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[This essay is adapted from “Measuring Violence,” the first chapter of John Dower’s new book, The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War Two.]

On February 17, 1941, almost 10 months before Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, Life magazine carried a lengthy essay by its publisher, Henry Luce, entitled “The American Century.” The son of Presbyterian missionaries, born in China in 1898 and raised there until the age of 15, Luce essentially transposed the certainty of religious dogma into the certainty of a nationalistic mission couched in the name of internationalism.

Luce acknowledged that the United States could not police the whole world or attempt to impose democratic institutions on all of mankind. Nonetheless, “the world of the 20th Century,” he wrote, “if it is to come to life in any nobility of health and vigor, must be to a significant degree an American Century.” The essay called on all Americans “to accept wholeheartedly our duty and our opportunity as the most powerful and vital nation in the world and in consequence to exert upon the world the full impact of our influence, for such purposes as we see fit and by such measures as we see fit.”

Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor propelled the United States wholeheartedly onto the international stage Luce believed it was destined to dominate, and the ringing title of his cri de coeur became a staple of patriotic Cold War and post-Cold War rhetoric. Central to this appeal was the affirmation of a virtuous calling. Luce’s essay singled out almost every professed ideal that would become a staple of wartime and Cold War propaganda: freedom, democracy, equality of opportunity, self-reliance and independence, cooperation, justice, charity — all coupled with a vision of economic abundance inspired by “our magnificent industrial products, our technical skills.” In present-day patriotic incantations, this is referred to as “American exceptionalism.”

The other, harder side of America’s manifest destiny was, of course, muscularity. Power. Possessing absolute and never-ending superiority in developing and deploying the world’s most advanced and destructive arsenal of war. Luce did not dwell on this dimension of “internationalism” in his famous essay, but once the world war had been entered and won, he became its fervent apostle — an outspoken advocate of “liberating” China from its new communist rulers, taking over from the beleaguered French colonial military in Vietnam, turning both the Korean and Vietnam conflicts from “limited wars” into opportunities for a wider virtuous war against and in China, and pursuing the rollback of the Iron Curtain with “tactical atomic weapons.” As Luce’s incisive biographer Alan Brinkley documents, at one point Luce even mulled the possibility of “plastering Russia with 500 (or 1,000) A bombs” — a terrifying scenario, but one that the keepers of the U.S. nuclear arsenal actually mapped out in expansive and appalling detail in the 1950s and 1960s, before Luce’s death in 1967.

The “American Century” catchphrase is hyperbole, the slogan never more than a myth, a fantasy, a delusion. Military victory in any traditional sense was largely a chimera after World War II. The so-called Pax Americana itself was riddled with conflict and oppression and egregious betrayals of the professed catechism of American values. At the same time, postwar U.S. hegemony obviously never extended to more than a portion of the globe. Much that took place in the world, including disorder and mayhem, was beyond America’s control.

Yet, not unreasonably, Luce’s catchphrase persists. The twenty-first-century world may be chaotic, with violence erupting from innumerable sources and causes, but the United States does remain the planet’s “sole superpower.” The myth of exceptionalism still holds most Americans in its thrall. U.S. hegemony, however frayed at the edges, continues to be taken for granted in ruling circles, and not only in Washington. And Pentagon planners still emphatically define their mission as “full-spectrum dominance” globally.

Washington’s commitment to modernizing its nuclear arsenal rather than focusing on achieving the thoroughgoing abolition of nuclear weapons has proven unshakable. So has the country’s almost religious devotion to leading the way in developing and deploying ever more “smart” and sophisticated conventional weapons of mass destruction.

Welcome to Henry Luce’s — and America’s — violent century, even if thus far it’s lasted only 75 years. The question is just what to make of it these days.

Counting the Dead

We live in times of bewildering violence. In 2013, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told a Senate committee that the world is “more dangerous than it has ever been.” Statisticians, however, tell a different story: that war and lethal conflict have declined steadily, significantly, even precipitously since World War II.

Much mainstream scholarship now endorses the declinists. In his influential 2011 book, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined, Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker adopted the labels “the Long Peace” for the four-plus decades of the Cold War (1945-1991), and “the New Peace” for the post-Cold War years to the present. In that book, as well as in post-publication articles, postings, and interviews, he has taken the doomsayers to task. The statistics suggest, he declares, that “today we may be living in the most peaceable era in our species’s existence.”

Clearly, the number and deadliness of global conflicts have indeed declined since World War II. This so-called postwar peace was, and still is, however, saturated in blood and wracked with suffering.

It is reasonable to argue that total war-related fatalities during the Cold War decades were lower than in the six years of World War II (1939–1945) and certainly far less than the toll for the twentieth century’s two world wars combined. It is also undeniable that overall death tolls have declined further since then. The five most devastating intrastate or interstate conflicts of the postwar decades — in China, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and between Iran and Iraq — took place during the Cold War. So did a majority of the most deadly politicides, or political mass killings, and genocides: in the Soviet Union, China (again), Yugoslavia, North Korea, North Vietnam, Sudan, Nigeria, Indonesia, Pakistan/Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Angola, Mozambique, and Cambodia, among other countries. The end of the Cold War certainly did not signal the end of such atrocities (as witness Rwanda, the Congo, and the implosion of Syria). As with major wars, however, the trajectory has been downward.

Unsurprisingly, the declinist argument celebrates the Cold War as less violent than the global conflicts that preceded it, and the decades that followed as statistically less violent than the Cold War. But what motivates the sanitizing of these years, now amounting to three-quarters of a century, with the label “peace”? The answer lies largely in a fixation on major powers. The great Cold War antagonists, the United States and the Soviet Union, bristling with their nuclear arsenals, never came to blows. Indeed, wars between major powers or developed states have become (in Pinker’s words) “all but obsolete.” There has been no World War III, nor is there likely to be.

Such upbeat quantification invites complacent forms of self-congratulation. (How comparatively virtuous we mortals have become!) In the United States, where we-won-the-Cold-War sentiment still runs strong, the relative decline in global violence after 1945 is commonly attributed to the wisdom, virtue, and firepower of U.S. “peacekeeping.” In hawkish circles, nuclear deterrence — the Cold War’s MAD (mutually assured destruction) doctrine that was described early on as a “delicate balance of terror” — is still canonized as an enlightened policy that prevented catastrophic global conflict.

What Doesn’t Get Counted

Branding the long postwar era as an epoch of relative peace is disingenuous, and not just because it deflects attention from the significant death and agony that actually did occur and still does. It also obscures the degree to which the United States bears responsibility for contributing to, rather than impeding, militarization and mayhem after 1945. Ceaseless U.S.-led transformations of the instruments of mass destruction — and the provocative global impact of this technological obsession — are by and large ignored.

Continuities in American-style “warfighting” (a popular Pentagon word) such as heavy reliance on airpower and other forms of brute force are downplayed. So is U.S. support for repressive foreign regimes, as well as the destabilizing impact of many of the nation’s overt and covert overseas interventions. The more subtle and insidious dimension of postwar U.S. militarization — namely, the violence done to civil society by funneling resources into a gargantuan, intrusive, and ever-expanding national security state — goes largely unaddressed in arguments fixated on numerical declines in violence since World War II.

Beyond this, trying to quantify war, conflict, and devastation poses daunting methodological challenges. Data advanced in support of the decline-of-violence argument is dense and often compelling, and derives from a range of respectable sources. Still, it must be kept in mind that the precise quantification of death and violence is almost always impossible. When a source offers fairly exact estimates of something like “war-related excess deaths,” you usually are dealing with investigators deficient in humility and imagination.

Take, for example, World War II, about which countless tens of thousands of studies have been written. Estimates of total “war-related” deaths from that global conflict range from roughly 50 million to more than 80 million. One explanation for such variation is the sheer chaos of armed violence. Another is what the counters choose to count and how they count it. Battle deaths of uniformed combatants are easiest to determine, especially on the winning side. Military bureaucrats can be relied upon to keep careful records of their own killed-in-action — but not, of course, of the enemy they kill. War-related civilian fatalities are even more difficult to assess, although — as in World War II — they commonly are far greater than deaths in combat.

Does the data source go beyond so-called battle-related collateral damage to include deaths caused by war-related famine and disease? Does it take into account deaths that may have occurred long after the conflict itself was over (as from radiation poisoning after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or from the U.S. use of Agent Orange in the Vietnam War)? The difficulty of assessing the toll of civil, tribal, ethnic, and religious conflicts with any exactitude is obvious.

Concentrating on fatalities and their averred downward trajectory also draws attention away from broader humanitarian catastrophes. In mid-2015, for instance, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reported that the number of individuals “forcibly displaced worldwide as a result of persecution, conflict, generalized violence, or human rights violations” had surpassed 60 million and was the highest level recorded since World War II and its immediate aftermath. Roughly two-thirds of these men, women, and children were displaced inside their own countries. The remainder were refugees, and over half of these refugees were children.

Here, then, is a trend line intimately connected to global violence that is not heading downward. In 1996, the U.N.’s estimate was that there were 37.3 million forcibly displaced individuals on the planet. Twenty years later, as 2015 ended, this had risen to 65.3 million — a 75% increase over the last two post-Cold War decades that the declinist literature refers to as the “new peace.”

Other disasters inflicted on civilians are less visible than uprooted populations. Harsh conflict-related economic sanctions, which often cripple hygiene and health-care systems and may precipitate a sharp spike in infant mortality, usually do not find a place in itemizations of military violence. U.S.-led U.N. sanctions imposed against Iraq for 13 years beginning in 1990 in conjunction with the first Gulf War are a stark example of this. An account published in the New York Times Magazine in July 2003 accepted the fact that “at least several hundred thousand children who could reasonably have been expected to live died before their fifth birthday.” And after all-out wars, who counts the maimed, or the orphans and widows, or those the Japanese in the wake of World War II referred to as the “elderly orphaned” — parents bereft of their children?

Figures and tables, moreover, can only hint at the psychological and social violence suffered by combatants and noncombatants alike. It has been suggested, for instance, that one in six people in areas afflicted by war may suffer from mental disorder (as opposed to one in ten in normal times). Even where American military personnel are concerned, trauma did not become a serious focus of concern until 1980, seven years after the U.S. retreat from Vietnam, when post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was officially recognized as a mental-health issue.

In 2008, a massive sampling study of 1.64 million U.S. troops deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq between October 2001 and October 2007 estimated “that approximately 300,000 individuals currently suffer from PTSD or major depression and that 320,000 individuals experienced a probable TBI [traumatic brain injury] during deployment.” As these wars dragged on, the numbers naturally increased. To extend the ramifications of such data to wider circles of family and community — or, indeed, to populations traumatized by violence worldwide — defies statistical enumeration.

Terror Counts and Terror Fears

Largely unmeasurable, too, is violence in a different register: the damage that war, conflict, militarization, and plain existential fear inflict upon civil society and democratic practice. This is true everywhere but has been especially conspicuous in the United States since Washington launched its “global war on terror” in response to the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Here, numbers are perversely provocative, for the lives claimed in twenty-first-century terrorist incidents can be interpreted as confirming the decline-in-violence argument. From 2000 through 2014, according to the widely cited Global Terrorism Index, “more than 61,000 incidents of terrorism claiming over 140,000 lives have been recorded.” Including September 11th, countries in the West experienced less than 5% of these incidents and 3% of the deaths. The Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism, another minutely documented tabulation based on combing global media reports in many languages, puts the number of suicide bombings from 2000 through 2015 at 4,787 attacks in more than 40 countries, resulting in 47,274 deaths.

These atrocities are incontestably horrendous and alarming. Grim as they are, however, the numbers themselves are comparatively low when set against earlier conflicts. For specialists in World War II, the “140,000 lives” estimate carries an almost eerie resonance, since this is the rough figure usually accepted for the death toll from a single act of terror bombing, the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The tally is also low compared to contemporary deaths from other causes. Globally, for example, more than 400,000 people are murdered annually. In the United States, the danger of being killed by falling objects or lightning is at least as great as the threat from Islamist militants.

This leaves us with a perplexing question: If the overall incidence of violence, including twenty-first-century terrorism, is relatively low compared to earlier global threats and conflicts, why has the United States responded by becoming an increasingly militarized, secretive, unaccountable, and intrusive “national security state”? Is it really possible that a patchwork of non-state adversaries that do not possess massive firepower or follow traditional rules of engagement has, as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff declared in 2013, made the world more threatening than ever?

For those who do not believe this to be the case, possible explanations for the accelerating militarization of the United States come from many directions. Paranoia may be part of the American DNA — or, indeed, hardwired into the human species. Or perhaps the anticommunist hysteria of the Cold War simply metastasized into a post-9/11 pathological fear of terrorism. Machiavellian fear-mongering certainly enters the picture, led by conservative and neoconservative civilian and military officials of the national security state, along with opportunistic politicians and war profiteers of the usual sort. Cultural critics predictably point an accusing finger as well at the mass media’s addiction to sensationalism and catastrophe, now intensified by the proliferation of digital social media.

To all this must be added the peculiar psychological burden of being a “superpower” and, from the 1990s on, the planet’s “sole superpower” — a situation in which “credibility” is measured mainly in terms of massive cutting-edge military might. It might be argued that this mindset helped “contain Communism” during the Cold War and provides a sense of security to U.S. allies. What it has not done is ensure victory in actual war, although not for want of trying. With some exceptions (Grenada, Panama, the brief 1991 Gulf War, and the Balkans), the U.S. military has not tasted victory since World War II — Korea, Vietnam, and recent and current conflicts in the Greater Middle East being boldface examples of this failure. This, however, has had no impact on the hubris attached to superpower status. Brute force remains the ultimate measure of credibility.

The traditional American way of war has tended to emphasize the “three Ds” (defeat, destroy, devastate). Since 1996, the Pentagon’s proclaimed mission is to maintain “full-spectrum dominance” in every domain (land, sea, air, space, and information) and, in practice, in every accessible part of the world. The Air Force Global Strike Command, activated in 2009 and responsible for managing two-thirds of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, typically publicizes its readiness for “Global Strike… Any Target, Any Time.”

In 2015, the Department of Defense acknowledged maintaining 4,855 physical “sites” — meaning bases ranging in size from huge contained communities to tiny installations — of which 587 were located overseas in 42 foreign countries. An unofficial investigation that includes small and sometimes impermanent facilities puts the number at around 800 in 80 countries. Over the course of 2015, to cite yet another example of the overwhelming nature of America’s global presence, elite U.S. special operations forces were deployed to around 150 countries, and Washington provided assistance in arming and training security forces in an even larger number of nations.

America’s overseas bases reflect, in part, an enduring inheritance from World War II and the Korean War. The majority of these sites are located in Germany (181), Japan (122), and South Korea (83) and were retained after their original mission of containing communism disappeared with the end of the Cold War. Deployment of elite special operations forces is also a Cold War legacy (exemplified most famously by the Army’s “Green Berets” in Vietnam) that expanded after the demise of the Soviet Union. Dispatching covert missions to three-quarters of the world’s nations, however, is largely a product of the war on terror.

Many of these present-day undertakings require maintaining overseas “lily pad” facilities that are small, temporary, and unpublicized. And many, moreover, are integrated with covert CIA “black operations.” Combating terror involves practicing terror — including, since 2002, an expanding campaign of targeted assassinations by unmanned drones. For the moment, this latest mode of killing remains dominated by the CIA and the U.S. military (with the United Kingdom and Israel following some distance behind).

Counting Nukes

The “delicate balance of terror” that characterized nuclear strategy during the Cold War has not disappeared. Rather, it has been reconfigured. The U.S. and Soviet arsenals that reached a peak of insanity in the 1980s have been reduced by about two-thirds — a praiseworthy accomplishment but one that still leaves the world with around 15,400 nuclear weapons as of January 2016, 93% of them in U.S. and Russian hands. Close to two thousand of the latter on each side are still actively deployed on missiles or at bases with operational forces.

This downsizing, in other words, has not removed the wherewithal to destroy the Earth as we know it many times over. Such destruction could come about indirectly as well as directly, with even a relatively “modest” nuclear exchange between, say, India and Pakistan triggering a cataclysmic climate shift — a “nuclear winter” — that could result in massive global starvation and death. Nor does the fact that seven additional nations now possess nuclear weapons (and more than 40 others are deemed “nuclear weapons capable”) mean that “deterrence” has been enhanced. The future use of nuclear weapons, whether by deliberate decision or by accident, remains an ominous possibility. That threat is intensified by the possibility that nonstate terrorists may somehow obtain and use nuclear devices.

What is striking at this moment in history is that paranoia couched as strategic realism continues to guide U.S. nuclear policy and, following America’s lead, that of the other nuclear powers. As announced by the Obama administration in 2014, the potential for nuclear violence is to be “modernized.” In concrete terms, this translates as a 30-year project that will cost the United States an estimated $1 trillion (not including the usual future cost overruns for producing such weapons), perfect a new arsenal of “smart” and smaller nuclear weapons, and extensively refurbish the existing delivery “triad” of long-range manned bombers, nuclear-armed submarines, and land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles carrying nuclear warheads.

Nuclear modernization, of course, is but a small portion of the full spectrum of American might — a military machine so massive that it inspired President Obama to speak with unusual emphasis in his State of the Union address in January 2016. “The United States of America is the most powerful nation on Earth,” he declared. “Period. Period. It’s not even close. It’s not even close. It’s not even close. We spend more on our military than the next eight nations combined.”

Official budgetary expenditures and projections provide a snapshot of this enormous military machine, but here again numbers can be misleading. Thus, the “base budget” for defense announced in early 2016 for fiscal year 2017 amounts to roughly $600 billion, but this falls far short of what the actual outlay will be. When all other discretionary military- and defense-related costs are taken into account — nuclear maintenance and modernization, the “war budget” that pays for so-called overseas contingency operations like military engagements in the Greater Middle East, “black budgets” that fund intelligence operations by agencies including the CIA and the National Security Agency, appropriations for secret high-tech military activities, “veterans affairs” costs (including disability payments), military aid to other countries, huge interest costs on the military-related part of the national debt, and so on — the actual total annual expenditure is close to $1 trillion.

Such stratospheric numbers defy easy comprehension, but one does not need training in statistics to bring them closer to home. Simple arithmetic suffices. The projected bill for just the 30-year nuclear modernization agenda comes to over $90 million a day, or almost $4 million an hour. The $1 trillion price tag for maintaining the nation’s status as “the most powerful nation on Earth” for a single year amounts to roughly $2.74 billion a day, over $114 million an hour.

Creating a capacity for violence greater than the world has ever seen is costly — and remunerative.

So an era of a “new peace”? Think again. We’re only three quarters of the way through America’s violent century and there’s more to come.

John W. Dower is professor emeritus of history at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the author of the National Book Critics Circle Award-winning War Without Mercy and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Embracing Defeat . His new book, The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War Two (Dispatch Books), has just been published. This essay is adapted from chapter one of that densely annotated book. (Sources for the information above appear in the footnotes in that book.)

(Republished from TomDispatch by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: American Military 
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  1. anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    We’re only three quarters of the way through America’s violent century and there’s more to come.

    That’s what is frightening, the yet to come part. The American political class seems mediocre and short-sighted. There’s little to inspire confidence that they won’t end up walking us all into mutual disaster. Since the start of the cold war the public has been subjected to unrelenting war hysteria. The Russians, Saddam Hussein, terrorists or whoever were coming to get us. This has been a deliberate, long-running campaign to scare and bamboozle the American people.
    There’s always been these controversies on which ‘ism’ killed more people, who racked up the biggest body count. Usually it’s broken down to Mao-Stalin-Hitler with side discussions about the distinctions between killing one’s own citizens versus killing foreigners, per-capita or in the aggregate, etc. Left out of all this is the fact that the US probably comes in fourth on this list as to number of people caused to die by the actions of the US state. The afore-mentioned bad actors were in a hurry so were more noticeable than the US which has increased it’s score over a longer period of time. An actual tally really needs to be made as to how many the US has killed, directly or indirectly. The death toll from terrorism is absurdly low compared to the democide of state terror and aggression as retail is to wholesale.

  2. Parbes says:

    “Combating terror involves practicing terror — including, since 2002, an expanding campaign of targeted assassinations by unmanned drones. ”

    Dower forgot to add the increasingly prevalent and dominant practice (now more and more out in the open, not even denied anymore, and actually beginning to be outright DEFENDED in the Western MSM) of using jihadi terrorist armies as proxies to spread death, devastation and destabilization in targeted sovereign countries and regions – a practice FAR more egregiously criminal and destructive than pinprick drone assassinations.

    Otherwise, a very good essay.

  3. I imagine a big part of it is military keynesianism: ‘defense’ spending as a stimulus. Domestic employment. 2-3% of the GDP – just enough to make the difference between growth and recession. Massive amount of exports – certainly helps in the age of chronic account deficits.

    Plus global military domination of course, but on the great scale of things maybe it’s just a nice bonus… Or is it vice versa? Who knows…

  4. “Paranoia may be part of the American DNA — or, indeed, hardwired into the human species. Or perhaps the anticommunist hysteria of the Cold War simply metastasized into a post-9/11 pathological fear of terrorism.”

    But the Founding Fathers were not paranoid. And soon enough, the new republic patched things with the British Empire and Canada, and they all got along just fine.

    After WWI, US didn’t want some gigantic role in the world.

    So, this ‘paranoia’ thing is relatively recent.

    Btw, did it ever occur to Dower that the Cold War ‘paranoia’ may have been carried over from WWII paranoia? Yes, Germany and Japan were indeed bad guys, but neither planned to invade the US. But there were lots of paranoia about ‘krauts’ and ‘japs’ surrounding America with submarines and the like.

    Also, US could easily have been allies with Germany and Japan. Such alliances were offered by both powers. Or US could have remained neutral, in which case Japan and Germany would have been fine with the US. They turned on the US because the US meddled in favor the enemies of Germany and Japan. They felt compelled to butt heads with the US because of America’s hostile stances toward them. I don’t say this to justify German or Japanese aggression, which was terrible. But purely from American security standpoint, neither Japan nor Germany meant any ill will or posed any threat to US itself. US pushed both nations to a position that forced them to be anti-American. One can argue that US was morally right to antagonize Germany and Japan that had grown overly ambitious and murderous, but it still doesn’t negate the fact that US could easily have avoided bad relations and wars with them if it so wished.

    As for the Red Scare, there are two parts, and there were two scares.

    There was the genuine justifiable concern over the fact that all of Eastern Europe had been swallowed up by Stalin and then China fell too. To be sure, the US shouldn’t have been surprised by this and was even responsible for it to some degree.
    US sided with USSR against Germany and then dragged its feet while USSR did most of the fighting before finally deciding to make a landing in Normandy. So, the Soviet juggernaut was bound to take all of Eastern Europe. Soviets lost the men, so they got the booty.
    As for Asia, US was even more responsible since Soviets didn’t initially want to fight Japan or enter China(and Korea). It was the US that insisted, and that led to China and Korea being halved. Communists(with help of Soviets) took north of China and Korea, and ‘nationalists’ held onto the South. This resulted from the US request for USSR to enter Asia.
    In time, Mao took all of China, and North Korea would have united Korea…. but US got involved and failed to unite from the south, and that led to perpetual division.

    (Mao was like Muhammad of his age. How did Muhammad and his Muslims take power so fast over such vast area? Clash of empires creates a giant vacuum from all the war-weariness and exhaustion. Persian Empire and Byzantine Empire battled one another time and time again, and they were ground into exhaustion…. and that gave a huge opening to Muhammad and his ragtag Arab raiders. Same in China. The clash of big powers — KMT, Japan, and US — led to a huge power vacuum in China, and Mao, esp thanks to Soviet intervention at the request of the US, found his opening and took all of China. The lesson to learn from his for minor power is that it should look for opening when the big guys clash.)

    Anyway, there was legit reasons for Americans to fear communism since, during WWII and the onset of the Cold War, it went from a Russian thing to an ideology that took over all of Eastern Europe and China too. Also, with the decline of European empires, US was right to be worried that Third World nations would choose communism as either weapon against European imperialism(or American presence) or against ‘reactionary’ native regimes.
    Furthermore, the US was worried because much of media and culture in both US and EU was infected with strains of leftist radicalism. Dower, as a fellow-traveler and communist-sympathizier, is a good example. Most intellectuals and artists in the West were on the Left.

    So, one part of Red Scare was totally justified, especially since it was later came to light that tons of commie agents were crawling inside FDR’s administration. And let’s not forget America’s mostly closely guarded secret, the atom bomb, ended up in Stalin’s hand. I mean how can one NOT be somewhat fearful?
    Just think about it. Suppose Nazi Germany had won in Europe, and the Cold War was between US and Nazi Germany. Suppose US has one advantage in nukes.. but suppose the US administration is addled with pro-Nazi spies and agents who slip Hitler the Bomb.
    Had that been the case, of course leftists like Dower would have been up in arms. And if a leftist McCarthy came forth and called for huge purge of pro-Nazi ‘far right’ elements in government, media, education, and Hollywood, then surely the likes of Dower would have supported it.
    So, Dower and ilk are full of BS when they go on like this.

    That said, it’s true enough that McCarthy and others overplayed their card and often exaggerated stuff in demagogic ways.

    But then, let’s not forget that there was also a anti-Red-Scare paranoia. Indeed, the main narrative during much of the Cold War was paranoia about ‘paranoia’ about the Cold War. McCarthyism existed for just a few yrs. And if anything, the culture of distrust under Eisenhower wasn’t anything like the paranoia during WWII when entire populations were under suspicion and ‘interned’; and Hollywood was in total paranoia mode about Germany and Japan and made tons of movies about Eeeeeeevil Germans and Japanese. McCarthyism was short-lived, and most of the Cold War was not about the Red Scare but about the Liberal media and academia trying to invalidate everything about the Red Scare as just a lot of hooey. Later revelations proved that communism was a total monstrosity. It was also revealed that there were tons of agents and spies for the USSR in the US and Europe. And even as Western leftists aided the USSR, they themselves never wanted to live under Stalinism. They wanted to enjoy liberal democratic capitalism while playing the radical game. They wanted to have the cake and eat it too: enjoy freedom(of capitalist democracy) and support radicalism(at war with liberal democracy). Since these leftists were totally safe from Stalinism and Communism as they were protected by democratic rights and liberties, their main enemies were conservatives and patriots. And by vastly exaggerating the extent of McCarthyism, they made themselves holy victims. One thing for sure, McCarthyism was kidstuff compared to communist purges and tyranny. Also, it ended as quickly as it began, and McCarthy was soon disgraced. In contrast, PC never seems to end. We now live in a nation where entire lives are destroyed because they won’t bake ‘gay wedding cakes’ for perverts. We live in a nation where entire lives can be destroyed if someone speaks honestly of MLK — that he was Fartin’ Poother Bling in terms of character. People like Dower surely chuckle at the fate of Charles Murray at Middlebury. They are bogus. And I’m so sick of hearing about how someone was fired from Hollywood cuz of communist ties. I mean Hollywood has an ideological and tribal litmus on everything. If anyone in Hollywood is known to have neo-Nazi, KKK, or even Alt Right ties, he is finished. And if anyone says he wants to make a movie about Nakba or Jewish role in communism, forget it. He’s blacklisted for good. Hollywood has always been about censorship.

    The reason why so much has been made of McCarthyism is that the Left was targeted and many of them happened to be Jews. It’s really Jews and leftists looking out for their own.
    Time has prove that Jewish tribalists and leftists like Dower have NO principles.
    They once pretended to be for free speech, but ever since they got the power, they want speech controls and even look the other way when people like Charles Murray are attacked.

    Also, McCarthyism and Red Scare were NOTHING compared to total nuttery over Russia today, much of it driven by Jews in media and academia.
    For one thing, USSR was a real superpower with a menacing ideology. Current Russia is a much reduced power with no anti-American or anti-capitalist ideology. So, why all the hysteria? Because paranoid Jews fear that the Russia example might undermine globalism.

    Now, I don’t wanna bash Dower too much. I found much of his book EMBRACING DEFEAT filled with all sorts of useful information. And most of the book is mostly fair-minded… until the end when Dower berates the US for having favored the right-wing regime over leftist ones. Now, the LDP has been a den of corrupt vipers and worse, but why would a leftist regime been better for Japan? Japanese leftists were a bunch of puppets of the Soviets and later, the Maoist ones were even nuttier. And over the yrs, the leftists around the world became bigger proponents of US globalism and the sicko homo agenda that destroys identities and cultures.

    At any rate, Dower is an institutional man. Institutions are necessary, and without them, we don’t have organization and structure. BUT, all institutions are inherently about conforming to norms and standards. Now, that is a good thing insofar as every discipline has its rules and principles. After all, a chemist has to know real chemistry, and his work has to be approved by his peers. If every alchemist posed as chemist, chemistry would soon turn to crap.
    So, institutions must have standards. But when do standards turn to dogma and ideological pressure? Whether scholars are right or left, they should ideally live up to academic standards of research and discourse. In some fields, it’s easier to uphold proper standards. It’s harder to fake studies in math and hard science. But history and social sciences are open to interpretation, bias, ideology, passion, and personalities. So, as Jonathan Haidt discovered, most of the social sciences and humanities are rigged systems. They don’t so much uphold high standards of academics as enforce or nudge-nudge the peer-pressure of dogma. Indeed, some academics have admitted that they favor their own ideological kind. So, they prefer a second-rate ‘leftist’ to a first-rate ‘rightist’ even though, by objective academic standards, the latter is more deserving.
    Institutions are exclusive and open to just a few. Every academic department hires just a handful of people for coveted slots. So, everyone knows he has to play ‘politics’ and say the ‘right thing’ to get accepted. Also, even though professors, esp those with tenure, are supposed to be free in their academic pursuit, they know if they say or do the ‘wrong thing’, they will be disfavored, demoted, or not promoted any higher. Or, SJW’s trained by PC professors might come barking at them and even physically assault them.
    This is the curse of all institutions, secular or religious. This is why nearly all great religions arose from outside the institution: Jesus and Muhammad.
    For most of history, academic institutions enforced strict dogma or canon of what is ‘right’ and what is ‘wrong’. This is one reason why so many false theories of Aristotle were accepted for so long. This is why China was stuck on Confucionics.
    But the modern German university changed the academic culture and allowed much greater leeway and freedom for thinkers. But that model came under attack time and time again from the far right, the far left, the tribalists(Jews here, Hindus in India and even UK and Canada), and religious forces(in nations like Iran and now Turkey).

    When institutions become excessively ‘institutionalized’ — a tendency that exists in all institutions — , it is a fortress of dogma, the island of Nurse Ratched. And PC has really done damage to lots of Western academia and media(which are worse because nearly all of media are owned by 6 conglomerates that hire and fire based on PC dogma or tribal/globalist interests).
    But thankfully, there is the internet. Now, in terms of erudition and access to sources/material, internet people like Stefan Molyneux and other such ‘thinkers’ fall short of full time academics and best of journalists. But here is one difference. Whereas those in the institution — even the very best, most honest, and most capable — must always look over their shoulders and pee their parents left they be denounced by peers, hunted down by SJW’s, or fired & blacklisted, no such fear exists among internet ‘thinkers’ who can notice and say whatever they want since they got nothing to lose. “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” If institutions allowed total freedom to academics, were open to anyone with qualifications, and protected real free speech, the internet personalities on youtube couldn’t compete with professors or media people. But the fact is you must play the PC game to be part of media and academia. So, no matter how experienced or knowledgeable you are, there are tons of things you can’t say and there are lots of topics you can’t broach. When institutions grow Byzantine, it is the rag-taggers with guerrilla freedom who have a sudden advantage. This wouldn’t be the case without the internet, but it’s here. Some youtube ‘thinkers’ reach many more young people than professors or media people can hope to. And many people find them refreshing because their views are unfettered by PC dogma.

    Leftists once spoke of ‘long march through the institutions’, but this metaphor of faulty. Mao’s long march was not into the center of power to away from it. During the march, Mao and his men trekked some 6,000 miles to the hinterlands. And it was from the periphery that Mao planned to take power by appealing to the masses.
    In contrast, the Western leftists lost connection with the people and burrowed into institutions where they became the new monastic clergy. They claim to talk about the Real World, but 50% of what they have to say is ‘gender politics’ about trannies that has nothing to do with nothing.
    If anything is long-march-like, it is the politics on the internet. Because internet is not institutionalized, it is a place of free movement of ideas. While some of these ideas are crackpot and crazy, there are also expressions of obvious truths that the media and academia simply won’t over. It’s like Colin Flaherty has the guts to talk about the racial character of US violence where institutions of media and academia haven’t the guts to be honest.

    So, it’s turning into Long March through the Internet vs Fortress siege-mentality of the Institutions.

  5. The Priss Rule of Politics.

    If you want to know what most people are, the most reliable rule is as follows:

    “Most people are what they accuse others of being but deny being themselves.”

    So, what are most people? They are ‘fascists’, ‘haters’, and ‘race-ists’.

    Those are things that EVERYONE is accused of being by the other side.

    Not everyone is accused of being a communist, a capitalist, a Satanist, a Islamist, an anarchist, a libertarian, a radical, a conservative, a liberal, a leftist, a rightist, etc.

    But everyone is accused of being a ‘race-ist’, as in ‘Republicans are racist’ and ‘Democrats are the Real racists’.
    Everyone is accused of being a ‘hater’, as in ‘White people are haters’, and ‘blacks are haters’.
    Everyone is accused of being a ‘fascist’, as in ‘white nationalists are fascists’, ‘fascism is really leftist and socialist’, ‘Progs are liberal fascists’. Pat Buchanan once called homo radicals ‘homo-fascists’. Zionists say Arabs are ‘fascist’, Arabs say Zionists are ‘fascist’.

    Now, guess what? Everyone is ‘race-ist’, ‘hateful’, and ‘fascist’.

    [MORE]

    When it comes to ‘hate’, it is an emotion, and everyone hates. Denying hate is like denying hunger, thirst, sleepiness, and sexual desire.
    And all ideologies and religions have elements of hate. Communists certainly hate capitalists. Zionists hate Palestinian resistant fighters. Hamas hates Zionism. Monotheists hate polytheists. Islam hates infidels. Animal Lovers hate animal-eaters. Homomaniacs hate homo-skeptics. Decent folks hate homo agenda. Nothing is as universal as hate, but everyone accuses others of it but fail to see it in themselves. Their own hate is given some fancy name like ‘righteousness’ or ‘justice’.

    When it comes to ‘race-ism’, it has two meanings. One pertains to biological race or ethnic divisions. Other pertains to any kind of tribalism. So, even though Islam is not a race, people who dislike Muslims are sometimes called ‘racists’. When it comes to tribalism, it’s part of what we are. Even non-racial or anti-racial ideologies produce their own tribalisms. Even universalist communism led to Stalinists vs Trotskyites and many other sects. If people reject racial or ethnic identity, they develop and cling to ideological identities. It’s just part of human nature since it’s impossible to make everyone see eye to eye on anything. Also, people want to feel part of a group, and this always leads to us vs them mentality, even among people of same race. So, different black gangs fight one another. So, different people even of same race root for different sports teams.

    As for race, people notice it all the time. Even non-race-ists and ‘anti-racists’ can’t help but notice racial differences and how they affect human behavior. Even among the most proggy whites, why do white women seek sex with black men while white women seek sex with Asian women? Even the most libby-dib white women see black men as tougher, and even the most libby-dib white men see Asian women as more feminine. So, they do act on factors related to racial differences. So, even if they officially subscribe to the notion of ‘race is just a social construct’, their actions belie those sentiments. Even if we were to focus ONLY on white libby-dibs, their actions are always related to race and racial differences in their concern over crime, choice of residence, where they send their kids to school, in what sports they watch, what music they listen, their sexual fantasies, their experience with crime, their sympathies, their support of gentrification, mass-incarceration for blacks, their preference for docile immigrants as buffers against dangerous blacks, etc. So, if race-ism means the truth of the existence of races and racial differences, EVERYONE is a race-ist. The only difference is between honest race-ists and dishonest race-ists. But, as with ‘hate’, everyone accuses others of seeing ‘race’ but deny seeing it themselves when, in fact, everyone sees race since racial differences are so obvious and affect so many of our decisions in life.

    And then the matter of calling everyone ‘fascist’. In some ways, this makes good sense. Why? Because among all the ideologies, fascism was most honest about the nature of politics. Fascism is the most Machiavellian of political ideologies. It is about Power. Thus, fascism has an honest and open gangster element. All political systems have a gangster element, but fascism is the only one that admits to it. Other ideologies begin with some highfalutin ideal and then try to justify power-grab to realize that ideal. So, power is a means to an end. In contrast, fascism says power is an end in itself.

    So, is fascism just a gangsterism without any ideals or scruples? No, fascism does have ideals, a kind of vision, but they are grounded in the reality of the will to power and human nature. Since power is central to what peoples(as organisms or intelligent animals) are, fascism prefers to plant the foundations of power in the most enduring/durable themes than in abstract pipe dreams. What are most enduring? They are race, history, territory, mythology. Consider Poland. It has undergone changes in various political systems and ideologies. It was once a kingdom, it was once an empire, it was once conquered by other empires, it was once a democracy, it was once a right-wing military autocracy(in interwar yrs), it was once communist, and now it is democratic. But what is the common thread that has held Polishness altogether, even when Poland was under Russian and Prussian rule? The sense of Polish ethnicity, sense of Polish territory(even under occupation), sense of Polish history, and sense of Polish mythology(or the sacred Narrative that makes Polish people feel a deep bond among each other and rooted to their sacred land). So, fascism is rooted in such things than some highfalutin conceit based on fanciful economic utopianism, cult of individual as Randian superman, dream of Diversity where everyone is a Sesame Street culture, addiction to fads or faddiction, and etc. Tragically, fascism in Germany and Italy destroyed itself when it violated the fascist rights of other nations to preserve their own race, history, and territory. When fascism violates fascist rules, it is in trouble. (Also, fascism is ideologically adaptable. It will take from capitalism, socialism, nationalism, traditionalism, spiritualism, modernism, materialism, etc. It is not bound to some monomaniacal ideology with one-size-fits-all mentality. This is a good thing, but anti-fascists derided as just confusion or cynicism.)
    Hitler was a lesson in the danger of extremism. Any extreme will fail in the end. Today, EU is in big trouble because of extreme adherence to PRINCIPLES, such as Diversity and Inclusion. Even though it is patently obvious that Diversity and Inclusion are turning EU into a hell, the faddish addiction to the ideology of the Current Year had rendered Europeans helpless to reverse course. Europeans cling to the flag even when the policies carried out in under its banner is leading to the demise of the West. So, excessive commitment to principles will destroy a people. Ideas must serve people, not other way around. When certain ideas endanger a people, they must be rejected or revised. (On the other hand, an occupied people have limited choice in such matters. Because the EU is a vassal of the US and because its economic well-being depends on the lone superpower that has also brainwashed its elites and masses, its hand would be tied even if it woke up and knew what must be done. Some people fail to do the right thing because they are genuinely clueless. Others know what the right thing is but dare not do it because they will be destroyed for doing so. It’s like Steven King was assaulted from all sides by saying that “somebody else’s babies” cannot be substitutes for European babies. He was nearly destroyed for the most common-sense observation. Given the globalist hegemony, it is difficult to do the right thing even when you know what it is.) In the case of Hitler, it was extreme anti-principle-ism that brought him down. While it’s dangerous for a leader to favor principles over pragmatism or opportunism at all times — a smart leader must be adaptable and flexible — , it’s no less dangerous for a leader to act so unscrupulously to the point of alienating EVERYONE. If you’re gonna turn on some people, you have to make sure OTHERS are with you and trust you. The reason why Uther fell in EXCALIBUR is because he alienated everyone. He forged an alliance with Duke of Cornwall but then took his wife, and so, other lords lost trust in Uther and all conspired against him.

    Hitler wore out goodwill on all sides. Due to German privations after WWI, many in UK felt some sympathy for Germans and were willing to deal with Germany on the basis of renewed trust. France didn’t want another war. UK and France were resigned to German moves on Rhineland and Sudetenland. But then, Hitler took over Czech territory. Even so, UK and France didn’t want escalation, and let it go on promise Hitler would stop grabbing stuff. But then, Hitler grabbed Poland. He lost UK and France there, but gained fresh advantage with alliance with USSR. But then, he turned on USSR too, and then he had no major friends left; worse, all major nations were not bitter enemies, especially after Japan woke up the American Giant from its one-eye-open slumber. Hitler played too fast and loose. Such Machiavellian tricks worked as long as he had some allies. But when he lost all the major ones, he was surrounded by those who wanted him crushed.

    Anyway, the vulgar use of the term of ‘fascism’ as meaning the brutal, ruthless, and even devious use of threats, violence, propaganda, pageantry & spectacle, and us-versus-them mentality to gain & maintain power applies to ALL sides. Indeed, it is one thing that monarchists, theocracies, communists, democracies, military rule, autocracies, and yes, fascists of course, all have in common.
    Monarchists used threats, violence, and secret police when necessary. So have theocracies. Look at current Iran and look at Turkey as it lurches toward Islamic rule. Communists were violent and ruthless and has vast secret police network. Military regimes often resorted to violence and even ‘death squads’. And as Dower’s book demonstrates, the US is no different. Even with the Constitution and Rule of Law that guarantees more protection of civil liberties than most other nations, there is A LOT that the state can do to circumvent civil liberties and fool the masses like so many cattle.
    As for US foreign policy abroad, it has been gangster-politics mostly or a kind of neo-imperialism. And all nations rely heavily on propaganda, mind-control, populist manipulation of passion, and collusion among institutions. The media in the US is mostly globalist-imperialist mouthpiece. A lot of academics are collaborators with or apologists of the Empire. War Criminals like Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Obama, and Hillary got away with stuff for which they should have been forced to stand trial. But unlike Nazi war criminals, Japanese war criminals, Milosevic, and Hussein, the thug rulers of the US, like the ones in current China, get away with just about anything. But then, if Japan had been stronger than the US during WWII, it never would have had to pay the price for Pearl Harbor. That is the way of the world. In the end, Power matters.

    So, everyone is ‘fascist’.

    Look at China. It was once Maoist. Chinese communism used excessive violence, and by the vulgar definition of ‘fascism’, one could say Maoism was fascist. Even so, some could argue that Maoism was anti-fascist since its ideology was utopian-universal-egalitarian. But it wasn’t long before the Chinese Communist Party opted for pragmatism that implemented whatever change of policy to boost China’s Power. Thus, post-Maoist China could be said to be ‘fascist’ as Power became paramount consideration over ideology. So, if capitalism and nationalism than communism and universalism made China more POWERFUL, that’s all that mattered. So, consideration of Power superseded commitment to ideology.
    And Russia used to be about ideology and Marxist theory. But in the long run, the Communist Party members lost faith in utopian visions. They realized the real game is all about the Power. USSR may have been powerful, even a super-power, but its ideology-based power was unsustainable as its ambitions were too grandiose, its reach expansive and expensive(beyond Soviet economics), and its ideology no longer relevant. So, communism was discarded and a new order was created to serve the interests of Russian power on more stable basis of ethnicity, territory, and history.

    As for Jews, they used to be a part of various ideologies: anarchism, socialism, communism, libertarianism, Freudianism, and etc, etc. But in the end, it all came down to power. Jewish machinations in Russia in the 90s was about ONE THING. Jewish power grabbing Russia by the pu**y. All that talk of ‘liberalization’ and ‘democratization’ was just a ruse to mask an ethnic power-and-wealth grab. Also, the only Jewish Cause with lasting value is Zionism, and what is that about? Ethnicity, territory, history, and mythology. So, the fascists were right about those themes as the most stable and enduring for a political system.

    And why do Jews spread homomania? Out of love of ‘tolerance’ and etc? So they say, but it’s all BS. Jews value homomania as a proxy to their globalist imperialist penetration and power-grab. Homos in every nation are useful as collaborators to the GLOB. Jews use homos to project and protect their own power.

    As for homos, they are a bunch of power-obsessives. Long ago, homos said they just wanna be left alone. But today, each homo acts like a god and demand reverence, celebration, praise, and worship from minions of straights who are seen as cattle. Each homo or tranny is like a little fuhrer or duce with his own cult of personality. So, based on vulgar definition of ‘fascism’, homos are indeed homo-fascists.

    As for US, if we were to ignore all the pompous talk of America as ‘exceptional’ and ‘indispensable’ nation and a beacon of light/freedom to the world AND if we were to focus on what the US has really been DOING in and around the world, it too can be called a ‘fascist’ state that resorts to all kinds of lies, espionage, terrorism, war-mongering, imperialism, exploitation, propaganda, mass hysteria, hegemony, militarism, and culture of violence to get what it wants.
    Furthermore, the notion that the US is ‘exceptional’ and ‘indispensable’ smacks of supremacism and jingoism. Isn’t such vanity and power-projection ‘fascist’ according to the vulgar definition?
    Also, isn’t the main cultural expression of America now Rap Music, violent Hollywood blockbusters, and ultra-violent videogames(that are even used to recruit soldiers)? So, Americanism is about Negro-gangsterism, superhero ubermensch fantasies, and kids fantasizing about blowing everything up. Sounds like ‘fascist’ culture to me. And when it comes to cult of personality, consider the vain celebrity culture of the West.

    Given Zionist use of violence, tribalism, war-mongering, secret police, and etc, Palestinians would be right to call it ‘fascist’.
    Given Hamas tactics of terror, intimidation, assassinations, and extreme vengeful tribalism, Israelis would be right to call it ‘fascist’.
    Given Saudis use of secret police, torture, violence, and invasions, Iranians would be right to call them ‘fascist’.
    Given Iranian use of secret police, populist passion, support of terrorism, and political brutality, Saudis would be right to call Iran ‘fascist’.

    So, given the vulgar definition of ‘fascist’, every nation is fascist and every ideology, given its reliance on violence and brutality, is ‘fascist’.

    So-called ‘anti-fascists’ will claim that they, unlike ‘true fascists'(the really bad guys), only regrettably use violence for a higher cause. Unlike fascists who exult in violence as an end, the anti-fascists use violence only as a means.
    But this is bogus since fascists too had ideals and visions, indeed ones more durable and stable than most. Ironically, the only reason fascism failed in Germany and Italy is because they violated the fascist rights of other nations to ethnicity, territory, and history.
    But even if we were to agree that fascists just exult in thuggery and have no higher principles, all sides and all ideologies seem ‘fascist’ in the cynical eyes of their enemies.
    It’s like the US makes big claims about ‘human rights’, but the enemies and victims of the US just hear BS and see American ‘fascism’. They believe the US just talks BS to justify its power-grab around the world. Thus, in their eyes, the US is just ‘fascist’. But then, Americans might see Chinese the same way. China may talk about their such-and-such principles, but it all comes down to ‘Is it good for China?’ And even though Jews yammer about principles, it all comes down to ‘Is it good for the Jews?’

    So, in the end, we are all fascists precisely because we all deny that we are fascists but accuse others of being fascist. Everyone is wrong and everyone is right. They wrong to believe that they are not fascist, and they are right to believe others are fascist. So, everyone is ‘fascist’.

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