The passing scene – October 14, 2015

On Building Armies (and Watching Them Fail) by Andrew Bacevich for TomDispatch.

Andrew Bacevich is a West Point graduate, a Vietnam veteran and a retired career Army officer who now teaches political science.  He said the goal of the neo-conservative faction in the U.S. government is military domination.

Since most Americans are unwilling to fight except against actual threats to the nation, the neo-conservatives try to use foreign fighters as proxies.  But foreigners also are unwilling to fight for American neo-conservative goals.

Those who are willing to fight have their own agendas, which is not the same as the U.S. agenda.  The latest example is the attempt to train “moderate” Syrian rebels.   Where, asks Bacevich, did Americans ever get the idea that they are especially good at training foreign armies?

I would be interested to hear from anybody who could make a case that the American people are better off for any of the U.S. military interventions during the past 15 years, or that the people of the target countries are better off, or that the world is better off.

Aerospace Trade: Trump’s Winning Card by Eamonn Fingleton for the Unz Review.

Eamonn Fingleton, a former editor of Forbes and the Financial Times, says Boeing is a prime example of the failure of U.S. trade policy, which is based on obsolete ideas about free trade.

As a condition for doing business, Japan, China and other countries insist that U.S. companies such as Boeing shift not only manufacturing operations to their countries, but share vital technological know-how.  The short-term benefit is a boost in profit for the U.S. company.  The long-term cost is a hollowing out of American industry.

He thinks it would take an outsider such as Donald Trump to change this.  I agree it would take someone not beholden to the American business establishment.

How to Protect Your Personal Data—and Your Humanity—From the Government by Walter Kirn for The Atlantic.

Electronics, the Internet and computer algorithms give governments and businesses the means to monitor your every move and draw conclusions—not necessarily accurate ones.

I’m reminded of the old definition of a paranoid:  Someone who lacks the normal person’s ability to diminish awareness of reality.

A History of Secret Torture at Guantanamo Bay by Bonnie Tamres-Moore for the Washington Spectator.

For Murdoch and Fox, the chickens may be coming home to roost by Matt Taibbi for Rolling Stone.

Svetlana Alexievich: The Truth in Many Voices by Timothy Snyder for the New York Review of Books.

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