“Going South” by Ximena Ortiz

"Writing about the Argentine media during the Falklands War, Rodolfo Braceli recalled, “The majority of the media and many notable journalists, more than being submissive and saving their skin, had a good time. They were not victims. Nor were they innocents. To say they were not innocents is the gentlest of ways of saying that they were, also, particularly culpable. … And there is more to reexamine: submission out of fear is one thing, and quite another is the genuflection, sugar-coated and gleeful, of complicity. Of the latter there was too much.”

We are not much better today. Reporter Ashley Banfield described coverage of the Iraq War by embedded reporters: “It was a glorious, wonderful picture that had a lot of people watching and a lot of advertisers excited about cable news. But it wasn’t journalism, because I’m not so sure that we in America are hesitant to do this again, to fight another war, because it looked like a glorious and courageous and so successful, terrific endeavor.”Ximena Ortiz


That is Porfirio Diaz in the picture.  He was president of Mexico for a long time.  If our generals wear a few more rows of ribbons and badges they will start to look a lot like this.  You remember him in the movie "Viva Zapata," right?  Oh, that's right.  Most of you don't have time for things like that.

Diaz famously said "Pobre Mexico, tan lejos de Dios y tan cerca a los Estados Unidos."  As Ximena Ortiz suggests there is no longer enough difference between the two countries for him to have fretted over.  Their narco-state is connected to us by an umbilical of money, illegal trade, cheap labor and our besotted desire for drugs.

Americans now seem to be largely ruled by passion and ignorance.  Most of the public does not read anything of value.  Television shows like "24" constitute their image of foreign affairs.  The Republican Party, the party of Lincoln and Dwight Eisenhower is enraptured by a politician who could not recall what she reads to be informed.

I find myself continually involved in conversations with people who really do not understand that we have "done" COIN many times.  We have been there, done that and it was too hard, too long and too expensive.  I write fiction set in the Civil War.  Let's see, the North were the good guys, and…

An emerging third world country can not continue to fight wars that it does not understand in places it can only vaguely imagine.  pl


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33 Responses to “Going South” by Ximena Ortiz

  1. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    Claro, como no.
    1. For the US media, the role model is usually along the lines of the jingoistic Hearst Press headlining the “Remember the Maine.”
    [Some historians today argue that the boilers exploded in the Maine and that there was no Spanish mine, etc. Like the nonexistant WMD in Iraq. But Hearst needed his headlines to promote his war.]
    Another press role model is Henry Luce and his imperial paper mills: Time, Life, Fortune. Luce was a member of the elite Skull and Bones Society of Yale (like the Bush family and John Kerry etc). Some wags say the club has functioned as a vector of elite imperial thinking as has, for example, say Porcellian at Harvard.
    One notices looking at old issues of Fortune and Time how Luce promoted Mussolini and his Fascist regime. Of course, Mussolini was on the British payroll but that is another story…
    On the other hand, there is some good coverage by honest reporters from time to time. Speaking of the “Third World”, for example, the LA Times has a useful series on Mexico and the violent drug war along our southern border. This is of course a real security threat to the US while Afghanistan is not. http://projects.latimes.com/mexico-drug-war/#/its-a-war
    2. Despite the media, polling data recently shows about half the country is against unnecessary adventures in the Hindu Kush. But naturally this is irrelevant to the imperial elite who go forward with their imperial policy.
    In the US, as in the Third World, there is today a decided disconnect between “the people” and the elite which rules (“governs”) the people.
    In the old days, this elite was “WASP” so to speak. This elite has passed from the scenes and has been replaced by a newer configuration of power, although it is still centered in Wall Street. Today, rather than WASP-y Bundy’s we have Neoconservatives promoting the imperial agenda for their patrons who control both political parties.
    From a policy point of view, it is irrelevant what the “American people” desire. The issue is what the elite desires as it is in effective power. One indicator of an elite consensus is found at the website and publications of the Council on Foireign Relations in New York, for example.
    3. I was in Argentina for a month during the Malvinas/Falklands War. Their leadership miscalculated. First, the generals thought their US buddy generals would restrain the British from attacking by influencing the White House in Argentina’s favor. Second, anglophile Foreign Office types thought the British would not attack.
    The daily press in Argentina merely reflected the glowing situation reports which were handed out to them on a daily basis by the government.
    4. Looking around the US one does notice marked economic disintegration, particularly in basic infrastructure as in highways, railroads, bridges, ports, and the like… Third Worldish indeed.
    5. As to medals/”decorations” on the chest, was not there a time in the life of this Republic when medals were purposefully limited to a very few to display in an appropriate republican (not imperial) manner?

  2. jonst says:

    Do you recall the beautiful song that open the movie? “”Adelita,”?
    “Americans now seem to be largely ruled by passion and ignorance.”
    It’s getting wearisome and depressing, almost beyond description. I keep telling myself I feel that way, partially, because of my age. That it is not as bad as it seems. For as Tim Robbins’ character said in The Shawshank Redemption, “hope is a good thing”.
    But I don’t believe my own musings. It is as bad as think it is. And it is getting worse.
    My only revenge is to utter the words ‘bring back the draft’ at social occasions, and watch people start squirming. And that revenge ain’t much. HAVING a draft would be!

  3. Redhand says:

    A grim assessment, but these are grim times.
    I faithfully check online news sources every day, such as the NYT and WaPo (when I can stand it, but I try to avoid their neocon oped page, since it is such an infuriating joke) but I refuse to watch the Sunday talking heads shows.
    Channel surfing last Sunday I glimsed McCain on yet again. It is grotesque that the media continues to give airtime to the angry, empty-headed pol who gave us Sarah Palin.
    As for Palin herself, her resignation as Gov. of Alaska shows she is pure grifter and not a real politician. Her book tour is a reprise of her VP run: “Wasilla hillbillies looting Nieman Marcus coast to coast.” She reminds me of Annette Benning in the movie of the same name.
    In a post today Glenn Greenwald neatly encapsulates my disillusionment with Obama, the “reformer” we elected in 2008:
    [A]re the criticisms that have been voiced about Obama valid? Has he appointed financial officials who have largely served the agenda of the Wall Street and industry interests that funded his campaign? Has he embraced many of the Bush/Cheney executive power and secrecy abuses which Democrats once railed against — from state secrets to indefinite detention to renditions and military commissions? Has he actively sought to protect from accountability and disclosure a whole slew of Bush crimes? Did he secretly a negotiate a deal with the pharmaceutical industry after promising repeatedly that all negotiations over health care would take place out in the open, even on C-SPAN? Are the criticisms of his escalation of the war in Afghanistan valid, and are his arguments in its favor redolent of the ones George Bush made to “surge” in Iraq or Lyndon Johnson made to escalate in Vietnam? Is Bob Herbert right when he condemned Obama’s detention policies as un-American and tyrannical, and warned: “Policies that were wrong under George W. Bush are no less wrong because Barack Obama is in the White House”?
    The Greenwald post covers the same territory you do: “Americans now seem to be largely ruled by passion and ignorance.” It’s absolutely true. These are grim times indeed.

  4. ked says:

    The modern inflation in chest decorations = grade inflation in our schools.
    Allow me to digress:
    Some years ago, I uncovered a Silver Star nomination for my Dad, for action in the Solomons – lost in the Fog of War. I asked him about it & if he wanted to follow-up. Ever low-key, recognition was not so big a deal to him, so I forwarded it myself. USAF awarded him a 2nd DFC.
    Anyway, & unfortunately, there are many ways (besides Elite’s behavior) in which our nation is looking 3rd Worldish. Most of our infrastructure was hurriedly built on the cheap for short-term purposes. Now, we don’t build or refurb much of anything. When the chickens come home to roost, there will be no coop.

  5. lina says:

    In a survey of 1000 Oklahoma high school students, only 61 percent could answer the question: What ocean borders the east coast of the U.S.?

  6. Robert Murray says:

    A stinging indictment but as others have said – sadly, all too true. An excellent post Col. Lang and
    great comments. Thank you.

  7. Annie says:

    Our promotion of gambling, such as mega-lotteries, is another example of “third-world-ism”. Where getting ahead is a matter of luck and caprice rather than educational attainment and merit. Some days I miss the Wasps.

  8. John Howley says:

    We have certainly developed a penchant for squabbles with people whose culture and language are most alien to the USA: Russians, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Arabic. In other words, the less we know about someone the more likely we are to fight them.
    At one time we did go to war with English-speakers.

  9. N. M. Salamon says:

    It is tragic to read your last post Colonel, it is even worse when one reads the commnents.
    It is of little joy to say that your culture is declining, when one looks at Canada, the same ailment pervades the power elite and the media. Lotto and same sex marriage are more important then educating the youth [ and subjecting them to onorous debt when they finish a la Universities in USA]. Business as Usual, war profeteering, Israel uber alles and crime reporting is the center stage of media, when over 50 % can not place the Capital of Canada on an imagery map.

  10. The Moar You Know says:

    The survey to which you refer to, the infamous Oklahoma high-school student survey commissioned by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, and executed by Strategic Vision LLC, has been proven to be fraudulent. You may see the evidence here:
    As well as the real results when the test was replicated.
    Our country may be in a world of hurt caused by the stupidity and shortsightedness of adults, but our kids are doing just fine, thank you.
    It’s worth reading Nate’s other articles on Strategic Vision, LLC. I was not aware that such “pay for results” polling outfits existed in this nation, and am profoundly disappointed to find that they exist. If you’re looking for a cause of some of our nation’s problems, folks like those at Strategic Vision are a good place to start.

  11. Charles I says:

    Pat I feel for you. Now you sound like the bleeding hearts you have educated into hopeful realist cynics, er, I mean me.
    A sorry pass indeed. I’d pray for you if I could.
    Apparently increased cultural interest in all things supernatural, Vampiric, etc, has not been a felicitous cultural tell in the past, either. The drug situation alone could sink you, but apparently this is what’s desired by your rulers.
    Legalization does not lead to Armageddon, or long term usage increases, which is always the canard raised against it. You could then SOF hunt down the big crooks, try/kill them, take their dough, society would survive. No rule of law can survive permanaent prohibition, human passions and profits are too great.
    America is in my heart and hopes, not to mention you’ll be looking north for water one day, so good luck and Godspeed.
    Clifford, as ever, you’re you’re a nonstop fount of institutional memory and historical context, really adds so much to my perspective, never mind your current cites. Thanks.

  12. VietnamVet says:

    I agree that America is on a decline towards the third world as set out in the American Conservative article and with William S. Lind’s O = W. There is one political party in America, the Establishment Party. But, so far, there hasn’t been a Bang. And, hardly a whimper is heard in the corporate media, as American citizens get screwed.
    But, the USA is not third world yet. If you are American and have money, there is a sense of freedom and superiority that you feel from living in a third world country. My last excursion into a third world, Mexico, I ran across some Vietnam Vets, still looking for the excitement, freedom and drugs (?). Now days, we are too old for these shenanigans.
    The movie “El Salvador” by the Vietnam Vet, Oliver Stone, is the best presentation of this lure of war in a third world country. As pointed out by the Colonel Lang, the USA won these Central American counter insurgency wars.
    Long after the American Troops are withdrawn from Afghanistan, the next joint Canadian American operation will be within the 1835 boundaries of Mexico. Will it be a replay of Pershing’s Heavy Forces Invasion, the Colonel’s SF OPS, or will it be Counter-Insurgency in Salinas, CA.

  13. Fred says:

    Many brave men died in an unnecessary war. While this war was going on, and again when seeing a number of documentaries on the war, I was especially impressed with the courage of the pilots of the Argentine Air Force. It is fortunate for the Royal Navy that the Argentine’s own inter-service rivalry prevented them from equipping their Air Force with anti-ship bombs with the correct fuses or they would have lost far more ships and lives than they did.
    The Argentine people were poorly served by thier press corps then and again during their most recent financial meltdown. Very much like our own press has done these past few years.

  14. Jose says:

    An emerging third world country can not continue to fight wars that it does not understand in places it can only vaguely imagine. – pl
    “Well, I learned a lot… I went down to Latin America to find out from them and (learn) their views. You’d be surprised. They’re all individual countries” – Ronald Reagan
    Apologies if I went off topic, but that Reagan quote is one of my personal favorites.
    Regretfully, I have to agree with your assessment.

  15. Actually I thought US Armed Forces were not to wear all their decorations but only top three except when in the ARMY and dress blues called for? Perhaps I am wrong!
    AS for the President and for whom I voted it is of note that is lack of experience clearly showing. No military service! No real governing experience! No private business experience! He did attend trade school (law school as did I) but that who concept is designed to support the power elite and if only because debtor prisons are barred by the Constitutional right of bankruptcy those types of prisons would be filled in the US today. Of course the technical bankruptcy (well maybe not so technical?) of many US corporations is now approved of by politicians, regulators, lawyers and accountants. There has increasingly occurred a basic problem for interested citizens also. The high secrecy and lack of tranparency in various levels of government. The National Security STATE is triumphant and its ability to talk and convince the man on the street that but for the National Security STATEs efforts they would be eliminated by the “other” and the “enemy”! This country was founded on principles of the “Enlightenment” but now it appears that anything not controlled by the elites in the US is the “other” and the “enemy” and life would be nasty, brutish and short (HOBBES) if not for their protective efforts. Of course the vast amount of their energy is protecting their own positions and not trying to improve the fate of the average citizen. Moving over 4 years ago outside the beltway it has come as rather a shock that so little information flows down to American outside the MSM and its corporatism and censorship and dialectic. I do think both parties are in a long term realignment in which both may disappear as totally irrelvant to American life and problems and possibilities. I see Sarah Palin and John McCain, and Barack Obama and Joesph Biden as accelerating the likelihood of this occurring. Perhaps I am wrong but evidence does seem to be mounting. And remarkably both Republicans and Democrats really don’t get “it”! “It” being the willingness to help others, care for the future sustainability of the country, willingness to sacrifice life and property for those coming after US! Well the bookends of August 1945 and 9/11-2001 were a remarkable period. Looking back it will be of interest to see which of our (US)choices reflected wisdom and reason and which reflected greed and ego and hubris in our political and economic leadership.

  16. Patrick Lang says:

    I am a sucker for that kind of thing, but then, I also love “La Paloma” which had a very different political meaning.
    This reminds me of the passage in Jerry Pournelle’s military science fiction novel “West of Honor” in which the woman guerrilla leader is asked by one of the mercenary officers in John Christian Falkenberg’s regiment, “who brought these men to our camp?” She says “I was coming this way and they came with me.” The major looks away and his sergeant major says, “I suppose they did…” pl

  17. curious says:

    COIN and Sarah Palin.
    I think the significance of Sarah Palin is this: the world suddenly realize US politics is unstable and long term policy continuity is not guaranteed. The world cannot depend on US political leadership and stability to create long term stability. Palin was the veep candidate, a person who might run things when McCain croak. She represents the future of Republican party.
    COIN, which after certain size is really about creating/shaping a society. It’s what political party, social organizations, mass educations, religious movement, or media are for.
    Trying to realign a country with 20-40m people without stable institutions is a long term national project requiring steady leadership over few administration. The policy has to be coherent over long period of time using all military and soft power.
    US losts that. The two political parties in the US looks more about contradicting each other when it comes to foreign policy. (Bush I. realism. Bush I to Clinton. domestic centered neoliberalism. Clinton to Bush II. ABC. Anything but Clinton? Clinton to Bush II. Neocon. Bush II to Obama. neoliberal on a budget.) Who will come after Obama? So what if Obama is doing his job? The next person still has to further deal with current problems.
    The result is schizophrenic, incoherent, costly. And nobody in the world wants to stick around long enough while knowing it’ll all be changed soon when new crews come in.
    It’s alternating between belligerent, confused, and crazy. Global lost of confidence in US leadership.

  18. YT says:

    “An emerging third world country can not continue to fight wars that it does not understand in places it can only vaguely imagine.”
    Col., sir:
    ‘Tis the harshest words I’ve read ’bout anyone criticizin’ their own countrymen thus far. & I always thought I’m the one with the sharp tongue. Skirmishin’ in locales no one has a clue of & havin’ no picture of the goal, too much of “24”, I guess.
    Well, the god**** third world country where I’m currently residin’ ain’t no better. The worse for wear with propagated national goals which are not the least bit attainable with the present quality of youth. (Readin’? What the hell’s that?) Even the foreign investors have left, fer cryin’ out loud!
    Charles I:
    Your august majesty, I do believe they’re into zombies now. Just like an English associate of mine who hardly peruses anythin’ of value but prefers the one-eyed monster in the livin’ room.

  19. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    Yes the Argentine Air Force pilots were quite courageous and able. In many cases, they were flying at the very extreme limit of their fuel range I was told. There were technical issues with some of the anti-ship missile systems. Sabotage by the vendor was suggested to me by some close observers.
    I recall a meeting and interview with General Lami Dozo, the Air Force representative on the three man Junta. He offered me my choice of coffee or mate. I took mate as did he. The Air Force was solidly nationalist and quite Roman Catholic in ethos.
    I also had the opportunity to meet with and interview Admiral Anaya, the Navy representative on the Junta. Traditionally, the Navy had been somewhat anglophile.
    Reviewing the situation with Foreign Ministry officials, I came to believe that a diplomatic resolution to the crisis could have been possible. You will recall that the US using General Haig was supposedly “mediating” between Argentina and the UK.
    I reviewed various files of confidential negotiating documents relating to the crisis made available to me at the Foreign Ministry.
    In reviewing this material and in discussing the situation with Argentine diplomats it appeared to me that Haig withheld from the British proposals and positions which could have facilitated a diplomatic resolution of the matter. (On the other hand, he may have indicated these to the Brits but the Brits declined to follow them up.)
    In any event, the US was NOT a neutral mediator between two friends. I felt we should have offered our “good offices” rather than engage in a false (thus dishonorable) “mediation.”
    The legal issues relating to those islands had been of long standing. Early 19th century court decisions in the United States, for example, over whaling matters assigned sovereignty to the Argentines. However, they were in legal limbo and dispute between the UK and Argentina for a very long time.
    The Argentine Junta, looking for an issue, decided to use military force to pressure for a resumption of negotiations on the status of the islands. They miscalculated, fatally. At stake was not penguins and sheep. It is elementary that the geologic formations undersea in that area contain hydrocarbons.
    Despite the evening blackouts over Buenos Aires, life went on during the brief war. I remember well the excitement over the World Cup soccer matches at the time which was more the talk of the town than the war. An evening at the glittering and packed Opera featuring Boris Goudonov (in Russian version no less) made an impression.

  20. Nightsticker says:

    Colonel Lang,
    Normally when I hear the expression “Going South” it is being used as a metaphor for “deteriorating” and my hand moves instintively to release the safety on my pistol.[Some exceptions are made in the event that they smile when they say it- for the same reasons that Wister’s “Virginian” was willing to overlook something said with a smile.Of course I am certain that the SST readership[very Virginian,if not by birth or residence, then by inclination, style, and sentiment]would not have interpreted the caption that way.
    There is a remarkable similarity between the photo of Diaz and the photo of General Petraus posted on Wikipedia in terms of the display of medals and adornments. Personally, I would vote for Diaz in terms of taste, artistic design and even engineering symmetry.
    On the subject of Generals,I think McChrystal plan for Obama’s war is a repeat of the existing wrong way of doing things in the hope that this time it will work. I think the mental health folks have a term for this…..
    USMC 1965-1972
    FBI 1972-1996

  21. Patrick Lang says:

    Interestingly, McChrystal does not seem to be a badge/gong/merit badge collector. He wears the EIB and I don’t see any medals for valor there. you know how easy it would have been for him to phony that up given the jobs that he has had. pl

  22. BillWade says:

    An emerging 3rd world nation will need one of these:
    “A Stability
    Police Force for
    the United States”
    Long Rand Study here:

  23. walrus says:

    Mr. Kiracofe,
    The “Technical issues” with the Argentine anti ship missiles were that the British leaned very very hard on the French Government to hand over the IFF codes for the particular Exocet missiles they had sold Argentina which they eventually did. The missiles then “thought” that the British Navy ships broadcasting those codes were “friendlies”.
    The British also bought up every Exocet for sale on the open market to stop Argentina getting any resupply.
    On the subject of “emerging third world nations”, I have come to the conclusion that the American elites have no use for a strong middle class, in fact they are fearful of it.
    To this end, I believe they are doing everything in their power to destroy this class and instead create an ignorant, xenophobic, and intensely patriotic lower class, something that has already mostly been achieved, judging by the ignorance of world affairs visible on less refined websites than this one.
    The trouble with this nation model is that it allows the fantasies of the elite a much freer rein, and that may eventually lead to Toynbees “Suicidal Statecraft” and complete ruin.

  24. Fred says:

    I heard similar rumors about vendor sabotage relating to Argentine torpedo performance. I always wondered why their subs didn’t sink anything. At least one was able to target more than one ship. Navies have been using the modern version of acoustic homing torpedoes the Germans (and US) developed and used in WWII. Unless they were at extreme range there’s no reason for all of them to miss.
    As to the war itself, I thought this was more to do with a deteriorating domestic economic and political unrest over military rule. I would think that in dollar cost they could have bought most of the Malvinas/Falklands Islands for less than the cost of a war.

  25. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    Thank you for the clarification on those Exocets. I heard it back then as “guidance system” issues but without your specifics.
    Yes, crushing the middle class seems to be the policy as you can observe happening here in the United States. In a sense we have been drifting downward since President Kennedy’s death in terms of real wages and all that, according to some economists.
    Crushing the middle class is typical of Latin American elites who seem to whack the middle class back every so often. During this process, Latin American elites offshore their money in hard currencies, then take advantage of the declining currency in their own countries.
    The classic use of this method was in Germany in the 1920s where certain industrial circles, like the Stinnes group, offshored their hard gold-marks (in the Netherlands and elswhere), then smashed the economy causing huge inflation, then bought up German assets for nothing using their hard money stored outside the country.
    “American” elites today are not the same national oriented “Yankee” types as they were in the 19th and early 20th century. Between the late 19th century and say World War II, the financial and industrial complex of the United States arguably shifted gradually out of “Yankee” ownership and control. This was reflected in the changing nature of Wall Street and to more “cosmopolitan” influence control.
    The current “American” elites to which you refer, IMO are the cosmopolitan circles represented by people like Geitner, Bernake, and Summers, for example.
    Paul Volcker, for example, representing a more traditional policy perspective, is essentially sidelined in this Administration and unfortunately serves merely as window dressing.
    My personal view is that the Iraq War and the Afghan War were and are calculated by some circles as a means to weaken the US economically and to push the middle class further down over time. Thus they result from a calculated provocation to imperial overstretch with the objective of undermining the US economy and polity. Credulous and simple minds may think we are doing something heroic out that way such as “nation building” and promoting “democracy” and all that nonsense. But the polls show over half the American people reject this adventurism….
    I always wondered about those torpedos as well.
    The Argentine military action to seize the Malvinas with the assorted penguins, sheep, and Brits on them was undertaken to get the stalled diplomatic negotiations going as to final status. This would be called “coercive diplomacy” in US parlance. However, the Argentines fatally miscalculated both the US and UK reaction. They could not have bought the islands because the Brits held them firmly with a view to the hydrocarbon situation and were not simply going to roll over, particularly Thatcher who needed a boost at the polls.

  26. David says:

    Regretfully, I have to agree with you that American elites tend to be fearful of a strong middle class which would always have the potential to at least moderate elite behavior.

  27. Tyler says:

    I find it amazing to look around and see how far the US has gone since I was a child. We are fast on the way to a quasi Phillipine state, where we have the most highly educated taxi drivers. Our women will go across the world as nurses.
    As far as our men, it seems that we have already been sent across the world in the form of mercenaries or at home in the form of well paying police jobs.
    Border Patrol/Customs agents are now GS-12s and you don’t even need a high school diploma (A GED will do just fine thank you). Just speak passable spanish and shoot straight and you too can make a 100K a year.

  28. Omo Naija says:

    “American” elites today are not the same national oriented “Yankee” types as they were in the 19th and early 20th century. Between the late 19th century and say World War II, the financial and industrial complex of the United States arguably shifted gradually out of “Yankee” ownership and control. This was reflected in the changing nature of Wall Street and to more “cosmopolitan” influence control.
    The current “American” elites to which you refer, IMO are the cosmopolitan circles represented by people like Geitner, Bernake, and Summers, for example.”
    Is this a veiled reference to Jewish domination of Wall Street? Implicit in this statement is assumption that in the past National interest was aligned with the interest of Wall Street. This could not be more farther from the truth. What rules Wall Street is greed – we can at least agree that cuts across race, gender, nationally or whatever vector suits you.

  29. john intheboro says:

    Thanks for the link to Ortiz’s article. Seems many of us are caught up in end-of-the-worldism. After the past 8 years, some might say 30, I can empathize. Obama promised change: now change rises above the level of reform and falls below the level of revolution. In no way can it be seen as status quo. Yet, as the Ortiz article indicates, we are stuck in the same old, same old. That would not be so bad if the same old has anything going for it.
    Those who study history find striking similarities to the current state of our union with empires past. Those who study politics find striking similarities with our neighbors. American exceptionalism arguably is rooted in our refusal to think we are like anyone else. Thus, in one mental gymnastic, we are exempt from all that has afflicted mankind over the centuries. What has become manifest is that we are not exceptional or even excepted. The gap between our talk and our walk gets wider every passing year. We have wonderfully crafted values; we just don’t live up to them. We have a wonderfully crafted constitution; we just find it quaint. Somewhere, some time, over the past 30 years, we just decided to stop being a nation and became what we are today.
    Now if someone could put their finger on a cure, that would be fantastic and oh so American. The silver bullet, the sound-bite solution, the easy to remember slogan (jingo?) may do the trick one more time. Or maybe not. Our belief in the better future receives a daily reality mugging at the hands of the serious people on the idiot box. Well, here’s my one recommendation, dress up every politician in a NASCAR uniform with all of his sponsors’ logos clearly visible so I can vote for the corporation of my choice.

  30. Cold War Zoomie says:

    Americans now seem to be largely ruled by passion and ignorance. Most of the public does not read anything of value.
    We’ve always had a lot of ignorant (literal sense) people in this country. In fact, that’s the entire concept behind the Electoral College. Mencken made a living writing about them. Leno used to make us laugh interviewing them.
    What makes our current decline so striking right now is our very recent past where science, critical thought and the arts were not labeled “elitist” and scorned.
    I’m patiently waiting for a new intellectual awakening in my country. But I have resolved that it may not appear before I check out for good. In fact, it will probably get worse over the next 15 years, and then remain bottomed out for another 10 years before the spark of revival.
    Let’s just hope that we haven’t turned into nothing more than a Colony of Consumers for our Chinese Overlords by then. There may not be enough kindling for that spark by that point.

  31. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    Omo Naija,
    My focus is on economic history as opposed to “theory.” That businessmen seek profits has been the case since ancient times. In a Christian perspective, however, avarice (“avaritia”) traditionally is considered a sin.
    It is useful to make a distinction between “productive capitalism” which emphasizes the real physical economy (and long term investment and credit) and speculative “finance capitalism” which focuses on financial manipulation.
    As to my points, the historian Paul Emden provides excellent context in his “Money Powers of Europe in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries” (London: Sampson Low). Count Corti’s two volume study of the Rothschilds (New York: Cosmopolitan, 1928) is a classic and there are many other scholarly works available covering the period.
    Also, B.C. Forbes, “Men Who are Making America” (New York: Forbes, 1916) is pertinent as is Frederick Lewis Allen’s “The Lords of Creation” (New York: Harper, 1935).
    Working through some of this history, it helps to keep in mind the relationships between the various London and Frankfurt and Paris banking circles and their associated interests and relationships in New York.

  32. Omo Naija says:

    From your reply – my hunch was right. I typical disavow grand conspiracy theories spanning generations and what you implied in your two comments is no different.

  33. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    Omo Naija,
    I am pleased to hear you disavow things.
    However, you misread my posts and make false attributions. I have not advocated any “grand conspiracy theories” in the posts.
    As I indicated, I am interested in economic history not “theory.” The books I cited are standard works.
    I take it you do not read history but, for example, Emden’s work is available from Barnes and Noble:
    And Corti is available in paperback from Amazon:
    As is Allen’s Lords of Creation:

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