« Benghazi fever on the right | Main | "What Is Going On in Syria?" by Father Paul Stenhouse »

25 October 2012


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.



Michael Mazarr, Professor of National Security Strategy at the U.S. National War College was on Charlie Rose the other nite.. They referred to a paper by him on current US FP. Wondered if you might have a reference to his paper, or better yet, if you would comment. Thank you.


William R. Cumming

The deep deep erosion of Constitutional norms will continue full fledged in the forthcoming Romney Presidency who will be following in the footsteps of Bush and Obama but expanding to a Crusade against militant Islam fought of course with the usual ignorance, ego and hubris of the Imperial Presidency. What have WE [US] wrought? Apocolypse now?



Does God will it? pl


If the purpose was to shore up BHO's election prospects, the articles may backfire. Antiwar democrats may be offended by the administrations propensity to make war. They may figure that Romney would be worse - or they may just stay home on election day.



I know you know what you are talking about.

But, there is a difference between assassination flights piloted from Nellis Air Force Base, and our soldiers on the ground assisting local troops by providing training and security; law and order.

This article and the one where Obama vows to refocus on debt on the other side of today's Post front page scare the crap out of me.


First; the lessons from our past history from the Magna Carta through Oliver Cromwell to the American Constitution have been completely lost in today's psyop oriented and greed drive society.

It is Alien Overlords who kill without judicial review by one's peers. It is unjust. It is against human nature. It insures revolt. Especially, if one of the sectarian tribes is funded with oil money. There will be blow backs.

Second, during financial crashes, 1870's, 1930's, and now, government austerity deepens the economic depressions. The World Elite don't give a damn for the 99%, 47% or anyone except themselves. They, in the last decade, seized control of the Western governments. Where unemployment of the young men in Europe and here reaches 25%; thanks to austerity, civil unrest is assured. Citizens revolt they have nothing left to lose and to end injustice.



Our soldiers, IMO, should not be on the ground trying to re-make and re-design alien cultures. Killing jihadis is another matter. pl

Clifford Kiracofe


I believe you are a lawyer? And there are some other lawyers in this committee of correspondence.

I cannot understand how the legal profession in the US has allowed all this unconsitutional activity to go on. Is there an explanation as to why the American Bar Association has done nothing to defend Constitutional norms? How can the ABA have allowed the Imperial Presidency to run rampant without a word of protest?

A couple years ago, I reread Schlesinger's Imperial Presidency and found it instructive.

Is there any pushback from the legal profession?

Clifford Kiracofe

Indeed, let's focus on the jihadis and drop the incessant and obsessive meddling.

Clifford Kiracofe

Magna Carta...yes. Arguably, our problems started in earnest with Richard II. It has been a long fight. Now we have arrived at the Imperial Presidency and the ghosts of Richard II and the prerogative men haunting the land.

Financial panics in the US have been something like: 1837, 1857, 1870s, 1893, 1907 and so on. The cosmopolitican financiers got their "Federal Reserve" in 1913 designed by the Warburgs, etal. ... and the game goes on.

FB Ali

I wrote a post on this subject in SST about a year ago (http://tinyurl.com/8j8f49m), and what I said in it (and in the subsequent discussion) still applies.

Of course, using drones is a very cost-effective method of killing enemies of the US (aka "terrorists"). And Brennan's efforts to impose a system on these operations makes organizational sense. But there is much more to this business than just these considerations.

There is the violation of national borders and sovereignty, and the killing and maiming of innocent civilians (the locals don't think of it as "collateral damage"). This creates anti-US feeling, and alienates countries from the US. It breeds many more enemies than those killed by the drones.

How long before others start using the same weapons? What measures would have to be undertaken to defend against that threat? What kind of a world would it become when no concept of law governed relations between countries (and within countries)?

The articles quote US officials blithely speaking of "permanent war". This is what was happening in the world described by Orwell in "1984". Is this the kind of society that the US wants to become in the future?

Drone warfare is the victory of technology over strategy. It is the victory of militarism over statecraft, policy and vision.


I am glad to see an effort to centralize and codify this effort in the executive branch but I would prefer that Congress passes a law that deals with terrorists and what should be done with them, should they be targeted for killing, what to do if captured, and how to warehouse them afterwards.

I am leery to leave it all up to the executive and not have the other two branches of the government involved, particularly the judiciary.


An audacious, intrinsically high risk strategy has the already formidable odds against achieving a positive balance of costs/benefits raised further when the people in charge lack prudence. Therefore, is is important to ask: who is John Brennan? The public data we have is dismaying. Above all, he is a serial, seemingly compulsive liar. This is the man who testified before a Congressional committee last year that there had been zero civilian deaths from drone strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This the man who concocted an entirely fabricated account of what happened in Abbottabad, i.e. the author of the pulp fiction story that OBL was using a wife as a shield and fiing a pistol at the Seals. The fantasy of a man suffering from arrested emotional development circa age 12.

The implications go beyond Brennan's clear unsuitability. It was the President who appointed him, kept him on, and now puts him in charge of designing our eternal war o on still undefined "terror." It is the president's advisers who nod their agreement. It is the security community that accepts his tenure as terrorism honcho. And President Romney's possible team will be no better.

Clifford Kiracofe

I have asked myself the same question. I do recall one tepid resolution from the New York Bar Association. ABA? Other professional associations look no better. The American Pssychological Association as an organization joined with a fly-by-night outfit to train US officials in torture techniques. Gun-toting anthropogists wandering the Hindu Kush are praised as noble citizens. The ethical rot is deep. The common man, and the country, has been betrayed by those with the power and means to make a difference.

Bill H

"Drone warfare is the victory of technology over strategy. It is the victory of militarism over statecraft, policy and vision."

Nicely put.


CK, I'm a lawyer. And I follow the legal debate on this stuff (to the extent the debate exists). The ABA is in an existential crisis of its own regarding: it's finances, as well as doubts about its professional and societal relevance. Shrinking membership and all that. Locked--still--in the 1970s.

I think Obama is a lock. And I think he is damn lucky to be one, given his performance. He lucked out with Romney. Obama is not as liked, as much as the feeble and infantile crowd that covers him in DC thinks he is, out in the nation. Never mind his record. He is just not that nice of a guy...a lot of people outside of DC are not beguiled by either the smile, or 'white guilt', with its 'ain't this a wonderfully story with a black man president' pathos. Yes, it IS a wonderful, to the extent it is wonderful. But that says little about the direction of the nation, the economy, or our place in the world.

But with regard to lawyers....the only people that listen to lawyers any more are the people that pay them to get them out of trouble. Or keep them out of trouble. And not all of them listen either. Society HATES lawyers. Views them like toilets. Something they got to use, for things you do in a room, alone. And (hopefully) cleans your hands when you are done using them. And turn the fan on to clear the air in the room. That is what people think of lawyers these days. And I'll give you a bit of secret....that is what lawyers (some) think of society right back. With society's endless calls to employ loopholes 'get me out of this contract' or get me out of this 'pile of shit I got myself into'. You, hopefully get the theme here.

But to the extent you want to follow the debate (on this "unconstitutional activity") as you put it....this: http://www.lawfareblog.com/ is as good a place to start as any. Interesting take on the Brennan interview too. I think they are worried about the possibility the Romney could win. I think that overrated...but I think they have to be worried, as a default position, in the White House. So they are trying to tie his hands now in the event Romney win. I repeat, an event I consider highly unlikely.

Clifford Kiracofe

"The common man, and the country, has been betrayed by those with the power and means to make a difference."

Yes, this is what I see. The disintegration of ethics in the professions is a symptom and facilitates the actions of those who wish to undo our Constitutional order.

A broader disintegration in the underlying culture is abetted by the news and entertainment industries and by the education establishment. Fantasy, delusion, and deception are the order of the day.

Politics flows from culture. What is our "civic culture" today? Where is it?

Caesarism is dominant in the elites irrespective of party. The "principate" has been erected with little glory and much expense from our imperial wars.

Looking ahead a several decades, can it be said that what is left of our Constitutional order today can endure the plots of designing men (and women) backed by unlimited means? I will be dead but it is a question on which I reflect.

Our disintegration does not take place within a vacuum.

Since December, I have spend over a month in China meeting with top analysts in the major think tanks, with officials in various positions, with active duty and retired military, and with active and retired members of the diplomatic corps.

I am not an Asia specialist but is was apparent to me that our disintegration is noted and is under analysis. When I visited the National Muesum in Beijing over several days, I noted several maps from the era of Admiral Zheng He, a contemporary of Columbus. The bronzes were spectacular, the ceramics impressive, and the jade...yes the jade. When I took the high speed train from Beijing to Shanghai at 308 km per hour I noted endless construction for the five and a half hour ride. In the US, by contrast, our infrastructure is disintegrating along with the civic culture.


"British ExxonMobil Oil Chief 'Assassinated' in Brussels Street"

Hummm. I wonder. Seems like a global increase in extrajudicial killing to me. From all sorts of directions. I hope BHO is ok with the precedents which are being established.



I have begun to think that we face a Romney presidency. BHO's polling among whites falls continuously. That will probably be decisive. The drift in the direction of a principate has been with us for a long time. It entered a decisive but long drawn out phase in the CW. "A new birth?" Yes , but his idea of "freedom" was deeply involved with consolidation of power in Washington. We are reaching the end game in which the forms of federalism and personal liberty will continue but the essence will be gone. Romney is a fraud in his statements. He craves power, and that is all there is to him, that and the businessman's mind. You can expect the CEO/CinC/president to act like what he is. In this situation choices must be made among unpleasant alternatives. IMO Brennan is trying to do that. pl

William R. Cumming

Clifford K. and Jonst! Thanks for your comments! The Legal profession is a deeply corrupt one at this point in time in the USA. Why? Legal billings have stayed at the same level since about 1990 when the profession largely adopted the business model of having "stars" and the "others"!

Most of the large law firms in DC and other areas have grown largely because of the wealth of largely unregulated lobbying not doing traditional legal practice. Patton and Boggs a good example.

But the real change in the profession was guided by the law professors in the law schools. Lawyers provide two basic services to the public. First information and many others do that now and more accurately. Second, judgment as to the legal consequences of any particular activity.

The second function was the key to the integrity of the profession. The key to judgment was what was the best legal position to take, given all options, and given the fact that lawyers were officers of the court and swore an oath not to undermine the rule of law. Now, driven by lawyers willing to game the system and sign off on positions of the barest arguable legality the whole profession has adopted the fundamental principle that the client is always right. This of course is nonsense and a complete betrayal of legal norms and the profession. It perhaps stems in part that criminal lawyers always follow the premise that all, including the guilty, are entitled to representation. That principle actually has far more complicated rules for those defending those charged than the duty to represent.

Also there is no federal bar and each lawyer working for the federal government must be a member of a State Bar. Thus the ethics of the profession is controlled by the Ethics Committees of the STATE BARS. Like the elections of federal officials this has led to competition among the states as to who can have the lower common denominator. Try and find a national list of disbarred attorneys! An impossibility.

SCOTUS has led the way in the ethical decline and its policing of the ethics of its own and the federal judiciary is almost a joke at this point.

And still the billings of the entire legal profession run about 50% from defending and pursuing personal injury cases.

robt willmann

I am going to be occupied today working on a matter and on the road, but WRC, Clifford, jonst, and mbrenner make pertinent comments about the legal profession here, which is in terrible shape. This deterioration started in the mid to late 1980's with conduct by lawyers in lawsuits in civil cases, changes in federal criminal law in the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984 which altered the conduct of federal prosecutors, and the election and appointment of judges with agendas. It has gone downhill more from there with laws passed by state legislatures and the Congress, especially after 2001.

Compare the lack of action by U.S. lawyers and the Bar Associations with lawyers in Pakistan, who took to the streets a few years ago in protest when President Pervez "Tricky Mush" Musharraf fired the chief justice of the Pak Supreme Court and put him under house arrest.


Who is stepping forward in the U.S.A. to protest? An 82-year-old Roman Catholic nun, a gardener, and a housepainter, who demonstrated that "national security" was a joke at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, as they "cut their way through three security fences and spray-painted slogans on the walls of a nuclear weapons plant ...."


The federal government's response? Rather than thanking them for showing that "security" was weak, and charging them at most, if at all, with some misdemeanor with a tiny fine and no adverse legal consequences, the charges were jacked up through an indictment to a federal felony of "depredation" of the complex.

Cliffiord Kiracofe

Yes, empty forms...bread, circus, and empty forms...

Thomas Cole's "Course of Empire" (1833) looks ahead to depict "Destruction":



The word 'assassinated' is meant to sell newspapers, not convey accurate information - which certainly isn't available yet as the assailant(s) didn't hand around to speak to the press.


"principate" I think you're right that we are heading that way, without a detour through a Sulla. God help us.



Congress is the larger part of the problem. When Pres. Obama first took office he tried mightily to fulfill his campaign promise to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, but it was Congress that stymied him time after time. This includes Congressional Democrats.

I agree that in the spirit of our Republic, this should be Congress' part to play. Unfortunately, this is one of the lowest ebbs of Congressional responsibility and skill in our nation's history.

Al Spafford

Col, Your thinking on this is probably "on the money"! Huffington Post COMBINED polling data today show a significant trend line for Romney with the popular vote, but with Obama hanging on to the Electoral College. Romney has perhaps his best trend movement at this point. The "ground game" in Ohio to get out the vote will likely be massive as Romney needs that state for the EC.



Perhaps the one ray of hope (amelioration?) in the darker scenarios that we are sketching is that the weak, ignorant and mediocre talents that beset us also predominate at the highest level of government. There is little imperial in the make-up of Clinton, Bush, Obama or Romney. A truly able and ruthless man really could impose something awful. In his thankful absence, we'll just degrade slowly.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

February 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Blog powered by Typepad