In the year 2049 …

Marching ahead to 2049?

W.J. Astore

Who says Americans can’t plan ahead? According to the Pentagon, China may exceed the U.S. military in reach and power in the year 2049. As debatable as that prediction is, you can be sure it’s fodder for officials to clamor for high “defense” budgets, if only to stay ahead of the allegedly surging Chinese.

Speaking of the defense budget, it would be an amazing thing if that budget was truly based on the defensive needs of the USA. But we Americans love NFL football and that sport teaches us “the best defense is a good offense,” which makes some sense in the NFL but not so much in war.

Defense, to my mind, is best provided by citizen-soldiers. But that old concept has been replaced by the warrior ideal in the USA. Today’s military is increasingly detached from the people even as it’s celebrated as a band of noble heroes. “Support our troops!” read the bumper stickers. But are they really “ours” if they self-identify as warriors who see themselves as something better and apart from the rest of us?

Even as Americans tend to glorify the military (as in sports, movies, and TV, among other venues), we speak with our tax dollars, giving the Pentagon vast sums of money in the name of “defense.” It’s really militarism in disguise. “Our” military is not defensive — it’s offensive and configured that way. Indeed, it’s potentially world-destroying even as its vision is world-dominating.

If that isn’t militarism I don’t know what is. It’s also the honest definition of American exceptionalism. Consider again the Pentagon’s worry that in 2049, China might — just might — have a military that’s roughly equal to the U.S. military. Parity cannot be tolerated! The U.S. military must be the world’s strongest, the most dominant, the one best able to project massive power. Why? Because we’re exceptional. And we’re exceptional because of that same military.

Something tells me that in the year 2049, China’s military will be the least of America’s problems.

43 thoughts on “In the year 2049 …

    1. Thanks for sharing the link. The article is brilliant! A logical, workable, effective plan. The premise that private financial powers seek to keep the world continually at war is an old one. It was true at least 200 years ago (probably hundreds of years before that), and it remains spot-on to this day.


      1. Denise, you didn’t go far enuf back historically! In the Roman Era, the Legions were venerated as All-Conquering, unstoppable troops for conquest of “barbarians”–any people NOT Romans!–in the name of profiteering for the dominant faction of their Ruling Class. And the factions sought to curry favor with the generals and admirals. Of course that world was very different in terms of some of the goods being traded, yet fundamentally it was recognized that Nature is the root source of all wealth. So gold, silver, ores of metals with more industrial applications, precious gems, cotton, silk, and agricultural produce were highly prized. In the history of the planet, all these things were taking place as if yesterday.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yep, agree about the Romans. They were the dominant society back then, and it was all about conquering territory and sending the proceeds back home.

          With the rise of European city- and nation-states, though, the financial interests joined hands to control commerce throughout Europe and elsewhere. Even when their countries were at war (or maybe especially when), the fat cats behind the scenes raked it in. Bankers in the Netherlands, for instance, backed any party that was likely to repay the money. So international cabals came into being, and their descendants hold power to this day.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Yes, Capital crossing “national boundaries” (which are simply constructs of the human mind) was a big development in the evolution of Capitalism. Why is Karl Marx most fundamentally despised? Precisely because he called on “Workers of all nations [to] unite!” in the struggle for liberation from our enslavement by the self-anointed Masters of the Universe.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Reading an exhaustively researched historical novel about Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell, and the developments we’re discussing were evident then. Another historical work I read told about Eric the Red. After plundering Britain and Normandy, they struck out for Greenland, but didn’t make much headway there. Next it was North America, ALL IN THE NAME of material gain. Meanwhile, the plots of Venice, Florence, et. al., were on the rise. All this to say that international control by the wealthiest probably dates back before William the Conquerer.


              1. Historically, “the King” was often just the finagler who could organize the biggest batch of thugs to enforce his rule. (But the thugs were prone to being bought off by a rival to the throne, and then it was “So long, King old chap!”) The monarchs were not necessarily noted for their gray matter, in other words. As Europe moved from Feudalism to nascent Capitalism, a little more sophistication was deemed desirable. But always the titular head of state was surrounded by his “counsel of wise heads” who were consulted on major policy decisions, which included war and peace. One year Britain and France were allies, the next they were at war again! Rinse, lather again, rinse…

                Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks, Denise. Every bit of encouragement helps
        “The real truth of the matter is, as you and I know, that a financial element in the large centers has owned the government of the United States since the days of Andrew Jackson.” ―Franklin D. Roosevelt
        That is a bit from my book, “Nuclear War: Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and A Workable Moral Strategy
        for Achieving and Preserving World Peace”
        Likewise, “America can do whatever we set our mind to.” ―Barack Obama
        Stay safe,
        Raymond G. Wilson

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Read a long article within the last year that posited that the Revolutionary War was stoked by moneyed, loyalist interests in the colonies that sought to wrest more land from Native Americans. The British policy was to live and let live, with no significant further expansion planned. Fascinating, if accurate. And an indication that the forces of wealth controlled the U.S. before it was a country.


          1. Yet the Founders deserve so much credit for the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Now, if only we could live in rough accordance with that document, as well as all those wonderful Judeo-Christian values we supposedly practice, like loving thy neighbor.

            Liked by 1 person

  1. ” The U.S. military must be the world’s strongest, the most dominant, the one best able to project massive power. Why?”

    Because the people in charge feel it’s their God-given right to dominate the rest of the world, to force-feed our “ideals” and philosophy at gunpoint, if necessary. We can never allow parity because we. must. dominate. I’m afraid the answer to the next “why” is “megalomania.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As my two sons’ high school football coach used to say: “Players, not plays, win football games.” He also said: “Offense wins games. Defense wins championships.” The US military has proven unbeatable at playing the offensive money-grubbing game. As for military championships — namely wars won and concluded — they haven’t had much luck since 1945.

    Of course, as Michael Parenti points out, the US Military’s real goals — Global Capital Accumulation and Protection of the Global System of Capital Accumulation — remain unstated and unacknowledged. And judged by their real goals — rather than their shameless and shifting “announced” goals of “democracy,” “humanitarianism,” “freedom,” etc. — the US Military Thug-ocracy, has proven eminently successful.

    When I mentioned to my wife how odd it seems that so many “Western” countries seem to act in unison when it comes to wrecking and plundering so many countries simply to make even wealthier a global class of already obscenely wealthy bankers and stock speculators, she reminded me of all those James Bond movies where a shadowy organization called SPECTRE actually ran things. SPECTRE (British spelling) stood for “Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion.”

    After considering my wife’s astute observation, it occurred to me that the US/UK/Euro/NATO Military and Political Consortium probably acts on (euphemistically disguised) orders, not of outmoded and enfeebled “national governments,” but more like a distributed network of territorial oligarchs known as:

    SPECTRUM — Super Planetary Executive for Capitalist Theft, Rapine, Usery, and Murder

    From the present look of things, I think my wife has it about right. What Michael Parenti calls “A Dreadful Success.”

    Now, as for which of those generals and admirals — if not all of them — we should vote for in November . . .

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Said the chap in the wheelchair: “Mr. President! We must not permit a mineshaft gap!!” (Or was that Gen. Buck Turgidson’s line after Strangelove raised the prospect? Oh, well.) The point is it’s classic Pentagon BS to send shivers down the spines (do the spineless have spines??) of Members of Congress, regardless of their party affiliation. So of course they will meet, if not exceed, the funding demands of the Pentagon Pig. US National Debt is scheduled to exceed our entire Annual GDP next year. Logic suggests this insanity is simply unsustainable. In the long run, The System will collapse, and of course the common folks will bear the brunt of the pain. But as Lord Keynes observed: “In the long run, we’re all dead.”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Another phrase descriptive of US Military “Planning”:

    Boobie Self-Constructed Conundrums
    (from Fernando Po, U.S.A., America’s post-literate retreat to Plato’s Cave)

    The Boobies of the U.S.A.
    Enjoyed a crazy game
    Where those they placed in power could
    Ignite a global flame
    Yet never have to shoulder one
    Iota of the blame.

    The game had “rules” that often changed
    And “goals” that no one knew,
    Except that those who “won” would be
    Restricted to the few
    Who got to feather their own nests
    While others ate shit stew.

    The Boobies made up slogans that
    No mind could penetrate:
    Those silly syllogisms they
    Constructed to conflate
    Their fabricated fantasies
    Of fiction, fraud, and fate.

    Confusing their abstractions from
    The high down to the low
    And every level in between
    Gave thought no room to grow,
    So “trivial” means just the same
    As “vital,” don’t you know?

    The fallacy of “is” and “ought”
    Did yeoman work, as well,
    Convincing Boobies that the bad
    Would always work out swell;
    Because it should; because we say;
    Because … Oh, what the hell!

    We cannot leave because we can’t.
    We stay because we can.
    We’ve formed the perfect problem that
    Confounds the brain of Man:
    The very definition of
    A fool’s Afghanistan.

    We’ve set up the “conditions” such
    That all we’ll ever see
    Are “questions” undetermined by
    Our terminology.
    We’ve “no good choices,” so we say,
    Which means we’ve no Plan-B.

    We stay to make up stories that
    The voters will consume
    Each time the last fake story dies,
    Which leads us to assume
    That next we’ll hear a “brand new” lie
    Which signals only doom.

    We stay because of profits that
    Some stockholders require
    Who claim they need more tax-cuts or
    They won’t “work” and retire.
    We stay because of nothing more
    Than that we so desire.

    We stay for wounded egos that
    Cannot admit mistake:
    Not while there still remains one chance
    To offer “reasons” fake
    For what the frauds will sell to us
    Or else just simply take.

    We will not leave because the ones
    Who launched this dreadful fling
    Demand more time to demonstrate
    Their next great stupid thing:
    One more excuse to start again
    Instead of finishing.

    Since time and blood and money comes
    From those who can’t refuse,
    This dead-beat free-lunch “warfare” stuff
    Has proven great to use
    As cover for the long-sought goal
    Of “winning” while we lose.

    Each year we have a “final” plan,
    Unlike the plans before,
    Which only – looking back – now seem
    Like such a crushing bore:
    Stupidity predicting some
    Stupidity in store.

    We stay because we stay because
    We stay because we stay.
    We stay because we won’t confront
    What made us act this way;
    So we can’t leave because we won’t,
    And that’s our “final” say.

    Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright © 2009

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Meanwhile, Putin is allegedly trying to tip the election “again” to his favorite American, Donald Trump.

    America must be the weakest superpower ever, controlled by Russia, soon to be surpassed by China. How did 2020 become 1950?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. How did 2020 become 1950? That’s easy: the very definition of a political (or social, if you prefer) REACTIONARY is one who wants to TURN BACK THE CLOCK on progress. Reagan was a flaming reactionary. Trump is simply beyond category!! His presidency would be the biggest joke in our nation’s history…if it wasn’t such a tragedy!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You know the saying of history repeating itself, first as tragedy, then as farce?

        We have both tragedy and farce, but it’ll truly be a tragedy if Trump is reelected.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. I saw a good chunk of a Putin press conference on Russia Today TV while I was in Moscow in 2013. (RT was kind of the default channel on the hotel TV system.) The man is very, very intelligent and well-spoken. He can speak knowledgeably on any topic of concern in the world today. Kind of diametric opposite of “our” Fearless Leader.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. First, Trump calls Americans who died in wars, losers and suckers….
    Now, he wants to stop funding for Stars and Stripes, a newspaper serving the soldiers since civil war….
    No cheer leading for Pentagon or Wars but is this the way to go?


    1. It’s TRUMP’S WAY, and that’s all that matters!! “Losers” die on D-Day, “winners” sprout “bone spurs” in time of being subject to call-up.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler called himself and his military ilk “gangsters for capitalism.” He also said: “Al Capone only operated in three districts. I operated on three continents.” Not exactly the usual romantic nonsense about “patriotic” American military service to “home” and “hearth” (i.e., Global Capital Accumulation).

      As for “patriotism” and “patriots,” Civil War veteran Ambrose Bierce (in his Devil’s Dictionary) defined “patriotism” as “combustible rubbish ready to the torch of anyone ambitious to illuminate his name,” and “patriot” as “the dupe of statesmen and the tool of conquerors.”

      From Michael Parenti, Against Empire (1995):

      “In 1907, Woodrow Wilson recognized the support role played by the capitalist state on behalf of private capital:”

      Since trade ignores national boundaries and the manufacturer insists on having the world as a market, the flag of his nation must follow him, and the doors of the nations which are closed against him must be battered down. Concessions obtained by financiers must be safeguarded by ministers of state, even if the sovereignty of unwilling nations be outraged in the process. Colonies must be obtained or planted, in order that no useful corner of the world may be overlooked or left unused.

      “Later, as president of the United States, Wilson noted that the United States was involved in a struggle to ‘command the economic fortunes of the world.’”

      In other words:

      Poverty Draft

      Racketeers for corporations,
      Thug enforcers for the banks,
      Told that they defend their nations,
      Paid with, “For your service, thanks.”

      Global oligarchs give orders.
      “Governments” then fall in line.
      Capital observes no borders:
      “Everything I want is mine.”

      Single customer provided.
      No-bid profits guaranteed.
      Back home keep the proles divided.
      On each other, let them feed.

      Jay Gould said that he could hire
      One half of the working class,
      Then tell them to aim and fire
      At the other half’s bare ass.

      They would do it, too, no question,
      Soldiers, cops, and prison guards.
      Set off by a mere suggestion,
      Money sends its least regards.

      Mercenaries, contract killers,
      Merchants of their own demise
      Answered ads for “graveyard fillers”
      Makes no difference just who dies.

      Uniformed or not, still suited:
      Smedly Butler, Al Capone.
      Continents and districts looted.
      Most will pay while few will own.

      Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright © 2019

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Trump’s critique of military members as suckers and losers recalls “The Godfather.” When the youngest Corleone, Michael, signs up for the military, his oldest brother, Sonny, played memorably by James Caan, erupts in anger, calling them “saps” for “risking their lives for strangers.” Then he nails Michael by saying he went to college “to get stupid.”

    This is Trump. Only “saps” fight for country. Smart guys fight for family and power in their own neighborhood. Hey, it seems to have worked for him …

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Speaking of “Trump’s critique of military members as suckers and losers,” some relevant context would help. As in the following:

      Michael Tracey @mtracey “It’s extremely unlikely that the quotes are outright fabricated. But it’s extremely *likely* that they have been divorced from this explanatory context, which has been a recurring theme of the Trump Administration, and framed in such a way as to make Trump look as bad as possible.” [emphasis added].

      And the explanatory context to which Michael Tracey referred:

      Ross Douthat @DouthatNYT “Any military-sourced report on Trump’s awful character, esp. w/a years-old anecdote, should be 1) assumed true and 2) interpreted as part of the policy battle between a president who wants to pull troops from Syria/Afghanistan and a defense establishment that wants to stop him.”

      Now I, for one, most definitely DO NOT (1) assume the truth of “military sourced reports” any more than I credit those of the so-called WMD “intelligence community.” But I do recognize the truthful context of (2) the policy battle between a president who wants to pull troops from Syria/Afghanistan and a [PERMANENT WAR] establishment that wants to stop him.”[emphasis added].

      This dust-up, to me, means that certain members of the US military are leaking scurrilous, slanted aspersions against the character of their Commander-in-Chief whom — regardless of personal quirks or foibles — these leakers have sworn to obey without question. At least, that is what these pompous ass holes would publicly swear. If these men and/or women in uniform do not wish to execute the President’s policy, fine and understandable. But then they should resign and go find some sort of gainful employment in the “free market” civilian economy.

      Now, I support President Trump’s alleged policy (if one can take him at his publicly spoken word) of withdrawing US military (and associated corporate/mercenary) forces from Afghanistan and Syria (just for starters). That he has failed miserably to execute this policy and see it through to completion disappoints (but does not surprise) me. As Patrick Lawrence has said: “After three and some years, I don’t think Trump has the grounding or consistency to get any such thing done. Washington is simply too much for him.” [emphasis added]

      That the US military establishment (especially its “higher” echelons) has stooped to such backstabbing, mealy-mouthed tactics, however, inclines me to consider President Trump’s characterization of them — in the context of this policy battle — unreasonably charitable, if anything. How I wish I could get through to President Trump and school him in the only thing he has to say to the Joined Chefs of Stuff in response to their interminable alibis for failure and implacable demands for “more”:

      If you knew what to do, you’d have done it already. If you could have, you would have; but you didn’t, so you can’t. Time’s up.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. President Trump, like all US presidents new on the job, found out the hard way what JFK learned too late in his young life. As David Halberstam tells the story in his classic tale of deadly bureaucratic inertia, The Best and the Brightest [emphasis added]:

        “The Kennedy commitment changed things in other ways as well. While the President had the illusion that he had held off the military, the reality was that he had let them in. They now began to dominate the official reporting, so that the dispatches which came into Washington were colored through their eyes. Now they were players, men who had a seat at the poker table; they would now, on any potential dovish move, have to be dealt with. He had activated them, and yet at the same time had given them so precious little that they could always tell their friends that they had never been allowed to do what they really wanted. Dealing with the military, once their foot was in the door, both Kennedy and Johnson would learn, was an awesome thing. The failure of their estimates along the way, point by point, meant nothing. It did not follow, as one might expect that their credibility was diminished and that there was now less pressure from them, but the reverse. It meant that there would be an inexorable pressure for more – more men, more hardware, more targets – and that with the military, short of nuclear weapons, the due bills went only one way, civilian to military. Thus one of the lessons for civilians who thought that they could run small wars with great control was that to harness the military, you had to harness them completely, that once in, even partially, everything began to work in their favor. Once activated, even in a small way at first, they would soon dominate the play. Their particular power with the Hill and with hawkish journalists, their stronger hold on patriotic-machismo arguments (in decision making they proposed the manhood positions, their opponents the softer, or sissy, positions), their particular certitude, made them far more powerful players than men raising doubts. The illusion would always be of civilian control; the reality would be of a relentlessly growing military domination of policy, intelligence, aims, objectives and means, with the civilians, the very ones who thought they could control the military (and who were often in private quite contemptuous of the military mind), conceding step by step, without even knowing they were losing.”

        Game Over. A long time ago. But do make certain that you vote for your favorite generals and/or admirals this November. A President Trump would like to subdue the out-of-control US Military, but can’t. A President Biden wouldn’t understand the concept of controlling them (if he could even remember where his wife — or Michèle Flournoy — put his diapers). More Imperial China-Bashing Militarism or More Imperial Russia-gating Militarism. Another typical take-it-or-take-it” “choice”:


      2. Members of the military do not swear to obey the president without question. They swear an oath to the Constitution. This distinction is absolutely vital.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Of course it’s been precisely Trump’s perception that some members of his “team” have failed the Personal Loyalty test that led to their hitting the Exit door. He declares them, also, whether they’d come from a military background or not, to be “losers.” In the regular civilian world, we call these folks “disgruntled former employees”!

          Liked by 1 person

        2. First of all, the superlative adjective “vital” means “a matter of life or death.” I don’t see any military officers living or dying — or even suffering mild indigestion — because they refuse to obey the orders of their Constitutionally mandated Commander in Chief, an office created by the Constitution that they claim to serve. Splitting semantic hairs as a defense of wilfull insubordination does not impress or convince me of anything.

          Second, nobody in the military in which I served gave a damn about that “without question” dodge. As long as I did what someone told me to do, nobody cared if I “questioned” it or not. Enlisted men do not even use the word “question.” We used to call that sort of thing “bitching.” Everybody did it and it changed absolutely nothing. From my first day of Basic Indoctrination, I kept hearing “That sounds like a personal problem, lad,” if ever I thought to utter reservations about the wisdom of doing something obviously stupid and counterproductive. “If it moves, salute it. If it doesn’t, paint it. Them’s the only two rules you need to understand, boot.”

          When I served in the US Military, I had to swear an oath to obey the lawful orders of those in the chain of command appointed over me who exercised their authority — so I understood — as provided by the US Constitution. Officers obtained their commissions — and even their social status as “gentlemen, I seem to have read somewhere — “by act of Congress,” an institution also created by the Constitution. When compelled to salute officers I did not even know, I received an explanation to the effect that I should “salute the rank” of the person in question not the individual person wearing the uniform. If I did not follow those orders, the military had several disciplinary/compulsory options to obtain my cooperation, including reduction in rank, prison, and/or dishonorable discharge with loss of all pay and benefits (like the G.I. Bill which I needed to return to college).

          I go over all this as background context for my statements above that military officers swear to “follow the orders” of the President — as a duly established constitutional office (or “rank”) — regardless of the personality occupying that office at any given time. I believe I understand this correctly. Military officers do not obey “Donald Trump.” They obey the Constitutional office of President and Commander in Chief. If they can’t do that in good conscience, then they — unlike enlisted men — can resign their commissions. If I remember correctly, General Douglas MacArthur thought he obeyed “the Constitution” and not President Harry S. Truman. But President Truman, and not the Constitution, fired him. That seems to have made the point rather convincingly. Just not convincingly enough, apparently. Too many wannabe MacArthurs apparently infest the US military establishment today.

          I do not seem to hear much these days about military officers resigning in protest as a result of their disagreements with orders received from their current Commander in Brief, much as I wish that exceedingly large numbers of them would do so. I interpret this state of affairs to mean — paraphrasing an old Soviet Union joke — that “the President will pretend to command these officers and they will pretend to obey him.” Yes. I think I’ve got that about right.

          Anyway, trying to split hairs about whether military officers have to obey “The Constitution” or “the person” occupying the constitutionally created office of President does nothing to resolve the issue of willful insubordination. If military officers reserve to themselves the option of obeying or disobeying orders depending upon their own interpretation of the Constitution, then that, to me, smacks of George W. Bush’s dog-whistle Jesus claim that he listened to “a higher father” rather than his earthly one. I don’t buy it.

          My translation of all this for those military officers who require the simplest explanation of their duty: “Get out of Afghanistan and Iraq and Syria (and Germany, etc.) or get out of the military. Better yet, do both. Easy enough for even officers and gentlemen by act of Congress to understand.


          1. Repeating myself: An officer’s oath is to the U.S. Constitution. It is not to the president, and it most certainly isn’t to obey his orders without question.

            This is a vital distinction. It sure was to me.

            Liked by 1 person

    2. Trump’s loud initial denials of his D-Day comments just add fuel to accepting the reports as accurate. CNN today has a headline about Trump having declared he “couldn’t understand why any American would go fight in Vietnam.” Well, he’s onto something there. But remains the “minor” problem that he avoided risk of participation by miraculously growing “bone spurs,” never protested the genocide going on. Daddy Trump would not have approved. He has arrogantly refused to ever offer proof he had such an affliction, just as he still refuses to have his tax returns go public. And really, if Daddy hadn’t kept him out of the military, why would we believe he would’ve been assigned MOS 11-B, Infantry Rifleman?? If he couldn’t get a Commissioned Officer slot (he wouldn’t have been invited on basis of his brilliant intellect, methinks), he might’ve ended up a Company Clerk stateside! (Did he learn how to type while in school?) The Army offered ME application to be an Officer. I laughed in its collective face!


  8. How I wish that President Donald Trump would round up all his stuffed-shirt, ticket-punching generals and admirals and send them (for the duration) first to Afghanistan, then to Iraq, then to Libya, then to Syria, then to every last outpost of empire — one by one until they had “won” by actually finishing all the fights they and their kind had started just because they felt like it and because they could. America even has a rousing “patriotic” song with which to send the walking Christmas-tree decorations off on their (hopefully) last deployment:

    Bon Voyage, you ever-victorious Visigoths. Tell the Valkyries in Valhalla we proles said “Hi.”

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Again, the imperial policy at stake here:

    Michael Tracey @mtracey · 7h “Debating whether Trump has sufficient personal reverence for “the troops” is a lot more convenient than debating Trump’s actual foreign policy record, because Biden/Dems haven’t proposed much in the way of an alternative — except to “Get Tougher,” whatever that means exactly.”

    Yes. President Trump thinks so little of our Vaunted Visigoths that [those “hawks” surrounding] Joe Biden must replace Trump so that the US can “respectfully” (if not reverently) deploy even more of them abroad, right up to the borders of Russia and China and Iran where they will brandish missile batteries, B-52 bomber squadrons, and aircraft carrier battle groups hoping that . . .

    President Trump has obviously lost any and all control over the US military establishment. They think — with good reason — that they have him on the run. He thought he could appease them by giving them everything they asked for, expecting — foolishly — that they would then have no excuse for not “winning” something for which Trump could claim credit. As I noted above in my citation from David Halberstam’s The Best and the Brightest, the military brass, once allowed even a sniff of a “war” anywhere, will produce nothing but the same old alibis and demands for more of everything. President Trump has perhaps learned something about them. But he has most likely learned it too late.

    Now President Trump must deliver an actual, completed, wrapped-up, brought to a close, terminated, discontinued, finished, ended “war.” And he must do this before November 3, 2020. The US military and CIA will try to sell him on the old Kissinger “Peace is at hand” trick, but he must see through this obvious gambit and fire insubordinate appointees by the planeload if he must. If he had read any Machiavelli, he would have done this on Day One of his administration instead of waiting until two months before the end of his term. He doesn’t have much time.


      1. Thank you.
        If Trump is re-elected in November, will we be able to absolve the Americans this time?

        Like all snobs, we’ve taken the view that the current president does not really represent US values, writes Robert Fisk
        At some point in the next two months, we are going to have to decide whether to absolve the American people if they re-elect Donald Trump. There was a time in 2016 – although Michael Moore was already describing the candidate as a “wretched, ignorant, dangerous part-time clown and full-time sociopath” – when we might have excused the US electorate if it turned out that they had made a mistake the first time around.

        Even Democrats were still braying stupidly after the election that perhaps Trump would become “presidential”. But those excuses are no longer available.

        For some nations, it doesn’t matter. Ask the Arabs. It’s an odd phenomenon that when Arabs are forced to vote for their local tyrant in totally fraudulent elections, we forgive them for their choice on the grounds that the polls are a farce or that they have no alternative, or because – let us speak frankly – they are only the Arab “masses” and we westerners far prefer to deal with their masters on the basis of whether those dictators do what we want them to do. It’s even more bizarre that the higher the fake election percentage dreamed up by the autocrats – and the more they are “onside” – the more we acknowledge their power, and go along with what they say.

        Thus after Field Marshal Abdel Fattah el-Sisi – whose security services had killed thousands of Egyptians, imprisoned tens of thousands more and destroyed free speech – “won” the 2018 Egyptian presidential election with 97 per cent of the vote, Trump called Sisi on the phone to offer “sincere congratulations”. A year later, he was calling Sisi his “favourite dictator”. But when poor old Alexander Lukashenko boasted a mere 80.1 per cent of the presidential vote in Belarus this month, Trump talked of a “terrible situation” in the country.

        This goes on and on. No one questions the affection of Jordanians for their plucky little King Abdullah – although no one has ever asked Jordanians to vote in a monarchical (or even presidential) election. Anyway, we know what the results would be. As for the old Shah of Iran, he didn’t need to win non-existent elections after Jimmy Carter notoriously spoke of “the respect and the admiration and the love which your people give to you” when he dined with the Shah in Tehran in 1977. This was almost Trumpian in its unreality. It was a bit much, needless to say, when Saddam Hussein won a 2002 referendum with 100 per cent of the vote – after all, we were already setting him up as the Arab Hitler for the following year’s invasion.

        But in 2014, Assad claimed an 88.7 per cent presidential election victory, which Russia approved – charitably acknowledging than an awful lot of Syrians could not vote because of the civil war – and for which Assad was congratulated by none other than Alexander Lukashenko and by Afghanistan (whose fake presidential elections brought forth Barack Obama’s congratulations for Hamid Karzai in 2009). Trump’s “advisers” managed to dissuade him from also congratulating Assad.

        So when it comes to the citizens of these countries, we don’t really take them into account. We know what their votes are worth. That’s why, so conscious are we of the oppressive nature of their Arab regimes that when we are about to bomb them, we go to great lengths to assure the Arabs who live in the Middle East that we are not actually against them – only their dictators. Of course, whenever a US president announces that he is “not against the people of Libya/Iraq/Syria” (delete as appropriate) – and merely against their tyrants – you can be sure that the millions of civilians living within their borders should take to their air raid shelters. The enormous respect, admiration and love that we feel for the Arabs when we go to war is not going to save them from our missiles. Look at Tripoli, Baghdad, Mosul, Raqqa.

        In fact, Iraq provides the most potent example of why Arabs should be wary of all those American professions of affection. Of the tens of thousands of Iraqis who died most terribly under American firepower in the years following the overthrow of Saddam in 2003, many undoubtedly possessed the democratic vote specifically vouchsafed to them in the elections that followed the Anglo-American invasion. They actually did, thanks to the invasion, have a say in the future of their country. Much good did it do them once they were dead.

        When it comes to the west, however, a different set of standards applies. On this day, the anniversary upon which Britain and France “drew the sword” for more-or-less democratic Poland in 1939, it’s worth recalling that despite massive violence and intimidation, Hitler never did win a majority in democratic elections in Germany – it was the Nazis’ subsequent “Enabling Act” which gave him dictatorial powers. However, no one doubted that the majority of Germans supported Hitler once the Second World War began, and so there was little sympathy for the German civilian victims of that conflict (save for folk like the Bishop of Chichester, Vera Brittain and, once, Winston Churchill). They were not absolved from Hitler’s crimes.

        Interestingly, we gave the Italians an easier time, although Mussolini, after violence and intimidation, did win a majority in the 1924 elections. Perhaps because he was a buffoon and less obviously evil than Hitler – and especially because the country changed sides in 1943 – the Italians were forgiven. Mussolini, like Trump, was preposterous, wicked, wretched, ignorant, sociopathic – Moore’s words do apply here too – but was dispatched with a bullet and a ritual gas-station hanging (upside down), which somehow absolved his people. We shall necessarily avoid here all mention of fascist dictators Franco and Salazar (because they helped the Allies when Hitler was obviously going to lose). Portuguese neutrality was thus more worthwhile than Irish neutrality, which was undoubtedly supported by the people who democratically elected Eamon de Valera as their Taoiseach. But Britain wanted the old royal navy treaty ports back in 1940 and the Irish would not give them back – so Churchill did not forgive them. Nor, later, did the Americans; Ireland’s attempt to join the new United Nations was delayed.

        In Europe today, I suppose Hungary’s Orban – a bit of a buffoon but autocratic nonetheless – comes closest to Mussolini, although no one challenges the right-wing populist results of Hungary’s elections, even though its conduct was flawed. New legislation allows Orban to rule by decree. It’s the sort of sleight-of-hand we might have expected to see in the 1930s. Poland’s elections have a better track record, albeit with xenophobic election campaigns, and so there’s not much we can do to change the undemocratic aspects of its results. But these are eastern (or central) European countries and we probably still have a guilty conscience for leaving them – especially Poland – to endure Russia’s hegemony for more than four decades.

        When the UK voted to leave the EU, we could claim – with very good reason – that the electorate had been bamboozled, lied to, indeed that the very referendum was ill-constructed. Many Europeans – and an awful lot of Britons – regarded this as an aberration. Last year’s general election changed everything, however. There could be no more washing-of-hands on Britain’s behalf. Its people could no longer be absolved of their sins. Claiming that the UK’s retreat from Europe merely reflected its retreat from empire – Palestine, India, perhaps the last hurrah at Suez – was no longer enough to forgive its people for their folly.

        Where does this leave America? We’ve all more or less decided to hold our breath until November on the grounds that this will be the country’s moment to turn around, regain its old prestige, and for its Democratic victors to say “sorry” to us all for the insane Trump years. Like all snobs, we’ve taken the view that Trump did not really represent American values – any more than the Arab dictators reflect the views of their people. In fact, we’ve rather treated the United States as if it really was a tyranny, its demented president a cross between the glitz of Mohammad bin Salman and the brain-cracked Gaddafi. My colleague Patrick Cockburn has slyly spotted the parallels with Saddam.

        We’ve hoped and prayed and fooled ourselves into believing this was only a temporary autocracy, a deviation, an old and reliable friend suffering from a serious but ultimately curable mental illness. Yet the more I watch the Democratic elite lining up behind the deeply uninspiring Joe Biden, tiptoeing between condemnation and cliche – who would believe we would hear the old man talking to his supporters this week about “healing” and “moving forward”? – the more I wonder how we will view Americans if the Trump years become the Trump era; or if his dreadful, ambitious family transform themselves into the Trump Caliphate. Certainly, the old Stalinist and Iron Curtain language about imperialism and its “running dogs” will re-emerge in new form.

        How will we react if the line is crossed, if the America we felt we could always ultimately rely on – when they’ve straightened out their little Trump misadventure – turns into the nation we can never trust?

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        1. I skimmed the article. To what extent does Trump’s towering racism represent “the real America”? Well, there’s a referendum on that coming up in less than two months, assuming Election Day isn’t postponed due to a convenient National Emergency. (And we must bear in mind this POTUS has openly announced he is moving to rig the election anyway.) We may fairly ask the self-described snob (I assume this was a little Brit joke) who penned the article “To what extent does Boris Johnson represent ‘the real UK’?” After all, the Brexit movement was founded on xenophobia. “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” It appears the occasional commenter here at Bracing Views, Bill Heffner, had a finger on the pulse of Team Trump’s strategy gurus. This weekend, The Donald is on the warpath against “The 1619 Project,” saying it’s being used as a teaching tool in some public schools and that he will have this investigated. I haven’t read a single word of this series on NY Times (I don’t even know if Times originated it), but I know its subject is the history of slavery in USA and its rippling impact on our society down thru the centuries. Thus, Trump wants this history erased. This is just one of a series of red flags he waves in front of his racist base. Should a (putative!) President Biden “have to” apologize to the world for the US’s Trump years? Well, I don’t really picture that happening. But if the Dems manage to once again lose in the race for the highest office in the land, I’d say the Democratic Party Machine ought to apologize for the pathetic choice of their two most recent POTUS candidates!!

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