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22 April 2016


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"If you had to make a sudden visit to the emergency room, would you have enough money to pay for it without selling something or borrowing the funds from somewhere? Most Americans may not realize this, but this is something that the Federal Reserve has actually been tracking for several years now. And according to the Fed, an astounding 47 percent of all Americans could not come up with $400 to pay for an emergency room visit without borrowing it or selling something. Various surveys that I have talked about in the past have found that more than 60 percent of all Americans are living to paycheck to paycheck, but I didn’t realize that things were quite this bad for about half the country. If you can’t even come up with $400 for an unexpected emergency room visit, then you are just surviving from month to month by the skin of your teeth. Unfortunately, about half of us are currently in that situation."

While many American's "dream" about getting rich, most are putting in god awfull hours to just get by, or slowly fall behind.

More, and more, I think my Fundi Brother in Washington State has the "right" idea. He ignores war and politics, ( doesn't even vote), believes no Politician is ever going to give him and his familily a "hand up", works hard, saves his money, spends his spare time building a strong familiy and a strong local "Fundi" community, where not only has he given members of his community a "hand up", but they have done the same for him and his Family.

William R. Cumming

A post and thread worthy of study! Thanks P.L. and All. What does a uniformed military represent today in the U.S.A. and worldwide? I have often heard the postulate in 1945 in France and Germany and other places that any group of armed men was to be feared unless they were WILLY AND JOE!


Including "Ghost Soldiers", Afghan Security Forces number over 420,000, ( Police, Intel, Army, Airforce, semi-Militias, etc),

But Afghanistan's whole GDP including opium and heroin is $33.55 billion ( PPP).

Including equiptment, the security force size Afghanistan can actually "afford", maxes out at maybe 60,000.


Bacevich is saying that we have to reduce our interventionist aspirations to a level consistent with the force projection capability of an all volunteer force otherwise we lose wars.

Skin in the game is an important. Andrew and I have discussed this together on multiple occasions over the last decade. If the country can't gather the will to pass a formal declaration of war, does it have the will to win? If it doesn't have a will to commit its youth to war via a draft or. an even lower threshold, if it doesn't have the will to actually pay for the war through higher taxes, then it is clear a long slow bleed is at hand with no victory in sight. Is it any surprise that this last ME adventure will last 3 times longer than WWII?

We have made it too easy to send some other man's son to war.


"Sybaritic, now that's a good word."

I agree, these old words going back to Greek are quite fascinating:


You seem too touchy here, it feels. For all I can tell, he may even agree with you: concerning ill-conceived regime change dreams or R2P.

R2P, Responsibility to Protect

To pick up VV's statement above:
"The Iraq America war has been going on for a quarter century and is unwinnable as it is being fought."

In hindsight, the decision of Bush father (R2P) made sense, not so sure about Clinton's semi-war-activities, but definitively the decision of Bush son and the circles around him made none at all, as far as finishing matters once and for all times. Culture?

As far as I am concerned, I wouldn't be here, if your view of the region could simply be reduced to what you, I suppose, somewhat provocatively offer above.


Mark Pyruz

the question is not whether there exist people in the US suitable and willing for military service. The question is HOW MANY relative to the demands of our aggressive foreign policy. pl


hank P

"a bit much to deny any economic attraction to the US." No idea what that means. pl



How is your summary different from mine? pl



"Actually, it didn't" I followed that war in great detail for many years and with access to the best information the US government had. tell me where Soviet 40th army fought well in Afghanistan. Where? pl



Ah, I get it now. A hope for economic improvement was always an incentive for coming to America, but it was not the only incentive and there were always enough people willing to fight for the country. I do not think that is still true given the size forces we would have to generate in order to win extended wars overseas. IMO there has been a shift in the general public attitude that precludes recruitment of really large forces. People now see the military as a vocational choice, something like joining a police force. Remember, for every soldier deployed overseas you have to have several in the rotation base. pl



"These days economic warfare as applied to countries adopting a foreign policy independent of the U.S.-led global security order--such as Iran and Russia--are subjected to economic warfare in the form of sanctions."

These days economic warfare as applied to states adopting legislation affirming the rights of free association of their citizens independent of the Left led social conformity order - such as North Carolina - are subjected to economic warfare in the form of sanctions.


Cortes, my favorite speakers while living in London had a Scottish background. "My private school of English", responded to that: of course you like that most, its as hard/harsh? as German or Russian. ;)

Recent events concerning the future of the EU do worry me.

If I am not absolutely misinformed, Scotland profits from EU membership. Quite possible, we Germans should distribute more funds both South and certain areas of the North. Notice, I have not the least idea about the Scottish economy: Certain areas of the North?, To get out of the restraints in the realm of generalizations.

On the other hand, I am not so sure what type of loopholes it could open up for misuse in the larger world-financial-complex and its respective services. Full discovery: I do not understand that complex well enough to write this, really. I also worry about what would happen here on my own local EU ground as a result.

"in the absence of the Borg 'dripping roast'" Dripping Roast? Should we define the Borg, or at least one central aspect of it, as the diverse interest and lobby group around Bruxelles somewhat parallel to Washington?

I do not worry about EU versus local law too much, at least a lot less then about the limits to what extend a basic Utopia at the times of its creation can replace centuries of grown national prejudices. And strictly that is the fertile ground special interests lobby can use in shaping public perceptions according to their demands.

In hindsight the worst decision was to expand the EU eastwards following German re-unification, at the speed it happened.


"as North Carolina - are subjected to economic warfare in the form of sanctions."



I agree with Smoothie and I don´t. I agree that most Americans don´t have the faintest idea of what war means and that is scary. Worst are those armchair warriors and neocons. I hate them with a vengeance. But it is wrong to suppose that somehow the Russian army has genetically inherited a capability for contintental warfar. The truth of the matter is that the Russian army is a child of necessity and the US army is a child of choice. Choices mostly made by corrupt procurement officials and equally corrupt think tanks. Although laughable if you compare the means employed and the result obtained - overall the US army is still quite formidable. Which doesn´t really matter as there is never any real national necessity when the grunts are sent abroad.
By contrast the Russian army has real importance and therefore much more efficient. Although he material base is much, much smaller. If you though suppose todays conscripts could fight the battle of Stalingrad: please don´t make me laugh. Russian teenagers (at least from the big cities) are just the same sort of smartphone addicted, overfed babies as their Western counterparts. Accordingly mandatory service is much easier than it used to be. Conscripts are even allowed to keep their smartphones and call home to mommy. Granted all of the Caucasians and most of the Muslims including the Tartars are different. One wonders though how enthusiastically they would fight for the Motherland.
Finally I believe all people have the capacity to fight if they must. It is just that the Americans simply don´t have to.

William R. Cumming

Since the U.S.A. put 2 million potential soldiers on the ground in France after Declaration of War in 1917 there has been some recognition that a new player had arrived on the World Stage. John Eisenhower's book on that mobilization a gem IMO.

But while I respect Andrew Bacevich for many reasons the AVF and supply of soldiers not now the key. The key is getting agreement on what U.S. FP should have as its goals? And then how can those goals be accomplished?



You are German, right? "Finally I believe all people have the capacity to fight if they must. It is just that the Americans simply don´t have to." How is it "necessary" for Russians to fight? Has anyone attacked Russia lately? NATO under US influence is playing a schoolyard domination game with them but has not actually attacked Russia and IMO is unlikely to do so. Russia is doing quite an effective job in Syria but that was an intervention of choice and they have evidently decided not to use their own ground troops there except for a few Spetsnaz, some artillery and some advisers/trainers. This decision must be linked to the size force that they think they can sustain in an expeditionary environment. In the case of the US, the AVF, is IMO self limiting in size because of the limits of potential recruiting in a society that no longer values duty as a concept. US military recruiting for the AVF is largely conducted on the basis of strong incentives, largely in educational benefits but the number of people so available who also can qualify in terms of intelligence, not criminal record, etc. is finite in a very real sense. BTW, I can tell you from experience that most individuals have little potential as combat soldiers. Unless their "fight or flight" reflex is triggered, mot people simply freeze up under fire. Most actual fighting is done by people who are able to function under great stress and there are not that many of those. SLA Marshall cited the US Army's studies after WW2 that most infantry soldiers never fired their weapons at all. they just kept their heads down until the noise stopped. pl



The point is that present US FP cannot be accomplished with the force available under the AVF. pl


How do our summaries differ? Well as to an assessment of the problem we are in complete agreement.

What I'm wrestling with is what to do about it? Or even if there is any positive change possible? Bacevich would largely say that positive change isn't in the cards right now.

But you now we post on this blog for a lot of reasons and one is the belief that public education is necessary and begins with educated discourse. The American public does have the capacity to learn about their enlightened self interest. For all its faults, America has done a pretty good job of improving the world post from WWII on.

The American public is smarter than it was in 2001. Its more skeptical and perhaps better informed about the ME. The younger Bernie supporters and the older Trump backers know something is afoul from the borg but they aren't being offered practical alternatives that would match our national reach with grasp.

I want Bacevich to focus his considerable mental intellect on prescriptive actions in his next book. He keeps tightening the knot and I want him to untie it.


What Putin has done well is limit his public objectives to narrowly defined goals as we are seeing in Syria. When he takes chances he does them with surrogates or in some masked manner.



I suppose you are referring to Ukraine. As you know it has been endlessly argued here that the anti-fascist, ethnic Russian revolt in eastern Ukraine is supported by Russia but not a "surrogate." pl



it is a feature of most Americans' thinking to believe that for every problem there is a solution. Bacevich is not "most Americans." pl


In reply to LeaNder 23 April 2016 at 09:49 AM

He's complaining about the fact that North Carolina's recently passed repressive legislation has met with a backlash and that it's costing the state money and jobs. Boo hoo. If they have the right to pass such legislation other people have the right to decide to spend their money elsewhere. These Guardian articles might fill in some background for you:




The problem extends beyond just the people in uniform. The general public is tired of paying for the (for lack of a better word) "limited" wars the US is in now. There is just no way they would be willing to make the sacrifices necessary to support a larger scale war unless they thought their lives were directly threatened. Unfortunately Washington with the assistance of the press have become quite adept at making people believe every thing is an existential fight. See the WOT as the poster child.

I am going to get blasted for this but I am still not ready to toss aside the concept of R2P. I still think that there are times when humanity needs to stand up and say enough is enough. But I firmly believe that most of what has been sold as R2P has been nothing of the sort. Far greater limits need to be placed on it.



"most of what has been sold as R2P has been nothing of the sort." Ah, more "merchants of death," and economic determinist stuff. You obviously do not know the other worldly fools involved. well, your attitude reflects that of present day society and is indicative of why we can't find enough people who want to fight for the Republic. pl

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