2019-04-20

“The Most Warlike Nation in the History of the World”, Hidden Empire, Propaganda, and Hope

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by Neil Godfrey

Jimmy Carter (Wikipedia)

The U.S., Carter said, has been at war for all but 16 years of its 242-year history. (China and Vietnam actually fought a brief border war in early 1979, weeks after normalization of U.S.-China relations.)

He called the United States “the most warlike nation in the history of the world,” because of a tendency to try to force others to “adopt our American principles.”

The only US president to complete his term without war, military attack or occupation has called the United States “the most warlike nation in the history of the world.” . . .

Carter then said the US has been at peace for only 16 of its 242 years as a nation. Counting wars, military attacks and military occupations, there have actually only been five years of peace in US history—1976, the last year of the Gerald Ford administration and 1977-80, the entirety of Carter’s presidency. Carter then referred to the US as “the most warlike nation in the history of the world,” a result, he said, of the US forcing other countries to “adopt our American principles.”

On China and U.S.’s worry that China is “getting ahead of us”, see at point 39:40 Chomsky’s comment on just this point, the trade agreements with China, being “an effort to prevent China’s economic development”:

Which reminds me of a book I heard about via Mano Singham’s blog:

Hidden Empire

During the Second World War, the United States honed an extraordinary suite of technologies that gave it many of the benefits of empire without having to actually hold colonies. Plastics and other synthetics allowed it to replace tropical products with man-made substitutes. Airplanes, radio, and DDT enabled it to move its goods, ideas, and people into foreign countries easily without annexing them. Similarly, the United States managed to standardize many of its objects and practices—from screw threads to road signs to the English language—across political borders, again gaining influence in places it didn’t control. Collectively, these technologies weaned the United States off the familiar model of formal empire. They replaced colonization with globalization.

Globalization is a fashionable word, and it’s easy to speak of it in vague terms—to talk of increasingly better technologies drawing a disparate world together. But those new technologies didn’t just crop up. Many were developed by the U.S. military in a short burst of time in the 1940s, with the goal of giving the United States a new relationship to territory. Dramatically, and in just a few years, the military built a world-spanning logistical network that was startling in how little it depended on colonies. It was also startling in how much it centered the world’s trade, transport, and communication on one country, the United States.

. . . . . .

It may help to look at the decline of colonialism from a different angle, focusing not just on supply but on demand as well. The worldwide anti-imperialist revolt drove the cost of colonies up. Yet at the same time, new technologies gave powerful countries ways to enjoy the benefits of empire without claiming populated territories. In doing so, they drove the demand for colonies down.

The “empire-killing technologies” ranged from skywave radio to screw threads, and they worked in different ways. But, collectively, they weaned the United States off colonies. In so doing, they also helped to create the world we know today, where powerful countries project their influence through globalization rather than colonization.

. . . . . .

Now markets scamper across borders, planes land anywhere, and communications satellites connect the most seemingly distant places.

But all that is relatively new, an artifact of post–World War II globalization. That globalization, in turn, depended on key technologies devised or perfected by the U.S. military during the Second World War. These were, like synthetics, empire-killing technologies, in that they helped render colonies unnecessary. They did so by making movement easier without direct territorial control.

Immerwahr, Daniel. 2019. How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. (Electronic version, hence no page references)

We began with Jimmy Carter. Notice something else about the challenges Carter faced:

Propaganda War On “Philosophical Enemies of Capitalism”

Simon (1978a:191, 222; 1978b:6) offers an analysis of economic-political problems in 1978 and solutions to them. The Carter administration is, he asserts, ‘careening with frightening speed towards collectivism’. The regulatory agencies of ‘an economic police state’ are spreading ‘terror’ among the corporations. Simon, explicitly following Irving Kristol, attributes this crisis of American democracy to the pervasive influence of un-American intellectuals (Simon 1978a: 193—5; Kristol 1975). He asks ‘What then can we do?’ and responds chat ‘funds generated by business must rush by the multimillions’ to the rescue. Some major foundations (he instances the Ford Foundation) have been ‘taken over’. By whom? By the ‘philosophical enemies’ of capitalism, people of egalitarian outlook. The only possible solution is to create new foundations which will ‘serve explicitly as intellectual refuges for the non-egalitarian scholars and writers in our society … They must be given grants, grants and more grants in exchange for books, books and more books’ (Simon 1978a:228—31). (Carey 1995:96)

Exactly this development has occurred in the United States, where so-called ‘issue advertising’ or ‘advocacy advertising’ has become a $100 million industry and a major aspect of business’s grassroots propaganda. For example, during the conservative assault on public opinion that occurred between Carter’s election and Reagan’s election, Mobil Oil spent $5 million per annum on advocacy advertising, which included full-page ads in the New York Times once a fortnight. (Carey 1995:103)

In the United States the Carter administration attempted, too late, to restrain business’s advocacy advertising by taxation and other methods (Ehrbar 1978:68). In 1978, when American business was spending $ 1 billion per annum on grassroots propaganda (a significant part of it in the form of advocacy advertising) the Supreme Court in a 4 to 3 judgment overturned a law restricting such expenditure. (Carey 1995:104)

Carey, Alex. 1995. Taking the Risk Out of Democracy: Corporate Propaganda Versus Freedom and Liberty. Edited by Andrew Lohrey. Sydney, NSW: University of New South Wales Press.

A Better Vision

You’ve surely seen this before many times over by now, but it deserves a place here, too:

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Neil Godfrey

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7 Comments

  • db
    2019-04-20 04:10:18 GMT+0000 - 04:10 | Permalink

    Opposition to reductions in carbon emissions.

    “Tweet the Story of the Fossil Fuel Industry’s Climate Deception”. Union of Concerned Scientists. Retrieved 29 April 2017.

    1978: Exxon’s own company scientist, James Black, warns that critical choices about changing energy strategies were just 5-10 years away.

    [“In 1979–1982, Exxon conducted a research program of climate change and climate modeling, including a research project of equipping their largest supertanker Esso Atlantic with a laboratory and sensors to measure the absorption of carbon dioxide by the oceans.” —(“ExxonMobil climate change controversy”. Wikipedia.)]

    Late 1980s: Exxon curtails its carbon dioxide research. In the decades that follow, Exxon works instead at the forefront of climate denial.

    1988: NASA climate scientist James Hansen testifies in front of Congress that there is a “99% confidence that current temps represent a real warming trend.”

    1989: Exxon, Mobil, Chevron, BP, Shell, and other fossil fuel companies start the Global Climate Coalition (GCC) to oppose reductions in carbon emissions.


    “Early victims of ocean acidification could go extinct this century”. aims.gov.au.

    “Ocean acidification”. Wikipedia.

    An estimated 30–40% of the carbon dioxide from human activity released into the atmosphere dissolves into oceans, rivers and lakes.
    […]
    Increasing acidity is thought to have a range of potentially harmful consequences for marine organisms…

    “Oceanic anoxic event “. Wikipedia.

    Oceanic anoxic events most commonly occurred during periods of very warm climate characterized by high levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) and mean surface temperatures probably in excess of 25 °C (77 °F).
    […]
    Oceanic anoxic events have had many important consequences. It is believed that they have been responsible for mass extinctions of marine organisms both in the Paleozoic and Mesozoic.
    […]
    During an oceanic anoxic event, the accumulation and preservation of organic matter [as an oil source] was much greater than normal . . . some 70 percent of oil source rocks are Mesozoic in age, and another 15 percent date from the warm Paleogene: only rarely in colder periods were conditions favorable for the production of [oil] source rocks on anything other than a local scale.

  • Neil Godfrey
    2019-04-20 07:51:34 GMT+0000 - 07:51 | Permalink

    I think most of us know the threats and terabytes could be posted on the details. What I have tried to address here is the political aspects, “challenges and responses” — in summary form, that’s all.

  • JBeers
    2019-04-20 18:37:11 GMT+0000 - 18:37 | Permalink

    A more lighthearted video I happened upon this morning on things that could be going wrong entitled, ‘Honest Government Ad | My Police State’!, is at

    I do not know enough about Australia (which this video targets and from which it apparently originates), but the video may have relevance to transitions elsewhere in the way power, liberty, etc are transitioning as technology and the economy change.

    • JBeers
      2019-04-21 00:46:52 GMT+0000 - 00:46 | Permalink

      Meanwhile I happened upon another satirical video from the same group, ‘Honest Government Ad | Julian Assange’. It contains a naughty word or two. I probably should have made that warning when citing the video above.


      .

      I encountered it while going through the rightwing website ZeroHedge. ZeroHedge has reproduced a piece by the left-wing Caitlin Johnstone, https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-04-20/caitlin-johnstone-debunks-all-assange-smears. Johnstone’s fairly long but interesting polemic is relevant to this vridar posting, to the vridar post about Assange, the one just before that about Australian governments going along with US governments, and to the various pieces about criticizing and analyzing opponents’ arguments. Johnstone embeds the video in her piece.

    • Neil Godfrey
      2019-04-24 22:18:19 GMT+0000 - 22:18 | Permalink

      Oh yes. Both major political parties in Australia serve as excellent clients of the new Rome. I recall a time when it was not so, when at least one of the parties stood for a genuinely independent place in the world. There was some suspicion of CIA involvement in the overthrow of that government but its leader dismissed the signs (some thought naively) as conspiracy theory.

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