Monthly Archives: November 2012

Thanksgiving Verses from Saul Landau

We give thanks that none of the following is remotely connected to reality and that in any case it is dated and irrelevant, and that we are the greatest force for good in the entire world…

Below, a brief excerpt from Landau’s 1988 book The Dangerous Doctrine: National Security and U.S. Foreign Policy (p. 105):

Dictators suited the Nixon-Kissinger national security notion far better than did weak democracies and naïve reformers. In any event, the Third World would not be allowed by the United States to assume center stage as a major actor in world policy. Henry Kissinger told Chilean chancellor Gabriel Valdes very frankly that “the axis of history starts in Moscow, goes to Bonn, crosses over to Washington, and then goes to Tokyo. What happens in the South is of no importance.”[1]

Nixon’s doctrine implicitly understood that the president could not rally the nation behind the use of U.S. troops abroad, short of another Pearl Harbor. Surrogate regional powers would have to maintain their land, labor, and markets inside the U.S. orbit, with the help of U.S. trainers, equippers, and advisers. On paper, the plan looked feasible. Before the local powers could do these jobs, however—as was proved by the failure of the South Vietnamese to sustain their government—these leaders required a solid military and civilian infrastructure, which was not easily attainable with the kinds of Third World rulers that Nixon and Kissinger found compatible with U.S. interests.

In lieu of old alliances and the ability to use U.S. troops, Nixon looked for platform countries, junior partners in the Third World that could help smash insurgencies or afford the United States air and intelligence bases. Israel, South Africa, Iran, South Vietnam, the Philippines, Turkey, and Pakistan became potential staging areas from which the United States launched counterrevolution. When crises arose in other pro-U.S. dictatorships, the Nixon White House responded as if a 911 call had been received, shipping whatever deadly aid was needed to keep nations from gaining independence.


[1] Seymour Hersh, The Price of Power (1983), p. 263.

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Romney is the Organization Man the CIA Needs: A Rhyme

What’s next for Willard Mitt? Well, he’s going to rest up for a bit. But don’t think he’s going to be M.I.A. Next up for him: Director of the C.I.A.

You may think that idea crazy, or implausible at least, but Romney’s the man who can tame the Langley beast.

He’s a proven manager, lacking any military background and a great institutional fit for an organization that distrusts the army brass. (Besides, he’s not going to chase any ass.)

Romney loves drones, as he has made clear; the president’s foreign policy he holds so dear, while his buttoned-down style will inspire fear. Who better than a man that buffoonish governor called a “vulture,” to head up a clandestine crew of agents and infiltrate your culture?

Russia is our number-one geostrategic foe, as Mitt wanted us all to know. Of course, he was just saying so. In any case, and whatever the price, Mitt Romney will not make nice. What an olive branch Obama could offer to the 47 percent of the electorate who wanted Mitt Romney and offer him the directorate?

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A Thought on Pop Culture

Pop culture is usually discussed in the most superficial way, which is completely appropriate. After all, “pop” anything is as it sounds: fleeting, depthless. Imagine a kernel exploding into popcorn. Pop! You get the picture. The other side of the equation, the “culture,” sounds more bacteriological, as though it were a sentient, growing thing. An entity. Speaking of what is popular, fragments and tangents appear to be in vogue, ’cause complete coherent cogitations can congeal.

All of the preceding is a pretty good example of the absurdism “pop” embodies in itself: an endless loop of randomly connected sparks, all noise without signal — sound and fury that signifies little. Popular culture, to spell it out, elevates style over substance; it carries on with pretentious airs. Like most self-aware organisms, pop culture aggrandizes its own image and imagines having a way with words it does not actually possess, and then abruptly terminates.

Pop culture is “commercial culture based on popular taste,” according to the definition in the New Oxford American Dictionary. I want to look closer at that last bit, based on popular taste. Vox populi. The people can be wrong, or at least mistaken. To say so is now condemnable as “elitist,” but why? The belief that “millions of people must be right” ranks as one of the worst there is in modern human history. Of course, the customer is “always right.” Millions of consumers: are they, too, always in the right? This implies some kind of qualitative difference between an individual and a mass, which does exist. As smart herd animals, humans have a tendency to roam in packs and disparage the lone wolves and the dissidents.

The lighter stuff rises to the top, hence pop. Lighter does not necessarily mean lesser, though. All work and no play, as no one has said before, makes for a dull blade in the forge of our collective creations. As you can see, I have mixed feelings on the subject. I judge it for its emphemeralness and acknowledge that its absence would make things too serious.

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