While the rest of the news media was busy covering the Great Birth Certificate Drama, Rachel Maddow spared her audience yet another hour of having to watch that walking hairpiece make a fool of himself (and us), and instead focused on the real news: a US-trained Afghan pilot had turned on his trainers and killed 9 Americans the biggest single casualty report since 2005. Not only did Rachel report this story, she also wondered aloud at its implications the doubtfulfeasibility of a policy that assumes the Afghans will stand up as we stand down and wryly noted how the Obama White House is even utilising the same phraseology we all remember from the Bush years. My ears perked up. Is someone who often seems like a dyed-in-the-wool Obama cultist and partisan hack finally rebelling against the Great and Glorious Leader? Well, maybe, maybe not: in any case, she proceeded to give a platform to Prof Andrew Bacevich, author of The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War, and, most recently,Washington Rules: Americas Path to Permanent War. Bacevich is a retired US Army colonel who graduated from West Point, fought in Vietnam, and now teaches at Boston University: he lost a son in Iraq and has become an eloquent conservative critic of our foreign policy of global intervention. Bacevich spent a good deal of his time talking about an article recently released by the Wilson Center, A National Strategic Narrative, signed by Mr. Y. He started out by saying that the publication of the article is important less for the actual content of the piece and more because of who wrote it Mr. Y is a pseudonym for US Navy Captain Wayne Porter and US Marine Corps Colonel Mark Mykleby, who both work for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Pentagon. As he describes it, What they are saying is our approach to national security policy has been excessively militarised, we really need to pay more attention to what goes on inside the country. Bacevich went on to note that these two officers are not alone. Rather than being resistant to change that is, to a substantial cut in our misnamed defence budget, and the demilitarisation of our foreign policy quite the contrary seems to be the case. He cites the many emails he gets from serving officers basically agreeing with his non-interventionist views, and indeed many in the military hierarchy raised objections to the Iraq war, to such an extent that the neocons were screaming at one point about keeping the soldiers in their barracks and out of politics. It was great to hear Bacevich lay into the Democrats for not having the necessary moral courage to take the sort of political risks that are involved in saying we are not going to dominate the world, we are going to bankrupt the country and squander our moral standing on MSNBC That almost makes up for Chris Matthews forgetting hes supposed to be a journalist. And so, excited at hearing this news of a prominent defection from the War Party, and coming from inside the Pentagon, no less, I eagerly sought out the actual text that had Prof Bacevich so enthused. I have to confess to being a bit disappointed: I should have taken to heart his caveat about the authorship being more important than the content. Outside of the most reified academic journal, Ive never tried to navigate prose so clotted with coined phrases and indecipherable jargon: the authors torture their readers with phrases like sustainable interdependence, national strategic narrative, and other coined phrases of such ethereal vagueness that one is drawn into a semi-hypnotic state in which individual words no longer seem to have much meaning, but only via accumulation do they impart a blurred but recognisable impression. Whats recognisable is not anything new: its the same old transnational progressivism that has animated the internationalist wing of the War Party since the days of Woodrow Wilson, albeit leavened with the spice of declinism an admission that, for purely economic reasons, we simply cannot sustain our foreign policy of untrammeled imperialism and global dominance. It is a sigh of exhaustion coming from the pinnacle of power, a warning that our over-extended and obscenely expensive defence budget is diverting vital resources away from more productive uses. Of course, this being the Obama administration, the authors cannot bring themselves to say where this purloined wealth is being diverted from instead, they point to our lack of infrastructure, and cuts in the education budget, and the straitened circumstances of our increasingly threadbare Welfare State. Yet they do manage to acknowledge what is obvious to everyone: that the entrepreneurial spirit that built Americas great wealth is in some pretty sad shape: Many of us have forgotten that rewards must be earned, there is no 'free ride that fair competition and hard work bring with them a true sense of accomplishment. We can no longer expect the ingenuity and labour of past generations to sustain our growth as a nation for generations to come. Well said yet we are never told what is the source of this complacency and expectation of a free ride. Perhaps its best not to delve into that too deeply, because the authors have other concerns that is, aside from making a pitch for more infrastructure and investing more federal dollars in the teachers lobby and the rigidly bureaucratic state-monopoly system over which they preside. Their chief concern is this: For forty years our nation prospered and was kept secure through a strategy of containment. That strategy relied on control, deterrence, and the conviction that given the choice, people the world over share our vision for a better tomorrow. America emerged from the Twentieth Century as the most powerful nation on earth. But we failed to recognise that dominance, like fossil fuel, is not a sustainable source of energy. In short, we are not going to conquer the world, and its time our rulers recognised the economic and military reality: so give it up, guys Americas fifty-year global rampage is about to come to an end, whether we like it or not. This is precisely what libertarians such as Ron Paul have been saying for years, and this is the real key to a left-right, progressive-libertarian alliance. As Paul has pointed out on numerous occasions, we could fund all the lefty-liberal pet projects like government-run death panels healthcare and free Twinkies for all if only we would give up the Empire. I have to add, however, that there are some major problems with Mr. Ys woozy-globalist worldview. Reading this prose, one is reminded of a late-night campus bull session fuelled with a liberal dose of psychedelics, in which the interconnectedness of Everything is often and solemnly noted. This latter-day Woodstockian worldview all too easily translates, in national security terms, into the by-now-familiar language of humanitarian intervention. Its no accident that Mr Ys prescription is prefaced by Anne-Marie Slaughter lecturing us that we are an exceptional nation because we are committed to universal values to the equality of all human beings, not just within the borders of the United States, but around the world. Ms Slaughter, until recently a top official in the Pentagons policy department, was one of the loudest agitators for US military intervention in Libya a testament to this administrations militant defence of universal values. That this lays down a tripwire for yet another prolonged war in the Middle East is rendered no less dangerous because it is done in the name of multilateralism and humanitarianism rather than unilateralism and fighting terrorism. Im hardly shocked that Porter and Mykleby in effect modify the concept of sovereignty to suit their own purposes: America is committed to sovereignty without tyranny, they aver, and go on to attack the Treaty of Westphalia as a hopelessly outdated standard which must be discarded by a new doctrine of interdependence. After all, the US military has been heedlessly violating the sovereignty of other countries since the Mexican-American war, and never more brazenly or massively than with our global war on terrorism so is it any surprise these two worthies, immersed in the culture of the Pentagon, disdain the traditional concept of sovereignty, as such? At the heart of this Wilsonian or, really, [Franklin D.] Rooseveltian vision is a scheme to make imperialism work on the cheap. Recognising the limits of American power, and yet still trying to maintain some faade of a world order one that favours the US and its alleged interests this is the task the transnational progressives have set for themselves. What they want, most of all, is a soft landing when the supporting structures of the Empire begin to crack. Since I live in that Empire, I, too, hope our fall will be sufficiently cushioned, but my sense of realism call it pessimism conditioned by history warns me to prepare for the worst. Professor Bacevich is right: neither the Democrats nor the Republicans have the will to pull this country back from the abyss of financial and moral bankruptcy. The collapse, when it comes, will prove the case against Empire but by then it will be too late. AntiWar