Monday, October 27, 2008

The Same Conversation

On the train a few weeks ago, and for the third time in thirty years, I read Richard J. Barnet's Roots of War: The Men and Institutions Behind U.S. Foreign Policy (c. 1971, 1972+) and was struck by the book's enduring relevancy -- from the Cold War to the "War on Terror," right down to today's McCain-Obama duel.

Here are a few snippets:

The most fundamental law of any organization is bureaucratic inertia . . . When old enemies disappear, mellow, or turn into allies, as frequently happens in international relations, new enemies must be found and new threats must be discovered. The failure to replenish the supply of enemies is the supreme threat facing any national security bureaucracy. . . (p. 97)

Until the explosive sixties, when racial tension, the collapse of urban services, consumer revolts, and above all, the Vietnam War [sequel: Iraq War/Occupation] began to disturb the corporate vision of permanent, orderly boom, the business creed was accepted by everybody [almost] . . . (p. 142)

America's economic empire . . . benefits a relatively few investors and managers at the expense of the general population.

If the promotion of jobs and general prosperity were the primary goal, it could be accomplished far more easily and directly by redistributing income, and stimulating purchase power in the United States rather than subsidizing wealthy Americans to invest abroad, all the while invoking the national interest.

[B]efore Rome fell those with money had already transferred it to Byzantium. (p. 171)


Corporate managers ask not what their corporation can do for the country but what their country can do for their corporation. (pp. 230-231)

Today's Rune: Protection.


Johnny Yen said...

Isn't it amazing how all the lessons have been learned already? Unfortunately each generation seems to feel compelled to relearn them (or sometimes not)

Charles Gramlich said...

the people who know the lessons either have the power and supress the knowledge, or have no power and thus can't effect the outcome anyway.