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Pentagon vs State Dept - whats your take?

 
 
fishin
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Apr, 2003 08:39 am
blatham wrote:
State personnel and policies are not intertwined with the huge dollar industries that mark the Pentagon's activities. One might claim these connections are innocent (at the peril of sounding credulous, clearly, as Ike wasn't one to see boogy men) but regardless, that's a deep and real difference.


The statement here isn't true. Every single Foreign Military sale (i.e. the sale of military weapons, supplies, etc..) is run THROUGH the Dept. of State (and teh Dept. of Commerce!). The Dept. of Defense coordinates those activites AFTER the Dept. of State negotiates the agreement with the other country involved. The State Dept. decides who can get what and arranges the fee schedule. The Defense Dept. handles the delivery after that has already been worked out. If the Dept of State doesn't make the agreement the Dept. of Defense has nothing to deliver.

Quote:
You suggest a particular and very specific reason (Rumsfeld pushing to control foreign aid) things have come to a head. May I ask what data you are privy to in making the claim? It doesn't square with what I've been reading and I'm not at all sure it can account for what we are seeing.


If you look at the sequence of events the most serious clashes between Powell and Rumsfeld have all been since Rumsfeld (through the NSC) proposed legislation that would move the USAID under the DoD. What would the Pentagon want with a group that distributes aid in the form of food stuffs, grants to build schools, AIDs funding, etc.. ? None of these are the province of the Defense Dept. If you talk to people at both the Pentagon and Dept of State no one wants this done except for Rumsfeld and a few of his Deputies... The 3rd and 4th tier people at the Pentagon are in agreement with the people in the State Dept on the USAID issue.

Quote:
Re resignations...of course, I'm talking about resignations from State, not the Pentagon, made publically, and for reasons specifically related to America's present course of unilateral and pre-emptive war.


Why are resignations from the Dept of State indicators of a major organizational rift between the two departments yet resignations from the Dept. of Defense for the reverse situation mean nothing? You're selectively collecting data that supports your conclusion and reject anything that contradicts that conclusion. Does that lead you to the truth or to just further an already adopted view?
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Tartarin
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Apr, 2003 08:46 am
"The Defense Dept. handles the delivery after that has already been worked out. If the Dept of State doesn't make the agreement the Dept. of Defense has nothing to deliver.."

Well, that's that. Just no way the folks at Defense could make a dime out of that. Case closed.... ??
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Tartarin
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Apr, 2003 09:05 am
Just as a point of reference: http://www.pbs.org/now/politics/conflictofinterest.html
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blatham
 
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Reply Tue 15 Apr, 2003 09:17 am
ci...thanks for that lovely piece on Mr. Butcher

nimh and tartarin...both of you have written exceptional posts here. What a pleasure. My temptation is to just shut up and let the two of you talk. But temptation, we of virtue understand, really ought to be resisted.

I might begin with Tartarin's point regarding language and labels...
Quote:
One is the loss of language. Calling these guys conservatives when they are really fundamentalist radicals is the first big mistake.
As nimh's line of questioning suggests too, we are apparently in a situation where old cliched labels and categories are in flux. And it isn't made any easier for us in teasing apart what is 'really' going on when language is so happily and commonly disingenuous and put in the service of deceit (compassionate facism).

We can't rule out the possibility that an evangelical Republican might do something right. Nor even rule out that 'democracy', imposed at gunpoint, is the more moral course to follow. It seems the only foolproof way of judging is when we know the end. But we never do.

And that's the big problem with Messianism - it has already convinced itself about the glorious end... about its attainability, about its goodness, and worst of all, about its moral necessity. This seems to me Berlin's argument in his famous essay on positive and negative liberty, that great evils are perpretrated by those who know better than we do what we will be happy about in the future, thus our present protests are justifiably over-ridden (indeed, it is morally incumbent to do so). It is, as Tartarin, suggests, the problem of means/ends - the contented delusion that we are so right that it doesn't much matter what we do to achieve the vision.

So, that ought to be enough in itself to ring large alarm bells about what these boys are up to. And I understand the three of us (and many others) find ourselves now our with fingers jammed in our ears, those alarm bells being particularly loud and penetrating.

But messianism isn't all that's going on here. Fishin's protests notwithstanding, war is an extremely lucrative business for very many people. And each one of these architects around Rumsfeld are deeply tied in with businesses whose very existence depends upon warfare. I cannot imagine a situation where 'conflict of interest' is more dangerously engaged.

And though everyone steps with curiously dainty slippers around the issue, the links between these fellows (their real world actions...eg now Syria) and Likkud in Israel isn't just a matter of record, it is painfully obvious.

These are just some of the reasons we ought not to take these guys on their word about our proximity to Nirvana. I could, of course, refer to the transparent deceits over the last two years (Iraq/Osama connection), or too the influence of Carl Rove, who as Elizabeth Drew suggests in her recent NY Review article, would probably do his own grandmother with a weed-eater if it got his princling another vote.

But I think the fundamental reason we ought to consider this present Pax Americana project to be more likely to cause great harm than to do great good is that is is marked by the sort of hubris and cultural self-certainty which any number of previous empires demonstrate. Dominance is desired - that's precisely why the UN is being handled in the way it has been by these fellows - and the urge towards such dominance is authoritarian and anti-democratic at its foundation.
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blatham
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Apr, 2003 09:53 am
fishin

Well, ok, let's differentiate foreign and domestic military transactions. This would mean, I take it, that Raytheon will have lobbyists working both DoD and State, but State mainly to argue just why it is that (earlier day) Sadaam ought to have new gyroscopes? And that Commerce signs off on the POs? OK, I'm with you here. Thus, Raytheon will have an interest with the personnel of all three departments, not merely DoD.

Before I settle back in comfort, feet up, all being right with the world...are you truly going to insist that the (at least) potential for corruption is equal in all three department interactions with the weapons industry? (we are old friends, and I know I am being a bit flip here for the fun of it, but what's your honest take? And, I ought to further enquire, does this eliminate valid anxieties about the MIC or merely diffuse them over a larger area?)

Re Rumsfeld and Powell....I'm still not convinced. Coincidence of events in time doesn't show causation. That's why I brought up the resignation letters, to demonstrate a clear disagreement within State for Rumsfeld's internationalist policies. Might it be that the disagreement you refer to is something in the craw of Pentagon folks. I confess (you suggest some desired conclusion on my part) that I am much more interested in why State is in disagreement with Rumsfeld's activities than I am with Pentagon folks angry at State for a territorial matter, but that is for all the reasons that everyone is discussing Rumsfeld's motives and actions - it is an extraordinary change in US international policy.
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Tartarin
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Apr, 2003 10:48 am
Thanks Blatham for the review and most particularly for your posts.

I would really enjoy teasing out -- to use B's phrase -- the essential differences between Defense and State. The characters (and personnel) of the two departments are very different. I had an uncle who was a brass in the Defense Department (so I know a little about that) but have known State much better over the years (was once offered a job there, got to know it better when I briefly ran an int'l exchange program and got cozy with some of the middle management). The two departments are very very different. The decrease in the power of one and the increase in the power of the other is interesting and should be explored. Defense is way out of proportion to its usefulness, in my view. How that happened, who made it happen, what we might do to correct it are what I'd love to learn herein.

We might start by looking at where those who have worked in Defense and State move to in the private sector -- that should tell a tale...
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Tartarin
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Apr, 2003 03:37 pm
Okay -- here's something I heard on the radio twenty minutes ago -- Powell saying in a weary voice that we have no plans to attack someone else. Couldn't believe the use of that word, "attack."

But just now I find it at the NYTimes site, International Section, hour-old news, and here's what was said:


Quote:
...But Mr. Powell sought to quell fears that, as some in the region have said, Syria might be next on the list for military attention after Iraq.

"There is no list," he said, "there is no war plan right now to attack someone else either for the purpose of overthrowing their leadership or for the purpose of imposing democratic values."

On Monday, Mr. Powell had spoken of imposing diplomatic or economic pressure on Damascus, but also referred to unspecified "other options," and White House aides have pointedly declined to rule out military force...



Am I the only one who finds the choice of words really interesting?

Attack? Impose? Huh?
0 Replies
 
fishin
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Apr, 2003 05:44 pm
blatham wrote:
Before I settle back in comfort, feet up, all being right with the world...are you truly going to insist that the (at least) potential for corruption is equal in all three department interactions with the weapons industry? (we are old friends, and I know I am being a bit flip here for the fun of it, but what's your honest take? And, I ought to further enquire, does this eliminate valid anxieties about the MIC or merely diffuse them over a larger area?)


To use your terms, the "potential for corruption" exsists at different stages for each of the 3 Departments. Those within the State Department have control over the overall process and decide who does or doesn't get military assistance. They establish the contract with the other country. The Dept of Commerce is charged with regulating technology export so they have to hack off on whatever the materials are that are sold. Once both of those are done the Dept. of Defense picks up day to day management of the contract and delivers the end product. In theory at least "corruption" could exist at any one of those stages (or all 3..). Of course you also have Congressional members pressuring all 3 Departments so that the contracts are written to be favorable towards the Contractors in their districts.

Whether the anxieties are "valid" or not is up for grabs.

Quote:
Re Rumsfeld and Powell....I'm still not convinced. Coincidence of events in time doesn't show causation. That's why I brought up the resignation letters, to demonstrate a clear disagreement within State for Rumsfeld's internationalist policies. Might it be that the disagreement you refer to is something in the craw of Pentagon folks. I confess (you suggest some desired conclusion on my part) that I am much more interested in why State is in disagreement with Rumsfeld's activities than I am with Pentagon folks angry at State for a territorial matter, but that is for all the reasons that everyone is discussing Rumsfeld's motives and actions - it is an extraordinary change in US international policy.


Members of the State Dept. aren't happy with the way things are going because they are loosing power and in any government operation power is all there is. It's a classic power struggle and State is loosing. If Rumsfeld is sucessful in grabbing USAID next years State Dept budget will drop from right at about $7 Billion to under $2 Billion and all those Ambassadors around the globe loose very significant leverage. Why should a head of state want to see the US Ambassador when that Ambassador can't bring them anything? If you've ever dealt with the Foreign Service types you'll know that they are ego driven, these folks thrive on hob-knobing with the global big boys.., and if things continue as they seem to be going the Embassys will be reduced to nothing more than clerical way stations for people wanting tourist visas.
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blatham
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Apr, 2003 06:34 pm
fishin

Thanks for clarification. My assumption though, and correct me if I'm wrong, is that the big boys of American military industry(Raytheon, Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, etc) have the DoD as their main customer.

Your last paragraph on State shows a touch of color. More ego driven than Pentagon personnel? And in suggesting this is simply territorial, with attendant loss of budget dollars, you seem to also imply that principle is irrelevant.
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Apr, 2003 07:19 pm
blatham wrote:
Thanks for clarification. My assumption though, and correct me if I'm wrong, is that the big boys of American military industry(Raytheon, Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, etc) have the DoD as their main customer.


If by "main customer" you mean in terms of $$ sold, yeah, I'm sure they are. The Dept. of Defense buys directly from them for our own military. Boeing probably less so than the others but.. (Boeing has a larger commercial market than the others do..)

Quote:
Your last paragraph on State shows a touch of color. More ego driven than Pentagon personnel? And in suggesting this is simply territorial, with attendant loss of budget dollars, you seem to also imply that principle is irrelevant.


The senior folks at the Pentagon are just as ego driven as those at State. I think the issues they are driven over are different though and the dollars involved are a drop in the bucket for anyone senior at the Pentagon. I didn't mean to imply the principles involved were irrelevant at all. They are VERY relevant to those in the State Dept, to Rumsfeld and a few of his staff. To everyone else at the Pentagon those principles are a bigger burden than a gain though. I seriously doubt anyone outside of Rumsfeld's hallway at the Pentagon wants anything to do with any of the responsibilities and functions that go with Rumsfeld's power grab.
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Apr, 2003 07:09 am
Perception hinted at posters' nihilism on the UN, US, Iraq thread and posted an online encyclopedia definition. I went on a bit of a tangent in reply, and only afterwards realised I was still working out the line of thinking I'd made this thread for - the 'Rumsfeld as revolutionary' improvisation, thinking about how that is for better or for worse - apologies for the rhetorical flourish, thats how I get when I havent fully thought out something yet.

nimh wrote:
perception wrote:
perception wrote:
My feeling of vindication is dampened by the exhibition of nihilism displayed by the more fanatical negative participants of this thread. [..]

Anyone desiring more detailed information about this potential force refer to this link:

http://www.utm.edu/research/iep/n/nihilism.htm


Interesting.

This is from the link you gave:

"Political Nihilism, as noted, is associated with the belief that the destruction of all existing political, social, and religious order is a prerequisite for any future improvement."

So let us look at the existing political, social, and religious order before this war erupted. There was a totalitarian dictatorship in Iraq. It possibly had WMD, though there was no proof of that. The regime had been curtailed by US and UN as no-fly zones were imposed and Kurds got their autonomy. On the international level, the world had gotten to the point where any country aiming for a military intervention would be expected to seek authorisation from the UN. The UN, with its veto-wielding permanent SC members, was a bit of a hybrid mix of idealism and realpolitik, and had achieved, let's say, mixed results. In case of Iraq, too: the regime had been contained and largely disarmed, but it hadnt been incapacitated and was still able to commit harm against its own citizens and possibly, though there was no conclusive proof of it yet, those of other countries.

We agree on that summary, mostly, I think?

Now a nihilist would look at that existing order and see nothing of hope or value. He would be convinced that things were not just bad - "things" represented a social order that was so corrupted or worthless that only its total destruction would bring any hope of improvement.

Going back to before the war. The multilateralists argued that, though Saddam was bad, he was negotiating, that there was hope for a diplomatic solution. That the UN was perhaps not perfect, but in all its weakness still the closest this world had come to a civilised manner of conflict-resolution. That the current reality was flawed, but that there was enough worth preserving in it - that any course for destruction would risk just that - the destruction of the fragile results achieved thus far. They were idealist - naively idealist even, perhaps, in thinking that with the baby steps of diplomacy peace and freedom could eventually both be achieved; or they were of the realist kind, that would argue that we just had to take the bad (Saddam) with the good (partial disarmament, regional stability, a functioning UN) if the alternative seemed to involve the destruction of most of the latter. Those supporting the UN course were the ones pleading for little steps, caution, consensus ... whether they were right or wrong to argue so, revolutionaries they were not. No destruction of all order for them.

The true revolutionaries of the story, I am increasingly convinced, are Rumsfeld c.s. Now here are people who looked at "existing political, social, and religious order" and said - this is no good, we're gonna change all of that. No patience. They argued war could be defended because the havoc it would wreck would be made up for by the fresh start in true freedom after the war had ended. Kind of a rebirth in fire. Now there's an attitude reminiscent of, say, Bakunin (anarchist of nihilist origins). You've got to tear it all down first, for subsequent freedom to really be true. The UN was imperfect - could it be gradually improved on? No, is what Rumsfeld c.s. seem to say - it should be torn apart and reinvented from scratch. Same with the Middle East. No more tortuous peace processes. Reinvention of the region.

It's in their world that there are no "greys". Iran fits in the same category as Iraq. All those in the world who refuse to be "with us" are thus "against us", whether they're rogue states or trusted allies. There is no hope of improving on the weak little bit by little bit, no reason to go out of one's way to protect the historically grown - the world's only hope is an all-out offensive, rooting out the existent for something all new - something rather ill-defined for now, but by its very nature of being all new by definition also all good. Tear down all the corrupted constructions from the now and build these countries - this world! - up from the ground again, with a new plan! For better or for worse, we won't know for a while to come ...

<grins>

Your nihilism connotation is in fact an extremely productive metaphor. You just got the sides mixed up.


I dont think the nihilism part works, though, by the way. But if you read something akin to "revolutionary" (as in: striving for a revolution, rather than just "radical") in its place, it'd still work I think ...
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Tartarin
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Apr, 2003 08:22 am
Rather than get bogged down in definitions (though I think we need to clarify language here), would it be helpful to trace Rumsfeld's ideology? That would be taking him more seriously as a thinker than I believe he deserves, but it might set us on the right path with respect to what he's up to as a "revolutionary" and give him the sizing he deserves.

" No more tortuous peace processes. Reinvention of the region." (Fishin')

When put in a psychosocial context, what do such efforts say about the individual?
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Apr, 2003 08:39 am
Tartarin wrote:
" No more tortuous peace processes. Reinvention of the region." (Fishin')


Why is this quote being attributed to me? I have never said those words...
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Tartarin
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Apr, 2003 09:01 am
My apology, Fishin'! Don't know whether it happened to everyone, but about half an hour ago, A2K went in and out and I posted that over-hastily!
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blatham
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Apr, 2003 09:38 am
nimh

I think commentators, uniformly and from either side of the spectrum, acknowledge that the Rumsfeld/Wolfowitz project is revolutionary (including the authors themselves). But I'd argue that the urge towards revolutionary dismantling of existing structures or policy isn't solely to be found on the 'far left'. I think it is reflected in extremism of most any variety, and this is an example of how language and cliche (left/right, etc) can do us a disservice. These boys are not 'conservative', and they know that, thus their own label for themselves as 'neo-conservative' would be more accurate as 'revoltionary-conservative' (which is probably a more agreeable euphemism than 'humble-righteous' or 'cluster bomb-saints).

It seems we might go in a couple of directions; try to be hard nosed in understanding how these guys might be more honestly facing something we liberals are not, and/or looking at what these guys have actually said and done previously, as Tartarin suggests. Both would surely be valuable, but at present, I would require a hefty advance from the Medici family to do it justice.
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blatham
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Apr, 2003 10:00 am
(for reference to Tartarin and fishin - the Carlyle group and some politics/industry ties) http://slate.msn.com/id/2081572/
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cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Apr, 2003 10:24 am
blatham, Without even looking at the link you provided, my assumption is that they are all connected in one way or another. Am I right? c.i.
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Apr, 2003 10:27 am
blatham wrote:
But I'd argue that the urge towards revolutionary dismantling of existing structures or policy isn't solely to be found on the 'far left'.


Of course.

blatham wrote:
It seems we might go in a couple of directions; try to be hard nosed in understanding how these guys might be more honestly facing something we liberals are not, and/or looking at what these guys have actually said and done previously, as Tartarin suggests.


Is there supposed to be an opposition there - in that "and/or" choice, I mean? Cause I don't see any. Of course we should be "looking at what these guys have actually said and done previously" (duh). And I'm sorry if my posts thus far have been rather generalisingly reflective, instead of focused on the unearthing-evidence thing, but then I warned about that ;-).

The problem with the unearthing-evidence thing, most of what I've seen of it here anyway, is that it's rather exclusively focused on finding ammunition to use against the government - on digging up the dirt. Not that I think the government deserves defending, mind you, or that there isnt enough dirt to dig up, or that it shouldn't be dug up. But it might be productive to go beyond that because perhaps, though that approach may serve to supply "us" with a convincing set of arguments for why the Bush government's case for war is unjust, ill-conceived or dubious of motive, it may lead us to overlook the very real differences within the "them" part of the equation. And to overlook the consequences of those differences, in terms of the very real changes - the conceptual break with past practices - that might now be taking place in foreign policy. Thaz all I say ;-)
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Tartarin
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Apr, 2003 11:29 am
While working in and outside of the house just now -- and therefore hearing the radio interview in bits and pieces -- I was very impressed with Fareed Zakarias talking about his new book on "Illiberal Democracy" (4/03). Zakarias is probably known better to you than I, since he is one of those guys who turns up on TV round tables, and he's the international editor of Newsweek (which is banned from my house). I strongly recommend a listen to the audio of the interview at Fresh Air (NPR).

Zakaria(s?) made me realize how impossible it is for me to engage in a real conversation with those who hold to Bush and Rumsfeld. Well, let me modify that: have a real conversation with those whose language has been adopted from that of Bush and Rumsfeld.

When was the last time one heard the phrase "self-determination"? Just as I think there are now two Americas, it seems to me that those of us who think in terms of self-determination are on one side of the issue because "democracy" is now a word used by the other side to mean "western capitalism." The two major non-western democracies, Turkey and India, have expressed considerable disapproval of the US.

Democracy, Zakarias says, is not free of serious dangers -- and he points to many that we are at the edge of right now... and to the fact that Hitler and the fascists were elected. Except for the fact that the election itself was a highly suspect affair, one might say the same thing of Bush and indeed I think historians may put this administration in the "dangers to democracy" category.

Zakarias urges that we never set elements of the Constitution aside for any reason whatsoever. Unless one is serious about the institutions of democracy, democracy loses.

(All) that said (!)... in response to Nimh, I endorse the spirit of his post, above. Rather than lean towards "finding the dirt" -- I'd rather look for threads of political philosophy particularly where they represent what Zakarias warns against -- overriding elements of the Constitution. I think we may find that Bush, Cheney, Ashcroft, Rumsfeld and their advisors (and many of their supporters in business and on the far right) have shown that the Constitution is a flag you fly on your house by day and use to wipe your butt under cover of night.

Does anyone feel up to moderating/facilitating this hefty discussion? I certainly don't (insufficiently knowledgeable) but I do think it is THE discussion of the hour... no, decade.
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Wed 16 Apr, 2003 11:48 am
I'll just point out the Fareed Zakarias's thesis on International Relations, the US's "iimperialist gains" of the 19th century and democratic peace theory have pretty much been ripped to shreds by every one of his contemporaries from all sides of the political spectrum. The only person that sees him as a credible authority in the field is himself.
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