Welcome back Tom Engelhardt (TomDispatch.com) and Host Nick Turse (NickTurse.com)

[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book and be respectful of dissenting opinions. Please take other conversations to a previous thread. - bev]

The United States of Fear

Everything changed on September 11, 2001. It’s become an American truism. And for many, it’s also absolutely true. It certainly was the case for Tom Engelhardt. He was roughly seven miles north of the World Trade Center that morning and that’s about the furthest he’s been from it since.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to say Engelhardt’s a hermit. He travels. But while that morning sent some very prominent Americans running headlong into futility in Afghanistan, ruin in Iraq, and toward utter economic collapse, it sent Tom Engelhardt off to his computer and an unlikely second career. He had been known to insiders in the publishing world as a genius editor – first at Pantheon and then Metropolitan Books – but back then he was barely on email. More than a decade later, he’s an on-line institution. You can’t visit a left-leaning website, or even a number of prominent conservative and libertarian ones, for very long without running into a piece by Andy Bacevich or Rebecca Solnit or Barbara Ehrenreich or Mike Klare or Bill McKibben, or a couple dozen other writers that he regularly edits. Even likelier, since he also pens an article a week, you’ll see a piece bylined to him.

His website, the Nation Institute’s TomDispatch.com has not only produced some of the most trenchant articles on our post-9/11 world, but also several books on the subject. The latest of these is Engelhardt’s The United States of Fear, a slim but meaty volume that takes the story up to our present crash-and-burn moment.

Engelhardt argues, quite persuasively, that the sole superpower left standing after the USSR crumbled in the early 1990s took its peace dividend and doubled down on war, following what he calls the “Soviet path” to such an absurd degree that it even invaded Afghanistan, the very country that helped cripple that other empire.

It was fear, super-charged by 9/11, that allowed what he calls the “national security complex” to expand far beyond the already excessive levels reached when the United States faced off against the Soviets and their potentially world-ending nuclear arsenal. Today, the so-called “intelligence community” puts its Cold War variant to shame, the Pentagon budget is far larger and an all-new “defense” department, the Department of Homeland Security, has joined the bloated budget scrum. And all of it was unleashed by a few guys with box cutters and has been sustained by hyping up handfuls of men running around the backlands of the planet in what U.S. troops call “man-jamas” (the pajama-like clothes worn by Afghan men) as super-villains.

In The United States of Fear, Engelhardt takes on subjects of critical importance to Americans that somehow remain ill-covered, or sometimes uncovered, by the mainstream media. Among them, why our wonder weapons — most recently, pilotless drones — never actually win wars; why, in a dangerous world, the national security state is concerned with only one thing: terrorism (even though, since 9/11, terrorism has ranked above shark attacks and little else in terms of actual danger to Americans); or why the ongoing damage we inflict on civilians in other countries — including, for example, blowing away at least six wedding parties in Iraq and Afghanistan over the years — seldom gets paid much attention in the United States.

Engelhardt has never been to Iraq or Afghanistan, but he’s been analyzing those wars more astutely, and has been right about them more often than most experts who have made America’s warzones a second home. This alone would be remarkable, but in The United States of Fear he does something more impressive and, it turns out, important. In a way few Americans are capable of, he views the country through the eyes of an outsider while retaining all the insights of someone born and raised here. In the end, this allows him to offer a clear, more truthful picture of the United States than many are used to seeing – one that’s troubling to behold, but difficult to ignore.

230 Responses to “FDL Book Salon Welcomes Tom Engelhardt, The United States of Fear”

BevW January 14th, 2012 at 1:52 pm

Tom, Welcome back to the Lake.

Nick, Welcome to the Lake and for Hosting today’s Book Salon.

Nick Turse January 14th, 2012 at 1:56 pm
In response to BevW @ 1

Thanks Bev. Glad to be here.

dakine01 January 14th, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Good afternoon Tom and welcome back to FDL! Welcome Nick!

Tom, please forgive me if you address this in the book but why are so many people so fearful nowadays?

It runs totally contrary to the basic myths of the US and seems most prevalent in people who have never been within 500 miles of New York City

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 2:00 pm
In response to dakine01 @ 3

Hi, everyone… glad to be back for my second round in a couple of years…

eCAHNomics January 14th, 2012 at 2:01 pm
In response to dakine01 @ 3

You beat me to it! :-(

On edit: I was 5 miles away from WTC. I felt safer on 9/12 bc how many such schemes could ever be pulled off.

Nick Turse January 14th, 2012 at 2:02 pm
In response to Tom Engelhardt @ 4

Tom, if I could start us off, I also have a question that I think gets at something similar to what dakine01 is asking. Namely, when did this country begin its transformation from the United States of America to the United States of Fear?

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 2:02 pm
In response to dakine01 @ 3

Dakine, It’s been like a drug, fear (of terrorism) in particular. Put it into your system enough and you’re simply in a national state of fear. That’s been our last ten years…

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 2:03 pm
In response to Nick Turse @ 6

I think you would have to say after 9/11 when the Bush administration and what I call the National Security Complex discovered that injecting not just fear, but one fear – of terrorism – into the American bloodstream cleared the way for not just the invasion of Iraq, but just about anything. Perhaps most important of all, they learned that offering a 100% guarantee against terrorism to the American public was quite a reasonable basis for building and funding a national security complex whose size and finances – 17 major intelligence agencies or outfits alone – put to shame the Cold War version of the same.

eCAHNomics January 14th, 2012 at 2:04 pm
In response to Nick Turse @ 6

To add statistics to the discussion, back about a decade ago, I read that in the whole world since 1968, there had been only about 20,000 deaths (total for all those years) from terrorism. Who cares about it. Sure you should harden your targets and investigate & prosecute. But be afraid? I think not.

greenwarrior January 14th, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Welcome, Tom! I’m a big fan of yours. I’ve been subscribing to TomDispatch for many years. Thank you so much!

Nick Turse January 14th, 2012 at 2:05 pm

On the subject of that “national security complex,” Americans have been sold on futuristic wonder weapons for years now, most recently drones, but where are the victories? The U.S. hasn’t won a war since World War II, not counting victories over “great powers” like Panama and Grenada. What gives?

eCAHNomics January 14th, 2012 at 2:05 pm
In response to Tom Engelhardt @ 7

How did people become fear drug addicts.

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 2:05 pm
In response to greenwarrior @ 10

It’s always great to hear! Many thanks…

eCAHNomics January 14th, 2012 at 2:06 pm
In response to Nick Turse @ 11

Love your Qs. How many wars has the U.S. even won in its entire history.

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 2:06 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 9

Here are the more local stats: Terrorism, if you include the attack on Gabrielle Giffords etc., has been more dangerous than shark attacks since 9/11 for Americans and less dangerous than about anything else — car accidents, storms, fires, smoking, abuse in the home, you name it! Maybe 25 deaths in those years.

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 2:07 pm
In response to Nick Turse @ 11

This is a subject that goes to the heart of the particular obsessions of both TomDispatch.com and my new book. In the years since the Soviet Union disappeared, Washington has pursued, with increasing focus and intensity, what could be called a military-first policy on the planet. The Bush administration particularly – call it its major conceptual error – mistook American military power, the technologically advanced nature of our military, for power on this planet. It wasn’t.

That’s all too clear now. We’ve put staggering resources into military power, but as I wrote recently, “You can buy drones till they’re coming out your ears and they won’t help keep Greece afloat for an extra second. Expand special operations forces to your heart’s content and you still can’t send them into those failing European banks. Take over cyberspace or outer space and you won’t prevent a Chinese housing bubble from bursting. None of the crucial problems on this planet are, in fact, amenable to military solutions, not even by a country willing to pour its treasure into previously unheard of military and national security expenditures.”

Relying on the military to do everything for you (and militarizing your own society in the process) is simply not a winning strategy, which means that wonder weapons will never prove wondrous enough.

eCAHNomics January 14th, 2012 at 2:08 pm
In response to Tom Engelhardt @ 15

You provoke me. Fewer people are killed by terriss than by dog bites. I have long proposed substituting terriss for dogs as man’s best friend.

Nick Turse January 14th, 2012 at 2:09 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 9

eCAHNomics raises an interesting point about the numbers of deaths due to terrorism as opposed to the fear in engenders. We’ve launched no comparable war on highway accidents despite the death toll…

Nick Turse January 14th, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Tom, on the subject of terrorism and casualties, can you talk about American exceptionalism in regard to “their dead and ours?” Why do Americans have this disconnect?

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 2:10 pm
In response to Nick Turse @ 18

I’ve called this the 100% doctrine in Washington. We are promised 100% safety from terrorism, but otherwise little safety from the things that really endanger Americans — job loss, house loss etc. etc. Your security in Topeka is ensured against any doofus who gets on a plane with a bomb in his underwear, but little that matters.

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 2:12 pm
In response to Nick Turse @ 19

Well, we are, as a start, remarkably disconnected from our distant wars. Thank the All-Volunteer Army for that. We no longer have a draft citizens army (it caused too much trouble in the Vietnam era). So Americans have, these last years been able to go about their lives as if our wars hardly existed. That was how Washington planned it and it worked. That does mean, however, that we have been remarkably unaware (or perhaps in denial is a better way to put it) about the way our military has run riot through other lands — the recent incident of urination on dead enemies is the least of it – while bodies from those “wonder weapons” of ours like the drones just pile up.

In fact, I think you could say that we’ve become so “exceptional” that we hardly attend to our own dead any more. TomDispatch has, on the other hand, focused on blown-away wedding parties, funerals, etc. in those distant lands and if you want to learn more, there’s plenty about it in The United States of Fear.

eCAHNomics January 14th, 2012 at 2:12 pm
In response to Tom Engelhardt @ 16

An acquaintance (pink diaper baby) long ago said there was no left left in the U.S.

Since PTB are throwbacks in the extreme, the lack of any real opposition from a strong, global competing ideology has allowed the wingnuts to go further & further right.

That hypothesis would explain the security state as well as disaster capitalism.

Gitcheegumee January 14th, 2012 at 2:13 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 12

Perhaps they become addicted to their OWN adrenaline?

Tammany Tiger January 14th, 2012 at 2:13 pm

Do you think this country passed a constitutional “tipping point” in which there is now an implied “national security exemption” to all the protections in the Bill of Rights? And if so, when do you think we reached that point?

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 2:14 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 22

Yes, but that’s obviously finally changing. We’ve suddenly entered the global age of protest from Tahrir Square to New York, Santiago, Chile, to Moscow. And across the globe it’s a response to what you call “disaster capitalism” (whether people know it or not)!

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 2:14 pm
In response to tammanytiger @ 24

Yes, as I write in my book The United States of Fear, we’re now in a post-legal society — not for you or me but for the National Security Complex.

eCAHNomics January 14th, 2012 at 2:15 pm
In response to Nick Turse @ 18

The auto industry has launched such a ‘war’ though they don’t call it that. From their fight against seat belts in the 1950s bc safety doesn’t sell (but tail fins do), they now throw the fear of god into you if you don’t buy the latest new car with all the new fangled safety (well and planned-obsolescence entertainment egizmos) equipment, you will DIE!

Nick Turse January 14th, 2012 at 2:16 pm
In response to Tom Engelhardt @ 26

You pointedly mention “not for you or me.” So what does this mean for Americans on a personal basis?

dakine01 January 14th, 2012 at 2:16 pm
In response to Tom Engelhardt @ 20

Your security in Topeka is ensured against any doofus who gets on a plane with a bomb in his underwear, but little that matters.

I don’t even think that would qualify. So much of what we see with TSA and the “security” is more theatrical show than actual security.

Tammany Tiger January 14th, 2012 at 2:16 pm
In response to Tom Engelhardt @ 20

The same people who insist that we do whatever it takes to reduce the risk of terrorism to zero are consciously ignoring threats such as climate change and energy depletion, which have a greater than zero chance of happening and the potential to kill far more people than the 9/11 attacks.

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 2:16 pm
In response to Tom Engelhardt @ 26

If you break into a house, and your found, you’ll be arrested and tried. If the NSC breaks into a country, no such thing. Ditto torture, kidnapping etc. etc. They are given a kind of 100% guarantee that they will not be accountable for any crimes… It is a remarkable change.

eCAHNomics January 14th, 2012 at 2:16 pm
In response to Gitcheegumee @ 23

Used to be an adrenaline junkie myself in my rock climbing, parachuting days. Even then I wouldn’t fall for the malarkey the USG is selling.

otchmoson January 14th, 2012 at 2:16 pm
In response to Tom Engelhardt @ 20

But isn’t that 100% guarantee merely sop. It sounds good–and obviously Ameica’s fearful choose to believe–but it only good until it isn’t. The uh-oh moment (when the guarantee fails) merely sets us up for more “protection”.

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 2:17 pm
In response to tammanytiger @ 30

You couldn’t be more on target with this comment!

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 2:17 pm
In response to otchmoson @ 33

Yes, it’s probably the thing that leaves people in that National Security world most anxious! Even that they can’t really guarantee, but it’s been a remarkable way to fund their operations…

greenwarrior January 14th, 2012 at 2:19 pm

Tom, what do you consider the most important part of your book?

eCAHNomics January 14th, 2012 at 2:19 pm
In response to Tom Engelhardt @ 21

The U.S. was always exceptional enough to ride roughshod over non-people. Comes from the OT, chosen people concept, straight thru Xtianism, which has nothing to do with Christ.

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 2:19 pm
In response to Nick Turse @ 28

Only the National Security State is out of the legal loop… oh and one other group of people within it — whistleblowers. From Bradley Manning to officials within the government, anyone who cares to reveal the workings of the NSC is likely to find him or herself in some legal trouble.

eCAHNomics January 14th, 2012 at 2:20 pm
In response to otchmoson @ 33

Ding. Winnah.

The virtue of a security state is that every failure is an excuse for bigger budgets.

Gitcheegumee January 14th, 2012 at 2:21 pm
In response to Tom Engelhardt @ 25

Wow..this is a true honor to have you here, Mr. Englehardt. Big fan of yours,btw.

With MLK day rapidly approaching,any thoughts on King’s speech about Vietnam-and the chickens coming home to roost?

I often ponder what he would say about today’s world.

Nick Turse January 14th, 2012 at 2:21 pm
In response to Tom Engelhardt @ 38

Can you talk a bit more about how this war on whistle-blowers fits in with the climate of fear?

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 2:21 pm
In response to greenwarrior @ 36

That’s an interesting question. My son used to ask me about my favorites when he was little. I could never decide. But maybe three things: Fear as a drug supporting the NSC (as discussed above), the way our leaders have led us down what I call the “Soviet Path” toward implosion (the military path), and maybe how we deal with the dead, ours and those we’ve killed, especially civilians.

eCAHNomics January 14th, 2012 at 2:22 pm
In response to dakine01 @ 29

It’s worse than theatrical show. It’s voyeurism or next step, sexual harassment.

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 2:22 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 39

Exactly. In the process, they’ve left the National Security State of the Cold War era in the dust!

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 2:24 pm
In response to Nick Turse @ 41

Yes. Think of the National Security State as like a mother ship, lifting off from this society — they have closed themselves off from us and are ever less part of our world. The whistleblower threatens this state of affairs, offers us a little peek into an increasing forbidden world.

eCAHNomics January 14th, 2012 at 2:25 pm
In response to Tom Engelhardt @ 44

Learned that from the best book on spooks I’ve ever read: Second Oldest Profession by Knightly.

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 2:25 pm
In response to Tom Engelhardt @ 45

I’ve had personal experience with this. In my other life, I’m a book editor and I published a book by a State Department official, Peter Van Buren, who offered an inside view of our Iraqi disaster in his book We Meant Well. He’s been talking ever since and I’ve watched as the government has tried to shut him down.

spocko January 14th, 2012 at 2:26 pm

Can you talk a bit about the specific ways that Fear is used to get money for various programs, and how, if someone(or some group) wanted to stop it they could.

(I heard recently that the drone program alone employees 45,000 people. Intelligence community 215,000.)

It think about how Kennedy talked optimism but it was the military “Space Race” that keep funding for NASA so we could beat the Soviets to the moon and “hold the high ground”

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 2:27 pm
In response to Gitcheegumee @ 40

Wow, good question. People forget that remarkable part of King. He was fierce on how we were acting abroad in Vietnam and what we were doing to the Vietnamese (and to ourselves in the process). If he were around today, there is no doubt that he would be talking passionately on our disastrous American world of war these last ten years!

blackbeary January 14th, 2012 at 2:28 pm
In response to Tom Engelhardt @ 21

Vietnam showed the will of the people to be more powerful than technology. Whether that is still true,I suppose, we shall see.

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 2:29 pm
In response to spocko @ 48

I think some 800,000 people have top security clearance. The world of intelligence is a mad labyrinth. A whole mini Homeland Security Complex has grown up around the Department of Homeland Security, making money off endless new scanning machinery, security checks etc. in airports and elsewhere. It’s now a multibillion dollar business.

otchmoson January 14th, 2012 at 2:29 pm

Sadly, I see our local and state law enforcement entering the realm of “unchallengable.” For those unfamiliar with the story, a 63 year old man,mentally depressed and chronically ill, was arrested, kept separated from his meds, restrained in ‘The Devil’s Chair’ and literally assaulted with pepper spray. Outcome: he died. Local and federal prosecutors are uninterested in investigating or charging any law enforcement personnel with criminal behavior. It seems to me failure to prosecute our protectors merely widens the breech between citizens and their protectors.

VMT January 14th, 2012 at 2:29 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 9

I read that in the whole world since 1968, there had been only about 20,000 deaths

Just to clarify, that would probably be deaths attributed to enemies of the US and not deaths from US terrorism abroad.

jaango January 14th, 2012 at 2:29 pm

An excellent overview of America’s current history. Also, some very trenchant commentary and observations that are found in virtually all postings. Indeed, impressive.

However, I would disagree, somewhat slightly, and given my bias for having to “listen” to America’s “old and tired white dudes,” and had I written the book, I would have titled it, “The United States of Hostility.”

Furthermore, and since I am member of the “racial and ethnics” or of the Nixonian Segmentation, the “hostility” demonstrated here in my Sonoran Desert, and especially by the white Democrats, represents for me as the eqivalence for the United States Department of State in which its “mission” is to put a good face on America’s international behavior.

E’nuff said?

Jaango

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 2:29 pm
In response to blackbeary @ 50

I think we’re just beginning to see that “will” emerging globally. I expect 2012 to be a year of global protest and global tumult.

eCAHNomics January 14th, 2012 at 2:30 pm
In response to Tom Engelhardt @ 45

The thing about wikileaks is that I didn’t learn anything new. What was revealed was pretty obvious without the documentation. Or, like Halberstam during VN, you can easily find out what’s really going on. Hidden in plain sight.

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 2:31 pm
In response to jaango @ 54

Jaango, My book title is hardly the only possible book title for our moment. I actually like yours. But I did feel like that feel (and the aggression it fed) was at the heart of our moment!

Nick Turse January 14th, 2012 at 2:31 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 56

But then there’s the example of Tunisia and the role Wikileaks played there…

Gitcheegumee January 14th, 2012 at 2:32 pm
In response to Tom Engelhardt @ 51

Do you address fusion centers-and their rapidly increasing powers-in your book,by any chance?

Jane Hamsher January 14th, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Thanks so much for being here today Tom, and thanks for hosting Nick.

From speaking with people at various occupations across the country, I hear over and over again that when Obama signed the NDAA, it had a profound impact on them. Whatever impulse they had to distrust members of either political party was multiplied times ten thousand. Young people felt like it was meant to designate them as terrorists for exercising their first amendment rights (which it was), and it’s basically serving as political kryptonite for the 2012 election.

While I don’t have much faith that any political will is long lasting any more, it does seem to have had a very negative impact on young activists that I haven’t seen reflected in the media. I was wondering what your impression was?

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 2:32 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 56

But sometimes having what’s hidden in plain sight out in the open matters. The Wikileaks on Tunisia, for instance, the comments of U.S. diplomats on the deep corruption of the world of Tunisian autocrat Ben Ali made a significant difference in helping spark the uprising there! (Just an example.)

greenwarrior January 14th, 2012 at 2:33 pm
In response to otchmoson @ 52

our protectors

“our protectors” have crossed over to the other side. it’s hard to see them as “our protectors”. it’s easy to see them as the protectors of the corporations who are usurping our land, water and air and ability to survive and thrive for their financial benefit.

eCAHNomics January 14th, 2012 at 2:33 pm
In response to Tom Engelhardt @ 47

Van Buren was here in an earlier book salon. One of FDL’s Iraqi friends told him to STFU, leave the Iraqis alone, and I must say, I couldn’t agree with the Iraqi more. Van Buren suffers mightily from U.S. superiority and superciliousness. I hope he felt humiliated but I’m sure he didn’t.

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 2:33 pm
In response to Gitcheegumee @ 59

I don’t. Though I hope to have a piece that deals with them at TomDispatch in the next month.

Nick Turse January 14th, 2012 at 2:33 pm
In response to Jane Hamsher @ 60

Glad to be here, Jane.

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 2:35 pm
In response to Jane Hamsher @ 60

I agree, Jane, but I think it really was just one in a long line of out of line acts that should have shocked us to our core… Maybe this one hit because things are beginning to shift in this country.

Gitcheegumee January 14th, 2012 at 2:35 pm
In response to Nick Turse @ 19

The dehumanization of our fellow man is deliberate,and has been engineered as such since WWII,according to this stunning piece from the inimtable Chris Floyd. VERY much worth the reading in its entirety,imho:

Dead Souls: The Pentagon Plan to Create Remorseless “Warfighters”

http://www.chris-floyd.com/…/1405-dead-souls-the-pentagon-plan-to-creat...

Written by Chris Floyd. Friday, 11 January 2008 18:29. Penny Coleman at Alternet.com gives us a look at a new program designed to dull the moral sensibilities …

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 2:37 pm
In response to Gitcheegumee @ 67

Thanks. As soon as this is over and this old guy can take a breath, I’ll read it. Floyd does have a way sometimes.

Nick Turse January 14th, 2012 at 2:37 pm

You’ve been talking about American decline since before talking about American decline was cool. Today you regularly use the words defeat and debacle. How can it be that, as you’ve noted, both superpowers lost the Cold War? Did it have to be this way?

eCAHNomics January 14th, 2012 at 2:38 pm
In response to Nick Turse @ 58

Acknowledged. Ditto wikileaks role in making it impossible for Malaki to grant U.S. extraterritoriality. Thus O had to slink away with W’s SOFA.

The point I was getting at, inartfully, was that the actual state of affairs is easily found.

You raise the additional, and perhaps more important point, that it doesn’t matter how obvious the reality is, it’s the marketing that matters. Or ‘reality creation’ as one D.C. wag was know to outloud.

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 2:38 pm
In response to Nick Turse @ 69

Of course it didn’t. The idea that we were the “lone superpower” on planet Earth went wildly to various heads in Washington and then the Bush administration piled into the car of state and promptly drove it toward the nearest cliff. Despite the look of victory as the Cold War ended, we were undoubtedly a great power in barely discernable decline. Our leaders made sure the rate of decline would be precipitous indeed and that Americans (as well as others) would pay for that. It’s quite a wild (and mad) story when you think about it.

greenwarrior January 14th, 2012 at 2:38 pm
In response to Gitcheegumee @ 67

Your link isn’t working for me.

Teddy Partridge January 14th, 2012 at 2:40 pm

Too many powerful people make too much money under our current system of fear-based national security. Eisenhower warned America, but I doubt even he could have foreseen the privatization of war that Cheney put in place as Secretary of Defense, and then presided over when he chose himself to run Shrub’s oil wars.

As long as there are people willing to war-profiteer without shame, and contribute to Congresscritters who enable that wealth in hopes of sharing it someday, and a media excited about war and its security-related drama, our country won’t come out of this whole.

Do you see any way to back away from this mad rush to the cliff, Tom? Or must we simply document it and hope to avoid becoming collateral damage?

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 2:40 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 70

I think that’s true sometimes, but I have a feeling we’re in a changing world right now and the marketing may be less effective. Let’s face it, in the U.S. Occupy Wall Street has simply changed the conversation — and people are looking differently at our American world.

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 2:41 pm

Again as an old guy, I’m modestly hopeful. I find the upsurge of energy — and the conversation that’s gone with it — from Tahrir to OWS to have the seeds — longterm — of changing our world in all sorts of unexpected ways.

joelmael January 14th, 2012 at 2:41 pm

I have to agree with the far right that big gummint is the problem. That is that third or half of the budget dedicated to defense and police state is the problem. There is a lot of power and energy over on the right that needs to be steered into the part of big gummint this is the real problem. The right feels it in their bones but they have been told to look in the wrong places.

Tammany Tiger January 14th, 2012 at 2:42 pm

In his book “The Truth (With Jokes),” Al Franken had an interesting take on the aftermath of 9/11. He said that events such as that focus the public’s attention on their own mortality, and that the Republicans took full advantage of that psychology to push the “vote for us or die” meme in the 2004 election.

Gitcheegumee January 14th, 2012 at 2:42 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 70

Your comment brings to mind the NYT “truth vigilante” meme—

“Who you gonna believe? Us or your lying eyes?”

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 2:42 pm
In response to Tom Engelhardt @ 75

Of course, I’m always hesitant about predicting the future. We can’t help doing it, but we’re hopeless at it… otherwise I would be riding my jet pack through spired cities (as promised in my childhood)

BevW January 14th, 2012 at 2:43 pm
In response to greenwarrior @ 72

Full link HERE
Dead Souls: The Pentagon Plan to Create Remorseless “Warfighters”

eCAHNomics January 14th, 2012 at 2:44 pm
In response to VMT @ 53

I was going to add that modifier but in the interest of terseness, left it off.

U.S. is, of course, biggest and bestest terriss nation on the globe.

greenwarrior January 14th, 2012 at 2:44 pm
In response to BevW @ 80

Thanks, Bev.

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 2:44 pm
In response to joelmael @ 76

Of course, the irony is that the right is supposed to be against “big government” — but they are only against the service or caring part of big government. Otherwise, the Republicans generally have never seen an oppressive power of the state they weren’t eager to approve or expand — not in the last ten years anyway. If you were to wheel Dwight D. Eisenhower in amongst them today, he wouldn’t have any idea where he was. He wouldn’t recognize them as Republicans at all.

Mauimom January 14th, 2012 at 2:45 pm

Tom, welcome to the Lake. I too have been a long-time subscriber to and supporter of Tom’s Dispatch. You do great work, AND, when Bill Moyers was here, he praised you as well.

When I opened my morning paper, there was a huge story, plus pictures, of the local fire department engaging in a “practice run” re “taking out” a “suspected bomb manufacturing location.” There were all sorts of mini-cameras, haz mat suits, and other EXPENSIVE equipment, no doubt paid for with tax dollars.

Since I spent last week tutoring in the local elementary school [Hawaii's school compete with LA, MI and AL for the bottom of the barrel], I couldn’t help think that all that “terrorist prevention money” could go much further if sent to our schools, hospitals, day care centers, etc.

Does anyone see this effect of the fear [cannibalizing all that "made America great" in the name of "protecting" us from things that have a very small chance of happening]?

Gitcheegumee January 14th, 2012 at 2:45 pm
In response to greenwarrior @ 82

MANY thanks,Bev.

VMT January 14th, 2012 at 2:46 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 81

I’m just trying to tear down the notion of American exceptionalism wherever I can. Carry on.

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 2:47 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 81

Yes, we have little sense of the terror we deliver (as opposed to the kind we fear). TomDispatch for several years, for instance, counted wedding parties the U.S. Air Force blew away in Iraq and Afghanistan and made it to six (starting in Afghanistan in December 2001). Each was reported somewhere, but no one in the mainstream even thinks to put this stuff together.

eCAHNomics January 14th, 2012 at 2:48 pm
In response to Tom Engelhardt @ 74

But Occupy is all about marketing.

I (retired Wall St economist) have been watching many of these economics inequities develop over decades. For example, identified & wrote about economic dysfunctional U.S. medical ind in 1991, and for that to get on my macroeconomic radar 2 decades ago, it had to be going on for decades already.

Mauimom January 14th, 2012 at 2:48 pm
In response to Gitcheegumee @ 67

Don’t you think all these “video games” that glorify war contribute to this dehumanization?

That’s what I see, and that’s just from looking at the ADS for them.

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 2:49 pm
In response to Mauimom @ 84

Thanks! You know, we act as though there’s no “stimulus package” — not since the first one, but there is — it’s just in Kabul and the like. There, we have the money to go out and build schools, buy cellphones for locals etc. etc. Do all the things that a mayor in a small town in Rhode Island couldn’t do any longer.

In other words, yes, if we had put some of the trillions of dollars that have gone into our wars into infrastructure, into American life, we would be so much safer and more secure. No question.

Gitcheegumee January 14th, 2012 at 2:50 pm
In response to Tom Engelhardt @ 75

This is just my personal opinion,but for years now I have thought that the dividing and conquering of the American citizenry began with the decided and relentless effort to destroy the labor unions .

It has been also my opinion that it was not so much the unions themselves, but the POWER that the populace held sway upon,when they congregated in great numbers with a united cause.

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 2:50 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 88

Yes, you’re right of course. But only the shock of the meltdown of 2007-2008 brought this home, prepared the way for people to begin to grasp it.

joelmael January 14th, 2012 at 2:52 pm
In response to Tom Engelhardt @ 83

I think we spend too much time talking to ourselves and not enough time talking to the right. This year, my resolution is to try to engage with t party types, armed with evidence of what their ‘big gummint’ is actually doing, ie welfare for the rich, welfare for the defense and spook industries.

Gitcheegumee January 14th, 2012 at 2:53 pm
In response to Mauimom @ 89

No doubt about it,and is designed as such,imho.

And I will say something that will raise eyebrows,no doubt;but ,I believe the proliferation of incresingly hard core porn has a decidedly dehumanizing effect also…especially on the women.

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 2:53 pm
In response to Gitcheegumee @ 91

Yes, the attack on trade unions is certainly part of it — and one of the things that’s amazed me in New York City, where I live, is the way in which Occupy Wall Street and local unions are beginning to plan and demonstrate together. Similarly, you could see the change in the Ohio vote recently. OWS had changed the conversation in such a way that voters there were focused on inequality and acted accordingly. (Andy Kroll of Mother Jones mag has been covering this subject for TomDispatch — and wonderfully!)

Nick Turse January 14th, 2012 at 2:54 pm
In response to Mauimom @ 89

I thought I might field this one, since I’ve written about the Pentagon’s ties to the video game industry before. I think there definitely is an element of dehumanization the flows directly from these games. The Pentagon has also tapped into this by patterning controllers and training tools after video games and vice versa. Many teens come into the military “pre-trained” on video games that began as military training simulators.

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 2:54 pm
In response to joelmael @ 93

Good way to go. I’m totaly a big tent guy — and TomDispatch pieces are regularly reposted at Libertarian and paleo-Republican sites! (At least the ones on militarism and foreign policy where there are real areas of agreement.)

CTuttle January 14th, 2012 at 2:55 pm

Aloha, Tom, I’m a longtime fan of your TomDispatch…! What’s your thoughts on our March to war with Iran…? Inparticular, on how the same lies, uttered by the same liars, are railroading us in to another illegal war…?

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 2:56 pm
In response to Nick Turse @ 96

In addition, the hottest new form of American warfare, drone warfare, is deeply indebted to video games. It’s pilots are the video game generation and, working from thousands of miles away from the battlefield, theirs is definitely a video game experience (with complications).

VMT January 14th, 2012 at 2:56 pm
In response to joelmael @ 93

I’ve tried that and it doesn’t work. The right isn’t interested in facts. They know their positions are generally flawed and scientifically bankrupt. They simply want to convince people of their religious and ethnocentric vision. The truth is irrelevant to that goal.

Gitcheegumee January 14th, 2012 at 2:57 pm
In response to Nick Turse @ 96

If I might suggest checking out the Wiki for Allen and Company-you know the ones who hold the annual Sun Valley get together for all the big media/Hollywood mogul types.

In 2008, George Tenet was hired by them.

Nick Turse January 14th, 2012 at 2:57 pm
In response to Gitcheegumee @ 101

Thanks for the tip. If I ever get back to that beat, I certainly will.

joelmael January 14th, 2012 at 2:58 pm
In response to Tom Engelhardt @ 97

Glad to hear that! How does that work? Who does the reposting? Is that something many of us might participate in?

Mauimom January 14th, 2012 at 2:58 pm
In response to Tom Engelhardt @ 90

Relying on the military to do everything for you (and militarizing your own society in the process) is simply not a winning strategy,

I find it ironic that we employe the military even to attempt to deal with our failing schools. Currently there’s a radio ad, “brought to you by the Ad Council and the US Army” urging people to go record a message telling kids to stay in school. We all know that a good percentage of those joining various armed forces do so because they can’t find a job, and/or with the promise of $$$ for college.

Tom, I think I am of your “vintage.” I worked for Dave Obey in his first term in the House. It was during Vietnam. He and Andy Jacobs [D-IN] used to periodically issue press releases comparing what we could buy domestically for the cost of, say, a C-5A or other plane/weapon system, etc.

I’d love to see more of that. In a time in which the country’s hurting so badly, it should be brought home to them just where their tax dollars are going, and if they want to continue on that path.

BTW, since Obey took Mel Laird’s old district [when Laird was appointed Sec. of Defense], we got some “interesting” constituent mail.

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 2:58 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 98

Good question. Great minds think alike. Pepe Escobar is writing about the Iran situation for TomDispatch Tuesday — and I’ve written a little history of Washington and Iran to go with it… I’m eternally amazed, given how disastrously every move Washington has made since it overthrew a democratic government and installed the Shah in 1953 has turned out. Whatever happens in the Persian Gulf now, whatever Washington does, it’s guaranteed to turn out disastrously — and probably blowback hideously on the global economy.

joelmael January 14th, 2012 at 3:00 pm
In response to VMT @ 100

A lot depends on how you approach, your relationship, what their needs are. The Nonviolent Communication people have an excellent model; training also.

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 3:00 pm
In response to joelmael @ 103

They get reposted at websites all over the Internet — Salon, Commondreams, Truthout, Asia Times, Huff Post etc. etc. But I always love it when people send them around to lists of friends, colleagues, people they want to argue with… it’s the secret power of the Internet to pass things around that way.

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 3:01 pm
In response to Mauimom @ 104

I recommend the National Priorities Project. Google them up. They do wonderful comparative work like that.

VMT January 14th, 2012 at 3:01 pm
In response to joelmael @ 106

Good luck to you. I mean that.

CTuttle January 14th, 2012 at 3:02 pm

Did you see Phil Giraldi’s recent What War With Iran Might Look Like…

I’m a huge fan of Pepe too, I eagerly look forward to tuesday…! ;-)

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 3:02 pm
In response to Mauimom @ 104

Yes, the military has become our go-to outfit — for humanitarian aid (the Haiti earthquake, the Fukushima nuclear disaster etc.). It’s become our diplomat — it’s often the Secretary of Defense who goes to hotspots to jaw with our allies etc. — and so on. It’s overshadowed everything else. And that’s truly a sad thing.

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 3:03 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 110

Giraldi’s quite interesting. I missed that one. Thanks for the tip. I’ll go looking when this is done.

Mauimom January 14th, 2012 at 3:04 pm

Thanks!!

Nick Turse January 14th, 2012 at 3:04 pm

You were right on the Iraq War when Washington’s biggest brains got it wrong. But when the New York Times and others offered retrospectives on that failed war, they didn’t look to you or any of the millions who took to the streets back in 2003 and were right about the war. Why? What does this say about our media?

VMT January 14th, 2012 at 3:05 pm

What’s astonishing about our military stance is that there has never been any debate whatsoever on how the US would approach the rest of the world. Bush took an aggressive approach and Obama continued it and the public was simply ignored. Indeed, it feels more and more like public opinion has become totally irrelevant.

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 3:05 pm
In response to Nick Turse @ 114

You could go batty thinking about this one. In Washington, you can be a hawk and be wrong eternally. You’ll always be asked back and you’ll always be on media rolodexes. But be a dove (that distinctly wimpish bird) and be right and no one will ever invite you to the party again. That was true in the Vietnam era. It’s true ten years into this one. It’s frustrating – and it’s reality. It’s the Washington and the media consensus at work.

Gitcheegumee January 14th, 2012 at 3:06 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 110

OK,here’s my “dream team”:

Tom Englehardt,Chris Floyd and Pepe Escobar ALL at one FDL Salon…hey, I can wish,can’t I ?? *G*

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 3:06 pm
In response to VMT @ 115

Yes, this has been true. The whole point in the Bush era was, of course, to sideline us. And it largely worked.

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 3:07 pm
In response to Gitcheegumee @ 117

Maybe next time Pepe E, a true roving reporter, passed through NYC again, we’ll do this together!

dakine01 January 14th, 2012 at 3:07 pm
In response to Nick Turse @ 114

What does this say about our media?

I think that got answered Thursday when the NYT Public Editor asked if reporters should call out lies from politicians in their articles as if it were a new concept

CTuttle January 14th, 2012 at 3:07 pm
In response to Gitcheegumee @ 117

Can’t leave out Gareth Porter…! ;-)

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 3:08 pm

You know, I don’t want to brag, but if you do get your hands on the United States of Fear, you’ll find that I’ve been reasonably on target these last years. It hasn’t even been hard, which is why I’m always so startled at what the mainstream media doesn’t see or grasp.

PeasantParty January 14th, 2012 at 3:09 pm

Hi, Tom.

Just getting in here so if you have already answered this question, please ignore.

Do you think that the NDAA is specifically a Fear tool for the masses, or do you think they intend to use it immediately?

Gitcheegumee January 14th, 2012 at 3:09 pm
In response to Nick Turse @ 114

What does this say about our media?…NT

“Presstituties”?

Gitcheegumee January 14th, 2012 at 3:10 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 121

Yee hah!

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 3:10 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 121

Gareth P’s been doing good work for years for Asia Times. Among others I think have been ahead of the game — and write for TomDispatch — Michael Klare on resource scarcity, Rebecca Solnit, who saw a world of global protest coming, and Andrew Bacevich, who has a powerful sense of the limits of the Washington consensus.

dakine01 January 14th, 2012 at 3:10 pm

I’m always so startled at what the mainstream media doesn’t see or grasp.

The phrase I like to use is “willfully obtuse”

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 3:12 pm
In response to PeasantParty @ 123

No, I think Obama has made clear that he won’t use it immediately. I think, however, it’s just one more step in a long line of acts that have increased the oppressive power of the state — and the states potentially illegal acts to remarkable heights.

RevBev January 14th, 2012 at 3:12 pm

So you are saying that there really is a death wish? Very scary.

Nick Turse January 14th, 2012 at 3:12 pm

I just wanted to offer a nod to another TD writer who has been ahead of the curve for decades and, most recently, saw the Arab Spring coming years before anyone else: Jonathan Schell.

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 3:12 pm
In response to dakine01 @ 127

Yes, exactly. And it goes so well with what Nick T brought up earlier — the way they regularly call back people who have been desperately wrong — on Afghanistan, Iraq etc. as their eternal “experts”

Gitcheegumee January 14th, 2012 at 3:14 pm

Be still my heart!

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 3:14 pm
In response to Nick Turse @ 130

Yes, I edited his book, The Unconquerable World, years ago. It came out at the time of the invasion of Iraq and was hardly attended to, but it was prophetic on the power of nonviolent protest. It practically foresaw the Arab Spring… an amazing semi-lost book!

PeasantParty January 14th, 2012 at 3:14 pm

Tom,

I see the likes of Kissinger, Cheney, Wolfowitz, and all those NeoCons as permanent adivsor fixtures in DC. Can you agree or disagree?

VMT January 14th, 2012 at 3:14 pm

One thing I think it does insure is that when the next disaster occurs and the public actually rouses itself to change the system, a very powerful police state will exist to put the kibosh on any attemtps at real change.

Mauimom January 14th, 2012 at 3:15 pm
In response to Tom Engelhardt @ 49

Forgive me; I’m catching up.

People forget that remarkable part of King. He was fierce on how we were acting abroad in Vietnam and what we were doing to the Vietnamese (and to ourselves in the process). If he were around today, there is no doubt that he would be talking passionately on our disastrous American world of war these last ten years!

Isn’t it interesting to think about what King would say to Obama? Perhaps someone should do a little write-up of that for Monday.

eCAHNomics January 14th, 2012 at 3:16 pm
In response to Nick Turse @ 114

The people who get the corp media time are the ones whose policy is in vogue inside the beltway, not the ones who got it right.

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 3:16 pm
In response to PeasantParty @ 134

I couldn’t agree more wholeheartedly! And all the military “experts” who also at one time of another worked with Generals Stanley McChrystal and David Petraeus (now CIA director). They just change hats and become military experts on the very people they worked for or who flatter and attend to them.

RevBev January 14th, 2012 at 3:17 pm
In response to Mauimom @ 136

Yes, and bring in Belafonte…Fireworks….

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 3:18 pm
In response to Mauimom @ 136

You know, in The United States of Fear, I did write a speech for Obama (the one he never gave in which he said he was going to get us out of two wars, Iraq and Afghanistan). Of course, I knew it was hopeless, but it was an interesting process. A King speech on Obama (imagined) would be a great thing to do… but immitating King? Wow! That would be hard.

Nick Turse January 14th, 2012 at 3:19 pm

What is it about the Washington Consensus that handcuffs America’s ability to see policy options beyond military ones?

Mauimom January 14th, 2012 at 3:19 pm
In response to RevBev @ 139

I watched the bio of Belafonte. He’s remarkable. I wish he could primary Obama.

PeasantParty January 14th, 2012 at 3:20 pm

Thank you for that confirmation! I just knew it in my soul. Otherwise, our foot in the mouth on Libya and the drumming for Iran would be different from a more sane point of view.

Mauimom January 14th, 2012 at 3:20 pm

Think on it, Tom.

You don’t have to imitate; just speculate. ;-)

otchmoson January 14th, 2012 at 3:20 pm
In response to VMT @ 135

Exactly–and I find that more fear-inducing that the thought/threat of any terrorist.

Gitcheegumee January 14th, 2012 at 3:20 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 137

I was commenting at EW the other day about WHY do we see so much less of Seymour Hersh these days? Maybe this has a little something to do with it? Comments from Hersh about JSOC?

Seymour Hersh and the men who want him committed – Media …
http://www.salon.com/2011/02/28/seymour_hersh_whowhatwhy/
Feb 28, 2011 – A venerable publication launches a ridicule campaign against one of America’s top investigative journalists.

Now there’s another truth vigilante!

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 3:21 pm
In response to Mauimom @ 142

Actually, I do find it fascinating that the most vulnerable sitting president we’ve had since at least Jimmy Carter hasn’t been even symbolically challenged in a primary. No Gene McCarthy’s this time around evidently!

eCAHNomics January 14th, 2012 at 3:21 pm

O doesn’t need NDAA. He just assassinates.

The diff betw U.S. & Iran is that in Iran you get a trial first.

VMT January 14th, 2012 at 3:21 pm
In response to Nick Turse @ 141

The Washington Consensus isn’t about reaching a consensus; it’s about ensuring that the policies decided on behind closed doors are adhered to by the public.

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 3:22 pm
In response to Gitcheegumee @ 146

I’d like to know that myself. I just went back and reread Hersh’s old New Yorker piece on how the Bush administration began to put multimillions into what, in essence, was the beginning of a covert war against Iran. It’s still a striking piece. The guy is remarkable.

RevBev January 14th, 2012 at 3:22 pm

What is your explanation? And Colbert is in, I think….

eCAHNomics January 14th, 2012 at 3:22 pm
In response to Mauimom @ 142

He’s nearly 75.

PeasantParty January 14th, 2012 at 3:23 pm
In response to Gitcheegumee @ 146

I saw that and second your emotion.

CTuttle January 14th, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Was it you, or somebody else, that wrote one for Obummer shortly after the pathetic ‘Cairo II’ speech…?

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 3:23 pm
In response to Nick Turse @ 141

You know who has written wonderfully about this? Andrew Bacevich in his book Washington Rules. It’s startling how narrow are the bounds of what’s allowed into the thought process in Washington. And what’s fascinating is how fierce the fights are there over relatively minor differences. Should we surge 40,000 troops or 20,000 into Afghanistan? Should they be focused on counterinsurgency or counterterrorism? People in the Obama administration, the Pentagon, and the military were ready to fight to the death over that one in 2009. Other real options (don’t surge at all, withdraw etc…) were beyond “serious” consideration. And so – as novelist Kurt Vonnegut might have said – it goes

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 3:24 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 154

Someone else, I think. I did it on the eve of his big 2009 surge speech at West Point, when I knew exactly what was coming.

VMT January 14th, 2012 at 3:26 pm
In response to otchmoson @ 145

It is terrifying. How many people today would be willing to use their credit card to donate to Wikileaks, even if they could? Welcome to the police state.

Nick Turse January 14th, 2012 at 3:27 pm

So how about a preview of that piece on Iran you have coming up? What can we expect?

CTuttle January 14th, 2012 at 3:28 pm

I think that was the one indeed, I just thought it was after Cairo 2…! ;-)

PeasantParty January 14th, 2012 at 3:28 pm

Tom,

I’ve noticed the crossovers and intervention in the Military Intelligence and what has been normally the FBI and CIA. Is this because of the Fear factors, or due to over growth of the MIC?

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 3:28 pm
In response to VMT @ 157

Yes, it is increasingly scary, for those who care to be scared. My general attitude is that I don’t care who might be listening in on or attending to me. I’m shocked by surveillance, but personally I don’t give a damn. Listen away!

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 3:29 pm
In response to Nick Turse @ 158

Okay, here’s just a single sentence from his remarkable 3,000 word piece… but it gives you a sense of where he’s going. Tune in Tuesday morning or thereafter at TomDispatch for the whole thing:

“So yes, this larger than life psychodrama we call ‘Iran’ may turn out to be as much about China and the U.S. dollar as it is about the politics of the Persian Gulf or Iran’s nonexistent bomb.”

PeasantParty January 14th, 2012 at 3:30 pm
In response to VMT @ 157

Can you do a Western Union or certified check to them? I don’t know as I have no money to send, but just curious.

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 3:30 pm
In response to PeasantParty @ 160

Yes, this is part of the growth. Former Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld pushed hard to get military intelligence into other areas — especially the CIA’s territory. And it’s kept on expanding.

Gitcheegumee January 14th, 2012 at 3:31 pm

“In times of universal deception,telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”

George Orwell

VMT January 14th, 2012 at 3:31 pm

I go the way of Chomsky on this. When you hide your ideology, then bad things can start to happen. However, it doesn’t make me comfortable to know President Santorum can designate me a terrorist and lock me up forever simply because he lost his temper.

PeasantParty January 14th, 2012 at 3:32 pm

I’ve recently experienced a more intrusive version of privacy while helping out at the Dissenter on the Manning Pre-Trial hearing. Pissed me off to no end!

VMT January 14th, 2012 at 3:32 pm
In response to PeasantParty @ 163

I don’t know. I’m broke. :-)

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 3:32 pm
In response to VMT @ 157

TomDispatch had a little taste of this. It was banned on State Department computers (and possibly other government computers). I consider it a small badge of honor.

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 3:33 pm
In response to Gitcheegumee @ 165

Lovely quote. Where’s George Orwell now that we really need him?

RevBev January 14th, 2012 at 3:33 pm
In response to VMT @ 166

Take comfort…The TX evangelicals just selected him their candidate at their pow-wow…..

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 3:34 pm
In response to PeasantParty @ 167

I can believe that. The treatment of Manning and everything around him has been punitive in the extreme.

By the way, TomDispatch will have a Manning story this week. I’m committed to not forgetting him and his urge to tell us what our government and military were really doing in Iraq and elsewhere.

PeasantParty January 14th, 2012 at 3:34 pm

That is also another confirmation. I’ve said many times that Cheney, the Bush Family, and Rummy have done so much harm to the CIA that once they realize may punch back.

Elliott January 14th, 2012 at 3:34 pm

He warned us!

greenwarrior January 14th, 2012 at 3:35 pm
In response to VMT @ 166

Or President Obama.

PeasantParty January 14th, 2012 at 3:36 pm

Wonderful!

We support whistleblowers and especially the Manning saga.

Elliott January 14th, 2012 at 3:37 pm

Do you think McCrystal at the CIA has increased military-style actions there?

Gitcheegumee January 14th, 2012 at 3:37 pm

He and JK Galbraith are busy comparing notes……

“The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.” …

JK Galbraith

PeasantParty January 14th, 2012 at 3:37 pm
In response to RevBev @ 171

Snort!

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 3:38 pm

Just for the heck of it, here’s a passage from my last piece at TomDispatch. My feelings about how unpredictable 2012 is likely to be and how much its problems — from the Eurozone to the Chinese housing bubble — won’t be amenable to a military-first global policy.

“Over the years, “the perfect storm” came to be a perfectly overused cliché, which is why you don’t see it much any more. But it might be worth dusting off and keeping in reserve this year and next — just in case. After all, when any situation destabilizes, all bets are off, including for a president having his mission accomplished moment.”

CTuttle January 14th, 2012 at 3:38 pm

What truly is spurring the war drive, is the Iranian Oil Bourse on Kish island, in the Straits of Hormuz, it’s the fact they’re seeking to shift the the paradigm of the almighty US buck as the sole currency for Oil…! Scares the bejeebus outta ‘em, and, that’s why they’re centering the sanctions on Iran’s Central Bank…! 8-(

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 3:39 pm
In response to Elliott @ 177

Well, Petraeus did seal the deal on the paramilitarization of the CIA. We don’t really know much about what he’s specifically doing at this point. There’s been remarkably little writing on him.

VMT January 14th, 2012 at 3:39 pm
In response to RevBev @ 171

Yeech!

Elliott January 14th, 2012 at 3:39 pm

Any comment on the allegations that MOSSAD impersonated the CIA for Iranian recruitment?

imo MOSSAD is utterly and totally ruthless, they will justify any action, no matter how far over the line it could be.

otchmoson January 14th, 2012 at 3:39 pm

I think he showed us “The Ghost of Christmas Future” (sorry, Mr. Dickens)and we chose to ignore him. He was too sci-fi/futuristic . . . not prophetic. NOT!

eCAHNomics January 14th, 2012 at 3:39 pm

With so little time left in the salon, suggestions for what to do about it please.

RevBev January 14th, 2012 at 3:39 pm
In response to PeasantParty @ 173

Wouldn’t Condi belong in that group? Even as window dressing?

Elliott January 14th, 2012 at 3:40 pm

(thank you for the correction *red face*)

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 3:40 pm

The real story of our military era — and Nick Turse has written about it brilliantly at TomDispatch — is the development of our elite special operations forces into a enormous secret army cocooned inside the U.S. military. Now, there’s something to worry about.

Nick Turse January 14th, 2012 at 3:40 pm
In response to Elliott @ 177

Also, it’s hard to tell because its often difficult to figure out where the military ends and the CIA begins these days…

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 3:41 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 181

Very smart comment. Pepe Escobar writes on this in an insightful way on Tuesday at TomDispatch.

eCAHNomics January 14th, 2012 at 3:41 pm
In response to otchmoson @ 185

Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 3:41 pm
In response to Elliott @ 188

I knew what you meant. When we all write fast like this, error creeps in. It’s unavoidable, the brain being what it is.

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 3:42 pm
In response to Nick Turse @ 190

Quite true. In the world of drone warfare, the U.S. Air Force and the CIA are indeed beginning to fuse.

RevBev January 14th, 2012 at 3:42 pm
In response to Nick Turse @ 190

Or the new name for Blackwater…Creeps

CTuttle January 14th, 2012 at 3:43 pm

JSOC is truly scary, at least the CIA does have some Congressional Oversight, but, they have none whatsoever…! 8-(

eCAHNomics January 14th, 2012 at 3:43 pm
In response to Nick Turse @ 190

I think it doesn’t matter much. State Dept just another arm of both CIA and corp U.S. They’re all melded and have been since CIA got founded. My faves are Dulleses, Allen at CIA, John Foster at State, both from white shoe law firms whose only interests was corp clients which didn’t change in USG.

VMT January 14th, 2012 at 3:44 pm

That is disturbing. The question that frightens me, though, is whether the operators of drones will ever experience killing fatigue? It’s one thing to be operating machine gun in cover and it’s another to be operating a powerful weapon from a computer in San Diego or Honolulu.

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 3:44 pm
In response to Elliott @ 184

No comment. I wish I knew more, but I don’t. I suspect though that the assassination campaign against Iranian nuclear scientists will backfire. Such things will unite a populace, even when there is much dislike for the Mullahtariat.

blackbeary January 14th, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Isn’t the fear about not just hegemony but global full spectrum dominance by financial jackals such as the Bank of England, City of London?

Gitcheegumee January 14th, 2012 at 3:44 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 181

CT,wasn’t that what Ghaddafi wanted to do,also? (I may be WAY off on this,however…)

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 3:45 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 196

Yes, true. JSOC operated out of the vice president’s office — so said Seymour Hersh — in the Bush years. Increasingly, however, they are becoming something like the president’s private army in the Global War on Terror (even if that name is no longer in use in Washington).

PeasantParty January 14th, 2012 at 3:45 pm
In response to RevBev @ 187

Definitely!

But you will never get it out of her. The only thing you will hear will be an endless drone of words and then…

“Whocouldaknowed?”

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 3:46 pm
In response to Gitcheegumee @ 201

You’re not off. He was promoting the African dinar — a coin of his dreams — instead of the dollar.

Nick Turse January 14th, 2012 at 3:46 pm

With the emphasis on global. Special Operation Forces are now active in 120 countries annually…

PeasantParty January 14th, 2012 at 3:48 pm
In response to VMT @ 198

It is my understanding, and I can probably be wrong, but it is set up more like a video game.

Elliott January 14th, 2012 at 3:48 pm

I just imagine the reaction if it were happening in the USA.

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Condi is off writing her books now and pulling down maybe $100,000 a pop for speeches. George W. gets $150,000 a pop (reportedly). They’ve “retired” to the money-making circuit. This is what now passes for accountability in America.

RevBev January 14th, 2012 at 3:50 pm

And we hear W is playing video games in the suburban Dallas malls…guess he misses all that military experience.

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 3:50 pm
In response to Elliott @ 207

Elliott, You know, at TD and in the United States of Fear I’ve often reversed situations — and tried to give Americans a sense of what it might be like to have “Predator” drones cruising their communities etc. Of course, it’s just an exercise. The best recent version of this I’ve seen comes from an ad produced by a Ron Paul pac. Take a look sometime:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKfuS6gfxPY&feature=player_embedded

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 3:51 pm
In response to RevBev @ 209

And don’t forget his presidential library!

VMT January 14th, 2012 at 3:51 pm
In response to PeasantParty @ 206

Probably, but I have to think that the game players understand that they are killing actual people. Hopefully, enough of them will reach the conclusion that it’s not much fun to be a high tech executioner, but who knows?

BevW January 14th, 2012 at 3:52 pm

As we come to the end of this great Book Salon,

Tom, Thank you for stopping by the Lake again and spending the afternoon with us discussing your new book and our climate of fear.

Nick, Thank you very much for Hosting this great Book Salon.

Everyone, if you would like more information:

Tom’s website (TomDispatch) and book (The United States of Fear)

Nick’s website (NickTurse.com)

Thanks all, Have a great weekend.

Tomorrow:
Dylan Ratigan – Greedy Bastards: How We Can Stop Corporate Communists, Banksters, and Other Vampires from Sucking America Dry; Hosted by William Black

If you want to contact the FDL Book Salon: BookSalon@firedoglake.com

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 3:53 pm
In response to VMT @ 212

Yes, of course you’re right, which is why, thousands of miles away, they still suffer from startling levels of what’s officially called “high operational stress”…

RevBev January 14th, 2012 at 3:53 pm

Humm…Wonder if it will have video games…And per above, they would have to pay ME 100 Thou to listen to a Condi speech…Gives me a headache…

Tom Engelhardt January 14th, 2012 at 3:53 pm
In response to BevW @ 213

And thank you all for the great questions and comments! See you at TomDispatch!

Gitcheegumee January 14th, 2012 at 3:53 pm

Wow, my memory isn’t as bad as I thought.

Just a little comment about the Hersh and his commentaries on JSOC -he alleged ties between them and Knights of Malta.

Now this speech was made in Qatar,where the statements were made-long before Ghaddafi’s demise.

What is of interest to me, in hindsight, is Ghaddafi’s ties to Malta…IIRC,his mother was Italian,possibly Maltese.

Nick Turse January 14th, 2012 at 3:53 pm
In response to BevW @ 213

Thank you, Bev. It was my pleasure.

VMT January 14th, 2012 at 3:54 pm

. . . which will lead the military to try and automate the killing process by removing the human element and instead use enemy profiling to have computers carry out the killing. The future could be a real nightmare.

eCAHNomics January 14th, 2012 at 3:55 pm

What’s the price of admission to one of W’s speeches?

I once boo’d John Whitehead when he was head of GS and I was an employee. It was in Hilton Grand Ballroom, so no one except my table knew who did it. It was heard though. Subject, iirc, was award to him from Catalyst for his promotion of women at GS. I, being of that gender, knew otherwise.

BTW, that’s just another way that MOTUs and PTB subvert oppo-by buying off leaders with cocktail party invitations. Doesn’t take much.

VMT January 14th, 2012 at 3:55 pm

Thanks Tom and Nick.

Gitcheegumee January 14th, 2012 at 3:56 pm

THANKS to everyone-especially the wonderful guests- and Rev Bev for an enjoyable and informative interlude!!

PeasantParty January 14th, 2012 at 3:56 pm

Tom,

Echan asked above if you might have a prescription of how we can change or stop some of this. Any insight?

eCAHNomics January 14th, 2012 at 3:57 pm
In response to PeasantParty @ 223

Not a clue. Occupy is only game I know of today.

Mauimom January 14th, 2012 at 3:57 pm

Tom, as this book salon draws to a close, i want to give you a big “thank you,” not just for your own work, but for providing a place for “real journalists” to write. Now that the “traditional media” has been bought off by — or is absorbed in sucking up to — the “Establishment,” there’s a need for a place for responsible journalists to write, to be well-edited, and to get paid.

Thank you for all of this.

Mauimom January 14th, 2012 at 4:01 pm

What also occurs to me is that we’re a United States of fear not just in the military sense.

We fear that we’ll lose our jobs.
We fear that our kids won’t be able to get a job.
We fear that we’ll get sick and won’t be able to afford medical care.
We fear that we’ll lose our house [if we have one] or that we can’t find a place to live if we’ve lost ours.
We fear that if we ever reach retirement age, we won’t have sufficient funds to live on.

And of course, we fear for our political system, our [lost] civil rights, and our country. It’s hard to plan action in an atmosphere of unrelenting fear.

Gitcheegumee January 14th, 2012 at 4:02 pm

Psychological Kevlar:

Dead Souls: The Pentagon Plan to Create Remorseless “Warfighters”
Written by Chris Floyd
Friday, 11 January 2008 18:29

Penny Coleman at Alternet.com gives us a look at a new program designed to dull the moral sensibilities of American soldiers in combat on the imperial frontiers: Pentagon, Big Pharma: Drug Troops to Numb Them to Horrors of War.

But as we’ll see below, this attempt to peddle magic pills to chase away the horrors of war is just one front in a long-term, wide-ranging “warfighter enhancement program” — including the neurological and genetic re-engineering of soldiers’ minds and bodies to create what the Pentagon calls “iron bodied and iron willed personnel”: tireless, relentless, remorseless, unstoppable.

I.
Coleman takes specific aim at the “Psychological Kevlar Act,” aimed at reducing the alarming spread of soldier suicides and post-traumatic stress disorder spawned by the illegal invasion of Iraq. The program relies heavily on dosing soldiers with Propranalol, which, “if taken immediately following a traumatic event, can subdue a victim’s stress response and so soften his or her perception of the memory,” as Coleman notes. “That does not mean the memory has been erased, but proponents claim that the drug can render it emotionally toothless.” She continues:

But is it moral to weaken memories of horrendous acts a person has committed? Some would say that there is no difference between offering injured soldiers penicillin to prevent an infection and giving a drug that prevents them from suffering from a posttraumatic stress injury for the rest of their lives. Others, like Leon Kass, former chairman of the President’s Council on Bioethics, object to propranolol’s use on the grounds that it medicates away one’s conscience…Barry Romo, a national coordinator for Vietnam Veterans Against the War, is even more blunt. “That’s the devil pill,” he says. “That’s the monster pill, the anti-morality pill. That’s the pill that can make men and women do anything and think they can get away with it. Even if it doesn’t work, what’s scary is that a young soldier could believe it will.”

(Excerpt,link @ #80,upthread)

RevBev January 14th, 2012 at 4:04 pm
In response to Mauimom @ 226

It is….Yet we celebrate Dr King right now….who kept going, paid a terrible price…combating endless sources of fear. I hope that doesn’t sound naive. He must have been fearless in some way, however.

Elliott January 14th, 2012 at 4:07 pm

Thanks Tom and Nick
and as ever, Bev.

Enlightening discussion.

darms January 14th, 2012 at 4:21 pm
In response to greenwarrior @ 72

Probably too late but try this

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