Friday, July 30, 2010

The End of the Western Concept of War?

In my last post I presented a "stay the course" view in regards to the Afghan war. In this referring to Professor Andrew Bacevich's latest article, we see a very different perspective. Bacevich talks about his book here.

Both are probably seen as responses to the recent wikileaks document dump which Chief has presented on a couple of posts. While Rove's is a probable response, Bacevich's is probably not since it is an introduction to a book that will be coming out soon. That is Rove's is more a reaction imo, whereas Bacevich's is a much more thought out and reasoned presentation. Also since it is introducing a book, one should not expect the "whole story", rather one is expected to read the book, as I will.

My assumption is simply that Professor Bacevich is coming from a Clausewitzian perspective and that his argument will reflect that. This article - following this perspective - is incomplete since it serves primarily as an introduction to the book.

The article is typical Bacevich in quality and style. I recommend it highly. There is only one comment I wish to make concerning it which goes beyond the situation of the US today, and even the US situation since 1945, but that addresses the title of this post.

Bacevich writes:

All of this furious activity, whether undertaken by France or Great Britain, Russia or Germany, Japan or the United States, derived from a common belief in the plausibility of victory. Expressed in simplest terms, the Western military tradition could be reduced to this proposition: war remains a viable instrument of statecraft, the accoutrements of modernity serving, if anything, to enhance its utility.

Grand Illusions

That was theory. Reality, above all the two world wars of the last century, told a decidedly different story. Armed conflict in the industrial age reached new heights of lethality and destructiveness. Once begun, wars devoured everything, inflicting staggering material, psychological, and moral damage. Pain vastly exceeded gain. In that regard, the war of 1914-1918 became emblematic: even the winners ended up losers. When fighting eventually stopped, the victors were left not to celebrate but to mourn. As a consequence, well before Fukuyama penned his essay, faith in war’s problem-solving capacity had begun to erode. As early as 1945, among several great powers -- thanks to war, now great in name only -- that faith disappeared altogether.

Among nations classified as liberal democracies, only two resisted this trend. One was the United States, the sole major belligerent to emerge from the Second World War stronger, richer, and more confident. The second was Israel, created as a direct consequence of the horrors unleashed by that cataclysm. By the 1950s, both countries subscribed to this common conviction: national security (and, arguably, national survival) demanded unambiguous military superiority. In the lexicon of American and Israeli politics, “peace” was a codeword. The essential prerequisite for peace was for any and all adversaries, real or potential, to accept a condition of permanent inferiority. In this regard, the two nations -- not yet intimate allies -- stood apart from the rest of the Western world.

Emphasis is mine.

Three points that correspond to the three highlighted sections:

First the Western concept of war sees war as a political instrument, that is in Clausewitzian terms. Military means becomes the instrument of appropriate policy ends. According to Clausewitz war is made up of a remarkable trinity of passion, chance and the subordination to policy/politics. War is not an independent phenomenon, but part of political intercourse, that is belonging to a larger social whole. Notice that the definition of "politics" here is intentionally broad, encompassing various aspects associated with power in the context of both within and between political communities.

Second, this is not the same as seeing war as a "problem solver" since pursuing a policy is not the same as solving a problem, which may be much more complex. One could for instance wage war in order to distract one's own population from domestic concerns, thus attempting to solve a domestic problem but using war as an instrument in a way that compromises the means and fails to consider the ultimate results of the war in question that one has initiated (chance and passion).

I think it no accident that Bacevich mentions the First World War in this regard. JFC Fuller in his The Conduct of War writes in connection with the aims of the two opposing alliances in 1914:

As regards the aims of the two alliances, which their respective policies should have co-ordinated with the means at their disposal as well as with strategical and other conditions [notice the influence of Clausewitz here], they may be inferred from the causes which brought the two alliances into being. That of France was to cripple Germany, regain Alsace-Lorraine, and reestablish her leadership on the continent, which she had been deprived of by Sadowa and Sedan. That of Russia was to absorb the Balkans, and with them gain Constantinople and an outlet to the Mediterranean, which meant the emasculation, if not the disintegration, of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. That of Germany was to prevent either of these contingencies, and maintain her supremacy. That of Great Britain was to destroy Germany as a trade rival, which she could only do with the aide of France and Russia. pp153-4

The war aims of the Entente required the complete defeat of the Central Powers. That is the political aims of France, Russia and Britain were of such a radical nature that they would require tremendous resources to achieve, to even have the chance of achieving. Given a war of this intensity and scope it was unavoidable that chance (unexpected/unintended political consequences) and passion (new ideologies/loss of respect for old elites/mass radicalization) would present themselves, making for a situation which was in many ways worse than what had preceded it.

To ensure success, what was also necessary was that the populations of the Entente powers believe they were in fact waging a defensive war, a war against an aggressive Germany. German operational success and actions in Belgium provided for the cover initially, along with ever more aggressive German war aims as their losses went up and the war went on, so that with the final defeat in 1918 Germany was relatively easily and necessarily burdened with the sole guilt for having started the war in the first place. With the overthrow of the Hohenzollern monarchy, that left the German people holding the bag. That is the "peace treaty" became a means of maintaining domination over a people, in effect continuing the war, but through other means (continued economic blockade/harsh treaty terms). The Allies - including the US - had essentially blurred the distinction between war and peace and had waged war for - especially in the case of the US - bombastically utopian goals which unsurprisingly fell far short in reality. Thus both the Allied and Central Power perspectives ceased to see war as a rational instrument, but rather as an unlimited "problem solver" which was carried over in some form in the following post-war period.

The third point I wish to bring out from Bacevich's article that I quoted is the reluctance of both the US and Israel to see the fallacy of this view. They continue to play in effect by the Entente's rules of 1914-1920. The result then as now will be a continuously deteriorating international situation with ever increasing demands on US/Israeli resources in what is a situation which does not lend itself to a military solution.

It's time we got back to the idea of limits in regards to what can be achieved by military means.

So is it the end of the Western concept of war? Not imo, but rather the realization that the wars of the 20th and now the 21st Centuries have in some cases been the result of political radicalism which expected massive social transformation through war. Thus the grandiose nature of the politics involved (in effect imposing total domination on the enemy including defining his political identity), not the potential use of the military instrument per say, is what has come to a cross roads.

Can we carry on doing things and saying things the way we have for the last nine years?


If we recall the assumptions associated with Karl Rove's view of the war on terror from my last thread:

1. We are engaged with an existential threat that wishes to both harm us and take away our liberty.

2. Afghanistan is the right place to fight this threat, but not necessarily the only place. The overall war aim is one of remaking Afghanistan to suit our purposes, essentially a clean sweep.

3. We can only defeat ourselves, it is only a lack or resolve among our leaders reflected in their poor choice of words that can lead us to defeat in this war. Time is always on our side. Essentially we are "too big to fail".

4. Only ever increasing levels of violence - the emphasis is clearly on military action, on military victory, will assure success. Success is only defined in military terms. Hand-wringing squeamishness is only defeatism.

5. Politics = power = war. You win by having broken the other side, having them accept your view even to their own disadvantage. Whether at home or abroad, it makes no difference.

And compare them with Bacevich's view as presented in his latest article and recent interviews, we see that they are essentially opposites. It is as if Rove and Bacevich exist in two different worlds.

Furthermore, Rove's assumptions will not be questioned and Bacevich's questions will hardly be addressed. Instead he is dismissed politely as a "paleo-conservative" and the sham "debate" moves on. Notice that simple "conservative" has a different meaning today than before, meaning in effect "Cheney and neo-con stooge". Conservativism along with Liberalism have both been gutted as belief systems, as sets of interlocking ideals/values; today in America they simply stand for "interests" or "prejudices" those notions that relieve us of any discomfort should we get a glimpse of what is really going on behind that threadbare curtain. Some may have wondered my reason for posting anything about Rove, why? Because I have had a very uneasy feeling: as if Bush were still on his throne and Cheney still in his bunker at the controls . . . Now, why should I feel that? Could it have something to do with a possible level of betrayal and cowardice that seems increasingly manifest?

Still the basic question remains, how long can a country, even a world hegemon, continue to operate as if it were in some different reality? Assuming that its power is unlimited and that it can in effect bend reality to its own will, create its own situation on the ground? Seventeenth Century Spain was such a country and as FDChief and I have pointed out in the past, its attempt at continued hegemony in the face of material, moral and physical decline only hastened its inevitable collapse.

I support Andrew Bacevich in his attempt to reach the American people with his message. I only hope that this post, in whatever small way, has assisted him in his goal. Andrew Bacevich's warning is a flashing red light that we ignore at our peril.


  1. Years ago I felt that my interest in the military was rather imbalanced and decided to balance it with some anti-war literature. I mean books of intellectuals, not anti-war propaganda brochures.

    These pacifist authors turned out to be rather rational people who recognised war as tremendous waste and were honestly eager to research ways of how to move towards a world that worked differently.
    Some of their very reasonable arguments were historically correct and covered things like war profiteering, unnecessary crisis situations, unnecessary escalations and overly aggressive policies (which didn't respect other's sovereignty) in general.

    In short: The perfect opposite of neocons. Honestly, if I had to choose sides, it would be an easy decision.

    The contrast between them and some voices which I heard and read recently is stark. The belief in the usefulness and desirability of military dominance is strong among "some" Americans.

    The military is to me like a firefighter club. You need it, it shall be fine, it shall do the job if needed - but you do not intend to create situations that require it.
    I could never grasp how someone would want to turn every 20th or even 15th community member into a firefighter. That's wasteful overkill.
    It just makes no sense.

    That - sense - is probably not a requirement for certain people, though.

  2. Bacevich quotes Fukuyama's "end of history", which Fukuyama today probably regrets having written. So is Bacevich going the same route in that he's making absolute statements? I think no, and since this article is simply an introduction, we'll have to wait to read the rest of his argument to find out for sure.

    Also if you listen to the interview that I linked, Bacevich is talking mostly about the current US political situation - "the credo and the trinity" - which are simply unsustainable strategically . . .

    End of the Western concept of war, no, but rather the approaching end to US foreign policy as it has been practiced. More a subjective argument (pertaining to the US) than an objective one (pertaining to war as a concept).

    On a personal note, never have fired a shot in anger. Served my time with the grunts (USMCR & USMC) but only in peacetime (thank God). My operational experience was all in Strategic Humint collection from the mid 80s to mid 90s, so was on hand to see a lot from that angle. Any pacifist notions I may have had were destroyed by my experience as an intel ops officer collecting on the Bosnian War.

  3. Really? Was it such a beautiful thing?

    Because if you don't think it was, then you probably misunderstood pacifism with the maximum extremist caricature of pacifism that others created.

  4. Pacifism is rejecting all violence. Simply that for me. Had all the Bosnians been pacifists . . .

    I don't call that beautiful. But I do call it real.

  5. Actually, that's just anarcho pacifism, a fringe group of pacifism.

    It's like saying all conservatives are nazis, because both are right wing.

    I told you; the image of pacifism has been twisted very much. Strawman arguments are dirty, but effective.

  6. Hmmm.

    If I had to stake out a position on the entire business of the "end of the Western way of war" I would place it, rather, in the area marked "the end of a bizarre situation in which unusual circumstances became the accepted standard".

    I think what Bachevich means is simply that the concept of "total war" needs to be retired for 99% of wars. The notion of making war central to politics, or the polity, is, IMO, an odd artifact of the two huge wars of the 20th Century.

    Prior to, and since, those two events, most wars have been fought for relatively limited objectives, using relatively limited means and methods.

    But because of the immensity of WW1/2, the Western democracies in particular have slid into the rhetorical trap of using the language of total war; "victory", defeat", "national will", "ultimate sacrifice" even where such bombast is really inappropriate, such as these cabinet wars in central Asia, or rebellion suppression in occupied lands. As such we become prisoners of our rhetoric as much as our technological bent towards warfare.

    As far as the warfare itself, well...foreign occupiers can do rebellion supression really only as genocide unless they have a reliable local proxy. The proxy has a lot more leeway to do the sort of selective (wholesale in places, perhaps, but selective on a national scale) butchery needed to suppress the rebellion. The foreigner doesn't have that legitimacy, or the understanding of the local politics, society, and personalities needed to get the job done. Hence our failure in central Asia and Israel's in the territories. Technology really won't solve that problem, and it won't solve ours, or Israel's...

  7. I have to agree with Sven here, seydlitz. There is pacifism as defined by it's skeptics, which is the "let me lie down so you can kill me" sort of pacifism which exists in only a tiny minority (I think the correct term for this is "anarcho-pacifism").

    But pacifism per se is merely the determination not to seek out or start a fight, or to consider force a means of settling disputes. A pacifist can be perfectly willing to, and capable of, bearing arms and having a go at cleaning your clock if you come for him - think modern Sweden, Finland, or Switzerland.

    The problems of Bosnia weren't caused or exacerbated by pacifism - all the peoples of the former Yugoslavia had grudges against each other - but, rather, a combination of too much mouth and too little fighting ass to back it up on the Bosniak side, and a ruthless aggressor on the Serb side.

    If the Bosniaks had been willing to work with the Croats or an outside ally (as eventually happened, when the US/NATO acted as the Croatian air force to beat back the Serbs), the massacres might not have happened.

  8. Sven-

    Nazis are the very opposite of conservatives, they were radicals pushing a revolution to destroy all traditional values for the sake of unrestrained power (if you follow Rauschning's view).

  9. ...and moderate pacifists might pick up an assault rifle to defend their country, the exact opposite of anarcho pacifists.
    I used the analogy to show the scope of the difference and how it's unfair to treat them all as the same.

  10. FDChief-

    "The problems of Bosnia weren't caused or exacerbated by pacifism - all the peoples of the former Yugoslavia had grudges against each other - but, rather, a combination of too much mouth and too little fighting ass to back it up on the Bosniak side, and a ruthless aggressor on the Serb side."

    Funny how we get to this so quickly. OK, pacifism has this touchy-feely quality that we can all share. It doesn't really mean that you're willing to burn yourself down to sacrificial ash to protest violence in your community, it's well, simply common sense to avoid a fight.

    OK, I can agree with that. . . But I do present my posts usually in terms of ideal types, unless otherwise stated. So, is pacifism to me on this thread.

    So how to present what I feel I learned from our Bosnian operation? That Carl Schmitt, that bastard, was right.

  11. Sven-

    I wish you'd brought up pacifism on the Martin Luther King thread . . .

  12. FDChief-

    "The notion of making war central to politics, or the polity, is, IMO, an odd artifact of the two huge wars of the 20th Century.

    Prior to, and since, those two events, most wars have been fought for relatively limited objectives, using relatively limited means and methods."

    We're in agreement. And the part about limited wars. They're that since those with Western countries involved are all expeditionary: by definition wars with limited goals. The outsiders never have as much stake in the fight to see it to the end, whereas the locals can either only stay or flee. Comes down to politics and all that is "local", or so they say.

  13. Yes, but the oddity here is that the local politics - which back in the preWW2 days, well...we didn't give a shit what Sandino or Aguinaldo wanted - are suddenly figuring in our military considerations. In the old days we were there for out own business. And we stayed, or left, based on our own domestic needs. Now we "have to consider the plight of Afghanistan's women" and we must stay and fight to ensure that Iraqis act like Americans rather than Iraqis.


    And I think a lot of this has to do with the promises made after WW2. Because we had to make the noise that the dead and maimed hadn't be fucked over, the US government need to at least genuflect towards the altar of the UN charter means that we still have to mouth the platitudes, despite the fact that the Bushies threw that baby out with the common-sense bathwater of national interest.

    (Mind you, I'm not saying that they didn't have a parochial interest in getting us into the Middle East, but that it was their party, their cronies, their business and intellectual siderunners, and the interests of Greater Israel, that figured above the interests of the U.S. polity as a whole...)

    So here we are, trapped in cabinet wars that, in a genuine cabinet-war time and nation would long ago have been terminated as stale, flat, and unprofitable. But because of our inappropriate rhetoric and the intransigence of those still hoping for Big Casino, we continue to flail away at the tarbaby.

    BYW - has anyone else noticed that Iraqi politics has collapsed, and after all those purple fingers the place is rapidly devolving into an ungovernable mess? So, sadly, Saddam is looking like a smart guy from beyond the grave; Iraq wasn't Iraq because Saddam was Saddam.

    Saddam was Saddam because Iraq was Iraq.

  14. ".., the US government need to at least genuflect towards the altar of the UN charter means that we still have to mouth the platitudes, despite the fact that the Bushies threw that baby out with the common-sense bathwater of national interest...."

    Now that's quite twisted.

    There's nothing in the UN Charter that requires a crusade for human rights in other countries. That's probably Western zeitgeist, but not the UN charter.

    There IS a binding obligation to not use violence first in conflicts between countries, though. Inf act, even "bomb bomb Iran" songs were prohibited by the charter - even extortion with threats of violence is unacceptable.

  15. Seydlitz,
    Nice post.
    My cmts are general in nature and are not replies to the thread. I want to discuss Karl, in a way.
    The US stomped him to death , imo,when we started the program of unconditional surrender.
    This upset the apple cart of international wars, which before were played out for achievable objectives, at a calculated cost, and we threw a monkey wrench into the works.
    In fairness we weren't alone since WW2 seemed to be a war of extermination , in many senses of the word. But unconditional surrender screwed up the equilibrium and we share a bit of the blame for this event.
    What you view as the end of western war may actually be the end of the concept of unconditional surrender.
    We will never prevail in the PWOT because we are still hanging on to the mistaken belief that we can impose our will and force unconditional acceptance of our policies, and it ain't gonna happen.
    That's my take.
    You btw didn't have to fire a shot in anger- you were a universal soldier. We all were.
    It's also my belief that firing in anger is not a military concept. Being angry reduces it all to a bar room brawl.
    The Balkans was emotion, and the response should not be the same.

  16. FDChief-

    WWII was different. They had attacked us. We were challenged and had to respond. That 1945 would bring nuclear weapons and a game-changing moment for warfare, not to mention the responsibility for a Europe and Northern Asia destroyed had never been considered, and then there was Stalin . . .

    On the other hand, consider WWI, specifically April 1917. Wilson had been re-elected in 1916 on the platform, "he kept us out of war". The passion of mid-1915 with the sinking of the Lusitania had passed, but the Allies were in trouble - Russia was on the edge of revolution and the Allies were out of cash to pay for US munitions and credit . . .

    Ever read Neil Postman?

    "For although culture is a creation of speech, it is recreated anew by every medium of communication - from painting to hieroglyphs to the alphabet to television. Each medium, like language itself, makes possible a unique mode of discourse by providing a new orientation for thought, for expression, for sensibility." "Amusing Ourselves to Death", p 11.

    In 1917 the dominate medium was print although it was useful to have thousands of "4-minute men" giving speeches as well. The war was sold in print to a highly literate and sophisticated audience, known at the time as "the public".

    Today the dominate medium is TV with the internet supporting that, but even its textual element supplanted and formed by the images of TV.

    The success of selling the First World War hardly lasted to its end. In the early Fall of 1918, the country was already getting war weary.

    Compare that with today . . .

  17. jim-

    I think we agree, we're just calling the same thing different things. I call it "the grandiose nature of the politics" and you call it "unconditional surrender", but what exactly is the difference? The one begets the other.

    Not "firing a shot in anger" is simply an expression to mean I was never in combat. Agree as to passion being something that actually clouds things. I never hated the East Germans or Soviets, but distrusted their governments and pitied their peoples. That was an advantage I had in dealing with sources, I actually had a high regard for their respective cultures and it came across. I look at war very much from a theoretical perspective which is something unique I think I bring to this blog. My "war" never turned "hot" and we are all the better for it.

    Bosnia is the exception. I took that one personally and it left something of a mark on me.

  18. How would I define "pity" in this way?

    The feeling I had for the various Eastern and Central Europeans who came before my desk those years I was operational. I knew a good bit of the military and political history of the first half of 20th Century Germany / Eastern Europe and could impress them with place names associated with certain dates. I was only interested in recent stuff, but the very mention of those times . . .

  19. Nietzsche: "God is dead." God: "Nietzsche is dead."

    U.S. military: "Clausewitz is dead." Clausewitz: "U.S. military is dead."

    Chester A. Riley: "What a revolting development this turned out to be."

    No wonder Bacevich didn't make general. Clearly ill—suited for the military. He, like a lot of us who've been to war, is a pacifist.

    Epistemologically speaking, that is.

    Nice post, Seydlitz.

  20. Publius-

    "No wonder Bacevich didn't make general. Clearly ill—suited for the military. He, like a lot of us who've been to war, is a pacifist."

    Agree. He wants to shut down the whole gravytrain/war industry/national series of swindles and bring the troops home and never go to war again unless it actually serves clear national interests/security. He also has pretty much given up on influencing the policy-making elite and is making his appeal directly to the people. He's a very clear thinker and articulates himself well. I look forward to reading his new book.

    As to "pacifism" perhaps Bacevich would agree with you here too, I don't know. I emphasize a restrictive and precise definition (which is epistemological as well) on this thread since the subject is the western concept of war and its possible end. Bachevich's article's title includes "the Failure of the Western Way of War". So has pacifism led in some way to this current situation? How is pacifism connected with the subject of this thread?

    Bacevich's argument is that military failure has led to our questioning the utility of the military instrument, not moral qualms as to its use, at least that is how I read him.

    Using a broader definition of pacifism only dilutes whatever influence it could have. If pacifism is simply "common sense to avoid a fight", then it's not going to stop any wars. War begins - following Clausewitz - when the defender resists the actions/hostile intentions of the aggressor. Failure to resist, passive non-action, rejection of violence to resist or defend oneself precludes war, avoids the violent interaction between two opposing sides which is war by definition. What happens next depends on the political relationship between the two groups.

    Historically speaking claiming to be a pacifist in the broader sense that has been presented here is not going to change anything. Aggressors know that it is best to paint their wars in terms of defense. Political skill in democracies and quasi-democracies is measured in how well a government manipulates information to get public support for a desired policy.

    The current war in Afghanistan initially had wide-spread support and I am sure there were some Bundeswehr and many other "pacifists" who followed George Bush into war there with a clear conscience, since the use of violence was seen as "justified".

    For pacifism to be a game changer imo it has to have a restrictive meaning - as it does for Martin Luther King - and thus its power can be used for political/strategic effect . . .

  21. Bacevich on Democracy Now, talking about his book . . .

  22. Isaiah 2:

    In the last days . . . He will judge between the nations
    and will settle disputes for many peoples.
    They will beat their swords into plowshares
    and their spears into pruning hooks.
    Nation will not take up sword against nation,
    nor will they train for war anymore.

    I always have believed "The Day the Earth Stood Still" was a re-telling of the story of Christ, in a more-than-a-bit flawed way.

    If Klaatu is Christ, who the heck is Gort?

    Our world may or may not end in a puff of smoke, depending upon your particular brand of religious or scientific affiliation. Pacifism is not just a rejection of war-like tendencies, but a commitment to principles that are antithetical to terms like nationalism, patriotism, capitalism, me-ism, you-ism.

    We're not there yet, as whatever other grade-B Sci-Fi flic says we aren't. I'd agree to that.

    I believe the answer lies in a determination to use violence as a last resort and mean it. The news stories surrounding Shirley Sherrod's life history are certainly inspiring. I would like to hope I could be like her, to deliver justice and fairness when the opportunity presents itself.

    But, I do hope Breitbart will thoroughly learn from his libelous actions, in a court of law.


  23. bb and seydlitz,
    I hope that i'm OT.
    Istm that we are willing , in the US ,to fight for ideas rather than for concrete objectives.
    IE, we fight so a bunch of crazies can stuff a ballot box, and so that this can be called democracy.
    There's absolutely nothing to win and nothing to lose except national treasure.
    War is now another govt run Ponzi scheme.
    This is the end of warfare.

  24. Not only that, stuffing ballot boxes, but keeping high-quality and high-paying defense industry jobs.

    High-quality weapons that we hope to God don't land on our heads in the near future.


  25. "Aggressors know that it is best to paint their wars in terms of defense. Political skill in democracies and quasi-democracies is measured in how well a government manipulates information to get public support for a desired policy."

    Isn't this sort of the crux of the biscuit?

    Polities still capable of making sound geopolitical and strategic decisions will have the capability to detatch rhetoric from reality. Once you lose the capability, whether through inattention or active self-delusion, then you can make the most appallingly poor choices seem like good ideas. Call it "victory disease", if you want to, but it's what has gotten most people and nations involved in failed aggressive wars. IMO perhaps the most definitive occasion was in 1914, when almost every European nation lost its collective mind in rainbow-colored effusions of national pride and aggression.

    Pre-1939, we tended to do our aggression pretty openly. Post-1945 we had to, at least officially, mind our manners in rough accordance with the principles of the sort expressed in the UN Charter (that's what I meant by "mouthing the platitudes, Sven...). But we still wanted to rough up whom we felt we needed to, hence the duplicity.

  26. Duplicity? Yes, that, but worse imo was the feigned innocence that was projected to cover the actions, or was that simply a bit of a self-delusional indulgence?

  27. bb-

    Gort's what happens when ya screw up.

  28. jim-

    "War is now another govt run Ponzi scheme.
    This is the end of warfare."

    Meaning this is the end of playing the sucker to the Ponzi scheme?

    A good idea of course, but you can only start out as an individual, and who am I to be giving advice, living as I am in northern Portugal. I never actually intended to become an expat, it just kinda sneaked up on me - family commitments and such.

    Organize locally is what they advise. Of course exactly what "locally" means is hard to say any more. I do what I can, as do all of us here in our own ways I suppose. There's nobody posting on this blog - and maybe nobody who's reading it - who isn't committed to needed change.

    Maybe something along those lines would be my definition of patriotism.


    Bacevich on Maddow last night, in case you missed the interview.


  30. Seydlitz,
    Organizing is a very fine line kind of event.
    Some would consider that militia building, which in turn brings the house down around ones ears.
    How else can we organize?
    By joining a political party-ssdd.

  31. 'Nietzsche: "God is dead."
    God: "Nietzsche is dead."
    U.S. military: "Clausewitz is dead."
    Clausewitz: "U.S. military is dead."
    Chester A. Riley: "What a revolting development this turned out to be."'

    Oh G-d, Publius, you actually got me to tear up with laughter...that was funny.
    okay, pulling it together.

    War isn't dead.
    Western War certainly isn't dead, and I think Jim has the right of it, which is that the ideas of unconditional surrender is dead.
    War without end, that is the new paradigm, and what a wonderful paradigm it is...a perpetual state of conflict without resolution.
    However, the nature of war is going to change, and I think we will begin to see that "unconditional surrender" isn't so much dead, as is that it is no longer a viable option for the country taking it in the shorts.

    I think we are seeing a shift now...a shift where surrender is not even accepted, nor asked for, and something akin to Big Brother...Big Brother is right, not because we say so, but because the defeated "believes" Big Brother is right, and that when they die, they die with the thought of "I love Big Brother."
    In this case, the substitute the United States for Big Brother, and you get the idea.
    1984, as creepy a book as was ever written, I think there are aspects of human psychology that plays out regardless of whether the subject is war, politics, are relationships.
    And I suspect, that this is where we find ourselves: The United States is Right, and anything short of complete and total devotion is considered suspect, and thus...a hostile.

    We, essentially, are a dangerous nation.

  32. sheer-

    Imo, I think our handlers started with Huxley's Brave New World approach where the emphasis was on pleasure and distraction and have only relatively recently (post-2001) switched increasingly to the Orwellian fear and terror approach . . . Funny how well they work in sequence.


    I've added a postscript.

    I just wish to repeat how much I agree with Bacevich's argument and how much I think it deserves wide-spread dissemination . . .

  33. I just wish to repeat how much I agree with Bacevich's argument and how much I think it deserves wide-spread dissemination . . .

    Funny you should mention that. I plunked both Bacevich's article and your thoughts onto a message board and one of our regulars there ( a Russian Jew living in Israel, Storyteller ) has decided that the "fisking" of Bacevich's piece is necessary after all.

    You're invited over to look at it. Here's the link, about halfway down the page.


  34. "Basevich (sic) is stuck with the old-fashioned notion of victory as the Allied flags over the Reichstag. But achieving "cheerful" victories is not the point; it never was. The point of modern-day wars is to create and sustain a sufficiently good security situation to enable economic and social progress. If a war achieves that, it's not a failure."

    Isn't this exactly the view that Bacevich is trying to point out and discredit . . . this "existential" threat . . . crap.

    Speaking as an American of course.

  35. I'm sure Mr. Bacevich would agree that more of this is needed. :)


  36. B. interviewed here:


  37. You made some good points there. I looked
    on the web to learn more about the issue and found most individuals will go along with
    your views on this website.

    Also visit my web site ... ford ranger

  38. My family always say that I am killing my time
    here at web, but I know I am getting experience daily by reading such fastidious content.

    Here is my web blog: