The US and Never-ending War

Review of The U.S. and Perpetual War

John Rachel, in his book The U.S. and Perpetual War: Interviews and Commentary (Independently published, May 16, 2023, available at Peace Dividend/Books and Amazon) has compiled a unique, concise and astonishingly compelling collection of leading left, liberal, conservative and heterodox thinkers each answering the same fifteen precisely composed questions. The questions concern the current nature of the US empire, putative US democracy, and, most important, what is to be done.

The distinguished roster of 22 respondents from politics, academia, media, law, and social activism includes Noam Chomsky, Larry Wilkerson, Paul Craig Roberts, Mark Skidmore, Coleen Rowley, William J. Astore, Abby Martin, Dan Kovalik, Lee Camp, Finian Cunningham, Michael T. Klare, Cynthia McKinney, Scott Ritter, Joe Lombardo, Bruce Gagnon, Norman Solomon, Peter Kuznick, Ajamu Baraka, Margaret Kimberley, Matthew Hoh, Garland Nixon, and Dennis Kucinich.

Rachel’s 15 question topics are: 1. The Atomic Scientists doomsday clock; 2. The US as a force for peace, justice, etc., or not; 3. The reasoning behind Russian and Chinese military action; 4. The US need for empire, or not; 5. US national electoral politics since 2014 and the demonization of Russia; 6. Taiwan and the possibility of war between US and China; 7. Syria and the US occupation; 8. Citizen influence on foreign policy; 9. Democracy and hidden government operations (CIA operations, psyops, regime-change ops, etc.); 10. Government abuses of power and the possibility of legal redress; 11. Who in fact makes foreign policy; 12. The nature of US foreign relations and the US practice of demonizing target countries; 13. Military spending; 14. What changes in US policy and priorities need to be made; 15. What options are there for change if US policy makers are in fact indifferent to what US citizens think.

What makes this book unique is that it departs from the usual organization of such anthologies. Instead of a collection of separate interviews, the responses to each of Rachel’s fifteen questions are presented together, question by question. In other words, Question #1 is followed by all the responses to Question #1, then Question #2 is followed by all the responses to Question #2, and so on. This lets the reader consider and compare answers. It also makes the book easy to dip in and out of. It’s often thrilling to see these well-informed and often eloquent voices opining in rapid succession.

Here is a sampling of the text: Questions #3 and #11, followed by a few of the responses.

Question #3:

Here’s a chicken-or-egg question: The U.S. accuses both Russia and China of rapidly expanding their military capabilities, claiming its own posturing and increase in weaponry is a response to its hostile adversaries, Russia and China. Both Russia and China claim they are merely responding to intimidation and military threats posed by the U.S. What’s your view? Do Russia and China have imperial ambitions or are they just trying to defend themselves against what they see as an increasingly aggressive U.S. military?

Noam Chomsky (excerpt):

The US is alone in facing no credible security threats, apart from alleged threats at the borders of adversaries, who are ringed with US nuclear-armed missiles in some of the 800 US military bases around the world (China has one, Djibouti). There have been international efforts to prevent militarization of outer space, a major threat to survival. They have been initiated primarily by China and Russia, blocked for many years by Washington.

Paul Craig Roberts:

Russia and China do not claim hegemony. Only the US claims hegemony.

Abby Martin (excerpt):

It is patently absurd to think that it is Russia or China, not the US that is setting the world stage militarily. For example, when the US violated the international treaty on outer space to create Space Force, Russia reacted by announcing it would pursue its own space defense to prepare for US plans.

Dan Kovalik (excerpt):

It is undoubtedly true that Russia and China have their own ambitions for increasing power, prestige and influence in the world. However, Russia and China do so largely through means of offering development and infrastructure assistance and business relations to developing countries rather than by dropping bombs on other nations. … It is the US which is the threat to China and Russia, and not the other way around. It is the US which has troops up to the Russian frontier; Russia does not have analogous troops along the US frontier, for this would be unthinkable. It is the US which is provoking China through military maneuvers in the South China Sea; China is not doing the same off the US coasts. As is its usual wont, the US is projecting its own sins upon others (in this case, China and Russia) so as to deflect blame and soul-searching for its own crimes.

Finian Cunningham (excerpt):

The United States is the party that has unilaterally abandoned arms control treaties with Russia. The ABM in 2003, the INF treaty in 2019 and the Open Skies Treaty in 2020. Abandoning these treaties has undermined the architecture for nuclear arms controls and is inducing a new arms race. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that the scrapping of the ABM by the GW Bush administration was the factor in why his nation was compelled to develop hypersonic missiles which, the Russians have calculated, would restore strategic balance. … The US — the only nation to have used atomic weapons in war and against a civilian population — is an aggressor power owing to its imperial motives. … Russia and China have a no-first strike policy. They have declared this. The US does not. It retains the right to use nuclear weapons preemptively. It is quite clear the egg in this situation is US militarism.

Cynthia McKinney (excerpt):

The U.S. allies were not the victims of the colonial atrocities of Spain, Britain, France, Belgium, Holland. U.S. allies are the perpetrators of incalculable physical and psychological pain in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Interestingly, the friends to the colonized peoples were the Soviet Union and Mao’s China, which was divided as a result of U.S. hegemony over Taiwan and Britain’s sovereignty over Hong Kong. Neither Russia nor China, at their worst, can count the globally pervasive international crimes against humanity that are owned by the so-called West.

Question #11

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.

Noam Chomsky:

250 years ago, in the early days of modern state capitalism, an astute British analyst [Adam Smith] gave a simple answer to this question. He said that the merchants and manufacturers of England are the “masters of mankind.” They are the “principal architects” of government policy, and make sure that their own interests “are most peculiarly attended to” no matter how “grievous” the impact on others, including the people of England, but more severely the victims of “the savage injustice of the Europeans” abroad. His particular concern was the victims of England’s savage crimes in India, then in their early stages. … Nothing is that simple, of course, but Smith’s picture, modified for the modern age, is a good first approximation.

Larry Wilkerson (excerpt):

“The Deep State” as a phrase and in a modern sense was first formally used by Michael Lofgren, a longtime member of the U.S. Congressional staff with the Republican Party. Mike became one of the severest critics of his own political party after retirement in 2011 and his book, The Deep State, followed.

Mr. Lofgren’s article was well-read across America. He wrote about “a web of entrenched interests in the US Government and beyond (most notably Wall Street and Silicon Valley, which controls every click and swipe) that dictate America’s defense decisions, trade policies and priorities with little regard for the actual interests or desires of the American people.”

Coleen Rowley:

As retired CIA analyst Ray McGovern noted some time ago, the ruling MIC (Military Industrial Complex) is now more correctly enlarged to the MICIMATT (Military Industrial Congressional Intelligence Media Academia Think Tank) complex. Even as prescient as Eisenhower was over 60 years ago in warning how these war profiteering special interests would soon be the tail wagging the dog (i.e. whatever bit of democracy remains in the U.S.), that former president could not foresee the insatiable blood thirstiness of the monster he and his post WWII cronies had created, constantly bellowing “Feed Me!” right out of the “Little Shop of Horrors.”

Michael T. Klare:

From my experience, US foreign policy is set by what some have called the “blob” — the unelected, bipartisan, self-replicating network of senior Washington policymakers (NSC, DoD, CIA) plus the chairs of the House and Senate Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees; engaged former generals, admirals, and ambassadors; major defense contractor lobbyists; and key think-tank and media pundits (usually interchangeable with the other categories).

Cynthia McKinney (excerpt)

As you have probably noticed, the signature of my e-mails has a quote from a U.K. television series: “You get to the top and you realize it’s only the middle.” Tom Dawkins, UK Prime Minister in the 2012 TV series, Secret State. I watched every minute of this TV series and when this was uttered by the actor portraying the U.K. Prime Minister, I knew this was what I would call “faction.” Because that is exactly the way I felt upon realizing that Members of Congress don’t call the shots; they are mere actors [with a whole lot of squandered power that could be used to actually HELP people— including their constituents and those harmed by U.S. foreign and military policies] who trick their constituents. They are also cowards, because they could say no to these people, but they don’t dare. They are also narcissists because they think they’re smarter than their constituents and in many cases, also the donors, too. I saw some of them playing games with the so-called report cards from lobbyists, scoring 50% on them all and then collecting money from both sides on every issue!!

Joe Lombardo:

I look at this in class terms. I believe there is a ruling class that determines international policy based upon their perceived class interests, and who make the rest of us fight their wars and pay the bills. They control the two main parties and their politicians through financial control. They also control the media, the police and courts and the military. … I don’t believe that there is a “deep state” that works independently of that ruling class to determine policy.

Bruce Gagnon (excerpt):

The banksters in London and Wall Street are the essential movers and shakers of US-UK-NATO foreign policy.


The other 13 questions are as pointed as these, and the responses as direct and insightful. John Rachel has given us an exquisitely timely and readable collection of leading contemporary thought on fifteen facets of what may be the most important issue of our time: Whither US empire?

Roger Stoll lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and has published articles, book reviews and political poetry in Black Agenda Report, Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, Internationalist 360, Jewschool, Marxism-Leninism Today, MintPress News, MRonline, New Verse News, Orinoco Tribune, Popular Resistance, Resumen Latinoamericano, San Francisco Examiner, and ZNet. Read other articles by Roger.