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  • Missile-gate

    Missile-gate

    by Gilbert Doctorow, Ph.D.

     

    President Putin’s 2-hour long address yesterday to the Federal Assembly, a joint session of both houses of Russia’s bicameral legislature, plus large numbers of Russia’s cultural, business and other elites constituted his platform for the upcoming presidential election on March 18. This, in lieu of participation in the televised debates on all federal television channels in which other seven candidates are busy these days.

    But as is the case with many of Vladimir Putin’s major presentations, the speech yesterday was addressed to a far broader audience than the Russian electorate. Many of the estimated 700 journalists invited to attend were foreign correspondents.  Indeed, one might reasonably argue that the speech was directed abroad, precisely to the United States. 

    The final third of the address, devoted to defense and presenting for the first time several major new and technically unparalleled offensive nuclear weapons systems, established Russia’s claim to full nuclear parity with the United States, overturning the country’s withdrawal from superpower status dating from the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1992. Some Russian commentators, in a burst of national pride, claimed that the power of the Soviet Union had now been restored and the wrongs of the 1990s’s were finally undone.

     In its own way, this speech was as important, perhaps more important than Putin’s talk to the Munich Security Conference in February 2007 at which he set out in length Russia’s grievances with US global hegemony installed in the 1990s and the  utter disregard for or denial of Russia’s national interests.  That speech was a turning point in US-Russian relations which headed us to the deep confrontation of today.  Yesterday’s speech suggested not the onset of a new arms race, but its conclusion, with outright Russian victory and US defeat.

    Putin’s address was a “shock and awe” event.  I leave to others, more competent than I in military technology to comment on the specific capabilities of the various systems rolled out yesterday. Whether short range or unlimited range, whether ground launched or air launched, whether ballistic missiles or cruise missiles, whether flying through the atmosphere or navigating silently and at high speed the very depths of the oceans, these various systems are said to be invincible to any known or prospective air defense such as the United States has invested in heavily since it unilaterally left the ABM Treaty and set out on a course that would upend strategic parity.

    Since 2002, US policy has aimed at enabling a first strike knocking out Russian ICBMs and then rendering useless Russia’s residual nuclear forces which could be shot out of the air.  Russia’s new highly maneuverable and ultra-high speed (Mach 10 and Mach 20) missiles and underwater nuclear drone render illusory any scenario based on non-devastating response to the US homeland following a US strike on Russia. In passing, the new systems also render useless and turn into sitting duck targets the entire US navy, with its aircraft carrier formations.

    US and Western media response to Putin’s address was variable. The Financial Times tried its best at neutral reporting, and midway through its feature article gave a paragraph each to two of Russia’s most authoritative politicians with special expertise in relations with the West:  Konstantin Kosachev and Alexei Pushkov, both former chairmen of the Duma Committee on Foreign Affairs. However, their reporters and editorial supervisors were out of their depth, unable to reach a consistent view on what the Kremlin is doing. On the one hand Putin’s statements about Russia’s “unstoppable” nuclear weapons are reduced to “claims,” suggesting a certain skepticism; on the other hand, the consequence is to “fuel concern about a new arms race with the US.” They cannot fathom that the race is over.

    The Washington Post was fairly quick to post a lengthy article in its online edition yesterday. An unusually large part consisted of quotes from Putin’s speech. The editorial line tells it all in the title assigned: “Putin claims Russia is developing nuclear arms capable of avoiding missile defenses.” I would put the accent on “claims” and “is developing.” The reporter and newspaper management seem not to have gotten the point: that one of these systems is already deployed in the Russia’s Southern Military District and that others are going into serial production.  These systems are not a wish list, they are hard facts.

    The New York Times was characteristically slow in posting articles on a development which caught its staff and management totally unprepared.  In the space of a couple of hours, it put up two articles in succession dealing with the defense section of Vladimir Putin’s address. In both, but more particularly in the article co-authored by reporters Neil MacFarquhar and David E. Sanger, the stress is on “bluff.”  It is blithely assumed that Putin was just delivering a campaign speech to rouse “the patriotic passions of Russians” and so consolidate his forthcoming electoral victory. The writers take solace in the notion that “deception lies at the heart of current Russian military doctrine,” so that “questions arose about whether these weapons existed.”

     

    These speculations, especially in The New York Times tell us one thing: that our media willfully ignore the plain facts about Vladimir Putin.  First, that he has always done what he has said.  Second, that he is by nature very cautious and methodical.  The word “carefully” (аккуратно) is a constant element in his speech vocabulary.   In this context, the notion of “bluff’ in a matter that would put Russian national security at risk and possibly cost tens of millions of Russian lives if the bluff were called – such a notion is utter nonsense.

     

    I would like to believe that the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington will not be so giddy or superficial in judging what they heard yesterday from Mr. Putin. If that is so, they will be urgently recommending to their President to enter into very broad negotiations with the Russians over arms control.  And they will be going back to their staffs to completely revise their recommendations with respect to the military hardware and installations which the United States is financing in 2019 and beyond. Our present budget, including the trillion or so being appropriated for upgrading nuclear warheads and producing more low-yield weapons is a waste of taxpayer money.

    However, still more importantly, the implications of Vladimir Putin’s address yesterday are that US intelligence has been asleep at the wheel for the past 14 years if not longer. It is a national scandal for the country to lose an arms race it was not even aware was occurring.  Heads should roll, and the process should begin with proper hearings on Capitol Hill. For reasons that will be clear from what follows, among the first witnesses called upon to testify should be former Vice President Dick Cheney and former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

    In the past such a revelation of a vast security gap with the country’s main geopolitical and military competitor would lead to political recriminations and finger pointing.  What came up yesterday is far bigger than the “missile gap” of the late 1950s that brought Jack Kennedy to the White House in a campaign to restore vigor to American political culture and wake it from the somnolent Eisenhower years with their complacency about security matters and much else.

    Moreover, the roll-out yesterday of new Russian weaponry that changes the world power balance was just one in a chain of remarkable Russian achievements over the past four years that caught US leadership entirely by surprise.  The explanation has till now been the alleged unpredictability of Vladimir Putin, even if absolutely nothing he did could not have been foreseen by someone paying close attention.

     

    One prime example was the Russian capture of Crimea in February-March 2014 without a shot being fired or a single fatality in circumstances where the 20,000 Russian troops based in their leased Sevastopol enclave confronted 20,000 Ukrainian forces on the peninsula. Western media spoke of a Russian “invasion” which amounted to nothing more than the Russian troops leaving their barracks. The Russians had used nothing more exotic than psychological warfare, old-fashioned “psy-ops” as it is called in the States executed to perfection by pros, all dating from the time of Von Clausewitz. 

     

    Then the Pentagon was caught with its pants down in September 2015 when Putin at the United Nations General Assembly announced the dispatch of Russian warplanes to Syria for a campaign against ISIS and to support Assad that would begin the next day.  Why did we suspect nothing?  Was it because Russia was known to be too poor to execute such a challenging mission abroad to precise objectives and timelines? In the same war theater, the Russians again “surprised” Americans by setting up a joint military intelligence center in Baghdad with Iraq and Iran.  And it further “surprised” NATO by flying bombing missions to the Syrian theater over Iran and Iraqi airspace after being denied flight rights in the Balkans.  With thousands of military and diplomatic staff based in Iraq, how is it that the United States knew nothing about the Russian agreements with Iraqi leadership in advance?

     

    My point is that the confusion over how to interpret Putin’s announcement of Russia’s new defense capability is a systemic failure of U.S. intelligence.  The next obvious question is why? Where is the CIA? Where are the intel bosses when they are not investigating Trump?

     

    The answer is not to be found in just one or two elements, for sure. Nor is it a failure that developed recently.  There is a good measure of blinding complacency about Russia as a “failed state” that has cut across the whole US political establishment since the 1990s when the Russia was flat on its back. One simply could not imagine the Kremlin rising to the challenge of its missions in Crimea, in Syria, in development of the world’s most sophisticated high-tech armaments.

     

    And it is not only blindness to things Russian. It is a fundamental failure to grasp that state power anywhere is not dependent only on GDP and demographic trends but also on grit, patriotic determination and the intelligence of thousands of researchers, engineers and production personnel. This conceptual poverty infects some our most brilliant Realpolitik political scientists in the academic community who in principle should be open to understanding the world as it is, not the world as we wish it to be. Somehow we seem to have forgotten the lesson of David and Goliath.  Somehow we have forgotten the Israeli numbers of 4 or 5 million standing up militarily to 100 million Arabs. It was unimaginable to us that Russia would be the David to our Goliath.

     

    But there are more objective reasons for the utter failure of US intelligence to grasp the scale and seriousness of the Russian challenge to US global hegemony. Specifically, we must consider the gutting of our Russian intelligence capabilities in the days, months, years following 9/11.

     

    There are those who will say, with reason, that the decline of US intelligence capabilities on Russia began already in the second administration of Ronald Reagan, when the Cold War came to an end and the expertise of Cold Warriors seemed no longer relevant. Surely numbers of Russia experts were allowed to decline by attrition. 

     

    And yet, when 9/11 struck, many of those in higher positions in the CIA had come to the Agency as Russia experts. It was the CIA’s lack of skills in the languages and area knowledge of the Middle East that was glaring in the aftermath of the Al-Qaeda attack on the Twin Towers that guided the reshaping of priorities for intelligence. Clearly this deficiency and the necessary re-profiling of expertise could not augur well for the continued employment of holdovers from the Soviet desk.

     

    But a still greater factor in the sharp decline in Russian expertise within US intelligence agencies was the shift from dependence on civil service employees to use of outside service providers, i.e., outsourcing of intelligence work.  This was totally in line with the preferences of the U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, who introduced outsourcing in a generalized way to deal with the new challenges of the War On Terror. The same phenomenon affected the U.S. military, especially beginning in 2003 following the invasion of Iraq. Operational security tasks of the U.S. military were outsourced to companies providing mercenaries like Blackwater.  And normal procurement arrangements for materiel were short-circuited by the Vice President for the sake of quick satisfaction of urgent field requirements: hence the procurement of non-traditional but much needed fleets of armored troop transport and the like.

     

    Several articles in Consortium and elsewhere in recent months have called attention to the phenomenon of intel outsourcing. However, what was happening, why and to what effect was already clearly known a decade ago and promised nothing good.

     

    In a sense, the commonality of all these changes in supply of intelligence, equipment and military force has been a quick-fix mentality and direct political intervention into processes that had been insulated in the civil service with its bureaucratic procedures. Political intervention means ultimately politicizing methods and outcomes. Outsourced intelligence is more likely to meet the demands of the paymaster than to have some intellectual integrity and broad perspective of its own.

     

    To better understand the phenomenon, I refer the reader to an outstanding and well documented article dating from March 2007 that was published by the European Strategic Intelligence Security Center (ESISC) entitled “Outsourcing Intelligence: The Example of the United States.”

     

    The author, ESISC Research Associate Raphael Ramos, tells us that at the time 70% of the budget of the American intelligence community was spent via contracts with private companies. At the time he wrote, outsourcing was said to be greatest among the agencies reporting to the Defense Department. The CIA was then said to have one-third of its staff comping from private companies.

     

    Besides the changing priorities for foreign intelligence resulting from the end of the Cold War and the onset of the War on Terror, another factor in the changing structure of US intelligence was technologically driven. This relates to the modern communications technologies, with many start-ups appearing in the specialized fields of Signals Intelligence and Imagery Intelligence. The NSA availed itself of these new service providers to become a pioneer in outsourcing intelligence.  Other Pentagon agencies which followed the same course were NRO, responsible for space based systems of intelligence and the NGA, charged with producing geographic intelligence from satellites.  Add to that the changing intel practices coming from the development of the internet, which prioritized open source intelligence.  OSINT could flourish in the private sector because it does not require special security clearances. This soon accounted for between 35% and 90% of intelligence procurement. 

     

    As noted above, outsourcing enabled the intelligence community to modernize, gain skills quickly and try to meet urgent new needs. However, judging by the results of intelligence with respect to Putin’s Russia it seems that the outsourcing model has not delivered the goods.  The country has been flying blind while taking outlandish and unsupportable positions to bully the world as if we enjoyed full spectrum dominance and Russia did not exist. 

    © Gilbert Doctorow, 2018

          * * * *

    For my brief overall analysis of Vladimir Putin's speech which was broadcast live on RT International a couple of hours later, go to  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mK66tkYuPVQ&t=11s Here I specifically address the question of Russia's nuclear umbrella for its "allies," one element in the speech which surely has Washington guessing.

    Gilbert Doctorow is an independent political analyst based in Brussels. His latest book, Does the United States Have a Future? was published on 12 October 2017. Both paperback and e-book versions are available for purchase on www.amazon.com and all affiliated Amazon websites worldwide. See the recent professional review  http://theduran.com/does-the-united-states-have-a-future-a-new-book-by-gilbert-doctorow-review/    For a video of the book presentation made at the National Press Club, Washington, D.C. on 7 December 2017 see  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ciW4yod8upg

  • Russia-gate in the USA as officially encouraged paranoia

     

    In this essay we consider circumstantial evidence against the scenarios of Russian meddling

    Lire la suite

  • Does the United States Have a Future as a Great Power?

     

     

    by Gilbert Doctorow, Ph.D.

     

    Twenty years ago posing this question would have seemed absurd. The United States was fully self-confident about its position as the sole surviving superpower in the world which faced virtually no obstacles or objections to its performance of “public goods” that brought order to the world either through the liberal international institutions that it helped to create after WWII and dominated, or unilaterally when necessary through “coalitions of the willing” aimed at bringing down one or another disruptive malefactor on a regional stage. From all sides abroad it heard only “amen” to its claims of exceptionalism and farther-seeing vision that came from its standing taller, as Secretary of State Madeleine Albright put it.

     

    Fourteen years ago, when America prepared for its ill-conceived invasion of Iraq and encountered loud resistance from France and Germany, backed up by Russia, it became possible to wonder whether U.S. global hegemony could last.  The disaster that the Iraqi adventure quickly became within a year of George W. Bush declaring “mission accomplished” rolled on and progressively diminished the enthusiasm of allies and others hitherto in the U.S. bandwagon for each new project to re-engineer troublesome nations, to overthrow autocrats and usher in an age of liberal democracy across the globe.

    Still, the doubts were discussed sotto voce. Governments tended to conform to what the Russians colorfully call “giving someone the finger in your pocket.”  Observers spoke their piece privately against the violations of international law and simple decency that the United States was perpetrating, against the swathe of chaos that followed American intervention across the Greater Middle East.  But such persons were on the fringes of political life and drew little attention.

    What has happened in the past couple of years is that doubts about the competence of the United States to lead the world have been compounded by doubts about the ability of the United States to govern itself. The dysfunctionality of the federal government has come out of the closet as an issue and is talked about fairly regularly even by commentators and publications that are quintessentially representative of the establishment.

    In this connection, it is remarkable to note that the September-October issue of Foreign Affairs magazine carries an essay entitled “Kleptocracy in America” by Sarah Chayes. This takes us entirely away from the personality peculiarities of the 45th President into the broader and more important realm of the systemic flaws of governance, namely the extraordinary political power wielded by the very wealthy and the self-serving policies that they succeed in enacting, all at the expense of the general public that has stagnated economically for decades now, setting the stage for the voter revolt that brought Trump to power.

    And in an op-ed essay in the The Washington Post on September 1st that is remarkable precisely for its identification of the failing political culture in Washington, Senator John McCain says the following:

    “Congress will return from recess next week facing continued gridlock as we lurch from one self-created crisis to another. We are proving inadequate not only to our most difficult problems but also to routine duties. Our national political campaigns never stop. We seem convinced that majorities exist to impose their will with few concessions and that minorities exist to prevent the party in power from doing anything important.”

    McCain himself was till now a major contributor to the poisonous political climate in Washington, to partisanship that tramples patriotism under foot. One thinks of his unprecedented attack on fellow Republican Senator Rand Paul several months ago whom he accused of “working for Putin” because the good Senator refused to vote for the accession of Montenegro to NATO.

    Gridlock in the federal government is nothing new. In the past decade, work of the federal government came to a standstill when Congress and the President could not agree the conditions under which the federal debt ceiling would be raised.  Such an eventuality was just narrowly averted in the past day.

    Public exposure and ridicule of a sitting president for personal failings, such as the case of Bill Clinton’s sexual transgressions, have been exploited for political gain by his opponents whatever the cost to national prestige. We have lived through that crisis of the political elites and the republic survived

    What is new and must be called out is the loss of civility in public discourse at all levels, from the President, from the Congress and down to the average citizen.  The widely decried personal attacks that otherwise would be called defamation during the 2016 presidential electoral campaign were symptomatic of this all-encompassing phenomenon.  It signifies a dramatic decline in American political culture that the whole world sees and is beginning to act upon in self-defense.

    In what follows, I will speak to each of these levels in the calamitous loss of dignity and reason in the establishment as it bears on the unsustainability of American soft power abroad, which in turn preconditions hard power.

    * * * *

     

     

    Let us start with President Donald Trump, who is attacked in the news daily by the liberal media that represents the lion’s share of all television programming and print publications, media that vehemently opposes Trump’s domestic and foreign policy positions. In their determination to ensure either his impeachment or effectively to strip him of powers, they speak of Trump the way cheaply printed caricatures for the masses lampooned Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette before the French Revolution.

    The President is publicly described by his compatriots as an imbecile, a rabid racist, a misogynist, a volatile and impulsive narcissist whose finger on the nuclear button gives us all goose pimples:  this cannot be ignored by the wider world outside US borders and it is not ignored.

    To be sure, Donald Trump has brought a good deal of this ignominy on himself by his intemperate comments on daily events, particularly at home but also abroad, where silence or a nod to conventional verities would be the better part of valor. He keeps his own counsel on foreign affairs and erroneously believes that his instincts are superior to the advice of experts. In his kitchen cabinet, there are no experts.  In the official cabinet, he has for his own reasons assembled a group consisting of Neoconservatives and Liberal Interventionists, who made it easy for him to get confirmation in the Senate but who are all pulling in the direction opposite to the America First concepts of nonintervention in the affairs of other states that he set out in his electoral campaign.

    Trump changes direction daily, even on matters as critical as the likely U.S. response to the ongoing crisis on the Korean peninsula.  The tactic of unpredictability was an approach he said in the campaign he would use against enemies, in particular against terrorist groups, not to tip them off about U.S. intentions in advance and weaken the effect of eventual U.S. military strikes. But it makes no sense when applied to all other current business, which requires a firm hand on the tiller and sense of continuity and predictability, not constant disruption.

    The net result of Donald Trump’s first six months in office has been to undo the bonds of mutual confidence with our allies and friends, and to put on guard our competitors that America’s role in the world is up for grabs.

    Foreign policy has opened up as a topic for discussion here in Europe ever since Donald scattered the chickens by his loose talk about NATO and America's commitment or non-commitment to the Article 5 provision of all for one and one for all. This has given impetus to the long-spluttering plans to create a European Union army as an alternative to NATO, and as a rallying point for federalists in what will be a two-speed Europe.

    During the two terms of Obama, meddling in the internal politics of China and Russia, repeated hectoring over their alleged human rights and rule of law violations, but still more importantly the wrong-headed policy of simultaneous containment of these two giants through construction of military alliances and bases at their borders put in motion a strategic partnership between them that was once improbable but is now flourishing. The Russia-China axis is underpinned by vast joint investments and promises to remake the global power balance in the decades to come.

    Now, with Trump, the damage to American power in the Pacific region is spreading. His ripping up free trade accords and his incautious rhetoric regarding possible military strikes against North Korea have pushed both Japan and South Korea to explore actively and urgently how Russia can be befriended, at a minimum, for the sake of greater leverage against the big ally in North America. This has been demonstrated with perfect clarity by the meetings of Vladimir Putin with Japanese premier Shinzo Abe and Korean president Moon Jae-in at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok over the past couple of days.

    Russia’s evolving political entente with both South Korea and Japan is providing support for the launch of ambitious foreign investment projects in its Far East as announced at the Forum. These include one which has the potential to re-shape the imagination of regional populations for a generation to come: revival of plans to build a 50 billion dollar rail-auto bridge linking Hokkaido with the Russian island of Sakhalin, thus uniting Japan with the continent and facilitating freight shipments across Russia to Europe. For its part, Korea announced infrastructure investments for the Northern sea route linking their country with European markets through sea lanes kept open by Russian icebreakers.  Like the Chinese One Belt One Road, these plans all dramatically reduce the importance to world trade of the long-standing US policed sea lanes off Southeast Asia up to and through the Suez Canal.

    Of course, the low point in America’s image in the world today under Trump is not entirely new. By the end of his two terms in office, George W. Bush had driven American prestige to what were then all time lows even among Europeans.  There was a brief resurgence of American popularity at the start of Barack Obama’s tenure in office. But that was quickly dissipated by his failure to deliver on the pledges of his campaign and inaugural address, as Guantanamo remained open, as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continued and as drone strikes proliferated.

    But Donald Trump has shaken up the world order by repeatedly questioning the public goods that the country claimed to be delivering these past decades, opening a void without projecting a new vision of global governance. In the meantime, the unique value of America’s public goods is being eroded as alternative suppliers step forward.

    * * * *

     

    It is commonplace today within the United States to put all blame for the shocking decline in political culture at the door of President Trump with his boorish language and behavior.  However, as we noted from the outset in citing Senator John McCain’s recent op-ed, Congress has contributed mightily to the erosion of civic values by its vicious and counterproductive partisanship.

    And yet a still greater threat to our democracy and to the sustainability of our great power status has come from the inverse phenomenon, namely the truly bipartisan management of foreign policy in Congress.  The Republican and Democratic party leaderships have maintained strict discipline in promotion of what are Neoconservative and Liberal Interventionist positions on every issue placed before Congress. Committees on security and foreign affairs invite to testify before them only those experts who can be counted upon to support the official Washington narrative. Debate on the floor of the houses is nonexistent.  And the votes are so lopsided as to be shocking, none more so that the votes in August on the “Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act.”  This measure removed sanctions on Iran, North Korea and Russia from the category of Executive Order and mandated them by federal law.  In the Senate it passed 98 to 2. In the House, the vote was 419 for, 3 against.  Such results remind us of the rubber stamp legislature of the USSR, the Supreme Soviet, in its heyday.

    That particular vote was still more scandalous for its being drafted and passed without any consultation with US allies and friends, though its intent is to control their commercial and credit policies with respect to the target countries under sanction.  For Europeans, in particular, this puts in question their ability to pursue what they see as great economic benefits from trade and investment with Russia and Iran. In this sense, Congress demonstrated that it is pursuing a still more radical program of America First than the President. In-your-face unilateralism such as this works directly to the detriment of the country’s standing in global forums.

     

     

    * * * *

     

    It would be comforting if the problems of our political culture began and ended with the elites operating in Washington, D.C.  However, that is patently not the case.  The problem exists across the country in the form of stultifying conformism, or groupthink that is destroying the open marketplace for ideas essential for any vital democracy.

    Some of us have called this the new McCarthyism, because the most salient aspect of groupthink is the ongoing hysteria over alleged Russian meddling in U.S. domestic politics. The denunciations of “stooges of Putin” and the blacklisting from both mass and professional media of those known to deliver unconventional, heterodox views on Russia and other issues of international affairs is reminiscent of what went on during the witch hunt for Communists in government, in the media during the early 1950s. 

    However, no one is being hounded from office today. There are no show trials, as yet, for treasonous collusion with Russia.  So, it would be safer to speak of an atmosphere of intimidation that stifles free debate on the key security issues facing the American public.  Absence of debate equates to a dumbing-down of our political elites as intellectual skills atrophy and results in poor formulation of policy. The whole necessarily undermines our soft power and standing in the world.

    Groupthink in America today did not come from nowhere. Debilitating conformism was always part of our DNA, as is the case in a great many countries, though its emergence has been episodic and in varying degrees of severity.  The present acute manifestation in the United States goes back to the mass paranoia which followed the 9/11 terrorist attacks when the  George W. Bush administration introduced the Patriot Act, gutting our civil rights in exchange for the promise of security.

    Though the revelations of Edward Snowden have shown the full extent and potency of the  instruments of surveillance over the general population that were introduced by the Bush administration after 9/11, there was enough of state control exposed in the Patriotic Act text to silence anyone with doubts about US government policies at home and abroad.  When the harsh personalities of the Bush immediate entourage were replaced by the liberal talking officials of Barack Obama, people breathed easier, but the instruments of surveillance remained in place, as did the Neocon middle and senior officials in the State Department, in the Pentagon, in the intelligence agencies.  Thus, for a whole generation the Washington narrative remained unchanged, giving encouragement in communities across the land to Neocon-minded administrators and professorate of our universities, publishers and owners of our mainstream newspapers and other arbiters of public taste.  That is quite sufficient to explain the current atmosphere of intimidation and groupthink.

     

     

     

    It is improbable that any Humpty-Dumpty successor to Donald Trump can put the pieces back together again and restore American dominance to where it was at the close of Bill Clinton's first term as president. Given American hubris, will our political class accept an equal seat at the global board of governors or just walk away from the table?

    © Gilbert Doctorow, 2017

     

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     Gilbert Doctorow is an independent political analyst based in Brussels. His latest book Does Russia Have a Future? was published in August 2015. His forthcoming book Does the United States Have a Future? will be published in October 2017.