Monday, March 12, 2007

"60 Years of Faulty Logic" by James Carroll

Article on the anniversary of the Truman doctrine, which started the Cold War by identifying a "free world" and an unfree world. The point isn't that there weren't socialist states which were extremely oppressive---when Truman announced his doctrine Stalin was still alive and in power---but rather that anything in between friend and foe was forbidden, including socialist states who didn't want to be dependent on the Soviet Union. Additionally, the Truman doctrine was the start of the CIA, the NSA, the huge growth of military bureaucracy and military power, and arguably the start of the 'Imperial Presidency', where the President, because he was now in charge of World Changing Decisions, had to have extreme power beyond what was previously acceptable. Now onto the article.

"The speech amounted, as one of Truman's advisers characterized it, to a declaration of religious war. In the transcendent struggle between Moscow and Washington, "nonalignment" was not an option. Truman declared that the United States would actively support "free" people anywhere who were resisting either internal or external threats to that freedom. The "free world" was born, but so, eventually, were disastrous wars in Korea and Vietnam."


...

"More than adjustments in tactics and strategy are needed. What must be criticized, and even dismantled, is nothing less than the national security state that Truman inaugurated on this date in 1947. The habits of mind that defined American attitudes during the Cold War still provide consoling and profitable structures of meaning, even as dread of communism has been replaced by fear of terrorism. Thus, Truman's "every nation must choose " became Bush's "You are with us or against us." America's political paranoia still projects its worst fears onto the enemy, paradoxically strengthening its most paranoid elements. The monstrous dynamic feeds itself.

The United States has obviously, and accidentally, been reinforcing the most belligerent elements in Iran and North Korea, but it is also doing so in Russia and China. Last week, for example, alarms went off in Washington with the news that China is increasing its military spending by nearly 18 percent this year, bringing its officially acknowledged military budget to $45 billion. Yet who was raising questions about massive American military sales (including missiles) to Taiwan, whose defense build up stimulates Beijing's? Speaking of budgets, who questions the recently unveiled Pentagon total for 2008 of more than $620 billion? (Under Bill Clinton, the defense budget went from $260 billion to about $300 billion.) Even allowing for Iraq and Afghanistan, how can such an astronomical figure be justified?

When the United States announces plans to station elements of its missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic, why are Russian complaints dismissed as evidence of Vladimir Putin's megalomania? On this date in 1999, Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic were admitted to NATO, in violation of American assurances to Moscow that NATO would not move east from the unified Germany. Now NATO looks further east still, toward Georgia and Ukraine. And Putin is the paranoid?"

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