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Uncle Sam, Global Gangster

22 February 2012

Summary:  Americans increasingly live in a world bordered by our amnesia.  Our past lost, replaced by myths.  Our recent history largely forgotten, replaced by a vague jumble of half-remembered events.  To tell the story of our past decade requires someone with a clear understanding of geopolitical dynamics, able to place each step in our wars in a larger context.  It requires Andrew Bacevich (Colonel, US Army, retired).

Contents

  1. Introduction by Tom Englehardt
  2. Scoring the Global War on Terror – From Liberation to Assassination in Three Quick Rounds
  3. About the author
  4. For more information: other posts about our special ops assassins

(1)  Introduction by Tom Englehardt

If all goes as planned, it will be the happiest of wartimes in the  U.S.A.  Only the best of news, the killing of the baddest of the  evildoers, will ever filter back to our world.

After all, American war is heading for the “shadows” in a big way.  As news articles have recently made clear, the tip of the Obama administration’s global spear will increasingly be shaped from the ever-growing ranks of U.S. special operations forces.  They are so secretive that  they don’t like their operatives to be named, so covert that they  instruct their members, as Spencer Ackerman of Wired’s Danger Room blog notes,  “not to write down important information, lest it be vulnerable to  disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.”  By now, they are also  a force that, in any meaningful sense, is unaccountable for its  actions.

Although the special ops crew (66,000 people in all) exist on our tax  dollars, we’re really not supposed to know anything about what they’re  doing — unless, of course, they choose the publicity venue themselves,  whether in Pakistan knocking off Osama bin Laden or parachuting onto Hollywood’s Sunset Boulevard to promote Act of ValorIn  case you somehow missed the ads, that’s the new film about “real  terrorist threats based on true stories starring actual Navy SEALs.” (No  names in the credits please!)

Of course, those elite SEAL teams are johnnies-come-lately when  compared to their no less secretive “teammates” in places like  Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Somalia — our ever increasing armada of  drones.  Those robotic warriors of the air (or at least their fantasy  doppelgangers) were, of course, pre-celebrated — after a fashion — in  the Terminator movies.  In Washington’s global battle zones, what’s called our “traditional combat role” — think big invasions, occupations,  counterinsurgency — is going, going, gone with the wind, even evidently  in Afghanistan by 2013.  War American-style is instead being inherited  by secretive teams of men and machines, both hunter-killers who  specialize in assassination operations, and both of whom, as presented  to Americans, just couldn’t be sexier.

And we’ll all be just so happy — as a recent poll indicates we are – with our robotic warriors and their shadowy special ops teammates,  if with nothing else in our fraying world.  They present such an  alluring image of the no-pain, all-gain battlefield and are undoubtedly a  relief for many Americans, distinctly tired — so the polls also tell  us — of wars that aren’t covert and don’t work.  So who even notices  that, as Andrew Bacevich, bestselling author and (most recently) editor  of The Short American Century: A Postmortem,  points out, we’re being plunged into a real-life war novel that has no  plot and no end.  How post-modern!  How disastrous, if only we have the  patience to wait!

(2)  Scoring the Global War on Terror
……….. From Liberation to Assassination in Three Quick Rounds

By Andrew Bacevich, posted at TomDispatch, 19 February 2012

With the United States now well into the second decade of what the Pentagon has styled an “era of persistent conflict,” the war formerly known as the global war on terrorism (unofficial acronym WFKATGWOT) appears increasingly fragmented and  diffuse.  Without achieving victory, yet unwilling to acknowledge  failure, the United States military has withdrawn from Iraq.  It is  trying to leave Afghanistan, where events seem equally unlikely to yield  a happy outcome.

Elsewhere — in Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia, for example –  U.S. forces are busily opening up new fronts.  Published reports that  the United States is establishing “a constellation of secret drone bases” in or near the Horn of Africa  and the Arabian Peninsula suggest that the scope of operations will only  widen further.  In a front-page story, the New York Times described plans for “thickening” the global presence of U.S. special operations  forces.  Rushed Navy plans to convert an aging amphibious landing ship  into an “afloat forward staging base” — a mobile launch platform for  either commando raids or minesweeping operations in the Persian Gulf — only reinforces the point. Yet as some fronts  close down and others open up, the war’s narrative has become  increasingly difficult to discern.  How much farther until we reach the  WFKATGWOT’s equivalent of Berlin?  What exactly is the WFKATGWOT’s equivalent of Berlin?  In fact, is there a storyline here at all?

Viewed close-up, the “war” appears to have lost form and shape.  Yet by taking a couple of steps back, important patterns begin to appear.  What follows is a preliminary attempt to score the WFKATGWOT, dividing the conflict into a bout of three rounds.  Although there may be several additional rounds still to come, here’s what we’ve suffered through thus far.

The Rumsfeld Era

Round 1: Liberation.  More than any other figure — more than any general, even more than the president himself — Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld dominated the war’s early stages.  Appearing for a time to be a larger-than-life figure — the “Secretary at War” in the eyes of an adoring (if fickle) neocon fan club — Rumsfeld dedicated himself to the proposition that, in battle, speed holds the key to victory.  He threw his considerable weight behind a high-tech American version of blitzkrieg.  U.S. forces, he regularly insisted, were smarter and more agile than any adversary.  To employ them in ways that took advantage of those qualities was to guarantee victory.  The journalistic term adopted to describe this concept was “shock and awe.”

No one believed more passionately in “shock and awe” than Rumsfeld himself.  The design of Operation Enduring Freedom, launched in October 2001, and of Operation Iraqi Freedom, begun in March 2003, reflected this belief.  In each instance, the campaign got off to a promising start, with U.S. troops landing some swift and impressive blows.  In neither case, however, were they able to finish off their opponent or even, in reality, sort out just who their opponent might be.  Unfortunately for Rumsfeld, the “terrorists” refused to play by his rulebook and U.S. forces proved to be less smart and agile than their technological edge — and their public relations machine — suggested would be the case.  Indeed, when harassed by minor insurgencies and scattered bands of jihadis, they proved surprisingly slow to figure out what hit them.

In Afghanistan, Rumsfeld let victory slip through his grasp.  In Iraq, his mismanagement of the campaign brought the United States face-to-face with outright defeat.  Rumsfeld’s boss had hoped to liberate (and, of course, dominate) the Islamic world through a series of short, quick thrusts.  What Bush got instead were two different versions of a long, hard slog.  By the end of 2006, “shock and awe” was kaput.  Trailing well behind the rest of the country and its armed forces, the president eventually lost confidence in his defense secretary’s approach.  As a result, Rumsfeld lost his job.  Round one came to an end, the Americans, rather embarrassingly, having lost it on points.

The Petraeus Era

Round 2: Pacification.  Enter General David Petraeus.  More than any other figure, in or out of uniform, Petraeus dominated the WFKATGWOT’s second phase.  Round two opened with lowered expectations.  Gone was the heady talk of liberation.  Gone, too, were predictions of lightning victories.  The United States was now willing to settle for much less while still claiming success.

Petraeus offered a formula for restoring a semblance of order to countries reduced to chaos as a result of round one.  Order might permit the United States to extricate itself while maintaining some semblance of having met its policy objectives.  This became the operative definition of victory.

The formal name for the formula that Petraeus devised was counterinsurgency, or COIN.  Rather than trying to defeat the enemy, COIN sought to facilitate the emergence of a viable and stable nation-state.  This was the stated aim of the “surge” in Iraq ordered by President George W. Bush at the end of 2006.

With Petraeus presiding, violence in that country did decline precipitously. Whether the relationship was causal or coincidental remains the subject of controversy.  Still, Petraeus’s apparent success persuaded some observers that counterinsurgency on a global scale — GCOIN, they called it — should now form the basis for U.S. national security strategy.  Here, they argued, was an approach that could definitively extract the United States from the WFKATGWOT, while offering victory of a sort.  Rather than employing “shock and awe” to liberate the Islamic world, U.S. forces would apply counterinsurgency doctrine to pacify it.

The task of demonstrating the validity of COIN beyond Iraq fell to General Stanley McChrystal, appointed with much fanfare in 2009 to command U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.  Press reports celebrated McChrystal as another Petraeus, the ideal candidate to replicate the achievements already credited to “King David.”

McChrystal’s ascendency came at a moment when a cult of generalship gripped Washington.  Rather than technology being the determinant of success as Rumsfeld had believed, the key was to put the right guy in charge and then let him run with things.  Political figures on both sides of the aisle fell all over themselves declaring McChrystal the right guy for Afghanistan.  Pundits of all stripes joined the chorus.

Once installed in Kabul, the general surveyed the situation and, to no one’s surprise, announced that “success demands a comprehensive counterinsurgency campaign.”  Implementing that campaign would necessitate an Afghan “surge” mirroring the one that had seemingly turned Iraq around.  In December 2009, albeit with little evident enthusiasm, President Barack Obama acceded to his commander’s request (or ultimatum).  The U.S. troop commitment to Afghanistan rapidly increased.

Here things began to come undone.  Progress toward reducing the insurgency or improving the capacity of Afghan security forces was — by even the most generous evaluation — negligible.  McChrystal made promises – like meeting basic Afghan needs with “government in a box, ready to roll in” — that he proved utterly incapable of keeping.  Relations with the government of President Hamid Karzai remained strained.  Those with neighboring Pakistan, not good to begin with, only worsened.  Both governments expressed deep resentment at what they viewed as high-handed American behavior that killed or maimed noncombatants with disturbing frequency.

To make matters worse, despite all the hype, McChrystal turned out to be miscast — manifestly the wrong guy for the job.  Notably, he proved unable to grasp the need for projecting even some pretence of respect for the principle of civilian control back in Washington.  By the summer of 2010, he was out — and Petraeus was back in.

In Washington (if not in Kabul), Petraeus’s oversized reputation quelled the sense that with McChrystal’s flame-out Afghanistan might be a lost cause.  Surely, the most celebrated soldier of his generation would repeat his Iraq magic, affirming his own greatness and the continued viability of COIN.

Alas, this was not to be.  Conditions in Afghanistan during Petraeus’s tenure in command improved — if that’s even the word — only modestly.  The ongoing war met just about anyone’s definition of a quagmire.  With considerable understatement, a 2011 National Intelligence Estimate called it a “stalemate.” Soon, talk of a “comprehensive counterinsurgency” faded.  With the bar defining success slipping ever lower, passing off the fight to Afghan security forces and hightailing it for home became the publicly announced war aim.

That job remained unfinished when Petraeus himself headed for home, leaving the army to become CIA director.  Although Petraeus was still held in high esteem, his departure from active duty left the cult of generalship looking more than a little the worse for wear.  By the time General John Allen succeeded Petraeus — thereby became the eighth U.S. officer appointed to preside over the ongoing Afghan War — no one believed that simply putting the right guy in charge was going to produce magic.  On that inclusive note, round two of the WFKATGWOT ended.

The Vickers Era

Round 3: Assassination.  Unlike Donald Rumsfeld or David Petraeus, Michael Vickers has not achieved celebrity status.  Yet more than anyone else in or out of uniform, Vickers, who carries the title Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, deserves recognition as the emblematic figure of the WFKATGWOT’s round three.  His low-key, low-profile persona meshes perfectly with this latest evolution in the war’s character.  Few people outside of Washington know who he is, which is fitting indeed since he presides over a war that few people outside of Washington are paying much attention to any longer.

With the retirement of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Vickers is the senior remaining holdover from George W. Bush’s Pentagon.  His background is nothing if not eclectic.  He previously served in U.S. Army Special Forces and as a CIA operative.  In that guise, he played a leading role in supporting the Afghan mujahedeen in their war against Soviet occupiers in the 1980s.  Subsequently, he worked in a Washington think tank and earned a PhD in strategic studies at Johns Hopkins University (dissertation title: “The Structure of Military Revolutions”).

Even during the Bush era, Vickers never subscribed to expectations that the United States could liberate or pacify the Islamic world.  His preferred approach to the WFKATGWOT has been simplicity itself. “I just want to kill those guys,” he says — “those guys” referring to members of al-Qaeda. Kill the people who want to kill Americans and don’t stop until they are all dead: this defines the Vickers strategy, which over the course of the Obama presidency has supplanted COIN as the latest variant of U.S. strategy.

The Vickers approach means acting aggressively to eliminate would-be killers wherever they might be found, employing whatever means are necessary.  Vickers “tends to think like a gangster,” one admirer comments. “He can understand trends then change the rules of the game so they are advantageous for your side.”

Round three of the WFKATGWOT is all about bending, breaking, and reinventing rules in ways thought to be advantageous to the United States.  Much as COIN supplanted “shock and awe,” a broad-gauged program of targeted assassination has now displaced COIN as the prevailing expression of the American way of war.

The United States is finished with the business of sending large land armies to invade and occupy countries on the Eurasian mainland.  Robert Gates, when still Secretary of Defense, made the definitive statement on that subject.  The United States is now in the business of using missile-armed drones and special operations forces to eliminate anyone (not excluding U.S. citizens) the president of the United States decides has become an intolerable annoyance.  Under President Obama, such attacks have proliferated.

This is America’s new MO.  Paraphrasing a warning issued by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a Washington Post dispatch succinctly summarized what it implied: “The United States reserved the right to attack anyone who it determined posed a direct threat to U.S. national security, anywhere in the world.”

Furthermore, acting on behalf of the United States, the president exercises this supposed right without warning, without regard to claims of national sovereignty, without Congressional authorization, and without consulting anyone other than Michael Vickers and a few other members of the national security apparatus.  The role allotted to the American people is to applaud, if and when notified that a successful assassination has occurred.  And applaud we do, for example, when a daring raid by members in SEAL Team Six secretly enter Pakistan to dispatch Osama bin Laden with two neatly placed kill shots.  Vengeance long deferred making it unnecessary to consider what second-order political complications might ensue.

How round three will end is difficult to forecast.  The best we can say is that it’s unlikely to end anytime soon or particularly well.  As Israel has discovered, once targeted assassination becomes your policy, the list of targets has a way of growing ever longer.

So what tentative judgments can we offer regarding the ongoing WFKATGWOT?  Operationally, a war launched by the conventionally minded has progressively fallen under the purview of those who inhabit what Dick Cheney once called “the dark side,” with implications that few seem willing to explore.  Strategically, a war informed at the outset by utopian expectations continues today with no concretely stated expectations whatsoever, the forward momentum of events displacing serious consideration of purpose.  Politically, a war that once occupied center stage in national politics has now slipped to the periphery, the American people moving on to other concerns and entertainments, with legal and moral questions raised by the war left dangling in midair.

Is this progress?

Copyright 2012 Andrew Bacevich.  To catch Timothy MacBain’s latest Tomcast audio interview in which Bacevich discusses the changing face of the Gobal War on Terror, click here, or download it to your iPod hereClick here to see other posts about Bacevich’s work.

(3)  About the author

Andrew J. Bacevich is professor of history and international relations at Boston University.  A TomDispatch regular, he is the author most recently of Washington Rules: The American Path to Permanent War and the editor of the new book The Short American Century: A Postmortem, just out from Harvard University Press.

Bacevich graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1969 and served in the United States Army during the Vietnam War, serving in Vietnam from the summer of 1970 to the summer of 1971. Later he held posts in Germany, including the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, the United States, and the Persian Gulf up to his retirement from the service with the rank of Colonel in the early 1990s. He holds a Ph.D. in American Diplomatic History from Princeton University, and taught at West Point and Johns Hopkins University prior to joining the faculty at Boston University in 1998.

(4)  For More Information:  other posts about our special ops assassins

  1. “Night Raids, Hidden Detention Centers, the ‘Black Jail’, and the Dogs of War in Afghanistan”, 30 January 2010
  2. Stratfor looks at “The Utility of Assassination”, 26 February 2010
  3. The biggest re-branding exercise in the history of the world, 21 August 2010 — A new image for America.
  4. Mercs spread special ops methods to corporations and (eventually) our enemies, 17 September 2010
  5. Killing the leaders of our enemy. Is this the fast track to victory – or disaster?, 25 October 2010
  6. About the strategic significance of bin Laden’s execution, and the road not taken, 5 May 2011
  7. The men of US Special Operations Command are heroes.  But are their deeds heroic?, 15 August 2011
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23 Comments leave one →
  1. jonh permalink
    22 February 2012 2:13 am

    Will this way of war be employed if there is armed conflict between the US and Iran? Or would it be more ‘conventional’?

    • 22 February 2012 2:19 am

      I doubt there will be armed conflict, though the odds of this have risen substantially during the past year. I very much doubt there will be a war. That is, that there will be more than a brief exchange of conventional firepower. Guessing, I doubt that Iran has the ability to unleash a substantial amount of terrorism on the US or Israel.

      Such a conflict might, however, further inflame sentiment against Israel and the US in the Middle East — perhaps with significant long-term effects as those governments more closely represent the views of their people.

  2. 22 February 2012 3:11 am

    They are so secretive that they don’t like their operatives to be named

    Well, having your name out there is bad news for a war criminal.

    Today’s US covert ops soldiers don’t have to worry about getting hauled into an international court, but in the future as US power collapses, the paybacks are going to be a bitch.

  3. 22 February 2012 3:21 am

    It’s also interesting to note how everyone dodges around Petraeus’ “Iraq magic” – which, as far as I have read, mostly consisted of paying tribal groups millions of dollars to “please stop shooting at us.” No doubt that’s had a positive effect on Iraq by helping establish its new middle class, but as a counter-insurgency strategy it amounts to the schoolyard bully handing out candy to anyone who will declare themself to be “a friend.”

  4. Hoyticus permalink
    22 February 2012 3:43 am

    One gets the feeling that our “Global War on Terror” is much like quicksand. The harder we “try” i.e. invade or “struggle” the deeper in the muck we slip. We essentially shattered the Iraqi state and chaos erupts, we invade Afghanistan and are now stuck in a total quagmire. Then we resort to less visible tactics, spec ops raids and drones that only kill more people, potentially creating more people hostile to the US than before. All of this plus our gargantuan “security” apparatus which gnaws away our liberties coupled with the shredding of the Constitution. However, I’m hopeful we can reinvigorate America and fix this. Otherwise, why would we all frequent this place.

  5. Drake West permalink
    22 February 2012 3:54 am

    I do not see a moral position taken by Bacevich. If there is none to impart, then I will get behind what the massive apparatus known as the Pentagon is doing. Sure they have all drank the Kool-aid, but who am I to demand new tactics. If it costs less US GI lives, less tax dollars and whacks as many baddies as possible, congrats, you have my vote. If I missed something here, as in whether round 3 ends badly, well it cannot end worse than round 1 and 2 since we did not KO our opponent, and we still are throwing punches.

    Keep swinging Uncle Sam!

    • 22 February 2012 4:25 am

      Bacevich describes a decade of failure, despite several different tactics. Your enthusiasm for failure is typical of Americans, however odd.

      As for the moral position, Bacevich spells out the questions. You demonstrate his point, the blindness of Americans to this dimenson of the conflict. Time will probably make these things clearer to America. The lesson might be painful and expensive.

    • M Shannon permalink
      22 February 2012 3:44 pm

      Always follow the money. If COIN is back in the dog house and that also rules out big ground campaigns, and a general defensive war highly unlikely as well what is the military to do with itself?

      It shouldn’t be discounted that military leaders understand that “killing the bad guys” generates more hate for the US (targeting mistakes are inevitable) and helps jihadi recruiting but do so out of personal and institutional desires- cash, service priorities, troops, and programs.

    • 23 February 2012 3:03 am

      “kill the bad guys” creates more “bad guys” – it’s a self-perpetuating gift for the militarist.

    • Drake West permalink
      23 February 2012 3:56 am

      Still FM, as I have read your site for 6 months now, you have not clearly addressed the sad reality that America is on Planet Earth and populated by Homo Sapiens. There is a limit to how much holier than others we can be. We are not Civilization 2.0 by any stretch and are doing exactly what all dominant nations/empires have done throughout history – taking the battle to our enemies in effort to protect our way of life. Are we doing it optimally? Certainly not, but better than a bunch of bloggers could do it. My interest is not piqued by your critique of the Pentagon, the White House or the American Hegemony, nor by your clever tactics to discredit any poster who prods you for the hard answers you lack.

      Take a position that teaches us some alternative concepts, not simply which piles on the criticism for obviously unpopular and distasteful actions by our government. Your ability to present topics is very good, as is your writing style and moderation of your site. You simply lack answers, and I can forgive you since it is too much to ask anyone on these heavy topics, but do not shut me down if I wish to vote for the solutions which are in place. I am smart enough to have my own opinion, and when I agree with the status quo, it should not be simply dismissed. Especially since you have no alternative.

      This may be the wrong site for me, I was attracted to your writing clarity, use of published sources and experts and popularity, but I see now the one vacancy – lack of alternatives.

    • 23 February 2012 4:22 am

      Drake West,

      (1) “you have not clearly addressed the sad reality that America is on Planet Earth and populated by Homo Sapiens.”

      Here we discuss geopolitics. Philosophy is down the hall.

      (2) “Take a position that teaches us some alternative concepts”

      No! We need no new concepts. That’s just an excuse to sit on our butts and gaze at our navels. “Mommy, we need new concepts!” We need to take responsibility for our nation. The necessary actions become clear to anyone taking that fateful step (we need not all agree on those actions).

      (3) “This may be the wrong site for me,”

      Obviously.

    • Drake West permalink
      24 February 2012 3:37 am

      Ok now we are cooking. You bolded your answer but it still does not make it contain substance. You have to convince me that taking responsibility is action. I don’t see it and your boldness does not make it make sense all by itself.

      I defy your assumption that we don’t need new concepts. I put a lot more thought into backing some of the inevitabilities to being America at this time. You do not win any points by shrugging off my request for alternatives by simply saying no without showing any proof. The burden is on you when you lay criticism. The government you chastise is going through steps to try alternatives, albeit unsuccessfully in your eyes. You offer nothing of the sort.

      This very article discusses these various tactics and policies attempted as time passes and challenges remain. It is downright wrong to say that all the chosen tactics fail and yet provide no evidence of the existence of or commitment to supporting alternatives that do work or might work or are better.

      You should want me to change my mind about your site, not blow me off. But this request will not be met today any more than in the last 25 postings I have followed which lack any alternatives. I will accept, if you admit to, that there does not need to be, nor are there any alternatives to what is currently failing in whichever topic you choose to elaborate upon. You can say that simply want Americans to take responsibility. That can be core value in play at FM. I can accept that your moral journey is to preach to us about being woken up, sharing the responsibility of our worldwide murder spree, and beginning to FIGURE OUT some new tactics.

      That is a lot different from being brave enough to put some ideas, very specific and thoughtful alternatives out there for us to debate and use as a thinking point. I was under the false impression that your particular value as host of this site was to provide not only a forum, but a framework for change, not simple a critique of the status quo.

      Having some ideas on how to be better would separate your site and you from the masses of disenfranchised bloggers.

    • 24 February 2012 4:46 am

      (1) “You bolded your answer but it still does not make it contain substance.”
      Absurd.

      (2) “You have to convince me that taking responsibility is action.”

      Absurd. I said no such foolish thing. “We need to take responsibility for our nation. The necessary actions become clear to anyone taking that fateful step.”

      (3) “I don’t see it and your boldness does not make it make sense all by itself.”

      As you state it, it is silly.

      (4) “I defy your assumption that we don’t need new concepts.”

      One disgrees with values and beliefs. One defys orders.

      (5) “You do not win any points”

      You are mistaken to believe that I care to win points, or followers, or friends. The goal of the FM website is to rekindle the American spirit. That’s all.

      (6) “by shrugging off my request for alternatives by simply saying no without showing any proof”

      Proof? You must be kidding. There are no proofs in the social sciences, let alone their political applications.

    • Drake West permalink
      24 February 2012 1:37 pm

      Drake West: You have to convince me that taking responsibility is action.
      FM reply: Absurd. I said no such foolish thing. “We need to take responsibility for our nation. The necessary actions become clear to anyone taking that fateful step.”

      I think I am asking for you to qualify this statement as it is the only offering you make besides being a journalist on this thread. What exactly will become clear? It seems that your quoted statement above is written as actionable advice, have you take this fateful step? Any “necessary actions” that have become clear from doing this?

      Anything to impart in a few simple words, related to this particular complex topic? I am surprised that you have not elaborated. You are dodging the answer to this simple statement which is of your design.

      So let’s remove the tag and just get to the point FM, as you have done some cleansing of your purpose to me in your 4th reply!

      “You are mistaken to believe that I care to win points, or followers, or friends. The goal of the FM website is to rekindle the American spirit. That’s all.”

      You do not wish to win followers, but you seem to wish to remove those who question your assessments and ask for more from you than what you continually regurgitate on your site – criticism. If you seek to have only discussion about how valid your criticism is, obviously you have found many people here who satisfy that. SUCCESS!

      Any deeper discussion or requests for discussion are not useful to you. I get it now. Thanks for playing…

    • 24 February 2012 2:27 pm

      (1) “I think I am asking for you to qualify this statement”

      Comments are where people express reactions to the post. My practice is to briefly respond to most replies, where I find it useful. No explanation is required here IMO, as my statement seems perfectly clear to most readers. I consider your questions to be silly (again, IMO).

      There are 150 posts on this subject, all listed on the FM reference page about America. That’s where to look if you want more detailed analysis.

      (2) “as you have done some cleansing of your purpose in your 4th reply”
      I have no idea what that sentence means.

      (3) “but you seem to wish to remove those who question your assessments ”
      Absurd. That word (“removal”) does not mean what you seem to think it means. It doesn’t mean writing replies you don’t like, or failure to comply with your requests for more detailed analysis or explanation.

      (4) “ask for more from you than what you continually regurgitate on your site”
      Exactly so. You can “ask for more”, but have no right to expect any response. In fact, expecting more is absurd on a free website.

      (5) “Any deeper discussion or requests for discussion are not useful to you.”
      By you, judging from this thread, yes.

    • Drake West permalink
      27 February 2012 2:52 am

      Round and round we go. You are trimming off the meat of my response to your second reply. All I ever wanted was explanation to this:

      No! We need no new concepts. That’s just an excuse to sit on our butts and gaze at our navels. “Mommy, we need new concepts!” We need to take responsibility for our nation. The necessary actions become clear to anyone taking that fateful step (we need not all agree on those actions). If the necessary actions become clear, then what are they?

      From reading your replies to me about my question of what those actions are I can only guess that the main action is to head off critique of your critiques.

      If this is the best you can offer with your millions of posts here, they are worthless. To criticize one’s situation in life from the mundane day to day, the close relationships with family, friends, neighbors, countrymen, governments and the race we belong to is not a right given by God or anyone else in this world. Free speech does encompass this activity though and we are currently guaranteed that in the United States of America.

      What would be great for those ensconced in high criticism is to point that sharp wit at their own selves and see if they are willing to listen to those how critique them with any more vigor than those these people set out to criticize in the first place.

      Criticism is a very powerful and potentially useful tool of intelligent thought and communication. It only works if the very best of the criticism is gathered up into action. Where is the action? At least where is the alternative to the failures you criticize. Are these topics to complex for that? Then just go away.

    • 27 February 2012 3:09 am

      We go round and round because you ignore the specific points I raise, and reply with material like this:

      “To criticize one’s situation in life from the mundane day to day, the close relationships with family, friends, neighbors, countrymen, governments and the race we belong to is not a right given by God or anyone else in this world.”

      I have no idea to what that refers. It has no obvious relevance to the quote of mine that precedes it. The rest of your comment also has no visible relationship to this post of anything in this thread.

      You are welcome to disagree. If you wish a response you have to first make a specific objection. Broad requests for explanation will be met by reference to other posts; nobody will write an essay for your edification.

      I suggest that you take a specific paragraph in this post and write a brief cogent rebuttal.

  6. 22 February 2012 7:54 pm

    How ironic that a Nation of such “criminal history” as the USA had “not thought of it before”; but then, when you can rig the game in your favor as the USA has all along; you “simply can;t think of everything”.
    That the world has reached its tolerance for the “Criminal Nations of the World”–such as the USA, Israel, Brtain—then those “emerging “criminal nations”—-who simply follow the lead of the “leaders” reminds one of the fact that “drones and killer squads” are “blind instruments”—and work for the highest bidder; and are recognized the world over as “high criminals-mercenaries”—deserving only executions since their “premeditated and lawless nature deserves summary executions when captured”—then, trials and the same for those who hire them. On the same hand they can be turned against the “first user” and the process can go on and on and on———–so; how safe are those who send the drones and killer squads from “the others” who “send drones and killer squads” in retaliation?
    “If the USA were any other criminal nation, the ‘Americans’ would invade the USA to keep the world safe;
    and they would be justified.”
    Hey, America, the world cannot possibly tolerate you much longer.

  7. Pluto permalink
    23 February 2012 1:38 am

    We have become terrorists in our zeal to defeat terrorism.

    • 23 February 2012 4:35 am

      “He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.”
      — Neitzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil, chapter IV

  8. Bluestocking permalink
    24 February 2012 1:04 am

    Sadly, the truth is that Uncle Sam has been a global gangster and economic hit man for quite a long time now.

    I spent 33 years and 4 months in active military service … and during that period, I spent most of my time as a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street, and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.

    War is a Racket (2003 1935*) by General Smedley Butler, USMC (1881-1940)

    .
    .
    FM note: The wrong publication date was my error, not bluestocking’s.

    • Bluestocking permalink
      24 February 2012 5:18 pm

      Er, *ahem*…FM? While I acknowledge that this is your site and you have a right to edit my posts for the purposes of clarity, readability, aesthetics or what have you…could you at least make certain that your edits are correct???? According to Wikipedia.org — which may not be the world’s most reliable source, but which I know you have at least occasionally cited yourself — “War Is A Racket” was published in 1935 by Round Table Press, Inc.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_Is_a_Racket

    • 24 February 2012 5:39 pm

      I apologize for the error. It was a space attack, as I checked two sources — including Wikipedia — and both said 1935. 2003 makes no sense, as the author died in 1940!

      Note that “editing comments” means filling out the citations and fixing HTML code. Unlike many websites (eg, Joe Romm), here we do not edit the content in any way — except, very rarely, for profanity or obscenty). A small number commeners (6 since 2007) who repeatedly violate the comment policy have their comments held for approval.

      Please give decent citations; if you quote please assume some readers will want to know who said it and when! That’s esp so as so many of the quotes posted (by others, not by bluestocking) look different when sees the citation. Sometimes they’re from fringe sources; sometimes false or apocraphal. Sometimes the title alone is sufficient to show that the quote was taken out of context.

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