There is a married couple in the United States that has had a significant impact on America's military-industrial complex, you know, the complex that President Dwight Eisenhower warned us about when he left office in 1961:
The unelected duo of Robert Kagan and Victoria Nuland have held an extraordinary influence over the United States, its Department of Defense and its Department of State. In this posting, I want to take a look at Robert Kagan, a warrior extraordinaire and the defense industry's dream come true.
To start and so that you can put a name to the face in case you should happen to bump into him on the street, here's what Robert Kagan looks like:
Robert Kagan is a Neoconservative intellectual, two terms I hate using in conjunction, who prefers to label himself a "liberal interventionist". His educational background is in history; his highest degree is a PhD in American history from the American University in Washington, D.C. While he is not particularly well known to those who get their news from page one of the mainstream media, one of his major accomplishments was co-founding the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) think tank with William Kristol, the Bush II Adminstration's blueprint for ruling the globe and altering global politics to suit America's leadership role. The original 25 signatories of PNAC's 1997 Statement of Principles included Jeb Bush, Richard Cheney, Steve Forbes, I. Lewis Scooter Libby, J. Danforth Quayle, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Dundes Wolfowitz as you can see here:
By 1998, PNAC was advocating for the removal of Saddam Hussein as you can see in this letter which was sent more than three years before the attacks on the World Trade Center:
Interestingly, this letter is also signed by John Bolton, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations between 2005 and 2006.
In 2000, PNAC issued its landmark publication, "Rebuilding America's Defences" which recommended the following changes in the American defense system as compared to the Cold War:
This document advocated for total American global military domination, fashioned in the "Reaganite mold".
As an aside, since the PNAC website was taken down, it has become increasingly difficult to retrieve these documents, perhaps a testament to their controversial nature given the support that Mr. Kagan and Ms. Nuland have offered to Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, a thought that should give traditional Democrat voters reason to pause and ponder the true nature of their choice. Here's even more blatant support for Ms. Clinton from a Kagan opinion piece in the Washington Post prior to Donald Trump's confirmation as Republican candidate for president:
"The Republicans’ creation will soon be let loose on the land, leaving to others the job the party failed to carry out. For this former Republican, and perhaps for others, the only choice will be to vote for Hillary Clinton. The party cannot be saved, but the country still can be." (my bold)
Since 2009, PNAC has been replaced by the Foreign Policy Initiative, founded by William Kristol. On the Board of Directors we find one, Robert Kagan as shown here:
Despite the location change, Dr. Kagan is still up to his old tricks. Along with a selection of signatories, he co-chaired a publication entitled "Extending American Power" for the Center for New American Security (CNAS) (sounds a lot like Project for a New American Century, doesn't it?). To give you a sense of how little things change in Dr. Kagan's mind, here's a quote from the introduction:
"The world order created in the aftermath of World War II has produced immense benefits for peoples across the planet. The past 70 years have seen an unprecedented growth in global prosperity, lifting billions out of poverty. Democratic government, once rare, has spread to over 100 nations. Above all, for 70 years there have been no cataclysmic wars among great powers of the kind that devastated Europe and Asia in the first half of the 20th century.
It is easy for Americans to take the benefits of this international order for granted without fully appreciating the critical leadership role the U.S. government has played in creating and sustaining this economic, political, and security system. American military power, the dynamism of the U.S. economy, and the great number of close alliances and friendships the United States enjoys with other powers and peoples have provided the critical architecture in which this liberal order has flourished.
To preserve and strengthen this order will require a renewal of American leadership in the international system. Today, the very bedrock of this order is being shaken by a variety of forces – powerful and ambitious authoritarian governments like Russia and China, radical Islamic terrorist movements, long-term shifts in the global economy, the rise of non-state actors, the challenges of cyberspace, and changes in our physical environment.
Many around the world who once decried American overseas involvement as “hegemonic” now seek greater American engagement in international a airs and worry more about American retrenchment. This view is especially strongly held in the three regions where the United States has carried the main burden of providing security since World War II: East Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. In all three, as well as in Latin America and Africa, American allies and partners seek more involvement by the United States not less." (my bold)
I think that millions of people in the aforementioned regions would beg to differ with the idea that they want more involvement from the United States but then that's just my opinion. And, let's not forget the lengthy list of American-sponsored coups including the following and excluding failed attempts:
Iran (1953); Guatemala(1954); Thailand (1957); Laos (1958-60); the Congo (1960); Turkey (1960, 1971 & 1980); Ecuador (1961 & 1963); South Vietnam (1963); Brazil (1964); the Dominican Republic (1963); Argentina (1963); Honduras (1963 & 2009); Iraq (1963 & 2003); Bolivia (1964, 1971 & 1980); Indonesia (1965); Ghana (1966); Greece (1967); Panama (1968 & 1989); Cambodia (1970); Chile (1973); Bangladesh (1975); Pakistan (1977); Grenada (1983); Mauritania (1984); Guinea (1984); Burkina Faso (1987); Paraguay (1989); Haiti (1991 & 2004); Russia (1993); Uganda (1996) and Libya (2011).
You have to hand it to Robert Kagan, he's like a dog with a bone when it comes to American hegemony despite the very clear cut nation-building failures in Iraq, Libya, Ukraine and Syria. But, then again, never let reality get in the way of your view of the world.
Robert Kagan is also a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute. From this lofty academic position, he most recently used the "New York Times bully pulpit" to browbeat his fellow Republicans into dropping the budgetary sequester caps that are limiting growth in the Pentagon's budget:
"Until recently, the Republican leadership in both houses favored maintaining “sequester” spending levels, which would force further sharp cuts to an already ravaged defense budget. A House Budget Committee proposal this week sought to use increases in emergency contingency funding to smooth this over, but the hard spending caps would remain in place this year and in future years. At those budget levels, as successive secretaries of defense and service chiefs have warned, the United States’ ability to defend its interests would be gravely in doubt....
But what about those who claim they want a stronger foreign policy? Unless all their tough talk is hot air, they will need to cast votes to end the sequester and approve an increase in the defense budget. The editorial writers and columnists who have been beating up Obama and cheering the Republicans need to tell those Republicans, and their own readers, that national security costs money and that letters and speeches are worse than meaningless without it. And those calling for a tougher approach as they run for president need to say loudly, and frequently, while traveling through Iowa and New Hampshire and Florida, that a central plank of their candidacy, and a central goal of their presidency, will be breaking the sequester and increasing spending on defense.
Many people across the country won’t like hearing any of this. It will annoy the part of the Republican base that wants to see the government shrink, loves the sequester and doesn’t care what it does to defense. But leadership occasionally means telling people what they don’t want to hear. Those who propose to lead the United States in the coming years, Republicans and Democrats, need to show what kind of political courage they have, right now, when the crucial budget decisions are being made."
This is just the kind of tough talk that the Military-Industrial Complex loves to hear!
In closing, here's what Robert Kagan had to say about President Eisenhower's 1961 speech about the Military-Industrial Complex at at panel discussion of his new book at the American Enterprise Institute in March 2012:
"Among the many things I didn’t like about Eisenhower that speech was one of them — I don’t like that speech and I did not know what he was talking about."
Well spoken by a man who has never fought in a single war about a man who was the Commander-in Chief of the Allied Forces in North Africa, the Commanding General in the European Theater of Operations and the Supreme Commander Allied Expeditionary Force in Western Europe during the Second World War, a man who had first hand knowledge about the military and what war actually looked, smelled and sounded like.
In case you happen to be curious, there is a connection between this neocon and Hillary Clinton. Here's what he had to say about Ms. Clinton:
"For this former Republican, and perhaps for others, the only choice will be to vote for Hillary Clinton. The party cannot be saved, but the country still can be."
From the Hillary Clinton campaign website, here's a screen capture showing an event held in July 2016 by Robert Kagan (and others) to raise money for Ms. Clinton's campaign:
And, if that weren't enough to convince you, here's another quote from Mr. Kagan about his choice for president in 2016:
"If, as I hope, Hillary Clinton is elected, she is going to immediately be confronting a country that is not where she is,” he said. “She is a believer in this world order (i.e. PNAC as noted above). But a great section of the country is not and is going to require persuasion and education.”
If Robert Kagan and his ilk ever get control of U.S. foreign policy, there's one thing that you can count on; he won't be going to the front lines, unlike the family members of Main Street USA.