by David Stockman, David Stockman’s Contra Corner:
NOTE TO READERS
I am in the throes of finishing a book on the upheaval represented by the Trump candidacy and movement. It is an exploration of how 30 years of Bubble Finance policies at the Fed, feckless interventions abroad and mushrooming Big government and debt at home have brought America to its current ruinous condition.
It also delves into the good and bad of the Trump campaign and platform and outlines a more consistent way forward based on free markets, fiscal rectitude, sound money, constitutional liberty, non-intervention abroad, minimalist government at home and decentralized political rule.
In order to complete the manuscript on a timely basis, I will not be doing daily posts for the next week or two. Instead, I will post excerpts from the book that crystalize its key themes and which also relate to the on-going gong show in the presidential campaigns and in the financial and economic arenas. The fifth of these is included below.
I am also working with my partners at Agora Financial on a new version of Contra Corner. More information on that will be coming early next month.
……..This fair summer camp for the (very) fortunate got double-whammy’d by the War Party during a weekend of “big think” last August.
First there was a “debate” about whether ISIS should be “contained” or “defeated”. That was followed by a glowing progress report from General John Allen. He was President Obama’s Special Envoy for the Global Coalition of the Unwilling and Unable (to fight ISIS), and the gist of his speech was that 6,000 airstrikes since the previous August had been winning droves of hearts and minds in the Upper Euphrates valley.
Well, that number is up to 11,000 now, and there is scant sign of hearts and minds being won.
Still, General Allen’s speech was all for the edification of the pooh bahs of the foreign policy establishment who had been in town for the annual Aspen Strategy Group conclave. The latter bills itself as “a bipartisan foreign policy group that includes legislators, experts, journalists, policy practitioners, members of academia, and business leaders”.
No it’s not. It’s an off-campus exercise in mendacity, vapid group-think and narcissistic self-glorification by the perpetrators of Washington’s endless foreign policy catastrophes. Once a year they come to admire each other and split hairs about pointless tactical differences.
The debate about “containing” versus “defeating” ISIS proved that in spades. In fact, the “exterminate ISIS” team embodied an exact caricature of the bipartisan folly which has congealed in the Washington War Party.
Not surprisingly the #2 chair in the duo was occupied by an-out-and-out neocon warmonger, Professor Phillip Zelikow. He was an architect of the Bush wars on WMD and head of the 9/11 Whitewash Commission. His case boiled down to shouting vehemently that the Islamic hordes are heading for Times Square.
So America needs to obliterate the 200,000 citizens of Raqqa, Syria before they get us. Never mind that there is not one iota of evidence that the self-appointed enforcers of Islamic purity who occupy a few dusty desert towns in the Upper Euphrates have any real capacity to mount a military attack on the fleshpots of Broadway and 42nd.
But the neocons are taking no chances. To nearly every last armchair warrior, led by Robert Kagen, they are lining-up behind Hillary.
Apparently, they fear Trump might make a deal with Putin to unleash President Assad and his Shiite crescent allies. In short order that would put the Islamic State out of business and close the Syrian theatre of neocon war games, too.
But what was dispositive about last summer’s confab was that the #1 chair on the perpetual war team was occupied by Michele Flournoy.
That’s right. She was Obama’s #2 at DOD and was ostensibly a legatee of what was once the Democratic Party’s left-leaning peace wing.
No more. Ms. Flournoy has climbed Washington’s slippery pole of power by growing a heavy plume of hawkish feathers.
Accordingly, she presented not a single coherent argument about how ISIS is a military threat to the safety and security of the citizens of Lincoln NE or Springfield MA. Her case amounted to nothing more than a glib recitation of ISIS’ murderous brutalities, beheadings and benighted barbarisms.
But as John Quincy Adams so profoundly observed, America’s security does not require that it search the world for monsters to destroy.
Apparently, Hillary Clinton does, however. For her Secretary of Defense-Designate is none other than Michelle Flournoy. Both share an obliviousness to Adams’ profound truth because they are credentialed member of the Washington War Party.
And as a team, they are as good a reason as any to give Donald Trump a shot at the commander–in-chief job.
After all, he has not spent a lifetime in the Imperial City looking for monsters to destroy abroad. He has even had the good sense to suggest that the vast network of US bases used for this purpose should be sharply curtailed.
Defend America at home, first, he says. And why not. The Washington Imperium has failed virtually everywhere, and its bombs, drones and occupations have hatched far more terrorists than they have killed.
Nor is Trump a paid-off supplicant of the military-industrial-congressional complex that Eisenhower warned about, and which since the demise of the Soviet Union has done exactly as he predicted.
To wit, it has never stopped inventing enemies, provocations and threats designed to justify a massive, costly and obsolete cold war military machine.
As we indicated in the precious chapter, the whole military industrial complex, NATO and international security apparatus should have been disbanded when the cold war ended for lack of a genuine industrial state enemy.
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