One reason Lambert and I prefer the term “The Blob” to “Deep State” is the latter implies a fair bit internal cohesion while we envision the actions of powerful insiders as regularly fraught with conflict over who has their hands on the steering wheel. Arguably the best model comes from Janine Wedel’s The Shadow Elite, in which she describes how individuals, often with multiple current institutional roles, operate via networks of alliances. The current fraying of Western unanimity over Ukraine gives a sense the struggles over hotly contested issues. But it’s only a sense, since so much of this activity is shrouded even when things get ugly.
If any readers know the key bureaucracies operate and can add detail, that would be very much appreciated.
One thing we see is that the President gets what he wants in foreign policy only if he has enough support from inside factions. That disconcertingly means that the military can defy civilian oversight. Recall that Trump wanted to withdraw from Afghanistan at the end of his term. Colonel Douglas Macgregor has recounted how he participated by getting the proper documentation to effectuate Trump’s instructions. Nevertheless, Trump was ignored despite Trump also pressing personally for the troops to be pulled out. Macgregor added that the winter would have been a far better time since the insurgents are mainly hunkered down in caves then and would not have made much trouble.
Before you argue that Trump was a special case, consider also that Obama pledged that shutting Gitmo would be his first act in office. The public has never gotten a credible explanation as to why that hasn’t happened. The failure is noteworthy that the detainees are understood to be mainly if not entirely low/no value targets. One suspects that is has to do with abuses at the facility getting more publicity.
We also have the question of when Biden ordered the wandering Chinese “spy” balloon to be shot down. Biden has tried to save face by saying his instruction was to destroy the balloon as soon as possible, which gives wriggle room for the excuse that safety required that it be done over water…as if Montana were full of people. Wags here and abroad have pointed out that it’s not a good look to let a purported surveillance balloon go all the way across the US, as in presumably complete its mission, before taking it out.
Now to Ukraine. Realists of various stripes, who have long been cowed or shouted down by the ideologues, are getting a hearing as deteriorating battlefield conditions make it difficult to keep up the pretense that Ukraine will emerge victorious, or now even halt the advance of Russian forces.
Members of military, both in the US and abroad, are finally waking up to the fact that they can’t go toe to toe with Russia in its back yard. Obama was quite cognizant of that fact (his remark that Russia had “escalation dominance.” Yet it is still seems remarkable that it has apparently taken even the more sober minds a while to recognize the degree to which Russia outguns the Collective West, and for the most part has much better guns too.
Nevertheless, even with some doubts about Project Ukraine expressed as early as last May (by the New York Times and the Defense Intelligence Agency), it’s been remarkable to see the degree to which even dissenters have felt the need to repeat now clearly inaccurate tropes about various Russian infirmities. It may simply be a recognition that humankind cannot bear very much reality. But the danger is that people can come to believe what they have to say.1 And it also gives continued support for bad beliefs.
Readers may have signposts they prefer, but IMHO the official first break in the “Ukraine will fight till it wins it all” position was ijn mid November, when Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley suggested that Ukraine cash in on its Kharkiv winnings and negotiate with Russia from a strong position. This statement was more significant than it might appear. Macgregor has repeatedly insisted that Milley is completely self-motivated.
So why did Milley break with the party line then? Because he and his officers could see the parlous state of Ukraine forces versus what the Russian mobilization would bring? Because they had worked out Russia’s overwhelming advantage in artillery, as soon after publicized in Alex Vershinin’s RUSI paper, The Return of Industrial Warfare? Because the implications of Russia targeting Urkaine’s electrical grid were obvious, that Russia could and probably would turn out the lights if they thought necessary? Because he wanted not to be blamed when things really started coming apart?
Whatever the reasons, it appears unlikely that someone with Milley’s apparent lack of moral courage would stick his neck out that way unless it was a widely held among officers with a good grasp of the situation.
Milley was quickly made to recant publicly. Nevertheless, one has to assume there was institutional support for his view, even if not among the key players.2 But the Ukraine maximalists looked to be firmly in charge as of the embarrassing Zelensky love-fest in a pre-Christmas joint session of Congress, even though, as Brian Berletic has relentlessly chronicled, the actual amount of missile, artillery, and other deliveries have fallen because the West is in the process of demilitarizing itself.
In Europe, cracks have been emerging over Ukraine’s demands for materiel. Olaf Scholz initially rejected the demand to send Leopard 2 tanks because it would deplete Germany’s already too meager force. Greece has flat out refused because it believes it needs all its tanks, given rising temperatures in its neighborhood. 3 It’s fast become an open secret that the total number of tanks is too small to make a difference even before getting to the problem of the suitability of individual models this war being mainly not so hot, and the deliveries collectively amounting to a hodge-podge that will make logistical problems even worse.
Yet with militaries starting to pull one way, top EU officials are keeping up and if anything amping up their shows of support for the Zelensky regime, via hosting the latest EU-Ukraine summit earlier this month in Kiev and lodging a tenth round of sanctions. 4
The US saw the striking release in close succession of a Rand Corporation report, Avoiding a Long War and the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Empty Bins in a Wartime Environment, which contrasted with pointed messaging from the State Department via a interview Anthony Blinken bestowed on the Washington Post’s David Ignatius. The Rand piece had very tortured reasoning but nevertheless unambiguously argued that the US had more to lose than win if the conflict in Ukraine persisted. It is worrisome to see Rand play up the notion that Russia would escalate via an attack on a NATO member or a nuclear strike.
The CSIS report argued (consistent with the earlier Vershinin article, but in more detail) that US output of weaponry well behind what is needed given our desire to mix things up:
According to the results of a series of CSIS war games, for instance, the United States would likely run out of some munitions—such as long-range, precision-guided munitions—in less than one week in a Taiwan Strait conflict. These shortfalls would make it extremely difficult for the United States to sustain a protracted conflict—and, equally concerning, the deficiencies undermine deterrence.1 They also highlight that the U.S. defense industrial base lacks adequate surge capacity for a major war. These problems are particularly concerning since China is heavily investing in munitions and acquiring high-end weapons systems and equipment five to six times faster than the United States, according to some U.S. government estimates.
CSIS is explicit that the US “needs” to be able to fight at least one major war, “if not two”. And it touts the threat of a Chinese takeover of Taiwan:
With Xi Jinping in his third term, most likely confident and emboldened, it is unclear what the timelines are for a Chinese invasion of Taiwan—if it happens. For planning purposes, the United States needs to be ready now.
The report discusses the results of a war “in the Taiwan Strait” but the footnotes show the scenario is a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, and not China simply blockading Taiwan. Again, as with Rand, the picture presented as a probable risk is in fact extreme and not likely.
So the China hawks have cleared their throats and are effectively arguing for de-emphasizing Ukraine (although pointing out that the overlap in weapons deployed against Russia are largely different than those needed to fight China). But they are also pushing for a massive expansion in military expenditures, without solving the problem that we’ve already spent a huge amount and come up surprisingly short compared to the until recently supposedly not very prespossessing player Russia (save for its nukes).
So we are also seeing a struggle between the anti-China and anti-Putin factions. And as much as Anthony Blinken is very hostile to China, he shows no signs of wanting to drop the Russia conflict. As we wrote at the end of January:
The Blinken/State vision seems to be:
US and NATO support Ukraine > *Magic* > War ends > US and NATO support Ukraine
And State seems well stocked with professionals who wrote their PhDs in what Scott Ritter calls “Putin-hating studies.” 5 So they have personal priors and incentives to keep the Ukraine proxy war going.
Similarly, if the very detailed Seymour Hersh account alleging that the US conceived of and executed the Nord Stream pipeline attacks is accurate, it shows the fervor and unanimity of Russia hostility across the top foreign policy echelons in the US. Hersh reports that very few voiced substantive concerns; the reservations were procedural (how to hide what they were up to from Congress and Russia). The piece intimates that Olaf Scholz agreed to allow the attack. But Hersh’s formulation on this point is not crisp, so it may be that Scholz was not given a specific head’s up.
Finally, Biden has repeatedly made his hostility to Putin clear. And in a PBS interview yesterday, Biden doubled down his Stote of the Union affirmation, that the US would support Ukraine for “as long as it takes”. From The Hill:
President Biden on Wednesday said that Russian President Vladimir Putin has “already lost Ukraine,” adding that aid to Ukraine during the Russian invasion is open-ended.
Finally, if Hersh is correct, Biden was an enthusiastic supporter of the pipeline attacks and actively involved as the scheme progressed. As Alexander Mercouris pointed out, that stance would make him the biggest obstacle to ending the war in Ukraine.
1 For instance, studies have found that attorneys often convince themselves of their defense of a perp they know to be guilty.
2 In his book Secrets, Daniel Ellsberg, then regarded as the top US expert on Vietnam, gave Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara an update on a helicopter ride. I don’t recall the details but it was that things were going badly and prospects of victory were close to nil. McNamara said with some force, “That’s what I thought.” Immediately upon landing, the press accosted him and McNamara talked up how well the war was going.
3 Greece was also miffed over the fact that it had earlier sent 40 BMP-1 IFVs to Ukraine after Germany agreed to provide Greece at least the same number of the more modern 40 Marder IFVs. Greece was then shortchanged.
4 An exercise in optics, since the EU has apparently run out of things its members will agree to sanction. This set is apparently a technical clean-up of all the previous sanctions. However, you’d never know that from the EU-Ukraine summit statement:
We gathered today in the context of Russia’s ongoing unprovoked and unjustified war of aggression against Ukraine. We condemned it in the strongest possible terms and discussed how to further support Ukraine and how to increase collective pressure on Russia to end its war and withdraw its troops. The EU will support Ukraine and the Ukrainian people against Russia’s ongoing war of aggression for as long as it takes.
5 Ritter has said he was commissioned to write an article, which was never published, looking at the academic record of prominent official (as in government) Russia experts. Ritter claims that to a person they wrote anti-Putin PhD theses.
Thank you for this. Up early this morning and using the NYTimes’ search engine to try to find coverage of Hersh on Nord Stream, Gerth on Russiagate or a coherent article about Ukraine (hitting all the date range options, etc.) but the Gray Lady doesn’t seem to want anyone to know any of this stuff.
If it wasn’t still under copyright, I think I’d be tempted to edit 1984 to change all references to the “Ministry of Truth” with “New York Times.” Sample graf:
I am not gonna say “I am not gonna say I said so”, but I said so:
February 8, 2023 at 1:20 pm
As much as I think Nordstream was an incredibly bad thing, I have my doubts that there will be any negative consequences for Biden or the US. There is a war tolerance that I find just remarkable. I don’t know if its because the first Iraq war gave the impression that war is like a video game or what.
And of course, the way war is covered now a days – look at the coverage in the field of Vietnam and compare to Iraq. Did the media coverage change the attitude of the American people, or did the attitude of the American people change the media coverage? Will this story even be printed in the NT or WP? It appears to me that the political class in the US is set on war, and there is no significant push back against it.
It is an incredible story – argualbly an act of war against a nuclear power. Yet I can’t find any story in the MSM about it. It says very simply that the vast majority of major media that people are exposed to are, if not totally government controlled, government influenced.
Most people get their information from the major media, and I think it still has a major influence on forming perceptions. There is a reason so many Americans support Ukraine – if no counter vailing argument is EVER even presented, one can see how war fever is stoked…
Yes there is war tolerance. I am sure this is because bombs have never landed in Montana, San Francisco and South Dakota. Seeing and experiencing destruction and personal loss first hand has a very sobering effect on the human psyche. From frothing at the mouth and waving the flag mindlessly the chicken hawks would make three back somersaults and retire into private life as Wodehouse might have put it. A timely and savage reckoning will come soon upon the blood thirsty of the Council on Foreign Relations, the CIA, the FBI, the Doctors on Putin hatred and the vacuous public that support them. I want to be far and away watching on TV, the scythe of Providence slice mercilessly and repeatedly through those who once watched unjust wars on their TVs ensconced in their living rooms sipping their cokes. Can’t help plagiarizing the Bard here – “tis a consummation devoutly to be wished’.
Soviet citizens learned to not trust their media, even though their government went to great pains to suppress countervailing narratives.
Back around June it seemed to me that the front was cracking – there were stories indicating doubt in the narrative – but for whatever reason it all closed up again and ‘Ukraine will win’ came back to being the dominant narrative.
I can’t say I’ve noticed any big change, but the shenanigans over Europeans squabbling over which items of junk can be sent off to Kiev as a face saving act may have concentrated some minds. Notably, in the UK there seems to have been a lot of coverage over the admission that the UK simply doesn’t have any workable Eurofighters to send, even if they wanted to.
I think the Hersh report is crucial. He got his information from someone very deep within the system, and it was most likely to win a turf battle of one kind or another – the question is what sort of battle it is. It may have been an attempt to pre-empt some worse news with a distraction, or it may have been intended to open up cracks by people in Washington who can see things are only going to get worse for Nato unless they change course. Impossible to tell from outside, unfortunately. Its all chasing shadows. The best we can do is look at bellwether ‘insider’ reporters to see if they are changing their tune, thats usually the sign that one faction or another has the upper hand.
And as commenters here are already noting, the source’s motivations can be one of many:
–Some old-style Democratic liberal who recalls Vietnam and is trying to embarrass the US government to negotiate for a peace. This is the Ellsberg option.
–Someone who simply thought that the plan to blow up NordStream was stupid and counterproductive. This would be anyone brighter than Blinken, Sullivan, and Nuland, who are ruled by ignorance, ego, and resentment.
–Someone who wants to fight China and considers Ukraine a distraction fomented by Nuland.
This may be the test: If it is the first, you may see the government trying to come up with someone to prosecute.
If it is the second or the third, well, warmongers have a certain respect for other warmongers.
it could be power-centers in the Pentagon who realize that people like Biden, Nuland, Blinken & Sullivan would have no qualms about sending the US military into the Ukraine to fight the Russians. The Pentagon has been watching how the Russian army fights and wants no part of it and knows that such a war would wreck the Pentagon system of promotions, contracts, etc. carefully built up over many decades. Doing so for a small bunch of maniacs who will never pay a price for doing so but who would retreat into the nearest think tanks is not going to be allowed to happen on their watch.
I doubt the tanks can survive a drive from western Ukraine to the eastern battle front, and I wonder if roads and rail lines can support that many tank carriers without breaking up.
When parked or stuck tanks became targets.
US army numbers totaled around 500,000 before 9/11 and went up to > 550,000 during the invasion of IRaq.
Now these numbers at < 450,000 are at decades low numbers with more applicants failing basic physical tests
And in terms of equipment, the Army is now equipped to fight a counterinsurgency, not a war against another army.
It will take years for the US to rebuild the capacity to mass produce armaments, if that can be done at all.
Why should Americans join the military to get killed for yet another losing war? So their families can live on food stamps, pay privatized medical costs and then be called privileged white racists when they return and try to find a liveable wage job?
Mr. Putin, good luck to you and your project. Please win as fast as possible so the slaughter can stop.
i like your comment. Someone above said we Americans like these wars but it could not be further from the truth. Biden was installed, the election was a ruse. The blob et al is working at taking our guns, starving us, and poisoning us.
I think the quotes in the article indicate the 2nd one was prominent. Also, it seems the bragging by the top officials mentioned really ruffled feathers, too.
Some of the realists may have lost patience with the wild-eyed ideologues in charge and feel the need to try to find ways to reign them in.
Option 4 – somebody who thought blowing up Nordstreams was really rather clever and they and the Navy want the credit for the one lasting achievement of the USA’s special propaganda operation in Ukraine. The war will pause in ceasefire or peace settlement, Ukraine will clearly be a failed state, China will enemy number one but throughout, Europe will be in America’s corner, an LNG junkie trapped in the dollar zone. The battle is then on to pull Latin America and Africa, Europe’s historical backyard, into the same basement flophouse turning tricks and tweaking for Uncle Sam.
Did Hersh say that the source is American? I believe he said that Denmark, Sweden, and Germany had to be brought into the plan for obvious reasons. So makes sense that the source would be German
However much it involves us in speculation, I’m delighted to see this being discussed front and center.
Someone yesterday posted a link to a Larry Johnson post on Hersh. Johnson is ex-CIA and is in touch with people who are still there, also DIA. When I saw that he’s known Hersh since 1981 it seems that we need to include him and his cohort in the Hersh informant circle, though whether it applies here is not clear. What is clear is that this tendency is favorable to Trump, and there’s likely overlap with the people Macgregor, a Trump advisor, knows. Johnson is in his own way strongly anti-imperialist. He literally posts in favor of US/NATO defeat and apparently still maintains his friends. These people are well outside the bounds of accepted geopolitical views, to put it mildly.
My and most other summaries of Hersh mention My Lai and Abu Ghraib, as atrocity bookends I guess. But perhaps the most relevant one today is his Stovepipe article, which showed neocons trawling raw intelligence for propaganda points to support the Iraq invasion. They bypassed the normal intelligence vetting process and ‘stovepiped’ stuff straight to the black heart of the beast (OVP), where Cheney could wield it.
It seems like some of the same factional dynamics at work: realists vs. reckless ideologues.
How conflicts between the Bush Administration and the intelligence community marred the reporting on Iraq’s weapons.
Oh look another ‘dodgy dossier’.
Excellent summary, as always. Compliments.
The mystery of the last day or so is whether Scholtz agreed to let the U.S.A. attack (destroy) the pipeline. Hersch has this description:
‘What came next was stunning. On February 7, less than three weeks before the seemingly inevitable Russian invasion of Ukraine, Biden met in his White House office with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who, after some wobbling, was now firmly on the American team. At the press briefing that followed, Biden defiantly said, “If Russia invades . . . there will be no longer a Nord Stream 2. We will bring an end to it.” ‘
I am not sure that I would use the word “defiantly.” I watched the embedded video, and the word that came to mind in observing Biden’s pasty self-satisfied features was “cruelly.”
Nevertheless, “bring an end to it” may have meant something like lean on the Germans not to approve it, which is what the Germans did.
The idea that Scholtz let himself be lectured in a meeting with Biden that the U.S.A. could blow up German infrastructure is mind-boggling, even in these corrupt and baroque times. I am assuming that Scholtz offered to shut off NordStream.
I wonder if Biden went into his hyperaggressive mode in the press conference. Blabber for show.
Otherwise, Germany is a vassal state. Which is likely to have repercussions. Even the most loyal vassals have been known to get restless.
As several commenters have pointed out, Biden engaged in an act of war and impeachable offense.
Scholtz, if he allowed destruction of NordStream, engaged in treason.
O tempora O mores
[[If there are any mores left besides looting and pillaging]]
The precise succession of events is revealing.
16 Nov. 2022: The Bundesnetzagentur suspends the certification of Nordstream 2.
Dec. 2022: “Jake Sullivan convened a meeting of a newly formed task force […] the first of a series of top-secret meetings”
Early Jan. 2022: “in early 2022, the CIA working group reported back to Sullivan’s interagency group: “We have a way to blow up the pipelines.””
26 Jan. 2022: Gazprom sets up a firm under German law, Gas for Europe GmbH, to which it transfers the ownership of the 54km long portion of Nordstream 2 crossing German territory, thus addressing the objections of the Bundesnetzagentur regarding the certification of infrastructure belonging to a firm incorporated under a foreign law.
27 Jan. 2022: State Department spokesman Ned Price declares “If Russia invades Ukraine, one way or another, Nord Stream 2 will not move forward“. Later the same day, Victoria Nuland repeats that sentence and adds “We’ve had extensive consultations at every level with our German allies. I’m not going to get into the specifics here today, but we will work with Germany to ensure that the pipeline does not move forward.”
7 Feb. 2022: “Biden met in his White House office with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who, after some wobbling, was now firmly on the American team”.
It appears that the final decision to blow up the gas pipelines was taken in a hurry just after the legal move by Gazprom, which thwarted the attempts to block Nordstream via administrative means. While it seems Scholz required a bit more prodding to consent, the statements by Nuland seem to indicate that the sabotage action had already been discussed with the Germans earlier.
There still are many obscure points in this whole affair, and I wonder what kinds of threats and bribes were put forward by Biden to bend Scholz to his will.
OK, a couple of corrections:
16 Nov. 2022 -> 16 Nov. 2021
Dec. 2022 -> Dec. 2021
Thanks for the timeline?
Do you truly think that Scholz agreed to let the U S of A blow up NordStream? When Biden made his public threat at the press conference, Scholz knew the implications?
Who is so craven?
Yes, some have argued that “post-war,” the gas would flow again But that assertion doesn’t make sense either.
That was not a question.
We can only speculate.
During the entire year 2021, the USA made clear the opposition to Nordstream 2.
The decision by the Bundesnetzagentur seemed to address that concern: “Nordstream 2 belongs to a foreign firm, hence no certificate and thus no way to operate it”. So Scholz could say that Nordstream 2 is no issue (and the infrastructure remained in place, waiting to become usable again at some point in the future) — which did not convince Nuland, Sullivan & co, who started preparing another plan.
The move by Gazprom thwarted the bureaucratic approach: with that part of the pipeline under the purview of the Bundesnetzagentur becoming the property of a German firm, the German government had no longer any reason to block Nordstream. For if the Bundesnetzagentur still denied the certificate, Gazprom would sue, demand compensation of lost revenue, etc, and the German government would lose.
At that point, Scholz had no more argument about neutralizing Nordstream in clever bureaucratic red-tape to present to his North American counterparts intent on “direct action”, and being a pushover bureaucrat, he folded.
What I still cannot figure out is what kind of threats or bribes finally broke him down — accepting the destruction of essential infrastructure is quite a sizeable toad to swallow (as the Germans say).
I don’t think Scholz’ input or agreement really mattered one way or the other. He has reduced himself to a lower level functionary in the entire escapade in any case, so what he knew and when isn’t really a strong detail.
It would be more pertinent to ask what the German military knew in advance. They almost certainly _would_ need to be informed about a baltic explosion, especially in the middle of heightened tensions. Other militaries also. Those will be more key questions to ask. Whatever about the political class, whose orders the military are following is fairly important right now.
Maybe Scholz was able to negotiate to leave one pipe unbroken? The destruction of [only] three of the four pipes is an odd detail looking for an explanation.
There were four explosions, one pipe was hit twice. I think human error is the most likely explanation.
Looking at those comments by Price and Nuland now, as a threat they are really odd: If Russia invades Ukraine, USA will strangle Germany.
For whom was it meant to? Even the convoluted messaging and ensuing misinterpretations that preceded the WW1 made more sense.
Can we consider it a revelation of the strategy? Such as it is.
Recall that after the attack of September 11, the U.S. invaded Afghanistan to root out terrorists and restore freedom. Ukraine invading the Donbass, I suppose.
Then the U.S. invaded Iraq purely for the petroleum reserves, which are enormous. Germany
So war for economic interests seeks a figleaf.
Especially when 9/11 may well have been a false flag.
“If Russia invades Ukraine, USA will strangle Germany.”
Michael Hudson said early in the Ukraine war that the goal was to destroy German industry, if I have that right. The results speak for themselves. Destroying Germany is also moving to destroy blue collar unions in the western world.
Actually I believe that the whole point of the EU government has been to have financial overlords in the position of forcing EU nations to submit to non-democratic dictates. I doubt Germany would have been so compliant without the forceful influence of the EU.
Blue collar unions and universal social safety net
Morgenthau plan, 70 years after rejected by FDR. Some people have very long horizons.
Germany brought down by Nazis. Nero decree finally coming to fruition. Hitler must be proud of what his disciples achieved after all these years.
The US cleverly exploited European national rivalries to ensure the Brussels based Euro monetary system was financially un-federated and fiscally constrained.
The US was/is fully aware of the detrimental societal implications such lack of properly administered financial federation inevitably produces. Wealthy ‘states’ get wealthier at the expense of the poorer ‘states’ – social division and inequality compounds – unity of industrial/social purpose is impossible to maintain or achieve.
Together with an individual ‘state’ 3% fiscal constraint (with penalties) investment in social/industrial growth was effectively choked off.
Little wonder during (pre 2000) leadup to EMU creation no traction was forthcoming from ‘bought’ MSM & European leaders when Mitchell, Mosler, Wray, Hudson (and some other MMT’ers) highlighted the debilitating, austerity inducing design deficiencies of the then proposed monetary architecture.
It was not a bug – but an intentional, malicious feature to keep Europe states & citizens down.
I recently asked a German acquaintance (he works in SillyCone Valley) why the German’s were cutting their own throats by allowing the sanctions to deprive them of cheap Russian gas and in favor of buying much more expensive US LNG. His answer included (1) Putin (2) we must help Ukraine (3) the LNG was not more expensive (4) they purchase LNG from other sources.
It was pretty obvious from his arguments thathe worships at the altar of the DemocRats, watches PBS, listens to the Mass Media and has daily doses of Bernays sauce and Blue Kool Aid.
He’s right: much of the LNG coming into Germany is from “other sources” than US: according to Mercouris, it is Russian, arriving through a circuitous route at a greater expense
One reason Lambert and I prefer the term “The Blob” to “Deep State” is the latter implies a fair bit internal cohesion while we envision the actions of powerful insiders as regularly fraught with conflict over who has their hands on the steering wheel
Whether there is an entity that we refer to as blob or deep state that can be described as having internal cohesion or that is inherently beset by internal conflict is less important in my view than acknowledgement that it exist and therefore should be the foundation of understanding the unfolding of political action. This entity directs government policy not for the common good, what ever that maybe, but for other purposes/goals not known to the masses.
Dominic Cummings, an advisor to Boris Johnson, in a recent interview admitted that the “deep state is real” and in the op-ed piece below in the WaPo with the title “god bless the deep state” all but glories in the subversion of a democratically governed society.
Carroll Quigley and others going back decades have written about the internal dynamics of the deep state and those interested can and do study the subject. What has me concerned is that the majority of the U.S. populace still view politics as it was described to them in high school, just as they view Christianity as a man with a white beard living in the clouds. To which, I can hear the musical refrain of the Talking Heads, “same as it ever was, same as it ever was….”
This entity directs government policy not for the common good, what ever that maybe, but for other purposes/goals not known to the masses.
Just a tiny quibble – public good can be vague and subject to debate, but sometimes its unequivocal (at least to the sane) – like not being incenerated in a nuclear conflagration.
Yet we have this possibilty considered surviable by some of these people…
and because I can’t resist:
see at 2:30
seriously, I have no doubt some of our war planners think they could do quite well…
there is reasonable circumstantial evidence that, using assumptions most favorable to Ukraine, there the absolute floor for Ukrainian military deaths is 100,000—with ~125,000 to 175,000 a reasonable range (with 200,000 not out of the question).
This is WW2-level intensity (and bigger than the entire UK army), for a a future political situation that will be worse for the West than status quo 2021.
Nothing like death to check most rabid ideologies. And when one sees some of the continued shrill shilling for UKR, it’s a pathology that even the grim reaper won’t cure.
Now that is Family Bloggin scary when those people are in charge of policy.
And here are the Ukrainians recruiting yet another future Leopard tank driver-
https://twitter.com/PeImeniPusha/status/1622592435733016576 (10 secs)
Looks like a teenage kid to me.
Shades of 1945 Wehrmacht.
You still see tweets and comments where people bought into “the narrative” claim that everyone in Ukraine wants to fight to defend “freedom”.
Heck. King Charles (the silly man) seems to believe it all.
Videos of recruiters running after kids and elderly guys trying to escape mobilization would quickly disabuse them, LOL.
Yes, they recently lowered their “draft” age to 16
“Nothing like death to check most rabid ideologies…”
I don’t see Covid deaths checking rabid ideologies. And while it may not be a dearh due to a weapon, dead is dead.
Maybe that is the casualty floor they’ve realized could be accepted with just a shrug from onlookers.
The NZZ acknowledged the existence of the recent report on NS2 by Seymour Hersh (paywall):
As far as I can tell, it’s the first significant western news outlet to do so.
Nothing in the Guardian, though The Times published a piece yesterday: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/us-bombed-nord-stream-gas-pipelines-claims-investigative-journalist-seymour-hersh-s730dnnfz
Searching for Seymour or Sy Hersh in the Guardian, the latest piece to come up about or referring to him is this venomous review of his 2018 memoir: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/jun/10/seymour-hersh-reporter-a-memoir-book-review I know that by now I should probably have gotten accustomed to it, but I’m still appalled/impressed by the absolutely iron self-discipline hacks at Britain’s premier liberal publication impose whenever they so much as touch on anything concerning those currently in the gun-sights of Western imperialism or who dare interrogate the hypocrisies/hypocrites serving its cause.
Besides the specific calumnies concocted on an individual basis, there is always and without fail an ‘ick’ factor conveyed by the author, as if contact with Hersh/Craig Murray/Julian Assange/Edward Snowden was possible only with lavender-scented hanky pressed firmly to the nose. Yesterday, reporting on Roger Waters’ address to the UNSC as an invitee of the Russian delegation, their reporter (diplomatic editor, no less!) managed in the space of a few hundred words to refer at least 3 times to the lavishly expensive Long Island mansion in which Waters resides. When it appeared as if he was not speaking from there, we were treated to the speculation that he was probably at a ski resort. Warming his pampered feet in front of a fire made out of burning kid’s toys, books of love poetry and floral bouquets. Probably.
But then just as they never fail to signal furiously that while they may be writing about a ‘controversial’ figure, They Definitely Do Not Approve!, they also never fail to shed trace elements of their own sociopathological toxicity, as when the reviewer of the Hersh memoir opines:
Good to know, folks – the author was tempted by the beguiling charms of Hollywood magic to think that the horrors of My Lai and the Vietnam War were just, like, awesome stories for the movies, but she resisted. Meanwhile, big bad Seymour Hersh, in an interview she conducted 10 years prior to reviewing his memoir, ate his breakfast eggs with “wolfish greed” in his filthy investigate-reporter-hovel: the cad!
This applies beyond Ukraine, and seems to me to be the largest hurdle to any effective US counter to Russia or China. For the better part of 30 years we have spent astronomical sums on defense, far in excess of our “adversaries” and allies combined. We are living with the results of this “strategy”; as you stated, “the West is in the process of demilitarizing itself”, as all that expenditure did not generate any real productive capacity. Now, with our inflationary constraints having become so obvious, the “Blob” imagines that more money will do the trick. If the last $800bln didn’t build enough capacity to make artillery shells, the next $100bln may do. They are playing out the definition of insanity.
We have been at war for two decades, from Baghdad, to Kabul, Tripoli, Aleppo and Kiev, and god knows how many other places. The home front is shattering, spiraling costs of living, lower life expectancies, no industrial capacity. Haven’t this fools realized that war is lost? They’ll certainly get the money they want, and they may build some more jets and tanks, at the expense of a continued downward spiral in Western quality of life. But these won’t be used to face down the Russians in Europe or the Chinese in the Pacific, they’ll likely be used to keep our allies(vassals) in line.
Same problem as US health care or education, or even policing. We are running a very expensive set of institutions, both government and quasi government, but why are they so bad (at least given the amounts spent)?
but why are they so bad (at least given the amounts spent)?
In my opinion most of these institutions have been converted into what amounts to money laundering fronts. Public money goes in, which is then routed to large businesses for consulting, licensed services of various kinds (rent), vanity building projects, etc., etc. The explosion of administrative costs plays a part, too.
The IT field is one focus of this activity. Software is increasingly only available on a licensing model, or is provided as a cloud service over which an institution has essentially no cost controls, once they are committed. Capabilities are removed and rents are raised as the provider sees fit. Vast sums of money are flowing into Amazon, Microsoft, and Google’s coffers from the cloudification of universities. All of this activity is at best a lateral move — same capabilities at an ultimately higher cost. Usually it’s worse service at higher cost.
The dissolution of the monasteries all over again – sideways transfer of wealth from mortmain institutions to the king’s allies, establishing a mortmain upper class.
When I read Philip Bobbitt’s “The Shield of Achilles” twenty years ago, I wondered at the complete incoherence of his proposed end state of State evolution: “The Market State.”
Turns out, the thing itself has all the incoherence of the founding vision: market players purchase the policies they want which then make them even richer and more powerful, ante in again and again to play successive rounds bidding against the other market winners to further rebuild the market to their favor. After a few rounds, the underlying “markets” are so distorted by the politics that pay to distort them that the only sure outcome is that there are only Oligarch winners, and the system is only sustainable as long as social inertia holds the the afflicted society together through habit. And the further it goes before that habit is destroyed, the less underlying structure will remain.
Dont forget unnecessary medical care and fee for service.
The simplistic way I see it is that nearly *everything* here in the good ole USA is designed to have many, many layers of middle men that take their cut off the top. Lots of people getting nice and wealthy off these very horrible systems. Another way I summarize it to my spouse frequently is: “everything in this country is a scam”.
Because their purpose is to soak up excess production and keep the working class poor (in every sense), industrious, and perpetual. No institution abolishes the conditions of their own existence willingly.
There is no excess production, at least not relative to debt-leverage powered consumption. That is the rub.
This conflict has demonstrated the lack of utility of our current level and model of military expenditure. Throwing more money at the problem will likely not yield a diminishing return, but a negative return.
I’m not implying that defense stocks won’t go up in price or that some marginal amount of military hardware won’t be built. But the increase in equity price has an inverse relationship with the efficacy of the product; and the product itself isn’t up to the task. The costs of all this undercut the intended mission, one step forward two steps back.
I think having fools like this in charge is one of the signs that you’ve already lost. They won’t recognize either obviously.
The US has been at war since Undeoendance
Africa – Various parts
and so on
Yet, we can read this in the “Empty Bins” paper:
acquisition policy, culture, and behavior have
prioritized efficiency and cost control over
speed and capacity, and it will take time to
find a more appropriate balance.”
And there’s no /s flag …
Why, when I saw the picture of Zelensky, Macron and Stolz, did I think, Curly, Larry and Moe?
He was in the press room during Biden’s “we will bring an end to it” comment. How much more of a head’s up do you need. This also in a situation where every newspaper editor in the US and EU has been given a cue sheet on what to say and not say. Scholz’ role at this point is playing dumb. The gaslighting will continue until boredom ensues.
I disagree here. Biden is unlikely to be compos mentis most of the time. US policy is being run at best by secretaries, but more likely blowhards within the departments and various extra-organizational interests. This is the issue. Unlike Obama who could see the bigger picture and force corrective actions amongst his subordinates, Biden is simply not in charge of the government. The State department has a free hand to start World War 3 and are relishing the attention.
Biden may not be in charge, but it seems pretty clear that during his relatively lucid intervals he likes to hear and repeat stories about how tough he is. “Enthusiastic supporter” seems like a fair description of Biden’s personal involvement in the war on Russia.
Obama made Biden the Viceroy of Ukraine after we overthrew its elected government in 2014. I doubt Biden wants to see it surrendered to Russia today. Moreover, leaving aside that he previously ruled Ukraine, leading to the enrichment of his family, Biden has always been a warmonger and right winger. There hasn’t been a U.S. war that Biden didn’t support. I don’t expect to see Biden trying to deescalate this war. That isn’t him.
I think the best we can hope for is that a faction of elites in the National Security Establishment are both “realist” enough to understand the dangers of current policy, and influential enough to push their views. One of the striking features of our current situation is the near complete dominance of the ideologues. There has been a convergence of ideological interests among Straussian neocons, neoliberal graduates of “Putin-hating studies,” and what almost appears to be life-long sleeper agents of East European descent who have been nurtured by the first two. I remember when our most dangerous ideologues were cigar-chomping generals like Curtis LeMay. Today they are graduates of elite academic institutions like Harvard or Chicago who bide their time in well-funded think tanks until their faction of our single War Party takes office.
Within our major institutions, I think there are always individuals who oppose such destructive policies and occasionally do something about it. Factional conflict occurs at this level as well. Internal resistance to our growing intervention in Syria was the source of both Seymour Hersh’s articles at that time, and also Obama’s last-minute pull-back after the Ghouta false flag in 2013. On the other side, when it looked like Obama was getting a little too close to cooperating with Putin, there was an “accidental” bombing run that killed Russian troops and sabotaged any further progress. Same with Trump, as you point out. There are often behind-the-scenes disagreements going on among elites and/or their agents.
Let’s hope someone with some degree of sanity breaks through before it’s too late.
I kinda remember some guy….something about the audacity of hope….
I’m hoping you’re right, but it seems to me the last time I hoped for better, I was disappointed.
Of course, how the USA actually works, I can only hope I won’t be vaporized in a nuclear exchange…
Perhaps related to your excellent post, please see: Biden’s Top Russia Adviser Departs as Ukraine Conflict Drags On. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-02-08/biden-s-top-russia-adviser-leaving-as-ukraine-conflict-drags-on
Almost certainly. Green is Yale masters ’88 then 16 years as an FSO starting in ’90. He’s been with State since then but in much higher positions, like deputy chief of mission, director, principal officer and the like. He’s spent a lot of time training foreign service officers. He’s got 32 years in so retirement is reasonable but the timing is still strange.
Escaping before the blame game?
Pulling a “Fauci” me thinks.
royal netherlands air force is willing to give up their useless, poorly maintained f-16’s bc they are getting f-35’s someday……
i read vindman’s piece the other morning, there is reason this infantry branch blobbista was not an xo in an infantry battalion! and ended up carrying neocon water in the basement of the white house.
very few understand logistics, the closest modest ports are in the east shore of the blsck sea, railroads from there do not exist nor do interstate highways….. and the logisticians would be the ones saying ‘no, you cannot do that…’
if nato has stuff to send [to make a difference??] it cannot get it ashore, much less move it to the west bank of the dneipro where they have to figure out how to move it across. that is about mech infantry stuff, weight and cube.
then fuels, trucks, tanker trains, pipelines, barges.
then x+1 lines of ammunition, and y+2 lines of spare parts for old finicky nato profit systems mislabeled weapons.
then f-16’s, old stuff still around bc the f-35 keeps breaking during tests…… first, the concrete runaways, then the lakes of fuel at those runways, then the kc-135 (kc-46 keeps scratching canopies) to fuel the airplanes loaded with smart ordnance to try and prove you can beat the front lines w/o strafing…..
shorter, vindman et al. should be made to read the end of thucydides where the athenians got in too deep in sicily.
it all could be done, but where is henry kaiser to sell jeep carriers instead of massive flattops?
Excellent points that. Artillery may be the God of Battle but Logistics is the God of War. And you ask a Neocon about logistics and he is liable to ask ‘Is that like Amazon delivery?’
Vindman and his lot are unreformable. Forget reform and similar Puritan ideologies. We need to disable them from ever having a say in anyone else’s life ever again.
Well here in Blighty, you literally could not put a cigarette paper between Sunak and leader of the opposition Starmer, yesterday in London, both all-in on sending war materiel and money Kiev as they grovelled at the feet of the saintly Zelensky. Even the so-called above politics King Charles welcomed Zel to one of his palaces for a meet and greet. When still heir some years ago, Charles likened Putin to Hitler, but he is famously known as the pillow, whose views are those of the last person to make an indent on him.
The speaker of the Commons even gave Z a fighter pilot helmet, Johnson wants to empty the weapons larder to send to Kiev, although it remains to be seen if any jet fighters get sent there. There is no there there when it comes to opposition to the war in Ukraine.
Peter Hitchens has consistently been one of the only “mainstream” (as in Daily Mail columnist) journalists who has pushed back on the narrative in the U.K. Along with Roger Waters and I think Russell Brand. Not too many others. Kathy Gyngell in Conservative Woman has also been sceptical but she is in the alt world. George Galloway, of course, too. Cannot think of anyone else who is “known”.
It was actually Russell Brand (not someone I normally follow but I found a new respect for him) who opened my eyes way back in February 2022. I think he referenced some of John Mearsheimer’s pieces and then I started to dig………there was no going back.
No mainstream politician has spoken out at all as far as I can tell. We need Tam Dalyell and Tony Benn to arise. Or even Gladstone. Where are they?
Thank you, Gentlemen.
The army and, from yesterday, air chiefs have pushed back on the hand over of the main battle tanks and fighters still operational. Yes, the army and RAF are in that parlous a state. Neither has been joined by their boss, the chief of the defence staff. The chief of the naval staff is not saying anything, especially as he’s getting some new ships and may be embarrassed by the on going problems with the carrier Prince Of Wales.
It’s interesting Stephen mentions Gladstone. One of his descendants is neighbour to Blair at Wotton, Buckinghamshire.
I had not seen those push backs.
Guess the navy is not being asked to donate ships!
Unusual for service chiefs to enter these types of debates publicly, given we have had the principle of the military being subordinate to the civil power since the Restoration. They must feel very strongly.
Probably worth remembering that we have a super inexperienced PM and a gung ho Defence Secretary who seems too bellicose for his own good. Adult supervision seems lacking.
Russell Brand is another former Guardian columnist purged several years ago for not subscribing to MSM groupthink, along with Pilger, Seamus Milne, Greenwald, to name but three.
I was told by a future UK Major General “You are one of those people who believe in telling the truth”
I found that revealing.
Sometime back, in a different context, I asked a bureaucrat why his department didn’t take more imaginative, innovating actions to solve obvious problems – problems his org was charged with solving.
He said: “we’re not entrepreneurs, Tom. We’re not in the business of taking chances. We have a lot of downside if we make mistakes, and smooth career sailing if we don’t. All we have to do is avoid blame”.
There’s another aspect to this that needs to be re-surfaced. You’ll recall that in Feb – Apr 2022, here on NC there was a lot of wonder about “how EU could sacrifice its economy in deference to the U.S.”. I wondered aloud if (paraphrased) “they’re not in on it. This is a spoils game, and the expectation is that Russia can be carved up, and everyone gets a slice of pie”.
In retrospect, that looks more and more accurate as an assessment of motivation. The silence on the significant short-term pain was bought by the promise of greater gains to be had. Some parts of the EU economy (some elites) paid a higher price than others to be in on the game, but the group decided it was “worth it”.
And now it’s no longer “worth it”. And that assessment is reverberating loudly within the ranks of the elite, on both sides of the Atlantic.
And the observation of what happened in Europe – not just the pie that wasn’t had, but the enormous losses incurred by the instigators during the game – is well-observed by those Western elites whose ox will get badly gored during any war with China.
Lastly, as many astute posters here at NC have remarked, it’s highly likely that many players, senior ones on down thru the ranks, knew full well that a war with Russia “in its back yard” was a very risky idea.
I’m confident that the former military figures who’ve been expressing doubt publicly have substantial support for their actions within the in-service military hierarchy. That’s how dissent is expressed in an organization that is commanded to be civilian controlled. Find someone that has “less to lose” and use them as the mouth-piece.
The German admiral who was demoted was remarkable in that he knowingly sacrificed his career in order to dissent. Not a bureaucrat, that one.
So the retreat from Ukraine is mirrored by a disorderly retreat in the West’s political circles, and the game has now become “avoid blame”.
Donald Trump is going to have great fun with this. The smell of BBQ will be wafting over the Capitol this summer.
Astute, Tom P. Thank you. Social organizations, whatever their focus, do many useful, productive things, but their hierarchical nature leaves them vulnerable to malign redirection that makes lemming-like marches toward disaster possible, even requisite, and the banality of evil, which your interlocutor gives voice to so splendidly, simply common sense. It is at once boringly obvious and chilling.
I think that both EU/NATO and the US also trapped themselves in a “we make our own reality” bubble. Neither of them seemed to consider what strategic effect this would have on China, India, and other countries.
This conflict may turn out to be the greatest (self inflicted) military/economic defeat in history.
While there are sparring factions within the blob, my feeling is the neocons have been in control since the collapse of the USSR. What ever cracks that appear among elite factions doesn’t change the fact that the neocons always get their way with more war and an ever-expanding security state.
I see nothing that indicates moderation in any form. The only moderation comes from defeat, as in Iraq, and that moderated further aggression in the region. That thwarted the real men that wanted to go to Tehran. But we’re still ensconced in northern Iraq, the green zone and eastern Syria.
Am I the only person that is getting ads “Army jobs for seniors” with $50K signing bonus, over 50 years ok. Obviously recruiting skilled professionals for maintenance and operations. The escalator continues to go up, up, up. This could end very badly.
It occurs to me that two of the major fiefdoms in Washington are those that want to fight the Russians (who have a home in the Democrats) and those who want to fight the Chinese (who have a home with the Republicans). So it may be that those in the later have finally woken up to the fact that they will shortly no longer be able to challenge the Chinese militarily as nearly all the required weaponry will have been used up in the Ukraine by the former. Worse is that it will have no long-term effect on the course of the war so all those weapons will have been “wasted” for no gain. And over all this time, the Chinese will have been building up their military and taking to heart all the lessons learned from this war. But for the US, well, you can’t go to war if you have nothing to shoot with. No ammo, no war.
But didn’t the brilliant US military strategist, Rumsfeld, say: “you go to war with the Army you have”? (sarc)
This looks plausible, but something does not quite jibe: the anti-China faction is essentially Navy. Since ships and submarines play no role in the proxy war against Russia, their strike force is not being depleted — all those ammunition, counter-battery radars, barrels and transport vehicles are for land-based artillery, not for cannons aboard ships; the F-16 under discussion is unsuitable for aircraft carriers; and I doubt that the motley assortment of vehicles (MBT, APC and IFV) has its place in a landing force.
What could be an issue for the anti-China faction is that the current, limited manufacturing capacity is focusing on the production of gear and consumables for a land-war against Russia, while it would prefer to redirect that constrained industrial infrastructure to reinforce the naval branch instead.
The US is the second largest importer to Brazil. China is first and has three times the import value to Brazil. Two US administration were instrumental in arresting and imprisoning the current Brazillian President.
Can the US go to 0%? If it goes to 0% with Brazil? What country is next? Our parties are too libertarian in our economics to grasp the Chinese win because they have an industrial policy to combat this, but the free marketers promised the US would export advanced tech and degrees to fill the void. The problem is a country like Brazil is now producing as many advanced degrees as a country like Germany (I’m being conservative in my estimate). They may be producing more. This is a huge deal. Its like this everywhere.
We need these countries to disarm to keep them in line. We can’t threaten to cut their industry off from the US anymore. Oh no, they won’t have the latest Marvel trash?! The horror.
Even then, one has to consider what percentage of US trade to countries is just a result of inertia. The US is a dangerous child power banking on the world remaining backwards.
NTG: Concur. Trade flows is where it’s at, if you’ll pardon the slang.
And as I mentioned above, first we wiped out EU’s future trade flows (deny access to Russia and now China), and then we wiped out all they have now (cheap energy-based mfg’s to almost anyone).
Boy have they paid the price. Gonna be a long, hard trek forward.
Can you imagine the convs taking place now in Japan, S. Korea, Taiwan? They must be pulling their hair out. This isn’t some mysterious thing anymore; it’s not a veiled threat. It just happened in plain view of the rest of the world.
The U.S. (NeoCons as spear-point) trashed their trade – with help from the local elites, of course.
Squashed it flat, in a matter of months.
Blowing up NS was an amazingly stupid thing to do, because it was _so freakin’ blatant and clarion-call obvious_.
From this point forward, Russia and China just have to move slowly, speak quietly, and use the big stick judiciously. And given Putin and Xi’s (et. al) temperaments, that seems likely.
La Rochefoucauld: “The reason we do not abandon ourselves to a vice is because we have many.”
I suspect the loss of credibility is more relevant to the anti-China faction than loss of hardware. The Nuland / Blinken faction played the ‘US magic technology superiority’ card, and it’s been found to be wishful thinking. Now that card is off the table, making it harder for congress critters (and their paymasters) go along with the Blob’s power games wrt China. (and the downsides to a China conflict are a lot harder to ignore than they were with Russia. Do any of the paymasters really want to repeat the covid chip shortage, only exponentially worse?)
So, just maybe, is the unravelling of the UKR fiasco a tiny bit of good news for the rest of us stuck on this carnival ride?
I prefer the Blob too, and not just because I’m old enough to remember blogging in the early aughts. I think it’s a better description. Although I will admit that in terms of foreign policy and the national security state, Deep State has some descriptive power. It’s how we see figures like Nuland, never a DoS career employee get DoS appointments in the Clinton II, both W, both Obama and Biden admins. Her politics are empire, the domestic political manifestation appears to be immaterial to her.
Byzantine is probably the governmental pejorative we’re looking for here. Not fair to the Romans we renamed of course but it’s stuck. There’s simply a lot of interplay between direct government employee career advancement and the Blobists who shift with presidential politics. The former is almost completely dependent on the latter to advance. I’ve realized in the last year that had I accepted the FSO offer in 2002, I likely would have ended up working for Nuland a lot. At least that solidifies the reasoning I gave to my mother who said “we need people like you,” to which I replied, “I’ll either end up a destructive alcoholic or a traitor because people like me aren’t tolerated.”
I think State is the neocon fief, and they get occasional pushback from and penetration into the CIA and DoD.
I think they also own a controlling share of the Treasury Dept, because that’s where all the fun details of Sanctions are set.
Totally and completely. At least at the political level which means it’s the only ideology for FSOs with grand career dreams. It’s why Nuland has been an appointee in every admin since Clinton II, except trump. It’s deeply tied to CIA at this point too. I mean it was back to the Dulles brothers but now State is just the public facing side of CIA.
Excellent article. As always. Thank you.
Your comments on presidential power, or lack of it, are well made. Reminds me of the classic works by Neustadt and Schlesinger that used to be the subject of essay questions on US Politics. Neustadt argued that presidential power is simply that of being in a position to persuade people whereas Schlesinger argued for the all powerful imperial presidency that could commit the US to de facto war in Vietnam, for example.
It was a slightly artificial debate, of course, but Neustadt is probably far closer to the reality. The imperial presidency only works when most of the the rest of the ruling elite are aligned with whatever the president wants to do.
Unfortunately, this does not seem like a peace versus war debate. As you imply, it is more a “should we conserve the ammunition to fight China” debate. I wonder if we will see the Russia conflict talked up now by some parties as a proxy war versus China: “Russia is China’s raw material reservoir” or “we can only take on China if we defeat Russia”. These would be arguments to keep things going if pure Russophobia and “defending democracy” both become untenable. To be fair (and I hate to say it) given that Russia is now aligned with China there might even be truth in it. A victorious Russia will clearly aid China or run the risk of being threatened again down the road. Before we even start to discuss Iran.
Don’t empires die when they confront too many external enemies at once and at the same time lose their internal cohesion?
To be fair, Neustadt’s point was not that presidential power is “just the power to persuade,” but that the power to issue orders, in whatever his formal powers might be, are overrated. People can choose to disobey the president if they see advantage in defying the president, given their own and president’s political positions (public standing, respect from other government actors, etc), recently illustrated by the military brass ignoring Biden’s balloon order, among others. Of course, this is not just about American presidents, but a truism about political power in general, going back to Machiavelli at least.
One story that I know of (I might be remembering things wrong and/or the original story that I read might not be 100% right either, but it’s a nice illustration of the principle, so I’ll stick to it) is actually not an exercise of power by the president but by another government actor, the Fed chairman. After LTCM collapsed, the Fed “intervened” to stabilize the markets, but the intervention took a decidedly informal form–basically, the chair arranged a conference call with the major Wall Street players, described the situation and what needs to be done by the private sector as he saw them and suggested that they follow, without issuing orders or invoking any of the formal powers of the Fed. And the Wall Street players followed his suggestions since the situation as the Fed chair (was it Greenspan? I think it was the Fed chair, but might have been another gov’t actor) presented to them fit with their understanding of the situation, it was certainly in their financial interest to follow the suggestions, and the demands on them were not onerous given their capabilities, plus they were certain that, given what they knew of the Fed chair’s political standing and past professionalism, he wouldn’t hang them out to dry when there’s bad publicity for whatever reason. And they were right in all these dimensions. So being able to “persuade” requires a lot of prerequisites: being very aware of the actual world is a key factor–not only what is going on in the area in question, whether what’s actually going on on Ukrainian battlefields or the financial world or the capabilities and interests of the major players (and who the “major” players are, who can actually do something about the problem on hand) and how they understand the situation. Plus, a deserved reputation for professional integrity, honor, and wisdom (as well as broad public “support”–not necessarily that they like the politician in question more than others, but that they are willing to give them benefit of the doubt–US Supreme Court used to enjoy broad trust as an institution from all political types because of its reputation for professionalism and integrity–sadly, no longer true, mostly by its own doings–for example.) so that other major actors are willing to follow the politician’s suggestions (or even orders.) So “persuasion” is a very difficult power to acquire, and given the state of the leadership among our “leaders” nowadays, not something that they can do. Trying to make up for this deficit by giving them more “formal” powers would not help address the problem, for exactly the same reason as what Neustadt argued, but only ensures, IMHO, that there’s more and more abuse in high places as these powers can be used in all manner of nefarious arenas.
That’s a good illustration.
Power that can be exercised without having any formal authority is like gold dust. Super valuable but easy to lose.
The example I recall (I may not relate it 100% correctly) used to be part of my firm’s core influencing skills programs. This was when LBJ persuaded George Wallace in the Oval Office in March 1965 to moderate his stance on civil rights by effectively asking him to think of whether his legacy would be someone who resisted the future or someone who embraced it. Accompanied by the most spectacular southern drawl and making Wallace feel super important about himself at the same time. Of course, at this time a newly elected LBJ was at the height of his soft power too.
If we apply this to Biden, it is not clear his ability to exercise soft power is as strong as LBJ’s was then. I am not in the US so do not get a good sense of that but one feels that even the Office of the President is not respected in the way that it once was. So this would have an impact beyond any personal capacity of lack thereof. As you say, more formal power will not solve that problem.
I think the LBJ story comes from his fundamental understanding of where Wallace came from. Wallace the racist was an act–he originally ran for Congress with the endorsement of NAACP, I think, only to be race-baited and lose to a well-known racist incumbent. He decided to adopt the racist persona mainly because of this experience. On the whole, in fact, notwithstanding his colorful acts (and ineptness in choosing the kind of camps he opted to align with, including the real racists and warmongers, like LeMay), Wallace was fundamentally a political moderate (or, at least someone who was deeply risk averse) who hated sticking his neck out for crazy ideas when it counted and wanted to have a reputation as a successful “policymaker.” (A trait that, I suspect, he shared with Newt Gingrich and Donald Trump) LBJ had a reputation for knowing what made other political actors tick at the personal level and using them to make them “suggestions.” If so, he’d know exactly what the real Wallace was–and the same suggestions would not have worked on a real racist/warmonger.
I think a lot of problems come from the delusional wishy washy thinking in higher places. The people who want to exercise soft power need to present an understanding of the universe that his audience (mainly, other power players–including the adversaries–not just the masses and certainly not just their supporters.) share and use them as the basis for offering up “suggestions.” This is totally lacking now–people like Biden do not share understanding of the situation with the top leaders of US military and several nat’l security agencies based on just the “facts,” let alone the leaders in Moscow and Beijing. So even the first step is blocked. The standing of the office comes after this–the other actors might choose to go with the president if they feel that the holder of the office enjoys enough public respect only if they think the suggestions are reasonable. There’s no suggestion that other actors would consider reasonable coming from the WH today.
I believe your take on Wallace is correct, but he was running for governor of Alabama, not Congress. AFAIK the only national office he ran for was President.
Perhaps similar to Putin’s amiable persuasions at the long-tabling of the oligarchs, following the encouragement of Khodorkovsky’s case.
Any available link to an account of that, I wonder?
Great comment, very interesting discussion!
IMHO all all of this, given the climate tipping points we are tripping past, is that too much wealth and resources are being squandered fighting over the deck chairs of the Titanic.
Given the enormity and cost of the task to sequester or precipitate the massive amounts of CO2 in the oceans, it seems that the MIC is only entity with as much disposable capital to hope to effect the required change.
IMHO what we ( ie US, Europe, China, and Russia) need to be investing in are mechanisms to perform marine carbon capture. From what I see is that we are on a nonlinear path to possibly epic scale starvation within the next two decades.
Why are we all wasting such resources on pointless endeavors?
>Why are we all wasting such resources on pointless endeavors?
It may be because that is something our leaders are familiar with, know how to do, and can appease powerful constituencies.
Climate change/resource shortage issues do not fall into these categories.
But one can only avoid the approaching iceberg for so long
Unfortunately, those in power will use their influence to climb into the lifeboats first.
Thank you so much for pointing out the glaringly obvious.
Why? Because it clearly needs to be pointed out, yet again, to almost everyone on the planet.
For all you people in steerage on the Titanic, how are you feeling these days? Pretty smug, or are there occasional flitting twinges of anxiety?
For those of you that are feeling some twinges, I ask what the trigger-point / transitional moment might be (take form as?) wherein it’s clearly time to convert from observer to highly-engaged participant?
“Why are we all wasting such resources on pointless endeavors?”
A deforested island with enormous stone monoliths suggests that this sort of folly is not unique, per Jared Diamond’s Collapse
Interesting that the US seems to have a munitions shortfall, but has opted for refurbishing the nuclear stockpiles rather than significantly ramping up munitions production. The nukes can’t be used, and are therefore a total misdirection of funds, at least if you are actually contemplating a real war, as opposed to a RAND corporation imaginary war. There are many factions within The Blob that vie for attention and sustenance, and one very powerful faction is the nuke industry. So they get a trillion dollar makeover while munition stockpiles get depleted more and more. It will be fascinating to watch the Red and Blue Teams fighting over which social programs to cut in order to fuel The Blob’s war machine.
It will be interesting to see if this turn of events changes the weapons procurement process. We spend almost a trillion dollars on so-called defense but most of this spending is on things that really don’t work like F-35’s and Littoral combat ships, or things that will not survive in a modern war environment, like our aircraft carriers. The US proxy war against Russia in Ukraine has demonstrated that industrial warfare never went anywhere and that unsexy, unprofitable items like ammo and “dumb” artillery shells are vitally important.
There’s also that little problem of troop training. Even in the 80’s at the height of Reagan’s defense binge we would have to road march back to the barracks after a night parachute jump because there wasn’t money for troop carriers. Of course it was good training but the point remains that these sorts of basic military expenditures to maintain combat readiness do not pay for Fairfax Mc-mansions or collage tuition at Yale.
Like I’ve stated before, I’m not sure that the US can maintain its empire under the ideology of neoliberalism
The main purpose of US arms manufacturing is to produce profits not defend the US or even punish non-compliant enemies. That makes it extremely inefficient compared to Russia or China. It produces weapons that suck up too many very expensive hi tech resources, often don’t work very well when simpler devices would do a better job, but they do produce vast profits. Remember 70% of US generals go to work for Big Weapon after retirement (according to Larry Wilkerson) so the US military is OK with the situation. So your question is very apt: how can the US maintain its empire now that it faces enemies that have efficient arms production and additionally only want to protect the areas near their borders?
RAND, of course, produced The Pentagon Papers. Nothing to see here except when they were illegally leaked by Ellsberg. This recent RAND production didn’t get much play, and will probably end up as simply another stone on the scale. A better course of action for RAND would have been for them to stamp Avoiding the Long War SECRET. Then an anonymous person could have leaked it to the MSM. It follows that the illicit nature of the distribution would have given it major credibility and subsequent wide distribution. One of the few ways to get serious attention these days.
As usual, the best discussion anywhere of this most important issue. Thanks to Yves and all who’ve contributed.
A few comments: the best book I know on the subject you are writing about is Franz Shurmann’s, The Logic of World Power, in which Schurmann attempts to explain how it was that the US resorted to barbarism in Vietnam. He discusses “currents” in US foreign policy that go way back to before the two World Wars. Then puts them into the context of the post War American empire that FDR conceived and that Truman implemented. Bretton Woods, Marshall Plan, NATO, etc. Schurmanan names names and recounts incidents.
As for nomenclature, I prefer C. Wright Mills’s: The Power Elite.
The dominant narrative in the West for at least the last 80 years has been that those who favor war, and more aggression are little Churchills and that those of us opposed to war are little Charles Lindbergs or Neville Chamberlains. This is the conceptual construct and supporting narrative that has brought us MacArthur trying to wipe out North Korea and bring troops to the border with China (thus bringing China into the war); it brought us the Vietnam War, the invasion of Iraq and interventions in Syria, Libya, LebaNam, Yugoslavia, etc. It brought us all of the atrocities we can put under the heading of “The Salvador Option.”
This narrative is reinforced, and enforced, by the courtier media. The courtier media’s role breaks down, however, when US wars start to go badly for the US and its empire. With a fractured power elite, the media is confused. The New York Times does things like publish the Pentagon Papers, apologize for Judith Miller,and report about drone strikes on “terrorists” who turn out to be translators and their families.
The recent Times article on Ukraine very well may be the leading edge of a fracturing of America’s power elite on the Nato war in Ukraine.
To be fair, they are not necessarily wrong. Churchill was a war monger all his life, long before WW2. And, in course of World War 2, he was willing to sacrifice his own empire to win–and he did. Now, we think that was the right thing because, especially in retrospect with the full knowledge of what Hitler had done, the opponent was irredeemably evil…but how many people are really that evil so that such self-immolating sacrifice to stop them is warranted? Many people whom we think are heroes now were villified (and not undeservedly either in some cases) in similar lights by their enemies in the past also–including Churchill himself (and not always by Axis powers–I’m thinking of various colonial independence activists in particular.).
Right. A large part of why Churchill fought was to preserve the British Empire. He was explicit in this. But he ended up losing it. On his own terms that was not a success.
There is also strong evidence that Chamberlain consciously sought war in 1939. Cabinet records of the time apparently show that the guarantee to Poland was set up to enable Britain to go to war and the idea of Poland negotiating with Germany was seen as a risk in the strategy. He was not quite the peacenik that he is portrayed as either.
The concept of WW2 as “The Good War” very much colours our discourse today, of course. Every western “enemy” is portrayed in WW2 terms and in the U.K. we are always told that anyone suggesting peace simply wants to repeat Munich 1938. It is a very unhealthy situation and proves that we learn the wrong lessons from history. After all, one of the mistakes of 1939 was not to put in place a Franco-British alliance with the USSR. But that possible lesson never gets referred to. I wonder why!
The perfidious Poles–a recurring theme, self-justified because “they are always right and the Germans/Russians are always wrong”! My understanding is that Stalin always feared that Poles would come to an understanding with the Germans, join them as junior partners, and provide the vanguard of the invasion against Russia–which they’d done for Napoleon. So when he got the chance to dispose of Poland, he took it eagerly. That’s the story of the “Molotov Ribbentrop Pact” as I’d read.
The Poles did carve bits off Czechoslovakia earlier, after all…
They did. It rarely ever gets mentioned in British narratives of the period though! Does not fit “the narrative”.
Nor of course do we like to discuss the point that inter war Poland was quite authoritarian too.
The story I’ve read is that Molotov Ribbentrop Pact was more or less a direct consequence of Munich.
When Poland and Germany signed non-aggression pact in 1934, one of the pillars Soviet Union had build it’s security on in west crumbled. As long as France and Poland were guarding Germany, all was good and fine.
Soviet Union started immediately pressing states on it western hemisphere (Czechoslovakia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Poland) towards a collective security pact, also guaranteed by France and Germany. Only France was interested (Polish-German pact had made them nervous, too), while Poland and Germany did all they could to kill the initiative.
They were successful. The small states declared their neutrality and belief in the League of Nations. Which was unfortunate, since the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1935 and Spanish civil war in 1936 proved League of Nations to be completely impotent in solving security issues.
So, when the Munich happened, and Soviet Union wasn’t even informed, not to speak of invited – even though her ally, France, was involved – Stalin kinda figured France, England, Germany and Poland were all turning against Soviet Union and thus he needed to do something.
The deal with Germany had the dual purpose of kicking the coming war with Germany down the road and breaking the western block Stalin had imagined.
As a bonus it also gave him “free hands” to create a buffer against the coming German attack.
So the true lesson to learn from Munich might be that it is smart to treat the USSR / Russia respectfully.
That is not the lesson that the mainstream conveys though!
The British guarantee to Poland was of course a way to “use” the Poles, of course. We were able to give precisely zero help. History might repeat itself, I guess.
Churchill’s characterization of the Poles could be applied to the British just as easily.
It’s been my understanding that Chamberlain went to Munich knowing an agreement with Hitler was essential to the Brits, who needed to buy time to prepare for inevitable war. He likely knew also that he’d be reviled forever after for declaring “peace in our time”
“There is also strong evidence that Chamberlain consciously sought war in 1939.”
That would have required alliance with “The Soviet” which Chamberlain abhorred.
That went so far as to say “The only thing we cannot do.” when Gen. Sir Edmund Ironside suggested to him on 10 July ’39 that the only thing HMG could do was to come to an understanding with Russia.
On the other hand, two weeks later, von Dirksen, German ambassador in London was cabling Ribbentrop about how well talks with British cabinet members about settling German grievances against Poland were going.
These are not the acts of a man seeking war with Germany.
“Cabinet records of the time apparently show that the guarantee to Poland was set up to enable Britain to go to war and the idea of Poland negotiating with Germany was seen as a risk in the strategy.”
That guarantee was so shot through with loopholes & qualifications as to be of little use to anyone.
And it was no use at all when Germany attacked Poland.
Can I suggest another option for what may have motivated Milley is he may have access to intel that the Russians have a very decisive advantage, a technological royal flush up the sleeve, which is not nukes, and hasn’t yet been dreamed of by the media and uninitiated, and which he is very worried about.
Like hypersonic missiles and tsunami torpedos?
I think something else entirely which hasn’t been revealed yet, will be a surprise for us.
I don’t think it’s EMP because that’s nuclear, and not biological or chemical because that would lose world opinion.
Nevertheless, there’s a diaper changing going on over at the Pentagon, they’re avoiding something.
Dogs that shoot bees from their mouths?
Or mebbe….block out the sun! *gasp*
They don’t need anything like that. The location of bases, weapons, and supply routes is sufficient. The US is simply a dangerous child power run by people with no understanding of geography. My gut is our early plans were made without any input from the Pentagon or other war planners. Its like the reputed statement of the UK cabinet minister that there are “no effing planes” to give Zelensky.
The combat range of our fighters is 700 miles. The distance from Lviv to Kiev is over half that already. During the bombing campaign in 1990 and 1991 our planes were taking off from distances of less than 250 miles. They could fly more missions.
Ramstein is over 880 miles away from Lviv. Hypothetically, if there were no nukes, there still wouldn’t be a NATO no fly zone. The combat area is simply too far away. Even then we would essentially need to take every plane we had, the Russians have missiles that can whack the hangars long before we had enough in theatre to even consider challenging the Russian Air Force in that region.
Once air power is denied, anyone with sufficient missiles and ranged artillery is going to win the day. What happened to the original Ukranian airforce? It was blasted away in a couple of days. Bringing up a dozen planes at a time will simply result in those getting blasted away.
Miley knows the tanks can’t withstand artillery barrages. They aren’t designed to operate alone. The Persian Gulf War craziness was a whole other ball game. We had obliterated Iraq long before the tanks went across the flat deserts of Western Iraq. There are no places to hide artillery to stop a major advance. Then again the Iraqi Scuds had ranges of 100 to 150 miles.
Miley like Dempsey knows any conflict will just result in dead Americans and an embarrassment for an out fit that keeps failing audits.
A few data points:
Recall Obama’s attempt to de-escalate Syria and reach an accord with the Russians was disrupted by an ‘accidental’ US attack on Russian positions in Deir ez-Zor.
I think another early marker of the a sea change in the narrative also came with Ursula VdL’s ‘inadvertant’ admission of >100K AFU KIA.
As I mentioned above, I think the factional power centers have deluded ideological Neocons controlling State, and pragmatically corrupt arms-contract-signers waiting for sinecures on the boards of General Dynamics or Raytheon in the DoD. The latter love neocon saber-rattling, but know better than to let their bluff be called. They know procurement is optimized for profit and political coverage, rather than combat effectiveness. I suppose there may be a few Smedley Butler types in there, leaking to Sy Hersh.
The position of Scholz remains murky, as does the mystery of why the B-string of NS2 was not destroyed. Did the bomb malfunction? Is it set with a different trigger, so that the US still has a hostage to encourage a positive attitude from Germany? That pipeline has, AFAIK, significant capacity. Was it preserved so Shell and ExxonMobil could use it after the re-neoliberation of Russia? If it was preserved on purpose, that decision had to be made at the remote-detonation planning stage, I imagine. This suggests that maybe each bomb had its own trigger signal, so the sonar buoy could be programmed to chose a subset of bombs. It may be possible to determine if the bombs were triggered by the same signal by comparing the detonation times with the acoustic transmission times from the buoy location… assuming the post trigger delay was the same for all the devices.
It might be funny (pure spitballing speculation here) if Scholz played Biden and had his special ops people sabotage the last bomb.
My new pet theory is that Scholz negotiated to leave one pipe alone. (I thought it was one of the old NS1 pipes that survived, not an NS2 pipe?).
IMO, the choice to blow [only] 3 pipes would have had to have been made before the explosives were set. Leaving any bombs in place would create too much risk of exposure, as they would likely be found during the investigation of the blown pipes. Sweden may be willing to cover up for us, but it only takes one honest investigator to screw up a cover-up.
We can hope that Russia knows it is backing us into a corner. Even though we have always been the aggressor, nipping around the edges of the Russian Federation, their ability to go forward with a vision of multi polarity has been pretty constant. And they knew full well when they and Gerhard Schroeder planned Nordstream that we would go nuts. But how long can the rest of the world allow us to run with our neoliberal delusions of dominance? We have been overindulged politely because we give good bribes. Now Russia and China are in a position to offer the world a better alternative than neocolonialism. And all they really need to do is sit back and watch us implode. Like some controlled demolition. So when Michael Hudson says we are essentially in a holding position it sounds correct. But I also think it understates our desperation. It’s the desperation and political confusion that concerns me.
Yes! The only safe path through this – the transition away from US Global Hegemony – requires great patience from the Chinese government. One good sign: their statements about the US reaction to The Great Spy Balloon indicate that they have a fair understanding of insanity of modern US politics.
I’m of the opinion that Russia and China are trying/hoping for a soviet scenario in the US. They don’t want to force the issue with serious confrontation (military) but to apply pressure, over extend and allow the internal contradictions to do the heavy lifting. Slow and self-imposed isolation of the US while everyone else works out systems that more ignore than attack US power sources. It’s why US escalations don’t get responded to in kind.
Will the Property insurers of Nord Stream subrogate against the U.S. Government? Or are they not covering the loss in the first place because act of war/terrorism exclusions?
This sure looks like jockeying for position in times of great (political) uncertainty.
The Clinton camp (Foundation, heh heh) is most likely still highly involved with peddling MIC wares.
I’ve read reports that the Clintons and the Obamas hate each other.
Michelle wants to run….
Corruption in America: From Benjamin Franklin’s Snuff Box to Citizens United
Paperback – May 9, 2016
by Zephyr Teachout
It is an intersection of networks of power and influence. All with no transparency and accountability to the public. And all very versed in hiding their hands. However, individuals are not necessarily that bright and are full of hubris…
This is a fascinating discussion of the collapse of the Western Empire. Literally, the hegemon created its own reality of perpetual unwinnable wars for profiteering. Except they come with extreme costs that must be paid; although to date, they are being ignored abroad and at home. 1.1 million Americans are dead with COVID. The USA does not have the wealth or resources left to go it alone. It is a leech sucking off the world. It is being pulled off, but blood is squirting all over the place in Ukraine.
Neoliberalism is aristocracy melded to corporate greed and a disruptive meritocracy ideology with no redeeming qualities. It simply cannot govern. It was established as a global free trade superstructure that supersedes sovereign nations. Its profits come from war, pestilence and famine – the dismantling of public education, public safety and public health.
Either there is a new Reformation, or the Four Horsemen will consume the earth ending western civilization and ushering in a new Dark Age that is if a global nuclear war is avoided.
Possibly the saddest thing is that the non western / non US dead get forgotten. The U.S. and her allied countries lost something like 7k KIA in Afghanistan.
The Afghan National Army and Police lost circa 66k KIA. Plus civilian deaths and so forth. Yet misinformed people often say that “we” did all the fighting.
Of course, a local fighting on “our” side does not necessarily signify deep ideological support either. When we enter these places the economy becomes 100% dedicated to war. People have to make a living and the local army gives that, if you survive.
One striking feature of the Russia/Ukraine situation is that the Pentagon now seems to be out of the loop. I have seen occasional throat-clearing articles from them suggesting that the US is underestimating the problem, or that perhaps going all-in on Ukraine and risking a larger scale war with Russia isn’t such a great idea. None of them gain any traction.
I find the Ukrainian heritage of Blinken, Nuland, and Freeland really disconcerting.
I accept that these imperial wars proceed according to their own logic and that the MIC is cashing in, but maybe things aren’t going so great so let’s get out and pretend this never happened.
But if these people in power have personal and emotional vendettas that go beyond generic western Russophobia ? I’m Canadian and I have to hope that Freeland is just a cynical political opportunist because the alternative is really *familyblog* scary.
At this point I’d be happy if they’d just “take the money and run”. If they have a deeper ideological commitment then we might be screwed. (I wish my Ukrainian Dido from Ivano-Frankivsk was still alive. I have some questions. )
The lack of ammo, or steel, or whatever industrial raw material is only the beginning… What about antibiotics? Disinfectants? Bandages? name any medical supply… All made in China, India, Viet Nam, etc. with our IP licensed to foreigners whilst we allowed our production capacity to be hollowed out.
A friend is, right now, waiting for a scan for at least 5 weeks, because of “supply chain issues” with the IV contrast medium…
As Kris Kristofferson sang, “…Freedom’s just another word, for nothing left to lose…”
The Duran has a good video up on the Danny Haiphong Channel.
Mercouris makes the point that destroying NS2 is a centerpiece of this war. A crucial strategic objective of the U.S., UK, Poland is to make sure that Russia and Germany do not form an alliance. Germany using Russian gas and profiting as the key intermediary for it created the perfect conditions for such a partnership.
I think this has a lot of truth in it. It also explains why British policy makers are so keen to keep it going. Keeping both Germany and Russia down has been a long term British objective going back to the nineteenth century. It developed pretty much as soon as France lost her potential super power status after 1815. No Anglo French wars since. They were almost continuous for the prior century. Poland thinks that a strong Germany and Russia will simply carve her up, as happened in the eighteenth century. Or 1939.
Not saying I agree with it. I do not. But there is a lot more to British (and Polish) behaviour here than pure vassalage to the US. Suspect that both countries are egging on the Russophobia against the U.S. “realists” who would prefer to conserve the ammunition for use against China. Again, I do not think we should fight China either!
German leaders have clearly been “bought” so as to go against their own country’s objective national interests. British and Polish leaders are pursuing what they see (however misguidedly) as their nation’s true interests.
One reason Lambert and I prefer the term “The Blob” to “Deep State” is the latter implies a fair bit internal cohesion while we envision the actions of powerful insiders as regularly fraught with conflict over who has their hands on the steering wheel.
This is an issue of context. The “Deep State” was rolled out to describe politically-motivated opposition to the Trump Administration from within ostensibly non-political Initial-Agencies. There was in fact a great deal of internal cohesion between the Democratic Establishment, the National Security State, and the MSM in attempts to de-legitimize the 2016 election results, to push a conspiracy theory of foreign meddling which laid the ideological basis for the current Ukraine war, to attack and prosecute figures associated with Trump, to prevent and undermine attempts by the Trump Administration to implement policies, especially in the foreign policy direction.
The “Blob” emerged in the context of Obama’s attempts at implementing his foreign policy, where realism had the occasional victory over neocon meddling, yet Great Cthulhu always swam in the direction of foreign interventions in places where America had no national interest (as compared to say Israel or Ukraine). There was a division because no one was contesting Obama’s legitimacy, no one was trying to impeach Obama, no one was trying to delegitimate the election results, and there was no moral panic about Obama supporters from within the political establishment, to the extent there was it was fringe and coming outside of the power center. In other words, we witnessed more subtle efforts from unelected bureaucrats to undermine foreign policy decisions that were both popular and supported by a democratically elected president.
We still face a problem, which is highlighted in the article regarding Baerbock: our competition practices geopolitical strategy, while we concern ourselves with optics and short-term public relations efforts, and perhaps “Blob” is the best description for this phenomenon. You cannot make a smart foreign policy/national security move because it would offend the Cuban-Americans, or Ukrainian lobby, or AIPAC, or it would upset the apple cart with the defense contractor lobby (think garbage too-expensive-to-defund F-35 platform) or the Pentagon. The US is just itching for a version of the Syracuse expedition, where it gets in an avoidable war, gets its ass kicked, is on the ropes, and has to start acting in the interests of its survival.
I doubt the Blob has any cognizance of the Syracuse expedition or any analog to it. The Blob knows only the outcomes of the myriad contending interests of its numerous components.
Victoria Nuland is married to Robert Kagan, whose father wrote a history of the Peloponnesian War.
The war in the Ukraine chiefly benefits Army procurements and programs. The tensions with
China benefit Navy procurements and programs. The Air Force benefits from Russia as an
enemy to justify the expenditures for a new and improved nuclear arsenal. China is up and
coming as a suitable threat but Russia remains the best threat. There is only so many
billions to go around so the three services push and shove to get their piece of the pie
and there are the Defense Corporations allied to their supporting services. I believe
interservice rivalries and Corporate rivalries play a part in the manifestations of the
Within each service there are intense rivalries between Commands, and bitter feuds between
Programs and the civil servants and contractors supporting those Programs. Procurement
programs contest with Provisioning programs. Provisioning existing weapons and ammunition
contends with provisioning newly developed weapons. Provisioning the troops in the field
contends with provisioning inventories of future weapons in development. Within Commands,
Departments contend for funding of whatever end item they were developing or had developed.
Petty Empires grow and die within the bastions of the DoD in unrelenting and ruthless
internecine warfare. I believe all these competitions are reflected in the amorphous
movements and shifts of the Blob. But the seething competitions in the DoD are only one
component of the Blob — the one component I have had some limited exposure to as a lowly
minion, working as a contractor.
I know nothing about the workings of the State Department, the rivalries and interests of
the NSA, Homeland Security, CIA, the Congressional politics, and Big Money interests of
Corporations and Multi-billionaire champions of various causes — all also components of
the Blob. I can only shudder considering the influence of the so-called idealogues in
managing and directing the actions of the Blob. I cannot avoid recalling the pronouncements
of Air Force General Thomas S. Power, commander in chief of the Strategic Air Command, or
the actions of the sadistic General Curtis LeMay. I believe the same madness that afflicted
these past forces in the Blob remains within the bosoms of the present day “idealogues” —
a most kindly word for utter madness.
“Deep state” suggests something dark but monolithic quite unlike the amalgam of forces
manifesting u.s. — “policy” — another term that suggests greater coherence and rationality
than plainly or darkly evident. The term “Blob” well expresses the diffuse, amorphous
nature of the policy amalgam but it suggests an uncharacteristic mindlessness. Both “Deep
State” and “Blob” fail to suggest the repellent corruption, malice, blood-lust, and Evil of
the entity these terms attempt to represent. I have no good ideas or suggestions for better
terms. I think it is time to search out sources in world mythology and world literature.
Perhaps there is some name for a confederation of bickering Demons bent on destroying
Humankind and feasting on its flesh and suffering.