Well, here we are, and I’m finding myself writing another note about the puffed up circus of insanity playing out in “international affairs” in Europe.
I mentioned the formal organization of the neocon cult called the Project for the New American Century. Turns out that, unnoticed by me, that organization ceased to exist formally several years ago, 2006, and their website is gone. In my own defense, I have to say that I only feel foolish about this up to a point. Please forgive that bit of stupidity, for the simple reason that while I just realized that organization no longer formally exists, it’s not like they’ve really gone away.
I don’t know what went on in terms of that organization and its formal dissolution, but I think it’s probably a reasonable guess about why it might have been shut down as a formal organization.
First, because they had actually taken control of US government and politics sufficiently to suit their megalomania. Second, that maybe the actual organization being so open and explicit had attracted perhaps just a bit too much notice. Put differently, maybe it was becoming a bit too well known what they were up to, and who they were. Among the links at the end here are some bits of reading about that group.
This bunch, we can basically thank for the long running wars that were not wars (real shooting wars, but never declared as wars by Congress), in Afghanistan and then Iraq.
Let’s recall that infamous and embarrassing recent news item about a leaked recording of a phone conversation between Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and the US Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt. That would be the one with the comment from Assistant Secretary of State Nuland saying “fuck the EU“.
That was an offhand vulgarity in what was clearly thought to be a private conversation, between the US Ambassador to Ukraine and the second highest ranking official in the department of the US government dealing with relations with other nations of the world. The blunt comment certainly seems to be regarding what certainly appeared to be Nuland’s annoyance about European governments failing to get with the program of deciding who would be in charge of the Ukrainian government in the near future after some sort of revolt. Exactly when that chat happened is apparently unknown, but reports of the conversation happened before the “people’s uprising” in Kiev suddenly produced what some people like to call “regime change” in Ukrainian national government.
The husband of Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland is one of the founders of the Project for the New American Century.
Meanwhile, Nuland’s boss, US Secretary of State John Kerry, has been in action being a general embarrassment to my country. I have to imagine that quite a few people around the world of the kind we might call reality-based humans are laughing at Kerry’s straight-faced and self-righteous pronouncements, directed toward Putin and Russia, of the kind saying how outrageous it is for Russia to send military forces into another sovereign nation, with no apparent sense of the staggering hypocrisy and irony.
As the vacuous chatter rolled along on CNN, and I left the sound off, I glanced over to notice an item scrolling by in text on the bottom of the screen, about some upper NATO official saying something about “NATO intensifying relations with Ukraine“, which gets us right back to the US meddling and trying to stir up revolt and “regime change” to get a more EU and US “friendly” government in Ukraine.
I don’t know all the details, but one interesting facet added to the mix regarding the Russians in the Crimea region pops up, which is that the long term agreement between Russia and Ukraine for Russia to have a naval base on the Black Sea coast, in Crimea, within Ukraine, apparently includes the allowance for Russia to have a large number of its own military personnel in the Crimea region for security of the Russian military there. I suppose that at this point there might be a lot of squabbling and unclear facts about how many are allowed and how many are there now, but it makes pronouncements about Russian invasion less credible.
At the same time, as that’s going on, Vladimir Putin is apparently still putting forth a story that there are no Russian military forces there in the situations being reported, but, rather, that the military troops seen there are local self-defense forces of Ukrainians loyal and sympathetic to Russia, who equipped themselves with uniforms from local surplus shops, or something. Oh, no, no Russians here!
I have to suspect that people around the world watching all the madness are regarding that sack of bullshit from Putin with as much eye rolling and hilarity as the pronouncements of pompous nonsense coming from American politicians and news media infotainment.
Just to make the whole mess worse, glimpses of TV noise about this whole epic turned up more than one appearance of Senator and 2008 candidate for president John McCain, with McCain showing the unfortunate tendency he displays any time there’s a chance to have a war, which appears to me pretty much as full-on psychotic. We’ve certainly had plenty of demonstrations from McCain and a bunch of Republican politicians all squawking that Obama is weak and ineffective as tough guy bossman telling the rest of the world what to do and generally filling a role of ruler of the world. There’s massive irony to be found when that kind of noise comes from the same people who, at other times, are squawking about Obama as tyrannical dictator, but, then, operating rationally in reality is not the strong suit of these people.
There is a fair point from some of that crowd, when they suggest that Obama is not very good at being a tough guy ruler of the world telling the rest of the world what to do. It never seems to occur to them that there’s anything wrong with the notion that the President of the United States and the US government should rule the world.
It’s worth a second to look at some definitions of the word megalomania from various sources:
Megalomania is a psychopathological disorder characterized by delusional fantasies of power, relevance, or omnipotence. “Megalomania is characterized by an inflated sense of self-esteem and overestimation by persons of their powers and beliefs.”
: a condition or mental illness that causes people to think that they have great or unlimited power or importance
1: a mania for great or grandiose performance
2: a delusional mental disorder that is marked by feelings of personal omnipotence and grandeur
the belief that you are much more important and powerful than you really are
Check out any of Senator McCain’s barking, or the grandstanding proclamations of a bunch of American politicians in positions of power in national government, about virtually anything involving military forces and relations with the rest of the world, and see it on display. Megalomania is the essential nature of the whole story of the Project for the New American Century organization, and the “neocons” who still dominate our national government here in the US.
Saying that is something that is unfortunately likely to have some people reacting in knee-jerk reflex and dismissing any such suggestion as crazy conspiracy theory stuff, despite the evidence and demonstrations of such an idea passing right before us in open public view for decades, without even digging into anything a little more obscure, and possibly “controversial”.
Even that gets into difficult territory, as what qualifies as “controversial” is tricky stuff, often not being about questions of whether or not something is true, but whether or not somebody likes the fact or idea involved. In all the simplistic games of “opposing sides” of Left/Right Liberal/Conservative Democratic party/Republican party (and programming people constantly with the nonsense that we’re “a two-party system”, that is, limited to two permanent established parties, whose members coincidentally hammer people with this idea), we have problems because of what somebody regards as their side versus the other side. You know; your side are The Good Guys, versus those guys on the other side, The Bad Guys.
Check out this past statement from Robert Kagan, co-founder of the Project for the New American Century, and husband of Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, coming from a statement about the question of whether the United States of America has become an empire, arguing that it is not. (This is quoted from the Wikipedia page about the Project for the New American Century, quoting Kagan’s remarks in “A New Atlantic Initiative Debate” on “The United States Is, and Should Be, an Empire”, held at the American Enterprise Institute on July 17, 2003. The reference links there are now dead links.)
“There is a vital distinction between being powerful–even most powerful in the world–and being an empire. Economic expansion does not equal imperialism, and there is no such thing as “cultural imperialism”. If America is an empire, then why was it unable to mobilize its subjects to support the war against Saddam Hussein? America is not an empire, and its power stems from voluntary associations and alliances. American hegemony is relatively well accepted because people all over the world know that U.S. forces will eventually withdraw from the occupied territories.
The effect of declaring that the United States is an empire would not only be factually wrong, but strategically catastrophic. Contrary to the exploitative purposes of the British, the American intentions of spreading democracy and individual rights are incompatible with the notion of an empire. The genius of American power is expressed in the movie The Godfather II, where, like Hyman Roth, the United States has always made money for its partners. America has not turned countries in which it intervened into deserts; it enriched them. Even the Russians knew they could surrender after the Cold War without being subjected to occupation.”
There is so much wrong there that it would be another essay just to dissect it, and I hope that it’s apparent without explanation. It’s almost a perfect quote, in the way it pretty concisely captures the general essence of the neocon state of mind, and that state of mind can be summarized in a few simple words, really; hubris, megalomania, delusion.
I think it’s fair to paraphrase the ideas of that crowd, and the quote above, something like: oh, no, we’re not an empire, because empires are big and mean and bad, and we’re The Good Guys, so, we can’t be an empire, we’re the Good Guys who bring freedom and democracy and prosperity for all!
Part of the problem is that while these lunatics are predominantly an artifact of the Republican party, they are not exclusive to it, in practice or philosophy. Again, Obama’s Assistant Secretary of State is married to the just quoted co-founder of the Project for the New American Century. While this doesn’t mean that the couple share the same thinking and notions, this is interesting, to say the least. But part of our problem is that many people who regard themselves as loyal Democrats, maybe applying labels to themselves happily like The Left, or Liberal, or Progressive, really want to identify somebody as “their guy”, like President Barack Obama at the moment, or President Clinton in the past, who have a mental block about accepting the possibility that their guy is not quite what they hoped, and, in fact, was, or is, thoroughly dominated by the whole neocon thing. You can see what happens anytime some politician might seem less than enthusiastic about some element of police state and military empire world dominance and watch what happens when they start to be the target of babbling rhetoric about how they’re against keeping America safe and fighting the oxymoronic “War on Terror” and protecting our national security and America’s interests.
Part of what astounds me now is how many people in public positions are barking and babbling about the situation now with the whole “Ukrainian Crisis” and are the same people who were running their mouths about Iraq just over a decade ago, and are doing broadly similar things now.
Let’s recall 2003, and Iraq, that imminent danger to American national security and the peace and security of the Middle East, we were told. Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction had to go,’regime change” in Iraq was necessary, the US had to take military action, we would be hailed as liberators bringing freedom and democracy to the nation of Iraq, bringing stability and freedom to Iraq and the Middle East.
Yeah. How did that work out?
Among other things, it turned out to be plainly obvious that the people trying to stop that and were saying that the whole thing was a complete ruse, total bullshit, and that it was all about getting control of Iraq’s large chunk of what petroleum remains on the planet, were exactly correct. The “regime change” that was supposed to bring freedom and democracy to the people of Iraq and stability and security to the Middle East certainly got rid of a dictator of another country who was, indeed, an evil rat bastard (which is why so many people went along with this), and left a country that was now largely wrecked, disordered chaos, violence, and a chronic and still ongoing state of guerilla civil war, largely revolving around a pair of competing sects of lunatics each convinced that they’re fighting for God.
The extra twist is that the chaos has certainly not even achieved the goals of the neocon bunch to get control of Iraq’s oil resources. Even more twisted was the insistence, after chaos and violence was left in Iraq after “liberation”, was that the continued combat operations in Iraq, long after the war was technically “won”, was all about the “War on Terror”, with people saying this with a straight face, even though it was clear from all available information that there was no terrorism in Iraq, no al Qaeda operating in Iraq, until after the US military had dismantled the tight control of the existing dicatorship of a government and chaos broke loose.
But, now, many of the same people are barking about Ukraine.
Now, after what looks more and more like covert meddling from our government trying to coax and prod things into “regime change” in Ukraine, to get a new government that was more “friendly” to being tied economically to the EU and US, and, hey, get some US/NATO military installations there on the Russian border, things turned out to be not quite what the US people thought they would get, including violent mob rule chaos involving some very ugly characters. Then when the Russians move military into the Crimea region, to keep things stable from their point of view (which seems to have justification) around their Black Sea naval base, where it turns out they are allowed to have up to 25,000 military personnel in the long term agreement with the Ukrainian government about the base, the neocons here start barking about “Russian aggression”.
Why does anybody in this country pay attention to these people? Dick Cheney coming out of the woodwork again, John McCain, any of the bunch who were spouting nonsense and getting us into wars attacking somewhere in the world. We should not be asking the opinions of any of them, about anything, and if they insist on going on TV and barking about things in subject areas where they’ve proven themselves to be profoundly, massively, consistently wrong, we should invite them to shut the fuck up.
This isn’t just about meddling in the Ukraine, it’s about everything everywhere in the world with the neocon lunatics and their delusions that they should rule the planet. Meanwhile, Obama and Kerry are making themselves, and the nation as a whole, look foolish, pompous, and obnoxious by playing along with it.
Now, the chatter is about “economic sanctions”, and the idiocy takes on a whole new facet.
For Europe, there appears to be quite a net of business relationships between the countries of Europe and Russia, and part of that includes the fact that these days, Russia is a major supplier of natural gas and petroleum. I suppose somebody thinks the European nations will all decide that they’ll punish Russia for their aggression, you know, having military troops in the Crimean region they’re allowed to have by the agreement with Ukraine about Russia’s naval base, by telling Russia “we’re not going to buy your gas and oil anymore”.
Somewhere among all the reading about what’s happening, I saw this mentioned (it’s mostly ignored), but then the writer went off track and failed to grasp the full picture, beyond, the current political “crisis”, by tossing off some offhand remark about how Europe “will just have to seek its energy needs elsewhere”. Among the kind of casual blindness found in this subject area, there also seems to be some vague notion floating around, from people who have bought into, or are selling, this deluded notion of an American energy boom, including the idea that we have newfound bounties of endless natural gas thanks to hydraulic fracturing. That notion appears to be that we’ll just convert all this supposed cornucopian plenty to liquified natural gas, and then shipping tankers full of LNG across the Atlantic will free Europe from needing to buy natiral gas from Russia.
That’s a subject of its own, but simply put, this is seriously delusional, and we are in for our own serious problems here as it finally starts to dawn on people how badly we’ve depleted the once vast windfall of hydrocarbons under American ground.
At one point in all the pomp and drama, John Kerry started squawking about threatening Russia with sanctions, those “costs and consequences”, proudly strutting around and talking about how Russia has economic problems. It might be good for him, the president, and all the rest of our government, to stop playing insane games pretending they rule the world, and get their heads around our own large set of problems, including the major economic problems they might notice, if they pull their heads out of their asses.
In our own government, preening about how the rest of the world takes care of their own business is happening while continuing to let madness and fraud rule in banking and finance and assorted areas of commerce, and, related to this, completely failing to even begin to get serious about understanding the facts of diminishing returns and depletion in hydrocarbon resources, coupled with (and directly related to) our massive overconsumption of the stuff for decades.
That’s just for a start.
“The enormous gap between what US leaders do in the world and what Americans think their leaders are doing is one of the great propaganda accomplishments of the dominant political mythology.”