Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
War Is a Racket (1935) (archive.org)
383 points by pasquinelli 10 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 534 comments

Butler's experience was from the period when the United Fruit Company more or less ruled Central America.[1] At times U.S Marines were used to enforce US authority, and Butler was a leader in some of those operations. That's why he says war is a racket.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Fruit_Company

> [War's] bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones. Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Depression and all its attendant miseries. Back-breaking taxation for generations and generations.

Still as relevant to today's veterans as in 1935.

Not really. Wars are mostly money-losers today. They're more likely to be a power trip for some leader.

I'm not understanding your comment.

Wars have generally been money losers for the nations involved and money-makers for businesses and individuals connected to power (Krupps to United Fruit to Wagner Group to etc). Wars have generally involved the egos of leaders but these leaders nearly always consider their friends who'll get rich through it.

Looking at the P&L of Lockheed, Raytheon, Boeing and the entire military-industrial complex, I'll politely disagree that it's a "money-loser".

Government loses (we'll, distributes conjured dollars from it's balance sheet), taxpayers lose, and war fighters lose. But profiteers win -- hence: War is a Racket.

What do you think has been happening for the past couple centuries in the Congo (and various other countries of the global south)? US imperialism is alive and well and The Jakarta Method [1] by Vincent Bevins is a damning account of it from the cold war to present day.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Jakarta_Method

One need only look at the map of military bases. Its a really modern way to rule and avoids the issues of old imperialism while reaping the benefits. You have people thinking they are self governing themselves, but they are actually on a pretty tight leash, and should a regime change occur guess what side the US and all her allies will back with money and arms: the side that favors letting the US keep their military bases and preferential trading relationship. Its basically imperialism through the transitive property. A country like the Phillipines is still basically a US colony, Japan is still basically occupied by the US, the northern border of south Korea is still defended by the US military. There's only been a few times the US was ever rooted out from a country, like during the fall of Saigon, or recently when the US abandoned Bagram airbase.

That's certainly not the only reason he says war is a racket. He provides many examples (WWI notably).

Here's what Assange had to say about the Afghan war in 2011:

"The goal is to use Afghanistan to wash money out of the tax bases of the US and Europe through Afghanistan and back into the hands of a transnational security elite. The goal is an endless war, not a successful war"


How likely is it that he was completely wrong about that, and this wasn't a motivation for any of the key decision makers?

Good thing corporations are no longer deeply involved in and profiting from war, right? Right?

I have mixed feelings about this. The problem is that if you are being attacked, you will gladly allow people to make big profit if they save lives. You can try to fight the war without profit but you might not like the results. Ultimately, wars are started by governments. They cajole the resources of the nation to fight the enemy. Each country has the things they are good at it and they will use those things to their advantage. In the US we are a free market society and happily give out big rewards (aka profits) to those that can make a difference and build things that the nation wants.

So the reason I say I have mixed feelings is because I can imagine a world where the entities that make profit off of war can use their influence to prod the nation into war. And this should be prevented. I suspect this has happened in the past.

Wars are fought by governments, but often started by individuals with massive leverage over the war-fighting apparatus of governments. Industry veterans hired to patronage positions in high office, who then push the government into a war that will benefit the industry or company. Or media companies, headed by executives seeking to push their own political will on nations, that harangue the public with fear and anger to instill a desire for war.

Governments have basically no agency or will of their own. They're like a mecha suit from an anime. Lots of infrastructure, but where they go and what they do is up to whomever's at the controls at the time.

Probably more appropriate to compare it to the type of mecha Power Rangers use, except unlikely to be piloted by a group of people that both A) want to work together and B) want to work towards the common good.

"who then push the government into a war that will benefit the industry or company."

Where is the evidence for this ?

Wars are generally not started by the arms makers, rather, the profiteer off of the situation.

Obviously there might be influence but I don't think that industrial complex is in charge of anything really.

It's a common practice on capitol hill, ask anyone who works there.

Goldman Sachs has basically kept an office in the White House since FDR (https://archive.is/WJnkD), though BlackRock is becoming the new Goldman (https://archive.is/kPJOY). Once they're there they can influence policy to benefit the company they came from (and all their tight-knit peers).

After they're done in office they move on to another executive position where they can use their government contacts. Private companies regularly hire government officials, both to help make sales, and to work around any pesky regulators.

"Since 2018, Amazon Web Services has hired at least 66 former government officials with acquisition, procurement or technology adoption experience, most hired directly away from government posts and more than half of them from the Defense Department. That’s a small portion of AWS’ tens of thousands of employees, but a particularly key group to its federal business. Other AWS hires have come from departments including Homeland Security, Justice, Treasury and Veterans Affairs." (https://www.politico.com/news/2021/06/04/amazon-hiring-forme...)

Without context, this is verging a little bit into conspiracy territory.

Literally in the first reference, the first reference given of the 'Goldman Man' ... is Steve Bannon (!) as if he's part of that crew.

Goldman is the top financial firm in the world, and yes, they're going to use their status to move people in and out and leverage relationships.

That does not mean they are working for Raytheon trying to start wars.

The AWS statement doesn't add anything to the position - Amazon is one of the biggest employers in the US, and a huge DoD contractor, it's entirely rational for them to be hiring out of the DoD, and they do it from the rest of government as well. CGI (contractors in Canada) hire a ton of ex-gov people from Ottawa and the Military. It doesn't mean they are leaning on policy makers to start wars.

The fact of the matter is there isn't a lot of direct influence to start wars 'because future projects'. Obviously that is a constituency, and sometimes there is a big conflict of interest (as mentioned below Dick Cheney) but even aside from Halliburton relationships I actually don't doubt Cheney would have the same position otherwise.

So if you mean to say certain alpha corporations have undue influence via networked relationships within governance - yes - but that doesn't map at very well to 'they are pushing to start wars for Raytheon'. Aside from the Bushes, you'd have to go back to maybe 1 or 2 presidents during the intervening war periods to say that's even kind of true, or you might be able to throw Reagan in there as a 'Cold War Mega Buildup' guy but he wasn't swashbuckling around trying to start wars either, rather, he 'built out gear faster than the Soviets'.

The Military Industrial Complex is a real thing with real influence, it was no less than former Supreme NATO Allied Commander that gave us the starkest warning about that system, but it's also something that is misrepresented due to a lack of context about how that power really works.

“Industry veterans hired to patronage positions in high office, who then push the government into a war that will benefit the industry or company.”

Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney seem to fit this mold squarely

To take some artistic license with a well-known aphorism:

If all you've ever used is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

> Where is the evidence for this ?

Really ? Military lobbyists for the "big 5" are as common as parking slots in Capitol hill - it is established standard operating practice that no one talks about it much any more. Its like asking for evidence at the sun rising in the East.

https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2021/09/02/top-defense-fir... https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2022/11/defense-sector-spen...

>The problem is that if you are being attacked, you will gladly allow people to make big profit if they save lives.

Reminds me of the covid pandemic. Pfizer made $100 billion last year

Pfizer was making on average $50b revenue [1] before COVID.

And the profits they generated by COVID could well save countless more lives given that their MRNA technology is successfully being applied to other use cases.

[1] https://www.macrotrends.net/stocks/charts/PFE/pfizer/revenue

Thats a massive difference in absolute and relative terms. $50B and 100%

COVID vaccines are estimated to have saved 20 M lives world wide. In the US, the statistical value of a human life is $9 M, so (extending that to the global population, which is perhaps problematic) the value is $180 T. Making a measly $50 B is chump change in comparison.

By your logic there would be nothing wrong in charging $100 or more for an insulin injection.

Instead https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/cost-of-i...

The problem with insulin, at least in the US, has been elaborations (still under patent protection) on it that are slightly better than the old versions. But doctors have to prescribe the best treatment. There's no quality/cost tradeoff.

Where did that 9 million come from? Pls

The value is something the US Transportation Admin. has calculated [0]. It's rather cold-blooded, but it makes sense.

[0] https://www.transportation.gov/office-policy/transportation-...

It seems a bit excessive, but if you assume someone working from 25 to 65, that is 40 years, at $50k per year then they're "worth" >= $2M to the economy. Really more than that because they will do some things for free to other people, such as family members. So it is probably at the right order of magnitude.

Are the people who were saved by COVID vaccines never going to die from any other cause? I believe the $9M figure is actually just a reference to what the FAA considers a reasonable threshold for imposing a new expense on aircraft manufacturers and airlines in order to make flying safer?

So, saving a life has no value unless the person was already otherwise immortal?


Typically the way it is done is by calculating how many years of healthy life you saved

Which would, of course, bring the “money saved by vaccines” number down a bit.

On the other hand, if we were able to factor in the benefit of milder cases and less long COVID/other side effects, I guess the number would go up a bit.

I suspect it is just too complicated for us to work out here.

No that isn't what I said, and yes it would be just as ridiculous as attributing the same value to preventing a 90 year old nursing home patient from dying of an endemic respiratory virus as we do to preventing deaths in plane crashes.

That's going to alter the number by less than an order of magnitude. The benefit still is massively larger than the cost.

Can you link me to a study which does a reasonable job of attempting to come up with a "Covid deaths prevented by vaccines number" while taking into account the effects of increased seroprevalence, decreased virulence of the virus itself, and the "no more dry tinder" effect?

The 20M figure was from an estimate in Lancet Infectious Diseases. It was for the first year, not the entire pandemic.


The agreement was $20 a vaccine, which IMO is perfectly fine. Making a profit from doing a necessary thing is very capitalism. Remember that shareholders were very upset they didn't make MORE profit.

Pfizer also got billions of dollars in free and taxpayer-funded advertising

Taxpayers got billions in life-saving government information, too. It wasn't for the benefit of Pfizer that the government ran those campaigns.

That's likely the price executives and shareholders would have wanted for the US. I wonder what leverage Trump held over Pfizer to get the $20 price. It's a genuine negotiating win from someone who considers just not paying your contractors to be good business and negotiating.

They also saved millions of lives.

And caused many unnecessary deaths by witholding the vaccine from less rich countries that couldn't outcompete richer ones, since the supply was very limited in the moments of most need.

If they really wanted to save lives they should have liberalized the vaccine's production, but all they cared for was profit, the life saving just a coincidence.

Eh, it's not like you people would share SinoVac, even if it worked properly.

> it's not like you people would share SinoVac

Patently false[0]. Then yes, Chinese vaccines might have been less effective but it was still an obvious choice when the alternative was nothing.

By the way, what do you mean by "you people"?? I'm European and your statement makes me think you have a fragile ego and a typical USamerican superiority complex.

.0: https://archive.is/Ir6qt

Your other comments mention living in China, and you also deny Uighur genocide, so thinking you're pro-CCP is not exactly a stretch, is it?

CCP could buy Western vaccines, but they instead chose their own, even when they knew it is less effective, because their people's lives were less important to them than their ego.

> you also deny Uighur genocide

It's *Uyghur. At least learn their name if you pretend to know everything about their alleged genocide. Do some unbiased research and you will come to the same conclusion.

> thinking you're pro-CCP is not exactly a stretch

It's CPC but yes.

> CCP could buy Western vaccines

Sure, the supply wasn't enough for Europe alone and you think China could have vaccinated 1 billion quickly using western vaccines?

I'm often very conflicted about USA's history of military use in the last 100+ years. Imperialistic? I don't know. But what I do know is that I would rather be a South Korean than a North Korean. And post-defeat Japan has been one of the preeminent countries in the entire world.

Also look at what is happening in Europe and the Ukraine war.

After the weak and inept leadership shown by France and Germany in their response to Russia's aggression the hopes for a EU defense capability is all but finished. Eastern European countries would rather have the US to defend them [1].

And I think more appreciation needs to be given to the US for supporting Ukraine in those early days because if Russia over-ran Kyiv it's quite possible that Belarus, Moldova, Estonia etc could have been next. US military leadership can credibly be argued to have saved Europe.

[1] https://twitter.com/ulrichspeck/status/1661710156944535554

> Belarus

Why on earth would Russia invade its closest ally? It is alarming that we see such confident justifications of US foreign policy from people who don't know the basic facts of IR and world history.

"War is God's way of teaching Americans geography"


A leaked internal strategy document from Vladimir Putin’s executive office and obtained by Yahoo News lays out a detailed plan on how Russia plans to take full control over neighboring Belarus in the next decade under the pretext of a merger between the two countries. The document outlines in granular detail a creeping annexation by political, economic and military means of an independent but illiberal European nation by Russia, which is an active state of war in its bid to conquer Ukraine through overwhelming force.

“Russia’s goals with regards to Belarus are the same as with Ukraine,” Michael Carpenter, the U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, told Yahoo News. “Only in Belarus, it relies on coercion rather than war. Its end goal is still wholesale incorporation.”

According to the document, issued in fall 2021, the end goal is the formation of a so-called Union State of Russia and Belarus by no later than 2030. Everything involved in the merger of the two countries has been considered, including the “harmonization” of Belarusian laws with those of the Russian Federation; a “coordinated foreign and defense policy” and “trade and economic cooperation … on the basis of the priority” of Russian interests; and “ensuring the predominant influence of the Russian Federation in the socio-political, trade-economic, scientific-educational and cultural-information spheres.”

What a buried lede!

> the strategy confirms what has long been obvious and, at times, openly acknowledged, by both Moscow and Minsk.

The Union State is not a secret conspiracy, it is openly recognized by both countries.

How is this any different than a country, say Ukraine, joining European Union & NATO under substantial political pressure?

Because Lukashenko is dying.

And countries like Poland are seeing a unique opportunity to fill the power vacuum in order to change the government to one that isn't interested in being part of Russia's sphere of influence.

If Putin was successful in Ukraine it's not inconceivable he would have rather have invaded rather than risk it becoming pro-EU, joining NATO etc.

> US military leadership can credibly be argued to have saved Europe.

more than once

South Korea was a brutal dictatorship for quite some time, just because they aren't now doesn't mean the US's military intervention is to thank for that.

Multiple brutal dictatorships, which were a direct continuation of Japanese colonial control, and which massacred their own people with US support and approval.

> In the fall of 1946, the US military authorized elections to an interim legislature for southern Korea, but the results were clearly fraudulent. Even General Hodge privately wrote that right-wing "strong-arm" methods had been used to control the vote. The winners were almost all rightists, including [Syngman] Rhee supporters, even though a survey by the American military government that summer had found that 70 percent of 8,453 southern Koreans polled said they supported socialism, 7 percent communism, and only 14 percent capitalism. [...]

> Chung Koo-Hun, the observant young student of the late 1940s, said of the villagers' attitude: "The Americans simply re-employed the pro-Japanese Koreans whom the people hated." [...]

> Seventy of the 115 top Korean officials in the Seoul administration in 1947 had held office during the Japanese occupation.

> In the southern city of Taegu, people verged on starvation. When 10,000 demonstrators rallied on October 1, 1946, police opened fire, killing many. Vengeful crowds then seized and killed policeman, and the US military declared martial law. The violence spread across the provinces, peasants murdering government officials, landlords, and especially police, detested as holdovers from Japanese days. American troops joined the police in suppressing the uprisings. Together they killed uncounted hundreds of Koreans.

> American anthropologist Cornelius Osgood, spending much of 1947 in a village west of Seoul, watched as police carried young men off to jail by the truckload. A "mantle of fear" had fallen over once peaceful valleys, he wrote. The word "communist," he said, "seemed to mean 'just any young man of a village.'" On August 7, 1947, the US military government outlawed the southern communists, the Korean Worker's Party. Denied a peaceful political route, more and more leftist militants chose an armed struggle for power.

quotes from The Bridge at No Gun Ri


> just because they aren't now doesn't mean the US's military intervention is to thank for that.

The alternative was that the entire peninsula would be "North Korea". And then there would never be any chance of formulating a functional democratic society.

You don't know what the alternative would be. US intervention and the massive amounts of civilian deaths caused in Korea are a major reason why North Korea is so anti-West.

There is no good north korea timeline. The entire revolution that created it was for the express purpose of putting an idiot dictator in charge, one who immediately went to work on forcing the population to consider him a god king and putting his equally selfish, stupid, paranoid, and vile progeny in charge.

Unless you believe a unified korea without US intervention but still with USSR support would suddenly overthrow that repressive regime, that was never going to produce a free society.

Why would they be less authoritarian if they weren’t anti West? This sounds a lot like the argument that the only reason communist countries terrorize, murder and starve their own people is because of the evil capitalist in other countries who aren’t doing that to their people. If only we could execute all of the kulaks together there’d be no need for the NKVD, comrade!

Lest we forget, the North was propped up by the Soviets under Stalin. Do you think it is likely that they would have allowed a non-Stalinist, non-totalitarian faction to remain in charge there even if there was one with strong positions? Just look at Soviet-run purges of "improper" leftists during the Spanish Civil War.

> And post-defeat Japan has been one of the preeminent countries in the entire world.

Imagine if they weren't defeated. Because they where one of the most preeminent countries in the world before defeat as well.

And brutal. As empires go, the Japanese had no regard for the lives of humans who weren't ethnically Japanese. This old-world way of doing war saw some 250,000 [0] Chinese killed for aiding American pilots after their bombings of targets in Japan. [1]

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhejiang-Jiangxi_campaign

[1] https://www.historynet.com/jimmy-doolittle-and-the-tokyo-rai...

Post-defeat Japan is an interesting beast.

Before attacking the US, they had Korea and Manchury invaded, and Russia in check. The extent of their dominance relative to their country size was really impressive, and they went for the US because they needed to feel unstoppable.

Then of coure, they were stopped. But none of the base roots of the war were removed, the emperor was allowed to stay, they made token trial of random generals who committed atrocities.

But no one was allowed to officialy question:

- the US carpet bombing entire Tokyo (for comparison we questionned Germany carpet bombing EU towns) and dropping the bombs on civilians

- the Japan's spiritual leader and basic phyolosophy. Really, imagine Hitler being excused as a mere puppet and staying as a philosophical leader after the war.

In that respect, The compromise the US took looks to me like the critical difference from Germany, where they could move on and jointly create the EU. Instead, Japan and Korea are still barking at each other over the war almost a century later.

Most roots of the war cause were removed. Entire military was destroyed so some bad systems are also destroyed: Old constitution that defines emperor as top of mils formally (rather than prime minister) so mils did some thing without cabinet's order. Gunbu Daijin Geneki Bukan sei system so mil had control for cabinet.

People think the existence of emperor (thousand years long) itself wasn't the root cause (or at least think it's better than changing everything), unlike Hitler.

You are right, in that most of the international community saw the deal as a decent one, and see Japan as a fundamentally different entity pot-war.

I'd argue it's a different story looking from inside Japan. A sizeable part of the population aren't questioning going to war in the first place, and only put the blame on the military for having attacked the US. Basically they blame the country for having been too greedy, and see the current jp/usa relationship in that light ("why do we need to import so much US beef ?" "Because we lost" is something you'd hear with only half sarcasm)

That is to me a fundamental problem that was one of the root cause of the war, and stil causes issues to this day. The lasting conclusion should have been "don't invade your neighboors", not "don't attack the US".

To be clear, I don't think Japan will ever invade Korea or China again, but their diplomatic relations are still somewhere stuck in that age on both side. And if Japan had a venue where the international community wouldn't beat the shit out of them, they'd still go for full domination.

>That is to me a fundamental problem that was one of the root cause of the war, and still causes issues to this day. The lasting conclusion should have been "don't invade your neighboors", not "don't attack the US".

I think it is fair to say that Japan was following the dominant playbook of the era. They were literally taking colonies held by other western powers, as the western powers often did.

I think that is a pretty high expectation to hold for any former or current empire. Outside of Germany, I can't think of one who drew that lasting conclusion. I don't the English, French, Dutch, or Spanish spend a lot of time regretting empire. The US only makes small noise about the conquest of the native Americans. Literally nobody cares about the USA taking Florida, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines from Spain, or Texas and California from Mexico.

Given this context, it it pretty easy to take "don't attack the USA and loose" as the lesson. The success of the USA is global example of what happens when you don't lose existential wars.

Hawaii, where the Japanese would ultimately attack, was itself annexed by the US in 1904, roughly the same time Japan was expanding in Korea.

As Winston Churchill said, history is written by the victors

Ah yeah totally agree for national people perspective. Sino-Japan war is underrated. But also people think: we did bad things like western countries did, why don't every westerns be blamed equally for this? (this story misses some Japan specific bad things, like 731.) Still, it was terribly bad obviously.

I think there is some loss of understanding of how conquest and colonialism were the norms of the day. This is represented in who Japan was fighting with for control of countries.

Japan took Korea from China, hence it being a Sino-Japanese war. Japan took control of Manchuria form Russia. They took Indochina from the French.

Without USA there would be no division of Korea. Also, before US sanctions, North Korea was more successful than South Korea.

How people seriously can blame North Korea for poverty if it is deliberately being suffocated by USA for decades?

North Korea could simply abandon their nuclear weapons program, stop antagonising their neighbours and then the sanctions would be lifted.

Also having actually been to the country the issue isn't sanctions. It's the lack of foreign investment and restrictions on business. Many China businesses for example would love to have broader access to the North Korean market not just for exports but as a source of cheap labour. But this is not happening because North Korea is fearful of their population being 'indoctrinated'.

> North Korea could simply abandon their nuclear weapons program, stop antagonising their neighbours and then the sanctions would be lifted.

Stop resisting and I'll stop choking you.

More like stop trying to attack your neighbours and I'll stop choking you.

And nobody in this world including the US wants North Korea to continue to be a relic from the 1970s. Prosperity lifts us all.

Then lift the sanctions. How are sanctions going to protect anyone from nuclear attacks anyway, if NK already has an arsenal?

Flood them with Yankee dollars. Fidel Castro would have been ousted immediately. Kim Jong Il would have been murdered.

North Korea actually already makes millions (at least) of passable US currency. North Korea isn't impoverished because of lack of resources, but rather because the Kim regime would rather spend those resources on themselves.

They did it for a 3 year period from 2002-2005.


Yes, that is how subduing a belligerent person works.

Kim Jong Un isn't belligerent. The north koreans have a different playbook for foreign policy than you might be used to but its a playbook nonetheless. For their people the program is akin to something like the Apollo program in terms of national pride. Its also a dead man's switch effectively. The ruling family obviously wants to maintain their life of idyllic luxury and nuclear weapons and belligerent public addresses are a good way to make people second guess just steamrolling you over. In effect they are just playing a hand thats already dealt to continue their positioning.

Or you know they could become democratic and embrace market reforms so their people don't suffer so much oppression and poverty, but then the ruling class would have to give up its power. Then they could unite with SK. Nobody in the West is team rolling a democratic country.

That would require losing the reigns of power. Plus who is to say if the populace doesn't turn on them and make a Mussolini out of him?

A person that wouldn't be belligerent in the first place if you didn't make it so?

Without reservation, I can.

It's called the military industrial complex and it happens all the time.


I'm genuinely asking--what's the alternative to appeasement in this situation, aside from fighting?

I can't believe I have to explain that joke, but ok. There is no "appease or defend" choice - neither of these alternatives are real. The US is not being attacked at all, or attacked in the way the empire in Star Wars is attacked: While it attacks/oppresses everywhere and all the time, occasionally it meets violent resistance.

Sorry if I'm being thick here, but I'm still confused. Why is neither alternative real? I get that the US isn't being attacked. However, appeasement in the 1930s wasn't a policy enacted by countries that were being actively attacked yet. It was a policy enacted by other countries.

I guess, in my head (and I'd love to hear your take on this), the US doing nothing _is_ appeasement.

We were talking about the US. Other world states are in a different situation - which depends on the country.

As for the US - there is no such thing as it "doing nothing". It has been attacking, occupying, repressing, subverting - all the time, in many places around the world, essentially since it was founded. As have other military empires in history.

In Marine Corps bootcamp, this man is lionized for his accomplishments during service. After my service ended I read war is a racket and it profoundly changed a lot of my viewpoints.

> I read war is a racket ... After my service ended

If only we could get US marines to read this before their service started. :-(

That would likely require a return to mandatory service.

I'd love to see it. Probably the quickest way to end imperialism would be to force Americans to do the dirty work themselves.

This has been in my head for awhile. It would give a "common ground" or "common understanding" that Americans seem to lack at this point. I would hope something like this would provide a framework to communicate for wildly differing political ideas.

Return to mandatory service is a possible action of the US (federal) government, I was talking about an oppositionary initiative.

I understand where you are coming from, it's just naive to think that a nation state won't form a counter action to preserve it's ability to wage war.

It's not going to happen. You couldn't get enough able-bodied people to show up or communities to enforce it. The ideals that made this possible for Vietnam will die with the boomers.

After 20 years of blowing things up in a far away desert, the US military is struggling to find enough volunteers to meet it's requirements. Nobody wants to go die in the desert. Maybe if we had spent the past 20 years not doing that, the US would have a bit more gusto from the youngins.

If we go to war with China, and it's not just some minor skirmish, I expect there to be a draft.

>After 20 years of blowing things up in a far away desert, the US military is struggling to find enough volunteers to meet it's requirements. Nobody wants to go die in the desert.

The desert stuff was not so bad by comparison. These were asymmetrical conflicts. The emerging threats are near-peer forces. Even fewer will want to sign up for that!

>I expect there to be a draft.

And if there is a draft there will be mass noncompliance. It won't work. If they're smart they won't try it because that would look weak.

War between the West and China would be naval and air affair (with the exception of Korea I guess), so the traditional draft doesn't make much sense I think. The war would be mostly about whether US can blockade China into a collapse, because China is not self-sufficient in energy (by a huge margin) and food (by a smaller margin).

You might see people drafted into factories, given how much stuff is made in China and the impact on global trade, though.

You mean the Boomers' parents. Because those were the ones that were fine with the draft. The Boomers were the ones being drafted.

Oh, they would draft the zoomers if they could. The fact that it happened to the boomers previously will only deepen their conviction that others should have to deal with it too.

I don't disagree with that point at all. It's always seemed like a large contingent of Boomers are unhappy unless younger generations suffer more than them.

Switzerland has a mandatory service requirement for men, and the people there experience fewer gun deaths per capita despite having a relatively high gun ownership rate.

This thread is not about gun control or lack thereof.

Even ignoring that part - it's weird bringing up War and Switzerland.

All those wars Switzerland has fought...

That's actually an important point though. The kind of isolationist neutrality that Switzerland has is only possible if you can make it seem like conquering you is impossible to justify. Switzerland will protect its neutrality by force if necessary. They also have a military industrial complex, so is that one a racket?

> so is that one a racket?

Probably somewhat, but if you read the essay, you wouldn't come away with the impression that the author's disillusionment is targeted in any way at a country like Switzerland.

His thesis seems to be that elites profit off casualties, and are happy to foment more wars as a result.

Hey, when I was young Swiss mercenaries were considered truly elite troops. Remember the battle of Nancy.

Isn't that exactly the point, that it's possible to be neutral and isolationist?

Also, Eisenhower's farewell address...

"In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex."


The dominance of the US military, for all its faults (and there are plenty), is the reason there's a mostly peaceful world. Deterrence has been an absurdly powerful force towards that goal, and we have the military-industrial companies in the US to thank for that. Yes, they're also profiting from it. That's a win-win, in my opinion.

In my 20+ years in software engineering, I've yet to meet a Chinese or Russian colleague who thinks it would be better if China or Russia had more military/political power. I've even argued in favor of that position in the past (that the world would be better off if there was more multipolarity), and they fervently opposed my position. They are keenly aware of the kind of crimes their ex-governments engage in.

US military dominance is hegemonic, yes, but it would be far worse to have it any other way currently.

That doesn’t excuse the crimes committed, nor does it negate the need to control the MIC. The Vietnam and Iraq wars should never have happened, among many other things. We shouldn’t have PMCs running about committing crimes, either.

Edit: nor does any of what you’ve said negate the sentiment Eisenhower was advocating, which relates directly back to the Vietnam and Iraq wars. Having power and wielding it responsibly are not the same.

What makes the justification for the Korean War different from Vietnam?

One important difference is that the Korean war was a resolution of the United Nations Security Council, conducted under the flag of the United Nations.


I think the Vietnam War was more obviously neocolonial.

How? Korea was a Japanese colony from 1901-1945.

Why would we not argue that the Korean War was an attempt by Koreans aligned with Japan to maintain their colony?

As far as I know the US backed the French and took over immediately as soon as they were kicked out. Though Korea and Japan were analogous, even though the US didn't actually support the Japanese occupation, it continued it.

I imagine the Koreans welcomed the US, that would be an important factor.

Because that would be false on its face. I'm sorry that you have no idea what you're talking about? The Korean war began when the communists invaded from the north, equipped and trained by the Soviets. It continued until the communists by then actually from China not North Korea, stopped trying.

At no point during the entire Korean War was there a Japanese colony anywhere on the Korean peninsula. Or, for that matter, anywhere on earth.

If you're arguing the South Korean government whose sovereignty the UN went to war to defend, was somehow "aligned" with their former occupier Japan which was itself then occupied by the US after its unconditional surrender to end WW2... sorry, you're just woefully ill informed.

There are dozens of good books on this topic.

Interesting, so what you're saying is after the Japanese lost their Korean colony, the country was split into two, then communist aggression from the North invaded the South which resulted in foreign powers stepping into defend the Southern half of the country.

Sounds pretty similar to France losing their Vietnamese colony, and the country being split into two, and then a foreign power coming in to defend the southern half of the country.

So it looks like we agree?

A unipolar world order is a local optimum by its very nature. Regardless of who's in charge, conflict arises from parties thinking they have a chance to secure leverage against another power via violence. If there's a sole power with an overwhelming military advantage against their next-largest competitor, people aren't going to go off and die in hopeless wars. Russia and China's actions can't be separated from the fact that their existence in anything like their present form is a challenge to the US and its sphere of influence.

Even then, the US government and economy is organized in ways that make it disturb the trivial-to-maintain peace its position as hegemon affords it(see Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and various covert operations that succeeded before escalating to direct intervention) to secure itself minor advantages or even for entirely domestic reasons.

If you account at all for the inherent advantages of a unipolar world, the US's record is shockingly poor. I'm fine with rolling the dice on multipolarity in hopes of a less irrational hegemon emerging.

A multi-polarity framed discussion is fundamentally a might makes right framed discussion rather than a justice framed discussion.

The problem is that multipolarity is often meant to mean spheres of influence (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sphere_of_influence). Which is just imperialism by another name.

I agree that the power the US can exercise should be checked by other powers (the desired "benefit" of multi polarity), but I also think the idea of promoting "rule of law" needs to be the frame of conversation.

"What pole of power do you belong to" is a very different question than "what is justice?"

> If you account at all for the inherent advantages of a unipolar world, the US's record is shockingly poor.

I think this statement isn't very well thought out or at least not well founded or self evident.

It's also important to understand that peace is not the absence of physical violence, but the presence of justice. Justice sometimes cannot be achieved without a fight.

> disturb the trivial-to-maintain peace

The "peace" between African slaves and American plantation owners was probably fairly easy to maintain. That doesn't make it a good "peace".

China is exercising coercive power over Taiwan. Are they at peace?

> If you account at all for the inherent advantages of a unipolar world, the US's record is shockingly poor. I'm fine with rolling the dice on multipolarity in hopes of a less irrational hegemon emerging.


If you look at past hegemons—Rome, the Mongols, Britain—the US has the best record of them all. And, incidentally, if you look at past periods of multipolarity, you get a series of progressively more deadly and destructive wars.

At no point in history was Rome, the Mongols, or Britain a global hegemon or even extant in a unipolar world.

The entire existence of the Roman republic and empire was bookended by China, for example, and Rome was almost continuously at war with almost all of its neighbors. Some of whom repeatedly beat them and eventually definitely outlasted Rome.

The Mongols defeated the vast majority of entities they went to war with, but not all. This is the closest you'll come to your thesis, as it is probably true that no army or civilization existed from the Pacific to Atlantic oceans capable of defeating the Mongol empire at peak. It is alt history to debate what might have happened had they pushed to Paris etc. They didn't bother. They easily could have, in my opinion, but had other priorities in Asia.

However, the Mongols were definitively repulsed in the Middle East and generally speaking were not going to conquer Egypt or Africa. They didn't even try to hold Jerusalem (though interesting quirk of history they took it, once). The Mongols were also arguably repulsed by India, though that's complicated by their own factionalism (they arguably defeated themselves in a civil war at the border of India).

It is probably true that the Mongols occupied any territory they chose to, at the peak of their power. However, they often chose not to, either because they acknowledged the impossibility of doing so, or the complex multipolar reality within and surrounding their empire required their presence elsewhere to maintain power. So that is also not a hegemon, but is probably the most terrifying and powerful empire in history. Certainly the only one to execute all civilians in conquered cities, with knives, in one day. Repeatedly. For sure the Mongols out-murdered anybody ever until Stalin and Mao. But this is not so much unipolar as systemic genocide. The Mongols literally used genocide not as an end but a means, and killed millions to cause their next enemy to surrender without fighting. They called this "division" where all surrending civilian populations were divided by the number of Mongol executioners present that one day. And they did this routinely. Nothing like this ever happened before in recorded history, or ever since. Not at that scale and for that duration (centuries). For perspective, the Mongols leased Russia to the conquered Russians for longer than the US has existed.

Britain, at no point in its entire history from Roman withdrawal to today, has ever been a global hegemon. They were never even dominant or unipolar. Rather continuously struggling with France, Germany, Spain, and at times the Dutch; nevermind England struggling to first conquer and then rule their own immediate neighbors in the British Isles (Ireland, Wales, Scotland etc). Looking globally, it is true that at times Britain had economic superiority but these eras are measured in decades or at best generations and never approach hegemony or unipolarity on any one continent nevermind all. At or near the zenith of their power, they lose repeatedly. Sometimes to mere colonial farmers. If you pick any random decade for the last 500 years, we can find a significant military struggle for Britain ongoing. Many victories yes. But many loses too, and constant struggle. That is not hegemony.

The fact is the species has been at war with itself continuously for millennia. That was surely happening before we had kingdoms and nation states, too, when the violence had other names. But it was still war.

There is no oversimplifiable theory of war. It persists.

Even the USA and other nuclear powers are obviously still today in a persistent state of mutual deterrence. While the many wars since 1945 have been horrible by any definition, the fact is they pale in comparison to the mass lethality of WW1 and WW2 and we should all be thankful for the relative peace dividend created by nuclear deterrence.

We experienced COVID as ghastly and it was, killing perhaps 1% of all humans infected? WW2 killed 6%. That could have kept happening every generation since. The reason it didn't is #1 the US prevented that from happening, globally, at considerable expenses; and #2 restrained itself, generally speaking, from occupying other countries. Fighting, yes. Conquering and keeping, no.

In this regard, agree with you the US has the best record. For all its struggles and imperfections and systemic issues, nobody has ever done better.

But for the US, we would all be slaves of somebody right now. Either the "Third Reich" or Imperial Japan, or Russian and/or Chinese autocracy pretending to be communism. Even the patriots born there were, slaves to obviously wrong ideas and obviously evil governments. This is easily proven by trying to count the tens of millions of corpses they created. Try. The numbers get over 100M just in the last century, and the unknowable "rounding" errors and margin of error of the estimates is itself horrific and evil. When we're not sure whether Russia or China killed 45 million or 62 million of its own citizens by policy, this is when you should just stop and rethink saying nonsense like the "US's record is shockingly poor." Compared to what?

> At no point in history was Rome, the Mongols, or Britain a global hegemon or even extant in a unipolar world.

I think I actually agree with you. Of course, according to the standards you’re setting, neither is the US. The British were fighting some sort of war every decade of the height of their empire, but so has the US. The Mongols never managed to dominate Africa; neither did we (not even to the point of preventing the bloody Congo Wars of the 1990’s).

The reason I brought up the other hegemons is that they managed to significantly reduce the amount of war inside their own empires. That’s the closest analogy to what the US has done.

> The reason it didn't is #1 the US prevented that from happening, globally, at considerable expenses; and #2 restrained itself, generally speaking, from occupying other countries. Fighting, yes. Conquering and keeping, no.

We do still have troops in Germany, Italy, Japan, and South Korea, of course. And we have promised to help defend these countries from attack. If you wanted to be melodramatic about it, you could call it a sort of empire. But I think we might agree that it’s not quite fair to say that.

> For sure the Mongols out-murdered anybody ever until Stalin and Mao

> When we're not sure whether Russia or China killed 45 million or 62 million of its own citizens by policy

It is funny how these numbers keep inflating, and also how these historical counts always omit King Leopold’s II massacre in Congo (as well as the dozens of millions killed in other horrors of European colonialism). In fact stating that “But for the US, we would all be slaves of somebody right now” is a gross omittance of the millions of humans born as slaves to European colonialism well into the 1960s (and arguably persisting today if you count neo-liberalism and neo-colonies).

> There is no oversimplifiable theory of war. It persists.

> We should all be thankful for the relative peace dividend created by nuclear deterrence.

If there is no oversimplifiable theory of war, why is there an oversimplifiable theory of peace? There is no historical consensus around nuclear deterrence, and there are plenty of alternative theories. Those include rise in democracy, global trade, proliferation of human rights, the United Nations and other global institutes and agreements, and yes, decolonization.

We even have examples of nuclear deterrence failing to prevent conflict. Both India and Pakistan are nuclear powers, yet constantly at conflict with each other. Israel’s nuclear armament hasn’t prevented Palestinian resistance, and many former colonies of Britain and France fought wars for their liberation despite them being nuclear powers. Argentina even invaded Britain’s territory at one point. In fact looking at history, it seems having nuclear weapons only empowers countries to start conflicts outside of their own territory. Case in point, South Africa became a lot more peaceful country after their nuclear disarmament (although there are probably many more reasons for this).

Absolutely this. This comment [1] hit me hard when I read it:

>I never understood the good effects of American hegemony until they started breaking down.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is a harbinger of what a world without American hegemony looks like. In that world, you're going to have a very bad time.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27565836

I'm not so sure about that. From my Finnish perspective, the invasion of Ukraine is much like a repetition of the 90s. The cold war was a very stable period for Europe. When the old order collapsed, wars started in the former Yugoslavia and Caucasus and raged on for years.

The 90s was also the decade of American hegemony. The hegemony started breaking down in the aftermath of 9/11, when the US decided that they care more about revenge than soft power.

> The hegemony started breaking down in the aftermath of 9/11, when the US decided that they care more about revenge than soft power.

I would diagnose it differently. If all the US looked for was revenge, we could have been in and out of Afghanistan much more quickly and accomplished the mission. The mistake in Afghanistan was to engage in a poorly conceived twenty year experiment in nation building.

If anything the problem is that Americans are too isolationist to take the duties of hegemony seriously. There’s really no reason we couldn’t occupy Afghanistan in perpetuity if we actually cared to bother, but it became politically unpopular for some reason. Maybe because we were never honest with ourselves about what we were doing.

From my point of view, the US wasted its hegemony on poorly planned unilateral actions in the early 2000s.

The invasion of Afghanistan was clearly motivated by revenge, as the US invaded quickly without a proper plan or debate. It wasn't that catastrophic in itself, as the world generally considered the invasion justified. But it made it easier to invade Iraq without a proper plan or debate, which was catastrophic.

Among other things, the invasion of Iraq taught the world that invading other countries with false justifications was perfectly fine. Putin certainly learned that. Then the US went on to alienate its traditional European allies that refused to participate in the charade. To many European politicians at that time, Putin didn't look much worse than Bush. When the US tried to warn Europe against tighter economic integration with Russia, those politicians refused to listen. When Putin turned out to be much worse, there were too many vested interests to reverse the course.

Iraq is a hard case to break down for me. In one sense, Iraq was ultimately successful: the goal of the war was to replace the Saddam regime with a democracy. 20 years later, Iraq is a democracy. I do have a problem with the WMD thing being used as a pretext though.

Also, I don’t necessarily think it’s fair to blame the Iraq War for some European countries being all squishy towards Russia; they’d been doing that off and on since the Cold War.

European countries were not squishy towards Russia. They acted according to their own interests in a world where no major power could be trusted.

The norms that govern international politics are similar to the ones that young kids develop when left to their own devices. Without shared values and without an authority that can impose theirs, you can't evaluate justifications. The norms that emerge deal with the actions themselves. You can do X for your reasons if I can do X for mine, and so on. The ways the US used their global hegemony taught Putin what he can do for his own reasons.

It's easy to forget how immensely unpopular the Bush administration was among the West European elite. Obama got a Nobel Peace Prize for not being Bush, while Biden didn't get one for not being Trump. When the Bush administration tried to tell Europe not to deal with Russia, they had barely more credibility than the Iraqi propaganda guy.

That loss of soft power was the beginning of the end for the American hegemony.

Revenge is great for war business

Russia's power also came from American hegemony and its military was built in direct reaction to it. Or how the middle east is a mess in huge part because of the US. Or Latin America after all the meddling.

I really don't see an argument for US influence being better than the status quo, except for the US. It didn't stop wars or ethnic cleansings either when it was at its peak.

The invasion of Ukraine was about the breakdown of multipolarity and loss of Russian strength, not the growth of Russian strength.

This is obvious if you answer the following questions:

1) Was Russian influence and power in Ukraine increasing or decreasing prior to the invasion?

2) Was Russian economic and military power increasing or decreasing in Europe prior to the war?

3) Is Russia stronger or weaker relative to NATO than the USSR was?

I dont see how you can claim US and NATO power is in decline and was challenged more by Russia in 2022 than it was in the 20th century.

To the contrary, the war in Ukraine is the result of growing hegemony in Europe, as hegemony expands outward and more Nations fall into the orbit of the US. Russia is fighting to preserve it's sphere of influence and prevent further collapse of its influence.

I'm not saying that makes Russia a 'good guy", but I don't think there is any other way to interpret the shifting power balance leading up to the war.

Question is though did Russia have to choose to be anti-west?

Putin has been but Russia could have gone a different route rather than keep Putin in power all these years.

Russia really doesn't win keeping itself xenophobic of the West.

Japanese, Korean, & German culture are all very popular here in American entertainment today.

Russia could have continued to preserve, celebrate, and expand her culture around the world through Western entertainment and alliances.

Instead out of fear to preserve it Russia has become isolated from people that otherwise would have happily bought her stuff.

So that is a completely different question than if Russian global power and influence was rising prior to the war, which I was arguing against.

It is possible that Russia could have gone a different way.

Japan, Korea, and Germany all gave up significant autonomy by falling into the US alliance, but also reaped significant rewards.

I think it is debatable if the west would want Russia in alliance.

I think the really interesting question is what a country like Russia or China would have to give up to be on good terms with the US.

For one, I think they would have to give up any ability to militarily defend themselves against the US. They would also probably have to give up any allies that the US doesn't approve of. Last, they would probably have to share control over any countries are territories currently in their sphere of influence with the West.

Did you heard about americans in humvees running around ukraine-russian border and provoking russians, few years before the conflict ?

How would your government react to russians trying to establish military bases in mexico, on your border? Oh, we know ... we can look what you did to Cubans. Are they still in blockade?

I don't endorse what Russians are doing. But somebody was helping them to decide to attack. If it was successfull or not, we'll never know.

To make your argument symmetric, we need to imagine Mexico inviting Russia after we 1) poison their President with polonium, 2) seize the Baja peninsula and 3) arm and support border incursions from Texas separatists and 4) have those separatists shoot down a civilian airliner.

So kinda not the same.

Your country does immoral things, Russians do immoral things, Chinese too, every big "power" does. That's not the point. Point is, how would you react to the foreign powers on your border ?

Would you go south or not?

Please, stop repeating russian propaganda. They wanted to control and reconquer their former imperial colonies. Their claimed Casus Belli were just lame excuses, not actual reasons.

God forbid we use a little empathy, nuance and historical perspective in our opinions.

And I know I'm a bit out there, but perhaps the people in the disputed territories should get a vote?

> And I know I'm a bit out there, but perhaps the people in the disputed territories should get a vote?

You mean just like the vote in Crimea in 2014 right? With a gun pointed at their backs under the supervision of the military?.

There’s no way that, any vote like that is in anyway shape or form fair and will result in any outcome other than what the people pointing the guns want.

Perhaps the time to discuss this was before the 2014 invasion. I doubt Ukraine would acquiesce to it now.

It's unfortunate that Nations can't agree to respect the borders they agreed upon.


Russia would be happy to put it to a vote, now that they've relocated over a million Ukrainians from the Donbas to "filtration camps".


God forbid we react to the utterly inhumane invasion of Ukraine with the disgust it deserves. Stop trying to make cover for Putin behind a veil of insincere civility.

but… What if they vote russia?

I don't have it from russians, I'm not pro-russia, far from it. But those concerns that US (maybe) wants war on european continent were pretty often repeated in all EU media then.

Are you implying that the US would react to that situation by annexing parts of Mexico and eventually declaring war on it?

The US would never declare war on Mexico! Nor annex any part of it!

Not in 100 years

US will react the same way they did to cuba ..

the bigger problem is that Russia is a backwards country with caveman ideology modeled on the strong Mongolian empire who wants to oppress everybody around them because they have narcissistic tendencies

This comment reminds me of people warning about the perils of communism by posting photos of empty store shelves during the pandemic. In other words they used a failure of capitalism to exemplify communism.

If American hegemony brings peace, why are you using an example where there this supposed peace effect obviously failed?

American hegemony did not prevent the Russian invasion into Ukraine as we all know. It is not an example of a world without American hegemony, it is clearly and example of the world with American hegemony.

Russia invaded Ukraine because the US wasn’t being hegemonic enough. The first invasion in 2014 happened under a dovish, non-interventionist president elected due to public dissatisfaction with his interventionist predecessor. That administration refused to send aid to Ukraine at all, a policy that has been gradually reversed by the two successive administrations, then reversed more dramatically after the second invasion in 2022. Had the US taken the crisis more seriously, it could have likely deterred the 2022 invasion entirely.

If you want an example of the world with American hegemony, consider that the longest sustained period of peace in Western European history began when Western Europe was first occupied by American troops in 1945.

Surely you must realize the fallacy of your argument. I can apply this logic to literally everything.

- X means we don’t have Y.

- But a Y just happened.

- It’s because we didn’t have enough X.

But also you are wrong on you historic counts here. Western Europe hasn’t been entirely peaceful since 1945. First of all, Europe had colonies and colonial warfare well into the 1980s, colonial wars include Angola, Algeria, Kenya, the Falkland Islands and many more. Second many countries were dictatorship in Western Europe, including Spain, Portugal and Italy. There was a war in Cyprus, civil war in Northern Ireland, as well as terrorist insurgencies in Germany and Spain well into the 90s and 2000s.

Neither did USA have hegemony in Western Europe during this period. USSRs influence spread across the continent. There were actually two Germanies until the late 1980s, there still are two Cypruses (despite both Turkey and Greece being NATO members), Communist and Socialist parties remained popular and quite often as part of coalition governments e.g. in Scandinavia, France, Belgium, etc.

> Surely you must realize the fallacy of your argument. I can apply this logic to literally everything.

Well, you would need to analyze the specific facts of the situation to see if it backed up the argument first, which I did.

> Western Europe hasn’t been entirely peaceful since 1945. First of all, Europe had colonies and colonial warfare well into the 1980s, in places like Angola and Algeria.

Angola and Algeria aren’t in Europe.

> Second many countries were dictatorship in Western Europe, including Spain, Portugal and Italy.

They still didn’t go to war with each other.

> There were civil wars in Northern Ireland as well as terrorist insurgencies in Germany and Spain well into the 90s and 2000s.

I never claimed the US was able to eradicate domestic terrorism, only wars between countries. Western Europe hadn’t had a war between countries since 1945, which is the longest stretch since probably the fall of Rome.

> There were actually two Germanies until the late 1980s

Yes, that’s why I specified “Western Europe”; Eastern Europe was under Soviet hegemony.

What do you call the War in Cyprus and the Civil War in Northern Ireland? Turkey and Greece are two separate countries involved in territorial war of Cyprus (sometimes considered Western Europe). UK and Ireland are also two separate countries definitely inside Western Europe. Algeria and Angola were an integral part of France and Portugal respectively, just like Lyon and Lisbon. To the European powers, these were wars inside western European countries.

I find your specification of "War" and "Western Europe" awfully convenient. For example USA had hegemony over both the UK and Argentina, yet the latter invaded a territory of the former, but you are still correct because the Falkland Island aren’t in Europe.

If history doesn’t fit your narrative, you can simply narrow the scope until it fits. This is the problem with grand historic theories, they always just fit, but only after being hammered to the "correct" shape.

> Turkey and Greece are two separate countries involved in territorial war of Cyprus (sometimes considered Western Europe).

If you want to consider Turkey part of Western Europe that’s up to you.

> UK and Ireland are also two separate countries

The UK was not at war with the Republic of Ireland; it was at war with domestic terrorists inside Northern Ireland.

> I find your specification of "War" and "Western Europe" awfully convenient.

If that’s true, I’m sure it’ll be just as easy for you to find another 78 year period of history in which no two sovereign Western European polities went to war with one another. In fact, the whole reason I pointed it out is because the western half of Europe had been interminably war-torn for centuries. You’re talking about colonial wars in Angola and IRA terrorists; I’m talking about breaking the centuries-long cycle of Anglo-German-French wars that stretches into medieval times.

> For example USA had hegemony over both the UK and Argentina

We did? That’s news to me.

You were the one that stated that USA had hegemony in Western Europe post 1945, so that should include the UK. The Argentinian dictatorship had strong USA backing, the dictator who initiated the invasion Leopoldo Galtieri was a graduate from the US Army School of the Americas, in fact Argentina was working with the CIA in their backing of the Contras militia in Nicaragua. USAs influence over the Argentinian dictatorship just before the invasion is no secret.

As we see, USA hegemony is not sufficient for peace (even your very convenient definition of peace). However it is still not established that USA hegemony is even a necessary conditions.

First, you can mark any large cross-national territory over any arbitrary decade and find peace. Even territories with a history of war. For example, there hasn’t been large South American countries going to war with each other since 1947 either (see I can conveniently omit the Falklands War too if it fits my narrative). Heck, even the African great lakes has seen peace according to your definition since Tanzania invaded Uganda and disposed of Idi Amin in 1979. I guess Tanzanian hegemony is a thing for good.

Second there are multiple alternative hypothesis you haven’t explored. Don’t you think the UN deceleration of human rights helped with minimizing conflicts, the rise of democracy, the end of imperialism, decolonization, demilitarization, buildup of infrastructure, the European Union, etc. I find these together way more plausible then your supposed USA hegemony.

> USAs influence over the Argentinian dictatorship just before the invasion is no secret.

That doesn't imply that the US had any hegemony or control over Argentina.

> Don’t you think the UN deceleration of human rights helped with minimizing conflicts, the rise of democracy, the end of imperialism, decolonization, demilitarization, buildup of infrastructure, the European Union, etc.

Why did all of these things happen in the first place? American hegemony. You can tell because Europe tried half of the things on that list after WWI but they didn't work.

> Why did all of these things happen in the first place? American hegemony.

This is a theory, not a really good one, but lets take it at face value, starting with the end of imperialism. Given that USA continued it’s imperialism after WWII while WWI is the beginning of the end of imperialism for Europe. The British empire stopped existing in 1998, but I’d say the end of British rule over India in 1947 was the peak for the end of European imperialism. This had nothing to do with USA.

Decolonization: This didn’t happen until the 60s and only after fierce resistance from indigenous people withing the colonies. While the USA held a powerful seat the UN that called for decolonization, the fact that USA held its colonies (e.g. Guam and American Samoa), and that it took fierce colonial wars before liberation, I say indigenous resistance had way more weight than any USA influence of the matter. Portugal didn’t actually relinquish their colonies until their dictatorship fell in a socialist revolution in 1974.

Rise of democracies: Again did not follow USA occupations. Staying within Portugal, The Carnation Revolution would certainly be the first time the USA backed left leaning armed forces against a right wing dictator. And we know they didn’t, USA stayed out of that one. Greece on the other hand didn’t became a dictatorship until after it had joined NATO. Now this dictatorship was no friend of the USA, but that only further proves how little USA hegemony had in preventing these dictatorships and in the rise of democracy. I would actually give the EU more credit here. Speaking of which,

the EU: I honestly don’t know how you can give USA hegemony credit for this. It started as a free trade agreement, USA didn’t start doing anything similar until 1994 with NAFTA. Stating USA hegemony here is frankly a little insulting, insinuating that Europeans cannot take autonomous decisions regarding their own affairs.

The only think we can definitely thank the Americans for is demilitarization and the initial buildup of infrastructure.

But I think you get the point here. Attributing all of these to USA hegemony is a very simplistic—and frankly wrong—view of history. Honestly at this point I can’t tell what you consider hegemony, if USA had hegemony over Europe since 1945, how did it not have hegemony over Argentina during the dictatorship?

> The British empire stopped existing in 1998, but I’d say the end of British rule over India in 1947 was the peak for the end of European imperialism. This had nothing to do with USA.

Decolonization, including the dismantlement of the British Empire, was an explicit policy goals of the US dating all the way back to at least WWII. One of the signature examples of this orientation—and the first clear assertion of American hegemony even over Britain—was the Suez crisis.

> Rise of democracies: Again did not follow USA occupations.

The democratic governments of West Germany, Italy, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, and Austria were effectively installed by the US and UK at the end of the Second World War. Without American involvement, none of these countries would have become democratic; they would have either remained fascist or become communist.

(This was not the case for e.g. Argentina, Turkey, or Portugal.)

> the EU: I honestly don’t know how you can give USA hegemony credit for this.

The core concept of the EU is the goal of establishing a “United States of Europe”. In other words, it is an attempt to emulate Europe’s hegemon, and it arose almost immediately after Western European democracy was installed by the Allies at the end of WWII.

For sake of argument let's say the US military is a fine institution & let's say corporations making a profit supporting it is fine.

But my god, the inefficiency & fleecing being done by corporations is ghastly. It's an absurd detriment that the system is robustly categorically fucked, incapable of getting effective help to aid/drive/support the cause. The US taxpayer pays out the nose, when we could be bettering ourselves greatly, because of this systematic incompetence that we suffer.

I don't see your comment as replying to anything whatsoever topical here. You've paved over concerns with jingoism. We can debate that jingoism, but - at a minimum - I don't feel like America should suffer itself to keep getting fleeced by an ineffective & ghastly expensive defense industry. We could do this without it being such a racket.

Do you think hegemonic mono-culture mono-ideal is preferable to a multi-polar world of competing ideas and systems? If so, how do you prevent the hegemon from transmutating to the very thing we feared in the first place?

One thing to consider about your anecdotal encounters with people of those countries is that they were probably in your country. They were probably emigres. If you spoke to people within those countries who are happy with their country, the sentiment would probably be quite different.

Immigration, especially to us, is the best thing a typical person in these countries could do from quality of life perspective, and what most talented usually do. So selection bias here is based mostly on ability and intelligence, not political opinion.

Ironically, China has probably benefited from US hegemony more than any other major country. They are highly dependent on imports of food, fertilizer, energy, and raw materials. The US Navy has kept their sea lines of communication open for free since the end of WW2. Imagine a scenario where the US pulls back and another country like, let's say, India decided to close down China's trade routes. China would be in an economic crisis within months. China is now working to build up a blue water navy and they have other ways to retaliate against threats, but still they are in a very precarious strategic position.

What an embarrassingly privileged comment. The US funds terror around the world for their own benefit. Millions die because of the actions of the US or are effectively enslaved for the benefit of US capitalists to sell overpriced products to wealthy consumers such as yourself. The CIA regularly destabilizes 3rd world countries for the benefit of US corporations (see United fruit company and Guatemala). To suggest the world is a “peaceful” place simply because you live in a country that has never seen war in its homeland during your lifetime is ludicrous especially given the wars the US has started and participated in. Frankly this comment reeks of propaganda, I wouldn’t be surprised if you worked for the fed or a company profiting from the military industrial complex.

Please provide sources for the millions of deaths. Your post sounds like an anti-capitalist screed more than an argument against US military hegemony. Consider that alternative of world war and Russian or Chinese imperialism.


> Over 937,000 people have died in the post-9/11 wars due to direct war violence, and several times as many due to the reverberating effects of war

> An estimated 3.6-3.7 million people have died indirectly in post-9/11 war zones, bringing the total death toll to at least 4.5-4.6 million and counting.

It's weird to set Chinese imperialism as the worst alternative, when the US is China's most prominent provider of technology, and first consumer of manufacturing and services. In exchange China is of course also the biggest holder of US dollar.

> China is of course also the biggest holder of US dollar.

Not any more, Japan is. China has been reducing it's dollar holdings at breakneck speed once it saw the US freeze dollars held by Russia.



Not that I’d ever like to see it, but I’m really curious what would happen in a conflict with China.

I’m half inclined to believe the US populace would revolt before any meaningful military confrontation because all their stuff is made in China.

No more toilet paper, no more TV, no more phone. No more… everything! Kind of wonder how much military components are sourced/built in China.

These are two nations with H bombs and ICBMs. Lack of new iPhones would never even cross our minds. By the time the populace had formed an opinion it would likely be too late.

Any war would be conventional for that exact reason.

That’s the exact opposite of what every military in the world has thought for the last 70 years. If you were China, you would not wait for the American military to dominate yours. If you were the US, you would know this, and not wait for them to launch their nukes at your silos.

As an Indian, I can tell you this is how everyone thinks about their country. Everybody thinks they stand for for good, others stand for evil. And by that definition their order must be spread in the world. And for that they are ok with them having overwhelming military power, and they are vehemently against others having it.

Its just how it is.

Is your sample of Chinese and Russians limited to those who have had reason to leave their homes and move to the US? Because if it is, I suspect there's an element of selection bias there.

Thank you for bringing a voice of reason to this discussion. Far too many pilloried the US over the decades for unjust wars. Perhaps there are some, like Vietnam, Iraq, etc, but a far worse outcome would be to have the global security situation be controlled by China and Russia. We know what happens when non-democratically elected leaders rise to global power and decide to exert their will, and it is not pretty (world wars, basically).

The US military industrial complex is incredibly complex and somewhat corrupt - it is a revolving door between industry and government, but the alternative is far worse and leads to genocide on a scale unimaginable since WW2.

I don't think the only alternative is "replace the US with a different (evil) power". An alternative is that the UN plays more of a policing role and we move away from power and justice being applied unilaterally and capriciously. In no way am I suggesting that this is an easy thing to do, or even neccessarily to be desired, but the idea that the world being run by China-Russia is the only alternative to US hegemony is a false dichotomy.

well that's convenient

> I've yet to meet a Chinese or Russian colleague who thinks it would be better if China or Russia

lmao the ones who live in america? yeah, of course. they don't want to get deported.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wen_Ho_Lee <-- taiwanese lolol

Wen Ho Lee was a PRC spy and was caught exfiltrating secrets. Hardly a reasonable example of unjust persecution.

Are you serious? No US person seriously believes we will deport a Chinese national on a legitimate visa for their political views. Can you point to a single example of this happening?

> Wen Ho Lee was a PRC spy and was caught exfiltrating secrets.

then why wasn't he convicted of it? LOL why is he walking around free, and with a bunch of money he won from a civil suit filed against the government?

who's incompetent here, the FBI, the DOJ, or the courts? how can we assure that every east asian accused of espionage is convicted?

it's a shame you aren't a federal judge, then no spy would ever get away.

Isn’t that exactly what happened to Emma Goldman and Charles Chaplin?

Were they Chinese nationals?

There are famous cases of USA deporting a Polish-Lithuanian Jew and a British Actor because of their political views. Is there a reason to believe they wouldn’t deport a Chinese national for the same reason? Particularly since “having been a member of the Communist party” (a requirement for any Chinese citizen seeking a job in the public sector) is a question they ask before issuing a green card.

you know, it's funny, the only person caught up by the china initiative was a white guy too.

Killing people with drones based on metadata, in foreign countries, without fair trial, is extremely immoral. With every killed father you'll make several more enemies.

"In 2016, America dropped at least 26,171 bombs authorized by President Barack Obama. This means that every day in 2016, the US military blasted combatants or civilians overseas with 72 bombs; that’s three bombs every hour, 24 hours a day" https://old.reddit.com/r/Damnthatsinteresting/comments/x332z...

Black sites, extraordinary renditions, torturing people in third countries ... that's deterrence?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_United_States_mili... (Read it all, I dare you)

Imagine foreign power's drones over your own country, over your city. Imagine hearing exploding homes in your town, maybe few homes away. Imagine unmarked millitary men going through your street and home with their rifles scaring your children. Imagine that your children would refuse to play outside when it isn't cloudy, because they're afraid of blue skies. You cannot, can you? Would you feel safe and glad?

Imagine foreign powers overturning your democraticaly elected leaders and instead putting in their puppets, all for profit again, of course.


I'll now let Carl Sagan talk on the topic:




And Charlie Chaplin:


With 5+millions of millitary contractors and many more employees, many of them here, maybe this quote will fit.

"It Is Difficult to Get a Man to Understand Something When His Salary Depends Upon His Not Understanding It"

>mostly peaceful world

Except it hasn't been. Pinker's "long peace" theory with respect to global conflict is bad statistics - 20th-21st century under US military hegemony had a comparable if not higher number of conflicts, see Max Roser’s work documenting global conflicts over the past 600 years. What has changed is that war now is generally shorter and less deadly especially towards combatants, but that's more reflective of the pace of modern war enabled by modern weapons. High intensity wars don't last for 20+ years anymore because you can pretty much destroy nations in 1-5, and belligerents are quicker to exhaust and forced to settle. In aggregate war fatalities is down, but not # of conflicts. US hegemony didn't stop USSR and RU from warring in their periphery, nor PRC border skirmishes pre 90s when US had vast more naval power asymmetry. When countries want to fight for their interests, especially regional, they still do. His conjectures on QoL indicators around the world are improving, and we can credit some of that to US/western innovation, but it’s also a byproduct of technology disseminating as societies develop.

As for the opinion of your colleagues, consider some sort of self-selection bias happening - I've not met many from PRC that don't think China needs better military and regional hegemony to forward her interests the same way US does hers, especially post Belgrade embassy bombing in 99 by US/NATO. And frankly even among PRC diasporas, most people I know except very liberal types are increasingly unabashedly pro PRC military power - they’re just too polite to say so. See how PRC students in the west generally become more pro China the more they’re exposed to western society. Many are smart enough to not voice "objectionable" opinions.I can't speak for RUs.

Ultimately, US military dominance is good for US+LIO interests, but hard to extrapolate anything more. IMO multipolarity will increase the chance of "smaller" conflicts as poles assert their own interests for sure, but it's going to be around the baseline of conflicts that's consistently been simmering throughout history. The fear is increasing large-scale conflict between poles/blocks - ending the cyclic gap between major wars among major powers - but that's what happens when declining hegemon pushes their interests to the exclusion of others too intensely for too long.

One of the most disappointing things in American politics in the last ten to fifteen years has been watching the left abandon their antiwar fervor.

The Korean War began and was fought under a Democrat. It was ended by a Republican.

The Vietnam War began under one Democrat, escalated and spread beyond Vietnam under his Democratic successor, and then under a Republican. It was ended by another Republican.

The Persian Gulf War was entirely a Republican affair.

The Bosnian war and the bombing of Serbia were overseen by a Democrat.

The "war on terror" was started by a Republican who invaded Afghanistan and Iraq and continued for nearly 8 more years under a Democrat.

you're confusion "the left" with "democrats".

democrats are centrist relative to the left.

Indeed "Leftists" mostly vote Democratic for lack of a more viable alternative, but many do not consider themselves Democrats.

Even really smart and educated people I know are surprised to discover most voters in the US do not have a party affiliation.

There aren't really political parties in the US. In other countries, people pay membership dues to their political parties and get membership cards. Here, we just declare our allegiance to these private organizations on twitter.

That's not true.

We poll the hell out of our populace and ask, "What do you identify as?" That's how we know how people identify.

> In other countries, people pay membership dues to their political parties and get membership cards. Here, we just declare our allegiance to these private organizations on twitter.

Some states in the US have state-level party organizations which you join and receive a card. Not all.

How does these polls work? What’s the selection process? I’ve never been asked what I politically identify as, and I imagine anyone who asks would be disappointed that I would refuse place myself as something fitting whatever binary/trinary categories they have in mind.

Many states allow you to pick a party affiliation when you register to vote, and some require a declared affiliation before you can take part in primaries.

Generally polling organizations poll a random sample of Americans via phone calls or online polls. There is a lot of process to try to guarantee a representative sample.

I don't think a pollster would be disappointed that you don't have a party affiliation. In fact some of biggest emphasis in election season is on independents or undecided voters.

> In fact some of biggest emphasis in election season is on independents or undecided voters.

Exactly. You can look it up on 538 or wherever you like, but all the polls say roughly the same thing: There's more unaffiliated voters than there is voters for either party. Something like 40-45% unaffiliated, with ~25% identifying as Republican and ~30% identifying as Democrat.

You can pay dues and get a membership card for political parties in US, as well. The difference is that it's not necessary to have access to the primaries in most places.

You're missing the point that left/right/democrat/republican religions are a divide and conquer strategy to distract from the realization that there is no democracy.

Looking from outside as a non-American, I feel that Democrats and Republicans are really first and foremost sports clubs. Any actual political leanings are mostly based on what is most likely to keep support of their existing fans, and secondarily a matter of inertia.

And nowhere in these splits - neither in Democrat/Republican, nor in left/right - is there any notion of actually looking at the problem and trying to find an actual, effective, efficient solution, that maximizes the desired impact and minimizes undesired second-order effects.

That is exactly how it works, just none of the constituents think that's how it works on their team, so we're in this sort of stasis. The unsolved and repeatedly retrodden problems are called wedge issues and they're key to these teams staying in power collectively.

Some people don't understand it, but when you actually talk to people, you find that at least a pretty substantial portion are very aware of it but don't feel empowered to do anything that can change it.

All forms of change that aren't voting are either de jure or de facto illegal. Sure, you can march... on a route cleared with the authorities... with a permit 90 days in advance... as long as absolutely nothing untoward happens within two blocks.

I recall the mid-Obama years where I had a lot of acquaintances (now almost equally split between "left" and "right") who didn't see a lot of difference between Bush and Obama on a great many issues. They were sick of foreign wars, the military-security state, unfettered corporate abuses, and the elision of many issues that impacted Americans from any public discussion on either side of the aisle.

The prospect of a (Jeb) Bush vs. (Hillary) Clinton race seemed emblematic of a government that was a democracy in form, but not in practice. And then along came Trump who nicely put everyone I know (myself included) in either pro-Trump or anti-Trump camps.

When you ignore domestic politics entirely I can see how it would look that way.

But there is a very real difference in policy between rural Alabama and Chicago. In no small part because of different parties exercising control in those localities.

> But there is a very real difference in policy between rural Alabama and Chicago.

I believe this difference exist. But I attribute it mostly to "rural" vs. "urban" part - and for far enough places, also to difference in cultures between the two locations. Rural Alabama has a different lifestyle, different market, different pressing problems than urban Chicago, different individual needs - which may result in people in those two locations overall promoting opposite policies.

How well these differences overlap with with Dem/Rep or left/right belief clusters is, I think, mostly incidental.

I think that what you said about the causes of difference is true, but that doesn't mean the party affiliation of urban vs rural voters is incidental.

The parties, to the degree they do differ, do position themselves on opposite sides of the urban vs rural divide.



Hasn't 2000 Mules been debunked multiple times? It is basically "election was stolen" nonsense. Why do you think it is true?



I don't know about the debunking. I do know what I saw with my own eyes; the video shows people stuffing ballots in boxes all across the country. There's also the weird phenomena where ballot counting was shut down in four states simultaneously and then restarted. Suddenly there was a statistical anomaly of hundreds of thousands of votes for Biden. And there's other weird stuff that I honestly should have been keeping track of.

I don't think the election was fair, I think it was rigged. And I think it smells so badly that I suspect our elections have been rigged for a long, long time.

> I do know what I saw with my own eyes

What did you see with your own eyes. Were you a first hand witness of a ballot box stuffing incident? When and where did it happen? Did you take a video of it with sound?

> video shows people stuffing ballots in boxes all across the country

How do you know when those videos were made? Who recorded those videos? Where was each video taken (which voting district and when)?

> where ballot counting was shut down in four states simultaneously and then restarted

Which four states? What what was the date and time the ballot counting stopped? What was the date and time the ballot counting resumed?

> And there's other weird stuff that I honestly should have been keeping track of.

Like what? Any concrete examples?

> I don't think the election was fair, I think it was rigged.

Yet you're very non-specific about your reasoning and evidence. Typically, people cite sources that support their argument, but you did not.

I did some poking around. Others have reported some pretty egregious irregularities in how 2000 Mules was produced. Apparently there's a map of Moscow in one of the shots where they're talking about Georgia?

We can talk about the FiveThirtyEight graphs at some point which show what is, in essence, a statistical anomaly.

"Saw for my own eyes" ... "Video"

Were those videos in context? Were those videos accurately described? Why do all the judges across the country think those claims were a farce? Are they part of the deep state too?

There were no "statistical anomalies" during that election, yet there are a surprising number of people who have never taken a stats class in their life absolutely sure there were.

Please, share some reliable evidence that this is the case. So far, nobody has managed to anything but cast doubt on a process that seems to be fair and mostly working.

Trump's election proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the elections are as fair as they could ever be. Not in a million years would anyone in any establishment left or right have wished for Trump to be president in 2016. Yet it happened anyway.

To be specific, it proved that the elections are “fair” in the sense that they follow the rules as written. They don’t, for example, fairly represent the populace.

Maybe you could say that for the 2016 election. Trump lost in 2020.

Which just goes to show that the system was robust even against tampering from the administration (in that case at least).

Uh, no? Left and right are generalized terms used to describe political philosophies. Democrat and republican are terms used to describe political parties- those parties don't fully overlap with left and right, and in fact the parties have completely changed their overlap over time.

We (Americans) live in a representative democracy (for choosing public officials) and that democracy gives a great deal of influence and power to capitalists/industrialists (the "racket"), which has been absolutely successful in establishing and maintaining the existence and wealth of the country.

If you want to argue there is no democracy, find another person to argue with; my premise begins with the US being a representative democracy.

It is a representative Democracy. I vote directly for all of my representatives. Anyone arguing it's not is moving goalposts or arguing No True Scotsman.

For semantic clarity: are you saying that it ticks the boxes for being a "representative democracy", but not extending the meaning of the word representative to encompass representative of the will of the constituents?

> Anyone arguing it's not is moving goalposts or arguing No True Scotsman.

With this be considered rhetoric?

I have a government that I choose through voting. It's not complicated.

Do you choose the candidates? Do you influence what they actually work on once in office with your votes? Do our elected officials generally prioritize the needs of those who cast votes for them or those who bankrolled their campaigns? Who btw bankrolled the campaigns? Is your vote nearly as powerful as their dollars?

If you avoid answering questions about your theories it can certainly appear to be not complicated, but whether it actually is is another matter.

…which is particularly egregious in the context of wars like Vietnam - or even the war in Iraq - which the left was famously outspoken against compared to most Democrats.

Will this "true" left you're talking about criticize democratic party leaders for their wars with the same fervor that they criticize republican party leaders?

When Trump was campaigning for his first presidency everybody was saying he would start a bunch of wars and nuke the whole world. When none of that happened he had to be a traitor since he didn't start any beautiful patriotic wars. Reality is of no consideration to the uneducated and educated masses. War is peace, peace is war.

I will not be mutilated by mortar in a ditch or send my children to die in a trench, no matter who is president. War is a racket, I feel truly sorry for those who suffer and will suffer for following their "leaders".

>When none of that happened he had to be a traitor since he didn't start any beautiful patriotic wars

Find me a quote of someone on the left saying Trump was bad for not starting a war

I bet you if Trump somehow served an extra 1.5 years, you'd have plenty of such people - the ones that today love to use the term "acquiesce" to criticize careful handling of a conflict that could easily spiral into end of the world with one press of a button.

You are misunderstanding. When Trump turned out to not be a crazed war monger, the narrative changed to that he was a traitor taking orders from Russia. If you can't find quotes for that, you are offline.

I am fully aware that most leftist (which means most of HN) think that Trump is an insane war monger, even though he served four years as president without starting any wars. Like I wrote, reality does not matter at all anymore to anyone.

Well, there was an exchange of Missiles with Iran. That almost went full war, until Iran shot back and they were like 'Wuuuut, they can do that?'.

And missiles shot at Syrian air base, where Russian/Syrian planes were luckily moved just in time, very conveniently, almost like it was a good PR stunt.

Yes, the United States will always be at war. Trump waged much less war than what is convenient for a US president and way less than everybody said he would. Compared to other US presidents he was a man of peace. I know the power of denial is much stronger than that fact.

There is a strange paradox with Trump in that he seems like he would start a war just to score ratings or settle a grudge but it is precisely for this reason that I think it would be difficult for him to really effectively lead the nation into the war because unlike, say, a GWB, there would be far too much skepticism over his motives. So perhaps perversely it is his unfitness as commander in chief that kept us out of more significant military excursions.

He had press conferences where he openly 'colluded' with Russia, I can't believe that isn't brought up more. It was live, recorded video. I saw it on the news, in a live press conference. Its just that nobody believes what he is saying, so he gets away with saying anything he wants.

Diplomacy is collusion now? That's a pretty hawkish stance.

"If any Russians are listening please hack my political opponent"

How is that diplomacy?

> most leftist (which means most of HN)


This isn't true under the current terminology, where Democrats have assigned themselves the title of "the left" with the enthusiastic agreement of Republicans. And while that's a new situation, we're also currently experiencing a vast majority of people who identify as "left" falling under two categories: Obama socialists, who were enthusiastic supporters of candidate Obama and were disappointed in the absolutely traditional run of his presidency, esp. its second term; and Clinton socialists, who went along with the catastrophe of the 2016 Democratic primary because they let themselves be convinced that while they mostly agreed with Sanders, H. Clinton was the only one who could defeat Trump (and they resent the party for this.)

These aren't intellectual positions at all, they're just soap opera stuff. If they've picked up anything about political economy, it was because they were in left-wing spaces during the rise of the Sanders campaign. As far as I can tell, all they took away from it is the slur "tankie," which they think has something to do with Tienanmen Square and should be screamed at anyone anyone to the left of Bill Kristol.

Tankies are the people who I'd loosely call neostalinists, they're seemingly for a Soviet style violent revolution of the proletariat - they're also the people who are often reflexively anti-american, and pro-russia, because america is the force of imperialism. There are many socialists who are fine with achieving socialism via electoral means those people are not tankies - tankies are generally not okay with waiting for that.

I don't think so. Yes, Democrats (and American progressives in general) don't emphasize socialism as much as the traditional left or some European parties. However, they're generally still sympathetic. Moreover, while American progressives don't worry so much about economic egalitarianism, they very strongly believe that minorities earning less than whites, female earning less than male, etc. is wrong, and are willing to enact things like reparations, affirmative action,and the like to counterbalance that. In the ideal progressive utopia, CEOs would still be paid hundreds of times more than the average worker, but representation of minority race, female, non-straight and trans people among CEOs and other prestigious positions would occur at least as much as their representation in the population, regardless of their ability, and if cis straight white males are represented less than their proportion of the population, that's just gravy, and maybe justified revenge for their dominant position in the past. In fact, wokism is even more egalitarian than Marxism - the latter says from each according to ability, to each according to need, but it was generally expected that the jobs requiring higher ability would be staffed by people of higher ability.

In general, it's obvious that identity politics forms the core of the political class of today's Democratic Party (especially the young), and equally obvious that America is the innovator that other progressive parties follow in this respect. America also has thrown itself into gender politics with particular enthusiasm - gender transitions, even of minors, are a cornerstone of American progressivism today, even as progressive European countries have rolled that back to an extent.

I will concede that Europe leads in the other main aspect of current-day progressivism, the Green movement, although American progressives are avid followers.

I think everyone is confused of what is the left / right.

Traditionally the left has been associated with social policies (stemming from socialism/communism vs capitalism)

And there always was a part of the left which was anti-war, and always was a more "totalitarian" version of the left that felt it was morally justified.

But in every society the meaning of left and right has been fluid.

JFK would be considered a right-wing extremist by todays democrat party (the political powerful left wing, not the average voter)

Well he did try to invade Cuba

He also put nuclear missles in turkey which were then used as part of the negotiation to get USSR to dismantle their Cuban bases so we wouldn't invade.

Other way around. He put missiles in Turkey and Italy, USSR responded by putting missiles in Cuba, then both parties agreed to deescalate and withdraw. Then of course a few years later none of this matters because ICBMs become a thing and the soviets and americans can just launch over the north pole.

(for the record, I did not mean to imply the temporal ordering you suggest I did)

And he was critical of the CIA and FBI.

The missing artifact from the comment is that Republicans and Democrat Left/Rightism as we understand it is a modern thing established (edit: I should say 'consolidated' - because the shift started earlier) under Reagan.

The 'Democrats' were very popular in the South in the 1950's among people who would now refer to themselves as 'conservative'. (Edit: look at the electoral maps for mid century US - Democrats/Republicans were not Left/Right)

Not that Left/Dem are different things today, they are effectively the same, it's just that policy is constrained by the other side, which has a dampening effect on legislation.

The left in america votes blue no matter because idpol and maybe climate, the only nationally palitable Left ideas since Marxism any class are anathema to USA, particularly since fall of USSR.

Nah; the 2016 election saw many "leftists" that were dedicated to Sanders go on to vote for Trump.

I know establishment Dems liked to whine about that, but is there any evidence that this actually happened in meaningful numbers?

I and many other people I know did. I saw Sanders get snubbed and schemed against by the DNC, to the point where Hillary got the questions ahead of time. So many gaffes in this campaign between two "equal" Democratic candidates that we just don't talk about anymore.

No, I refuse to play that game and I'd rather burn the place to the ground and suffer together than walk willingly to my own execution.

“I think I should have more of my richer neighbors’ money and if I don’t get it I’ll vote for trump ahaha” isn’t the own that you probably think it is, but this is very illustrative nevertheless.

Thanks. I've never met a single person who flopped from Sanders to Trump. I can't for the life of me figure out how you'd make that leap. I thought that the stories about people doing that were mostly BS, but I guess there are a few of you out there, assuming you didn't make this account to LARP as a Bernie turned Trump voter.

I think there's a good amount of debate in leftist circles whether Sanders is actually a global leftist or if he's just an American progressive. The two are categorically unalike, which would agree with other comments that any form of Democrat and Republican are just symbiotes attached to the same thing.

"Drain the swamp" leftists are separate category to DSA members and almost nonexistent post-COVID (RFK JR. maybe). Is this beyond explanation why someone would do that?

That's the "insider/outsider" thing. Trump is a rightist outsider, Bernie a leftist outsider. Both are favoured by "anti-establishment" types.

How is he? Literally campaigned on turning US into EU/Scandinavia? Anti-establishment is the going currency, you could say the same for Biden's rhetoric.

Trump merely coopted the fig leaf of outsider to sway voters, since he did get full support of the GOP establishment unlike Sanders.

Sanders is Marxist?

I gotta nitpick :)

Ignoring the whole background of Korea, it's occupation by Japan, and split at the end of WW2, the Korean War began when the North invaded the South.

For Vietnam, the war ended when the North Vietnam 'won' and the South collapsed.

Also WW's Sr. and Junior, if you care to extend the pattern back, though those both began and ended under Democratic administrations. In the case of the latter, the Republican general leading the war effort became the next US President --- which suggests that there's some haziness to the attributions being made. That same administration participated in violent campaigns in Iran (overthrowing democratically-elected Mossedegh) and Guatemala, as well as planning the Bay of Pigs operation (which occurred as Kennedy's administration opened).

Antiwar sentiments existed for many of these, though it's notable that considerable anti-war sentiment in the US against entry into WWII had a distinctly hard-right flavour to it. Not all anti-war sentiment, as there can be many possible motiviations, but in this specific case, domestic groups sympathetic with (and often orchestrated by) rightest European belligerents had an outsized role.

The anti-war movement of the 1960s and 1970s became associated with Democrats as that party swung leftward and shed its own long-standing Southern affiliations, and grew our of anti-nuclear and civil rights movements of the 1950s and 1960s, all of which saw Vietnam specifically as an unjustified and unjust war, with considerable merits to that viewpoint.

Painting pro- or anti-war sentiments as distinctly left or right, or aligned with either of the two present major parties is not historically accurate and misses considerable nuance.

> The "war on terror" was started by a Republican who invaded Afghanistan and Iraq and continued for nearly 8 more years under a Democrat.

And ended by a Republican

Afghanistan is a wash, nobody gets to take credit for ending that. Trump entered into the surrender agreement, but delayed the execution of the agreement past the end of his term, so if he doesn't take the blame for the fallout he doesn't get credit for ending it either. Meanwhile Obama surged troops while he was in office, sure, but then tried to steeply draw down and was blocked by republicans[1]. They also blocked his effort to close the human rights embarrassment at Guantanamo[2]. This is basically an 'everyone sucks here' situation, at best.

[1] https://thehill.com/homenews/286787-gop-questions-obamas-afg...

[2] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-defense-guantanamo/ho...

Trump drafted and signed the agreement and Biden executed it. That’s about as fair as you can put it.

As you noted, Obama and Biden increased troop count before Trump signed the Doha agreement to end the war.

Trump, denying they lost the election, refused to support any transfer of power or awareness to the incoming administration as traditionally happens. This combined with the agreement taking effect very shortly after the new term enhanced the scale of the damage, particularly with the new administration's cabinet bootstrapping during the same period.

The Republicans keep saying that Biden improperly withdrew from Afghanistan.

And Democrats keep pinning it on Trump.

Regardless, who is there when they withdrew is not the same as who made the plan and started the withdrawal. The Doha Agreement was drafted and signed under Trump. Biden didnt renege on the agreement and executed it.

We have no idea if he would have drafted such an agreement but his track record in that regard isnt good. Obama and Biden increased troops as another commenter noted.

The reality is that there was no path to a good exit from Afganistan, and we should condemn Bush for starting it, condemn Obama for doubling down, condemn Trump for not pulling out earlier, and same for Biden.

One committed the country to the withdrawal the other executed the withdrawal.

Is Biden a Republican? What president ended the war for you?

Trump started the legal process of ending that war, like him or not.

I think it’s fair to say American politics are violent, and it’s not really a partisan thing


Blowing up buildings, murdering jews, plotting assassinations etc. is substantially damaging. It is "extremist".

I'm unfamiliar with these. Sources?

Bombing abortion clinics used to be a fun pastime. Go read a newspaper from the 70s or 80s.

The FBI has considered right wing extremism a serious threat to the US since before Ruby Ridge and Waco. The turner diaries was written before either.

And the KKK was exactly a militant right wing political group, with members being politicians, sometimes openly.

It sounds like the left is much more powerful than the right then given that they can overpower them with no repercussion. I think it would probably be best to give into their demands so the right are not further victimized if this is the case.

Ain't it amazing how powerful the left is and yet we can't even raise the debt ceiling?

Majority of violence is done by right wing. It is beyond cynical to lie so much and try to pin it on the left. The right is the ones who are the biggest and actual threat to both freedom and democracy - and actual perpetrators of murders and terrorist attacks.

And no, j6 were no tourist not peaceful. They were literal violent attempt to prevent votes count.

Hard agree. Democrats pay lip service to anti-war voices when they are out of power, then often rule as hawks.

It's not necessarily meaningful to call one party more or less hawkish than the other. It often comes down to the leader, era, and coalition behind them. Bush/Cheney were definitely more aggressive than Gore would have been, but HRC was positioning herself to be much more hawkish than Trump ended up ruling as. That's why in the post-2016 era many infamous hawks like Bill Kristol and David Frum have been Democrat-aligned.

US involvement in the Vietnam war started with Eisenhower, who last I checked was a Republican...

Pedantic: depending on what "involvement" means.

Eisenhower continued and increased support for the French till 1954. Then backed Diem, blocked the 1956 elections, and sent in more "advisers", however .. :)

An OSS Dear Team provided training, medical and logistical assistance to Hồ Chí Minh and the Việt Minh in 1945. An OSS doctor is reported to have treated Ho Chi Minh for malaria and dysentery. [0] Then Truman provided troop transport, money and materiel for France to re-conqueror Indochina (Democrat).

Archimedes Patti, from the OSS wrote a book [1] about the experience.

War is multi-party, forget tech stocks, I gotta invest in Lockheed Martin.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OSS_Deer_Team [1] "Why Vietnam?: Prelude to America's Albatross

Sometimes Democrats get backed into a corner. Like with Korea, Vietnam. No matter what they do, Republicans call the Democrats communists/evil/Satan. So when there is a communist country in the mix, then they better damn well go to war, or it proves they are stooges of those same communist countries. Because Democrats can't appear weak on communists, they might fight them harder than a Republican would, (see recent history where Republicans are backing Russia, which is like bizzaro world).

That's really more of a post 60s-ish thing. You can't really extend it back to Korea or before.

From ~FDR-LBJ, the democratic party was pretty pro-war (so was the average american, really, so I guess that's fair for a party called democratic), but that really starts to flip in the late 60s/early 70s.

What real-world circumstance does this theory explain?

Korea, Vietnam. If Communist China wasn't involved, we probably wouldn't be either. It was a policy of containment. And yes, Democrats went along with it. What could they do, say "no we're siding with China"? They would be voted out.

So they don’t actually have any principles?

Why the down votes? Republicans love war, sometimes Democrats go along with it. It's called compromise. You mean, why do Democrats sometimes bend their principles in the face of gun toting Republican's calling for a coup? I don't know, to thread the needle to keep the peace. When half the country is ready to re-enact the Civil War, what is to be done? It isn't like Lincoln didn't compromise when needed.

> One of the most disappointing things in American politics in the last ten to fifteen years has been watching the left abandon their antiwar fervor

You might be mixing up anti-imperialism with antiwar sentiment. In the past, the 2 were typically hand-in-hand due to the geopolitics of the day, but it is not a given - depending on the circumstances[0].

It's interesting how the American right is also taking up an anti-war stance, while maintaining pro-imperialist attitudes[1]

0. Cf. The left's attitude towards the Vietnam war vs. the Apartheid government in South Africa.

1. With Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and the "peace with North Korea at all costs" under Trump

Its about not wanting to fight other people’s wars.

Republicans are a lot more interested in the militarization of the pacific and southern border.

> watching the left abandon their antiwar fervor.

As left people gain political maturity, they understand that those in power will not give up their power willingly, so force is required.

As a liberal person I am suspicious of any liberal who does not believe in gun rights, and I am even more suspicious of a liberal person who does not believe in unions, which is the 2nd amendment of labor rights. Neither the 2nd amendment nor unions can be used for their purpose within the bounds of the law.

Believing in human rights means believing in defending human rights with force, otherwise what is to stop someone from violating human rights?

If a powerful person uses their power against you, your choices are submit or fight. Leftists are slowly understanding:

  1. There are powerful people
  2. They will arbitrarily use your power against you
  3. Those people use their power to influence law so the law will not protect you
  4. You can't solve this problem within the bounds of the law
It's not hard to look at Ukraine and see that justice cannot be achieved without war and that you don't get to decide when you are at war.

The problem with this whole thought process is it's hilariously abstract. The people in power have F-35s. What is your collection of (admittedly, unnecessarily powerful) guns going to do against that?

It also assumes that such disagreements require force to be resolved, and that's just demonstrably not always true. Even if it sometimes is.

F-35s aren't particularly useful for collecting taxes, for maintaining a state. You can't use them to intimidate an individual, it's a huge waste of resources for the owner of the F-35. What's more dangerous than an F-35 is a group of guys with guns driving around in a pickup truck. Guns and trucks are just so much cheaper than fighter jets, so much more deployable... not to mention the entire logistical and manpower apparatus that goes into getting an F-35 in the air. If you want to win a war of attrition you use cheap, effective tools, not the flashy stuff. Flashy weapons are great for blowing up some other country's infrastructure, it's not very useful if the enemy is your own people. If you blow up all your own people and infrastructure, what do you have power over?

If you and everyone in a 10-mile radius of where you're sitting right now decided to ignore some federal law, like maybe the one against cannabis, what the heck is an F-35 going to do about it? Blow up a building, is that supposed to help? No, you get some guys with guns and trucks and then you can start going door to door, threatening people, looking around, collecting stuff, whatever. You can set up checkpoints and block off bridges, the whole shebang, because you're trying to establish control, not just blow things up.

Blowing things up has its uses but if you want to intimidate someone to the point where you have power over them, you need to be a little more intimate. You can't just be a fleck in the sky and you can't just show up do to the big stuff. You need to be in their face as a persistent, immediate threat. That's what influences human behavior and that's how power is established. That's exactly why small guns are such a sticking point in the USA, they're a very effective counter to this intimate threat.

Conversely the over abundance of guns also is fraying the social fabric and makes normal policing impossible.

FWIW, despite having a strong favorable opinion about gun rights, given Americas clear lack of responsibility in using their gun rights for good, I think it's hard to argue against gun regulation.

I am pro gun rights but not anti regulation.

I think liberals fail to acknowledge that sometimes you can't get out of "might makes right" resolution for disputes, which results in situations of denial around gun rights.

So regulation is seen as a weakening of gun rights because the people most in favor of regulating guns fail to also make arguments in favor of guns or discount the pro-gun argument entirely.

It's hard to get a military to invade its own country, harder to get them to keep doing it, and harder yet to keep the whole apparatus supplied in the process. And the waves of mass desertions tend to come with military hardware attached.

The most serious threat to an American insurgency isn't the US military, it's the police. And the police don't have F-35s... yet.

> The people in power have F-35s. What is your collection of (admittedly, unnecessarily powerful) guns going to do against that?

Military inventory, while powerful, isn't the end-all. Just ask Afghans about their experiences with two superpowers' machinery.

I wonder what the Vietnamese would think of your argument or the Ukrainians. I wonder if the people in Tiananmen wish they had had guns. I wonder if people in Hong Kong wish they had had guns. I wonder about the people in Myanmar or the educated class in Cambodia, or Afghani, or Iranians wish they had more guns.

"Who are the 2nd amendment protected guns theoretically meant to be used against? When are they supposed to be used? Can the 2nd amendment ever be used to protect a free state within the bounds of the law?" are pretty major critical thinking questions that it are probably worth meditating on, especially for liberal people.

What would have happened if Trump won is a question every liberal person needs to contemplate.

When the rule of law (the idea that powerful people cannot arbitrarily exercise their power) fails, it becomes might makes right. Would you rather be in a might makes right society where you have a gun or where you don't? I think that answer is obvious.

> Even if it sometimes is.

If you want peace prepare for war.

Politicians in the American Left have never been antiwar.

Truman, Johnson, Clinton, Obama, etc.

The only difference between now and the 70s is that the politicians have more control over the left.

The progressives (bernie, AOC, etc.) had very very disappointing responses to Ukraine that showed they are not ready to rule. I was particularly devastated by AOC's response.

>> Truman, Johnson, Clinton, Obama, etc.

The Carter presidency is in the running for the most peaceful modern presidency. He did start arming the rebels in Afghanistan, and ordered what I guess amounts to a brief invasion of Iran, but overall, pretty peaceful. It's either him or Trump.


My impression is that the left is more anti-imperialist-war than anti-war. Vietnam and Iraq were hard to justify morally.

We on the left realized that John Brown got it right. Sometimes you have to march to the sea to get basic human rights.

How do you mean? Seems like the left is still pretty antiwar. Also, not all war is equal. Otherwise you're in the paradox of tolerance. It should be a last resort but it necessarily must remain an option. Unprovoked wars of aggression (US Iraq) are different from provoked wars (e.g. Germany in WWII). The other problem is when there's provoked aggression but the response is disproportionate (9/11 Afghanistan considering Afghanistan offered to remand Bin Laden into US custody). There's a lot more nuance in the real world too (e.g. how should Israel respond to inbound rocket attacks which are provoked but failure to respond with outsized force tends to cause attackers to get more emboldened).

No one is antiwar. Its a non-sensical position. There are just people who want de-escalation in a subset of cases.

Antiwar doesn’t really make any sense because you can’t end wars without fighting in wars. Or surrendering but that proves the “doesnt really make sense” point. It also just encourages more wars in the future. There can be diplomatic solutions but you still have to embrace the war until then.

"Anti-war" is a sensible coherent position relative to a country making war. It only seems ambiguous these days because Russia is trying to tap into existing anti-war sentiment against the US (caused by elective wars the US created), to undermine western support for Ukraine in a war that Russia created. The straightforward anti-war position on Ukraine is "Russia, stop making war in Ukraine" - which is clearest when expressed by Russian citizens, but can be expressed by anyone. Russia however is not stopping (just as the US didn't stop in Iraq), and so war continues.

The paradox of tolerance can not be used here.

It requires fiat control of the situation.

That control of sovereign entities can only be attained by threat or actualised violence.

Putting it another way.

That you even consider yourself entitled to tolerate a sovereign nation requires that you believe you are entitled a degree of control it.

Anti-war thinking requires not just that you consider war a last resort. But you consider that you have no option at all. War is not another just lever.

If it is then you do not have anti-war beliefs you just are more adverse to it than some hawks.

> That control of sovereign entities can only be attained by threat or actualised violence.

Treaties are signed regularly having nothing to do with any kind of threat of violence. Breaking of treaties often even has legal redress mechanisms within international courts of law, all without military threats. Instead economic sanctions are often the recourse.

Re "paradox of tolerance" it's a pretty close analogy so I'm really not sure what you're going on about. An absolute anti-war position puts you in the position of tolerating wars. Thus any group that wants can engage in violence to acquire more resources. At the limit it can even overpower you although that's not so important because your tolerance of the war has a net result in having caused more war and violence. In military circles it would be called appeasement* but it's the same basic philosophy.

* Interesting side note is that there are some historians that suggest that Chamberlain's appeasement strategy wasn't because he thought it would work to pacify Hitler but because he was desperately trying hard to avoid Britain getting sucked into a conflict until they were properly staffed up (Stalin did the same btw). Additionally the appeasement strategy arguably was helpful in also pulling America into the European theater because domestic supporters of Germany couldn't claim that Hitler's expansion was somehow legitimate given that every grievance raised by Germany had a legitimate attempt to redress.

What are you blathering on about? Intolerance, treaties, Hitler?

Your comment is the best example of Godwin's law I've seen in a while.

I'll take your sprinting away from the point at hand to mean you're not interested in the original discussion?

To tolerate suggests you could not tolerate it. That requires control.

> To tolerate suggests you could not tolerate it. That requires control.

Actually it does not and I’m not sprinting away from anything. I am concerned about the refusal to engage with analogies though. I thought my analogies were passable but you seem to have gotten quite triggered. What’s going on there?

Let me try again. If someone is robbing you without you doing anything, you tolerate getting robbed because otherwise you might risk bodily harm. So if anything, tolerance is the opposite and implies a lack of control because otherwise if you could not tolerate it and had control, you probably wouldn’t. Indeed, if we look at examples of intolerance, it’s actually the intolerant that have the control which is where the paradox comes from (governments self-limiting their ability to control situations and thus letting intolerant people take that control, Britain appeasing Germany because they’d otherwise lose the war before it started if they didn’t buy themselves time etc).

As for Godwin’s law:

> the probability of a comparison to Nazis or Adolf Hitler approaches 100%.

I’m not comparing anyone or anything to Nazi’s nor Hitler but instead I’m showing the similarity between appeasement and the paradox of intolerance through the lens of the most famous appeasements of the 20th century. Just saying “Hitler” doesn’t automatically make it an example of Godwin’s law. Ironically:

> Godwin's law itself can be applied mistakenly or abused as a distraction, diversion or even as censorship, when fallaciously miscasting an opponent's argument as hyperbole when the comparison made by the argument is appropriate

And this is just talking about the link between authoritarians and Hitler / genocides and Nazis.

Predictably, this comment started a partisan political argument that took over the thread like kudzu.

Like a lot of things, it went off like a light switch when Obama was elected. It was crushing. I thought it was genuine anti-Iraq-war sentiment, not merely well-deserved hate for Bush. But a lot of it turned out to be a cudgel to beat the other guys.

COVID is similar; Trump fucked it up because everything he touches turns to shit, not a surprise. Biden continues to fuck it up to this day and... crickets from Democrats.

Thankfully, Biden is doing the right thing, very skillfully, with Ukraine. I wish he could get it together on domestic policy. Making his bumblefuck COVID czar his chief of staff was a incredibly bad decision, though.

Obama doubled down on Afghanistan from the get-go -- I consider that fiasco as much his as his predecessors.

As an "anti-war leftist", I find myself cheering on the assistance to Ukraine, as that is the first war in my memory that seemed worth fighting.

Still no love for the Military Industrial Complex though...

I'm a huge Obama fan but Afghanistan was his biggest mistake. In fairness, he got sold a bill of goods by the Pentagon and with the economy in a shambles, he was somewhat distracted. The Republicans greeted anything he did with stubborn resistance with McConnell pledging to make him a one term President. McCain prevented him from closing Guantanamo.

But he was still Commander in Chief.

Yes, he was sold a bill of goods, but in his 8 years never re-evaluated the situation.

I'm going to guess that he was wary of the political attacks over doing so -- if all it took was french mustard or a tan suit, imagine the outrage of "cutting and running"

I would say, they are both complicated.

Afghanistan shows that trying "nation building" on a place where they don't actually want any nation doesn't really work. But it did work for Japan and Germany after WW2, so maybe it was worth trying. I'm sure the women who are now forbidden to learn to read liked the Americans more than they like Taliban, but does that mean extending the war was worth it?

As for Iraq, the WMDs were a complete lie and Bush and Cheney just wanted more war - some say Cheney was the mind behind and Bush was just idiot, some say Bush wanted to finish what his father started - but average Iraqi is now better off than with Saddam. That doesn't help those who died in the war, of the people who could have has better lives for the money the war had cost though.

It was actually Ukraine that changed my opinion on Iraq, because the arguments "Iraq under Saddam's brutal dictatorship wasn't that bad, there was no reason to war" started resonate with "don't help Ukraine, their lives aren't going that bad under Putin's brutal dictatorship, tell the to surrender" little too much. Was Iraq different from Ukraine only because in one the dictator was status quo and in the other it wasn't?

Yeah, complicated.

Neither Japan nor Germany needed "nation building", because the corresponding nations were already formed long before then.

As far as Ukraine and Iraq, one big difference is that there Iraq under Saddam was not fighting a war on its territory when US invaded in 2003. So you have to consider the number of people who would have likely died due to political repressions vs the number of people who died from the war and the resulting instability - and I don't think that arithmetic is in favor of the war even today.

OTOH in Ukraine it was Russia that invaded and forced the war on them, so from the perspective of outside assistance you have to compare the number of Ukrainians that would die resisting by themselves vs the number that will die resisting with Western aid. I don't think this comparison is a given either way - there's a lot of rhetoric in the West along the lines of, "if we didn't support them they'd fold quickly and then the war would be over", but given the determined resistance that we have seen and the sheer number of people who joined the volunteer territorial defense units and their willingness to engage early in the conflict (e.g. under Kyiv), I think it's more likely that even if Russia managed to occupy the entire country, it would still be dealing with large-scale guerilla warfare, with all the massive civilian casualties that entails.

The other key difference is that Iraqis under Saddam weren't really given a choice whether they preferred to suffer Saddam or an invasion to remove him. Ukrainians, OTOH, are pretty open about their preferences.

But they emphatically said they weren't nation-building, and armies are only good for fighting and destroying things, not building things (with an exception to the Corp of Engineers).

There was never a plan, more so, never a formal declaration of what the hell victory was supposed to look like.


I'm a different anti-war leftist, but IMO it's a lose-lose. This is more about mitigation than doing what's good. The MIC wins whether or not we support Ukraine - if Russia conquered Kyiv, you think the MIC wouldn't be ramping everything up in preparation for further invasions of NATO allies?

It's not like Ukraine is some socialist utopia I want preserved at all costs. But it's a free nation that's less fascist than Russia, and it deserves to exist, and more importantly the Ukrainian people deserve to exist. If Russia wins, we'll be looking at genocide on a huge scale (because we're actually currently dealing with genocide on a "small" scale). So, I'm more anti-genocide than I am anti-MIC, and I think it's a good thing we're helping Ukraine fight back against Russia.

The outcome of the conflict will be the only metric that matters for assessing Biden's performance. If we end up spending hundreds of billions of dollars and have nothing to show for it except Russia controlling the territory they originally intended to seize, it will be difficult to consider anything we are doing as 'skillful'. Dumping money and weapons into the proxy war du jour is the default policy of D.C.

Biden shouldnt be judged on the outcome of Ukraine. And im no fan of Biden. But its just not in his power nor all of NATO, unless we got in a direct conflict with Russia.

And sadly, this is more normal than peace when it comes to Russian border states.

American leadership deserves to be judged if they commit hundreds of billions of dollars to cause with no benefit to the American public. A Russian victory that we are spending huge sums to prevent doesn’t bring any benefit to the American public.

A Russian victory in Ukraine being would be Pyrrhic. No matter what the PR on the war's eventual end is, Putin hollowed out Russia to fight this war. The negative impacts on Russia will last until the end of this century, and beyond.

Im not sure I agree that the US shouldn’t fund Ukraine. Very sympathetic to that but not sure I agree. And yes Biden deserves blame for it to the extent that anyone deserves blame for it.

But that’s entirely different than blaming him for not solving the crisis.

> Biden continues to fuck it up to this day

what is there left to do on COVID? The healthcare system is not collapsing and lockdowns have ended. Remember, the lockdowns where there only to prevent the healthcare system from collapsing. We even have vaccines and a host of other treatments widely available. If you're expecting total eradication of an airborne respiratory virus I don't think you're being realistic.

> Biden continues to fuck it up to this day

In what way? Don't get me wrong, I think Biden sucks. But when wearing a mask became an issue of deepest political ideology before Biden was elected, it's a tough task to change public opinion when you're a politician.

There's something to be said that we literally lost the war on covid and just kinda pretended that it ended, but I'm not sure what other option there was. If democrats pushed to keep fighting covid with gusto, it would not have been popular and would easily lead to Republicans running everything in the next decade.

History books will hopefully acknowledge just how terribly the entire world handled it.

Covid is over. It might still be around but we are done melting down over it.

We won the war on covid though, it was always about hospital capacity.

Yeah I agree but, like I say, we were defeated by COVID before Biden was elected, just like we were defeated in Afghanistan before he was elected. He could have pulled off something excellent in either case, but that would have been very difficult and I don't know how he would have done it.

How was this country defeated by covid? What could he have done otherwise? Hospitals aren't overwhelmed today, that was the entire concern of the pandemic.

We were defeated in the sense that the very idea of fighting covid became a political hot button and a huge percentage of the US population decided not to fight.

Yes, it could have been worse, maybe we could have had utter collapse. But hospitals did get overrun multiple times and many people died completely unnecessarily because we stopped fighting. I really wouldn't call this a win; covid is now endemic and continuing to evolve inside us. At best this is a bloody stalemate.

People forgot about the whole "flattening the curve" thing, and a bunch of narratives cropped up about what the end goal was.

The goals, which were never real, started to have political consequences and it became a whole thing.

People forgot about flattening the curve because we literally did flatten the curve. It was about hospital capacity:


More like the left abandoned American politics. At least compared to the rest of the world the US have 2 right-wing parties.

American politics abandoned the left, not the other way around. We decided to make McCarthyism a national sport. Being against Vietnam was unpatriotic and wrong. Being against Afghanistan was unpatriotic and wrong. Being against unregulated capitalism was unamerican and wrong.

What about when the entire left voted for going to Iraq twenty years ago? (Except Bernie Sanders I believe)

> The dramatic, much-debated vote on Joint Resolution 114 was taken on Oct. 11, 2002. It passed the Senate by a vote of 77 to 23, and the House of Representatives by a vote of 296 to 133. In the end, 156 members of Congress from 36 states had enough information and personal insight and wisdom to make the correct decision for our nation and the world community.

> Six House Republicans and one Independent joined 126 Democratic members of the House of Representatives in voting NAY. In the Senate, 21 Democrats, one Republic, and one Independent courageously voted their consciences in 2002 against the War in Iraq.


Worth mentioning among the NAY votes is Barbara Lee representative of California’s 12th congressional district (9th during the vote) who has announced she’ll be running to take Dianne Feinstein’s (who voted YAY) seat in the 2024 senate race, and is a favorite among many progressives (i.e. left wing Democrats).

I still don’t understand why people think it was the wrong decision.

I’m sorry for the snark, but Major General Smedley Butler offers a generic explanation for wars in general in his 1935 essay War is a Racket.

But for the Iraq war specifically (a part from the racketeering) why many people think it was the wrong decision is in large part based on the lies and deceptions that were used to justify the invasion.

At the time many people believed those lies and thought they were justifiable reasons for the invasion. When it later turned out there were no weapons of mass destruction, that ties of the Ba'ath party to terrorist organizations were none, that the USA imposed government was corrupt and offered little benefits to regular people over Saddam’s dictatorship, etc. etc. When this all became common knowledge, on top of all the war crimes, the torture scandals, the massacres, after Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange went to prison for revealing some of those war crimes, many of these people who previously believed the war was justified, changed their opinion of it.

Where is the 'war fervor' of the Left?

What does helping Ukraine defend themselves have to do with 'war fervor'?

Putin invaded Ukraine in 2014 and Obama/Trump reaction was to ignore it - which directly resulted in a much bigger war.

The US Military Industrial Complex is why there are no wars against rich allied states. If Ukraine were part of the system and had a well managed, functional military - Putin could not have invaded, in fact he never would have tried.

This is incomplete. Ukraine was supposed to be a buffer between NATO and Russia. As soon as Western folks started talking about getting cozy with Ukraine, Putin saw the eventuality where US/joint bases would be on his border and he didn't want that. He would rather start a war with Ukraine than go toe-to-toe with the US and NATO.

Any ideology that doesn't allow Ukraine to make their own destiny is unacceptable. Ukraine told Russia it wouldn't join NATO, tried to set itself up to join the EU instead, and got invaded anyway, back in 2014.

> Any ideology that doesn't allow Ukraine to make their own destiny is unacceptable.

Thank you for stating that. I hate when smaller countries are just talked about as pawns in a chess game between larger powers with no self determination, or should just take one for the team to prevent rocking the boat.

If Russia doesn't like its smaller neighbours wanting to join NATO, it should've treated them a lot better.

I remember all the whining about "NATO bases on our borders!!!" on Russian news back in 1999 when Poland joined. And then again in 2004 when the Baltics joined. It was all the same stuff then as it is now - about how they were just prepping the beachhead for those tank columns that would eventually drive towards Moscow, how NATO nukes would be stationed there allowing for a surprise decapitation strike etc. None of which came to pass in the years since, unsurprisingly.

In any case, what does "supposed to be a buffer" even mean? Supposed by whom? Ukraine certainly didn't sign up for that.

Other people making friends is not really a good reason to start killing them, either way.

I know it’s not what you’re saying exactly, but it’s what Putin’s actions boil down to.

NATO was already on his border.

The route that Russia has been invaded through during WWII and Napoleon runs right through the plains of Ukraine. Putin's older brother died during the siege of Stalingrad as an infant. These memories are not that long ago. They obviously care much less about Finland on their borders.

But really, it's more about the money, the people and the control over trade routes and resources in my estimation and less about security.

It's basic raw Imperialism. The Soviets were just the Russian Empire under another name, absolutely all of Putin's actions aka saying Ukrainians don't exist, calling them 'little Russians', the tactic of treating them as vassals, of viewing this as a conflict with the US and not Ukraine, his ultra nationalist rhetoric, his posturing as the saviour of the Slavs - it's actually kind of straight forward in those terms.

It's astonishing that in the West, so many people see short term things like money or resources, that is often the reality of it, and Crimea does have offshore Oil, but in 50 years he won't be remembered for that - he will be 'Putin the Great' for re-conquoring lost territories and uniting the Russian people and their Empire. Even if there is a stalemate now - it means over a 10 year period he took Crimea and a huge swath of land - that is a big win. It won't feel like a win for a few years, but in the long run of history it'll be viewed as a victory - an expansion of the empire.

For the same reason Westerners talk about China wanting to invade Taiwan for TSMC? Gosh no - they view Taiwan as 'China' - and all the states around them as 'natural vassals to their greater power' - and that's that, they are the 'Middle Kingdom Centre of the World' and Xi is on that mission.

Those guys are using 19th century geopolitics and ethnography, taking very long term view of things.

A victory for Ukraine is important to maintain some very basic and essential things we have come to expect in the world - not fancy ideals - just basic freedoms, democracy, rule of law etc..

The military industrial complex will take a pound of flesh unless we manage them effectively, but they are not driving this war, not even from the Russian side where most of the money is pilfered anyhow.

Russia has borders with NATO and had them for years. The buffer theory makes zero sense, considering Ukraine was not even trying to get to NATO and there is pretty long border between Russia and NATO anyway.

NATO basis were next to Russia for decades.

Plus, one does not need to commit genocide to achieve safety. Anand Putin just happen to be committing genocide.

> What does helping Ukraine defend themselves have to do with 'war fervor'?

For me: the manner in which it is done (the rhetoric in media, etc).


> ...or rallying to the defense of the Duchess of Sussex, a literal princess married to a family of billionaires

FWIW, nobody I know (either left-leaning or right-learning) cares about her at all. I'm curious where you're hearing this from.

> while kicking poor white workers in the teeth


> the latter are suspicious that a man belongs in a woman's locker room.

Well, I'm glad that we can all agree that trans men are okay, then!

The person you are replying to is a monster (flagged comment): https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=36061333

I'm actually not sure anymore which side of the aisle, if any, anyone in this conversation joins, but in the US, both the Democrats and Republicans have spent the last 70 years selling the average worker down river, whether by trade agreements that made it profitable to do all manufacturing in China or decades of successful anti-union and anti-"socialism" propaganda or banking deregulation, or letting coal mines poison you while also letting them write the textbooks that tell you you should be thankful for being poisoned, to embroiling us in middle east nonsense, to the war on drugs, to stabbing important unionized transportation workers in the back directly (Both parties have an explicit case of this!!!)

The republicans switched to ideological and religious stuff mid century, and the democrats seemingly responded by just.... walking away from the common man? It's weird. If you want to vote for workers empowerment in the US, you don't have an option.

Hell, plenty on the right want Trump as king, with his son as next in line. I don't think that is broadly popular Republican policy though, despite their official policy being "Do whatever Trump wants"

One of the most disappointing things in American politics in the last ten to fifteen years has been watching the right cozy up to Putin.

Im familiar with the argument in favor of this within the past couple years. But what case is there that they started 15 years ago?

“I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy,” Bush said. “I was able to get a sense of his soul.”

I dunno about 15 years, but it was already a thing in 2015. My local gun store owner - the kind of guy who watches Fox religiously, has "thin blue line" stickers on his truck etc - straight up told me that he'd prefer Putin to Obama because the former is a "true leader", a "real Christian", and "protects family values".

It's a bit sad to see the comment section here fighting about left/right, Democrat/Republican, and whose fault this mess is instead of focusing on the military-industrial complex.

I must confess...I detest the phrase military-industrial complex while acknowledging that it was likely defined and definitely used by people much smarter than I. It's too abstract and sounds like a phrase your tinfoil-hat wearing conspiracy-theorist uncle would rant about. Would much rather we spoke in terms of real-world organizations (start with the big players and go from there) that benefit from forever wars...

The specific players change, though. You wouldn't call it (for example) the "Reagan-Raytheon Complex", since that's just a specific, temporary instance produced by a more systemic pattern of behavior. Even though the more specific framing seems more actionable, getting rid of those particular players would not solve the problem if the next set just did the same thing. So, it's actually more useful to think of this as a warning about systems rather than entities.

>> It's too abstract and sounds like a phrase your tinfoil-hat wearing conspiracy-theorist uncle would rant about

That's why it was so important that it come from someone like a 5 star general and Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe during World War II. No one was going to mistake Eisenhower for a tinfoil-hat wearer, a pacifist, or an appeaser.

While I completely agree I'm not sure how well known its origins are today, or will be in the future.

I've been thinking that we ought to stop using county names to refer to wars. Vietnam is a place, people live there, but when I hear its name I just think about how messed up my grandpa is because of his experiences in that war.

So I think that instead of "Afghanistan" we should call it "Lockheed's War" or something like that.

And Iraq would the be the Bush/Cheney/Haliburton War. I'm a fan of this naming convention.

I'm not sure if you're being serious but I like this a lot

Totally serious.

If we must have wars, let them be remembered as a black mark on the names of the people who profited from them. A cautionary tale about how not to weild power.

On the flip side: I have no ill will towards the people of Iraq or Afghanistan or Vietnam, so I feel bad attaching a negative connotation to the name of their country. As if my tax dollars didn't do enough harm to their homes, now my speech is making it harder to let go of. Yuck.

I've been saying things like:

> The justification for Putin's war feels even flimsier than the justification for Cheney's war, but then again I'm not the target audience.

So far people just raise their eyebrows at me, but I like to imagine it'll catch on.

War? Product placement campaign.

Its a massive oversimplification driven by pessimism.

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact