A National Defense Strategy of Sowing Global Chaos

In the new U.S. National Defense Strategy, military planners bemoan the erosion of the U.S.’s “competitive edge,” but the reality is that they are strategizing to maintain the American Empire in a chaotic world, explains Nicolas J.S. Davies.

By Nicolas J.S. Davies

Presenting the 2018 National Defense Strategy of the United States on Friday at the Johns Hopkins University, Secretary of Defense James Mattis painted a picture of a dangerous world in which U.S. power – and all of the supposed “good” that it does around the world – is on the decline.

“Our competitive edge has eroded in every domain of warfare – air, land, sea, space, and cyberspace,” he said. “And it is continually eroding.”

Known locations of U.S. military bases around the world (Source: Politico)

What he could have said instead is that the United States military is overextended in every domain, and that much of the chaos seen around the world is the direct result of past and current military adventurism. Further, he could have acknowledged, perhaps, that the erosion of U.S. influence has been the result of a series of self-inflicted blows to American credibility through foreign policy disasters such as the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

There were also two important words hidden between the lines, but never mentioned by name, in the new U.S. National Defense Strategy: “empire” and “imperialism.”

It has long been taboo for U.S. officials and corporate media to speak of U.S. foreign policy as “imperialism,” or of the U.S.’s global military occupations and network of hundreds of military bases as an “empire.”  These words are on a long-standing blacklist of “banned topics” that U.S. official statements and mainstream U.S. media reports must never mention.

The streams of Orwellian euphemisms with which U.S. officials and media instead discuss U.S. foreign policy do more to obscure the reality of the U.S. role in the world than to describe or explain it, “hiding imperial interests behind ever more elaborate fig leaves,” as British historian A.J.P. Taylor described European imperialists doing the same a century ago.

As topics like empire, imperialism, and even war and peace, are censored and excised from political debate, U.S. officials, subservient media and the rest of the U.S. political class conjure up an illusion of peace for domestic consumption by simply not mentioning our country’s 291,000 occupation troops in 183 other countries or the 39,000 bombs and missiles dropped on our neighbors in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan since Trump took office.

The 100,000 bombs and missiles dropped on these and other countries by Obama and the 70,000 dropped on them by Bush II have likewise been swept down a kind of real time “memory hole,” leaving America’s collective conscience untroubled by what the public was never told in the first place.

But in reality, it’s been a long time since U.S. leaders of either party resisted the temptation to threaten anyone anywhere, or to follow through on their threats with “fire and fury” bombing campaigns, coups and invasions.  This is how empires maintain a “credible threat” to undergird their power and discourage other countries from challenging them.

But far from establishing the “Pax Americana” promised by policymakers and military strategists in the 1990s, from Paul Wolfowitz and Dick Cheney to Madeleine Albright and Hillary Clinton, the results have been consistently catastrophic, producing what the new National Defense Strategy calls, “increased global disorder, characterized by decline in the long-standing, rules-based international order.”

Of course the drafters of this U.S. strategy document dare not admit that U.S. policy is almost single-handedly responsible for this global chaos, after successive U.S. administrations have worked to marginalize the institutions and rules of international law and to establish illegal U.S. threats and uses of force that international law defines as crimes of aggression as the ultimate arbiter of international affairs.

Nor do they dare acknowledge that the CIA’s politicized intelligence and covert operations, which generate a steady stream of political pretexts for U.S. military intervention, are designed to create and exacerbate international crises, not to solve them.  For U.S. officials to admit such hard truths would shake the very foundations of U.S. imperialism.

Opposition to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran – the so-called nuclear deal – from Republicans and Democratic hawks alike seems to stem from the fear that it might validate the use of diplomacy over sanctions, coups and war, and set a dangerous precedent for resolving other crises – from Afghanistan and Korea to future crises in Africa and Latin America.  Iran’s success at bringing the U.S. to the negotiating table, instead of falling victim to the endless violence and chaos of U.S.-backed regime change, may already be encouraging North Korea and other targets of U.S. aggression to try to pull off the same trick.

But how will the U.S. justify its global military occupation, illegal threats and uses of force, and trillion-dollar war budget once serious diplomacy is seen to be more effective at resolving international crises than the endless violence and chaos of U.S. sanctions, coups, wars and occupations?

From Bhurtpoor to Baghdad

Major Danny Sjursen, who has fought in Iraq and Afghanistan and taught history at West Point, is a rare voice of sanity from within the U.S. military.  In a poignant article in Truthdig, Major Sjursen eloquently described the horrors he has witnessed and the sadness he expects to live with for the rest of his life.  “The truth is,” he wrote, “I fought for next to nothing, for a country that, in recent conflicts, has made the world a deadlier, more chaotic place.”

Danny Sjursen’s life as a soldier of the U.S. Empire reminds me of another soldier of Empire, my great-great-great grandfather, Samuel Goddard.  Samuel was born in Norfolk in England in 1793, and joined the 14th Regiment of Foot as a teenager. He was a Sergeant at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.  During 14 years in India, his battalion led the assault on the fortress of Bhurtpoor in 1826, which ended the last resistance of the Maratha dynasty to British rule.  He spent 3 years in the Caribbean, 6 years in Canada, and retired as Commandant of Dublin Castle in 1853 after a lifetime of service to Empire.

Danny’s and Samuel’s lives have much in common.  They would probably have a lot to talk about if they could ever meet.  But there are critical differences.  At Bhurtpoor, the two British regiments who led the attack were followed through the breech in the walls by 15 regiments of Indian “Native Infantry.”  After Bhurtpoor, Britain ruled India (including Pakistan and Bangladesh) for 120 years, with only a thousand British officials in the Indian Civil Service and a few thousand British officers in command of up to 2.5 million Indian troops.

The British brutally put down the Indian Mutiny in 1857-8 with massacres in Delhi, Allahabad, Kanpur and Lucknow.  Then, as up to 30 million Indians died in famines in 1876-9 and 1896-1902, the British government of India explicitly prohibited relief efforts or actions that might reduce exports from India to the U.K. or interfere with the operation of the “free market.”

As Mike Davis wrote in his 2001 book, Late Victorian Holocausts, “What seemed from a metropolitan perspective the nineteenth century’s final blaze of imperial glory was, from an Asian or African viewpoint, only the hideous light of a giant funeral pyre.”

And yet Britain kept control of India by commanding such loyalty and subservience from millions of Indians that, in every crisis, Indian troops obeyed orders from British officers to massacre their own people.

Danny Sjursen and U.S. troops in Afghanistan, Iraq and other post-Cold War U.S. war zones are having a very different experience.  In Afghanistan, as the Taliban and its allies have taken control of more of the country than at any time since the U.S. invasion, the U.S.-backed Afghan National Army has 25,000 fewer troops under its command than it did five years ago, while ten years of training by U.S. special operations forces has produced only 21,000 trained Afghan Commandos, the elite troops who do 70-80% of the killing and dying for the corrupt U.S.-backed Afghan government.

But the U.S. has not completely failed to win the loyalty of its imperial subjects.  The first U.S. soldier killed in action in Afghanistan in 2018 was Sergeant 1st Class Mihail Golin, originally from Latvia.  Mihail arrived in the U.S. in November 2004, enlisted in the U.S. Army three months later and has now given his life for the U.S. Empire and for whatever his service to it meant to him.  At least 127 other Eastern Europeans have died in occupied Afghanistan, along with 455 British troops, 158 Canadians and 396 soldiers from 17 other countries.  But 2,402 – or 68%, over two-thirds – of the occupation troops who have died in Afghanistan since 2001, were Americans.

In Iraq, an American war that always had even less international support or legitimacy, 93% of the occupation troops who have died were Americans, 4,530 out of a total of 4,852 “coalition” deaths.

When Ben Griffin, who later founded the U.K. branch of Veterans for Peace, told his superiors in the U.K.’s elite SAS (Special Air Service) that he could no longer take part in murderous house raids in Baghdad with U.S. special operations forces, he was surprised to find that his entire chain of command understood and accepted his decision.  The only officer who tried to change his mind was the chaplain.

The Future of Empire

The U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff have explicitly told Congress that war with North Korea would require a ground invasion, and the same would likely be true of a U.S. war on Iran.  South Korea wants to avoid war at all costs, but may be unavoidably drawn into a U.S.-led Second Korean War.

But besides South Korea, the level of support the U.S. could expect from its allies in a Second Korean War or other wars of aggression in the future would probably be more like Iraq than Afghanistan, with significant international opposition, even from traditional U.S. allies. U.S. troops would therefore make up nearly all of the invasion and occupation forces – and take nearly all of the casualties.

Compared to past empires, the cost in blood and treasure of policing the U.S. Empire and the blame for its catastrophic failures fall disproportionately – and rightly – on Americans.  Even Donald Trump recognizes this problem, but his demands for allied countries to spend more on their militaries and buy more U.S. weapons will not change their people’s unwillingness to die in America’s wars.

This reality has created political pressure on U.S. leaders to wage war in ways that cost fewer American lives but inevitably kill many more people in countries being punished for resistance to U.S. imperialism, using air strikes and locally recruited death squads instead of U.S. “boots on the ground” wherever possible.

The U.S. conducts a sophisticated propaganda campaign to pretend that U.S. air-launched weapons are so accurate that they can be used safely without killing large numbers of civilians.  Actual miss rates and blast radii are on the “banned topics” blacklist, along with realistic estimates of civilian deaths.

When former Iraqi foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari told Patrick Cockburn of the U.K.’s Independent newspaper that he had seen Iraqi Kurdish intelligence reports which estimated that the U.S.- and Iraqi-led destruction of Mosul had killed 40,000 civilians, the only remotely realistic estimate so far from an official source, no other mainstream Western media followed up on the story.

But America’s wars are killing millions of innocent people: people defending themselves, their families, their communities and countries against U.S. imperialism and aggression; and many more who were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time under the onslaught of over 210,000 American bombs and missiles dropped on at least 7 countries since 2001.

According to a growing body of research (for example, see the UN Development Program study, Journey to Extremism in Africa: Drivers, Incentives and the Tipping-Point for Recruitment), most people who join armed resistance or “terrorist” groups do so mainly to protect themselves and their families from the dangers of wars that others have inflicted on them.  The UNDP survey found that the final “tipping point” that pushes over 70% of them to take the fateful step of joining an armed group is the killing or detention of a close friend or family member by foreign or local security forces.

So the reliance on airstrikes and locally recruited death squads, the very strategies that make U.S. imperialism palatable to the American public, are in fact the main “drivers” spreading armed resistance and terrorism to country after country, placing the U.S. Empire on a collision course with itself.

The U.S. effort to delegate war in the Middle East to Saudi Arabia is turning it into a target of global condemnation as it tries to mimic the U.S. model of warfare by bombing and starving millions of innocent people in Yemen while blaming the victims for their plight.  The slaughter by poorly trained and undisciplined Saudi and Emirati pilots is even more indiscriminate than U.S. bombing campaigns, and the Saudis lack the full protection of the Western propaganda system to minimize international outrage at tens of thousands of civilian casualties and an ever-worsening humanitarian crisis.

The need to win the loyalty of imperial subjects by some combination of fear and respect is a basic requirement of Empire.  But it appears to be unattainable in the 21st century, certainly by the kind of murderous policies the U.S. has embraced since the end of the Cold War.  As Richard Barnet already observed 45 years ago, at the end of the American War in Vietnam, “At the very moment the number one nation has perfected the science of killing, it has become an impractical instrument of political domination.”

Obama’s sugar-coated charm offensive won U.S. imperialism a reprieve from global public opinion and provided political cover for allied leaders to actively rejoin U.S.-led alliances.  But it was dishonest.  Under cover of Obama’s iconic image, the U.S. spread the violence and chaos of its wars and regime changes and the armed resistance and terrorism they provoke farther and wider, affecting tens of millions more people from Syria and Libya to Nigeria and Ukraine.

Now Trump has taken the mask off and the world is once again confronting the unvarnished, brutal reality of U.S. imperialism and aggression.

China’s approach to the world based on trade and infrastructure development has been more successful than U.S. imperialism.  The U.S. share of the global economy has declined from 40% to 22% since the 1960s, while China is expected to overtake the U.S. as the world’s largest economy in the next decade or two – by some measures, it already has.

While China has become the manufacturing and trading hub of the global economy, the U.S. economy has been financialized and hollowed out, hardly a solid basis for future growth.  The neoliberal model of politics and economics that the U.S. adopted a generation ago has created even greater wealth for people who already owned disproportionate shares of everything, but it has left working people in the U.S. and across the U.S. Empire worse off than before.

Like the “next to nothing” that Danny Sjursen came to realize he was fighting for in Iraq and Afghanistan, the prospects for the U.S. economy seem ephemeral and highly vulnerable to the changing tides of economic history.

The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers

In his 1987 book, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000, historian Paul Kennedy examined the relationship between economic and military power in the histories of the Western empires who colonized the world in the past 500 years.  He described how rising powers enjoy significant competitive advantages over established ones, and how every once-dominant power sooner or later has to adjust to the tides of economic history and find a new place in a world it can no longer dominate.

Kennedy explained that military power is only a secondary form of power that wealthy nations develop to protect and support their expanding economic interests.  An economically dominant power can quickly convert some of its resources into military power, as the U.S. did during the Second World War or as China is doing today.  But once formerly dominant powers have lost ground to new, rising powers, using military power more aggressively has never been a successful way to restore their economic dominance.  On the contrary, it has typically been a way to squander the critical years and scarce resources they could otherwise have used to manage a peaceful transition to a prosperous future.

As the U.K. found in the 1950s, using military force to try to hold on to its empire proved counter-productive, as Kennedy described, and peaceful transitions to independence proved to be a more profitable basis for future relations with its former colonies.  The drawdown of its global military commitments was an essential part of its transition to a viable post-imperial future.

The transition from hegemony to coexistence has never been easy for any great power, and there is nothing exceptional about the temptation to use military force to try to preserve and prolong the old order.  This has often led to catastrophic wars and it has always failed.

It is difficult for any political or military leader to preside over a diminution of his or her country’s power in the world.  Military leaders are rewarded for military strategies that win wars and expand their country’s power, not for dismantling it.  Mid-level staff officers who tell their superiors that their weapons and armies cannot solve their country’s problems do not win promotion to decision-making positions.

As Gabriel Kolko noted in Century of War in 1994, this marginalization of critical voices leads to an “inherent, even unavoidable institutional myopia,” under which, “options and decisions that are intrinsically dangerous and irrational become not merely plausible but the only form of reasoning about war and diplomacy that is possible in official circles.”

After two world wars and the independence of India, the Suez crisis of 1956 was the final nail in the coffin of the British Empire, and the Eisenhower administration burnished its own anti-colonial credentials by refusing to support the British-French-Israeli invasion of Egypt.  British Prime Minister Anthony Eden was forced to resign, and he was replaced by Harold Macmillan, who had been a close aide to Eisenhower during the Second World War.

Macmillan dismantled the remains of the British Empire behind the backs of his Conservative Party’s supporters, winning reelection in 1959 on the slogan, “You’ve never had it so good,” while the U.S. supported a relatively peaceful transition that preserved Western international business interests and military power.

As the U.S. faces a similar transition from empire to a post-imperial future, its leaders have been seduced by the chimera of the post-Cold War “power dividend” to try to use military force to preserve and expand the U.S. Empire, even as the relative economic position of the U.S. declines.

In 1987, Paul Kennedy ended The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers with a prescient analysis of the U.S. position in the world.  He concluded,

“In all of the discussions about the erosion of American leadership, it needs to be repeated again and again that the decline referred to is relative not absolute, and is therefore perfectly natural; and that the only serious threat to the real interests of the United States can come from a failure to adjust sensibly to the newer world order.”

But after Kennedy wrote that in 1987, instead of accepting the future of peace and disarmament that the whole world hoped for at the end of the Cold War, a generation of American leaders made a fateful bid for “superpower.”  Their delusions were exactly the kind of failure to adjust to a changing world that Kennedy warned against.

The results have been catastrophic for millions of victims of U.S. wars, but they have also been corrosive and debilitating for American society, as the perverted priorities of militarism and Empire squander our country’s resources and leave working Americans poorer, sicker, less educated and more isolated from the rest of the world.

When I began writing Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq in 2008, I hoped that the catastrophes in Afghanistan and Iraq might bring U.S. leaders to their senses, as the Suez crisis did to British leaders in 1956.

Instead, eight more years of carefully disguised savagery under Obama have squandered more precious time and good will and spread the violence and chaos of U.S. war-making even farther and wider.  The new National Defense Strategy’s implicit threats against Russia and China reveal that 20 years of disastrous imperial wars have done nothing to disabuse U.S. leaders of their delusions of “superpower status” or to restore any kind of sanity to U.S. foreign policy.

Trump is not even pretending to respect diplomacy or international law, as he escalates Bush’s and Obama’s wars and threatens new ones of his own.  But maybe Trump’s nakedly aggressive policies will force the world to finally confront the dangers of U.S. imperialism. A coming together of the international community to stop further U.S. aggression may be the only way to prevent an even greater catastrophe than the ones that have already befallen the people of Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Honduras, Libya, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen.

Or will it actually take a new and even more catastrophic war in Korea, Iran or somewhere else to finally force the United States to “adjust sensibly to the new world order,” as Paul Kennedy put it in 1987?  The world has already paid a terrible price for our leaders’ failure to take his sound advice a generation ago.  But what will be the final cost if they keep ignoring it even now?

Nicolas J.S. Davies is the author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq. He also wrote the chapters on “Obama at War” in Grading the 44th President: a Report Card on Barack Obama’s First Term as a Progressive Leader.

52 comments for “A National Defense Strategy of Sowing Global Chaos

  1. ron j
    January 28, 2018 at 16:08


    “The third approach, which seems to occur when the others fail, is to allow and even encourage chaos. “

  2. Anon
    January 26, 2018 at 08:31

    Just sitting around waiting for the empire to collapse….

  3. Zachary Smith
    January 25, 2018 at 21:37

    At The Saker site is a commentary about what Mattis said and the author’s opinions of those remarks. The man makes many of the same points – the US has been using “death, fire, and destruction” as a matter of policy. He isn’t right about everything:

    This entire war in Syria was towards one simple goal: Run the oil and gas pipelines to the Syrian coast from the oil rich countries of the Middle East and destroy Russia’s profitable supply business with Europe. No other reason. They failed.

    A re-examination of the essay found the word “Israel” was present only once, and it was used in the most casual of ways. I’m sure that the pipelines were a factor, but they were by no means the only reason, and surely not the “main” one. The US of A was doing Holy Israel’s bidding of destroying yet another Muslim nation. Lebanon and Syria are scheduled for another Land Grab by the murderous and thieving little outhouse of an apartheid state, and Syria has been atop the current list.

    But at the link is still a very readable tale of the way the US has been behaving in recent decades.


    • godenich
      January 26, 2018 at 04:37

      Oil and the petrodollar may be an additional factor [1-4]. The US has more than a casual interest in the grossly four quadrillion of currency denominated in US dollars that pass through the international monetary system(IMS) each year[5]. Here’s a rough pie chart of the nature of those, largely untaxed, liquidity flows[6]

      [1] WHAT IS THE PETRODOLLAR??? | Youtube
      [2] How Big Oil Conquered the World | Corbett Report | Youtube
      [3] Why Big Oil Conquered the World | Corbett Report | Youtube
      [4] Non-Dollar Trading Is Killing the Petrodollar — And the Foundation of U.S.-Saudi Policy in the Middle East | Alastair Crooke | ~2014
      [5] Payments Risk Committee final Intraday Liquidity Flows report | FRBNY | 2016
      [6] Graphic: Automated Payment Transaction (APT) Tax – Phi Beta Iota

  4. Rob
    January 25, 2018 at 11:53

    If the American empire and the militarism that underlies it disappear, what would our military leaders do with themselves? Their entire reason for existence will have disappeared as well. So too with the armaments industry, which sucks on the public teat for an endless flow of money. And lest we forget, giant corporations have always been the greatest beneficiaries of America’s global hegemony, which guarantees their rights to exploit other nations economically, especially the poorest and most desperate. Thus, it is little wonder that the military-industrial complex is forever seeing threats behind every rock, creating crises, and demanding more and more money and attention.

    It’s time to stop the madness.

  5. Liam
    January 24, 2018 at 11:02

    Exposing “The Last Men in Aleppo” – FSA Terrorist Psyop and Oscar Nominated Propaganda Campaign


  6. Babyl-on
    January 24, 2018 at 06:46

    The question is – will the US accept its place among other nations or will it use its nuclear weapons first. Given the fact that the US Empire has been killing people EVERY SINGLE DAY for 73 years (sense August 6. 1945 when the US used nuclear weapons against cities full of innocent people) the groundwork for use of nuclear weapons is well established.

    • godenich
      January 24, 2018 at 18:53

      Not while there is profit to be made on war funded by the income tax[1], tin pot dictators continue to accept and squander IMF loans, as well as governments throwing other people’s money at other nations and multinational corporations. A fractional increase in a decentralized form of automated payments transaction (APT) tax with limited inheritance[2] to fund the latter or for war would rather reduce profits in the stock market for trading corporate stocks & bonds and especially derivatives with less of a detrimental effect on working taxpayers. Campaign donations may dry up and government revenues drop. The question of war is, “Qui bono?!”. As soon as the market fails, all fall down. The choice will then be more QE/ZIRP, tax ‘regime change’, full revamp of monetary system, war or revolution. As the BIS has already noted, QE/ZIRP is getting old.

      [1] War is a Racket | Smedley Butler
      [2] APT Tax | Youtube

  7. john wilson
    January 24, 2018 at 05:49

    The real problem with this piece is the use of the word “defense” . Everything about the US war machine is ‘offense’ as the many countries around the world which have been destroyed and undermined will testify.

    • godenich
      January 24, 2018 at 13:04

      Thank you.

  8. godenich
    January 24, 2018 at 04:07

    Must history repeat[1]?! The fate of empires[2,3] may be an interesting study and challenge of free will to break a sophisticated chain of being, status quo or world order. The 17th century Peace of Westphalia weakened the Ancien Regime, but the challenge to the 1st estate began with the 16th century Reformation from the forerunner of the chartered joint stock company and merchant bankers, i.e. Jacob Fugger[4] as the Medici[5] faded into the 1st and 2nd estates.

    Henry VIII may have set the trend for England in the wake of Martin Luther by establishing the Anglican Church. After the English Civil War and the Glorious Revolution, 17th century England[6] saw the refinement and institution of central banking[7] and the bond market, e.g. government gilts[8] how euphemistically named, as well as the Venice & Antwerp inspired[9] stock market in the City of London. Although the Earl of Chatham* brought wealth, through tax-financed war, e.g. window tax, on board to his ship of state, it took William Pitt the Younger to contribute the refinement of the ‘income tax’ regime in 1798[10], thanks to Napoleon and incidentally extended by Thomas Jefferson and Lord Ashburton** until 1815.

    The financial machinery was now in place to perpetuate militarism at the growing indirect, then direct expense of the former 3rd estate or rather working taxpayer. The chimera of war profiteering, government debt bonds, corporate profit and stock market growth caught a death grip on the British Empire with Robert Peel’s 1842 Income Tax Act and the 1844 Banking Act[11]. The accidental empire was only succeeded in the 1943 Bretton Woods Summit by a poor parody of itself, namely the American Empire. Financial empire has become an impoverishing consolation over time for the public, particularly after the gold standard was entirely abandoned and the Petrodollar adopted in the 1970’s.

    The virtue of the ‘income tax’ comes with the defense of the republic by mobilization of it’s army on it’s own turf, when not contributing productively to public goods during peace time absent the temporary ‘income tax’ during peace time, much as the Roman army built roads and aqueducts. The fueling of empire is the vice of ‘income tax’, for without the proceeds of productive labor from working taxpayers made helots by war, great Spartan armies would crumble, turn to sand and be washed away by the sea before their kind died out. The income tax has become a tool of war, public debt slavery and a seduction for war profiteers and despots.

    Consider a legislated tax ‘regime change’ equivalent to a decentralized form of Edgar Feige’s plan[12] for the country, with an upward limit on inheritance, with or without approval from the rest of the world. Call it a dare or a foolish American expedition where angels fear to tread. As it stands now, some brave souls call it an overly financed economy[13] and yet others dare call it collusion[14]. It is plain to see[15,16].

    * William Pitt the Elder
    ** Francis Baring
    [1] Must History Repeat | The Great Courses
    [2] The Fate of Empires and Search for Survival | John Bagot Glubb | 1978
    [3] The fate of empires| John Arthur Hubbard| 1913
    [4] The Richest Man Who Ever Lived: The Life and Times of Jacob Fugger | Amazon
    [5] The Ascent of Money | Niall Ferguson | Youtube
    [6] The History of England Series | Peter Ackroyd | Downpour
    [7] History of the Bank of England 1640-1903 Vols 1 & 2 | Andreades | 1924
    [8] Gilts | Investopedia
    [9] The Birth of Stock Exchanges | Investopedia
    [10] History of Income Tax | Edwin Seligman | 1911
    [11] Money Creation & Society’ Debate in UK Parliament | Youtube
    [12] Alternative Proposals for Reform – C-SPAN
    [13] Other People’s Money | John Kay | 2016 | Downpour
    [14] Collusion | Nomi Prins | 2018 | Downpour
    [15] Seven Stages Of Empire – Hidden Secrets Of Money Ep 2 – Mike Maloney | Youtube
    [16] The Biggest Scam In The History Of Mankind – Hidden Secrets of Money 4 | Youtube

  9. cmp
    January 24, 2018 at 02:36

    ~ “…It has long been taboo…” ~

    … Remember when the Nightly News would list the names of the fallen at the end of a broadcast?

    I wonder what the percentage of Americans is, who were born after 1975, and have witnessed this commemorative moment of love and respect on – any of their airwaves..(?)


    … Well, since 2001, these are the confirmed numbers of casualties that should have been commemorated. (..including this month)

    Deaths by Branch:
    Air Force … 199
    Army … 4,992
    Coast Guard … 1
    Marine Corps … 1,479
    Navy … 237

    Deaths by Age:
    18-22 … 2,486
    23-28 … 2,416
    28-35 … 1,460
    35-45 … 821
    45+ … 154

    Deaths by Conflict:
    Operation Freedom’s Sentinel (2015 to 2018) … 45
    Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003 to 2017) … 4,411
    Operation Inherent Resolve (2014 to 2017) … 31
    U.S. Africa Command Operations (2017) … 5
    U.S. Central Command operations (2017) … 2
    Operation Spartan Shield (2017) … 1
    Operation Odyssey Lightning (2016) … 1
    Operation Enduring Freedom (2001 to 2015) … 2,346
    Operation New Dawn (2010 to 2011) … 67

    Total … (2001 to 2018) … 6,909 U.S. Fallen Service People

    * Number of Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn casualties as confirmed by U.S. Central Command.

  10. geeyp
    January 24, 2018 at 02:23

    Vladimir Putin is one leader who has shown tremendous patience towards the threats from the “West” (meaning the US). He can only turn the other cheek for so long. After all, he is indeed human, like the rest of us.

  11. Virginia
    January 23, 2018 at 21:23

    Stephen Cohen, who often contributes here, received such a nice commendation from Sharon Tennison of the Center of Citizen Initiatives that I thought you readers might be interested in seeing it. Here’s from a letter she wrote CCI members (of which I am one) about a site she recommends: “T…he American Committee for East-West Accord, ACEWA….was created to delve into U.S. – Russia issues that don’t appear in the mainstream media. ACEWA was initiated by Professor Stephen F. Cohen of Princeton and New York University who is recognized as one of the eminent world historians and scholars on Russia. You might check the ACEWA website for their Board of Directors, most of whom are names known to the American public …..”

    With contributors such as Mr. Cohen on CN, we readers are very privileged and are gaining so much educationally. I particularly applaud any endeavor for better relations between the U.S. and Russia.

  12. michael crockett
    January 23, 2018 at 16:47

    Thank you again Mr. Davies for another thought provoking article. I too hope that we can step back from the brink. Post WW2 The US has been responsible for wars, coups, and regime changes that have resulted in forty million dead. Not to mention the suffering of millions more from poverty, disease, and famine that are a direct result of these catastrophic decisions. We continue to give war a chance, and the result is always the same: CHAOS. The beat goes on as we keep marching to the drums of war. Softly pounding a rhythm to the brain, Americans stand on the sidelines applauding their glorious leaders as these same leaders plunder our wealth, squandering any peace dividend. Lets wake up and fight back.

    • mike k
      January 23, 2018 at 19:05

      Yes, awakening is the key to any hope for our world. What this site is dedicated to is to help people see through the heavy fog of disinformation, and realize the true nature of our desperate situation. The unwillingness to look at truths that are very uncomfortable leaves us powerless to make the changes in our thinking and behavior that offer the only real hope of a way out of our descent into civilizational collapse. Only a new clear and courageous consciousness can give birth to a new world without war and famine.

    • Dave P.
      January 24, 2018 at 03:58

      Yes. It is indeed a very thought provoking article. Thanks to Mr. Davies.

  13. mike k
    January 23, 2018 at 16:08

    In spite of the excellent critical bite of this article, I still find it to be too sanguine about the world that will follow the inevitable decline and collapse of the American Empire. He seems to say that empires come and go, and that after this one dies, a new one will rise to temporarily take it’s place, and so on ad nauseam.

    This pleasant fantasy ignores the reality that this current moment in history will most likely end rather soon with the extinction of the human species. Nuclear war will not be just another war. Global temperature rise to levels lethal to human life will not just be another ho hum fluctuation in the climate. The ongoing collapse and mass extinction of ecologic systems crucial to our survival is rapidly becoming out of control. I will not try to enumerate all the graphs of our near term demise that are going exponentially off the charts.

    While we are so focused on the petty fate of an empire, our very existence is flowing away like the sands of a doomsday hourglass……….

    • Virginia
      January 23, 2018 at 16:11

      Yes, Mike, that’s never far from our thoughts at this shaky time in the world. It’s the elephant in the room.

    • Sam F
      January 23, 2018 at 18:43

      Yes, it is easy to be too optimistic about “the world that will follow” US decline, especially without a period of genuinely United Nations seeking progress rather than dominance. It is the good examples we set that provide the best lessons of history, and the US has not done so.

      We must hope that those who set the best examples do so cross-culturally, so that these survive the “the petty fate of an empire.” Science, medicine, technology that overcomes poverty, and true literature will survive as permanent contributions, as will the response of concerned citizens against US misconduct.

      • Virginia
        January 23, 2018 at 19:13

        “It is the good examples we set that provide the best lessons of history, and the US has not done so.” — Sam F.

        We have some excellent examples in the world, but right now no one (in office) is coming to mind from the US. Many have been named previously on this site. One event I don’t remember well but never can forget is when in a foreign nation, maybe about 10 years ago, there was a horrible event where a violent group took over a hotel, were selective in whom they killed but killed plenty. Then the local government and folks got together and felt the best thing was not to retaliate but to forgive. They were peace loving folk. At the time I thought that remarkable and wise. Not sure how things panned out in the end, but it’s the only example I’m aware of where that was the response. It just reminded me of something I’ve been thinking about for myself, whether to try to solve problems subjectively or objectively. I’m beginning at least to try subjectively more, rather than try to correct other people’s problems by reacting. I’m sure there’s a right balance, and wouldn’t it be great to find that nationally and internationally!

  14. Sam F
    January 23, 2018 at 15:55

    Thank you Nicolas Davies for this excellent analysis of the abuse of military power to “prolong the old order” causing failure to “transition from hegemony to coexistence.” Indeed the “world has already paid a terrible price for our leaders’ failure” and our own loss of democracy to oligarchy control of mass media and elections.

    If the US had spent the billions wasted on war since WWII, on building the roads, schools, and hospitals of the developing nations, we would have eliminated poverty for the poorest half of humanity, a true American century, and we would have no enemies. Instead we have willfully killed over six million innocents for nothing, have destroyed democracies and replaced them with dictators, and have allowed the MIC/Israel/WallSt oligarchy to control our former democracy with campaign bribes, control of mass media to promote violence as patriotism, promiscuous surveillance, and militarized police. They have destroyed America and have spent all we could borrow on destruction for their personal gain. We have the lowest per capita foreign aid of all developed nations, almost all of it military “aid,” a total of less than one meal a year for the world’s poorest. Some imperial glory there.

    Simply re-purposing 80 percent of our military to construction would leave us the most powerful nation, accomplish reparations to the nations we have destroyed, and eliminate extreme poverty, with no immediate change in much of the military budget or personnel. This we could do if only our elections and mass media were free of money power.

    Americans must destroy the oligarchy that controls elections and mass media, for such tyrants respond only to force. Their only concession since WWII was the Civil Rights Act of 1964, because they were afraid of the riots in the cities, but now they have militarized the police and ignore all protest. There will be no progress until the poorest rise in rebellion to terrorize the rich, and infiltrate police and national guard to deny force to oligarchy. It will not be pretty.

    • Virginia
      January 23, 2018 at 16:09

      Sam F, you certainly stated my desires and longings. It won’t be pretty, but might be necessary. There’s an old saying that you can’t go up till you’ve gone down. I’m thinking of humility and the mental, moral picture.

      • Sam F
        January 23, 2018 at 18:23

        Yes, the danger is that the US may have to fall into poverty before there is enough anger to displace oligarchy, to allow us to make the essential improvements. That could require generations of decline, isolation, economic bubbles, and finding common ground between identity/interest groups. A far more rational course would be likely if we could destroy mass media controlled by oligarchy, then remove money control of elections, etc. Presently it appears that we must hit bottom to get there.

        • Al Pinto
          January 23, 2018 at 19:24

          Sam F…

          “Yes, the danger is that the US may have to fall into poverty before there is enough anger to displace oligarchy, to allow us to make the essential improvements.”

          That’s not a may, it is a given based on the current circumstances. And that may take a long time and at the end, it’ll be bloody. In my view, there’s no option for rational changes…

          There’s no way that we could rationally destroy the oligarchy controlled media. Not at the time, when the majority of the people in the US told what to think.

          There’s no way that the money is removed from the election, our “leaders” will not go along with that peacefully.

          Changes will take a long time, I certainly won’t see it, maybe even my kids won’t. The oligarchy’s control of the US is that strong…

          • Anon
            January 23, 2018 at 19:54

            It will have to be innovative, so it is hard to predict when it might succeed. Geriatric suicide bombers taking out oligarchy mass media facilities? Pre-emptive attacks on the US with pre-installed nuclear weapons? Minority militias attacking gated communities? Secessions?

    • Joe Tedesky
      January 23, 2018 at 17:30

      Sam your comment compliments Nicolas J.S. Davies article very well.

      I would also add, that by having the world’s biggest military that the U.S. could have brought every nation to the negotiating table without even firing a shot. Imagine the leverage having the largest military in your corner. Further imagine if you brought important issues to the table as well. But instead the U.S. goes deep over Israeli and Saudi desires, and yet our leaders in Washington forget all about Kansas, as they do their puppet dance. Yeah Sam, we blew it in more than one way. Good comment Sam, as usual. Joe

      • Sam F
        January 23, 2018 at 18:29

        Good points about the opportunity to bring fractious nations to the negotiating table; resolving international issues; and the DC puppet dance; thanks.

  15. Joe Tedesky
    January 23, 2018 at 15:48

    I really enjoyed Nicolas J.S. Davies take on our modern day American empire. I could not have written about this national dilemma any better myself, even if I had wanted to. I have been saying for sometime now of how the U.S. is to stretched out with it’s global military strategy. Besides, this madness of using our American military in every situation, under any pretense, we are only helping to recruit more terrorist. Although to the maddening geniuses who make our foreign policies this creation of new terrorist seems like a financial bonus for America’s future warhawks. Just like a dog trying to catch it’s tail, our leaders do the same thing time after time, trying to catch their own tails. Does anyone even have the foggiest of an idea, of how to stop this madness?

    • Sam F
      January 23, 2018 at 16:07

      The only hope other than open rebellion is a takeover of mass media by independent media, but we already see the end of that hope, in the government conspiracies to eliminate net neutrality and make alternative news invisible in web searches.

      I advocate a College of Policy Debate to see that all views on all policy issues in all regions are expertly debated, with commented summaries made available on the net. This would ensure that information is there for those few who seek it, who could then check up on the lies of our universally corrupt politicians. But new forms of truth cannot prevail against the constant massive propaganda of oligarchy mass media, the profound and universal corruption of all branches of government by money, and the moral corruption of the people by the oligarchy culture of ignorance, selfishness, hypocrisy, and malice.

      • Joe Tedesky
        January 23, 2018 at 17:15

        Sam I have heard you speak of this “College of Policy Debate” before, and I agree something of like what you have mentioned would be thoroughly a more than welcome thing, but…. yes Sam there is a but, and it is this; How would we prevent corruption of this new debate platform? Washington is a slimy place for sure, and there are many expert at perverting even the most descent and simplest of things, so how would the “College of Policy Debate” protect itself from corruption?

        What the U.S. needs is something big, I mean so awfully big of a happening, as to wake up the stooges in our MSM, and to also wake up the silent majority who have slept for way too long. I’m not too hopeful that this will happen, and I do hope that if it is to be, that it isn’t through war, but we wait. We wait Sam, as we usually do, but at least Sam you are a man with a plan, and if the day ever comes for America to get itself straightened out then we will need more sincere people such as yourself Sam to guide us along….do you have children, or grandchildren, or even nieces or nephews Sam, because if you do you would be doing us all a favor to mentor these young relatives of yours for them to adhere to your intelligent ways. Joe

        • Sam F
          January 23, 2018 at 18:06

          Yes, the problem of corruption must be dealt with in new institutions as well as old. For all branches of federal government, I propose the monitoring of finances and communications of all major officials and their relatives and associates for life.

          In addition, officials of the College of Policy Debate should be given an HQ (humanitarian quotient) score based on life activities. Any signs of corrupt practices, or lukewarm dedication to the common good, would be grounds for exclusion. They can be rated by their peers on various scales indicating bias of all kinds, and can build a record which may indicate dedication to truth and lack of prejudice. They can be given rotating assignments to obstruct collusions.

          At the top, a federal CPD might have appointees, given little capacity to interfere with debate or its directions, under a charter. A private CPD could have an administration with similar limitations. The idea is to let the processes of debate administer the debate, and prevent any person or group from controlling that.

          I am quite open to suggestions as to measures to prevent corruption.

        • Ken
          January 24, 2018 at 19:25

          Sometimes the biggest is the simplest.
          “To change something, make a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”, B. Fuller.
          Gar Alperovitz, Ellen Brown are heading in the right direction…

          • Joe Tedesky
            January 24, 2018 at 22:57

            B Fuller with that statement didn’t say anything about big being better, he stated ‘new model’ not big.

            Let me just say this, that big isn’t bad, as long as you can efficiently run it. So many students no teacher can memorize each students names, pacing 100 sq. feet through a big box home improvement store to purchase a small little light bulb or a nail is exhausting and time consuming, and that’s just a couple of reasons I don’t like big. Don’t get me started over American airports, you will hate yourself.

            I started working partime in 1966 as a teenage in an industry that once had over 500 manufacturers, by the time I reached 50 there were only 5 manufacturers of the same industry still standing. What happened to the other 495, well many went out of business through competition or by not updating their technology, and for quite a few others they were bought out. This gobbling up of manufacturers continued for in and around 30 years until by the year 2000 there were only approximately 5 manufacturers owning ‘bought out old manufacturing labels’ by the hundreds.

            Before the big went offshore, they had their American employees document their procedures and processes, all in the name of quality control for the betterment of the brand…well, guess what big did. Yup, they took the documentation and trained their offshore new employee on how to do what the American employee once did. This kind of big has no country, because this kind of big outgrew it patriotism in a boardroom while looking at a future growth chart, and that’s too big & bad for the small elite to care otherwise to what the little guy and woman might think.

            Sorry Ken, I didn’t mean to bark at you, but that’s how I feel about big…unless you are buying us a pizza. Joe

          • Joe Tedesky
            January 24, 2018 at 23:14

            Ken I’m an idiot, after writing my song and dance story about ‘big’ I reread my comment where I was talking about something ‘so big’ as to alter our current societal destination…excuse me.

            That kind of ‘big’ is totally of a different context, than the one I thought you may have been promoting with the B Fuller quote.

            About the ‘big event’ or whatever it is we should call it, I do think our society needs some kind of call to duty. I can only see a huge event of somekind, an event so devastating large as the bring the house down. I don’t want to stagger around talking bs about war, or financial collapses, but….I digress, in my explanation.

            Sorry Ken I’m a doofus at times, and a terrible comment writer when I overlook my own topic when answering a reply. On the other hand, I hope you like my explanation of big, and FYI I eat my pizza with just cheese. Joe

    • Realist
      January 23, 2018 at 17:35

      The only way to stop the madness, Joe, would be to root out every government official complicit in these war crimes, remove them permanently from office, convict them of their crimes and send them to prison for very long terms. Similar remedies would be appropriately directed at media personnel who purposefully deceived the public in the service of their masters. Reparations to all the damaged and aggrieved peoples on the face of the planet who fell victim to Washington’s fury would be nice, nay, demanded by justice. And, finally, a suitable period of occupation of the American power centers by the UN, as happened to Germany and Japan after WWII would be in order. Maybe then, suitably chastised and with their wings clipped, the power elite here would start acting like human beings rather than self-styled plaster gods. But, we know that ain’t gonna happen, even if hell does freeze over, don’t we?

      • Joe Tedesky
        January 23, 2018 at 17:45

        You make a strong argument, and consequences must be met. It’s just that waiting for something like of what you mentioned is frustrating to say the least. Although, reading comments such as yours, and some of the others on this board, does give me hope that all of mankind isn’t beyond trying to do the right thing. I’m hoping that what you just described Realist come to be. Joe

    • RnM
      January 23, 2018 at 23:32

      As long as the American public is cowed into accepting life in a fearful condition (i.e., trading Constitutional Rights for “security” and survailence) their support for offensive militarism (justified as defense, purposed to give the illusion that the “strength and toughness” displayed by the militarism) will hasten the decline of the Superpower status. It is happening before our eyes. I believe it’s inevitable, given the depth and extent of the rot, and the increasing incapacity of the Public to act.
      It’s a pity that Mr. Trump was turned so quickly. He showed some promise of being willing to stiff the Establishment, but he caved in, and decided that personal survival is Job 1, when the actual power center read him the Riot Act as soon as he sat down behind his desk in the Oval Office.

      • Joe Tedesky
        January 24, 2018 at 00:51

        You would think that with all the do gooders in our MSM, that at least one of them would harp on this country’s war policies, but no it’s all about Russian collusion, and pundits making fun of Trump tweets.

        Unlike you RnM most citizens don’t research the news the way you do. I’m sure you were the only one who knew about the details to the P5+1 talks, or that the U.S. was in Syria illegally against international law. You knew your place by the dumbfounded looks your fellow companions were giving you, with their asking you, ‘just where in the hell do you read these kind of the things’? War, what war, oh yeah that war, where is that war again? It is not a strange reaction when an American is asked to their opinion to America’s constant at war. Ah, ‘constant’ now that just may be the ticket. I mean we Americans are so always at war, that’s it’s no big deal anymore to if we are.

        You know this RnM to how we have, and still are, being conditioned. How to break this spell, is anybody’s guest. Joe

  16. Paolo
    January 23, 2018 at 14:15

    I agree with all this article. Yet one question lingers in my mind: what should have been done – instead of war – after September 11?

    • Virginia
      January 23, 2018 at 16:02

      Paolo, What should have been done after 911, you ask. A full investigation of who was responsible, how it happened, who benefitted; why did a third WTC building collapse in the same way the same day, who had insurance on the buildings, who was in charge of security of buildings over preceding months; was the whole thing a false flag, was regime change already planned in Iraq; why? Those are a few questions many commentators here at CN will likely be answering in response.

      • geeyp
        January 24, 2018 at 02:11

        Yes Virginia, very true. Please check out Kevin Ryan’s “Another Nineteen”. Very well researched, factual, and fascinating. I think his site is ….digwithin.net…. Thanks.

    • jaycee
      January 23, 2018 at 16:10

      The wars initiated after 9/11 – Afghanistan, Iraq – had already been planned, and in the case of Afghanistan, the movement of troops and material was already underway. 9/11 served as a pretext for decisions which had already been made. I still find it amazing that the entire national security apparatus effectively froze in place for 35 minutes – from 9:05 AM to 9:40 – apparently waiting for the Pentagon to be hit, a strike which coincidentally (?) wiped out the wing housing the audit inspectors and all their gathered information looking into an unaccounted-for 2.3 trillion dollars. In a sane and just world, rather than go to war a decent leadership would investigate the agencies which failed that morning, eliminate the ties between the national security state and proxy jihadists, and prosecute the officials who blocked the ground-level investigations which were close to uncovering the plot before it happened.

      One of the reasons the above didn’t happen, aside from the abysmal compromised leadership in place at the time, is because, as this article states, there is the monolithic Western propaganda system to contend with. I was not aware there were two massive famines in India in the late 19th century. I am aware that famines in the USSR and China have been consistently blamed on the leadership, i.e. that Stalin or Mao were personally responsible for millions of deaths. I have never heard of the Queen Victoria famine, or her responsibility for upwards of 30 million dead.

    • BobS
      January 23, 2018 at 17:05

      “what should have been done – instead of war – after September 11?”

      Treat it as a crime rather than an act of war.
      However, if it was so damn essential to attack another country and replace it’s government, Saudi Arabia should have been at the top of the list. Afghanistan and Iraq, not so much.

      • Joe Tedesky
        January 23, 2018 at 17:41

        I agree Bob, we should have investigated the cause of 911, and we would have done well to attack the right enemy. Good reply. Joe

    • zendeviant
      January 24, 2018 at 04:29

      Criminal action: mass murder. Treat it as a crime. Investigate, indict, prosecute, sentence. Simple.

      OR…promote the fella who commanded the failed North American air defense to Head of Joint Chiefs. Pay all the victims survivors on the condition that they SHUT UP about it. Turn logic on it’s head and “go to the mall!” Chuck rule of law and go to war with the world. All of which we did–for what? for Who?

      Everyday I feel like I choose from sustained outrage or exhausted apathy. Looking for that middle path…

    • Paolo
      January 24, 2018 at 09:26

      I often wonder how much the absurdity of the 9/11-false-flag theory— which was “on air” minutes after the twin towers were hit — contributed to make people accept the crap about Saddam’s WMD. Were I into conspiration theories I would even imagine that it was put “on air” by the top Intelligence Officials to discredit dissent against bomb bomb bomb strategy.

    • rosemerry
      January 24, 2018 at 15:32

      It was a crime-investigate the crime, which was never done. Perhaps it was because the perpetrators included the US government.The invasion of Afghanistan was already planned (no way could that suddenly be done so quickly after the “surprise attack”) and of course Iraq was in no way involved, as many must have known including Colin Powell.

    • Ken
      January 24, 2018 at 19:12

      A proper investigation.

    • Steve Naidamast
      January 24, 2018 at 20:02

      This should have been strictly a police operation. There was never a need to involve the US military…

    • Nicolas Davies
      January 25, 2018 at 00:21

      Justice. As Nuremberg prosecutor Ben Ferencz told NPR a week after 9/11:

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