The Rotten Alliance of Liberals and Neocons Will Likely Shape U.S. Foreign Policy for Years to Come

Yves here. Another disheartening development. The Republican takeover envisaged by Saint Reagan is all but complete. Republican hawks have found a happy home in the Democratic party. Just as we would have gotten with Hillary, a Biden victory looks destined to given neocons the greenlight for putting the US officially in the “all wars all the time” business .

By Marshall Auerback, a researcher at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College, a fellow of Economists for Peace and Security, and a regular contributor to Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute and James Carden, a contributing writer on foreign affairs at the Nation who served as a policy adviser on Russia in the U.S. State Department under President Obama. Carden’s work has also appeared on the American Conservative. Produced by Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute

The emergence in recent weeks of a coalition of neocon Republicans and former national security officials who have thrown their support behind the candidacy of Joe Biden is an ominous development to those who believe U.S. foreign policy should be guided by the principles of realism and military restraint, rather than perpetual wars of choice.

In early June, a group of former officials from the George W. Bush administration launched a PAC in support of Joe Biden’s candidacy. The group, 43 Alumni for Biden, boasts nearly 300 former Bush officials and is seeking to mobilize disaffected Republicans nationwide.

The mobilization appears to be having an impact: More recently, “more than 100 former staff of [recently deceased Senator John] McCain’s congressional offices and campaigns also endorsed Biden for president,” according to NBC News, as well as dozens of former staffers from Senator Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign.

That GOP support comes in addition to the more than 70 former U.S. national security officials, who teamed up and issued a statement urging Biden’s election in November. Citing what they believe is the grave damage Trump has done to U.S. national security, the group does include some mainstream Republicans like Richard Armitage and Chuck Hagel, but also features notable neocon hardliners like Eliot Cohen, John Negroponte and David Kramer, who, perhaps not incidentally, played a leading role in disseminating the utterly discredited Steele dossier prior to Trump’s inauguration.

These are not merely grifters or desperate bids for attention by unscrupulous and avaricious Beltway swamp creatures. Though there are those too: the so-called Lincoln Project, helmed by neocon operative Rick Wilson, which is an outside group of Republicans (including former RNC Chair Michael Steele) devoted to defeatingTrump in November.

As the historian David Sessions recently tweeted, “Basically nobody in liberal circles is taking seriously the consequences of the fact that the exiled cadre of the Republican Party are building a massive power base in the Democratic Party.”

The merger between Democrats and neocons is not merely confined to the world of electoral politics; it is already affecting policy as well. Over the summer, in response to the New York Times’ dubious “Russia bounty” story, Democratic Congressman Jason Crow teamed up with Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney (daughter of the former vice president) to prohibit the president from withdrawing troops from Afghanistan. Republicans and Democrats in the Senate and the House Armed Services Committee also collaborated to pass an amendment that imposed restrictions on Trump’s plan to withdraw troops from Germany, showing, if nothing else, that the bipartisan commitment to the new cold war is alive and well.

It is noteworthy that while there has been considerable pushback to economic neoliberalism within the Democratic Party in recent years, thanks, mainly, to the candidacy of Bernie Sanders, the advocacy of reformers like Elizabeth Warren and the increasing popularity of economists like Stephanie Kelton, the same cannot be said for foreign policy. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has evinced an openness to being “pushed left” on social and economic policies, but on external affairs he still largely operates within the standard Washington foreign policy playbook.

If anything, on foreign policy Democrats have moved rightward in recent years, having fallen not only under the spell of “Russiagate” but also increasingly under the influence of neocons and other former Bush officials who have pushed that discredited narrative for their own ends. The Democrats have also displayed a rather supine obeisance in regard to the country’s intelligence community, in spite of a multiplicity of well-documented lies or half-truths that would at the very least justify some skepticism about their claims or motivations.

Nobody should be surprised.

The neocons had been signaling their intention to flee the GOP as early as 2016 when it was widely reported that Robert Kagan had decided to endorse Hillary Clinton and speak at a Washington, D.C., fundraiser alongside other national security fixtures worried about the alleged isolationist drift within the Republican Party. Indeed, the Democrats welcomed the likes of Kagan and fellow neocon extremist Max Boot with open arms, setting the stage for where we are today: A Democratic nominee running to the right of the Republican nominee on foreign policy.

Missing: Whither the Progressives?

Over the past few election cycles, progressive Democrats have increasingly challenged the party’s prevailing neoliberal bias on domestic economic policy. Equally striking, however, is that they have been delinquent in failing to provide an alternative to the hegemonic influence of militarists and interventionists growing within their party regarding foreign policy.

As it stands today, the so-called progressive foreign policy alternative is really no alternative at all. To the contrary, it evokes Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s seminal work, The Leopard, whose main character, Tancredi, sagely observes to his uncle, “If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change.” So it is with much of what passes for a genuine foreign policy alternative: the rhetoric slightly changes, the personnel certainly change, but in substance, the policy status quo largely remains.

Consider a recent interview with the socialist Jacobin magazine, featuring Matt Duss, a foreign policy adviser to Senator Bernie Sanders. Duss, who seeks to articulate the foundations of a new “progressive” foreign policy, told the Quincy Institute’s Daniel Bessner that:

“We have neither the right nor the ability to transform other countries, but we should do what we can to protect and expand the political space in these countries for local people to do that work. We can also provide funding or resources for American civil society actors to work in solidarity with their international counterparts.” [emphasis ours]

That sounds anodyne enough, but in reality, it is nothing but a form of liberal imperialism. Historically, seemingly benign initiatives conducted under the aegis of local people backed by so-called democracy-building programs have often planted the seeds for more malign military intervention later. Who makes the decision as to which local people to support? How does one (purportedly) protect and expand that political space? We have seen how well that worked out in Afghanistan, Iraq, or, indeed, in the mounting human tragedy that is Syria today.

Comments like that of Matt Duss amount to this: “We don’t have the right to transform other countries… but we’re going to try anyway.” Forswearing preemptive military action (wars of choice) isn’t enough. Change will only come about when U.S. foreign policy adheres to the principles of the UN Charter, and above all, the ancient Westphalian principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries. American policymakers need to learn that less is more.

That used to be a guiding principle of Democrats, for example, Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “good neighbor policy” that repudiated intervention in the domestic affairs of Latin America. Of course, as subsequent events such as World War II illustrated, there may be a point at which external assistance/intervention in other parts of the world might become necessary; but the United States should not perpetually arrogate to itself the role of sole judge and jury in determining when that line should be crossed, no matter how benign its intentions might appear.

The broader point is that explicating a foreign policy somewhat less hawkish and merely paying lip service to international law that transcend the norms established by the Bush-Cheney neocons isn’t enough. That is the foreign policy equivalent of the GOP lite economic agenda embraced by “New Democrats” such as Bill Clinton, Robert Rubin, Barack Obama, and Timothy Geithner, whereby the Democrats internalize the GOP’s market fundamentalist paradigm, but simply promise to implement it more fairly, rather than do away with it altogether.

That appears unlikely to change under a future Biden administration: As American Conservative editor Kelley Beaucar Vlahos has noted, “Democratic interventionists and Blob careerists now [sit] at the right hand of [Biden]… like [Antony] Blinken, Nicholas Burns, Susan Rice, Samantha Power and Michele Flournoy, who has been touted as a possible Secretary of Defense. They would sooner drag the country back into Syria, as well as position aggressively against China if the military pushed hard enough and there was a humanitarian reason to justify it.” Nowhere in Biden’s foreign policy ambit do we find mainstream figures warning about the dangers of a new cold war with Russia or China, nor to the broader problems posed by America’s overall propensity toward militarism. In fact, Biden does just the opposite.

The Shape of Things to Come?

With the notable (and noble) exceptions of a few anti-war Democrats like Barbara Lee, Tulsi Gabbard, Ro Khanna and Jeff Merkley, the opposition party has spent much of the Trump era turning themselves into the party of war. Meanwhile, one could envision a future where the GOP, under the influence of “national conservatives” such as Josh Hawley, Rand Paul, or even Trump advisers such as Colonel (Ret.) Douglas Macgregor (recently nominated to be U.S. ambassador to Germany), becomes the party of realism and restraint abroad.

To the limited extent that President Trump has been guided by any kind of restraint (which has been capricious at best), it has paid dividends for the United States. In the Middle East, for example, given that the United States is now largely energy-self-sufficient, it no longer needs to play policeman in that part of the world. That fact, writes David Goldman, has induced “the Gulf states to act responsibly as a matter of self-preservation. As long as the Gulf States remained de facto US protectorates, they could claim that the ‘Arab Street’ stood in the way of relations with Israel. Now that they have to take responsibility for their own defense, they look to Israel for help.” As Goldman concludes, this consideration played a key role in the United Arab Emirates’ recent “agreement to normalize relations with the State of Israel, almost certainly the first of several Arab states [likely] to make such agreements.”

Likewise, there is little to be gained via aggressive American intrusion into the affairs of countries that have historically been in the domain of Russia. That mistake was made in Ukraine in 2014, when prominent members of U.S. officialdom—from the State Department, Congress, and the Obama administration—publicly and privately urged the removal of Viktor Yanukovych, even though he was the constitutionally elected president. As Professor Stephen Cohen has persuasively documented, that ill-advised intervention contributed to Crimea’s annexation by Russia and to the still ongoing U.S.-Russian proxy war in eastern Ukraine. It is also worth noting that Ukraine’s largely IMF-funded economy continues to fail.

In Belarus, the same predictable pattern has reasserted itself. Even though much of the evidence points to the falsification of the country’s August 9 election result, there is little to be gained by replicating the Ukraine formula: advocating mass uprising is unlikely to engender a stable, democratic post-Lukashenko government. What is required is U.S. policy cooperation with Russia, which becomes problematic when leading Democrats, such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, mindlessly persist in perpetuating Russophobia: “All roads lead to Putin.” Working with Putin, rather than instinctively attacking him for sustaining an authoritarian regime, is more likely to ensure a relatively stable transition to a new government, especially if it continues to avoid the economic shock therapy treatment that destabilized so many post-Soviet regimes. To his credit, Belarussian President Lukashenko has at least avoided inflicting that particular form of misery on his people.

In external affairs, Donald Trump’s erratic conduct makes profound change in U.S. foreign policy unlikely in the near term. The attempted normalization of the neocon Bush/Cheney administration is a sign that for many, the old normal (which was largely a failed normal) will be enough. Unfortunately, this reassessment obscures the fact that Trump’s shattering of many existing shibboleths in foreign policy helped get him elected in the first place. These policies should be separated from the man himself, and force a long-overdue discussion of the country’s increasingly costly international engagements.

The more modest aspirations that used to characterize U.S. foreign policy realism appear to have gone AWOL. There may indeed be times when international engagement and a corresponding reliance on international institutions, such as the United Nations, is wise. However, it is worth recalling that a vibrant nation-state with robust democratic checks and balances provides the best defense against unnecessary foreign policy expansionism. Constitutional brakes have been increasingly undermined (through the acquiescence of both parties), and an imperial presidency has taken hold. It is the very hollowing out of many of those traditional checks and balances that has sustained and expanded America’s increasingly militaristic foreign policy, in spite of ample evidence that domestic opposition to such policies is growing. In their eagerness to defeat Trump, the Democrats seem to have overlooked that fact, as they enthusiastically embrace their newfound neocon allies (whose past policy failures should preclude their return to government, let alone allow for any kind of influence).

Being one of the victors of World War II does not give the United States carte blanche to be the world’s global cop in perpetuity. The American foreign policy establishment needs to respect the boundaries set by national sovereignty, both at home and abroad. Endless interventionist efforts aimed at reshaping other nations as America sees fit give us a world of chaos and blowback, not peace and stability.

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  1. John A

    Margaret Thatcher boasted that her lasting legacy was Tony Blair, who, like Clinton, wrenched his party rightwards – the third way – and embrace neoliberalism. When Labour party members tried to bring the party back to its roots by electing Corbyn, he was destroyed by lies, smears and innuendo from inside and outside the party. His replacement Starmer, is Blair Mark II and neoliberal to the core. The Labour party is as rotten as the Democrats. Nothing will change as long as this remains the case.

  2. Eustache de Saint Pierre

    I wonder how long we have before these disgusting renders of life & limb finally overstep the mark – just before their apparent safe distance evaporates ?

  3. Bob

    Are we missing the obvious ?

    Our foreign policy is dictated not by the national interest or even by the interests of the general population nor is it dictated by neocons, warhawks, or pacifists.

    It is about individuals whom are capable and willing to tender $ 10s of millions even $ 100s of millions in campaign donations / bribes.

    Note that according to news reports a large donor was able to get the US Embassy in Israel relocated to Jerusalem and there are some suggestions that the donor was also able to foment strife with some Arab / . Muslim countries.

    US national policy is driven by donations / bribes.
    To talk of neocons, liberals, warhawks, or others is to miss the obvious.

    1. timbers


      Biden and Harris just did a fund raiser for those folks from the Middle East who run our nation’s govmit. They promised unlimited unending funding for their Apartheid and land theft policies. Probably means full support for another Iraq-like war or two as well, on her behalf.

      1. polecat

        When added to the mix .. the gates’s, the bezos’s, the romney’s, the thiel’s, et al .. what you get is quite the hellishparty mosh pit!

        1. OpenthepodbaydoorsHAL

          Maybe for once in his life we should attempt to take Biden at his word. At the convention he raged “we will stop cozying up to foreign dictators!!!”. So the question is, which “foreign dictators” is he referring to?

          I’d imagine that at the top of the list to begin to get drone incineration of civilians Pax Americana would be Assad. Women and children in Caracas should also be terrified. And after 70 years of abject policy failure in North Korea including total fail by Biden’s boss, Trump did the unforgivable: he tried to talk to them. So Pyongyang (and thus Seoul too) can expect the terrible swift sword to descend from on high.

          Any any good genocide predictor would have to read the tea leaves of what we heard loud and clear from the rooftops for the last four years: that Moscow is the unique source of all evil in the world.

          The (former) Democratic Party shuttled in a list of what they told us was Republican Party “luminaries”. A list of retreads from a bygone era with one thing in common: they lied us into Iraq.

          My biggest, top level, overarching issue is war. THAT is why I’ll be voting for Trumpf.

          1. Janie

            Gah, I’m not sure I can actually bring myself to fo it, but you make a good case. And, as we’ve all said, exactly what concrete material benefits are on offer from the Dems?

          2. anon in so cal

            Biden’s policy statements to the Council on Foreign Relations are chilling.

            Biden is bellicose toward China, Syria, etc. His stance on Russia is especially disturbing: Biden wants more US weapons to Ukraine and wants Russia “to pay a heavier price” (for helping Syria defeat US-backed jihadis? For supporting Donbass against Banderite Nazis?)

            Biden is equally awful on domestic issues. He has repeatedly tried to slash Social Security, as just one example.

            Why reward the DNC for trying to shove a NeoLiberal NeoCon down voters’ throats? Biden likely represents 12 to 16 years of regime change wars and austerity.


    2. Carolinian

      Not to court controversy but you can’t talk about the above IMO without talking about the outsized influence of Israel and Israel’s US supporters on US foreign policy. Thus while the care and feeding of the MIC may play a bigger role among Republicans, the heavy dependence of the Dems on Jewish donors skews their foreign policy inclinations toward activism and interventionism. For example what conceivable interest is it to America what Iran does or does not do and especially since, as Yves points out, the US is no longer MId East oil dependent? The vast sums spent and wars fought over the last twenty years have everything to do with the Mid East conflict and Bin Laden himself cited it as a reason for attacking New York. Meanwhile Trump’s gestures toward a pull back from intervention were stymied by the large contribution casino magnate Sheldon Adelson made to his last campaign. Turns out the biggest of Trump’s lies (while perhaps the most appealing) was that he would self fund in 2016 and thereby be independent of such influences.

      Here’s suggesting that if you want to reform US foreign policy you will first have to reform our money dependent electoral system and that goes for domestic reform as well. As the Watergaters said, “follow the money.”

      1. timbers

        Reform our money dependent politics. So true. My thought?

        Impeach/remove from office any judge who even remotely implies corporations are people with human rights, on the basis of gross self evident mental incompetence or bias making them unfit to hold their office.

        Corporations are legal constructs, like parking ticket laws.

        Does anyone think parking ticket laws should have constitutional rights?

        1. Jokerstein

          If corporations are people, they should be subject to the death penalty for particularly egregious crimes.

          And the execs should go to a lower-middle class prison for life w/o parole. As Eddie Murphu says in “Trading Places” the way you hurt rich people is making them poor. Put ’em all in an exurban enclave so that they can piss and whine about having to eat ramen, and drink Bud.

      2. Pavel

        All the talk about RussiaRussiaRussia influencing the 2016 elections… anything they did pales in comparison to what Israel (via AIPAC and other organisations) and the Saudis have done, with the enthusiastic enabling by both Dems and Repubs with a few very very brave exceptions.

        But to discuss this is the third rail of politics, and will bring massive spending in favour of one’s opponent in the next primary or election.

      3. drumlin woodchuckles

        Every reform legislated has been ruled unconstitutional. Saying “we have to reFORM the money-based campaign system” after it has been made thoroughly and completely illegal to reform it in any way seems like fantasy-based wish-thinking. Those who think otherwise can go ahead and keep trying to reform a reform-proof and legally-protected system.

        Others might try looking for other battlefields and killing zones to try attacking the problem on.

      4. Offtrail

        Not to court controversy but you can’t talk about the above IMO without talking about the outsized influence of Israel and Israel’s US supporters on US foreign policy.

        I strongly second this. Not only is Israel’s influence felt in specific policies, but the evolving tendency of the US to ignore international law has been pushed by our support for Israel. After all, Israel ignores international law as a matter of principle, and we have been supporting Israel in that for decades. To avoid cognitive dissonance we are bound to take the same approach more and more as time goes on.

        Note that the creators of the 1992 DOD Defense Planning Guidance, which was officially disavowed but has in fact become the basis for US foreign policy & defence, were neoconservative supporters of Israel. This doctrine calls for US global supremacy and unilateral action outside the bounds of international institutions.

    3. Anonymous

      It is about individuals whom are capable and willing to tender $ 10s of millions even $ 100s of millions in campaign donations / bribes. Bob

      Yes, but that’s OK since we have a just economic system and those are thus the most worthy – being the wealthiest. /sarc

      Seriously, if FDR only reluctantly gave us government guarantees of privately created bank deposits, why can’t we admit he blundered and reverse government privileges for usurers?

    4. Dan

      Indeed. This paragraph says is quite telling:

      To the limited extent that President Trump has been guided by any kind of restraint (which has been capricious at best), it has paid dividends for the United States. In the Middle East, for example, given that the United States is now largely energy-self-sufficient, it no longer needs to play policeman in that part of the world. That fact, writes David Goldman, has induced “the Gulf states to act responsibly as a matter of self-preservation. As long as the Gulf States remained de facto US protectorates, they could claim that the ‘Arab Street’ stood in the way of relations with Israel. Now that they have to take responsibility for their own defense, they look to Israel for help.” As Goldman concludes, this consideration played a key role in the United Arab Emirates’ recent “agreement to normalize relations with the State of Israel, almost certainly the first of several Arab states [likely] to make such agreements.”

      Israel’s partisans run the show. I recommend Jeff Gates’ book “Guilt by Association: How Deception and Self-Deceit Took America to War” for an easy primer on how bad things are. Also, the work of Alison Weir at If Americans Knew.

  4. Ignacio

    The time when the US empire could claim to ‘unwillingly’ intervene here an there has passed long ago. One can expect anti-imperialist rhetorics skepticism and propaganda to rise more or less everywhere including in the US (this is pretty much an anti-imperialist piece.

    Regarding oil & gas geopolitics nothing in reality has changed despite the transient shale impasse. Most reserves are in the middle east and the motivation to control these is still strong. Whether the world will be able to sharply reduce the dependency on oil an gas is still something to be seen but team Biden seems not to be a believer on the importance to fight climate change.

    Geopolitics are becoming more and more complex and the US empire looks to turn more assertive with time instead of trying to play diplomatic. It seems that most of European acolytes are ready to pay allegiances to the empire and follow more or less strictly with the new neocon-‘liberal’ agenda.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I would agree, but don’t underestimate the rampant stupidity. There was the story about Dempsey explaining to Kerry that Syria can and would retaliate against US assets, but the interesting part of the story was the expectation the US was invincible by Kerry. Who knows what Biden will do? His plans for Iraq were to create ethnic states and shrug his shoulders when asked about the minorities in the regions.

      I would argue Iraq, Libya, and our ongoing African misadventures happened because we can and nothing shockingly bad has happened to the US.

      1. Susan the other

        We could use a crystal ball, besides Krystal Ball who is pretty good. If we knew that things could be made to run smoothly, we’d probably be happy to go along and get along. The policy of respecting national sovereignty could be accepted if we found new jobs for the military. (It’d be far cheaper than the MIC and it might even be “productive”.) I can think of a few. What drives us to exploit other countries by military force and financial panic as well as our own poor and the environment to achieve the “wealth” and power needed … in order to…keep exploiting all our victims? Making the world safe for neoliberalism? It’s a circular oxymoron at this point. So, I’d just like to ask, when can we expect Nancy Pelosi to be voted out of office?

      2. John Wright

        A measure of John Kerry’s character is one of the votes to authorize force to be used in Iraq.

        As I remember, Calif Senator Barbara Boxer advised Kerry to vote against it, as she did.

        Kerry told her “I have to vote for it, I want to run for President”, which captures a quite cynical choice.

        Quite a change from the earlier Vietnam War protesting John Kerry.

        Kerry’s vote was not a deciding vote, but his vote did influence my perception of him as a decent person.

        Kerry may have paid a personal price for his yea vote.

        If he had voted against the Iraq war, that might have resonated with enough voters to be elected over George W. Bush.

        This small price that Kerry paid contrasts with the huge price paid by many Iraqis and US soldiers.

        As Kurt Vonnegut related, Kerry was one of two “C” students from Yale running for US President in 2004.

  5. hemeantwell

    The Duss interview is a fine example of a so-called progressive smoke-screening the central question of defining what have been the guiding interests of US foreign policy. How can you talk about redefining doctrines on the use of force if you obscure why force has been exercised? In this respect Duss sounds much like Bacevich. International relations within a regime of transnational capitalism is not simply about interstate relations. It is about ensuring market penetration and maintaining access to pliable labor to support capital accumulation. A socialist foreign policy would first of all refrain from forms of intervention devoted to those goals.

    Alternatives? Advocacy of the hands-off approach almost always fails to account for its political premises. Hands-offism makes sense if, given the balance of forces shaping US foreign policy, you can be sure that what can be done will be shaped to imperial purposes. It would have been swell if the US could have been forced to do a 180 and offer untied aid to Vietnam for reconstruction, but in 1972 the simple idea of ‘Out Now’ made sense. However, if in 2020 you’re sitting in an interview and musing about how things might be in a wonderful world, you might imagine giving support to, for instance, nascent union movements. But because Duss can’t bring himself to talk specifically about how support for the labor interests would require a fundamental revamp of US foreign poicy, and instead sticks to the evasive platitudes of the civil society framework, there’s no reason to be confident that he and his ilk would offer anything better. Because he cannot or will not ‘name the system’ we can only assume he will either be a patsy or its willing tool.

  6. The Rev Kev

    After reading this article I began wondering who neocons actually are. They began as part of the Trotsky movement, went on to take over the Republicans, and are currently taking over the Democrats. That is quite a shift in politics but I think that there is something to be observed about them. They always gravitate to where power and wealth are. In fact, you could almost argue that the only real thing that a neocon really believes in is power and wealth.

    Consider this. By having a militaristic attitude, this means that they can get the financial support and backing of the industrial warfare complex. A more militarist America never hurt the bottom line of Lockheed’s profits, has it? Recall too that in the early days they found a home in Henry “Scoop” Jackson’s office who was nicknamed the ‘Senator from Boeing’. If neocons suddenly became pacifists, then in short order all this political and financial support from the defence companies would dry up. So what I am saying that all this militaristic hubris is more a means than an end.

    Then there is selection of whom they target. It has not escaped my notice that by going after places like Iran, this automatically brings aboard all the financial and political support of AIPAC which, though essentially a foreign government operation in America, has nonetheless established itself as a major player in American political life. Sure a lot of neocons do the ‘Bomb, bomb, bomb. Bomb, bomb Iran’ song & dance but you have to admit that doing so underpins the neocons political position in Washington. So you could say that they are like a symbiotic parasite attaching themselves to one host after another. And wherever they are, they make for a militaristic foreign policy which personally brings them power and wealth.

    Only thing is, this isn’t the 80s anymore and more and more countries after watching how America has waged war over the past twenty years, have worked out countermeasures to any American attack. Not only major powers like Russia and China but smaller countries like Iran. Yes, Iran for example can be attacked by America but the costs would be staggering which, among other consequences, would have all Saudi oil production drop off the edge of the planet. And I doubt that the country would stand for a ” ‘Nam 2.0″ in the jungles of Venezuela. So perhaps this explains all the aggression against Russia and China instead. Not much chance of an actual war but solid profits to be made.

    1. Michael Fiorillo

      At the risk of being accused of red-baiting (something Trots are quick to do when their machinations are exposed), I have to say that in my experience (starting as a 12 year-old in 1968, and an observer/participant since), Trots also thrive on disunity, rule-or-ruin tactics, and weaponized (and frequently hypocritical) moralism.

      I’ve had enough encounters with them in the labor movement to know they usually f*#^ up everything they get near.

      1. hemeantwell

        I’ve run into different flavors of Trots. Years ago I was in a left tendency in a union and a Trot group tried to recruit us. We read some Lenin. Their erudition was impressive, we learned something about the Russian Revolution and that was that. Their ideas about union activity were mostly on target, save for a rote, tone-deaf quality to their organizing, and they were fond of Big Picture analyses that our membership found irrelevant. That said, Trots have done very good work in Teamsters for a Democratic Union and, if you want to look back, their work in the 30s labor movement was often great, e.g. organizing the Minneapolis general strike.

        I’m not sure about the value of the Trot-neocon conflation. Given what we know of the drivers behind neoliberalism wouldn’t another form of imperial revivalism have come along? Did it take some weird decantation of Trotsky to motivate the expansion of NATO? I used to regularly go to, blindly libertarian. The site organizer, Justin Raimondo, seemed to enjoy making it a two-fer whenever he could, using the occasion of very justified criticism of US foreign policy to toss in derision of an anti-capitalist tendency.

        1. Michael Hudson

          When it’s claimed that the Neocons began as Trotskyists, it is much more realistic to say that the Trotskyists in question began as Zionists — and always remained zionist.
          None of the Trotskyists I knew in the 1940s and ’50s were neocons. However, at the Hudson Institute, Herman Kahn recruited Shachtmanites BECAUSE they were anti-Russian (again, stemming from their opposition to Stalinist anti-Semitism).
          i don’t mean to pull rank on you guys, but “I was there” — in Minneapolis with the Teamsters (whom Roosevelt threw in jail in cahoots with the pro-mob Attorney General and Stalinists) AND with Kahn. It was Shachtman’s opposition to Stalinism that led his followers to become neocons. (I broke with him and Mike Harrington at that point.)
          The Neocons were City College students in the 1930s, who supported Trotsky against Stalin to be sure, but moved quickly away from Trotskyism in the early 1940s.

          1. Susan the other

            Is there any truth to the rumor that FDR agreed to give Stalin war materiel, tanks, etc. if Stalin would please kill Trotsky? And both things then happened.

          2. Michael Fiorillo

            Yes, the Schachtmanites were perhaps more prone to devolving into neo-conservatism than other Trotskyist sects – Albert Shanker, neocon leader of the AFT and dead-end supporter of the Vietnam War and every other Cold War intervention, was also a Shactmanite, and Schactman’s wife worked at the UFT for decades – but James Cannon and other Trotskyist leaders also turned right.

            It’s been a long, long time since Farrell Dobbs and other Trotskyists helped build the Teamsters union in Minneapolis; since then, they’ve been almost totally irrelevant in the labor movement, TDU and Labor Notes notwithstanding, unlike CP members, whatever their many shortcomings), and can be expected to reliably cause dysfunction in any mass organization that has the misfortune of being colonized by them.

        2. Susan the other

          We’ve made the mistake of conflating democracy with capitalism. Trotsky believed in “perpetual war” to maintain democracy. Not to maintain capitalist imperialism. And the two – democracy and economics – almost naturally conflated because both in the USSR and the USA we relied on production to finance society. Today, the Minsky link talks about “productive” government spending to keep the economy in balance; to keep labor functioning; to keep demand steady. So “productivity” really needs to be looked at. If it is the nexus between sovereign democracy and economic well being it should be fairly simple to establish a balance. Even in these covid-19 and climate change times.

    2. pjay

      “They always gravitate to where power and wealth are. In fact, you could almost argue that the only real thing that a neocon really believes in is power and wealth.”

      This is an excellent overview, in my opinion. Still, there seems to be something missing. Certainly the neocons have been able to sell their policy prescriptions to powerful factions that benefit from such war-mongering – defense contractors, the Israel lobby, other global financial interests (which might shift with changing conditions). I think there is another factor or two as well. There are some very right-wing factions within the military and intelligence communities that also believe in maximum power for power’s sake – “full spectrum dominance,” we might say. This is not to claim the military-intelligence community is monolithic; sometimes realists have stepped forward to prevent even worse actions (e.g. Obama’s last minute hesitations in Syria). But it seems clear to me that there is a dangerous segment of this “community” that believes in maximizing power because… well, that’s what we are about. “Power for power’s sake” — hmm. Is there a word for such a philosophy?

      Add to this another element that many of us “educated” folk don’t take seriously enough — a strain of Christian apocalyptic belief among some of these people. The neocons may be using this cynically, but this ratchets up the danger even more.

      1. a different chris

        >“Power for power’s sake” — hmm. Is there a word for such a philosophy?


        1. CenterOfGravity

          Supremacist dreams of a master race. Or perhaps for the all-inclusive neolibs, a master class.

          Alan Moore warned us that the contemporary prevalence of franchise superhero culture is an expression of an individualist urge to dominate all others through overwhelming force. And borrowing from the libertarian cosmology of James McGill Buchanan gives us the rationale for fulfilling this fantasy through military imperialism:

          “In a strictly personalized sense, any person’s ideal situation is one that allows him full freedom of action and inhibits the behavior of others so as to force adherence to his own desires. That is to say, each person seeks mastery over a world of slaves.”

    1. JTMcPhee

      If the warfighters and Battlespace managers have their way, the only humans involved in hybrid and conventional warfare will be the private contractors maintaining the mechanical autonomous killing machinery. Both planning and practice are well underway, “Robot Wars: US Empire and geopolitics in the robotic age,” Warfighting becomes the domain of another set of the PMC. And the whole universe is the Battlespace.

      No need to trouble the whelps of the poors, much less the scions of the Ruling Class…

  7. Michael C.

    I know a few Trotskyites, They have neither power or wealth. And because of factionalism, they’ll never have the former, even if they, which I believe, are not looking to have the latter.

    1. Michael Fiorillo

      The majority of Trotskyists I’ve encountered and worked with in recent decades (including virtually every single member of the now-defunct ISO, who were integral to splitting and neutralizing the opposition UFT caucus I was involved in) were Ivy League grads, totally incapable of communicating with working people, and focused almost exclusively on “Building The Party” and manipulating naive IdPol First activists toward that end.


      1. pjay

        This reminds me of an informative expose by the Gray Zone last year in which they discuss the infiltration of the DSA by former members of the ISO. It came out in July 2019 (not sure I can link it); it proved very relevant to later ID-Pol debates within the DSA like those around the cancelling of Adolph Reed.

        1. Michael Fiorillo

          In NYC, the Labor Committee of DSA is dominated by former ISO-ers. Based on my experience with them in an opposition caucus of the UFT, they are intelligent, hard-working people, whose talents are grossly misused by causing splits and disunity in mass organizations. I don’t know if they were the same people agitating against Adolph Reed within DSA, but it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if they were, since they were adept manipulators of IdPol and intra-group warfare.

      2. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

        In case anyone wonders why IDpol has been pushed so damn hard by the whole intellectual apparat of neo-Rome.

    2. hemeantwell

      As I mentioned above, there’s certainly some truth to the factionalism criticism but they sure kept that under control in building a strong opposition to Hoffa. The great UPS strike of 1997 wasn’t entirely of their creation, but they played a central role in making it happen.

  8. Hepativore

    I think it is clear for fellow progressives who are motivated by “harm reduction” when it comes to voting should probably pick Trump at this point. The Trump administration has a finite ending in four years, whereas the neocon/neoliberal regime will be almost impossible to dislodge in the Democratic Party in 2024 and beyond should they succeed with electing Biden in 2020.

    I myself cannot believe I am advocating voting for Trump rather than a third party, but Trump is less focused and is less ambitious in terms of the damage he can do. With Biden as their Manchurian candidate, the W. Bush-neocons and Clinton/Obama neoliberals will control both parties for the foreseeable future.

    1. John Wright

      The erratic nature of Trump could be a positive as he does expose other points of view that a unified establishment does not.

      But Biden as the Manchurian candidate?

      I believe Kamala Harris is the more plausible Manchurian candidate preferred by the neoliberals/neocons.

      She was not polling well even in her own state, indicating that she was not expected to get many votes as a true presidential candidate.


      “Harris, the first-term California senator, had hardly locked down her home base. Her decline to single-digit support in California polls mirrored her slump nationally. ”

      She may be assuming the presidency without winning a presidential election, a true Manchurian candidate.

    2. a different chris

      >who are motivated by “harm reduction” when it comes to voting

      He’s destroying the environment. We can stop a war (yeah the munitions aren’t much good for a healthy planet either agreed) but how do we fix that. Is building a wall “harm reduction”??!!??

      And really what has he accomplished vs. the MIC? Everybody likes to claim “he hasn’t started and new wars” but he’s done family blog in pulling back from the ones we are in, also.

    1. urblintz

      Matt Duss is a fraud.

      My first e mail to the Sander’s campaign was calling him out on his “No Maduro” regime change alliance with Bolton, Abrams and Pompeo. I was immediately removed from the Sanders2020 e mail list and never heard from them again, although I foolishly continued to fund the campaign.

      And now they expect me to vote for Biden?

      Not gonna happen that. I have voted in every election since I was of age but this time I’ll either sit it out (in Florida) or write in “Vladimir Putin” for POTUS.

      1. Jessica Workman

        You say Matt Duss is a fraud. I have the same impression. He once wrote “Sharia is overwhelmingly concerned with personal religious observance such as
        prayer and fasting, and not with national laws.”
        Source: Understanding Sharia Law. Conservatives’ Skewed Interpretation Needs Debunking, by Wajahat Ali and Matthew Duss, Center for American Progress, March 2011, p. 2-3
        However this description of sharia is flatly contradicted by the historical evidence.
        in “Afghanistan’s Islam: From Conversion to the Taliban”, by Nile Green, published by the University of California Press, we find the following passages:
        “For the first time in the history of the Afghan state, the Shari‘a became the supreme law of the land, and state-appointed courts replaced all other, local means of settling disputes.”
        “Shari‘a was adapted to provide a state law code, and wars against the religious minorities of the central and northeastern highlands were legitimized as state-led jihads.”
        Source: “Afghanistan’s Islam: From Conversion to the Taliban”, by Nile Green, published by the University of California Press
        There are numerous other passages in this book and elsewhere that provr that sharia has historically been a system of national law.

  9. diptherio

    Matt Stoller, sadly, has been among those on the so-called left advocating that the US “position aggressively against China.” He’s got a tweet thread where he actually says, “The CCP is the modern Nazi party,” and “the Chinese government’s goal is to get rid of democracy worldwide.” smh. Getting rid of democracy worldwide is US foreign policy, as everybody knows.

    1. hemeantwell

      Glad you brought him up. It’s like Stoller believes he needs to convince us that he’s a patriot and that his criticism of monopolies shouldn’t be seen as subversive.

  10. John Wright

    The article closes with a reference to America as “global cop”, which is a common whitewashing reference to America’s many actions since WWII.

    From the article “Being one of the victors of World War II does not give the United States carte blanche to be the world’s global cop in perpetuity. ”

    It appears to me that many of the USA’s overseas military actions are sold to the USA populace as an altruistic “bring Democracy” to the suffering overseas masses to improve their lives.

    But a paper, “Income and Democracy”, (at this link: questions that this is so.

    From the paper.

    “Robert J. Barro (1999), for example, summarizes this as follows: “Increases in various measures of the standard of living forecast a gradual rise in democracy. In contrast, democracies that arise without prior economic development … tend not to last.”

    In my simple model of the US foreign establishment, I view the participants as motivated to maintain THEIR lifestyles (pay their mortgages, send their kids to school) and a resurgence of non-intervention USA policies would impair their income stream.

    Note, the referenced paper concludes with

    “Nevertheless, some caution is necessary in interpreting our results. First, even though our results do not provide evidence for a causal effect of income on democracy, such an effect might be present but working at much lower frequencies (for example, over horizons of 100 years or longer),”

    This suggests the promotion of democracy by force advocates could be operating with a very long time horizon of 100 years or longer..

    In my view, it seems far more reasonable to cast the USA’s military and foreign policy establishment as a post WWII USA government sponsored jobs program that is very unlikely to ever be wound down.

    What will these people DO?

    Why are their few “conservatives” that seem to apply St. Reagan’s words to the US military and foreign policy establishment?

    “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the Government, and I’m here to help. ”

    And “Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.”

  11. rattlemullet

    I am at a loss here at what point in time since WWII has American foreign policy been anything more than “A multiplicity of half truths and lie”? I’m not going to use words like neocons, liberals or conservatives, using them only distracts from the fact that US foreign policy is driven by money fueling the growth of the military industrial complex. It is perpetually self feeding entity driven by the citizens that elect the representatives that represents them, whether its democrats or republicans. The process is driven by money. Whenever it became acceptable to have wars without declaring them is when the problem became more exacerbated, starting with Korea. Then came Vietnam which led to the ending of the draft to conduct their wars without any accountability for American aggression through out the world. A volunteer army allows for so few people to be affected by war that it is no longer an issue to most.

    The problem is exactly the same whether you have, as you like to use, liberal, neocon, or conservatives, the majority of the mix of elected representatives does the same thing, war all the time, no matter the ideological words you use to categorize them. Until you get back to declared wars by a two-thirds vote nothing will change and reinstate the draft so most will have skin in the game. Your use of liberal, neocons and conservatives serves to distract the real problem and that is they are all mostly same following the money and power trail at detriment of the common good for all. They only serve the the few and it is designed that way.

    1. rob

      I agree. those terms are meaningless.
      It is like which color of the rainbow is your unicorn?
      These people have always, and will always profess(even to themselves;sometimes), that the reason they do what they do is because of belief in some ideology…. yada yada yada… but the reality is they do whatever they do,,,,and the reasons never really add up… and no one asks them to.
      Yet they continue to pretend to be whatever they pretend to be, for whatever reason… And I’m sure some really believe their own BS… but really ; who cares?
      Judge the tree, by the fruit…
      Since the national security act in 1947, establishment control… has been seeping past every constitutional constraint in this country… and the newly formed version of the same “good ole bankers/wall street boys” network has run amok and dominated the world… in the name of no one. but the military of the US
      Like smedley butlers “war is a racket” pointed out…. the dollar goes abroad for profit… the flag follows the dollar , the marines follow the flag…

    2. a different chris

      >Until you get back to declared wars by a two-thirds vote nothing will change and reinstate the draft so most will have skin in the game.


      Congress’ abdication of pretty much all of its powers – I mean it’s basically a not-well-attended country club now – is really the root of so many problems.

  12. David

    The problem with this, as with practically all other articles on US foreign policy, is that it massively overstates the capability of the US to achieve its foreign policy objectives, which it almost always fails to do.
    There’s nothing surprising about this, because foreign policy is largely about legacy: history, geography, economic interests, pacts and alliances, promises you’ve made, obligations you’ve accepted, and so on. Generally speaking, the more ambitious your objectives are, the less likely you are to reach them. The US may make more noise and destroy more furniture than any other country in its failures, but they are still failures. When you add the size, complexity and internecine disunity of the foreign policy establishment in Washington, and the difficulty of actually getting policies accepted and implemented, you have a country which is capable of doing a lot of damage (and some good, it must be admitted) without actually achieving very much. Above all, it’s important not to confuse means (even wars and sanctions ) with the achievement of ends. Anyone can start a war: the trick is to have it achieve what you want.
    The other thing that’s often not realised is the extent to which the US is actually solicited by other countries to get involved in things. Admittedly, this is not necessarily because other nations love and respect the US, but then it doesn’t have to be. So long as the US is a source of money, military and intelligence assistance, economic help, technical support and so on, it will continue to be solicited, it will still be dragged into things and its actual room for manoeuvre will be nothing like as great as is often assumed.

    1. pjay

      “The problem with this, as with practically all other articles on US foreign policy, is that it massively overstates the capability of the US to achieve its foreign policy objectives, which it almost always fails to do.”

      I understand your point. But sometimes I think the problem is that various “analysts” – both critics and supporters of US policy — “overstate” the policy objectives themselves. For example, what *were* the policy objectives in Afghanistan or Iraq? To establish functioning nation-states with “democratic” political processes? If that was our real objective, then we failed pretty miserably. But that was *not* the objective — at least not for the neocons who ran the show. Their objectives were pretty clear, since they had been writing policy papers on it since the 1990s – balkanization, divide and rule, foster inter-sectarian conflict. This was congruent with the interests of Israel, Cheney’s energy industry buddies, and even the Brzezinski faction of the foreign policy establishment. Those military leaders or intelligence analysts who objected to our chaotic strategy for the take-over of Iraq were relieved or retired.

      A government friendly to our economic and geopolitical interests would have been best. But if rulers won’t cooperate (sorry Saddam, Bashar, Muammar, etc.), balkanization and chaos can work, at least to aid Israel, keep the evil Rooskies (or Chinese) off balance in the region, and maybe even keep control of some of the region’s resources. I agree that things did not work out as smoothly as the neocons thought they would. But I think they achieved much more of their ultimate goal than you give them credit for.

      Here’s hoping they eventually lose it — and we somehow eventually rid ourselves of this foreign policy cancer.

      1. pjay

        I probably should not have used the term “Brzezinski faction” in regard to Iraq, since he and a few other ME hawks like Brent Scowcroft did object to the invasion on realist grounds. I meant something a little more generic by that phrase. But I’ll stick with the rest of my argument.

    2. Synoia

      is that it massively overstates the capability of the US to achieve its foreign policy objectives, which it almost always fails to do

      That’s a massively well paid set of failures.

      Which makes me wonder if the real objective is massive set pay days for the foreign policy cabal in the US.

    3. Dan

      Resources stolen, new “markets” opened, essentials that used to be made domestically are now made all over the world, endless streams of money for contractors and “rebuilders.” Israel, Israel, Israel. What on earth makes you think the objectives aren’t being realized? I’d say it’s to their benefit to have people think they’re incompetent.

  13. hamstak

    One major quibble with a minor point in the article:

    given that the United States is now largely energy-self-sufficient

    US Crude Imports (select Crude Oil for the Product filter):

    versus Exports:

    So, we are still importing 2 million+ barrels per day — that doesn’t seem to me particularly “energy-self-sufficient”.

    Of course, this focuses on crude oil and ignores other energy sources (such as coal), but given the crucial role of petrofuel-based transportation in the U.S. even if the net of all energy imports/exports hovers near zero, there is still a major dependency here — we aren’t operating many automobiles or aircraft on non-petroleum energy sources.

  14. Chauncey Gardiner

    So we likely will have a wonderful choice set on the table before us in early November: Wall Street, an authoritarian executive, the oligarchs and austerity… but maybe reduced foreign military interventions and peace; or the MIC, Wall Street, the “Nothing will change” oligarchs and austerity… but likely more foreign military interventions. …Um, why is military intervention their default option, again?

    Meanwhile, the captive corporate media will continue serving up divisive political identity and social values issues, together with Wall Street’s financial infotainment. Political party co-dependency in spades. So never mind climate change and our common environment that require extraordinary global cooperation and leadership, not military conflict; and the stark public health and socioeconomic issues confronting us domestically, including public education.

    They just can’t help themselves. That Citizens United money and the Beltway rice bowls for the “winners” are just too good, as many other readers have noted above.

  15. Michaelmas

    The title’s post, ‘The Rotten Alliance of Liberals and Neocons Will Likely Shape U.S. Foreign Policy for Years to Come’ is debatable, to start with.

    Will there be a U.S. to have a foreign policy for years to come? A Soviet-style collapse is coming into clear view as a possibility.

    1. Anarcissie

      Michaelmas: ‘Will there be a U.S. to have a foreign policy for years to come?’

      I was wondering the same thing. We are now in a transitional period between the pre-plague world and its successor. I don’t think we know yet what the latter is going to be like, but the US ruling class and government do seem to be continuing to deteriorate. As evidence, consider the COVID-19 fiasco (ongoing). I think it’s possible that serious stress on the current structure might cause much of it to collapse, in which case the Democratic Party may become irrelevant, split into parts, or cast out its neocon devils. of long standing

  16. Schmoe

    Media influence is a key driver in this. I noticed that the wind shifted at MSNBC around 2016-2017 and it was wall to wall neocon commentators. In the lead up to the Iraq war and shortly after it they tended to have many guests against the war and at least Chris Matthews aggressively questioned war advocates, although famously still criticized Phil Donahue for being anti-war. We now know that NBC was run by a total creep (Andrew Lack).

    It is astounding how Bill Krystal and Alan Greenspan are still treated as credible commentators. Scott Ritter is nowhere to be found, but he had that arrest for soliciting sex with a minor (I could be wrong on the exact offense). So . . . if you advocate lies that kill 200,000 people you are still welcome to spout your vitriol, but if you advocated policies that would have avoided those deaths are caught with a minor you are essentially dead (NBC did however cover for a serial rapist like Weinstein and failed to investigate Epstein, which makes the Scott Ritter avoidance look even more peculiar).

  17. VietnamVet

    Foreign Policy is an oxymoron. The two words missing in the article are “Empire” and “Coronavirus”. There was a Western Empire ruled by billionaires through trade pacts, purchased leftist parties and financial derivatives that destroyed western democratic government. But, the Empire is no more with the USA quarantined from nations that can control the virus.

    The ongoing Pandemic Depression is being ignored, unaddressed. Globalization, forever wars, the economic depression and an uncontrolled pestilence are causing the unrest. The incumbent President is inciting more race riots in order to stay in the White House. The Empire’s old courtiers are grasping to board Joe Biden’s life-raft to restore the last Emperor. But if history rhymes 2020 with 1917, 1789 and 1642; Joe Biden will fail. Donald Trump will go in exile. The most radical street fighting losers will triumph by doing what is necessary to destroy the ancient regime. Our world will be destroyed.

  18. Scott1

    The US is aware that it is imperfect and so it intends to do as much bleeding as possible to make up for the critiques of others. FDR did get the USSR to do bleeding, though actually Stalin got Russians to bleed more than anybody.
    Mearsheimer said that war with Communist China was inevitable.
    Aboard before the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor was the belief and disbelief
    that war with Japan was inevitable.
    Will the US wait for the Communists to do a sneak attack, or will the US attack
    or will Japan say they are too close?
    Is the problem with foreign policy foreigners? Are there any foreigners anymore?
    I don’t like Trump. Biden has hurt me and my friends.
    I don’t like the Mayor. I didn’t like the other candidate, whoever it was.
    I didn’t vote and I might not.

  19. HH

    This is an excellent post the clearly illustrates the problem of deep-seated institutional militarism in the US. What Yves neglects to mention is that the revolution in precision weaponry will lead to an embarrassing bloody nose for the US in the next armed conflict. Combat between nations armed with modern conventional weapons will inflict serious damage within minutes of the start of hostilities. If the Chinese sink a few American ships in the Pacific, the American militarists will suddenly find themselves out of favor. The combination of increasing risk of losses and decreasing public tolerance for casualties means that American militarism is driving toward a dead end.

  20. Vikas Saini

    A progressive American foreign policy that depends on restoration of Westphalian norms is doomed to failure by the realities of the current historical conjuncture. The right figured that out awhile ago. (See Bobbit) The left’s attachment to that notion risks repeated failure. We need seriously creative thinking on this topic. The climate crisis and the pandemic make the need for global coordination crystal clear, but how to organize that without a hegemon isn’t obvious — at least to me. Perhaps, a three, or five unit exec committee could pull it off. Using PPP measures that would be North America, EU, China, India, and maybe one other. What are the odds of that?

    Without such a solution, current trends pose an extremely consequential historical question: how can a contest for hegemony be resolved without the use of WMD?

    1. HH

      Until 1945 armed conflicts could be resolved by superior force. Today conflict escalation leads to nuclear holocaust, and possibly nuclear winter. Yet the doctrine of victory through superior violence is so deeply entrenched that no alternative is considered. Even the repeated recent display of belligerent nations backing down from armed conflict (India/Pakistan, US/Iran, India/China, Turkey/Greece) has done nothing to change geopolitics. War is still the medicine everyone thinks will cure their problems. But war doesn’t work any more, and the sooner the US realizes that, the better.

      1. Anarcissie

        War seems to work just fine at moving money. You don’t even have to have a real war any more. The precession of simulacra.

  21. Igor Slamoff

    The “endless war” meme prevents critical thinking about American wars.
    It is indisputable that the US is a very bellicose country that has engaged in innumerbale wars throughout its history. Nonetheless I think it is important to distinguish among American wars in terms of historical period, geographical location and the sort of foe that the US has fought in each war, in each historical period and in each region of the world.
    Simply babbling about “endless war” without making any sort of distinction is what most people do, and I think it is a grave mistake.
    During the Cold War the US fought Communism, and under the pretext of fighting Communism it also suppressed many political movements that were not Communist at all, but simply reformist and largely democratic. Nonetheless American obsession with Communism was a self-fulfilling approach, since democratic movements often saw the Soviet Union as the only ally strong enough to help them against local oligarchies supported by US imperialism. An emblematic instance is the Cuban revolution. Fidel Castro and Che Guevara intended to set up a Communist dictatorship from the get-go, but they didn’t let on because they feared the consequences. But why were they so intent on Communism? The answer lies in Guevara’s experience in Guatemala several years before, where a popular democratic movement that had emerged from the 1944 revolution was eventually crushed by right-wing officers backed by the United States. the democratic Guatemalan government of Jacobo Arbenz was overthrown because (1) the Guatemalan army was unreliable and (2) because it had no powerful external allies.
    Consequently Guevara concluded that on seizing power, a Latin American revolutionary movement must (1) dissolve the existing bourgeois army and create its own, and (2) ally itself with the Soviet Union. In order to ally itself firmly with the Soviet Union, Cuba had to become a Communist country.
    Guevara’s thinking need not have been flawless, but it was rational. Communism triumphed in Cuba, not because Communism was a force fated to control the planet, but simply because an alliance with the Soviet Union was the only way to ensure Cuba’s sovereignty against US imperialism.
    Therefore Cuba became Communist through the fault of the United States.
    Current American wars are not based on the same logic.

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