Those Permanent War “Progressives”

Joe Giambrone

Get out of here, you lowlife scum!” Sen. John McCain to anti-war protesters,
January 29, 2015

One unexpected revelation, that John McCain’s death has shown us, is that we completely misjudged some notable players on the national stage. Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and even Audrey Denney in Northern California have praised the serial warmonger as some kind of national treasure. Real progressives, on the ground, expect those people to fight against John McCain’s imperial agenda of mass murder for mass profits.

What do these representatives stand for in reality? When did imperial wars of aggression become the norm and beyond criticism? What alternatives do we now have in America to this Nazi-styled, industrial-scale barbarism and an ongoing domestic propaganda victory, which Goebbels would have been proud of concocting? Belligerence is now heroism.

(So did Joseph Stalin, Audrey.)

The right-wing knew for years that McCain was on his way out, and they planned their massive PR offensive, which still unfolds all around us. It’s a sickening nationalism with a fake martyr who isn’t supposed to be criticized.

For fifty years, John McCain was elevated by the right-wing because of his victim status. Being a captured prisoner of war made him a solid, reliable commodity. His “patriotism” was beyond question. This allowed McCain, or “McNasty” as he was known to his military peers, to rise through the ranks and become one of the most malignant politicians of our lives, selling war after war, supporting any and all blood-drenched tyrants, terrorists, or Nazis who would do business with America. McCain’s agenda was the problem, the main problem in the world today. Millions of innocent civilians perished in part due to John McCain’s tireless efforts to launch more US wars of aggression, both overt and covert.

John McCain and Lindsey Graham with the head of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, Abdelhakim Beladj, who has both Al Qaeda and ISIS links.

Your Empire at Work

Empires persist because of several principles which aren’t taught in American K-12 schools. No public school, to my knowledge, dares call America an empire at all, despite it keeping military bases and active soldiers in the overwhelming majority of foreign lands on this planet. It is an invisible empire then, and the less the general public knows about it the easier it is to manage. Good guys and bad guys are assigned on the fly, minor bit parts to sell the latest news cycle, nothing more. Often the good guys pop up later as bad guys or vice-versa.

Osama bin Laden in 1993 – “Good” Guy?

One principle that is obvious and common to every empire since Rome is “bread and circuses.” The domestic population is kept at a slightly elevated standard of living–that’s the bread–but distracted with entertainment as much as possible, a devil’s bargain. Your morals for a wide-screen TV, now shut up and watch it. The people therefore have something to lose, and they aren’t educated enough about current global situations to mount any kind of organized challenge to the powers that be. That’s the game.

Opportunity cost is the phenomenon that prompts an empire to promote distraction and entertainment. If the people spend their lives watching football, television, or video games, or just fighting with each other over race and religion, then they are not learning about flash points across the globe. The average citizen cannot do both. Few Americans today could locate Syria on a blank map, despite it being the target of US belligerence since at least 2011.

A second principle of running an empire is to outsource your dirty work to your vassals, your “friends.” This is about creating a false perception of ethics and morals. Your foreign henchmen serve as proxies to enforce your will on the periphery. You ship them high-tech arms, intelligence, money if need be, in order to exercise control beyond your own borders. Thus, America is in bed with the leaders of countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, UAE, Uzbekistan, Israel, and too many “human rights” abusers to list.

“Progressive” Voices

The problem with political labels is that they don’t actually mean much. They cover a wide range of people, views, and agendas.

In the context of this article, we see “Progressive” voices supporting an agenda of widespread atrocities against foreign lands which they would never–in a million years–condone against people at home. There’s a rift, a dichotomy, a split-personality disorder of sorts. What we do to them versus what we do to us, that’s the distinction. The domestic population is slightly elevated, more important, deserving of some human rights vs. their enemies around the world, who are fair game.

So, what can we expect from the most “Progressive” Democratic Party options alive today? They have endorsed McCain without qualifying in any way the immoral criminality of his lifelong agenda of war and more war. No recollection of his Beach Boys parody, “Bomb bomb Iran.” Certainly no talk of his meeting with Al Qaeda and other Jihadist elements in both Libya and Syria! His selling Jihad as “freedom” on US television. Nothing about his supporting the ranting, raving neo-Nazis in Ukraine, nor the violent illegal coup there, which McCain was a part of.

Jihadist kidnappers meet with US senator McCain, exposed in Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star.

Bernie Sanders voted to bomb Serbia in 1999 and to invade Afghanistan in 2001. It was well known that the Taliban had offered to turn over Osama bin Laden to a legitimate international court if evidence was produced to implicate him in the 9/11 attacks. Instead of pursuing this diplomatic solution, it was instead the start of an endless war that continues to this day, the longest war in America’s history. Sanders cast a vote in favor of the attack and against a peaceful diplomatic solution, against justice.

Bernie Sanders also supported:

Israeli onslaughts against the Gaza Strip, most recently the savage bombardment of July-August 2014 which killed nearly 2,000 Palestinians, including more than 500 children. At an August 2014 town hall meeting, Sanders notoriously demanded that audience members “shut up” when they questioned his support for Israel’s criminal actions.”

Further, Bernie Sanders was right on John McCain’s side in backing the 2014 fascist coup in Ukraine. “The entire world has got to stand up to Putin,” he argued, ignoring that US/EU support to a completely undemocratic seizure of power in Ukraine prompted the Russian response. So who was the real aggressor?

Are these new “Progressive” kids on the block more of the same? Did we get fooled again? With the country lurching toward a Robber Baron kakistocracy, these alternatives may seem like rays of sunshine. Perhaps they are, but the devil is in the details.

How many more wars, “Progressives?” How many?

Joe Giambrone is an author and filmmaker.


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Sep 18, 2018 11:50 PM

McCain’s “unparalleled human decency” would literally put him above Jesus and Gandhi. What kind of imbecile makes such an insinuation?

Frankly Speaking
Frankly Speaking
Sep 14, 2018 8:07 PM

Having followed international events for 4 decades, I can NEVER, EVER see McCain as anything other than a warmonger. This illiberal, unDemocratic revisionism is utterly despicable, in fact, it’s 1984 Orwellian Ministry Of Truth revisionism.

edited by Admin to correct typo

Paul X
Paul X
Sep 14, 2018 8:11 PM

Phew! I wondered where I was for a minute.

Sep 13, 2018 8:02 PM

Highly recommended: the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. What did the new emperors do, when they had lied, cheated, murdered their way to the purple throne? They diverted as much gold as possible to the soldiers and spies, who would keep them in power. “Donatives”. So the price kept going up. It destroyed the empire.

Sep 13, 2018 7:04 PM

In this context the term ‘progressive’ seems to mean not fighting ‘dumb’ wars stupidly, but engaging with militaristic imperialism… intelligently and with a portion of ‘style’, knowing how to sell these ghastly military adventures properly and for the correct humanitarian reasons. To help, protect and save civilian lives and nurture the children.

Frankly Speaking
Frankly Speaking
Sep 14, 2018 8:09 PM
Reply to  MichaelK

They should be called out for what they really are: unDemocratic Regressives.

Sep 13, 2018 6:10 PM

Bruce Dixon at Black Agenda Report makes similar points, analysing the Democratic Party’s candidates in the House election:

“…What stands out in the web sites of these progressive Democrats is that 21 out of 31 have absolutely NOTHING to say to voters about war or peace, about the military budget which consumes roughly a trillion dollars a year. And that’s not counting the two candidates whose sole mention of the world outside the United States was opining that we should fully fund the State Department in one case, or put more emphasis on diplomacy in another.

“9 or 10 out of 31 want to help the vets, respect the vets, listen to the vets and the active duty military, improve medical care and job opportunities and such, though one outlier, ER physician Matt Morgan in Michigan wants to privatize the VA into some kind of nonprofit. Only a couple of those candidates who list veterans affairs among their priorities have anything to say about the use to which veterans are put. Only one or two of the “respect the veterans” progressives come anywhere near mentioning what you can hear at the beginning of most NFL games, that there are hundreds of thousands of US troops in more than a hundred foreign countries, with aircraft, satellites, and warships over, on and beneath all the seven seas, and more than 800 military bases outside the US on every continent except Antarctica.

“Sometimes what you leave unsaid is more eloquent and damning than what you say. For 21 out of 31 so-called progressive Democratic candidates, the world outside the US, the American global empire, and the globally integrated capitalist economy either do not exist at all, or just don’t make their top ten or top twelve list of priority issues. How do we explain that?

“These are not young people trying to find their feet. They’re not running for library board or water commissioner, they’re running for Congress, the ONLY federal elected offices that exist apart from the president and vice president. Most have been in public life a good while, about a third have served as state legislators or other local elected officials. These are boys and girls who know how to ride, and this ain’t their first rodeo. They are relatively smart and savvy people with other smart and savvy people working with and for them, folks who carefully weigh and calculate and consider every word that appears on their web sites as well as everything they leave out.

|There are only two possibilities. Either two thirds of our progressive Democrats running for Congress this year really are true believers in the US right to make up its own facts, to declare offshore law free zones like Guantanamo, to invade other countries at will, killing millions and wreaking incalculable havoc upon their infrastructure, societies and ecologies like in Southeast Asia, Iraq and Afghanistan, and just don’t want to say it out loud, or our progressive Democrats don’t believe it but imagine they need to remain silent and pretend to be true believers in the US empire to get elected. Either way, two thirds of the new blue wave of progressive Dem congressional candidates believe they can get away with silence on foreign affairs.

“This would make the supposed progressive new wave of Democrats about as effective at opposing the empire as the old Democrats already in office. As we pointed out a month or two ago, a solid majority of House Democrats didn’t just vote for Trump’s record military budget. They raised it tens of billions above Trump’s initial proposal to show military contractors, who gave more to Hillary than they did to Trump that they, not Republicans were better friends than Trump’s party. Even a majority of the House Progressive Caucus voted for it. Ultimately the increase alone in the 2019 military budget is more the entire military budget of the Russian federation….
Read the rest at

jo pac
jo pac
Sep 13, 2018 6:57 PM
Reply to  bevin

More to go with Bruce Dixon article.


Part 2 & 3 are on here also

harry stotle
harry stotle
Sep 13, 2018 4:57 PM

“Are these new “Progressive” kids on the block more of the same? Did we get fooled again? With the country lurching toward a Robber Baron kakistocracy, these alternatives may seem like rays of sunshine. Perhaps they are, but the devil is in the details.” – implicit in such rhetoric is the idea a new breed of US politician might emerge, one able to withstand the might of the US deep state, and corporate hegemony whose interests they will go to any length to protect.

So I doubt it somehow, but even if there was, he/she would eventually be taken out, if not by the media (see antisemitism and Corbyn) then by violence.

Anti-democratic roots have grown too deep in the US – it is a country driven by the interests of a tiny few who have become increasingly adept at manipulating the gullible majority, how else do you explain a political system that could only offer a choice between the likes of Trump and HRC as president.

That’s no choice at all …… obviously.

Sep 13, 2018 3:57 PM

Congratulations on a really well-structured, well-written, and well-argued article.

Sep 18, 2018 11:51 PM
Reply to  Stonky

Welcome to Off Guardian!

Sep 13, 2018 2:04 PM

Horst Wessel song. From WikiPaidia:

Goebbels consulted with Hermann Göring and others in the party on how to respond to Wessel’s death. They declared a period of mourning until 12 March, during which party and SA members would avoid amusements and Wessel’s name would be invoked at all party meetings.

[Oh, but Nazi Germany was a One-party regime. It coulldn’t happen here!]

Sep 16, 2018 8:12 AM
Reply to  vexarb

Any similarity to actual events or persons is entirely coincidental.

Paul X
Paul X
Sep 13, 2018 1:33 PM

The current situation highlights the hypocrisy of Western foreign policy. As they wait for the first photo of an injured child in Idlip to whip up support for mass air strikes on Syrian positions and a last push to bring down Assad it seems Damascus itself will be a target – but don’t expect any photos of injured children. Meanwhile not far away the Saudi Coslition has been bombing Houthi positions every day this week boasting of 73 ‘rebels’ killed in Tuesdays strikes and today are talking off cutting off humanitarian relief altogether. No talk of retaliation or sanctions, no complaints, no photos either of all the injured and dead children already weakened by disease and hunger.
Our ‘progressive’ press is just as pathetic as that in the US. The Guardian highlights fears of families in Idlip, many of course Jihadis or their family members. At the same time they have space to publish several stories about how the Chinese are ‘imprisoning a million Muslims and subjecting them to re-education. Just because they don’t like them it seems. No mention of the several thousand strong jihadi group who currently occupy their own town in Idlip and are regarded as one of the most brutal Jihadi groups known. Nor any cross reference to our very own Re-education plan known as Prevent. It’s to keep the kettle boiling under the ‘China is our enemy’ policy of the US.

P.E. Ace
P.E. Ace
Sep 13, 2018 3:03 PM
Reply to  Paul X

Indeed, media is also blasting China. MSM and Rothschildt-aligned media (Financial Times and Economist) try portray China and Russia as pure evil.

MIC should make money.

Of note is that Rothschildt and Murdoch have stake in Genie, an oil company with a concession in the Golan Heights. Macron was made millionaire by Rothschildt. Therese May gets favourable coverage from Sky and Times. No wonder France and UK join US in fighting Assad.

MSM is also full of comments that Germany should come off the fence and take responsibility, i.e. fight Assad and hence Russia. US is forcing its dangerous identity politics in diplomacy upon Germany. US want Germany to take a stand and not just focus on making quality products. Let us hope Germany maintains its reasonably level head and continues to demonstate that countries can be decent constituents of the world by just keeping their house in order and not be opiniated anout evrything and everyone for all the wrong reasons.

Mulga Mumblebrain
Mulga Mumblebrain
Sep 15, 2018 2:40 AM
Reply to  P.E. Ace

In Austfailure, the recipient of fifty billion in trade surpluses, per year, from China, and tens of thousands of students and over a million well-behaved tourists per year, the current media tsunami of raw HATRED of China is simply frenzied. Every day there are new denunciations, with, for example, pip-squeak academics comparing China to Nazi Germany, and simple, raw, undiluted HATRED. The Government owned but now fully Murdoch controlled ABC, is particularly vicious. Not much change, save for the current undisguised racist and Orientalist psychosis, because I really cannot recall one positive story about China in decades and decades of presstitute ‘reporting’.

Fair dinkum
Fair dinkum
Sep 13, 2018 1:07 PM

And they never send THEIR kids off to fight, with a gun in their hands and FEAR in their hearts.
High minded hypocrites.