Category Archives: America’s Long War

Our longest war, fought for uncertain goals — with no visible end.

Why are we militarizing American society?

Summary:  Previous posts in this series showed how America has militarized. Today we ask “why”? The answer is superficially obvious, but the deeper reasons are mysterious. This is the conclusion to a series about the militarization of America.    {2nd of 2 posts today.}

Purgamenta hujus mundi sunt tria: pcatis, bellum, et frateria.”
-— This world is purified in three ways: by plague, by war, by monastic seclusion (proverb).

The new Statue of Liberty

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Contents

  1. Why are we militarizing?
  2. Cui Bono?
  3. Is America militarizing?
  4. Other posts in this series.
  5. For More Information.

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(1) Why are we militarizing American society?

“War is one of the great agencies by which human progress is effected.”

— Opening of “The Benefits of War” by Stephen Luce (Rear Admiral, US Navy), North American Review, 1 December 1891. He founded the Naval War College and was its first president.

The previous posts in this series described some aspects of the militarization of American society, from our geopolitics to our entertainment. Now for the big question: why? Few people agree with Admiral Luce’s enthusiasm for war, mostly burned out of western culture by the horrors of WWI and WWII.

We know why people of the Military Industrial Complex support the militarization of society; as Ike warned us in 1961. But why have we responded so enthusiastically to this militarization? Previous generations of Americans mocked militarized states like Prussia, all those marching soldiers in their fancy uniforms while instead we built a great nation.

So I asked one of the brightest people I know, Steve Randy Waldman (he writes at Interfluidity). He replied that for 120 years foreign wars have been good for America (as a whole, with the sacrifice of only a small fraction of our people). From 1846 – 1966 — from war against Mexico to the turning point in Vietnam — wars destroyed our rivals and stimulated our economy (e.g., the stimulus of debt-fueled WWII spending decisively ended the Great Depression), often bringing us new territory.

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Are ISIS terrorists coming to America from a base in Mexico?

Summary: Arousing fear has become not just an effective political tool but a good business in our increasingly gullible America. This post looks at one example from the many in today’s news. An industry has grown to disseminate activists’ scary stories. Like the candy industry it’s big because we love their products although we know they’re bad for us. We’ll need sterner standards if we hope to again govern ourselves. {2nd of 2 posts today.}

Contents

  1. Weaponized urban legends.
  2. Today’s fear attack on America.
  3. Journalists defending us.
  4. Conclusions.
  5. For More Information.

 

(1)  Weaponized urban legends

For years I wondered what happened to the scary but fun urban legends that so often swept across America, as new ones became rare after the bogus Y2K panic attack. Had we learned? Only slowly did it become apparent that this powerful tool has been professionalized by activists and deployed against us for political effect. Amateurs’ creations can’t compete against the product of pros.

Previous posts have debunked the increasingly delusional claims by the Left’s activists about imminent climate catastrophes (either unsupported or contradicted by the work of the IPCC). Here we look at similar activities of the Right. A thousand and one posts could be written and not list a year’s fear barrages dropped on America, and their growing role shaping our view of the world.

(2)  Today’s fear attack on America

A hot meme on the Right concerns the danger from the others to the south. Hordes of young men taking our jobs. Criminals taking our goods and attacking our women. Lazy people exploiting our charity. Sick people bringing diseases. The latest concerns those others working with our foes.

Judicial Watch originates many of these stories (165 thousand followers on Twitter), aptly described by the invaluable myth-busters at Snopes in an article debunking the jihadists coming from Mexico stories:

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The real significance of our drone war, and why you’ll hear little about it in Campaign 2016

Summary: Nothing shows the decay of the Republic like our drone wars, almost mindless killing — now including execution of Americans by Presidential decree. To see how accustomed we’ve become to these steps to a new regime, this post looks at a typical story in the New York Times plus an analysis of it by an eminent law professor. Then I draw some obvious but alarming conclusions.  {2nd of 2 posts today.}

The King rules that you must die.

Lettre de cachet

The New York Times gently reports that a new “Terrorism Case Renews Debate Over Drone Hits“. Excerpt:

Mohanad Mahmoud Al Farekh, who was arrested last year in Pakistan based on intelligence provided by the United States, came after a years long debate inside the government about whether to kill an American citizen overseas without trial — an extraordinary step taken only once before, when the Central Intelligence Agency killed the radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen in 2011.

Mr. Farekh’s court appearance also came as the Obama administration was struggling to fashion new guidelines for targeted killings. The decision to use an allied intelligence service to arrest Mr. Farekh has bolstered a case made by some that capturing — rather than killing — militant suspects, even in some of the world’s most remote places, is more feasible than the orders for hundreds of drone strikes might indicate.

… The Obama administration’s discussions about the fate of Mr. Farekh, who used the nom de guerre Abdullah al-Shami, began in earnest in 2012, and in the months that followed the C.I.A. and the Pentagon ramped up surveillance of his movements around Pakistani tribal areas.

… But the Justice Department, particularly Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., was skeptical of the intelligence dossier on Mr. Farekh, questioning whether he posed an imminent threat to the United States and whether he was as significant a player in Al Qaeda as the Pentagon and the C.I.A. described. Mr. Holder and his aides also thought it might be possible to capture Mr. Farekh and bring him to trial.

We have to love this nod to the nature of “news” (aka pravda) in New America, where everything we need to know is classified secret — and anyone other than government officials giving us this information is a spy (giving info to the government’s enemies — which includes us). We not only should believe what we’re told but also be content with what little we’re told. They tell us all we need to know.

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We have so many wars because we support them. Nothing changes until that changes.

Summary: We have found so many wars, small and large, since WWII that it’s difficult to count them. Since 9/11 we’ve accelerated our game, with our military intervening across the globe. Why are we doing this? The answer is easy to see, as this post shows.   {2nd of 2 posts today.}

Personal note: Years ago I talked with one of the designers of Africom, who told me it would become one of DoD’s growth areas. I thought he was daft. They did 546 military “activities” during 2014.

Bombs for Peace

Contents

  1. We’re usually excited about the next war!
  2. We love the war once it starts!
  3. Which is the war party?
  4. The people responsible for this situation.
  5. For More Information.

 

(1)  We’re usually excited about the next war!

How many Americans supported our military actions before they began? We turn to Gallup to see our history.  Strong support after 9/11 to invade Afghanistan; moderate for Iraq #1; low for Kosovo, Syria and Iraq #2. Gallup described the return to Iraq as “direct military action in Iraq to support the Iraqi government against militants there.”

Gallup polls: support before eachwar

(2)  We love the war once it starts!

Shepherds don’t poll the flock before deciding what to do. Nor do our leaders care about our opinion when starting wars, except with the opposition so strong that we might strike back at the ballot box.

Let’s look at the past 30 years of Americans’ support of wars after our leaders have started them. Strong except for Grenada and Kosovo (over 50%) and Libya (under 50%).  Gallup described our latest intervention as “military action the US is taking in Iraq and Syria against Islamic militants, commonly known as ISIS.” S

Gallup’s surveys show that support varies by how closely the question matches the public’s “hot” button (as carefully produced by propaganda). Pavlov’s dogs responded to a bell, not a buzzer or gong.

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How the world looks from Russia. It’s a picture the US media don’t show.

Summary: The US news media flood us with facts (mostly correct), but seldom show us how the world looks like from the perspective of our foes and rivals. Here we have a senior Russian official who explains that the world is in fact far different than we see it.  That’s a valuable gift.  {2nd of 2 posts today.}

Russia

Contents

  1. New sources on the Information Highway.
  2. A Russian official’s view of the world.
  3. Who is Leonid Reshetnikov?
  4. Consider the source!
  5. What does this tell us?
  6. For More Information.

 

(1)  Finding new sources on the Information Highway

One fascinating aspect of the information highway is the trust people put into the the new sources it makes available. We see this in the loyalty of so many to DEBKAfile, run by journalists Giora Shamis and Diane Shalem, which disseminates a mixture of fact and fantasy with a strong pro-Israeli government slant  (some examples of their rumor-mongering here).

This has become even more common in the wars of Eastern Europe and the Middle East, where people offering plausible sounding details become reliable sources to their fans. To many they are more reliable than the mainstream journalists at Reuters, BBC, and the London and New York Times. It’s similar in nature to the rise in popularity of fringe science and pseudoscience, as they fill the space left by the drop in confidence afflicting most US institutions except (oddly) the military and police.

In our increasingly tribal society, people’s trust becomes unattached to our big institutions — and somewhat randomly re-attaches to new homes (much like runaway children find new homes in gangs, often cruelly exploited). That so many people credulously immerse themselves in these alternative sources — and consider themselves extraordinarily informed — gives public discussions of so many sources (as in website comments) their often mad flavor. Not just geopolitics; economics and climate change are other realms of American madness. Perhaps health care most of all, with bouts of enthusiasm from Laetrile (“the perfect chemotherapeutic agent”) to the anti-vaxers.

But fringe sources can provide useful information, if handled well. Today’s post looks at an example showing how they can be used.

(2)  A Russian official explains how they see the world

Here’s are excerpts from a widely quoted interview with Leonid Reshetnikov, an important Russian official. Red emphasis added.

About the war in Ukraine

Q: How do you think the events in Novorossia will develop in the spring and summer? Will there be a new military campaign?

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A guide to the players in the Middle East’s newest war – in Yemen

Summary:  US Middle East policy has been captured by our regional “allies”, Israel and the Saudi Princes — who work in a de facto alliance to control the region — against Iran — using the US as their puppet. Dancing to their tunes has stripped our geopolitical policies not just of coherence but even rationality. Our interventions after 9/11 were stupidity on an unusual scale. Now we’re repeating these mistakes in any even odder way. It’s unlikely to end well for us. As for the other players, it’s too soon to say who will benefit from these wars.  {2nd of 2 posts today}

“Hegel says somewhere that all great historic facts and personages occur twice, so to speak. He forgot to add: ‘Once as tragedy, and again as farce.’”
— Opening line to Karl Marx’s The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1869).

War in the Middle East

Contents

  1. Listening to exiles gives bad results.
  2. The chaos of US policy in Yemen.
  3. The goals of the Saudi Princes.
  4. Uncovering the Hidden Agenda in Yemen.
  5. For More Information.

(1)  Listening to exiles gives bad results

Let’s start with Yemen’s exiled President, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, telling us in a NYT op-ed that “The Houthis Must Be Stopped“. It’s the usual pitch from an exiled leader, as deceptive as the assurances we received from Ahmed Chalabi before invading Iraq. Niccolò Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy (circa 1517) warns us about the risks of listening to such people. Unfortunately, we don’t learn from experience.

We see, then, how vain the faith and promises of men who are exiles from their own country.  As to their faith, we have to bear in mind that, whenever they can return to their own country by other means than your assistance, they will abandon you and look to the other means, regardless of their promises to you.

And as to their vain hopes and promises, such is their extreme desire to return to their homes that they naturally believe many things that are not true, and add many others on purpose; so that, with what they really believe and what they say they believe, they will fill you with hopes to that degree that if you attempt to act upon them you will incur a fruitless expense, or engage in an undertaking that will involve you in ruin.

… A prince therefore should be slow in undertaking any enterprise upon the representations of exiles, for he will generally gain nothing by it but shame and serious injury.

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The hidden origin of the fires burning in the Middle East

Summary: After our many failures in the long war that we began after 9/11, with the Middle East aflame, a few voices ask if our actions during the past few decades contributed to this disaster. They ask us to open our eyes to see our actions in this region — long a centerpiece of US geopolicy — and their bitter fruit. This note by The War Nerd goes to the heart of the matter. {2nd of 2 posts today.}

An alliance led by the US is conducting a vast experiment in the Middle East to …

"Fight the future" by  Ramaelk at DeviantArt

“Fight the future” by Ramaelk at DeviantArt

To help us better understand events in the Middle East today we have an excerpt from an article by the essential War Nerd (red emphasis added). It’s vital reading for anyone wondering how we have with such good intentions set the Middle East afire.

Excerpt from “A Brief History Of The Yemen Clusterf*ck

by Gary Brecher, Pando, 28 March 2015

… Nasser, hope of the Arab world in the 1960s, decided that a modern, Arab-nationalist regime in Yemen would be a big move for him, Egypt, and the Arabs. Arabs were getting very “modern” at that time. It’s important to remember that. You know why they stopped getting modern, and started getting interested in reactionary, Islamist repression?

Because the modernizing Arabs were all killed by the US, Britain, Israel, and the Saudis.

That was what happened in the North Yemen Civil War, from 1962-1967. After a coup, Nasser backed modernist Yemeni officers against the new Shia ruler. The Saudis might not have liked Shia, but they hated secularist, modernizing nationalists much more. At least the Northern Shia kings ruled by divine right and invoked Allah after their heretical fashion. That was much better, to the Saudi view, than a secular Yemen.

And the west agreed. To the Americans of that time, “secular” sounded a little bit commie. To the British, it sounded anti-colonial and unprofitable. To the Israelis, it raised the horrible specter of an Arab world ruled by effective 20th-century executives. States like that might become dangerous enemies, while an Arab world stuck in religious wars, dynastic feuds, and poverty sounded wonderful.

Why do you think the IDF has not attacked Islamic State or Jabhat Al Nusra even once?

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