Aaronovitch administers the hatchet

Anyone who has read this site will know that I’m not a big fan of the UK’s little band of neocon/liberal interventionist journalists.   It isn’t just the fact that I don’t agree with them.   I can live with disagreement.     It isn’t even   their total obliviousness to the discrepancies between their militarist proposals and the actual outcomes of the wars they support. It’s just that they are such a horribly self-regarding, obnoxious and downright disreputable bunch, in their reliance on straw man arguments, cheap smears, condescension, character assassination,   and sneering innuendo to dismiss their opponents.

Few people demonstrate these tendencies more clearly than David Aaronovitch. Someone once said of Trotsky’s remorseless debating style that he could take his opponent’s head off and shake it to demonstrate that there was nothing inside.   Aaronovitch has a different technique.   What he does is construct a papier-mache head to represent his intended target, the cruder the better, and then he stamps on the pieces he’s constructed with a kind of gleeful schoolboy spite, to the sniggering satisfaction of   a readership that likes to watch such little spectacles.

Craig Murray, Julian Assange, Edward Snowden and numerous others have all been subjected to this treatment.   And now Aaronovitch has turned his skills on the Green MP Caroline Lucas, in a review of her book Honourable Friends?   Parliament and the Fight for Change, that is one of the most vitriolically nasty pieces that I have read in some time.

I haven’t read Lucas’ book, but Aaronovitch clearly read it with the sole intention of writing a hatchet job, and boy, has he delivered one.     The full piece is subscriber only, but some excerpts will give you a flavour.   It begins like this:

‘Lucas is the nice Green female MP from Brighton who, like Nigel Molesworth’s classmate Fotherington-Thomas, skips around saying “Hullo clouds, hullo sky” and loves the scents and sounds of nature.’

Maybe I’m being oversensitive here but I can’t help sensing just a teeny-weeny bit of male condescension in that ‘nice Green female’ parody, which bears no resemblance whatsoever to the Caroline Lucas that I’ve seen.     And then there is this

‘It is a tome untroubled by doubt or admission of error and free of anything as necessarily complicating as wit. There is, in short, not a reflective passage in it….It is not as though Lucas is alive to her own contradictions. In fact, she glides over them.’

Anyone familiar with Aaronovitch’s work is likely to find this amusing, in a very, very dry kind of way,   because I have yet to see any evidence that Aaronovitch has ever been troubled by doubt or admission of error or any awareness of his own contradictions

As always he maintains the fiction of balance and nuance, praising Lucas for promoting renewable energy and because she ‘ got a manufacturer of cluster munitions thrown out of the morally dubious affair that is the UK arms expo.’   He then goes on to argue that she is wrong, so utterly and absolutely and dismally wrong, on everything else.   And she’s also a bit of a phony too because she claims to be an ‘outsider’ even though she was educated at Malvern College.

That’s Lucas owned then,   but it isn’t until the end of the review that the real explanation for his spleen becomes clear:

‘ But to me perhaps the worst chapter of the book is when Lucas moves to foreign policy and the “positive outcomes” of the vote not to attack Assad in September 2013, not least that it “spared the Syrian people … the inevitable death and destruction that western air-strikes would have brought in their wake”. Actually it spared Assad’s air force to drop barrel bombs on the people of Aleppo.

Never mind, because Lucas has an alternative for Syria. Which is to “promote a regional process in which those countries with a strategic interest can come together to explore a peaceful settlement that can lead to long-term stability, justice and an end to poverty in the region. That must also include an end to the illegal occupation of Palestine …”

Aaronovitch then gives the silly little woman a demonstration of what wit means:

‘Poot! As Fat Freddy’s Cat farted. This is a hippy formulation in its own way as immoral as any arms fair. “Hullo clouds, hullo sky!” it says, and “Goodbye Syrians!”

Like Fotherington-Thomas, she skips around saying “Hullo clouds, hullo sky” ‘

Oscar Wilde and Dorothy Parker eat your little hearts out.       My first response on reading those lines was that Aaronovitch is even more of a jerk than I ever thought he was, because it really takes a very convoluted conception of morality to dismiss an argument suggesting that war may not be the solution to the Syrian Civil War is a ‘hippy formulation in its own way as immoral as any arms fair’.       So voting against a war is as immoral as selling cluster bombs at an arms fair?

It is in Aaronovitch’s moral universe, a universe in which (western) wars are always moral and always beneficial to those on the receiving end, and always waged with no other purpose except to save people from evil dictators, and air-strikes are always intended to save people rather than bring ‘death and destruction’.

A former member of the communist party, Aaronovitch has attached the old   ‘can’t-make-an-omelette-without-breaking-eggs’ philosophy from his Stalinist intellectual heritage to the new age of neo-imperialist ‘humanitarian’ war, and the absence of omelettes or humanitarian outcomes has never led him to question his assumptions or regret his choices.

A quick look back on his foreign policy record really suggests a man who ought to be a little more humble in making judgements about other people’s suggestions and proposals.     Take his support for the Iraq war, which he once described   as ‘ the most difficult and painful judgement he had to make.’   In fact the breathtaking shallowness of his predictions suggests that it wasn’t really that difficult or painful at all.   Aaronovitch once predicted that Iraqis would greet the Anglo-American occupation with flowers.

He once cheerily predicted that the Iraq military campaign would be the ‘easy bit’, which it was for him.     When it turned out – who would have thought it? – that there were no flowers and that Iraqis actually died during the war and occupation, he rationalised the death toll by telling his readers how many people Saddam would have killed if he had remained in power, as though Saddam killed according to a yearly quota.

The result was the kind of calculus that some white men like to make about brown folk, in   which you simply add up how many Iraqis have died in any particular year, then substitute the imaginary Iraqis who you think would have died had Saddam still been in power that year, and if the latter is higher or only a little bit lower than the former, then result!   It was a good war after all!

But then the deaths kept rising, to the point when even Aaronovitch was worried that it was higher than supporters of the war like him could ‘reasonably’ have expected.     How many dead Iraqis was a ‘reasonable’ figure to make it a good war?   Aaronovitch didn’t say.   But it definitely wasn’t the 655,-000 to a million calculated by the Lancet and other epidemiological studies, all of which he dismissed.

What authority did he have to question these methodologies? None,   but his own unwillingness to accept the horrific consequences of the war that he supported.     That, and the fact that the Labour government also refused to accept them, despite the insistence of its own chief scientist that the methodologies used were ‘best practice.

Before the Iraq war Aaronovitch said that he would never believe his government again if no WMD were found in Iraq.   Yet even after no weapons were found,   he has continued to defend the Iraq war and to support every war and proposed intervention since, because like Elvis Presley he just could not stop believin’ everything his government told him.

And this is the man who now has the temerity to ridicule an MP who suggests that war is not the answer to the Middle East’s problems?     This is the man who says that Lucas lacks the capacity for self-doubt or awareness of her own contradictions?     And Lucas is supposed to be the naive ‘hippy’ wandering around her head in the clouds?

You must be kidding me.

 

Try to be civil, Chilcot

One of my favourite moments in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness occurs  when the narrator Marlow is interrupted by an irritated listener who tells him ‘Try to be civil Marlow.’ It’s a very English request, as Conrad well knew.   I mean here is Marlow, recounting a story of the horrific violence and cruelty, madness and delusion of Leopold’s Congo Free State, and one of his listeners insists, like a good Edwardian gentleman,  that he should be ‘civil’ because he loses his cool and compares his audience to a collection of circus performers doing their jobs.

I was reminded of that exchange by the furore over Sir John Chilcot’s announcement that his much-awaited report on the Iraq war will not be published before the general election. That war was begun by men who thought very much like Kurtz, for whom each trading station that he established along the Congo River was ‘like a beacon on the road towards better, things, a center for trade of course, but also for humanizing, improving, instructing’.

As Conrad’s readers will know, these expectations dissolved into the ruthless cruelty, exploitation and murder that makes the Congo Free State one of the epic crimes of colonial history.   The Iraq war reveals a similarly grievous discrepancy between what was predicted and what actually happened, but the full ramifications of that bloodstained debacle have never really been absorbed and assimilated by British society, and it is becoming increasingly doubtful whether they ever will be.

We have seen in recent years that the British ruling elite is very keen to scrutinize everyone else, and is constantly looking for new justifications for widen its powers of scrutiny over the public, but its members don’t like to be criticized or scrutinized themselves.  Fortunately, it has a system that doesn’t really like to criticize or scrutinize them either.

The sexual abuse and possibly murder of young children by MPs and government ministers?  Sorry, old boy, seem to have lost the files.  Start a war on faked pretences that leads to hundreds of thousands of deaths, military humiliation, the collapse of an entire society, and unleashes a raging wave of civil war and other forms of mayhem that have continue to pour out beyond Iraq’s borders ever since?   I know.   We’ll set up an inquiry intended to ‘learn lessons’ from that experience  in case we want to do it again, and we’ll be ever so careful  not to ‘apportion blame’.

Having made that decision we’ll then ensure that our inquiry is made up of trusted mandarins, including a former speech writer for one of the architects of that war.   We’ll invite them all in one by one for a polite little chat, and we’ll  not say anything to upset them. Like Marlow, we’ll keep it civil.  And when the conversations are over, we’ll have a cup of tea and put our report together and  ask our interviewees ever so politely if they wouldn’t mind just a teeny weeny bit if we publish documents that we regard as crucial to the ‘lessons’ the public must learn.

If they refuse, we’ll say ‘fine’ and agree to publish the ‘gist’ or redacted versions of the documents we want, because we don’t want to upset anybody and we must be civil. Now if it so happens that we really cannot avoid making a few critical observations about some of the people and institutions responsible for the ‘mistakes’ of the Iraq war, we’ll agree to ‘Maxwellize’ the whole process, and give them as much time as they need to rebut or come back our conclusions BEFORE WE EVEN PUBLISH THEM.

Because, after all, old chap, the people we are criticizing, like Robert Maxwell, are powerful people, and they can’t be treated as if they were just anybody? And we must be civil, and so we’ll allow someone like Sir Jeremy Heywood, civil servant and cabinet secretary and former cabinet secretary under Tony Blair while the war was being planned, to decide what documents our inquiry can or can’t publish.

And then why not create a special ‘channel of communications’ between senior aides of Cameron and Miliband to explore potential ‘common ground’ over the report’s publication, just to make sure that we can manage the whole thing to everyone’s best advantage?

Because we don’t want to upset people, and we want to be civil even if, as Marlow observes ‘ We live in the flicker – may it last as long as the old earth keeps rolling!  But darkness was here yesterday.’

It was, but it seems that we don’t want to think about it too much in case it upsets us.   And so we prefer to  wait for Sir John to publish what he likes, whenever he likes.

And if anybody gets a little hot under the collar about this, just remind them, as Marlow’s listener reminded him, to try to be civil.

 

 

 

Destroying and Degrading: the War Machine Marches On

It’s often difficult to determine whether the seemingly endless wars and interventions that followed the atrocities of 9/11are directed by incompetent fools or cunning and devious knaves.     For thirteen years now, the US and its allies have carved a swathe of global violence across the world, which has left the shells of broken eggs everywhere but there is no sign of an omelette.   In fact, there isn’t a single case in which Western military interventions have produced anything more than the formal trappings of parliamentary democracy.

The overwhelming and terrifying legacy of these wars has been more violence, death and destruction, state fragmentation and political chaos, the destabilisation of whole societies and whole regions, the strengthening of old corrupt elites and the creation of new ones, all of which has strengthened   and empowered the same enemies that our governments are supposedly intending to destroy.

This less than stellar record raises a number of important questions about the conduct of that dark art that we call ‘foreign policy’.   Has the militarism of the last thirteen years been a ‘rational’ attempt to pursue strategic and economic interests, such as control of resources, markets, supply routes, the elimination of strategic rivals and the boosting of the arms industry,   using counterterrorism, WND and the war on terror as a convenient smokescreen?

Or is it the consequence of gross stupidity, shortsightedness, bureaucratic inertia, inner-circle groupthink,   and shallow and ignorant politicians who respond continually to ephemeral political pressures, lobbying and j’accuse op eds with kneejerk reactions that take no account of the longterm repercussions of their decisions and fail to make contingency plans to prepare for them?

To put it yet another way, is Western foreign policy directed by men who think like Machiavelli,   Bismarck, Talleyrand and Henry Kissinger, who know what they want to achieve and how to achieve it?   Or by a hybrid combination of Alan Partridge,Captain Mainwaring and Al Capone that lacks the insight or intelligence to avoid policies ‘wholly contrary to the purpose in view’, as Voltaire once wrote of Louis XIV’s revocation of the Edict of Nantes?

Today our governments have thinktanks, informed commentators, academics, and security analysts at their disposal to help them make decisions.   Yet they failed to see the possibility that launching an open-ended ‘war on terror’ in response to the 9/11 attacks might actually work to the advantage of the al-Qaeda franchise and provide it with a powerful recruiting tool.       Or that the breaking up of the Iraqi state might lead to insurgency and civil war.   Or that encouraging Ethiopia to overthrow the Islamic Courts Union might produce something like al-Shabaab.     Or that deciding overnight to bomb Libya might result in the destruction of the Libyan state, the collapse of its government and rule-by-militia.

Unless you believe that these outcomes were entirely deliberate and sought-after, then they suggest that our governments do not actually understand the world they are living in or they way it functions; that they have no ability to analyse their mistakes and learn from them;   and that they share the same characteristic that one historian once identified in Philip II of Spain, in whom ‘ No experience of the failure of his policy could shake his belief in its essential excellence.’

Take for example, the US project to ‘degrade and ultimately destroy’ Islamic State, as Obama promised yesterday, with air strikes and drone attacks in Iraq and Syria modelled on similar tactics used by the United States in Yemen and Somalia.

According to the New York Times, Obama’s determination to eradicate the IS ‘cancer’ follows ‘harsh criticism for saying two weeks ago that he did not have a strategy for dealing with ISIS in Syria.’ Now, hey presto! he has one, and to say that it doesn’t look very coherent doesn’t even begin to describe it.

In Syria, the US plans to bomb Islamic State, an organization that it helped create in order to fight the Assad government, while simultaneously promoting a new organization of ‘moderate rebels’ that will be entirely beholden to the CIA, in order to continue the fight against Assad.

This will supposedly be achieved by channeling weapons to favoured rebel groups, a policy that has already been tried and failed.   An analysis published this week by the Conflict Armament Research (CAR) organization of Islamic State weaponry captured by Kurdish forces in Iraq and Syria, found that ‘ M79 90 mm anti-tank rockets captured from IS forces in Syria are identical to M79 rockets transferred by Saudi Arabia to forces operating under the “Free Syrian Army” umbrella in 2013.’

Again and again the supposedly ‘moderate’ Syrian rebels have merged with the more ‘extreme’ elements or proven to be indistinguishable from them.   Islamic State itself has directly received training and weapons from many of the states who have funded the rebels, including Saudi Arabia.   Yet incredibly, the Saudis are now going to provide training bases for a new generation of ‘moderate rebels’ who will fight both ISIS and the Assad government!

Meanwhile the US proposes to build a coalition of states to fight IS, nearly all of whom were instrumental in funding, training and facilitating the jihadist fighting organizations that gave rise to it in the first place.   And as always, the faithful vassal-state Britain has joined the fray, with Lord Snooty promising to provide the Iraqi army with machineguns, in order to help ‘squeeze’ IS ‘out of existence.’

This will be good news for Manroy Engineering Ltd and other companies that manufacture machineguns, and it will undoubtedly help to replace the American machineguns, Humvees and other weapons that Iraqi units abandoned when they fled the Islamic State offensive during the summer.

But until Iraqis have a government and a society worth fighting for, there is no guarantee that many of these weapons may also end up in the IS arsenal.   Given that the Anglo-American occupation effectively destroyed Iraqi society and left in place the Maliki government that Sunnis – and IS – have been rebelling against, it is really difficult to see how ‘we’ can conjure up a new society out of the wreckage and chaos that ‘we’ helped create, any more than ‘we’ can find ‘moderate rebels’ from the various organizations that once gave rise to IS.

Personally I have no problem with the notion that Islamic State must be fought.   IS is a   violent expansionist sectarian movement that has nothing to offer the peoples of the Middle East but pseudo-religious tyranny and endless war.     It has murdered Shia, Christians, unarmed prisoners-of-war and captured journalists with shocking impunity and insouciance.

Such an organization is a direct threat to the lives and security of millions of people in Iraq, Syria, and beyond. But the rise of IS is a product of societies that have already been ‘destroyed and degraded’ – and it is from within those societies, and from within the region as a whole that the resistance to it must come.

All this brings us back to the question that I posted at the beginning of this piece, as to whether the interventionist process is driven by stupidity or devious calculation.     The answer, I suspect, is both.

The characteristically hysterical attempts by the American and British governments to present IS – a movement that consists of between 18,000 to 30,000 fighters – as a threat to their own citizens and their ‘way of life’, rather than the Middle East itself; the dishonesty and historical amnesia with which these governments have ignored their own disastrous record; the rampant opportunism with which they have used IS as a justification for the establishment of new military bases in the Gulf States and an intensification of the ‘regime change’ project in Syria – all these factors suggest the amoral pursuit of ‘rational’ state interests.

But the latest reckless, ill-thought-out and back-of-a-fag packet response to the IS ‘evil’ also points back to Philip II, and the historical ‘wooden-headedness’ that Barbara Tuchman once analysed in her study of ‘the pursuit by governments of policies contrary to their own interests’ The March of Folly.    

Today militarism is leading the Middle East and the world to catastrophe, and the latest war- that-is-not-a-war is just one more example.   Because as horrendous as IS is, the imperialist disease that helped create it can never be part of the cure.   Western military power may win some tactical victories, but it is incapable of reconstructing the societies that our governments and their allies have done so much to wreck, and is more likely to intensify the destruction and degradation and state fragmentation that has already wrought such havoc.

So whether it is the result of stupidity or calculation, Obama’s convoluted ‘destroy and degrade’ policy is likely to add another grim chapter to the march of folly of the 21st century’s forever wars – and another example of the reckless lunacy of a superpower with too much power and too little sense, and which appears to believe, again and again, that the best way to put out a fire is to shower the flames with gasoline.   .

 

The Strategy of Blood

If the twists and turns of US foreign policy in the Middle East were ever presented to a Hollywood producer as a script or treatment for a movie or a tv drama, it is very likely that it would be sent back for serious revision because of their seeming contradictions and sheer plot implausibility.

Imagine your wannabe scriptwriter explaining that the US is currently supporting a rebellion in Syria with the Muslim Brotherhood at its core, while providing de facto support to the al-Sisi regime’s vicious repression of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria.   Or that in Iraq, Obama is preparing to carry out air strikes against the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS) – a Syrian rebel group which may have initially been trained by the United States military.

Other confusing narratives thicken the plot still further.   After years of sabrerattling with Iran over its nuclear program – not to mention various forms of ‘cyberwar’ and special operations inside the Islamic Republic that include bombings and assassinations carried out by jihadist groups, the US has begun discussions to enlist Iranian help in countering ISIS.   But such collaboration is proving difficult, because the US doesn’t want Nouri al-Maliki to remain in power, even though it wanted him back in 2010, because his administration is now deemed to be too corrupt and sectarian to deliver ‘stability.’

Instead it wants a ‘government of national unity’ possibly headed by the fraudster and all-round conman Ahmad Chalabi, another Shia politician with dubious allegiances who the Bush administration once favoured back in 2003, before it discovered that Chalabi was a possible Iranian intelligence asset.   Meanwhile, the Syrian government, which the US wants to overthrow,   has also begun carrying out air strikes against ISIS, which seems to signify that Syria and the United States are on the same side, except that the US is in fact continuing to promote ‘regime change’ in Syria, by supporting rebels whose most effective military forces are – ISIS!

And now the Obama administration is requesting $500 million from Congress for an ‘overseas contingency operation’ that will train and equip ‘moderate’ Syrian rebels, at which point the would-be producer of ‘US Foreign Policy – the movie’ is likely to say ‘you’ve lost me kid’ and walk away with their latte in hand.

According to National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden, this aid is intended to ‘help defend the Syrian people, stabilize areas under opposition control, facilitate the provision of essential services, counter terrorist threats, and promote conditions for a negotiated settlement.

Elsewhere, administration officials are saying that the aid package has been increased in response to the rise of ISIS in Iraq, and that it is intended to ‘help build the capacity of the moderate Syrian opposition and our partners in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq to manage the growing spillover effects of the Syrian conflict.’

None of these explanations make logical sense on any level.     Firstly the rebels, whether ‘moderate’ or ‘extremist’ do not represent the ‘Syrian people’, any more than Assad does – they represent sections/factions of the Syrian population which the US has chosen to support in order to further its strategic interests in the region.

American military aid is not intended to ‘defend’ anyone, but to exacerbate and extend the conflict, and will ensure that many more Syrians die.   The ‘provision of essential services’ is nothing but a phony humanitarian figleaf, intended to disguise what is in fact the deliberate the intensification and escalation of violence and destruction in pursuit of its ‘regime change’ agenda.

If the US was seriously interested in protecting the ‘Syrian people’, it would have used its power and influence, in partnership with all relevant parties, to try and demilitarize the conflict and stop the fighting.     Instead it has done the opposite throughout the war, and now it wants to ‘stabilize areas under opposition control’, even if that means the disintegration and fragmentation of Syria itself – and perhaps Iraq too.

The notion that this will lead to a ‘negotiated settlement’ is a joke in very poor taste.     The US might believe – or pretend to believe – that these ‘stabilised areas’ will give the ‘moderate rebels’ a stronger hand in future political negotiations, but the more ‘stabilised’ these areas become the least inclined they will be to pursue ‘negotiations’, and the more likely it is that these ‘stabilised’ areas will fight each other in order to dominate the rebellion, and in order to undermine the ‘stabilised’ areas controlled by ISIS.

At the end of all this, there is likely to be very little of Syria remaining.       As for ‘counter terrorist threats’.   Please.   Everything that the US has done in Syria and the Middle East for the last ten years has facilitated, boosted and empowered ‘terrorist threats’ across the region.

It has done this essentially in three ways 1) By creating the instability/destabilisation in which groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS can prosper 3) By providing such groups with a cause celebre/rallying cause/recruitment tool and 3) Through facilitation/ training either direct or channelled through proxies.

ISIS is merely one more product of this ‘politics of chaos.’   The idea that weapons and training can be restricted to ‘moderate’ rebels rather than ‘extremists’ is another fantasy/delusion intended for propaganda consumption.   Such distinctions have proven difficult, and generally impossible to enforce in Syria, and it is doubtful whether the US or any of the other states looking to overthrow Assad have any interest in enforcing them.

The most likely outcome is that ISIS will end up with more weapons, just as the al-Nusrah Front did before it – as long as the former continues to demonstrate its military capabilities against Assad.       So why would the US help an organization in one country when it is supposedly seeking to prevent its ‘spillover effects’ in another?   A clue may be found in a New York Times op ed by the conservative American strategist Edward Luttwak in August last year, entitled ‘Syria: America Loses if Either Side Wins.’

Luttwak is a particularly ruthless and amoral exponent of American realpolitik, who once approved the genocidal counterinsurgency campaigns waged by the Guatemalan military   in the 70s and 80s.     As the title suggests, his preferred outcome in Syria is a ‘prolonged stalemate’, in which the Assad regime and its opponents fight each other endlessly without either side gaining victory.   In this way, Luttwak argues:

‘By tying down Mr. Assad”s army and its Iranian and Hezbollah allies in a war against Al Qaeda-aligned extremist fighters, four of Washington”s enemies will be engaged in war among themselves and prevented from attacking Americans or America”s allies.’

Neat huh?     And how can the US achieve this ‘indefinite draw’?     According to our imperial grand strategist, ‘ the only possible method for achieving this is to arm the rebels when it seems that Mr. Assad”s forces are ascendant and to stop supplying the rebels if they actually seem to be winning.’

Of course Luttwak notes that this is a ‘tragic’ choice, from the point of Syria, but then, he argues, things are bad enough there already so what will it matter if the war goes on and on?

There is no evidence that the US has formally adopted these recommendations, but the strategy of playing off American enemies/competitors against each other is not new.   During the Iran-Iraq war the US shifted back and forth between the two sides and sometimes provided weapons and military assistance to both of them at the same time in order to ensure that both were weakened and neither gained the upper hand.

Those who approved this strategy were not concerned with how many Iraqis or Iranians died in order to achieve this outcome, and it may well be that what is about to happen in Syria will follow the direction that Luttwak has outlined.

It may well be that such an outcome requires the deaths of tens, if not hundreds of thousands of people, a trail of wrecked cities and broken states, and an endless ‘war of all against all’ throughout the Middle East.   But exponents of ‘American exceptionalism’ have never shown any scruples about such matters in the past, and there are clearly those who, as Madeleine Albright once said in a different context, believe that the price is ‘worth it’ if America’s enemies can ‘bleed’ and the Imperium and its allies can inherit the ruins.