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On The New American Militarism - How Americans Are Seduced By War 2.0
April 23, 2005 4:33 PM   Subscribe

At the end of the Cold War, Americans said yes to military power. The skepticism about arms and armies that pervaded the American experiment from its founding, vanished. Political leaders, liberals and conservatives alike, became enamored with military might. The ensuing affair had and continues to have a heedless, Gatsby-like aspect, a passion pursued in utter disregard of any consequences that might ensue. Few in power have openly considered whether valuing military power for its own sake or cultivating permanent global military superiority might be at odds with American principles. Indeed, one striking aspect of America's drift toward militarism has been the absence of dissent offered by any political figure of genuine stature...

The Normalization of War and New Boys in Town - The Neocon Revolution and American Militarism are two excerpts from Andrew J. Bacevich's just released The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War, concerning who and which there was a previous post here.
posted by y2karl (36 comments total)

 
...and then a bunch of terrorists hijacked airplanes and flew them into buildings.

I think Bacevich is right, in that any sort of discussion of whether militarism is, on balance, a good thing for this country is more or less verboten, with immediate suggestions that anyone raising the point is trying to weaken the nation. It's global hegemony as a matter of course, and as Bacevich writes, it runs absolutely counter to our national aesthetic for most of our history.

But I tend to think that World War II itself, rather than the end of the Cold War, was the turning point, where conscious decisions were made to project American power at all times not merely to act as a counterweight to the Soviet Union, but for its own sake, as well. It's as if we saw the opportunity to rule the roost, and of course had to take it.

But now in this country what you have is a growing sense of moral, religious superiority to go with the obvious military superiority; now more than ever, the projection of American power is almost unversally seen, within America itself, at least, as not just the right thing for the world but the moral thing.

Yet in the meantime, those who are inevitably pissed off by such polices aren't fighting us with tanks across great steppes - they prefer the human bomb, exploding in a crowded bus or shopping mall. So we live in fear, and give tacit or overt approval to even greater expenditures for our "defense."

And the circle remains unbroken.
posted by kgasmart at 5:56 PM on April 23, 2005


the present-day Pentagon budget, adjusted for inflation, is 12 percent larger than the average defense budget of the Cold War era

That doesn't take into account the growth in the US economy. As a percentage of GDP, US military spending has mostly dropped since WWII and since Vietnam.

Actually, though there's been a bit of an up-tick since Sept. 11, 2001, US military spending remains in roughly the same ballpark as countries like France and the UK, if you look at spending per capita (US: $953 per person, France: $773) or as a percentage of GDP (US: 2.65% of GDP, France: 2.98%) (figures are rough and don't include purchasing parity). So in part the US military is huge because the US economy is huge.

I'm no military expert and I haven't read all the linked articles, but I wonder if Bacevich isn't exaggerating a bit. I agree with kgasmart that the end of the Cold War isn't really a turning point. Nor are "neo-cons". In fact, Bacevich himself talks about the US's "old Wilsonian Temptation", so US "militarism" may date back to a century or so.

You could also attribute the US's current and growing overwhelming military superiority to the Powell doctrine's advocacy of overwhelming superiority in those cases when the US military is used. Or to the fact that the less expendable soldiers are, the more you spend on arms.
posted by Turtle at 6:38 PM on April 23, 2005


Man this stuff is kind of terrifying. On a certain level I can see where the neocons are coming from, but for the most part they just scare the hell outta me. What's it like to have dinner with a neocon? Are they constantly looking over their shoulder and demanding to be in control of every aspect of the meal?
posted by ddf at 7:10 PM on April 23, 2005


Ever since the founding of the United States, there has been a strong undercurrent of "spreading the democratic revolution". It has been a learning experience, but just as obstinate as the spread of any revolution, be it Islam in its time, or Communism, in its.

At first, there was a burst on enthusiasm about spreading democracy. Copies of the US constitution were sent to the far reaches of the planet. France was at first thought to be the start of a real European-wide rebellion against monarchy. The ex-slaves sent to Liberia were going to spread the revolution throughout Africa. Both were considerable disappointments.

But then, reality set in, and Americans became isolationistic. For many years, recognizing the US as a future world power, the British Empire managed to craftily direct US foreign policy to our generally mutual advantage. But the spread of US-sponsored democracy was limited to Manifest Destiny. But even then, the US sent feelers into central and South America, looking to spread its revolution.

Especially today, and right now, even the opponents of the *means* being used, applaud the democratic results in the middle east and central Asia. The reason the loyal opposition was so devastated with the vote in Iraq was that, as duplicitous and unneccessary the Iraq war had been, in their sights, its results were revolutionary. And both parties stand united in embracing new democracies. They both see democracies as inherently good and the eventual fate of every nation on Earth.

But success returns us to 'means'. If a certain degree of militarism is needed to foment democracy, or is successful in doing so, then it evolves an inertia. If the opponents of democracy also militarize, this, too, stimulates militarism as a response.

There is no doubt that right now, several major powers in the world are building up their militaries far more than they need for defense. China, India, and perhaps soon, Japan, will all be vying for the Pacific Ocean in one way or another. Iran periodically goes through intensely xenophobic phases, and so they, too, seek to militarize. Even the paranoic North Korea hopes to extend their nationwide militarization into the nuclear arena--perhaps soon to overreach by testing a nuclear weapon.

China, Iran and North Korea are indeed enemies of democracy. And just from that perspective, they are enemies, despite any other mitigating factor. Revolutionary democracy might abide them for a while, but eventually, they must change. They must embrace the revolution.
posted by kablam at 7:33 PM on April 23, 2005


Happy talkers always ignore the facts on the ground. Do remember what democracy did for the former state of Yugoslavia--war, atrocities and acts of genocide. And look at the lovely democracies established.

Ethnic nationalism and democracy is mixture of gasoline and open flame already apparent in Iraq:

Parties mostly break down along ethnic lines, with Shiite Muslims, Sunni Muslims and Kurds forming their own blocs in the National Assembly. Iraq's newly selected leaders have said they'll divide 31 Cabinet posts among those three major groups based on their numbers in parliament. That's bad news for Sunni job seekers: Sunnis overwhelmingly stayed home from the polls in January's elections and hold only 17 assembly seats.

Students and job seekers swap tales of friends who were told by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to produce letters of recommendation from the Kurdish Democratic Party or the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. Kurdish leader Hoshyar Zebari runs the foreign ministry, which resonates with the sounds of Kurdish rather than Arabic. He's likely to retain the post. "We know that ministry is for the Kurdish party," said Kareem al-Saadi, 22, a graduating senior at Mustansiriyah University. "When you want to have a job in this ministry, you must get a notification from the Kurdish party." Al-Saadi said it happened in all the ministries.


Ethnic, political ties seen as key to jobs in Iraqi government

Some leading Kurdish political figures are trying to stall the formation of a new Iraqi government in an effort to force out Ibrahim al-Jaafari, the Shiite chosen two weeks ago as prime minister, Iraqi and Western officials said...

One important element has been the party of Dr. Allawi, which won 40 of the 275 seats in Iraq's national assembly in January.

The Shiite and Kurdish alliances agreed to try to include Dr. Allawi's party in the new government. But he has been insisting on four cabinet posts, including key positions such as the Defense or Oil ministries. He has also demanded a deputy prime ministerial position.

Shiite officials say Dr. Jaafari cannot offer that much to Dr. Allawi without facing a rebellion among the Shiites. But the Kurdish leadership insists that Dr. Allawi be accommodated, said Salam al-Maliki, a member of the Shiite alliance.

Shiite leaders believe the Kurdish alliance is using Dr. Allawi's party as a wedge to prevent the formation of a government, said Mr. Askari, the Shiite politician.


Kurds' Leaders Said to Attempt to Block Shiite

But it is just as likely the Iraqi police and army recruits will end up fighting each other in a sectarian civil war that will pit Shiites vs. Kurds and both of them against the Sunni nationalists in the heartland. For the United States, the most worrisome sign is that the ascendant Shiite bloc is committed to purging the Ministry of the Interior and the Iraqi intelligence service of its core cadre. According to sources close to the ruling Shiite coalition, the purge—aimed at veteran Iraqi military and intelligence officers recruited over the past 18 months by the CIA—will be carried out under the direction of Chalabi, who is slated to get a critical post as deputy prime minister responsible for security and intelligence. Last week, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld publicly and explicitly warned the Shiite bloc—of which Chalabi is a prominent member—not to purge the security forces. "My concern is they'll come in and clean house," said Rumsfeld, clearly annoyed. "You can't do that, if you are trying to create a chain of command in the Iraqi security force and defeat a doggone insurgency."

But Chalabi, Jaafari and Hakim—who leads the Iranian-backed Badr Brigade militia force of 20,000 men—are committed to doing exactly that. They intend to replace battle-hardened officers, many of whom had experience in Iraq's war with Iran and both the 1991 and 2003 U.S. wars, with militiamen from the Badr Brigade, from Chalabi's own militia, and from the Kurdish pesh merga forces. By purging alleged former Baathists from key security positions, Chalabi will almost certainly push Sunni moderates, fence-sitters and former military men into the camp of the resistance, hardening battle lines for a tri-cornered showdown among Iraq's power blocs sometime this summer.


Iraq's Catch-22

Democracy--the magic word. Democracy: just add water and paradise ensues. Zippity-doo-dah, democracy is here! Can you say Ethnic cleansing ?
posted by y2karl at 8:12 PM on April 23, 2005


China, Iran and North Korea are indeed enemies of democracy. And just from that perspective, they are enemies, despite any other mitigating factor. Revolutionary democracy might abide them for a while, but eventually, they must change. They must embrace the revolution.

They are unlikely to do so, and any war we would take to them as a result is going to be less motivated by altruism that by the need to secure resources.

Which is, of course, the main reason we're in Iraq.
posted by kgasmart at 8:33 PM on April 23, 2005


China, Iran and North Korea are indeed enemies of democracy.

Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Uzbekistan, on the other hand, are indeed its very best friends.
posted by y2karl at 8:39 PM on April 23, 2005


One should distinguish enlightened democracy from mob rule democracy.

The former prevents the majority from destroying the minority; the latter relishes their destruction.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:43 PM on April 23, 2005


The cold war was excellent preparation.

Don't remember the quote word for word nor who originally said it, but I think it is true: when one prepares for war, one also becomes mentally prepared for war.

five fresh fish: I'm curious about democracy. I mean, no one seems to be these days. Democracy is taken as a given. An ultimate good, and maybe it is. But in each of our countries we have constitutions designed to resists the ebb and flow of public political opinion. We have rights ingrained that are difficult (but unfortunately not impossible) to erode or erase, despite what any poll at any time might say. If my country or yours held a majority of idiots, or the uniformed or the misinformed, would we hold high the banner of democracy as evil after evil is approved by the majority? Even a clear majority?

For that matter, if the majority in my country wants me to do something to yours, that's automatically ok, right? I mean, you don't get to vote in my country.

Maybe democracy doesn't justify any and all outcomes.
posted by dreamsign at 10:28 PM on April 23, 2005


why do you people hate America?
posted by jonson at 10:28 PM on April 23, 2005


why do you people hate America?

New rule: first person in each thread to invoke "why do you hate America?" as a strawman without any substance to back it up takes a two-day timeout from the blue. It was funny, then it was funny as a reference to the days of yore, now it has run its course.

Other than that, interesting thread.

Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Uzbekistan, on the other hand, are indeed its very best friends.

Even if they are the shittiest governments on earth, there is a pretty easy argument to be made that all of the world's problems can't be solved at once and it's worth trying to take them on in a logical order. Given that Pakistan has nuclear weapons, and Saudi Arabia has all the oil (see the other thread about peak oil, yet again) I can't say that I'd be chomping at the bit to piss them off.

Would I like that they change them eventually? Of course. But to say "well, it's hypocritical to change in place X but not place Y" is the same argument as "it's hypocritical to be sitting here posting on the blue when people are dying." Yes, it's true that SA sucks, but it's not the sort of thing that can be solved overnight.
posted by thedevildancedlightly at 12:08 AM on April 24, 2005


New rule: first person in each thread to invoke "why do you hate America?"

It's a valid question. Just answer the question Claire.
posted by Witty at 1:02 AM on April 24, 2005


Even if they are the shittiest governments on earth, there is a pretty easy argument to be made that all of the world's problems can't be solved at once and it's worth trying to take them on in a logical order.

Well, if the possession of nuclear weapons gets a country of kablam's laundry list of regime change, China nd North Korea are definitely safe and Iran most likely so as well. I would also point out that Iran has a political system in which elections are regularly held and people actually vote, which would make it an enemy of democracy exactly how?

Apart from questions as to what is the 'logical course' of regime change is, to which this quote from the interview with Bacevich in the previous post linked above is pertinent--

And radical Islam is a problem mostly because the countries with the oil reserves are Muslim?

The bulk of the book describes the reactions by different groups to the sixties, which led to different attitudes about military power. But one chapter says look, to understand why this penchant for militarism has expressed itself in the way that it has, you have to look past the attitudes of certain groups, at American interests. Militarism manifests itself not by sending U.S. troops into the Sudan or to overthrow President Mugabe [in Zimbabwe], but by sending troops into the Persian Gulf to overthrow Saddam Hussein, and it does that because of the enormous importance we have come to assign to this part of the world. You cannot separate that from the fact that it’s got the greatest percentage of the world’s oil reserves.

It’s not only a set of attitudes — it’s a set of interests. This great global war, which the average guy on the street thinks began on 9/11, could arguably be described as having begun at least two decades before. The great contest to see who is going to control the Persian Gulf — or the Greater Middle East, as the Bush administration likes to call it — was militarized by, of all people, Jimmy Carter. The Iranian revolution, which deprived us of a key ally in the region, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, which in the eyes of alarmists suggested that the Soviets could next march on the Gulf itself, persuaded Carter in 1980 to militarize policy toward the region through the so-called Carter Doctrine.

I think he did this reluctantly and perhaps with at least some premonition of what was to come. A consequence of his decision that we would fight for Persian Gulf oil has been this steady, aggressive expansion of U.S. military presence in the region, taking the form of interventions as far back as Beirut in 1983, continuing through each and every administration since. In a sense, when President Bush decided after 9/11 that the way to fix our problems was to use our military power to dominate the Persian Gulf, he was expanding on an effort that had been undertaken by his predecessors and pursued, not necessarily wisely, by each president back to Carter.

So Carter saw the problem and set in motion the military solution to the need for cheap oil?

The common view of Carter is of a failed president but great ex-president. And I don’t think I would challenge that basic judgment, but in preparing the book, I came away with a somewhat different appreciation for Carter. It seems to me that he did grasp that our love affair with cheap oil had enormous implications for what our role in the world was going to be in future years, and he also got to the heart of what would be the content of our democracy, what would be the core values in forming modern America. He sensed that if we did nothing to wean ourselves away from this need for cheap oil, the consequences would be dire. He made a speech in the summer of 1979 that was widely derided at the time, in which he said in pretty explicit terms that we were going down a path that might seem attractive, but that we were abandoning the vision of what America was supposed to be and that we needed to return to that original vision. The way to begin doing that, he said, was to try to achieve energy independence.

That effort had a political half-life of about a day and a half...


--just why is changing regimes by military means the logical course ?


Another quote from Bacevich:

An article in the New York Times recently talked about the Pentagon’s plan to implement net-centric warfare — everything’s tied together by computer networks with greater ability to coordinate and act quickly and so on. The article casually talked about spending $200 billion to do this. It was a page one story, but nobody is standing up and saying, “$200 billion is a large amount of money. Are there other things we could do with that?” Why is there this automatic acceptance of massive investments in what is already global military supremacy? Why not some comparable amount of effort invested in thinking about and investing in other ways to achieve our purposes in the world, other ways to alleviate the problems of the world, other ways to address that most immediate thing called Islamic radicalism?

...The point is to think realistically of other ways of achieving our purposes in the world, because the military way alone, in my judgment, which I think is supported by recent events, isn’t going to work.

It’s also bad for the country. The founders of our country were realists when it came to military power. They were not pacifists; they had an appreciation of when power was necessary. But they were very skeptical of how an infatuation with things military might be at odds with a republican form of government. Hence their lively concerns about the dangers of a standing army. What strikes me is the extent to which in our day we have completely thrown overboard those sorts of considerations.

posted by y2karl at 6:42 AM on April 24, 2005


I'm no military expert and I haven't read all the linked articles, but I wonder if Bacevich isn't exaggerating a bit.

From the article above:

Since the end of the Cold War, having come to value military power for its own sake, the United States has abandoned this principle and is committed as a matter of policy to maintaining military capabilities far in excess of those of any would-be adversary or combination of adversaries. This commitment finds both a qualitative and quantitative expression, with the US military establishment dwarfing that of even America's closest ally. Thus, whereas the US Navy maintains and operates a total of twelve large attack aircraft carriers, the once-vaunted [British] Royal Navy has none - indeed, in all the battle fleets of the world there is no ship even remotely comparable to a Nimitz-class carrier, weighing in at some ninety-seven thousand tons fully loaded, longer than three football fields, cruising at a speed above thirty knots, and powered by nuclear reactors that give it an essentially infinite radius of action. Today, the US Marine Corps possesses more attack aircraft than does the entire Royal Air Force - and the United States has two other even larger "air forces," one an integral part of the Navy and the other officially designated as the US Air Force. Indeed, in terms of numbers of men and women in uniform, the US Marine Corps is half again as large as the entire British Army-and the Pentagon has a second, even larger "army" actually called the US Army - which in turn also operates its own "air force" of some five thousand aircraft.

All of these massive and redundant capabilities cost money. Notably, the present-day Pentagon budget, adjusted for inflation, is 12 percent larger than the average defense budget of the Cold War era. In 2002, American defense spending exceeded by a factor of twenty-five the combined defense budgets of the seven "rogue states" then comprising the roster of US enemies.16 Indeed, by some calculations, the United States spends more on defense than all other nations in the world together. This is a circumstance without historical precedent.

Furthermore, in all likelihood, the gap in military spending between the United States and all other nations will expand further still in the years to come. Projected increases in the defense budget will boost Pentagon spending in real terms to a level higher than it was during the Reagan era. According to the Pentagon's announced long-range plans, by 2009 its budget will exceed the Cold War average by 23 percent - despite the absence of anything remotely resembling a so-called peer competitor. However astonishing this fact might seem, it elicits little comment, either from political leaders or the press. It is simply taken for granted. The truth is that there no longer exists any meaningful context within which Americans might consider the question "How much is enough?"

posted by y2karl at 6:58 AM on April 24, 2005


y2karl, are you a <small>-quoting robot?

by 2009 its budget will exceed the Cold War average by 23 percent

My point was that, as a proportion of GDP or of population, the budget will still be smaller than the Cold War average. And that the military budget of a country such as France has probably followed a similar evolution. So the Bacevich's figures don't really support accusations of a sudden upswing in US "militarism".

But feel free to cut-and-paste another chapter of this too-good-not-to-quote prose.

*humbly bows to Quote & Awe© tactics*
posted by Turtle at 7:24 AM on April 24, 2005


A Starship is known by the rainbow-iridescent blaze of its manadala. Our limitless potential has been thwarted because right brain input has been impeded by weakness in the analytical left brain structure. "Leftie" has not been sufficiently developed to handle the pay load. Now, white light input congeals into black light solidification. We ride with our eyes on the stars, and our feet on the ground.

Imbalance in the right-left brain hemisphere halts the assembly line. Inability to process input to manifestation at the speed of light forces intellect to back up and procrastinate rather than plunge ahead using experience and faith to plough through every block and obstacle that prevents the manifestation of your secret dream into cold hard material reality.

We teach "Ask no one to do anything you have not first done yourself" for this is how the leader irons out all the snags in the pathway of those that follow. On said I had to clear a direct path from hell to heaven, from chaos to Cosmos.

Cosmos is Beauty and Order. Cosmos begins at home. Greet the Cosmic Sabbath with a clear full moon of still reflection. Let no ripples of leftover emotional garbage disrupt the tranquillity of your "clean white stone." Now switch back to timelessness and a NEW WAY OF SEEING THE WORLD.

Mental blocks, mortal moats and beams, ancestral shrouds, clog up the mind-screen and cause gravitational drag which slows down our perception. Under the old version of "Know Thyself", the grown man went down to meet the little boy lost inside of him. In the new world version, the Elohim comes down to meet the grown man. The clear eye shares the "Cyclopean Eye" and the whole world is transparent. Total interdimensional perception leads to full participation in the Grand Unification.

"Time" is a weird wave, moving first forward then backward until it centres. This repairs the kaleidoscope and it is fused to yet a new holograph of an expanding universe.

posted by Witty at 8:10 AM on April 24, 2005


My point was that, as a proportion of GDP or of population, the budget will still be smaller than the Cold War average. And that the military budget of a country such as France has probably followed a similar evolution.

And how much does our spending on military compare to rest of the world ? How much bigger is it compared to the next big spenders ? What percentage of the federal budget is it ?

Let's look at what your Wiki page says:

The current (2005) United States military budget is larger than the military budgets of the next twenty biggest spenders combined, and six times larger than China's, which places second. The United States and its close allies are responsible for approximately two-thirds of all military spending on Earth (of which, in turn, the U.S. is responsible for two-thirds), and spend 57 times more than the seven so-called "rogue" nations combined (Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria). Military spending accounts for more than half of the United States' federal discretionary spending, which is all of the U.S. government's money not spoken for by pre-existing obligations. [1] (http://www.globalissues.org/Geopolitics/ArmsTrade/Spending.asp)

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, in 2003 the United States spent approximately 47% of the world's total military spending of US$956,000,000,000.


The charts at the Wiki page you linked and the link in that quote above very edifying in this respect...

It would appear that there is much material evidence supporting a decided turn towards a preference for using military force as the first course of action in international disputes on the part of the U.S. there.
posted by y2karl at 11:00 AM on April 24, 2005


You should read the quote, Turtle, not dismiss it on form alone.

The United States is the greatest war machine in the history of time. During the Cold War, it undertook the greatest military build-up ever, culminating with the attainment of the ability to destroy the entire world!

Since the current US GDP in real, inflation-adjusted dollars is much greater than at any time during the Cold War, comparing "defense" spending as a percent of GDP is a dramatic distortion. The money spent now in 2005 on "defense" spending would buy more apples, cars and airplane tickets than the money spent on "defense" in any year of the cold war.

In September of 2001, the defenses of the United States were tested. The "Defense" Forces didn't merely fail this test, they didn't act all, their sole role being to whisk the brave United States President away into hiding. This trillion dollar system was supposed to guarantee intercepts of radio-silent planes within ten minutes (remember Payne Stewart?) but was unable to act with over 40 minutes of radio silence from multiple planes and thousands of humans died and billions of dollars destroyed.

Americans never received any explanation as to why this perfect failure happened. No one was fired, resigned, apologized, was demoted, got a black mark on their record. It really didn't seem like anyone much cared.

Perhaps Americans don't really expect their "defense" forces to defend them but only to wage war on other countries as a tool of foreign policy?

The fact that the GDP continues to go up only means that the US can continue to afford to maintain the ever-growing beast, by far the largest war machine in human history.

It doesn't justify it, not one little bit.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:22 AM on April 24, 2005


I see that thedevildanceslightly subscribes to the 'as long as we feel better when we pretend to do something about the problem' theory of fighting terrorism. Good luck with that.
posted by Space Coyote at 11:24 AM on April 24, 2005


New rule: first person in each thread to invoke "why do you hate America?" as a strawman without any substance to back it up takes a two-day timeout from the blue. It was funny, then it was funny as a reference to the days of yore, now it has run its course.

How fucking democratic...
posted by bardic at 12:06 PM on April 24, 2005


Um, hasn't there been a deal since WWII, that countries in Europe and Asia have relied on the US military umbrella? And that now that the Soviet Union has disarmed, but the US hasn't, countries, particularly in Europe, feel even more safe spending smaller and smaller amounts on the military? Might that not go a long way towards explaining why the US military is ever more dominant?

Though it's just basic 20th century history, I find it has more explanatory power than an alleged sudden access of "militarism". Which is kind of an amusing allegation, since the US has historically been involved in a lot of wars all over the world, and Eisenhower warned about the military-industrial complex in 1961. But it's only now that it's becoming militaristic? Come on.

The United States is the greatest war machine in the history of time

By some absolute measures, perhaps. And relatively to the rest of the world, probably. But with less than 0.5% of the population serving in the military and falling (post-Cold War, pre-Iraq), I don't think the US "war machine" is very impressive compared to the major powers that fought in World War II, many of which were then truly "militaristic", with populations and economies fully dedicated to warmaking.

That being said, if cutbacks can be made in the military, I'm all for them. But hysterical allegations that politicians are in the thrall of the military won't get you there.
posted by Turtle at 12:29 PM on April 24, 2005


I long ago figured out that there is something wrong with y2karl, as in mentally. He is no more interested in discussing anything he declares than is an Evangelical preacher or Wahabbi Imam. He is right. He must be right. Because the Koran or whatever says he is right. Every single word is exact and specific and to even say anything is to dispute the holy. Just bow your heads and agree, or he will shout at you until you shut up, posting endless amounts of blather that nobody reads, hoping to kill all argument in endless scrolling.

"Why should I even bother to respond to such a long thread?" Were it just cogent arguments, it *wouldn't* be a long thread. Instead, y2karl wants to regularly post huge selections from the Great Soviet Encyclopedia, or whatever.

NOBODY EVER READS ANY OF IT.

But every day, probably at the same time +1 minute, there is the daily y2karl post, spewing whatever claptrap he has convinced himself is the right and truth of the day. Then he sits, breathlessly hitting the 'refresh' button, looking for the next poster who will either totally agree or be slapped with a deluge of babble.

Were it just the babble, it would be easy enough to ignore. But it is invariably peppered with invective and hatred and disdain.

But here's the truth, y2karl. Just like with other fanatics, the *reason* you are the way you are is because secretly, you *doubt* what you are posting. Part of you knows that it is hooey, and so you spend copious amounts of time, effort and energy to prove to yourself that it is the TRUTH, that it MUST be the truth.

And that must hurt, knowing that inside yourself, you have a little Ann Coulter, and you just can't make her shut up, as she keeps screaming at you that you are full of it. That it's all nonsense and self-delusion. And you hate yourself for doubting, so you redouble you efforts and try to scream her down with "Allah Akbar" or "Yaaaaaarrrrrggghhhh!" or something. Don't slip, y2karl, or you might fall off the cliff, Ann Coulter will win, and you'll never, ever be able to be a leftist ever again.
posted by kablam at 3:24 PM on April 24, 2005


I wrote:

The United States is the greatest war machine in the history of time

and Turtle responded.


By some absolute measures, perhaps. And relatively to the rest of the world, probably. But with less than 0.5% of the population serving in the military and falling (post-Cold War, pre-Iraq), I don't think the US "war machine" is very impressive compared to the major powers that fought in World War II, many of which were then truly "militaristic", with populations and economies fully dedicated to warmaking.


Well, let's see. America is the only country in the world that could kill every human in the world, perhaps several times over. In terms of killing ability, both in gross mass killing and in versatility of mechanisms of killing, there has never been anything remotely like it.

The fact that fewer Americans are actually required to directly operate the machinery of death is irrelevant. The US is able to deal death to others on a scale unprecedented in human history. And this huge military force is not intended for "defense" purposes and has proved quite useless to that end -- it's entirely a tool of American foreign policy.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 4:28 PM on April 24, 2005


kablam wrote:

I long ago figured out that there is something wrong with y2karl, as in mentally.

and then proceeded to attack y2karl personally for several paragraphs, without actually ever mentioning y2karl's arguments or indeed the topic of this posting at all.

For shame, kablam.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 4:35 PM on April 24, 2005


lupus_yonderboy: that's exactly the point. Trying to discuss or argue anything he says is a waste of time. You are either in total agreement with him or you are one of the forces of evil, in his mind. It is as empty an exercise as trying to discuss or argue with someone whose mental illness has damaged the reason center of their brain--acute alcoholics, for example. You could talk until you're blue in the face, and they might seem to be listening, but it just doesn't register, and they go right back on whatever tack they were on before you said anything.
In future, I really should refrain from posting anything to his trollish and radical diatribes and conspiracy theories, no matter how offensive to common sense, reason or decency. But it truly bothers me how someone like him can browbeat others into not responding out of fatigue at his insulting behavior.

Just as an axiom: replace his every use of the word "NeoCon" with "Jew", or more properly "Juden", oozing with the hatred as it used to be expressed in Germany, to know what I think of him and his ideas. I reject the fanatics from that time and place, too. As I discount their ideas as unworthy of discussion beyond dismissal.
posted by kablam at 5:33 PM on April 24, 2005


*rolls eyes*

I think that Diet A&W Root Beer is truly today's OK Soda.
posted by y2karl at 5:43 PM on April 24, 2005


Diet Soda in all it's guises is the true enemy of freedom and democracy.
posted by jonmc at 6:55 PM on April 24, 2005


Military spending accounts for more than half of the United States' federal discretionary spending,

Happy Tax Month. Hope everyone feels they're getting their money's worth!
posted by five fresh fish at 7:30 PM on April 24, 2005


kablam, totally uncalled for. many of us do read y2karl's articles, and they are always well-written and worth scrutinizing. it's not like he's FPPing time cube every other tuesday.
posted by mek at 9:09 PM on April 24, 2005


however, you do get points for the unorthodox comparison of the LEFT wing of america with the nazis.
posted by mek at 9:10 PM on April 24, 2005


Starship? Koran? Soda? Nazis? Wow, some weird stuff in this thread.

I'll just add that I found y2karl's post interesting (so thanks), but his quoting a bit heavy-handed (nothing new there). I'd agree that sometimes it's better to let the text speak for itself. Other times it feels strangely like a sermon, an appeal to authority, and a way to quash discussion.

In terms of killing ability, both in gross mass killing and in versatility of mechanisms of killing, there has never been anything remotely like it.

More exaggeration, jeez. How about the US's opponent only 15 years ago, a.k.a. the Soviet Union? Again, it doesn't seem fair to ignore how we got here.
posted by Turtle at 4:47 AM on April 25, 2005


Hyperbole from either side gets tiresome:

-- The greatest country the world has ever known!
-- No! The universe's most evil superpower!

Bah.
posted by Turtle at 4:54 AM on April 25, 2005


kablam wrote:
[...]
For shame, kablam.


Don't feed the troll. kablam has never in the history of MetaFilter written anything worth responding to. You have enabled him to successfully derail another thread. Please ignore his messes.

And thanks for the post, y2karl.
posted by languagehat at 5:04 AM on April 25, 2005


I read y2karl's posts. Keep 'em coming.
posted by sonofsamiam at 7:50 AM on April 25, 2005


I love y2karl's posts!
Thanks y2karl and keep them coming.

And to those who protest the extensive quoting, if you would read the links BEFORE posting, then perhaps y2karl wouldn't have to point out the fallacy of your poor arguments.

Kablam has crossed the line. Time-out for kablam. Can't attack a message you don't like? Attack the messenger.
posted by nofundy at 8:54 AM on April 25, 2005


Wha??? You LOVE the posts of someone who agrees with your political ideology 100%?? That's INCREDIBLE!!! And further, you despise someone who disagrees with those points? This is clearly some kind of miracle!
posted by jonson at 11:05 PM on April 26, 2005


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