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12 February 2016


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William R. Cumming

Thank you very very much Dr. Brenner for this amazingly insightful post perhaps most recently documented by the Presidential debates--what I would characterize as AVOIDANCE e.g. foreign policy!


Thank you for this detailed and lucid exposition of the way we are; and where.

Norbert M. Salamon

Thank you for the excellent analysis of the present ailment of the Borg.


Well put!

Climate Change isn't real, Creationism is just fine for public schools, Corporations are People and we can in one man, find the keys to Making America Great Again...Our official world-view and foreign policy are a reflection of our inner-selves folks.


Well said! I'm from the business sector and nothing kills a business faster than first having the good fortune to be beating the hell out of your competitors. An organizational mindset entrenches that "we" are special. It's an entitlement of sorts and sets one up for the fall. New competitors arise and are discounted (cognitive dissonance at work!). After some time reality sets in and the blaming occurs, usually by the more powerful against the less influential. "Lessons Learned," should be a regular process in any endeavor but it's hard to do, being human and all.

Ex-PFC Chuck

An awesomely penetrating piece of writing. Thank you!

Old Microbiologist

Kudos on this article. I look forward to your opinion as to where you think this kind of desperation is heading. To me it is reminiscent of the traditional model of a dying empire.


Taken together, these reactions to Putin’s move into Syria form a pattern of behavior reflecting insecurity and anxiety about the appearance of an unexpected rival. That party’s display of military capabilities thought to be an exclusive American asset, in particular, undercuts the air of superiority so central to the nation’s self-image and prowess.

Even today, technological dimension of strategy continues to dominate American military views. As Michael Howard noted:" We appear to be depending on the technological dimension of strategy to the detriment of its operational requirements, while we ignore its societal implications altogether". As Jeremy Rifkin observed:"Technology became the new secular God and American society soon came to refashion its own sense of self in the image of its powerful new tools." Airplane, historically, is one of such tools, that is how American views, often grossly distorted, on air power emerged.

a reader

exceptional post.
Thank you so much for your insight and effort in sharing it in such a clear and straightforward way.

FB Ali

An excellent and timely analysis!


What is likely to happen when these aspects of reality become too obvious to deny? A swing to Isolationism? A collapse into third world conditions? Nuclear blackmail of the rest of the world? Jonestown style mass suicides? Decline into incoherent irrelevance, ignored by the serious part of the world?


A swing to Isolationism?

Late Samuel Huntington thought that US path is with Latin America. That is not exactly how I would envision America's fate, but, as a man who lived (or, rather, survived) through the collapse of the Soviet Union, I would say: any US "collapse" should be avoided by all means. Soft "landing" must pursued at all reasonable costs. US, most likely, will retain the status of global player but multipolar world is emerging as I type this. I wouldn't be THAT pessimistic on US account, but, reality, of course, will (if not already) leave some deep bite marks.

Just Sayin'

FWIW. You are the most insightful purveyor of what is and why that I've ever read. Sadly both Sanders and Clinton demonstrated the woeful opinions of the Borg (tip of the hat to our moderator) during their most recent Q&A session.

Trey N

One of the best analyses I have ever read, on this or any other site. Now I will have to research how extreme cases of denial/cognitive dissonance are eventually resolved: how does someone react when the much-dreaded reality finally overcomes their mind's coping mechanism?

I imagine the results aren't pleasant....



I'm much more optimistic about the future of America.

While Prof. Brenner describes well the current state, when one looks at anecdotal evidence like the exit polls from the recent primaries and top rated comments on Borgist aligned articles in the media you can see that the American people are slowly catching on that they are being hoodwinked.

Despite the unprecedented and massive interventions by government in our economy; faith-based policies based on free lunch unicorn theories; outsized role of "utopian" academics and think-tanks and brazen corruption among our political and financial elite - there is a core resilience and ability to adjust much more dynamically to changing circumstances. IMO, the US economy when freed from the oligarchy who can only thrive through the use of state power will rebound quickly. I also believe that US foreign policy will follow then with a less interventionist stance. It may take a few generations but the current path of increasing interventions by government is not sustainable and when the pendelum starts swinging back the inherent dynamism of the US where the most creative and driven people from around the world want to pursue their dreams will shine.


We've been sold a bill of goods by a corrupt elite that we came to trust too much. OK. But I take issue with a few points:

1) "... foundation myth of American superiority and exceptionalism."

"Exceptionalism" is the neocon code word FOR superiority. It is often coupled with the neocon code word for US hegemony: "indispensable nation".

As I noted on Richard Sales' last post, exceptionalism is NOT a "foundation myth" - as in a myth dating from the foundation of USA. Neocons have tried to co-opt the historical recognition of American uniqueness so as to transform it into a sense of NATIONAL PURPOSE - which can be molded to achieve neocon goals.

2) "the failure of Washington to prevent violent jihadist groups from exploiting the rebellion against Assad to advance their own program hostile to the United States"

PREVENT??? Washington is complicit. Seymour Hersh described the USA-KSA-Israeli agreement to use extremists as a weapon in "The Redirection" (2007).


And many have taken note of:
1) ISIS leaders were held in US custody;

2) the sudden rise and quick success of ISIS;

3) the DIA report that our allies wanted see the creation of a Caliphate;

4) the USA failure to stem the flow of money and other support for extremists;

5) the failure of USA bombing (also: defense analysts claimed their intel was distorted);

6) and more...


Lets not compound the problem with a poor understanding of how we got to this point.


Great evaluation of current Borg psychology Dr. Brennan, thanks!

This sentence stood out to me and triggered a few thoughts...
"The American response is been to replace a calibrated, well-balanced strategy with one that increasingly gives precedence to containment."

Instead of competing to be the best through accomplishments and earning the "title" of hegemon, the US is attempting to suppress/weaken the opposition in order to maintain the illusion of US competence and supremacy. This strategy is itself a sign of weakness and the eventual diminishment of int'l influence, which no doubt both China and Russia recognize and await the natural course of events as patiently as possible.

Tangentially, but similarly, both establishment political parties in the US are attempting policies of containment on their relative upstarts: Trump and Sanders. This is akin to the elites practicing "containment" on the demands of the rest of the citizenry this election cycle. It will remain to be seen how well this tactic works in this arena as well.


Dr. Brenner,

The current Presidential race seems to be narrowing between two individuals who both evaded military service in Vietnam, which strikes a nerve with a lot of us. Seems that Sanders filed as a Conscientious objector who I have been told briefly went to Canada when his status was denied till his age (26) made him no longer a prime number in the draft and he came back to the states. The second individual Trump (who most likely used his family's power and influence) obtained a college deferment.

How can I trust either one to do the right thing when it comes to our military personnel and our nation's foreign policy? Hillary has shown she has no truth or honor in her. The rest of the Republican brood are spoon fed brats who I wouldn't trust to run a frat party beer run let alone lead our nation.

What's a person to do?

Also Congress (Senate leader McConnell) is doing its best to give the President Congress's war power responsibilities which would border on complete Authoritarianism if its allowed to go through the Senate. The President could then wage war anywhere on the globe with no checks and balance, and invoke Martial law globally if it meets the individual's whim.

Unbridled power breeds contempt for those whom they are sworn to protect. That's why our nation's founding fathers gave the war powers to the Congress and not the President as the Congress were the body of government closest to the people, and a check and balance on Presidential Authoritarianism. Now the people will loose that connection if McConnell and his cohorts succeed in their betrayal of trust.


Agreed, Doug.

Minor comment about US exceptionalism. In the memoirs/diaries of John (Jock) Colville, Churchill's private secretary during much of WWII "The Fringes of Power " a US serviceman simply could not believe that any nation other than his own could have built the magnificent vessel (Queen Mary IIRC) on which they were crossing towards yet another Allied summit. The roots of exceptionalism thus are very, very deep in the USA psyche. Dr Brenner's incisive article gives hope that sentient beings can prevent true believers in said exceptionalism from bringing the whole Earth to destruction rather than acknowledge reality.


Great piece. Thoughtful, and as FB Ali wrote: timely.


There’s a wonderful book that lays this out: "Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts" by Caroll Tavris, Elliot Aronson

It is particularly trenchant.


Americans (mostly) have no inkling of History - or related context - due to 'Exceptionalism.'

The belief that they are free from similar Sins that their European predecessors commited...

"Manifest Destiny" continues to be the mantra uttered to themselves as well as their 'frenemies.'

"All of y'all oughta be like us.!"


Ohhh, running an empire is easy!

All those other empires that came crashing down, must have been run by stupid people. This time will be different. I'm no dummy.


Yes, easy:
"Governing a large country is like frying small fish."

Hmmm... "frying small fish", that sound a bit ominous...

William R. Cumming

Any Mexican-American candidates for President on the horizon to match 2016's battling Cuban-Americans?

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