Tag Archives: JFK

The Old American Century

The American Century is over.  As the 20th century turned into the 21st century there was an effort to turn the new century into one completely dominated by the United States corporations. This attempt was spearheaded by a right wing organization called The Project for the New American Century.

This “project” was started in the 1990s  by conservative “intellectual” William Kristol and other hardliners. Mostly “chickenhawks” who love the idea of using military force on other parts of the world while eschewing any participation in any wars themselves. Other key figures in the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) were the members of the Bush family, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and others.

When the Supreme Court ended the vote count in Florida in 2000 and gave GW Bush the presidency it allowed this group to come to power. Recall the when GW Bush was searching for a running mate in 2000 his family chose Dick Cheney to lead the search for the “best man” for the job. Cheney ended up choosing himself. Rumsfeld, another member of the PNAC then was appointed Secretary of Defense.

In this context the attack on 9/11 occurred. In power was a group of people who firmly believed that the US should lead the world , not by example or as a haven for democracy, but as a belligerent military force. So, although Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, the PNAC goal was to capture the oil fields and control that major resource.

So, in direct violation of international law and the Security Council of the UN, the US invaded Iraq. The catastrophe that followed lead to the destabilization of the Middle East, emergence of ISIS and a continued crisis that we see even playing out today.

The “New American Century” had turned out to be short lived. And a bust.

The second half of the 20th century was certainly dominated by the US. Not just by US military power, but by the exporting of American values. Democracy replaced colonialism as an organizing force in much of the world. JFK’s Peace Corps was probably the most effective propaganda tool for democracy. Americans were seen as decent, good people. Rich, spoiled, but with a conscience and eager to help. Those days are gone.

Any moral or ethical superiority that may have existed  (even if only illusory) has long gone. We now live in a new world.

The USA has lost not only it’s moral ascendancy, but has become largely irrelevant to much of the world. We are no longer a place to look to for leadership. We are a place to sell stuff. And Americans, no matter how much they complain, are flush with wealth compared to most of the rest of the world.

Donald Trump did not cause this. But he has accelerated the trend. It is a good development, in my mind, the the US no longer dominates the world economy. But the desire to “go it alone” as Trump has done, has eliminated much of the influence for good the US has had in the past. Isolationism and excessive nationalism lead to WW1 . And WW2.

Rejection of international agreements and institutions did not begin with Trump. I recall Mr Reagan attacking the UN and suggesting it could sail away into the sunset across the Atlantic. Geography aside, that sentiment became the mantra of the GOP and the right wing in the 1980s. And continues even today. It is based on an ignorance of history and an arrogance of power.

But in the 21st century the ideas of the 20th no longer hold. At least not in the rest of the world. Russia has re-emerged as a czarist regime after a brief fling with democracy. China is aggressively spreading its influence into every continent. The sleeping giant Napoleon had warned us about has awoken. The European Union, abandoned by the US and attacked by Putin, is strengthening itself in response. India is on the move. Saudi Arabia and Israel are both arming at alarming rates,poised for the inevitable conflict.

The US is no longer the awesome force it once was. That was an inevitable process. But the US has become a side show. An observer of global problems, no longer a participant in solving them. The 21st century was never going to be an American Century. Trump had nothing to do with those global realities.

But, by removing the US from international agreements and international solutions, the Trump folks are contributing to the inevitable catastrophe of extreme nationalism. Any student of history knows where extreme nationalism leads. The US has become the world’s gun dealer. Leadership without a national conscience. Without a plan for a positive world.

Without US positive engagement in global organizations the 21st century could very well become the Century of Chaos and Totalitarianism. While the US may sit on the sidelines, it will not be able to avoid the effects. The tsunami will not be stopped by a wall.

https://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Project_for_the_New_American_Century

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_Security_Council_Resolution_1441

 

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Everyone Loves A Parade

Who doesn’t love a parade? High school bands marching. Clowns in clown cars honking. Local politicians riding in convertibles throwing candy to the crowd. Handmade floats for the local Cow Queen or the King of the Potato. Lots of fun. And harmeless.

I have never been to the Rose Parade but that is certainly an extravaganza of corporate organization. An amazing display of creativity and capitalism. Beautiful floats, colorful flowers , top flight marching bands. What’s not to like? (As long as you turn off the insipid commentary of the host and hostess).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rose_Parade

On the local level I have often been able to witness the classic Sauerkraut Parade in Phelps, New York. Floats pulled by tractors. local politicians, marching bands. It has all the ingrediants of a somewhat hokey, but fun event. Followed by the annual sauerkraut eating contest, usually won by one of the many Middlebrook boys.

http://phelpsny.com/sauerkraut-weekend/parade/

And, for the real oldtimers was another kind of parade, the TV Hit Parade.The Emmy winning Hit Parade.  (Not much competition for Emmys in the 1950s) The top songs of the day sung by the greats of the day. Who could forget Snooky Lanson? Just about everyone, I guess. Not really a parade in the traditional sense, but still, a fun time.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0042172/

Of course, there are more serious parades. Like the parades of dictators and autocrats. Parades not designed for fun. Not designed to uplift or amuse. Parades designed only to give glory to the “fearless leader”. The Nazi torchlight parades, honoring Hilter, are well known to all. Stalin, Mao, Mussolini…all the great dictators honored themselves, usually by showing off their military might.  They all had one thing in common. A military machine totally devoted to the leader. Totalitarian regimes love the military parades.

In modern times both Mr Putin and Kim Jung Un have continued the fine tradition of brutal dictators showing the world their military machinery. So it goes on….

http://www.businessinsider.com/putin-just-threw-the-biggest-military-parade-since-the-soviet-union-collapsed-2015-5

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4417914/Kim-Jong-North-Korea-special-forces-military-parade.html

Which brings us to the Trump Parade. Evidently Mr Trump has asked the Pentagon to organize a Putin-like military parade. He wants to have a show. A prop for his failing presidency.

https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/02/07/583903933/trump-reportedly-wants-pentagon-to-stage-military-parade-down-pennsylvania-ave

Imagine the visuals. Mr Trump, flanked by Mr Kelly and Mr Mattis. Ivanka and Jared. Steve Miller. Hope Hicks and Sarah Huckabee Sanders.  Maybe Melania would show up, maybe not. Standing on the raised dias as the troops march by. As the tanks roll by. As the missiles roll by. While Mr Trump stands firm jawed in his Mussolini impression, feigning toughness.

All these men and women of the military who actually DO risk their lives. Marching past the “Heel Spur Hero” who took 5 draft deferments. It would be an exercise in supreme military discipline to keep these men and women from vomiting in disgust. Imagine the scene. A miitary homage to the “Great Leader”. We have seen it in many other nations.

That is not to say we should not honor the military with parades. Or that other presidents have not had military components to their inaugural parades. Both Eisenhower and Kennedy , in their inaugual parades, had some military components.

Eisenhower, of course, was a general. A commander-in-chief of the European theatre in WW2 before he was commander-in-chief of the entire military. He was certainly deserving of his military accomplishments being recognized. Although 8 years later, in hi farewll address, he did warn of the military-industrial-political complex. (He took out the reference to Congressional collusion at the last minute so as not to offend too many politicians). So, he had a right.

John F Kennedy was also a war hero. On the ground in real combat. A PT boat captain. So, he also had a legitimate claim to some military reference to his very real military service. After all, he ignored his heel spurs and put his life on the line. As a member of the Kennedy clan he could have easily opted for non-combat duty in the safety of the USA. (See GW Bush for details). But he didn’t.

But neither JFK nor Ike nor US Grant nor Teddy Roosevelt have ever held military parades for the sake of personal glory. Or displaying hardware. All military parades of the past have honored the men and women who risked their lives, not the “Fearless Leader” who stayed home.

We already have parades. We have local parades for Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day. We honor the military. regualrly. But we have never produced massive displays of military hardware. During the depths of the Cold War when Stalin and Krushchev were boasting with parades of military might (or the cardboard fascimiles thereof) the US declined to respond in kind. We didn’t need to honor our fearless leaders with parades. We didn’t need to get involved in a “whose is bigger” contest, like some high school boys. We knew what we had. No need to boast.

Let us hope that the Pentagon is able to sidetrack our “Fearless Leader” and not get involved in the politics of the “Great One”. Mr Trump had nothing to do with the military, in any sense. He never served. He bragged about avoiding paying taxes to pay for our arsenal and to pay for our troops. He wants a made for TV special. An extravaganza with “big ” ratings. He needs to deflect from the Russia investigation.

The Apprentice president is drowning in corruption and needs a military parade to deflect. Let’s honor the military by keeping them out of it.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Rocket Man versus The Dotard

For starters. here is a partial exchange of messages sent between John F Kennedy and Nikita Krushchev during the height of the Cold War. When people of each nations saw the other as the most terrible enemy and the world seemed always on the verge of nuclear war.

“…In your speech of inauguration to the office of President, and likewise in the message to Congress of January 30 you, Mr. President, said that you would like for the Soviet Union and the United States of America to unite their efforts in such areas as the struggle against disease, mastering the cosmos, development of culture and trade. Such an approach to these problems impresses us and we welcome these utterances of yours.

We consider that favorable conditions for the most speedy solution of these noble tasks facing humanity would be created through the settlement of the problem of disarmament. And we would like every country to make every effort for the solution of this problem with the establishment of such a strict international control under which no one could arm secretly and commit aggression.

All agree to the fact that the solution of the problem of disarmament depends to a great extent on agreement between the Soviet Union and the United States of America. If we reached such an agreement, it would be a great joy for all people on Earth and a great blessing for all mankind.

N. Khrushchev”
and Kennedy’s reply a week later….

“…I think we should recognize, in honesty to each other, that there are problems on which we may not be able to agree. However, I believe that while recognizing that we do not and, in all probability will not, share a common view on all of these problems, I do believe that the manner in which we approach them and, in particular, the manner in which our disagreements are handled, can be of great importance.

In addition, I believe we should make more use of diplomatic channels for quite informal discussion of these questions, not in the sense of negotiations (since I am sure that we both recognize the interests of other countries are deeply involved in these issues), but rather as a mechanism of communication which should, insofar as is possible, help to eliminate misunderstanding and unnecessary divergencies, however great the basic differences may be….”

John F Kennedy

 

Fast forward to 2017. Here is are the words used in the exchanges between Kim Jung-un and Donald Trump.

Trump: If you don’t do what I tell you I am going to “totally destroy” your country. Totally!

Kim: Ha . “A frightened dog barks the loudest”. I am not worried.

Trump: Oh yeah, “Rocket Man”

Kim: You are obviously “mentally deranged.”

Trump: Well, you are a “total nutjob”.

Kim: Well, I have the “biggest ever hydrogen bomb”. Biggest! Best !

Trump: You are “obviously a madman” I will destroy you.

Kim: I hear a “dog barking” just a “dog barking”.

Trump: “Maniac”

Kim: “Dotard”

Trump: Your mother wears combat boots!

Kim: So’s your old man.

Trump: Gonna make me?

Kim: You stink!

John F Kennedy and Nikita Krushchev must be swirling like tops in their graves.

(Words in quotes were actually used by Trump and Kim or Kim’s representatives.)

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