Saturday, April 15, 2017

Tom Dispatch - William Astore, From Deterrence to Doomsday? // C. Wright Mills on The Structure of Power in American Society (1958) // The Week the World Almost Ended by Nate Jones and J. Peter Scoblic

Let’s skip the obvious.  Leave aside, for instance, the way Donald Trump’s decision to launch 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles against a Syrian air base is but another example of what we already know: that acts of war are now the prerogative, and only the prerogative, of the president (or of military commanders whom Trump has given greater authority to act on their own). Checks, balances? I doubt either of them applies anymore when it comes to war, American-style.  These days, the only checks written are to the Pentagon and “balance” isn’t a concept outside of gymnastics. Meanwhile, Donald Trump has learned that every wild defeat at home, every swirling palace intrigue that would make a tsar blush, can be... well, trumped by dumping 59 cruise missiles or their equivalent in some distant land to save the "beautiful babies." Forget the babies “his” generals have been killing.  Launch the missiles, send in the raiders, dispatch the planes, and you’ll get everyone you ever tweet-smashed - including HillaryJohnNancyMarco, and Chuck to applaud you and praise your acts.  They’ll be joined by the official right wing (though not the unofficial one), while the neocons and their pals will hail you as the Churchill of the twenty-first century.

Or at least, all of this will be true until - consult George W. Bush and Barack Obama on this -- it isn’t; until the day after; until, you know, the moment we’ve experienced over and over during the last 15 years of American war-making, the one where it suddenly becomes clear (yet again) that things are going really, really wrong. 
While we wait, here’s a suggestion that came to mind as I read the latest thoughts of
Tom Dispatch regular retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel William Astore on the military-industrial complex in the age of Trump: Isn’t it time to give the corporate sponsorship of war its just due?  After all, there’s hardly an object, building, museum, stadium, or event in civilian life these days that doesn’t have corporate sponsorship plastered all over it and built into it.  In my hometown, for instance, baseball’s New York Mets play at Citi Field, while football’s Giants and Jets spend their seasons at MetLife Stadium.  Given the role that America’s giant weapons makers play in our wars, and the stunningly successful way they spread their wares around the planet, isn’t it time for the growing war powers of the commander-in-chief to be translated into a militarized version of sponsorship? 

Shouldn’t Raytheon, the maker of those 59 cruise missiles that Donald Trump used recently, be given full credit so that media coverage of the event would refer to the Raytheon Syrian Tomahawk Chop? Shouldn’t the next set of drone attacks in Yemen be called the General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper Harvesting?  Shouldn’t any future strikes by the most expensive weapons system on this or any other planet be labeled the Lockheed F-35 Lightning Joint Strike Fighter Storm?  We’re in a new age of corporate enhancement.  Isn’t it time for war to adjust and for the military-industrial complex to get the credit it so richly deserves?  Tom

What Does an “America-First” Foreign Policy Actually Mean? Putting the U.S. Military First, Second, and Third By William J. Astore
What does an “America-first” foreign policy look like under President Donald Trump? As a start, forget the ancient label of “isolationism.”  With the end of Trump’s first 100 days approaching, it looks more like a military-first policy aimed at achieving global hegemony, which means it’s a potential doomsday machine. Candidate Trump vowed he’d make the U.S. military so strong that he wouldn’t have to use it, since no one would dare attack us -- deterrence, in a word.  The on-the-ground (or in-the-air) reality is already far different.  President Trump’s generals have begun to unleash that military in a manner the Obama administration, hardly shy about bombing or surging, deemed both excessive and risky to civilians... Read more:

The Week the World Almost Ended by Nate Jones and J. Peter Scoblic 
One of the Cold War’s great mysteries is how the world survived the second week of November 1983. That it did is in large part thanks to the actions - or, more accurately, the inaction - of an Air Force officer named Leonard Perroots, who died this January. That it almost did not was a function of Ronald Reagan’s rhetorical and military bellicosity, the Soviets’ fear of that aggressiveness, and a tragicomic degree of misperception. At no other point in history had two nations devoted the level of human, financial, and technical resources that the United States and the Soviet Union did to sussing each other’s intentions. And yet their confusion remained so total that the Soviets mistook a NATO war game for the prelude to an actual attack, even as Reagan thought he was doing his utmost to pursue peace. For decades, the U.S. government kept whole chapters of this near-catastrophe secret, but the lessons of that fraught autumn are finally coming into focus. And not a moment too soon...

see also:
How everything became war // William Hartung: What Happens When All We Have Left Is The Pentagon? Trump’s Vision of a Militarized America
Military-Industrial Complex Speech, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961