US Army Rec­og­nizes the End of Amer­i­can Supremacy

Trillions - - In This Issue -

The White House may think a show of force in the Mid­dle East and Asia will bring Amer­i­can supremacy back. How­ever, a new study con­ducted by the U.S. Army War Col­lege says the coun­try is in far more se­ri­ous trou­ble.

The new re­port, en­ti­tled “At Our Own Peril: DOD Risk As­sess­ment in a Post-pri­macy World”, was pub­lished in June 2017 by the Strate­gic Stud­ies In­sti­tute and the U.S. Army War Col­lege Press, both re­port­ing to the Pen­tagon. Af­ter a year-long anal­y­sis, it states with bold­ness that U.S. dom­i­nance over world de­fense is now at an end, for the first time since World War II as a min­i­mum. It also sug­gests there may not be much that can be done to re­store it.

The Post-pri­macy World

The re­port refers to “the era of post-pri­macy” and says that “in brief, the sta­tus quo that was hatched and nur­tured by U.S. strate­gists af­ter World War II and has for decades been the prin­ci­pal ‘beat’ for DOD is not merely fray­ing but may, in fact, be col­laps­ing.”

It goes on to say that the United States has been mov­ing into a new third trans­for­ma­tional era since the end of the Cold War, a time that is gen­er­ally clocked as be­gin­ning at the fall of the Soviet Union in the 1980s. Ac­cord­ing to the anal­y­sis, the first two of those eras are as fol­lows:

• The post-cold War pe­riod: “A time when the United States and its mil­i­tary ben­e­fited from unprecedented reach and ad­van­tage vis-à-vis the near­est or most threat­en­ing of its state ri­vals.”

• The post-9/11 pe­riod: The pe­riod be­tween the at­tack on the Twin Tow­ers and the present, this is de­scribed as a time when “the United States and its de­fense es­tab­lish­ment suf­fered a dis­rup­tive ‘strate­gic shock,’” with that shock char­ac­ter­ized by the shat­ter­ing re­al­iza­tion that the old logic of how to fight wars, as well as even what a war con­sists of, will no longer work.

The era the coun­try is mov­ing into now is what the re­port calls “the post-pri­macy world.” Ac­cord­ing to the anal­y­sis, it is de­scribed as hav­ing the fol­low­ing in­ter­re­lated char­ac­ter­is­tics:

• Hy­per-con­nec­tiv­ity and weaponiza­tion of in­for­ma­tion, dis­in­for­ma­tion and dis­af­fec­tion

• A rapidly frac­tur­ing post-cold War sta­tus quo

• Pro­lif­er­a­tion, di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion and at­om­iza­tion of ef­fec­tive counter-u.s. re­sis­tance

• Resur­gent but transformed great power com­pe­ti­tion

• Vi­o­lent or dis­rup­tive dis­so­lu­tion of po­lit­i­cal co­he­sion and iden­tity

The re­port goes on to say that “while the United

States re­mains a global po­lit­i­cal, eco­nomic and mil­i­tary gi­ant, it no longer en­joys an unas­sail­able po­si­tion ver­sus state com­peti­tors. Fur­ther, it re­mains buf­feted by a range of metas­ta­siz­ing vi­o­lent or dis­rup­tive non­state chal­lengers, and it is un­der stress – as are all states – from the dis­per­sion and dif­fu­sion of ef­fec­tive re­sis­tance and the var­ied forces of dis­in­te­grat­ing or frac­tur­ing po­lit­i­cal au­thor­ity.”

In this post-pri­macy world, the old ways in which the Depart­ment of De­fense (DOD) was set up to man­age sit­u­a­tions will no longer work. As ex­am­ples:

• Change is coming on faster than ever be­fore, es­pe­cially when it comes to the is­sues of who, how and when en­e­mies will emerge and with what kinds of strate­gies, tac­tics and weapons. The rise of Al Qaeda and how it op­er­ated was a be­gin­ning clue. The multi-headed hy­dra of ISIS is fol­low­ing a path born of Al Qaeda but is very much “on steroids” com­pared to that older or­ga­ni­za­tion that so ter­ror­ized the world and in­fu­ri­ated those who tried to com­bat it.

• The con­cept of nation states is in­creas­ingly mean­ing­less as a way of man­ag­ing de­fense, pol­icy and mil­i­tary strat­egy. Al­liances are also far more com­plex than in past decades, with con­tin­u­ous frac­tur­ing and re­form­ing that de­fies the old more de­lib­er­ate and slow-to-change chess-like moves of the past. With such frac­tur­ing, it has be­come a world that the study refers to as one where bat­tles are now fought “on quick­sand” from a strate­gic stand­point. As the strug­gle hap­pens above the muck, those fight­ing find them­selves sucked down into a mess that is even more treach­er­ous than the bat­tles they had launched above it.

• The en­e­mies them­selves are mul­ti­ply­ing quickly around the world, di­ver­si­fy­ing in their own agen­das, means of at­tack and con­nec­tions al­most on a day-by-day ba­sis. The “at­om­iza­tion of ef­fec­tive counter-u.s. re­sis­tance,” as the re­port refers to one of the chal­lenges of the cur­rent era, means th­ese are no longer groups one can han­dle with big­ger tanks, faster mis­siles and an in­tel­li­gence ap­pa­ra­tus dat­ing back to the era of James Bond and “The Spy Who Came in From the Cold.”

• The power struc­tures and al­liances that might be beaten down one day no longer stay dead. In­stead, they re-emerge again and again with re­silience, of­ten even stronger than be­fore. Think of it as a game of whack-a-mole where the mole doesn’t just con­tinue to re-emerge but reap­pears stronger and more un­pre­dictable ev­ery sin­gle mo­ment.

• Po­lit­i­cal co­he­sion and iden­tity are also part of the same quick­sand, con­stantly shift­ing even when the out­side la­bel for what we may think we are look­ing at stays the same. At a macro level, power shifts like this be­ing the era of the na­tion­al­ist strong­man in coun­tries like In­dia (with Modi), the Philip­pines (with Duterte) and the United States (with Trump, though at present he seems, to many, more emas­cu­lated than bold) are one such ex­am­ple. The dras­tic Euro­pean power shifts at the bor­ders of Ukraine and the Rus­sian Fed­er­a­tion, the Brexit move by the United King­dom and even France’s new lead­er­ship are also built on shift­ing sands. At a mi­cro level, the smaller power groups that mostly un­der­mine all the way to the more se­ri­ous multi-coun­try loose al­liances, like those con­trolled by ISIS and its sym­pa­thiz­ers, are also good ex­am­ples. The po­lit­i­cal world is chang­ing, faster than a shape-shifter from fic­tional tales of wiz­ards and demons.

In fac­ing all this, the prob­lem is that, as the re­port points out, “most of the in­stru­ments, ap­proaches, con­cepts and re­sources that have his­tor­i­cally ei­ther helped the U.S. de­fense en­ter­prise gen­er­ate ad­van­tages or adapt to change are likely not keep­ing pace with the strate­gic change afoot in the post-pri­macy era.” With a mil­i­tary and a U.S. Con­gress both built rigidly to de­fend the older mod­els of de­fense, “for the fore­see­able fu­ture, all of the Dod’s risk-in­formed choices will oc­cur un­der pres­sure from post-pri­macy’s trans­for­ma­tional strate­gic forces and con­di­tions.”

The Six En­dur­ing De­fense Ob­jec­tives

For­tu­nately for those de­vel­op­ing poli­cies for the cur­rent era, there are still rec­og­niz­able mod­els for an­a­lyz­ing de­fense strat­egy.

One of the more useful ones is what the re­port refers to as the “six en­dur­ing de­fense ob­jec­tives.” Th­ese are sim­ply stated and have guided strat­egy for eas­ily more than a hun­dred years. They are as fol­lows:

• Se­cure U.S. ter­ri­tory, peo­ple, in­fra­struc­ture and prop­erty against sig­nif­i­cant harm.

• Se­cure ac­cess to the global com­mons and strate­gic re­gions, mar­kets and re­sources.

• Meet for­eign se­cu­rity obli­ga­tions.

• Un­der­write a sta­ble, re­silient, rules-based in­ter­na­tional order.

• Build and main­tain a fa­vor­able and adap­tive global se­cu­rity ar­chi­tec­ture.

• Cre­ate, pre­serve and ex­tend U.S. mil­i­tary ad­van­tage and op­tions.

The re­port moves on to an­a­lyze each of th­ese in turn.

On the first of th­ese (se­cure U.S. ter­ri­tory, peo­ple, in­fra­struc­ture and prop­erty against sig­nif­i­cant harm), while the goal still stands, the re­port makes it clear it will be more dif­fi­cult than ever to achieve it on a con­tin­u­ous ba­sis. The re­port’s au­thors state that “Amer­i­can se­nior lead­ers will be in­creas­ingly taxed to cut down or limit the vec­tors by which di­rect threats ar­rive to un­der­mine the ba­sic se­cu­rity of the United States and its peo­ple, ter­ri­tory and hold­ings. Both con­se­quen­tial threats and ef­fec­tive re­sponses are more so­phis­ti­cated and di­verse than at any time in U.S. his­tory.” While this may seem the most con­ven­tional of the de­fense goal ar­eas, it is also one that is in­creas­ingly vul­ner­a­ble to small group at­tacks and in­fil­tra­tion.

The sec­ond de­fense ob­jec­tive (se­cure ac­cess to the global com­mons and strate­gic re­gions, mar­kets and re­sources) is an­other well-un­der­stood key to the coun­try’s safety, se­cu­rity and fu­ture and is even more at risk in the mod­ern era. As the re­port sum­ma­rizes, “The United States and its in­ter­na­tional part­ners rely on unim­peded ac­cess to air, sea, space, cy­berspace and the elec­tro­mag­netic spectrum in order to un­der­write their se­cu­rity and pros­per­ity. In­deed, even states and ac­tors with which the United States has sub­stan­tial dis­putes also ben­e­fit from the free and open use of what have been uni­ver­sally rec­og­nized as in­ter­na­tional com­mon spa­ces and re­sources. All five of the afore­men­tioned do­mains or en­vi­ron­ments are in­creas­ingly vul­ner­a­ble to the pre­da­tions of ma­li­cious non­state ac­tors as well as states seek­ing to ex­tend their in­flu­ence and ex­ploit ob­vi­ous com­peti­tor vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties. In the process, they are in­creas­ingly lim­it­ing or con­strain­ing Amer­i­can free­dom of ac­tion as well.” It is im­por­tant to note that in an era where moves like the Pa­triot Act, in its broad-based surveil­lance of telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions and im­mi­gra­tion re­stric­tions, seem over­reach­ing to the pub­lic, it is at least re­as­sur­ing that the DOD sees the “deal with the devil” as a pos­si­ble ne­ces­sity for pro­tect­ing this as­pect of se­cu­rity.

The third issue (meet for­eign se­cu­rity obli­ga­tions) is about far more than act­ing as the “global cop” that flies out to pro­tect ev­ery­body else. Strate­gi­cally, the re­port be­gins its dis­cus­sion of this ob­jec­tive by say­ing that “yet an­other con­sis­tent component of U.S. de­fense pol­icy for the past 25 years has been an abid­ing Amer­i­can com­mit­ment to the se­cu­rity of treaty al­lies and ma­jor non­treaty in­ter­na­tional part­ners.” It goes on to say that “this near-in­nate re­spon­si­bil­ity for the de­fense of a con­stel­la­tion of com­monly rec­og­nized and mu­tu­ally sup­port­ive in­ter­na­tional part­ners is born as much out of an Amer­i­can in­stinct for re­al­ist self-preser­va­tion as it is self­less­ness.” Those guide­lines have shaped pol­icy for a long time. Un­for­tu­nately, as the re­port says, “an im­por­tant fea­ture of the post-pri­macy en­vi­ron­ment is the in­creas­ing ad­her­ence to self-in­ter­est first among Western politi­cians and other U.S. al­lies,” also known as “the na­tion­al­iza­tion move­ment.” (Think “Amer­ica First” from Pres­i­dent Trump and the forces that drove the United King­dom to vote to exit the Euro­pean Union.) The re­port goes on to say that this shift “leaves the United States fac­ing the prospect of be­ing at risk and friend­less in an in­creas­ingly hos­tile en­vi­ron­ment where bar­ri­ers to en­try into ef­fec­tive counter-u.s. re­sis­tance are in­creas­ingly lower.”

The fourth de­fense ob­jec­tive on the list (un­der­write a sta­ble, re­silient, rules-based in­ter­na­tional order) is still a valid goal, but it, too, has be­come far messier. As the re­port states, “Up to 9/11, that op­er­a­tive order was per­ceived to be dom­i­nated by the well-prac­ticed, of­ten-pre­dictable com­pet­i­tive and co­op­er­a­tive re­la­tion­ships be­tween states…. Since 9/11, how­ever, U.S. per­cep­tions of both the com­plex­ity of the con­tem­po­rary order (or dis­or­der) and its in­her­ent haz­ards have grown more so­phis­ti­cated, un­cer­tain, un­set­tling and con­found­ing.”

As to what is desta­bi­liz­ing the cur­rent world struc­tures, the re­port rightly states that “the great­est source of stress lies in an in­her­ent dy­namism in the char­ac­ter and ve­loc­ity of con­se­quen­tial change in strate­gic con­di­tions. Gen­eral [David] Pe­traeus is in­struc­tive here

‘Amer­i­cans should not take the cur­rent in­ter­na­tional order for granted. It did not will it­self into ex­is­tence. [The United States] cre­ated it. Like­wise, it is not self-sus­tain­ing. [The United States has] sus­tained it. If [the United States] stops do­ing so, it will fray and, even­tu­ally, col­lapse.’”

The United States has failed mis­er­ably in keep­ing up with the changes in this world order as it has changed. As the re­port puts it, “U.S. adjustment to the post-pri­macy era has been un­even at best. What can be per­ceived by for­eign ri­vals or do­mes­tic par­ti­san op­po­si­tion as feck­less­ness on the part of those charged with U.S. for­eign and se­cu­rity pol­icy might in­stead sim­ply be con­fu­sion – con­fu­sion about the prox­i­mate source and na­ture of con­se­quen­tial haz­ards, the risks as­so­ci­ated with ac­tion or in­ac­tion against them and the sta­bil­ity of the foun­da­tion upon which past best prac­tice has most of­ten ably averted mil­i­tary catas­tro­phe, con­ta­gious in­se­cu­rity and un­con­trolled dis­or­der.”

This is also a world where “past best prac­tice is in­creas­ingly in­ef­fec­tive. Re­vi­sion­ist or rev­o­lu­tion­ary pow­ers such as China, Rus­sia, Iran and North Korea demon­strate a pen­chant for par­a­lyz­ing, counter-u.s. gray zone com­pe­ti­tion. Vul­ner­a­ble states are also fall­ing vic­tim to more or­ganic net­worked re­jec­tion­ist forces and move­ments that ef­fec­tively chal­lenge the le­git­i­mate ex­er­cise of po­lit­i­cal au­thor­ity wher­ever they emerge. The growth, per­sis­tent pres­ence and cor­ro­sive im­pact of th­ese state­less en­vi­ron­men­tal forces lead to no­tice­able spikes in ter­ror­ism, in­sur­gency and civil con­flict and un­der­mine the U.s.-led order of­ten less by pur­pose than by im­pli­ca­tion. In re­al­ity, the ‘rules’ in ‘rules-based’ are fail­ing and the United States is strug­gling to keep pace.”

The fifth of the de­fense ob­jec­tives (build and main­tain a fa­vor­able and adap­tive global se­cu­rity ar­chi­tec­ture) is also in tat­ters. It only works with care­ful at­ten­tion to the global net­work of al­liances and part­ner­ships around the world and con­tin­u­ously re­pair­ing and up­dat­ing the U.S. role within that net­work. The re­port ob­serves on this point that “those re­la­tion­ships are ad­mit­tedly un­der in­creas­ing in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal pres­sure. The United States would be well-served to adapt and also ex­pand its al­liances to cre­ate a more ro­bust net­work of mu­tual sup­port and col­lec­tive se­cu­rity – all tran­scend­ing ge­og­ra­phy, func­tional de­mand and pur­pose­ful and con­tex­tual haz­ards.” For now, how­ever, the United States seems far more pre­oc­cu­pied with pulling away from those re­la­tion­ships and in­sist­ing on op­er­at­ing as much in iso­la­tion as pos­si­ble.

On the last of the de­fense ob­jec­tives (cre­ate, pre­serve and ex­tend U.S. mil­i­tary ad­van­tage and op­tions), while the au­thors of the re­port see it as fea­si­ble to main­tain, it is in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult to achieve. They say that from a prac­ti­cal stand­point “de­ci­sive or de­fin­i­tive de­feat of ad­ver­saries may not al­ways be re­al­is­tic, as it may sim­ply ex­ceed U.S. risk and cost thresh­olds…. Here, de­fense and mil­i­tary lead­ers will face the un­sat­is­fy­ing re­quire­ment to con­tain haz­ards at an ac­cept­able cost to pre­vent strate­gic ex­haus­tion or the fa­tal ero­sion of U.S. and part­ner in­ter­ests.” The “post-pri­macy re­al­ity de­mands a wider and more flex­i­ble mil­i­tary force that can gen­er­ate ad­van­tage and op­tions across the broad­est pos­si­ble range of mil­i­tary de­mand.” Do­ing so may not be fea­si­ble for both eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal rea­sons, many of which are hap­pen­ing beyond U.S. bor­ders and are there­fore also beyond U.S. con­trol.

The Post-pri­macy World’s Con­stant Char­ac­ter­is­tics

In work­ing to de­fend th­ese ob­jec­tives, the au­thors of the re­port go on to say that there are two spe­cific char­ac­ter­is­tics the United States will likely be deal­ing with for the fore­see­able fu­ture.

The first, noted ear­lier in this ar­ti­cle, is that ev­ery strug­gle, ev­ery strat­egy and ev­ery as­sump­tion is built on quick­sand. The metaphor is both pow­er­ful and ap­pro­pri­ate in that it first says what­ever foun­da­tion the United States and its mil­i­tary may have as­sumed for a con­flict is likely go­ing to shift and change un­der their feet, from the be­gin­ning. It is a fit­ting de­scrip­tion se­condly in that what the con­flict “sinks into” – with each new at­tempt to wres­tle out of it – has a high po­ten­tial of be­ing more treach­er­ous than the way it started.

The re­port it­self de­scribes this by say­ing that, in the post-pri­macy era, “all states great and small are in­creas­ingly ‘wrestling on quick­sand.’ In sum­mary, the nexus of hy­per-con­nec­tiv­ity, dis­trib­uted sources of iden­tity and al­le­giance, pro­found dis­con­tent and po­lit­i­cal fac­tion­al­ism are merg­ing with ac­cess to the means of mean­ing­ful re­sis­tance, harm and dis­rup­tion to dan­ger­ous ef­fect. There­fore, while the United States and China com­pete for Pa­cific pri­macy, for ex­am­ple, they do so on a less sta­ble po­lit­i­cal foun­da­tion than in the past. More­over, this re­al­ity holds for vir­tu­ally all states re­gard­less of their in­her­ent sta­bil­ity, po­lit­i­cal ori­en­ta­tion, ex­ter­nal align­ment or for­eign ac­tivism.”

The re­port also goes on to point out about this “fight­ing on quick­sand” sit­u­a­tion that “as the Pen­tagon con­tem­plates fu­ture strat­egy and risk, it will need to come to terms with a gen­er­al­ized ero­sion or dis­so­lu­tion of tra­di­tional au­thor­ity struc­tures. To date, U.S. strate­gists have been fix­ated on this trend in the greater Mid­dle East. How­ever, the same forces at work there are sim­i­larly erod­ing the reach and au­thor­ity of gov­ern­ments world­wide.”

The sec­ond char­ac­ter­is­tic is that the post-world War II pe­riod of one war fol­lowed by an­other is now mor­ph­ing into some­thing cra­zier and more un­pre­dictable than ever be­fore. The term for it used in this re­port is “Per­sis­tent Con­flict 2.0.” As the re­port puts it, “the new post-pri­macy era of con­stant com­pe­ti­tion and con­flict will wit­ness mean­ing­ful strug­gles for po­lit­i­cal power and pri­macy oc­cur­ring si­mul­ta­ne­ously at mul­ti­ple lev­els be­tween, within and across states. Con­se­quen­tial con­flict will no longer be con­fined to wars be­tween states or be­tween large ri­val con­stituen­cies within states. In­stead, it will tran­scend bound­aries; emerge from widely di­verse mo­ti­va­tions; per­sist on the back of in­con­ve­nient, in­cor­rect, toxic or per­ilous in­for­ma­tion; and, fi­nally, be waged with an un­bounded and di­verse tool set that will per­sis­tently defy con­ven­tional se­cu­rity wis­dom. Warn­ing of its on­set will of­ten be am­bigu­ous or un­rec­og­niz­able un­til hos­til­i­ties are well un­der way as well.”

Army Rec­om­men­da­tions

The solutions, ac­cord­ing to the re­port, fall into the fol­low­ing four ma­jor gov­ern­ing prin­ci­ples to guide strate­gic di­rec­tion and ac­tion:

• En­sure “di­ver­sity in the haz­ards and as­so­ci­ated de­fense de­mands con­sid­ered in risk as­sess­ment by se­nior lead­ers.”

• Rec­og­nize “the in­her­ent dy­namism in the char­ac­ter, im­por­tance and ur­gency of Dod’s cur­rent and pro­jected ca­pa­bil­ity, capacity and or­ga­ni­za­tional agility to re­spond to a fluid de­ci­sion-mak­ing en­vi­ron­ment.”

• Prac­tice “per­sis­tent di­a­log” to “specif­i­cally en­cour­age se­nior de­fense lead­er­ship to en­gage in a de­lib­er­ate, so­phis­ti­cated and struc­tured dis­cus­sion to ac­count for and adapt to the afore­men­tioned di­verse and dy­namic as­pects of the de­ci­sion-mak­ing en­vi­ron­ment.”

• Make “a com­mit­ment to con­stant risk-based adap­ta­tion,” in­clud­ing “rou­tine risk choices like avoid­ance, ac­cep­tance, trans­fer and mit­i­ga­tion.”

In all th­ese gov­ern­ing prin­ci­ples, the re­port points out that while they them­selves may have their own com­pli­ca­tions in be­ing brought to re­al­ity, “in light of the ve­loc­ity of change in the post-pri­macy en­vi­ron­ment, cur­rent con­cep­tions of th­ese ideas may be too con­ser­va­tive. In short, the era of mar­ginal or in­cre­men­tal adjustment may be void un­der many post-pri­macy cir­cum­stances.”

In short, the United States not only has to live in the new post-pri­macy world; it also no longer has the lux­ury of hav­ing much time to fig­ure out what might be the best course of ac­tion in each sit­u­a­tion.

Ob­ser­va­tions

Above all, the re­port makes it clear not just that the United States is no longer in the top lead­er­ship po­si­tion it once was in world af­fairs but “be­tween the lines” of the re­port is the mes­sage that per­haps no nation could ever be in that po­si­tion again. But then again, no nation has been so long in charge that its fall­ing from be­ing the one in charge would be as sig­nif­i­cant for its real power on the world stage as what is cur­rently hap­pen­ing with the United States.

A sec­ond ma­jor take­away from the re­port is that the cur­rent U.s.-driven pol­icy of “Amer­ica First” and na­tion­al­ist ob­jec­tives are the worst pos­si­ble choices to be mak­ing right now. With the com­plex net­work of both al­lies, en­e­mies and po­ten­tial threats sur­round­ing the world, the act of iso­lat­ing this coun­try from oth­ers is fool­hardy at best.

One can hope that with groups such as the Strate­gic Stud­ies In­sti­tute and the U.S. Army War Col­lege Press be­hind this par­tic­u­lar re­port, even with the White House di­rec­tion cur­rently off-tar­get, per­haps the Pen­tagon lead­er­ship can help steer the United States to­ward a bet­ter-bal­anced long-term set of for­eign poli­cies, based on the rec­om­men­da­tions of the re­port.

The re­port makes it clear that this is also an era where im­age and ma­nip­u­la­tion of that im­age are crit­i­cal to the fu­ture strength and se­cu­rity of the United States. It specif­i­cally refers to the use of “gray zone” tech­niques, in­volv­ing “means and meth­ods fall­ing far short of un­am­bigu­ous or open provo­ca­tion or con­flict.” While the re­port does say that “murkier, less ob­vi­ous forms of state-based ag­gres­sion” are com­pletely un­ac­cept­able, it then flips on it­self to ad­vo­cate that the coun­try is go­ing to need to “go gray or go home.” While the specifics are not shown, use of care­ful mes­sag­ing and di­rected pro­pa­ganda are urged to pro­ceed at a higher level than per­haps at any other time in the nation’s his­tory.

In sync with this, man­ag­ing the nation’s im­age is also im­por­tant. This is why North Korea’s threats to the world – and the United States in par­tic­u­lar – are so im­por­tant to counter. War with that coun­try would cer­tainly be a dis­as­ter, with the po­ten­tial for it rapidly de­te­ri­o­rat­ing into a global con­flict that could spi­ral into nu­clear war that could wipe out much of the life on Earth.

Where the Re­port Ut­terly Fails

The Re­port per­pet­u­ates a deep cul­tural delu­sion that the United States should mil­i­tar­ily dom­i­nate the world and that it has the right to im­pose its will on the rest of the world to sup­port the Amer­i­can way of life.

It is this ar­ro­gance and delu­sion that has helped make the world the mess that it is and eroded Amer­i­can in­flu­ence, wealth and the well-be­ing of its cit­i­zens.

Since it was founded, the United States has im­posed its will on other na­tions. It has over­thrown demo­cratic gov­ern­ments and in­stalled bru­tal dic­ta­tors in order to sup­port the prof­its of Amer­i­can cor­po­ra­tions, keep other na­tions im­pov­er­ished and weak and to per­pet­u­ate con­flict—all while claim­ing that it was spread­ing democ­racy.

Be­cause the Amer­i­can pro­pa­ganda ma­chine was so mighty, much of the world bought into the Amer­i­can delu­sion and lies for a long time. With the ex­pan­sion

of the In­ter­net and the free flow of in­for­ma­tion the world has learned the truth and now the United States is the most hated nation on Earth and rec­og­nized as the great­est threat to world peace and pros­per­ity.

Amer­ica's ar­ro­gance has en­sured its own down­fall.

A type of in­san­ity in­fects Wash­ing­ton, the rul­ing class and many Amer­i­can cit­i­zens. They ig­nore the greater re­al­ity and con­tinue to im­merse them­selves in the delu­sion that Amer­ica is the great­est nation and has the right to im­pose its will on other coun­tries.

Sadly, hu­mans are prone to in­san­ity by na­ture and we only have to look back on our his­tory to rec­og­nize it. Noth­ing could stop Ger­man in­san­ity ex­cept great loss of life and ex­treme force. Rus­sian in­san­ity did not abate un­til its essen­tially be­came bank­rupt and could no longer main­tain con­trol over its peo­ple. The in­san­ity started by Mao Ze­dong did not end with the death of 35 mil­lion Chi­nese and con­tin­ues to fuel China's ag­gres­sion and as­pi­ra­tions for global dom­i­nance.

The Re­port also fails to rec­og­nize the in­ter­nal threats that Amer­ica faces. It doesn't mean­tion how the CIA man­u­fac­tured and con­tin­ues to sup­port Is­lamic ter­ror­ists in order to jus­tify per­pet­ual war and the on­go­ing theft of Amer­i­cans' tax dol­lars.

It does not men­tion how the Pen­tagon re­fuses to ac­count for $10 tril­lion.

While the Army's re­port is im­por­tant and Amer­i­cans should be aware of it, vastly more is needed for Amer­ica to change its fu­ture and en­sure its sur­vival.

If Amer­ica is to avoid its rapidly ap­proach­ing fas­cist fu­ture and ul­ti­mate down­fall it must look much deeper and over­come its delu­sions.

The world needs a sane Amer­ica that works with other na­tions ra­tio­nally based on facts and doesn't try to dom­i­nate them or per­pet­u­ate false­hoods.

It needs us to rec­og­nize the rot and crim­i­nal­ity that in­fects our gov­ern­ment and for the peo­ple to re­gain con­trol of it. They need us to un­der­stand that the pur­pose of the gov­ern­ment is to serve the needs of the peo­ple, not rule them or even lead them.

The rest of the world needs us to rec­og­nize the hope­less cor­rup­tion in both the Repub­li­can and Demo­cratic par­ties and choose an­other path.

It needs us to wake up and cre­ate deep fun­da­men­tal change in our own coun­try be­fore we tell other coun­tries how to man­age their af­fairs.

Im­age by Jerry High­berger, CC

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