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Why I’m Against Current Wars—and Most Foreseeable Wars, Too

2011 January 12
by Ian Welsh

No, I’m not against all wars.  But I’m against the Afghan war, the “secret” war in Yemen, the occupation of Iraq, and any war with Iran under any circumstances I can imagine.

Why? Because:

  1. They are moronic (in the sense that they cannot be “won” and I oppose unwinnable wars);
  2. The US is in steep decline in an economic/industrial sense and needs to spend its money on other things.

As noted, I’m not opposed to all wars.  Hell I even supported the Afghan war up to the point where it became clear that it was destabilizing Pakistan, polls of Afghans indicated they wanted us out, and it become obvious it couldn’t be “won” in any meaningful sense.

Anyone who supports the current wars is not someone I have much time for, I’m afraid.  I regard them as fundamentally stupid wars and significantly immoral to boot, plus on pragmatic terms I believe they are doing more harm than good to the US, not just economically, but in terms of real security and in terms of the erosion of civil liberties.  States at permanent war cannot and do not maintain their liberties.  Permanent occupations are particularly corrupting and badly damage the real war fighting capacity of the armies doing them (see Army, Israeli).

Anyone who’s in favour of imperial wars and permanent war can’t really be on the left in any meaningful fashion, because the cost of permanent war is:

  • every domestic priority that left wingers claim to care about
  • plus the gutting of civil liberties in the core.

To a liberal, military spending is a necessary evil, and as such you do only as much as is necessary to:

  • actually defend the country. (I.e., hardly any.  Who is going to invade the US?)
  • hold open necessary trade lanes. (I.e., the navy would be smaller than it is now and differently organized, but it would be the primary US military arm.)

And that’s about it.  Every dollar spent on the military is not spent on actual economically productive activity. Yes, there are some exceptions, but there are other ways to do R&D spending, and more and more military R&D is not applicable to civilian matters.

(I’m sure Vladimir Putin laughs himself sick every night that the US pays him off to help America stay in Afghanistan.  The irony must be one of the great joys of his life.)

In terms of dependence on foreign commodities, the progressive solution is to move the energy basis of the US economy off of oil and onto a basis which is much more domestically available (and built).  That way you don’t need to be able to knock around middle eastern nations.

While many lefties wouldn’t agree with me, I would also move to mandatory service, everyone serving 2 to 4 years.  Most wouldn’t serve in the military, but every male and any woman who wants it would get military training. A militarily trained population tends to concentrate the minds of politicians and other elites and I also believe that the military should be much more representative of the population as a whole, for a variety of reasons.

What do you do with all those people in national service?  Rebuild the country: teach them skills and put them to work on broadband, infrastructure of various kinds, refitting all buildings for energy efficiency, etc…  Why?  Well, because that makes the country more secure and safer by reducing dependence on foreign oil, etc… (Well, that’s one reason.)

In my opinion anyone who’s for the current war is delusional or attached to the military industrial complex and willing to betray their country’s real interests for money.  The US cannot afford war.  Period. To be for war right now is to be for the ruin of America.

87 Responses
  1. David H. permalink
    January 12, 2011

    What do you do with all those people in national service?  Rebuild the country

    And that dovetails perfectly with the way the economy needs to be rebuilt, with massive spending to create jobs, thereby boosting consumer demand which in turn will create more jobs. It’s not rocket science, but also not on the neoliberal menu.

  2. TomThumb permalink
    January 12, 2011

    I strongly disagree with you about universal conscription. I am a conscientious objector (Vietnam vintage) and my theory is that conscription results in an exploitable standing army.

    That said, I agree with your second idea that a voluntary national service corps could be developed to reduce extremely high rates of unemployment among the young, and to develop a new green energy sector.

    I paint antiwar paintings. If you are interested in them, you can find them in this post:
    http://tomthumbsgallery.wordpress.com/2011/01/06/peace-vigil-paintings/

  3. January 12, 2011

    We all know that if we had had a draft, we wouldn’t be in Iraq today. The country wouldn’t have stood for it, because so many of the middle- and upper-class would’ve had their kids getting killed. But because our military is made up, primarily, of people who have precious few other options in life, it’s easy for chickenhawks to look the other way while other people’s children get killed.

    I’ve always been in favor of national service, though not military national service. Two years of working for the good of your country, building needed infrastructure, learning skills, being conscious of the collective good — all benefits.

    Unfortunately, the threat Eisenhower warned us about is looming ever greater. The security state that is emerging is going to be the source for most of the jobs in this country. DHS is already building massive new surveillance structures:

    http://wonkette.com/434867/nsa-building-million-square-foot-facility-to-look-at-your-porn#more-434867

    http://www.dhs.gov/ynews/releases/pr_1252513779140.shtm

    And look at this article in Foreign Policy:

    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/01/02/unconventional_wisdom?page=0,2

    Permanent state of war, at home and abroad — full employment in a down economy! Jobs, jobs, jobs!

  4. beowulf permalink
    January 12, 2011

    While many lefties wouldn’t agree with me, I would also move to mandatory service, everyone serving 2 to 4 years. Most wouldn’t serve in the military, but every male and any woman who wants it would get military training

    I absolutely agree, one important function the military can serve is provide a way to signal ability without them first attending an elite (or any) college. Look up Henry Kissinger’s army career sometime, he had some smart officers who recognized this shy 20 year draftee was, well, freakin’ Henry Kissinger. I’d actually put everyone who passes the physical (and like Singapore or Israel offer alternative training for those who don’t) through basic training, yes even conscientious objectors, quietly tell them if they stick it out for 10 weeks, they’ll never have to put on a uniform again.
    For three reasons: 1. Some people make damn good soldiers and would never know it if they weren’t pushed into it. 2. You never know when someone is going to be caught in a survival situation where some military training years before (no, not marksmanship, but first aid or, something new, “emotional resilience training”) could save their life somday. 3. Drafting people and sending them to serve a combat tour, yeah that sucks. But recruiting volunteer soldiers with promises of job training (or Guardsmen for that weekend a month, two weeks a year) and then sending them back for multiple combat tours, that’s unconscionable. Frankly its a testament modern psychiatry that there aren’t more PTSD cases among our (temporarily) returning vets. If we had brought back the draft after 9/11, we’d have been out of Iraq and Afghanistan years ago.

  5. S Brennan permalink
    January 12, 2011

    Agreed Ian,

    To overcome those who have infinite rationalizations on why National service is “the other guys job”…and that’s what it come down to, having the other man be your N-Word…I’d say

    Fine, you don’t want to serve, you & Dick Cheney got better things to do? Fine, but no federal jobs of any sort for you, not even subcontracting work. You will never be in a position to order, or profit from those who serve in any capacity. This would include all state executive office & contracts since they fall within the chain of command.

    I look forward to a repeat of comments from our keyboard cadets, who “have no obligation to national service”, but feel “they have fundamental right to be Commander in Chief”.

    When I saw that comment go unchallenged…never mind.

  6. S Brennan permalink
    January 12, 2011

    Agreed;

    “But recruiting volunteer soldiers with promises of job training (or Guardsmen for that weekend a month, two weeks a year) and then sending them back for multiple combat tours, that’s unconscionable…If we had brought back the draft after 9/11, we’d have been out of Iraq and Afghanistan years ago.”

  7. The King permalink
    January 12, 2011

    So you are going to take federal government employees (military) and force the states to hire them (infrastructure)? I understand your hatred for the Constitution, but some people still respect the limitations of power as outlined.

  8. Morocco Bama permalink
    January 12, 2011

    I can’t believe what I’m reading. I don’t have the words right now…..and I’m not a “leftie,” or a “rightie.” I will say this post is enough to make S Brennan types starch their shorts with babies that could have been.

  9. John B. permalink
    January 12, 2011

    Agreed Ian.

  10. John permalink
    January 12, 2011

    As a draftee from the Vietnam era, I was vehemently against the draft until I saw the result of the all volunteer army. We now have a professional, volunteer military divorced from much connection with the population, therefore there is no resistance to the wars and the use of this army. No one cares. If you are going to be drafted into a military/national service, you will have great interest in what that service does. The industrial overlords of the military industrial complex do not want citizen scrutiny of their money making, war mongering operations.
    I would also note that filling the military with resister draftees after 1968 profoundly altered that military and made it dysfunctional. That is why the military pros do not want the draft reinstated.
    As far as national service is concerned, I live within 20 miles of fallen down, deteriorated CCC and WPA projects in the Blue Ridge mountains, even as the tourist burden on these facilities increases every year. There are hundreds of jobs that need doing, that would provide good and long term value to the US landscape. Private enterprise will never do these projects.
    And as someone with an interest in MMT, I repeat, a sovereign government is not constrained in spending…until it becomes inflationary. The Bernank’s failing is that he still thinks trickle down works, so he is doing this for the banksters, and not spending at the bottom of the economy where it needs to happen.
    And as a

  11. January 12, 2011

    I might not (strongly) object to a non-military national service requirement, if you can somehow manage to concoct a non-hierarchical, non-disciplinarian structure for this to take effect.

    The military requirement, on the other hand, well, let me say what I said when this came up before: I frankly think we should be suspicious of former military people serving in political office, because they have been proven willing to accept hierarchical discipline, which is to me a suspicious trait in a would-be member of the political class.

  12. January 12, 2011

    Furthermore, we cannot separate a military training requirement at this present time from problematic cultural reflections of toxic masculinity, which makes it even more suspicious to me. I mean, “every male, and every woman who wants to?” Um.

  13. anon2525 permalink
    January 12, 2011

    While many lefties wouldn’t agree with me, I would also move to mandatory service, everyone serving 2 to 4 years. Most wouldn’t serve in the military, but every male and any woman who wants it would get military training. A militarily trained population tends to concentrate the minds of politicians and other elites and I also believe that the military should be much more representative of the population as a whole, for a variety of reasons.

    You would, would you? Emperor Ian Welsh so decrees, without supporting that decree with any reason or evidence.

    I would then issue an overriding decree declaring an end to mandatory service, in my rule as Supreme Emperor ruling over all mere Emperors. In its place, I would institute a Jobs Guarantee that offered the free people of the U.S. a job that they were free to take or not to take. This would concentrate the minds of those in the gov’t. to institute programs that addressed the needs of the country instead of wasting tax money on programs that provided no benefit.

    The military would be shrunk to a small training and research institute that researched ways to have a military force brought into existence when a threat to the country became apparent. This would act as a brake on those in gov’t. and private industry who, when given a large standing army and large companies that profit from military action, are inclined to use it at a moment’s notice — witness the endless U.S. military actions since WWII.

    My second edict would be to eliminate the senate and the presidency. These are relics of kings and dukes of european aristocracy and have no place in a democratically-ruled country.

  14. anon2525 permalink
    January 12, 2011

    In my opinion anyone who’s for the current war is delusional or attached to the military industrial complex and willing to betray their country’s real interests for money. The US cannot afford war. Period. To be for war right now is to be for the ruin of America.

    Far more, the U.S. cannot afford its medical services industry (approximately, $2.5 trillion per year, or about $1.25 trillion above what it would cost if it followed any other OECD country’s solution), its “financial” “services” industry (virtually pure parasite, with no benefit provided to the country), or its fossil-fuels industry, (which stands in the way of the building of other solutions in energy, transportation, and shelter while exporting hundreds of billions of dollars per year for fossil fuels that 1) destroy the biosphere and 2) will lead to a collapse of the economy when the supply starts shrinking).

  15. January 12, 2011

    Or, what anon2525 said. Including on the Senate and the God-Emperorship…I mean Presidency. If nothing else, these institutions act to shield the voting public from the actual consequences of their votes in the House. If they vote for crazy, they should get crazy. I say this not because I relish crazy, but because pent-up crazy leads to more crazy.

  16. Morocco Bama permalink
    January 12, 2011

    (and like Singapore or Israel offer alternative training for those who don’t)

    If we’re going to emulate Israel on this issue let’s take it to its logical conclusion. Who will be the Palestinian equivalent in the U.S.? There’s the million dollar question. Afterall, we will have to justify the mandatory military service, and that means a permanent enemy must be inculcated, nurtured and perpetuated, or maybe Israel can lend-lease us a portion of their Palestinians and train us on how to debase, demoralize, ghettoize and, ultimately genocide them when the time is right.

  17. Morocco Bama permalink
    January 12, 2011

    What anon2525 and Mandos are saying….in spades.

  18. S Brennan permalink
    January 12, 2011

    “..we cannot separate a military training requirement at this present time from problematic cultural reflections of toxic masculinity” – Mandas

    Except of course, the facts precisely contradict this point.

    Macho movies went away as the Draft – Viet Nam war increased in intensity and only reappeared after the draft had ended and the “draft resisters” were well beyond daft age. Switzerland has a mandatory draft and yet no culture of violence…so these types of emotional arguments are contradicted by history and current events.

    Again,

    When National Service is “the other guys job”, it’s having the other man be your N-Word.

    But:

    Fine, you don’t want to serve, you & Dick Cheney got better things to do? Fine, but no federal jobs of any sort for you, not even subcontracting work. You will never be in a position to order, or profit from those who serve in any capacity. This would include all state executive office & contracts since they fall within the chain of command.

  19. Morocco Bama permalink
    January 12, 2011

    When National Service is “the other guys job”, it’s having the other man be your N-Word.

    I can’t speak for the others, but the third way is for there to be no “national service.” Nice euphemism for what is really meant, and that is Military Service. I know, I know, in your black and white world there must be a military, and I would say if that’s your thinking, and the thinking of others on the alleged “other” side of that equation, then you and the “others”, the”enemy”, agree to bludgeon each other to death on some distant Island whilst the rest of us get back to evolving. You won’t do that because in the end, militarists like yourself are ultimately cowards that avoid the real and true fight. All of you who want to fight, get on with it with each other and leave the rest of us alone, you cowards.

  20. beowulf permalink
    January 12, 2011

    “Switzerland has a mandatory draft and yet no culture of violence…so these types of emotional arguments are contradicted by history and current events.”

    Exactly right, they have universal service in the militia army (organized similarly to our National Guard) and its a very peaceful country. I wonder how many tourists know that every bridge and mountain pass in Switzerland is pre-wired with explosives and that every young male (30 year obligation was cut to less than 10 years after the Cold War) keeps an assault rifle and 300 rounds of ammunition in his house in case there’s ever a snap callup?

  21. S Brennan permalink
    January 12, 2011

    “but the third way is for there to be no “national service.” – Morock B

    3rd way huh? Could you list the major countries without any form of National defense force? Costa Rica maybe, but it’s geography is one of the most unique in the world. I am sure it is possible, but history shows that those who choose your “third way” soon find themselves ruled by nations that choose option one or two.

    Whatever it’s faults, US forces prevented Stalin’s territorial ambitions and until the Bush/Obama administration came along Europeans were pretty satisfied overall with NATO. People who say a country the size of the US is invulnerable without any Armed Forces aren’t “lefties” they’re “loonies”, or keyboard wankers without maturity or any sense of history.

  22. Morocco Bama permalink
    January 12, 2011

    What do those young Swiss males have that will guard against a couple of these dropped on their heads?

    http://rolandvb.topcities.com/Bombs/Nuclear_Mururoa.jpg

  23. January 12, 2011

    Universal service would be an outstanding “innovation” with many side-benefits in repairing the nation’s sense of solidarity. It’s telling that some commenters think first of meritocracy, but it is also important that the future elite, while young, have some experience and bond with people, who are not expecting an elite life.

    Of course, the wars are a waste — perpetual, with no achieveable objective other than “success” — but it might also be observed that they have become absurdly expensive. The military has become structured and organized in ways that make deployment bizarrely expensive in financial terms. The deployment of relatively few troops — too few to make much difference as a military or police force in a country as populous and vast as Afganistan — costs absurd amounts of money. Comparison to what was spent in previous wars or to the Afgan GDP — any standard, really — yields staggering absurdity.

  24. Morocco Bama permalink
    January 12, 2011

    S Brennan, at the heart of Ian’s argument for a greatly reduced military footprint is that it can’t be sustained economically. What’s good for the goose, is good for the gander, meaning if that applies to the U.S., it applies equally to any other nation on earth, including any that would have delusional aspirations to invade and occupy the U.S. They couldn’t afford such a foolhardy adventure, and besides, why would another nation want to invade and occupy a nation such as the U.S. replete with zombie-like fools? Not to mention, there are other ways to invade and occupy a nation…..just ask the IMF and the World Bank.

  25. David H. permalink
    January 12, 2011

    And as someone with an interest in MMT, I repeat, a sovereign government is not constrained in spending…until it becomes inflationary.

    Hear hear. The man speaks truth.

    bilbo.economicoutlook.net/blog/ — a good learning experience for me, and maybe for others.

  26. Morocco Bama permalink
    January 12, 2011

    but it is also important that the future elite, while young, have some experience and bond with people, who are not expecting an elite life.

    Isn’t that special. What a wonderful benefit. The unwashed Masses, whilst they’re still young and not so unwashed yet, get a chance to shower with their future Masters. I’m a little verklempt. Talk amongst yourselves. I’ll give you a topic.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDXEgBh0TF0&feature=related

  27. January 12, 2011

    Fine, you don’t want to serve, you & Dick Cheney got better things to do? Fine, but no federal jobs of any sort for you, not even subcontracting work. You will never be in a position to order, or profit from those who serve in any capacity. This would include all state executive office & contracts since they fall within the chain of command.

    You only say this because you conflate taking orders with “serving” as in public service. I do not want to take orders—we have so much of that in so many people’s existing economic and social lives, why should we insist people take more? Mandatory military service means conditioning people’s political and social life on a system that requires their arbitrary compliance. We presumably want to build a world in which people are more free, not less—free not to suffer the adverse consequences of rejecting arbitrary regimes, no matter how petty the fiefdom.

    You bring up Switzerland? I raise you Israel. It has nothing to do with military service; it has to do with foreign occupations.

    Dick Cheney is a case in point for the opposite, in face. The VP post is, face it, mostly ceremonial in its actual function, with a few really “political” aspects. Cheney was/is an expert at manipulating the authoritarian-minded. That was the source of his influence.

    But authoritarian-mindedness is deeply rooted in America, draft or no.

  28. anon2525 permalink
    January 12, 2011

    Switzerland has a mandatory draft and yet no culture of violence…so these types of emotional arguments are contradicted by history and current events.

    Huh? The history of the U.S., with a draft and without, since 1945 has been one military action after another. Contrasting Switzerland’s history with the U.S.’s is grasping at straws. We have our actual recent history to learn from and don’t need to reach for some other country’s experience.

    I’m convinced that had there not been a large standing army, and beyond that, a military-industrial-congressional complex, there would have been no invasion and occupation of Iraq.

    Not having a large weapon at hand forces decision makers to “concentrate their minds” on better diplomacy and international cooperation.

    I’ve written this before in comments on other posts: the greatest act of diplomacy in the history of the U.S., and, arguably, the world, was the settling of the Cuban Missile Crisis without the use of military force. If those in the military at the time (I’m looking at you, LeMay, who should have known better because of his experience in WWII), had gotten their way, then I think it is unlikely that anyone reading or writing here today who was born after Oct. 1962 and who lived east of the Rocky mountains would be alive.

  29. S Brennan permalink
    January 12, 2011

    I agree Bruce, having served in the US Army made me a much better person. I think the lily white commenters here [CDyke being the exception] would find it a real revelation to be under a command structure where 1/3 of your NCO’s could be African American and 15-18% as officers.

    Let me add, in my time, I did not see 1 enlisted Soldier, or Marine from the top 2 income quintiles…not.a.single.one….out of over a thousand I talked to. And yes, I did ask questions that would suss that out. For most, service was the only way out of their economic circumstances. I am proud to say, of my service friends 100% went on to get University degrees and most of them in the sciences.

    Read the comments here and you’ll soon see that many here are proud to denigrate those who serve with remarks meant to sound “high minded”, but they are easily parsed to show rabid class elitism. A lot of folks who pretend to be “radical” as a youth fashion statement then go on to be right wingers later on in life, the way water takes the path of least resistance.

  30. anon2525 permalink
    January 12, 2011

    I’m convinced that had there not been a large standing army, and beyond that, a military-industrial-congressional complex, there would have been no invasion and occupation of Iraq.

    To add: The alternative to a large, all-”volunteer”* military is not a large, all-conscript military. An actual alternative would be a small military.

    * “Don’t have a job? Why not ‘volunteer’ to obey the orders of some military officers and their political leader? Join the military so that you can kill mostly civilian children, women, and men, often anonymously, while advancing someone’s career, and making some people a tidy profit.”

  31. anon2525 permalink
    January 12, 2011

    A Jobs Guarantee: Provide a job with a living wage, medical care, housing, free education, retirement pay after years of employment. Too radical? Socialist? Tell that to the job program called “the military.”

  32. S Brennan permalink
    January 12, 2011

    anon2525, at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis [CMC], which just as easily might have been called the Turkey Missile Crisis, the US had overwhelming superiority, but it also had a Prez who seen combat and lost a brother to war. While JFK went along with his generals insistence that the Bay of Pigs was a nifty idea and wound up taking the blame, he most assuredly felt comfortable bucking there advice during the CMC. In fact, had JFK lived, there is considerable evidence that he wanted out of Viet Nam. Had JFK’s crew not been such an elitist bunch of snobs who kept the VP out of the know, I feel pretty certain LBJ would have skipped the escalation advised by none other than the Lemay man…McNamara.

    Truman served and did not start a war [I don't consider the N Korean invasion an US imperial plot].

    Ike served and did not start a war.

    LBJ served rserve and was repeatedly lied to and questioned openly whether escalation was a good idea, when it turned bad, he knew the shame, resigned and went home to die.

    Carter served and did not start a war.

    Reagan did not serve and started several.

    Bush was a coward under fire and started several wars.

    Clinton didn’t serve and started one war, which I felt was justified. Noting that serveral commenters here feel that Milosevic had the right to invade and murder, while Clinto was a war criminal for stopping the mayhem. Outside of Serbians, nobody over there shares these commenters opinions.

    Bush didn’t serve honorably and start wars left and right.

    Obama never served and reignited the bloodshed in Afghanistan.

    My vote, those who serve, with those who see combat tend to be more peace loving…which is what a rational mind would expect.

  33. January 12, 2011

    Well, my first comment, from early this morning, seems to have gotten caught up in “your comment is awaiting moderation” hell (why?), so I’ll just address this:

    “Switzerland has a mandatory draft and yet no culture of violence…so these types of emotional arguments are contradicted by history and current events.”

    Switzerland has a huge problem with domestic violence. So yeah, all those Swiss guys with guns in their houses aren’t unleashing their violence at Safeway parking lots, but they are doing it in other ways.

  34. anon2525 permalink
    January 12, 2011

    My vote, those who serve, with those who see combat tend to be more peace loving…which is what a rational mind would expect.

    Your historical observations are accurate, but draw the wrong lesson. The idea that only presidents who have seen military combat are fit to serve is a logical contradiction. It asks that we have combat so that we can provide experience for people who will later be president who will then use that experience to prevent combat. So, we need combat to prevent combat?

    This is a judgment call about human nature and requires that we draw on history. Washington and Jefferson and Eisenhower all saw the danger of a large standing military, (for different reasons?). Jefferson even called for “No standing army” to be written into the U.S. Constitution. Heed their judgment and advice.

    Remove the large standing military and the benefits outweighs the risks.

    And the benefits of military service to individuals does not require the “military” part of the service.

    People are describing the economic “inefficiencies” of having a large military-industrial-congressional complex, but, surprisingly to me, are not bothering to mention the immorality and illegality of the acts it commits at the orders of a political and military leadership. If you think that there are benefits to having a large MIC complex, then justify those benefits to the over two million civilians killed in Vietnam (conscript proponents) and hundreds of thousands of civilians killed in Iraq (volunteer proponents). If you can’t, then the burden is on you to come up with a way to get the benefits of military service without the military.

  35. beowulf permalink
    January 12, 2011

    “What do those young Swiss males have that will guard against a couple of these dropped on their heads?”

    You’re kidding, right? Just remember, the Swiss really do think of everything.
    “But when you get to the Sonnenberg, make sure your eyes adjust, and take a closer look, for this is much more than a tunnel. In here is the world’s largest nuclear shelter.

    “Under Swiss law, local governments are required to provide shelter spaces for everyone, and in the early 1970s Lucerne was short by several thousand. The new Sonnenberg motorway tunnel, just being built, seemed a neat solution: kit it out as a nuclear shelter as well and it could hold 20,000 people… The Sonnenberg, in theory, is able to withstand a one megaton nuclear bomb, as close as half a mile away.”
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/from_our_own_correspondent/6347519.stm

    And in case Switzerland were partially or totally occupied by an invader, the government even prepared a handy guerrilla warfare manual for its citizens.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Total_Resistance_%28book%29

    Not for nothing that Machiavelli said 500 years ago, “the Swiss are the most free and most armed people”. Speaking only for myself, I wouldn’t invade ‘em. :o )

  36. S Brennan permalink
    January 12, 2011

    anon2525,

    I never said this:

    “The idea that only presidents who have seen military COMBAT are fit to serve”

    I only ask that those who seek to lead, or profit need to join the “risk pool” and find common cause with those you seek to command. Once you are compelled to follow legal, but incredibly stupid orders you tend to impose some pretty hard restrictions on what you would visit upon others. People aren’t born leaders, real leaders are chiseled by life’s unwanted vicissitudes. Before you visit discipline on 300,000,000 souls, I want to see some self imposed discipline.

    Now if the dreamy eyed radicals on this board succeed in eliminating all military forces I’d would say this is a pointless rule, but since those keyboard commandos represent far less than 1% of the nation it is not a item for immediate consideration. Something tells me that these folks would never succeed with some authoritarian take over that crushes democracy. But even if I underestimate these “liberal” dictators, it’s hard to see a fascists form of government sans a military style police force, but then that’s why the dreams of young sniping radicals have a history of being ignored…or worse, disastrously implemented.

  37. beowulf permalink
    January 12, 2011

    S Brennan, fire for effect. I never served bu for the first 10 years or so of my life, the only soldier I knew was my aunt, who served as a career Army officer. You know, I have no recollection of her as the “toxic masculine sort”.

    LBJ was such a tool, he was already a congressman when he joined the Navy, he was only on active duty for 6 months before FDR ordered every Member of Congress on active duty to return to Congress or resign their congressional seat, so he had his honorable discharge by the summer of 1942. LBJ went home as a Lt. Commander wearing a Silver Star (third highest award) that MacArthur gave him for riding along on one bombing mission. Yeah tough war, that jackass.

    Kennedy, Nixon and Ford all served as Navy line officers in the Pacific. To their credit, Kennedy (because of his bad back) had to use his dad’s connections to have orders cut shipping him shipped overseas while Nixon quit a draft-exempt job in DC as an Office of Price Administration lawyer to volunteer for Navy OCS.

  38. S Brennan permalink
    January 12, 2011

    LBJ was conned, but he had personal courage, breaking the law as congressman to save Jews from the ovens. I think when you risk everything for what you believe in you are either a fool or courageous.

    LBJ was conned, but he had foresight warn all who would listen [very few] of the Nazi’s intention.

    In the end it’s LBJ’s fault [which he acknowledged] but hell had to stoke the fires when McNamara showed up.

    http://lyndonjohnsonandisrael.blogspot.com/

    Nixon political entourage had a treasonous streak, as a candidate in ’68 he sent a mission to South Viet Nam to convince leaders not to accept the terms that were being offered in Paris promising South Viet Nam a better deal if they waited. South Viet Nam waited. The 1968 terms were signed by South Viet Nam in 1972, in the meantime 22,000 troops and almost a million Asians perished. I’d of hanged all who participated in that treasonous subterfuge.

  39. senecal permalink
    January 12, 2011

    I believe Ian’s points are self-evident, each one based on common sense, almost boringly self-evident, with the exception of the one about switching to sustainable energy sources, which probably implies a significant scaling down of national life-style (already happening anyway.)

    I’m only curious, Ian, what kind of wars would you approve? And, two, can’t the logic of protecting shipping lanes be extended to protecting raw materials sites, thus opening the door to occupying countries like Iraq which can’t protect them itself?

  40. January 12, 2011

    Every dollar spent on the military is not spent on actual economically productive activity. Yes, there are some exceptions, but there are other ways to do R&D spending, and more and more military R&D is not applicable to civilian matters.

    There are other examples, like military helicopters that are used for search and rescue, that sort of thing, but on the whole, military spending is as close to pure overhead as a society gets. That’s a big part of our problem – we’re spending gobs of money on stuff that doesn’t get us anywhere, and nowhere near what we ought to on things that would.

  41. January 12, 2011

    P.S. All wars are moronic. They almost inevitably could have been prevented had one side or the other used some common sense. The problem is that there are wars you have to fight, and those you don’t. We’ve been fighting wars we didn’t have to. What’s worse, most of those we didn’t have to fight were wars that really weren’t worth fighting in the first place.

  42. Morocco Bama permalink
    January 12, 2011

    Clinton didn’t serve and started one war, which I felt was justified.

    Justified, eh? Very telling about your character considering the following.

    http://www.voltairenet.org/article159888.html

    The Serbs are still guinea pigs in a disgraceful exercise of blackmail and enticement – the carrot and the stick – pursued by the European Union, which for the past decade has held out the mirage of membership in the European Union to bully Serbian leaders into more and more concessions, for which they get a few crumbs now and then, but never anything resembling recognition of Serbia’s right to justice, or even to existence.

    I might add that the Albanians were also used as guinea pigs. But in laboratory experiments, some rats are starved and others are fattened. The Albanian laboratory rats were fattened. This was certainly not for their own good.

    The Albanians of Kosovo were used as pawns, to achieve three aims:

    1) To further weaken and break up Yugoslavia, which had been the only independent socialist country in Europe which had close ties with the Third World, notably Arab countries, through the Non-Aligned Movement. Both Yugoslav socialism and non-alignment were weak and fading. But the United States preferred to wipe out all traces of such independent tendencies, just in case, as well as to weaken Serbia, considered a potential ally of Russia.

    2) To provide a new “humanitarian” mission for NATO, as a pretext to change the nature of the alliance from defense of its members to “out of area” operations anywhere in the world where the United States chooses to intervene.

    3) To build Camp Bondsteel, as a part of extension of US bases eastward toward both Russia and the Middle East.

    The “official” narrative about the “NATO Humanitarian War” in Yugoslavia was nothing but a bunch of duplicitous propaganda as the following so earnestly points out.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9FN33NTMpLU&feature=related

    Oh, and that’s Bullshit about nobody over there besides Serbians feeling that way. We have friends here in the U.S. from Bosnia who feel very much the same way as the “commenters” you mention. They believe that NATO forced the war, and encouraged and supported factionalism prior to it, in order to break up Yugoslavia. One of the guys recounts how he was forced at gun point to join the military and ordered to shoot at and kill his former Serb neighbors and friends. He said many of his fellow soldiers, including himself, refused orders and aimed to miss. They couldn’t understand why they were being required to do this….out of nowhere. He, and his wife, believe that War is Crime. They have lived through it, they should know. It’s an insult to them for you to talk the way you are about it being justified, you sadist, especially when one considers the real reasons for the war. I suppose you naively believe that the U.S. entry into WWII in Europe was all about saving the countless Jews, Slavs, Homosexuals, Mentally Infirm and Political Dissenters from the ruthless clutches of the Nazis, don’t you? Nah, it had nothing to do with the fact that the Soviet Union beat back the German Offensive and turned the tide of the war. Good wars, my ass. There are no good wars…..that’s an oxymoron if ever there was one.

  43. Conservative permalink
    January 12, 2011

    Ian,

    You are sounding more and more like a conservative. If we can get rid of those liberals parading as conservatives–I believe you call them NeoCons–then we can get back to our non-war roots. Nation building and occupation are hardly conservative principles.

  44. Ken Hoop permalink
    January 12, 2011

    Not bad, Ian, but for your info, the tradcons e.g. at amconmag.com and the Ron Paul and similiar libertarians have been against the Iraq war and the Afghan war from the outset of each.

  45. S Brennan permalink
    January 12, 2011

    Look, I agree DoD is being bloated by the Bush/Obama administration, as this chart shows:

    http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/downchart_gs.php?year=1800_2010&view=1&expand=&units=p&fy=fy11&chart=30-fed&bar=1&stack=1&size=l&title=&state=US&color=c&local=s

    but this is not true:

    “military spending is as close to pure overhead as a society gets”

    Let’s review just a few:

    Internet

    Satellites

    IC Chips

    Computers

    Jet aircraft

    Flat Screens

    Composites

    Plastics

    IR Technologies

    Stop these senseless wars, then bend DoD towards useful technologies. But don’t be stupid and cut it back more than Clinton/Gore did and think the money will be spent elsewhere, it won’t, it will go to tax cuts for the rich and QE III

  46. January 12, 2011

    S. Brennan writes:

    Let’s review just a few:

    Yes, let’s review those few. All that represents a tiny fraction of what we spent on the military, at least to get them to the point where they were viable and understood technologies. The rest, all the Army divisions, the aircraft carrier battle groups, all pretty much represent pure overhead, at least when they’re not being used somewhere.

    Most of those things probably would have been developed for an aggressive space program, and some, like the Internet, would probably have developed one way or another.

  47. Morocco Bama permalink
    January 12, 2011

    You’re kidding, right? Just remember, the Swiss really do think of everything.

    Did they remember to include accommodations for the cows that provide all of that milk for that wonderful cheese for which the Swiss are so famous? The cheese is stinky enough, but imagine all of that cow dung and no where to put it, especially when you consider you will be in there for the rest of your life.

  48. Morocco Bama permalink
    January 12, 2011

    You left off the most important one, S Brennan. Tang! How could you forget Tang?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wf1kw5Yp9Ck

  49. Morocco Bama permalink
    January 12, 2011

    Plastics

    Ah yes, Plastics, what would we do without Plastics? This guy saw the future, didn’t he?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSxihhBzCjk

    And here’s that future.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnUjTHB1lvM

  50. anon2525 permalink
    January 12, 2011

    and now it’s out of moderation…

    Unfortunately, the threat Eisenhower warned us about is looming ever greater. The security state that is emerging is going to be the source for most of the jobs in this country. DHS is already building massive new surveillance structures:

    Our own home-grown Stasi. I wonder whether employees will have to speak with an East German accent.

  51. Ian Welsh permalink*
    January 12, 2011

    I’m aware that the paleos and the (few real) libertarians have been against the wars. Unfortunately, they have exactly as much influence with the Republican party as the “hard left” does with the Democrats.

    I should have known this would turn into an argument about the draft.

    Rule#1: the elites must be subject to the same experiences as everyone else. Must. I leave it as an exercise to readers to figure out why. As Brennan notes, right now they don’t serve.

    The other option is this: go down to a pre WWII military. TINY. Oh, and gut the paramilitary stuff at the same time, release most of the prisoners and so on. End the security state, get rid of 90% of the “intelligence” community including most of NSA and the CIA.

    Then do the work programs anyway, call it “not military” if that makes you happy.

  52. January 13, 2011

    I should have known this would turn into an argument about the draft.

    I thought you intended that, considering we’ve been here before a couple of times at least! I was about to congratulate you with a “well played, sir” for self-trolling, of which I entirely approve, naturally.

    I appreciate your desire to create common ground between the econo-political elite and The Masses, but one or two years of being commanded by someone isn’t really going to do that.

  53. anon2525 permalink
    January 13, 2011

    The other option is this: go down to a pre WWII military. TINY. Oh, and gut the paramilitary stuff at the same time, release most of the prisoners and so on. End the security state, get rid of 90% of the “intelligence” community including most of NSA and the CIA.

    It’s the only option. Draft or no draft, if there is a military-industrial-congressional complex left in place, then you will have military actions. You have left in place a structure that will reward people with money and careers, and so they will push for the use of military force. And the person in charge will use it, especially since congress has continuously demonstrated that it will not exercise its constitutional authority to decide whether or not the country will send its military to attack other countries.

  54. Morocco Bama permalink
    January 13, 2011

    I was about to congratulate you with a “well played, sir” for self-trolling, of which I entirely approve, naturally.

    I considered that as well. I couldn’t help but thinking that the purpose of this exercise was to elicit satirical improvisation….set the table, and they will come. And they did come.

    Some of the responses reminded me of Archie Bunker’s solution to hijackings.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLjNJI54GMM

  55. Eureka Springs permalink
    January 13, 2011

    Lisa Simeone PERMALINK
    January 12, 2011
    “We all know that if we had had a draft, we wouldn’t be in Iraq today. The country wouldn’t have stood for it, because so many of the middle- and upper-class would’ve had their kids getting killed. ”

    I couldn’t disagree more, but neither of us seem to have any supporting information beyond our instinct. A significant number of family members blind ardent support of military action seems to rise when they have friends and family members in a war/occupation zone. Vietnam was incredibly difficult to stop. There is far less reason now, than ever before, imo, to think TPB would at all be responsive to strong opposition to war or anything else the rich elites want.

  56. DancingOpossum permalink
    January 13, 2011

    I find it difficult to believe that supposed liberals support conscription. Are you kidding? I oppose everything our military is currently doing with every moral fiber of my being, and detest the way it is used to suppress other countries in the name of our imperial greed. And you’re saying that to we’re now supposed to be forced to serve in it? Really? And then we have the brilliant idea that we should enforce this slavery–which is exactly what it is–by saying that those of us who choose to preserve our personal freedom should be denied rights like jobs? Where am I, Mussolini’s Italy??

    I never thought the day would come when I would agree with Mandos but he’s dead right on this one.

    No little qualms about thngs like bodily integrity, conscientious objection, personal freedom? No, no. You MUST SERVE.

    I agree that some military training would be highly useful for most people. Training in survival skills, use of weapons, surveillance–all highly useful, and increasingly so if our country experiences wholesale breakdown–which looks like a distinct possibility. But these can be taught without making everyone serve in the military.

    This country doesn’t need a bigger military or more glorification of the armed service. We’ve got enough of that for 10 Roman empires. We need a jobs program and we need socialized medicine, and we need to bring our troops home from everywhere, period end of story.

  57. DancingOpossum permalink
    January 13, 2011

    And thank you for your excellent posts, Morocco Bama. Like you, I tune out anyone who raises Israel or the Bosnia debacle as exemplars.

  58. January 13, 2011

    I couldn’t disagree more, but neither of us seem to have any supporting information beyond our instinct.

    Well, I must admit you’re right that I have no evidence and am going on instinct. Perhaps I was being hopelessly naive. Vietnam is still so fresh in my mind, but maybe the powers-that-be would have been just as ready in 2002 to throw a conscripted army into war and would have ignored a national outcry.

    I’m not in favor of forced military service; I am in favor of national service, which I see as a completely different thing. I look at it as a jobs program. And in any case, I fully support conscientious objectors.

  59. anon2525 permalink
    January 13, 2011

    No, I’m not against all wars. But I’m against the Afghan war, the “secret” war in Yemen, the occupation of Iraq, and any war with Iran under any circumstances I can imagine.

    Why? Because:

    - They are moronic (in the sense that they cannot be “won” and I oppose unwinnable wars);
    - The US is in steep decline in an economic/industrial sense and needs to spend its money on other things.

    Wasn’t it Jonathan Swift who wrote that if you want to bring your “wars” in on time and under budget, any honest arms dealer will tell you that nuclear weapons really are the way to go? All in all, it’s the most cost-effective solution to the “war” problem. Sure, even more civilians will be killed and cities will be vaporized, but if you want to win and save money, you’re going to have to break some eggs. Like in most enterprises, it’s “fast, cheap, good: pick two.”

  60. anon2525 permalink
    January 13, 2011

    Perhaps I was being hopelessly naive. Vietnam is still so fresh in my mind, but maybe the powers-that-be would have been just as ready in 2002 to throw a conscripted army into war and would have ignored a national outcry.

    “Hopelessly naïve” or “hopelessly cynical?”

    I think that your prediction (of the past?) is correct: there would have been an (even bigger) outcry (than there was) and there still would have been an invasion. It would have been more of the culture wars. The people who were wrong about civil rights, equal rights for women, Vietnam, Watergate, and the environment have been attempting to get second chances to “prove” that they were not morally and intellectually wrong, and they would have welcomed this as yet another chance to do that. This is why “Support the Troops ™” was a required preface and ending to any discussion of the invasion and occupation.

  61. beowulf permalink
    January 13, 2011

    “Wasn’t it Jonathan Swift who wrote that if you want to bring your “wars” in on time and under budget, any honest arms dealer will tell you that nuclear weapons really are the way to go?”

    Unless it was written through a spirit medium, probably not.
    Jonathan Swift (30 November 1667 – 19 October 1745) was an Anglo-Irish[1] satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer (first for the Whigs, then for the Tories), poet and cleric who became Dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Swift

    Let’s see what the War Department has to say about a peacetime draft…
    “Shall We Have Universal Military Training?”
    http://www.historians.org/projects/giroundtable/umt/umt_toc.html

    That’s from the “GI Roundtable Series” published during WWII.
    http://www.historians.org/projects/giroundtable/titles.htm
    Actually pretty fascinating series of pamphlets that cover a wide range of topics, some of them pretty controversial to raise in 1944 or 1945 (or even today): “29. Is Your Health the Nation’s Business?”) or “47. Canada: Our Oldest Good Neighbor”. Ha ha, just kidding Ian.

  62. Morocco Bama permalink
    January 13, 2011

    Let’s see what the War Department has to say about a peacetime draft…

    That’s kind of like asking a Roman Catholic Priest what methods he uses to target young boys…. and sometimes girls.

    Besides, there’s no need for a draft when you are using the National Guard for purposes never intended and half your forces are private contractors.

  63. January 13, 2011

    I think anon was referring, maybe, to the relatively well-known blogger Jonathan Swift, who wrote in his namesake’s general vein. I think he passed away a couple of years ago, unfortunately. So now we have two late Jonathan Swifts with snark writing to refer back to.

  64. S Brennan permalink
    January 14, 2011

    Beowulf,

    Those are two great links, I didn’t read all the way through, but great history, thank you!

    “That’s kind of like asking a Roman Catholic Priest what methods he uses to target young boys…”- Morocco Bama

    Or like asking “Morama” to act like something other than the spoiled child he is.

    Frankly, I think the Roman Catholic Church is far more likely to solve it’s problems than “Morama”, but then they both like to preach a lot of stuff they themselves are unwilling to abide…so, who knows if either will improve?

  65. anon2525 permalink
    January 14, 2011

    I think anon was referring, maybe, to the relatively well-known blogger Jonathan Swift…

    Sorry to be having to clarify, but I was in fact referring to the famous satirist Jonathan Swift, only not literally. Of course Jonathan Swift didn’t literally write anything about arms dealers saying something about nuclear weapons. Those who think that I think that Swift did write it missed the point of my comment by a mile.

  66. Formerly T-Bear permalink
    January 14, 2011

    Thanks anon-whatever, for removing all doubt – the cohort of the usual suspects are also in attendance, helping remove doubt as well.
    = = = = = = =

    Disagree with Ian’s post on the principle that education is never an inexpensive proposition (you get what you pay for). For all the centuries of written warning about the follies and costs of war, not a letter of all that wisdom has made an effect upon the country’s consciousness.

    The country’s founders themselves summed up and warned against exactly the path the government is navigating, speaking to empty ears. Education not learned by letter will of necessity be taught by deed for those incapable of the former method, hence, those who fail to know history are fated to repeat the lessons (and take the class again).

    Since the country has no quality history for reference, or is incapable of concept, or cares not, war will be done and the price of education mounts. The ‘family silver’ of the country is pawned to pay the latest wars in service to political empire aspirations, the country’s home is mortgaged to the hilt to pay a standing military against all warning not to do so, the sherif is at the door to evict and recover the unpaid, unserviced debts for the creditors and moneylenders. The drums of the fear-mongers are beating loudly, drowning out thought – more war – more war – more war.

    So, the only education that is on offer is that of more war, and certainly that is the only lesson plan that the unread have to avail themselves. More war is the only option for the unteachable. More war is the only answer that can suffice. More war is what it will be. The people can live in cardboard boxes under bridges, but war is required. When politicians emptied the asylums of the incapacitated to save a dime, they removed the only shelter that could cope with today’s citizen.

    Yes. War, bring it on. (/scathing sarcasm)

  67. Morocco Bama permalink
    January 14, 2011

    anon2525, true, rapaciously scathing satire is often lost on a Literalist/Fundamentalist audience. They cannot GROK nuance due to their aspergerian dispositions. It’s casting pearls before swine, so to speak. For the record, I understood your point and your tact, immediately, so I guess there are benefits afterall to being an immature spoiled child who won’t submit to pedophile priests and psychopathic militarists.

  68. Morocco Bama permalink
    January 14, 2011

    hence, those who fail to know history are fated to repeat the lessons (and take the class again).

    I agree that the path to social and psychical evolution is learning from one’s mistakes, both individually, and collectively as a scoiety, but “history” is a loaded term. Let’s face it, the adage “history is written by the victors” has considerable merit, and that “history” is, in most cases, the only “history” the unwashed are ever going to read, or see. It’s part of the conditioning that convinces them to fashion their own chains and decorate their own cells. S Brennan is a perfect example. He is the prototypical paradigm, the end result of a social-engineering experiment that’s been in operation now since the 1920′s.

  69. Morocco Bama permalink
    January 14, 2011

    Oops, excuse me T-Bear, I read your next paragraph and you covered what I just commented on. I concur with your commentary, obviously.

  70. January 14, 2011

    The military happened to develop useful, civilian technologies because it was showered with money.

    If Clinton had been a true leader and statesman, he could have changed the world. Pretty much gut the DoD budget and redirect it into the space program. It has a pretty damned good record of bringing technology into the civilian sector too. It’s end goals are admirable, and both its means and ends tend to be the sort that can unify nations rather then rend them apart. Moreover, many of the big money contractors pulling political strings work with both so it wouldn’t have been a huge change in that respect.

    Instead our modern, liberal hero decided that the best thing to beat swords into was more swords. And by doing so, he lost Russia for the sake of old Cold Warriors. We might have found an equal partner in space exploration, developed a stable democratic system there, and secured all the oil and gas we need without Middle Eastern complications. But NATO bases had to be pushed East, and it made a lot more “sense” to build up China which would clearly be a natural resources competitor once its manufacturing really took off.

    And, yes, the war in Yugoslavia was none of the sweetness and good that it gets painted to be. Plus, let’s not forget what a grand place Kosovo became…and almost certainly the European outlet for Afghan heroin which is almost certainly being run by the CIA, because that’s what the Agency does.

  71. January 14, 2011

    Have just started the book War Is A Lie by David Swanson. Heard him speak the other day and was impressed, but haven’t gotten beyond the intro yet. Perhaps some other people here have already read it.

  72. S Brennan permalink
    January 14, 2011

    Lex I agree with your general thrust and say so above:

    “Stop these senseless wars, then bend DoD towards useful technologies. But don’t be stupid and cut it back more than Clinton/Gore did and think the money will be spent elsewhere, it won’t, it will go to tax cuts for the rich and QE III”

    But as long as a program can be called Defense, the “knee jerk” congressional reaction favors the spending for public works, research and DEVELOPMENT see:

    “Eisenhower’s most enduring achievements was championing and signing the bill that authorized the Interstate Highway System in 1956. He justified the project through the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 as essential to American security during the Cold War….Eisenhower’s support of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 can be directly attributed to his experiences in 1919 as a participant in the U.S. Army’s first Transcontinental Motor Convoy across the United States on the historic Lincoln Highway, which was the first road across America. The highly publicized 1919 convoy was intended, in part, to dramatize the need for better main highways and continued federal aid.

    The convoy left the Ellipse south of the White House in Washington D.C. on July 7, 1919, and headed for Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. From there, it followed the Lincoln Highway to San Francisco. Bridges cracked and were rebuilt, vehicles became stuck in mud, and equipment broke, but the convoy was greeted warmly by communities across the country. The convoy reached San Francisco on September 6, 1919.

    That experience on the Lincoln Highway, plus his observations of the German autobahn network during World War II, convinced him to support construction of the Interstate System when he became President. “The old convoy had started me thinking about good, two-lane highways, but Germany had made me see the wisdom of broader ribbons across the land.”

    Eisenhower argued for the highways for the purpose of national defense. In the event of an ground invasion by a foreign power, the U.S. Army would need good highways to be able to transport troops across the country efficiently. Following completion of the highways the cross-country journey that took the convoy two months in 1919 was cut down to two weeks.”

    FYI, the Space program was an outgrowth of DoD, JFK not only bent US DoD spending, he bent the USSR’s as well…which was, next to Gorbachev’s willingness to end the insanity, what ending the cold war, Reagan was an observer.

  73. anon2525 permalink
    January 14, 2011

    Have just started the book “War Is A Lie” by David Swanson.

    I have not read it. He has been writing a number of diaries related to the topic since the book was published, which you can read here. Also, there was a discussion of the book that he participated in, which you can read here. That discussion also includes an embedded link to an interview he gave to The Real News.

  74. anon2525 permalink
    January 14, 2011

    Mistakes in the HTML (again). My previous post should only have quoted the first line.

  75. Formerly T-Bear permalink
    January 14, 2011

    @SBrennan

    Eisenhower had an even better example of road networks that were built by the Germans prior to WWII where the design allowed efficient transportation between significant production and population hubs throughout Germany. The German autobahn was the model that Eisenhower used, as well as the logic of design. It worked for Germany economically and militarily; overlain on existing US road networks, it worked for the US. Much of the economic growth of the 60′s was based upon the developing road system, travel (trucking) time was reduced from weeks to days that supported economic growth nationwide. Ocham’s razor works on history too. Surprised that wasn’t taught in school.

  76. S Brennan permalink
    January 14, 2011

    Yes F-TB,

    Your history is spot on, I did try cover that point with:

    “The old convoy had started me thinking about good, two-lane highways, but Germany had made me see the wisdom of broader ribbons across the land.” – Eisenhower

    This doesn’t apply to F-TB, or the majority of commenters on Ian’s site, but it does need mentioning because if you don’t understand how progress occurred you are unlikely to come up with an idea that is worthwhile. That is why so many evil people engage in historical re-writes…it gets innocents to perform evil unwittingly.

    I am all for young adults new POV’s, but I wish some of the juniors on this board would bone up on history, otherwise their “new” POV is just a rehash of yesterday’s failures, lies and deceptions.

  77. Morocco Bama permalink
    January 14, 2011

    An equal case can be made that the Interstate System in the U.S. was as much a failure as it was a success. It allowed for the proliferation of the automobile and the attendant suburban sprawl. It facilitated a materialistic, consumer culture that has been significantly responsible for Anthropogenic Global Climate Change, not to mention the prolific particle pollution, ozone and the myriad toxic chemicals that pervade our bodily tissues and organs. This planet is on the fringe of collapse because of the disgusting lifestyle S Brennan labels as “progress.” I’m not interested in your “history,” S Brennan. It’s the “history” of the elitist ruling class, the victors, and just so much garbage. How about you learn some rational logic and see that what may have been perceived as a good idea 60 years prior, or rationalized as a good idea, has turned out to be a potential human extinction nightmare eight or nine decades subsequent to its implementation. This is precisely why any strategy for investment in infrastructure better be damn well thought out well into the future before any funds are released. I doubt any funds will be released for any significant infrastructure projects because I believe those in the position to know, realize that the future is bleak, and they’re busy concentrating their wealth and positions in order to build their NeoFeudal Castles high above, and just out of reach of, their Apocalyptic Empire.

  78. S Brennan permalink
    January 14, 2011

    “An equal case can be made that the [human species] was as much a failure as it was a success” – “Morama”

    I don’t suppose a Juvenal mind ever notices any action taken, whatever it’s benefits, has negative consequences, take ending slavery, or civil rights…many argued just as our personal”Morama” does, finding the negative in isolation of the overall good. One thing “Morama” does provide ample evidence for is that the mind numbing propaganda of the last 32 years works.

  79. January 14, 2011

    Thanks anon-whatever, for removing all doubt – the cohort of the usual suspects are also in attendance, helping remove doubt as well.

    Oh? Do explain.

  80. Morocco Bama permalink
    January 14, 2011

    Thank you for bringing up David Swanson and War is a Lie, Lisa. It segues nicely with this discussion especially since S Brennan has brought up one of his many vaunted military leader heroes. Here’s a nice article by Swanson about Eisenhower’s famous Military Industrial Complex speech. He argues that the quote, as most are, was taken out of context, and Eisenhower quickly argued for something just short of what he was criticizing. Most people, since they only know history (S Brennan included) and not the reality of the past, often quote Eisenhower for this without understanding what Swanson outlines.

    http://inteldaily.com/2011/01/what-eisenhower-got-wrong/

    But pulling these quotes out of context, as we like to do, misses the reprehensible context of the speeches in which they originated. It would be a similar act of distortion to quote President Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech and leave out everything but that peaceful opening line,

    “Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Distinguished Members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, citizens of America, and citizens of the world:”

    Obama went on to argue the necessity of war. And that is what Eisenhower did in his farewell address. He argued against unlimited militarization while arguing for something just short of it. He proposed disarmament while suggesting that we’d really better not do it. These lines are less well remembered:

    “We face a hostile ideology, global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose, and insidious in method. Unhappily, the danger it poses promises to be of indefinite duration.”

    How does one dismantle the military industrial complex in the face of a ruthless, atheistic ideology? Of course, Eisenhower did not do so. He refrained from some of the excesses, in both war funding and war lying, of his successors. He dug our country into a pointless war on Vietnam, but not to the extent of his successors. And when his immediate successor resisted the military machine more than Eisenhower had, a single bullet struck him multiple times in Dallas.

  81. Morocco Bama permalink
    January 14, 2011

    I don’t suppose a Juvenal mind ever notices

    Flattery will get you nowhere. You’re not my type.

    http://ancienthistory.about.com/od/juvenal/a/Juvenal.htm

  82. January 14, 2011

    Morocco Bama,

    I see that I’ve been quoting Eisenhower out of context just like everyone else! Yikes. Thanks for the link. I’ll post it at the Cogblog this weekend, especially since I see that the 50th anniversary of that speech is upon us.

  83. January 15, 2011

    SB,

    Sure, any way it’s done works for me. I certainly realize that the space program grew out of defense procurement within the silly propaganda operation that was the Cold War. And i’ve read the theory that Ike used his valid argument about defense movement as a rationale to sell the interstate highway system so that he could siphon money away from the DoD and into the civilian economy.

    Frankly, i think it’s too late. Clinton (and to a lesser extent Bush I) had the chance to argue for and implement a real change in our military posture/budget because of the Soviet collapse. That changed the parameters of the discussion, and since then the defense/foreign policy establishment has been searching hard for a suitable enemy in order to “scare the hell out of the American people.” Similar to the Cold War, once that fear is instilled the defense budget to “protect” us becomes sacrosanct.

    I’d like to see a happy ending, but at this point i can only see the sort of collapse that comes from over-extended empire and an unwillingness to recognize when the game is up.

  84. Adrienne permalink
    January 15, 2011

    Would you mind explaining why you made a distinction between men and women concerning the service obligation? Thank you

  85. Liberal Meltdown permalink
    January 25, 2011

    So, you are only in favor of wars that can be won. What a genius. Please tell us what those are. So that in the future, we can win. Please insert a slap to your forehead here.
    .
    Are you related to Reverend Jim in the TV show Taxi? I would be against any war that is a war we cannot win. I also know that when an enemy attacks you, the response has to be to fight back. Do you sit and think, gee I don’t think this war is winnable, let’s surrender right now. No, you fight back. DUH. It’s so great that any moron can have a blog. NOT.

  86. beowulf permalink
    January 27, 2011

    Would you mind explaining why you made a distinction between men and women concerning the service obligation? Thank you

    Both men and women should serve (and women should still have the opportunity, as they have now, to enlist), but as a practical matter you can’t concript women. The problem is… babies. Per Selective Service regulations (everything is in place if Congress votes to resume the draft), once conscription notice is sent, you have 10 days to report for your physical and then another 10 days to ship out for basic (though if you have a low draft lottery number or if there’s a universal obligation, you’d know in advance what was in store). OK, here’s the catch, today (and presumably in the future), before starting basic training every woman is given a pregnancy test. If its positive they’re sent home. An expectant mother enduring strenuous exercise, lack of sleep, exposure to tear gas, loud noises and constant jolts of adrenaline is perhaps not the best neonatal environment for a fetus.

    Regardless of their views on abortion, no Member of Congress will ever vote to order an expectant mother to risk a miscarriage by going through basic training nor will they subject her to punishment for being pregnant. So it offers women who really really don’t want to serve the biggest loophole in the world, which can’t help but demoralize the other draftees (male and female) as they watch mothers-to-be get back on the bus to go home. As I said, females should be encouraged to serve and offered the opportunity to enlist (and for career soldiers, motherhood is certainly no impediment to service, my aunt served 20 years while raising two kids) but as a practical matter, only males can be conscripted into service.

  87. beowulf permalink
    January 27, 2011

    is perhaps not the best neonatal environment for a fetus. t
    I meant prenatal environment… you wouldn’t need a pregnancy test to catch the third trimester inductees. :o )

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