Read the keystone essay – The American Empire

Briefly Noted, Empire, Videos-Movies-Podcasts

US Regime Change – the Empire in action

February 16, 2024

Americans, especially American politicians love to bask in our alleged role in the post-WWII era as the global force for good spreading Democracy and progress around the world. We bring stability and justice wherever we go. We spend a lot to maintain our presence in virtually every nook and cranny, all to promote our universal values. The real history and present are quite different. Here are some data points gathered from: American-Backed Coups, Mapped by —>> read more –>>


  1. Jeffery Sachs, “Opinion | How the CIA Destabilizes the World | Common Dreams,” Common Dreams, February 12, 2024, – Jeffrey D. Sachs is a University Professor and Director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University – author of A New Foreign Policy: Beyond American Exceptionalism (2020)

American soldiers killed in Jordan – why are American soldiers there?

January 31, 2024

The drone attack on US military outpost, Tower 22, that killed three and injured dozens more has provoked the predictable American call for revenge. Irony of ironies: the incoming drone that did the killing was mistaken for an American drone returning from some mission. Who got killed by our drone?? What is not questioned is why American soldiers are posted to Jordan, or Ouagadougou International Airport (Burkina Faso) Bosasso (Somalia) Prince Sultan Air Base (Saudi —>> read more –>>

Briefly Noted, Empire, Environment

Why are we spending $1.5 trillion on nuclear weapons?

November 26, 2023

The December 2023 issue of Scientific American contains three articles and an editorial about our nuclear weapons production, plans to spend tons of money “modernizing it”, and the environmental consequences. BOOM TIMES: The new costs—and long shadow—of living in a nuclear nation. by Abe Streep SIDE THE PIT FACTORY: For the first time in decades the U.S. is ramping up production of plutonium cores for nuclear weapons. by Sarah Scoles SACRIFICE ZONES: What happens if —>> read more –>>

Capitalism, Economy, Empire, Healthcare, Politics, Security State

A thought for the day while looking around in TikTok

August 28, 2023

The other day I was poking around in TikTok to see what it is all about. Came across a quote from Karl Marx that struck a chord. “There must be something rotten in the very core of a social system which increases its wealth without diminishing its misery.”1 Here we are 164 years later and this observation is perhaps even more telling. This is particularly so because we are a very rich country. The US —>> read more –>>


  1. This appeared in an article Marx wrote for The New York Tribune in 1859

Our Empire, National Priorities, and the Iraq War revisited

August 9, 2023

Recently I came across the Summer 2023 issue of Jacobin (self-described as “a leading voice of the American left, offering socialist perspectives on politics, economics, and culture.”). The lead article is “The Iraq Invasion Twenty Years Later”. This reminded me of all the lies and posturing that led up to the war and the enormous consequences, none of them positive for anyone but the military and military contractors. Here is a summary of some of —>> read more –>>


  2. Heidi Peltier, “We Get What We Pay For: The Cycle of Military Spending, Industry Power, and Economic Dependence | Costs of War,” Costs of War (Watson Institute Brown University, June 6, 2023),
  3. Adapted from accessed 7.21.2021
  4. adapted from: accessed 7.21.2021
  5. see for more current reporting
  6. See,injured%2C%20including%20hundreds%20of%20children.
  7. You might ask a similar question of our longest war, The War on Drugs, declared by President Nixon on June 18, 1971??

The Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) Memorial is coming

May 30, 2023

A recent NPR report, “Global War on Terrorism Memorial Foundation aims for a monument on the National Mall”, alerted me to this project. Authorized by Congress in 2017, it is entering the design selection phase now. The group driving this is the aforementioned GWOT Memorial Foundation, and it states its objectives as: Honor: Salute all who served in this conflict: service members, civilians, and their families. Heal: Provide a focal point for healing and reflection —>> read more –>>



The Presidential-Congressional-Military-Industrial Complex Grows Ever Fatter

May 9, 2023

President Eisenhower, previously General Eisenhower of WWII fame, warned of the Military Industrial Complex in  his farewell addresses in 1961.1 “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” We Are Number 1! Long ago, I renamed Eisenhower’s military-industrial complex to be the Presidential-Congressional-Military-Industrial  Complex. Every President and Congress —>> read more –>>


  1. Eisenhower's farewell speech is well worth a read. It is not very long. Many of its themes remain relevant.
Empire, Racism/White Supremacy, Videos-Movies-Podcasts

The Empire and Capitalism – Expansion of Railroads Across the North American Continent

March 19, 2023

Recently I listened to the first episode of the podcast City of the Rails.1 About 30 minutes in, the author Danelle Morton interviews the historian Richard White about what actually happened when railroads were built across the North American continent in the 1860′ and ’70s. 2(opens the podcast at the interview) White briefly describes that the US government gave away land that was occupied by Indian tribes for thousands of years. The US gave away lands —>> read more –>>


  1. from the podcast series description: When journalist Danelle Morton’s daughter skips town to hop trains, she follows her into the train yard, and across America. Join Danelle as she travels the country to understand what drew her daughter into the hidden world of the railroads.
  2. Richard White (historian). (2022, October 18). In Wikipedia.
  3. the podcast inaccurately describes this as the Transcontinental Railway Act
  4. for a global view of a quintessential capitalist industry, cotton, see Sven Beckert, Empire of Cotton: A Global History, First Edition (New York: Knopf, 2014)
Capitalism, Economy, Education, Empire, Environment, Healthcare, Inequality, Politics, Racism/White Supremacy, Security State, Women

My Year End Siege of Angers – the list

January 1, 2023

Yesterday as I was taking a walk up and down Warren St. here in Hudson I realized that I had become actively angry about the state of the US and the world. I walked past hotels where a single room would set you back $400 for a night or you could go for the suite that is a mere $1300. This in a country where 32% of the people can’t pay an unexpected $400 bill.1 —>> read more –>>


  3. see the empirical study Martin Gilens, Affluence and Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in America (Princeton, N.J; New York: Princeton University Press ; Russell Sage Foundation, 2012).
  11. and
Empire, Politics, Security State

9/11 and the Trump Pandemic – a contrast in reactions

December 5, 2020

Since I noticed that every day now as many Americans are dying in the Trump Pandemic as died during the 9/11 attacks I have thought about how different public and government reactions have been.

Empire, Politics, Security State

How America Tortures – a new report with drawings and a movie

December 13, 2019

 How America Tortures by M. P. Denbeaux, & Seton Hall University. (2019) This report includes eight drawings by Abu Zubaydah, a Guantanamo detainee, illustrating his experiences during torture sessions. Abu Zubaydah is also a figure in the movie discussed below. This report is really a short book, some 95 pages including extensive notes, that covers all aspects of the CIA torture program. Download the report here>>>>. Here are screen grabs of the Abu Zubaydah drawings —>> read more –>>

Briefly Noted, Empire, Videos-Movies-Podcasts

Recently Noted – Overthrow: 100 Years of US Meddling & Regime Change, from Iran to Nicaragua to Hawaii to Cuba

August 22, 2019

We’ve written quite a bit about the US Empire. A key component of this US foreign policy is regime change. Here is a list of the posts here on this topic. Recently Democracy Now! ran a 22 minute discussion of the history of US regime change actions over the last 100 years plus. It features discussion with Stephen Kinzer the author of many books on the history of American foreign policy.


US Empire and Jimmy Carter – five years of peace during our entire history

April 19, 2019

Prompted by President Jimmy Carter, here is a list, self-described to “not pretend to be definitive or absolutely complete.”, of some of our adventures to bring democratic values to others in need.


In The National Interest: the rhetoric of our empire

December 17, 2018

The government and mass media use the phrase “in the national interest” as a ritual phrase to introduce almost every story about our involvement in affairs around the world. It has its variant as “the national security interests” Official Definitions of “National Interests” Here is a definition of our “national interests” from a 2000 report by The Commission on America’s National Interests 1 SUMMARY OF US NATIONAL INTERESTS Vital Vital national interests are conditions that —>> read more –>>


  1. accessed 06142014
  2. The authors of this report include many luminaries in the Bush administration and other foreign policy "experts".
  3. accessed 06132014
  4. “U.S. Collective Defense Arrangements.” Accessed December 10, 2018.

American Wars – The Secrets of Vietnam and Afghanistan

December 6, 2018

The recent movie The Post (about the Washington Post newspaper and its involvement with the Pentagon Papers – see below) poses interesting reminders of the power of the US government to rain death on countries that fall under our imperial domain and simultaneously keep the American people in the dark or asleep. Iconic image of “pacification” campaign during Vietnam War In the case of the Vietnam War (1950 – 1975)1 it took Daniel Ellsberg’s theft —>> read more –>>


  1. American "advisors" joined the French in 1950. The US government paid for most of the French military effort until their ignominious defeat at Dien Bin Phu in 1953 led to their withdrawal and the Geneva Accords of 1954
Empire, Videos-Movies-Podcasts

President Authorizes Coup in Iran

August 19, 2018

Intervention in Iran – 65th Anniversary Iranian Premier Mohammed Mossadegh ca. 1951 On August 19, 1953 President Eisenhower authorized the CIA to support British efforts to launch a coup against the popularly elected government of Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh in favor of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the Shah of Iran. At immediate issue were plans by Mossadegh to nationalize the British owned Anglo-Iranian Oil Company and allegations that Mossadegh was in bed with the Soviet Union.   Here —>> read more –>>

Empire, Politics

Considering the Obama Presidency And Musings on Foreign Policy

December 18, 2017

President Obama came into office on a wave of emotion and hope for change. His two terms have been largely a disappointment. He did a competent job of working part way out of the financial crisis of the Clinton-Bush Bubble – the 2008 Wall St. meltdown. Having completed the bailout of the banks, his Justice Department ran around giving out get-out-of-jail cards to the villains. The millions of people caught up in the meltdown with —>> read more –>>

Briefly Noted, Empire

Cost of War – $5.6 trillion for US wars 2001-2017

December 12, 2017

The Watson Institute at Brown University has just released an updated report: United States Budgetary Costs of Post 9/11 Wars Through FY2018: A Summary of the $5.6 Trillion in Costs for the US Wars in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Post 9/11 Veterans Care and Homeland Security by Neta C. Crawford. This report includes many war costs that the official Pentagon figure of $1.52 trillion leaves out.1 Compound Interest Adds Up Neither of these estimates includes —>> read more –>>


  1. Department of Defense, “Estimated Cost to Each Taxpayer for the Wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.” July 2017, of_Wars_to_Per_Taxpayer July_2017.pdf
  2. page 32 of the Watson report
  3. Wikipedia provides an extensive, exhaustive even, list of estimates:

US Military Engagements – 1950 to present

November 24, 2017

The US has been engaged in military actions, no actual declared wars though, continuously since my birth. This is a simplified list taken from Wikipedia entry: Timeline of United States military operations. Information added by me is in italics. Note that this list does not include CIA and other covert actions. For example, the toppling of the government in Iran in 1954 organized by the CIA and State Department is not here. Nor are numerous —>> read more –>>

Briefly Noted, Empire, Racism/White Supremacy

Thanksgiving – a bit of a corrective history telling and turkey adaptation

November 22, 2017

Corrective History The NYTimes posted a bit of Turkey Day corrective history: “Most Everything You Learned About Thanksgiving Is Wrong” By MAYA SALAM “The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth,” from 1914, by Jennie Augusta Brownscombe borrowed from NYTimes Adaptive Turkeys The Trump pardoned two turkeys yesterday at the White House. But, no surprise for us here in Columbia County, wild turkeys are doing just fine. Once again the NYTimes, ever on spot for trending issues, has an article —>> read more –>>


Russian “Interference” and the American Empire – the lost ironies

November 5, 2017

Americans are unable to see the ironies in complaints about outsiders like the Russians attempting to influence our elections. We have a long history of conducting regime change.


Trump and the Big Muddy – Afghanistan

August 22, 2017

Pete Seeger wrote a song “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy” in 1967 that became closely associated with President Johnson and the Vietnam War. Does Trump remember it?

Briefly Noted, Empire

Recently Noted – about the American Empire

July 28, 2017

A report about an amendment to the defense budget that would end the 2001 AUMF (Authorization for the Use of Military Force) that has provided legal cover for more than forty military actions around the world without Congressional oversight, just the decisions of three Presidents.


Delusions of Empire – Iran in Iraq 15 Years After Bush’s War

July 18, 2017

In the context of ceaseless angst and drum beating by politicians and experts over the threat of Iran to us and the rest of the world there is new evidence that the Iraq War has redounded to the benefit of Iran. In the July 15, 2017 NYTimes Tim Arango wrote an article about Iran’s quite comprehensive penetration of Iraqi society and government and the pipeline that exists between Iraq and the fighting in Syria. “Iran —>> read more –>>

Empire, Politics

Movie – War Machine – a misplaced parable

May 28, 2017

Netflix has just released War Machine onto the streaming media waters. This movie fits into the long tradition of American media mostly puffing up our military exploits or turning them into light tragi-comedy.  Brad Pitt, applying the acting style of a trimmed down George Clooney, portrays the fictional General Glen McMahon. Broadly and obviously based on the story of the real General Stanley McChrystal who took over the War in Afghanistan in June 2009 only to be ousted —>> read more –>>


The Size of US Military – 2015

July 4, 2015

Defense Dept. Budget (does not include CIA, NSA, and other departments like DEA that conduct international operations) Shares of 2015 Federal Budget Military Bases and Personnel (all data from DOD Base Structure Report – 2015) Military Bases Department of Defense Personnel Army – 540,330 Navy – 321,599 Marines – 187,891 Air Force – 312,453 SubTotal – 1,326,273 Reserves – 824,378 Civilians – 851,375 Grand Total – 3,002,375 Germany 6,189 buildings 71,961471 sq. ft. (11 Pentagons —>> read more –>>


Defending the Homeland

April 8, 2014

Recently I stopped at the US Marine Corp War Memorial in Washington DC. Walking around the base with its lengthy list of Marine engagements since 1775, now a double row on several sides, I thought, “How many of these can faithfully be considered to be in defence of the homeland? How many expansionist wars within North America and how many imperialist ventures around the world?” Run through them yourself and see what you think. Keep —>> read more –>>


John le Carré on Bush’s Iraq War – The United States of America Has Gone Mad

April 21, 2013

John le Carré, author of many beloved spy novels, e.g., Tinker Tailor, Soldier, Spy, wrote this piece critiquing the then upcoming War on Iraq in January 2003. Besides pointing out the very strong connections between big oil and the Bushes, many other elements of the critique continue to be applicable to current American foreign policy. Here it is reproduced in its entirety: The United States of America Has Gone Mad by John le Carré Times —>> read more –>>

Empire, Videos-Movies-Podcasts

US Imperialism Redux – Tom Lehrer

March 30, 2013

The other day I stumbled on this Tom Lehrer song, “Send in the Marines”. This is as good a summary of American foreign policy as there is, though to update the lyrics for the Obama version just substitute “drones” for “Marines”. Here is a YouTube video performance, perhaps from the That Was The Week That Was (the American version on NBC not the BBC original).


Ten Years After Shock and Awe – A Crime Against Peace

March 20, 2013

 On March 19, 2003 George Bush, Dick Cheney and the cabal surrounding them launched their war of Shock and Awe on Iraq. The stated purpose was “to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, to end Saddam Hussein’s support for terrorism, and to free the Iraqi people.” (( This war that no one is celebrating was based on a nest of lies and deception not only by the President but many others in the government. —>> read more –>>

Economy, Empire, Politics

Are Americans Over Taxed, Over Defended, Bamboozled by the Military-Industrial-Congressional-Presidential Complex??

December 15, 2011

Americans feel that government, at all levels, is sucking the life blood out of them through taxes and regulations. Lets just talk about the tax part of this perception. What are the facts of the tax burdens on Americans? How does our enormous military and security establishment and overseas empire fit into the picture? And, finally, do we need or want this empire and can we afford it? What options might we have to get —>> read more –>>

Empire, Security State

Parallels and Prescience – on the Tenth Anniversary of 9/11 and the “War on Terror”

September 12, 2011

Having successfully avoided much of the national moment for our politicians to blather on about the true meaning of 9/11, I was struck this morning by parallel between our “War on Terror” and our longest war, the “War on Drugs” (I have written earlier about this here). Some may be offended initially by this comparison. The War on Drugs was invented for the most cynical of purposes by one of our more craven Presidents, President Nixon ((I —>> read more –>>

Economy, Empire

More Thinking about the Defence Budget and US “Security” – a letter to the editor

May 6, 2011

Submitted Today to Hudson’s Register Star Letter to the Editor May 6, 2011 As our politicians and the media continue the “debate” about our public budgets, Federal and state, we need to continue to ask that they have a debate that includes all aspects of income and expenditures. I want to focus here on our spending in the Dept. of Defense. Let’s just focus on the more than 750 military bases outside of the US —>> read more –>>

Empire, Politics

Bush, Anger and Dispair Over Our Situation

January 17, 2011

The return of George Bush to the national scene with the release of his memoir, Decision Points, once again roused feelings of anger and despair. Anger that we have such a weak sense of ethics, basic right and wrong stuff, in our culture. This man and his cohorts lied, aggressively distorted facts, and mislead the country into what has turned out to be a disastrous adventure in aggression in Iraq. If we had any real politics in —>> read more –>>

Empire, Politics, Security State

9/11 and the Uses of American Amnesia (or Self Delusion)

September 20, 2010

As another anniversary of the events of  September 11, 2001 passes, the endless reflexive bleating in the press and our politics about 9/11 reminds that Americans continue to be enormously ignorant and callous about our place in the world. The destruction on September 11, 2001 of a few buildings and the associated loss of life continues to occupy enormous space in the media and our political life. It remains a resource for politicians and the —>> read more –>>

Empire, Healthcare, Politics

Remarks on President Obama’s Speech on Accepting The Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo 12/10/2009

December 21, 2009

There is much to applaud in Obama’s speech: control of nuclear weapons, assertion of human and civil rights, multilateralism in conflict resolution and enforcement, denial of religion as a justification  for oppression of others. But, we come to a significant claim, one that the US government has asserted for my entire lifetime,  and which the US media and populace would support:  “Whatever the mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this: the United States —>> read more –>>


Whither the American Empire?

October 1, 2009

Americans do not like to use the word “empire” in reference to the country’s role in the world. Our Presidents uniformly role out rhetoric that sounds just like Obama’s. Here is a paragraph from his Inaugural speech: And so, to all the other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born, know that America is a friend of each nation, and every man, —>> read more –>>


The Scale of American Warfare Post WWII – Vietnam

September 4, 2009

Americans are amazingly ignorant of the scale and costs of our warfare. For example, during the Vietnam War (or the American War as the Vietnamese say) the US dropped more bombs on Vietnam, a country the size of Wisconsin and Minnesota, than all of the bombs used during WWII. In fact more than triple the amount: “By the time the United States ended its Southeast Asian bombing campaigns, the total tonnage of ordnance dropped approximately —>> read more –>>


  1. Clodfelter, Micheal Vietnam in Military Statistics: A History of the Indochina Wars, 1792—1991'. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc. Publishers, 1995, p. 225
Empire, Politics, Security State

A New Thought on Terrorism

December 6, 2008

An article in today’s NYTimes about cyber crime, malware, etc. suggests to me that another line of attack may be through the Internet against our utilities, telecoms, or financial institutions. There have already been massive attacks against whole countries with successful breakdowns that lasted for hours and days. Ukraine, Lithuania, and Georgia were targets over the last year. My memory is that suspicions fell to the Russian government because the attacks, in these cases massive —>> read more –>>

Empire, Politics

Pondering at the Food Coop – the empire

November 1, 2008

November 1, 2008 So, here I am having coffee and my favorite lunch, a toasted bagel with peanut butter thinking about the approaching election. Finally this will conclude what has been an overly long campaign, but one with enormous pleasures. Assuming that Obama is not just a curiosity to all those throngs at his campaign events, we will have a President who seems bright, competent, and level-headed with an adequate level if toughness. I don’t —>> read more –>>

Empire, Politics

Pondering at the Food Coop

November 1, 2008

November 1, 2008 So, here I am having coffee and my favorite lunch, a toasted bagel with peanut butter thinking about the approaching election. Finally this will conclude what has been an overly long campaign, but one with enormous pleasures. Assuming that Obama is not just a curiosity to all those throngs at his campaign events, we will have a President who seems bright, competent, and level-headed with an adequate level if toughness. I don’t —>> read more –>>

Books, Empire

North Korea – a visit to the “Axis of Evil” – book note

June 21, 2007

North Korea – a visit to the “Axis of Evil” Recently, in the context of some discussion of the Bush regime, my step-son Jonathan pointed me towards several books on Korea. He said that Bruce Cumings is simply the best author writing in English on Korea. So, a quick trip to the local library and I had this compact little book in my hands. The book is organized around five topics: (1) the impact of —>> read more –>>

Empire, Videos-Movies-Podcasts

A Fog of War or a Fog of Ethics?

December 18, 2003

Through our friend Esther Hanig we attended a showing of Errol Morris’s new documentary, The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons From the Life of Robert S. McNamara  at the Kennedy Library in Dorchester MA on December 14, 2003. This documentary is an extended adventure into the historico-biography of Robert S. McNamara, most famous as the Secretary of Defense during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. The movie intersperses close up head shots of McNamara (always shown off —>> read more –>>