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May 28, 2004

Comments

"ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant"
-Cornelius Tacitus

Of course, he made it up, no one ever accused the Romans literally of making desolation and calling it peace, but there's a point in there somewhere.

Awesome comment James!

Platitudes aside, this die was cast before most of us were born. When war-weary America decided to seek peace rather than confront the Soviet Union following World War II it was—surely unbeknownst to Americans at the time—a decision to militarize the nation permanently. Most of us have known nothing else but a United States pretty much unrecognizable to a pre-WWII citizen.

And now with the nuclear genie completely out of the bottle it's a tiger we won't be dismounting any time soon.

More than forty years of Cold War created significant changes. The Forever War that seems pretty likely now will change us and the entire world in ways I don't much care for.

Awesome comment James!

Been on my mind for a bit over a year now...

Perhaps I am misreading this, but it seems to me that he is talking about how, due to advances in information technology, modern warfare requires that a military attends to the immediate political aspects of its actions more closely than in the past. Rather uncontroversial, I would think.

I fail to see why liaising with (and paying off, in some cases) local groups to resolve conflicts like Fallujah is a sign of bad things to come, especially from your point of view. I say this assuming that you would not want to pound the place into dust. That would be the WWII approach, as it seems to be considered here.

The place where I think that Wretchard's analysis may be flawed is in assuming that the current extreme aversion to civilian casualties will continue into the future. It may be that we will see a return to the tactics of cruel overwhelming force from WWII (and Caesar's time), not because we forsake imperialism, but because we do not care about other people. That, I would think, is the more frightening future.

Again, perhaps I am misreading this.

Perhaps I am misreading this, but it seems to me that he is talking about how, due to advances in information technology, modern warfare requires that a military attends to the immediate political aspects of its actions more closely than in the past.

It goes a bit deeper than that, Nathan. It's suggesting we break down the wall that separates the military from domestic services, and build a government that is one big war-fighting machine. Essentially, that we become Sparta.

Dave argues that we've been on that path since WWII, but the peace protest in the Vietnam era illustrate that effort wasn't quite successful.

The problem I have with total this concept is that a society built to fight wars will find wars where none need be fought. Professionalims abhors a vaccuum.

Oh, please. That's like saying the firemen are going to go around putting out people's furnaces, if the lack of actual fires is boring them enough.

Mr. Schuler is making arguments that were cogently propounded by the Old Right of the pre-Second World War era: arguments about the inseparable links between war and the growth of the State. They were strong arguments, never really refuted; just dismissed and ignored.

Oh, please. That's like saying the firemen are going to go around putting out people's furnaces, if the lack of actual fires is boring them enough.

Been reading Farenheit 451 again, Slarti?

Besides, we're not talking about making other governmental departments ann integral part of our fire prevention efforts. We are talking about making "the Departments of State, Treasury, Commerce, Justice, the CIA, the FBI and (as needed) Agriculture, Health and Human Services, the Office of Economic Advisors and Labor" an integral part of the war effort though.


We are talking about making "the Departments of State, Treasury, Commerce, Justice, the CIA, the FBI and (as needed) Agriculture, Health and Human Services, the Office of Economic Advisors and Labor" an integral part of the war effort though.

We are? Do you think a given battle plan will have to have the approval of, say, DoL?

I think you're reading rather more into those statements than is actually there. And you're also reading more into the Caesar and Napoleon comments than is actually there.

"The wars of the future will not be fought on a battlefield or at sea. They will be fought in space or possibly on top of a very tall mountain. In either case, most of the actual fighting will be done by small robots and as you go forth today, remember always, your duty is clear: to build and maintain those robots. Thank You." - Commandant of the Rommelwood Military Academy

I think you're reading rather more into those statements than is actually there.

I disagree Slarti.

From the Leonhard article:

At present, most of these agencies of the U.S. government lack a mission to assist in foreign policy, but this must change. The elements of national power--the integration of which is crucial to effective grand strategy--reside in these agencies. They must become players in war and peace.

Edward,

I think that I now better understand what it is that you are saying.

Leonhard is arguing for interagency task forces to better deal with the political aspects of warfare. I find this uncontroversial. Do we not want greater cooperation and sharing of information between government departments? They still would have separate oversight, so I do not understand what the problem is.

You seem to be saying that greater inter-departmental cooperation at the local level could lead to a fundamental change of America into a militaristic and perhaps imperial nation. I must admit that this sounds nonsensical to me. I think that you are reading too much into this.

I think, Edward, that you're refusing to see the rather large distinction between "assist" and "execute", as far as warfighting goes.

I think that you are reading too much into this.

Nathan, meet Slarti.

I see it as my job, as a liberal, to imagine where "innocent, well-meaning" ideas may lead. In this case, I imagine a turf battle between Rumsfeld, who wants DoL resources say, and Elaine Chao. Now I don't know Secretary Chao personally, she may be perfectly able to stand up to Rumsfeld, but I wouldn't bet on it.

Breaking down the wall that's between them now, further exposes Chao to Rummy's sense of entitlement. Personally, I don't like the places that scenario takes my imagination.

Perhaps, Edward, you need to have this article translated to American English from the USArmy dialect. The short version is this:

Our forces need to become more highly trained in urban combat, since that appears to be be more of the norm these days. We should reformulate training scenarios to include a lot more of that, and keep other government agencies in the loop to a greater extent.

The horror.

And again, Edward, I invite you to re-read the piece, and tell me where he's saying other government agencies will have any decision-making capacity at all, as far as combat is concerned.

Good God, Slarti, it's not the government agencies making combat decisions I'm worried about. It's the military making decisions for the government agencies that give me nightmares.

Paul Cella:

Mr. Schuler is making arguments that were cogently propounded by the Old Right of the pre-Second World War era: arguments about the inseparable links between war and the growth of the State.

Didn't claim they were new arguments. I'm really just pointing out that Edward's not telling us anything new. It's already been true for 50 years and seems likely to accelerate.

I'm reminded of the lines from The Tempest:

MIRANDA:

O brave new world,
That has such people in't!

PROSPERO
'Tis new to thee.

We forget Prospero's response.

Edward,

It seems to me (a civilian) that Leonhard raises some good points about the changes in how urban conflicts need to be handled.

If his analysis is correct, we must deal with these changes somehow. Either that is handled within the military, or it is handled with the assistance of other departments. I find the idea of military duplications of some civilian agencies to be a more threatening scenario than the stated alternative.

I do not think that anyone wants a military that is capable of doing the jobs of other departments.

Tell me where it even hints at that, Edward.

a society built to fight wars will find wars where none need be fought.

Our society was always built to fight wars. Generally those wars have been commercial ones, with our attention turned to bloody ones when a foe attempted to tip the balance using military means.

It seems to me that we are being asked by many to constantly be at war. Whether its figuring out a solution in Palestine, fighting the Janjaweed or helping nations like Haiti and Liberia. Should we not put ourselves in a position to better wage those wars and rebuild afterward?

I believe the problem is that as our military capability becomes more sophisticated and effective at invading and remaking societies, there will be an unavoidable urge to use it for that purpose. Remember when the military industrial complex was all excited about Gulf War I, because it finally gave us a chance to use our Patriots? The standard of proof required for a Go decision will decline as our effectiveness increases. This is, in simplistic terms, why Rome was what Rome was. They weren't genetically inclined to imperialism. Invasion and conquest were just so ridiculously easy for them that they couldn't conceive of doing anything else.

I don't want America to be good and invading and remaking societies. I'd rather that energy be used to make America good at defending itself and at providing health care and opportunities to its citizens.

Tell me where it even hints at that, Edward.

It's a pretty strong "hint" Slarti.

They must become players in war

As is so often the case, sidereal says it best:

I don't want America to be good [at] invading and remaking societies. I'd rather that energy be used to make America good at defending itself and at providing health care and opportunities to its citizens.

Remember when the military industrial complex was all excited about Gulf War I, because it finally gave us a chance to use our Patriots?

Dunno what part of the MIC you occupy, but my segment of the MIC was cringing because Patriot was ill-designed for the mission.

It's a pretty strong "hint" Slarti.

It's one that pretty much utterly fails to mention how the military is going to take control of Labor, State, and the National Endowment for the Arts, Edward.

I don't want America to be good [at] invading and remaking societies.

Poof! Your wish is granted.

"my segment of the MIC was cringing because Patriot was ill-designed for the mission."

I thought that came afterward, when the actual success rates at downing SCUDs were released.

"Poof! Your wish is granted."

Great. Next step, stop trying.

I thought that came afterward, when the actual success rates at downing SCUDs were released.

No, that was for those of you out in the rest of the world, who didn't know squat about what the Patriot really could (and, more to the point, was designed to) do. I was at first pleasantly surprised when it seemed like it was doing well, and then unsurprised to discover it wasn't all that great.

Next step, stop trying.

So, you'd rather do it badly? Or not at all? I trust you're not suggesting we just drop the Big One on whoever we have a problem with.

Poof! Your wish is granted.

LOL

You know of course that "Poof" is British slang for "Fag" or "Homo" (just pointing out that there are two possible reads on that, not that you meant the British one).

"and, more to the point, was designed to" Actually, I was well aware that it was an anti-aircraft weapon. But the excitement was definitely generated by the MIC:


On January 24, 1992, four Army officers gave Subcommittee investigators what they described as the standard briefing on Patriot performance in the war. This brief had been given to the Secretary of Defense and the defense committees of the Congress. The Army evaluation asserted that: The Patriot was successful operationally, technically and politically. The Patriot had intercepted all but 2 of the Scuds it engaged. The vast majority of these interceptions resulted in killing the warhead of the Scud.
...
Wall Street also recognized the apparent success of the Patriot and other high-tech weapons in use. On January 18, Boston TV station WHDH reported: "For the Patriots manufacturer, Raytheon, the missile's performance is a major boost for morale and for the bottom line. It could mean growing sales for Raytheon, particularly on the international market. Defense stocks took off: Raytheon up 4 1/2; Martin Marietta, up 3 2/3; General Dynamics, up 4; McDonnell Douglas, up 4 1/3."

Stop trying = not at all.

"I trust you're not suggesting"

Your trust is well-founded. If you are implying those are the only two choices, the conversation isn't going to go anywhere.

And of course "fag" is Brit for cigarette. You never know where you stand with those guys.

And no, I didn't know the British one. I'd have to have hung around you socially a great deal more to feel at ease using language like that.

And no, I didn't know the British one.

should have read:

And no, I didn't mean the British one.

Sidereal, you're confusing the statements of some Army officers with the opinions of those in a position to actually know. I'm well aware of the press statements, and the flaws contained therein.

And I wasn't implying that you thought we ought to just drop the big one on people we have problems with. Just that you haven't come up with any alternatives to what we're currently doing.

This just reminded me about the time during a high school calculus test, when (in the middle of the dead silence formed by struggling brains) an Australian exchange student piped up with "Has anybody got a rubber?"

Laughter ensued. Then relief when we found out he was really asking for an eraser.

True on my lack of brilliant alternatives. And I recognize that it's a lot easier to carp about a policy than make one.

But here's how I see it. At the base of any policy you have a set of philosophical principles. Anyone is qualified to help determine those principles. That's mostly what we argue about here. Once you have determined your principles, it's the job of the careerists and the experts to find policy that meets those principles in the most successful manner. A great danger is that the policies will become self-justifying and completely detach from the underlying principles.

So no, I don't have any great detailed foreign policy plans. No offense intended, but I doubt you do either. Or nearly anyone who writes an op ed or rattles the halls of Congress. It isn't our job as citizens to make foreign policy. It's our job as citizens to determine the principles on which our policies will be founded.

One of my principles is that it is inimical to our sense of free society to invade and forcibly remake a people simply because the current structure doesn't meet our preference, and not because they are our mortal enemies.

I hope a majority of Americans share that principle and wisdom will win out in the end.

"Has anybody got a rubber?"

That stopped me cold when I first heard it in the London office I worked for as well. It ranked up there with the first time a stranger stopped me on the street and asked "Spare a fag?"

it's a lot easier to carp about a policy than make one

Excellent. This is one of my favorite observations.

but I doubt you do either

True. I don't have much in the way of alternatives. Other than a few minor embellishments such as not torturing prisoners. [Can the deliberate understatement, willya? - Ed]

Here's what makes this complicated, sidereal: Iraqis aren't our mortal enemies. We did, however, have some major unresolved issues with Hussein that we attempted to address for over a decade. When those attempts failed to reach a satisfactory result, we went in and took him out. Anyone who imagined it was going to be quick and clean getting back out, or thought the President imagined it to be, just hasn't been listening. You might not think we ought to have gone after Hussein, but a largeish fraction of the population disagree with you. And I don't think you can pass them all off as stupid, or even ignorant.

And if you think it's the attitude of the MIC to cheerlead the country into the next war, you just haven't been around the defense community all that much. Soldiers aren't eager to go to war, for the most part (pursuit of AQ possibly excepted) and we out in the industry side aren't eager to send them. Everyone I know that's in the industry looks at it like this: if we can save the lives of American soldiers by giving them better weapons and sensors, it will have been a job well done.

I was with you until the last paragraph. Unfortunately, your main point was the last paragraph. When we adopt a policy of territorial expansion by force, a la Rome and Napoleonic France, perhaps then I'll share your concerns.

When we adopt a policy of territorial expansion by force, a la Rome and Napoleonic France, perhaps then I'll share your concerns.

Bird Dog, I'm hardly making up the idea that the spectre of American Imperialism is seen as a problem:

From the Economist:

Mr Rumsfeld may be right that America's policies should dictate its coalitions rather than the other way round, but his fondness for throwing rhetorical hand grenades such as that crack about “old Europe”, accurate though history may find it, has hardly helped the collecting of allies. His forthright style has reinforced latent fears of American imperialism, maybe to the cost of his troops now. The current war would have been easier if Turkey had given America permission to use its ground bases.

And I've read plenty of others. Some arguing that we just need to own up to the fact that we are behaving totally imperialistically and should do the world a favor and quickly learn how to do it well.

The whole notion horrifies me, but to pretend it's not right there in front of our faces doesn't comfort me either.


Well if you want to base your on conclusions on emotions such as fears of imperialism, rather than actual policy, have at it, but it's not very convincing, and not very real either.

Breaking down the wall between the military and civilian branches of the government (the "actual policy" being discussed here) is my fear, Bird Dog...if you read the whole thread you'll see that my argument is that this seemingly benign, helpful way to fight modern wars will end up in making us a more Spartan nation, thereby likely getting us into even more wars than we're in already.

Slarti: Anyone who imagined it was going to be quick and clean getting back out, or thought the President imagined it to be, just hasn't been listening.

Richard Perle obviously wasn't listening, then.

The idea that of course Bush knew it was going to be tough in Iraq post-conquest really doesn't fly. Because if Bush knew that things were going to be difficult for the US running Iraq, you'd think he would have planned for that. (And you'd think he would have warned Karl Rove not to organize anything as dumb as the Mission Accomplished photo-op.) As is evident, Bush & Co post-invasion planning seems to have consisted entirely of "Plan A: Everything will go just fine. Plan B? What's a Plan B?"

One of the interesting things I think that the Clinton Administration and this Administration actually have in common is that in both the civilians were more interested in "using" the military than the military was.

Madeleine Albright famously said something along the lines of "What's the point of having the best military in the world if we never use them" and, according to Tom Clancy, Richard Perle said something along the lines of "Don't be a wuss about using troops" to Powell (who is admittedly now a civilian, but is also a former general and author of the "Powell Doctrine").

That's a long way of saying I am not worried about having a military we don't need to use. I am actually more concerned about the political and industrial arms of the MIC, than I am about the military. Note that the whole concept of a political "arm" of the MIC probably arises with this Administration (or perhaps with Clinton's "wag the dog" bombing, but the scale of that was almost trivial by comparison).

On the other hand, I haven't yet read that essay floating around about the military coup of 2025, so maybe once I read that I'll be concerned about all three again...

Edward, Sparta how? We do not have a policy of territorial expansion by force. Your conclusions boil down to feelings of fear, with little sprinklings of PNAC paranoia.

Jes, Bush knew post-war Iraq would be difficult. From his speech on the Lincoln:

We have difficult work to do in Iraq. We're bringing order to parts of that country that remain dangerous. We're pursuing and finding leaders of the old regime who will be held to account for their crimes. We've begun the search for hidden chemical and biological weapons, and already know of hundreds of sites that will be investigated.

We are helping to rebuild Iraq where the dictator built palaces for himself instead of hospitals and schools.

And we will stand with the new leaders of Iraq as they establish a government of, by and for the Iraqi people.

The transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time, but it is worth every effort. Our coalition will stay until our work is done and then we will leave and we will leave behind a free Iraq.

When we adopt a policy of territorial expansion by force, a la Rome and Napoleonic France, perhaps then I'll share your concerns.

1776, 13 small colonies on the eastern seaboard of the North American Continent, 2004 40 States spanning said continent from East to West + 50th State in middle of Pacific + Military Bases in Europe & Asia. Most of this territory haing been acquired thru a process of war & genocide and you haven't noticed a a policy of territorial expansion by force.

Most of it was territorial expansion by purchase, the Louisiana and Alaska ones. As for your idiotic genocide charge, the U.S. did not have a plan kill a whole race of people.

Bird Dog: Well if you want to base your on conclusions on emotions such as fears of imperialism, rather than actual policy, have at it, but it's not very convincing, and not very real either.

War on Terror? Shock and Awe? Hearts and Minds? Compassionate Conservatism?

Bird Dog: Most of it was territorial expansion by purchase, the Louisiana and Alaska ones. As for your idiotic genocide charge, the U.S. did not have a plan kill a whole race of people.

Do you prefer "Ethnic Cleansing?"

Bird Dog, so your opinion is that Bush knew post-war Iraq would be difficult, but just never bothered to plan for it? (That would be the "insanely optimistic" strategy, I guess.) Or that Bush intended for there to be chaos and public failure in Iraq?

Interesting direction to go in, but I guess your only option if you wish not to believe the obvious: Bush is as incompetent a President as he was a CEO.

BD,
I think you forgot two wars with Mexico, the violent Annexation of Hawaii, the Spanish-American war and a long list of conflicts with various Indian tribes.

As for genocide, we may not have had a plan, but that did not prevent us from doing it.

Does the trail of tears ring a bell?

Jes, you ask: Bird Dog, so your opinion is that Bush knew post-war Iraq would be difficult, but just never bothered to plan for it?

No, that is not my opinion. They did engage in post-war planning but they did a lousy job of it.

Quijote, before you start irresponsibly tossing out words like genocide, perhaps you should go to the dictionary first.

gen·o·cide: The systematic and planned extermination of an entire national, racial, political, or ethnic group.

If its not systematic and planned, it's not genocide.

Gromit, if you want to call our treatment of Indians in the 1800s "ethnic cleansing", fine, go to town. There's no denying that native Americans were treated like second class citizens. But the fact that you and Quijote have to go back 100-plus years and critique those events using modern standards means your arguments are pretty weak. Heck, don't stop there. Go back a few more years and you can bash the Spanish Inquisition.

Clinton did a lousy job in his post oral-sex planning and he was impeached for it.

Spanish-American war...

More germane to the question of American imperialism is the sequel, the Philippine-American War.

Also -- and I really shouldn't help open this can of worms, but what the hell -- the question of whether the United States attempted to commit genocide on the Native Americans boils down to two sub-questions:

1) Were there specific tribes or ethnicities that the United States attempted to eliminate?
2) Was there a systemic policy of elimination or outright annihilation on the part of the United States government towards those particular tribes or ethnicities?

As near as I can tell (and again, this is well outside my sphere of comfort) the answer to the first question is a qualified maybe but the answer to the latter is no, which means that the US government did not, in fact, attempt genocide.

That doesn't mean we weren't nasty as hell to the Indians, but there's a qualitative difference between slaughtering a large number of people and committing genocide, and we do ourselves no favors in blurring that distinction.

They did engage in post-war planning but they did a lousy job of it.

Could you please elaborate on what post-war planning they engaged in?

I think Edward's concerns and fears have some real foundation. I think we know now that the unstated objectives behind the Iraq war had some reality: remake Iraq as both an example and a platform for remaking the mideast, and ensure that vital resource components (oil, and critical land pathways for oil transport) we accessible or controllable by the US.

Bird Dog argues that imperialism isn't imperialism unless you have the objective of controlling large tracts of land (and people, and resources) directly.

Imperialism can have other guises. A state doesn't have to militarily occupy forever other states to have quite effective imperial control. Puppet states, docile governments, "alliances" (with a dominant actor)and other means are just as effective and less costly (in both money and perception.)

"Total War" isn't a unique concept to the US. It can be argued that WWII (and perhaps the Civil War) are examples where the full energy and resources of a nation are directed at military victory.

But total war didn't mean "totalitarian" in WWII or the Civil War, in the sense of enforced compliance by the people with government's directives, at the price of detention or worse. But, with some thought, both of these wars can be seen to have come close to totalitarian, but with popular acquience or voluntary support.

Edward seems to me to be asking good questions. Although the Iraq venture looks shakey now, will the neo-con/imperial view retreat and allow the US to return to normal peaceful pursuits, or will the cry go out that we need to mobilize our total resources to prevent the world from descending into terror - the outcome of a 'defeat' in Iraq.

The neo-con view doesn't seem to accept that maybe we made some strategic as well as tactical implementation errors. They may even admit that "things could be done better." But the basic premises of the neo-con world view have not been repudiated, and they have made it clear that they will cast their opponents as traitors.

If one wants to fight military actions in today's world, then perhaps modern circumstances dictate a more "total" view of what resources need to be engaged. There are real dangers in not examining carefully what is being proposed however. We did this once, and its name is the Iraq War.

Bush has tried repeatedly to create this unified view that we must fight "there" in order to avoid fighting "here", but at the same time we have found the need to make more "total" our defense of the "here". The Patriot Act, Homeland Security Dept. dismissal of the budget/debt impacts of 'defense', assertion that the courts and Congress must yield to the executive's need to fight the war, and other actions suggest that we are moving toward the Spartan State - a total mobilization of our resources. Total war to defend our 'security, for causes that aren't totally clear, and using whatever methods are "necessary", isn't a pipe dream.

A good case can be made that we are moving toward a different kind of imperialism, and a different kind of war: permanenet mobilization of a state's resources to enlarge/defend/protect our "security" and create a world-condition that is consistent with a vision of "enlarging Freedom."

"War is Peace"

"We have always been at war with Oceania"

I was going to rip into Don Quijote with a white-hot fury for his calculated insult towards our post WWII policy (on Memorial Day weekend no less), but he's already violated the Posting Rules twice, so I'm just going to ban him. I don't really want to have to start keeping lists, people...

Bird Dog: No, that is not my opinion. They did engage in post-war planning but they did a lousy job of it.

At least we agree on something: Bush and Co are hopelessly incompetent.

Anarch: Could you please elaborate on what post-war planning they engaged in?

As I said before: Bush & Co post-invasion planning seems to have consisted entirely of "Plan A: Everything will go just fine. Plan B? What's a Plan B?" I find it quite amusing that hard-core conservative Bird Dog actually agrees with me on this one.

David Duke is a malignant narcissist.

(The remainder of this post has been deleted as per the revised Posting Rules. The comments section is for interesting and/or original opinion, not the cut and paste of other people. When in doubt, cut down quoted text; if this is impossible, link. - Moe Lane)

The above post gets 200+ hits on Google.

I'm just saying.

It's out of here just as soon as TypePad loads up for me.

David Duke is malignant, of course.

Thanks for giving the Google link, btw; it saved me the trouble. :)

Anarch,
Could you please elaborate on what post-war planning they engaged in?
Go find it yourself.

Jim,
In short, I disagree with you because I think you're conflating imperialism and influence, in effect defining imperialism over broadly.

Jes,
At least we agree on something: Bush and Co are hopelessly incompetent.
Cute, but you distort my views on the matter.

Imperialism:
1. The policy of extending a nation's authority by territorial acquisition or by the establishment of economic and political hegemony over other nations. [emphasis mine]
2. The system, policies, or practices of such a government.

In short, I disagree with you because I think you're conflating imperialism and influence, in effect defining imperialism over broadly.

No, I think based on the above definition and the following quote, Jim gets it just fine:

Imperialism can have other guises. A state doesn't have to militarily occupy forever other states to have quite effective imperial control. Puppet states, docile governments, "alliances" (with a dominant actor)and other means are just as effective and less costly (in both money and perception.)

I think, Bird Dog, that it is you who is attempting to incorrectly redefine "imperialism" because the PNAC policy goals with which you have professed agreement cannot escape falling under the definition of the word.

Go find it yourself.

Having looked extensively over the past two or three years, I've found plenty of hope but virtually nothing I'd consider a plan. Since you felt confident enough in your assertion to contradict another person -- indeed, to declare your position to be outright truth -- it would seem a fairly simple task to elaborate on your remarks.

Imperialism can have other guises. A state doesn't have to militarily occupy forever other states to have quite effective imperial control. Puppet states, docile governments, "alliances" (with a dominant actor)and other means are just as effective and less costly (in both money and perception.)

That's quite correct; the British empire, for example, was an exercise in creeping hegemony with direct governance only towards the end. Indeed, a quick read through the various notions of British governance under the Empire -- territory, dependency, colony, protectorate, dominion, IIRC, as well as "commonwealth" -- gives you some idea of varying levels of governance within the empire, let alone those subtle informal levels of influence outside. The most obvious example of this would be the British acquisition Burma, simply because it proceeded in nice, discrete chunks (1824, 1852-5 and 1885-90) with exactly the sorts of relationships Jim was talking about between the bites; or, for those with sterner constitution, look at the acquisition of the Raj over the period 1750-1900.

[Incidentally, found a nifty list of British possessions. Now that's an empire.]

I believe you can also make a case that the Dutch acquisition of Indonesia showed similar stratified levels of control (especially Timor and Aceh, which explains their peculiarly bloody circumstances post-Sukarno), but I don't know enough about either their empire nor the empire of the Spanish to broaden the point further. Anyone who knows more about their systems of colonialism or imperialism, please feel free to jump in.

Anarch, then you weren't looking very hard or very well. From the Atlantic Monthly:

All this, and much more, was laid out in detail and in writing long before the U.S. government made the final decision to attack. Even now the collective efforts at planning by the CIA, the State Department, the Army and the Marine Corps, the United States Agency for International Development, and a wide variety of other groups inside and outside the government are underappreciated by the public. The one pre-war effort that has received substantial recent attention, the State Department's Future of Iraq project, produced thousands of pages of findings, barely one paragraph of which has until now been quoted in the press. The Administration will be admired in retrospect for how much knowledge it created about the challenge it was taking on. U.S. government predictions about postwar Iraq's problems have proved as accurate as the assessments of pre-war Iraq's strategic threat have proved flawed.

It's long but worth a full read. Here also is an 84-page plan, put out by the War College on behalf of the US Army.

As for definitions of imperialism, it depends on how you define hegemony and what constitutes 'predominant influence' politically and economically.

Bird Dog, the more you argue that Bush & Co were fully informed about conditions in post-war Iraq pre-invasion, and were making plans for those conditions, the more convincing you make the case that Bush & Co are indeed hopelessly incompetent. Is this really what you want to do?

"So we predicted that everything was going to be swell, and we didn't plan for things not being swell." Here Feith paused for a few seconds, raised his hands with both palms up, and put on a "Can you believe it?" expression. "I mean—one would really have to be a simpleton. And whatever people think of me, how can anybody think that Don Rumsfeld is that dumb? He's so evidently not that dumb, that how can people write things like that?"
cite, January 2004.


Well, the reason why Donald Rumsfeld looks that dumb is because of what happened. Hospitals were looted.

"I have raised the issue of safety and security over the last few days and I am deeply concerned that this matter was not addressed before now when controls should have been put in place.

"I am horrified that this foreseeable reign of total lawlessness was not prevented. It is very clear that in accordance with the Geneva Conventions, the Coalition Forces as the 'Occupying Power' are obliged to protect civilians, civilian property and vital civilian infrastructure," said David Andrews.

"The thought that patients in need of pain relief and vital medical treatment, including women and children, are lying in hospital beds with no medication and no-one to attend to them because the medical staff are too afraid to show-up for work, is very saddening," added the Chairman. April 11 2003

And not only hospitals:

As US and UK tanks have swept into the centre of major Iraqi cities in recent days, numerous observers on the ground have reported on the chaos and lawlessness that have filled the political vacuum created. Beginning in Basra on 7 April, followed by Baghdad on 9 April and Kirkuk the following day, crowds of desperate people have taken to the streets, looting, burning and destroying government offices and, more ominously, institutions vital to their future, including schools, universities and hospitals. In most cases, the occupying forces have stood by, apparently unwilling or unprepared to take on policing functions. April 2003
But as Baghdad, Kirkuk and Basra descended into chaos, and with coalition forces so far proving themselves incapable of controlling the mob, the looting yesterday began to look more sinister.

Using wheelbarrows and donkey carts, pickup trucks and their own elbow grease, Iraqis rolled their parade of war booty through the streets. Smoke from dozens of fires hung over Baghdad as the city gave itself over to the looting, which spread from government warehouses and buildings, to hotels and private shops.

By afternoon, the central bank, the information ministry, the trade ministry, the finance ministry and the education ministry had been attacked. The mob had also arrived at the social security directorate and the television headquarters and plundered at least two UN offices. April 2003

Your argument is, apparently, that Bush & Co should be credited with having known that this humanitarian disaster (I haven't even touched on the cultural disaster of the looted museums) was going to happen - but you must surely see that if Bush & Co are to be given credit for planning in post-war Iraq, they are either criminals who deliberately violated the Geneva Convention, or they are hopelessly incompetent, since even though they were aware in advance that this would happen, they nonetheless failed to prevent it.

I go for the hopeless incompetence explanation, personally. Since you disagree, are you arguing that Bush & Co must be criminals? It's your only alternative: Reagan's Defense writ large.

"Hopelessly incompetent" are your words, not mine Jes. My words were that Bush did a lousy job. And I reject your "either-or" nonsense.

Let's see if this fixes the formatting.

One more, maybe?

Richard Perle obviously wasn't listening, then.

Hard to read, Jesurgislac. Linking practically every other word of an essay is a little distracting, and not exactly ground-breaking territory. That said, Perle having been wrong in more than one respect isn't all that earth-shattering a revelation.

First of all, abject apologies for messing up the formatting. Thanks for fixing it for me, Moe.

Bird Dog: "Hopelessly incompetent" are your words, not mine Jes. My words were that Bush did a lousy job.

"They did engage in post-war planning but they did a lousy job of it."

Sounds near enough to "hopelessly incompetent" to me. ;-)

Slarti: Hard to read, Jesurgislac. Linking practically every other word of an essay is a little distracting, and not exactly ground-breaking territory.

I tripped over Richard Perle's idiotically optimistic essay not long ago, and found it amusing to link to current stories demonstrating exactly how idiotic Perle's optimism was. Dark humor, I grant you: but I'll take what I can get.

Bird Dog:

First, thanks for the link to the Army College report. I'd read excerpts of it previously, but didn't realize the entirety was online. I hope to read it some time later this summer.

Second, I think we may be talking at cross-purposes, or at least with differing semantics; I'd forgotten that I'd expounded upon this on a different board. I also omitted an important quantifier my original claim, so let me try again. When I said "I've found plenty of hope but virtually nothing I'd consider a plan", I was referring only to the upper levels of the Bush Administration, and I do (perhaps erroneously) consider the War College report to be from a lower level. That is, there was plenty of strategizing at the lower levels that simply never rose up to -- or, less chivalrously, was ignored by -- the higher levels.

Now, the all-important semantic point that I was trying to underscore is this: a series of hypothesized maneuvers (for lack of a better phrase) should only count as a "plan" if the preconditions of those maneuvers have a reasonable chance of being satisfied and the maneuvers have a reasonable chance of effecting the desired outcome. For example, if my series of hypothesized maneuvers should consist of sitting around in my boxers all day while writing trenchant blog posts, one can't really call it a "plan" to win the heart of [insert name of femme du jour here]. Lacking reasonability in the chain of consequence, the "plan" is just "hope" by another name.

Viewed in that context, what I was asking for was evidence of a series of hypothesized maneuvers (please, someone find a better phrase), promulgated by the upper echelons of the Bush Administration, that had a reasonable chance of effecting the desired outcome of stabilizing and democratizing post-Saddam Iraq. I have yet to find such evidence, despite the availability of such low-level planning. I'd be most interested to know why you believe the contrary.

Thirdly, your cited article actually supports my thesis that such did not exist. For example, consider the sentences immediately following your quote:

But the Administration will be condemned for what it did with what was known. The problems the United States has encountered are precisely the ones its own expert agencies warned against.

"Predicted" and "warned against", yet not planned for. Indeed, practically every section of the article features a warning from the lower levels of the government that was ignored, unheeded, or flat-out considered a betrayal by the upper levels. From the OSD's view that "postwar planning was an impediment to war", to the meetings with NGOs to "just dribble out the clock but be able to say they'd consulted with us", to Rumsfeld's derision towards postwar planning, to the shenanigans over the cost of the war, to the ignoring of War College warnings and recommendations (particularly in re looting and the disbanding of the Iraqi army), to one of the most damning grafs of the article:

...the War College report stressed that Phase IV "post-conflict" planning absolutely had to start as early as possible, well before Phase III "decisive operations"—the war itself. But neither the Army nor the other services moved very far past Phase III thinking. "All the A-Team guys wanted to be in on Phase III, and the B-team guys were put on Phase IV," one man involved in Phase IV told me. Frederick Barton, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, who was involved in postwar efforts in Haiti, Rwanda, and elsewhere, put it differently. "If you went to the Pentagon before the war, all the concentration was on the war," he said. "If you went there during the war, all the concentration was on the war. And if you went there after the war, they'd say, 'That's Jerry Bremer's job.'"

Top to bottom, the article paints a portrait of the failure of the upper levels of the Bush Administration to meaningfully plan for the post-war period. [The one key exception, of course, is the anticipation of the refugee problem, although the author undercuts that exception rather sharply.] I've no doubt that there are other sources which paint a rosier picture of pre-war planning, but, as I've said, I haven't seen anything which convinces me that such planning (reasonably) encompassed the problems which could (reasonably) be expected to arise.

I hope that clarifies my position.

I think this is interesting stuff, and very much in the vein of what we're doing in Afghanistan with the provincial reconstruction teams. In fact, I think it's a great idea. Decentralization is key to democratization.

That said, Wretchard's broader thesis sounds like a recipe for a thousand Beiruts.

[Comment deleted by me, hilzoy, since Moe deleted it two years ago (!), and besides, it has no relevance at all to the actual post.)

David Duke is a malignant narcissist.

He invents and then projects a false, fictitious, self for the world to fear, or to admire. He maintains a tenuous grasp on reality to start with and the trappings of power further exacerbate this. Real life authority and David Duke’s predilection to surround him with obsequious sycophants support David Duke’s grandiose self-delusions and fantasies of omnipotence and omniscience.

David Duke's personality is so precariously balanced that he cannot tolerate even a hint of criticism and disagreement. Most narcissists are paranoid and suffer from ideas of reference (the delusion that they are being mocked or discussed when they are not). Thus, narcissists often regard themselves as "victims of persecution".
Duke fosters and encourages a personality cult with all the hallmarks of an institutional religion: priesthood, rites, rituals, temples, worship, catechism, and mythology. The leader is this religion's ascetic saint. He monastically denies himself earthly pleasures (or so he claims) in order to be able to dedicate himself fully to his calling.
Duke is a monstrously inverted Jesus, sacrificing his life and denying himself so that his people - or humanity at large - should benefit. By surpassing and suppressing his humanity, Duke became a distorted version of Nietzsche's "superman".

But being a-human or super-human also means being a-sexual and a-moral. In this restricted sense, narcissistic leaders are post-modernist and moral relativists. They project to the masses an androgynous figure and enhance it by engendering the adoration of nudity and all things "natural" - or by strongly repressing these feelings. But what they refer to, as "nature" is not natural at all.

Duke invariably proffers an aesthetic of decadence and evil carefully orchestrated and artificial - though it is not perceived this way by him or by his followers. Narcissistic leadership is about reproduced copies, not about originals. It is about the manipulation of symbols - not about veritable atavism or true conservatism.
In short: narcissistic leadership is about theatre, not about life. To enjoy the spectacle (and be subsumed by it), the leader demands the suspension of judgment, depersonalization, and de-realization. Catharsis is tantamount, in this narcissistic dramaturgy, to self-annulment.

Narcissism is nihilistic not only operationally, or ideologically. Its very language and narratives are nihilistic. Narcissism is conspicuous nihilism - and the cult's leader serves as a role model, annihilating the Man, only to re-appear as a pre-ordained and irresistible force of nature.

Narcissistic leadership often poses as a rebellion against the "old ways" - against the hegemonic culture, the upper classes, the established religions, the superpowers, the corrupt order. Narcissistic movements are puerile, a reaction to narcissistic injuries inflicted upon David Duke like (and rather psychopathic) toddler nation-state, or group, or upon the leader.

Minorities or "others" - often arbitrarily selected - constitute a perfect, easily identifiable, embodiment of all that is "wrong". They are accused of being old, they are eerily disembodied, they are cosmopolitan, they are part of the establishment, they are "decadent", they are hated on religious and socio-economic grounds, or because of their race, sexual orientation, origin ... They are different, they are narcissistic (feel and act as morally superior), they are everywhere, they are defenseless, they are credulous, they are adaptable (and thus can be co-opted to collaborate in their own destruction). They are the perfect hate figure. Narcissists thrive on hatred and pathological envy.

This is precisely the source of the fascination with Hitler, diagnosed by Erich Fromm - together with Stalin - as a malignant narcissist. He was an inverted human. His unconscious was his conscious. He acted out our most repressed drives, fantasies, and wishes. He provides us with a glimpse of the horrors that lie beneath the veneer, the barbarians at our personal gates, and what it was like before we invented civilization. Hitler forced us all through a time warp and many did not emerge. He was not the devil. He was one of us. He was what Arendt aptly called the banality of evil. Just an ordinary, mentally disturbed, failure, a member of a mentally disturbed and failing nation, who lived through disturbed and failing times. He was the perfect mirror, a channel, a voice, and the very depth of our souls.

Duke prefers the sparkle and glamour of well-orchestrated illusions to the tedium and method of real accomplishments. His reign is all smoke and mirrors, devoid of substances, consisting of mere appearances and mass delusions. In the aftermath of his regime - Duke having died, been deposed, or voted out of office - it all unravels. The tireless and constant prestidigitation ceases and the entire edifice crumbles. What looked like an economic miracle turns out to have been a fraud-laced bubble. Loosely held empires disintegrate. Laboriously assembled business conglomerates go to pieces. "Earth shattering" and "revolutionary" scientific discoveries and theories are discredited. Social experiments end in mayhem.

It is important to understand that the use of violence must be ego-syntonic. It must accord with the self-image of David Duke. It must abet and sustain his grandiose fantasies and feed his sense of entitlement. It must conform David Duke like narrative. Thus, David Duke who regards himself as the benefactor of the poor, a member of the common folk, the representative of the disenfranchised, the champion of the dispossessed against the corrupt elite - is highly unlikely to use violence at first. The pacific mask crumbles when David Duke has become convinced that the very people he purported to speak for, his constituency, his grassroots fans, and the prime sources of his narcissistic supply - have turned against him. At first, in a desperate effort to maintain the fiction underlying his chaotic personality, David Duke strives to explain away the sudden reversal of sentiment. "The people are being duped by (the media, big industry, the military, the elite, etc.)", "they don't really know what they are doing", "following a rude awakening, they will revert to form", etc. When these flimsy attempts to patch a tattered personal mythology fail, David Duke becomes injured. Narcissistic injury inevitably leads to narcissistic rage and to a terrifying display of unbridled aggression. The pent-up frustration and hurt translate into devaluation. That which was previously idealized - is now discarded with contempt and hatred. This primitive defense mechanism is called "splitting".

To David Duke, things and people are either entirely bad (evil) or entirely good. He projects onto others his own shortcomings and negative emotions, thus becoming a totally good object. Duke is likely to justify the butchering of his own people by claiming that they intended to kill him, undo the revolution, devastate the economy, or the country, etc. The "small people", the "rank and file", and the "loyal soldiers" of David Duke - his flock, his nation, and his employees - they pay the price. The disillusionment and disenchantment are agonizing. The process of reconstruction, of rising from the ashes, of overcoming the trauma of having been deceived, exploited and manipulated - is drawn-out. It is difficult to trust again, to have faith, to love, to be led, to collaborate. Feelings of shame and guilt engulf the erstwhile followers of David Duke. This is his sole legacy: a massive post-traumatic stress disorder.

Yes, Dr. David E. Duke is a rather voracious malignant narcissist.

"^^^ Are you a Nazi? Don't Delete the above post! ^^^"

The arrogance of people who think that they have a right to post comments, let alone off-topic comments, to someone else's blog, and to call them a Nazi if they delete the OT ramblings, never ceases to astound me.

Dear Mr. Farber,

You mean you are not a Nazi Gay? Wow, I would have never guessed since I have been reading your blogs daily for over a year.

Love,
Jess

I am an American actor who became popular during the late 1980s and early 1990s for my role as "Mike Seaver" on the sitcom Growing Pains, and later for playing "Buck Williams" in the Left Behind film series. Currently, I’m a partner in the evangelical Christian ministry The Way of the Master. I am also married to actress Chelsea Noble and we have six children. I agree, David Duke is a jerk God have mercy upon his evil soul. John 3:16

The United States of Sparta?
Holla at ya boy man
I got some lyrics
Lyrics dat'll cheer ya ass up

Artist: Mystikal
Album: Mind of Mystikal
Song: Never Gonna Bounce (The Dream)

Y'all bitches... get cha mind right
Get cha get cha mind right
Get cha get cha mind right
G-get cha mind right, get cha mind right
Get cha get cha mind right, get cha mind right
Get cha get cha mind right..

[1st Verse]
I'm tryin to do my thang like a rap star
Tryin to stay clean, make my ends, and avoid the game but it's hard
Cause I can ball dope and get paid like a motherfucker
Gotta be another way to pay T. Tucker
Used to roll twenties by the ounce (ounce)
But poppa got a brand new mag it's called BOUNCE
Crackers wanna label me a nigga man, but I'm a bigger man
I'll say, "Fuck David Duke I'm the Trigger Man!"
It's the new Southern train goin round
I started in the St. Thomas, then it moved to Gulf Town
Saturday night was the time but - where your gat?
Niggas get WILD when they hear :Where-dey-at? Where-dey-at?"
You bitches tryin to pussy-pop
Me and Herb slang tapes ten dollars a WOP
I got the tape that you NEED, the tape that you WANT
Slangin tapes out the CLUB and tapes out the TRUNK
When them Trigger Man be a story
Take it to the St. Thomas rock another block party
DJ Irv had that shit bumpin
T.T. Tucker had the 10th Ward JUMPIN!!
The whole project full of hoes
(Come on - go T.T., go T.T., go!)
But if a nigga jumps stupid I'm blast ya
Who put the fuckin thing together?
ME! That's ME! That's who!!
I told you don't fuck with me

[Chorus: repeat 3X]
Neva gon' bounce, neva, neva gon' bounce
(Never.... say never)

[2nd Verse]
Oooh, see I'm the one that they talkin bout
Drop a little red tape in the store and it sold
and my pocket got swoll from the shows
I bought a little more gold and fucked a lotta more HOES!
All them bitches know whazzup (how dey know how dey know?)
Shit, they heard me on the radio, boot up or shut up
"Where-dey-at?" hittin dead home
If it wasn't bumpin in your ride it was bumpin in your headphones
No it ain't goin to my had cause I ain't gon' let it
Damn it feel good gettin sweated, hehehehe
Uptown, downtown, cross the river
Don't matter I'm the nigga, the nigga nigga, the nigga nigga
One brick object (What happened?)
Couldn't keep my motherfuckin ass out that project
Shit, that's when it happened (What up?)
5-0 busted in there was a raid and I was captured

[1st Bridge]
Alright, all you niggaz on the floor right now!
DOWN! Get out the way!
Ay man, why you fuckin wit me?
I'm the fuckin boss, I put this shit together!
I tol' you that {*punch*} shut the fuck up!
I don't give a fuck who you are get your ass on the floor!

[Chorus]

[3rd Verse]
Man calm down, calm down
Yo T.T. don't trip (f'real)
Cause when them laws let you loose, boy we gon' handle this
See you gon' get your shot at limelight
But in the meantime in between time keep your mind right
(But man they said that I was wanted) For what?
(Narcotics, homicide, shopliftin warrant!
So much shit I can't finish.)
This call concludes this minute {*dial tone*}
(Hello? Hello?
BITCH! You gon' hang up on MEEEEE??!!!!!)

Alright (*repeat 21X*)

[Chorus]

Shake that ass, never gonna....

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