Thursday, December 29, 2022

Fletcher Prouty and Our Situation


Fletcher Prouty and Our Situation

Peter Schultz


            In his book on JFK, the CIA, and Vietnam, Fletcher Prouty wrote: “By September 2, 1945, this power elite had learned of its monstrous oversight….Unwittingly, they had encouraged their scientists and engineers to design and produce nuclear weapons….War, their most essential and valuable tool….had been taken from them.” [p.42] Oh, if only it had been so. But it wasn’t.


            In fact, instead of a kind of disarmament, there was more, not less, armament and more, not less, war. Why? Because the power elites developed new ways of making war, with new organizations, new weapons, and new tactics – which were hailed as “surgical” or “clean.” With these developments, wars multiplied as they became “limited,” or they, like the US Constitution which promised “a more perfect union,” promised “more perfect” wars, e.g., Rumsfeld’s RMA, Revolution in Military Affairs or counterinsurgency wars.


            Needing to justify this embrace of war-making multiplied, a switch was made from making war for victories to providing for the defense of the nation. So, the Department of War was replaced by the Department of Defense. Why? Because, among other reasons, defense requires, justifies confronting threats, whereas war justifies confronting enemies, that is, distinct, identifiable people. Moreover, defense privileges bureaucrats, civilians like McNamara’s Whiz Kids, whereas war privileges generals, admirals, and soldiers. The Whiz Kids want to demonstrate their “wizardry” and they don’t know war like warriors do. It’s abstract to them, even virtual or unreal, as in “signature killings” by which those killed are not even known or actually seen. Moreover, defense is perpetual as its requirements never end, while wars begin and end. Defense budgets keep growing. And while “exit strategies” are needed in wars, there’s no need for or even the possibility of exit strategies for defense. There is “No Way Out” of defending the nation. “Peace dividends” never appear. Eisenhower’s “military-industrial complex” is permanent and perpetual.


            And, lastly, this defense is undertaken in the name of “national security,” not in the name of protecting the United States itself, that is, the country as a physical place. Many are the threats to national security that don’t and can’t threaten the “homeland” itself, e.g., communism in Vietnam, or the USSR in Afghanistan, or even Castro and communism in Cuba. But these threats must be “dealt with,” plans approved for dealing with them, and covert operations – terrorist attacks, like downing Cuban airliners, included – undertaken, all for the sake of national security.


            And, so, the goal of US policies has shifted. The goal is no longer the physical safety, the invincibility of the homeland – America First – but has become what is now called “full spectrum dominance,” because that’s what national security requires: Total dominance. Ipso facto, the US embraces a kind of totalitarianism, a world-wide hegemony including even outer space. And, by the by, the nukes make these policies seem prudent, reasonable, or rational. So, those who oppose this totalitarianism are made to seem imprudent, unreasonable, even irrational. And this while “Dr. Strangelove,” or “loving the bomb,” is seen as rational, along with a “failsafe” system, game theory, and MAD, Mutual Assured Destruction.  


            We have arrived in la la land, a land where no one needs or sees the point of philosophy, of contemplation, or even salvation. The students of philosophers, even some philosophers themselves, become political partisans, ala’ Heidegger, Strauss and their students; that is, they become spokesmen for political agendas. These agendas consume everything, politics consumes everything, even or especially philosophy and revelation. The unending debate  between Athens and Jerusalem disappears, replaced by conflicts between, say, Zionists and fascists, between communists and capitalists, or between GloboCap and something else, something that’s vague and hard to define, espoused by “Trump-like” figures who sound like clowns – because they are.


            After all, we are in la la land, “No Country for Old Men,” where those with principles but no sense of humor are the most powerful. A place where the thumotic – the spirited often posing as bureaucrats – trump the erotic – those lost in a wasteland that never ends, seeking “soulmates” when most don’t have souls worth speaking about any longer. It’s a most interesting situation.


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