THE GOP’S IMPENDING GREAT BETRAYAL

Don’t Expect Much From The Thin New GOP Majority In The House – At Least Anything That Will Materially Turn The Ship Of State From Its Headlong Dash Toward Fiscal Disaster.

Don’t expect much from the thin new GOP majority in the House – at least anything that will materially turn the ship of state from its headlong dash toward fiscal disaster. That because on the big issues that really count, the beltway lifers who dominate the GOP’s senior ranks and committee/subcommittee chairmanships are on the wrong side!

That starts with the Warfare State and its symbiosis with the Welfare State, intermediated by the log-rolling politicians of the bipartisan duopoly. The fact is, all of Washington’s abominable spending, borrowing and money-printing flows from that deadly coalition of convenience.

But today’s GOP is not about to sever this convenient nexus, and pivot in favor of nonintervention abroad and drastic curtailment of the Washington spending machine. This means, in turn, that the vastly bloated $850 billion defense budget, and the neocon foreign policy of global intervention and Forever Wars which it funds, will not likely shed a single dime of its current budgetary obesity.

That’s because the GOP national security leaders are raving neocon interventionists. The worst of these is Rep. Michael McCaul, who has now become chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Like the overwhelming share of the GOP rank and file on the Potomac, he’s never seen an American foreign intervention that he couldn’t embrace lock, stock and barrel.

Thus, he (and they) cheered on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and the interventions in Libya, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Iran and assorted others; and now is especially whooping it up for proxy war against Russia in Ukraine and hot war with China, if Washington is given half the excuse.

Indeed, McCaul is such an incorrigible interventionist that he see’s fit to prance around the Imperial City as co-chair of the “Congressional Caucus on Sudan and South Sudan”!

You can’t make this up. Both of these notional nations are among the “sh*thole” countries of the world that the Donald once fulminated about. Racked by civil war, poverty, famine, disease and ethnic strife, these two ostensible nations (divided in 2011) have GDPs of $34 billion and $1 billion, respectively, which together amount to the equivalent of 11 hours worth of the American economic output.

South Sudan itself has a population of 10 million, with 6 million considered to be victims of famine by the UN, and a per capita income of $100.

And, no, we did not forget any zeros!

Its national income is just $100 per miserable soul in what has become truly one of the hell holes of the planet.

So why might the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, presumably charged with looking after the great issues of America’s homeland security, busy himself with advocating in the halls of Capitol Hill for this absolute cipher among the nations of the earth?

Alas, there happens to be a ready neocon explanation. There always is.

It so happens that the population of South Sudan’s neighbor and the home of its former countrymen, Sudan, is 97% Muslim and allegedly a refuge for various woebegone factions and tiny encampments of Islamic militants.

These wanna be “terrorists,” in turn, are alleged to be a threat to the largely Christian population of South Sudan. That is, when the latter are not busy killing each other in what has been a brutal, decade-long civil war there between the Dinka ethnic group, led by a no count politician who is the country’s president and the Nuer ethnic group, led by another adventurer who is vice-president.

As it happened, the post-2011 political tensions between South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit and First Vice President Riek Machar erupted into open violence a few years later, with the former announcing that the latter had attempted a coup. In turn, that triggered a widespread outbreak of civil war.

Soon, armed groups targeted civilians along ethnic lines, committed rape and mayhem, destroyed property, looted villages and recruited children into their ranks. At length, starvation and disease stalked the land.

And we do mean this was brutal. The UN’s estimated civilian death count amounts to 4% of the entire population, which on an American scale would be the equivalent of 13 million corpses.

Of course, none of this has the remotest bearing on the safety and liberty of the citizens of Portland ME or Portland OR or anywhere else from sea to shinning sea. But never mind. The “terrorists,” whoever they are, must be stopped.

So right on cue, Rep. McCaul has gotten his undies bunched up in a knot owing to a few thousand woebegone Islamic militants domiciled deep in the heart of sub-Saharan Africa.

For crying out loud. It doesn’t get any more ludicrous than this. The predicate, apparently, is that “terrorists” marauding around even the most remote, desolate and godforsaken margins of the planet are an intolerable threat to national security and most be dealt with by the full force of Imperial Washington’s bountiful tool kit of diplomacy, economic aid, security assistance, arms sales, censure, sanctions and military interventions if need be.

But we say, not at all. Washington needn’t give a sh*t about the shenanigans in the Sudans or, for that matter, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Taiwan or most especially, not Russia’s doorstep in Ukraine.

All of this imperial intervention is a throwback to the false predicate of the cold war and the notion that the countries of the world are essentially little more than a long-line of dominoes waiting to be tipped-over into tyranny by any aggressor who shows up on the stage of history.

But it was never true about Soviet communism, which was destined to collapse under the weight of its own misbegotten command-and-control folly, and actually did just that in 1991. And its absolutely not even remotely true today.

None of the alleged domino-tripping “aggressors” on the present scene are a threat to America’s homeland security or to its triad nuclear deterrent. And none could mount the massive conventional force armada that would be required to traverse the great ocean moats that are America’s ultimate safeguard against hostile armies landing on the shores of New Jersey or California.

  • Certainly not the late Islamic Caliphate with it armed Toyota pickups and captured American machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades that were once (and temporarily) strewn about the dusty, miserable stretches of the Upper Euphrates;

  • Not Russia with a $1.8 trillion GDP compared to the $40 trillion economic expanse of the America and its NATO puppets;

  • Not the great $50 trillion debt Ponzi of China, which would collapse under its own weight even faster than did the Soviet Union were its leaders foolish enough to attack the 5,000 Walmart stores and Amazon warehouses in America on which its economy utterly depends.

  • Stated differently, the world doesn’t need Washington’s “leadership” or its hegemonic pretensions. The planet is not lurking with latter day Hitler’s and Stalin’s ready to spread tyranny far and wide among falling dominoes if given half the chance.

To the contrary, the totalitarian excrescences which emerged in the 1930s, along with the Great Depression which gave them faint plausibility, were a once in 10,000 years aberration. They arose from the madness of WWI, Woodrow Wilson’s destructive intervention to make the world safe for democracy and the absolute folly of the vindictive peace imposed on Germany by the victors at Versailles.

Indeed, it is more than fair to say that Woodrow Wilson’s foolish declaration of War in April 1917 – when for all practical purposes the Great War had ended in stalemate, exhaustion and bankruptcy among all the original belligerents – changed the course of history and decidedly for the worse.

That is to say, a peace of the exhausted would not have opened the door to Lenin’s storming of the Winter Palace in Czarist Russia. Nor would it have enabled the rise of Hitler in 1920’s Germany on the back of an abandoned army of disgruntled veterans and the revanchist fires ignited by the loss of millions of Germans and related territories to Poland, France and Czechoslovakia at Versailles.

Needless to say, the truth that Hitler and Stalin were nigh to unrepeatable aberrations of history and that the nations of the world are not dominoes perennially fixing to “fall” invalidates the entire GOP/Washington foreign policy framework. Namely, that America is the “indispensable nation,” that is must lead through “strength” (whatever that means) and that the business of Washington is to mind everyone else’s business across the length and breadth of the planet.

Indeed, Chairman McCaul’s own website claims exactly that.

In his capacity as the committee’s chairman, McCaul is committed to ensuring we promote America’s leadership on the global stage. In his view, it is essential the United States bolsters international engagement with our allies, counters the aggressive policies of our adversaries, and advances the common interests of nations in defense of stability and democracy around the globe. He will continue to use his national security expertise to work to counter threats facing the United States, especially the increasing threat we face from nation state actors such as China, Iran, Russia, North Korea, among others.

Nothing could be more diametrically opposed to the non-interventionist posture that small government republicans in the Robert Taft tradition once adhered to than the clap-trap contained on McCaul’s website. And there is no way that the nation’s runaway public debt will ever be contained unless the defense budget is cut by 50% or more, and Washington retirees to minding the public’s business within these homeland shores, not the business of the 195 odd nations which stretch to the four corners of the planet.

But McCaul, along with most of the GOP ranks on Capitol Hill, is infected with the hegemony disease. Like Speaker McCarthy and countless other senior Republicans, the man is 60 years old and has been on the public teat most of his adult life, including being a Member of the House since 2004.

He actually thinks, therefore, that his job is to peddle the indispensable nation gospel and to support the bipartisan War Party in its global interventions and adventures – -all the way to, well, the “sh*tholes” known as Sudan and South Sudan.

Not surprisingly, a lame-brain who doesn’t even get the joke about Sudan is putty in the hands of the Washington War machine when it comes to larger, dangerous adventures like the current insane proxy war against Russia in Ukraine.

Here is what McCaul had to say about the latter during an appearance on the Sunday talk shows this past weekend. It is truly a word salad of dangerous idiocy and stunning historical ignorance.

As to the latter, even establishment historians know what the Munich conference between Hitler and Chamberlain was about. To wit, the return of several millions of uprooted Germans in the Sudetenland, who had been seconded to the artificial state of Czechoslovakia at Versailles.

That’s ironic of, of course, because that’s exactly what today’s civil war in the Ukraine is about. The Russian speaking populations of the Donbas and the Black Sea rim were historically citizens of “Novorossiya” (New Russia). It was the bastard son of Wilson’s crusade to make the world safe for democracy, Vladimir Lenin, who put them in Ukraine in 1922 in order to better manage his Soviet empire.

Don’t expect much from the GOP’s new majority. Their leaders are part and parcel of the problem.

FACEBOOK PROTECTS THE NAZIS TO PROTECT AMERICA’S UKRAINE PROXY WAR

Meta, The Parent Company Of Facebook, Announced On January 19th That The Company No Longer Considers Ukraine’s Azov Regiment To Be A “Dangerous Organization.”

The far-right paramilitary group grew out of the street gangs that helped topple Ukraine’s president in the American-backed 2014 coup. Originally funded by the same Ukrainian oligarch that backed President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s rise to power, Azov was on the front lines of civil war in Eastern Ukraine, and was later fully integrated into the Ukrainian national guard.

The main outlet to report on this move was the Kyiv Independent (1/19/23), a Ukrainian newsroom closely linked to Western “democracy promotion” initiatives. These ties are reflected in its coverage of Facebook’s move. Take the description of the Azov Regiment:

The group has sparked controversy over its alleged association with far-right groups—a recurring theme used by Russian propaganda.”

The “association” with “far-right groups” has been far more than “alleged,” and is well documented and openly acknowledged by members of the organization. Even the use of “far-right” downplays the fact that they have regularly been seen sporting Nazi symbols and even making Nazi salutes. NATO was forced to apologize after tweeting a photo of the regiment, circulated as part of public relations for the war, in which a soldier was wearing a symbol from the Third Reich.

The danger of white-supremacist military units used to be widely acknowledged in corporate media.

Even the logo of the Regiment is a variant of a popular Nazi symbol. Another Nazi symbol affiliated with Azov was printed on the Christchurch, New Zealand, shooter’s jacket as he opened fire on multiple mosques in 2019.

The founder of the regiment once asserted that Ukraine’s mission was to “lead the white races of the world in a final crusade…against Semite-led Untermenschen.”

Even Congress, who was funding the Ukrainian military years before the war, acknowledged the regiment’s neo-Nazi affiliation. In 2018, it passed a law restricting those funds from going to Azov fighters. However, officials on the ground acknowledged that there was never any real mechanism preventing the aid from reaching Azov.

The Kyiv Independent article was republished in the American press by Yahoo News (1/19/23)—with a note appended with a link to the Independent’s Patreon fundraising account.

The Washington Post also reported on the move, suggesting that the “Azov Regiment” is now separate from the “Azov Movement,” since the Regiment is now formally under the control of the Ukrainian military. The Post, which called the Regiment “controversial,” did not criticize Meta’s move, and instead highlighted Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s minister of digital transformation, who praised the decision.

The tech news site Engadget noted that “the change will allow members of the unit to create Facebook and Instagram accounts.”

BACKING NATO PR

This isn’t the first time that the platform’s policies were used to promote the Amercan regime’s public relations objectives. In February 2022, Facebook announced that it would carve out an exception to its policy against praising white supremacy to accommodate the Azov Regiment. In March 2022, Facebook announced it would allow posts calling for violence against Russians within the context of the invasion. This included allowing users to call for the death of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and even Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

Facebook encouraged even more ethnic hate against Russians by relaxing policies on violent or hateful speech against Russian individuals. Materials reviewed by the Intercept showed that Facebook and Instagram users were now allowed to call for the “explicit removal [of] Russians from Ukraine and Belarus.” In sharp contrast with its policy against allowing graphic images of the victims of Israel’s attacks on Palestine, the platform began to allow users to post such images from Russia’s invasion.

All of this has contributed to the normalization, or even embrace of neo-Nazis in America. Early in the war, Western media uncritically promoted an Azov publicity event while making no mention of the group’s Nazi ties. In October, the New York Times wrote a laudatory article about “Ukraine’s celebrated Azov Battalion” that completely ignored the group’s Nazi ties. An Azov soldier with a Nazi tattoo was even welcomed to Disney World by liberal icon Jon Stewart.

All of this comes as the American media promote ostensible concern about the growth and influence of the far right at home. This blind spot is especially egregious, given the numerous accounts of American white supremacists going to Ukraine to train with the Azov Regiment in preparation of a new American civil war.

THEY’RE NOT WORRIED ABOUT “RUSSIAN INFLUENCE”, THEY’RE WORRIED ABOUT DISSENT

Being Labeled A Russian Propagandist All Day Every Day For Criticizing America’s Imperialist, Warmongering Foreign Policy Is Really Weird. Or Is It?

However, one advantage it comes with is a useful perspective on what people have really been talking about all these years when they warn of the dangers of “Russian propaganda”.

We know we are not a Russian propagandists. We are not paid by Russia, we have no connections to Russia, and until we started this political commentary gig in 2016 we thought very little about Russia. Our opinions about the western empire sometimes turn up on Russian media because anyone can use our work who wants to, but that was always something they did on their own without my submitting it to them and without any payment or solicitation of any kind. We are literally just some random westerners sharing political opinions on the internet; those opinions just happen to disagree with the American empire and its stories about itself and its behavior.

Yet for years we have watched people pointing at us as an example of what “Russian propaganda” looks like. This has helped inform our understanding of all the panic about “Russian influence” that’s been circulating these last six years, and given us some insight into how seriously it should be taken.

That’s one reason why we were not surprised by Matt Taibbi’s reporting on the Twitter Files revelations about Hamilton 68, an information op run by DC swamp monsters and backed by imperialist think tanks which generated hundreds if not thousands of completely bogus mainstream news reports about online Russian influence over the years.

Hamilton 68 purported to track Russian attempts to influence western thought on social media, but Twitter eventually figured out that the “Russians” the operation has been tracking were actually mostly real, mostly American accounts who just happened to say things that didn’t perfectly align with the official Beltway consensus. These accounts were often right-leaning, but also included people like Consortium News editor Joe Lauria, who’s about as far from a rightist as you can get.

They played a massive role in fanning the flames of public hysteria about online Russian influence, but while they did this by pretending to track the behavior of Russian influence ops, in reality they were tracking dissent.

One of the craziest things happening in the world today is the way westerners are being brainwashed by western propaganda into panicking about Russian propaganda, something that has no meaningful existence in the west. Before RT was shut down in Britain it was drawing a whopping 0.04 percent of the UK’s total TV audience. The much-touted Russian election interference campaign on Facebook was mostly unrelated to the election and affected “approximately 1 out of 23,000 pieces of content” according o Facebook. Research by New York University into Russian trolling behavior on Twitter in the lead-up to the 2016 election has found “no evidence of a meaningful relationship between exposure to the Russian foreign influence campaign and changes in attitudes, polarization, or voting behavior.” A study by the University of Adelaide found that despite all the warnings of Russian bots and trolls following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the overwhelming majority of inauthentic behavior on Twitter during that time was anti-Russian in nature.

Russia exerts essentially zero influence over what westerners think, yet we’re all meant to freak out about “Russian propaganda” while western oligarchs and government agencies continually hammer our minds with propaganda designed to manufacture our consent for the status quo which benefits them.

All this and we’re still seeing calls for more narrative management from the western empire, like the recent American Purpose article “The Long War of Ideas” being promoted by people like Bill Kristol which calls for a resurrection of CIA culture war tactics like those used during the last cold war. Every day there’s some new liberal politician sermonizing about the need to do more to fight Russian influence and protect American minds from “disinformation”, even as we are shown over and over again that what they really want is to shut down dissident voices.

That’s what we’re seeing in the continual efforts to increase online censorship, in the bogus new “fact-checking” industry, in calls to increase the output of formal American government propaganda operations like Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Radio Free Asia, in the way all facts about Russia has been forcefully purged from the western media in recent years, in the way empire-amplified trolling operations have been shouting down and drowning out critics of American foreign policy online, in the way censorship via algorithm has emerged as one of the major methods of restricting dissident speech.

They claim there needs to be a massive escalation in propaganda, censorship and online psyops in order to fight “Russian influence”, while the only influence operations we’re being subjected to in any meaningful way are only ever of the western variety. They just want to do more of that.

Our rulers aren’t actually worried about “Russian influence”, they’re worried about dissent. They’re worried the public won’t consent to the “great power competition” they plan to subject us to for the foreseeable future unless they can exert massive influence over our minds, because they know that otherwise we will recognize that our interests are directly harmed by the economic warfare, exploding military spending and nuclear brinkmanship which necessarily accompanies that campaign to reign in Russia and stop the rise of China.

They’re propagandizing us about the threat of foreign propaganda in order to justify propagandizing us more. We’re being manipulated into consenting to agendas that no healthy person would ever consent to without copious amounts of manipulation.

THE LIMITS OF TRYING TO BE NUMBER ONE

Do Not, As Madeline Albright Did, Think The Price Is Worth It.

The world is a mess, and Washington is determined to fix it. The secretary of state flies around the globe issuing instructions to friends and foes alike. When foreign officials refuse to listen, Uncle Sam dons his nailed fist.

First come sanctions to back his commands. Washington’s ability and willingness to conduct economic warfare is without pareil. America and its allies understandably fret over Chinese economic performance, in spite of it’s responses such as trade restrictions, bans on tourism, and restrictions of investment. However, the Treasury Department issues new economic sanctions almost daily. Across the globe thousands of governments, businesses, officials, and others are presently on its naughty list.

With nary a thought, let alone serious debate, Congress also penalizes other nations—friends as well as foes—that flout its will. Worst is imposing economic sanctions on already impoverished populations in an attempt to oust or influence their governments. Americans pay for such controls, which greatly complicate international investment, trade, and services, but foreign peoples suffer far more.

Sanctions are notable for both their harm and their ineffectiveness, as seen in Cuba, Venezuela, Syria, Iran, and North Korea. When America targets the entire economy, the resulting hardship is widespread and sometimes deadly. American officials know the harm caused to innocents, but simply don’t care. For instance, when confronted with the mass death of Iraqi children from sanctions, Madeleine Albright’s infamous response was: “We think the price is worth it.”

Alas, little practical has been achieved at such high human cost. Although American sanctions ultimately might weaken target regimes, Washington has failed to enforce its will against any of its adversaries. Despite years, even decades, of sanctions, Cuba remains communist and Venezuela remains independent. North Korea has not abandoned its nuclear weapons, Syria has not ousted Bashar al-Assad, and Iran has not abandoned its nuclear activities. Washington also has tried targeted sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act, but they have even less impact on hostile governments.

Sanctions have, however, uniformly intensified antagonism toward America. Targeted states have sought assistance elsewhere, especially turning to Russia and China. Washington’s “hostile policy” has become another justification for North Korea’s nuclear program.

Ongoing sanctions against Afghanistan and Russia are likely to fail in much the same way. A year on and the Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan is growing more radical as its people suffer ever more from economic collapse. Moscow is escalating its military campaign against Ukraine. Although the Russian economy will suffer further, especially in high-tech fields, Moscow will remain able to deploy a substantial military. The regime may end up looking a bit like a large North Korea: poor and isolated, but doubly belligerent.

Washington’s second tool of intervention is military action. Resist America and Washington is ever ready to bomb, invade, and occupy your nation! The cost of this policy is enormous, starting with the Pentagon budget. Last month, the lame duck Congress approved a record $858 billion in “defense” (really offense) outlays. The so-called global war on terror alone will ultimately cost, including care for wounded and disabled service personnel, about $8 trillion. That accounts for roughly a third of the current publicly held national debt.

Even more tragic are the lives lost and maimed. A conservative estimate of the total dead in America’s wars over the last two decades is about one million. However, by some measures, the number of Iraqis killed in the aftermath of Washington’s invasion alone approaches that number. American deaths, service personnel and contractors, have been in the thousands. Official statistics undercount injuries, which are in the tens of thousands. Better medical care has saved many who would have died in previous contacts, but rampant suicide has increased the death toll, adding more than four times the number of those killed in action, and thousands live with severe injuries and PTSD.

Nor are Americans the only ones to suffer. Allied troops, especially local forces, have suffered tens of thousands of deaths. Hundreds of thousands of civilians have died in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. Tens of thousands in Afghanistan. Thousands or tens of thousands – the estimates vary widely – have died in Libya. Large numbers have been injured and millions displaced in these conflicts.

Admittedly, Washington has not directly caused most of the harm, though American airstrikes killed more civilians than successive administrations admitted. Rather, America’s specialty has been to wreck governments and divide countries, inviting and sustaining brutal conflict and mass killing. Washington also has underwritten other combatants, such as Saudi Arabia, which continue to commit murder and mayhem even as prospects for success disappear. None of America’s recent wars have yet delivered the promised peace, stability, prosperity, and democracy.

BEWARE OF THE “AMERICA FIRST” FOREIGN POLICY PHONIES

Right Now It’s Fashionable To Talk About National Interests And Even Restraint, But With These Folks, How Much Of It Is Sincere?

In justifying the Iraq War to the American people, George Bush in part invoked a grandiose framing centered around the liberation of the Iraqi people from Saddam Hussein’s tyranny.

This Wilsonian impulse to spread freedom was a staple of Republican foreign policy rhetoric for years, central to the military adventurism that became commonly associated with the Global War on Terror (GWOT).

However, with the emergence of Donald Trump, this line of thinking experienced a formidable challenge, a GOP presidential candidate seemingly willing to question the assumptions and platitudes that had dictated his party’s foreign policy for years. On the campaign trail in 2016, Trump distanced himself considerably from his fellow Republican candidates with his pronounced willingness to condemn the Iraq War, while promising a presidency that would end the endless wars.

Unfortunately, Trump did not exactly follow through on his campaign platform. While expressing skepticism towards continued military intervention in the Middle East — Syria and Afghanistan in particular — troops remained engaged in such conflicts throughout his time in office. Additionally, Trump sustained American support for Saudi Arabia in the war in Yemen.

Despite this, Trump did achieve something more intangible: a shift in the conversation within the Republican foreign policy realm. In the aftermath of his presidency, establishment figures within the party have increasingly jettisoned Wilsonian idealism in selling their respective foreign policy stances to the American public, instead turning their attention more squarely towards self-interest.

One may first look at such a development as a harbinger of a more restrained Republican foreign policy moving forward. In reality though, many of the figures and institutions increasingly employing such language have not in fact shifted their position towards restraint, but have instead simply co-opted “America First” realist language to sustain the hawkish status quo.

Take Mitch McConnell’s stance towards Ukraine. In explaining his support for the most recent $45 billion aid package, he stated quite bluntly that “the most basic reasons for continuing to help Ukraine degrade and defeat the Russian invaders are cold, hard, practical American interests.”

While one would be hard pressed to actually name these “cold, hard” interests, McConnell’s line of reasoning is a marked divergence from his past justifications for maintaining ground forces in the Middle East, which in part invoked America’s “indispensable” role in the international system. But more significant is the lack of substantive change corresponding with this rhetorical shift. Ultimately, McConnell’s view on American military hegemony has not changed; indeed, he still views it as inherently virtuous and necessary.

McConnell’s turn is by no means an outlier. In a recent Wall Street Journal piece, Walter Russell Mead highlights Senator Tom Cotton’s own purported embrace of realism. Mead details Cotton’s rejection of two divergent strains of Democratic foreign policy-making, those being the “technocratic progressivism” geared towards transforming the world in the United States’ liberal image, and the “frank, Anti-Americanism” that aims to disarm and weaken the United States.

To Mead, Cotton has wisely rejected both of these lenses, instead turning to a practical focus on self-interest. While those on the right may applaud this approach, it is unfortunately a facade. Though ostensibly pivoting to realism, Cotton’s foreign policy views have not actually changed. For example, he remains adamant in his support for the Saudis in the ongoing Yemen War, opposes military withdrawals from Syria and Iraq, and has been lockstep with the Republican establishment in terms of support for Ukraine.

Perhaps Cotton aims to emulate former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a self-described disciple of “realism, restraint, and respect” who nonetheless operated in a decidedly bellicose fashion vis-a-vis Iran and China during his time in the Trump administration. Clearly, Pompeo recognized the expediency of co-opting realism and restraint, allowing him to perpetuate the long-standing zero-sum Republican approach towards Iran and ushering in the same sort of dynamic with China.

The positions of such figures stand consistent with developments at the organizational level, too, as seen quite clearly at the Hudson Institute. In the past, Hudson scholars fully embraced the quixotic ambitions of neoconservatism, seen in the writings of adjunct fellow Norman Podhoretz, and current senior fellow Douglas Feith, who as an undersecretary for policy in the Bush Pentagon (and protege of neoconservative icon Richard Perle) was one of the chief architects of the Iraq War.

Today, Hudson retains a hawkish approach to Russia and China, rejecting concerns over escalation in their continued support to Ukraine and advancing extremely bellicose policies vis a vis China. Notably though, they now largely avoid both neoconservative bromides and the liberal invocation of international norms and principles in promulgating such views, instead framing their positions through an American self-interest prism.

To this point, Senior Fellow Nadia Schadlow, who spent the GWOT as a neoconservative funder at the Smith Richardson Foundation, recently wrote a piece entitled “Conservative U.S. Statecraft for the 21st Century.” While ostensibly presenting a fresh perspective on foreign policy making, the piece in reality offers justifications rooted in “realistic” approaches and “conservative principles” to sustain America military primacy abroad, stating that “military power is a necessary foundation for keeping the peace.” It also perpetuates the framing of adversaries through a zero-sum ideological lens, with Schadlow noting Iran’s supposedly “messianic objectives” and China’s determination to “displace the United States.”

Schadlow’s analysis is consistent with that of others from the Hudson Institute, incorporating realist rhetoric to advance the status quo. Such can be seen in the works of Senior Fellow Arthur Herman, who recently wrote that $45 billion defense package to Ukraine is “money the U.S. can’t afford not to spend,” and that a “revived defense manufacturing base supporting Ukraine will be critical for our own ability to defer antagonists and protect our interests elsewhere.”

It’s obvious that the conservative establishment has put its collective finger up to the wind and judged that there is no more appetite for the Wilsonian idealism of the pre-Trump years. Co-opting “realism” and “America First” allows them to reach the base, while at the same time putting distance between themselves and the liberal internationalist left, using the language of “national interest” rather than what they dismiss as progressive universalism.

One should not be deceived though. This rhetorical shift has not changed the actual underlying belief sets of the Hudson Institute or the aforementioned political operators. In their minds, it appears, American military predominance is still necessary to defeat ideological foes; the same old, same old hawkish foreign policy thinking.

UKRAINE AND THE LOST LESSONS OF VIETNAM

The Caution Which, Albeit All-Too-Temporarily, Stemmed From The ‘Vietnam Syndrome’ Is Today Utterly Absent From The Corridors Of Power In Joe Biden’s Washington.

Last week marked 50 years since the signing of the Paris Peace Accords which effectively ended American participation in the Vietnam war. One of the consequences, according to Georgetown University international affairs scholar Charles Kupchan, was that an “isolationist impulse” made a “significant comeback in response to the Vietnam War, which severely strained the liberal internationalist consensus.”

As the Cold War historian John Lamberton Harper points out, President Jimmy Carter’s hawkish Polish-born national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, scorned his intra-administration rival, the cautious, gentlemanly secretary of state Cyrus Vance as “a nice man but burned by Vietnam.” Indeed, Vance and a number of his generation carried with them a profound disillusionment in the aftermath of the Vietnam War. And for a short time, the ‘Vietnam Syndrome,’ (shorthand for a wariness and suspicion of unnecessary and unsupportable foreign interventions) occasionally informed American policy at the highest levels and manifested itself in the promulgations of the Wienberger and Powell Doctrines which, in theory anyway, represented a kind of resistance on the part of the Pentagon to unnecessary military adventures.

But such resistance didn’t last long. Only hours after the successful conclusion of the First Gulf War, President George H.W. Bush declared, “By God, we’ve kicked the Vietnam syndrome once and for all.” And kick it Bush did: In the decades following his 1991 pronouncement, the United States has been at war in one form or another (either as a belligerent or unofficial co-belligerent – as is the case with our involvement in Saudi Arabia’s grotesque war on Yemen) for all but 2 of the 32 years that have followed.

Yet the atmosphere that now prevails in Washington makes it exceedingly difficult to believe such a thing as a ‘Vietnam Syndrome’ ever existed. Indeed, President Joe Biden’s handling of the war in Ukraine has been met with rapturous approval from the Washington establishment, winning plaudits from all the usual suspects.

But can the Biden policy truly be credited as a success when the entire ordeal might have been avoided by judicious diplomatic engagement? Are we really to believe that the war which so far has resulted in 8 million refugees and roughly 200,000 battlefield deaths has been worth a promise of NATO membership for Ukraine?

While the war has seemingly ground to a stalemate, the legacy media and various and sundry think-tank-talking-heads have been busy issuing regular assurances of regime change in Moscow and steady progress in the field with victory soon to come:

  • Writing in the Journal of Democracy this past September, political scientist and author of the End of History and The Last Man Francis Fukuyama exulted: “Ukraine will win. Slava Ukraini!”

  • Washington Post reporter Liz Sly told readers in early January that “If 2023 continues as it began, there is a good chance Ukraine will be able to fulfill President Volodymyr Zelensky’s New Year’s pledge to retake all of Ukraine by the end of the year — or at least enough territory to definitively end Russia’s threat, Western officials and analysts say”

  • Also in early January, the former head of the US Army in Europe, Lt. General Ben Hodges told the Euromaidan Press that, “The decisive phase of the campaign…will be the liberation of Crimea. Ukrainian forces are going to spend a lot of time knocking out or disrupting the logistical networks that are important for Crimea…That is going to be a critical part that leads or sets the conditions for the liberation of Crimea, which I expect will be finished by the end of August.”

  • Newsweek, reporting in October 2022, informed readers by way of activist Ilya Ponomarev, a former member of the Russian parliament, that “Russia is not yet on the brink of revolution…but is not far off.”

  • Rutgers University professor Alexander J. Motyl agrees. In a January 2023 article for Foreign Policy magazine titled ‘It’s High Time to Prepare for Russia’s Collapse’ Motyl decried as “stunning” what he believes is a “near-total absence of any discussion among politicians, policymakers, analysts, and journalists of the consequences of defeat for Russia. … considering the potential for Russia’s collapse and disintegration.”

  • And this week comes word, courtesy of Jacob Heilbrunn, editor of the once realist National Interest magazine, that “The German decision to send tanks to Ukraine is a turning point. It is now clear that Vladimir Putin signed the death warrant of his regime in invading Ukraine.”

  • As Gore Vidal once quipped: “There is little respite for a people so routinely – so fiercely – disinformed.”

Conspicuous by its absence in what passes for foreign policy discourse in the American capital is the question of American interests: How does the allocation of vast sums to a wondrously corrupt regime in Kiev in any way materially benefit everyday Americans? Does the imposition of a narrow, sectarian Galician nationalism over the whole of Ukraine truly constitute a core American interest? Does the prolongation of a proxy war between NATO and Russia further European and American security interests? If so, how?

In truth, the lessons of Vietnam were forgotten long ago. The generation that now populates the ranks of the Washington media and political establishment came of age when Vietnam was already in the rearview mirror. The unabashed liberal interventionists who staff the Biden administration cut their teeth in the 1990s when it was commonly believed that America didn’t act often enough, notably in Bosnia and in Rwanda. As such, and almost without exception, the current crop of foreign policy hands now in power have supported every American mis-adventure abroad since 9/11.

The caution which, albeit all-too-temporarily, stemmed from the ‘Vietnam Syndrome’ is today utterly absent from the corridors of power in Joe Biden’s Washington.

The Vietnam Syndrome is indeed kicked: Dead and buried.

But we all may soon come to regret its passing when we all do.

FIRST IT WAS ARTILLERY, THEN TANKS, THEN WARPLANES, THEN WHAT?

America’s Slow Climb Up The Escalatory Ladder In Ukraine Appears To Be Moving A Bit Faster — Without A Lot Of Talk About Consequences.

Immediately after the United States and Germany announced that they are sending main battle tanks to Ukraine — immediately, without any pretense of a decent interval — the Ukrainian government, backed by some East European members of NATO, has raised a demand for the latest American fighter jets; and discussions of this within NATO are reportedly already under way.

So far, the Biden administration has described this as a “red line,” and West European diplomats have expressed private “concern.” But given that one NATO weapon after another that was previously seen as absolutely tabooed has been supplied since the Russian incursion began, Ukrainian officials have good reason for expressing confidence that the Biden administration and NATO will sooner or later agree to this.

If it is correct that several recent Russian missile strikes against Ukrainian infrastructure have been launched from long-range Tupolev bombers flying over Russian territory, then if the Ukrainian armed forces receive fighters capable of shooting them down, there is little reason to think they will not do so. Whether such actions carry an acceptable level of risk, however, is another matter.

There are a couple of curious features about this progressive escalation of Western military aid to Ukraine; ironic in one case, extremely dangerous in the other. The first is that when Russia invaded almost a year ago, and most NATO military analysts predicted a sweeping Russian victory, there was no official talk of heavy weapons for Ukraine.

The further the Russians have been pushed back, and the more deeply they have become bogged down in the east and south, the more Western weapons supplies have grown — in the name of defending Ukraine and preventing any future Russian threat to NATO. A more cynical view would be that when Russia really did seem threatening, the West was too scared to risk war with Russia by sending such weapons; and that the escalation has grown not with the Russian threat, but precisely with growing Russian weakness, a belief that Russia can be not only halted but crushingly defeated, and a growing confidence that Russian talk of red lines and escalation are empty bluff.

This is the second irony, and it is a potentially catastrophic one. By repeatedly escalating their own weapons supplies in order to defeat Russia’s conventional forces, while suggesting that Russian threats of escalating in turn by unconventional means are empty, the West is openly challenging Russia to make good on its threats.

This does not mean that the Kremlin would suddenly resort to nuclear weapons. If it did,God forbid, this would come only after several radical turns in the cycle of escalation. Other Russian responses are however not only possible but becoming increasingly likely: for example, attacks on American satellites whose intelligence has done so much to help the Ukrainian armed forces; or on Western communications infrastructure; or on NATO embassies in Kyiv.

The advantage of such a strategy from Moscow’s point of view would be that it would not be a direct attack on NATO territory, and so would not automatically trigger a NATO military response. It would nonetheless bring NATO and Russia much closer to the direct conflict that President Biden has always said that he is determined to avoid.

Top Russian officials and commentators have said recently that Russia is now in effect at war not with Ukraine but with NATO; and a great many ordinary Russians appear to believe this — not surprisingly, since German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has just said the same. Leading commentators (including at the American Helsinki Commission) and East European governments, have declared openly that complete Russian defeat in Ukraine should be sought in order to bring down the Putin regime. Some have called for this in turn to lead to the “decolonization” of Russia, code for the break-up of the Russian Federation and the destruction of the Russian state.

Given that these advocates of Western assistance for complete Russian defeat also portray Putin as a dictator determined to maintain his own hold on power irrespective of the costs to Russia and the world; and portray Russian nationalism as intrinsically and irredeemably tied to imperialism and military aggression, it is very hard to see why they also believe that faced with the threat of complete defeat, the Russian government would not in fact escalate by some form of attack on NATO.

Setting aside for a moment the the Russian invasion, and analyzing on the basis of reality and reciprocity, a simple thought exercise is in order: Supposing the United States were fighting a war close to its own borders, with stakes that many members of the American government and political elites believed – right or wrong – were existential for America’s survival as a great power or even as a united country; and supposing a hostile great power were massively and increasingly arming America’s enemy, leading to the deaths of tens of thousands of American troops and the risk of complete defeat. Would Washington refrain permanently from some form of harsh retaliation? Perhaps it would — but you really should not like to bet on it, least of all if the stakes risked being raised and raised until in the end human civilization itself were on the table.

AMERICA IS PROVOKING RUSSIA TO HIT BACK

Well, The Homicidal Warmongers Won The Debate Over Sending Tanks To Ukraine, So Now It’s Time For Them To Start Arguing For Sending Them F-16s.

In an article titled “Ukraine sets sights on fighter jets after securing tank supplies,” Reuters reports the following:

Ukraine will now push for Western fourth generation fighter jets such as the U.S. F-16 after securing supplies of main battle tanks, an adviser to Ukraine’s defence minister said on Wednesday.”

Ukraine won a huge boost for its troops as Germany announced plans to provide heavy tanks for Kyiv on Wednesday, ending weeks of diplomatic deadlock on the issue. The United States is poised to make a similar announcement.

Just in time for the good news, Lockheed Martin has announced that the arms manufacturing giant happens to be all set to ramp up production of F-16s should they be needed for shipment to Ukraine.

Lockheed Martin has said that it’s ready to meet demands for F-16 fighter jets if the US and its allies choose to ship them to Ukraine,” Antiwar’s Dave DeCamp reports. “So far, the US and its allies have been hesitant to send fighter jets to Ukraine due to concerns that they could be used to target Russian territory. But the Western powers seem less and less concerned about escalation as the US and Germany have now pledged to send their main battle tanks.”

The New York Times has a new article out titled “How Biden Reluctantly Agreed to Send Tanks to Ukraine,” subtitled “The decision unlocked a flow of heavy arms from Europe and inched the United States and its NATO allies closer to direct conflict with Russia.” It’s authors David E. Sanger, Eric Schmitt and Helene Cooper write:

President Biden’s announcement Wednesday that he would send M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine came after weeks of tense back-channel negotiations with the chancellor of Germany and other European leaders, who insisted that the only way to unlock a flow of heavy European arms was for the United States to send tanks of its own.

His decision, however reluctant, now paves the way for German-made Leopard 2 tanks to be delivered to Ukraine in two or three months, provided by several European nations. While it is unclear whether it will make a decisive difference in the spring offensive that President Volodymyr Zelensky is now planning to take back territory seized by Russia, it is the latest in a series of gradual escalations that has inched the United States and its NATO allies closer to direct conflict with Russia.”

When even the myopic empire simps at The New York Times are acknowledging that western powers are escalating aggressions in a very dangerous direction, you should probably sit up and pay attention.

In a recent article for Responsible Statecraft titled “Mission Creep? How the US role in Ukraine has slowly escalated,” Branko Marcetic outlines the ways the American empire has “serially blown past their own self-imposed lines over arms transfers,” over and over again relenting to war hawks and requests from Ukrainian officials to supply weapons which it had previously refrained from supplying for fear that they would be too escalatory and lead to hot warfare between nuclear superpowers. Marcetic notes the way previously unthinkable aggressions like NATO spy agencies conducting sabotage operations on Russian infrastructure are now accepted, with more escalations being called for as soon as the previous one was made.

Toward the end of his article, Marcetic drives home a very important point which needs more attention: that the western alliance has established a policy of continually escalating every time Russia doesn’t react forcefully to a previous western escalation, which necessarily means Russia is being actively incentivized to react forcefully to those escalations.

By escalating their support for Ukraine’s military, the U.S. and NATO have created an incentive structure for Moscow to take a drastic, aggressive step to show the seriousness of its own red lines,” Marcetic writes. “This would be dangerous at the best of times, but particularly so when Russian officials are making clear they increasingly view the war as one against NATO as a whole, not merely Ukraine, while threatening nuclear response to the alliance’s escalation in weapons deliveries.”

Moscow keeps saying escalatory arms transfers are unacceptable and could mean wider war; US officials say since Moscow hasn’t acted on those threats, they can freely escalate. Russia is effectively told it has to escalate to show it’s serious about lines,” Marcetic added on Twitter.

A good recent example of this dynamic is the recent New York Times report that the Biden administration is considering backing a Ukrainian offensive on Crimea, which many experts agree is one of the most likely ways this conflict could lead to nuclear warfare. The article reports that the Biden administration has assessed that Russia is unlikely to reciprocate an escalatory aggression, but the basis for that assessment apparently comes from nothing other than the fact that Russia hasn’t done so yet.

Crimea has already been hit many times without a massive escalation from the Kremlin,” the Times quotes a RAND Corporation think tanker as saying in explanation for the Biden administration’s belief that it can get away with backing a Crimea offensive. But as Dave DeCamp explained at the time, that’s not even true; Russia did significantly escalate its aggressions in response to strikes on Crimea, beginning to target critical Ukrainian infrastructure in ways it previously had not.

So Russia has in fact been escalating its aggressions in response to attacks on Crimea; it just hasn’t been escalating them against NATO powers. As long as Russia is only escalating in ways that hurt Ukrainians, the American-centralized power structure does not regard them as real escalations. The take-home message to Moscow being that they’re going to get squeezed harder and harder until they attack NATO itself.

And of course that won’t de-escalate things either; it will be seized on and spun as evidence that Putin is a reckless madman who is attacking the free world completely unprovoked and must be stopped at all cost, even if it means risking nuclear armageddon. Russia would of course be aware of this obvious reality, so the only way it takes the bait is if the pain of not reacting gets to a point where it is perceived as outweighing the pain of reacting. But judging by its actions the empire seems determined to push them to that point.

It really is spooky how much de-escalation and detente have been disappeared from public discourse about Russia. People genuinely don’t seem to know it’s an option. They really do think the only option is continually escalating nuclear brinkmanship, and that anything else is obsequious appeasement. They think that because that’s the message they are being fed by the imperial propaganda machine, and they’re being fed that message because that is the empire’s actual position.

We have been warning about the increasing risk of nuclear armageddon for as long as we have been publicly engaged in political commentary, and people have been calling us a hysterical idiot and a Putin puppet the entire time even as we’ve moved closer and closer to the exact point we have been screaming about at the top of our lungs for years. Now there’s not a whole lot closer it can get without being directly upon us. We deeply, deeply hope we can turn this thing around before it’s too late.

WHY DID AMERICA MISS ITS WINDOW?

According To The New York Times, Last Week Was The “Pivotal Week Of Diplomacy Involving [Ukraine’s] American And European Allies” That Will Determine If A Diplomatic Solution Will Happen.

Instead of diplomacy America seems set to flood Ukraine with heavier and more advanced weapons.

On January 17th, Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly. At the press conference that followed, Blinken spoke of the “trajectory” of more advanced weapons to Ukraine and promised that “you’ll hear more announcements in the days to come. . . . the bottom line is we are determined to make sure that Ukraine has what it needs to succeed on the battlefield.” He “applauded the [British] prime minister’s commitment over the weekend to send Challenger 2 tanks and additional artillery systems to Ukraine.”

On January 18-19th, NATO defense ministers met. On January 20th, they were joined in the Ukraine Defense Contact Group by “a broader group of nations that has coordinated aid to Ukraine” that will be chaired by American defense secretary Lloyd Austin. The Times says that the focus of those discussions is “the types and amounts of weaponry to supply, including the crucial question of whether to send Western tanks.”

At the same time, American commanders will be meeting their Ukrainian counterparts to game out a Ukrainian offensive. The goal is “to align Ukraine’s battle plans with the kinds of weapons and supplies NATO allies are contributing.” That goal is becoming increasingly escalatory as anonymous American officials told The New York Times on January 18th that the Biden administration is discussing with Ukraine the possibility that “the kinds of weapons” contributed could be intended to “align [with] Ukraine’s battle plans” to attack Crimea. America has already announced that it will be sending Ukraine Bradley armored personnel carriers that are mounted with powerful guns and guided missiles and “could be the vanguard of an armored force that Ukraine could employ in a counteroffensive.” America does not believe Ukraine can take Crimea militarily, but they believe that if Russia believes Crimea is vulnerable, Ukraine’s position at the negotiating table will be strengthened.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says, “The main message” of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group is “more support, more advanced support, heavier weapons and more modern weapons,”

The goal of the deliberation on weapons, Blinken said, is to “put Ukraine in the strongest possible position when a negotiating table emerges.”

But has that position passed? Did the West miss its window?

In November, when Ukraine captured Kherson, western military analysts began to speak of an “inflection point,” the suggestion that Ukraine’s military gains may have reached an apex. They began to suggest that, “on the battlefield,” Ukraine was “in the strongest possible position at the negotiating table,” as the Biden administration had said the goal was. They began to suggest that the window for negotiating was now.

Some military analysts suggested that Kherson was likely the last Russian held ground that Ukraine will be able to retake in the foreseeable future. Some officials “wonder[ed] aloud how much more territory can be won by either side, and at what cost.”

There were reports that the “inflection point” view was shared by other NATO militaries. According to those reports, Germany and France believe that “parity will not last long and that now is the optimal time for Ukraine to start talking.”

On November 9, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said, “There has to be a mutual recognition that a military victory is probably, in the true sense of the word is maybe not achievable through military means,” he added, “and therefore you need to turn to other means.” On October 9th, former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Admiral Mike Mullen said in an interview that America needs to “do everything we possibly can to try to get to the table to resolve this thing.” Mullen then said that it “really is up to . . .Tony Blinken and other diplomats to figure out a way to get both Zelensky and Putin to the table.” He then added, “the sooner the better.”

But it’s not sooner. Months have passed, and parity may not have lasted. Ukraine has not retaken more ground. And they have suffered tragic losses of life as Russia has captured Soledar and is closing in on Bahkmut, key regions for the battle for Donbas.

We have started to see a slowing — an ossification — of the line of contact,” Cleverly said on January 17th. He then added that “we think that now is the right time to intensify our support for Ukraine.” The next day, Stoltenberg said, “This is a pivotal moment in the war and the need for a significant increase in support for Ukraine.”

When Ukraine reached its apex on the battlefield in November, the West reached a fork in the road. They could exert pressure on Ukraine to negotiate and end to the war. They had attained their long stated goal of helping Ukraine on the battlefield so that it was strong at the negotiating table. And they possessed the leverage to exert that pressure: Ukraine could only go on fighting a war with Western weapons if they kept getting Western weapons. Or the West could resolve the problem of Ukraine getting as far as they could with the weapons they had by providing them more weapons, and heavier more advanced weapons, like tanks and Patriot missile batteries.

The West seems to have chosen the latter. Rather than seizing the window for “the optimal time for Ukraine to start talking” and “resolve this thing . . . the sooner the better,” the West seems to be closing the window and choosing to escalate the war by providing Ukraine with more weapons in hopes that it can push Ukraine up the hill passed its apex.

The window may have been missed. And America may now be aiming for the next optimal window.

Buried in a Washington Post article that stressed Washington’s continued support for Ukraine was a striking line. The article revealed CIA director William Burn’s secret meeting with Zelensky. It said that Burns briefed Zelensky on American expectations of Russia’s plans. An American official said that Burns “reinforced our continued support for Ukraine in its defense against Russian aggression.”

But then came the striking line. People familiar with the meeting said, “Burns emphasized the urgency of the moment on the battlefield and acknowledged that at some point assistance would be harder to come by.” Zelensky left the meeting confident that “the Biden administration’s support for Kyiv remains strong,” that funding “would last at least through July or August,” but “less certain about the prospects of Congress passing another multibillion-dollar supplemental assistance package. . . .”

With that window of support potentially closing, Blinken’s promised announcement came on January 19. The second largest weapons package for Ukraine added fifty-nine Bradleys to the fifty already announced as well as ninety Strykers that could help Ukraine in a counter offensive aimed at severing the land bridge to Crimea, a demonstration of Russian vulnerability that would strengthen Ukraine at the negotiating table.

This new window of optimal battlefield position to begin negotiations is being considered though deputy chairman of Russia’s security council Dmitry Medvedev, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov and Russian ambassador to America Anatoly Antonov all reminded Washington that attacks on Crimea could lead to escalation and, potentially, even trigger a nuclear response, permitted by Russia’s nuclear doctrine if aggression threatens the very existence of the state, including Crimea.

GIVE PEACE A CHANCE!

Today, We Are At A Moment When Peace Movements Of Any Sort (Including In Relation To The War In Ukraine) Get Little Or No Attention At All.

Consider just one long-gone date in the world of give-peace-(not-war)-a-chance: January 27, 1973. On that day, the United States, North Vietnam, South Vietnam, and the South Vietnamese rebel forces signed an agreement initiating a cease-fire during which America would withdraw its troops and dismantle all its bases in the South. On that very same day in this country, the draft was ended, launching what would become America’s all-volunteer military. Richard Nixon was still president then. He had long been convinced, as Andrew Glass wrote, that “ending the draft could be an effective political weapon against the burgeoning antiwar movement. He believed middle-class youths would lose interest in protesting the war once it became clear that they would not have to fight, and possibly die, in Vietnam.”

Though it was already too late for Nixon to test out that thesis in terms of America’s disastrous war in Vietnam, almost half a century later, it seems as if he was onto something. In that “burgeoning antiwar movement” of the late 1960s and early 1970s; turning in a draft card in protest; was often accompanied by protesters in the streets demonstrating against the war; while both rebellious students and antiwar soldiers demonstrated repeatedly, often in significant numbers, against a first-class horror thousands of miles away.

In this century, we haven’t exactly lacked Vietnam equivalents. After all, in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the administration of President George W. Bush launched its Global War on Terror and, with it, two fiercely destructive distant conflicts that could have been considered Vietnam-competitive. Including, of course, of the invasions of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003. The devastating war in Iraq following that invasion continued for years, while the one in Afghanistan only ended (disastrously) in August 2021. And yet here was the odd thing: though there were large antiwar protests in February 2003 against the coming invasion of Iraq and more followed after that war began, unlike in the Vietnam era, they died out all too soon, while this country’s conflicts went grimly on (and on and on).

We began more than two decades ago as a protest against this country’s disastrous war on terror and never ceased to focus on the conflicts it launched, even when they largely stopped being issues in the public eye. However, some active-duty military personnel and veterans did continue to protest them. However, most Americans seemed to forget about the wars being fought in their name by that all-volunteer military in distant lands. In so many of those years, polls indicated that remarkably few of us even considered war a problem, so perhaps, once upon a time, Richard Nixon did have his finger on the pulse of this nation.