Fifteen Years of Forever Wars

Fifteen year ago Donald Rumsfeld said Afghanistan was pacified and George W. Bush said the U.S. mission in Iraq was “accomplished.” Fifteen years later the disastrous neoconservative assumptions are in full view, says Chas Freeman.
By Chas Freeman

Fifteen years ago on May 1, 2003, speaking in Kabul, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld declared that, in Afghanistan, “we clearly have moved from major combat activity to a period of stability and stabilization and reconstruction activities.” Later that same day, standing on the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln, President George W. Bush proclaimed that “…major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.”  He described the U.S. overthrow of the Iraqi government as “one victory in a war on terror that began on September the 11th, 2001,” adding that our “war on terror is not over, yet it is not endless.”

But, evidently, it is indeed endless.  Secretary Rumsfeld defined success in this war as not creating more terrorists than we kill.   That seems a fair standard.  But, by this criterion, what we have done is clearly counterproductive.

Bush on the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln: Premature Mission Accomplished. (U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class Lewis Hunsaker)

In 2003, we invaded Iraq to prevent weapons of mass destruction that did not exist from falling into the hands of terrorists who also did not exist until our arrival and subsequent misconduct begat them.  In 2003, we were engaged in military operations in two West Asian nations – Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2018, the Cost of War Project at Brown’s Watson Institute documents American involvement in some level of combat in seventy-six nations.  For at least the past fifteen years, we have been creating more terrorists than we kill.

Anti-American terrorists with global reach and home-grown terrorists alike explain that they are over here because we are over there.  Our political leaders keep saying that they can’t possibly have that right.  Surely, they hate us because of who we are,  not what we’ve done and where.  But the kith and kin of the roughly four million Muslims we have been responsible for killing in the post-Cold War era say otherwise.

We cannot erase past errors.  We can and should learn from them.  Yet we do not seem to be doing so.  Instead, we continue to repeat our blunders.  Sometimes the cause is hubris.  We should have learned by now that not every cakewalk puts cake on your plate.  Sometimes the cause is doctrinal delusion.  When they encounter reality, some of the most popular axioms of neoconservatism shrivel up and die.  At least the following six assumptions of interventionism consistently turn out to be false.

The Neocon False Assumptions

First, wars in countries with significant natural resources, like oil, can easily be made to pay for themselves.

Second, regime change can transform foreign societies because inside every foreigner there is a liberal democrat yearning to get out.

Third, if you kick the natives hard enough they will turn into the moral equivalent of Canadians – meek, unfailingly polite to everyone, and reconciled to American primacy.

Fourth, in addition to the gerbils who inhabit the deserts of the Fertile Crescent, this region is full of Arab moderates eager to risk their lives by bravely making war on savage Islamist fanatics.

Fifth, exiles say what they mean and mean what they say; and

Sixth, if we sock it to would-be terrorists over there, they won’t dare follow us home.

The cost of the experience that has refuted these absurdities has been considerable.  It starts with a lot of dead and maimed soldiers and mercenaries as well as nearly $7 trillion in outlays and unfunded liabilities to be met by future taxpayers.

The dead and wounded come home.  The money will never return.  It was poured into the sands of West Asia and North Africa or ripped off by contractors.  The fact that it was not invested in the general welfare and domestic tranquility of the United States accounts for our broken roads and rickety bridges, the educational malnutrition of our youth, the emerging class divisions in our society, and our reduced international competitiveness.

We have just compounded the costs of the warfare state by cutting taxes.  This lowers our national savings rate and stimulates consumption, adding to our trade and balance of payments deficits.  But it also leaves all of our past, present, and future military spending – the defense budget and related outlays for veterans, nuclear weapons and propulsion, and so forth – to be funded by borrowing.

Over 40 percent of our mounting liabilities are to foreigners, some of whom we have just designated as adversaries, i.e. candidates to become enemies.  Our strategy for paying off our twenty-plus trillion dollar debt consists of endless credit rollovers.  These risk inflation that will push up borrowing costs and advance the inevitable day of financial  reckoning for our country.

Some Lessons

Congress alone has the power to declare war.

Today our homeland is shabbier and we are less – not more – secure than we were before we began our rampage through the Muslim world.  Placing Russia and China at the top of our roster of enemies and preparing to go to war with them will make our military-industrial complex feel better by justifying the procurement of super-expensive weaponry.  But it will not improve our position in the wars we are currently losing and it could lead to a devastating nuclear exchange that our country could not survive.  We need to make an effort to extract the lessons of our misadventures in West Asia and North Africa so as not to repeat them.

Here are a few thoughts on what some of those lessons might be:

First, when people in high places twist intelligence to conform to their political convictions, unpleasant surprises and strategic setbacks are almost certain to follow.

Second, wars whose objectives cannot be concisely stated are, by definition, purposeless.  They squander rather than validate the sacrifices of the troops we commit to them.

Third, if we do something without first asking “and then, what?,” the chances are excellent that we will not like the results.

Fourth, starting wars without any idea of how we will end them, on what terms, and with whom, is a recipe for endless disaster.

Fifth, there are not many problems that can be solved by the ill-considered use of force, but there are almost none that can’t be made worse by it.

Sixth, strategies are not the same as campaign plans.  Strategies are plans of action designed to achieve desired objectives through the lowest possible investment of effort, resources, and time, with the fewest adverse consequences for ourselves.  Military campaign plans should implement strategies, not substitute for them.

And seventh, reinforcing failure or doubling down on sunk costs does not repair defective policies.  It just extends them and raises the costs of defeat.  Sometimes, in foreign policy as in any other business involving investment, the wisest course of action is to cut one’s losses and quit on the best terms one can arrange.

A final note seems in order.

Americans do best when we are true to ourselves.  This includes adhering to our constitution.  Recent confirmation hearings in the Senate make one wonder whether our politicians, including those with distinguished careers as lawyers, have ever read the document.

In Article II, Section 2, the Constitution makes the president “Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States.”  This empowers the president to respond immediately to attacks on the United States, even before seeking guidance on war aims through a declaration of war from the Congress.  But, in Article I, Section 8, Clause 11  the framers of the Constitution very deliberately reserved the power to authorize wars of choice to the Congress alone.

All of the many wars in which the United States is presently engaged were presidentially ordained.  None was expressly approved by Congress, which has shirked its duty to declare them  and define their purposes – part of crafting sound strategy.  This means that all our current wars are extra-constitutional – even the sixteen-year-long war to pacify Afghanistan, as opposed to the initial year-long effort to respond to 9/11 by rooting out al-Qaeda.  And, all these wars began as illegal invasions of foreign sovereignty and breaches of the peace under the UN Charter and international law.

As Americans we can and should do better than this.  We need to learn from our mistakes, correct them, return to constitutional practices, and reconsider our policies.  If our representatives in Congress will not stand up for the basic principles on which our republic was founded, who will?

Remarks to a meeting of the Center for the Study of Statesmanship, Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, Brown University, on Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C., May 1, 2018.

Ambassador Freeman chairs Projects International, Inc. He is a retired U.S. defense official, diplomat, and interpreter, the recipient of numerous high honors and awards, a popular public speaker, and the author of five books. http://chasfreeman.net/u-s-policy-and-the-geopolitical-dynamics-of-the-middle-east/

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60 comments for “Fifteen Years of Forever Wars

  1. September 3, 2018 at 7:17 pm

    Excuse me but you are full of shit. Clearly you have never served in the military nor have your life experiences given you a sense of comaradre.
    You should be ashamed, using your political appointee status to speak on behalf of our nation. You are using your “creditals to secure a “expert” authority status among your peers whom I suspect also lack a warrior perspective on the times. And yes I am a hawk.

  2. Vera Gottlieb
    September 2, 2018 at 11:14 am

    Remember…the coffers of the armament industry must remain filled.

  3. Neil
    September 1, 2018 at 5:16 pm

    Canadians have no need to receive lessons in morality from a swaggering, blood-soaked USA – the moral superior of no nation. Period.

  4. mourning
    August 31, 2018 at 4:58 pm

    The effing bankers and the lawyers run this country. There is no “learning” from our mistakes, the game is rigged and all those at fault for the current mess (Chaney, Wolfowitz,Rumsfeld, plus Goldman Saks, and a thousand others) will sit on their yachts sipping ginger ale until there is literally nobody left to oppose them. We will have the rich and the servant classes, the rest of us are disposable, the “great unwashed” will be stripped of our liberties and taught to fear for our lives if we even utter opposition. The NSA knows who we are. I pity anyone under the age of 60, with a “smart” phone in their face 24/7 taking pictures of their food and texting every every second while ALL freedom is carefully removed without notice. WAR is PROFIT. That is it.

  5. phil hubb
    August 29, 2018 at 12:13 am

    The U.S. mission in Iraq was “accomplished.” At least as far as Dick Cheney was concerned.
    Halliburton made a fortune.

  6. bardamu
    August 28, 2018 at 8:56 pm

    Here Freeman manages well the arguments by which a group of neocons gulled the US into various wars.

    However, these are not exactly the assumptions by which these neocons decided that the US should go to war or could be profitably led into war. By this I do not mean that Freeman’s analysis is inaccurate as it stands, let alone useless, only that the question could also be usefully considered quite differently.

    As usual, most likely as always, the neocons’ assumptions must be different than advertised. This is partly because they lied. But it is also because they were blind to what their own assumptions were, both as a group and as individuals.

    What people assume we usually understand not as aspects of our own thought, but as observable or derivable aspects of the world itself, and most of them “commonsense” or “obvious to a reasonable observer”–should we ever find one. This is not altogether absolute or universal, but the tide runs high. The neocons were thus variously but considerably unaware both of their own motivations and those of their allies, though this does not mean that they did not fudge and lie outright as well.

    So, for example, Freeman presents as paraphrase of an assumption by Rumsfield that success in the Iraq invasion could be defined as “not creating more terrorists than we kill.” Freeman goes on to comment that “That seems a fair standard” and then to describe how the war fails miserably based on the standard that Rumsfield claimed to adopt.

    This is, of course, normal debate procedure, and Freeman follows it competently. However, Rumsfield’s initial statement, should we take it literally, is monumentally absurd, even monstrous. At least as Freeman describes it, Rumsfield has stated that if the US fights a war, spending eventually trillions of dollars, and winds up with the exact same number of “terrorists” with which it started, then that constitutes a success.

    It might help to strip that statement down a bit. It runs, “If (number of terrorists remains equal), then war = success.” There is a premise missing. That premise, apparently, is an assumption or some nexus of assumption. Since Freeman so quickly takes Rumsfield’s absurdity for an honest argument and a fair standard, it might be a nexus of assumption that Freeman in some part shares or imagines that he shares.

    I wonder what that would be. It might be nice to know, since it appears to be something shared across a wide swath of political opinion that gets the US into wars.

  7. August 26, 2018 at 8:02 pm

    No, Cheryl, other countries are looking out for their own interests, that’s their motivation. The USA has weakened itself by turning into a predatory military empire that doesn’t give two hoots for its own people, only if they’re rich.

    John McCain has been a perfect example of the incestuous relationship with war the USA has. A friend calls it “war whores”; there are too many of them in the US government. The USA demonstrates the Orwellian concept that “War is Peace” from ‘1984’.

  8. Cheryl
    August 26, 2018 at 9:54 am

    I believe many in the US don’t realize every country in the world – allied or not – will and are attempting to undermine and weaken the US by any means possible. Other countries have national interests and will work toward those interested wether Washington likes it or not. Countries may appear to be appeasing Washington but that is part of the game. Try not to ruffle Washington’s feathers but never the less weaken the US by any means available . Empires fail when they lose the moral equivalency to lead. The US once was a great country but then sought to dominate others through war and subterfuge. Washington has being infected by the diseases of Empire. The citizens of the US have enabled Washington to behave in this manner and have the responsibility and means to change course. Trump’s trade wars are a better alternative than Bush and Obama’s hot wars. Perhaps not every US citizen’s idea of president at least Trump has charted a different course for the country. Good , bad or ungly – who can yet say ?

  9. jeff montanye
    August 24, 2018 at 1:33 pm

    imo president trump is moving toward the one state solution for israel/palestine. that is why he has recognized jerusalem as the capital of israel, discredited the “two state” (never going to happen) palestinian leadership, poses no objections to likud encroachments in the (captured for fifty years) west bank, reinstated sanctions on iran (future carrot to get support for peace settlement), and added the one state solution to the two state as endgames acceptable to the u.s.

    once israel’s physical sovereignty in palestine is legally recognized by the u.s., etc., the issue becomes one of civil rights for the four and a half million disenfranchised inside eretz israel. with a modicum of cooperation from those peoples and nations “at war” with israel, this plan can succeed in transforming the life of the palestinians and the israelis, not to say the long suffering rest of the world.

  10. codephixer
    August 24, 2018 at 12:11 pm

    On a higher level abstraction…This is a system-level evolution of controllabilty and observerability. Given the scale of the Earth w.r.t speed of light/information diffusion (and automation) we have finally reached a collective state (forced or otherwise…remains to be seen) as “humanity” to allow ourselves to be part of a super-organism ( tongue-in-cheek: aka. “deep state” , “matrix” , “singularity” etc ) There is no escaping for any of us. If this successful it could possibly lead to spawning of more baby deep-states to exoplanets and beyond…Is that good or bad? ( We are so binary and sociopathic in our thinking aren’t we? )

    • christina garcia
      August 25, 2018 at 10:05 pm

      there is always new Zealand if you have enough money. Ask Peter Thiel if you can join his squad.

  11. Tom Larsen
    August 23, 2018 at 3:31 pm

    OTOH, the “Forever Wars” have been quite successful as their true purpose WMD and the GWOT, were to justify Pentagon and CIA budgets in the aftermath of the collapse of the USSR. I get this view from reading Gareth Porter’s “Manufactured Crisis” (regarding Iran’s non-existent nuclear weapons program).

  12. August 22, 2018 at 11:52 pm

    “As Americans we can and should do better than this. We need to learn from our mistakes, correct them, return to constitutional practices, and reconsider our policies.”

    Americans don’t make no steenkeen mistakes! Americans know everything already, and if they don’t, by god, they have CNN and MSNBC to tell them!

    • christina garcia
      August 25, 2018 at 10:06 pm

      and FOX news

  13. Bianca
    August 22, 2018 at 10:42 pm

    There is one main cause undelying it all — assurance that US is not vulnerable. That it can afford to muddle through, no strategy, no decisions made in a coherent manner, floundering passing as strategy. If US decision making elite believes that US can afford to meddle around the globe, punish naughty regimes, and station troups in dozens of countries. In short, money is no object, no serious threat to US exists, as just about everyone on this globe in one way or the other drpends on US, or would rather not cause waves. And spending money like drunk sailirors — no problem. Other countries, all financial dependencies of our dollar system — would cough up the money. Or will be sanctioned — meaning robbed of their money, assets, and other valuables. Stunt their economies, prevent prominent people from travelling, their corporations crippled. It was all suposed to work like a charm, no need to worry about our future. So what if some people in flyover country get poor, others more willing to work for peanuts will take their place. So what went wrong? It appears that the combined strength of various major actors, China and Russia for starters — have turned the tables on the global liberalism.

    And here we are. Countries like Russia and China know their defensive objectives, their long term strategy, short term tactics. They know themselves and their enemy. They are getting allies, and neutralising pitential adversaries, challenging US on number of fronts.
    Out of inertia, we are doubling down on known tricks of trade. Trump had good instincts to wrap up costly conflicts and start talking to nuclear power Russia. And recalibrating economy, eliminating the practice of buying alliances through preferential trade. But the established elite wants to double down on sanctions — by whatever name. Until something happens, until Russia makes a mistake, or … It is an awkward time. Knowing full well that China is behind Russia’s “behavior” in challenging US in the Middle East — our strategists decided to push Rusdia as far as they can, forcing China to pull back and abandon Russia. This is the main reason for March 1 announcement by Russia on new generation of weapons. It is rather a confirmation of silent alliance — raising stakes higher. Where to go from here. More sanctions. More of the same.

    But for the longest time now we did not need smart people, wise people to lead our government, diplomacy, military. In fact — only mediocrities were needed, as strategy of US supremacy was clear, only dummies needed to execute and find explanations and fancy spins for fumbling through. But who will do the hard work of figuring out who we are and what we want in this world, and who are our adversaries, and what is it that they want. Basically, back to basics.

  14. Mathew Neville
    August 22, 2018 at 8:06 pm

    INSTITUTE FOR HISTORICAL REVIEW —- The Roosevelt Legacy and The Kent Case …

    http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v04/v04p173_Kent.html

  15. August 22, 2018 at 5:08 pm

    World Peace … forever.

  16. historicus
    August 22, 2018 at 4:28 pm

    German exiles convinced Chamberlain’s government that a declaration of war would bring about the immediate overthrow of the Hitler regime. Realizing at the last hour the folly of this policy, Chamberlain’s closest advisor, Sir Horace Wilson, contacted US ambassador Joseph Kennedy, just a week before the outbreak of hostilities, begging him to ask FDR to use his influence to pressure Poland to return to the negotiating table. When informed of FDR’s refusal, Chamberlain said to Kennedy, “The futility of it all is the thing that is frightful… [W]e cannot save the Poles. We can merely carry on a war of revenge that will mean the destruction of all Europe.”

    Presented with this extraordinary opportunity to possibly save the peace of Europe, FDR declined to use his influence with the Polish regime. Could FDR’s motive have been to grow the nascent military-industrial complex, do you suppose? Or perhaps by dooming England to bankrupt itself fighting another unwinnable European ground war, he could finally clear the path to replacing the mother country as the dominant global power, as some of the Founders envisioned?

  17. dick spencer
    August 22, 2018 at 6:42 am

    Nothing will end war unless the peoples themselves refuse to go to war—Albert Einstein .

  18. LarcoMarco
    August 22, 2018 at 2:50 am

    “In those regions where pockets of dead-enders are trying to reconstitute, Gen (Tommy) Franks and his team are rooting them out. In short, the coalition is making good progress.” –Donald Rumsfeld, June 2003

    “The level of activity that we see today from a military standpoint, I think, will clearly decline. I think they’re in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency.” –Vice -president Dick Cheney, May 2005

  19. elmerfudzie
    August 22, 2018 at 2:50 am

    The author, Chas Freeman, made some excellent points and when he mentioned Donald H. Rumsfeld, it brought to my mind the whole forgotten matter of Unocal’s pipeline deal and Washington’s strategy, summed up in one phrase, “the energy silk route”. The route and plan that excludes Russia and Iran via a pipeline running through Afghanistan to the Pakistani coast. The originating source of this oil, drilled and extracted from the eastern shores of the Caspian Sea, sometimes refereed to as the Asian energy highway(s); westward from the basin of the sea and too, from central Asia south and eastwards. This long range plan or strategy also keeps China out of the energy market. Our Intel agencies the CIA, their motivations, reasoning s, and their systematic manipulation of the Mujahedin (support) had nothing whatever to do with taking any position on Afghani religious beliefs or ethnic rivalries, or for that matter, Osama. It was and remains, all about oil, power, control and profit.

    Today, Afghanistan survives off it’s opium trade, participates in a lucrative two-way smuggling economy, gun running and equips various terror groups by bartering. This alliance between American capitalists and Islamic fundamentalists, managed to somehow nurse factions and or divisions within the Taliban. Our government’s unofficial policy was to turn a blind eye to the expansion of Sharia law, in effect, cozy up to those who will eventually be (politically) in charge of Afghani wealth. This is the stuff of, the very soul of, what constitutes those Rumsfeld, Neo Con typecasts. They constantly patrol the earth, looking for some commodity to exploit and at the same time create new governments out of thin air, this to guaranty their control over the extraction and distribution process. In this particular case, it’s oil but tomorrow, for the Afghani’s, it may very well evolve into a generous mineral rights agreement(s). Once again, handing over it’s national treasures to Western Occident, corporate capitalists.

    “The poor will always be with us”: Jesus must have been looking in the direction of Afghanistan when he uttered it…I guess, some things, never change.

  20. August 22, 2018 at 2:41 am

    Concise, accurate, and particularly persuasive.

  21. August 21, 2018 at 6:14 pm

    The neocon criminals are now pushing for war with Russia…….they want Putin out so they can finish looting that country.Putin isnt going without a fight.Russia is a real country and Putin not some tin pot dictator.These sociopaths think they can survive a nuclear war and they might have been preparing with bunkers with the 21 Trillion stolen from the pentagon over the years…….that leaves the rest of us?

    • exiled off mainstreet
      August 22, 2018 at 2:35 am

      The economic pressures caused by Trump’s knuckling under to the neocons may finally work to finish the Afghanistan thing. If the Russians finally refuse to allow resupply flights over their territory, and if the new Pakistan government along with Iran, also abused by the yankee regime cuts off supply lines, then the Afghanistan effort will have to end.

  22. August 21, 2018 at 5:18 pm

    October 19, 2014
    “The War Disease”

    This disease has been known to infect the minds of so-called “honourable” and “right honourable” politicians. Some have even called it “noble.” It gives them a sense of power and control and some feel it helps their chances of re-election. Therefore, they spread this disease by forming coalitions with other diseased politicians of similar mindset. They spread their disease by word of mouth and it becomes infectious and contagious. This contagion is happily picked up by most of the media and the arms dealers who manufacture weapons for this deadly disease and they spread their dangerous, destructive and evil killing around the world, while at the same time reaping enormous bloody profits….
    [read more at link below]

    http://graysinfo.blogspot.com/2014/10/the-war-disease.html

  23. August 21, 2018 at 4:15 pm

    More war is needed so that more countries can be “liberated.”
    ——-
    More War…

    More war is needed to keep armies trained and employed
    More wars are needed so that countries can be destroyed
    More killing, bombing, destruction and death
    More of this is needed until the victims have nothing left

    More profits will ensue to the corporate cannibals
    More loot to feed their greed which is “admirable”
    More weapons produced and more missiles as well
    More action and propaganda to create bloody hell

    More medals for generals and other ranks too
    More flags waving and more war “work” to do
    More taxes for the masses as they pay and pay
    More bloody tax dollars are being blasted away

    More refugees trying to escape from the carnage
    More wounded and maimed needing to be bandaged
    More body bags for those killed in horrendous action
    More “experts” and “think tanks” to express “satisfaction”

    More parades for “leaders” to preen on the world stage
    More adulation, more hypocrisy, after their bloody rampage
    More terrorists created from the countries that were bombed
    More mayhem, murder, killing and death as they respond

    More violence begets violence that is for sure
    More chaos and misery are the “fruits” of war
    More atrocities, more carnage and more blood and gore
    More deadlier weapons, finally used, until the earth is no more…
    [more info at link below]
    https://graysinfo.blogspot.com/2017/08/more-war.html

  24. ranney
    August 21, 2018 at 4:10 pm

    I recently read an article titled Afghanistan: Repeating the Vietnam war again – In Spades. As this article points out , apparently we didn’t learn anything from Vietnam. But then maybe the whole purpose of Nam was not what we think – maybe the purpose of Nam and now Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and the upcoming war in Iran is to keep the military industrial complex in money. I can’t imagine any purpose for all these wars other than to test our new weapons, use up outdated ones and replenish the stockpile of the ones we like best. We are told if we don’t have US arms dealers (we’re the largest arms dealer in the world by a factor of 5 or 10 – I forget which) that thousands will lose their jobs and golly gee who else would hire them? We’re told there are just no good paying jobs other than building weapons to kill people. Of course we could put them to work on the infrastructure which has been deteriorating for 70 years and we could put them to work building a solar and wind energy network and building energy efficient houses, but apparently we’d rather manufacture things that kill and maim people – millions of them!
    We aen’t going to convert to peaceful manufacturing of useful energy or save our roads and bridges because the CEOs and others who have enormous stock in manufacturing things that kill people and the planet have the politicians by their greedy balls. If they don’t vote for the war appropriations, the massive weapons industry won’t give them any money to stay in power.

    Also we need to get rid of the generals and admirals who apparently think it’s a good idea to bomb countries back to the stone age in the name of patriotism and love of country. The list of countries I named above were not and are not a threat to us. Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and Iran had no (nor do they currently have) plans to attack us, so why have we attacked them? Our government says “terrorism” and our generals and admirals are happy to agree (those who don’t are quickly retired). It’s time to get rid of these men – and yes, they are all men – and also boot them out of the TV “news” shows as well. It’s time to get some people who think that “national defense” means protecting our citizens, not causing millions to hate us because we killed their loved ones for no reason.

    It should be noted that the country that has prospered and now exists as one of our chosen “friends”, next in favor to that all star Israel, is Saudi Arabia – And that is the country that attacked us on 9/11!! The people who plotted the attack and flew the planes were Saudis – not Afghanis, or Iraquis or Libyans or Iranis or Yemenis – they were Saudis. So I guess we can assume that all these wars had nothing to do with revenge for 9/11. That is what our government says or implies is the reason, but clearly it’s not – if it were, we would not be so friendly with the country that did it.
    It’s time to face up to the hypocracy of our politicians and our military and drastically change what and who we vote for.

    • Realist
      August 21, 2018 at 5:38 pm

      Well said. Agree with every word.

    • August 21, 2018 at 10:17 pm

      General Wesley Clarke Jr., stated as he ran for USA president in 2003, in a few venues including the “Charlie Rose Show”, that he was given at the Pentagon a memo which stated that the USA planned to attack, Libya , Iraq, Sudan, Iran, Lebanon, Somalia, and Syria.

    • August 22, 2018 at 1:23 pm

      Well, that may be true but most people prefer the blue pill no matter what you, me or Freeman say. No matter how obvious what you say is the chumps continue to believe–why that is so is a more interesting subject than this article.

  25. Mild -ly - Facetious
    August 21, 2018 at 2:50 pm

    Growing Concern Trump Will Continue Afghan War to Exploit Minerals

    by Branko Marcetic
    26 July 2017

    Trump has been meeting with multiple people about how to exploit Afghanistan’s mineral deposits, according to a new report.

    As the war in Afghanistan enters its 16th year, there is growing concern Trump may continue the U.S. campaign in the war-torn country in order to exploit its vast mineral wealth, the New York Times reported.

    Stephen A. Feinberg, a billionaire U.S. financier, active in hedge fund management and private equity, is informally advising Trump on Afghanistan, along with Michael Silver, the head of American Elements, a firm that specializes in “extracting rare-earth minerals.” According to the report, both have their eyes on Afghanistan’s estimated US$1 trillion worth of minerals.

    Feinberg who owns a large military contracting firm, DynCorp International, could play a major role in guarding mines with Afghanistan’s richest deposits in Helmand Province, an area largely controlled by the Taliban.

    According to New York Times, Trump has been meeting with multiple people, including Afghanistan’s president, Ashraf Ghani, about how to exploit Afghanistan’s mineral deposits. Following Steve Bannon’s recommendation, Blackwater founder Erik D. Prince is also now part of the conversation.

    In 2010, the U.S. officials estimated that Afghanistan had untapped mineral deposits worth nearly US$1 trillion, an estimate that was widely disputed at the time and has certainly fallen since, given the eroding price of commodities. But the US$1 trillion figure is circulating again inside the White House, according to officials, the New York Times reported.

    Laurel Miller, a senior analyst at RAND, a global policy think tank that offers research and analysis to the United States Armed Forces, told the New York Times, “It would be dangerous to use the potential for resource exploitation as a selling point for military engagement.”

    RELATED:
    NATO to Continue Occupation, Sending Thousands More Troops to Afghanistan

    “The barriers to entry are really quite considerable, and that kind of argument could fuel suspicion about America’s real intentions in Afghanistan,” said Miller who served as U.S. department’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    Andy Wright, law professor, and former White House lawyer pointed at Trump’s colonial thinking over Twitter, saying, “For Trump, oil is to Iraq as minerals are to Afghanistan. That’s British Empire thinking, not threat-based security.”

    But Trump is not the only president to survey the country for minerals.

    In 2006, the George W. Bush administration also conducted aerial surveys of the country to map its mineral resources. And under the Obama administration, the Pentagon set up a task force to try to build a mining industry in Afghanistan but found it incredibly challenging because of rampant corruption, security issues and the lack of roads, bridges or railroads, the New York Times reported.

  26. KiwiAntz
    August 21, 2018 at 2:38 pm

    15 yrs of endless War? It’s actually more like 73 yrs of Stupid, “Forever War” since 1945? Nobody does STUPID like America so “Warmerica” will continue to wage, stupid & dum, neverending wars because it’s a shyster, gangster Nation, profiteering & making a buck from stealing other Nations resources & human misery & murder, committing War crimes in numerous Countries against those citizens! If this was a “just” & moral World, the entire American Leadership & it’s murderous MIC would be on trial at the Hague like Nazi criminals & sentenced to death! So Warmerica will continue it’s bloodshed while it’s Nation crumbles from corrupt Politicians & Corporates while its Citizens die in poverty with lousy healthcare, homelessness & with creaking infrastructure & from economic malaise but Warmerica must continue’s its death spiral & senseless stupidity, unabated until it either bankrupts the Country or is stopped by a coalition of other World powers, fed up with US hegemony! America, in it’s supreme arrogance & lack of any moral compass compiled with a fragrant disregard for any International laws & even its own Constitution which was supposed to provide checks & balances against such tyrannical abuse will just continue on this death cult path because it is a flailing, dying Empire, drunk on the last vestiges of it’s waning power! And now with it’s economic, financial terrorism with its use of Trade Wars & sanctions against the entire World to back up its illegal Military meddling in other Countries, it doesn’t like, the rot has really set in & this is really accelerating its decline because if History has shown us anything, you cannot win Wars, be they Military or economic by waging War on multiple fronts against multiple foes, something will have to give? It’s amazing to be able too view this slow motion demise of a World power in real-time, before our very eyes, but it can’t come soon enough for peace loving people around the World who have had a gutsful of American hegemony? Bring on the multi polar World!

    • August 21, 2018 at 10:22 pm

      USA has been shipping arms and troops to foundalmentalists and Landlords (Warlords)since an Afghan socialist government was in power promoting land reform and women’s rights. 50 years ago.

    • August 21, 2018 at 10:39 pm

      Well siad

  27. August 21, 2018 at 12:45 pm

    Well, Freeman certainly nails it within a certain set of assumptions I don’t agree with. While there was once, to some extent, a “we” meaning the government of the US as a true representative of the American people this is no longer even remotely the case. I know Freeman represents a dying faction within the National Security State (Deep State) and he and his colleagues (my late father, once a senior US diplomat, once told me that Freeman was his hero and represented his views) were erudite, well-informed and had high standards of public morality. But Freeman is so “over” in this version of the Deep State. His side has been routed out of the halls of power both in government and the other side of this State, the mainstream media. Why? Freeman and his faction have been proven right over and over and over and over and over again yet they’ve been purged out of existence. The answer is simple and it shows Freeman’s weakness. This has nothing to do with “our” policy and everything to do with money and power. There are no legitimate ideas any more from even the neocons–it’s all about what makes money and what brings power. The Deep State uses fear to manipulate the population and stay in power and they stay in power to make money and achieve status. The power struggles currently going on in the halls of the Deep State are about those issues rather than, strictly speaking, the national interest. No one with power in Washington has much interest in the country as a whole because, as we used to say in Washington (probably still say it) “no good deed goes unpunished” so people that are promoted tend to go by that saying–there is simply no reward to acting in the interests of the country.

  28. Bob Van Noy
    August 21, 2018 at 11:36 am

    I’ve visited two public War Memorials that go back to WWI and represent local casualties, thus neighbors and readily identifiable families including one memorializing the Son of a beloved teacher. The progression of titles is in itself revealing. WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, GWOT.
    My teacher’s Son died for GWOT, what will that mean to future generations? How will historians describe GWOT?

    What exactly is lost in our current Fog? I think it is Purpose, the reason it was done, the reason that acronym was created. I think it was created to be oblique so that ongoing Wars of choice could be lumped together, the people responsible for that title should be tried for Crimes Against Humanity.

    • Mild-ly - Facetious
      August 21, 2018 at 4:36 pm

      — “TEACHABLE MOMENTS” (from recent history— OR things you won’t see w/lying eyes … .)

      psygone 12 Dec 2014 5:26

      Just 8 days ago, a humiliated, haggard looking President V. Putin walked on to the podium to begin his annual State-of-the-Nation address.

      Hours before, Chechen militants attacked several buildings in the Chechen capital Grozny, sparking the region’s deadliest fighting in several years.

      The entire Russian military was on high alert and the airspace around Moscow had shutdown.

      Seated in the audience was a shell shocked President of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov (and former Chechen militia leader that killed hundreds of Russian soldiers) seen rubbing his face and viewing twitter feeds on at his iPhone.

      In his speech, all Putin could report was that the ruble is almost worthless, the economy is in recession, thousands of Russian soldiers are dying in “training” accidents “near” Ukraine, and Grozny is burning again.

      But to solve all this, he would use the “Sovereign Wealth Fund” (and pension funds) to save his oligarchs.

      — A couple of months ago, TheGaurdian had a fascinating photography article on daily life in Chechnya.

      ‘Chechnya is full of phantoms’ – photographs of transformation

      Notice how serene, obedient, Orwellian, peaceful, cleanse and sterilized life is in Chechnya today. After 2 wars that slaughtered 1 out of every 7, Chechens why wouldn’t be?

      It is only whispered ( the next uprising is still kindergarten and elementary school ).

      best regards

      CitizenCarrier 12 Dec 2014 6:06

      Democracy began its death there before even the fall of Soviet communism. As those in the know began quietly looting things like gold reserves and other state assets when they sensed what was coming. And afterwards, they bought up newly privatized concerns at bargain prices. And the failure to have widespread trials and prosecutions of the nomenklatura and apparatchiks afterwards didn’t help.

      DoyleSaylor -> CitizenCarrier 12 Dec 2014 7:03

      Yes that has worked well in Europe to root out the left wing communists remnants in Poland, Germany, etc.! Long live U.S. hegemony! Victory to all the color revolutions suppress the enemy Russia, Syria, Iran, Cuba, Vietnam, Brazil, South Africa, Turkey, India, Venezuela! Let’s all sing once again, ‘war war war, marching on, give me the stars and stripes forever’!!!!!

      CitizenCarrier -> DoyleSaylor 12 Dec 2014 7:58

      They didn’t do it there either. How many years did Honecker spend in prison?

      JVC120 12 Dec 2014 6:08

      I thought that the shelling of the parliament by Yeltsin took a little earlier . It was not an empty relic of the past ( like the Buddha statue in Afghanistan) . Elected rresentatives were sitting there and were engaged in the things democracy depends on .

      CitizenCarrier -> JVC120 12 Dec 2014 6:22

      Weren’t those tanks firing on the floors containing hardliners trying to rally by telephone military commanders they hoped would restore the police state? That was my understanding.

      DoyleSaylor -> CitizenCarrier 12 Dec 2014 6:59

      Yes they were firing only at the hardliners. Targeted smart weapons that were designed to preserve democracy and sovereignty in Russia. The U.S. hegemonic designed understanding worked well, and Yeltsin came out on top. Good on U.S.! Why for years afterward the U.S. press liked to say the Russians are second raters now, not worth much attention, subordinate to the European Union. Besides their Russian gaggle of subservient Soviet nations were pulling away too. And NATO needed to protect Europe from ‘Iran’ in those countries like Georgia! Amazing insight CitizenCarrier!

      CitizenCarrier -> DoyleSaylor 12 Dec 2014 7:57

      I recall a lot of Russian people around those tanks cheering them as heroes. Perhaps they were mistaken? Or “secret” fascists?

      Yoda00 12 Dec 2014 6:09

      At least they were fighting within their own border unlike the sanctimonious British and US pricks that have the gall to lecture others after killing hundreds of thousands in Iraq based on complete lies.

      CitizenCarrier ->Yoda00 12 Dec 2014 6:34

      Things are quite selective, it would seem. Ethnic Russians in Ukraine and the Crimea may secede to Russia because of shared ethnicity. That consideration is not extended to non-Russians, especially ones forcibly relocated by Stalin, who no longer wish to be part of the Russia that treated them as inferiors.

      DoyleSaylor -> CitizenCarrier 12 Dec 2014 6:53

      I see things are so Soviet still, Stalin rules! Fighting Russia because of Stalin is acceptable rule of nationalism. That’s the logic of the new cold war! Ethnics’ (Russians in Ukraine) who don’t stay within the ‘Indian Reservation’ are a danger to U.S. hegemony! It’s only our natives that matter. Doesn’t that resemble the old U.S. experience in the French and Indian Wars! Hundreds of years of practice makes perfect sense in ruling the planet!

      linus52 ->Yoda00 12 Dec 2014 6:55

      I agree, US & its cronies like UK will put their fingers into areas where there prescence is not warrented but nobody stands up to them.
      There is No Democracy in US or UK. The so called Western countries are ALL Puppets of US.

      Gleaned from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/dec/12/-sp-chechnya-russia-war-anniversary

  29. August 21, 2018 at 11:08 am

    As I went through the list of “neocon assumptions for intervention” I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. U.S foreign policy is truly in the realm of theater of the absurd. So is domestic policy for that matter.

  30. GKJames
    August 21, 2018 at 11:08 am

    There is a hint here, though, of nibbling around the edges. (1) We still refer to “war” when that’s not really what’s happening. Sure, there is the violence, but it certainly isn’t of a quality that threatens the state were it not to go well. In fact, it’s precisely because there’s no threat to the US that Afghanistan has become a toy for US politicians, a source of career advancement for military officers, and a weapon in bureaucratic knife fights in Washington. Among the public, few know or care given that there is zero impact on daily life.(2) Implicit in the unspoken assumption that US militarism around the world isn’t a “real” war is the cavalier way in which war-making formalities under the Constitution and the War Powers Act are ignored. But in the few instances in which an administration in Washington has been pressed on the issue since 2001, the response has been to point to the Authorized Use of Military Force (AUMF) passed by Congress in response to 9/11, as if it had been intended as a carte blanche for “kinetic activity” (as Pentagon poets have it) everywhere. (By the way, the sole member of Congress who voted against the AUMF because she feared that that’s precisely how future administrations would use it, received death threats.) Nowadays, there may be a senator or two who thinks something should be done but they’re easily shouted down in favor of what obviously is a consensus: we’re good with the status quo. (3) While it’s right enough to call for adherence to law, the starting point for any inquiry must be the American public itself. Congressional elections are every two years. And every two years it’s guaranteed that a candidate who dares challenge the conventional wisdom about the country’s expanding military activities worldwide–be they direct or via mercenaries–will be lambasted, successfully, by his (Republican, chiefly) opponent for being “soft” on enemies real and imagined. In other words, there isn’t an abuse of power. The institutions of government are exercising the power that a majority of constituents gave (and continue to give) them. (4) Until there is a fundamental change in how Americans see the world and their country’s role in it, expect more of the same. Criticizing elected representatives for not behaving differently misunderstands the dynamic. These representatives are followers, not leaders; they take their cue from the voters. And the voters consistently communicate how much they like war, provided they have no skin in the game, of course. The open question: if Americans DON’T change their ways, will the (relative) decline in power result in someone’s else’s imposing the change?

  31. August 21, 2018 at 10:58 am

    In the country of the blind the one eyed man is king.
    Why is it that every country that opposes the US is a regime and has a dictator in charge? Is the US a regime with dictator Trump in charge? Is Israel a regime with dictator Netanyahu in charge? Propagandizing language for political opportunism is seducing reason.

  32. Bill Rood
    August 21, 2018 at 10:53 am

    The first step is to realize that corporate media is hopelessly compromised, as are many NGO-funded “alt” media sites. They are worse than useless. They are dangerous due to the well-known psychological principles that facilitate the acceptance of lies. Perhaps reader-funded journalists are the answer. There are plenty to choose from on Patreon.

  33. August 21, 2018 at 10:48 am

    “First, wars in countries with significant natural resources, like oil, can easily be made to pay for themselves.”

    No neocon believes this. This is a talking point used to sell wars to the American people. Neocon wars are hugely lucrative on 3 fronts: 1/ costs of invasion/logistics passed to military, which is funded from the public purse, 2/ supply of goods and services to the military, 3/ plunder of resources.

    • Jill
      August 21, 2018 at 11:38 am

      I agree Jason.

      The neo-con “reasons” are things said to get us into wars of empire for profit and sadistic fun. They know that endless war makes them a lot of money and it ushered in/reinforces the police state which now passes for “our” govt.

      Congress will not change until we the people change. It must be as many of us as possible who value our Constitution, everyone’s rights, and a world that works for the good of human beings, the earth and it’s myriad lifeforms.

  34. James
    August 21, 2018 at 10:30 am

    This is kind of…”Oh well, we made some mistakes….oops….we need to learn from them.” Instead of calling it what it is……fully intentional war crimes which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands; and no one who will be held accountable……ever!

  35. August 21, 2018 at 9:14 am

    Nothing to add to this on target article except to note the following incisive remark.

    “Third, if you kick the natives hard enough they will turn into the moral equivalent of Canadians – meek, unfailingly polite to everyone, and reconciled to American primacy.”

    I think that thought is shared by too many in America and our staunchest ally in the Middle East.

    Wasn’t Freeman the guy who the neocons jumped all over when Obama?Bush? Other? tried to appoint him to some high foreign policy position? Just goes to prove smarts don’t count for much in politics.

  36. MMT Literate
    August 21, 2018 at 8:49 am

    “Over 40 percent of our mounting liabilities are to foreigners, some of whom we have just designated as adversaries, i.e. candidates to become enemies. Our strategy for paying off our twenty-plus trillion dollar debt consists of endless credit rollovers. These risk inflation that will push up borrowing costs and advance the inevitable day of financial reckoning for our country.”

    Paying of the national debt is never a good idea. The seven times in our nation’s history that we balanced the budget, it resulted in a huge financial crash shortly thereafter. It’s more important to balance the economy than to suck money from the private sector. Government is like a bank, not a household. A big part of the reason our finances are so messed up is because neoliberalism has intentionally confused the language around the operational reality of how the economy works. These perpetuated myths do more harm because we entrap ourselves for absolutely no reason.

    A sovereign nation with the authority to issue its own currency into existence NEVER has to “borrow”. Let’s get that lie out of the way right now. The de facto Wall St government that we have refuses to use this fiscal power for public purpose because they would rather force the nation to borrow credit from their banks for profit. This has caused trillions in needless private debt, which should all be cancelled because it was dishonorably extended and never had to be in the first place.

    “The second money-creation process, as our explanation above has made clear, is the process we have been habitually calling “government borrowing.” The issuing and auctioning of U.S. treasury bonds, as we’ve just discovered, is not “borrowing” money at all, but creating it. Most important, the dollars generated by this process, which are then spent by the U.S. government, are not spent in the pursuit of personal or corporate financial profits. They are spent to pursue the collective goals—and address the collective needs—of society at large.”

    http://neweconomicperspectives.org/2018/08/the-explicable-mystery-of-the-national-debt.html

    MODERN MONEY BASICS

    https://modernmoneybasics.com

    • Jeff Harrison
      August 21, 2018 at 10:51 am

      It would be much better if you knew what you were talking about. A T-bond or bill is a promise to pay you more money at a future date than you paid to buy the bond or the bill today. It is a debt instrument. Now, the USG will always be able to redeem the bonds/bills if by no other means than printing more actual money. The danger is that if you have more debt sitting out there than you are generating domestic product, you’ll get into a situation where to maintain the value of their investment, the buyers of your bonds/bills will demand more earnings (i.e. a higher interest rate) to lend the government money. You’re kidding yourself if you think that bonds aren’t borrowing. The bond issuing organization, be it a government or a commercial entity, is hoping to generate enough earnings to pay back the loan by the due date. By your logic, the government should skip the bond market and just issue cash. That worked out real well for Germany in the 1920’s and several African countries today.

      • J2027
        August 25, 2018 at 11:09 am

        The US monetary-system is a house-of-cards instituting debt-peonage at home and around the world. Nothing sovereign about it. The shame of it all is that people would rather be comfortably-enslaved to the false-god of Money than be free from it and tread into the unknown.

  37. mike k
    August 21, 2018 at 7:35 am

    As long as people join the military, and work to produce weapons – we will have wars. When people wake up and stop serving war makers, wars will cease. Real love of peace is demonstrated by peaceful behavior.

    Please make this pledge: “I refuse to support war in any way.” Let your friends know your position. Stand up for peace.

    • TomG
      August 21, 2018 at 10:04 am

      It is no coincidence that well paying MIC jobs exist in every state and virtually every congressional district. Getting those investors, employers and employees to turn their spears into plowshares seems mighty difficult when too often they are proudly flag-wrapped in exectionalism. Whether the military will care long term about ranks of people joining I’m skeptical. Our war machine is ever more automated and AI is the ‘next big thing.’ Robotic warfare…

      You are right. Living peaceably is the only alternative. We cannot kill our way to peace. Sadly, my taxes continue to support the very policies and practices I find appalling.

  38. August 21, 2018 at 7:13 am

    I certainly agree with much of what is here, but the problems of “forever wars” and the way American governments works both inside and outside the United States is bigger than the article suggests.

    There is a profound, perhaps incurable, sickness that has changed America in fundamental ways. I wish I could be more positive, but the Congress is literally unable to remedy what has happened. Perhaps only after a catastrophe might America be able to pick up the pieces and reassemble them

    I’ve written on these problems at length and readers may enjoy some of the analysis:

    https://chuckmanwordsincomments.wordpress.com/2018/07/22/john-chuckman-comment-how-american-politics-really-work-why-there-are-terrible-candidates-and-constant-wars-and-peoples-problems-are-ignored-why-heroes-like-julian-assange-are-persecuted-and-r/

    https://chuckmanwords.wordpress.com/2013/10/16/what-america-has-become/

    • Geezer
      August 24, 2018 at 3:52 pm

      “ An individual hero like bernie sanders “

      Fwiw, the ones like me who are quite familiar with the frankfurt school, tony gramsci, critical theory and a dash of s. alinsky are on to you communist inspired fools.

      What we are truely without comprehension is, everything you want already exists in other countries. They need your help. Why don’t you simply move there ? Your omelette is already waiting for you.

      If you want to make my country in to some communist he ll hole, you are going to have to breaka lot of eggs like me.

  39. Realist
    August 21, 2018 at 6:50 am

    Mr. Freeman makes perfectly clear in the most logical and articulate English what has made American foreign policy a disaster over the past three decades of never-ending wars. He makes clear how it has come home to haunt us domestically: busting our budgets, beggaring our social programs, decimating our public health and educational institutions and corroding our infrastructure. Surely most Americans who might read his analysis would be forced on the merits to fully agree with it.

    Sadly, I suspect, that most are never exposed to the ideas he propounds, either because they have closed strictly partisan minds, or the mass media have colluded in depriving the public of the facts and analytical tools they need to fully appreciate the unmitigated disaster which has befallen this country. Quite to the contrary, the corporate media have excelled at propagandizing at the behest of those insider elites that most benefit from the moral outrages our military machine has perpetrated around the globe. The establishment and its media tools have absolutely shamelessly contrived a seamless false narrative to justify all the American aggression and theft of revenues from its own people to make the outrages possible. They are always in a froth to blame Russia, Iran, China, Gaddafi, Assad, Sadam, bin Laden or some other target from a distant land as the cause of all our American discontent. We even coax our partners in crime, the Brits, to concoct false flags and hoaxes to raise the tension and the stakes.

    A parade of presidents from both major parties have basically served their tenure of office as “liars in chief” to facilitate the massive charade, and, of course, they’ve also willingly collaborated in the extensive transmogrifications or blatant violations of the rules and precepts ordained in the constitution, including illegal and immoral activities like prosecuting undeclared wars, eliminating habeas corpus to indefinitely incarcerate without charges or trial, ordering extreme rendition involving kidnapping and torture, terrorizing civilian populations in scorched-earth operations like “Shock & Awe” and leveling whole cities like Fallujah, Mosul, and Raqqa, to name just a few, and ordering extrajudicial murders by drone, including those of American citizens and innocent bystanders euphemistically termed “collateral damage”–as if twisting words excuses the atrocities. America’s government not only perpetrates such heinous actions itself, essentially non-stop for nearly two decades beginning in Afghanistan, but it also aids and abets its bloodthirsty racist and/or theocratic client states like Israel and Saudi Arabia–states that wantonly kill others for who they are rather than what they’ve done.

    I doubt if all the American people were aware of the actual facts surrounding American international butchery and what it has cost us domestically that it would receive the seal of approval from the electorate. The sadist thing of all, however, is that even if the people were somehow able to vote such disapproval, their voice would be completely ignored by the power-hungry warmongers who actually fill the offices of government. They have proven time and again that they simply NEVER accede to what the people want. They are complete mercenaries working for the interests of ONLY the privileged insider elites. They function solely to extract money and prerogatives from working Americans and to lavish them on the rich and powerful, because they are all bought and sold for just that purpose.

    (Fascinating excerpt from the constitution embedded in the text. Even if presented as exhibit A to every American today, most would not even understand what it says, because, as the standard line goes, “I can’t read cursive.” Our degraded educational institutions have ensured that. Well, I guess that’s a good reason, according to the usual popular thinking, to reformulate all the documents our country is founded upon. While we’re at it, let’s upgrade the language and the thinking to something more contemporary, you know, like what you are always forced to accept in all the “terms of service” we have to sign off on today. What could be more American?)

    • Joe Wallace
      August 21, 2018 at 2:03 pm

      Realist:

      Superb comment!

  40. LarcoMarco
    August 21, 2018 at 3:39 am

    Trump: “We don’t want to talk to the Taliban. We’re going to finish what we have to finish, what nobody else has been able to finish, we’re going to be able to do it,”

  41. Jeff Harrison
    August 21, 2018 at 12:48 am

    You can’t argue with Mr. Freeman. I only have two comments about that.
    1. Many of the lessons that he proposes should be learned from our misadventures can be found explained in exquisite detail in General Von Clausewitz’s treatise On War. If the good general had been read and understood by those allegedly running the show BEFORE they went cruising off on their foreign adventures, we could have been saved a ton of heartache and money.

    2. Part of the problem that we have at this point is that the vast majority of the American electorate have zero skin in the games our government is playing and so don’t sense any problems because they think that none of the people and groups we are blowing to pieces can really do any harm to the United States. The United States hasn’t fought an existential battle against a capable opponent since WWII. Russia and China are capable of providing that existential battle but they don’t want it and the whole question becomes how hard can we pursue our apparent goal of global hegemony before they feel that they have no choice but to push back.

  42. Ojkelly
    August 20, 2018 at 10:06 pm

    You can lose the next election by voting on war , for or against, a big per cent will vilify you. US pop was eating Freedom Fries.
    So, no vote is OK with political class. The amount of military spending can make a career for every congress person’s relatives . Go to a hotel in Crystal City and watch the circus check in and out. Nice people: bad business

  43. Eddie
    August 20, 2018 at 9:31 pm

    This article makes SO much sense it’s depressing —- depressing because it’s 180 degrees from where we are now and have-been for the last ~38 years. Although he doesn’t touch on the inherent evilness of war, he attacks it from a pragmatic POV, which has a lot of relevance and resonates with a lot more people in this country when they take even a moment to think about it…

  44. Joe Tedesky
    August 20, 2018 at 8:33 pm

    What’s to argue with, Ambassador Freeman sums it up pretty efficiently and concise with his well logically thought out assessment. I only wish the people with such rational would take control of our MIC run government, and turn this chaotic madness around.

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