"Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peacetime, or indeed by the fighting men of World War II or Korea.
Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.
This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."
-- President Dwight Eisenhower, 1961 Farewell Address --
Ike´s parting shot was as historic as it was prescient.
He succeeded where every president after him failed: tell the truth about the main pillar of the post-1945 revolution in American politics.
The very structure of our society is involved. What gave Eisenhower the ability to speak meaningfully about the military-industrial complex is one of those self-evident truths the Declaration of Independence mentioned. He was more knowledgeable about his subject than all his White House successors put together.
The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists. Ike issued his warning when the polity -- the democracy/oligarchy hybrid created by the Founding Fathers in 1789 -- still governed the United States (see below). The polity is why in 1961, it was possible to warn the American public about the military-industrial complex and not be irreparably reviled, smeared, swiftboated.
Security and liberty prospering together. Eisenhower´s world of principles, which were those of the polity, is a universe away from today´s oligarch government by photo-op.
The message America´s new political system sent out is already in, for all to see. It is an old message -- as old as the hills:
To chose security over liberty is to have neither security nor liberty.
* * *
You are about to read this blog´s core position. It is found only here.
It identifies and puts in perspective the most significant change in American politics in 200 years:
"The First American Revolution, 1776-1789, transformed the political system from a monarchy not into a democracy but a ´политей´ or polity, i.e., a middle class-moderated, oligarchy-democracy hybrid inclined toward democracy.
The Second American Revolution, 2008-2009, changed the polity into an oligarchy with democratic residues, accessories. That change was normal, predictable; Aristotle analyzed it 2000 years ago.
The Third American Revolution will resurrect the polity but with greater power for democracy, less for the oligarchy." (The Big Movida: The Third American Revolution)."
It took 50 years for the menace President Eisenhower identified to come to fruition. The military-industrial complex was the mainspring of the Second American Revolution, i.e., the 2008-2009 replacement of the polity by an oligarchy.
What made possible the death of the 219-year-old system that made America the envy of the world? What allowed the mainspring to wind up, not down?
We must never let the weight of this [military-industrial complex] endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We must take nothing for granted. Simply put: Americans took the polity for granted. Ike´s warning went unheeded.
The Second American Revolution was a change of, not in, political systems. I repeat: the change from polity to oligarchy was predictable, standard fare; Aristotle analyzed it two millennia ago.
The destruction of America´s polity was unique in one way only. It took place under the lights of TV cameras. For the first time in history, anybody could see the archi-rich step out from behind the curtain, demand a trillion taxpayer dollars, and get it.*
The unabashed, unabridged takeover was engineered by the American contingent of the top 1% of wealth holders worldwide who, according to Credit Suisse, now "own half of all household income."
The Second American Revolution occurred under the Bush-Obama Administrations. It had titanic consequences.
Contrary to everything you are being told, short-term and long-term solutions to terrorism do indeed exist.
(I) Short-term. Our post "How to Destroy ISIS in 2 Weeks" discussed how a quick and decisive victory can be achieved by a Winston Churchill-inspired International Alliance Against ISIS.
Unlike the restricted U.S.-led coalition existing today, that alliance would be truly international. All governments everywhere -- Iran, Syria, North Korea, Venezuela, Russia, Cuba, China -- would be invited to join.
Confronting a united world community about to embark by land, sea, and air, ISIS would implode in two weeks.
(II) Long-term. Our post "Abdellhamid Abaaoud and The 75% Solution to Terrorism" discussed the necessity to recognize and bring closure to the intermediate/transitional/marginal conditions that create terrorism.
Please, do not say it cannot be done. That closure is being achieved right now, but by terrorists. It is visible primarily in their recruitment methods. What makes them successful is precisely where Western societies are failing: the creation and performance of meaningful rituals.
This blog´s longstanding policy is to offer opinion, not advice. An opinion is, among other things, advice which knowingly cannot be implemented under prevailing circumstances.
Why neither of our solutions can be put into practice:
(I) A Churchillian International Alliance Against ISIS (IAAI) would directly challenge the Old World Disorder created and maintained by John Foster Dulles, Robert McNamara, Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Sandy Berger, Paul Wolfowitz, John Kerry, et al. North Korea and South Korea, India and Pakistan, Argentina and England, Saudi Arabia and Iran, China and Japan, Chile and Bolivia, the U.S. and Cuba, Russia and Ukraine -- all working together for a common cause: that alliance will not happen.
What makes IAAI an impossible dream was mentioned above:
Inside the existing architecture of international relations, the reigning oligarchy is accumulating wealth as unprecedented as it is unbelievable.** Acta est fabula. It´s over; no change allowed.
In post polity America, anything that remotely suggests a New World Order is verboten. Bernie Sanders, take note: you just read the death notice of your presidential campaign. Unless of course Eisenhower´s alert and knowledgeable citizenry emerges.
(II) The intermediate/transitional/marginal conditions that create terrorism are visible, in fact palpable, in the Molenbeek ghettos of this world. Their eradication would eliminate the surplus labor pool required to keep wages low. As with the IAAI, the world´s wealthiest 1% will never allow it.
On the contrary ...
To enlarge existing Molenbeeks and create new ones, oligarchs are welcoming 32,200 refugees arriving every single day mainly from Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia. This, under the cynical cover of "human rights."
Taken together, (i) no IAAI and (ii) bigger and more Molenbeeks form the oligarchy´s signature song: "Heads We Win; Tails You Lose."
The IAAI and the end to the intermediate/transitional/marginal conditions creating terrorism await The Third American Revolution, viz., the change from oligarchy to a polity in which the democratic component will have vastly more political power than existed previously.
That re-evolution -- an evolution once more, over again -- would be a revolution in the full sense of the word. It has never occurred before in world history.
* * *
If you can't eat their food, drink their booze,
screw their women, take their money
and then vote against them,
you've got no business being up here.
-- Jesse Unruh, Speaker of the California
State Assembly --
No doubt you are already familiar with the following hypothesis:
The United States covertly supports terrorists because terrorism serves as a justification for massive arms sales.
Our position: yes, but.
Basic statistics on the international arms market differ wildly. Even the most conflicting sources, however, converge around the following points:
(1) According to the annual international arms sales report to Congress by the Congressional Research Service:
In 2014, the United States was by far the biggest arms merchant. It had $36.2 billion in sales, or just over 50% of the world market. Russia was in second place with $10.2 billion.
Although America is number one, it cannot be complacent. A new competitor is emerging. Chinese arms sales are soaring.
(2) American sales in 2014 were a whopping 35% increase over 2013.
(3) The biggest arms buyer was neither in the Middle East nor was it a major target of terrorists: South Korea. Iraq was the second biggest arms purchaser; Brazil, third. Those facts should soften the surprise of what you are about to read ...
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute:
(4) Terrorism so far has been a far less effective selling tool for weaponry than the Cold War. World sales today are only about 2/3 of their peak in the early 1980s.
(5) We come to the proverbial bottom line.
In 2014, when the United States sold $36 billion in arms, America´s gross national product was $16.5 trillion. Conclusion: foreign arms sales constituted .2% of the American GNP.
Like everything else, the international arms market has secondary economic repercussions. Call it what you will, however, it still remains the same. Taken in and of itself, the proverbial bottom line of .2% is a proverbial drop in the bucket.
With such a low/lower/lowest figure, one is inclined to reject out of hand the hypothesis that Washington supports terrorism in order to bolster arms sales.
We do not dismiss it, however, for a practical reason:
That .2% drop in the bucket wields an ocean of influence.
Case in point: Lockheed-Martin, the world´s largest arms manufacturer. In 2013, the company had $35.5 billion in sales at home and abroad. It is the biggest contractor of the federal government.
As would be expected, Lockheed-Martin is a major political player:
(i) For 2014, the company reported $4.1 million in contributions to political campaigns. You can look for an astronomical increase for 2016, a presidential election year.
(ii) For 2015, it reported $13.8 million in lobbying fees.
Those totals are of course incomplete. We remind readers of the Lockeed bribery scandals of the 1970s. I could write a book about how campaign and lobbying laws are written to be evaded; maybe I will.
Which brings us to Jesse Unruh´s famous dictum.
If food and booze and women and money did not procure political influence, nobody would offer them. Nobody.
The arms sales´ .2% of America´s economic pie is buying a lot more than .2% of Washington´s decisions. For a textbook case of political leverage, look again at Lockheed. In 1971, when the company was facing bankruptcy, the Federal Government bailed it out with $250 million in loan guarantees.
In short: the four scourges of Jesse Unruh account for a lot more than .2% of the action. From what I saw while working as the chief of staff for the leadership of a House of Representatives, just say no is more frequently just say yes.
To sum up this point:
Is Washington secretly supporting terrorism in order to sell arms? Yes, but. The arms sales motive is real, true. Equally true, it is not the whole truth.
* * *
To avoid missing the forest for the trees, we ask this question:
If arms sales are not the major goal of American foreign policy, what is?
For the answer we go to the horse´s mouth: Zbigniew Brzezinski, former White House National Security Advisor. In his book The Grand Chessboard (1998), Brzezinski turned America´s hole card face-up. Naively so, in my opinion.
Forget democracy. Forget freedom. Forget human rights. Forget economic development. For the American oligarchy, the top prize is geopolitical: Eurasia.
"For half a millennium, world affairs were dominated by Eurasian powers and peoples who fought with one another for regional domination and reached out for global power. Now a non-Eurasian power is preeminent in Eurasia—and America's global primacy is directly dependent on how long and how effectively its preponderance on the Eurasian continent is sustained.
Obviously, that condition is temporary. But its duration, and what follows it, is of critical importance not only to America's well being but more generally to international peace. The sudden emergence of the first and only global power has created a situation in which an equally quick end to its supremacy—either because of America's withdrawal from the world or because of the sudden emergence of a successful rival—would produce massive international instability. In effect, it would prompt global anarchy." (The Grand Chessboard, pp. 30-1).
Brzezinski saw withdrawal by America from the world as a decisive challenge:
"Indeed, the critical uncertainty regarding the future may well be whether America might become the first superpower unable or unwilling to wield its power. Might it become an impotent global power? Public opinion polls suggest that only a small minority (13 percent) of Americans favor the proposition that ´as the sole remaining superpower, the U.S. should continue to be the preeminent world leader in solving international problems.´ An overwhelming majority (74 percent) prefer that America ´do its fair share in efforts to solve international problems together with other countries.´
Moreover, as America becomes an increasingly multicultural society, it may find it more difficult to fashion a consensus on foreign policy issues, except in the circumstances of a truly massive and widely perceived direct external threat [my emphasis]. Such a consensus generally existed throughout World War II and even during the Cold War. It was rooted, however, not only in deeply shared democratic values, which the public sensed were being threatened, but also in a cultural and ethnic affinity for the predominantly European victims of hostile totalitarianisms.
In the absence of a comparable external challenge [my emphasis], American society may find it much more difficult to reach agreement regarding foreign policies that cannot be directly related to central beliefs and widely shared cultural-ethnic sympathies and that still
require an enduring and sometimes costly imperial engagement." (Ibid., pp. 210-11)***
9/11 happened three years after Brzezinski´s book was published. The timing makes the following hypothesis unavoidable:
Brzezinski´s longed-for "massive and widely perceived direct external threat" has been found. Terrorism supplies the continuous, almost day-to-day Pearl Harbor attack that America needs to maintain a military presence in -- and consequently political dominance of -- Eurasia.
If our hypothesis is correct, the last thing Washington wants is to destroy its new raison d´être. It takes the form of an indispensable casus belli -- the war against terrorism.
* * *
I think I just heard an audible shrug throughout America. So what?
When all is said and done, did not the Cold War give America a sense of direction? Unite the country? Stimulate the economy? Create jobs?
Marine Corps General Anthony C. Zinni, former commander in chief of the U.S. Central Command, reflected on what it meant to be a military officer 1960-2000:
"The Cold War was a 40-year attempt to refight World War II if ever the need arose. We were energized to engage in a global conflict against the evil Red Menace. The problem was that we never could figure just how this particular war would actually start …
The Cold War was ever present, and it was great for justifying programs, systems and force structure -- but no one seriously believed that it would actually happen. Still, it drove things. It drove the way we thought, it drove the way we organized and equipped, and it drove the way we developed our concepts of fighting."****
The Cold War drove things. Say what you will, it worked. Why should not the war against terrorism be America´s new mobilizing force? Provide a sense of purpose? Unite the nation? Stimulate the economy?
Let´s put the entire matter on a primordial basis. What´s wrong with fear as an incentive?
Answer: everything. Sooner or later, the means to the end becomes the end.
The anthropologist Jules Henry:
“A nation that will respond only to fear cannot govern itself wisely, for it has no destiny but fear … ”*****
Coming soon: "Does Washington Support Terrorism? Part 2."
NOTE. Sunday, February 21, 2016:
No sooner did Hillary Clinton win yesterday´s Nevada primary than our site was bombarded with requests from distressed Sanders supporters to spell out a strategy for him to win the upcoming Democrat primaries.
What attracted their attention was this observation in our post "President Trump?" of August 22, 2015:
"I believe Hillary is set to crash. She is a priest without faith, a doctor without intuition. Her idea of a political commitment is a cocktail party. To date, she is running the same paint-by-the-numbers campaign that cost her the Democratic nomination in 2008. Such candidates are on rails; they can move only straight ahead or backward, never side-to-side. A switch pulled unexpectedly, a well-placed obstacle on the tracks, and they are irredeemably derailed."
Today, six months later, I stand by our commentary. If she is indicted and loses, it will ultimately not be because of anything Bernie or Trump did but because her unconscious sabotaged her. It is all there, waiting to happen.
In the meantime, ...
Sorry, Sanders supporters, but I repeat our long-standing policy. This blog does not give advice; it offers opinion. The line between them is not always clear. Please keep in mind three considerations:
"An opinion may consist of advice which is (i) deliberately offered too late to be actionable; (ii) knowingly impossible to implement due to circumstances prevailing at the moment; and/or (iii) offered with the foreknowledge that the simple fact of its publication will render its practical value null and void."
Moments ago, I finished a post on how Sanders could have defeated Clinton. Could have is not can. The post will be published only after he has incontestably lost. That way, condition (i) will be met.
*For more on this subject, see our book, The Big Movida: The Third American Revolution, available without cost on this website.
The Second American Revolution of 2008-9 was both cause and effect of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, in which a trillion public dollars -- out of a 14-trillion dollar economy -- were committed to private interests.
**The world oligarchy literally does what it wants. Click here for last year´s report of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Its central conclusion:
"The gap between rich and poor keeps widening. Growth, if any, has disproportionally benefited higher income groups while lower income households have been left behind. This long-run increase in income inequality not only raises social and political concerns, but also economic ones. It tends to drag down GDP growth, due to the rising distance of the lower 40% from the rest of society. Lower income people have been prevented from realising their human capital potential, which is bad for the economy as a whole."
One of the OECD authors elaborated:
"It's not just income that we're seeing being very concentrated - you look at wealth and you find that the bottom 40% of the population in rich countries have only 3% of household wealth whereas the top 10% have over half of household wealth ... "
***Brzezinski was not alone in concluding that a clear and present external threat was vital to maintaining America´s global primacy, viz., its imperial engagement.
In 1997, neocons founded the Washington think tank, Project for The New American Century. Elliott Abrams, Dick Cheney, Scooter Libby, Donald Rumsfelt, Paul Wolfowitz: many of its members/signatories would occupy key posts in the upcoming Bush Administration.
In 2000, almost exactly a year before 9/11, the Project published a report, "Rebuilding America´s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century":
"To preserve American military preeminence in the coming decades, the Department of Defense must move more aggressively to experiment with new technologies and operational concepts, and seek to exploit the emerging revolution in military affairs. Information technologies, in particular, are becoming more prevalent and significant components of modern military systems. These information technologies are having the same kind of transforming effects on military affairs as they are having in the larger world. The effects of this military transformation will have profound implications for how wars are fought, what kinds of weapons will dominate the battlefield and, inevitably, which nations enjoy military preeminence. The United States enjoys every prospect of leading this transformation...[T]he process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor [my emphasis]." (pp. 50-1)
**** Anthony C. Zinni, “For the U.S. Military, War Isn’t What It Used to Be,” International Herald Tribune, July 21, 2000.
*****Jules Henry, Culture Against Man, p. 113.