US Strategy for Great Power Competition: More Graft and Hope for Wonder Weapons

The problems with the so-called “arsenal of democracy” are well known. It can’t produce enough shells to keep up with its client states’ wars. Elsewhere, there are design issues, delays, massive cost overruns, worker and supply shortages, and the final product is usually inferior to other countries.

In short, US oligarchs’ greed has hollowed out the US industrial base, making it more difficult to enforce their rentier capitalism around the world. Despite that fact, there does not seem to be a plan to do anything about the loss of Western industrial capacity even while the US-led bloc thrashes about and creates more conflicts. In a recent piece on this topic I somewhat sarcastically asked if the plan was for AI to figure it out.

It turns out, that is the plan – as much as it can be labeled as such. A new report from the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University titled “How Big Tech and Silicon Valley are Transforming the Military-Industrial Complex” details how the racket is evolving.

At its heart, the plan is to make a lot of people obscenely wealthy and hope that a wonder weapon or two emerges from the bottomless money pit.

Malcolm Harris’ 2023 book “Palo Alto: A History of California, Capitalism, and the World” went into great detail on Silicon Valley’s military-industrial complex and all the eugenics and class warfare that emerge from capitalism’s citadel in the Bay Area. I wrote up Harris’ book back in March, but here are just two key passages dealing with Silicon Valley’s emergence as the epicenter of the military-industrial complex and class warfare:

War Capitalism could put on a blindfold and run into a maze of horrific, absurd plans with confidence because it had class power echolocation for a guide: As long as the rich strengthened and the working class weakened, then things had to be going in the right direction. It didn’t matter that capitalists were investing in finance sugar highs, monopoly superprofits, and an international manufacturing race to the bottom rather than strong jobs and an expanded industrial base. The twenty-first century was going to be all about software anyway, baby. The robots will figure it out. Silicon Valley leaders sat on top of this world system like a cherry on a sundae, insulated from the melting foundation by a rich tower of cream…

If the country couldn’t beat the world market in primary materials and heavy manufacturing, then it would play to its own advantage: making shit up.

The problem there is that such practices are exposed in actual conflict – as we can see in Ukraine, the Red Sea, and maybe we’ll get another big reminder with Iran if the neocons have their way. And there’s always China on the horizon.

This report from Brown acts as a brief update to Harris’ opus, and the situation is only getting worse. The 26-page account reinforces that Silicon Valley’s role in the military-industrial complex is to serve as a giant self-licking ice cream cone to make a bunch of grifters fabulously wealthy while producing zero benefits for American society. Not only that, but if they hit it big on an item that can effectively surveil or kill, they will, as always, be used to aid the capitalist class in its plunder – in the US and abroad.

So, what does the report say? More and more money from the government, venture capital, and private equity firms is pouring into big tech companies and startups for surveillance, weaponized AI, drone technologies, and other tech tools of war. Fortunately, there is little sign it is effective unless the goal is to enrich a bunch of well-connected insiders as the products are described as “ineffective.” On the downside, they’re also “unpredictable and unsafe when deployed in real world conditions.”

Patriotic Graft 

The report notes that US military and intelligence agencies awarded at least $28 billion to Microsoft, Amazon, and Alphabet between 2018 and 2022, but the actual value is likely to be significantly higher, since so many of contracts with tech companies are classified. Military and Intelligence also continue to increase their funding of startups:

According to some analysts, pilot projects launched by defense tech startups may succeed in creating prototypes, but frequently fail to cross the so-called “valley of death” lying between early prototype production and multi-year Pentagon contracts. Historically, the overhead costs associated with U.S. government procurement processes have made it difficult for smaller firms to compete.

This began to change in 2015, when then Defense Secretary Ash Carter established DIUx. It was headquartered in Silicon Valley and designed as a venture capital fund: the goal was to quickly identify and invest in startups developing cutting-edge technologies that might have military applications. With DIUx, the Pentagon built its own startup accelerator to fund firms specializing in AI, robotics, data analytics, cybersecurity, and biotechnology. DIUx was intentionally located in the heart of Silicon Valley, near Amazon’s Lab126, Microsoft’s Silicon Valley campus, and Apple’s corporate offices. Carter, who had spent several years at Stanford University prior to his appointment as Defense Secretary, had reportedly been impressed with the Bay Area’s innovative entrepreneurial spirit. In 2018, DIUx was renamed Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), indicating that it was no longer experimental. Between June 2016 and September 2022, DIU awarded contracts worth a total of $1.2 billion to more than 320 companies.

Carter modeled DIU after In-Q-Tel, a firm established by the CIA in the late 1990s to capitalize on innovations being developed in the private sector, particularly in Silicon Valley. By channeling CIA funds to nascent companies building surveillance, intelligence gathering, data analysis, and cyberwar technologies, the agency hoped to outdo global rivals by funding firms with creative engineers, hackers, scientists, and programmers. In-Q-Tel has made more than 500 investments across an extraordinary range of startups. In-Q-Tel’s portfolio includes firms with futuristic projects such as Cyphy, which manufactures tethered drones that can fly reconnaissance missions for extended periods using a continuous power source; Atlas Wearables, which produces fitness trackers that closely monitor body movements and vital signs; Fuel3d, which sells a handheld device that produces detailed three-dimensional scans of structures or objects; Sonitus, which has developed a wireless communications system, part of which fits inside the user’s mouth;and Saildrone, which produces autonomous maritime surveillance drones enabled by AI. In-Q-Tel has also invested in data-mining firms like Geofeedia, TransVoyant, and PATHAR.

If this all sounds like underwhelming crap, well, that feeling isn’t uncommon. Retired Air Force Lieutenant General Jack Shanahan had this to say about the AI-powered advances: “I’m less worried right now about autonomous weapons making their own decisions than just fielding shitty capabilities that don’t work as advertised or result in innocent people dying.”

Nonetheless, more than $100 billion in venture capital funding went to defense tech startups between 2021 and 2023.

Historically, the largest VC firms were generally reluctant to invest in defense tech startups, but this has changed dramatically over the past few years. Why has it changed?

There has been a lot of PR about it being a form of patriotism and the need for the US to have military and technological superiority to counter supposed threats from Russia and China, but unsurprisingly it’s really just about making a boatload of money.

Venture capital and private equity are betting that an expansion of DoD spending on high-tech products will lead to lucrative returns, and they’ve been right so far.

The revolving door is certainly helping to drive profits. One of the biggest cons nowadays is the constant fear mongering that China is poised to surpass the US in a global “AI arms race,” and that the future depends on the outcome. While the report argues this is vastly overblown, government officials who help propagate it and steer money towards research of AI-powered weaponry, surveillance, and logistics systems are rewarded upon leaving office:

After leaving his Pentagon post, Robert Work became an advisor to defense tech startup Hawkeye 360, then joined Raytheon’s board of directors in 2017. David Norquist now serves as president and CEO of the National Defense Industrial Association, which lobbies on behalf of defense contractors.104 Patrick Shanahan is on the board of directors for Leidos, an AI company specializing in autonomous maritime and aerial vehicles for military use.

But perhaps more importantly, dozens of senior Pentagon and national security officials are now gravitating towards defense-related VC or private equity firms as executives or advisors after they retire from public service. While in the past, the “revolving door” usually meant that a former DoD official might accept an executive position with weapons manufacturers like Lockheed Martin or McDonnell Douglas, there are new, more lucrative options. At least fifty former Defense Department officials are now working in VC and private equity, leveraging their connections with current DoD officials or members of Congress to push for legislation that might benefit the defense tech firms that are part of their firms’ investment portfolios.106 The implications of this are significant: the new “revolving door” is likely to accelerate some of the trends outlined in this report, most notably increased military and intelligence agency funding for early-stage defense tech startups.

Jack Poulson, a mathematician who worked at Google before founding Tech Inquiry, put it this way: “I believe we are witnessing the transition of major U.S. tech companies into defense contractors and would go so far as to predict them purchasing defense contractors in the coming years—something like Amazon buying Raytheon.”

The US strategy can be summed up as a steadfast belief that the best way to preserve U.S. dominance is by prioritizing corporate needs, zero accountability, and hope that for-profit corruption produces something worthwhile.

Meatspace Application

It’s clear that no lesson has been learned from the West’s spectacular failure in Ukraine. The fact that Russia ground down the collective capacity of NATO is apparently not a concern, even as Washington prepares to make the same mistake with China.

The US is currently “building” an Asian NATO, and as mentioned above, all the focus is on winning a nonexistent AI race. Think tanks like The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), whose biggest funders are biggest donors include defense firms Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and RTX—and significantly, tech giants like Alphabet-Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Meta-Facebook, and Apple, continually push for confrontation with China and argue that AI is key victory. Maybe they should be worried about something else.

Buried in one of its recent reports, CSIS admits the following:

China’s defense industrial base is operating on a wartime footing, while the U.S. defense industrial base is largely operating on a peacetime footing. Overall, the U.S. defense industrial ecosystem lacks the capacity, responsiveness, flexibility, and surge capability to meet the U.S. military’s production and warfighting needs. Unless there are urgent changes, the United States risks weakening deterrence and undermining its warfighting capabilities. China is heavily investing in munitions and acquiring high-end weapons systems and equipment five to six times faster than the United States. China is also the world’s largest shipbuilder and has a shipbuilding capacity that is roughly 230 times larger than the United States. One of China’s large shipyards, such as Jiangnan Shipyard, has more capacity than all U.S. shipyards combined.

Maybe it’s possible that a wonder weapon emerges from all the money sloshing around. I’m not a weapons aficionado, so hopefully some readers in the know can chime in, but the history of US military boondoggles is obvious.

One of the earliest signs that the strategy to rule by silicon and fire was going to be problematic was the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) system money pit. The 1950s collaboration between the Air Force, MIT, and most major computer computers, it fed punch cards coded with a day’s planned air routes into a computer; if something was amiss it was supposed to catch it, and missiles or aircraft could be deployed to intercept what was assumed to be a Soviet nuclear bomber. IBM produced a 12-minute advertising video on it, and it was a major PR victory for the company. The trouble is, it didn’t work – at all. A SAGE engineer compared it to Forrest Gump: “It was very fast, financially successful, and incredibly stupid.”

Or how about the Strategic Defense Initiative aka “Star Wars”? Or the F-35? And countless others.

Lastly, if we take a further step back, we can maybe view the greatest waste in all of this – more than all the incompetence and greed.

It’s that obscene amounts of money are going to these weapons of war in the first place. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of Americans sleep in Hoovervilles and there is really no threat to the US. Maybe US oligarchs’ interests are threatened around the world, but that does not affect 99.9 percent of the US population.

With so much money pouring into Silicon Valley for tools of war, all the supposed bright minds in the Bay Area are assigned to developing wonder weapons, but not only are they unsuccessful on that front, it also means they’re not focusing other issues:

One can only imagine the scientific opportunities that have been lost or delayed because they are not aligned with military priorities: for example, increased research to better understand and develop mitigation plans for accelerating climate change and its effects; better tools for forecasting epidemic diseases; and improved methods for sustainable agriculture and resource management.

Many of the Bay Area’s youth, trained from a young age to enter this system of bezzles are also miserable and suicidal – a major focus of Malcolm Harris’ Palo Alto. That’s the downside of being the product of a stock farm system designed to enrich the select few:

[Palo Alto’s] biggest export, more than code, circuit design, and marketing fluff, is human capital. Stanford switched from colts to young people, but it was still a breeding and training project. Labor intensification applied to students as to wage workers, and local leaders spent a century on educational augmentation schemes meant to provide the best genetic material with the top instructional apparatus. The strategy paid untold dividends, and Silicon Valley has shown remarkable economic resilience, always finding another bubble to inflate, a new technological frontier, a new boom, a new gold rush. It looks helter-skelter, but as I’ve said, Palo Altans managed to generate sinks to absorb and grow huge amounts of capital over and over, with remarkable consistency during the period in question. In a world starved for efficiency gains – novel ways to tighten costs – a bet on the Valley keeps getting better. Just ask some rich people.

It’s worth retracing our steps to the Palo Alto system, in which potential counts for everything –– but only a specific kind of potential. A colt that won’t pull a cart is no good to the system, no matter how fast. And a colt that organizes all the horses to strike? That’s no potential at all.

As the US-led international system is in the process of being overturned, maybe now would be a good time to upset this apple cart here at home as well.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. Yaiyen

    USA is not the only country what make weapons.USA is using all client state 40+ of them to produce weapons for ukraine. Time is not on Russia side and that scare me because of what Russia will do when they realize this. They dont have enough troops to take Ukraine even East Ukraine

    1. Bob

      Russia is doing fine demilitarising the nato nazis. Time is on their side. Slow and steady wins the race.

      1. Yaiyen

        Yes if it would be Ukraine alone this strategy would work but its all NATO and usa,so Russia by going slow they give usa and its ally time to build up their arsenal to send to Ukraine. If democrats get house majority next election i believe they will give same amount again

        1. Jean gingras

          Russia and China facing off with Ukraine and NATO is probably a better way of viewing this conflict. Ignoring china might well incorrectly make one think that Russia is overmatched.

          1. S Weil

            North Korea is providing some direct help to Russia, but China is on the the sidelines – they are unenthusiastic about changing long agreed upon borders by force – they have their own problems. Sort of like the mirror image of Israel – they are on the sidelines and they like the idea of changing borders by force.

            1. Snailslime

              Nah, the Chinese are both perfectly aware of the reasons for the conflict in Ukraine, that it isn’t about borders, what is really at stake, including and especially for them and they have their priorities straight.

              They are Not on the sidelines and the only reason why they are Not helping Russia more openly and directly is because Russia doesn’t want them to and has shown No signs of needing any Support beyond that which they are already providing.

              Should a moment come where Russia needs more, China will provide more.

          2. juno mas

            Russia alone has de-fanged the West on the battlefield. Russia does not need to remove all the Ukraine soldiers to take control. As it is now doing, it just needs to make life there unbearable. Encouraging Ukrainians to continue this war with their lives at stake, is cynical Western policy.

        2. Gregorio

          Your theory kind of neglects the fact that if the U.S. and their allies were unable to squash a bunch of goat herders in sandals after 20 years and several trillions of dollars, there’s absolutely no reason to believe that a few tens or even hundreds of billions of dollars, is going to propel the most corrupt country in Europe to victory over the Russian military.

        3. TimD

          How is it that even Western news reports have Russia out-shelling Ukraine by 5 or 10 to one? In two years, NATO has been unable to ramp up production to match that gas station Russia? NATO is really looking like all hat and no cows.

          Just to illustrate the silliness of this situation. Imagine that the quality and quantity of NATO weapons were good enough to allow Ukraine to push into Russian territory. What would happen then, would Vlad apologize and surrender or would he start launching ICBMs? What were they thinking when they walked out on the precipice?

      2. ray

        100%, Azov will be wiped out clean
        Russia-China-Iran alliance will be the future
        ameriKKKa will fall

    2. SocalJimObjects

      I agree with this. Here’s one example:

      Some choice quotes:

      South Korean shipbuilding is “an asset” to the U.S. “as China continues to aggressively pursue worldwide shipbuilding dominance,” said the Navy statement issued during Del Toro’s East Asia visit.

      “China may be the world’s largest shipbuilder, but South Korea and Japan are number two and three, respectively,” continued Funaiole via email on Tuesday.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Indeed – the South Koreans in particular have long had an implicit policy of becoming a major arms exporter and have seen the US’s travails as a major opportunity. They’ve already won some big contracts in Europe. Their shipbuilding industry is second to none for quality and they have a lot of spare capacity.

        The Japanese are more subtle about this for obvious reasons, but they have the capacity to become a major supplier of key components such as heavy duty castings or high quality composite parts.

        1. juno mas

          With long-range, hyper-sonic missiles ships (of all kinds), are easy targets. Build a ship for a billion dollars and a relatively cheap missile will make it a fish reef in seconds. See: Yemen.

          1. scott s.

            “With long-range, hyper-sonic missiles ships (of all kinds), are easy targets.” Yes, read this al the time. Would like to see the proof (and show your work).

            1. Michaelmas

              scott s.: Would like to see the proof (and show your work).

              It’s 2024. What happened back in 1982 with the Falklands War — which is taught in every naval school — without the benefit of hypersonic missiles isn’t enough evidence for you?


              Pay attention to the segments about ‘air attacks.’ The British only limited more loss of vessels by: –

              [1] Standing off their capitol ships, including two aircraft carriers, beyond the Argentinians’ reach, which is why it’s taught in naval colleges;

              [2] Thatcher getting on the line to French president François Mitterrand, re. the Exocet missiles France had sold Argentina and persuading him to give up the codes to the Exocets to the British, and stop French arms sales and assistance to Argentina.

              Again, without even getting into modern hypersonic missiles, the Russians have had carrier-killer missiles since the 1970s, with the ramjet-powered Moskit-Sunburn, still in service, which the Russians have sold to China and Egypt.


              Read the specs. No Aegis system is likely to stop one of these things.

    3. Samuel Conner

      Ukraine is short of trained manpower to keep its ground combat units at strength, and short of people to recruit into what training system still remains. Where will the trained replacements come from? There is no appetite in the West to send young people to bleed on the Steppe. Given the surprisingly long time it took the Ukrainian legislature to revise its military draft law to scrape out the remaining dregs from its demographic barrel, there seems to be little appetite in Ukraine to send more of its own people to bleed on its own Steppe.

      Regarding industrial output (at least of land combat systems), if Alexander Mercouris’ view of the matter is accurate, Russia currently has greater military industrial output than the US and its entire worldwide network of allies and clients. And RF output is still increasing.

      How can this be? Per Brian Brletic at the New Atlas, RF defense industry is state-controlled and is configured to be able to rapidly surge output (“purpose-driven”, as Brletic puts it). Western defense industry is almost entirely for-profit and privately owned. Maintenance of spare capacity interferes with enterprise profit; Western profit-driven defense industry does not have significant spare capacity and correspondingly little ability to surge output.

      In yesterday’s daily geopolitics overview, Mercouris points out that, to make matters worse, US is antagonizing China, which may increase the likelihood that China throws its military/industrial output behind RF at scale, which it is not doing at present.

      I think RF will force Ukraine to capitulate long before the West’s collective military/industrial output is ramped up to the current level of RF output. And if it doesn’t and RF actually does begin to lose the fight, China will surge its output to help RF.

      There is, IMO, no realistic way that the West can prevail in this conflict. They should have pressured Ukraine to implement the Minsk process, rather than using that process as cover to prepare Ukraine for open warfare with RF.

      1. Polar Socialist

        Ukraine is short of trained manpower […]

        Budanov just admitted that Ukraine is stalling the POW exchanges because they’re afraid of a new Maidan. And if you’ve seen some of the comments by serving troops, that same reason may be behind the Rada refusal to demobilize longest serving troops.

        Almost as if the regime is afraid of their own army…

    4. Uncle Doug

      I’ve seen no evidence that either the US or the NATO midgets are embarked upon, or gearing up to embark upon, the sort of industrial mobilization that might make a difference in the outcome for Ukraine. It seems very unlikely that they would, given that their populations probably wouldn’t stand for it.

      As for the question of “enough troops,” Russia appears to have as many as it wants to field at this point and I can’t see any structural reason why it might no be able to add to the current number as it thinks desirable. It is Ukraine that is desperate for troops (as well as weapons and munitions) and demographic reality means that is unlikely to change.

      The US-NATO and its proxy have lost the war they provoked in Ukraine. The latest infusion of billions (much of which goes to the US MIC and Western forces in Europe) can’t do more than prolong the suffering and lead to more of Ukraine being wrecked.

      It’s certainly conceivable that the US-NATO-ROK et al. could, over time, create facts on the ground amounting to an existential threat to Russia. We don’t need to guess what the Russians might do in such a case. The policy is published.

      1. Ashburn

        “The US-NATO and its proxy have lost the war they provoked in Ukraine.”

        Yes, indeed! And it won’t be long before we are reading the Ukraine Papers, just like the earlier Pentagon Papers and the Afghanistan Papers that detailed how US officials knew for years that those previous conflicts were unwinable. But those wars continued thanks to the money that flowed through the MIC, with a sizable kickback to Congress.

    5. jrkrideau

      Russia has a population almost of 150 million. The population of the Kiev-controlled areas of Ukraine is about 17 million, if that. There seems to be a good chance that a large proportion of that consists of relatively old women.

  2. VTDigger

    I’m somewhat comforted by the fact that this is quite normal for the US, see the Century Series:
    (I suppose some would argue that the F106 was a success, but regardless it was never used in combat)
    So many weapons platforms developed are just absolute garbage, it’s all really just a jobs program. Our two oceans mean we don’t actually have to fight anyone, so churning out useless weapons is not what’s going to end the empire imo.

    1. juno mas

      Our two oceans will also give the Global South viewing distance when the internacene warfare begins in the US.

  3. SocalJimObjects

    “One can only imagine the scientific opportunities that have been lost or delayed because they are not aligned with military priorities: for example, increased research to better understand and develop mitigation plans for accelerating climate change and its effects; better tools for forecasting epidemic diseases; and improved methods for sustainable agriculture and resource management.”

    Come on, if JFK were still alive, he would have said the following : “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for Israel, Zelensky and the Defense Industry”.

  4. Randall Flagg

    >Our two oceans mean we don’t actually have to fight anyone, so churning out useless weapons is not what’s going to end the empire imo.

    Other than the destruction wrought by the civil war, when have we had to experience the horrors of war on our own cities and soils? No one around here to remember it. The oceans have given us a false sense of security, never having to worry about being invaded from abroad, allowing us to make mischief around the world with no consequences, yet. I would like to think Europe and Russia, still having numbers of citizens alive who lived through it, lost millions, had to rebuild, are a little more hesitant to fighting wars but, when pushed, such as Russia, will come out swinging. With Russia, with gloves on at the moment and with patience.
    I think we will collapse from within. Our adventures around the world taking precedent over our own internal health.
    It all comes down to greed.

    1. juno mas

      Yes. And eventually the interest payments on $33 Trillion in US debt will cause real problems. The US is unlikely (incapable) of repaying China and soon enough the dollar becomes ‘funny munny’ (worthless).

  5. NotTimothyGeithner

    This sentence kills me:

    “China’s defense industrial base is operating on a war time footing, while the US defense industrial base is largely operating on a peace time footing.”

    Where do they find these people? At least in the US, it’s always 1996.

    1. CA

      CSIS is an American militarist think tank and “admits” nothing, but only pushes in every possible way for more American military spending. As though American military spending of $1,022 trillion yearly and rising, were dangerously trivial:

      “Buried in one of its recent reports, CSIS admits the following:

      China’s defense industrial base is operating on a wartime footing, while the U.S. defense industrial base is largely operating on a peacetime footing. Overall, the U.S. defense industrial ecosystem lacks the capacity, responsiveness, flexibility, and surge capability to meet the U.S. military’s production and warfighting needs…”

  6. Zephyrum

    Some innovations can only come from large projects with enormous budgets. Others can only come from small teams or even one person. The US military was previously good at the former, but now perhaps neither. Building things means they get evaluated, which can really interfere with the grift. Useless is the most profitable approach, and the easiest.

    1. GlassHammer

      Forget “building a thing”, we reached the stage where following test plans, completing test events, and delivering test reports is just too much to ask for. (And technical writing is about as good as what an 8th grader is capable of.)

      STEM folks truly believe customers are paying them to “retain their services” similar to a lawyer-client relationship.

    2. junew

      The engineering talent base is simply gone. High school graduates can barely do math. Attend any engineering commencement exercise in a major university, you will see roughly 70% are asians and Indians many of whom are Chinese students. Moreover, software has corrupted form-and-function design principle. Cost just balloons when superfluous software is added. Most of the cost of F-35 probably lies in the software. It’s great for software programmers but not so great for war fighting.

  7. GlassHammer

    Silicon Valley killed the entire concept of incremental improvement (i.e. making small measured changes that can easily be removed should things go wrong) in both the private and public sectors.

    Now the entire STEM field thinks in terms of big breakthroughs in which “the effort is the product” (because they have absolutely nothing of value to show for months of expenses) and the customer just prays the rat’s nest of systems they created works even once. (Who cares about expensive components, the ratio of use to maintenance hours, and the absurd amount of inventory required for continuous use.)

    Honestly the need to be cool and disruptive has totally ruined American design, development, and product sustainment.

  8. Aurelien

    There are several different points mixed up here. Intelligence agencies and militaries have used technology for collecting and processing information since forever. The British invented the world’s first computer to crack German codes in WW2. So there’s nothing surprising about large sums of money going to Silicon Valley for this purpose: it’s the same in other countries.

    Second, the US (and the West generally) has deliberately run down and offshored its manufacturing capability, not just in finished goods but in components as well. This affects the military just like any other areas, and it means that manufacturing capability, as well as skilled tradesmen and engineers, no longer exist in the quantities needed. There’s not a lot that can be done about that, but it has little to do with Silicon Valley except insofar as western investment for decades now has gone into software engineering instead of the real sort. Moreover, the manufacturing that does remain has been MBA-ised, and the military itself has in practice moved to specifying and buying mostly equipment for use in expeditionary wars, rather than serious wars against peer enemies. (The US is going not to fight China: if it were, then its industrial policies and deployment would be quite different. China is just a political target for bellicose rhetoric.) Again, there’s no real connection with Silicon Valley.

    Where there is a connection, is that, as we’ve seen in Ukraine, modern battlefields are becoming increasingly transparent, and dominated by software assisted weapons. The Russians have deployed autonomous drone swarms capable of attacking targets without human intervention, as well as ground-based drones, essentially unmanned AFVs. This is evidently the wave of the future, and the real issue is why the US seems to be having less success with it than other countries.

    1. GlassHammer

      “manufacturing capability, as well as skilled tradesmen and engineers, no longer exist in the quantities needed.”

      Yes, because of the above your supply of potential engineers now predominately comes from Silicon Valley (SV) and it’s extended network. From a buyers perspective it doesn’t matter that SV didn’t create the shortage, what matters is that their skill set isn’t good enough to offset that shortage. And SV (really the entire concept of having design stay in the states while manufacturing went abroad) exists because it was supposed to offset that shortage by being phenomenal at what it does.

      Because our STEM workers can’t see beyond the design phase (because end to end product development requires some knowledge of manufacturing, maintenance, and logistics) their skill set is degrading in real time.

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        theres also a question of resource base…raw materials to be had in north america.
        in spite of the “new saudi arabia” rhetoric, we’ve been scraping the dregs for hydrocarbons for a long while, now….and the rare earths are always in the bidness press these days.
        its been a long time since i dug into other mineral and chemical resources in the USA, but top of my head, we’ve already picked all the low hanging fruit…and the level above that, too.

        and…every time i think about the lack of people who know how to make machines that make stuff…i think about my grandad.
        6th grade education. joined army airforce in 41, and learned all about sheet metal and engines and such(as well as flew the B-17’s when the pilot was drunk(!))…came home and opened a small manufactory with that knowledge that lasted for 50 years…until the combination of stupidity in abandoning industrial policy…as well as my dad and uncle’s relative incompetence at the nuts and bolts of the operation…finally ended the endeavor.
        i remember grandad getting his hands dirty on the shop floor…teaching workarounds to guys who had been to school for this stuff….and overseeing the “patternmaking”…which i never really understood.
        he held several patents(sound traps, dust collection, etc)
        and all of his descendants still use the stainless steel barbeque pits he designed and built during the early 80’s doldrums, in order to keep his people employed.

        as they say, they dont make em like that anymore.

        point being, is USA really was serious about rebuilding its manufacturing base, we’d hafta import engineers from china, russia, etc.
        and i dont guess its in those country’s interests to provide such help,lol.

      2. Tom Pfotzer

        Because our STEM workers can’t see beyond the design phase (because end to end product development requires some knowledge of manufacturing, maintenance, and logistics) their skill set is degrading in real time.

        This concept is extremely important. Specialization injects weaknesses and blind-spots into the product development process. Those weaknesses can be overcome with the right team… but we humans aren’t all that great at “team”.

        Possibly some people here @ NC wonder why I advocate for skills development, and might also wonder why I actually build machines. I do it for the reasons GlassHammer spelled out so well: it’s to be competent to perform _every_ stage of the product development lifecycle.

        To equip myself for those activities, I’ve spent the last few decades crossing skills swim-lanes “I’m not trained for”. Note: “swim lanes” are the lines on the floor of a swimming pool, that tell you “where you’re supposed to be”.

        What good does “generalized competency” do us?

        Here’s a concrete example.

        Remember the Baltimore bridge the ship crashed into? People were wondering what the root-cause was.

        Check out my response. It’s here.

        Turns out that, several weeks later, the FBI is now asking the very same question I did.

        How come I asked the right question at the outset? Because I know how machines work. I can imagine them, design them, build them, and operate them. I’ve crossed the swim-lanes, I know enough about enough to see things that most other people just don’t.

        Does that seem like self-aggrandizement? Sorry, but no. That crossing of swim lanes was _expensive_. It took a long time, and a lot of money got left on the table while it was happening.

        I don’t have formal training in mechanical or electrical engineering, or physics, or horticulture, or robotics, or even software engineering*. And yet, I’m building products – right now – that use some, maybe a lot, of all those skills. These products might turn out pretty well – they are very unusual integrations, and they’re aimed at high-social-value problems.

        Picking up on Amfortas’ remarks about his uncle, I identified some key problems I wanted to solve, and then built out my capacity repertoire to address them. It was needs-based learning, as (markedly) differentiated from specialty-that-makes-the-most-money kind of learning.

        So long as we’re content to only (marginally) know how to operate a smart phone, and the controls on our car and toaster, and just one money-making specialty, we’re going to continue to devolve as a society.

        To design, build, test, market and operate great new products, you need a lot of different skills. The world needs a galaxy of new products; the ones we’re using now are well past their useful life.

        Other societies seem to be much more aware of this than we are. Did you know that Mr. Putin _asked_ his nation to participate in new product development? And he spent time show-casing what they accomplished?

        If we continue to eschew technical skills development, we are going to get left way behind.

        Gangs don’t usually own a lot of patents, do they?


        * Yes, Yves, some software development actually _is_ engineering. If you doubt that, please sit down and write an operating system, or a compiler, or a complex data model, and when you’re done, tell us how easy it was.

        And to give credit where it’s due, a lot of my product targeting – the compass headings – were evolved via some years of reading NC.

        1. Amfortas the Hippie

          that i have always been a generalist, by nature…and an autodidactic polymath to go with that nature…has always set me at odds from my civilisation.
          made me hard to understand and/or scary to people i needed to convince to hire me or whatever.
          and i always bewildered the cops who were set upon me in my formative years…which engendered programmed responses to wierdness.
          ive long alleged that such qualities are exactly what we need.
          not only outside the box…but in the tall weeds, across the parking lot from the warehouse where the box is kept.
          but i came of age in the wilderness just outside the exurban ring of houston in the 80’s,lol…”conform, for Freedom”, and all.

          1. Tom Pfotzer

            I’ve long alleged that such qualities are exactly what we need.

            ‘deed so, Amfortas. You don’t need encouragement, but I’ll offer it:

            “Don’t let nothin’ get in your way”.

    2. ISL

      The rot goes deeper, I would argue; the universities and technical schools have also degraded in the ability to churn out STEM graduates even if there was a demand, with professors and teachers of these subjects and others (mining, petroleum engineering) retired and not replaced. Turnaround is generational, presuming there was a desire (the first sign will be US/Western politicians discussing industrial policy, yet the US has been busy de-industrializing Europe (aka Nordstream)!

    3. Snailslime

      The policy is less fighting China anyway but getting proxies like the Phillippines but ultimately of course South Korea and Japan as well as, dream of all dreams, India to fight China.

      1. Kouros

        Why not?! After all UK managed to push Hermany an Russia into a fight in WWI… Too bad the Germans attacked France over Belgium.

        And anyome remembers the strange war in WWII, when UK France stood and did nothing for many many months against Germany after the invasion of Poland, until Denmark, and Norway were attacked.

        The hope, both times was that Germany would only focus east…

        So now US would love nothing but to see everyone else geting exhausted while it remains the only unscathed power… like after WWII…

        1. Snailslime

          Of course.

          Japan at the very least though of course had and has some psychopathic elites with delusions of grandeur entirely their own and who surely would re-assert themselves as a hegemonic great power in Asia and the Pacific, who probably calculate even that they might be able to take up that mantle again after the US is gone, possibly after America and China weakened and damage each other sufficiently.

          So Japan for it’s part might try to maneuver the US and China into fighting, who knows, maybe up to and including a “Limited” nuclear exchange (that would almost certainly happen anyway in such a conflict).

          So we will see who entraps whom in the end.

          The South Koreans have their own interests in conflict as well, just as ignoble, even if I guess they would be more content to be the new big war profiteers/merchants of death on the block with somewhat less need to be imperialist warlords themselves.

          India too has no doubt plenty of immoral vultures and overly ambitious narcissist idiots, despite not having a imperial tradition comparable to Japan’s.

          America outsourcing it’s shipbuilding to South Korea and Japan, by the way, is that really so much smarter an idea than all the outsourcing to China they did before?

          As I said, these are ambitious nations with a milewide ruthless and predatory streak of their own and at least in Japan there is still a ton of largely concealed but real elite resentment towards the US, or at least so I have been told.

          In a way becoming fully and vitally dependent on them would be a sign of weakness and easily could help them gain all sorts of influence and leverage over the US, that I could easily see them exploit.

          A new version of the previous Japan hysteria eventually perhaps?

          I mean, in South Korea there might be some significant part of the ruling class that is genuinely subservient to the US, might partly have to do with the large number and influence of american style fundagelical protestant christians there, those types seem to be pretty useful and reliable compradors and fifth columnists for the West and the US in particular, which is probably why the Blob seems quite keen on supporting their missionary work in places like India and everywhere really, from Asia to Latin America.

          But if I was America I still wouldn’t want have to rely too much on even the South Koreans and certainly not on the Japanese (or the Indians for that matter).

    4. Glen

      I think as soon as America imposes a certain level of sanctions then for all practical purposes the “war” will be on. And China will CRUSH America by just withholding key materials and goods.

      The “war” narrative is no longer in America’s control.

  9. Tom Pfotzer

    And there, my friends, is your industrial policy.

    Nothing at all about doing something the rest of the world actually wants.

    It’s all about extortion and graft and violence.

    What happens to a gang when their guns don’t work?

    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      they turn on their wives and children, with whatever is to hand.
      (thats us, btw)

      as ive learned about the behavior of usa,inc over the last 30+ years, i found myself always arriving at “why would any other country want anything to do with us?”
      the answer, of course, was actually existing TINA…do what we want or we’ll bomb, coup, or IMF you….plus the wall to wall overproduction(lol) and export of baywatch,MTV, etc
      that right there is what has changed…and is continuing to change.
      i hope i live long enough to see us be just another country(or collection of tiny, disagreeable failed states, at least)

      added: i wonder if we can make tank shells from corn?

  10. PlutoniumKun

    The problem with assessing military capabilities is that, for obvious reasons, you can’t really judge whats going on until there is an actual war. Military history is full of overhyped weapons that flopped in real wars, and ‘failures’ that turned out to be very useful in reality. For whatever reason, navies in particular seem prone to rapid rot during peacetime – the USN was an appalling mess in 1941, stuffed with incompetent officers and useless weapons (the almost hilarious stupidity of the torpedoes that didn’t explode being the most famous example), but within 2 years, was the most formidable military force of the 20th Century. A similar story could be told many times over in plenty of other countries (occasionally in reverse, as with Japan in WWII). No country is immune to this, we just hear less of it when they are better at keeping secrets. There are, for example, plenty of indications that China’s massive aircraft carrier program is on its way to being an enormously expensive catastrophe, but its likely that we’ll never know the full story for decades to come, if ever. Its noticeable even in Russia, where the much hyped Armata seems to be undergoing a quiet burial while the formerly mocked T-80 is being brought back into large scale production.

    The reality is that war planning depends on predictions that are almost always wrong. The winners tend to be either the nation with the industrial scale and reserves to keep making mistakes until they get it right, or the side which is most nimble and capable of adapting to the circumstances. Russia has had both advantages in the Ukraine.

    The big problem for the US in any war with a peer is that a conflict is likely to be so short that there simply won’t be the time to learn the errors and reorganise. Its inconceivable now that the US could turn its navy and army around in just 2 years as it did in WWII. And any direct war with Russia or China will almost certainly not last 2 years.

    1. Polar Socialist

      the much hyped Armata seems to be undergoing a quiet burial while the formerly mocked T-80 is being brought back into large scale production

      That probably has more to do with Russia having some 4000 to 6000 T-80 hulks in storage, which can be refurbished in Omsktransmash factory (Kaluga Engine has been tasked to design a new 1500 hp engine) while Uralvagonzavod is churning out T-90 and T-72B3M tanks in three shifts.

      As a peace time tank T-80 is basically an expensive jet fuel guzzler with the same gun and the same optics as the cheaper T-72/90 so it’s quite natural it got shelved first. Now Russia is in the middle of doubling it’s armed forces while fighting a war, and probably the only way to achieve that in any reasonable time frame is to dig into the storage they already have. And, of course, having superior mobility when going to an actual battle is worth the fuel consumption.

      The main problem with T-14 Armata is that it was accepted for armed forces service only about a month ago (likely after ironing out the kinks found during it’s visit to SMO), and Uralvagonzavod is currently quite busy fulfilling other orders. It’s also too expensive* to be used in Ukraine anyway, so it has to wait for it’s day in the sun for now.

      * army can probably get 2 T-90s or 4 T-72B3Ms with the price of one T-14

      1. vao

        The main problem with T-14 Armata is that it was accepted for armed forces service only about a month ago

        I just wonder whether the problem is that the T-14 was designed for a kind of battlefield that ceased to exist a few years after its design was concluded, i.e. the impact of drones on the deployment of armoured vehicles (as exemplarily demonstrated first during the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan in 2020), and the necessity to provide protection specifically against them.

        The Russians are probably digesting the lessons of the Armenia/Azerbaijan war, the Ethiopia/Tigray war, and of course the war in Ukraine regarding drones and armour; we shall see the results in, say, 10 to 15 years, when they reveal the prototype of their next tank.

  11. The Rev Kev

    Can’t help but think that a lot of the strategy that the US is following was initially formed back in the 90s. In that time period, the US was ascendant. Russia was being hollowed out and pillaged, China manufactured mostly low-value goods and did not have much of a military, Silicon Valley was writing the rules of the computer world for everybody and the US still retained a formidable military. Well that was then and this is now. The US is in visible decline, Russia has come roaring back from the grave, China is a manufacturing powerhouse with a growing modern military and Silicon Valley has discredited itself badly over the past twenty years or more. And yet those in Washington are still acting like it is the 1990s and are using the same strategy. There are many obvious things that the US could do to reverse course and do the pragmatic things but it looks like Washington politics are winning out instead.

    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      aye. if people like cookies,luttwak(sp-2), mcfaul or that eldritch colbert guy(and blinkin and powers and bolton and on and on)…really believe half of what they say…then yes…they really do live within a mirrored bubble where its always 1995 or so(like in the matrix).
      every time i venture into their echo chamber…including Rand Corporation reports….i am amazed…and feel almost gaslighted…or at least out of sorts.
      “can they believe all this?!”
      that may be the most worrying and dangerous feature of this stupidest of timelines.
      we’re not ruled by evil masterminds, nor even harkonnens…but by deluded idiots, lost in napoleonic fantasies.

      1. Late Introvert

        What has really changed since Thucydides, and long before he wrote it down. It was ever thus.

    2. Glen

      I have to agree. Out leaders seem delusional, just like the Boeing CEO that has announced his resignation. He will deny that how he ran the company had anything to do with how the airplanes were built.

      Just like our DC elites can never admit that they’ve spent the last thirty years running their country and empire into the dirt.

    3. ray

      ameriKKKan politicians must keep on using the 1990s strategy since it has been highly effective in the past

  12. ISL

    “surveillance, weaponized AI, drone technologies, and other tech tools of war”

    I note that these “military” tools are all useful for domestic application.

    As systems became more complicated (see war in Ukraine), the chance of a wonderwaffen being developed by accident decreases. Moreover, a wonderwaffen is useless if it cannot be produced in adequate quantity. Let’s pretend the Patriot works as advertised (it failed against Yemen-tech missiles). The West cannot produce its missiles as fast as they are needed or the systems as fast as Russia can destroy them, leading to (h/t Scott Ritter marine math) a complete loss of air protection.

  13. Rip Van Winkle

    The picture of congress that Mr. JHK posted this morning captured the very essence of the state of government in the U.S.

  14. spud

    none of this really surprises me. after all, this was envisioned by bill clinton. the entitled master race, that is the white supreme entrepreneurial spirit would be unleashed from the new deal, which cotled the deplorable, and removed their entrepreneurial spirit.

    the master class would design the products, the sub humans in china and russia would provide labor and the raw materials.

    what has stunned the white supreme entrepreneurial spirit types, is that russia and china were not only equal, but better than they ever could be.

    so i believe one way or another, the poor and homeless will be eventually jailed or corralled in (concentration) camps, to restore the deplorables entrepreneurial spirit.

    then americas proper place in the world will be restored. and the golden era can finally bloom.

  15. James P McFadden

    Regarding “about making a boatload of money”
    The funniest line about US military production costs can be found at 25:15 into this interview by Alkhorshid of Andrie Martyanov.

    Martyanov: “You’re not going to fight war like this. … In my blog my guys put this video of the Congressman showing the bushings, just regular bushings which you can make in any freaking shop or garage, to some specification but if you have good CNC it will do it. $90,000 dollars for bushings!! Like a small bag of bushings!! Its a whole fraud, the whole western defense establishment …”

  16. spud

    “As the US-led international system is in the process of being overturned, maybe now would be a good time to upset this apple cart here at home as well.”

    bill clinton said under his system, no one will want to upset the apple cart, and the results of his system, actually created a environment that is upsetting the apple cart, to restore sovereignty and hopefully some sort of civil society.

  17. Snailslime

    There are two souls at least, at war with each other in the american ruling classes breast, even if nearly nobody fully recognizes that war even amongst those opposing the system, the first soul that of the capitalist war profiteer and merchant of death, who at least pretends to stand somehow above conflict itself and has no real interest in winning any of them, only in making obscene amounts of money from the slaughter.

    It is this “soul” that is primarily responsible for the deterioration of the american industrial system and of all that which allowed the US to actually successfully wage war itself on a huge scale many decades ago.

    It has been dominant for so long that even within the “elite” many have kinda forgotten that it ever was different, so thoroughly that they didn’t even realize that the actual base of american hard power was crumbling under their very nose, eagerly falling themselves for the propaganda of market magic and the superior private entrepreneurial spirit that would give them an unsurpassable advantage over the rest of the world.

    These are also the people who were quite eager to turn China into the factory of the world, fully confident that eventually in the not far off future China too would inevitably be ruled by an unpatriotic, globalist billionaire class very similar to their US and Western counterparts who would be fellow shareholders in that global hypercapitalist, technocratic corporate “Utopia” with a hyperclass at the top not bound by any country or culture, only by billionaire class “solidarity”, with nation states, including the US, being embedded in, controlled and ideally ultimately replaced by unelected, faceless transnational bureaucracies responsible to nobody but the billionaire hyperclass.

    These people still wield vast power and many of them have successfully adjusted to the beginning of the rise to dominance of the other “soul” and the new era of militant (predatory, elite, anti people) nationalism, even if they don’t really believe in it but calculate that it is only a passing phase and something they can use to eliminate everyone standing in the way of liberal, post national, privatised corporate globalism, something they eventually can discard to return to their true ideal.

    The other soul is that of the hardpower obsessed, wouldbe world conquering warlord who very much wants to wage total war to achieve total victory and cares about the economy only insofar as it provides the instruments for the projection of hard power and can perhaps itself be used as another weapon of war to besiege, starve, subdue and destroy the enemy, beyond that their understanding of it is usually shallow at best and especially the more clever ones don’t like what they saw when circumstances over the last two years forced them to aquaint themselves with the reality of it in some more depth.

    Despite lipservice to the ideals of soul number one that were culturally dominant for so long, soul number two really doesn’t care about any of them and about the last thing it would ever want would be for the US Government to be embedded in and controlled by transnational bureaucracies or even worse to wither away.

    Those embodying this “soul” are more likely to see foreign oligarchs more as either enemies or temporarily useful idiots and tools but not anything like true partners.

    Their interests are primarily of a military and political nature, not an economic one, power and dominance, not wealth, is what they live for.

    Their guiding star is less the billionaire class, even the “native” american one, but the global dominance of the United States Government.

    They are allied with the billionaire class of course, find themselves or found themselves for the last couple decades largely in a position subservient to the billionaire class, being dependent on them and needing to placate them and to play along with their zany, ridiculous schemes, but I think it would be a grave mistake to overly identity them with the billionaires and their interests or treat them as merely an appendage of the big capitalists.

    It is much more of an alliance of convenience and the carriers of the second soul which include many of the Neocons and the permanent career bureaucrats of the government agencies and closely adjacent private but government funded organisations making up the actual state part of the Deep State, a huge and very powerful part of the overall system with ideas and plans of their own, that part with the most ability to use copious amounts of deadly violence, intimidation, espionage and blackmail, able to flout the law even more openly than any other section of the elites and indeed one that is in the ascendence and has seen a major resurgence for years now, these carriers probably have plenty of contempt for the homegrown billionaires and their poodles too, blaming them (correctly) for weakening the United States and it’s,government, depriving it of vital state capacity without which there can be no Empire and making America’s enemies stronger.

    Both souls are deluded, psychopathic and completely depraved, murderous, full of callous contempt for the lower classes, everyone they consider to be weak and vulnerable, are hierarchy obsessed social darwinists even though their criteria for who constitutes the real elite are not the same and both want world domination even though both have different indeed mutually contradictory and incompatible ideas of who and what the ideal vehicle of world domination will be.

    At the same time there are not only partially shared ideals and worldviews and goals, there is also plenty of overlap in means and methods and they both have rubbing off on each other, consciously or not, over the many decades of their partnership.

    Still there are also huge and ultimately irreconcilable differences, even though a lot of influential people that belong primarily into one camp or the other nonetheless have a foot in both and are likely deluded and try with some success to delude others into thinking that there is no such conflict, even the less smart neocons are likely still mostly blind to or in denial about it even while the smarter ones see pretty clearly.

    Concerning the perennial fascism discussion, on the question if it makes sense to compare the dominant and ever more openly authoritarian system in the US and throughout the collective west to fascism or not, the avatars of the second soul, the neocons and their Washington Blob fellow travelers, are definitely in many ways VERY close to being classical fascists.

    They very much eternally aspire to ensure unlimited, centralized power for the US federal government and it’s executive arm, not only to promote some economic agenda but as a prime agenda in and off itself.

    They want to ensure that that absolute power extends to the entire world and wherever they can get away with it (and arguably they get away with it increasingly often) they have no scruples or hesitation subordinating even powerful interests to the political objectives of Washington rather than the other way round.

    They don’t care if weaponizing the dollar and the international financial system might potentially hurt some very rich people.

    They don’t care if plenty of wealthy business people actually would prefer continuing to do business with China.

    They openly speak about the need to restore state capacity and industrial planning.

    If they could they would adopt a more russian or even chinese industrial model, at least for war production, in a heartbeat.

    This is impossible for both political and plenty of non political reasons and the billionaires controlling the MIC are so powerful and entrenched that the deep state fascists haven’t been able to make a dent into their position for now, though personally I think it might be that Sullivan and co would like to use Eric Schmidt and the war venture capitalists to at first undermine and disrupt the positions of the entrenched “defense” giants somewhat in hopes of eventually being able to put them on a tighter leash, making them subservient to government diktat, so that they will ultimately be re-structured to produce on demand what the Pentagon actually needs to wage and win large scale wars.

    If such a project has ANY chance of succeeding in the near or midterm future I of course cannot say, but I do expect something of that kind from the neocons and their Blob friends and if anyone can do it, can break the stranglehold of neoliberalism, it ironically will almost certainly be the neocons.

    I do think that time ultimately works in their favor though.

    I think the grand dream of the WEF associated liberal globalist billionaires, the avatars of the long dominant first american soul is dead, that global capitalism as we knew it is truly unsustainable and well into it’s terminal crisis for all the reasons so often discussed on this blog and behind countless of the links it provides us with daily.

    In this era, even if quite possible it will not last long as eventually all of our technological civilisation comes crashing down in flames, I really think we will see (arguably are already seeing) a powerful and quite dramatic resurgemce of The State, in (especially in the West) it’s most hideous and brutal tyrannical and murderous form, not just even in the relations to the non western world but domestically and with power increasingly migrating back into government and away from the private sector.

    And with it all the powerhungry sociopaths who for decades went corporate and who increasingly will find working for the state more attractive once more.

    Many naturally never left and there was never a dearth of sociopaths in the public sector, especially everything even remotely related to “security” and “intelligence”.

    By the way, short digression towards the end of an already ridiculously overlong comment, the not so good old CIA is of course one of THE central agencies of the Deep State (ha) but was historically especially closely aligned with the billionaire class and their primarily economic and class based over national interests, unsurprisingly seeing how it originated as an agency by and for Wallstreet lawyers and bankers and also heavily recruiting within that millieu.

    I found myself thinking that the CIA perhaps in more recent decades was brought more fully in line with the rest of the Deep State proper and the neocons in part because there was something of a military takeover of the CIA, with particularly neocon aligned military men serving as the firm’s directors and the agency generally recruiting more from inside the military.

    And of course the MIC as a whole is in many ways even in it’s corrupt, inefficient neoliberal form already naturally more aligned with the political goals and preferred methods of the neocons than other, more civilian sections of big capital might have been by inclination alone.

    Anyway, if/when we move slowly but surely into a post neoliberal and certainly post free trade, post globalisation, eventually post capitalist world, not because anyone in power wanted that but out of sheer necessity, states everywhere will increasingly take comnand over everything, including the economy again, because that will be the only way to keep something remotely resembling the system we have now, at least on the surface level, going for some more time.

    It’s governments, not for profit corporations who will be better equipped to deal with the realities of shrinking and/or collapsing economies, collapsing ecosystems, climate catastrophy, shrinking populations, technological regress, etc.

    They’ll at first be all there is, at least until people seriously start to think up and build some post collapse communities or what have you.

    But the state model as such has proven incredibly resilient for many thousands of years now, coming roaring back from innumerable total collapses, putting Dracula and Freddy Krueger to shame with it’s ability to rise from the grave.

    There is a lot of crowing about the oh so fabulous resilience of capitalism or even neoliberalism itsef, but it’s less than nothing compared to the state, that can work and organise both societies and effective, lethal mass violence on almost every level of technology, on wildly different levels of societal and economic complexity, comparable with a wide variety of radically different economic systems.

    Capitalism and it’s corporations need incomparably more specific and rare and brittle preconditions for their emergence and perpetuation.

    The vast Inca Empire didn’t even need the wheel, an alphabet or almost any kind of metalwork.

    Let’s see modern corporate capitalism work with that.

    Anyway, the point is not the return of something resembling the Inca Empire, though in the long run that might very well happen, it’s that states probably will keep a hollowed out, zombified, ugly, rotting husk of our technological civilisation going for a while, by necessity ever more violent and repressive to keep it together at all, with a sort of quasi capitalist/corporate veneer, even though the actual corporations will long have ceased to be profitable, even though most more than regional trade will have atrophied and under the facade the system will also by necessity, not any sort of inclination or conviction, have become more “communistic” in the worst possible sense, defacto probably propped up by some sort of true slavery.

    At least I suspect we will see something like that in much of the world, of course not everywhere.

    I think we might well be in the early stages of developing into such a society.

    And the neocons and their ilk might be both a symptom and in a way partial drivers of such a development.

    The resurgence of interstate warfare will probably stay with us for the forseeable future, even far past the final end of capitalism as we knew it sadly, but of course it also preceded modern capitalism by millenia, even as techlevels decline.

    Though at least the ability to project power over vast distances with shrink quickly and states will be increasingly restricted once more to wage war in their immediate or at least relatively close neighbourhood, as they have been for most of history.

    That is, at least if the neocons or their medium term future ideological descendents don’t cause some extinction level event, because they certainly will make the most out of the time window where global powerprojection yet remains a possibility even if more and more difficult, and it well could be the recognition that very soon world domination will be out of reach for everyone, forever, rendering everything they lived and strove for completely irrelevant, that could finally push them over the edge to destroy the world out of pure spite.

  18. ilsm

    I served on a SAGE radar site in northern/remote USA. I was late 1970’s and we had a new computer which replaced one the size of a large living room, with the size of a teachers desk.

    Years later I worked USAF acquisitions some programs with MITRE. They broke away from MIT in the 1950’s.

    My observation is no program I worked ever failed a test, bc the producers risk of rejecting a system approached zero.

    How do things work that could never fail? In the bureaucracy okay but combat don’t care about the colonel’s promotion.

  19. MFB

    Surely if one side in an arms race spends the money on enriching oligarchs who make unreliable computer software and monopoly telecom systems, and the other side in the same race spends the money on armaments, even if the side spending on armaments wastes a lot of its money, some of those weapons will work and it will win the war.

    I remember a Frederik Pohl short story about “political engineers”, based on “political generals”; the framework of the story was the Mexican victory over the US in a shooting war due to the Mexicans focussing on winning the war while the Americans focussed on bureaucratic infighting and making themselves look good and preparing endless memoranda explaining why none of the failures were their fault.

    It seems Pohl was a true prophet.

Comments are closed.