Comments: New Tomdispatch

It is really hard to achieve lasting victory when there is no actual clear definition of victory. None of our unconstitutional wars over the last 60 years have been related to an actual threat to the United States and if the rationale for a war is fictive then victory is by definition an illusion.

Posted by Charles at November 3, 2009 05:54 PM

Klare wrote: "The United States is becoming less inclined to deploy its military forces abroad as rival powers increase their own capabilities . . ."

--I respect Klare, but that doesn't seem true.

Klare wrote: "The question remains: How much longer will Washington feel that Americans can afford to subsidize a global role that includes garrisoning much of the planet and fighting distant wars in the name of global security, when the American economy is losing so much ground to its competitors?"

--Since when does "Washington" care what Americans can afford? That the American economy is losing ground reinforces the importance of the global economy to Wall Street and simultaneously strengthens the Pentagon's arguments that America is the indispensable hegemon or hyperpower holding the world together.

We're not facing a dilemma--it's a cliff.

Posted by N E at November 3, 2009 06:25 PM

Our Elites are not even hiding their contempt for and dismissal of the views of the citizenry. The sentiment was against the TARP; we get the TARP on steroids. We want the public option; we're likely to get triggers if we get anything at all. We want the troops to leave Iraq and not get shuffled into Afghanistan; well...

There's a song on the Who's Quadrophenia album, "The Dirty Jobs", where there is a stanza of stark advice from the working class protagonist's Dad:

My father tells me
You've been screwed again.
If you let them do it to you
You've got yourself to blame.
It's you who feels the pain
It's you that feels the shame.

For some unaccountable reason, that stanza just popped into my head.

Posted by JerseyJeffersonian at November 3, 2009 09:33 PM

VENEZUELA DOESN'T WANT EVIL ISRAELI JEWISH TOURISTS ON VENEZUELA

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/134074#at

by Nissan Ratzlav-Katz
Follow Israel news on and .

(IsraelNN.com)

Venezuela, under President Hugo Chavez, is taking additional steps to deter Israelis from visiting the country. An Israeli tour group slated to visit Venezuela was forced to cancel its trip this week due to unreasonable demands placed on the would-be tourists.
The group of 13 Israelis was set to fly to Venezuela in coming days, with lodging, tours and flights already arranged by an Israeli travel company, Echo Outdoor Touring Ltd. When Echo requested tourist visas for its clients, the demands of the Venezuelan government placed an insurmountable barrier that ultimately led to the cancellation of the trip.
The difficulties began with the absence of a Venezuelan diplomatic presence in Israel. In January of this year, Venezuela expelled Israel's ambassador from the country and cut diplomatic relations. Israel responded by expelling Venezuela's ambassador to Israel. Under the current circumstances, Israelis seeking a Venezuelan visa must apply through a consulate outside Israel.

In its efforts to secure the necessary travel documents, Echo contacted Venezuelan embassies and diplomatic personnel in Kenya, Spain, Greece, Italy, Germany and Colombia, as well as appealing to the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry.
As Echo CEO Ronen Raz told Arutz Sheva Radio, "It is an accepted procedure, when there is no consulate in Israel of a country that requires visas, we simply send the passports abroad and receive the visas." In the case of Venezuela, Raz continued, the initial reply from that nation's Foreign Ministry was that such an arrangement was not possible.
However, after lengthy negotiations, the Venezuelans agreed to accept the Israelis' visa applications in the Venezuelan embassy in Amman, Jordan. "There, to our surprise, they demanded that we appear in person with a pile of documentation in order to receive the visas," Raz said. "There are those who are afraid to travel to Jordan."
Requested documents included a letter in English from each traveler's place of employment, affirming his or her employment status, original bank statements going back three months, an English-language medical affirmation of health, and more.
Several days of what Raz called "ping-pong" with the Venezuelan authorities ensued, including the Echo CEO calling on his personal connections in the Latin American country. Nonetheless, as noted, the trip had to be called off due to the

The trip had to be called off due the excessive demands and inflexibility of the Venezuelan authorities.

excessive demands and inflexibility of the Venezuelan authorities when it came to the Israeli tour group.
"The company had no choice but to cancel the trip and return the travelers' money to them, which meant absorbing a large financial loss," an Echo statement explained. "As a result of the difficulties placed in our way by the government [in Venezuela] - difficulties which never existed while there was an embassy in Israel - we have no choice but to conclude that these difficulties are a result of the political situation in the country and their only purpose is to prevent Israeli travelers from getting there."
The company has decided to suspend further trips to Venezuela until the binational relations with Israel are restored.
Iran is a Different Story
In the case of Iran, however, the matter is quite different, according to Israeli sources. In July, an Israeli diplomat in Latin America, Dorit Shavit, told the Jewish News Agency of Argentina (AJN) that Venezuela is issuing fake documents to Iranians to help facilitate their travel in the region.
"With these documents, they don't need a visa to enter any other country in Latin America.... No tourist enjoys these benefits and nobody knows what these Iranian citizens are doing," she added.
Israeli officials have criticized Venezuela's President Chavez for his support of Iran's nuclear program, his support of Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and his outspoken condemnation of Israel.

Posted by Jeffersonian-Anti-Israel-Socialist at November 3, 2009 10:15 PM

That's a good stanza JerseyJeffersonian.

There was a group discussion on NPR this morning about US strategy for Afghanistan. The participants, along with host Susan Page, were David Ignatius of Langley's favorite newspaper, The Washington Post; former McCain Adviser Richard Fontaine of the Center for New American Security; and Karin von Hippel of the Center for Strategic and International Studies ("CSIS") International Security Program. A typically balanced panel to enlighten us about our options, ranging from giving General McChrystal everything he wants to giving him almost everything he wants. But if the latter, we have to make it up to him.

The panelists all agreed that General McChrystal is on top of things (some of them seemed to be imagining that almost physically), and I could almost feel their excitement as they said "counterinsurgency" in a breathy voice to each other. There's nothing as thrilling as a group discussion about the leader of a covert assassination squad.

Then the first person who called into the show, a fellow in Florida named Mordechai, tried to ruin the fun by suggesting that we never had any business being in Afghanistan killing the people of Afghanistan. He even listed some of those things that happened on 9/11 that are mighty fishy, though he said them on a general level that let the panelists feel sane and superior, not like the crazy riff raff who call in to make nutty antiwar speeches. Mordechai probably sounded crazy to most people listening in too, but I have to admit that I found myself mumbling "way to go Mordechai!"

Mordechai means "warrior," and though he was the only person who spoke against war, his name is fitting, because warriors are supposed to have courage, and he was the only person on the show who said anything that required a lick of courage.

Posted by N E at November 4, 2009 12:10 AM

"How much longer will Washington feel that Americans can afford to subsidize a global role that includes garrisoning much of the planet and fighting distant wars in the name of global security, when the American economy is losing so much ground to its competitors?"

As long as they can maintain the appearance of Empire, they will do so. Empires seldom recede gladly, never gracefully...

Posted by woody at November 4, 2009 08:08 AM

"In the case of Iran, however, the matter is quite different, according to Israeli sources. In July, an Israeli diplomat in Latin America, Dorit Shavit, told the Jewish News Agency of Argentina (AJN) that Venezuela is issuing fake documents to Iranians to help facilitate their travel in the region.
"

Israelis tend to say all sorts of crazy shit about Venezuela. The rumors as usual, are unsubstantiated, but the US and European mainstream press, eager for a brown country to demonize, turn them into new 'truths'.

You can measure how much of a threat somebody is to the establishment by the amount of abuse and false characterizations hurled at them by the mainstream press. Chavez, by substantially reducing poverty and taking on powerful corporations, by offering more than the rhetoric of 'hope' and promoting grassroots organizations and community councils is their new public enemy.

Posted by Pepito at November 4, 2009 09:53 AM

"Israelis tend to say all sorts of crazy shit about Venezuela."

Chavez is quite a trash talker himself, which may eventually make it easier for the US Southern Command to get a war against him started. This annoys me because I think Chavez knows full well that's their plan, and yet he is hardly discrete, but maybe he figures they're going to do it anyway so he might as well say what he wants. Hell, he might be right. The US military has become a bit aggressive.

But it's not hard for me to understand why Chavez's comparison of the war crimes in Gaza to the Holocaust inflamed a lot of Israelis. Maybe he just wanted to take some of the heat off of Ahmadinejad and Iran--they/we can't bomb people who say outrageous things about the Holocaust if everyone does it--but Chavez had to know that would put the Israeli wingnuts in a tizzy. That the invasion of Gaza involves war crimes and human rights abuses and unlawful violence (which it does) does not make it equivalent to the holocaust.

Posted by N E at November 4, 2009 10:38 AM

Does that mean by 2025 we won't even be able to liberate Grenada?

Posted by par4 at November 4, 2009 03:20 PM

Charles, I think if the rationale for a war is fictive then victory is by definition guaranteed. Victory for the war profiteers in the the trillions of dollars they make. Guaranteed unless the blowback burns them, but since they keep dying in their sleep at 92, it's been a grand victory.

Lesser-evilism vomits again:

The Nazi holocaust is history, the Zionist holocaust is ongoing (though the numbers are smaller at the moment), thus the current imprisonment, torture, murderer, starvation of the Palestinians is not the equivalent of the past, but infinitely more relevant and horrifying than the history books, which have obviously taught our Lesser-evilists nothing.

Posted by Marcus at November 4, 2009 04:17 PM

Klare never mentions US liquidity as a factor in this decline, but it surely it stands to reason that being massively in debt to some of your geopolitical rivals can't be a good thing.

Posted by Jonathan Versen at November 4, 2009 06:59 PM

Jonathan Versen: I think it matters how massive the debt is. The Chinese sitting there with there trillion dollars seem to be at least as much "our" hostages as we are "theirs". They don't seem too happy about what a drop in the value of the dollar does to their net worth, but it isn't easy for them to do anything about it without killing the golden goose that buys all their cheap consumer products.

All this global money is so tied together in so any ways now that I'm not even sure what "geopolitical rivals" means. Our military guys might get ready to fight a war in twenty years only to discover that a corporate reorganization has changed their flag.

Posted by N E at November 4, 2009 07:56 PM

The problem is that it's not Obama's choice. Maybe Bob Gates has a say in the matter, but not Obama.

Posted by Bob In Pacifica at November 4, 2009 08:42 PM

The problem is that it's not Obama's choice. Maybe Bob Gates has a say in the matter, but not Obama.

Posted by Bob In Pacifica at November 4, 2009 08:42 PM

Does anyone really think that Obama has a choice in the matter? Maybe his boss Bob Gates, but not Obama.

Think of McChrystal. Now think of what Truman did to MacArthur. That the difference between now and then.

Posted by Bob In Pacifica at November 4, 2009 08:46 PM

Does anyone really think that Obama has a choice in the matter? Maybe his boss Bob Gates, but not Obama.

Think of McChrystal. Now think of what Truman did to MacArthur. That the difference between now and then.

Posted by Bob In Pacifica at November 4, 2009 08:46 PM

Bob in Pacifica

I think you're cynicism is well founded.

Gates' presence at DoD certainly made it abundantly clear from the start that some big things were not going to change. He is the ultimate representative of the old guard of Langley, the Poppy Bush crowd. I don't know how accurate it is to call him Obama's boss (maybe it is), but he is at the very least a watchman and gatekeeper, and perhaps, not flatteringly to Obama or us, even a sort of turnkey with regard to policy.

I think you're right that Obama couldn't do to McChrystal what Truman did to Macarthur, though not because Truman was so powerful--the army, State, and at that time the CIA were on the side of containment.

Within the National Security State, Obama seems isolated to me, more of an outsider like Woodrow Wilson without deep experience in foreign policy, and for the most part not trusted by the military. Gates is at Defense and certainly is no loyalist. Hillary might be even less loyal. And the Pentagon certainly doesn't think Obama knows that much about military or security matters. I'm not even sure how much say Obama had in choosing McChrystal--that might have been mostly or all Gates, Mullen, and Petraeus.

Posted by N E at November 4, 2009 10:44 PM

is BOb Pacifica says something 4 times, that makes it twice as true.

Posted by grimmy at November 4, 2009 11:09 PM

grimmy

no, it makes it 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 = 16 times as true!

:)

Posted by N E at November 5, 2009 01:40 PM