Welcome Melvin A. Goodman (Center for International Policy) (TruthOut) (DemocracyNow!) and Host Steve Horn (SteveAHorn.com) (deSmogBlog)

National Insecurity: The Cost of American Militarism

Often the most ardent critics of the American Empire are those who were once functionaries within in.

Melvin Goodman, author of the new book National Insecurity: The Cost of American Militarism, fits the mold. He follows in the footsteps of the likes of Ray McGovern, Andrew Bacevich, and the late and great Chalmers Johnson, the next in the line of insiders-turned-dissenters of U.S. foreign policy.

Goodman, a former Soviet analyst at the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the U.S. Department of State for 24 years and a professor of international relations at the National War College for another 18 years, has seen the internal levers of imperial power projection at their worst and minces no words in describing the ugly side of the bipartisan consensus on empire in the nascent 400+ page tome.

While the U.S. Congress and the Obama Administration debate slicing and dicing the social safety net – with Social Security and Medicare on the prospective chopping block – Goodman points out what Bacevich described as the “cow most sacred” in a Jan. 2011 article.

That cow? None other than the Pentagon budget, worshipped by “liberals and conservatives” alike, as Goodman explained in the book’s first paragraph. Goodman opened with a bang:

“We have the most expensive and lethal military force in the world, but we face no existential threat; nonetheless, liberals and conservatives alike declare the defense budget sacrosanct. A reasonable reduction in the amount we spend on defense would enable us to reduce our debt and invest in peaceful progress and development of a civilian economy…[We] spend far more on defense, homeland security, and intelligence than the rest of the world combined.”

In short, Goodman spends the bulk of the book discussing the foreign policy elite perpetuating what historian William Appleman Williams called Empire as a Way of Life - “American Exceptionalism” in its ugliest, most bellicose form – from the dawn of the Cold War until over a decade after the launch of the “War on Terrorism,” now coined the “Long War.”

Militarization, he wrote in his book, has captured the entire intelligence community of which he was formerly a part.

“The militarization of intelligence risks increased tailoring of intelligence to suit the interests of the military community and its legion of supporters on Capitol Hill,” he posited, saying that the appointment of the now-disgraced Gen. David Petraeus served as Exhibit A of the sordid shift. “The CIA has become the most militarized…intelligence organization in Washington.”

This militarization, Goodman makes clear, is leaving behind what author Tim Weiner described as a “legacy of ashes” as it becomes what Johnson described as the “President’s Private Army.”

Though Dwight Eisenhower did not mention Congress in his famous “military-industrial complex” (MIC) departing address, Goodman says it stretches to Congress as well. In so doing, he echoes the argument made by Johnson in his “Blowback” series, saying because the MIC stretches into every congressional district, every member of the U.S. Congress has become servile to its demands.

Interestingly, some scholars such as Henry Giroux – author of The University in Chains: Confronting the Military-Industrial-Academic Complex – argue that this complex also extends into the sphere of higher education. Goodman formerly served on the faculty of the National War College and Giroux and others argue that universities on-the-whole have transformed into “war colleges.”

Most alarmingly, Goodman points out that it’s all coming home to the “core” of the empire.

He points to domestic intelligence agencies spying on/infiltrating antiwar groups, President Obama’s New Year’s Eve signing of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 which legalizes extra-judicial indefinite detention at home, and domestic police forces utilization of unmanned aerial drones as a few examples.

The New Yorker‘s legendary investigative journalist put it best on his blurb for the book, writing that “Goodman is not only telling us how to save wasted billions—he is also telling us how to save ourselves.”

With the Obama Administration waging a slew of non-transparent “dirty wars” abroad, Goodman’s book is a welcome and necessary wake-up call for those who’ve been asleep to the reality of the mechanisms, costs, and consequences of maintaining the American Empire.


[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]

101 Responses to “FDL Book Salon Welcomes Melvin A. Goodman, National Insecurity: The Cost of American Militarism”

BevW March 30th, 2013 at 1:49 pm

Melvin, Welcome to the Lake.

Steve, Welcome back to the Lake and thank you for Hosting today’s Book Salon.

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heinz 59 March 30th, 2013 at 1:53 pm

So glad you’re hosting this author. I’ve read his books, followed him on various blogs and have nothing but respect for his knowledge and integrity. If only the Obama Admin would take note of National Insecurity and understand how it’s being led by the military rather than the other way around.Better yet, they should put Goodman on staff.

Steve Horn March 30th, 2013 at 2:01 pm

Great to be back here and excited for the Salon! Melvin, let’s start with two broad over-arching questions:

1.) What motivated you to write this tome? 400-pages, quite the book project!

2.) As you can see from my introduction, I referred to the US as a global empire. I was a student of Alfred W. McCoy as a University of Wisconsin-Madison and am thus informed by his work and teaching as an ardent critic of the US empire. Your book never referred to the US as such, though. Do you believe it’s an empire and if not, why not?

Thanks again for writing the book!

dakine01 March 30th, 2013 at 2:01 pm

Good afternoon Melvin and welcome to Firedoglake this afternoon. Hi Steve!

Melvin, I have not had an opportunity to read your book but I do have a comment. I worked in the DoD arena for a dozen years after serving in the USAF for 5 years 9 months in the Accounting world. This was all in the period from late ’76 – ’82 (USAF) and then late ’83 to end of ’94 (I was in DLA/DCAS for a bit over 2 years then as a support contractor on acquisitions)

Even as we tried to follow the rules as written, we would wind up ham strung. Like the time on a USN communications project. The developer company was reviewing test results and talking about how everything passed wonderfully. I made the mistake of standing up and saying “You have completed the test, not necessarily passed them” The Navy O6 (Captain) turned to me and stated “We’re dealing with design issues now, not Quality”

The MIC indeed

heinz 59 March 30th, 2013 at 2:01 pm

Mr. Goodman, can you explain why Robert Gates retains any reputation whatsoever after his extensive Iran/Contra involvement?

Melvin Goodman March 30th, 2013 at 2:04 pm
In response to heinz 59 @ 2

One of the great political mysteries of recent history….Gates’ lies on Irancontra were discussed in the Irancontra report, which led Gates to withdraw his nomination as CIA director in 1986…..his politicization of intelligence led to more than 30 votes against his nomination in 1991, which was a record negative vote until Obama nominated John Brennan…..short memories out there…..

Melvin Goodman March 30th, 2013 at 2:07 pm
In response to dakine01 @ 4

That is exactly the kind of policy and process that led the United States to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on a national defense missile system that does not work, but nevertheless currently includes 30 interceptors in California and Alaska….and now Defense Secretary Hagel wants to add an additional fourteen sites to defend against North Korea…..we have been throwing money at this illusion for more than fifty years.

Steve Horn March 30th, 2013 at 2:08 pm
In response to Melvin Goodman @ 6

Speaking of Brennan, your book was published just before he was nominated to lead the DOD. What do you make of Obama’s choice of someone many have coined the “assassination czar”? And on that note, what’s your take on the Obama “kill list”?

heinz 59 March 30th, 2013 at 2:08 pm

There most certainly are. To see Gates as DOD and then Petraeus at the CIA speaks directly to your concerns, to your book.

eCAHNomics March 30th, 2013 at 2:08 pm

What years were you in the CIA,, what were your main sources of info on Soviets, e.g., open source, humint, sigint, other? What made you leave?

eCAHNomics March 30th, 2013 at 2:09 pm
In response to Melvin Goodman @ 7

Does Iron Dome work?

Melvin Goodman March 30th, 2013 at 2:11 pm
In response to Steve Horn @ 3

I wrote the book for many reasons, but primarily to challenge the views of SecDef Gates who feared that a smaller military would go fewer places and do fewer things….that is exactly the kind of military we need in view of the trillions of dollars wasted on Iraq and Afghanistan in the pursuit of fool’s errands…. No, I never used the word empire because the United States never acquired the power and influence that typically accompanied the creation of empire….. The suggestion of empire usually responds to strategic thinking….the United States has done no strategic thinking for the past forty years.

dakine01 March 30th, 2013 at 2:14 pm
In response to Melvin Goodman @ 12

If the US had done ‘strategic thinking” the DoD/Congress would not still be funding and buying Cold War relic weapons systems

Melvin Goodman March 30th, 2013 at 2:14 pm
In response to Steve Horn @ 8

Obama’s nomination of Brennan was a huge political blunder because it opened the door wide to the discussion of the drone and targeted killings, that is signature killings that respond to patterns of behavior even when exact identities are unavailable. Brennan was a cheerleader for the CIA policy of extraordinary renditions under George Tenet…and now a cheerleader for use of the drone in ways that go far beyond the authorization of force in 1991. It is unbelievable that Obama, a Harvard-trained lawyer and a professor of constitutional law, would exercise authority over a “hit list” from the White House. Utterly shocking!!

eCAHNomics March 30th, 2013 at 2:17 pm
In response to Melvin Goodman @ 14

opened the door wide to the discussion of the drone and targeted killings

Thought there was a lively discussion of assassination drones before that. It wasn’t as though O made much effort to hide them.

Melvin Goodman March 30th, 2013 at 2:17 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 10

I left the CIA in 1986 to join the faculty of the National War College because of the politicization of intelligence by William Casey and Robert Gates and their servile followers. The source of intelligence on the Soviet Union were varied….open sources were best for political and economic intelligence; intercepts and satellite photography best for military intelligence and arms control; etc. etc. The collection was good enough to trace the decline of the Soviet Union, if not the demise, but the analysis was thoroughly politicized.

Steve Horn March 30th, 2013 at 2:18 pm
In response to Melvin Goodman @ 12

Interesting. You did mention the hundreds of military bases though, which are spread throughout the globe – a footprint Chalmers Johnson referred to as an “empire of bases.” Then there’s the strategic thinking that goes into things such as the TRADOC, the “grand strategy program” network that’s headquartered at Yale, etc., plus the strategic planning of the World Bank and other IFCs. Maybe the wrong strategy from your perspective, but why do you say no strategy at all? Lastly, what do you make of “direct rule by other means” than purely with brute force – like Afghanistan/Iraq? Soft Power projection, if you will. Is that better or still insidious in its own way?

Melvin Goodman March 30th, 2013 at 2:19 pm
In response to dakine01 @ 13

There is no strategic thinking that could keep the Congress from approving Cold War weapons platforms, which congressmen associate with a jobs program that has nothing to do with the defense of the nation. The Congress is truly the broken branch of government on the issue of acquisition and procurement of weapons.

eCAHNomics March 30th, 2013 at 2:20 pm

Who is the power behind the O throne? Several names come to mind. On foreign policy, it seems to be Zbiggie, Nye (and his comical sidekick Ben Rhodes), Soros. Huntington seems to have been the blueprint for both Rs and Ds.


RevBev March 30th, 2013 at 2:21 pm
In response to Melvin Goodman @ 14

Shocking? Your book also makes him appear quite inexperienced/naive. Do you see him as more inexperienced or “shocking” in a more pathological sense?

Melvin Goodman March 30th, 2013 at 2:21 pm

Iron Dome had limited success against the rockets of Hamas, which does not point to the possibility of success against intercontinental strategic missiles. Serious students of defense interceptors, such as Tom Postal of MIT, believe that the Israelis have exaggerated the results of the Iron Dome. Similarly, US weapons specialists have created phony tests to claim success for the national missile defense.

eCAHNomics March 30th, 2013 at 2:22 pm
In response to Melvin Goodman @ 16


1986 until 2012 to write a book. Care to comment?

Deterioration of U.S.S.R. in evidence, but at its peak was it a credible threat to U.S.?

Melvin Goodman March 30th, 2013 at 2:24 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 19

Obama has a very limited background in foreign policy and national security….and his first term appointments reflected a lack of knowledge of the foreign policy community. He appointed a retired Marine general to be the national security adviser….General Jones was a complete failure. Clinton and Gates were appointed for domestic reasons that had nothing to do with foreign policy; their performance was less than mediocre. Obama’s trip to the Middle East a week or so ago did not include genuine experts on the Middle East. Kissinger had such experts as Saunders, Quandt, Eilts, etc. around him; Obama seems to work by the seat of his own pants.

Steve Horn March 30th, 2013 at 2:25 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 19

Don’t forget about Samantha Power and her espousal of “smart power” projection.


Melvin Goodman March 30th, 2013 at 2:25 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 22

I’ve written seven books since 1986, so I have no idea what you are talking about.

eCAHNomics March 30th, 2013 at 2:28 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 22

Add to my question.

Conventional U.S. wisdom is that Reagan’s defense buildup was an important cause of U.S.S.R. decline.

Turning conventional wisdom upside down, did U.S. defense buildup postpone U.S.S.R. decline? For example, did it keep the Soviet economy juiced longer than it otherwise would have been? Keep the Soviet population quiescent as long as leaders could point to a great external enemy?

What role did Soviet involvement in Afghanistan and Charlie Wilson’s war play in Soviet Union demise?

eCAHNomics March 30th, 2013 at 2:30 pm
In response to Melvin Goodman @ 25

Sorry, I am unfamiliar with your opus. Will look it up. No insult intended.

Melvin Goodman March 30th, 2013 at 2:31 pm
In response to Steve Horn @ 17

When I got to the National War College in 1986, these military adventures were referred to as “operations other than war.” The military is an overwhelmingly blunt instrument for use in most Third World adventures, which explains the lack of success of the United States over the past 65 years in using military power. What so-called strategy can explain the cost of the Iraq and Afghan experiences, which will exceed $5 trillion, let alone the personal tragedies that will continue to mount. Remember that the peak year for WWI disability payments was in 1969, more than 50 years after the armistice. No one has any idea when the peak year for Iraq and Afghan disability payments will be reached. Very sad!!

eCAHNomics March 30th, 2013 at 2:32 pm
In response to Steve Horn @ 24

Bit player or important one? She seems like Tier 2 to me, like her husband, but if I knew the answer, I wouldn’t ask the Q.

Steve Horn March 30th, 2013 at 2:34 pm

You write a few times in your book about your time at the NWC. What were your biggest take-aways from that experience? How unique is it – compared to other countries around the world – that the US literally has “war colleges”? On a parallel track, some scholars have argued (I’d argue correctly) that US universities have been captured by the “military-industrial-complex” and are now part of that “machine,’ if you will. Do you agree? You’re an adjunct at a university yourself, so very interested to hear your insight on this one.

Melvin Goodman March 30th, 2013 at 2:34 pm
In response to RevBev @ 20

I’ll leave pathology to others, but it certainly seems that the audacity of hope has involved very little audacity…and the recent trip to the Middle East involved a significant retreat from Obama’s thinking when he entered the White House in 2009. The so-called pivot to China made no sense; the so-called reset button with Russia was a slogan without a policy; the unwillingness to exchange diplomatic relations with Cuba (a genuine example of low-hanging fruit for any White House); etc. etc. etc.

Steve Horn March 30th, 2013 at 2:36 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 29

She’s not “tier two.” She’s right up there with the upper-echelon types like Michèle Flournoy, John Nagl, and Anne Marie Slaughter. An important document that they all helped to imagine and shape is the “grand strategic narrative”


Melvin Goodman March 30th, 2013 at 2:40 pm
In response to Steve Horn @ 30

My biggest lesson at the National War College was seeing the military up close as an anti-intellectual institution that is not capable of producing strategic thinking at any level. It is an operational and tactical institution that has been manipulated by the so-called best and brightest for the past 40 years. We now have dozens of four-star generals and admirals who are assigned the tasks that a smaller number of flag officers were responsible for in World War II. The corporate politics of the military has produced great weakness at the top of the nomenclature, which is hurting the junior officers and the NCOs at the bottom. Most thinking at US universities is quite conventional; and there are few professors who write with any authority on military issues. Journalists tend to dominate the field, but they represent papers that have become part of the military-industrial-congressional-intelligence complex.

eCAHNomics March 30th, 2013 at 2:41 pm
In response to Melvin Goodman @ 31

so-called pivot to China made no sense;

I’m very interested in that from several POVs. To give short shrift to analysis in the interest of typing, U.S. dominates militarily, China forms economic contracts. Not to mention how much USG debt China “owns”, formalization of BRICS, SCO.

Which (can’t avoid the unhelpful dichotomy in blog venue) is more likely to succeed: military or commercial?

eCAHNomics March 30th, 2013 at 2:42 pm
In response to Steve Horn @ 32

Thanks, will read with care.

Melvin Goodman March 30th, 2013 at 2:45 pm
In response to Steve Horn @ 17

You refer to hundreds of military bases…..now, if we had any strategy with regard to these bases, there would be some substantive underpinning for the continued use of most of these facilities. Bases for 65,000 troops in Europe nearly 70 years after the end of WWII…..and a troop presence against what enemy?? what threat?? what challenge??And now a regional missile defense in Eastern Europe against a threat from Iran. Iran!!?? A threat to Europe? Is anyone paying attention to this misuse of resources.

RevBev March 30th, 2013 at 2:46 pm

As you describe these mis-steps, is that anyone around Obama who can give good advice/steer him in a different direction? Would he listen?

Steve Horn March 30th, 2013 at 2:46 pm

There’s been a rhetorical shift on US foreign policy a decade after the launch of the so-called “War on Terrorism” to calling it the “Long War.” What do you make of such a name and how much thought/preparation goes on inside the walls of the military community to craft such names? Given they shape the narrative, my guess would be quite a bit, but I figured you’d know more than me given your former career.

Melvin Goodman March 30th, 2013 at 2:46 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 34

I believe that it is quite evident that China’s commercial and mercantile policies are far more successful from an economic viewpoint than the US use of borrowed dollars (from China) to pursue military objectives in areas such as Iraq and Afghanistan that offer no strategic advantages to us.

heinz 59 March 30th, 2013 at 2:48 pm

I remain convinced that the best way to be a friend to Israel is to deal out some necessary tough love and now. The demographic clock on so-called democracy is ticking dangerously close. Aside from that, talk is cheap – - constant and total obedience to AIPAC and right-wing Christians serves jihadist recruiting. To me, that is an enormous security risk. Where in the world is the CIA on this?

Melvin Goodman March 30th, 2013 at 2:49 pm
In response to RevBev @ 37

I don’t believe that John Kerry is an out-of-the-box thinker, but I do believe that he understands the uses of diplomacy and soft power. Unfortunately, Obama is orchestrating foreign policy from the White House for most domestic purposes, so it remains to be seen what kind of influence Kerry and any cabinet officer will have. SecDef Hagel’s order to reexamine the pivot to Asia, which we can’t afford and don’t need, suggests that some rethinking may be taking place that Obama has sanctioned. The wish may be father to the thought in this case, but we will known rather soon.

heinz 59 March 30th, 2013 at 2:50 pm

Also, to get back to Gates – - and G. H. W. Bush, Reagan, Cheney, Condi, Rummy, etc, etc, doesn’t there have to be some accountability? Does a slap on Scooter Libby’s wrist make up for the whole of what these people have brought down on civilization?

Steve Horn March 30th, 2013 at 2:51 pm

Israel came up your book, but generally only tangentially. What do you make of the Mearsheimer/Walt argument that the “Israel Lobby” (quoted just because some would disagree with that designation, such as leftists like Noam Chomsky, as well as apologists of AIPAC) was a powerful force largely responsible for the launch of Iraq War? Do you agree with the premise of that thesis or do you find it overly simplistic?

Melvin Goodman March 30th, 2013 at 2:52 pm
In response to heinz 59 @ 40

US policy toward Israel is a classic case of political cowardice at the highest levels. The Israeli occupation of the West Bank is illegal and immoral, but the Israelis have never had a strategy for withdrawing from these territories. The CIA is not a policy institution, but it has done a good job of training Palestinian security forces in the West Bank, which has allowed Israel to reduce its presence there. Everyone should see the Israeli documentary The Gatekeepers to understand the counterproductive policies that Israel has pursued over the past four or five decades.

Melvin Goodman March 30th, 2013 at 2:55 pm
In response to heinz 59 @ 42

Libby’s sentence was commuted so there was not even a slap on the wrist. And what about the two to three year investigation of the destruction of the torture tapes that was a clear case of obstruction of justice…there were no criminal proceedings and now John Brennan is about to appoint one of the two people involved in the destruction of the tapes as the director of the National Clandestine Service. Where is the adult supervision in this government??

bmaz March 30th, 2013 at 2:55 pm

Welcome Mr. Goodman. I have been having, in another forum, a discussion with colleagues about the modalities for reining in American militarism. Since the lessons of Eisenhower you have noted seem to be lost domestically, what international mechanisms can be brought to bear? One colleague cited the ICJ, specifically the Nicaragua decision, but I would argue that is fairly feckless (and that the Nicaragua decision is proof of that).

Any thoughts?

Melvin Goodman March 30th, 2013 at 2:58 pm
In response to Steve Horn @ 43

The thesis of Mearsheimer and Walt was terribly simplistic and overstated and did not speak well for the kind of thinking taking place in serious academic institutions. Israel and the Israeli Lobby had nothing to do with the decision to go to war against Iraq. The decisions of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al were bad enough without incorporating such facile notions.

RevBev March 30th, 2013 at 2:59 pm

Can you answer your own question about “adult supervision?” You described all the Bush/W antics and lies and the long road of the expanding military. Looks like the adults have been absent for a long time. Where is the protest?

Melvin Goodman March 30th, 2013 at 2:59 pm
In response to bmaz @ 46

A major problem is that the United States refuses to take part in international decisions and agreements on international security. Bill Clinton was the major villain here, walking away from such international agreements and obligations as the ICC, the CTBS, the ban on land mines, the ban on cluster bombs, etc. etc. because of pressure from the Pentagon. Clinton did much damage to US national security in his two terms.

Steve Horn March 30th, 2013 at 3:00 pm

Another topic that came up in your book, somewhat as a tangent, but also to note Obama’s “seriousness” (yeah, not really!) about ending the war in Iraq is mercenary forces like Blackwater USA. Is that the future of warfare – multinational corporations fighting wars via government contracts on behalf of other multinational corporations’ oil resources/other natural resources, i.e. Iraq?

Melvin Goodman March 30th, 2013 at 3:02 pm
In response to RevBev @ 48

The absence of a protest movement in this country is both embarrassing and unconscionable. Nixon was spot on when he realized that the end of the draft would put this nation to sleep and make sure there would never be a political challenge to US misuse of power. The role of the mainstream media in supporting the US authorization of force on Iraq (totally based on lies) was another important step in this direction.

tjbs March 30th, 2013 at 3:02 pm

The Cost of American Militarism ?

Nothing less than our sacred HONOR, which our forefathers knew was worth enough for honorable mention in a document.

I’m amazed at this cold, callous discussion of offing Human Beings like scraping barnacles off the bottom of a superliner .

On Easter weekend no less.

CTuttle March 30th, 2013 at 3:03 pm

Aloha, Melvin and Steve…! What are your thoughts on the the vast expansion of private contractors in the Intel Apparatchik…? The blue tag/green tag divide…?

Melvin Goodman March 30th, 2013 at 3:05 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 26

Reagan’s defense spending and his Star Wars illusion had nothing to do with the demise of the Soviet Union. Afghanistan and US policy in Afghanistan had nothing to do with the demise of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union was simply a house of cards and it collapsed like a house of cards. The Soviet economy had no international standing, and Moscow had become irrelevant to international economics. The Soviets were isolated in the international community and had no allies. Indeed, the USSR was surrounded by hostile communist nations.

Steve Horn March 30th, 2013 at 3:06 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 53

I’ll just answer by pointing to the work of the great Jeremy Scahill. It’s a shocking and horrifying book – and he has a new one coming out soon on the US “dirty wars,” which I cited in my introduction to this discussion.


Ready March 30th, 2013 at 3:07 pm

Conquering the world while at home we fall into third world decay.

And why? To protect the criminal corporations cheap natural resource grab and supply chain.

Yes, protecting multinational corporations supply chain is stated policy of the U.S.

bmaz March 30th, 2013 at 3:07 pm
In response to Melvin Goodman @ 49

Agreed. But how would a movement be made to ameliorate that problem? Are there any international modalities that could be brought to bear?

Melvin Goodman March 30th, 2013 at 3:08 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 53

The expansion of contractors in the intelligence community is a terrible waste of resources that has gone without accountability and oversight from the congress. The congressional intelligence committees have done a particularly poor job in this area, and we have no idea of the extent of the influence of private contractors on day-to-day policymaking at the Pentagon and in the sixteen intelligence agencies.

Melvin Goodman March 30th, 2013 at 3:10 pm
In response to Steve Horn @ 55

Scahill’s writings have been excellent in this area….I agree totally. Meanwhile, Blackwater keeps changing its corporate name and address and continues to bloody the reputation of the United States and its agencies around the world. And why have the intelligence committees been so silent in this particular area??

tjbs March 30th, 2013 at 3:10 pm
In response to Melvin Goodman @ 47

Bull we didn’t go in without Israel’s blessings> Shameful answer !

Melvin Goodman March 30th, 2013 at 3:13 pm

Franklin D. Roosevelt had very good insight into using international institutions to limit the need for direct US intervention in Third World trouble spots. Clinton had many opportunities to use international agreements to mollify US behavior, but he missed every opportunity. His unwillingness to challenge the Pentagon or deal with the military was part of the problem. This was the problem that Eisenhower warned us about on his way out of the White House in 1961.

Melvin Goodman March 30th, 2013 at 3:15 pm
In response to tjbs @ 52

What in the world are you talking about??

CTuttle March 30th, 2013 at 3:15 pm
In response to Melvin Goodman @ 58

Did you see this disturbing report… Top Pentagon thinker bemoans “civilian subjugation to the military.” Gregory Foster really went on a tear…!

Steve Horn March 30th, 2013 at 3:15 pm
In response to Melvin Goodman @ 59

Yes, interesting point. Scahill points out that there’s actually collusion between the intelligence community and the Academis of the world (aka Blackwater USA), which I’d say speaks to what you argued in your book: intelligence and military have created an unholy alliance/marriage.

Once war basically becomes a 100-percent for-profit machine, I’d say we’re in a world of trouble, huh? Scary to ponder but we’re nearly there already. No bid contracts are rubber-stamped more quickly than even the most dedicated observer can keep up with!

Melvin Goodman March 30th, 2013 at 3:17 pm
In response to Ready @ 56

If we were truly interested in the multinationals, then why would we waste trillions of dollars and tens of thousands of lives in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan?? What economic benefits have we gained?? What political goals have been met??

Melvin Goodman March 30th, 2013 at 3:20 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 63

The abdication of civilian authority in this country is indeed worrisome, particularly because we had a strategic opportunity twenty years ago when the Berlin Wall fell, the Warsaw Pact collapsed, and the Soviet Union dissolved to do things differently. Instead, we relied on Cold War policies including the unilateralism of the Bush presidencies and the unwillingness of Clinton and Obama to take on the military-industrial complex. There is still no sign of new thinking, and the slow withdrawal from Afghanistan is typical of the political cowardice. Gorbachev did a good job of taking on the military in getting out of Afghanistan; Obama is showing no similar audacity.

bmaz March 30th, 2013 at 3:21 pm

You advocate freezing of defense budgets, halting force expansion, reevaluating Ops and Maintenance, setting hardware priorities among other things. All good ideas; do you have a strategic sense above and beyond that as to where the emphasis on the military should be among the branches in the future, and how that might be carried out?

Melvin Goodman March 30th, 2013 at 3:22 pm
In response to Steve Horn @ 64

George W. Bush actually bragged about the “marriage” between the Pentagon and the CIA, which exactly reverses the goal of Harry S Truman is creating a CIA that would be independent of the policy process. The Brennan appointment is one more step in creating the CIA as a paramilitary institution that is not getting proper oversight from the congressional branch of government.

Steve Horn March 30th, 2013 at 3:26 pm

Networks and Netwars: The Future of Terror, Crime, and Militancy,” a RAND Corporation book, talks about bringing the tools of counter-insurgency to the homefront. This is a topic you broach in your book, too. With domestic police forces being trained like the military, do you fear outfits like NORTHCOM could eventually bring the “chickens home to roost”?

Melvin Goodman March 30th, 2013 at 3:28 pm
In response to bmaz @ 67

Good question. We need to demilitarize the national security process and the intelligence community; we need to create greater opportunities for diplomacy such as the exchange of diplomatic relations with Iran, North Korea, and Cuba; we need to drastically reduce the defense budget in order to have the investment funds for education and infrastructure; and we need to close down half of our military facilities overseas and bring back tens of thousands of US troops. And we need to seriously denuclearize: we have 2500 warheads (plus another 2500 in reserve) when 300 strategic weapons would provide more than enough deterrence. We have spent $5-6 trillion on strategic programs since the end of WWII.

tjbs March 30th, 2013 at 3:29 pm
In response to Melvin Goodman @ 62

That’s an exact answer isn’t it !

Melvin Goodman March 30th, 2013 at 3:31 pm
In response to Steve Horn @ 69

Actually, I fear outfits like RAND, which take Pentagon dollars to provide justification for military programs and military acquisition. We need a genuine arms control lobby in this country, and greater activism on the side of international diplomacy. Again, think about Bill Clinton’s policies that included the demise of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency and the United States Information Agency. And think about the expansion of NATO (again, think Bill Clinton) when we should have been thinking about the greying of NATO.

RevBev March 30th, 2013 at 3:31 pm
In response to tjbs @ 71

Please. There is no room here for being rude to the guests. Im sure you know that rule.

Melvin Goodman March 30th, 2013 at 3:33 pm
In response to RevBev @ 73

We seem to be running out of steam. I’ve tried to refresh but haven’t found anything new.

RevBev March 30th, 2013 at 3:35 pm

Can you talk some about a vision for hope? The problems described in the book seem huge and mostly going unaddressed. Where you see the most likely progress?

CTuttle March 30th, 2013 at 3:37 pm
In response to Melvin Goodman @ 72

What are your thoughts on the use of NATO as an end run around the UN in Iraq, Libya, and now Syria…?

dakine01 March 30th, 2013 at 3:37 pm
In response to Melvin Goodman @ 72

Are there any ways that you can see to break the MIC’s power? Voting alone seems to be wasted effort – no matter how people vote, there seems to be this virus that infects people as seen as they cross into the Beltway (virtual if not real) that makes even people who claim to be anti MIC (and banksters and such) operate as if the voters are meaningless

eCAHNomics March 30th, 2013 at 3:38 pm

I’d like to get back to the discussion of drones. Is it like Nixon’s ending the draft? No American gets killed so prez has free reign.

One issue seems to be how many enemies U.S. makes by taking out women & children. But those casualties are much lower than aerial bombardment of night raids or other alternatives.

Steve Horn March 30th, 2013 at 3:38 pm
In response to Melvin Goodman @ 72

Right – which is something Daniel Ellsberg learned while working at RAND, too.

Speaking of NATO and to the CIA’s domestic counter-part, the FBI, what do you make of the “NATO 3″/”NATO 5″ case and the FBI’s manufacturing of domestic terrorism cases here at home? Is that something you witnessed at all with the CIA, too? The Guardian exposed one last year with regards to the “Underwear Bomber.” Is that a normal part of the CIA modus operandi?



Melvin Goodman March 30th, 2013 at 3:39 pm
In response to RevBev @ 75

I am hopeful about several things. First of all, Obama has learned from the mistakes of the first term. The Kerry appointment is a great improvement over Clinton….and the Hagel appointment is a great step forward after four years of Gates and Panetta. Also, I believe that Obama realizes he was rolled by the military in agreeing to the surge in Afghanistan in 2009. Second, I believe that a consensus is forming that recognizes the need to stop wasteful military spending. We simply cannot afford to continue the profligate policies of the past twelve years. Hagel’s reexamination of the so-called pivot in Asia is an example of a willingness to look for other policy options. Maybe the wish is father to the thought in this case, but I remain somewhat hopeful.

eCAHNomics March 30th, 2013 at 3:41 pm
In response to Steve Horn @ 79

Put more simply, has there been a single case of terrorism in the U.S. that wasn’t manufactured either FBI or CIA?

Melvin Goodman March 30th, 2013 at 3:43 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 76

Iraq was a unilateral US show of military power with a very cursory nod to international support. The leading NATO powers warned against getting involved in Iraq after all. Libya was a good example of the US leading from behind, and allowing the European powers to take the lead against Qadhafi. Syria presented an important opportunity for the use of modest military power to prevent a humanitarian nightmare, but Obama was too cautious and hesitant. But NATO should not be thought of for these out-of-area engagements. Clinton and Albright were wrong to expand these missions for NATO.

Melvin Goodman March 30th, 2013 at 3:44 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 81

I have very little patience with this type of conspiratorial thinking.

Melvin Goodman March 30th, 2013 at 3:46 pm
In response to Steve Horn @ 79

Do you really believe that the Nigerian underwear bomber (a major case of an intelligence failure by the entire intelligence community) was an example of manufactured domestic terrorism by US agencies??

Steve Horn March 30th, 2013 at 3:47 pm

Right – which is why I didn’t frame it as such. But was actually more concerned with the argued documented by investigative journalist, Trevor Aaronson, who writes for the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting and Mother Jones in his most recent book. That to me is no conspiracy, but rather, the sordid truth. What do you make of that and do you see that abroad with the CIA?


CTuttle March 30th, 2013 at 3:48 pm
In response to Melvin Goodman @ 82

Well, Kosovo was a sorry example too…! Tony Blair certainly was on board with Shrub…! Btw, do you ever think we’ll have a Chilcott Inquiry here…?

Steve Horn March 30th, 2013 at 3:49 pm
In response to Melvin Goodman @ 84

The Guardian exposed that he was a CIA asset and I trust their journalism – it’s not Alex Jones or something.

The whole supposedly stopped plot allowed for ramped up airport security, as well as ratcheting up of the drone war in Yemen. Interestingly, the full-body scanners in airports wouldn’t have even detected the under-wear bomber’s activity.

Melvin Goodman March 30th, 2013 at 3:49 pm
In response to dakine01 @ 77

I don’t believe that there is enough American involvement in any of these important issues. Congressional offices get few calls from constituents, which allows congressmen and women to ignore public opinion. We need more letter writers, more protest movements, greater activity in a variety of areas, but the country seems totally preoccupied with domestic issues. My sense is that the country believes we have a professional military to deal with these issues so that there is no need to get involved. As a result, we have placed no checks and balances on the wrongful use of military power.

Melvin Goodman March 30th, 2013 at 3:50 pm
In response to Steve Horn @ 87

If you truly believe that the underwear bomber was a CIA asset then I fear for the nature of the discussion that we have had over the past two hours.

JClausen March 30th, 2013 at 3:51 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 81

Entrapment is not conspiratorial thinking. It merely justifies the cost and creates the fear then the $ flows.(Seems to be the theme of Eisenhowers address.)

I think you are a little hard on eCAHN.

Melvin Goodman March 30th, 2013 at 3:52 pm
In response to CTuttle @ 86

Actually, I still find it shocking that the very first use of NATO’s considerable air power was against Belgrade, a European capital!!

Steve Horn March 30th, 2013 at 3:52 pm
In response to Melvin Goodman @ 89

The Guardian and The LA Times both reported it. Again, not Alex Jones or some sort of conspiratorial outfit.



BevW March 30th, 2013 at 3:53 pm

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

Melvin, Thank you for stopping by the Lake and spending the afternoon with us discussing your new book.

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

Everyone, if you would like more information:

Melvin’s website (CIPOnline) and book (National Insecurity)

Steve’s website (SteveAHorn.com) and blog (deSmogBlog)

Thanks all, Have a great weekend.

Tomorrow: David Neiwert /And Hell Followed With Her: Crossing the Dark Side of the American Border; Hosted by Brian Tashman (Right Wing Watch)

If you would like to contact the FDL Book Salon: FiredoglakeBookSalon@gmail.com

FDL Book Salon has a Facebook page too

Melvin Goodman March 30th, 2013 at 3:54 pm
In response to JClausen @ 90

Are you saying that 9/11 was a case of entrapment?? The Oklahoma bomber a case of entrapment?? What are you saying??

Steve Horn March 30th, 2013 at 3:54 pm
In response to JClausen @ 90

Another must-see movie:


Melvin Goodman March 30th, 2013 at 3:55 pm
In response to BevW @ 93

Thank you so much for the opportunity to have this exchange…..

maa8722 March 30th, 2013 at 3:56 pm


Not sure how much time is left, and hurrying. I haven’t thoroughly read through 80 comments to see if this has come up yet. . .

There’s talk about nuke/missles, though, NK test demos, high tech stuff which we would think of pursuing ourselves if we were in their shoes. But really shouldn’t these high tech things be elminated entirely from our perceived NK threat, and replaced with something on a smaller scale and more realistic?

What about low tech stuff? I’m thinking dirty bombs on a small scale. Perhaps without a nuke yield, or a very small one if any, but which could wipe out a city center by way of pollution for generations and be smuggled into the US on the sly, the size of a footlocker or less?

Actually I don’t believe these people are serious in any event, or would do such, since there would be no return on that investment for them.

What do you think?

Steve Horn March 30th, 2013 at 3:57 pm

I’d close by asking: you say the CIA has more benevolent roots, but what do you make of their role in the overthrow of Salvadore Allende in Chile, Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran, Sukarno in Indonesia, etc? Is it really a “reformable” institution or has it always been one that serves malevolent American power projection abroad alongside outfits like the World Bank/IMF, etc.?

dakine01 March 30th, 2013 at 3:57 pm
In response to Melvin Goodman @ 96

Thank you for the spirited discussion and information

JClausen March 30th, 2013 at 3:59 pm
In response to Melvin Goodman @ 94

I am not a conspiracy theorist and never said 9/11 was entrapment. Please do not call me one.

I was merely pointing out that since 9/11 there have been few credible threats to us and the ones we’ve prevented have involved entrapment using government instigators.

Ready March 30th, 2013 at 7:35 pm
In response to Melvin Goodman @ 65

We are nothing but the handmaidens of the multi nationals.

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