February 23, 2007
Heute Irak, Morgen die Welt

On Wednesday the government of Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi fell, following protests in the city of Vicenza against the expansion of an American army base there.

The plan, which Prodi had approved, was to double the size of the base so that the entire 173rd Airborne Brigade could be garrisoned there ó 4,500 troopers instead of 2,750.

Two questions:

For what sane (or even faintly plausible) reason do we have any paratroopers in Italy at all?

And secondly, why do we tuck an entire regular army airborne brigade out of harmís way in northern Italy at the same time we are breaking the back of our reserve forces by deploying and redeploying them to Iraq as occupation troops during a civil war?

For answers ó not good or even sane answers but the real ones ó turn to this excerpt from Chalmers Johnsonís new book, Nemesis: the Last Days of the American Republic. He writes in part:

Interestingly enough, the thirty-eight large and medium-sized American facilities spread around the globe in 2005 ó mostly air and naval bases for our bombers and fleets ó almost exactly equals Britainís thirty-six naval bases and army garrisons at its imperial zenith in 1898. The Roman Empire at its height in 117 AD required thirty-seven major bases to police its realm from Britannia to Egypt, from Hispania to Armenia. Perhaps the optimum number of major citadels and fortresses for an imperialist aspiring to dominate the world is somewhere between thirty-five and forty.

And donít miss the comments following the article from which the paragraph above is taken. They add a whole new dimension of insanity to a global policy that is already batshit crazy.

Eisenhower, of course, predicted all this with great accuracy in the military/industrial complex speech he delivered on leaving office. Also of course, it has to be said that he did little or nothing to solve the problem during the eight years when he could have done more than talk about it.

But when youíre in office, as the bagmen on K Street say, money talks and bullshit walks.


Gardening, by Dante Lee


Posted by Jerome Doolittle at February 23, 2007 01:25 PM
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Ave Bush ! Moritu te salutan !

Posted by: dante lee on February 23, 2007 2:37 PM

As a 73-year-old political with a long memory, I welcomed your less-than-adoring remarks about Ike and his Nostradamus warnings of the M.I.C. But you actually didn't go far enough. Not only didn't Ike DO enough during his eight years (remember J.F. Dulles and the regime changes in Iran and Guatemala, etc.), Ike didn't even TALK about such matters until his Farewell Address (written by his most liberal speechwriter). It's also instructive to remember that his foreign policy briefing for incoming JFK had nothing to do about the dangers of militarism and very very much to do with the need to crush leftist influences in Laos, lest Free Southeast Asia fall to the evil twins of Mao and Ho.

Ike was always a very skillful military politician.

Posted by: Doug Scott on February 23, 2007 8:37 PM

And let's not forget that big turd Ike left on Kennedy's desk: the Bay of Pigs. Not that Kennedy minded. He didn't start to shake loose from his crooked wingnut of a father until shortly before (see the American University speech) he was assassinated. But at least the Kennedy boys were capable of learning from experience, a charge you could never bring against the Bush boys.

Posted by: Jerry Doolittle on February 23, 2007 10:10 PM

Eisenhower’s skill at political maneuvering is widely underrated. He managed the egos of Montgomery and Patton; ’nuff said. Nevertheless, he did little of consequence to help the nation he clearly loved to avoid the dangers he clearly described in his famous farewell address (the implications are scary). I find that reprehensible but unsurprising, given the dependence of the American economy as currently constructed on the Pentagon system of wealth redistribution.

I’m not a historian — that was my big mistake — but my impression is that Ike was always somewhat skeptical of the whole Bay of Pigs thing. But the hardliners like Allen Dulles and Nixon found ways to keep it on the agenda — shades of current troubles. In particular, Nixon was leading the planning from the White House point of view, and could therefore not mention it on the 1960 campaign trail. According to I. F. Stone (I’m pretty sure that’s where I read this), Kennedy scored with various constituencies around the country on being more anti-Castro than Nixon, who no doubt keenly felt the unfairness of being unable to explain to the country just how inaccurate that was.

When JFK was elected, Allen Dulles (whom he fired after the BoP debacle, and who then ended up on the committee to investigate his assassination), among others such as Richard Bissell, presented the Cuban invasion to Lieutenant Kennedy as something that General Eisenhower had been fully on board with. I know of no evidence that Ike really was on board; but the old hands figured they could bully the young President and bring him into the fold at the same time. Trouble is, it didn’t work; he didn’t fall in line. The planners had assumed that once the President saw the imminent disaster forming, he would order air support despite his clear prior statements. In the event, he refused as he had said he would, and everyone knows the result: the CIA, and the Miami Cubans, blamed JFK for the loss of life and honor, with unknown results.

The new President was under the illusion, which turned out to be a fatal one, that the President is the The Decider. Despite turning out to be a learner, as Jerry says, this lesson is one he didn't learn in time. (Did someone just mumble “Gracchi”?)

Finally, I note that Jerry’s linked to Powell’s. I’d be happy to participate in a group effort to route sales to Powell’s that might otherwise go to Amazon. I’m not testifying for Powell’s being perfect, but I’ve read a lot of bad stuff about how Amazon treats its workers, and damn it, insofar as they treat one of Seattle’s regular folks like dirt, they treat me like dirt too, so screw ’em. It’s the Seattle model, apparently. Plus, Powell’s prices, delivery, and customer service are just as good, in my experience. (After all, no one’s on board with crappy customer service.)

Posted by: Chuck Dupree (Belisarius) on February 24, 2007 7:02 AM

Eisenhower was a crafty old bastard, all right. But mostly crafty in the service of big business. My stepfather, who was on Bradley's staff, held that Ike's problem was that he unconsciously thought that rich people outranked him. A between-wars soldier had to wait practically a lifetime before he got a house on Ft. McNair's or Ft. Myers's generals row, and then it wasn't half the house that even a small-bore business executive had. Same with cars, boats, vacation homes, etc. Plainly CEOs were superior officers.

Nor should we forget that the sainted Eisenhower was MacArthur's right hand man during the heroic 1932 defeat of the Bonus Army (unarmed WWI vets) in the Battle of Anacostia Flats. The regular troops used tanks and cavalry; the vets launched vicious attacks with their heads on the army's gun butts.

On that famous day, Major Eisenhower advised General MacArthur not to assume personal command of the troops. MacArthur, even then widely known to be a camera-hogging asshole, brushed aside the advice. Guess which one went on to be relieved of his command in Korea, and which one went on to become president.

Posted by: Jerry Doolittle on February 24, 2007 8:49 AM

Nice quote in the title from the official song of the 'Hitler Youth' by Hans Baumann. The complete song goes like this (on the fly translation by yours truly):

The rotten bones of the world
Are trembling in fear of the Red war
But we've broken the threat,
Our's is the great victory.

We'll keep on marchin
even if everything falls into shards,
today only Germany is Our's
tomorrow the whole world will be.

And even if the whole world
Lies in ruins after the battle,
What the hell do we care,
We'll just build it anew.


Let the elders ramble and scold,
May they bluster and cry,
If all world is against us,
We'll still be victourious in time.


People don't want to comprehend our song,
They only think of servitude and war
But meanwhile our seed bears fruit,
You, banner of freedom: fly!

We'll keep on marching,
Even if everything falls into shards;
Freedom rose up in Germany
Tomorrow the whole world will be free.

Just change "Red war" to "war against terrorism" and "Germany" to "America" and tremble, folks, tremble!

Posted by: Peter on February 24, 2007 9:21 AM

Are the commenter and the brilliant cartoonist one and the same?

And is there any truth to the tale that MacArthur disobeyed President Hoover's orders in attacking the Bonus Boys?

Posted by: Joyful Alternative on February 24, 2007 4:37 PM

Yes to the first question, Joyful. No to the second, if I had to come up with a fast answer on a quiz show. But l haven't checked, and I'm not really sure.

Posted by: Jerry Doolittle on February 24, 2007 7:18 PM

Correction, Joyful. No to the first. Jerome's on the keyboard. As Dante Lee my cartoonist pseudo, I, Sebastien Parmentier was the pencil on that one.

Posted by: Dante lee on February 25, 2007 1:53 AM
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