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Ed Webb

No More Neocon Faux-Cassandra Posturing: American Defense is not "in Decline"... - 0 views

  • Why is the world’s safest, most powerful country its biggest defense spender, more than triple the next spender (China)?
  • as a percentage of GDP defense has been hovering around 4-5% since the end of the Cold War. Nothing big has changed recently, but for an increase in DoD’s budget after 9/11 that is now being scaled back. The USAF is decades ahead of the Chinese and Russians in stealth and UAVs. We’re weaponizing space. We have ten times the number of nuclear warheads the Chinese have. (The Chinese are actually very responsible on MAD, not wildly overbuilding like we did, but no one ever gives them credit for that.) We have 11 carrier groups; China has zero. If you look at the total US national security budget – because a lot of defense-related spending in the US is done outside of DoD as a gimmick to make the DoD number look smaller than it really should be – it’s actually closer to 8% of GDP: DoD + VA + DHS + the intel community + DoE (which pays for US nukes) = $1T per annum. If Chalmers Johnson is right, we have bases of one kind or another in something like 2/3 of the world’s countries. If anything we look like an imperium, like the Delian League morphing into the Athenian Empire. But one Obama official says ‘leading from behind’ and we don’t charge into Syria – despite charging into Libya and Obama’s first term surge into Afghanistan – and suddenly it’s national security crisis. Good grief, think-tankers. Don’t be so lazy.
  • the blissful unwillingness to learn even the most obvious lessons from the GWoT: that the US – yes, even America – can’t do occupations well
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  • I just can’t read this stuff anymore. It’s so Washington, imperial, macho and childish simultaneously, Americanist, hackneyed, blind to the limits of military power, vain US exceptionalist strutting, and so on. I think there must be a neocon op-ed recycling machine that just manufactures this boilerplate by recombining words like freedom, credibility, American power, strength, willpower, Obama the weakling, and so on
  • I deeply resent this neocon equation of restraint and a little more post-Iraq reticence with isolationism, betraying freedom, selling out Israel and our allies, a return to a pre-9/11 mindset, a return the 30s, Munich, etc. etc. If it makes me an ‘isolationist’ to say we shouldn’t be drone-striking US citizens in obvious violation of the 5th Amendment due process requirements, then I guess I am. If that’s the attitude, then we can never cut defense, ever, and Asians, Muslims and so many others are right – we are an empire. There must alternatives to this; there must be limits and exits. Otherwise we are Rome.
  • We’re intoxicated on our power, bewitched by the awesomeness of our military might. That’s why US military-themed action movies like the Transformers or Battleship, and games like Call of Duty, are so popular. That’s why Fox invokes ‘the troops’ endlessly. That’s why USAF airshows are so popular. That’s why we keep thinking we can fix the Middle East when we can’t
  • high on analogies peddled by right-wing historians like Paul Johnson and Niall Ferguson that we are the new Rome
  • this, then, is why allies free-ride on us. We’d rather infantilize them and complain that they don’t pay, then actually cede power if they had real independent capabilities. So is it surprising that they free-ride?
  • I believe in American power; so do you probably. I am glad the US won the titanic ideological struggles of the 20th century; I don’t want China to dominate Asia; I am as happy as anyone that al Qaeda is struggling, and so on. But American power ≠ American militarism
Ed Webb

Obama to World: Bad News. The American Empire Is Dead. | The Cable - 0 views

  • "The United States has a hard-earned humility when it comes to our ability to determine events inside other countries," he said in his address before the 193-member General Assembly. "The notion of American empire may be useful propaganda, but it isn't borne out by America's current policy or public opinion."
  • The danger for the world is that the United States, after a decade of war -- rightly concerned about issues back home, aware of the hostility that our engagement in the region has engendered throughout the Muslim world -- may disengage, creating a vacuum of leadership that no other nation is ready to fill
  • In addressing the conflict in Syria, Obama said U.S. aims were largely humanitarian.

    "There's no 'great game' to be won, nor does America have any interest in Syria beyond the well-being of its people, the stability of its neighbors, the elimination of chemical weapons, and ensuring it does not become a safe haven for terrorists,"

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  • a rather modest account of American "core interests" in the Middle East and North Africa: countering military aggression against U.S. partners in the region, protecting global energy reserves, and confronting the dual threats of terrorism and nuclear proliferation
  • The United States of America is prepared to use all elements of our power, including military force, to secure these core interests in the region," he said. "But I also believe that we can rarely achieve these objectives through unilateral American action -- particularly with military action. Iraq shows us that democracy cannot be imposed by force. Rather, these objectives are best achieved when we partner with the international community and with the countries and people of the region."
Ed Webb

Idiocy as WMD » Counterpunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names - 0 views

  • The more oppressive a political system, then, the greater its assault on its subjects’ minds, for it’s not enough for any dictator, king or totalitarian system to oppress and exploit, but it must, and I mean must, make its people idiotic as well
  • whatever utility it may have for the disenfranchised and/or rebellious, the Web is most useful to our rulers. As Dmitry Orlov points out in a recent blog, the internet is a powerful surveillance tool for the state and, what’s more, it also keeps the masses distracted and pacified
  • Not content to kill and loot, America must do it to pulsating music; cool, orgasmic dancing; raunchy reality shows and violence-filled Hollywood blockbusters, and these are also meant for its victims, no less. In a 1997 article published by the US Army War College, Ralph Peters gushes about a “personally intrusive” and “lethal” cultural assault as a key tactic in the American quest for global supremacy. As information master, the American Empire will destroy its “information victims.” What’s more, “our victims volunteer” because they are unable to resist the seductiveness of American culture.
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  • these savages need to take webcast courses from us sophisticates when it comes to genocide, or ecocide, or any other kind of cides you can think of
  • Defending the empire, Ralph Peters cheerfully agrees, “The internet is to the techno-capable disaffected what the United Nations is to marginal states: it offers the illusion of empowerment and community.”
  • many of us will cling even more fiercely to these illusions of knowledge, love, sex and community as we blunder forward. A breathing and tactile life will become even more alien, I’m afraid. Here and there, a band of unplugged weirdos, to be hunted down and exterminated, with their demise shown on TV as warning and entertainment
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    This is fun!
Ed Webb

The Chen affair: American imperialism wrapped in humanitarianism | Opinion | The Seattl... - 0 views

  • We celebrate that our government has done a humanitarian thing and ignore its imperial aspects.

    Suppose some country interfered with us in this way. Imagine a political figure athwart of U.S. law, former presidential candidate John Edwards, let's say. Suppose he lost his case and fled to the French embassy to defend his human right to be free from America's one-woman-at-a-time policy. The French might defend such a right. Imagine that they sheltered him and offered him a place at a university in France.

    What would we think of the French?

Ed Webb

In The Daily Beast, Niall Ferguson Says: Bomb Iran | Politics | Religion Dispatches - 0 views

  • Let’s say we bomb Iran’s nuclear sites with sufficient force to provoke a crisis in its regime, which then begins to collapse. Just because a government falls doesn’t mean another will rise in its place. What will we have accomplished then? Creating an open front, so to speak, a giant security vacuum from Pakistan’s frontier with Kashmir to southern Lebanon. Fantastic.
  • The running theme of the Arab Spring, and much of regional politics, has been the recovery of sovereignty, dignity, and a respected and respectful place in the world. Being bombed, or watching people like you be bombed, every several years is the opposite of that.
  • Ferguson thinks he’s clever by calling for “creative destruction”; what a tin ear. Indeed, the first thing his unblinking call for war called up in me was Condoleezza Rice’s stunning description of the Lebanon war as the “birth pangs of a new Middle East,” which unfortunately for Ferguson—I don’t think he ever reads the news—was not well-received by Sunni or Shi’i Muslims. And that, too, simply followed after Madeleine Albright’s unforgettable: “We think the price is worth it.”
Ed Webb

What Gingrich Didn't Learn in Congo - NYTimes.com - 0 views

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    In shocking news, Newt probably speaks and reads French.
Ed Webb

Bring U.S. military in line with new reality - CNN.com - 0 views

  • we should conduct a global posture review with the goal of closing at least 50 overseas military installations. The U.S. military maintains more than 700 installations outside the United States, the vast majority of which were opened during the Cold War. With a more mobile and flexible force, we simply don't need as many facilities overseas.
  • America alone cannot police the world. We should increase burden-sharing for the protection of the global commons among countries that share our values and security objectives. Unfortunately, we are not the only democracy stuck in a Cold War mentality. It is time for countries such as Japan and India to play a greater role in regional security matters. We must also throw out the old map and forge new security arrangements with regional partners such as Vietnam and Brazil.
  • For America to remain a global force for good, we must maintain the world's most capable military. And being the best is not simply a function of spending the most. Staying on top will increasingly depend on our willingness to adapt to the realities of the 21st century security environment.
Ed Webb

Niall Ferguson: How American Civilization Can Avoid Collapse - The Daily Beast - 0 views

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