Trump’s National Defense Strategy Has the Pentagon Popping Champagne Reply

Once again, the way the system actually works is demonstrated. All major policy decisions involving international relations and economics are based on the general consensus of the dominant factions of the power elite. This consensus reflects the prevailing views of the power elite concerning the assessment of their own interests.  Individual presidents are merely administrators whose role is to implement policies that are largely predetermined. The Trump administration is the Obama administration is the Bush administration.

By Andrew Bacevich

The American Conservative

Here’s what we can say about the Trump administration’s just-released National Defense Strategy: it’s not a strategy and its subject is not defense.

Bearing the imprimatur of Pentagon chief James Mattis, the NDSat least the unclassified summary that we citizens are permitted to see—is in essence a brief for increasing the size of the U.S. military budget. Implicit in the document is this proposition: more spending will make the armed forces of the United States “stronger” and the United States “safer.” Simply put, the NDS is all about funneling more bucks to the Pentagon.

Remarkably, the NDS advances this argument while resolutely avoiding any discussion of what Americans have gotten in return for the $11 trillion (give or take) expended pursuant to the past 16-plus years of continuous war—as if past performance should have no bearing on the future allocation of resources.

Try this thought experiment. The hapless Cleveland Browns went winless this year. How might Browns fans react if the team’s management were to propose hiking ticket prices next season? Think they might raise a ruckus?

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A New Poll Shows the Public Is Overwhelmingly Opposed to Endless US Military Interventions Reply

This is great news in that it really does place the general public at odds with the ruling class. One of the most important and successful political movements in US history was the anti-Vietnam War/anti-draft movement of the 1960s and 1970s. The long range effect of the movement was to delegitimize both imperialist war and the draft to the degree that there is no real popular support for either. The draft is not politically viable, and the state has been forced to fight imperialist war with professional soldiers, proxy forces, mercenaries, and technology. The US public will not accept war if it requires any sacrifices on their side such as high casualties, conscription, war taxes, rationing, etc. Even after the Pearl Harbor-level massacre on September 11, 2001 war fever soon died as casualties on the US side reached the low thousands.

Additionally, the imperialist forces now have what amounts to an 0-6 record over the past 50 years in terms of losses in fourth generation warfare (Vietnam, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria). The US has now largely retreated from Latin America with democratization, liberalization and economic development now emerging in Latin America now that the US is no longer propping up right-wing military dictatorships. Hopefully, the same process will begin in the Middle East eventually, particularly with the rise of regional counterpower in the form of Russia, China, and the Shia block. The Russians saved Syria from ISIS, and the Chinese have helped to develop Africa economically to the point where the average income in some African regions has increased nearly 20 times in the past 20 years. Hopefully, a similar developmental process will emerge in the Middle East as well.

By James Carden

The Nation

Recent Troops in Afghanistan

Last week, the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Foreign Policy—a bipartisan advocacy group calling for congressional oversight of America’s lengthy list of military interventions abroad—released the results of a survey that show broad public support for Congress to reclaim its constitutional prerogatives in the exercise of foreign policy (see Article 1, Section 8 of the US Constitution) and for fewer US military interventions generally. Undertaken last November by J. Wallin Opinion Research, the new survey revealed “a national voter population that is largely skeptical of the practicality or benefits of military intervention overseas, including both the physical involvement of the US military and also extending to military aid in the form of funds or equipment as well.”

Bill Dolbow, the spokesman for the Committee for a Responsible Foreign Policy, said, “We started this initiative to give a voice to the people and the people have spoken—Congress needs to enact more oversight before intervening in conflict abroad.”

The headline findings show, among other things, that 86.4 percent of those surveyed feel the American military should be used only as a last resort, while 57 percent feel that US military aid to foreign countries is counterproductive. The latter sentiment “increases significantly” when involving countries like Saudi Arabia, with 63.9 percent saying military aid—including money and weapons—should not be provided to such countries.

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Getting Grand Strategy Wrong Reply

By William S. Lind

Traditional Right

One of the iron laws of warfare is that a higher level dominates a lower. You can be brilliant tactically, but if you are defeated operationally, you lose. You can win tactically and operationally, but if you get beaten strategically, you lose. And if you get your grand strategy wrong, you lose no matter how well you did at the lower three levels. The German Army was the best in the world for almost eighty years, but Germany lost both World Wars because its grand strategy was terrible.

Having failed to copy tactical and operational excellence, we now appear instead to be imitating Berlin when it comes to grand strategy. The new national security strategy published by the White House on December 18 is a disaster. The strategy it recommends was obsolete before the ink was dry.

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Can A Libertarian Society Provide National Defense? Reply

A former military officer weighs in.

By Zack Sorenson

Libertarian Institute

A recent Tom Woods podcast featured a debate about whether the free market can provide for national defense.

Arguing that libertarian society can offer defense “services”, Bob Murphy relies on the idea of insurance paying the costs of defense.

Arguing that a monopoly state should offer these services, Todd Lewis points out numerous historical examples in which government organized national defense is seemingly necessary.

I dislike this kind of discussion in general.  My feeling is that there shouldn’t be such a thing as any kind of organized, politically driven, violence.  The idea of private armies is as horrifying as the idea of a giant state army.  However, this issue is obviously relevant, and worth addressing.  I’m just going to address different issues in no particular order.

First, Todd Lewis mentions the Sengoku Jidai (“feudal” Japan), and also the Roman civil war between Marius and Sulla.  He argues that these are examples of “private” defense, where mercenaries for hire end up fighting brutal wars that devastated each country.  I don’t think he knows what he’s talking about.

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Murphy 1, Shoguns 0 Reply

A specialist on Japanese military history weighs in on the Lewis-Murphy debate on private defense services.

Regarding my recent debate on the Tom Woods Show with Todd Lewis–regarding private defense–I got the following email (permission to reprint):

Dr. Murphy,

Following your recent debate with Todd Lewis I felt motivated to write the following based on my experience of living in Japan and studying its martial history for over 24 years.

Best regards,


Tim Haffner

==============================​​

Why Japan’s Sengoku period does not support monopoly security provision and actually makes the case for the private production of defense:

1. Feudal Japan was a peasant-based agrarian economy overseen by samurai landlords enforcing law and securing territory, ostensibly at least, on behalf of the emperor. Controlling land and the agriculture products yielded from the peasant farmers was essential to power. Taxation and trade were denominated in units of rice bushels. Modes of production, means of commerce, and centers of power have changed significantly since that time. One must be careful and selective when comparing pre-industrial revolution societies with modern theories of political-economy.

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China and Russia Train for War with U.S. if Trump Invades North Korea 1

The withering away of the antiwar movement during the Obama era, and the failure of the Left to oppose the Trump administration’s efforts to strengthen the position of the Atlanticist-Zionist-Wahhabi axis (or to even take notice) indicates that US imperialism will have to be defeated externally rather than internally. This will be achieved by a combination of ongoing military defeats by fourth generation warfare forces, and the rise of counter power on a geopolitical level. On the former point, the US is now 0-5 in the 4GW conflicts that have been fought over the last quarter century (Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria). Meanwhile, the “triangular resistance” of the BRICS, Shia-led Resistance Block, and the Global South is rising to create a multipolar rather than unipolar world. The US has largely retreated from Latin America, and will gradually do the same in Asia and Africa in the future.

By Tom O’Connor

Newsweek

China and Russia may be devising a plan to attack U.S. forces in the event of an imminent war breaking out on the neighboring Korean Peninsula, according to two former military officials.

Lieutenant General Wang Hongguang, the former deputy commander of the western Nanjing Military Region, warned “the war on the Korean Peninsula might break out anytime between now and March next year”; his comments came during a conference hosted Saturday by ruling Communist Party newspaper The Global Times. The following day, the nationalist outlet expanded on the retired general’s remarks with insight from Chinese military expert, commentator and author Song Zhongping, who said China could potentially engage U.S. forces if they posed a threat.

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Debate: Can the Free Market Provide National Defense? 5

This is a great discussion between Todd Lewis and Bob Murphy about the viability of non-state/private “national defense” services. I have an old essay about this topic here.


Economist Bob Murphy (Ph.D., NYU) and podcaster Todd Lewis square off in the central debate of anarcho-capitalism: is government truly necessary for national defense, or could the free market provide this service?

Neocons Seek War with Iran, Ethic Cleansing of Palestinians Reply

As a I have long suspected.

William S. Lind

Traditional Right

Those of us who supported President Trump in last year’s election because he promised a less interventionist foreign policy need to be aware of a rising danger.  Neo-con influence in the Trump administration seems to be on the increase.  Rumored high-level personnel changes could put neo-cons into key foreign policy positions.  Just as their neo-con predecessors led President George W. Bush into the disastrous Iraq war, a gift that keeps on giving, so today’s neo-cons want a war with Iran.

The obvious question is, how could anyone be so stupid?  War with Iran is a lose-lose proposition.  If the Iranians defeat us, we lose.  If we defeat them, we also lose because there is a high probability the Iranian state would disintegrate and Iran would become another stateless region.  That would be a huge victory for our real enemies, Islamic non-state entities such as Al Qaeda and ISIS that wage Fourth Generation war. 

The neo-cons refuse to see this because they are playing another game, a game driven by the misconceived interests of a foreign power.  To put it bluntly, many influential neo-cons are part and parcel of Israel’s Likud party.  Years ago, around the beginning of the George W. Bush administration, they helped Likud devise a strategy for Israel.  That strategy called for the United States to destroy every Middle Eastern state that could be a threat to Israel.  That was why the neo-cons pushed the Bush administration into war with Iraq.

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A Future Global War between States and Non-State Actors? 1

Bill Lind’s analysis of the emerging world order is absolutely correct. If I were a statist, I would be taking the exact same position as Bill Lind, i.e. that the main threat that states now face is not each other but the rise of  non-state actors and fourth generation warfare forces. The difference is that Bill, being a Hobbesian conservative, is rooting for the statists while I, as an anarchist, am rooting for “the other side.” It is easy enough to envision a future, more radical version of the Non-Aligned Movement of the kind proposed by the International Secessionary Movement, representing a global alliance of startup societies, waging a common insurgency against the emerging global imperial system.

By William S. Lind

Traditional Right

As President Trump knows well, he has not been very successful in getting the measures he wants through Congress.  One way to improve his chances of doing so is to change the context.

Relations with Russia provide an example.  The president knows our hostility towards Russia makes no sense.  Communism has fallen, we have no interests that should lead us to oppose Russia and Russia is resuming her 19th century role as the most conservative of the great powers.  Russia should be our ally, not our enemy. 

The Washington establishment wants a hostile relationship with Russia because it is still thinking in the context of a world of states in conflict.  Any other powerful state (including China) that does not bow to American hegemony must be seen as an enemy.  The purpose of all the clucking and squawking about the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia is to scare the administration away from improving relations with Moscow.  Unfortunately, that trick seems to be working. 

But what if the administration responded by changing the context?  President Trump could easily explain to the American people that the real threat we face is not any other state (except perhaps North Korea) but “terrorism” (really 4GW) from non-state entities, of which ISIS is only one.  To beat the terrorists, we need an alliance with Russia and China, because they are the other two great powers.  In fact, that alliance would only be the beginning.  We should work with Moscow and Beijing to create an alliance of all states against violent non-state entities.  If we want a relatively peaceful, ordered, and safe 21st century, that is what we have to do.    

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No Foreign Policy is Good Foreign Policy 3

Anarcho-Dictator

Instead of a Blog

Positing for a moment the existence of a national state after the American revolutionary war, what should its attitude toward foreign lands be? I believe the answer is “none.”

Jefferson had no business conducting operations against the British in the War of 1812, nor against the Barbary Pirates. Though it may have escaped the notice of the Empire of Liberty’s spiritual architect, neither the Atlantic Ocean nor the shores of Tripoli are within the boundaries of the 13 colonies. What happens to people abroad – even Americans – is no business of the Feds. When Americans go abroad to do business, to fight revolutions, or to plunder natives the burden is upon themselves and the national governments of those regions to protect them. The American tax-payer or soldier has no obligation to defend the adventures of some bootlegger, nor does the American Federal Government have jurisdiction over them.

The national state should have no attitude toward the legitimacy of foreign states – it should neither recognize nor criticize them. In their public life, the duty of politicians is to sit down and shut the fuck up. Their opinions are not sought, nor relevant. They are to behave, in every way possible, as soulless automatons who are only due to come online when the specifically granted constitutional powers are invoked. When it is unclear, the bias should be toward inactivity.

Commerce with foreign nations – including the sale of heavy munitions – should be entirely within the sphere of private citizens. Likewise, the importation of arms in the United States – arms of any sort whatsoever – are no business of the Federal government. If US citizens wish to travel abroad as pirates, mercenaries, and revolutionaries the Federal government shall take no notice of this – nor shall they be responsible to extradite him for any crimes allegedly committed outside of its jurisdiction.

The sole, proper use of the money and military forces at the disposal of the Federal government (in this hypothetical scenario) would be to prevent the physical invasion by foreign armies against the constituent states. Beyond that, they have no ambit of operation, and can not draw upon one penny of the public funds either to support or undermine any foreign regime.

The Hezbollah Model Wins Reply

The model that all anarchists and anti-statists need to be studying. One of our objectives should be to develop non-state political and militia confederations that will usurp many of the functions currently provided by states, with the goal of eventually superseding states.

By William S. Lind

Traditional Right

When we think of ISIS’s enemies, we usually list religions other than Islam, Islamics who reject Sunni puritanism, local states, Western states and so on.  But from the perspective of Fourth Generation war theory, ISIS’s most important competition may be with Hezbollah.  These two Islamic Fourth Generation entities represent two different models of 4GW.  Hezbollah’s model hollows out the state where it is based but leaves it standing.  The ISIS model does away with the state and creates a replacement in the form of a caliphate, which is a pre-state type of government.  (Ironically, the ultra-puritan ISIS proclaimed a caliphate that, under Islamic law, is illegitimate, because the legitimate caliph is still the head of the house of Osman; the Ottoman sultan was also a caliph). 

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The Largest Military Machine in History Reply

Last night, the Senate overwhelmingly approved an $80 billion annual increase in military spending. Trump had asked for just $48 billion.

That $80 billion increase in military spending is enough to have satisfied Bernie Sanders’s campaign promise to make tuition free at public colleges and universities. (You may recall that when Bernie announced his proposal critics from both parties said the idea would bankrupt the country.)

If the Senate’s military package becomes law, U.S. spending on the military would exceed the total spending of America’s next 10 rivals put together.

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No, It’s Not the Troops Fault 1

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It is politically inappropriate and strategically counter productive to merely denounce rank and file members of the military as hired goons for the state. One of the most important political occurrences that happened in US history was the success of the anti-Vietnam War movement, and the consequent delegitimization of imperialist wars and military conscription. This success has reduced the US state, the most powerful state in history, to having to fight imperialist wars with armies of indentured servants, mercenaries, and proxy forces. The indentured servants that comprise the state’s official armed forces are largely generated by the economic draft which results from the ongoing impoverishment of poor and working class communities. That’s the reason why the US armed forces are both disproportionately minorities and disproportionately from white working class strongholds like the Rust Belt. The bottom line is that we need our vets for the revolution.

TRUMP: My instinct was to pull out of Afghanistan — here’s why I changed my mind Reply

Because the consensus of state/ruling class/power elite opinion said so. Duh?

The real issue here is the intramural rivalry within the global-capitalist empire, with the Eastern axis, especially China, but also Russia and Iran, wanting to develop Afghanistan for the BRICS, while the Western axis wants to retain Afghanistan for itself.

As I have said all along, Trump is a Nixon-Rockefeller moderate Republican, who takes his foreign policy cues from Kissinger, and not a “Nazi,” “fascist,” “Alt-Right,” or even “Alt-Lite.” What this shows is that presidential politics is a waste of time, and that sensible people need to forget all about this Red/Blue nonsense just as they need to forget about the Nazi/Antifa nonsense.

Putin seems to me to wish to create a Eurasian alliance against the Atlanticist axis with what would amount to a restored Russian empire as the leadership of an Eastern axis of this kind. It’s essentially happening in the form of the growing relationship between the BRICS, the Shia block and the Global South. Putin is pretty much following the National-Bolshevik playbook, even if he doesn’t call it that, with Alexander Dugin playing the role of the Russian Kissinger. I wrote about the possibility of such a development in the early to mid 2000s and it seems to be happening at present, This is beneficial because it creates an intramural rift and accelerated division in the global capitalist empire led by the G20.  Just as it is a desirable state of affairs for the domestic regime to be divided into the Red and Blue Teams, thereby limiting the maneuverability of the state, so is is desired for the global plutocracy to be divided into the Western axis and Eastern axis.

By Maxwell Tani

Business Insider

After repeatedly criticizing the war in Afghanistan for years, President Donald Trump in a primetime speech Monday night said he was increasing the US military presence in the country.

In an address to military members in Virginia, Trump said he sympathized with Americans who were “weary of war without victory” and said he shared “the American people’s frustration” with a “foreign policy that has spent too much time, energy, money, and most importantly lives trying to rebuild countries in our own image.”

He also acknowledged the reversal in his decision to increase the American troop presence in a country he had previously called for the US to exit.

“My original instinct was to pull out, and historically I like following my instincts, but all of my life I heard that decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office,” Trump said.

No, It’s Not about “Globalism vs. Nationalism” 1

It’s about globalism/globalization vs non-state actors.

Some thoughts on the present political polarization, geopolitical rivalries, the G20, and “populist-nationalism.”

The present political polarization represents an effort by the various factions of the ruling class attempting to create constituencies for themselves. Most of the mainstream media represents the dominant centrist and center-left factions, academia represents the furthest left faction of the elite, FOX/GOP/talk radio represents the right-wing of the ruling class. I actually think the Trumpians represent yet another faction that wishes to pursue a new geopolitical strategy devised by Kissinger, but is being thwarted by the dominant faction and the Deep State in the process. https://www.the-american-interest.com/…/donald-trumps…/

One of the many problems with these populist-nationalist tendencies that have emerged in various Western nations is that they are not revolutionaries or even radicals, but reactionaries who resist globalization in the same manner that the anti-modernist movements of the19th century resisted industrialization. The populist-nationalists simply want to turn back the clock to the 20th century model of relatively autonomous nation-states that are middle-class oriented and ethnically, culturally, and religiously homogeneous. They’re not going to be any more successful at this than the Luddites were at blocking the Industrial Revolution, or the throne and altar traditionalists were at blocking the rise of liberal bourgeois republicanism.

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U.S. risks further battles as it steps deeper into Syrian quagmire Reply

The US ruling class is the world’s largest collection of idiots. Treason to Washington is loyalty to humanity.

Washington Post

The United States is becoming more perilously drawn into Syria’s fragmented war as it fights on increasingly congested battlefields surrounding Islamic State territory.

On Sunday, a U.S. fighter jet downed a Syrian warplane for the first time in the conflict. By Monday, a key ally of President Bashar al-Assad, Russia, had suspended a pact used to prevent crashes with the U.S.-led coalition in the skies over Syria and was threatening to target American jets.

Separately, Iran said that it had launched a barrage of missiles into Islamic State territory in eastern Syria. That assault marked Tehran’s first official strike against the extremist group in Syria, and it signposted the reach of its military might against foes across the region.

The incident followed a series of U.S. airstrikes against Iran-backed forces advancing on partner forces in a strategically prized swath of land along the Iraqi border.

As the major powers on the opposite sides of Syria’s war intensify operations against the Islamic State, the risks of an accidental conflagration appear to be growing by the day.

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Anarchism or Vanguardism? Critique of Guerrilla Ideology of the IRPGF Reply

The Free Online

Guerrilla ideology reduces all revolutionary questions to quantitative problems of military force. Nothing could be more disastrous. – James Carr,

Power does not come any more from the barrel of a gun than it comes from a ballot box. No revolution is peaceful, but its “military” dimension is never central. The question is not whether the proles finally decide to break into the armouries, but whether they unleash what they are: commodified beings who no longer can and no longer want to exist as commodities, and whose revolt explodes capitalist logic. Barricades and machine guns flow from this “weapon”.

The greater the change in social life, the less guns will be needed, and the less casualties there will be. A communist revolution will never resemble a slaughter: not from any nonviolent principle, but because revolution subverts more (soldiers included) than it actually destroys.

To imagine a proletarian front facing off a bourgeois front is to conceive the proletariat in bourgeois terms, on the model of a political revolution or a war (seizing someone’s power, occupying their territory). In so doing, one reintroduces everything that the insurrectionary movement had overwhelmed: hierarchy, a respect for specialists, for knowledge that Knows, and for techniques to solve problems — in short for everything that plays down the role of the common man.Gilles Dauve, When Insurrections Die

 

 

 

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