The Bankruptcy of Conventional Wisdom at the Pentagon

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A fair depiction of General Petraeus and the busy uniforms of America’s generals

W.J. Astore

Perhaps the most blatant example of the bankruptcy of conventional wisdom at the Pentagon came from retired General David Petraeus in an interview with PBS reporter Judy Woodruff in June of 2017.  Petraeus spoke of a “sustainable, sustained commitment” to Afghanistan and the need for a “generational struggle” with Islamic terrorists who are located there.  Comparing Afghanistan to the U.S. commitment to South Korea, he hinted U.S. troops might be there for 60 or more years (though he backtracked on the 60-year figure when challenged by Woodruff).

Here’s a telling excerpt from his interview:

We need to recognize that we went there [Afghanistan] for a reason and we stayed for a reason, to ensure that Afghanistan is not once again a sanctuary for al-Qaida or other transnational extremists, the way it was when the 9/11 attacks were planned there.

That’s why we need to stay. We also have a very useful platform there for the regional counterterrorist effort. And, of course, we have greatly reduced the capabilities of al-Qaida’s senior leaders in that region, including, of course, taking out Osama bin Laden.

But this is a generational struggle. This is not something that is going to be won in a few years. We’re not going to take a hill, plant a flag, go home to a victory parade. And we need to be there for the long haul, but in a way that is, again, sustainable.

These statements are so wrongheaded it’s hard to know where to begin to correct them:

  1. The U.S. military went into Afghanistan to punish the Taliban after 9/11.  Punishment was administered and the Taliban overthrown in 2001, after which the U.S. military should have left.  The decision to stay was foolish and disastrous.  Extending a disastrous occupation is only aggravating the folly.
  2. “Transnational extremists”: According to the U.S. military, the Af-Pak region has exploded with terrorist elements, and indeed Petraeus and his fellow generals count twenty or more factions in Afghanistan.  In sum, rather than weakening Islamic extremism in the area, U.S. military action has served to strengthen it.
  3. “A very useful platform”: The U.S. has spent roughly a trillion dollars on its eighteen-year-old war in the Af-Pak region.  The results?  The Taliban has increased its hold over Afghan territory and Islamic extremism has flourished.  How is this “very useful” to the United States?
  4. A “long haul” that’s “sustainable”: What exactly is “sustainable” about a war you’ve been fighting — and losing — for nearly two decades?  Leaving aside the dead and maimed troops, how is a trillion dollars a “sustainable” price for a lost war?
  5. No “victory parade.”  At least Petraeus is right here, though I wouldn’t put it past Trump to have a military parade to celebrate some sort of “victory” somewhere.

It appears President Trump is finally fed up, suggesting a withdrawal of troops from Syria as well as a force drawdown in Afghanistan.  But it appears Trump is already caving to pressure from the Pentagon and the usual neo-con suspects, e.g. National Security Adviser John Bolton suggests U.S. troops won’t withdraw from Syria without a guarantee from Turkey not to attack America’s Kurdish allies, which, according to the New York Times, may extend America’s troop commitment by “months or years.”

Trump needs to realize that, if it were up to the Pentagon, America today would still be fighting the Vietnam War, rather than working closely with Vietnam as a partner in efforts to counterbalance China.

The Pentagon’s conventional wisdom is that U.S. troops, once committed, must never leave a region.  Victory or defeat doesn’t matter.  What matters is “sustaining” a “sustainable” commitment.  Hence troops are still in Iraq, still in Afghanistan, still in Syria, still in 800+ bases around the world, because any withdrawal is couched as surrender, a display of weakness, so says America’s military “experts.”

The U.S. doesn’t need a “sustainable, sustained commitment” to the Middle East or Central Asia or anywhere else for that matter, other than right here in the USA.  We need a sustainable, sustained commitment to a better health care system.  To better roads, bridges, airports. To affordable education.  To tax cuts that actually help the middle class.

When it comes to “generational struggles,” David Petraeus, let’s fight for a better America, not for sustaining troops in lost causes around the world.

14 thoughts on “The Bankruptcy of Conventional Wisdom at the Pentagon

  1. Ah, Petraeus, that scion of the Empire, forever sad that he wasn’t born in a time when he could have gone off ‘civilising the natives’ as part of the last great Anglo-Saxon Empire to try to rule the entire planet.

    I would actually be fine with the American military intervening all over the world – if it actually accomplished anything other than body counts, broken nations, and the theft of trillions of $ of American tax revenues. But the Pentagon is like the DMV, IRS, and ICE all rolled up into one bureaucratic hell-disaster that no one in power is willing to challenge.

    History shows that you can have a healthy nation, OR a (temporary) Empire – but never both. Empire relies on extracting wealth from subject populations. But there’s only so much blood in any given stone. Foreign or domestic.

    Take your pick, America – figure out how to force reform on DC, or let DC carry you to disaster.

    Oh, and anyone else notice how quickly the Syria withdrawal got walked back? Anyone else see the pattern? OIO (Orange Idiot in the Oval) says something controversial, attracts headlines and condemnation, then does something totally different two weeks later that negates the whole thing. Neither the media nor the Democrats seem to be able to see how they’re being played. This is classic American CEO behavior – create your own reality, do whatever benefits you, then when the music stops, you bail out in your golden parachute and leave the shareholders holding the rotten bag.

    America is Sears. Sears is America. And how many people still shop at Sears?

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  2. Here we go again, fellow Crimestoppers. Time for another round of joyous jeering at General Dave, the defrocked dispenser of discredited, dogmatic drivel. The U.S. military’s premier promulgator of asinine, alliterative aphorisms, counter-intuitive conclusions, and inflated euphemistic emptiness, once more reveals himself subsisting superbly on “sustainable, sustained” sustenance, namely: stuffed-shirt, ticket-punching, fuck-up-and-move-up career conflict somewhere/anywhere/any time forever. War Is Peace, Ignorance Is Strength, and Defeat is Victory.

    Consider the following fatuous flatulence:

    “I think no commander ever is going to come out and say ‘I’m confidant that we can do this.’ I think we say you assess, we believe this is, you know, a reasonable prospect.” — General David Petraeus, Commander of the International Security Assistance Forces in Afghanistan (since promoted to head of the CIA and then demoted for banging his lady biographer while passing her classified documents), regarding his mission objectives and his prospects for achieving them.

    “The inflated style is itself a kind of euphemism.” — George Orwell, Politics and the English Language

    Or, as I put the case in verse, eight years ago:

    The Inflated Style as Euphemism

    The general has started talking funny
    Like, never stating what we can achieve.
    Instead, he babbles jargon for the money
    Which means he never plans for us to leave.

    We’ve been there now so long that few remember
    How many times we’ve heard the same old song.
    Our plans, those scruffy foreigners dismember
    While we proclaim that we’ve done nothing wrong.

    The president has donned his bomber jacket
    To have his picture taken with the troops:
    For conquerors, cheap tools that serve the racket;
    For statesmen, simple patriotic dupes.

    Our presidents and generals have blundered
    And now can only stall for yet more time
    While citizens back home whom they have plundered
    Refuse to see the nature of the crime.

    We went to “war” with tax cuts for the wealthy
    And exhortations to consume and spend.
    Now broke and begging from the thieving stealthy,
    Our leaders promise this will never end.

    Our presidents and generals stage dramas
    And wave the bloody shirt while spouting gas
    To keep us safe from peasants in pajamas
    And poppy farmers smoking hash and grass.

    We did this once before in Southeast Asia
    As names upon a granite wall attest.
    The country, though, prefers its euthanasia:
    The laying of all memory to rest.

    So let us listen raptly to the latest
    Inflated euphemism coined to quell
    The slightest thought that we might be the greatest
    Bullshitters of whom history can tell.

    Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright 2010

    From “The Best and the Brightest” in Southeast Asia to “The Worst and the Dullest” in the Middle East in one generation. From Bungle in the Jungle to Debacle in the Desert. Parkinson’s Law meets The Peter Principle at the Pentagram. Just keep working the rusted levers of the shrieking, clanking, infernal Rube Goldberg Machine. Perhaps no one outside the asylum will notice the insanity …

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  3. I agree about the difficulty of knowing where to begin debunking General Dave’s dreadful, demented disquisitions on doctrinaire drivel, but perhaps we could start off with Occam’s Razor (the simplest explanation probably gets us closer to the truth):

    “All Cretans lie.” — Epimenides of Knossos (himself a Cretan)

    Truthful Cretan Liars

    I lied when I said that I spoke the truth,
    And I speak the truth when I say that I lied.
    I come from a land where they think it uncouth
    To utilize language that hasn’t yet died
    Because they prefer to sell War to their youth
    While shedding fake tears at the Peace they’ve decried.

    I tell you for sure that I mean what I say,
    And you must believe me ’cause you’ve got no way
    To know if from paths straight and narrow I’ll stray
    Whenever I want what you’ve got on your tray.

    I merely speak noises which I have observed
    Make people do just about any damn thing;
    While, still, for my own inner self I’ve reserved
    What I really mean by the sounds that I sing,
    Leaving up to my listeners what they have deserved
    For thinking they know why the words soothe or sting.

    My lies I support with true evidence scant;
    But since I regard you as one potted plant,
    I’m sure that you’ll swallow my self-serving rant
    Even though it consists of discredited cant

    I truthfully lie, and as falsely speak true
    While reason and ethics I ceaselessly flout.
    I’m Jabberwock captain of one hopeless crew
    Who followed me in where no one can get out.
    So breathe in the smoke that I’ve exhaled at you
    And lie down, saluting, the true lies I spout.

    Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright © 2010

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  4. Thank you for this. I would like a caveat on point number 1. The United States went, or at least ought to have gone, to clear out al qaeda infrastructure. It is a group with which the Taliban are not enamored with. And our military, in very impressive fashion, accomplished that goal within 90 days.

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  5. Those persons wishing to analyse ex-General and ex-CIA Director David Petraeus’ quoted comments, as well as Bill Astore’s critique of them, might first wish to acquaint themselves with the last forty years of history (1979-2019) as regards so-called “Islamic terrorism” and its roots in America’s maniacally misguided militaristic/imperial policy: The CIA’s Intervention in Afghanistan. U.S. Recruitment of “Islamic Terrorists” Started in 1979. Zbigniew Brzezinski. For those who do not wish to follow the link, I’ll post the article immediately below for ready reference:

    This text was among the first articles published by Global Research in October 15, 2001, in the week following the US-NATO led invasion of Afghanistan on October 7, 2001.

    According to this 1998 interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski, the CIA’s intervention in Afghanistan preceded the 1979  entry of Soviet forces into Afghanistan in the context of a military cooperation agreement with the Kabul government similar in form to that reached between Damascus and Moscow in the context of the ongoing war in Syria.
     
    Confirmed by Zbigniew Brzezinski, Soviet forces were fighting the Al Qaeda mercenaries who had been recruited by the CIA.  

    Amply documented, the recruitment, training and indoctrination of the Mujahideen was financed by the drug trade which was supported covertly by the CIA.

    The terrorists were recruited starting in 1979. They were used to undermine and destroy Afghanistan’s secular government. 

    The decision of the Carter Administration in 1979 to intervene and destabilise Afghanistan is the root cause of Afghanistan’s destruction as a nation-state.

    Since the so-called “Soviet-Afghan War”, the US has promoted the influx of Al Qaeda mercenaries as a means to destabilize several countries, including Syria and Libya.

    The Interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski follows:

    Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research Editor, 15 October 2001, updated November 15, 2018

    Question: The former director of the CIA, Robert Gates, stated in his memoirs [“From the Shadows”], that American intelligence services began to aid the Mujahideen in Afghanistan 6 months before the Soviet intervention. In this period you were the national security adviser to President Carter. You therefore played a role in this affair. Is that correct?

    Brzezinski: Yes. According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahideen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.

    Q: Despite this risk, you were an advocate of this covert action. But perhaps you yourself desired this Soviet entry into war and looked to provoke it?

    B: It isn’t quite that. We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.

    Q: When the Soviets justified their intervention by asserting that they intended to fight against a secret involvement of the United States in Afghanistan, people didn’t believe them. However, there was a basis of truth. You don’t regret anything today?

    B: Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter. We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.

    Q: And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic fundamentalism, having given arms and advice to future terrorists?

    B: What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?

    Q: Some stirred-up Moslems? But it has been said and repeated Islamic fundamentalism represents a world menace today.

    B: Nonsense! It is said that the West had a global policy in regard to Islam. That is stupid. There isn’t a global Islam. Look at Islam in a rational manner and without demagoguery or emotion. It is the leading religion of the world with 1.5 billion followers. But what is there in common among Saudi Arabian fundamentalism, moderate Morocco, Pakistan militarism, Egyptian pro-Western or Central Asian secularism? Nothing more than what unites the Christian countries.

    So there you have it, fellow Crimestoppers. The U.S. did not first “go into” — you know, invade — Afghanistan in 2001, as ex-general and ex-CIA Director David Petraeus would have people believe. The U.S. first invaded Afghanistan in 1979 (along with Pakistan’s intelligence services and recruited jihadi terrorists from all over the world (paid for by Sordid Arabia and the international drug trade). And not even “covertly.” I can remember seeing Dan Rather of CBS News proudly putting on his mujahadin costume and reporting “disguised” from Bin Laden’s front-line Afghanistan operation. Only back then the U.S. called Bin Laden a “freedom fighter.” Bottom line: the U.S. invaded Afghanistan and created Al Qaeda starting in 1979, long before the Taliban arose in the subsequent chaos and established some sort of government, stamping out much of the CIA-sponsored drug trade in the process. And the U.S. has continued using Al Qaeda and creating even more Al Qaeda spin-offs (like ISIS) — not to mention a revitalized international drug trade — right up until the present moment. One might almost conclude from this that some intentional, symbiotic relationship exists between Al Qaeda and the U.S. government.

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    1. A great book here, Mike, is Anand Gopal’s “No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War through Afghan Eyes.”

      One can argue, I suppose, that Bush/Cheney had to do SOMETHING after 9/11, and that punishing the Taliban for providing refuge to OBL and Al Qaeda made a little bit of sense, at least in PR terms. But turning what should have been a quick punitive raid into a full-fledged war and occupation was the worst kind of folly. It was only compounded by the Obama administration, which seemed to think they’d look tough by pursuing a “good war” in Afghanistan and empowering Petraeus yet again to reenact his “success” in Iraq with another surge in Afghanistan, which proved a miserable failure. (The Iraqi surge took a bit longer to fail, at least in American eyes.)

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      1. Thanks for the book recommendation, Bill. I’ll look into it. Just checking briefly on the internet, I came across this review: Hostile Climate, by Kim Barker, New York Times (April 25, 2014).

        Having not read the book, I do not wish to attribute to Anand Gopal opinions and conclusions that properly belong to the reviewer and/or her editors at the New York Times — like the use of vapid euphemisms such as “mistake” instead of the more accurate “crime” — so I’ll come back to my own reading of this piece in a later comment.

        As for the need to “do something” in a panic without thinking first, I can recall President Eisenhower’s famous admonition to those trying to pressure him into doing something against his better judgment: “Don’t just do something. Stand there.”

        So, yes, depending upon what one means by “something” (a rather nebulous pronoun meaning in this case, “anything”) the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Powell/Rice administration — after having gotten caught by Al Qaeda with their collective pants down while asleep on watch — could have first identified and then pursued Al Qaeda, beginning with the Saudi Arabian monarchy and the many Bin Laden family members resident in — some might even say “harbored by” — the United States itself, particularly in Texas and Florida where the 9/11 hijackers learned how to pilot civilian jet airliners in American flight simulator schools. In fact, some significant “harboring” also took place in Hamburg, Germany, where the leaders of the 9/11 hijackers originally planned their daring, suicidal attacks. And, of course, the all-American terrorist Timothy McVeigh planned and executed his fertilizer bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City without going anywhere near Afghanistan. So it insults the intelligence of a minimally sentient Planaria worm why ex-generals and ex-CIA Directors like David Petraeus would assert that planning to attack “America” (or at least a few of its symbolically significant buildings) can only happen in the landlocked foothills of the Himalayan Mountains and nowhere else. I would label him a bird-brain but that would only insult birds while overstating his actual mental acuity.

        At any rate, the alacrity with which the Bush II administration leaped at the chance to get a “quick and easy” war started — it really didn’t matter where or against whom — did not stem from panic so much as the long-anticipated opportunity to implement a meticulously prepared-for strategy of conquest and pillage. Naomi Klein has written a devastating critique of this economic strategy called The Shock Doctrine: the Rise of Disaster Capitalism (2007).

        “This book is a challenge to the central and most cherished claim in the official story — that the triumph of deregulated capitalism has been born of freedom, that unfettered free markets to hand in hand with democracy. Instead, I will show that this fundamentalist form of capitalism has consistently been midwifed by the most brutal forms of coercion, inflicted upon the collective body politic as well as on countless individual bodies. The history of this contemporary free market — better understood as the rise of corporatism — was written in shocks.”

        “The stakes are high. The corporatist alliance is in the midst of conquering its final frontiers: the closed oil economies of the Arab world, and sectors of Western economies that have long been protected from profit making — including responding to disasters and raising armies. Since there is not even the veneer of seeking public consent to privatize such essential functions, either at home or abroad, escalating levels of violence and ever larger disasters are required in order to reach the goal. Yet because the decisive role played by shocks and crises has been so effectively purged from the official record of the rise of the free market, the extreme tactics on display in Iraq and New Orleans are often mistaken for the unique incompetence or cronyism of the Bush White House. In fact, Bush’s exploits merely represent the monstrously violent and creative culmination of a fifty-year campaign for total corporate liberation” [emphasis added].

        I agree that the spastic U.S. attack on Afghanistan in 2001 had little more than public relations value for the Bush II administration who, anyway, had Iraq on their minds from the outset (as I note below in my transcription of the Richard Clarke interview), but I find the wholesale killing and maiming of impoverished Afghan poppy farmers and goat herders — simply to amuse, titillate, and terrify the somnolent, diaper-soiling, bed-wetting American public — inexcusably cynical and loathsome. As George Orwell wrote in “The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism,” the book-within-a-book from 1984:

        “… war hysteria increases in intensity as one rises in the social scale. … The slightly more favoured workers whom we call ‘the proles’ are only intermittently conscious of the war. When it is necessary they can be prodded into frenzies of fear and hatred, but when left to themselves they are capable of forgetting for long periods that the war is happening.”

        A perfect description of the easily distracted and divided-against-itself U.S. body politic and its criminally cynical, war-agitating-for-obscene-profits corporate “leadership.”

        Several U.S. administrations since 1945 (if not most of them) have “just done something” (“anything”) to initiate disaster instead of “standing there” so as to avoid predictable calamity. Yet calculated calamity — or “Disaster Capitalism” — has brought fabulous riches to a favored few global financiers who own and operate national “governments” like corporate fast-food subsidiaries while entire “nations” who imagine themselves sovereign democracies in fact amount to nothing more than marketing territories or “population containment zones.” As internationally deployed proxy-mercenary terrorists, Al Qaeda, has a lot to do with this “Shock Doctrine,” as does the CIA and uniformed U.S. military (“gangsters for capitalism,” as General Smedley Butler called himself and them). But I wouldn’t place the Pastun Taliban in the same category. Not at all. To me they seem more like the Vietnamese National Liberation Front (or, “Viet Cong”) that my own government once sent me to Southeast Asia to “Vietnamize.”

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        1. In this case, Mike, it’s both crime and mistake.

          Yes, Bush/Cheney and Crew used 9/11 to implement their dream policy of dominating the Middle East. As they said in those days, everyone wants to go to Baghdad; real men want to go to Tehran. And so they pursued a war that made Tehran stronger. Geniuses they were not.

          Of course, there are always those who are positioned to profit from war and the chaos it brings. You don’t need capitalism for this — but it sure does help.

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  6. A further note as addendum to the above history of U.S. sponsorship of, and symbiotic dependency upon, international Islamic terrorists as both proxy mercenary shock troops and principal excuse for vast military expenditures ostensibly required to combat them: a principal policy of the Global Corporate Oligarchy, enriching a favored few (themselves) while plundering and impoverishing whole nations, including the United States. From Wikipedia:

    Richard Alan Clarke (born October 27, 1950) is the former National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection and Counter-terrorism for the United States.

    Clarke came to widespread public attention for his counter-terrorism role in March 2004: he published a memoir about his service in government, “Against All Enemies”; appeared on the 60 Minutes television news magazine; and testified before the 9/11 Commission. In all three cases, Clarke sharply criticized the Bush administration’s attitude toward counter-terrorism before the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and its decision afterward to wage war and invade Iraq. Clarke was criticized by some supporters of the Bush decisions.

    From one of the interviews of Richard Clarke, this one appearing in Michael Moore’s excellent movie, Fahrenheit 9/11, in the section on Afghanistan – Going to war:

    Interviewer: “You come in September 12, ready to plot your response to Al Qaeda. Let me talk to the response you got from top administration officials on that day. What did the President say to you?”

    Richard Clarke: “The President, in a very intimidating way left us, me and my staff, with the clear indication that he wanted us to come back with the word that there was an Iraqi hand in 9/11. Because they had been planning to do something about Iraq before the time that they came in to office.

    Interviewer: “Other nations than Iraq?”

    Richard Clarke: “Not at all. It was Iraq, Saddam, find out, get back to me.”

    Interviewer: “Were his questions more about Iraq than Al Qaeda?”

    “Absolutely. He didn’t ask me about Al Qaeda.”

    Interviewer: “The reaction you got that day from the Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld and his assistant, Paul Wolfowitz?”

    “Donald Rumsfeld said, when we talked about bombing the Al Qaeda infrastructure in Afghanistan, ‘There are no good targets in Afghanistan. Let’s bomb Iraq.’

    But we said Iraq had nothing to do with this, and that didn’t seem to make much difference.. The reason they had to do Afghanistan first, was obvious. It was Al Qaeda that had attacked us. It was obvious that Al Qaeda was in Afghanistan. The American people would not have stood by if we had done nothing on Afghanistan.”

    [Michael Moore’s narration]: “The United States began bombing Afghanistan just four weeks after 9/11. Mr Bush said he was doing so because the Taliban and government of Afghanistan had been harboring Bin Laden. For all his tough talk, Bush didn’t do much.”

    Richard Clarke: “What they did was slow and small. They put only 11,000 troops into Afghanistan. There are more police here in Manhattan than there are in Afghanistan. Basically, the President botched the response to 9/11. He should have gone right after Bin Laden. U.S. special forces did not get into the areas where Bin Laden was for two months. “

    Michael Moore concludes this section of his movie by pointing out that after overthrowing the Taliban government, the U.S. installed a new “president” of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai (a former advisor to the Unocal corporation), who promptly signed a contract for a pipeline through Afghanistan that would bring natural gas from the Caspian Sea to a port in Pakistan. Moore’s final comment:

    “Oh, and the Taliban? They mostly got away. So did Bin Laden and most of Al Qaeda.”

    That ought to do it for this instalment of relevant background history. I hope it helps those who suspect a monstrous lie whenever they see the lips of a U.S. government official — especially one wearing a U.S. military uniform with stars and ribbons and badges all over it — begin to move. Just follow the money.

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  7. I noticed what reaction there was in the McMega-Media to a Chinese Lander, landing on the dark side of the moon was fear. A tremendous achievement in terms of science and technology but fear of Chinese capabilities was the reaction.

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    1. Great point, ML. I was intrigued by the photos. Who cares which country sends a probe? Shouldn’t we care, as humans, what we learn? When it comes to space exploration, nationalism makes little or no sense.

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  8. I’ll argue ’till I’m blue in the face that the media back east completely fails to understand China or the rest of Asia, and that failure is rooted in racism. Back in the ’80s there was a flurry of ridiculous fear that Japan would become the next economic superpower and a potential threat to America too. Whenever an Asian country gains any power, the Transatlantic elites – who in 1945 were more than happy to shift the center of the Anglo-Saxon Empire from London to New York/DC – start falling all over themselves.

    I suspect part of it is that they know the US West is, and will always be, intimately tied to Asia, just as the Northeast will always be intimately tied to Europe. Ocean basins are a more reliable measure of political-economic interests than continents.

    Give me 2% of the GDP of California, Cascadia, Japan, and Australia (throw in New Zealand, Hawai’i, and Alaska in there too) and I can design a Naval-focused defense organization, a more focused and limited NATO in the Northern Pacific, capable of handling China now and well into the future. China’s rise (in historical terms, restoration) isn’t that difficult a “problem” to solve – if you don’t insist on driving aircraft carriers past the coast and threatening China’s supply lines to West Asia. Hell, there are more nuclear weapons on the SSBNs stationed in Seattle than China’s Second Artillery Corps has in its entire arsenal.

    But you can see in virtually all the conventional wisdom touted by Harvard-Yale elite types a deep-seated, ultimately racist fear of Asia. An old European inferiority complex that may well drive the American empire into a futile conflict with China in the near future.

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  9. The “Yellow Peril” has in our collective European bad memories back to the Mongols a fear of the Eastern Hordes. Slowly from the 16th to the 19th centuries the West began their domination of the East: India, Indo-China, and the Dutch East Indies. The Japanese defeat of the Russian Empire in 1904-05 was a rude shock to the West.

    I read a few books years back one of which was John Toland’s book The Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire, 1936–1945. From a Japanese perspective, their expansion into the Asian mainland was no different from the various land grabs the West had engaged in. As the industrial economies changed from coal to oil both Japan and Germany after WW 1, found themselves isolated from access to oil. The oil cartel of the early 20th century was America, Holland and the UK.

    American Imperialism, now cleaned up a bit to American Exceptionalism, and aided abetted by a compliant, obedient McMega-Media must see threats everywhere. China with a goal of being a major power realized the Achilles Heal of Western Steroid Capitalism was greed. Factories could be outsourced to China free from pesky human rights, labor rights laws and environmental regulations.

    It is a paradox for America, on one one hand we want the products the Chinese and Asian countries can manufacture on the cheap. However, we do not want them to have the power to resist American demands.

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