Category Archives: Neoconservatism

If the Republicans Are Committing Political Suicide and the Democrats Are Copying Everything They Do, That Means….

By any measure, the Pubs are in deep shit. Digby thinks it’s “mystifying”.

There’s a lot about the new Republican Party that’s mystifying. “Disarray” doesn’t even begin to describe it. I suppose it’s a lot like it was back in 1964, although I think even then you could see the outlines of a comeback — which they did, four short years later with the election of Nixon, the sainted Kennedy’s bete noir.

But this time, it’s really hard to see how they can ever build a sustainable majority when they are doing things like [voting overwhelmingly against confirming Sonia Sotomayor].

Um, they can’t, not really. About all they can do is insist as loudly as possible that the Dems are in trouble and pretend the GOP is therefore in the process of making a comeback even if they’re, you know,  so NOT. Earlier this week Roy Edroso caught AEI’s Joel Kotkin making it up as he went along. Continue reading

A Real-Life Fable: The United States of $Rand$

Once upon a time a Russian expatriot who hated the Soviets because they destroyed her father’s pharmaceutical business emigrated to the United States and wrote a few books about how wonderful money and the people who make it and spend it are. She postulated a “philosophy” called “Objectivism” that 15 yr-olds with untreatable acne and rich people who fancied themselves Masters of the Universe found fascinating and rewarding. This “philosophy”, by her own definition, was one that was built around the concept of man as a heroic figure as long as he was making a lot of money and a useless wimp who was a boil on the ass of the universe if he wasn’t. Perhaps that explains its appeal to the two groups mentioned above.

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Siren Song Evidentiary Documentation: Vast RW Conspiracy Confirmed Right Before Your Eyes

Paul Krugman reminds me to remind you that the VRWC is still fully operational. In fact you can see it playing out RIGHT NOW in “The Great (Fake) TeaBag Caper“.

[I]t turns out that the tea parties don’t represent a spontaneous outpouring of public sentiment. They’re AstroTurf (fake grass roots) events, manufactured by the usual suspects. In particular, a key role is being played by FreedomWorks, an organization run by Richard Armey, the former House majority leader, and supported by the usual group of right-wing billionaires. And the parties are, of course, being promoted heavily by Fox News.But that’s nothing new, and AstroTurf has worked well for Republicans in the past. The most notable example was the “spontaneous” riot back in 2000 — actually orchestrated by G.O.P. strategists — that shut down the presidential vote recount in Florida’s Miami-Dade County.

This is, of course, precisely the technique they used to drown the newspapers of 1983 in letters and demonstrations and (canned) phone calls demanding that they stop “picking on” St Ronnie. Paul may only go back as far as 2000 but I go all the way back to the beginning.

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Why the News Media Sucks (9): The Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy

The change that turned our hard-hitting investigative journalists into weenie stenographers, government propagandists, and apologists for the administration (as long as it was a conservative Republican administration, that is) was driven neither by financial necessity nor some elemental and irresistible cosmic force. It was a deliberate conservative conspiracy that had definite origins, sponsors, centers, designers, and strategic planning. It’s time to take a look at who – and what – they were.

The American Enterprise Institute

In 1943, Lewis Harold Brown, the CEO of Johns-Manville, primary manufacturer of asbestos, decided that FDR was a Communist, that his programs were at best socialist, and that what the country lewis_h_brown_on_time_magazine_april_3_1939needed was a think tank for the development and spreading of conservative ideas. He founded the American Enterprise Association and hired about a dozen of the country’s top conservatives to staff it and to figure out how to get conservatives into power positions with the aim of killing the New Deal and eliminating personal and corporate income taxes. Brown was one of a number of far-right industrial barons at the time who were enraged with FDR and wanted him impeached or otherwise put out of the way.

macguire_j1They weren’t just PO’d and they weren’t the kind to sit on their hands and let democracy take its course. They were the kind who hired strikebreakers to kill unionists and arranged for union leaders to be murdered or even framed for murders they didn’t commit. They were the kind who corrupted local police and bought & sold local and state politicians. They were the kind who, like Jerry MacGuire, a top Wall Street bond salesman and former Commander of the Connecticut American Legion, and William Doyle, Commander of the Massachusetts American Legion, fantasized about a fascist military coup that would remove Roosevelt by force and replace him with a pro-Wall Street dictator, and then went out and tried to engineer it.

Brown wasn’t quite that flamboyant – or that stupid. His approach was much quieter, much deeper, but it didn’t grow much fruit during his lifetime. Three years after he died in 1951, William Baroody took over the AEA and renamed it the American Enterprise Institute. Baroody was much more in line with the MacGuire/Doyle brand of thinking, if he wasn’t willing to take it quite as far as they did. He was a proponent of aggressive, take-no-prisoners conservative political action, and he was focused almost single-mindedly on infiltrating far-right-wing conservatives into the US government. He saw himself, as Rick Perlstein wrote in a profile two years ago, as “a conservative empire builder”.

William J. Baroody Sr., the son of an immigrant stonecutter from New Hampshire, I relate in my book on the rise of the conservative movement, “was cagey, Machiavellian, hungry – a conservative empire builder”: he turned a humble business lobby against wartime price controls, the American Enterprise Association, into a full-service conservative “think tank,” the American Enterprise Institute. What a hustler he was! He told reporters, “I really can’t say whether I am a liberal or a conservative.” He put up pictures of himself with Hubert Humphrey up on his office walls; thus was AEI’s status as “non-partisan,” suitable for tax-deductible donations, vouchsafed.

He also, when it came time for his man Barry Goldwater to run for president, made of himself a sort of money launderer.

In early 1965, a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch studied the expenses of the American Enterprise Institute for the previous, presidential, year. He found that the budget of AEI had suddenly and inexplicably grown 22 percent. Baroody Sr. spent the year on “paid leave”—indeed, earning a more than 10 percent raise from the employer he did not work for that year; instead, he occupied the office next to Goldwater’s at campaign headquarters, running his research operations, with several AEI employees on staff beside him. The AEI offices might have mostly been empty. Nonetheless, the outfit’s biggest budget item for 1964 was, fishily, “overhead.” Plainly, people were sluicing money to the Goldwater campaign through AEI as contributions to a tax-exempt “educational” institution.

Baroody built AEI into a conservative powerhouse. By the 1970’s, Baroody had grown it exponentially, ” from a group of twelve resident ‘thinkers’ to a well-funded organization with 145 resident scholars, 80 adjunct scholars, and a large supporting staff. This period of growth was largely funded by the Howard Pew Freedom Trust.” According to SourceWatch, “The Howard Pew Freedom Trust is one of the Pew Charitable Trusts. Financed by the Sun Oil fortune, it played an important role in the 1970s in greatly expanding the budget of the American Enterprise Institute, giving the AEI a total of $6 million between 1976 and 1981.”

Baroody used the money to buy influence and, not surprisingly, succeeded. By the 80’s, the Reagan Administration was hip-deep in AEI Fellows and Members – Richard Perle, Jeanne Kirkpatrick, Fred Kagan, Newt Gingrich (a first-term Representative at the time), Norm Ornstein, Dick Cheney, Michael Ledeen (who was a courier for Oliver North during the rogue arms-for-hostages op), “Fat Tony” Scalia, Michael Novak, and even one Cabinet Sec, George Schultz at State.

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Bremer and De-Ba’athification

In examining the little contretemps between a Bush trying to slide out from under direct responsibility for the single worst decision in the whole Iraq mess and a Bremer determined not to play fall-guy for a president who didn’t think twice about throwing him under the bus to save his own precious neck, Fred Kaplan at Slate isn’t as forgetful about Chalabi’s early role as Blumenthal, but he does miss Chalabi’s later role and, for some reason, comes over all coy about assigning the decision to Cheney even though the evidence is right under his nose.

Bremer is right about one thing: It wasn’t him. Though he wouldn’t be so self-demeaning as to admit it, he was a mere errand boy on this point. He arrived in Baghdad on May 14, 2003. The next day, he released CPA Order No. 1, barring members of the Baath Party from all but the lowliest government posts. The next day, he issued CPA Order No. 2, disbanding the Iraqi army.

In his memoir, published last year, Bremer wrote that he was handed the orders—and told to announce them as soon as possible—by Douglas Feith, undersecretary of defense for policy. “We’ve got to show all the Iraqis that we’re serious about building a new Iraq,” Feith reportedly told him. “And that means that Saddam’s instruments of repression have no role in that new nation.”

Bremer’s version rings true, and if it is then the orders came from Cheney. Period. Feith was L’il Dick’s boy and wouldn’t have dared make a move like that without the Veep told him to. Maybe Kaplan has some doubts about Bremer’s tale, but he doesn’t say what they are.

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Bush and WMDs

Memories in America, trained by tv, are remarkably short even when they belong to otherwise intelligent reporters. Two recent articles – one by Sidney Blumenthal in Salon, the other by Fred Kaplan in Slate, both usually reliable – made it clear to me that we need to go back over some fundamental history of the Second Gulf War, key elements of which both seem to have forgotten or lost track of. We’ve covered this ground already but it was several years ago, so it bears repeating.

If you ask, “Why is it important to go through all this again? And why are these picayune details significant anyway?” The answer is, “Because we need to get it into our heads once and for all that conservatives are naive, gullible children, easily led over cliffs by anyone who feeds them what they want to hear.” The real story of the twisted intelligence that led to the SGW and idiotic decisions like de-Ba’athification isn’t just about arrogance, incompetence, and ignorance. It’s also – and crucially – about misplaced trust and a dangerously juvenile credulity that allows conservatives to believe demonstrably false ideas and foist them on the rest of us just because those ideas are appealingly melodramatic.

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Bush Fired Rummy?

Although this seems to have slid by unnoticed, last night during Billy Kristol’s interview with Jon Stewart, he made the rather shocking statement – flatly, as if everyone knew it was a fact – that Bush fired Donald Rumsfeld. WTF? Listen for thyself. Relevant explanations, speculations, and hallucinations encouraged.

DNI McConnell Wants Expansion of Overseas Eavesdropping Program

Some days one wonders if these people have any sense at all – if they ever did.

Despite serious questions about the Bush Administration’s routine violations of FISA and the legality of their wiretapping programs in general, Adm Mike McConnell, who took over as Bush’s Director of National Intelligence just this past February, has, incredibly, sent a letter to Democratic Bush-Buddy Sylvester Reyes, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee asking for permission to intercept overseas messages between “terrorists”.

Citing a “period of heightened threat” to the U.S. homeland, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell asked Congress to “act immediately” to make changes in current law to permit the interception of messages between terrorist targets overseas, which he said now requires burdensome court orders.

In a July 25 letter made public yesterday, McConnell told the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Tex.), that he hopes Congress “will be able to act immediately . . . to provide the legislative changes needed to protect the nation in this period of heightened threat.”

At issue is a package of changes that the Bush administration wants in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to facilitate the continuation of its terrorist surveillance program. Congress has delayed amending the program pending further study.

Stepping up the pressure on lawmakers after the recently released terrorist threat assessment, McConnell said that “clarifications are urgently needed” in the law to enable the use of “our capabilities to collect foreign intelligence about foreign targets overseas without requirements imposed by an out-of-date FISA statute.”

He added, “As the head of our nation’s intelligence community, I am obligated to provide warning of threats of terrorist activity, and I have deep concern about the current threat situation.”

The underlying question hinges on modern technology: When communications between one foreign-located source and another foreign-located source travel through a U.S.-located terminal or switch, can they be intercepted without a warrant?

For those of you not intelligence experts, a little background:

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Conservative Propaganda: The Trickle-Down Scam

For almost 100 years, from the moment the income tax was instituted, conservatives have insisted with increasing hysteria that taxes are what kill the economy. Not taxes on you or me, of course. They’re not much concerned with those, as they’ve proved time and again. No, they’re talking about the taxes on Bidness and the Rich. You know, the “trickle-down” theory, wherein there seems to be a hard-core, faith-based belief that if the rich get richer because they don’t have to pay taxes like the rest of us, why, they’ll “invest” that “extra” money to create more low-paying jobs, and thus a tiny portion of their wealth will “trickle down” to the lower economic strata.

There is zero evidence to suggest, let alone prove, that economies work this way, but that doesn’t stop Grover “The Toad” Norquist’s Bathtub Battalion from claiming otherwise at the tops of their lungs. Our so-called “president”, acting in his capacity as chief mouthpiece and corporate rip-off enabler, was out on the hustings yesterday saying the same old shit, decorated by his usual smirk.

“The message is unmistakable: America’s economy keeps growing, government revenues keep going up, the budget deficit keeps going down — and we’ve done it all without raising your taxes,” Bush said during a speech at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, where he introduced two small-business owners, a member of the National Guard and the parents of eight children. He said they all racked up big savings thanks to the tax cuts.

“When you’ve got more money in your pockets to save, spend or invest, this causes the economy to grow,” Bush said, adding that “a growing economy has led to growing tax revenues. Because people are making more money, they’re also paying more taxes.”

Like everything else Bush says (“How do you know when Bush is lying? His lips are moving”), it isn’t true. In point of fact, the economy has been growing at pretty much the same 2-3%/yr pace that it did during the 90’s. There are a couple of big differences, alright, but they’re not in the rate of economic expansion, a fact that even faux-economists at the conservative propaganda unit, The American Enterprise Institute, have been forced to admit.

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The CPB Board: Why PBS Is Moving to the Right

Digby isn’t happy about PBS hiring Frank Luntz. Well, who is?

There must be something in the air. First, Matthews feels the need to give Ann Coulter a full hour to spew genocidal vomit and now I find that PBS has hired the notorious fraud Frank Luntz to analyze “public feedback” on the Democratic debate. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. He is one of the architects of the Republican Revolution and along with Newt Gingrich is the man most responsible for the distorted, propagandistic political discourse we spend our lives on the blogs trying to unravel. He has no business “interpreting” Democratic voters’ reaction to Democratic candidates based upon his political affiliation alone. But the fact that he has been completely discredited as a pollster and analyst by his own profession should make him radioactive for any respectable news organization. I can’t imagine what is wrong with PBS that they don’t know about this man.

But that’s not all.

Something odd is going on at PBS lately. They also invited that Coulter wannabe Melanie Morgan on Lehrer recently, apparently under the misapprehension that she was a sane spokeswoman of the right, and she proved to be a complete disaster. Now they have hired straight up right wing political operative Luntz to “interpret” the impressions of Democratic voters. Are they getting their bookers from the Heritage Foundation web site too?

It isn’t “lately”, Digs. It’s been going on for years. I’ve been writing about it for years.

It bubbled to the surface two years ago when Ken Tomlinson, the neocon camp-follower Bush named to the CPB Board, was discovered to have been deliberately politicizing PBS programming, accusing it of “liberal bias” and hiring conservative “consultants” (read: Hatchetmen) and lobbyists with CPB money but without bothering to tell his own Board what he was doing.

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A Jacobian Take on Last Night’s Debate

Jeff Jacoby, the Boston Globe‘s resident neocon and a charter member of the Right-Wing Noise Machine, thought the Democratic debate last night was funny because – get this – it wasn’t substantive.

[M]aybe the funniest moment was when the young wife of a New Hampshire soldier serving in Iraq asked the candidates what they would do to rebuild the US military, and Representative Dennis Kucinich vowed to cut the defense budget by 25 percent.

Or when Senator Hillary Clinton, who refuses to take part in a presidential debate co sponsored by Fox News, denounces the Bush administration for having a policy of “we don’t talk to people we don’t agree with or think are bad.”


But in truth, last night’s debate wasn’t funny. It was worrisome. Worrisome that in 120 minutes of talk, not one of the Democratic candidates had anything substantive to say about the global jihad. Worrisome that all but one of the Democrats oppose legislation to declare English the official language of the United States. Worrisome that on the issue they spent the most time discussing — the war in Iraq — not one spoke seriously or responsibly about the consequences of an American withdrawal.

The RWNM has apparently reached the stage when its irony is itself an irony and substance is to be defined as adherence to the loopy unrealities and misogynistic nationalism of the Neocon Fear Patrol. To the RWNM, if a candidate won’t pretend there’s such a thing as a “global jihad” or that English-only legislation isn’t silly political posturing, they aren’t “serious”. Whereas the Republican candidates’ trying to 1-up each other over who would make the US the biggest and worst torturer or who watches more hours/day of the Intelligent Design Cartoon Network and believes more fervently in Tinkerbell is no doubt considered deep philosophical debate, solemn and sublime.

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Tenet and Feith at Georgetown

Georgetown University ought to be ashamed of itself.

I realize that it has often played “employer of last resort” for moribund political figures who’ve outlived their usefulness – or relevance. And I suppose that’s a good thing, in a way. It keeps them off the streets and out of trouble. And I can understand hiring Tenet. Whatever his failings and lack of courage under Bush, he still has a helluva resume and a long and mostly honorable if not terribly distinguished record of public service.

For Doug Feith, however, there is no excuse. NONE. Continue reading

Bush Library 2: The Price of Prestige

The controversy over the placement of Bush’s presidential library at Southern Methodist University continues. It may even have intensified a bit, and not without reason. While most of this is happening under the press’ radar (but then, one could legitimately wonder, what isn’t?), what I characterized as a “tempest…somewhat larger than a teapot but smaller than a breadbox” last week came within a single vote of becoming a full-blown hurricane.

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The Myth of Corporate-Style Governing 5: The State v Commerce Turf War

No one who has ever worked for a corporation could fail to be aware of a certain “turf consciousness” as various departments – and individuals within those departments – compete for attention and power. There are two myths involved in turf consciousness.

1. The “team concept”

That’s the one that portrays corporate life as a sports metaphor, where every individual has a specific job to do but works seamlessly with everyone else as part of a unit with the same goal: winning the game (read: “making a lot of money”). According to the myth, “teamwork” increases efficiency and corporate harmony by honoring the value of everyone’s contribution equally, and subsuming private goals to the overall good of the team. The idea is expressed in one of two ways:

  1. The only “turf” that matters is the turf of the playing field where the game is being fought. It is common to everyone and no single individual or group controls it. Therefore, fighting over control of it is counter-productive and inefficient.
  2. The game can only be won if the team works together. Fighting over prerogatives, perks, and power serves to fragment the team effort, weakening it with jealousy, internal strife, and hurt feelings, effectively sabotaging the team’s efforts.

There are a number of corporate fads swirling around the concept of building teamwork. My sister-in-law, for example, runs corporate Team-Building Weekends on ropes-challenge courses in which junior executives learn to work together on an obstacle course consisting of rope-ladders, rope bridges, trapezes, and simulated cliffs. Most of it happens in trees, 20 feet or more above the ground. The course is designed to make it difficult or even impossible for an individual to succeed alone but a snap if the group works together. It’s a very sophisticated version of the kind of obstacle course the military uses during basic training. She makes a good deal of money running these weekends.

Then there was the “dragon boat racing” craze of a few years ago. Adapted from the Chinese, dragon boat racing requires participants to row and steer together. If they argue, they lose.

The latest of these fads was adapted, believe it or not, from acting and improvisational exercises. Two of these exercises were on view last year in tv programs, an episode of What About Brian? and a teaser for Donald Trump’s new Apprentice.

The point of all these is to build trust between the participants and break down the walls of competitive ego by forcing the subjects to co-operate with each other. Does it work?

The short answer is, of course, No.

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Puppets of Paranoia

The Mighty MIC and the Neoconservatives: What Happened to the ‘Peace Dividend’?

Jim Lobe of the Asia Times in a review of America Alone: The Neo-Conservatives and the Global Order, argues that oil wasn’t the primary reason for the Second Gulf War–neoconservative ideology was.

Big Oil, to the extent it took any position at all on the war, opposed it. As evidence, they cite the unusually public opposition to a unilateral invasion voiced quite publicly by such eminent oil and ruling class-related influentials as former president George H W Bush’s national security adviser Brent Scowcroft and secretary of state James Baker.While they do not deny that some economic interests – construction giants, such as Halliburton and Bechtel, and high-tech arms companies – may have given the push to war some momentum, the decisive factor in their view was ideological, and the ideology, “neo-conservative”.

Powered by both Jewish and non-Jewish neo-conservatives centered in the offices of Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney and by White House deference to the solidly pro-Zionist Christian Right, the neo-conservative world view – dedicated to the security of Israel and the primacy of military power in a world of good and evil – emerged after September 11, 2001, as the driving force in President Bush’s foreign policy, as well as the dominant narrative in a cowed and complacent mass media.

He–and the authors–may have a point, though both seem to have interpreted Big Oil’s silence as opposition when it was most probably nothing of the sort. If they were opposed to it, why were representatives of Chevron, Shell, British Petroleum, and other international oil corporations in Dick Cheney’s office in October ’03 pouring over maps and divvying up Irag’s oil fields?

If it’s too simplistic to say the SGW is about oil alone, it’s way too simplistic to say it’s about ideology alone, but Lobe and the authors have nevertheless done some necessary work to redress an imbalance and give the neocons more of the responsibilty they’ve earned for the mess we’re in. The authors–Stefan Halper, a Scowcroft Reaganite, and Jonathan Clarke, a retired British diplomat now at the libertarian Cato Institute–detail the history of neoconservatism from its roots in a reaction to the Holocaust to its development as the most fear-ridden and militaristic world view since Naziism itself.

To Halper and Clarke, the neo-conservative world view revolves around three basic themes: that “the human condition is defined as a choice between good and evil”; that military power and the willingness to use it are the fundamental determinants in relations between states; and that the Middle East and “global Islam” should be the primary focus in US foreign policy.These core beliefs create certain predispositions: analyzing foreign policy in terms of “black-and-white, absolute moral categories”; espousing the “unipolar” power of the United States and disdaining conventional diplomacy, multilateral institutions or international law; seeing international criticism as evidence of “American virtue”; regarding the use of military power as the first, rather than last, resort in dealing with the enemy, particularly when anything less might be considered “appeasement”; and harking back to the Ronald Reagan administration (1981-89) as the exemplar of “moral clarity” in foreign policy.

While all this is true, what it overlooks is the rather neat way the neocon ideology fits into the needs and goals of both Big Oil and the MIC–the Military-Industrial Complex. Eisenhower warned us of its power, its ruthlessness, and its determination to keep the world in turmoil in order to keep itself in business and its profits high in his famous Farewell Speech, but he was talking mainly about the MIC of the late 50’s–a mostly American phenomenon centered on controlling the US govt’s foreign policy in ways that would keep the money flowing from our Treasury to theirs. Since then, the MIC–like every other big corporation–has gone global.

Why the Great ‘Peace Dividend’ Wasn’t Allowed

With the collapse of the Soviet govt in ’89, the end of the Cold War was supposed to mean the end of massive defense budgets in the Free World, defense budgets that were eating up Western treasuries, and a subsequent reapportioning of that money to domestic priorities that had gone begging–literally–in order to feed the MIC. But when Clinton tried to take advantage of that opening, conservatives–and not just the neo kind–started wailing and gnashing their teeth, claiming that Clinton was ‘weakening our military’ and endangering the country. The defense budget was cut somewhat the first two years of his first admin, but when the Republicans–led by arch-neocon Newt Gingrich–took control of the House in ’94, they made bringing the defense budget back up to previous levels a top priority.

They did better than their promise–they increased it over previous levels, mainly by championing large-scale and incredibly expensive-to-develop-and-build military hardware of dubious value that even the Pentagon didn’t want. $$$BILLIONS$$$ were pissed away on white-elephant projects like Star Wars and the B1 bomber. The latter took 20 years before we even saw a prototype; the former has taken a full quarter-century and experts are saying the same thing they were saying 25 years ago: ‘It’s a pipe-dream. It can’t be done.’ Yet Star Wars is still in the budget and a few B1’s have rolled off the assembly line at a cost of a cool $1Bil per copy despite the fact that the USAF has yet to find a legitimate use for them.

As late as last march, Lobe was writing of a study just released by the Center for Defense Information that concluded that more than 20% of the US military budget could be cut without any undue harm whatsoever to our military preparedness.

The report charges that some of the most expensive items in the budget have little or nothing to do with the threats the US confronts in the world today, and calls for a much more integrated approach to determining defense priorities that would include non-military – such as economic assistance and peacekeeping – as well as strictly military programs.The report, “A Unified Security Budget for the United States”, concludes that some US$51 billion of the proposed $230 billion 2005 budget could be saved by reallocating funding within military accounts, while the savings could be used on non-military initiatives that could substantially boost overall security.

“Cutting the Comanche [helicopter] program was a good start,” said Marcus Corbin, a senior analyst at the Center for Defense Information (CDI), citing one weapon the administration has already said it will cut.

“But our report identifies 10 other programs, including the F-22 fighter and DDX destroyer, that could be safely cut or reconfigured to free up resources for other neglected security priorities, such as diplomatic operations, weapons of mass destruction [WMD] non-proliferation and port container inspection,” he said.

The 23-page report, co-sponsored by CDI, Project for Defense Alternatives (PDA), the Center for Arms Control and Proliferation (CACP), and Foreign Policy in Focus (FPIF), among others, comes amid growing public concern over build up of unprecedented fiscal deficits and the impact on them of the rapidly rising defense budget.

From 2000 to 2004, the Pentagon’s budget ballooned by more than 50 percent, bringing it to a level comparable to that of the world’s next 25 biggest military spenders combined, according to the CACP. Moreover, its current proposal for 2005 does not include expenditures for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the Pentagon is spending nearly $70 billion this year alone. (emphasis added)

The ‘peace dividend’ got turned over to the military anyway, despite an almost surreal lack of identifiable enemies. Why? The answer is complicated, involving political realities, recent and not-so-recent history, economic imperatives, and imponderable intangibles like fear, anger, and guilt, but the major strands can be identified fairly simply: WWII and the MIC.

The neocons aren’t the only ones whose ideological dogma comes straight out of a response to Germany’s treachery. Much of the hysteria over the Soviets’ imaginary desire for ‘world domination’ stems from a pathological need, mostly of conservatives, to never again be caught napping while a threat builds. The MIC has proven to be extraordinarily adept at exploiting that latent paranoia and aiming it toward concrete objectives: weapons. For 50 years, their most powerful argument has been as bare and as bald as this: ‘Your enemies are everywhere. Buy this weapon and you’ll be safe from them.’

In the same way that African and South/Central American dictators could count on and manipulate US support no matter what heinous crimes they committed, up to and including mass murder, as long as they claimed to be ‘anti-Communist’, the MIC could frighten and bully the US govt into funding their weapons no matter how many ‘cost overruns’, accounting scandals, pricing outrages ($400 for the same hammer that you could buy in a hardware store for $20), or convictions for corruption tainted their record as long as they claimed that what they were doing made the country ‘safer’.

We have fallen so far down the rabbit hole that we allowed the neocons to drive their paranoid fantasies right into the heart of American policy, and we did so because we have been hearing so many different versions of the MIC’s doomsday scenarios over the past half-century that it hardly registers any more who exactly the enemy is, only that there is one. It didn’t matter to us that Saddam had norhing to do with 9/11 or that he was a US ally before the First Gulf War–an ally that we supported with money and, of course, arms, including chemical weapons–only that yet another ‘enemy’ had been identified.

The MIC’s need for enemies and the neocons’ unreasonable fear of them worked together to produce the atmosphere that allowed, encouraged, even required our intense over-reaction to the 9/11 attack, an over-reaction that the neocons and the MIC then channeled into the bogus war that they’d been promoting since the early 90’s. The SGW has two primary directives:

1) To position us to protect Israel;
2) To position us to control and protect the Middle East oil supply.

Those prime directives, fueled ideologically by the neocons and for purely practical purposes by the MIC and Big Oil, have resulted in our now having the largest military budget in our history by any measure you care to use.

NEW YORK – After declining in the post-Cold War era of the early 1990s, global military spending is on the rise again – threatening to break the US$1 trillion barrier this year, according to a group of United Nations-appointed military experts.The 16-member group estimates that military spending will rise to nearly $950 billion by the end of 2004, up from $900 billion in 2003. By contrast, rich nations spend $50 billion to $60 billion on development aid each year.

The 2004 estimates would be “substantially higher if the costs of the major armed conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq were included”, the experts say in a 30-page report released in New York. The US Congress has authorized spending of about $25 billion for Afghanistan and Iraq in 2004, but that is expected to more than double by the end of the year. US Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz told the Senate in May that war spending in Afghanistan and Iraq was approaching about $5 billion a month. He predicted that total costs for 2005 would be $50 billion to $60 billion.

“With the end of the Cold War, global military expenditure started to decrease,” the report said. “Many expected that this would result in a peace dividend as declining military spending and a less confrontational international environment would release financial, technological and human resources for development purposes.”But that never materialized, say the experts, who included retired Brigadier Richard Baly of the UK Department for International Development; Friedrich Groning, deputy commissioner of Germany’s Arms Control and Disarmament Department; Catharina Kipp, director of the Department for Global Security in Sweden; and Prasad Kariyawasam, director general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka.

“Despite decades of discussions and proposals on how to release resources from military expenditure for development purposes, the international community has not been able to agree on limiting military expenditure or establishing a ratio of military spending to national development expenditure,” they write.

At the height of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1970s, global military spending rose above $900 billion. But with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, it kept declining, to about $780 billion in 1999. The recent increases are due primarily to a significant rise in the US military budget.

“The United States now accounts for about half of world military spending, meaning that it is spending nearly as much as the rest of the world combined,” said Natalie J Goldring, executive director of the program on global security and disarmament at the University of Maryland. “This is difficult to justify on the basis of known or anticipated threats to US national security.” (emphasis added)

Not ‘difficult’. Impossible. This reckless spending isn’t about ‘known’ or even ‘anticipated’ threats; it’s about threats that have been specially and specifically created out of whole cloth to justify the continued domination of the MIC and the imperial dominance of American hegemony which the neocons insist is the only path to ‘safety’ for both Israel and the US–safety from Islamic terrorists, safety from threats to the oil supply.

As long as we insist on reacting with fear instead of common sense when manipulators and psychopaths try to sell us their nightmares, there will always be another ‘enemy’. If we don’t have any real ones, they’ll make some up. As long as we’re consumed with fighting the last war, whether it be WWII or Viet Nam (itself a reaction to WWII), instead of realistically asssessing the dangers that face us now, not 50 years ago, we will be nothing but puppets of the paranoia and greed that have been leading us by the nose for their own enrichment for the past five decades.

Hussein isn’t Hitler, GWB isn’t FDR, Paul Wolfowitz isn’t Winston Churchill, the neocons aren’t entirely sane, and the MIC cares about nothing but its profits. It’s time to shake the sand from our eyes and wake up.