“The very notion that U.S. military spending is “defense” spending gets any discussion off to a badly distorted start.”

By John Rachel, Dissident Voice

Events continue to unfold at a quickening pace. Facing an alarming escalation in tensions around the world, we asked Norman Solomon for his most current thoughts. We focus on the realities of the international power struggle unfolding in real time, specifically addressing the role of the U.S. in the tensions and its capacity to reduce them.

us navy ship

Norman Solomon is an American journalist, media critic, activist, and former U.S. congressional candidate. He is a long time associate of the media watch group Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting. In 1997 he founded the Institute for Public Accuracy which works to provide alternative sources for journalists, and serves as its executive director.  Solomon is co-founder and national director of RootsAction. He was a Bernie Sanders delegate from California to the 2016 and 2020 Democratic National Conventions, and is the author of a dozen books, including War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death (2006) and Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America’s Warfare State (2007).

We are looking for paradigm-shift ideas for improving the prospects for peace. His responses below are exactly as he provided.

Here is what Norman had to say.

John Rachel: We hear a lot of terms and acronyms bandied about. ‘Deep State’ … ‘MIC’ … ‘FIRE sector’ … ‘ruling elite’ … ‘oligarchy’ … ‘neocons’. Who actually defines and sets America’s geopolitical priorities and determines our foreign policy? Not “officially”.  Not constitutionally. But de facto.

Norman Solomon: Setting the boundaries of dominant discourse — with reiteration and omission — is crucial to guiding and determining U.S. foreign policy as well as discouraging the spread of dissent. The very notion that U.S. military spending is “defense” spending gets any discussion off to a badly distorted start. I wouldn’t be against spending that is truly for defense, but right now only a small proportion of the Pentagon budget deserves to be in that category. The U.S. maintains about 750 military bases overseas and is currently engaged in military operations in 80 countries. As I put it in a recent article for Truthout, “Leaders of the U.S. government never tire of reasserting their commitment to human rights and democracy. At the same time, they insist that an inexhaustible supply of adversaries is bent on harming the United States, which must not run away from forceful engagement with the world. But the actual U.S. agenda is to run the world.” It’s an agenda propelled and implemented largely by corporate power, with tremendous profits being made — mostly by huge corporations; military contracting is a sacred cash cow for the oligarchy. The warfare state is a corporate state.

JR: We’ve had decades of international tensions. Recent developments have seen a sharp escalation in the potential for a major war. The U.S. apparently cannot be at peace. “Threats” against the homeland are allegedly increasing in number and severity. The trajectory of our relations with the rest of the world appears to be more confrontations, more enemies, more crises, more wars.

Is the world really that full of aggressors, bad actors, ruthless opponents? Or is there something in our own policies and attitudes toward other countries which put us at odds with them, thus making war inevitable and peace impossible?

NS: It’s been said that the United States is in search of enemies, and certainly there’s an unending supply — especially when trying to run the world as much as you can. Of course, the world is filled with many people and forces eager to concentrate undue power and oligarchic wealth in the hands of a few, and the United States is hardly responsible for that reality. That said, the U.S. government is the leading international lawbreaker and killer in this century — it’s really not a debatable fact, it’s a matter of looking at the numbers of deaths from the U.S. wars on Afghanistan and Iraq alone. “Do as we say, not as we do” has never been a very convincing message. What the world needs is a single standard of human rights and international law. Hypocrisy in Washington does not justify Russia’s murderous war on Ukraine, or vice versa.

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