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By chance, I came upon this amazing interview with Jerry Seinfeld on youtube. The amazing part to me was not the main subject of the interview, about TM/transcendental meditation, which I already knew that Jerry practiced. It’s how he talked about what being a comedian and an entertainer meant to him and how he experienced it (it’s the very last part of the interview, when they open up to questions from the audience).
“It’s like martial arts,” he says, “like being in deadly combat with the audience.” I found that very startling, that he would put it in such violent terms. But when he explained why, I completely agree with how he described it, and how violent it is.
Amazing nevertheless, for his sincerity and openness. I have always found his voice annoying though, even though I like him very much as a stand-up comedian. Big bonus points also because he isn’t vulgar.
“What’s the one element that every good joke has? It’s surprise.”
And look closely at the interviewer – this Bob Roth, whom I had never seen before in my life. There is something so weird in the way he looks at people, in this case, Jerry – even creepy.
NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Three young Hungarian men have helped dismantle a U.S. gay prostitution ring that enslaved them, marking a victory for local prosecutors but highlighting the difficulty in reaching and helping male trafficking victims, campaigners said.
The men’s accounts of being raped, locked up in windowless rooms, and their lives threatened led to the conviction this month of Andras Janos Vass, 26, for helping to operate a male prostitution ring of gay Hungarians in New York City and Miami.
Sentenced to 11 years in prison, Vass, a Hungarian national, was the first person convicted in Florida for trafficking gay men under the state’s tougher human trafficking law that took effect in 2012, authorities said.
[Is the Westboro Church trafficking people? No. But scum of liberals who think homosexuality and pornography are normal, are.
Who are the extremists? Which group is doing grotesque sexual violence in the world? It’s the LGBT camp, the people who think homosexuality is normal.
Once again, time to recall my old post:
Who does more violence in society and is the most extremist: liberals (including LGBTs) or the Westboro folks?]
“Two Hungarian victims were picked up by Vass through
“The maximum penalty for Vass’ crimes could have been up to 155 years in prison, but defence lawyer Adam Goodman said that before taking his role in the ring, he was a victim himself at the hand of the other man and was forced to marry one.”
[Progress! They got “married”. And look at how deformed the minds of the homosexual victims were:]
‘”This case is about people who were fine with engaging in sex for money,” Jackson says. (Crystal Jackson is a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York who specializes in gender and sexuality, sex work, social justice, and inequality.) “Popular culture has us think of trafficking as people who are kidnapped, torn from their homes. Trafficking is complex, and in this case, what we call ‘trafficking’ occurred at the point of labor, not movement across borders. These are important to note.” The men came to the US willingly, and they were willing to work as escorts, but they were forced into sex slavery once they reached their destination.’
[In other words, the victims here are men with a completely deformed, destructive, and perverted idea of sex, number one, because they think homosexuality is normal, and, number two, because they believe prostitution is valid.]
“I don’t think this story is getting as much attention as it could because it’s about gay men.” Quote by Crystal Jackson.
[No surprise there. The narrative will always be more important than the violent reality of homosexuals, bisexuals, and liberals. Therefore media reports and stories must only portray a narrative that masks the ugly reality of LGBT people, all the violence they do in the world, how corrupt and vicious they are, how perverted their minds are, how much they destroy society, and only stories where some social conservative or religious individual does violence to homosexuals must be told, usually in the most hysterical way possible.
The other thing that I found a bit curious, perhaps because I just read a few articles on this case and don’t have much information on it, is that it appears that only the ring leaders are going to be prosecuted. But weren’t there many more johns involved? Or is it because the “victims” are in favor of prostitution that they would never accuse any of the johns, even if they knew their identities? And the authorities? You know, all that information lying around at the NSA about phone calls, SMSs, emails, Internet messages? Alas, we sure live in a corrupt world…]
Link to official documents (which I haven’t read) plus more details on the case. Some of the sites they used: GayRomeo.com, RentBoy.com, and PlanetRomeo.com. Look at the huge, top of the page, ad pictures here: http://www.planetromeo.com/en/about/
In the beach sea one (https://www.planetromeo.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/beach-boys-smaller-21.jpg), the homo pig has a cross around his neck. And in this photo: https://www.planetromeo.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/8042677070_67af5cf6b9_o.jpg – what I thought was: I’m sure there’s more syphilis, gonorrhea, and HIV per square feet there than in any other place!
Why do I ask? Today I came across an intriguing news article saying French authorities had finally made public archives from their shameful and evil WWII Nazi collaboration.
Why intriguing? Because the article was in English on the Daily Express’s site*, and when I searched for the news in French, thinking I’d find at least a dozen articles, there were none. Is the news old or is the French media going to stifle it? I don’t know. I found it odd.
But the search led me to this interesting interview with Robert Paxton, a historian that specializes in the Vichy era/government. Apparently some archives had been opened earlier. Also, note that the access is quite restricted to certified scholars, the general public can’t access anything. Peons are not entitled.
And then, in reading some articles written by Paxton, I came upon the one below, which is partially paid access only. So I didn’t read it all.
But it provided one more bit of data that was particularly intriguing to me, since it was news to me: Which countries in the West deported the most Jews to the camps – proportionally speaking? He slightly veers into the answer, while reviewing a book on France:
It’s called “the French paradox.” On the one hand the Germans, with the assistance of the actively anti-Semitic Vichy government and of a certain number of actively anti-Semitic French citizens, deported a shocking number of the Jews living in France between 1940 and 1944 to their deaths. On the other hand, the proportion of Jews deported from France was much smaller than that deported from the Netherlands, Belgium, or Norway. Is it not curious that among the Nazi-dominated countries of Western Europe the country reputedly most anti-Semitic had one of the highest survival rates? In that region only Denmark and Italy lost a lower proportion of their Jewish population.
About a quarter of the Jews who were living in France between 1942, when the deportations began, and 1944 were murdered. Double that proportion—roughly half—of the Jews living in Belgium and Norway during the same period were killed. The loss in the Netherlands was a catastrophic 73 percent.
I wonder why some of these countries mentioned, that no one normally thinks of as monstrously Nazi, performed such a high level of persecution of Jews. No time to go find out the answer now.
REVEALED: France’s SECRET links to the Nazi Holocaust
FILES detailing French collaboration in the murder of 76,000 Jews were made public for the first time yesterday after being locked away since the end of the Second World War.
Very interesting example from a Canadian business woman who took (volunteering) matters into her own hands – and went to Greece to help. Why? “Because”.
Because we can.
Because they need.
Because we want to.
Because we are able to.
Because it is the right thing to do.
Those are some of the phrases Vancouver publicist Rory Richards wrote on her gofundme page to support Syrian refugees in Greece called, fittingly, Because.
And when Richards arrives on the Greek island of Lesbos this weekend, she’ll hand-deliver hundreds of pairs of socks, toiletries and foil emergency blankets.
Oh, and 250 clown noses.
“They’re light, they’re easy to pack and they make people smile,” she says. “I think that’s important, despite the situation. If we can make children smile, we can make adults smile.”
Efficient strategy. But why fly all that way to execute it?
“Like many Canadians, like many people in the world, we’re feeling a sense of interconnectedness that transcends the boundaries of our country.
“We’re all in this boat together, so to speak.”
To contribute to Richards’ fundraising for refugees in Lesvos go to Becausetheworld.ca
I usually don’t like the articles by this Noah Millman over at TAC, but this one says so much of what needs to be said and that most Americans are too clueless or too corrupt or too fascist to admit: the US is a fascist state today. He nails why in a short writing space. You can read the whole article at TAC. Excerpt:
Fascism is a variety of right-wing populism; so is “Trumpism” to the extent that such a thing exists. Trump appeals to the core demographic that animates fascist movements: the less-educated cohorts of the majority demographic group. And his appeal has a fundamental irrationalism to it. Trump plainly plays on and stokes xenophobia in his followers. He invokes a glorious past, blames our current difficulties on presumptively unpatriotic groups, and promises a return to glory if he’s elected. He encourages a cult of personality, fetishizes action, and displays little regard for democratic and liberal norms. So yeah, I get it.
On the other hand:
It was President Bush who instituted torture as a regular practice by America’s military and intelligence agencies, who routinized indefinite detention without trial, who launched an aggressive war explicitly to reshape another part of the world according to American dictates, and whose deputies argued that through sheer force of will the President could alter reality itself.
Other members of the Republican Party, including major Presidential contenders and candidates, have threatened war with nuclear-armed Russia, have called for the indiscriminate use of force against civilian populations, and have forcefully advocated a return to torture and an expansion of detention without trial.
The point being, the official leadership of the GOP has for some time been exceedingly militaristic and aggressive in its approach to foreign policy, and had little use for democratic or liberal norms when it comes to fighting terrorism. And militarism, reflexive aggression, and a contempt for liberal and democratic norms in the face of emergency are pretty central to the fascist ethos.
Nor is it just the GOP. It was President Obama who argued that the President has the right to order the execution of American citizens on his own recognizances, who routinized the use of deadly force on a global basis against “targets” determined largely on the basis of metadata, and who twice (against Libya and against ISIS) initiated substantial hostilities without even a hint of Congressional authorization.
One can defend all of this, of course. But why are these not more important hallmarks of an incipient American fascism than the fact that Trump regularly sounds like a more obnoxious and egotistical version of Archie Bunker? And why is saying “no Muslims should be allowed onto American soil until we’ve got a process for monitoring them” more outrageous than a threat to “find out if sand can glow in the dark” (Ted Cruz’s threat to nuke ISIS)? Why is threatening mass-murder less horrifying than threatening discrimination in immigration on the basis of religion?
I’m not saying that having a President – or even a major candidate – who spouts xenophobic rants is a good thing. It’s a bad thing. I’m just suggesting that we’ve long since gotten used to things that are much worse, and perhaps we should pay a bit more attention to that fact.
And below was also a nice reminder, from a commenter on this article:
Veterans throw away their war medals in disgust at British air strikes in Syria
China 1949 to early 1960s
East Germany 1950s
Iran 1953 *
Guatemala 1954 *
Costa Rica mid-1950s
British Guiana 1953-64 *
Iraq 1963 *
North Vietnam 1945-73
Cambodia 1955-70 *
Laos 1958 *, 1959 *, 1960 *
Ecuador 1960-63 *
Congo 1960 *
Brazil 1962-64 *
Dominican Republic 1963 *
Cuba 1959 to present
Bolivia 1964 *
Indonesia 1965 *
Ghana 1966 *
Chile 1964-73 *
Greece 1967 *
Costa Rica 1970-71
Bolivia 1971 *
Australia 1973-75 *
Angola 1975, 1980s
Portugal 1974-76 *
Jamaica 1976-80 *
Chad 1981-82 *
Grenada 1983 *
South Yemen 1982-84
Fiji 1987 *
Nicaragua 1981-90 *
Panama 1989 *
Bulgaria 1990 *
Albania 1991 *
Afghanistan 1980s *
Yugoslavia 1999-2000 *
Ecuador 2000 *
Afghanistan 2001 *
Venezuela 2002 *
Iraq 2003 *
Haiti 2004 *
Somalia 2007 to present
Libya 2011 *
Ukraine 2014 *
The world is going to pieces.
Has nothing really changed that much and was it just me that hadn’t noticed it before? Europe is on the fast-track to become an increasingly fascist bunker, corrupt and nasty to the core. They have no choice since they refuse to change course from their neo-colonialist/joint imperialism with the US. They’ve been nazis for the past 3,000 years at least – ask yourself, was there any time when Europe wasn’t Nazi? No. And apparently if there was a slight interlude in the post-WWII or post-Cold War era, it’s over. It’s back to their vivid hatred of everyone else, the xenophobia, and the scape-goating, along with their beloved ally across the pond. Also it’s about time we start counting Cold Wars. Number 1 ended and now we are in Cold War number 2. Sparks are flying all over the Middle East and some people seriously want it to catch fire and explode.
One facet of this Nazi culture is that I’ve noticed how little reporting there is in the West concerning the thousands and thousands of civilians that are being killed in Africa and the Middle East. All that is usually mentioned, when there is any mention at all, is a number. It’s as eery as the record-keeping of Jews being gassed in the camps. It’s another facet of the current Nazi attitude that other people (non-American/non-European) are expendable and irrelevant when killed.
I’ve also noticed we hardly ever see graphic pictures on television of the victims of the “allied (mafias’)” bombing, such as the few examples I linked to in the above paragraph. These are the kinds of pictures that show the horrors that children are going through in Syria and Africa – maimed, injured, and killed – but must of all, terrorized. Like all war pictures, they are unforgettable. But most people I know (Westerners) are never exposed to such pictures and never care to see what is happening. Although many support the bombings and war (of other people, of course). Remember how hysterical Europeans were when they were being bombed during WWII? How easily they have forgotten.
And then the nastiness doesn’t end there. All parties involved, including the “allies”, are bombing hospitals in these wars (here’s one example: Syrian Government Forces Are Targeting Doctors as a Weapon of War. Since this article is being reported by Newsweek, they don’t report when “allies” do the same). If it weren’t for Doctors Without Borders (who are Western as far as their top organization), we wouldn’t even hear about the West bombing hospitals in these wars, it’s obviously not news. They have also destroyed water treatment plants. People are not only being bombed but now they have no water.
When I spoke of this to a Belgian guy this week who works in the gas industry, his was the typical European retort – a snicker. He is planning to go to a beautiful vacation spot for Christmas. He doesn’t care about any war atrocity or the millions of people killed around the world. “We don’t have operations in Syria”. Therefore should all Syrians or Africans be killed, that would not concern me, he could have added. Together with his complete insensitivity to the rest of humanity, he likes to take pictures of nature. How quaint. His entire existence is dedicated only to himself and various forms of self-entertainment. Talk about clash of civilizations indeed. Monstrous inhumanity of the West versus any kind of sanity that exists anywhere.
As a small consolation, in this bleak and truly horrifying world, there will always be heroes. Like this one (“‘I Will Not Leave Syria’: One of Aleppo’s Few Remaining Doctors Is Defiant“). Most of the doctors have been killed in or have fled Aleppo. This one refuses to leave. He is one of a kind. Works 15-hour shifts day after day, underground, to save lives, putting his life at risk at every moment. While the rest of the world expends all its energy to kill and maim and injure. All in order to pay 50 cents less on filling up their precious little gas tanks that are also destroying the environment, as they have spent the last week bleating like sheep repeatedly telling us in the COP21. This is the real clash of civilizations that is going on. Between the Western nazi imperialists and all their wars and arms industry and robbery of natural resources and the rest of the world.
When one of the numerous Western-set-up dictators starts becoming a little too independent, a little less the Uncle-Tom they had agreed to be, then it’s time to label them no longer “one of our allies” in the Middle East, but a “brutal dictator”. The (brutal) friends and allies of yesterday are the “monstrous rulers” that must be toppled and bombed today, along with million of civilians. The war criminal and monster of yesterday that used chemical weapons his people (Assad) becomes a possible “partner” and not so bad after all if the West doesn’t like the Islamic State. And what, mind you, is the difference between Saudi Arabia and this Islamic State? There is nothing that the Islamic State does that Saudi Arabia doesn’t do at a much larger scale.
And, as we have been watching, should any civilian try to flee the horror inflicted on them by these wars, there’s a nice door ready to be slammed on their faces by most of the West, most notably France. And then they are surprised when the blood spatters on their faces through some “terrorist” attack. I just heard a news report that the number one reason given for the French who voted for the FN (hard right) in a post-voting poll in France was… “immigration”.
Nicely, there was also this: David Cameron reported to police as a ‘war criminal’ for bombing Syria | UK Politics | News | The Independent.
Some people are getting the full picture at Tomdispatch/The American Conservative. Below is a well-argued article by Andrew J. Bacevich, aimed to persuade Americans not to continue WWW IV (or III, as you might prefer to label the current World War we are experiencing in 2015). As it’s explained in the article, the IV is used since the Cold War is deemed to have already been WW III. The tone is serious but, as persuading articles must, it largely refrains from incisively attacking the US for all its past atrocious war activities everywhere post-Vietnam. Read the full article at Tomdispatch or TAC, various excerpts below. I especially liked that Bacevich highlighted the economics of war, something that most of the US news media (and elsewhere in the West) is too corrupt to engage with.
ISIS and the Folly of World War IV – Are we ready to commit millions of troops to decades of occupation?
Assume that the hawks get their way—that the United States does whatever it takes militarily to confront and destroy ISIS. Then what?
Answering that question requires taking seriously the outcomes of other recent U.S. interventions in the Greater Middle East. In 1991, when the first President Bush ejected Saddam Hussein’s army from Kuwait, Americans rejoiced, believing that they had won a decisive victory. A decade later, the younger Bush seemingly outdid his father by toppling the Taliban in Afghanistan and then making short work of Saddam himself—a liberation twofer achieved in less time than it takes Americans to choose a president. After the passage of another decade, Barack Obama got into the liberation act, overthrowing the Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi in what appeared to be a tidy air intervention with a clean outcome. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton memorably put it, “We came, we saw, he died.” End of story.
In fact, subsequent events in each case mocked early claims of success or outright victory. Unanticipated consequences and complications abounded. “Liberation” turned out to be a prelude to chronic violence and upheaval.
Indeed, the very existence of the Islamic State (ISIS) today renders a definitive verdict on the Iraq wars over which the Presidents Bush presided, each abetted by a Democratic successor. A de facto collaboration of four successive administrations succeeded in reducing Iraq to what it is today: a dysfunctional quasi-state unable to control its borders or territory while serving as a magnet and inspiration for terrorists.
The United States bears a profound moral responsibility for having made such a hash of things there. Were it not for the reckless American decision to invade and occupy a nation that, whatever its crimes, had nothing to do with 9/11, the Islamic State would not exist. Per the famous Pottery Barn Rule attributed to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, having smashed Iraq to bits a decade ago, we can now hardly deny owning ISIS.
In that regard, the glibly bellicose editor of the Weekly Standard, William Kristol, is surely correct in suggesting that a well-armed contingent of 50,000 U.S. troops, supported by ample quantities of air power, would make mincemeat of ISIS in a toe-to-toe contest. Liberation of the various ISIS strongholds like Fallujah and Mosul in Iraq and Palmyra and Raqqa, its “capital,” in Syria would undoubtedly follow in short order.
In the wake of the recent attacks in Paris, the American mood is strongly trending in favor of this sort of escalation. Just about anyone who is anyone—the current occupant of the Oval Office partially excepted—favors intensifying the U.S. military campaign against ISIS. And why not? What could possibly go wrong? As Kristol puts it, “I don’t think there’s much in the way of unanticipated side effects that are going to be bad there.”
It’s an alluring prospect. In the face of a sustained assault by the greatest military the world has ever seen, ISIS foolishly (and therefore improbably) chooses to make an Alamo-like stand. Whammo! We win. They lose. Mission accomplished.
Of course, that phrase recalls the euphoric early reactions to Operations Desert Storm in 1991, Enduring Freedom in 2001, Iraqi Freedom in 2003, and Odyssey Dawn, the Libyan intervention of 2011. Time and again the unanticipated side effects of U.S. military action turned out to be very bad indeed. In Kabul, Baghdad, or Tripoli, the Alamo fell, but the enemy dispersed or reinvented itself and the conflict continued. Assurances offered by Kristol that this time things will surely be different deserve to be taken with more than a grain of salt. Pass the whole shaker.
Embracing Generational War
Why this repeated disparity between perceived and actual outcomes? Why have apparent battlefield successes led so regularly to more violence and disorder? Before following Kristol’s counsel, Americans would do well to reflect on these questions.
Cue Professor Eliot A. Cohen. Shortly after 9/11, Cohen, one of this country’s preeminent military thinkers, characterized the conflict on which the United States was then embarking as “World War IV.” (In this formulation, the Cold War becomes World War III.) … “It was World War IV in 2001,” Cohen insists. “It is World War IV today.”
In the United States today, confusion about what war itself signifies is widespread. Through misuse, misapplication, and above all misremembering, we have distorted the term almost beyond recognition. As one consequence, talk of war comes too easily off the tongues of the unknowing.
What will distinguish the war that Cohen deems essential? “Begin with endurance,” he writes. “This war will probably go on for the rest of my life, and well into my children’s.” Although American political leaders seem reluctant “to explain just how high the stakes are,” Cohen lays them out in direct, unvarnished language. At issue, he insists, is the American way of life itself, not simply “in the sense of rock concerts and alcohol in restaurants, but the more fundamental rights of freedom of speech and religion, the equality of women, and, most essentially, the freedom from fear and freedom to think.”
With so much on the line, Cohen derides the Obama administration’s tendency to rely on “therapeutic bombing, which will temporarily relieve the itch, but leave the wounds suppurating.” The time for such half-measures has long since passed. Defeating the Islamic State and “kindred movements” will require the U.S. to “kill a great many people.” To that end Washington needs “a long-range plan not to ‘contain’ but to crush” the enemy. Even with such a plan, victory will be a long way off and will require “a long, bloody, and costly process.”
Cohen’s candor and specificity, as bracing as they are rare, should command our respect. If World War IV describes what we are in for, then eliminating ISIS might figure as a near-term imperative, but it can hardly define the endgame. Beyond ISIS loom all those continually evolving “kindred movements” to which the United States will have to attend before it can declare the war itself well and truly won.
To send just tens of thousands of U.S. troops to clean up Syria and Iraq, as William Kristol and others propose, offers at best a recipe for winning a single campaign. Winning the larger war would involve far more arduous exertions. This Cohen understands, accepts, and urges others to acknowledge.
And here we come to the heart of the matter. For at least the past 35 years—that is, since well before 9/11—the United States has been “at war” in various quarters of the Islamic world. At no point has it demonstrated the will or the ability to finish the job. Washington’s approach has been akin to treating cancer with a little bit of chemo one year and a one-shot course of radiation the next. Such gross malpractice aptly describes U.S. military policy throughout the Greater Middle East across several decades.
Yes, we killed many tens of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans, but if winning World War IV requires, as Cohen writes, that we “break the back” of the enemy, then we obviously didn’t kill nearly enough.
Nor were Americans sufficiently willing to die for the cause. In South Vietnam, 58,000 G.I.s died in a futile effort to enable that country to survive. In Iraq and Afghanistan, where the stakes were presumably much higher, we pulled the plug after fewer than 7,000 deaths.
Americans would be foolish to listen to those like William Kristol who, even today, peddle illusions about war being neat and easy. They would do well instead to heed Cohen, who knows that war is hard and ugly.
What Would World War IV Look Like?
Yet when specifying the practical implications of generational war, Cohen is less forthcoming. From his perspective, this fourth iteration of existential armed conflict in a single century is not going well. But apart from greater resolve and bloody-mindedness, what will it take to get things on the right track?
As a thought experiment, let’s answer that question by treating it with the urgency that Cohen believes it deserves. After 9/11, certain U.S. officials thundered about “taking the gloves off.” In practice, however, with the notable exception of policies permitting torture and imprisonment without due process, the gloves stayed on. Take Cohen’s conception of World War IV at face value and that will have to change.
For starters, the country would have to move to something like a war footing, enabling Washington to raise a lot more troops and spend a lot more money over a very long period of time. Although long since banished from the nation’s political lexicon, the M-word—mobilization—would make a comeback. Prosecuting a generational war, after all, is going to require the commitment of generations.
Furthermore, if winning World War IV means crushing the enemy, as Cohen emphasizes, then ensuring that the enemy, once crushed, cannot recover would be hardly less important. And that requirement would prohibit U.S. forces from simply walking away from a particular fight even—or especially—when it might appear won.
At the present moment, defeating the Islamic State ranks as Washington’s number one priority. With the Pentagon already claiming a body count of 20,000 ISIS fighters without notable effect, this campaign won’t end anytime soon. But even assuming an eventually positive outcome, the task of maintaining order and stability in areas that ISIS now controls will remain. Indeed, that task will persist until the conditions giving rise to entities like ISIS are eliminated. Don’t expect French President François Hollande or British Prime Minister David Cameron to sign up for that thankless job. U.S. forces will own it. Packing up and leaving the scene won’t be an option.
How long would those forces have to stay? Extrapolating from recent U.S. occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, something on the order of a quarter-century seems like a plausible approximation. So should our 45th president opt for a boots-on-the-ground solution to ISIS, as might well be the case, the privilege of welcoming the troops home could belong to the 48th or 49th occupant of the White House.
In the meantime, U.S. forces would have to deal with the various and sundry “kindred movements” that are already cropping up like crabgrass in country after country. Afghanistan–still? again?—would head the list of places requiring U.S. military attention. But other prospective locales would include such hotbeds of Islamist activity as Lebanon, Libya, Palestine, Somalia, and Yemen, along with several West African countries increasingly beset with insurgencies. Unless Egyptian, Pakistani, and Saudi security forces demonstrate the ability (not to mention the will) to suppress the violent radicals in their midst, one or more of those countries could also become the scene of significant U.S. military action.
Effective prosecution of World War IV, in other words, would require the Pentagon to plan for each of these contingencies, while mustering the assets needed for implementation. Allies might kick in token assistance—tokenism is all they have to offer—but the United States will necessarily carry most of the load.
What Would World War IV Cost?
During World War III (aka the Cold War), the Pentagon maintained a force structure ostensibly adequate to the simultaneous prosecution of two and a half wars. This meant having the wherewithal to defend Europe and the Pacific from communist aggression while still leaving something for the unexpected. World War IV campaigns are unlikely to entail anything on the scale of the Warsaw Pact attacking Western Europe or North Korea invading the South. Still, the range of plausible scenarios will require that U.S. forces be able to take on militant organizations C and D even while guarding against the resurgence of organizations A and B in altogether different geographic locations.
Even though Washington may try whenever possible to avoid large-scale ground combat, relying on air power (including drones) and elite Special Operations forces to do the actual killing, post-conflict pacification promises to be a manpower intensive activity. Certainly, this ranks as one of the most obvious lessons to emerge from World War IV’s preliminary phases: when the initial fight ends, the real work begins.
U.S. forces committed to asserting control over Iraq after the invasion of 2003 topped out at roughly 180,000. In Afghanistan, during the Obama presidency, the presence peaked at 110,000. In a historical context, these are not especially large numbers. At the height of the Vietnam War, for example, U.S. troop strength in Southeast Asia exceeded 500,000.
In hindsight, the Army general who, before the invasion of 2003, publicly suggested that pacifying postwar Iraq would require “several hundred thousand troops” had it right. A similar estimate applies to Afghanistan. In other words, those two occupations together could easily have absorbed 600,000 to 800,000 troops on an ongoing basis. Given the Pentagon’s standard three-to-one rotation policy, which assumes that for every unit in-country, a second is just back, and a third is preparing to deploy, you’re talking about a minimum requirement of between 1.8 and 2.4 million troops to sustain just two medium-sized campaigns—a figure that wouldn’t include some number of additional troops kept in reserve for the unexpected.
In other words, waging World War IV would require at least a five-fold increase in the current size of the U.S. Army—and not as an emergency measure but a permanent one. Such numbers may appear large, but as Cohen would be the first to point out, they are actually modest when compared to previous world wars. In 1968, in the middle of World War III, the Army had more than 1.5 million active duty soldiers on its rolls—this at a time when the total American population was less than two-thirds what it is today and when gender discrimination largely excluded women from military service. If it chose to do so, the United States today could easily field an army of two million or more soldiers.
Whether it could also retain the current model of an all-volunteer force is another matter. Recruiters would certainly face considerable challenges, even if Congress enhanced the material inducements for service, which since 9/11 have already included a succession of generous increases in military pay. A loosening of immigration policy, granting a few hundred thousand foreigners citizenship in return for successfully completing a term of enlistment might help. In all likelihood, however, as with all three previous world wars, waging World War IV would oblige the United States to revive the draft, a prospect as likely to be well-received as a flood of brown and black immigrant enlistees. In short, going all out to create the forces needed to win World War IV would confront Americans with uncomfortable choices.
The budgetary implications of expanding U.S. forces while conducting a perpetual round of what the Pentagon calls “overseas contingency operations” would also loom large. Precisely how much money an essentially global conflict projected to extend well into the latter half of the century would require is difficult to gauge. As a starting point, given the increased number of active duty forces, tripling the present Defense Department budget of more than $600 billion might serve as a reasonable guess.
At first glance, $1.8 trillion annually is a stupefyingly large figure. To make it somewhat more palatable, a proponent of World War IV might put that number in historical perspective. During the first phases of World War III, for example, the United States routinely allocated 10% or more of total gross domestic product (GDP) for national security. With that GDP today exceeding $17 trillion, apportioning 10% to the Pentagon would give those charged with managing World War IV a nice sum to work with and no doubt to build upon.
Of course, that money would have to come from somewhere. For several years during the last decade, sustaining wars in Iraq and Afghanistan pushed the federal deficit above a trillion dollars. As one consequence, the total national debt now exceeds annual GDP, having tripled since 9/11. How much additional debt the United States can accrue without doing permanent damage to the economy is a question of more than academic interest.
To avoid having World War IV produce an endless string of unacceptably large deficits, ratcheting up military spending would undoubtedly require either substantial tax increases or significant cuts in non-military spending, including big-ticket programs like Medicare and social security—precisely those, that is, which members of the middle class hold most dear.
In other words, funding World War IV while maintaining a semblance of fiscal responsibility would entail the kind of trade-offs that political leaders are loathe to make. Today, neither party appears up to taking on such challenges. That the demands of waging protracted war will persuade them to rise above their partisan differences seems unlikely. It sure hasn’t so far.
The Folly of World War IV
As the United States enters a presidential election year, plain talk about the prospects of our ongoing military engagement in the Islamic world should be the order of the day. The pretense that either dropping a few more bombs or invading one or two more countries will yield a conclusive outcome amounts to more than an evasion. It is an outright lie.
As Cohen knows, winning World War IV would require dropping many, many more bombs and invading, and then occupying for years to come, many more countries. After all, it’s not just ISIS that Washington will have to deal with, but also its affiliates, offshoots, wannabes, and the successors almost surely waiting in the wings. And don’t forget al-Qaeda.
Cohen believes that we have no alternative. Either we get serious about fighting World War IV the way it needs to be fought or darkness will envelop the land. He is undeterred by the evidence that the more deeply we insert our soldiers into the Greater Middle East the more concerted the resistance they face; that the more militants we kill the more we seem to create; that the inevitable, if unintended, killing of innocents only serves to strengthen the hand of the extremists. As he sees it, with everything we believe in riding on the outcome, we have no choice but to press on.
While listening carefully to Cohen’s call to arms, Americans should reflect on its implications. Wars change countries and people. Embracing his prescription for World War IV would change the United States in fundamental ways. It would radically expand the scope and reach of the national security state, which, of course, includes agencies beyond the military itself. It would divert vast quantities of wealth to nonproductive purposes. It would make the militarization of the American way of life, a legacy of prior world wars, irreversible. By sowing fear and fostering impossible expectations of perfect security, it would also compromise American freedom in the name of protecting it. The nation that decades from now might celebrate VT Day—victory over terrorism—will have become a different place, materially, politically, culturally, and morally.
In my view, Cohen’s World War IV is an invitation to collective suicide.
Arguing that no alternative exists to open-ended war represents not hard-nosed realism, but the abdication of statecraft. Yet here’s the ultimate irony: even without the name, the United States has already embarked upon something akin to a world war, which now extends into the far reaches of the Islamic world and spreads further year by year.
Incrementally, bit by bit, this nameless war has already expanded the scope and reach of the national security apparatus. It is diverting vast quantities of wealth to nonproductive purposes even as it normalizes the continuing militarization of the American way of life. By sowing fear and fostering impossible expectations of perfect security, it is undermining American freedom in the name of protecting it, and doing so right before our eyes.
Cohen rightly decries the rudderless character of the policies that have guided the (mis)conduct of that war thus far. For that critique we owe him a considerable debt. But the real problem is the war itself and the conviction that only through war can America remain America.
For a rich and powerful nation to conclude that it has no choice but to engage in quasi-permanent armed conflict in the far reaches of the planet represents the height of folly. Power confers choice. As citizens, we must resist with all our might arguments that deny the existence of choice. Whether advanced forthrightly by Cohen or fecklessly by the militarily ignorant, such claims will only perpetuate the folly that has already lasted far too long.
Andrew J. Bacevich, a TomDispatch regular, is professor emeritus of history and international relations at Boston University. He is the author of Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country, among other works. His new book, America’s War for the Greater Middle East (Random House), is due out in April 2016.
Sounds like it will be a very needed and interesting book!
New film – that I have not watched – on the horrors of war in Africa. What is anyone in the West doing to save these people from the horrors of war? Basically nothing. When war breaks out, Westerners leave the locals to experience hell. And that after several Westerner governments have furnished billions in arms for the mass killings along with all the secret “services” for the de-stabilization required for implanting the puppet regimes to rob African people of their resources.
Is this a world that calls itself sane? Civilized? We are awash in evil.
Here is a review of “Beasts of No Nation” – excerpt from http://sfbayview.com/2015/11/beasts-of-no-nation/
“Beasts of No Nation” is a well financed Netflix film that crudely exposes the face of the wars in Africa and the false poverty that has been created by U.S. and other Western imperialist governments spearheading a corporate plan to rob the richest continent on earth of its natural resources.
It is the tale of a little boy in an unnamed African country. The boy, played by Abraham Attah, is orphaned when he is left with his father in the war zone after his mother and young siblings flee. The boy’s father becomes a casualty of the war.
A short while after he was orphaned, a rebel guerrilla army led by the character played by Idris Elba stumbles upon him in the bush. The unromanticized brutality of war is captured in the many battles fought by the very brave but misled child and youth soldiers. The film deals boldly with the psychological aspects of brainwashing and propaganda in war.
“Beasts of No Nation” is based on a novel by Nigerian author Uzodinma Iweala. I did not read the book so I cannot compare the two.
I don’t know whether to be more upset at Idris Elba, who accepted the role of a homosexual pedophile raping his own soldiers for imperialism or myself for thinking that Idris Elba might use the platform to say something about the world order that has crushed over 6 million people in the Congo in ordeals like the one depicted in the film so that Apple, Microsoft, Dell and the rest of the computer industry can steal coltan and other minerals at the cheapest price possible utilizing proxy armies and governments from nations like Uganda, Rwanda and rebel forces in the Congo to do it.
This is the only review I saw that mentioned this: “homosexual pedophile raping his own soldiers”. Finally someone breaking the silence regarding homosexual pedophilia? I suppose we will have to wait for more reviews for the answer.
And after reading this unpalatable review of the novel at the “LA review of books”, this is the comment I left:
Nothing more disgusting than a vile American sitting comfortably in his armchair writing in the most detached fashion about the “child soldier genre” while his country has fueled and armed many of these wars and created the hell that these people have had to go through. The most the author can think of saying about it all is that the “child soldier genre is now passé”.
If I remember correctly they are from commenters on The American Conservative and/or the New York Times, recently:
American neo-conservative policy under GW Bush has now passed the baton to neo-conservative policy under BH Obama: Hilary Clinton, Victoria Nuland, Suzanne Powers have all thrown their support to policies which destabilize infrastructures (Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria) creating mass exodus from the Middle East and Africa. Bombing civilians to create the flow of refugees in order to completely dismantle social policies within western Europe. For face value, one preaches democracy; behind closed doors, policies, strategies of destruction and destabilization are planned to be implemented. It is all very well planned out so that the business of war flourishes. Notice how all western leaders are looking more and more like Pinocchio from Merkel, to Hollande, to Cameron to Obama.
Carolyn Egeli wrote:
The world is in the grip of fascism. It fights wars to sustain it. The definition of fascism is government run by business who exist for profit. We have a world run by corporations. Nation states exist to support them, it appears. Social justice is out the window. Pope Francis is correct. The world is being run by people who exploit people and fight wars to make money. It’s really very simple. But it is cloaked in he said she said, to justify the complete and utter madness. Douthat imagines there is some higher purpose in all of this. He strives to find out how many angels there are on the tip of a needle. While he diddles over who will be in power next, the profiteers are filling their bank accounts to overflowing.
Added on Dec 4, 2015: one more