Antiwar Radio: Gabriel Kolko

Professor Gabriel Kolko discusses the catastrophic post World War II American Empire along the lines covered in his book The Age of War: The United States Confronts the World: the phony Cold War against the USSR, attempted domination of the third world, the Military Industrial Complex’s permanent function in the American economy, the true purpose and fate of the NATO alliance, and the coming destruction – on way or another – of America’s global position.

Gabriel Kolko is the leading historian of modern warfare. He is the author of the classic Century of War: Politics, Conflicts and Society Since 1914 and Another Century of War?

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2 thoughts on “Antiwar Radio: Gabriel Kolko”

  1. Tim

    A great interview. Makes you think.

    It made me realise something I hadn’t considered before. Current US policy in Iraq essentially risks the whole geopolitical settlement reached at the end of WW1 that underlies all the borders and states of the mid east. This system was certainly one with numerous, and indeed bloody, faults but there is no reason to believe the US is in a position to engineer anything better. Certainly nothing emanating from Washington sounds anything like a thought out strategy.

    Prof. Kolko highlighted the ‘bankruptcy’ risk that foreign interventionism means for the US. It’s hard to visualise what the bankruptcy of a nation means. Is it a risk of a Weimar Republic style or post-Soviet Russia style economic collapse? Or maybe “bankruptcy” is a “pussycat” too. For example, most of the nations that entertained hegemonic ambitions, including Britain, Spain, France, Germany, Japan etc are more prosperous societies post-Empire than they were at their imperial peak.

    Interestingly there are some unexpected overlaps between Professor Kolko’s historical analysis and that of Ludwig Von Mises, at least as expressed by Mises in his excellent essay “Planned Chaos” (reproduced at mises.org here). Kolko mentions the issue of whether foreign socialists will ever do what they say they will and concludes most socialists are really ‘pussycats’. So he concludes the old cold war anti-communism was chasing at shadows that were not true threats. (I don’t really agree with this but let the argument run…) Mises says that socialists and social democrats, even those from parties with marxist roots like the continental european socialist parties, couldn’t adopt the full bore communist central planning system even if they wanted to as, being from smaller states, unlike backward and semi-autarchic Russia, they had to depend on international trade if their standard of living was not to collapse. Hence the ‘failure’ of small states to adopt thoroughly ‘communist’ economic systems even if they had socialist political leadership. A large and vital sector of their economy was inheritly outside of the regulators’ clutches. Mises thus provides an explanation for the triumph of pussycat socialism, which Kolko merely observes as an empirical fact. Similarly Mises and Kolko both seem to see both Leninist Communism and Nazism as superficial reactions to the collapse of ‘western society’ from war, namely WW1.

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