Tag Archives: warmonger

After 13 years of failed wars, do we know our warmongers?

Summary:  After 13 years of wars that failed at great cost in money and blood, our hawks urge that we start yet another war — in Syria. But we have learned. Some have found the courage to name our warmongers. This experience has been dearly bought, and might yet prove insufficient. Further lessons might prove even more expensive.

The War on Peace

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Don’t Fight in Iraq and Ignore Syria“, Anne-Marie Slaughter, op-ed in the New York Times, 17 June 2014  — That she sings this is unsurprising. That so many still listen is sad, an astonishing Failure To Learn.

Opening:

For the last two years, many people in the foreign policy community, myself included, have argued repeatedly for the use of force in Syria — to no avail. We have been pilloried as warmongers and targeted, by none other than President Obama, as people who do not understand that force is not the solution to every question. A wiser course, he argued at West Point, is to use force only in defense of America’s vital interests. …

Slaughter is a foreign policy insider , served under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as director of policy planning at the State Department (2009–11), and is now CEO of the New America Foundation (bio here). She was one of the major advocates of our disastrous intervention in Libya.

On the other hand after 13 years of futile war there is progress. Acknowledging the obvious truth is the first step to reconnecting with reality: “A Warmonger By Any Other Name“, Daniel Larison, The American Conservative, 18 June 2014 — Opening:

It’s a little strange that Slaughter opens with these lines.

  1. She has been a consistent supporter of using force in foreign conflicts, which is how she has earned a reputation for always being in favor of military action.
  2. Not only has she supported intervention time after time, but she has been an outspoken and vocal advocate for these views.
  3. She is notable among Syria hawks for having made some of the most outlandish arguments in favor of bombing Syria.

No doubt she has argued for more aggressive policies because she believes them to be preferable to the status quo or any other alternatives, but that is exactly why she doesn’t get to complain when critics point out the problems with her consistent hawkishness and advocacy for military action. Slaughter is one of the liberal hawks that made a point of celebrating the Libyan war as a success and as vindication for their interventionist instincts. As far as I know, she has never faced up to the negative consequences of the Libyan war on Libya or the surrounding region, nor has she applied any of the lessons that might have been learned from the Libyan intervention to her arguments on Syria.

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America’s hawks sing a song of national decline

Summary: The calls for war ring again from American pundits and geopolitical experts. No cause is too small, hopeless, or irrelevant to us — threatening war is always the right response, says a loud and influential number of Americans, to maintain our credibility and reputation. They sign a siren song of national decline. No nation, however great, can so dissipate it resources (both physical and political). And eventually they will get the disastrous war they seek.

Nuclear Kraken

Release the Kraken!     (Art by lchappell)

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This is a follow-up to About the Ukraine-Russia conflict. First, know what we don’t know.

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A flood of books published this year help us commemorate the centennial of WWI and remember its lessons. A common theme is the stupidity of Europe’s peoples — and their leaders — in 1914, so carelessly sliding into a calamitous war for so little reason.

To see how this happens, read your newspaper. America’s papers overflow with cries for America to threaten (or use) economic and military force in response to Russia’s increasingly assertive actions in its “near abroad” (their version of the Monroe Doctrine zone) — their aggressive moves into other nations (like ours into Afghanistan and Iraq).

These people’s screeds seldom balance risk with the potential gains, or measure the danger of escalation. They seldom assert that US national interests are at stake (that’s seen in the frequency of their calls for belligerence : in Iran, in Yemen, in Sudan, in Libya, in Syria, in Ukraine).

Rather they would deploy US power in pursuit of chimeras like prestige and credibility. In fact no nation can gain such things by routinely threatening force over issues in which it has no substantial interest — except through Nixon’s “Madman Theory” (based on a sentence of advice by Machiavelli), which would bring its own shattering blowback if believed (e.g., forfeiting Western leadership).

These people are the unwitting agents of national decline for America, in two ways. Even when unable to influence policy, they push leaders to greater belligerence in order to avoid “looking weak” (a bad thing in the eyes of foolish people) and losing domestic political support. And occasionally they will get their way, leading America into a new cycle of pointless conflict — diverting our limited resources from pressing domestic needs.

If left unopposed — and they are largely unopposed on the public stage (another parallel with 1914) — they might eventually get the war they seek. I doubt that will turn our well for America (It didn’t work well for Athens).

A quick look at a few of the hawkish squawks

Formally recognize Ukraine, prepare NATO troops“, Zbigniew Brzezinski and Nathan Gardels, op-ed in the Christian Science Monitor, 3 March 2014 — Brzezinski was Carter’s National Security Advisor. Money paragraph; very coy:

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Why we fight

Summary:  Today we look at one of the great mysteries of the 21st century, seeking explanations for America’s mad pursuit of foreign wars despite their repeated failure, despite their irrelevance to preventing another 9-11 (many intel experts believe we’re making another attack more likely). In their 13th years even the reasons for our wars remain unclear. Here are some guesses, which can warn even if they don’t enlighten.

War is Peace

Contents

  1. Our 4GWs are not wars
  2. Why do warmongers support them?
  3. Why do warriors support them?
  4. Why do our elites support them?
  5. Why do we support them?
  6. For More About Chet’s Perspective
  7. For More Information

(1)  Our 4GWs are not wars

Some experts on modern war, such as Chet Richards, describe the 4th generation conflicts of the post-WW2 era as something other than war. Despite the length of these conflicts (US troops are in their 13th year of fighting in Afghanistan), their cost in money and blood — they’re not war. How can this be? I have long pondered this, a question high on the long list of things I don’t understand.

Our latest failed wars give us new data, adding to Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq (even the Cold War was waged with mad intensity). Here are a few articles describing some examples of our mad foreign policy.

  1. Libya: In Search of a Strongman“, Nicolas Pelham, New York Review of Books, 26 September 2013 — “It is perhaps a measure of how close Libya is to breaking apart that two years after ousting one dictator, many Libyans are craving another.”
  2. Iraq-Syria“, Adam Shatz, London Review of Books, 29 December 2013 — “The Iraq war is not over; it never really ended. It just spilled into a new war, the war in Syria. We may one day speak of Iraq-Syria the way that we speak now of ‘Af-Pak’.”
  3. How al-Qaeda Changed the Syrian War“, Sarah Birke, New York Review of Books, 27 December 2013 — Looking at our almost-allies in Syria (before Russia saved us from our stupidity)

After writing about these wars for ten years, I believe there is no one reason for our wars. I see layers of reasons.  The last is the most important.

(2)  Why do warmongers support these wars?

We have been a militarized nation since 1940, now spending almost half the world’s total on military and intel spending. Creation of a massive warmonger lobby was an inevitable side-effect. Unfortunately, a side-effect that we’ve embraced — not fought. For details see:

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Our geopolitical experts, like Max Boot, lead America into the dark

Summary:  A nation’s experts guide it into the darkness of the future, to success or failure. And the experts choose as guides reflect the nation’s values and wisdom.  The grim events during the 11 years since 9-11 allow an accurate evaluation of America.  Read this, then make your own forecast of our future.

Invisible Armies

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”
— Upton Sinclair, 1935

Contents

  1. The fate of our geopolitical experts shows our dysfunctionality
  2. Max Boot strikes again
  3. The real history of modern insurgencies (hidden history; you must not learn this)
  4. Van Creveld gives an accurate analysis of insurgency
  5. Studies about the history of counterinsurgency

(1)  Our geopolitical experts reveal our dysfunctionality

Our expensive but fruitless wars were supported by a well-rewarded chorus of war-mongers (ie, profiting from war; details here), such as Max Boot (Council on Foreign Relations), and Niall Ferguson (Prof History, Harvard). Some thrived for only a few years, such as John Nagel (former President of the Center for New American Security). Their stream of false analysis and failed predictions didn’t dim their fame.

As for their opponents, forecasting that our wars were not worth the cost: the more accurate they were, the less well known they are. Such as Andrew J. Bacevich (Colonel, US Army, retired; now Prof History at Boston U) and even Martin van Creveld. Their insights are drowned out by the news media’s amplification of the usually wrong but useful words of the establishment’s word warriors.

Fame comes from support of our mad profitless American Empire, as successful courtiers throughout history would expect.  Our experts working the Versailles-on-the-Potomac support the large, even awesome, profits of Empire. Our troops and their families pay in some ways.  We all pay in dollars.  Our descendents will pay by the diminished future of an America whose capital was burnt abroad.

(2)  Max Boot strikes again

Look at Max Boot, one of America’s top war-mongers, who has made a good living stoking our fears, advocating new wars, encouraging us to continue existing wars, and explaining away failure in the last war. It has not hurt his career that his forecasts have consistently proved wrong and his advice disastrous.  For example, Max Boot made a powerful claim 31 months ago in ”Yes We Can … Win in Afghanistan“, Commentary, 18 June 2010:

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Do we have a broken OODA loop? Or are we just stupid?

Summery:    Three dozen posts on the FM website have described different aspects of America’s broken OODA loop. An op-ed by Frederick and Kimberly Kagan in today’s Washington Posts points to a different and darker diagnosis. It’s presented here so that we see all alternative explanations, however bleak.

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The diagnosis of America as having a broken OODA Loop (our ability to observer, orient, decide, act) has several operational advantages. It’s emotionally neutral, reassuringly technical in nature.  It points at no specific individual, assigns no blame. Best of all, this leads to a clear solution. We need only act differently: see more clearly, learn from our mistakes, plan and act better.

Today’s Washington Post has an op-ed that disproves this analysis, and suggests a darker answer.  A simpler explanation of why we cannot accurately see our world and learn from our mistakes.  Perhaps we’re stupid.

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Why U.S. troops must stay in Afghanistan
Kimberly Kagan (president of the Institute for the Study of War) and
Frederick Kagan (American Enterprise Institute)

Since appearing on the national stage in 2007, this pair have a near-perfect record of producing fallacious analysis and bad advice.  Cheerleaders for our mad vain wars, advocates for the two costly but unsuccessful “surges” (Iraq, Afghanistan), they are war mongers in the most literal sense (see What is a warmonger? Who are the warmongers?).  (For a brief analysis of their current bad advice see this post)

Despite this record they remain geopolitical gurus in good standing, their advice prominently displayed by the news media and eagerly read by both decision-makers and the public.  They are our failure to learn in tangible form.

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A warmonger review, looking at the articles advocating a US war with Libya

Summary:  It’s astonishing to see the craziness that Americans consider geopolitical analysis.  There are sophomores in other nations that would consider these to simplistic to take seriously.  That such work forms the mainstream of US foreign policy illustrates the decline of America.  Clarity and depth of thought decline first, eroding away our power and stability.

Rather than attempt to summarize their articles, this post provides brief reviews of various hawks’ cries for war.  Read the articles for yourself and decide.  Should America act as the unpaid policeman to the world. 

About the title:  for details see What is a warmonger? Who are the warmongers?, 10 March 2011.

(1)  Attorneys mocking the Constitution, crying “Hail Caesar”

Ecstatic crowds in Libya celebrating imminent use of U.S. military force against Gaddafi“, David Kopel (attorney, research director for the Independence Institute), The Volokh Conspiracy, 17 March 2011

A few points about this.

  • In a largely tribal society cheering crowds tell us nothing about the balance of opinion in full nation.  They just indicate which side we’re supporting.
  • He makes the childlike assumption that since Qaddafi is bad, the rebels must be good.  A little reading of history shows otherwise.  More specifically about Libya, see “Saving the Libyan Islamists“, Pajamamedia, 20 March 2011 (follow the links to the sources).
  • Most important, note the contempt for the Constitution shown in Kopel’s article.  He ignores any need for Congressional authorization.  He sees the President as Caesar, master of the Legions.  (This is becoming a common view.  We get to bow.  The Courts exist to arbitrate the minor aspects of society.  Things like commercial and jurisdictional disputes, what men can do with their dicks, etc.  More about this tomorrow)
  • For an alternative view about the Constitution see “Obama on presidential war-making powers“, Glenn Greenwald (constitutional and civil rights litigator), Salon, 18 March 2011. 

(2)  Putting a fake intellectual gloss on attacking other nations

Tyrannical ‘governments’ are not genuine governments“, David Kopel (attorney, research director for the Independence Institute), The Volokh Conspiracy, 17 March 2011

A brilliant and interesting article.  The last paragraph displays weak logic, IMO.

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What is a warmonger? Who are the warmongers?

Summary:  A consequence and contributor to the militarization of US foreign policy is a vast pro-war establishment outside the government.  Often funded by government contractors, a horde of advocacy groups, think tanks, and academics exists to explain why the answer to most foreign policy challenges is a large military — or actual military action.  These are warmongers, in the most literal sense of war + trader.  One who seeks to start wars.

Warmongers are not, by tradition, warriors.  The first known use is in Edmund Spencer’s The Fairy Queen (1758), Book III, Canto 10.  The warmonger is the opposite of a true knight.  Following this passage are examples of modern warmongering.  It’s time to call these things as they are.

Malbecco is the husband of Hellenore.  Braggadocchio is a knight; Paridell is a false knight.  This is a complex and subtle work.

That bold he {Malbecco} said; O most redoubled Peer,
Vouchsafe with mild Regard a Wretch’s Case to hear.

Then sighing sore, It is not long, said he,
Since I enjoy’d the gentlest Dame alive;
Of whom a Knight {Paridell}, no Knight at all perdy {truly},
But shame of all that do for Honour strive,
By treacherous Deceit did me deprive:
Thru open Outrage he her bore away,
And with foul Force unto his Will did drive;
Which all good Knights, that Arms do bear this day,
Are bound for to revenge, and punish if they may.

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