Cacophony, Not Harmony: US Foreign Policy’s Terrible Tune

On March 14, a Russian SU-27 fighter brought down a US MQ-9 Reaper drone over the Black Sea. The exact details of where and how remain a mystery even after the release of drone video showing what appears to be a dump of jet fuel onto the drone, but those details don’t matter much. The incident mainly serves as an excuse for more ratcheting up of US-Russian tensions around the war in Ukraine.

When I think of drones, I’m more likely to think of music – yes, music – than of unmanned military aircraft. And thinking about the drone effect in music provides a useful analogy to US foreign policy.

Simply put, the function of a drone in music is to play a single underlying note or chord continuously throughout a song, while layering melodies/harmonies above it. Those melodies/harmonies are specific variations; the drone note is the theme.

The US foreign policy drone note since at least as far back as World War 2, and certainly since the fall of the Soviet Union has been “global hegemony.” That is, the US not just as world cop, but world judge, world jury, and world executioner.

The martial melody the US regime plays over that drone note is full-spectrum dominance, which the US Department of Defense defines as “[t]he cumulative effect of dominance in the air, land, maritime, and space domains and information environment, which includes cyberspace, that permits the conduct of joint operations without effective opposition or prohibitive interference.”

But if the world is a big band, nowhere near all of its 195 regimes agree to accept the US as its leader, play in the same key, or keep the same beat.

If you’ve ever played in a band (other than maybe an experimental jazz combo), you know what happens when each member plays or sings in different keys, at different tempos, and in different time signatures.

You don’t get a song.

You get an ugly mess.

If you’re smart (and maybe after a brawl or three), you eventually figure out that this band isn’t ever going to get on the same sheet of music and decide to break up.

Much of the world has no interest in playing with the US band. They prefer to form their own combos, or to pursue solo careers.

The US should give up its ugly drone and melody/harmony scheme and play a different tune: “Give Peace a Chance.”

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism, publisher of Rational Review News Digest, and moderator of’s commenting/discussion community.

33 thoughts on “Cacophony, Not Harmony: US Foreign Policy’s Terrible Tune”

  1. The clumsy war propoganda that we are bring fed, to be honest, is a hoot!
    A few weeks ago, we were beating our chests while expressing complete butthurt over a manuverable balloon we were too scared to shoot down until it wandered across the nation
    Then we shot down a hobby balloon with millions of dollars of missiles (because Joe decided he looked really bad on the other one) and now we are shocked that Boris believes a $32 million dollar drone might be supplying militarily useful realtime data to Ukraine during a hot war and they grounded it without firing a shot.
    Russian media is now outraged and some of that sure seems similar to our Chinese balloon butthurt.
    But then over here we are even calling the Russian pilot as “reckless” because he did not use a missile like we used on those dastardly balloons.

    1. Ahem, if the drone was not supplying militarily useful real time data to Ukraine (and the U.S. “trainers”) in Ukraine, then what was it doing? Checking out the flora and fauna of the land surrounding the Black Sea?

      1. If that drone was checking out the land surronding the not white sea could it have been for military purposes?
        Nope…not possible….

      2. Exactly. The U.S. is evil enough to be guilty until proven innocent. And the U.S. military has no business anywhere near that part of the world, but some of us have been saying that since the Vietnam war (maybe before that if you’re old enough).

    2. I expressed no such butthurt, nor did I shoot down anything, nor have I called the Russian pilot “reckless.”

      You seem to continually posit a particular “we,” but not being part of that “we,” I find it hard to identify said “we.”

      As for “my” “glorious outsourcing,” what company is it that you believe I work for? When I worked for the Henry Hazlitt Foundation, “we” had a Russian writer on staff, so I guess “we” outsourced in that sense. I don’t know that any of the outfits I work with at the moment pay any e.g. foreign correspondents.

      Of course, you “outsource” every time you go to the grocery store and buy vegetables grown by someone else instead of growing your own. I’m not sure why whether or not those vegetables cross specific imaginary lines on the ground on their way from someone’s farm to your table is so important to you.

      1. Why is outsourcing so important to me?
        Could it be that war is connected with global business?
        We are now engaged in one by proxy because the Western economic bloc tried to expand their influence beyond what was acceptible to the eastern bloc.
        We even took out Quaddafi because he was planning to nationalize and ship our trading partners’ (England and France) “oil” to North Africa.
        But that was in the name of “free trade” wasn’t it?
        I know some believe the tired canard about how if we just offshore production to a underdeveloped country it will cause them to like us and as will their interdepence on their increasing wealth and better lifestyle .
        That one has been around since the Brits were colonizing the Mideast and other undeveloped areas .
        So lessen our standard of living so someone else will like us…who cares? It isn’t working out quite that way is it?
        What is today’s war/conflict count?
        Is it still over the 200 conflict mark world wide and quite alot of them have economic issues at hand of mainly one side wants another’s resources be it natural, control of a shipping route, a population, or some chips of all things.
        You free traders have had your chance at making the world safe for commerce and international corporations and their bottomline but we have quite a few hot wars being run by those who espouse free trade; linkage….hmmm?

        1. There you go with that anonymous “we” again.

          I’m not engaged in any war, by proxy or otherwise. I had nothing to do with taking out Qaddafi (and see no evidence that doing so had anything to with “free trade” except possibly to suppress it).

          Anyone who doesn’t outsource a considerable part of their consumption is lowering their standard of living. Do you make your own LEDs? Before you did that, did you mine your own tungsten and blow your own glass for your incandescent bulbs?

          I suppose it’s not impossible that there’s been some war, somewhere, some time, caused by free trade, but I’m reasonably familiar with history and all of them that I can think of ran in the opposite direction.

          1. So you just like the spoils of war policy but don’t want to take any responsibilty for it?
            Japan is increasing its military budget above the rate of inflation because they need to protect international trade in the South China Sea but that’s OK because they manufacture stuff for us and we need to protect it…oh I forgot; “we” does not include you despite your personal belief that outsourcing is the way we get such technology marvels such as leds. We just could not manage to make bulbs ourselves.

          2. I don’t like war, or any “spoils of war” policies.

            It’s not that I “don’t want to take responsibility” for such policies. It’s that I’m not responsible for such policies. I’m not a nation-state regime.

            How many light bulbs have you made yourself? How many light switches? How much oil do you drill and refine into gasoline to power the automobile that you built yourself from metals you mined yourself.

            Nearly everything everyone on Earth uses is outsourced to other people. That’s why we don’t live in caves, hunt mammoths with spears we made ourselves from tree limbs, and start fires to cook the mammoth meat with flint we found on the ground anymore. It’s called “division of labor,” and your bellyache is that it sometimes takes place across very special imaginary lines drawn on the ground by the gang you choose to pledge your fealty to, and at the expense of that gang’s ability to reward its hangers-on at the expense of its serfs.

          3. Are you really trying to take a simplistic economic concept of outsourcing at its basics and are extrapolating that into the modern economic system of economic blocs?
            Let’s explore pharmaceutical manufacturing, specifically in India. We import huge amounts from them (behind pearls/precious metals/diamonds it is India’s largest export to the US)
            They of course are able to manufacture these products at a much lower costs (not a level playing field) but it does come at a cost so you can save money.
            India, Japan, Australia, and the US are members of “the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue –popularly known as the Quad– formed primarily to contain China’s assertive rise across the Indo-Pacific”
            They assure us there is not a military component because that’s handled by a different group:
            “One thing is evident: all four democracies that make up the Quad are together in the Indo-Pacific battle to checkmate a rising and belligerent China. Yet, none of the Quad members will admit it publicly. It is not a military alliance like NATO. The military component in the Indo-Pacific is the AUKUS – the Australia, UK, and the US formation.”
            Would we be so worried about India if it weren’t for those cheap drugs that are manufactured in conditions we can’t compete with?
            They do make them cheaper though and who cares about the increasing militarization by our trading partners (and us) if we can get cheap drugs? The military industrial complex in many nations, not just ours, are happy to provide the protection to make the trade safe so corporations can make profits.

          4. “Would we be so worried about India if it weren’t for those cheap drugs that are manufactured in conditions we can’t compete with?”

            I don’t know if you would be worried about India under those circumstances.

            I’m not worried about India anyway.

            And the only thing that props up drug prices in the US is non-freedom of trade, not just across gang turf lines but within them through the state-granted privilege of patent.

            “Economic blocs” — gang-enforced turf monopolies — are exactly what you’re arguing for and what I’m arguing against.

          5. So you are arguing for the esoteric while I’m focused on the real world consequences; namely the US employment in factory settings have dropped by 30% since free trade plus the need for militarization to protect economic “partners” (like India) from rivals which namely is China.
            “Gang enforced monopolies” sure sounds great when arguing the esoteric about what would occur (yup, it was complete despotism when the farthest away we outsourced TV production to was Mexico, terrible times when we had “gang-enforced turf”) but in the world we are living in today we are seeing ever increasing militarization as the need to protect “trading partners” from others and those multi-national corporations are darn important too.

          6. I’m arguing in favor of how the world actually works instead of in favor of how the way you wish it worked and fantasize about it working, and in favor of actual free trade instead of the managed/controlled trade that you pretend is free trade.

          7. There is no actual free trade except in books.
            All trade is managed via rules, regulations.
            That is how the world works.

          8. So you’re now claiming that the “free trade” you keep complaining about doesn’t exist.

            So why do you continuously complain about something you consider a fantasy?

          9. No, your free trade that you keep speaking of does not exsist except in economic textbooks of which share that it is a goal that free markets strive for but don’t achieve. All we have is outsourcing of production that has resulted in a 30% loss of factory jobs that have not been replaced by the promised higher paying ones.
            You also seem to not be able to understand that our increasing economic ties come at a price that involves military involvement to protect these economic interests.
            But it’s not like we are at a antiwar site with me trying to get you understand something other than rudimentry economic theory.

          10. Right now, free trade exists almost entirely in black markets.

            As for manufacturing jobs not being replaced by higher paying ones, real/constant-dollar median personal income in 1992 was $28,287 per year, and is now $37,522.

            If your increasing economic ties come at a price that involves military involvement to protect your “interests,” what you’re doing isn’t “free trade.” It’s just the same thing as any street gang crack dealer deciding he needs to make sure another gang isn’t selling candy on his street.

          11. So all that growth of the whole is attributable to outsourcing 30% of our factory jobs …..sure it is……
            That is honestly not even worth delving into; but nice try.
            Now you are getting there; there are no true free markets/trade. The closest we get is within nations but between nations is where all the rules of conduct come in which is not being “free”.
            Heck just try to do the accounting between a US company with foreign subsidiaries who use a different accounting system on top of a wildly different tax code (that was a fun class) and you’ll start to get the idea of just how many rules is involved with so-called free trade.
            Now you need to work on the concept of tarriffs to equalize the advantages the imported good has over domestic production (there is also the revenue raising aspect that can be part of a tarrif too; think of it as a sales tax in its basic)
            The tax code also has a huge impact on where manufactoring takes place. Currently there is an expansion of economic activity domestically, namely production returning via foreign manufactures building US plants to build their products.
            Writing the tax code to induce a return to domestic production is not exactly keeping with Don Quixote free market concepts is it? More of view that culture of the domestic worker is important as well (Quixote was Marx’s favorite book too)
            You seem to be focused on the promise that with more economic interconectivity between individual nations that will lead to peace but that in practice has led the world into economic/military blocs but in pratice we all can see the increased militarism that has occurred instead. But that phenomenon is just the state of the world as it always been, namely the projection of military power to protect/control stuff and people.

          12. “You seem to be focused on the promise that with more economic interconectivity between individual nations that will lead to peace”

            Not only am I not “focused” on that, I don’t believe anything resembling it.

            “Nations” don’t trade. People do.

            Regimes restrain trade between their serfs and other regimes’ serfs as a way of rewarding their ruling classes at the expense of those serfs.

            While “interconnectivity” between regimes reduces the chances of war, and while the barriers increase those prospects, there’s little chance that any regime will give up war entirely in favor of peace. War is what regimes ultimately do.

          13. “People do” Ok….
            Now we are back to theory and it appears to be with a Marxist view.
            I’ve studied economics from both Marxist and the free market view (heavily Keynism towards the end) so if you want to do theory we can.
            But that is missing the point and how we are on brink of war as we always seem to be because nation economic concerns drive military ones.
            You also are haveing a hard time with the application of tarriffs to equalize the inherent differences in each nation’s market so as to equalize competition not to prevent it. Instead you seem to be focused on the basics of market efficiency without consideration of the distortion of each market’s uniqueness caused by something other than unique efficiencies. Laws and regulations fall into that category; tarriffs done correctly removes them.
            That is the possible; calling for a removal of hindrances such as labor or environmental laws is not except very incrementally.

          14. There you go with that imagined “we” again.

            I don’t have a “hard time” with the bullshit excuses for tariffs. I just recognize that they’re bullshit excuses.

          15. I give up
            Your lack of economic education (yes, I do remember you sharing you have just taken micro and macro and have forgotten a lotof that) I’ve tried to convince you that our 30 years of outsourcing has led to militarization but your retort is trade is between people not nations and some efficiency of the market stuff you obviously remember from macro class.
            Now you are swearing because I tried my best in this forum to breifly explain economic theory a little beyond your limited studies.
            I aplogize if it has been too confusing given the limitations a comment section has, but profanity????

          16. You gave away your abject ignorance of economic theory when you referred to Keynesian economics as “free market.”

            I went from basic micro/macro courses to direct study of economics texts because I hadn’t the time, money, or degree ambition to remain in school. I’m reasonably widely read on the subject (including Keynes, Marx/Engels, George et. al, but tending to focus more on the Austrian line — especially, but not only Mises — with a smatter of the public choice types and monetarists, mostly Friedman and his followers).

            To put it a different way, yes, I can graph a demand curve, etc., but the difference between us is not necessarily one of knowledge (I may or may not have forgotten more Coase and Buchanan than you’ve ever known), it’s a difference of conclusions drawn from knowledge.

            I went through my juvenile Buchananite “tariffs level the playing field” period three decades ago. Fortunately, my first submission to a major magazine was a piece of that nonsense advocating, essentially, “decoupling” from China on “level the playing field” and “but the laogai” grounds, and an editor took the time to shoot it full of holes in a cordial way over several exchanges, instead of just sending a polite rejection note.

            I paid attention to the holes.

          17. Never did I refer to Keynism as free market just the stopping point (constrasted with supply side; should I have mentioned that too?) in a class. Did I refer to a complete decompling, even once with China or anyone else?
            As to tarriffs being a juvenile way of leveling the playing field.
            Is the dumping of goods at artificially low prices “adult” to use a term?
            It is adult to ignore currency manipulation?
            Or perhaps to use tarriffs to remove that advantage is juvenile?
            Is it adult or childish to enforce child labor laws here but to import goods produced under those conditions? How about slave labor produced goods? No penalties at all?
            No discouragements for foreign manufactors who use those folks to undercut the price of domestic produced goods?
            Is the disouragement to prevent that in the form of a tarriff or regulation an juvenile fix? Or should we just ignore that because of market efficiency and cultural considerations?
            How about the tax code? Juvenile or adult to write it favorably to encourage outsoucing or the building of US manufacturing?
            Has the 30 years of outsourcing brought us closer or further away from war?

          18. Unless there’s a state subsidy involved, the result of “dumping” of goods is bankruptcy.

            Currency is generally (there are special cases) manipulated by states, not by market actors.

            Tariffs aren’t used to remove artificial advantages. They’re used to create artificial advantages for politically connected producers at the expense of consumers.

            The solutions to slavery and child labor are automation and demand for goods that aren’t inferior.

            The only adult solution to the tax code is to soak it in gasoline, set it on fire, and tell regimes to hold bake sales if they need money.

            Outsourcing’s been a big deal for a lot longer than 30 years. One of our family’s first cars that I can remember — 50 years or so ago — was an imported VW Beetle. And by the late 1970s, good luck finding much in the way of inexpensive products that weren’t made in Japan. One time when I was about 10, a local five-and-dime was closing (owners got old and retired — a Ben Franklin ended up in their space) and had a “progressive” sale — 25% off everything one week, 50% the next, then 75%. I spent hours in that store. The only item I found with a manufacturing label that DIDN’T say “made in Japan” was, oddly, a statue of the Buddha. These days I see a lot of Turkish stuff in that market space along with the ubiquitous Chinese goods, some eastern European things, etc.

            Germans and Japanese got wealthier as a result of that earlier round of “outsourcing.”

            And so did Americans.

            It’s wealthier societies that manage to get out from under slavery and child labor.

          19. You brought up autos so let’s explore that.
            US based manufacturing is increasing because the way tax code is being written and because of domestic content rules.
            Too much foreign content recieves a tarriff. Of course foriegn manufacturers recieve subsidies in various forms too which is why “dumping” occurs in various other industries.
            I take it you disfavor that . The increase of folks in high paying jobs is less important to a lower priced good.
            Are you in favor of importation of autos that don’t meet safety standards too? You can get some really nice cars overseas that don’t fare to well in accidents but are thousands less than what we can buy here.
            I’m personally have no issues with vehicals built to 1950’s standards ( to pick an era) so why shouldn’t I be able to buy one? Oh I forgot; this isn’t a true freemarket is it?’

          20. “The increase of folks in high paying jobs is less important to a lower priced good.”

            A lower priced good IS the increase of folks in high(er) paying jobs. Work is the price we pay for the things we buy. A lower priced good means less work for more stuff.

            “Are you in favor of importation of autos that don’t meet safety standards too?”

            I’m not in favor or against any “importation” per se. I’m in favor of anyone buying anything they want to buy, from anyone, anywhere, who’s willing to sell it to them, without government interference of any kind (the name for that notion is “free trade”).

          21. So you are complete theory; I got it.
            Just get rid of the entire system…sure that’s a real possibilty.
            You want theory?
            Complete darwinian free trade is the way to go without any forn of interference between the 2 parties.
            Sure, that is a easy one if you want theory.
            It removes any real world nuance and one can proclaim they want absolutely no controls such as safety standards because anyone should be ablecto sell me anything they want. Not the actual economy at hand nor one that the future holds except in theory.
            I prefer a discussion of the possible not some theory that has no chance of fruition.
            But more power to you….
            Discussion of actual real world economics is what I prefer ….

  2. MSM propaganda in the U.S. is a psyop tool for the globalist agenda. That agenda includes regime change in Russia. Hence moving that country into the free market system and stripping them of their national heritage and eventually resources. It has succeeded in Europe ie; Yugoslavia. It was easier to do there because of the ethnic diversity. Today we see the same play out in Zelensky’s Ukraine. With the ultimate prize being regime change in Russia.

  3. Thanks for sharing the music angle with the beats, the keys and the tempos! I enjoyed it.
    Trying to stay in topic (of the situation), fuel dumping, I believe, takes place from the wingtips, not from the engines where it will catch fire. The white plume was coming out of both engines. So what was it? Incomplete combustion?
    Also, if one blade of the propeller was bent as the video showed, that would make the propeller go out of balance which would cause the drone go out of balance and crash.
    It was published that the video was edited, so I think the Pentagon gave a Song and Dance.

    1. Glad you liked the piece!

      I don’t personally have a strong opinion on exactly what happened with the drone encounter, whether the video is real, fake, selectively edited, etc. Both sides seem to agree that the drone was downed in an encounter with a Russian aircraft, and to be interested in putting their spin on how, why, where, whether it was justified, etc.

      My personal opinion is that the US had no business flying a drone over the Black Sea even if it was in international waters as the DoD claims. To the extent that I tolerate the existence of the US regime at all, and particularly in the area of “defense,” I’d at most support a militia with small full-time cadre/trainers for ground forces, and air and sea forces with the ability to project force over long distances, but a focus entirely on coastal defense until/unless actually attacked. Basically, the US has kept up a “world war” tempo of operations and expansiveness of presence ever since the last actual world war, which tends toward eventually getting dragged into another world war.

      But that’s just my personal opinion ;-)

  4. The U.S. isn’t willing to give up its goal of U.S. hegemony because the U.S. is an empire, and because the people running this empire have massive egos and therefore lust for power, among other things.

    The problem here isn’t just that U.S. leaders are this way, but that the U.S. population allows these people to be their leaders. Regardless of the fact that the U.S. isn’t a democracy (, regular people could replace these leaders with much better ones (less egotistic and materialistic for starters) if they really wanted to do so. But they’d obviously rather keep playing with their needless toys and superficially enjoying their ill-gotten wealth than stop U.S. hegemony and rein in the U.S. empire, so nothing gets done.

Comments are closed.