parties who joined their hawkish ranks for God and America –in the name of social conservatism.
I wondered if you have read either of these books? If so, what would you say to the questions of how to develop foreign policy that Americans will understand and be willing to follow? Because the baby-boomers that fill the halls of Congress, the Pentagon and the churches were definitely raised and educated with a “mystic interpretation of history” as Bacevich called the ignorance and arrogance of a citizenry that votes for ideals that barely ever existed (as hyped), and for comfort over conscience in myriad ways.
As one European on TV for D-Day commemoration said about the difference between how they and Americans keep the WWII history alive– “Americans have not suffered enough losses on their own soil to understand.”
Thank you for your excellent commentary.
Excellent Summary of important political dynamics. Such a synthesis, and the understanding it conveys, can not be ‘Googled’.
H O P
A strain of neo-isolationism exists mainly on the paleo right as well as large swaths of the libertarian right and left. Great comment btw–though I would probably not see it as tribal as you do. You are also not mentioning the evangelical movement which plays an important role in the neocon movement particularly centered in the Air Force.
“Immoral war”. Thank you, Mr Bacevich, for not mincing words. But I have one correction: Dick Cheney is not simply ‘partisan’; he is evil. He is the closest thing to a purely evil man I have ever observed.
Evil is an abstract force–I’ve never met anyone who personifies evil and I haven’t seen historical figures as purely evil not even Hitler. As far as I can tell, Cheney is motivated by the neoconservative belief in the need for the U.S. to dominate the world. They believe that that would make, by any measure, a better more convivial world–they really believe that and I believe, like many Communists from back in the day that they are totally committed to that vision and killing, torturing, mass incarcerations, deception/lying, assassinations, genocide is all permissible for this larger goal. Why not kill millions to insure the happiness of billions? This would be a utilitarian argument shared by both the CP and this version of true-believers. The evil comes, in my view, from belief in abstract ends against the tangible present. Today I kill people so that tomorrow a better world will emerge. This was the thinking of Stalin and Hitler and Pol Pot. They thought they were doing a good thing. Evil is when you consciously do bad things for the pleasure it gives you–you have no intention of benefiting anyone but yourself. In fact, people who personify evil are a good deal more dangerous than those with good intentions.
I don’t believe Dick Cheney is a “true believer”, as you say Banger — and neither does Bacevich, hence his distinction between Kagan (‘true believer’) and Cheney (‘partisan’). IMO, Cheney believes solely in power, and power for power’s sake. Truth is irrelevant to him. He believes in domination and subjugation of other people and other nations.
I believe political power is oppressive, and those who covet it for its own sake are oppressors, self-interested, lacking in compassion — in other words, evil. And I believe that evil can be a personal force.
So why are people partisan? Sometimes the reason is personal gain but in Cheney’s case he follows party lines just as CP members followed the Party line–they, like Cheney, saw themselves as soldiers under a chain of command — one day Hitler is a friend and a little later an enemy. One day Saddam is a friend the next, an enemy.
More to the point than whether Cheney is evil or not,
he is an evil-doer. I think we can all agree on that!
I suppose Cheney is partisan because that is the surest path to power in the US.
Then, having achieved power, and given his malevolent disposition, he chose perhaps the most invidious party-sanctioned agenda available to him, and worked like the devil to make it happen.
Evil people seek out other evil people as allies in their evil plots. Israel has allied itself with Saudi Arabia, the most undemocratic of all Arab nations in a devil’s bargain. The US has allied itself with dictators throughout the Middle East and the rest of the world, and has condemned the only actual democracy in the Middle East, Iran, as a terrorist state.
I guess we just have to “hope” Obama does the right thing and not hold our breath.
Agreed. Cheney is a deliberate deceiver (though not as cunning as Obama), which may not tag him as evil in Banger’s magnanimous tent — since his lies arguably served a far nobler purpose for big oil, Israel, and others of God’s chosen one-percent (glorious ends justify mass-murderous means after all). But I strongly suspect he is a genuine sadist, a twisted f’ck, who actually enjoys wielding power and inflicting misery, pain, and death on other human beings. It was often evident in his frequent and oddly-specific discussions of torture (with evident relish and mustard), his active ackground role in Abu Ghraib (probably has a closet shrine with Obama’s classified photos), his working with the “dark side” in orchestrating extraordinary rendition (torture taxis) to a cultivated network of black sites, his sly smirk in response to his “Darth Vader” nickname, and in his predatory pursuit of his enemies like Ambassador Wilson, as “fair game”.
Banger is laudably forgiving and non-judgmental, and maybe he’s right; maybe the criminally insane suffer a diseased mind; maybe pathological serial-killing, torturing criminals too need our compassion and empathy and rehab. But if we can’t call Hitler, Stalin, and the Dick Cheney evil, then evil doesn’t really exist.
Evil does exist as an abstract principle or, for me, a spiritual force. Human beings can go over to the dark side of the Force and often are controlled by it but they are always potentially redeemable. It is too easy to brand people or tribes as “evil” as American movies tend to do so that we can easily countenance torture and killing or demonization of “bad guys.”
I have a hard time following your semantic distinctions. I tend to agree with the idea that what ordinary language construes as “evil” consists in doing pretty bad things — perhaps shades of evil rather than total evil vs good.
I think of the banality of evil where the evil-doer is not a fanged monster, but perhaps a mild-mannered dude for the most part who does bad things, but also has kids he adores and a wife and a dog he does not beat and a white picket fence.
But if you don’t ant to call Cheney an evil person, that’s okay with me, if we can agree that he’s done a lot of bad things that warrant being called war crimes. Certainly there’s plenty of support for this view, which is probably the reason that Bush and Cheney and Rumsfield no longer travel outside the US.
Well, Opec nations/Saudi arabia and the wall st speculators, must be happy that oil prices will have a reason to rise again….happy days ahead.
They were wrong, they were wrong, they were wrong…
Well, yeah Bill, but the question is where were all the liberal dems who presumably knew better all this time? Just what in the hell were/are they doing while the hard right did all the hard political work on the ground to manufacture consent for all this and which they now have virtual political unity for in DC? Oh yeah, cozying up to the same sociopaths that fund the right wing so that they might become the “kinder, gentler, more intelligent version” of the same damn thing. Time to quit blaming the so-called “Bush/Cheney right wing” for all this mess. With the ascendance of Obama, Clinton, Kerry, and company, we are all right wingers now!
The left was in denial about the true nature of the national security state and thus was easily deceived and still is to this day.
The US has admitted funding the MEK and Jundullah in addition to carrying out terror operations through the Mossad and the CIA. Why is it that Iran is a state that sponsors terror, but the US is not designated with that distinction? The US threatens states in order to get them to change their policies. This is the exact definition that the US uses to define terrorism. The US is a terror state, plain and simple, and I hope when the country collapses, those like Clinton, Obama, Bush and Cheney all have their day in the Hague! When idiots quit talking Democrat/Republican nonsense, we can fix this mess. The two-party system is there to divide and conquer, much like the US pits Sunnis against Shiites so it can prevail against a divided force.
You linked to Andrew Bacevich’s criticism of Hillary Clinton’s speech about the “new American Moment.” The speech was given in 2010, but the only change that applies is that Clinton was Secretary of State then and now she wants to be, and may well be, our next president. In his remarks Bacevich wrote:
I do not know if Clinton is “infatuated with power,” but I think she definitely understands it, and so do all the others who, as Bacevich put it, “infest” Washington. They all understand that the power of the American people is concentrated in the hands of those who can gain control of the levers of power in our capital city. So, Bacevich was wrong. What he should have said is this:
We do not have a budget deficit, we do not have a foreign policy deficit, we have a Democracy Deficit.
I wonder if the phrase “infatuated by power” really should read “infatuated by the ability to use force” i.e. the use of war (in its most generalised sense) becomes the end in itself. Whereas “understanding power” would require acknowledging Clausewitz’s dictum that “War is (must be seen as) the continuation of politics by other means” and its unstated corollary that when war ends politics must resume.
Of course there is one escape from Clausewitz: a Forever War delays the restart of politics into the far distant future but this ultimately relies on a public willingness to spend blood & treasure on the same timescales. As the resistance to this – no more boots on the ground – has been growing stronger since Libya it would appear that this escape route is now closed off. The courting of Iran as a potential ally, however crudely and clumsily, (if only under the rubric of my enemy’s enemy is my friend) seems to me at least an indicator that politics is now resuming … which is probably why the neocons are showing early signs of going batshit. The realisation that having Iran as an ally, however tenuously, is strategically far more important than Israel is going to drive an awful lot of people out to the edge.
Listening to the same Israel-firsters, Wolfowitz, Kagan, Kristol, et al, on how to “fix” Iraq fits the classic Einsteinian definition of insanity — in this case, criminal insanity. It’s like commissioning the grossly-negligent architects of a building that suffered catastrophic collapse causing mass fatalities to design its replacement — a WTF moment for DC and the MSM. It defies basic common sense to give these guys a pulpit; they should ne swinging from lamppots. Seriously.
“Evil is when you consciously do bad things for the pleasure it gives you–you have no intention of benefiting anyone but yourself.”
Accepting for a brief moment your definition…. i think that pretty well suggests all neolibralcons are evil. Including most if not all who merely vote for them… lessor evil or nay. Because it’s obvious murder, torture, lawlessness based on hubris and greed has always been and always will be the force which drives U.S…. turning a blind-eye or perpetuating conversations like most of these interviews and threads which mire some in denial, make excuses for others and or constantly examining minutia, always giving credence to the monsters over and over again rather than demand it stop, that’s the conversation which prevails…. just like evil…. just like nobel peace prizes and liberalism, etc.
I mean, beyond The Answer Coalition which surely must be funded and operated by elements interested in misdirection, utter uselessness I haven’t heard or read a single anti-war cry/plea/email for sustained meaningful action from any group in many, many years. If that’s all there is in the face of seamless systemic US war criminal history… then by your definition I would say the entire fabric of our nation is evil. Property, wealth, finance, MIC, and petrodollar control via pipelines otherwise having nothing to do with U.S. reign supreme. Everything else is for obfuscation show. It explains every war, every so-called terrorist, every military base, every bullet, mercenary, soldier, drone… every bit of censorship…. every death and every act of torture. Every get out of shame/jail card filling the pages of papers and blogs.
For it’s you who will be kettled and jailed or worse by either the Cheney Kagan or O’Hillary camps if you merely try to stand in the street and say no more war. I’ve and many others have seen all of this before, protesting war in Iraq nearly 25 years ago (arguably it never stopped, nor was that close to the beginning)… every jail cell and large outdoor piers on the bay filled with tens of thousands in San Francisco…which garnered the briefest local news coverage and days later full page national (NYT) advertisements by the SF Chamber of Commerce apologizing for said demonstrators. That’s evil too. You know, Nancy Pelosi and DiFi’s funders.
Kids know if they say No war or so much as link to articles discussing the possibility on their facebook page they can never work in government… Hillary told them so years ago.
We can’t create an anti-war leadership choice…much less prosecute these evil people or even shame the WSJ/NYT from allowing them to cheer for more bloody failure again. I don’t know how to stop it, but conversations like this have failed for decades on end if not much longer.
Maybe it’s time we try something else… or evil most certainly will prevail. After all these are the same people who love denying tens of millions of their brethren health care, imprisoning more of their brethren than any other country in the world, making sure one family controls more wealth than the bottom 150 million… and are so paranoid that there can be no conversation unmonitored anywhere at anytime as soon as technology allows…. and on and on.
Again evil, is mainly and abstract or spiritual force that can “posses” some people sometimes for a long time and sometimes they are healed. Lucas creates some pretty accurate notions about the nature of evil by calling it the Dark Side of the Force which is fed by negative emotions based on alienation. C.S. Lewis saw evil as ultimate alienation and ultimate individualism and I think he was right. Even the act of branding people as evil or “bad guys” activates, IMHO, the Dark Side. People who are so obsessed with their idea of what is right and good eventually demonize their opponents as much as the ISIS combatants are doing right now or the neoconservatives are doing.
I hear you’re genuine upset at the moribund nature of the left but this has not happened because of State repression which, as a part of the sixties movement, I can assure you is not much worse than it was back then–the difference was that we were young and foolish and, yes, more courageous than young people are today because we had a really strong sense of solidarity for awhile. Few people understand the enormity of the effect on the left that the assassination of MLK and RFK had on us. The RFK assassination was in the top three of the most tragic events I experienced in my life that has had its share of tragedies. Why? Because I knew that I had just witnessed the end of the road. MLK and RFK (and JFK) where not just ordinary leaders they stood for a completely different view of the country. These guys weren’t just political,leaders but visionaries and, particularly in the case of MLK, spiritual leaders.
The single most important reason the left, which was rising and ready to take power with RFK’s certain Presidency, has become moribund and ineffectual is because of the fact the remaining leaders and key intellectuals refused to look into who was responsible for the deaths of three great leaders rather than the three alleged culprits that virtually no motive and where nearly all of the evidence points elsewhere. Until the left understands what happened back then it will remain without teeth and as, at best, mild annoyances, that can be swatted away without much thought.
The remaining Leaders refused to look into the assassinations of three great Leaders because they knew they would be assassinated for looking into it. Jeff Wells writes about this stuff at Rigorous Intuition 2.0
Noam Chomsky is one of the most notorious Gatekeeper Leftist “lone gunman” psy-op/infop propagators currently working in the United States today. And yet an American tourist in Europe is accorded some personal credibility in Europe by dropping the name “Noam Chomsky”
Officer Bar Brady
Separated at birth?
Amen. The most important factor in the decline of the left was the denial by both the liberal class and the radical left to question the state’s utter ludicrous treatment of the three major assassinations which were also perhaps the most important events of the past half-century or even century considering what was at stake.
Bacevich made many clear-headed statements in the interview but seemed at a loss to explain why the mainstream media presents such a narrow band of opinion on its shows and in its reporting. Ok, first most people you see as guest all have handlers usually associated with high octane lobbying and PR organizations and or political think tanks. These people are basically like show-biz managers who stay on the phone to reporters, editors, producers and so on to get their guys on shows–really knowledgeable people don’t have the resources to hire this sort of full court press–also the talents don’t have much money either but the corporations who fund the PR, lobbying and think tank operations do have almost unlimited resources to throw at this process. People in the media don’t have time to research every subject if they’re producing a segment on cable–they need something in their hand that is predigested and predictable–they all want a well-groomed guest that has been well-coached and isn’t going to act like Hunter S. Thompson on TV. The guest has to know how long he or she can talk and all kinds of other things that come from coaching.
These personalities are not necessarily aligned with political parties–often they are aligned with power factions that are mainly aligned with various segments of the oligarchy that have little to do with the RP or DP as institutions. We can see this dramatically in FP–neocons, for example, span both parties pretty evenly as do more peaceful types (rare as they are).
“Kagan believes, many people in Washington believe, perhaps too many people in the hinterland also believe, that the United States shapes the global order. That there is an order for which we alone are responsible.”
Makes me think of Romans and Barbarians…
Strange to say, of all the things for which one could condemn Cheney, the one that still sours my stomach is that Cheney gathered a collection of Mesopotamian curios after the sacking of the museums in Baghdad.
I think that’s strong external evidence that US Vice-President Cheney was not merely a soldier on a mission. War was not a duty pressed upon him by unkind fates. Rather, Cheney actually wanted to become one of the warlords who inhabit the pages of history. He personally desired to slay people and despoil cities, and he gathered the trophies to prove it.
As a warlord, Vice-President Cheney was successful. History will not forget him. Mission Accomplished.
I am totally amazed that Bacevich can talk at length about Iraq, the Middle East and U. S. involvement in it without ever mentioning Israel. Israel is the center point of all that goes on in the Middle East. Israel through AIPAC and the Zionist Lobby control American foreign policy. The State Department is full of Zionist Neo-cons. It is almost as if Israel is making itself invisible in this debate.