Friday, October 23, 2009

Make the World Go Away

It’s high time we adopted the isolationist policy recommended by our founding fathers. I’m not talking about withdrawing from the world as an economic and diplomatic superpower. I’m suggesting that we just say no to strewing our military strength far and wide every time we have a temper tantrum. The past eight years have shown that our military might doesn’t accomplish our national objectives. Let the crazy world take care of itself.

Senior Israeli officials reportedly traded sharp words with Iranian officials at the non-proliferation talks in Cairo in September. Unnamed Israeli officials supposedly leaked the story, a named Egyptian official (Egypt’s Foreign Minister) confirmed the story, and unnamed Iranian officials denied the story. The truest thing we’re able to determine is that if the named and unnamed Israeli and Iranian officials did meet, they didn’t shake hands. It’s doubtful that had anything to do with swine flue.

As Jason Ditz of reports, the meeting was “brief and heated.” That’s not surprising. Ditz writes that “the Israeli official accused Iran of violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), to which Israel isn’t even a signatory, while the Iranian official pointedly asked Israel to confirm its nuclear arsenal, which it refused to do.”

Those wacky Israelis, always wanting unfair advantages and, as history proves, always getting them from a compliant American military-industrial complex and its network of allies.

Israel’s right-wing Likudniks cherish the same values as America’s neoconservatives: arrogance, indolence, fear mongering and arms spending. (How dare President Obama not give Gen. Stanley McChrystal everything he wants?)

Iran serves a vital role in the Pentagon’s long war strategy. It’s a neo-East Germany; a pseudo-client state of Russia, plopped in the middle of the Middle East. It gives us a reason to keep troops located in Iraq and Afghanistan, even though none of the 9/11 attackers came from Iraq or even Afghanistan and certainly not from Iran.

Iran is an excuse to keep the war machine rolling.

Iran’s defense budget is less than one percent of ours. It can’t project conventional land power much beyond its borders. Its navy is a coast guard and its air force is a junkyard. It doesn’t have a nuclear weapons program. Yet we’re up in arms about it. How senseless.

Speaking of senseless, Dick Cheney is on the rampage again. He is the most dishonest, most misguided villain of the 21st century, but when he speaks, he gets more bandwidth than the World Series, the Super Bowl and Internet porn combined. He’s not even attractive to look at or listen to, and he has a proven track record of not knowing what he’s talking about. He’s a militaristic dipswitch.

He gave a speech on Oct. 21 at a right-wing tank thinkery called the Center for Security Policy in which he accused President Obama of “dithering” over Afghanistan, and bragged about what an impressive job of protecting the country he did while in office.

Cheney was more responsible than any other American for roasting the intelligence that led us to invade Iraq. He ignored the warnings that 9/11 was coming. He also led the effort to demonize Iran with unproven accusations that exists to this day. Dick and his mentor Don Rumsfeld are the ones who cross-threaded Afghanistan in the first place. They’re also the ones who screwed up Iraq. Cheney accused Obama of “giving in to the angry left.” The angry left? That’s big talk coming from Cheney, who is the maddest dog in the rabid right.

Cheney defended his torture program, saying it had “legal underpinnings” and “safeguards.” By legal underpinnings he means that he and his neoconservative henchmen injected lawyers into the Justice Department who told them that anything they wanted to do was legal. Safeguards? Our “interrogators” beat people to death. Even John McCain, who is anything but a dove, admits that our torture program didn’t work and should not have been implemented.

Cheney said, “the United States has never lost its moral bearings.” Our moral bearings have never been more tumbled, thanks to Cheney and his satraps (John Bolton, Scooter Libby, Doug Feith, etc.) Lying our way into wars, torture, treating our Constitution like a hygiene product, allowing big interests to bend the American people over the kitchen table: there has never been a more immoral administration than the one Cheney vice-presided over.

William Kristol, who founded the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), called Cheney’s speech a “humdinger.” It was more of a neocon hum job. The Center for Security Policy, where Cheney gave his speech, is funded by defense contractors, and is run by the malignant Frank Gaffney, one of the darkest stars in the neoconservative constellation. Gaffney is also a founding member of Kristol’s PNAC. And as journalist Jim Lobe notes, Gaffney has reach-around relationships with Likudnik elements in Israel. Gaffney’s intellectual inputs to the national security debate have the integrity of a blue dollar bill.

The neoconservative crowd reminds one of George Bernard Shaw’s Major Barbara, in which Shaw argues that all the good in the world is financed by war and sin. How sad. We Americans are supposed to be better than that. Why do we continue to go along with it? The neocons would have us believe that we can be a force for good in the world by blowing it up bits at a time. Can a belief get any sillier? (If she floats, she’s a witch.)

The oceans and our size provide us with ample security protection, just as they did in the day of Washington and Jefferson and Franklin. No one can invade and occupy us. Nobody would ever be crazy enough to pop a nuclear missile off in our direction, or in the direction of any of our friends (do we have any of those left?)

No one is interested in competing with us militarily, not even Russia or China. Let’s start coming home and fixing our own problems, and take the world off our shoulders. It will get along fine without us bombing it on a regular basis.

It’s time to become that kinder, gentler nation and that shining city on the hill that Republican presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush exhorted us to be.

Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes at Pen and Sword. Jeff's novel Bathtub Admirals (Kunati Books), a lampoon on America's rise to global dominance, is on sale now.


  1. And what is the rest of the world saying?

  2. Jeff,

    Your comment about "being a force for good in the world by blowing things up" got me thinking about the brillant new slogan and PR campaign unveiled by the Navy this month: "America's Navy: A Global Force for Good"

    As an officer myself, I have my own opinions about the notion of our navy as a global super cop, but I'd love to see an article, or a sequal to Bathtub Admirals on this nonsense.



  3. Anonymous7:08 PM

    The TV commercial ends with "Force for good....."

    I took the "for good" to mean wasting the tax payers' dougher forever.


  4. Anonymous7:14 PM

    Reasons to listen to George Washington:

    We are being had by the Europeans.

    Today, the NATO defense ministers, in keeping with their functions as chief cheerleaders for the old and new worlds' war profiteers endorsed wasting more resources in Afghanistan.

    My reply is great! Time for NATO to stand up.

    In terms of ratios and contributions the US share is usually 40%.

    Then the rest of NATO needs to ante up 24000 of McCrystal's 40000 new troops.

    Of course in those countries that would require a major build up.

    Canada is pulling out in 2011 and the UK likely in 2012.

    So easy for the neo con press to grab on to an excuse for the US tax payer to give up its living standard while NATO/Europe is along for the free ride.


  5. Does "fixing our own problems" include closing the overseas bases and repatriating the troops? I would so totally vote for that. It might be a good idea to start doing that anyway, since the next energy price spike (or maybe the one after that) may make moving troops and equipment difficult, if not unaffordable. Dmitri Orlov has been warning us for years about the possibility of U.S. troops being stranded overseas in the event of a Soviet-style collapse in the USA.

    There would be a hell of a lot of social inertia to overcome to implement such a policy. American politicians are unlikely to appreciate having hundreds of thousands of people being dropped in the middle of a contracting economy that is shedding jobs. I don't see it happening, even with widespread public support (and that might also be hard to come by).

    Reality will arbitrate all of this, obviously, but you can be sure that our lords and masters will wait until the last possible moment before they acknowledge that fact.


  7. You may have ended up at the same place that Gen. Smedley Butler did, for the same reasons - but the reasons are the same as they were in the 1930s, and in the teens which gave him the experience that set him on this path of rejection-of-empire: Empire is profitable, to a certain narrow set of profiteers, and warmongering is profitable, to the Undershafts of the world.

    So long as Undershaft and Lazarus can keep on buying senators, all the good will and rationality in the country won't stop the engine that was rolling long before we were waterboarding POWs and burning villages to save them in the Philippines in 1901, let alone when Butler called out the racketeers in the Thirties for on the one hand menacing Japan with war games off their coast and punitive laws against their citizens and on the other hand selling them "bits of the old Sixth Avenue El" - and that doesn't take into account at all the cheerleading squad of those who think that the coming of the Four Horsemen will be better than all the Superbowls ever, combined.

    Meddling in the affairs of countries with strategic and resource value, peddling weapons to all sides, is just too profitable for us to stop playing the Great Game. Until there's a way to break the complex that even Eisenhower feared, I just don't see this happening. Not before we go the way of Ninevah & Tyre, at least.

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