Republic or Empire?

-->
American History, big picture stuff, Bush Administration, Iraq War

This morning I read the first paragraph of this article by Peter Baker in today’s Washington Post:

President Bush acknowledged for the first time yesterday that the United States is not winning the war in Iraq and said he plans to expand the overall size of the “stressed” U.S. armed forces to meet the challenges of a long-term global struggle against terrorists.

After which enough alarm bells went off in my head to wake the dead.

The January 2007 issue of Harper’s (the cover art is a photograph of a rubber duckie) has an article by Chalmers Johnson titled “Republic or Empire: A National Intelligence Estimate on the United States.” It’s not online and won’t be for awhile (once again, Harper’s policy about not putting articles online until they’re a couple of months old makes me crazy), but reading the article in light of Baker’s news story is guaranteed to scare the living bleep out of you.

In the article, Chalmers discusses “military Keynesianism,” in which “the flow of the nation’s wealth — from taxpayers and (increasingly) foreign lenders through the government to military contractors and (decreasingly) back to the taxpayers.” As a result, “the domestic economy requires sustained military ambition in order to avoid recession or collapse.” Then, he ties military Keynesianism to the “unitary executive” theory and Bush’s increasingly unchecked power. Meanwhile, citizens and media dutifully “abet their government in maintaining a facade of constitutional democracy until the nation drifts into bankruptcy.”

Note that Chalmers is a serious guy with sterling Establishment credentials. Among other things, from 1967 until 1973, Chalmers was was a consultant to the Office of National Estimates (O.N.E.) within the CIA. In that capacity he mostly dealt with issues involving communist China and Maoism. There’s more about Chalmers and his work here.

In 2004 Chalmers told an interviewer he wasn’t always so concerned about military adventurism:

Johnson thought antiwar demonstrators during the Vietnam were naive. He voted for Ronald Reagan. In retrospect, Johnson told John Wilkens of the San Diego Union-Tribune, he was “a spear carrier for the empire.” …

… “I fear that we will lose our country,” Johnson writes in his latest book, “The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic.”

Bush and the Pentagon are bankrupting the nation, dismantling the Constitution, and leading us down the path to endless war. America is afflicted with the same “economic sclerosis of the former USSR,” Chalmers explains in a ZNet interview. But at least Mikhail Gorbachev tried to reform the Soviet Union before it imploded. No such luck with Bush and the neocons. “The United States is not even trying to reform, but it is certain that vested interests here would be as great or greater an obstacle. It is nowhere written that the United States, in its guise as an empire dominating the world, must go on forever. The blowback from the second half of the twentieth century has only just begun.”

In this TomDispatch interview, Chalmers explains how he evolved from being a loyal, spear carrying Cold Warrior to a being a prophet of doom howling in the wilderness. Max B. Sawicky of MaxSpeak wrote of Chalmers,

Johnson remains a conservative, staunchly pro-capitalist, limited government. No goofy Buchanan-type xenophobia. There’s a fair amount of overlap with Chomsky. People type the latter as “left” but I would argue that both of their approaches to U.S. foreign policy are empiricist and Madisonian. I’m no expert, but neither are the loons running this government.

The Johnson analytical framework harkens back to New Left treatments of “Pentagonal capitalism” and “military Keynesianism.” It emphasizes the brute fact of U.S. military outposts around the world, the breadth of resources devoted to imperial overstretch, and the impacts on the locals. I tend to discount the money aspect — what’s $450 billion in a $13 trillion economy? To me the ideology — the thirst for influence, control, and dominance — is most important.

The part about “limited government” sets some alarm belts off, too, but I respect anyone who’s actually thinking. Unlike some of our recent libertarian commenters.

Marc Cooper interviewed Chalmers in 2004 (emphasis added):

So where does that leave today’s authentic patriots?

The role of the citizen now is to be ever better informed. When Benjamin Franklin was asked, “What have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” he replied: “A republic if you can keep it.” We’ve not been paying attention to what we need to do to keep it. I think we made a disastrous error in the classic strategic sense when in 1991 we concluded that we “had won the Cold War.” No. We simply didn’t lose it as badly as the Soviets did. We were both caught up in imperial overreach, in weapons industries that came to dominate our societies. We allowed ideologues to capture our Department of Defense and lead us off — in a phrase they like — into a New Rome. We are no longer a status quo power respectful of international law. We became a revisionist power, one fundamentally opposed to the world as it is organized, much like Nazi Germany, imperial Japan, Bolshevik Russia or Maoist China.

Indeed, your thesis is that since September 11, the U.S. ceased to be a republic and has become an empire.

It’s an extremely open question if we have crossed our Rubicon and there is no going back. Easily the most important right in our Constitution, according to James Madison, who wrote much of the document, is the one giving the right to go to war exclusively to the elected representatives of the people, to the Congress. Never, Madison continued, should that right be given to a single man. But in October 2002, our Congress gave that power to a single man, to exercise whenever he wanted, and with nuclear weapons if he so chose. And the following March, without any international consultation or legitimacy, he exercised that power by staging a unilateral attack on Iraq.

The Bill of Rights — articles 4 and 6 — are now open to question. Do people really have the right to habeas corpus? Are they still secure in their homes from illegal seizures? The answer for the moment is no. We have to wait and see what the Supreme Court will rule as to the powers of this government that it appointed.

Going back to the Harper’s article — Chalmers writes,

Military Keynesianism … creates a feedback loop: American presidents know that military Keynesianism tends to concentrate power in the executive branch, and so presidents who seek greater power have a natural inducement to encourage further growth of the military-industrial complex. As the phenomena feed on each other, the usual outcome is a real war, based not on the needs of national defense but rather on the domestic political logic of military Keynesianism …

… George W. Bush has taken this natural political phenomenon to an extreme never before experienced by the American electorate. Every president has sought greater authority, but Bush … appears to believe that increasing presidential authority is both a birthright and a central component of his historical legacy. …

… John Yoo, Bush’s deputy assistant attorney general from 2001 to 2003, writes in his book War By Other Means, “We are used to a peacetime system in which Congress enacts laws, the President enforces them, and the courts interpret them. In wartime, the gravity shifts to the executive branch.”

Let’s go back to Peter Baker’s article for a moment:

A substantial military expansion will take years and would not immediately affect the war in Iraq. But it would begin to address the growing alarm among commanders about the state of the armed forces. Although the president offered no specifics, other U.S. officials said the administration is preparing plans to bolster the nation’s permanent active-duty military with as many as 70,000 additional troops.

A force structure expansion would accelerate the already-rising costs of war. The administration is drafting a supplemental request for more than $100 billion in additional funds for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, on top of the $70 billion already approved for this fiscal year, according to U.S. officials. That would be over 50 percent more than originally projected for fiscal 2007, making it by far the costliest year since the 2003 invasion.

Since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Congress has approved more than $500 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as for terrorism-related operations elsewhere. An additional $100 billion would bring overall expenditures to $600 billion, exceeding those for the Vietnam War, which, adjusted for inflation, cost $549 billion, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Now, what will Bush not do to pay for all this expansion? Raise taxes, that’s what. Instead, he’s going to borrow more money from China and Japan and who knows who else. In other words, this is a major expansion of military Keynesianism. Which, once again, is what happens when “the flow of the nation’s wealth — from taxpayers and (increasingly) foreign lenders through the government to military contractors and (decreasingly) back to the taxpayers.” As a result, “the domestic economy requires sustained military ambition in order to avoid recession or collapse.”

And I think Chalmers is right about not losing the Cold War as badly as the Soviets did. We could still lose, however. Although a great many factors contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union, my understanding is that the collapse came about primarily because the Soviet economy just plain couldn’t support the cost of their military, their secret police, and their subsidies to client states like Cuba. Soviet citizens increasingly depended on a black market economy to survive, and Gorbachev’s reforms came way too late to do any good. Eventually the whole business fell like a house of cards.

Now, our economy might be able to pay for all the stuff Bush wants to spend money on — I honestly don’t know — but the plain fact is that it is not paying for those things because of Bush’s tax cuts. Instead, we are borrowing money from foreign countries and going deeper into debt every time we breathe.

And, frankly, this scares the bleep out of me.

It’s probably the case that the military does need the expansion because of the strain Bush’s War has put upon it. But it’s becoming increasingly clear that we must haul our asses out of Iraq to save ourselves. Yes, that will leave a nasty mess behind, and that’s too damn bad. But Bush’s War is itself the greater danger.

See also: Digby, Robert Scheer, and xan at Corrente.

Update: Via Digbythe Associated Press reports

The Pentagon is still struggling to get a handle on the unprecedented number of contractors now helping run the nation’s wars, losing millions of dollars because it is unable to monitor industry workers stationed in far-flung locations, according to a congressional report.

The investigation by the Government Accountability Office, which released the report Tuesday, found that the Defense Department’s inability to manage contractors effectively has hurt military operations and unit morale and cost the Pentagon money.

“With limited visibility over contractors, military commanders and other senior leaders cannot develop a complete picture of the extent to which they rely on contractors as an asset to support their operations,” said the GAO, the investigative arm of Congress.

Share
54 Comments

49 Comments

  1. Jeff Huber  •  Dec 20, 2006 @11:51 am

    I’m no economist either, but am fully in agreement with Johnson that our economy has become reliant on the military industrial complex, and that it drives both foreign and domestic policy.

    We have been in a wartime economy since 1941. In that time, armed force has become such a dominant form of American national power that diplomacy, economy, information and other forms of power have atrophied as they’ve become more and more dependent on military power.

    The crack we’re in now is that we’ve gone and illustrated that when actually used today, armed force isn’t an effective form of national power either.

    And nobody wants to admit that. Even as we’re seeing that land force is a minimally credible way of affecting events overseas to our advantage, our generals and politicians are calling for a larger land force.

    Thanks for the steer to the Harpers article. I’ll be looking for it.

    Best,

    Jeff

  2. Rick Moran  •  Dec 20, 2006 @12:44 pm

    This is a fascinating post. While I disagree with many of the assumptions made by Chalmers, he is obviously a brilliant man who makes some very valid, very troubling points.

    I’m not exactly sure what answers he wants or what real world policy prescriptions he would support. Cut the military? Reduce its size dramatically? Okay fine. But that doesn’t solve the problems of watching as the bullies of the world dance for joy over the radical reduction in American power nor does it take into account nation’s like China and Russia who are emerging as real existential threats to the United States.

    Collective security is a myth as is the efficacy of the United Nations. To believe the UN will do anything to curb the appetites of any nation is to rely on a house of cards. Reform would take decades – even then there would be no guarantee that a world without (a Bushless) United States would be any better.

    As for our debt burden, I recall vividly these exact same arguments being used during the 1980′s when it was the Arabs and Japan that held the paper. Nations that carry a lot of US Treasury paper tend to see to it that the American economy remains afloat and in relatively good shape. After all, if it collapses, they’re out a lot of money themselves.

    But there is much to think about in this post – even if it is an exaggerated and ultimately flawed analysis of our situation.

  3. Brian  •  Dec 20, 2006 @12:50 pm

    As I see military expenses continue to push this country toward bankruptcy, I can’t help but recall David Stockman. For those who’ve forgotten (or are too young to remember) he was “Saint Ronald Reagan’s” first Budget Director. His mission: work twenty four hours a day, seven days a week for as long as it took to wring out every last penny of fraud, waste, and abuse from the federal budget.

    As I recall, he spent his first few years ensuring that not so much as a single dime of our hard-earned tax dollars would be wasted on a cup of coffee for one of those dreaded Welfare Queens. Only then did he turn his attention to the seventy percent or so of the federal budget devoured by the Pentagon. His conclusion: the Pentagon’s budget was an absolute cesspool of fraud, waste, and taxpayer abuse and it was simply impossible for anyone to even begin to address the problems. So, he resigned.

    This was more than twenty years ago. Seems like things have only gotten worse since then.

  4. maha  •  Dec 20, 2006 @1:06 pm

    I’m not exactly sure what answers he wants or what real world policy prescriptions he would support. Cut the military?

    The point is not so much to cut the military but to disengage the military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned us about. As I understand it, the military itself is not to blame. The problem is that our economy has become increasingly dependent on construction and maintenance of a war machine, while at the same time we’re borrowing money hand over fist from the Bank of China to keep the money flowing without raising taxes. Johnson’s point is that, like a Ponzi scheme, this can’t be sustained forever.

  5. GDAEman  •  Dec 20, 2006 @2:36 pm

    Great analysis. One tires of the payola pundits whose style swamps the blogs.

    It’s at this level of thinking I strove for in writing The Iraq Study Group Report: Plutocratic Damage Control.

    I happened to read the C. Johnson interview with Tom E. just over the weekend. If people don’t recognize the huge ripple effects of this Iraq war, they should listen to Flashpoint’s interview with Rober Fisk. This LINK will start an MP3 broadcast of the interview. He desrcibes a dinner with Australian generals who explain why they need to double the size of their army as a result of Bush’s misadventure.

    And yes, the on-going negotiations with china over currency is huge.

  6. Ellen1910  •  Dec 20, 2006 @3:03 pm

    If a country expects to issue (and benefit from) the world’s dominant currency, it must bear the burden of recycling that currency — and that means borrowing whatever is on offer.

    While we need not use the borrowings to finance military adventures, to say that we shouldn’t borrow from China, Japan, and the oil producing states is simply naive nativism.

  7. Ian  •  Dec 20, 2006 @3:04 pm

    One thing I don’t understand is how Bush expects to get the actual manpower to expand the military. He can spend money on machinary all day long (altho it appears that the harsh environment plus war losses in Iraq are disabling all types of war machines faster than we can currently replace or repair them) … but at the end of the day, if he hasn’t recruited extra operators to go with the extra machinary (whether that be tank drivers or infantry) the military won’t actually be expanded … it’ll just have more spare parts.

    And my understanding is that the military is having a really tough time keeping up with current recruitmant goals … to the point that several emergency measures have had to be applied, such as raising age and fitness requirements, increasing signing bonuses by huge amounts, etc.

    I still believe nobody including Bush will be stupid enough to reinstate a draft, because I am convinced that whichever party ends up doing this will be utterly destroyed as a party.

    So where on earth is the manpower supposed to come from?

    -me

  8. maha  •  Dec 20, 2006 @3:32 pm

    to say that we shouldn’t borrow from China, Japan, and the oil producing states is simply naive nativism.

    Um, Ellen, I think you kind of missed the point. By several million miles.

  9. maha  •  Dec 20, 2006 @3:35 pm

    Ian — As I remember, one time when Lincoln was worrying over a shortage of cavalry horses, he said something like “I can make generals, but I can’t make a horse.” Bush may be about to find out he can make tanks, but he can’t make soldiers.

  10. Patrick Briggs  •  Dec 20, 2006 @3:38 pm

    I just went out and picked up the latest copy of Harpers. Thanks for the tip. Got a little sunshine on the way to Vromans and some great insight from Chalmers Johnson’s article.

    Whether one believes in the inate goodness of man or doesn’t determines one’s stance on a lot of issues. Rick Moran’s post seems to be of the latter view. I’m more of the former view.

    His seems to be a fear-based one that requires us to be ever vigilant and be the premiere military power to feel safe. I just have to ask where that has gotten us recently? There are trade-offs for this venture in Iraq (as an economics major I should have said ‘opportunity costs’). What are the moral costs of this (read Chris Hedges “War is a Force that Gives us Meaning”) ? From a purely geopolitical power perspective, has our slide towards empire enhanced our position in the world and is it sustainable? What has history shown happens to empires?

    People who believe in another way never seem to be taken seriously. Why not reduce our military? Certainly, it’s not a flawed strategy to de-privatize our military and re-regulate companies that do profit from being part of the military-industrial complex.

    For thousands of years man has relied on a strategy that is fear-based. Many religions teach an alternative to this. The one I’m grounded in, Christianity, certainly does. Christ is the model by which all Christians are called to live their lives – the Beatitude (see Glenn Stassen’s “Living the Sermon on the Mount: A Practical Hope for Grace and Deliverance”).

    Love is no less real than fear. I would argue love is more real. We should try doing something different as a country. Spending less on a fear based world-view and a little more on a love-based world view. I don’t think steps in this direction are wrong to try nor are they idealistic.

    One need only look at the way South Africa overcame the brutality of apartheid non-violently. Or Ghandi’s leadership in gaining India independence non-violently. Or Martin Luther King’s overcoming racial bigotry here in the US non-violently. Or Lech Walsea’s leadership of Solidarity against Communist Poland’s government, non-violently.

  11. Donna  •  Dec 20, 2006 @4:06 pm

    The squeaky wheel gets the grease? Bush and buddies strained our military manpower to an axle-breaking point that makes it awfully hard to stay on the road. Why ignore that there are other wheels to use to support a safer steering down this road amidst international conflict? There is diplomacy, foreign aid, backing off certain policies which enflame, freeing ourselves from foreign oil, and so forth.

    I surely get pissed off by comments like Rick Moran’s – ‘watching as the bullies of the world dance for joy over the radical reduction in American power’ – pissed because of the numerous unexamined assumptions pretending to be fact in such a statement: assuming others are bullies, and the USA never bullies; assuming we are supposed to be frightened into permanent war by somebody’s dance for joy; assuming we have in fact a reduction in power that is anything but self-inflicted by putting all our international eggs in a military basket; assuming we are all egoistic enough to wage war because of perceived slights; assuming such an ego war is the most important reason to be alive on earth…….but mostly pissed because of the mantra ‘they’re out to get you’ inhering in such a statement that is obviously designed to frighten the reader and bypass the dialogue about war and peace that has yet to happen in this nation.

  12. moonbat  •  Dec 20, 2006 @4:25 pm

    Patrick, I’m actually heading toward Vromans today, and may pick up the Harpers issue there as well.

    Several thoughts:

    It’s interesting how this thread’s conservative commenters seem more trusting of other countries’ need to keep the game going, to keep taking in our dollars. They seem to have a blind faith that doesn’t seem merited, because the situation isn’t sustainable.

    The difference between 1980s deficit spending and today, is that Reagan (or more likely his aides) at least recognized the dangers of deficit spending and began rescinding his tax cuts. We still ran up a lot of debt, which was ultimately cleaned up by Clinton. The current regime has no such scruples and sees the bankrupting of the USA as its big chance to kill the beast. So far they show no signs of stopping the way Reagan did.

    Military Keynesianism wasn’t named as such, but its elements were well discussed in the late, great BopNews, by the likes of Ian Welsh, Stirling Newberry and others (how I wish I could give you some links). The huge debt situation it entails was termed “the death bet”. All the players (countries) are holding dollars that every one of them knows is becoming more worthless by the day because of the irresponsible actions of our government, fiscal and otherwise, and yet no one wants to be the first to dump them, which would cause all the other players to dump them, thus ending the game with a crash – hence the name. And yet the game must end at some point, as our creditworthiness approaches zero.

    There’s no doubt in my mind that our serious global competition, the Chinese among them, are biding their time. They continue to recycle our dollars, building up their own economies, while rolling their eyes, shaking their heads, and grinning at our monumental geopolitical stupidity as our country is weakened by one self-inflicted blunder after another. The hour is coming when the Chinese at least, will decide they don’t need us any more. We’ll be a weakened shell and can be easily kicked over.

    Another aspect of this that was discussed at BopNews (mostly by Stirling Newberry) was the notion that this economic footing favors the red states, because of military bases and other reasons. And so citizens of these states are enthuiastic champions of this kind of economy – a positive feedback loop. Goddamn the electoral college and the disproportionate share of power it gives to these rustics.

    As for where the troops will come from – I’ve heard only a whisper of this, but I suspect that the chorus will get louder for a US military made up of illegal immigrants. Become a soldier and earn your citizenship. Hey, it worked for the Roman Empire, at least for awhile.

  13. Cieran  •  Dec 20, 2006 @4:26 pm

    We’ve been stuck in a wartime economy since Reagan, and the country has become addicted to it, to the point where going cold-turkey is almost unthinkable. But we may not be able to avoid the sharp onset of withdrawal symptoms, as we are depending on potential adversaries (e.g., China) or nations at risk for their own futures (e.g., Saudi Arabia) to finance our military expenditures, and thus our funding stream may soon dry up no matter what we do.

    A “Blanche Dubois” colonial military economic policy (i.e., one that relies for its funding on the kindness of strangers) is not a sustainable enterprise, as we are well-posed to learn before long!

    I think that there is a substantial chance that this country is beinning to discover that (a) there are no good options for getting out of Iraq, and (b) there are no good options for avoiding serious economic hard times. If either of these turns out to be unavoidably true, the reason why will be the vast cost of our empire — and I doubt that Americans will choose “empire” over “saving their homes” or “educating their children”, whether our elected representatives like it or not.

  14. Ellen1910  •  Dec 20, 2006 @5:55 pm

    “. . . to say that we shouldn’t borrow from China, Japan, and the oil producing states is simply naive nativism.” Ellen1910

    Um, Ellen, I think you kind of missed the point. By several million miles. maha

    Really, maha. How so, pray tell?

  15. maha  •  Dec 20, 2006 @6:26 pm

    How so, pray tell?

    I’m not your monkey.

  16. Jonathan Versen  •  Dec 20, 2006 @6:29 pm

    With limited visibility over contractors, military commanders and other senior leaders cannot develop a complete picture of the extent to which they rely on contractors as an asset to support their operations,” said the GAO, the investigative arm of Congress.

    I haven’t seen the digby post, let alone the 40 plus comments he probably already has, and maybe someone has already said this–

    it occurs to me that the contractors, by virtue of their de facto licenced recklessness, may be contributing to the endangerment of US troops by their negative example. If I called O’Reilly’s radio show and suggested this, do you think I’d make it on the air?

  17. Madison Guy  •  Dec 20, 2006 @6:34 pm

    The analogy with the Soviet Union is certainly apt — Afghanistan is what made them reach the tipping point toward collapse, and Iraq poses many of the same dynamics for us. But they can’t really substantially increase the military — especially while we’re at war — without bringing back the draft, and even though America has become a nation of sheep, it’s hard to imagine there wouldn’t be quite a bit of bleating about that.

    All of this seems to sail right over Bush’s head, or maybe he simply doesn’t care. This morning the big “Special Report” graphic breaks into the Today show with its blaring, excited fanfare and I wonder, “Oh shit, what now?” But it’s just a Bush “news” conference, and with it, the unbearable lightness of listening to the Deluded Decider stumble along and do the same old same old one more time. The Unbearable Lightness of Listening to Bush. Not winning, not losing, gonna hang in there, more troops, wouldn’t be there if we couldn’t succeed. Nothing new and he still hasn’t formally declared himself emperor for life. I drive off to work, scanning the radio stations for the news conference. Can’t find it. That figures. Must not be important.

  18. maha  •  Dec 20, 2006 @6:41 pm

    If I called O’Reilly’s radio show and suggested this, do you think I’d make it on the air?

    Duncan Black should add this to his series on “simple answers to simple questions.” :-) And we all know what the answer is.

  19. purvis ames  •  Dec 20, 2006 @7:09 pm

    The question of all the private contractors (mercenaries) operating in Iraq is something that our own little Caligula might find an enlightening (if that’s possible) answer to in Machievelli’s “The Prince” where he warned Lorenzo de Medici that the use of such forces would inevitably lead to the fall of his own empire. Bye, bye, George.

  20. Ken Larson  •  Dec 20, 2006 @7:27 pm

    There are good points in your article. I would like to supplement them with some information:

    I am a 2 tour Vietnam Veteran who recently retired after 36 years of working in the Defense Industrial Complex on many of the weapons systems being used by our forces as we speak.

    If you are interested in a view of the inside of the Pentagon procurement process from Vietnam to Iraq please check the posting at my blog entitled, “Odyssey of Armaments”

    http://www.rosecoveredglasses.blogspot.com

    The Pentagon is a giant, incredibly complex establishment, budgeted in excess of $500B per year. The Rumsfelds, the Administrations and the Congressmen come and go but the real machinery of policy and procurement keeps grinding away, presenting the politicos who arrive with detail and alternatives slanted to perpetuate itself.

    How can any newcomer, be he a President, a Congressman or even the new Sec. Def.Mr. Gates, understand such complexity, particularly if heretofore he has not had the clearance to get the full details?

    Answer- he can’t. Therefore he accepts the alternatives provided by the career establishment that never goes away and he hopes he makes the right choices. Or he is influenced by a lobbyist or two representing companies in his district or special interest groups.

    From a practical standpoint, policy and war decisions are made far below the levels of the talking heads who take the heat or the credit for the results.

    This situation is unfortunate but it is absolute fact. Take it from one who has been to war and worked in the establishment.

    This giant policy making and war machine will eventually come apart and have to be put back together to operate smaller, leaner and on less fuel. But that won’t happen until it hits a brick wall at high speed.

    We will then have to run a Volkswagen instead of a Caddy and get along somehow. We better start practicing now and get off our high horse. Our golden aura in the world is beginning to dull from arrogance.

  21. Kevin Walker  •  Dec 20, 2006 @8:10 pm

    In my own layman’s way, I had wondered if we had fallen into a sort of military-industrial loop – what Johnson calls “military Keynesianism”. But I think there’s another angle to it as well. I’ll buy that our huge military capability is meant to serve as a deterrent to regional aggressors. It probably does. I can even go along with being the world’s policeman from time to time, although it seems we never chase after the right criminals. But if we are to do these things, our military must not only be well-equipped, thus fueling the cycle, it must be experienced as well. That means each new generation of recruits has to be battle tested. Look at all the “minor” military adventures we’ve had in the past couple of decades: Beirut, Panama, Somalia, Grenada, etc. Is there anything to this or am I just becoming a conspiracy nut?

  22. MinuteMan  •  Dec 20, 2006 @8:49 pm

    > For thousands of years man has relied on a strategy that is fear-based. Many religions teach an alternative to this. The one I’m grounded in, Christianity, certainly does.

    You think that Christianity is not fear-based? One word answer: hell!

  23. floopmeister  •  Dec 20, 2006 @9:30 pm

    Just a minor point about the title – Empire or Republic?

    Who says we have to choose?

    Venice didn’t.

  24. Doug Hughes  •  Dec 20, 2006 @9:32 pm

    Sounds to me like the tail (military contractors) is wagging the dog so hard the whiskers are coming off. There are 2 reasons this marvel of nature can happen. 1) Senators and Congressmen who want to get reelected lust after the campaign contributions from these folks. 2) There is an incestous relationship between govt folks in the pentagon and the defense industry. It needs to be illegal to move from govt procurement to the defense industry.

    When Congress is not being bribe.. no influenced, by the folks who build war machines they might make proper decisions what to buy. Since Congress relies on career professionals (nod to Ken in #20), the recomendations from those professionals must be untainted. So anyone in governement who may analyze or influence the expenditure of tax bucks on war toys must NOT be in a position to gain. You can leave govt service, but you CAN’T go to work for defense contractors.

  25. DonnyOsmond  •  Dec 20, 2006 @10:01 pm

    Ken Larson – Good points. It seems to me that the only way to bring about the necessary reforms to the military-expenditure complex will be to elect a president with extensive command and procurment experience. In other words, America must have a new Eisenhower. General Wes Clark is probably the best existing candidate.

  26. gregg  •  Dec 20, 2006 @10:12 pm

    the contradictory actions of “christians” makes me realize that jesus was a great guy, if so many people have tried so hard to spin his words and ideas into their social power grabs. hell, non-believers, sin, church, faith and now the rubber-stamp kool aid coalition of the willing, y’all were the food for the roman and egyptian empires, and now the US military. Programmable slaves to embrace fear and denounce the peace-niks. The christian religion has a miserable track record of promoting suffering and fear. A virus to be extinguished if mankind wants real peace and understanding.

  27. paulywood  •  Dec 20, 2006 @10:22 pm

    Has the president ever heard of Prussia? Siam?

  28. injun  •  Dec 20, 2006 @10:43 pm

    Maha,
    if you really want to be scare read these two articles.

    Part 1 – Russia attacks the West’s Achilles’ heel
    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Central_Asia/HK22Ag01.html

    Part 2 – Russia tips the balance
    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Central_Asia/HK23Ag01.html

    Only way things are going to change in US is if you tackle
    the myth of “American Exceptionalism”. That is the driving force behind all this. Liberals just dance around it just like the
    conservatives. To me the current situation is basically an Empire in decline grasping at straws. The only question is whether you will voluntarily stop the madness or the rest of the world will gang up on you. The above articles are just a prelude.

  29. Joe  •  Dec 21, 2006 @12:43 am

    Ken, “From a practical standpoint, policy and war decisions are made far below the levels of the talking heads …”

    No, no, no … the decider makes the decisions!

    But seriously … I’ve heard this point before, but I’m not entirely convinced. I seem to remember being surprised at how much of an impact Clinton had on the military’s ways when he drastically reduced the size of the military and closed a number of bases.

  30. Rafael  •  Dec 21, 2006 @12:45 am

    Empire: A political system based on the constant & agressive aquisition of wealth.

  31. peter de haan  •  Dec 21, 2006 @10:17 am

    I firmly agree with the central thesis that the US economy has evolved into a military keynesianism. It must be stressed, however, that this is nothing new.
    It has been very clear since the great depression to think tanks, policy figures and even ‘capitalists’ that pure capitalism doesn’t work. Keynes was and still is necessary. Industry and major corporations needed to be subsidized somehow instead of competing each other to bankrupcy.

    As any Keynes economist will tell you: It doesn’t matter where you throw money at during times of recession, as long as you throw the money. You can spend it on the military, you can spend it on roads and hospitals. Hack, you could even bury it in holes and tell people to go and find it, dick it up and spend it. This principle has been very well understood by both republicans and democrats, Americans and Europeans alike.

    One major difference between the American approach and European post WWII approach has been that the emerging social democracies of Europe chose to spend more on welfare, hospitals, etc., whereas in the US conscient decisions were taken to put the emphasis on military spending, creating an industrial-military complex. Military spending has the obvious advantage of sustaining the ‘empire’ militarily, but more importantly, it is also the most direct form of subsidizing the major US corporations. Huge defense contracts to Boeing, Lockhead, IBM and the like have sustained these corporations for many decades, given them the competitive edge and kept the economy rolling. This works, and indeed, from an economic point of view is a wise thing to do, but the nasty side effects of this model should be obvious too and have become apparent more than ever over the last decade.

    There is a problem with this model in that within a democratic societey people with a sane mind will question why so much money will have to be spent on the military when there is so much need of hospitals, education, social security, etc. Especially after the end of the cold war, the threat of communism spreading around the world wouldn’t work anymore as an argument. This is where the establishment will have to convince you that indeed we live in a dangerous world, full of weapons of mass destruction and terrorist crazies who are intent on destroying the US and other free and piece loving nations. Fear mongering is the oldest trick of the trade. Remember Ronald Reagan claiming with a straight face that tiny Nicaragua during the Sandinist regime could invade the US in less than 24 hours? Iraq wasn’t all that different in terms of stupidity to suggest that they could or would attack the US, but the american public bought into it, greatly helped by mainstream media and ‘intelectuals’ who serve the interests of the military-industrial complex.

    What I don’t agree with is the suggestion that military Keynseniasm is anything new, that it is anything more Republican than Democrat, or that the cost of the Iraq war and resulting debts to foreign countries will undermine the economy. What it will do, however, is advancing the republican right-wing domestic agenda. The budget deficits obviously will have to be curtailed at some point. Raising taxes or slashing military funding are capital sins in the US and will loose you elections. No doubt more stress will be put on welfare programs and middle america. If anything, the Bush neo-con administration will be remembered as the hallmark of income redistribution. First the tax cuts to the super rich and then a war which was suggested not to be about oil riches since the costs far outweigh the future oil revenues. That’s a moot point. The costs of the war are for the american people to pay. The benefits go to the American corporations and subsequently the very wealthy.

  32. maha  •  Dec 21, 2006 @10:40 am

    It doesn’t matter where you throw money at during times of recession, as long as you throw the money. You can spend it on the military, you can spend it on roads and hospitals. Hack, you could even bury it in holes and tell people to go and find it, dick it up and spend it. This principle has been very well understood by both republicans and democrats, Americans and Europeans alike.

    Actually, a very smart person who knows stuff about economics explained to me yesterday that it does matter what you spend money on. According to this guy, the problem with military goods is that they are mostly useless for non-military purposes. Other kinds of things the government might spend money on, like roads, bridges, libraries, hospitals, etc., not only meet actual demands but often stimulate other economic activity. For example, a better road or a new bridge might inspire someone to build a new strip mall near the new road or bridge. These expenditures create positive feedback.

    Further, X dollars spent on road or other infrastructure building creates a lot more jobs than if it were spent on making jet fighter or ridiculously expensive “smart” munitions. The jobs-per-dollar ratio is very low in the defense industry.

    While military research does sometimes result in other applications, there are more efficient ways to fund research, and the spinoffs are becoming fewer as time goes by, the economist said.

    Essentially, military Keynesianism has an awful return ratio, and all those scientists and engineers in the defense industry would do more for the economy if they were working on non-military stuff.

  33. Willaim L. Hosch  •  Dec 21, 2006 @12:26 pm

    On Military Keynesianism, Johnson argues in the Harper article (extract from his up-coming book Nemesis?) that it only follows one-half of Keynes prescription, deficit spending in slow economic times, but ignores the need to pay down debt in good times. Of course, Johnson understands the political realities that drive procurement of weapons systems and the longterm nature of most projects, which make it difficult to rein in spending. This is also a point made many times by Noam Chomsky about the Pentagon System, which he thinks has become too inefficient to continue.

    Some others here have commented on proposals to expand the armed forces, and while the percentage of those in uniform in the U.S. is relatively low, the cost of training, equipping, and caring for active and retired U.S. soldiers is very high by world standards. In addition, the U.S. military has increasingly had to rely on mercenaries (sub-contractors) and foreigners with the promise of citizenship. So, yeah, we are following the pattern of Rome, in which more and more citizens declined to serve and refused (or were exempted) from paying taxes–a phenomenon that led to the feudal system.

    Finally, I think that nations in East and South Asia are well on the way to developing consumer societies, and thus becoming less reliant on exporting to the U.S. As this happens, I assume that money will flow to South America and Africa to finance another round of industrial development. What this means for the U.S. fiat currency probably depends on who controls the world’s petroleum and whether alternative power sources become available.

    http://blogs.britannica.com/blog/main/author/whosch

  34. Patrick Briggs  •  Dec 21, 2006 @12:32 pm

    Minuteman,

    Here’s a question for you. Do you think that Christianity is represented by its Crusades, Inquistitions, the Christian Coalition or is it represented by the work of Jimmy Carter, Martin Luther King, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Reverend William Sloane Coffin?

    I know this is off-topic but surely you can see that as with all human-created things on this earth, there are flawed interpretations and implementations and there are the ideals some of us strive to make happen despite these flaws.

    Why write off the efforts of people who call themselves Christian simply because all you see are the actions and the people who pervert it?

    Christianity, as with other religions is based on Love not Fear. The paradigmn I presented of why people like Rick Moran believe in Empire and military power is a valid one. It’s fear-based. Taking steps towards a more love-based stance for this country is the right thing to do.

    Patrick

    PS. Give this sermon by our Rector at All Saints Church in Pasadena a read:

    http://www.allsaints-pas.org/sermons/JEB%204-3-05%20Fear%20Paralysis%20Overcome.pdf

  35. Theodore Gillen  •  Dec 21, 2006 @3:41 pm

    Greetings!
    I would like to take this discussion of religion one step further. One of the most remarkable aspects of the human condition is that we have such an incredible ability to harness our gifts and powers to any and all realities of our choosing, both for good and not so good. It is entirely up to us to choose what we want to do and how we want to do it. We merely have to keep our heads, resist being fearful of our situation, and calmly and deliberately go about our business, directing our energies and actions to attain the best possible outcomes. The energy fueling such things is always there and is entirely disconnected from any concept of right or wrong. This may seem to be somewhat of a leap in logic in the current discussion, but I for one see the sense of it.
    Best, Ted.

  36. Den Valdron  •  Dec 21, 2006 @3:56 pm

    “I tend to discount the money aspect — what’s $450 billion in a $13 trillion economy? To me the ideology — the thirst for influence, control, and dominance — is most important.”

    Allow me to disagree with the learned Mr. Sawicki. After all, as someone said, a billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.

    Sawicki has two problems. First, he drastically underestimates the actual size of the real Military/Security Budget, and secondly, he also minimizes it by comparing it to a raw unexamined number on the economy as a whole.

    First, to the real military/security budget. I believe that the current official budget is closer to 500 billion, than it is to 450. So let’s take 500 as the starting number.

    Add to that another 100 billion for ‘off the books’ wars in Afghanistan and Iraq which are funded by separate appropriations, not considered part of the military budget and not considered part of the regular deficit (and there’s some fun accounting there of the Arthur Anderson variety). We’re up to 600 billion.

    Now, on top of this, let’s look at another few ‘off the military budget’ expenses: The Nuclear Weapons Program. This is under the AEC, although it is military in nature. I believe the usual toll is about 30 to 40 billion, but bush has been commissioning new generations of nuclear weapons of all sorts, including bunker busters. So let’s assume 40 to 50 billion. 650 billion total.

    Intelligence agencies, including covert ops and assassinations, intelligence gathering, surveillance, etc. NSA, CIA and the rest of the alphabet soup. Say 40 billion tops. 690 billion total.

    NASA, theoretically civilian, but heavily dominated by military priorities, including spy satellites and surveillances. Say 10 to 20 billion. Go light. 700 billion total.

    Department of Homeland Security? Not much bang for the buck at 20 billion a year, last I heard. 720 billion total.

    Then throw in the American paramilitaries – border forces, coast guard, national guard etc. that aren’t in the conventional military budget. Round it off and tie a bow on it? 30 billion? 750 billion total.

    Now, maybe its higher than that. Probably its lower than that. But guaranteed, the real figure, its a shitload higher than the ‘official’ number.

    Okay, let’s look at the other side of Sawicki’s dismissive comment. That 13 trillion economy. Two problems.

    How much of that 13 trillion is real, and how much of it is inflated? How much of that represented the tech bubble, the stock market bubble, the housing bubble. And what happens to that 13 trillion when the bubbles go bust? The tech bubble has gone bust previously of course, so maybe we shouldn’t consider it, except as a historical example. But the stock market, according to some, seems badly overinflated and in need of correction. Perhaps by as much as 20 or 25%. And the housing bubble… well, that’s what keeps the American economy going. What happens when that goes?

    And then there’s the overall health of that economy. It’s crippling reliance on cheap energy, its ever-disintegrating manufacturing base, its lack of technological edge, the erosion of the middle and working classes, the continuing huge trade deficits, the continuing huge budget deficits, the ceaseless colossal borrowing with seemingly no way to repay. I dunno, does that seem healthy to you?

    Perhaps instead of a 13 trillion dollar economy, what we’ve really got is a 12 trillion, or 10 trillion, or 8 trillion dollar economy. Maybe not so good.

    My second point, however, is that its a mistake to look at the military budget as a percentage of GDP, but rather as a percentage of the government budget. And in that sense, the military budget is colossal. What does it represent? 50% of all government expenditures? 75% of all government expenditures? But the government doesn’t have an unlimited budget, so dollars spent on the military get taken from school lunches, from roads, from hospitals, from seniors medication, from schools, libraries, police, social assistance, public health, R&D.

    No, its not good.

  37. Patrick Briggs  •  Dec 21, 2006 @4:15 pm

    Ted,

    Nice thoughts. I think a moral and spiritual element should be included in discussions of how a society allocates its resources.

    Most people might even agree that devoting this much money to the military is wrong. It’s so big though; how does one begin to make changes that will leave most people feeling secure?

    More importantly, how does one begin to make people feel empowered in a political system designed to make them feel disempowered? The results of this disempowerment is an unaccountable government and widespread cynicism of that government.

    Personal responsibility in society requires more than taking care of yourself. It requires getting informed and getting involved. Bush and his supporters are a reflection of our society’s health as far as that goes.

    I wonder if anybody could recommend some books from people who are working on changing people’s minds about the need for such a large military force.

    Patrick

  38. maha  •  Dec 21, 2006 @4:50 pm

    PLEASE NOTE: To the gentleman whose comment I just deleted — I don’t permit attacks on the religious beliefs of other commenters here. While criticism of specific aspect of religious institutions is fine, when on topic — I snark about the religious Right with some regularity — religion as a personal choice and practice will be respected on this blog.

  39. marijam  •  Dec 21, 2006 @5:50 pm

    It concerns me very much – now that Americans have put a stop to foreign companies trying to purchase our airports – that we are now selling them our aircraft manufacturers. Onex, a Canadian company, is slated to purchase Raytheon Aircraft Manufacturing. They recently bought Boeing’s Wichita facilities. What’s going on here? Doesn’t anybody care that we’re selling off the last of our manufacturing assets?

  40. marijam  •  Dec 21, 2006 @6:26 pm

    What I am trying to get at here, is how is our military spending going to benefit us if we keep selling off our assets to foreign countries?

  41. Patrick Briggs  •  Dec 21, 2006 @6:37 pm

    Marijam,

    Military spending “benefiting” us at what moral and social cost? I think that’s a more important question.

    There was a big wave of concern over the Japanese buying up all our land and companies back in the 80′s. Their economy blew up and they had to sell off a lot (and in fact the British owned more than they did but because it was Japan this played into the fears people have of non-white “other”).

    I don’t think this is a major concern today.

    Patrick

  42. GDAEman  •  Dec 21, 2006 @9:07 pm

    Patrick Briggs – “Slide towards Empire?” We’re there, been there, and now it’s about a decline of empire, and slide toward fascist state (some would write, “Slide toward fascst State? We’re there, been there, and now it’s about…. “) dunno.

    Check out Morris Berman, “The Twilight of American Culture” and his “Dark Ages America: The Final Phase of Empire.”

  43. Patrick Briggs  •  Dec 22, 2006 @1:41 am

    GDAEman,

    Yeah, I read Morris Berman 6 months ago. We’re well on our way towards empire but public perception has not gotten to a point where it accepts this as reality yet.

    One could find hope or despair in this I suppose. If the public woke up, they might hold the people in power accountable and we’d get some change to stave off this slide towards facsism. If the public is so stupid it can’t see this now, maybe it never will.

    Patrick

  44. Den Valdron  •  Dec 22, 2006 @10:37 am

    Maha, I’m not offended by your deletion. You have every right to make such judgement calls.

    My point remains that the problem of unbridled militarism in the United States is a ‘human’ problem, and that there is no resolution to be found in appeals to the supernatural. I’m content to leave it at that.

    The larger point that I was pursuing is that militarism has largely deformed the American society and economy to the point where it is almost unrecognizeable and unsustainable.

    There is a tendency, as with Sawicki, to sort of try to minimize the military impact by looking at the big picture and saying…. well… America’s military committment represents only 3 or 4% of the GDP. I think that’s simplistic and evasive. Much of that GDP goes to sustain the population, one doesn’t simply take it off the top. The military committment represents an allocation of surplus, it represents a diversion of the capital available for social investment.

    Look at it this way. A family’s income is 30,000 dollars. Their investment in Guns and Ammo is only 1000 dollars. Not much, eh? Except that 10,000 dollars must be allocated to paying the mortgage on the house, as well as maintenance, repairs and property taxes. Then 10,000 gets spent for food. 4,000 for clothing. 4000 for transportation. Factor in all the basic necessities that the family has to pay to sustain itself, you’ve got 28,000. Which means only 2,000 dollars available to spend on things like health care, dental work, vacations, recreation, investment in education and retirement. Half of that is spent on guns and ammo. What is the family giving up in terms of future possibilities and present comforts for spending on armaments? The costs are incalculable, the deficits of monies unspent or misspent compound yearly. In the end, guns and ammo produce nothing, contribute nothing, and offer only poverty.

    This is America writ small. As the family goes, so goes your entire country.

    It is true that some will benefit. Even in the middle of a plague, some… casket makers, will do booming business. Those who profit from a national effort at potlaching will do everything in their power to keep America’s veins open and bleeding out. Militarism is a cause for those who benefit from it.

    But it is also a fatal drug.

  45. peter de haan  •  Dec 22, 2006 @10:56 am

    “the problem with military goods is that they are mostly useless for non-military purposes. Other kinds of things the government might spend money on, like roads, bridges, libraries, hospitals, etc., not only meet actual demands but often stimulate other economic activity. For example, a better road or a new bridge might inspire someone to build a new strip mall near the new road or bridge. These expenditures create positive feedback. ”

    Point taken. True, it is not the most efficient form of spending, but the advantages to the establishment are plenty enough to have chosen this model. It keeps the public at large from true participation in decisions that are important to it. You would want your say if, when, where or how a hospital, school or road were to be built in your neighbourhood. You might want to set up a neighbourhood committee and hold forums to discuss how and where the money would be best spent. When congress writes out a check for a trillion dollar star-wars space ‘defense’ program you don’t have any say in that. You don’t know what it all means, you don’t have a clue about all the technology involved, where money ought to go, etc., so in that sense you will be a marginilized citizen.

    Added to that, such a space defence program would mean that multi billion dollar research in laser technology and the like will be funded publicly, but any purposeful and commercially viable spin-offs will then be transferred to corporations to make the profits.

    True, this is not the most efficient form of spending research dollars, but is totally in line with the objectives of the establishment, ie, marginalization of its citizens and transferring the bucks to corporate america.

  46. SAULAT KAMRAN  •  Jan 5, 2007 @12:33 am

    Proposed Road Map of SAU

    . Marching a step ahead to form South Asian Union (SAU) is good sign for the people of the region. We may be of different cultures, religions, languages etc but we all are human and descendents or genealogy of first parents-Adam and Eve (p.b.u.t.).
    We all have to come closer and make ourselves ambitious to lay down the foundation of the Union. Proposed 44 countries are mentioned below:
    Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Turkey, Cyprus, Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, , Brunei, China, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, Japan and Philippine.

    Process of South Asian Union (SAU) Implementation

    1. Forming union by including 44 countries as mentioned above.
    2. The Nations of the region can form South Asian Parliament by approving the appointment of Presidents, Kings, Prime ministers, Foreign ministers, Home ministers, Defense ministers & ministers for trade & commerce as members of the SAU parliament.
    3. Establishing a powerful single currency like EURO, for example South Asian Currency (SACU) or dollar or any other selected by the forum. And valuation can be fixed by averaging the currency values of the nations concerned.
    4. Abolishing visa system in order to promote traveling freely, and adopting free trade among the regional countries.
    5. Forming a joint military council to establish security of state, countries of the union & for common people.
    6. Paving ways for the people of the Union to seek jobs according to their capabilities.
    7. Making good uses of cultural and sports organizations through which the participating nations can establish their identity to understand each other.
    8. Funding should be made by member nations to establish Research Centers for medicines, incurable diseases, and science & technology for the benefit of general people.
    9. Establishing Bank such as Union Bank of South Asia to educate mass population, provide fund for natural disaster. Also making ways to drive homeless and astray people into employment through cottage industries to make their livelihood better so as to stop them from becoming smugglers, miscreants, or terrorists.
    10. Regarding child labor, concrete steps should be taken by providing free education established by the Union in the form of NGO. Orphans to be included in this establishment.
    11. Each state should be responsible to stop smuggler from drug/ arms trafficking. Also find ways to stop women & children trafficking.
    12. State to State disputes should be resolved for the best interest of the people. If necessary, the SAU may be called in the process of settlement.

    Yours,
    Saulat Kamran
    E-Mail Address: saulat@dhaka.net
    Website: http://www.southasianunion.net
    House No -28, Road No-4, Dhanmandi R/A.
    Dhaka, Bangladesh.

  47. SAULAT KAMRAN  •  Jan 5, 2007 @8:19 pm

    Subject: A proposal to build a South Asian Union (SAU) like European Union by expanding SAARC states.
    His Excellencies,
    Presidents, Prime Ministers, Kings, Head of Governments & States, Political & Religious Leaders, Intellectuals, Educationists, Economists, Welfare Organizations, Mass People of South Asian region.
    Peace be upon all of you, history is repeating from the creation of human life till now and will be repeated until the last final judgment of Creator. Actually, Creator created us as his best creation of life but we divided it into different nations, religions, cultures, languages, ideologies, etc in several thousands of years since the appearance of 1st human Adam (PBUH). We don’t know when the human life on earth will be finished for ever on dooms day, but some think that human life never stop repeating it’s wrongs. Now we have seen that the days of the human being are becoming more critical, insecure, divided among our selves in different ideas, increasing of poverty, and destruction of economy of some nations in comparison with the economy of some rich countries of the west. So the time for South Asian nations to unite as a strong body which is most caring for the inhabitants of this region has come, and in this way, we can develop ourselves. I have no right to waste your valuable time, but my heart is pressing me to place this proposal or advice to the holy hearts of our great rulers of the people of SAARC countries.

    Proposal for future South Asian Union (SAU)

    1. The mass people of this region want to abolish visa system for them selves in order to enjoy traveling facility freely and free trade among the regional countries like EU states. We can include Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Turkey, Cyprus, Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei, China, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, Japan & Philippine. The Afghan president his Excellency Mr. Hamid Karzai and his Government also shows interest for entering into SAARC.

    2. If we can include thirty seven more countries (Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Turkey, Cyprus, Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei, China, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, Japan & Philippine) with the seven countries of SAARC (Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Maldives), then this organization or union will be one of the strongest unions. Then we can establish a powerful single currency like EURO as, for example SACU (South Asian Currency), dollar, or any other selected by the forum. And currency value can be fixed by averaging the currency values of the nations concerned.

    3. All states will keep there own national flags as state flag and one common union flag, like that of EU.

    4. We can establish joint military command council for the defense of the whole region like EU. That means we can unite in a union to ensure human life security along with a strong economy like European Union.
    I do not know when the people of this region of South Asia will start to feel love and affection for each other, and will be united. But we should try to establish a golden future for ourselves. If successful, then generation after generation of this region will remember you for your kindness. God bless us with eternal & external peace.

    Yours,
    Saulat Kamran
    E-Mail Address: saulat@dhaka.net
    Website: http://www.southasianunion.net
    House No -28, Road No-4, Dhanmandi R/A.
    Dhaka, Bangladesh.

  48. Nev Poli  •  Jan 28, 2007 @2:11 pm

    Recently I listen to many of the eulogies and comments about President Gerould Ford since his passing. There were only a couple of people whom had said that pardoning Nixon was a mistake and non of them were politicians or people in leadership positions, (I am not claiming there were none, I just didn’t hear any and I looked and I listen). It seems that there is a complete disconnect with the past and how it shapes the future regarding our leadership in the U.S. Each one of these people said that pardoning Nixon healed the country. I was around at that time and I didn’t feel healed I felt betrayed. So who felt healed, the wealthy and the elite knowing that the law does not apply to them. Getting back to my first thought, the past shapes the future. We probably would not be in Iraq under false pretense had Nixon been prosecuted for his crimes and just maybe the Military Industrial Complex wouldn’t be so out of control.
    Again we face the same choice as we faced in 1974 impeach and prosecute or set precedence as former President Gerould Ford did.

  49. Britney  •  Dec 6, 2007 @8:09 pm

    This is very interesting site…

5 Trackbacks



    About this blog



    About Maha
    Comment Policy

    Vintage Mahablog
    Email Me
















    The Mahablog

    ↑ Grab this Headline Animator



    Support This Site





    site design and daughterly goodness

    eXTReMe Tracker












      Technorati Profile