The Future by Committee

Published on ZNet (first on TomDispatch), by Tom Engelhardt, Jn 23, 2017.

They call themselves the U.S. Intelligence Community, or the IC. If you include the office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), which in 2005 began as a crew of 12 people, including its director, and by 2008 had already grown to a staff of 1,750, there are 17 members (adding up to an alphabet soup of acronyms including the CIA, the NSA, and the DIA). The IC spends something like $70 billion of your taxpayer dollars annually, mostly in secret, hires staggering numbers of private contractors from various warrior corporations to lend a hand, sucks up communications of every sort across the planet, runs a drone air force, monitors satellites galore, builds its agencies multi-billion-dollar headquarters and storage facilities, and does all of this, ostensibly, to provide the president and the rest of the government with the best information imaginable on what’s happening in the world and what dangers the United States faces.

Since 9/11, expansion has been the name of its game, as the leading intelligence agencies gained ever more power, prestige, and the big bucks, while wrapping themselves in an unprecedented blanket of secrecy. Typically, in the final days of the Obama administration, the National Security Agency was given yet more leeway to share the warrantless data it scoops up worldwide (including from American citizens) with ever more members of the IC … //

… A Grim Future Offset By Cheer: … //
Living in an All-American World: … //

… So if there’s one conclusion to be drawn from the NIC’s mighty two-year dive into possible futures on a planet we still garrison and that’s wracked by wars we’re still fighting, it might be summed up this way: don’t be China, be us.

Of course, no one should be surprised by such a conclusion, since you don’t rise in the government by contrarian thinking but by going with the herd. This isn’t the sort of document you read expecting to be surprised, not when the nightmare of every bureaucracy is just that: the unexpected and unpredicted. The Washington bubble is evidently too comfortable and the world far too frightening a place to imagine a fuller range of what might be coming at us. The spooks of the NIC may be living off the money our fear sends their way, but don’t kid yourself for a second, they’re afraid too, or they could never produce a document like Global Trends: The Paradox of Progress.

As a portrait not of the future but of the anxieties of American power in a world it can’t control, this document provides the rest of us with a vivid portrait of the group of people least likely to offer us long-term security … //

… (full text, many hyperlinks).

(Tom Engelhardt is a co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The United States of Fear as well as a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture. He is a fellow of the Nation Institute and runs TomDispatch, where this article first appeared. His latest book is Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World).


Another joke with the Pandits, on KASHMIR and IDPs, by K.N. Pandita, Jan 23, 2017;

Scott Pruitt at EPA will hobble Ohio’s alternative-energy economy – Jane Harf (Opinion), on Cleveland, Jan 22, 2017;

Richard David Precht diskutiert mit Harald Lesch, 43.24 min, hochgeladen von Der politisch perfekte Wahnsinn, am 22. Jan 2017;

Three theories for what’s causing the global productivity slowdown, on The Conversation, by Roy Green and Renu Agarwal, Jan 20, 2017;

The Hidden Dance Between China and the United States, on Toward Freedom, by Immanuel Wallerstein, Jan 17, 2017: most politicians, journalists, and academic analysts describe the relations of China and the United States as one of hostile competition, especially in East Asia. I disagree. I believe that the top of both countries’ geopolitical agenda is reaching long-term accord with the other. The major bone of contention is which of the two prospective partners will be the top dog …;

The Democratic Party Can’t Just Whisper Sweet Nothings Anymore – Nina Turner on RAI (1/4), 20.08 min, on Real News Network, by Paul Jay, Jan 17, 2017: on Reality Asserts Itself, Nina Turner, former Ohio State Senator and leading Bernie Sanders surrogate during the primary, tells host Paul Jay that she grew up poor, believing in the Democratic Party and the Clintons but she came to understand the failure of the Party to serve the needs of the African-American community and poor white workers; (also on YouTube);

again: Panic About Panic: Russia and the World-System Today, on Toward Freedom, by Immanuel Wallerstein, Feb 4, 2015;

… and this:

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