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Offline Thucydides

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Re: Grand Strategy for a Divided America
« Reply #25 on: November 24, 2008, 17:10:05 »
VDH on some of the issues at home. Americans will be able to prosper and thrive if they can clean up some of these messes:

http://pajamasmedia.com/victordavishanson/ten-random-politicially-incorrect-thoughts/

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Ten Random, Politically Incorrect Thoughts
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1. Four years of high-school Latin would dramatically arrest the decline in American education. In particular, such instruction would do more for minority youths than all the ‘role model’ diversity sermons on Harriet Tubman, Malcolm X, Montezuma, and Caesar Chavez put together. Nothing so enriches the vocabulary, so instructs about English grammar and syntax, so creates a discipline of the mind, an elegance of expression, and serves as a gateway to the thinking and values of Western civilization as mastery of a page of Virgil or Livy (except perhaps Sophocles’s Antigone in Greek or Thucydides’ dialogue at Melos). After some 20 years of teaching mostly minority youth Greek, Latin, and ancient history and literature in translation (1984-2004), I came to the unfortunate conclusion that ethnic studies, women studies—indeed, anything “studies”— were perhaps the fruits of some evil plot dreamed up by illiberal white separatists to ensure that poor minority students in the public schools and universities were offered only a third-rate education.

2. Hollywood is going the way of Detroit. The actors are programmed and pretty rather than interesting looking and unique. They, of course, are overpaid (they do to films what Lehman Brothers’ execs did to stocks), mediocre, and politicized. The producers and directors are rarely talented, mostly unoriginal—and likewise politicized. A pack-mentality rules. Do one movie on a comic superhero—and suddenly we get ten, all worse than the first. One noble lion cartoon movie earns us eagle, penguin and most of Noah’s Arc sequels. Now see poorer remakes of movies that were never good to begin with. I doubt we will ever see again a Western like Shane, the Searchers, High Noon, or the Wild Bunch. If one wishes to see a fine film, they are now usually foreign, such as Das Boot or Breaker Morant. Watching any recent war movie (e.g., Iraq as the Rape of Nanking) is as if someone put uniforms on student protestors and told them to consult their professors for the impromptu script.

3. All the old media brands of our youth have been tarnished and all but discredited. No one picks up Harpers or Atlantic expecting to read a disinterested story on politics or culture. (I pass on their inane accounts of ‘getaways’ and food.) The New York Times and Washington Post are as likely to have op-eds as news stories on the front page. Newsweek and Time became organs for paint-by-numbers Obamism, teased with People Magazine-like gossip pieces (at least, their editors still cared enough to seem hurt when charged with overt bias). NBC, ABC, and CBS would now make a Chet Huntley or Eric Sevareid turn over in his grave. A Keith Olbermann would not have been allowed to do commercials in the 1950s. Strangely, the media has offered up fashionably liberal politics coupled with metrosexual elite tastes in fashions, clothes, housing, food, and the good life, as if there were no contradictions between the two. No wonder media is so enthralled with the cool Obama and his wife. Both embody the new nexus between Eurosocialism in the abstract and the hip aristocratic life in the concrete.

4. After the junk bond meltdown, the S&L debacle, and now the financial panic, in just a few years the financial community destroyed the ancient wisdom: deal in personal trust; your word is your bond; avoid extremes; treat the money you invest for others as something sacred; don’t take any more perks than you would wish others to take; don’t borrow what you couldn’t suddenly pay back; imagine the worse case financial scenario and expect it very may well happen; the wealthier you become the more humble you should act. And for what did our new Jay Goulds do all this? A 20,000 square-foot mansion instead of the old 6,000 sq. ft. expansive house? A Gulfstream in lieu of first class commercial? You milk your company, cash in your stock bonuses, enjoy your $50 million cash pile, and then get what—a Rolex instead of a reliable Timex? A Maserati for a Mercedes, a gold bathroom spout in preference to brushed pewter? The extra splurge was marginal and hardly worth the stain of avarice on one’s immortal soul.

5. California is now a valuable touchstone to the country, a warning of what not to do. Rarely has a single generation inherited so much natural wealth and bounty from the investment and hard work of those more noble now resting in our cemeteries—and squandered that gift within a generation. Compare the vast gulf from old Governor Pat Brown to Gray Davis or Arnold Schwarzenegger. We did not invest in many dams, canals, rails, and airports (though we use them all to excess); we sued each other rather than planned; wrote impact statements rather than left behind infrastructure; we redistributed, indulged, blamed, and so managed all at once to create a state with about the highest income and sales taxes and the worst schools, roads, hospitals, and airports. A walk through downtown San Francisco, a stroll up the Fresno downtown mall, a drive along highway 101 (yes, in many places it is still a four-lane, pot-holed highway), an afternoon at LAX, a glance at the catalogue of Cal State Monterey, a visit to the park in Parlier—all that would make our forefathers weep. We can’t build a new nuclear plant; can’t drill a new offshore oil well; can’t build an all-weather road across the Sierra; can’t build a few tracts of new affordable houses in the Bay Area; can’t build a dam for a water-short state; and can’t create even a mediocre passenger rail system. Everything else—well, we do that well.

6. Something has happened to the generic American male accent. Maybe it is urbanization; perhaps it is now an affectation to sound precise and caring with a patina of intellectual authority; perhaps it is the fashion culture of the metrosexual; maybe it is the influence of the gay community in arts and popular culture. Maybe the ubiquitous new intonation comes from the scarcity of salty old jobs in construction, farming, or fishing. But increasingly to meet a young American male about 25 is to hear a particular nasal stress, a much higher tone than one heard 40 years ago, and, to be frank, to listen to a precious voice often nearly indistinguishable from the female. How indeed could one make Westerns these days, when there simply is not anyone left who sounds like John Wayne, Richard Boone, Robert Duvall, or Gary Cooper much less a Struther Martin, Jack Palance, L.Q. Jones, or Ben Johnson? I watched the movie Twelve O’clock High the other day, and Gregory Peck and Dean Jagger sounded liked they were from another planet. I confess over the last year, I have been interviewed a half-dozen times on the phone, and had no idea at first whether a male or female was asking the questions. All this sounds absurd, but I think upon reflection readers my age (55) will attest they have had the same experience. In the old days, I remember only that I first heard a variant of this accent with the old Paul Lynde character actor in one of the Flubber movies; now young men sound closer to his camp than to a Jack Palance or Alan Ladd.

7. We have given political eccentricity a bad name. There used to be all sorts of classy individualists, liberal and conservative alike, like Everett Dirksen, J. William Fulbright, Margaret Chase Smith, or Sam Ervin; today we simply see the obnoxious who claim to be eccentric like a Barbara Boxer, Al Franken, Barney Frank, or Harry Reid. The loss is detectable even in diction and manner; Dirksen was no angel, but he was witty, charming, insightful; Frank is no angel, but he merely rants and pontificates. Watch the You Tube exchange between Harvard Law Graduate Frank and Harvard Law Graduate Rains as they arrogantly dismiss their trillion-dollar Fannie/Freddie meltdown in the making. I suppose it is the difference between the Age of Belief and the Age of Nihilism.

8. Do not farm. There is only loss. To the degree that anyone makes money farming, it is a question of a vertically-integrated enterprise making more in shipping, marketing, selling, packing, and brokering than it loses on the other end in growing. No exceptions. Food prices stay high, commodity prices stay low. That is all ye need to know. Try it and see.

9. As I wrote earlier, the shrill Left is increasingly far more vicious these days than the conservative fringe, and about like the crude Right of the 1950s. Why? I am not exactly sure, other than the generic notion that utopians often believe that their anointed ends justify brutal means. Maybe it is that the Right already had its Reformation when Buckley and others purged the extremists—the Birchers, the neo-Confederates, racialists, the fluoride-in-the-water conspiracists, anti-Semites, and assorted nuts.—from the conservative ranks in a way the Left has never done with the 1960s radicals that now reappear in the form of Michael Moore, Bill Ayers, Cindy Sheehan, Moveon.org, the Daily Kos, etc. Not many Democrats excommunicated Moveon.org for its General Betray-Us ad. Most lined up to see the premier of Moore’s mythodrama. Barack Obama could subsidize a Rev. Wright or email a post-9/11 Bill Ayers in a way no conservative would even dare speak to a David Duke or Timothy McVeigh—and what Wright said was not all that different from what Duke spouts. What separated Ayers from McVeigh was chance; had the stars aligned, the Weathermen would have killed hundreds as they planned.

10. The K-12 public education system is essentially wrecked. No longer can any professor expect an incoming college freshman to know what Okinawa, John Quincy Adams, Shiloh, the Parthenon, the Reformation, John Locke, the Second Amendment, or the Pythagorean Theorem is. An entire American culture, the West itself, its ideas and experiences, have simply vanished on the altar of therapy. This upcoming generation knows instead not to judge anyone by absolute standards (but not why so); to remember to say that its own Western culture is no different from, or indeed far worse than, the alternatives; that race, class, and gender are, well, important in some vague sense; that global warming is manmade and very soon will kill us all; that we must have hope and change of some undefined sort; that AIDs is no more a homosexual- than a heterosexual-prone disease; and that the following things and people for some reason must be bad, or at least must in public company be said to be bad (in no particular order): Wal-Mart, cowboys, the Vietnam War, oil companies, coal plants, nuclear power, George Bush, chemicals, leather, guns, states like Utah and Kansas, Sarah Palin, vans and SUVs.

Well, with that done—I feel much better.
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline HunterADA

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Re: Grand Strategy for a Divided America
« Reply #26 on: November 24, 2008, 19:48:30 »
Mind if I add an 11th?

Failure is okay. It's what happens when you don't make the cut. Keep failing in school, and you too can become an expert hamburger-flipper with a 5th grade education. Kids who grow up with the culture that it's important to maintain their self-esteem and keep passing them through school despite the fact they can't read, speak, do basic math or anything besides shoot hoops at recess (which 99.999% aren't going to ever make anything approaching a liveable wage from), are the same kids whose employers find themselves handicapped against the competition because their workforce is dumb. Not stupid. Willfully, intentionally ignorant. Dumb. And it's holding back the nation. Give the kid a few F's when he still can't read after 3rd grade and his parent(s) will tan his butt. Do the same thing in 12th grade and you've already lost him. Don't do it at all, and you've produced an absolutely worthless drain on society. The same applies throughout the rest of life. Unemployment is a crutch, not a wheelchair to let you coast through life.

I do have a bone to pick with #9. I don't recall too many Christian Fundamentalist churches getting firebombed lately. Nor have I ever heard of any rashes of shootings of say, plastic surgeons. And despite the cute story about a college woman who claimed she was beat up and had a 'B' scratched into her face, liberal vs conservative hate crimes are darn near nonexistant. The leftist 'entertainers' rely on rhetoric about unfairness, or the wrongness of someone's actions. They've even been known to say that vital members of the American government should be impeached. More than anything else though, they whine at their listeners. Those on the other side of the isle are more pragmatic. They just say that someone should silence the opposition once and for all. Or that abominations and evil like that can not be tolerated to exist on this earth. Since they're 'entertainers', they don't actually mean anyone should actually go out and KILL anyone. But to much wringing of hands, every now and again someone takes what they're saying literally and decides to go take care of 'those (insert perjorative here) people' with a gun. They'll sadly proclaim such was never intended to happen, but nutjobs do exist... especially those trained by the liberal, communist, godless, anti-American evil bastards trying to take over your country right this very minute.

Offline Thucydides

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Re: Grand Strategy for a Divided America
« Reply #27 on: January 23, 2009, 20:30:58 »
Jerry Pournell looks at one of the few examples of a functioning social democratic state (Sweden). This is always touted as the "model" that Canada, the United States, Togoland etc. should emulate, but Dr Pournell notes that Sweden's success could be attributed to Sweden's culture. In many ways this idea follows Samuel Huntington's arguments on the roots of American Civic Nationalism in "Who are We?" and VDH's arguments on the primacy of culture in the rise of the Greek polis, constitutional democracies and the growth of Western Civilization.

If these ideas are correct, then attempting to put America on a more socialist course will fail not ony because socialism is a flawed philosophy to begin with, but also because there is still a large segment of the American population that is culturally hostile to Socialism and "progressiveism" in its many forms, and will take active measures to oppose these ideas. (This does not necessarily mean violent opposition, a "John Galt" strike will rapidly cripple the economic agenda of the Obama Administration and the Democrat Congress without firing a shot).

http://www.jerrypournelle.com/view/2009/Q1/view554.html#Friday

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Can Socialism Work?

Dr. Pournelle,

I am trying to fight my depression regarding the coming anointing of Barrack Obama. Since he carries a lot of our fate for the next 4 (8, 12??) years I have to wish him well, too. But, do you or the readers of your site know of areas where liberalism/socialism have actually worked? I would think that if the liberal agenda really worked well then there should not be a poor person in the Santa Clara Valley, or Boston/Cambridge, or for that matter in the area of Bellaire and Malibu. So, unless other areas are exporting their poor into these areas, I am wondering what track record Mr. Obama is running on? Please enlighten me.

Douglas

First, despair is a sin; one must never forget that.

As to places where socialism and liberalism work, one needs to define what it means for a regime to "work". Sweden is very liberal to the point of socialism, and it's quite a pleasant place to live. How long that will continue is not known to me, but one of my oldest friends is a retired medical colonel from the Swedish army. When I visited Sweden I had a very pleasant time and every single one of the people I met was polite, nearly all spoke English, and all without regard to their social class seemed happy. There was a water festival going on in Stockholm and everyone seemed to be having a great time. I saw few beggars. There were street musicians hoping for donations, but that's not the same thing. The police were polite.

Whether that can last, and how much of it is due to the nature of the Swedish people and the Swedish culture is a matter for lots of discussion, of course. I am told that as the older generation brought up under the Protestant Ethic and accustomed to working without complaining dies off things change and are changing, but I don't follow the news very closely. Denmark is said to have the happiest population on Earth. The Netherlands is the most densely populated nation in the world (or was back in the 80's when I wrote about such things), certainly has a decidedly liberal government, and seems pleasant enough although there are growing problems.

Whether this kind of liberalism is exportable can be debated, and whether or not this sort of government can thrive in a very large and diverse nation -- or federation of states, or however you want to describe the American polity -- is very much a subject of debate.

As to whether liberal democracy can eliminate all poverty and raise the entire population of the United States to middle class status, and do that by government action and government fiat, probably not. Most socialist states don't work, and end up with people competing for civil service positions as the only assured way to have a career. India used to be that way and seems to be dismantling some of its socialist tendencies.

As an aside: Sweden has universal manhood conscription; I was told that the main penalty for not serving one's time in the army was that you could never get a civil service position, and employers were allowed to discriminate against you in hiring practices. This is an interesting way to deal with bureaucracies.

The main argument against socialism (other than indignation over taking from the productive to subsidize the unproductive) is that it destroys the incentive to work and work hard, or to take entrepreneurial risks. Schumpeter discusses this in his Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy, and I urge all those interested in these matters to read his book.

Burke said that for a man to love his country, his country ought to be lovely. I think few disagree: the question is, how to bring that about. And of course what we mean by lovely. No one thinks Detroit is lovely just now.
==============

One note: several commentators said yesterday that this is the 44th peaceful transfer of power in these United States (Obama being the 44th President).  Oddly enough, I didn't think that through, and when I remarked on the subject I said 43rd peaceful transfer; I don't count Lincoln's accession as peaceful, given that it triggered Secession and the the Civil War.

Bob Thompson reminds me that unless one counts the accession of George Washington and the beginning of the Constitution as itself a peaceful transfer of power, this the 43rd transfer, meaning the 42nd peaceful transfer of power under the Constitution. That's still quite a record, particularly since World War II, when the President of the United States became arguably the most powerful person on Earth.
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline Thucydides

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Re: Grand Strategy for a Divided America
« Reply #28 on: February 22, 2009, 23:20:17 »
Alas, it would seem that the new Administration is unable or unwilling to mount a coherent foreign policy (the new Secretary of State has been reduced to pleading with China to continue buying US Treasury bonds only a month into the Administration's tenure), and predatory regimes are taking their cue:

http://www.captainsjournal.com/2009/02/22/rapidly-collapsing-us-foreign-policy/

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Rapidly Collapsing U.S. Foreign Policy
BY Herschel Smith
17 minutes ago

Iran is quickly advancing towards becoming a nuclear state.  In troubling developments in air power, Iran can now deploy UAVs, and Russia may have supplied Iran with new air defense systems, including their long range S-300 surface to air missiles.  If they haven’t, the system is being used as a bargaining chip by Russia.  There are reports that they have refused to sell the missile system, but responding to the Israeli plan to sell weapons systems to Georgia by saying that Moscow expected Israel “to show the same responsibility.”  In the first case, Iran is armed with an air defense system that would make an attack against its nuclear assets much more difficult.  In the second case, Russia has used this potentiality to weaken Georgia and prime it for another invasion.

Pavel Felgenhauer at the The Jamestown Foundation has recently published a commentary entitled Russia’s Coming War with Georgia.  The commentary very smartly connects the isolated Russian base in Armenia - which in itself is further demonstration of Russian intentions of control over its “near abroad” - with the need to control Georgia.    Says Felgenhauer, “The ceasefire last August has left the strategically important Russian base in Armenia cut off with no overland military transit connections. The number of Russian soldiers in Armenia is limited to some 4000, but during 2006 and 2007 large amounts of heavy weapons and supplies were moved in under an agreement with Tbilisi from bases in Batumi and Akhalkalaki (Georgia). At present there are some 200 Russian tanks, over 300 combat armored vehicles, 250 heavy guns and lots of other military equipment in Armenia - enough to fully arm a battle force of over 20,000 (Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozrenie, August 20, 2004). Forces in Armenia can be swiftly expanded by bringing in manpower by air transport from Russia. Spares to maintain the armaments may also be shipped in by air, but if a credible overland military transit link is not established within a year or two, there will be no possibility to either replace or modernize equipment. The forces will consequently degrade, undermining Russia’s commitment to defend its ally Armenia and Moscow’s ambition to reestablish its dominance in the South Caucasus.”

Concerning the timing of the potential invasion, Felgenhauer observes:

    While snow covers the Caucasian mountain passes until May, a renewed war with Georgia is impossible. There is hope in Moscow that the Georgian opposition may still overthrow Mikheil Saakashvili’s regime or that the Obama administration will somehow remove him. However, if by May, Saakashvili remains in power, a military push by Russia to oust him may be seriously contemplated. The constant ceasefire violations could escalate to involve Russian servicemen - constituting a public casus belli. The desire by the West to “reset” relations with Moscow, putting the Georgia issue aside, may be interpreted as a tacit recognition of Russia’s right to use military force.

In addition to the Biden pronouncement that the U.S. would “press the reset button” with Russia, the U.S. is now in the throes of a logistical dilemma.  On the one hand, the missile defense program for NATO states is meant as a deterrent for a potential Iranian nuclear and missile based military capability.  On the other hand, the current administration is seen as likely to jettison the whole project.

The U.S. is now beholden to Russia for logistical supply lines to Afghanistan.  General David Petraeus has visited numerous European and Central Asian countries recently, including Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.  Supplies are soon to leave Latvia bound for Afghanistan.  But the common element in all of the logistical supply lines are that they rely on Russian good will.  This good will exists as long as the missile defense doesn’t, and the missile defense was intended to be used as a deterrent for Iranian nuclear ambitions.

Alternative supply routes have been suggested, including one which wouldn’t empower Russian hegemony in the region, from the Mediterranean through the Bosporus strait, into the Black sea, and through Georgia to neighboring Azerbaijan.  From there the supplies would transit across the Caspian Sea to Turkmenistan, and from there South to Afghanistan.  An alternative to the air route from the recently closed Manas Air base is sea transport to India, rail or truck to the Indian-controlled Kashmir region, and then air transport to Kabul.  But none of these options has been pursued.  The current administration is locked into negotiations that empower Russia.

Pakistan President Zardari has observed, and correctly so, that Pakistan is in a state of denial concerning the threat posed by the Taliban, yet rather than eliminate the threat, the strategy has been to make peace deals with the Tehrik-i-Taliban and plead for the same financial bailout being offered across America, saying that in order to defeat the Taliban Pakistan needs a “massive program,” a “Marshall Plan” to defeat the Taliban through economic development.

Certainly, some of the foreign policy problems were present with the previous administration, from the failure to plan for logistics for Afghanistan, to support for Musharraf’s duplicitous administration, assisting the Taliban by demure on the one hand while money was received with the other.  But the currents appear to be pointing towards a revised world opinion of what the U.S. is willing to sustain on behalf of “good relations,” and the current administration’s prevarications appear to be going headlong into numerous dilemmas.

We wish to use the missile program in Europe as an bargaining chip to avoid the reality of an Iranian nuclear program, while the Iranian supreme has said that “relations with the U.S. have for the time being no benefit to the Iranian nation.”  Russia, who is assisting Iran in its military buildup, is unimpressed because we have planned for no other option for logistics for Afghanistan except as dictated by Vladimir Putin.  The best that we can come up with, so far, is to forestall the planned troop reduction in the European theater, a troop reduction that is needed to help fund and staff the war against the global insurgency.

Pakistan’s Zardari figures that if the administration is willing to give away on the order of a trillion dollars, they can play the game of “show me the money” like everyone else, from Russia over logistical lines to Afghanistan to over-leveraged homeowners in the U.S.

Israel figures that all of this points to throwing their concerns under the bus, and thus they have launched a covert war against Iran, a program that is unlikely to be successful, pointing to broader regional instability in the near term.  Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Hezbollah, has said that they will acquire or have acquired anti-aircraft weapons.  While they have stood down over the war in Gaza, they are apparently preparing for more of the same against Israel.

The current administration has attempted to befriend Syria, while at the same time the USS San Antonio has interdicted Iranian weapons bound by ship to Syria, intended for Hezbollah or Hamas.  Most of this has occurred within less than two months of inauguration of the current administration in Washington.  It may prove to be a difficult four years, with unintended consequences ruling the day.
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline tomahawk6

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Re: Grand Strategy for a Divided America
« Reply #29 on: February 22, 2009, 23:56:58 »
Obama is more focused on his domestic agenda. Think Carter and thats where this administration is heading.

Offline Thucydides

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Re: Grand Strategy for a Divided America
« Reply #30 on: February 28, 2009, 22:47:32 »
where this administration is heading.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/27/AR2009022702485.html?nav=rss_opinion/columns

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Obama's Intelligence Blunder

By Jon Chait
Saturday, February 28, 2009; Page A13

Most of President Obama's "missteps" to date have been Washington peccadilloes of the "let's find something to complain about" sort. But Obama has made one major mistake that has attracted little public attention: his appointment of Charles Freeman as chairman of the National Intelligence Council. Freeman was attacked by pro-Israel activists, but the contretemps over Freeman's view of Israel misses the broader problem, which is that he's an ideological fanatic.

That may sound like an odd description for a respectable bureaucrat and impeccable establishmentarian such as Freeman. What's more, he's not an ideologue of the sort who draws most of the attention. When most people think of foreign policy ideology, they mean neoconservatism, which dominated the Bush administration. Broadly speaking, neoconservatism is obsessed with the moral differences between democracies and non-democracies. At its most simplistic (which, alas, it nearly always is) neoconservatism means supporting the "good guys" and fighting the "bad guys." As most of us have seen, neoconservatism has trouble recognizing that the good guys aren't perfectly good and that the bad guys aren't comic book villains.

Freeman belongs to the camp that's the mortal enemy of the neoconservatives: the realists. Realist ideology pays no attention to moral differences between states. As far as realists are concerned, there's no way to think about the way governments act except as the pursuit of self-interest. Realism has some useful insights. For instance, realists accurately predicted that Iraqis would respond to a U.S. invasion with less than unadulterated joy.

But realists are the mirror image of neoconservatives in that they are completely blind to the moral dimensions of international politics. Realists scoffed at Bill Clinton's interventions in Bosnia and Kosovo, which halted mass slaughter. Realists tend not to abide the American alliance with Israel, which rests on shared values with a fellow imperfect democracy rather than on a cold analysis of America's interests.

Taken to extremes, realism's blindness to morality can lead it wildly astray. Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, both staunch realists, wrote "The Israel Lobby," a hyperbolic attack on Zionist political influence. The central error of their thesis was that, since America's alliance with Israel does not advance American interests, it could be explained only by sinister lobbying influence. They seemed unable to grasp even the possibility that Americans, rightly or wrongly, have an affinity for a fellow democracy surrounded by hostile dictatorships. Consider, perhaps, if eunuchs tried to explain the way teenage boys act around girls.

Freeman praised "The Israel Lobby" while indulging in its characteristic paranoia. "No one else in the United States has dared to publish this article," he told a Saudi news service in 2006, "given the political penalties that the lobby imposes on those who criticize it." In fact, the article was printed as a book the next year by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in New York.

The most extreme manifestation of Freeman's realist ideology came out in a leaked e-mail he sent to a foreign policy Internet mailing list. Freeman wrote that his only problem with what most of us call "the Tiananmen Square Massacre" was an excess of restraint:

"[T]he truly unforgivable mistake of the Chinese authorities was the failure to intervene on a timely basis to nip the demonstrations in the bud, rather than -- as would have been both wise and efficacious -- to intervene with force when all other measures had failed to restore domestic tranquility to Beijing and other major urban centers in China. In this optic, the Politburo's response to the mob scene at 'Tian'anmen' stands as a monument to overly cautious behavior on the part of the leadership, not as an example of rash action. . . .

"I do not believe it is acceptable for any country to allow the heart of its national capital to be occupied by dissidents intent on disrupting the normal functions of government, however appealing to foreigners their propaganda may be. Such folk, whether they represent a veterans' 'Bonus Army' or a 'student uprising' on behalf of 'the goddess of democracy' should expect to be displaced with despatch [sic] from the ground they occupy."

This is the portrait of a mind so deep in the grip of realist ideology that it follows the premises straight through to their reductio ad absurdum. Maybe you suppose the National Intelligence Council job is so technocratic that Freeman's rigid ideology won't have any serious consequences. But think back to the neocon ideologues whom Bush appointed to such positions. That didn't work out very well, did it?

The writer is a senior editor at the New Republic.
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline Thucydides

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Re: Grand Strategy for a Divided America
« Reply #31 on: March 04, 2009, 17:28:01 »
The new administration isn't getting off to a good start:

http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=ODdmNmEzZjljY2Q3MzMwZGMzZWY1ZTMzNTQzMDE0NWM=

Quote
Krauthammer's Take   [NRO Staff]


From last night's All Stars.

On President Obama’s secret letter to Russian president, Dmitri Medvedev proposing a deal on missile defense:

This is smart diplomacy? This is a debacle. The Russians dismissed it contemptuously.

Look, if we could get the Iranian nuclear program stopped with Russian's helping us in return for selling out the Poles and the Czechs on missile defense, I'm enough of a cynic and a realist to say we would do it the same way that Kissinger agreed to delegitimize and de-recognize Taiwan in return for a large strategic opening with China.

But Kissinger had it done. He had it wired. What happened here is it was leaked. The Russians have dismissed it. We end up being humiliated. We look weak in front of the Iranians, and we have left the Poles and Czechs out to dry in return for nothing.

The Czechs and the Poles went out on a limb, exposed themselves to Russian pressure, and we have shown that Eastern Europe is not as sovereign as it appears if the Russian influence is there, and we will acquiesce in what they consider their own sphere of influence.

This administration has prided itself, flattered itself on deploying smart diplomacy. "Smart diplomacy" is a meaningless idea, but if it has any meaning at all, it is not ever doing something as humiliating, amateurish, and stupid as this.

On the president’s proposed cap-and-trade plan:

It is an ill disguised tax on the production of carbon. It will be a blow to American industry, particularly in the heartland, to the American economy. Particularly in our economic distress, it makes no sense at all.

The only purpose is the reduction of global warming, which in and of itself is speculative. And even if it were not, the fact that India and China are not in on this means that any of our savings on that, which are going to add a huge expense to our economy, will be swallowed up entirely by increased pollution by India and China.

India this week has said it will not cooperate on a regime of enforced carbon reduction. We will get nowhere on this except really injuring our economy.
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline tomahawk6

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Re: Grand Strategy for a Divided America
« Reply #32 on: March 04, 2009, 20:42:47 »
America will be even more divided as time goes on. Gun sales are through the roof. People want to be able to protect their family if law and order breaks down,but that could easily become a second revolution should we see a collapse of the economy. You might call it have's vs the have nots.

Offline Thucydides

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Re: Grand Strategy for a Divided America
« Reply #33 on: March 09, 2009, 20:47:13 »
Top ten political risks(?):

http://docs.eurasiagroup.net/2009toprisksannouncement.pdf

Quote
Top Ten Political Risks of 2009 by Eurasia Group

Here is a list of the top ten political risks of 2009 by the Eurasia Group Risk consultancy.

The risks
1 Congress - The current financial crisis has created an unprecedented
space for government interference in economic affairs within developed states. Risk of wasteful and not useful over-regulation like Sarbanes Oxley. Sarbanes Oxley was implemented to prevent further Enrons. How useful was it for preventing or minimizing the current situation ?

2 South Asia security - The security environment in India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan will deteriorate significantly over the coming year. Afghanistan's Taliban is mostly funded by the illegal drug's they produce. This is discussed below in the section on Mexico.

3 Iran/Israel - 2009 is the critical year for conflict (both direct and through proxies) between Iran and Israel.

4 Russia - With oil prices well below what the Russians can afford, but Putin’s (and Medvedev’s) popularity still high, the initial moves have been to consolidate power. Yet despite no organized political opposition to speak of, we’re still starting to see social unrest. For the first time in years, there have been widespread demonstrations in Russia—in 30 cities, following the imposition of import duties on used cars

5 Iraq - The real concern at this point is the politics, not the security situation. How long the United States can maintain a commitment to significant force levels. [NOTE: The recent timetable seems sufficiently long and flexible into 2010]

6 Venezuela- Chavez plans for a referendum in the coming month to reform the Venezuelan constitution and abolish term limits (which would allow Chavez to run again for the presidency in 2012) show little likelihood of success. Then the Venezuelan president will have a real political fight on his hands.

7 Mexico - The Drug Cartel security situation there has worsened and is almost certain to deteriorate further over the course of 2009. Well armed and well financed narco-criminals have effectively declared war on the state of Mexico—increasingly singling out elected government officials, bureaucrats, and the armed forces and police for their attacks.

8—Ukraine-As I mentioned, Ukraine isn’t likely to spur the kind of direct military conflict we saw last August in Georgia. But it merits a slot in our top risks because of the government’s inability to deal effectively with the severe challenges posed by the current financial crisis and economic downturn—and one certainly not helped by its volatile relationship with Moscow.

9—Turkey-Speaking of internal distractions, Turkey is essentially defining the problem. The country has all sorts of factors in its favor—a diversified economy, strong demographics, an extremely favorable trade route geography, and solid ties with both western countries and its Middle Eastern neighbors. Yet the fight pitting secularists in the judiciary, military, and industry against Islamists in government is becoming a serious obstacle to economic advancement. And the AK party leadership, feeling that it increasingly carries the weight of popular support on its side, is unwilling to compromise—instead, casting out potential dissent from within the party (and losing critical bureaucratic competence as a result). To make matters worse, the AK party has long lost its reformist spirit and has embraced a more nationalist attitude, making it more difficult to find a solution to the thorny Kurdish question.

10—South Africa-Rounding out the top risks for 2009 is South Africa. Upcoming elections will dominate the news, but it’s more political context than electoral results that will cause concern. It’s pretty clear that the African National Congress (ANC) will keep its majority in parliament, though the emergence of a new splinter party will reduce its numbers. In principal, that’s not a bad development; popular concerns over the ANC’s abuse of power should be reduced accordingly.

These are precis of the full article, read the rest on the link
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline Thucydides

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Re: Grand Strategy for a Divided America
« Reply #34 on: March 11, 2009, 10:22:49 »
The full piece is on "Chaos Manor" as well as the FPRI site:

http://www.jerrypournelle.com/mail/2009/Q1/mail560.html#Sunday
http://www.fpri.org/enotes/200903.noonan.defenseshowstoppers.html

Quote
DEFENSE SHOWSTOPPERS:

NATIONAL SECURITY CHALLENGES FOR THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION

A Conference Report

by Michael P. Noonan

On February 12, 2009, FPRI's Program on National Security held a conference on potential "defense showstoppers" for the Obama administration--critical issues that, if not fixed, could lead to a serious deterioration of American military capabilities. The event was hosted and co-sponsored by the Reserve Officers Association in Washington, D.C. Program-affiliated scholars Michael Horowitz, Michael P. Noonan, Mackubin T. Owens, and Frank G. Hoffman served as panel moderators. More than 100 individuals from academia, government, NGOs, the media, the military, and the public participated in person, and another 300-plus individuals from around the world participated by webcast. Audio and video files of the proceedings are posted at FPRI's website: http://www.fpri.org/research/nationalsecurity/showstoppers/index.html The papers presented at the conference will be published in Orbis and other outlets.

FPRI thanks W.W. Keen Butcher, Robert L. Freedman, Hon. John Hillen, Bruce H. Hooper, and Dr. John M. Templeton, Jr. for their support of the Program on National Security. The views expressed herein are those of the speakers and should not be construed to represent any agency of the U.S. government or other institution.
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

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Re: Grand Strategy for a Divided America
« Reply #35 on: April 03, 2009, 12:11:55 »
Thinking longer term, George Friedman lays out a case for The United States to remain the premier power for the next century. Some of the sub predictions are not immediatly obvious...

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/038551705X?ie=UTF8&tag=wwwviolentkicom&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=038551705X

Quote
The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century (Hardcover)
by George Friedman (Author)

Amazon.com Review
Amazon Best of the Month, January 2009: "Be Practical, Expect the Impossible." So declares George Friedman, chief intelligence officer and founder of Strategic Forecasting, Inc. (Stratfor), a private intelligence agency whose clients include foreign government agencies and Fortune 500 companies. Gathering information from its global network of operatives and analysts (drawing the nickname "the Shadow CIA"), Stratfor produces thoughtful and genuinely engrossing analysis of international events daily, from possible outcomes of the latest Pakistan/India tensions to the hierarchy of Mexican drug cartels to challenges to Obama's nascent administration. In The Next 100 Years, Friedman undertakes the impossible (or improbable) challenge of forecasting world events through the 21st century. Starting with the premises that "conventional political analysis suffers from a profound failure of imagination" and "common sense will be wrong," Friedman maps what he sees as the likeliest developments of the future, some intuitive, some surprising: more (but less catastrophic) wars; Russia's re-emergence as an aggressive hegemonic power; China's diminished influence in international affairs due to traditional social and economic imbalances; and the dawn of an American "Golden Age" in the second half of the century. Friedman is well aware that much of what he predicts will be wrong--unforeseeable events are, of course, unforeseen--but through his interpretation of geopolitics, one gets the sense that Friedman's guess is better than most. --Jon Foro


From Publishers Weekly
With a unique combination of cold-eyed realism and boldly confident fortune-telling, Friedman (Americas Secret War) offers a global tour of war and peace in the upcoming century. The author asserts that the United States power is so extraordinarily overwhelming that it will dominate the coming century, brushing aside Islamic terrorist threats now, overcoming a resurgent Russia in the 2010s and 20s and eventually gaining influence over space-based missile systems that Friedman names battle stars. Friedman is the founder of Stratfor, an independent geopolitical forecasting company, and his authoritative-sounding predictions are based on such factors as natural resources and population cycles. While these concrete measures lend his short-term forecasts credence, the later years of Friedmans 100-year cycle will provoke some serious eyebrow raising. The armed border clashes between Mexico and the United States in the 2080s seem relatively plausible, but the space war pitting Japan and Turkey against the United States and allies, prognosticated to begin precisely on Thanksgiving Day 2050, reads as fantastic (and terrifying) science fiction. Whether all of the visions in Friedmans crystal ball actually materialize, they certainly make for engrossing entertainment. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline Thucydides

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Re: Grand Strategy for a Divided America
« Reply #36 on: April 27, 2009, 22:08:01 »
Or this is how it could all end:

http://pajamasmedia.com/richardfernandez/2009/04/26/left-to-ourselves/

Quote
Left to ourselves

Posted By Richard Fernandez On April 26, 2009 @ 8:12 pm In Uncategorized | 70 Comments

Eli Saslow chronicles the slow decline of Greenwood, SC during the first 100 days of the Obama administration in the [1] Washington Post. It’s a town with unemployment over 11%, with people unable to pay their bills, pay for heating. It’s a place where old ladies have only a box of grits in the cupboard.  It’s an story centered on the efforts of a city councilwoman that is without villains; but it is also one without transcendent heroes.

It was nobody’s fault, really, that councilwoman Edith Childs had such high expectations. She followed the election of Barack Obama with mounting expectation and rode the slow trajectory of disappointment to its still-plunging depths. Slowly it dawned on her that Obama had no box of magic tricks in his repertoire; that nothing that would stave off the relentless deluge of bills in the mailboxes of her constituents and slowly shrinking job base of her community.

    Across the dark living room, one of Childs’s favorite pictures is displayed on a worn coffee table. It shows Childs with her arms wrapped around Barack Obama, his hand on her back, her eyes glowing. They met at a rally attended by 37 supporters on a rainy day in 2007, when Childs responded to Obama’s sluggishness on stage with an impromptu chant: “Fired up! Ready to go!” She repeated it, shouting louder each time, until Obama laughed and dipped his shoulders to the rhythm. The chant caught on. “Fired up!” people began saying at rallies. “Ready to go,” Obama chanted back. He told audiences about Childs, “a spirited little lady,” and invited her onstage at campaign appearances. By the day of his inauguration, when Childs led a busload of strangers bound for the Mall in her now-iconic chant, her transformation was complete. She was Edith Childs, fired up and ready to go.

    But now, as Obama nears the 100-day milestone of his presidency, Childs suffers from constant exhaustion. In a conservative Southern state that bolstered Obama’s candidacy by supporting him early in the Democratic primaries, she awakens at 2:30 a.m. with stress headaches and remains awake mulling all that’s befallen Greenwood since Obama’s swearing-in.

The unasked question in Saslow’s article is whether or not Greenwood, SC isn’t a glimpse into the future of other places across America. What happens if 11% unemployment or worse becomes the norm rather than the exception? Will they become places where people have given up on magic politics and turn to working the phones, paring the cheese more thinly and racking their brains in search of ways to make ends meet? Atheists have long imagined a world without belief God; but are we prepared for something philosophically rarer: a world without a belief in politicians? Or will the opposite occur? Will a downturn, taken far enough, result in a desperate search for extreme political solutions by a people tired of making applications without result, of making job calls without return? Men on white horses are far more common in history than nations with a belief only in themselves. Except in America, the first country in modern times to try the tides without a king are men on white horses rare. But the ocean is wide, perhaps endless; and the distant shore behind still beckons to those who imagine safety there.

Albert Camus in the Plague described a world suspended on the edge of a decision; a curiously quiet place of private struggle above which an invisible cloud hovered. It is always a world that can go one way or the other.

    “Only a few ships, detained in quarantine, were anchored in the bay. But the gaunt, idle cranes on the wharves, tip-carts lying on their sides, neglected heaps of sacks and barrels — all testified that commerce, too, had died of plague.”

    “It was the time when, acting under orders, the café-proprietors deferred as long as possible turning on their lights. Gray dusk was seeping into the room, the pink of sunset glowed in the wall mirrors, and the marble-topped tables glimmered white in the gathering darkness.”

    “They found nobody on the terrace — only three empty chairs. On one side, as far as eye could reach, was a row of terraces, the most remote of which abutted on a dark, rugged mass that they recognized as the hill nearest the town. On the other side, spanning some streets and the unseen harbor, their gaze came to rest on the horizon, where sea and sky merged in a dim, vibrant grayness. Beyond a black patch that they knew to be the cliffs a sudden glow, whose source they could not see, sprang up at regular intervals; the lighthouse at the entrance of the harbor was still functioning for the benefit of ships that, passing Oran’s unused harbor, went on to other ports along the coast. In a sky swept crystal-clear by the night wind, the stars showed like silver flakes, tarnished now and then by the yellow gleam of the revolving light. Perfumes of spice and warm stone were wafted on the breeze. Everything was very still.”

It was waiting, and still waits, for us.

Article printed from Belmont Club: http://pajamasmedia.com/richardfernandez

URL to article: http://pajamasmedia.com/richardfernandez/2009/04/26/left-to-ourselves/

URLs in this post:
[1] Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/25/AR2009042501870.html
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline Thucydides

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Re: Grand Strategy for a Divided America
« Reply #37 on: June 08, 2009, 11:44:56 »
Another huge misstep for this administration.

http://www.ocregister.com/articles/world-muslim-president-2446787-obama-one

Quote
Mark Steyn: Obama's message of weakness
A superpower that feeds on mediocrity cannot survive for long on leftovers from the past.
By MARK STEYN
Syndicated columnist
Comments | Recommend

As recently as last summer, General Motors filing for bankruptcy would have been the biggest news story of the week. But it's not such a very great step from the unthinkable to the inevitable, and by the time it actually happened the market barely noticed, and the media were focused on the president's "address to the Muslim world." As it happens, these two stories are the same story: snapshots, at home and abroad, of the hyperpower in eclipse. It's a long time since anyone touted GM as the emblematic brand of America – What's good for GM is good for America, etc. In fact, it's more emblematic than ever: Like General Motors, the U.S. government spends more than it makes, and has airily committed itself to ever more unsustainable levels of benefits. GM has about 95,000 workers but provides health benefits to a million people: It's not a business enterprise, but a vast welfare plan with a tiny loss-making commercial sector. As GM goes, so goes America?

But who cares? Overseas, the coolest president in history was giving a speech. Or, as the official press release headlined it on the State Department Web site, "President Obama Speaks To The Muslim World From Cairo."

Let's pause right there: It's interesting how easily the words "the Muslim world" roll off the tongues of liberal secular progressives who'd choke on any equivalent reference to "the Christian world." When such hyperalert policemen of the perimeter between church and state endorse the former but not the latter, they're implicitly acknowledging that Islam is not merely a faith but a political project, too. There is an "Organization of the Islamic Conference," which is already the largest single voting bloc at the United Nations and is still adding new members. Imagine if someone proposed an "Organization of the Christian Conference" that would hold summits attended by prime ministers and Presidents, and vote as a bloc in transnational bodies. But, of course, there is no "Christian world": Europe is largely post-Christian and, as President Barack Obama bizarrely asserted to a European interviewer last week, America is "one of the largest Muslim countries in the world." Perhaps we're eligible for membership in the OIC.

I suppose the benign interpretation is that, as head of state of the last superpower, Obama is indulging in a little harmless condescension. In his Cairo speech, he congratulated Muslims on inventing algebra and quoted approvingly one of the less-bloodcurdling sections of the Quran. As sociohistorical scholarship goes, I found myself recalling that moment in the long twilight of the Habsburg Empire when Crown Prince Rudolph and his mistress were found dead at the royal hunting lodge at Mayerling – either a double suicide, or something even more sinister. Happily, in the Broadway musical version, instead of being found dead, the star-crossed lovers emigrate to America and settle down on a farm in Pennsylvania. Recently, my old comrade Stephen Fry gave an amusing lecture at the Royal Geographical Society in London on the popular Americanism, "When life hands you lemons, make lemonade" – or, if something's bitter and hard to swallow, add sugar and sell it. That's what the president did with Islam: He added sugar and sold it.

The speech nevertheless impressed many conservatives, including Rich Lowry, my esteemed editor at National Review, "esteemed editor" being the sort of thing one says before booting the boss in the crotch. Rich thought that the president succeeded in his principal task: "Fundamentally, Obama's goal was to tell the Muslim world, 'We respect and value you, your religion and your civilization, and only ask that you don't hate us and murder us in return.'" But those terms are too narrow. You don't have to murder a guy if he preemptively surrenders. And you don't even have to hate him if you're too busy despising him. The savvier Muslim potentates have no desire to be sitting in a smelly cave in the Hindu Kush, sharing a latrine with a dozen half-witted goatherds while plotting how to blow up the Empire State Building. Nevertheless, they share key goals with the cave dwellers – including the wish to expand the boundaries of "the Muslim world" and (as in the anti-blasphemy push at the U.N.) to place Islam, globally, beyond criticism. The nonterrorist advance of Islam is a significant challenge to Western notions of liberty and pluralism.

Once Obama moved on from the more generalized Islamoschmoozing to the details, the subtext – the absence of American will – became explicit. He used the cover of multilateralism and moral equivalence to communicate, consistently, American weakness: "No single nation should pick and choose which nations hold nuclear weapons." Perhaps by "no single nation" he means the "global community" should pick and choose, which means the U.N. Security Council, which means the Big Five, which means that Russia and China will pursue their own murky interests and that, in the absence of American leadership, Britain and France will reach their accommodations with a nuclear Iran, a nuclear North Korea and any other psychostate minded to join them.

On the other hand, a "single nation" certainly has the right to tell another nation anything it wants if that nation happens to be the Zionist Entity: As Hillary Clinton just instructed Israel regarding its West Bank communities, there has to be "a stop to settlements – not some settlements, not outposts, not natural-growth exceptions." No "natural growth"? You mean, if you and the missus have a kid, you've got to talk gran'ma into moving out? To Tel Aviv, or Brooklyn or wherever? At a stroke, the administration has endorsed "the Muslim world's" view of those non-Muslims who happen to find themselves within what it regards as lands belonging to Islam: the Jewish and Christian communities are free to stand still or shrink, but not to grow. Would Obama be comfortable mandating "no natural growth" to Israel's million-and-a-half Muslims? No. But the administration has embraced "the Muslim world's" commitment to one-way multiculturalism, whereby Islam expands in the West but Christianity and Judaism shrivel remorselessly in the Middle East.

And so it goes. Like General Motors, America is "too big to fail." So it won't, not immediately. It will linger on in a twilight existence, sclerotic and ineffectual, declining unto a kind of societal dementia, unable to keep pace with what's happening and with an ever more tenuous grip on its own past, but able on occasion to throw out impressive words albeit strung together without much meaning: empower, peace, justice, prosperity – just to take one windy gust from the president's Cairo speech.

There's better phrase-making in the current issue of Foreign Affairs, in a coinage of Leslie Gelb, president emeritus of the Committee on Foreign Relations. The president emeritus is a sober, judicious paragon of torpidly conventional wisdom. Nevertheless, musing on American decline, he writes, "The country's economy, infrastructure, public schools and political system have been allowed to deteriorate. The result has been diminished economic strength, a less-vital democracy, and a mediocrity of spirit." That last is the one to watch: A great power can survive a lot of things, but not "a mediocrity of spirit." A wealthy nation living on the accumulated cultural capital of a glorious past can dodge its rendezvous with fate, but only for a while. That sound you heard in Cairo is the tingy ping of a hollow superpower.
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline Thucydides

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Re: Grand Strategy for a Divided America
« Reply #38 on: July 24, 2009, 09:51:29 »
Probably the defining moment of the American Century was the Space Race. The spirit that drove the race seems to have become dorment, and this really bodes ill for the future of the West.

Pericles noted in the Funeral Oration that what made Athens great was Men with a spirit of adventure, men who were ashamed to fall below a certain standard.... Where are these men and women now.

http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=Y2U5MDcxZTUxODhiOTNmOGMzZjJhODIzZTBiZWE3YTc=

Quote
The End of the Space Race

[Hans A. von Spakovsky]

Hopefully, the readers of The Corner can stand one more posting about the 40th anniversary of the moon landing. I grew up in Huntsville, Ala., the home of the Marshall Space Flight Center. My parents knew and socialized with many of the German scientists who came to Huntsville with Werner von Braun to start building our space program. Unlike most kids, who live in neighborhoods where their parents are in every kind of different profession, the parents of everyone I knew worked as a scientist or an engineer either for NASA or for the Army Missile Command out at Redstone Arsenal. One of our neighbors was the head of astronaut training at Marshall and a lot of very famous astronauts used to come over to his house for dinner. We lived 15 miles from the engine test stands out on the space flight center, but I can still remember the windows in our house rattling when they were testing the huge rocket engines they were building at Marshall. I saw many of the exhibits that you can now see if you visit the Space Museum in Huntsville, except I saw them out at the space flight center before they became exhibits when, in those pre-9/11, pre-paranoia security days, parents would take their kids (and their friends) out to show them what they were working on.

The development of our rocket program and the drive to get to the moon was one of the brightest and greatest achievements of the American spirit and of American know-how, a true showing of what we can achieve through science, engineering, a can-do attitude that comes from our unique culture, and the bravery and determination that was the common, shared trait of all of our test pilots and astronauts. The fact that we have not only not been back to the moon since the end of the Apollo program, but have not expanded our horizons in trying to reach the other planets in our solar system, is a sad indication of what may be the beginning of our decline as a great nation.

There is almost no doubt that the Chinese will be on the moon within a decade, while we will still be earthbound and potentially bankrupt as a nation with our economy, our technology, and our industrial might in ruins because of uncontrolled government spending, borrowing, and taxing. I had an exciting childhood living in the midst of the space race, but it saddens me to think that time, 40 years ago, may end up being the historical high point of our going out into space, the final frontier.
[/b]
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline Thucydides

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Re: Grand Strategy for a Divided America
« Reply #39 on: October 11, 2009, 21:21:44 »
Choices are being made without the consent of many Americans. The Charles Krauthammer article is very long (too long to post, actually), but a very good read :

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/blogs/beltway-confidential/They-still-spell-it-Amerika-63893957.html

Quote
A little weekend reading: They still spell it 'Amerika'
By: Mark Tapscott
Editorial Page Editor
10/09/09 6:20 PM EDT

For those of us who grew up in the era when Weather Undergrounders Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dorhn were familiar names in the news, it is always discomforting to be reminded of Barack Obama's many associations with people of the radical left - Ayers, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Van Jones, etc.

Such folks' political thought never progressed beyond the 1960s because the revolutionary New Left didn't disapear, it simply went on to graduate school and then careers, mostly in the mainstream media, academia, the non-profits, the bureaucracy of state and local social work, and Blue State politics. Many bought BMWs and flat screens who nevertheless never stopped dreaming of revolution. In their hearts, they still spell it "Amerika."

More recently, as the first year of the Obama administration has unfolded and the basic outlines of his domestic and foreign policies have emerged, that discomfort has steadily become more tangible as the radical roots of the Sixties have broken ground in the White House and now are spreading rapidly into every corner of the federal government.

Obama grew up suffused in this culture of obsessive alienation and its distempered worldview, it is his fundamental frame of reference concerning America's past and its principles. Early on in places like Harvard and Chicago, he learned to speak always in language that appears to reassure when in fact it obscures and conceals his roots and what those roots tell us about who he appoints and why he follows the policies he does. 

Whatever Barack and the people he has surrounded himself with may profess with their mouths at any particular time, their actions show they still loathe America and our standing as most powerful nation on earth, as well as our free enterprise, individual liberty, reverence for family and local communities, Main Street, the U.S. military, Christianity, and every other hallmark of the traditional culture and values of Western civilization.

And now they think they have the power and position to do what they've always wanted to do - tear it all down and remake it in their millenarian image of Leviathan. As philosopher Erik Voegelin would say, they don't merely intend the immanentization of the eschaton, they are securing the appropriations and regulations to make it happen.

Viewed from that assumption, things become so much clearer. On foreign and military policy, Obama's dominant principle is to apologize, to reverse a previous course - thus disavowing the intrinsically moral role of America in protecting freedom - and to seek rapproachment with our enemies on their terms.

Everywhere it is withdrawal, falling back, humbling of the nation that defeated Hitler and Japan, then rebuilt both as well as the rest of Europe, and engaged and won the Cold War with the Soviet Union. There can be no legitimate U.S. national interests overseas to be protected because Obama and his mentors never accepted America's legitimacy on the world stage. For them, we have always been the imperialist power and we must therefore be brought down.

On domestic policy, deficit spending as never before seen enslaves present and future generations with debt, destroys the currency and renders a crippling inflation all but inevitable. They have effectively nationalized key sectors of the formerly free economy - banking, the auto industry,  communications - and they are moving to put freedom of speech and the press under the supervision of federal bureaucrats.

They are suffocating the remainder of the productive economy with more and deeper regulation that will eventually kill the animating spirit of entreprenurial innovation and risk-taking that powers economic growth and job creation. And they are rendering the country permanently dependent on foreign oil and hamstringing its future development by forcing conversion to unproven alternative energy sources.

And no matter their promises or rationale now,  when they are finished, they will have turned the shining city on a hill into something more resembling a Third Word ant heap. No wonder Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro and Muhammar al-Ghadafi heap praise on Obama.

Obviously my ability to put these things into words falls far short of the gravity of the times, but fortunately there is Charles Krauthammer's extraordinary piece in The Weekly Standard. He brings all of these strands and more together in far more and telling detail than I can summon in this space. If you read nothing else this weekend, you must read  his "Decline is a choice."

And then reflect on the fact that the choice is being made for us, not by us.
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline E.R. Campbell

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Re: Grand Strategy for a Divided America
« Reply #40 on: January 08, 2010, 10:26:05 »
I never agree with Rick Salutin, not even when, as in this column, reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act from today’s Globe and Mail, he manages to stumble on to part of the right answer:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/evasion-of-the-body-scanners/article1423077/
Quote
Evasion of the body scanners
Security requires talking foreign policy, not airport screening

Rick Salutin

Published on Friday, Jan. 08, 2010

There's an earnest, high-school debating tone to the ubiquitous discussions of airport security. It has many worthy subjects like,Full body scanners: Will they work? High moral concerns such asThe invasion of privacy. There's Human rights versus racial profiling, which would be a better topic if it hadn't already been a reality for males of a certain age and hue since 9/11. There's room for witty replies, like Billy Connolly's, who'd like to say, when asked if he packed his own bags: “No, no, a big Arab guy in a hotel – a nice big man, named Mohammed, who had a flying licence – packed it for me.”

Now add Yemen. The underwear bomber got fitted there. People who couldn't spell it the day before yesterday worry about it. Doesn't Yemen make the airport debate even more urgent? No, it makes it more irrelevant. A mom at her kid's karate class this week said: “They keep applying Band-Aids, but it doesn't stop the bleeding.” Yes! All the security babble amounts to evading the key issue: why this continues and how to reverse the trend line. But that requires talking foreign policy, not airport screening.

This is what's so irritating: The security issue seems to drain scarce public discourse resources from that other topic, foreign policy. You'd think both could be talked about at once but apparently not. We hear more on security and less on the sources of the problem. Why are they angry in Yemen? Because U.S. drones invaded their space and menaced innocent people, once in 2002 and again (shhh, it's supposed to be secret) last month. They didn't like the 2003 invasion of Iraq either. The first attack on the U.S. embassy in Yemen came right after that, long before the one planned recently.

It's not an obscure subject. The U.S.'s 9/11 commission said chief planner Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was motivated by American Mideast policy. Osama bin Laden said he reached his decision to strike the U.S. while watching its ships bombard Beirut in 1983. The supply of terror will remain endless if you keep replenishing it with invasion, war and other such policies.

This hostile reaction isn't inherently religious, although it may go in that direction. Iraq was a secular Muslim country before the 2003 U.S. invasion. The same dynamic applies to “homegrown terror threats.” France is about to ban the burka, which is worn, according to report in this paper, by just 367 women in the whole land. If I were a young, secular Muslim woman there, I'd be tempted to put one on. As Paul Scott wrote in The Raj Quartet, “Hit a man in the face long enough and he turns to his racial memory and his tribal gods.“

But instead of this discussion on policies, we get ever more reports and debates about air travel. This week, Transport Minister John Baird, recommending another batch of screening techniques, said, “The reality of our generation is the fact we have to deal with terrorism.” Would that he'd felt as urgently about global warming when he was environment minister. It amounts to the old Cold War dualism in shabbier garb. At least the commie menace had an ideology that could be identified. The war against terror is so vague it can't be defined, and therefore may never end.

The sane approach would be to deal with the problem by dismantling and rebuilding Western policy toward the Muslim world. Well, that's unlikely. Why? Partly due to vested interests: oil companies, arms-makers, body-scanner builders. But it seems to go deeper, as if there's a human need for a permanent enemy to explain why your life didn't go quite right or your heroes didn't pan out or whatever woke you up in the middle of last night.

And if it did happen, would some people miss their fears? Probably. You might need a parallel campaign to persuade them to live without deep, irrational enemies: a sort of war on fear, to replace the war on terror.


Now, Salutin is right to suggest that the solution to our counter-terrorism problem is to revise our foreign policy, even as we take all necessary and prudent security precautions. Where he is, almost certainly, off the rails is to suggest that Muslims are not the enemy; not all Muslims are our enemies – not by a long shot – but a whole lot of our real enemies are Muslims.

The problem is not with Islam, it is with how Islam is interpreted by an intellectually and socially stunted, even retarded Arab/Persian/West Asian culture. What that Arab/Persian/West Asian culture and its ‘established’ religion need is a thoroughgoing reformation, à la 16th century Europe, and the sort of enlightenment that Europe enjoyed in the 17th and 18th centuries and South and East Asia managed more than 2,000 years ago.

Our (the American led West’s) foreign policy aims (our grand strategy) need to be, simultaneously:

1.   To contain the further spread of radical, jihadist Islam;

2.   To provoke a (maybe several) reformation and enlightenment movement(s);

3.   Restore the unity, cultural strength and spiritualnot religious – pride of the West: many of the dead white men had important things to teach us;

4.   Preach and practice free and fair trade – globally – to allow all nations to see and understand that our ‘system’ is, at least, as good and possibly better than any other. Which leads back to 2.
It is ill that men should kill one another in seditions, tumults and wars; but it is worse to bring nations to such misery, weakness and baseness
as to have neither strength nor courage to contend for anything; to have nothing left worth defending and to give the name of peace to desolation.
Algernon Sidney in Discourses Concerning Government, (1698)
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Offline E.R. Campbell

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Re: Grand Strategy for a Divided America
« Reply #41 on: January 12, 2010, 09:28:23 »
Jeffrey Simpson, the Good Grey Globe’s domestic political expert turns his less than well informed attention once again to counter-insurgency and foreign policy in this column, reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act from today’s Globe and Mail. He’s read another book and has seized upon yet another excuse to preach isolationism and moral relativity:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/the-accidental-guerrilla-is-the-latest-jihadi-threat/article1427526/
Quote
The ‘accidental guerrilla' is the latest jihadi threat
The key to breaking the al-Qaeda cycle is winning the support of local populations

Jeffrey Simpson

Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2010

Al-Qaeda and its network of friends must be delighted these days. One foiled attack aboard an airliner and new layers of costly and inconvenient security arrangements are added. Suddenly, Yemen, a place many Americans have never heard of, has become the terror country du jour.

About 30,000 more U.S. soldiers are heading for Afghanistan, their costs all paid for with borrowed money – the U.S. being in hock way over its head, and Barack Obama having fallen for his presidential predecessor's vocabulary, describing his country's fight as a “war.”

What do the United States and its friends face almost a decade after 9/11 and the start of the “war on terror”?

At least four trends are animating the jihadi threat: a backlash against globalization, whose modernity and worldliness threaten traditional, conservative cultures; an insurgency that, because of the tools of global communications, is a global one; a civil war within Islam that takes many forms, such as conflicts between Shia and Sunni and anger by Muslim ultra-fundamentalists against regimes in Muslim countries they detest; and asymmetric warfare that renders an overwhelming U.S. military power of surprisingly limited use.

The confluence of these (and other) factors has led to the creation of “the accidental guerrilla” many times over, according to terrorism specialist David Kilcullen, an Australian who's studied insurgencies up close in many countries and whose services were used by many high-ranking U.S. military and civilian officials. His book, The Accidental Guerrilla, is as good a guide to what we are facing and how to combat it (and how not to) as is likely available.

The “accidental guerrilla” arises from a four-stage strategy of al-Qaeda and like-minded groups. First, al-Qaeda moves into a remote, ungoverned or turbulent area (border regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan, parts of north-central Africa). Second, it uses this haven to spread violence and ideology. Third, outside forces (read U.S. and its allies) intervene to deal with al-Qaeda. Fourth, the local population becomes an “accidental guerrilla” by rejecting the outsiders' intervention and siding with al-Qaeda, especially if it's believed that al-Qaeda might eventually win the fight.

Al-Qaeda counts on its adversaries' overreaction to win “accidental guerrillas” and, over time, to disillusion Western publics who spend all this money and treasure on a “war,” only to find the conflict(s) dragging on and on.

The key to breaking this cycle is winning the support of local populations: respecting their traditions, bringing them tangible help, ensuring their security, convincing them that al-Qaeda is a threat rather than an ally. Counterinsurgency, therefore, is not about killing al-Qaeda and other “scumbags,” as a Canadian general once said, but of winning the local population. Body counts, in other words, don't count, a lesson conventional militaries struggle to understand.

The “accidental guerrillas,” Mr. Kilcullen writes, are “people who fight us not because they hate the West and seek our overthrow but because we have invaded their space to deal with a small, extremist element that has manipulated and exploited local grievances to gain power in their societies. They fight us not because they seek our destruction but because they believe we seek theirs.”

By treating Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda as the No. 1 security threat, by throwing huge resources against them, by invading Muslim countries, and by declaring a “war” to be on offer, we have turned a “mouse into an elephant.”

This reasoning is arguably a bit naive, since Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda do pose mortal threats, both to Western societies through terrorist acts and to Muslim regimes. It's their world view, coupled with the convictions of the religiously righteous, that makes them dangerous, in and of themselves, and as an inspiration for certain people raised in the Muslim faith.

It is estimated that, for every dollar that al-Qaeda spent mounting the 9/11 attacks, terrorists inflicted $544,000 in damage (the cost in human lives and suffering, of course, cannot be measured). In response, the U.S. has spent $1.4-million for every al-Qaeda dollar.

This is not a war in any traditional sense, in which overcommitment, overreaction and misuse of the forms of conventional power risk alienating the very populations on whom the blunting of al-Qaeda and its allies depends.

There is merit in David Kilcullen’s ideas: we do, indeed, alienate more people than necessary and we fail to befriend as many as we might. But what is the alternative? 

The ill named and less than well managed ‘war on terror’ is, in reality, a war for civilization and modernity – our Western (and, increasingly, South and East Asian) view of secular, sophisticated, capitalistic modernity. It is a war on barbarism; it is a war on the forces of theocratic dictatorships; it is a war on going back to the bad old days.

Question: But, what should ‘we’ – the Americans, mainly, but including the American led West - ‘do about’ the Muslim Middle East, Africa and West Asia? After all, ‘they’ attacked ‘us.’

Answer: nothing. No attacks; no invasions; no aid; no trade; no nothing at all. If they want to sell oil ‘we’ will buy it, at fair market prices, FOB destination; but no ‘free trade’ deals, no ‘most favoured nation’ status and so on. Immigration from Africa, the Middle East and West Asia should be stopped. No state visits to and fro. No military exchanges. No foreign military sales deals. Isolation. Let ‘em stew in their own juices. This is quite contrary to my “preach and practice free and fair trade” mantra but it may be a necessary, interim, step to produce the internal upheaval we need in Muslim Africa, the Middle East and West Asia.

The only best solution to ‘our’ problem with the forces of medieval reaction consist of religious reformation(s) and enlightenment. Both must, can only be instigated from within those less than modern societies, cultures. They will occur if we let them. We can do a bit of provocation by using our tremendous soft power against the forces of reaction through, especially, popular culture and popular style. It – propaganda - can be a more potent weapon than bullets and bombs in the war that really matters: the war for the hearts and minds.

It is ill that men should kill one another in seditions, tumults and wars; but it is worse to bring nations to such misery, weakness and baseness
as to have neither strength nor courage to contend for anything; to have nothing left worth defending and to give the name of peace to desolation.
Algernon Sidney in Discourses Concerning Government, (1698)
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Offline Thucydides

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Re: Grand Strategy for a Divided America
« Reply #42 on: April 20, 2010, 09:50:55 »
Finding a Grand Strategy means being able to encompass what is going on around you, conceptualizing what it all means and finding what your vital interests are (and how to acheive them) in the mix. This article suggests that sort of thinking is in perilously short supply right about now:

http://pajamasmedia.com/richardfernandez/2010/04/18/the-washington-monument/

Quote
The Washington Monument

Mike Allen’s account* of the grievance meeting between the White House Press Corps and Secretary Robert Gibbs feels like watching a once famous profession in a sad state of decline.  At a 75 minute meeting the White House Correspondents Association begged for crumbs. They complained the administration was going direct to the Internet on everything; as in staff photographers posting Presidential pictures while the Press Corps was denied photo opportunities; of news releases being posted after the business day was closed (“full lid”); of cutbacks in travel pools on Air Force One at a time when news organizations couldn’t afford to charter their own planes. The most pathetic demand of all was for Internet access in situations when they had to file. How important could they be if the pool reporting wasn’t worth a couple of dozen megabytes of uploads? That’s less than a few minute’s action on World of Warcraft.

Where one is on the totem is everything in Washington. The idea of hierarchy permeates every situation. Behavior is a question of knowing your place; when to say ‘thank you’ and never speaking out of turn.  If you can’t understand the rules you’re a rube. Because of the default presumption that you are at Court; it follows that beneath every courteous speech ultimately you want something from the king or the duke or the duchess. And this is where Bill Clinton has got it subtly wrong.


The former President argued that political discourse had gotten so strident that certain individuals on the right have crossed the line between criticizing government officials and “demonizing them.” Things now remind him of the days preceding the Oklahoma City bombing when Clinton’s unpopular actions were unappreciated by an America lucky to have him.

CLINTON: I worry about these threats against the president and the Congress. … I just think we all have to be careful. We ought to remember after Oklahoma City. We learned something about the difference in disagreement and demonization.

TAPPER: You said that this time reminds you of — of that time. Politically does this year remind you of 1994?

CLINTON: A little bit. We passed the bill which reversed trickledown economics by one vote. Close like the healthcare bill. And it led to an enormous flowering of the economy in America. And that bill was responsible for, take is more than 90 percent of the weight of the balanced budget. But people didn’t realize its benefits.

I think the same thing is happening now with the healthcare bill. Where people are still reading into it all manner of dark things. And they haven’t felt the benefits of it yet. But America is a different country now. We are culturally a different country. We are more diverse. We’re more communitarian. That is, we understand we have to solve a lot of these problems together.

The point Bill Clinton is missing is that the danger doesn’t come from right wing ‘anger.’ The anger is just a byproduct. The voices he hears from the Tea Party crowds aren’t threats; they’re warnings. The real peril is coming from somewhere else: the demographic decline in industrial world working populations, the increasing cost of energy and the international movement in the factors of production. A whole generation of failed policy from both parties is coming to a head and it probably means that the welfare state, the European Union and by consequence the Chinese economy are heading for a cliff.

What’s driving the Tea Parties isn’t amorphous hate. It is concrete fear: worry that pensions have been devalued; medical care will become unaffordable; taxes are too high and jobs are gone, never to return. And a look around the world shows there’s no place to hide. When the wave hits it will be global. In the UK membership in political parties is at near historic lows.  In America Congress’s popularity is lower than whales**t. The Eurozone is cracking up under its weight of debt. First Greece, now Portugal are being ripped off the cliff face like a zipper — and all the climbers are roped together. Japan is like a kamikaze sub heading for the depths and tapping out a sayonara. Russia was history long ago. And China, when it has used up its flowering moment, will face the consequences of its one-child policy. And Middle Eastern potentates,  stuck in the same old, same old, are warning about a Summer War.  The Tea Parties aren’t about putting some country club Republican in the White House, though Bill can’t help hearing it like that.

The cheese-paring scene at the White House Press Corps is just as indicative of the coming storm as the Tea Parties. It is yet one more sign that the old institutions are making plans for a future that isn’t there; moving trillions of dollars in projected revenues around a five year plan like Hitler’s fictive armies were moved around a map in 1945. When you hear Gordon Brown describe the billions he’s going to spend to save the world and heal the planet; when you read news about the proposed legislation on “cap and trade”– the issue isn’t the “right wing hate” but where’s the money going to come from? The most telling fact about Bill Clinton’s speech is that 2010 reminds him of 1994. If he — or the political establishment — can’t tell the difference between the decades, that’s your problem right there.

But the average Joe can. His pocketbook talks to him as loud as his cell phone; he has to live in a world where five bucks is a lot of money.  So the man in the street can see things that are invisible from Olympian Washington. Robert McCartney of the Washington Post found to his surprise that once he tuned into the frequency that he could hear it too.

I went to the “tea party” rally at the Washington Monument on Thursday to check out just how reactionary and potentially violent the movement truly was.

Answer: Not very. …

I found that I agreed heartily with the tea partiers on what is perhaps their single biggest concern: that America’s swelling government debt seriously threatens our long-term prosperity.

A lot of people live in 1994. Time to switch the channels.

But  perhaps the most unremarked thing about the Tea Parties is that they’re not calling for a repeal of the Constitution but for its enforcement. They are the complete opposite of what Clinton thinks they are; an affirmation, not a call to create “a different country” that Clinton congratulates himself in attaining.  And that may be an advantage. If the world descends into a prolonged and tectonic crisis, the one clear advantage that America will have going into it is a clear and widely shared sense of the legitimacy of its foundational principles. That may not seem like much, but if a crisis impends a widely shared sense of legitimacy will be among the most precious things in a planet gone awry.

Yet politicians can’t see it. For perfectly natural reasons they fall into the habit of thinking everyone is a supplicant. It’s an understandable outcome of living in a world where someone is constantly asking them for something: photo opportunities, access to news releases, seats on Air Force One or Internet access. Nothing throws them for a loop more than something that doesn’t want anything they can bestow. The Tea Partiers already know the establishment is bankrupt. They don’t want to be the next Botox Queen, the next guest on Oprah or the man with Internet access on Air Force One; they only want their freedom and a chance to meet the crisis with common sense, if that’s not asking too much. It’s a novel idea which will take a little time for politicians to understand. But give them time and eventually someone will take credit for it. Tolkien understood both how power worked and its blindness.

For he is very wise, and weighs all things to a nicety in the scales of his malice. But the only measure that he knows is desire, desire for power; and so he judges all hearts. Into his heart the thought will not enter that any will refuse it, that having the Ring we may seek to destroy it. If we seek this, we shall put him out of reckoning.

*I misattributed this to Jake Tapper. This was a grave error on my part for which I sincerely apologize. I’m sorry Jake, sorry Mike.
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline E.R. Campbell

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Re: Grand Strategy for a Divided America
« Reply #43 on: May 28, 2010, 06:19:59 »
Here, reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act from the Globe and Mail is a report on the revised US National Security Strategy:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/obamas-new-national-security-plan-distances-us-from-bush-era-emphasis-on-going-it-alone/article1583870/
Quote
Obama’s new national security plan distances U.S. from Bush-era emphasis on going it alone
Calls for renewing economy, expanding partnerships beyond traditional U.S. allies

Washington — Reuters

Published on Friday, May. 28, 2010

The Obama administration has unveiled a new national security doctrine that would join diplomatic engagement and economic discipline with military power to bolster America’s standing in the world.

Striking a contrast to the Bush-era emphasis on going it alone, President Barack Obama’s strategy calls for expanding partnerships beyond traditional U.S. allies to encompass rising powers such as China and India in order to share the international burden.

Faced with a struggling economy and record deficits, the administration also acknowledged that boosting economic growth and getting the U.S. fiscal house in order must be core national-security priorities.

“At the centre of our efforts is a commitment to renew our economy, which serves as the wellspring of American power,” the wide-ranging policy statement says.

Mr. Obama’s first official declaration of national security goals, pointedly omitted predecessor George W. Bush’s policy of pre-emptive war that alienated some U.S. allies.

Laying out a vision for keeping America safe as it fights wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the document formalized Mr. Obama’s intent to emphasize multilateral diplomacy over military might as he tries to reshape the world order.

The administration even reiterated Mr. Obama’s determination to try to engage with “hostile nations,” but warned nuclear-defiant Iran and North Korea it possessed “multiple means” to isolate them if they ignored international norms.

The National Security Strategy, required by law of every president, is often a dry reaffirmation of existing positions but is considered important because it can influence budgets and legislation and is closely watched internationally.

Mr. Obama, who came to office faced with the worst financial crisis since the 1930s, took a clearer stand than any of his predecessors in drawing the link between America’s economic health at home and its stature overseas.

“We must renew the foundation of America’s strength,” the document says, asserting that the sustained economic growth hinges on putting the country on a “fiscally sustainable path” and also urging reduced dependence on foreign oil sources.

There was no discussion of what has become an emerging consensus in foreign policy circles – that heavy U.S. indebtedness to countries like China poses a security problem.

But the report does reflect Washington’s enigmatic relationship with Beijing, praising it for a more active role in world affairs while insisting it must act responsibly. It also reiterates unease over China’s rapid military buildup.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States’ fiscal problems presented a long-term threat to its diplomatic clout. “We cannot sustain this level of deficit financing and debt without losing our influence, without being constrained about the tough decisions we have to make,” she said in a speech at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

Mr. Bush used his first policy statement in 2002 to stake out the right to unilateral and pre-emptive military action against countries and terrorist groups deemed threats to the United States in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Mr. Obama’s plan implicitly distanced his administration from what became known as the Bush Doctrine and underpinned the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, which lacked UN authorization.

While renewing previous presidents’ commitment to preserve U.S. conventional military superiority, the new doctrine puts an official stamp on Obama’s break from what Mr. Bush’s critics called “cowboy diplomacy.”

“We need to be clear-eyed about the strengths and shortcomings of international institutions,” the document says. But it said Washington did not have the option to “walk away.”

“Instead, we must focus American engagement on strengthening international institutions and galvanizing the collective action that can serve common interests such as combatting violent extremism, stopping the spread of nuclear weapons and securing nuclear materials, achieving balanced and sustainable economic growth, and forging co-operative solutions to the threat of climate change,” it says.

Mr. Obama’s insistence the United States cannot act alone in the world was also a message to current and emerging powers that they must shoulder their share of the global burden.

Mr. Obama already has been widely credited with improving the tone of U.S. foreign policy, but still is struggling with two unfinished wars, nuclear standoffs with Iran and North Korea and sluggish Middle East peace efforts.

Critics say some of his efforts at diplomatic outreach show U.S. weakness, and they question whether he jeopardizes American interests by relying too heavily on “soft power.”

Reuters News Agency

Obama may (accidentally, I suspect) have stumbled upon a vitally important soft power factor: America’s economic success made its military prowess possible (and, equally, limits it today) and was a key factor in making America the world’s most popular country. People want to emulate their more successful peers; it’s the same with countries. China has not copied America’s system of government but, after careful study, it copies many of America’s economic policies and methods. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

The economic situation constrains Obama’s administration. It is unsound policy to borrow too much to support the Pentagon, but, similarly, it is unsound politics to deny the Pentagon its bloated budget.

The critics cited in the last paragraph do not understand the components and nature of strategic power. That’s a common failing of American politicians, officials and military people post Ronald Regan.


Edit:format
« Last Edit: May 28, 2010, 09:11:55 by E.R. Campbell »
It is ill that men should kill one another in seditions, tumults and wars; but it is worse to bring nations to such misery, weakness and baseness
as to have neither strength nor courage to contend for anything; to have nothing left worth defending and to give the name of peace to desolation.
Algernon Sidney in Discourses Concerning Government, (1698)
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Offline tomahawk6

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Re: Grand Strategy for a Divided America
« Reply #44 on: May 28, 2010, 09:11:00 »
At a time that we are fighting two wars the defense budget is 5% of GDP and we cant get our allies to spend 2%. If the economy implodes it wont be because of defense spending.

Offline E.R. Campbell

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Re: Grand Strategy for a Divided America
« Reply #45 on: May 28, 2010, 09:29:55 »
It's "fun with numbers time." First we have to agree on what 'defence spending' means:

•   Is it the $663 Billion the Congress has appropriated for DoD? or

•   Is it the $1.03 Trillion one gets when e.g. NASA (defence related) and Veterans' Affairs and Homeland Security (defence related) are added?

In any event, even at only 5% of GDP (although it may be as much as 7%) it is, still, a very, very large programme.

But it is about 25% of the federal budget (depending upon how much non DoD spending one counts) and, far worse and potentially unsustainably, approaching or even exceeding 30% of tax revenue.

The US national debt is quickly approaching $13 Trillion against a GDP of about $14.5 Trillion (depending on whose data your accept). That is far worse than Canada’s situation when The Wall Street Journal shocked us with the “northern peso” prod.

Americans appear, to me, to be very reluctant to accept new taxes for anything, but many, many Americans still expect governments (federal, state and local) to keep providing the programmes and services they (Americans) want – that includes a strong national defence programme. In that respect they are just as fiscally irresponsible as Canadians.

At some point someone has to reconcile revenues and expenditures. It's not going to be fun.
It is ill that men should kill one another in seditions, tumults and wars; but it is worse to bring nations to such misery, weakness and baseness
as to have neither strength nor courage to contend for anything; to have nothing left worth defending and to give the name of peace to desolation.
Algernon Sidney in Discourses Concerning Government, (1698)
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Offline tomahawk6

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Re: Grand Strategy for a Divided America
« Reply #46 on: May 28, 2010, 19:30:26 »
Just so that we can keep the numbers in perspective. Total budget was $6.5t for FY2010. Of which .9trillion went to defense and to fight 2 wars. That is right up there with welfare .8t,education and healthcare at $1t.

http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/breakdown

« Last Edit: May 28, 2010, 19:34:52 by tomahawk6 »

Offline E.R. Campbell

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Re: Grand Strategy for a Divided America
« Reply #47 on: May 29, 2010, 10:25:30 »
Here, reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act from the Globe and Mail is an important article about some of America’s top strategists:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/americas/fukuyama-keeps-up-the-fight/article1585152/?cmpid=rss1
Quote
Fukuyama keeps up the fight
In the 1990s he declared the ‘End of History.' Then in 2006, he put a rhetorical bullet in the backs of his neo-conservative allies. What remains for a right-wing apostate to do today?


Konrad Yakabuski

Washington — From Saturday's Globe and Mail
Published on Friday, May. 28, 2010

When three American thinkers – an unbowed neo-conservative, a cheeky liberal and neo-conservatism's best-known apostate – gathered in the capital this month to discuss a young French scholar's new “biography” of the neo-con movement, they first had to settle on how to pronounce the author's name.
Francis Fukuyama, the Chicago-born former neo-con, begged the indulgence of Justin Vaïsse for pronouncing his first name à l'américaine.

Liberal Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne nodded to his own family's Quebec roots. “I'm a French Canadian, so I love saying Joos-tin,” he jested, pursing his lips.

As for editor William Kristol, whose Weekly Standard remains a safe house for neo-conservative opinion, he was true to its precepts of U.S. supremacy and unilateralism.

“As a neo-conservative, I have to give him the American pronunciation,” Mr. Kristol quipped, before poking his former brother-in-arms: “I'm a little shocked that Frank bowed to such a hegemonic and almost nativist manner of discourse, but that's okay.”

Emotions, apparently, are still a little raw. In 1992, Prof. Fukuyama's celebrated book The End of History and the Last Man helped provide neo-conservatism's intellectual fuel. His 2004 break with the movement accelerated its descent into foreign-policy purgatory.


Dr. Francis Fukuyama Reuters

As he wraps up his nine-year stint at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies – he's headed to Stanford in the fall – Prof. Fukuyama harbours no regrets about slamming the door on the house he helped to build. But neither has he turned his back on all of neo-conservatism's leading edicts.

The theorist, set to speak Monday in Toronto, still thinks democracy promotion should remain a key tenet of U.S. foreign policy. And he fears Barack Obama – for whom he voted – does far too little of it.

REVENGE OF THE REALISTS

“Although he gave a speech in Cairo almost exactly a year ago about the importance of democracy and accountable government in the Middle East, as far as I can tell he has done almost nothing to actually promote this,” Prof. Fukuyama insists in his bright but cloistered office on Washington's stately Massachusetts Ave. “He occasionally makes a nod towards democracy and human rights, but you don't get the sense that it's central to what he wants to accomplish.”

Not that Mr. Obama would get far if he tried. George W. Bush's go-it-alone “freedom agenda” sullied the name of democracy – and America – in much of the world. Neo-cons justified the use of unilateral military force to “democratize” Iraq based on the conviction, expressed a few years earlier by Mr. Kristol, that “American foreign policy is infused with an unusually high degree of morality.” The rest of the world could be forgiven if it didn't always see it that way.

By comparison, Mr. Obama has been deferential to multilateralism, noting in his first National Security Strategy, unveiled Thursday: “The burdens of a young century cannot fall on American shoulders alone – indeed our adversaries would like to see America sap our strength by overextending our power.”

Prof. Fukuyama supports the multilateral approach, but criticizes the narrowly “realist” foreign policy that appears to be favoured by many in the Obama administration, which is reminiscent of the Cold War détente of the Nixon era. If the neo-cons seem hopelessly utopian, the realists come off as overly cynical.

“American foreign policy has to be grounded in certain ideals. It's kind of in the American DNA,” argues Prof. Fukuyama, who, incidentally, was born the same year – 1952 – as Mr. Kristol and Mr. Dionne. “It's something we're hypocritical about a lot of the times because we don't live up to [our ideals].

“But creating an open, democratic world order is something that didn't begin with the Bush administration. It's been there from the beginning in terms of American objectives and the world is, on balance, better off for that.”

NEO-CON WARS 2: HISTORY STRIKES BACK

The fissure between Prof. Fukuyama and his fellow neo-cons arose over what he describes as their misreading of his celebrated 1992 bestseller. Its irresistible, if much-oversimplified, idea – that the fall of communism at the end of the Cold War marked the triumph of liberal democracy as humankind's political endpoint – underpinned the neo-con argument that the U.S. should use its opportunity as the world's sole superpower to spread democracy abroad, by force if necessary.

Ronald Reagan, neo-cons argued, had proved that intimidation, not détente, was key to eliminating the Soviet threat and freeing the citizenry of the “evil empire” and its satellite states. It was the failure to respond forcefully enough to Islamic terrorist attacks on Bill Clinton's watch, they reasoned, that led to 9/11.

By then, neo-con hawks such as Paul Wolfowitz had assumed pivotal positions in the Bush administration. And the Bush Doctrine – with its emphasis on pre-emptive strikes and unilateralism – became the motor of foreign policy.

“The greater the threat, the greater is the risk of inaction – and the more compelling the case for taking anticipatory action to defend ourselves, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy's attack,” the Bush administration asserted in its 2002 National Security Strategy (a document every president must submit to Congress).

The 2003 invasion of Iraq – to topple Saddam Hussein, destroy his (non-existent) weapons of mass destruction and install democracy – marked a neo-con high point.

But barely a year later, watching disaster unfold there, Prof. Fukuyama sent America's salon set into fits of chatter by renouncing his peers in what was then their bible, The National Interest. As he would further explain in 2006's America at the Crossroads, he faulted them for egging on the Bush administration to conclude, wrongly, that “history could be accelerated through American agency.”

The neo-cons did not take it lying down. Robert Kagan, who had helped Mr. Kristol pen the blurb about America's “unusually high degree of morality,” shot back in 2008 with the impertinently titled The Return of History and the End of Dreams. China's inexorable rise, Mr. Kagan argued, had shown that “growing national wealth and autocracy [are] compatible, after all.”

But despite robbing the neo-cons of their argument, history's return has only made democracy promotion an even greater imperative. “It may not come to war,” Mr. Kagan asserted, “but the global competition between democratic and autocratic governments will become the dominant feature of the 21st-century world.”

Prof. Fukuyama has not repudiated his own “end of history” thesis, even if he concedes that China's progress has led many thinkers to cast doubt on the inevitability, much less desirability, of democracy as the ultimate form of political organization. Even Russia, which a decade ago might have looked to the West for guidance, would now rather emulate China.

“The problem with that model is that you have to have good authoritarians,” Prof. Fukuyama counters. “They tend to produce them in East Asia for a number of reasons – historical and cultural. But in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America, it's pretty hard to find Lee Kuan Yews.” (Mr. Lee is the iron-fisted ex-leader of Singapore, credited with turning his city-state into an Asian Tiger.)

Like the Soviet Union, China has its own internal contradictions, which, in time, are bound to catch up with the regime. “It is extremely hard to govern that large a country in such a top-down manner without any kind of bottom-up accountability,” Prof. Fukuyama adds. “The question I would really raise is whether, in the long run, that part of the model is sustainable.”

History should take care of China, he argues. Modernization “tends to drive demands for political participation.”

NEO-CON WARS 3: ATTACK OF THE CLONES?

The neo-cons are not so patient. And they have a new bounce to their step. The 2007 troop surge in Iraq – which Robert Kagan's younger brother, Frederick, helped devise – worked. Even Prof. Fukuyama concedes Iraqis now have “a reasonable shot” at establishing a workable democracy.

What's more, isolationists such as Kentucky Republican candidate Rand Paul notwithstanding, the party has pretty much surrendered the formulation of its foreign policy to neo-conservatives such as Mr. Kristol, the Kagans and Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer.

“If Republicans want to oppose Obama on foreign policy to score political points, they naturally tend to gravitate around neoconservative ideas,” Mr. Vaïsse, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, writes in Why Neoconservatism Still Matters.

Mr. Krauthammer and Robert Kagan “both attack what they consider to be Obama's underlying assumption – America's inevitable decline – as well as his remedy – adapting to a ‘post-American world' by accommodating other great powers (most of them autocracies) at the expense of traditional allies (most of them democracies).”

If Mr. Obama falters – if his attempt to rein in Iran and North Korea by multilateral means fails, if he defers too much to China or Russia – the neo-cons are ready to pounce. Should the Republicans retake Congress this fall or (in their dreams) the White House in 2012, U.S. foreign policy could again come under their thrall.

It would not mark the end of history; just its repetition.

Francis Fukuyama addresses the Grano Salon Speakers Series in Toronto on May 31.

I think Prof. Fukuyama was, mostly, right in both The End of History and the Last Man (1992) and America at the Crossroads (2006) but (there’s always a but isn’t there?) while I agree that democracy is the likely “end state” for our modern, 21st century world it may well be that we have not yet seen the contest between democratic forms. Prof. Fukuyama, like almost all Western thinkers, says “democracy” when he really means “liberal democracy.” There is another form: conservative democracy, which is what we see, full blown, in Singapore and, largely, in Japan.

What’s the difference? Liberal democracies, our kind of democracy, has as its core value: the rights of the individual. Conservative democracies have for their central value: the rights of society. We expect our liberal democratic system to protect each of us, as individuals, from the actions of the collectives: big business, big banks, big labour, organized religion and government itself. People living in a conservative democracy expect the state to protect their fundamental rights (life, liberty, security of the person, etc) but, also, to promote and protect social harmony, possibly at the expense of some individual rights. The explicit “trust” between the citizen and the conservative state is that it will keep you, the individual you, safe, and allow you, in fact enable you, to prosper, but it will do so will maintaining social harmony amongst all citizens.

Consider Singapore: elections are free and fair but many of the rights we take for granted, including freedom of expression and freedom of association and assembly are restricted to a degree that some Western observers consider anti-democratic. But every individual’s right to property is protected to a greater degree than in any other country in the world, including the USA – in fact, on matters of property rights, the USA, under either Bush or Obama, looks positively communistic and downright lawless compared to Singapore. Singapore is a full fledged democracy but it is not at all liberal and that’s why many liberals (Westerners, all) think it is some sort of dictatorship.

It is that model, conservative democracy, towards which China is, glacially slowly, moving. The Chinese centre doesn’t want democracy but it understands that the alternatives are either doomed to fail or unworkable or, as yet, invisible. They look with envy at the conservative democracy Lee Kuan Yew crafted for Singapore. They (the Chinese) lack many of the advantages he had, such as deep public trust in the institutions of the state – such as courts and the bureaucracy, legacies of British colonial administration. The Chinese people do not trust their courts or government agencies and the Chinese cannot manage a transition to a conservative democracy until they can lick their HUGE corruption problem. It was, despite a head start, Lee’s biggest challenge in Singapore and it remains a challenge in many, many (indeed most) countries including some liberal democracies and most democracies of the third sort: illiberal democracies.

But, I suspect the battle between East and West will be between conservative and liberal democratic values. I hope the two can coexist and that they can cooperate against the common foe: barbarism.
It is ill that men should kill one another in seditions, tumults and wars; but it is worse to bring nations to such misery, weakness and baseness
as to have neither strength nor courage to contend for anything; to have nothing left worth defending and to give the name of peace to desolation.
Algernon Sidney in Discourses Concerning Government, (1698)
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Offline Thucydides

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Re: Grand Strategy for a Divided America
« Reply #48 on: June 02, 2010, 08:32:33 »
This "grand strategy" isn't going to help:

http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/obamas-national-security-doctrine-naive/?singlepage=true

Quote
Obama’s National Security Doctrine: Naive — Frighteningly So

The administration releases a document that misidentifies threats and tells our enemies we intend to be weak.
June 2, 2010
- by Barry Rubin
Share |

Yes, children, there is an Obama Doctrine. The administration has now produced a national security strategy. Be afraid, be very afraid. And those who should be afraid are Americans and their friends, not their enemies.

The administration wants to prove, most of all, that it isn’t George W. Bush. But in doing so, it also proves it isn’t the Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Reagan, Bush I, or even the Clinton administration, either.

It all looks good on paper: America is not a superpower. It is limited, and this circumscribed power requires bringing in lots of partners. Obama writes in the introduction of the strategy released last Thursday:

    The burdens of a young century cannot fall on American shoulders alone. … Indeed, our adversaries would like to see America sap our strength by overextending our power.

Yet that point is missed. You don’t overextend precisely so you can concentrate on what’s important — say, pull out of Afghanistan and Iraq to focus on containing Iran. You don’t reduce commitments in order to abandon the remaining ones.

Much of this worldview is intended to counter what the left hates about George W. Bush. Yet while one can certainly argue Bush did not wisely use the resources of American power, that doesn’t mean American power itself isn’t there. The remedy for excessive unilateralism isn’t excessive multilateralism. And while there might be times or situations where such a response did little harm, the present day — with threats from revolutionary Islamism, an aggressive Iran-led alliance, anti-American leftists, and resurgent Russian and Chinese ambitious powers — makes the Obama Doctrine a very dangerous course indeed. While Obama argues that America faces no real military competitor and global power is increasingly diffuse, these are likely to be temporary conditions. If there’s going to be a vacuum, there are a number of candidates eager to fill it.

Obama’s doctrine calls for bringing these candidates in as partners — hiring the foxes to guard the chicken coop. China and Russia, Iran and Syria, Brazil and Turkey — among others — are naively seen as reliable buddies. Or, in the words of Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes:

    We are deeply committed to broadening the circle of responsible actors.

It’s a dangerous idea — the United States cannot make these countries, or any, “responsible actors.” There’s a reason why responsible actors include countries like Britain, France, and Germany. And the fruit of this mistaken policy is the kind of thing we just saw with the Brazilian-Turkish stab in the back over Iran.

We’re going to be seeing a lot more of this.

Why is the Obama administration so concerned with engaging enemies? Because it is precisely, according to the Obama worldview, the “bad boy” powers which must be appeased. If the United States is conceived as weak and overextended, the ones threatening to disrupt everything may be too strong to oppose, and so must be coopted.

Hillary Clinton said:

    We are shifting from mostly direct application and exercise of American power to one of indirection, that requires patience and partners, and gets results more slowly. … In a world like this, American leadership isn’t needed less, it is needed more. And the simple fact is that no global problem can be solved without us.

Clinton, judging from the opposition to Iran’s nuclear weapon project, seems to be at best much too late. How much will you pay your enemies to pretend to be partners? Suppose certain countries don’t want to solve global problems, but merely to take advantage of them — do they still need the United States?

Imagine a town full of outlaws, with a weak sheriff. The sheriff can deputize the criminals in the belief that this would make them “responsible actors.” Of course, as you probably guess, they would use their badges to rob, rape, and murder even more effectively.

If Obama and his colleagues feel the United States is overextended, it is partly because they misidentify the threats and reject the best ways of dealing with them. The doctrine says that nuclear weapons are the main threat to America, followed by climate change, dependence on fossil fuels, and cyber warfare.

This is dangerous claptrap. Without denying a threat posed by any of these, one could point out that there is no big threat from nuclear weapons (especially compared to the 1950-1990 period); that climate change as a threat is not proven nor is the ability of countries to do anything about it given the realistic options they have; that a combination of drilling and technology can deal with the energy problem; and that cyber warfare is still a very speculative threat. Compare that with Iran taking over much of the Middle East; Russia rebuilding its empire; terrorism spreading in scope and intensity; and China gaining hegemony over large parts of Asia. I’m not saying those things are going to happen, but they are much greater threats than Obama’s list.

In a move that qualifies him for a Nobel Prize in chutzpah, Obama warns that the high budget deficit is a major threat to U.S. strategic power. Since his policies have been responsible for creating this problem, and his administration shows no sign of changing them, one can only gasp at such audacity.

There’s a lot more of interest. The paper says:

    While the use of force is sometimes necessary, we will exhaust other options before war whenever we can, and carefully weigh the costs and risks of action against the costs and risks of inaction.

Sounds great. But how about the use of power politics, threats, leverage, sticks? Once you assert America is weak and overextended, how are you going to convince anyone that they better do what you want? Obama’s posture makes the idea of containing Iran, for example, unthinkable. Once you announce you have no teeth, your enemies will naturally conclude that your bark is worse than your bite:

    Indeed, our adversaries would like to see America sap our strength by overextending our power.

Yes, but those adversaries are equally happy to see you voluntarily throw away America’s strength by denying it and hiring them to run the nursing home for what you see as a pitiful, helpless giant. One day there might be another president, neither a Bush nor an Obama, who will stand up straight, get rid of the wheelchair and canes, and decide that reports of America’s demise are greatly exaggerated.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition, Viking-Penguin), the paperback edition of The Truth about Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan), and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley).
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline Thucydides

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Re: Grand Strategy for a Divided America
« Reply #49 on: September 08, 2010, 23:15:58 »
The proper use of a "Grand Strategy" is to decide where to apply limited resources:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/05/opinion/05friedman.html?_r=1

Quote
Superbroke, Superfrugal, Superpower?
By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

In recent years, I have often said to European friends: So, you didn’t like a world of too much American power? See how you like a world of too little American power — because it is coming to a geopolitical theater near you. Yes, America has gone from being the supreme victor of World War II, with guns and butter for all, to one of two superpowers during the cold war, to the indispensable nation after winning the cold war, to “The Frugal Superpower” of today. Get used to it. That’s our new nickname. American pacifists need not worry any more about “wars of choice.” We’re not doing that again. We can’t afford to invade Grenada today.

Ever since the onset of the Great Recession of 2008, it has been clear that the nature of being a leader — political or corporate — was changing in America. During most of the post-World War II era, being a leader meant, on balance, giving things away to people. Today, and for the next decade at least, being a leader in America will mean, on balance, taking things away from people.

And there is simply no way that America’s leaders, as they have to take more things away from their own voters, are not going to look to save money on foreign policy and foreign wars. Foreign and defense policy is a lagging indicator. A lot of other things get cut first. But the cuts are coming — you can already hear the warnings from Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. And a frugal American superpower is sure to have ripple effects around the globe.

“The Frugal Superpower: America’s Global Leadership in a Cash-Strapped Era” is actually the title of a very timely new book by my tutor and friend Michael Mandelbaum, the Johns Hopkins University foreign policy expert. “In 2008,” Mandelbaum notes, “all forms of government-supplied pensions and health care (including Medicaid) constituted about 4 percent of total American output.” At present rates, and with the baby boomers soon starting to draw on Social Security and Medicare, by 2050 “they will account for a full 18 percent of everything the United States produces.”

This — on top of all the costs of bailing ourselves out of this recession — “will fundamentally transform the public life of the United States and therefore the country’s foreign policy.” For the past seven decades, in both foreign affairs and domestic policy, our defining watchword was “more,” argues Mandelbaum. “The defining fact of foreign policy in the second decade of the 21st century and beyond will be ‘less.’ ”

When the world’s only superpower gets weighed down with this much debt — to itself and other nations — everyone will feel it. How? Hard to predict. But all I know is that the most unique and important feature of U.S. foreign policy over the last century has been the degree to which America’s diplomats and naval, air and ground forces provided global public goods — from open seas to open trade and from containment to counterterrorism — that benefited many others besides us. U.S. power has been the key force maintaining global stability, and providing global governance, for the last 70 years. That role will not disappear, but it will almost certainly shrink.

Great powers have retrenched before: Britain for instance. But, as Mandelbaum notes, “When Britain could no longer provide global governance, the United States stepped in to replace it. No country now stands ready to replace the United States, so the loss to international peace and prosperity has the potential to be greater as America pulls back than when Britain did.”

After all, Europe is rich but wimpy. China is rich nationally but still dirt poor on a per capita basis and, therefore, will be compelled to remain focused inwardly and regionally. Russia, drunk on oil, can cause trouble but not project power. “Therefore, the world will be a more disorderly and dangerous place,” Mandelbaum predicts.

How to mitigate this trend? Mandelbaum argues for three things: First, we need to get ourselves back on a sustainable path to economic growth and reindustrialization, with whatever sacrifices, hard work and political consensus that requires. Second, we need to set priorities. We have enjoyed a century in which we could have, in foreign policy terms, both what is vital and what is desirable. For instance, I presume that with infinite men and money we can succeed in Afghanistan. But is it vital? I am sure it is desirable, but vital? Finally, we need to shore up our balance sheet and weaken that of our enemies, and the best way to do that in one move is with a much higher gasoline tax.

America is about to learn a very hard lesson: You can borrow your way to prosperity over the short run but not to geopolitical power over the long run. That requires a real and growing economic engine. And, for us, the short run is now over. There was a time when thinking seriously about American foreign policy did not require thinking seriously about economic policy. That time is also over.

An America in hock will have no hawks — or at least none that anyone will take seriously.

The key prescription is to have a real and growing economic engine. Hobbling the engine with taxes and regulation is counterproductive (the call for a vastly higher fuel tax in the article, for example). Like the man said, politicians will have to operate under the rule of "taking" rather than "giving", so if political leaders are at all serious then a controlled drawdown of programs and benefits will be needed to exit this mess in an orderly fashion.
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.