America’s Foreign Policy and Cody Jarrett

W.J. Astore

Made it Ma, Top of the World!

A favorite movie of mine is “White Heat” (1949) with James Cagney playing Cody Jarrett, one-time gangster and all-time mama’s boy. In the famous ending to the movie, Cody finally makes it to the “top of the world,” in this case a refinery that explodes around him in a fireball that looks something like a nuclear mushroom cloud.

Top of the world, Ma! James Cagney at the end of “White Heat”

America’s foreign policy leaders remind me of Cody Jarrett. They want to dominate. They want to be top dog. They want to play king-of-the-hill, like so many bully-boys, and all that matters is making it to the top.

All this came to mind as I read Tom Engelhardt’s latest article at His article reminded me that we as Americans simply don’t like dissent, no matter how well informed, no matter how well intended. In World War I, you weren’t supposed to question a war that President Woodrow Wilson had promised Americans we wouldn’t get involved in. In the 1950s, you weren’t supposed to question virulent anti-communism; you were supposed to salute smartly and demonize all communists everywhere. Today, you’re supposed to hate Putin, distrust the Chinese, and accept fully the idea that the Pentagon is wise to wage a new Cold War that may well end much like the ending of “White Heat.”

Engelhardt’s article salutes dissenters like I.F. “Izzy” Stone, people who are willing to challenge established narratives, to work against demonizing other peoples, to work toward mutual understanding and peace. Indeed, we need more Izzy Stones in America.

These are dangerous times. We’re supposed to go along with wars, with demonizing enemies, with high military spending. Bully-boy rhetoric and tactics are touted as the American way.  Our politics is retrograde, our attitude toward the world almost childish, again in a king-of-the-hill way. (America must be king, of course.)

So I fear we may well end up like Cagney at the end of “White Heat.”  Our gangster-leaders will shout: “Made it Ma, top of the world!” as the nuclear warheads explode around us.

16 thoughts on “America’s Foreign Policy and Cody Jarrett

  1. So good to hear news that tells the truth. We who oppose the war and the way it is going sometimes feel like we are alone. Great to have company in the way we think.


  2. Bogusword
    (in approximately the accentual-alliterative Anglo Saxon style
    with appreciation for W. H. Auden’s Age of Anxiety)

    Now we know. No news.
    Silence imposed by Secret Service.
    Apparently purloined, propaganda
    Leaks loudly. Affronted flacks
    And minions mumble misinformation
    That bosses (bungling blowhards) deny.

    Hardly heroic hired help
    That Presidents pick to push policies
    Donors demand. Devious ministers
    Sabotage structure of popular programs,
    Fired for embarrassing Bogusword. Bluster
    Staining his image: Standardized imbecile.

    Accenting always a recycled rhetoric,
    Clichés and slogans cynically selling
    Old dogs as new tricks, obvious and numbing.
    Bogusword bombing for business and accolades,
    Tossing in prison the poor and the powerless,
    Peace-prizes won for the practice of war.

    Gun-selling grifters gravitate gladly to
    Tawdry, tendentious “intelligence” trite.
    Highly inhibiting proof of the pudding,
    “Likely,” or “possible,” “plausible” pandering
    Counts on consumption of credulous crap

    Bogusword’s lips, badly blistered.
    Too much tooting of his own horn.
    Both arms broken piously patting
    Himself on the back for “success.” Bullshit.

    Game concluded. Gruesome “greatness”
    Made again to grate and grind.
    Peace and freedom, precious, fleeting
    Drugged and poisoned. Damage permanent.
    Fortunes fled, few held accountable.
    Fabulous crimes, fortunate criminals.

    Global Gangsters grabbing governments,
    National sovereignty nowhere seen.
    Bogusword’s banker buddies beatified,
    Power to print all that money matters.
    Once called “Indulgences,” wonderfully dubious
    Deities promising debt-cancelled paradise
    Later. But peasants must labor presently.

    Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright © 2020


  3. An invitation to Bracing Views followers:

    Read Putin’s State of The Union address to Russia’s Federal Assembly at .

    And then read Biden’s “Freedom is at stake” comments in Poland about “the One-Year Anniversary of Russia’s Brutal and Unprovoked Invasion of Ukraine” at .

    And then ~ without letting American politicians and bureaucrats, or her pundits and propagandists influence You ~ decide for Yourself which one of those two leaders is Full of Shit.

    And if Americans end up like Cody Jarrett, Bill, it is only because we have let that happen, and deserve whatever the gods determine we will get. For details, see Jacob Hornberger’s “How Long Did Americans Support America’s Longest War?” at .

    And, Bill, i know You won’t debate whether we Americans “deserve better. So it goes.


      1. Rog. Like i said, Bill: So it goes.

        Can You explain How and Why i ~ and presumably every American ~ deserve better? And exactly what that “better” would consist of?

        Or would that be debating?


    1. “decide for Yourself which one of those two leaders is Full of Shit”

      Both. Both are full of shit.

      It would be more appropriate to compare both of their SOTU speeches being as they fill a similar function and domestic audience. Biden’s speech in Poland is of a different variety and for a different audience. That aside, they are full of shit.

      Both men are sitting in seats of power, waging non-defensive war, and relying on nationalistic propaganda to justify their reckless actions. Both could very well lead all of us to annihilation. And neither of them could give a damn about what happens to you or me. In the end it is about power, about who has it, and who yields it.

      As to Hornberger’s essay, I think he hits the nail on the proverbial head.

      “So, what befuddles me is why Alexander J. Moytyl is befuddled by the overwhelming support by Russian citizens of their regime during wartime. If American citizens blindly support their regime during wartime, why would anyone expect that Russian citizens would respond differently?”

      Why indeed. A successful leader can rally people to act against their own best interests, whether through threat of force or jingoism. Each side thinks they are right, so they cannot fathom how people on the ‘other side’ could possibly believe what they are being told. A story old as time…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Frankly, I do not find expressions like “full of shit” particularly informative. On the other hand, as inspiration for vulgar vitriolic verse polemics things like this can happen:

        Invidious Comparisons

        Effluent, Excrement, Sewage, and Shit,
        Biden: plumb full of it. Putin: true grit.
        When taking a piss, if you stand, if you sit,
        Depends on the pronoun: what you mean by “it.”
        Putin and Biden, the world will admit,
        means one giving speeches, one throwing a fit;
        where one really matters, and one not a whit;
        where one has an army, the other no kit;
        where one stages dramas, the other a skit.
        Where Putin will see this thing through and not quit,
        Joe Biden will flatulent fragrance emit
        and head for an off-ramp: in other words, “split.”
        Putin and Russia write NATO’s obit:
        Kiev and Zelenski left sucking hind tit,
        while Biden’s mouth-noises the world will omit
        as not worth a bucket of warmed-over spit.

        Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright © 2023

        Liked by 1 person

  4. “Oceania is at war with Eurasia and Eastasia… . Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia and Eastasia…” :

    CHINA, RUSSIA DEEPEN TIES AS BIDEN RALLIES NATO’S ‘FRONTLINE’ OVER UKRAINE by Guy Faulconbridge and Nandita Bose / Reuters 022223

    Summary: China’s top diplomat meets Putin, signals new agreements; Biden says NATO will not be divided;Russia reports advance in east, Ukraine says front line holds

    MOSCOW/WARSAW, Feb 22 (Reuters) – China pledged a deeper partnership with Russia on Wednesday as U.S. President Joe Biden reaffirmed security assurances for NATO’s “frontline” eastern members, highlighting global tensions as the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine approaches.

    However, a day after President Vladimir Putin said Moscow was suspending participation in a nuclear arms reduction treaty with Washington, his deputy foreign minister sought to calm nerves, saying the step did not make a nuclear war more likely.

    Within Ukraine, schools took their classes online for the rest of the week for fear of an upsurge in Russian missile attacks a year on from Moscow’s Feb. 24 all-out assault, which failed to topple the government and has long been bogged down.

    Wang Yi, the highest ranking Chinese official to visit Russia since the countries announced a “no limits” partnership weeks before the invasion, told Putin that Beijing was ready to enhance ties.

    Putin said he was looking forward to a visit to Moscow by Chinese President Xi Jinping and a deeper partnership.

    Xi is expected to make a “peace speech” on Friday, but Kyiv says there can be no talk of peace while Russian troops are in Ukraine.

    “This unprovoked and criminal Russian war against Ukraine, Europe and the democratic world must end with the cleansing of the entire Ukrainian land from Russian occupation and solid guarantees of the long-term security for our state, the whole of Europe and the entire world,” President Volodymyr Zelenskiy wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

    Russia is due to begin military exercises with China in South Africa on Friday and has sent a frigate equipped with new generation hypersonic cruise missiles. A Russian officer said on Wednesday Russia would fire artillery, but not the missiles, whose speed makes them difficult to shoot down.

    Russian aggression in Ukraine has changed the security situation in Europe, Polish President Andrzej Duda told the Warsaw meeting of nine eastern NATO members with Biden, who said Washington was committed to defending every inch of the alliance’s territory.

    “You are the front line of our collective defence,” Biden told the summit of countries which joined the Western military alliance after being aligned with Moscow during the Cold War.

    Most now count among the strongest supporters of military aid to Ukraine and in a joint declaration called for NATO’s enhanced presence on its eastern flank.


    Putin has responded to setbacks in Ukraine with veiled threats to use nuclear weapons and suspended the nuclear arms control treaty on Tuesday, accusing Washington of turning the war into a global conflict by arming Ukraine.

    Russia’s foreign and defence ministries said later Moscow would still continue abiding by the restrictions outlined in the pact on the number of nuclear warheads it could have deployed and the number of nuclear missile carriers. Russia’s lower house of parliament rubber-stamped the move Wednesday.

    Tension over Ukraine had already halted mutual inspections of nuclear arsenals envisaged by the treaty, but Biden said that by suspending the treaty, Putin had “made a mistake”.

    He underlined his support for Kyiv in a surprise visit to war-torn Ukraine on Monday and then rallied NATO allies in Poland, saying the invasion had tested the world but Washington and its allies had shown they would defend democracy.

    He rejected Russia’s assertion that the West was seeking to control or destroy Russia, and accused Moscow of crimes against humanity such as targeting civilians and rape. Russia denies committing war crimes or deliberately attacking civilians.

    NATO allies and other supporters have sent Ukraine tens of billions of dollars worth of arms and ammunition. Since the new year they have promised modern battle tanks, though they have yet to offer Western fighter jets sought by Kyiv.

    U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has warned Beijing against supplying weapons to Moscow, prompting anger from China.

    Britain has begun to “warm up” its production lines to replace weapons sent to Ukraine and increase production of artillery shells to try to help Kyiv push back Russian forces, defence minister Ben Wallace said.

    Speaking in southwest England where British officers are training Ukrainian crews on Challenger-2 tanks, Wallace said Challenger tanks would arrive in Ukraine in “the spring”.


    Russia suffered three major battlefield setbacks in Ukraine last year but still holds nearly a fifth of the country. It has launched a massive offensive in recent weeks in the east, so far making only marginal gains despite some heavy losses.

    Ukraine’s military said Bakhmut city, the focus of Russian advances in the eastern region of Donetsk, came under shelling, along with 20 other settlements in the area.

    The governor of the neighbouring Luhansk region, Serhiy Haidai, said Ukraine had repelled intense Russian attacks around Kreminna town further north, destroying several of their tanks.

    Two civilians were killed in Russian shelling of the Kherson region in southern Ukraine, and two were wounded in a missile strike on the northeastern city of Kharkiv, officials said.

    Reuters was not able to independently verify the reports.

    The biggest land war in Europe since World War Two has displaced millions, left cities, towns and villages in ruins and disrupted the global economy. The U.N. rights office has recorded more than 8,000 civilians killed, a figure it describes as the “tip of the iceberg”.



    1. Regarding NATO’s “Front Line” of Baltic Russophobic pipsqueaks, I think that Dmitry Orlov once said that when the Russians look towards Western Europe for erstwhile “enemies” they use a telescope, not a microscope (and the telescope reveals nothing of even passing interest until it comes to focus on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.

      As for the above article, I would say that the necessary Caveat Lector — reserved for the penultimate paragraph — i.e., “Reuters was not able to independently verify the reports,” pretty much neuters the more outlandish lies about Russia’s conduct of its Special Military Operations in the former “Ukraine” (killed and supplanted by the United States in 2014). A more accurate report would refer to the Interim Kiev Administration, leaving the nature and identity of whatever political entity emerges from NATO’s defeat a matter for the Russian Federation to decide.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Larry Johnson listened to President Putin’s speech and found an interesting comparison for it: Russia’s Declaration of Independence — A Review of Putin’s Speech to Russia’s National Assembly. Mr Johnson provides specific examples from the speech, but here I wish to just quote his own observations:

    Reflecting on Putin’s long awaited speech to Russia’s national assembly I was struck by some similarities with Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence. What do I mean? Jefferson started with his iconic preamble (i.e., We hold these truths to be self-evident . . .) and then proceeded to present an indictment of Great Britain that created the predicate for the rebellion of the Colonies:
    . . .
    That is precisely what Putin did in the first 45 minutes of his speech — he presented the “history of repeated injuries and usurpations” by the United States and NATO that forced Russia’s hand to undertake the Special Military Operation. Here are some of the key points:
    . . .
    Putin then shifted gears and identified red-lines that will escalate the current conflict from demilitarizing and de-nazifying Ukraine to a full scale war if the United States and NATO continue to fund the war and arm Ukraine with more sophisticated weapons. Putin said:
    . . .
    As Putin delivered his plan of action, the Russian’s reportedly summoned the American Ambassador to the Foreign Ministry and delivered a strong Démarche:
    . . .
    This means Russia is putting the United States on notice that Moscow will hold America accountable and that any U.S. military and equipment inside Ukraine will be treated as legitimate targets. As I have watched the commentary on this speech, I have seen no one pick up on Russia’s new “red line.”

    Prior to start of Russia’s Special Military Operation in February 2022, there were many in the Russian Government, including Putin, who believed that they could negotiate in good faith with the West. The events of the past year and the belligerent rhetoric from Washington politicians and Europe’s ruling class have convinced the Russians that traditional diplomacy is dead. Russia is fighting for its very existence.

    Whether you agree with this is irrelevant. It is what Russia’s leaders believe, not just Putin. The West will make a fatal mistake if they ignore what Putin said today [emphasis added].

    The Russian Federation has indeed announced its independence from the clutches of globalist corporate oligarchy. My favorite moment from President Putin’s speech came when he reminded his audience how those Russians who got super-rich selling out Russia for “shock-doctrine” quick profits during the Clinton/Yeltsin 1990s have now found themselves insulted for their ethnicity and robbed of their riches by their assumed “safe haven” — and that the average Russian feels not the slightest bit of pity for them. Good for the Russians.


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