Tag Archives: Neocons

Inside the Blob’s dangerous anti-Russia echo chamber, by Daniel Larison

It might be a good idea to quit demonizing a country whose nuclear arsenal is as good as or better than ours. It’s a dangerous radical idea, but we might even try to improve relations with Russia. From Daniel Larison at responsiblestatecraft.org:

The groupthink is leading to the marginalization of ideas and people who call for a new approach to Moscow. And it’s getting ugly.

Ten years after the Obama administration’s somewhat successful “reset” with Russia ended, the debate over Russia policy in Washington is warped by reflexive hawkishness and intolerance for dissenting views. 

The anti-Russia hysteria of the Trump years has created an atmosphere where Russia hawks feel free to denounce even the mildest proposals for constructive engagement with Moscow, and to launch smear campaigns against eminently qualified scholars to intimidate them and to impose narrow boundaries on the discussion of U.S. policy towards Russia. This poisons the debate, and it makes it harder to craft the smartest policies that serve U.S. and allied interests. 

The Biden administration is the first in the post-Cold War to take office without even paying lip service to the idea of trying to improve U.S.-Russian relations. Except for the Biden administration’s extension of New START earlier this year, U.S.-Russian relations are as bad as they have ever been in the last thirty years, and in the wake of the latest round of misguided U.S. sanctions the relationship is all but guaranteed to deteriorate further. 

The U.S. desperately needs a more balanced and reasonable Russia policy debate, but the foreign policy establishment’s worst tendencies of groupthink and exclusion are making that difficult if not impossible. There are few policies more in need of fresh thinking and different perspectives than Russia policy, but Russia hawks in the “Blob” are determined to stop that.

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Washington War Party Creates Another Organization to Promote Endless Wars, by Doug Bandow

If you love to schmooze and you’re looking for a high-pay, low-work position, consider applying at one of Washington’s many pro-war think tanks or foundations. The script never changes and you’ll be spending most of your time sucking up to bureaucrats and politicians. From Doug Bandow at antiwar.com:

After 20 years of U.S. nation-building in Afghanistan, President Joe Biden ordered a withdrawal. Most Americans backed his decision to stop at least one endless war, but the bipartisan War Party in Washington is horrified. It believes that Americans should be deployed wherever and whenever people are killing one another around the world.

Elliott Abrams last week penned an op-ed celebrating creation of the Vandenberg Coalition, “a new network committed to advancing a strong and proud American foreign policy.” Abrams is a noted Neoconservative who famously participated in the Iran-Contra scandal and bizarrely served Donald Trump after claiming to be a Never-Trumper.

The Neocons already dominate Washington – Republican Party, think tanks, and media, such as the Wall Street Journal, which published Abrams’ piece. Neocon influence also reaches well into the Democratic Party. What was Hillary Clinton other than a Neocon in liberal drag? Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez appears to be as committed to promiscuous intervention as any Republican. Samantha Power famously expressed irritation that popular anger over the Iraq disaster – imagine that! – prevented war-happy policymakers like her from launching bloody new foreign crusades. So many countries to bomb, so little time!

But in the Neocons’ view even this dominance isn’t nearly enough.

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Sunbeams From Cucumbers: The View From the Khanate of Kaganstan, by Patrick Armstrong

Like so many people in Washington, the US would be better off if power couple Robert Kagan and Victoria Nuland had never ventured into the nation’s capital; they’ve done far more harm than good. From Patrick Armstrong at strategic-culture.org:

“Putin’s disinformation campaigns” are so clever that they use real information, Patrick Armstrong writes.

We now have the complete set, so to speak. The Khans of the Khanate of Kaganstan have both spoken. The husband in A Superpower, Like It or Not and the wife in Pinning Down Putin: How a Confident America Should Deal With Russia; he, so to speak, is the theorist and she the practitioner. She, Victoria Nuland, is back in power as Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. She is, of course, infamous for the leaked phonecall during the Maidan putsch. He, Robert Kagan, is one of the founders of the – what now has to be seen as ill-named – Project for the New American Century.

I mentioned Kagan’s piece in an earlier essay and found it remarkable for two things – the flat learning curve it displays and its atmosphere of desperation. PNAC was started in a time of optimism about American power: it was the hyperpower and nothing was impossible for it. Its role in the world should be, Kagan confidently wrote in 1996, “Benevolent global hegemony”. Washington should be the world HQ:

superpower, love it!

A quarter century later his message is:

superpower, endure it.

Quite a difference. Today “there is no escape from global responsibility… the task of maintaining a world order is unending and fraught with costs but preferable to the alternative”.

Kagan is at a loss to explain his difference in tone, or, more likely, he’s unaware of it. The reason, however, is quite easy to understand – failure. Washington followed the neocons’ advice into disaster: it’s been at war in Iraq and Afghanistan for two decades and it’s losing. The forever wars have come home: its economy is fading, its politics are shattered, its debt load is stunning, its social harmony is eroding. It’s not at the top of the hill any more. Brzezinski warned that a Russia-China alliance would be the greatest threat to U.S. predominance but thought it could be averted by skilful diplomacy. Well, as it turned out, U.S. actions (the word “diplomacy” is hardly applicable) drove Moscow and Beijing together and the strong domestic base that they all took for granted is crumbling. And, to a large extent, it has been the neocons, the wars they encouraged, the exceptionalism they displayed, the arrogance they embodied, that has created this state of affairs. Kagan should look in the mirror if he wants to know why Americans’ perception of superpower status changed from exultant opportunity to dreary duty.

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Why Do They Keep Doing It? by Patrick Armstrong

What happens when the indispensable nation discovers it’s not indispensable? From Patrick Armstrong at strategic-culture.org:

In the West, and especially the USA, today, we observe an inability to imagine, understand, come to terms with or tolerate difference.

Einstein is said to have observed that insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, and expecting a different result. What a perfect description for U.S. foreign policy since the end of the Cold War. Two decades in Iraq and Afghanistan is not enough: keep doing it. Sanctions on Russia haven’t made any difference, keep doing them. Beijing is not the least deterred by “freedom of navigation” cruises, keep doing them. Iran won’t bend to Washington’s will, keep doing the same thing.

One of the ur-neocons figured out what the problem is. Even if he didn’t realise he had: “Robert Kagan Diagnosed America’s Biggest Problem: Americans Who Don’t Want To Run the World“. What’s interesting about Kagan’s piece, actually, is the tinge of depression that runs through it – he’s actually at one of the stages of grief. When the PNAC project was announced in 1997, it was very confident indeed: its founding document – also by Kagan – Toward a Neo-Reaganite Foreign Policy – laid it out:

What should that role be? Benevolent global hegemony. Having defeated the “evil empire,” the United States enjoys strategic and ideological predominance. The first objective of U.S. foreign policy should be to preserve and enhance that predominance by strengthening America’s security, supporting its friends, advancing its interests, and standing up for its principles around the world.

The enormous web of the global economic system, with the United States at the center, combined with the pervasive influence of American ideas and culture, allowed Americans to wield influence in many other ways of which they were entirely unconscious.

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The Art of Being a Spectacularly Misguided Oracle, by Pepe Escobar

Being a neocon means never having to say you’re sorry or that you were wrong. From Pepe Escobar at lewrockwell.com:

If you doubt anyone could match Zbigniew Brzezinski’s failure to understand Eurasia, consider Robert Kagan

The late Dr. Zbig “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski for some time dispensed wisdom as an oracle of US foreign policy, side by side with the perennial Henry Kissinger – who, in vast swathes of the Global South, is regarded as nothing but a war criminal.

Brzezinski never achieved the same notoriety. At best he claimed bragging rights for giving the USSR its own Vietnam in Afghanistan – by facilitating the internationalization of Jihad Inc., with all its dire, subsequent consequences.

Over the years, it was always amusing to follow the heights Dr. Zbig would reach with his Russophobia. But then, slowly but surely, he was forced to revise his great expectations. And finally he must have been truly horrified that his perennial Mackinder-style geopolitical fears came to pass – beyond the wildest nightmares.

Not only Washington had prevented the emergence of a “peer competitor” in Eurasia, but the competitor is now configured as a strategic partnership between Russia and China.

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The ‘Transition’ of the Élites, by Alastair Crooke

The neocons who hated Trump have been warmly embraced by the Biden administration. From Alastair Crooke at strategic-culture.org:

The neo-cons were for ever knifing Trump in the back. They’ve now gone to Biden, Alastair Crooke writes.

Rep. Jamie Raskin wrapped up the impeachment managers’ case for convicting Donald Trump by citing a 1776 passage by Tom Paine: “Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered, but we have this saving consolation: the more difficult the struggle, the more glorious in the end – will be our victory”. Light and dark. Good and evil – and so the essence of the ‘show trial’ stands revealed. It is one of extravagant theatre – touching on the Manichean through using edited clips from TV to present a drama consisting of, on the one hand, legitimacy and power, versus, on the other, Trump and his supporters as – not just ‘enemies’ – but ‘tyrants out of hell’.

The question ultimately is: Did it succeed? Was the ‘guilty party’ cowed by the majestic dramaturgy of the show trial, and fearful of a coming domestic Patriot Act ? Did it guarantee a long era of one-party’s rule?

At one level, it failed. Reports suggest that Sen. McConnell (perhaps reflecting his own emotional reaction to the 6 January), had assured the Democratic leadership of a much bigger contingent of Republican senators prepared to vote to convict. In the end, only seven did.

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The Christmas Truce of 1914 – Why There Is Still No Peace On Earth, by David Stockman

When the Soviet Union collapsed the world had its best opportunity since World War I for peace. That chance was not seized by the US government. From David Stockman at antiwar.com:

After the Berlin Wall fell in November 1989 and the death of the Soviet Union was confirmed two years later when Boris Yeltsin courageously stood down the Red Army tanks in front of Moscow’s White House, a dark era in human history came to an end.

The world had descended into a 77-Year War, incepting with the mobilization of the armies of old Europe in August 1914. If you want to count bodies, 150 million were killed by all the depredations that germinated in the Great War, its foolish aftermath at Versailles, and the march of history into World War II and the Cold War that followed inexorably thereupon.

Upwards of 8% of the human race was wiped out during that span. The toll encompassed the madness of trench warfare during 1914-1918; the murderous regimes of Soviet and Nazi totalitarianism that rose from the ashes of the Great War and Versailles; and then the carnage of WWII and all the lesser (unnecessary) wars and invasions of the Cold War including Korea and Vietnam.

At the end of the Cold War, therefore, the last embers of the fiery madness that had incepted with the guns of August 1914 had finally burned out. Peace was at hand. Yet 29 years later there is still no peace because Imperial Washington confounds it.

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Neocons want us to belly up for one more round of war, by Andrew J. Bacevich

For neocons, the worst war is better than the best peace. From Andrew J. Bacevich at responsiblestatecraft.org:

The Foundation for the Defense Democracies has just issued a collection of (mostly warmed over) essays that carries the title “Defending Forward: Securing America by Projecting Military Power Abroad.” But it’s the subtitle that tells the tale: The volume’s overarching purpose is to argue against any reevaluation of the existing U.S. global military posture.

Reevaluation apparently risks the possibility of retrenchment which ostensibly implies isolationism which inevitably leads to bad people like Nazis trying to take over the world. As everyone knows, history itself definitively proves this. Needless to say, in a collection like this, opportunities to quote Winston Churchill abound.

The prescriptions contained in “Defending Forward” tend to be tiresome, derivative, inflammatory, and at times simply dishonest. Proponents of a more restrained approach to policy, one contributor writes, “believe that an overly powerful United States is the principal cause of the world’s problems.” He offers no evidence to support this charge.

Another contributor poses the faux question: “What happens after the United States goes home?” In fact, Americans have never gone home in any meaningful sense, choosing even before independence to engage the world in various ways, some successful, others less so.  The imagery of cowering citizens hunkered down in their basements while the Gestapo bangs on the door substitutes fear mongering for reasoned analysis.

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A U.S. Color Revolution ‘Comes Home to Roost’ in the 2020 Election, by Max Parry

The only thing uniting the disparate coalition against Trump is rabid hatred of Trump. From Max Parry at unz.com:

It has been more than three weeks since election day and the incumbent U.S. president still has yet to concede defeat. Despite the media’s distraction over the perspiration of his personal attorney during a bizarre press conference, the legal team led by former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has actually done a decent job uncovering potential fraud in battleground states where vote counting was delayed for several days before the former vice president was declared a “winner” by the news media and Silicon Valley. Unfortunately, the 2020 election is not a sporting event or academic paper, therefore evidence that instances of fraud occurred will likely not be enough for the litigation to change the outcome, though it does appear his camp is finally facing up to leaving the White House come January. Then again, whether or not burden of proof was ever provided is immaterial, seeing as before he even took the oath of office a silent coup was underway to remove the democratically-elected government of Donald J. Trump that is now entering its final phase.

Trump found an unlikely voice of support contesting Biden’s premature declaration of victory in former six-term Democratic Congresswoman from Georgia and 2008 Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney, who this time was the running mate of former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura as a write-in entrant in some eligible states for the divided Greens who officially nominated labor activist Howie Hawkins. During the 2016 election, the Democrats scapegoated Jill Stein for Hillary Clinton’s unexpected loss, even baselessly implicating the Green Party nominee in the Russiagate hoax simply for having appeared at a 2015 Moscow gala for the RT television network where General Michael Flynn and Russian President Vladimir Putin were in attendance. Not only did the legislatures of swing states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin exclude Hawkins from the ballot at the behest of Democrats in a shameless act of voter suppression, but McKinney described the irregularities which plagued electronic voting machines in her home state of Georgia in 2020 as “déjà vu”, having been cheated out of Congress herself by such tactics in 2006. McKinney also previously penned an essay entitled “The Purple Revolution: U.S. Hybrid Warfare Comes Home to Roost?” on the establishment’s efforts to remove Trump which makes an apropos historical reference.

This November 22nd marked fifty-seven years since the assassination of John F. Kennedy. When asked for his reaction to the killing of the 35th president in Dallas back in 1963 and less than two years before his own public murder, civil rights leader Malcolm X famously stated that “chickens were coming home to roost”, alluding to the U.S. government’s interventions overseas such as the CIA-orchestrated assassination of the first Prime Minister of the Congo, Patrice Lumumba, in 1960 following its independence from Belgian colonial rule. His remarks in the wake of a national tragedy proved too controversial even for the Nation of Islam which publicly censured its most recognizable minister who would announce his departure from the black nationalist organization a few months later. The following year, he would be gunned down in Harlem in an assassination long-suspected to have been the work of the FBI’s counter-intelligence program (COINTELPRO) which had infiltrated his inner circle to frame the NOI for a mysterious death equally thought by the public to have been a state-sanctioned execution like that of JFK.

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The New Ruling Coalition: Opposition to Afghanistan Withdrawal Shows Its Key Factions, by Glenn Greenwald

The usual suspects are pushing back against Trump’s efforts to get US troops out of Afghanistan, and many of them would find places in a prospective Biden administration. From Glenn Greenwald at greenwald.substack.com:

An unholy union of the National Security State and the neocon-backed and corporate-funded Democratic Party are about to assume power: with media-supported internet censorship a key weapon.

The Trump era has engendered numerous fractures, one might say realignments, in the political order. Long-time ideological allies are now adversaries, and long-time political enemies are now in full-fledged coalitions. These shifts are not temporary or Trump-dependent but enduring, because they are grounded in shared core beliefs about the defining debates shaping our new politics and how to consolidate real power: call it the Lincoln Project Syndrome.

WASHINGTON, DC – Former Obama CIA Director John Brennan (R) with The Atlantic’s Editor-in-Chief Jeffrey Goldberg during the Washington Ideas Forum at the Harman Center for the Arts (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

One major reason for this transformation is a fundamental difference in how to understand Trump: is he the primary author of America’s pathologies or merely a symptom of pathologies which long pre-dated him? Relatedly: is removing Trump from power a vital step in returning the U.S. to its previous status as a benevolent and law-abiding republic, or is isolating him as the principal cause of the nation’s woes a cynical propaganda tactic for whitewashing the sins of those who are actually responsible so that they can rebuild their reputations and again assume power? Were Trump’s policies some radical, unprecedented aberration from U.S. political tradition or, stylistic quirks aside, a standard continuation of it?

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