Obamaite R2Pers and the Bushmen – by Confused Ponderer

I think what underlies American enthusiasm for regime change is a profound and pronounced unwillinness to engage with the world as it is. At the core of this inability is the still popular notion of American exceptionalism.   America's great power suggests  to US actors an ability to shape the world according to America's ideas of how it should be.  In this there is not that much of a practical difference between the Obamaite R2Pers and the Bushmen. They're essentially two kinds of the same utopian breed. Ron Suskind's famous White House aide put it that way in the Bush years: The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."


The omnipotence complex on display there is still there. In my perception the Obamaites are not any less enthusiastic about regime change than were the Bushmen, they just think that with their civil society stuff and their skill at NGO powerd crowdrousing they're smarter at it than the oafish Bushmen. You and I may think that engaging Assad is a reasonable thing based on the realities in Syria, but that doesn't mean anything to them. They, like the Bushmen before them, try to reshape reality and in that new reality deposing Assad will result in a Free Syria, rid of the tyrrant Assad, and in which from the ashes a western style liberal democracy will emerge in which the Islamists will commit themselves to pluralism. And blossoms will blooom and everybody will live happily everafter. Of course, just as with Bush, the Likundiks among them pursue, on the side, their own delusions here, one of them being that weak arab neighbours make Israel stronger in relation (inevitably, and correctly), and by extension safer (and that's where they drift into the delusional, given that Assad's most potent opposition is Sunni Jihadis). The Bushmen and the R2Pers are utopians all the same and that is what makes them so prone to messy, dangerous and harmful policies that tend to needlessly get a lot of people killed. The destruction of Iraq under Bush or Libya under Obama come to mind. … Mr. Polk put it well when he alluded to Humpty Dumpty's fate: Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall,: All the King's horses and all the King's men, Couldn't put Humpty together again. Regime change as a surrogate for a policy that adreses reality has always enjoyed bipatisan support in the US. I wonder the apparent thaw in US-Iranian relations is a sigh for change. I sure hope so. Except for that encouraging sign, there still has not been a reassessment of its efficacy. I think that European support for such policies, in places like Syria and, to my horror, in Ukraine – and that is a belated response to some of Babak's earlier questions from other threads – is the result of transatlantic consensus building among elites, rathern than an outflow of actual police (re)considerations in Europe.


CP is German but he/she/it has a fine understanding of America.  pl

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72 Responses to Obamaite R2Pers and the Bushmen – by Confused Ponderer

  1. ALL: I totally agree withe the accuracy of this wonderful post! I wonder if CP agrees with me that NATO should not be dissolved but the US should end its alliance?
    What CP may not understand is that our Imperial President [always a danger in the US given the unnecessary cocooning of the Office of the Presidency] despite teaching Constitutional Law has totally confused his Commander-In-Chief role with his Chief Executive role. He treats the CIA for example as if it was and is a personal fiefdom by which he can manipulate intelligence and conduct covert operations that often create backlash for the US! Hoping others will comment!
    What for example is the latest CIA position on the Arab Spring in general?

  2. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I think it is quite clear that EU is not capable of engaging with the rest of the world as-it-is either.
    As far as I can tell EU is indifferent to hostile to Muslim sensibilities in regards to the 2 mosques on the Temple Mont, it does not care about the Human Rights of Arabs or Iranians beyond mere state instrumentalities, and is waging a political, economic, financial war against Iran and Syria.
    I think the distinction between US and EU is a distinction without substance or merit – on Ukraine, on Syria, on Iran, on Libya.
    The more accurate analytical approach would be to discuss the various policies of the “North Atlantic Alliance” or NATO, or some such.
    Frankly, I am tired of all these inaccurate and smug critics of US Foreign policy coming for Europeans – the Europeans, in my view, hide behind US whining why the bombs are not targeting the Manichean “Bad Guys” alone – all the while being quite satisfied with the results.
    There is no qualitative difference between EU and US when comes to Iran, Syria, Ukraine, and Russia – in my opinion.

  3. JohnH says:

    I agree with CP that there is little practical difference between the R2P crowd and the Bushmen. The key difference is the rhetoric they use to rally the world behind their initiatives. Bushmen are all about freedom and democracy. R2Pers are all about human rights, saving Jews, women, children, and gays.
    The interventions in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya would have have happened under either party. The causus belli would have been different under the opposite party. And the extent of military force applied varies depending on who is in power.
    Underlying all this is a deep seated need to be in charge–to have others do what America wants. Both sides believe that the world would be a better place if everyone else would simply do what America wants. The rhetoric of American exceptionalism covers this. What America wants is inherently better because those who govern America are a better, more moral bunch of dudes than everybody else!
    This fantasy of being in charge quickly bumps up against reality. First, it’s tough to be in charge if you don’t know what you want. The notion of “what America wants” is an amorphous mirage, ever-changing, subject to the whim of the moment–except for control over energy resources and protection of energy corridors, something that ostensibly will allow America to “get what it wants.”
    The second mirage is the notion that others will do what America wants, if only America were in charge. The Israelis don’t exactly do what America wants. Nor do the Iraqis or the Saudis or the Turks or the Libyans. Underneath all the superficial unanimity, there is a considerable amount of backbiting, chafing under the bit, and competition. And so the NSA has to be constantly vigilant to see what the wogs are up to now.
    What magically gets obscured, once “America is in charge” is any impulse to bring about Bushmen “freedom and democracy” or R2P human rights. A considerable number of the world’s most anti-democratic regimes and worst human rights abusers sit comfortably under America’s wing. Just ask anyone who lives on the West side of the Persian Gulf.

  4. Bill H says:

    I think “regime change” is a bit of a misnomer, because we gon’t have anything to change the existing regime to; we just act to depose the existing regime in the blissful belief that democracy will flow into void instead of the chaos and disaster that invariably does. Libya is a case in point. Ghadaffi had to go, but we had no clue what would come next, and didn’t seem to care.
    We do the same thing in the “war on terrorism.” If we kill the leader by blowing him up with a Hellfire missile from a drone we will win the war on terror; “regime change” on a micro scale. It doesn’t seem to be working very well, so we apply the principle of “if what you’re doing isn’t working it’s because you aren’t doing enough of it, so doing more of it will work.”

  5. Babak! The ECB [European Central Bank] is actually controlled by policies and lending of the US Federal Reserve without which the EU would be largely bankrupt. Fed policy towards the ECB kept secret from American voters. And Congress.
    The keys are energy supplies and demographics.

  6. confusedponderer says:

    Call me over-focused. I haven’t nearly spent as much time gazing at European spolicies than I spent on America’s.
    Judging by the record of European resistance to US policies – they never stopped the US. The US, being still the single most powerful nationstate on earth, is still a dominant actor, cost, debt and rumours of decline notwithstanding.
    That’s not giving Europe a pass, but simply blending them out. And as far as US motives and US exceptionalism are concerned – Europe does not matter to US foreign policy or her considerations, except in tactics, as underlined by Mrs. Nulan’s heartfeld “F*** the EU”.
    I probably should finally give Europe an equal share attention.
    Maybe I have yet to rid myself of a certain fondness for Europe’s main achievement – keeping the peace through mutual cooperation. The EU was from the start many things but in particular a vessel for Franco-German coexistence.
    After all, two of the three original teaties were about regulating the strategic commodities – nuclear tchnology and coal and steel in particular. Who neds to bicker about Alsace-Lorraine when access to the coal and her steel is available for both France and Germany?
    Seen that way, Europe never had as long a period of stability because the two major continental powers managed to ocooprate and keep the peace, with the Brits trying to nplay the offshore balancer and trying to get in, but not to muich, when it showed that the European experiment was not just peaceful but lucrative. All that was certainly also so as a result of US protection – but, beyond that, the achievement is still remarkable.
    In a way, Europe, has since its eastwards expansion, directed its focus from building prosperity inside to expansion.
    The idea is to spread influence through integration.
    Put negatively, and if the offer to Ukraine is any indication, it may suggst a shift towards conquest by trade. I would be oppoosed to that.
    The drive to expansion, also on show with NATO, is probably a natural reaction of an organisation growing – rying the formula ‘what worked once will work again’. I am as of now undecided of what to think of it. I need more time for that.
    In response to WRC,
    I have always felt that in a way NATO expansion was following EU expansion, because the US feared in Europe a ‘near term competitor’ and wanted to have NATO. That was pretty well visible during 2002/2003.
    That is why I think that the US would be loathe to leave NATO because they would feel they’s lose leverage over European minors, and the ability to pit or play them against the seniors, as the US tried with their ‘Old Europe’ vs ‘New Europe’ approach.

  7. LJ says:

    IMO, what is going on in Ukraine, is an extension of the Global War Of Terror, fomented by agent provocateurs from the West. The ultimate goal is to bring the world to heel, and certainly that would include Russia.
    The Suskind quote should be read not as the critique of foolish American adventurism, but rather the creation of chaos in order to further your goals. This is what the making of history is; it is Hegelianism pure and simple. History is made and advanced through conflict and especially by war.

  8. Alba Etie says:

    To paraphrase Pogo
    ” We have met the enemy as he is us ”
    Us have got to stop letting the elites take us down these self destructive misadventures overseas – It starts with Us masking our voices heard in the upcoming election cycles ..

  9. Charles I says:

    Ah, the insanity principle.

  10. Highlander says:

    Confused Ponder of the Germanic tribes,
    Is the possibility of a near total incompetence( despite many, many advanced degrees) on the part of European as well as US elites, the root cause of this generalized stupidity in decision making and execution.
    A very practical and recent example occurred in the US. The Secretary of the Navy, and Chief of Naval Operations despite having a budget in the billions and half a million men and woman at their disposal could not protect the US Naval Headquarters from a lone nut job with a hardware store shotgun.
    If the elites can’t execute a simple task like defending a major headquarters, why would they even be remotely up to navigating the Middle Eastern cauldron for example.
    One caveat however, your German elites do seem to have pulled off the nifty trick of taking over the European economy without firing up the first Panzer or Stuka. Now even a cynic like me admits, that was competence.

  11. Charles I says:

    I suppose at some point one might be moved to ask why all this is – the utter inability to think post-reality-creation. Obama inherited Iraq & Afghanistan, both utter wastes, n/w/s Deng’s dictum “Too soon to tell”.
    How can serial failures not give pause? Aside from the in sense of consequence-free “creation”. How does that survive year in year out? Consequences are the first thing they try to teach you in Rehab, “magical thinking” being how you get to an undeniable, untenable nadir – with no way out but change – in the first place.
    How can it be that Pat seems the only institutional memory with consequential awareness who gives a damn?. I guess there are none for our politicians worth noting. Or none for voters either, for all our indignation.

  12. turcopolier says:

    LJ I assume that you are European. Europeans often make the mistake of seeing purpose where there is only pathology. pl

  13. kao_hsien_chih says:

    A lot of this delusion, as Babak notes above, is not unique to Americans. While the average American is more prone to this, so do most European elites. I suspect that this is due to the (mistaken) belief by many that they have gone past the end of history, that they are immune from having to pay for the consequences of their actions.
    Except for the South, most of us in United States had never seen destruction of war visited upon ourselves in our history. We have not seen devastation wreaked by bungled economic policymaking since 1930s. Everything is just an idea, something hypothetical to be subject to sophistic discussion and debates. Nothing is a “hard” reality that bites.
    While Western Europeans had suffered more from sufferings of war and economic failure than we have, they have spent last half a century or more in a cocoon even more sheltered than the average American, thanks to the situations brought about by the Cold War. Let’s face it: very few Europeans have personal knowledge of how “hard” reality is and even fewer expectations that they may have to themselves experience it. (I realize that some Southern Europeans have been hit harder than the Northern ones, but I’ll believe that they’ve been hit really “hard” when there are (really) violent riots on streets of Athens or Madrid.)
    People with so much power who feel themselves insulated from the world become tyrants, until history bites them back. I am tempted to slip in something snide about the state of the state of “social scences” nowadays: most of social science, the part that gets rarely seen outside ivory towers, is dedicated to studying the reality. Strangely, this part is never let out of their caves supposedly because it is not “relevant” enough; a small but vociferous part of the academia cares not for what the reality is but only with coming up with all manner of fanciful notions about how the world should be and why, and this gets paraded before the public as the “relevant” part of academia. This strange inversion is, of course, part and parcel of the broader “elite discourse.” Sad.

  14. Jose says:

    he key difference is the rhetoric they use to rally the world behind their initiatives. Bushmen are all about freedom and democracy. R2Pers are all about human rights, saving Jews, women, children, and gays. JohnH
    Take up the White Man’s burden, Send forth the best ye breed
    Go bind your sons to exile, to serve your captives’ need;
    To wait in heavy harness, On fluttered folk and wild–
    Your new-caught, sullen peoples, Half-devil and half-child.
    Take up the White Man’s burden, In patience to abide,
    To veil the threat of terror And check the show of pride;
    By open speech and simple, An hundred times made plain
    To seek another’s profit, And work another’s gain.
    Take up the White Man’s burden, The savage wars of peace–
    Fill full the mouth of Famine And bid the sickness cease;
    And when your goal is nearest The end for others sought,
    Watch sloth and heathen Folly Bring all your hopes to nought.
    Take up the White Man’s burden, No tawdry rule of kings,
    But toil of serf and sweeper, The tale of common things.
    The ports ye shall not enter, The roads ye shall not tread,
    Go mark them with your living, And mark them with your dead.
    Take up the White Man’s burden And reap his old reward:
    The blame of those ye better, The hate of those ye guard–
    The cry of hosts ye humour (Ah, slowly!) toward the light:–
    “Why brought he us from bondage, Our loved Egyptian night?”
    Take up the White Man’s burden, Ye dare not stoop to less–
    Nor call too loud on Freedom To cloke your weariness;
    By all ye cry or whisper, By all ye leave or do,
    The silent, sullen peoples Shall weigh your gods and you.
    Take up the White Man’s burden, Have done with childish days–
    The lightly proferred laurel, The easy, ungrudged praise.
    Comes now, to search your manhood, through all the thankless years
    Cold, edged with dear-bought wisdom, The judgment of your peers!
    From Wikipedia

  15. Charles I,
    I was tied up with other business, and did not have time to respond either to your account of your history of addiction, or to your — eminently apposite — comments on the frightening nature of our dependence on General Dempsey.
    It is precisely the fear that ‘magical thinking’ could lead to a nadir which haunts me. It would indeed seem quite appropriate if a lot of people making policy in the contemporary West had ‘rehab’ treatment of some kind.
    However, the plain fact of the matter is that very few of our leaders, be they in the U.S., the U.K., or Canada, display any signs of having reflected upon the possibility that ‘magical thinking’ might lead to some very unpleasant kinds of ‘nadir.’

  16. Fred says:

    “… that is what makes them so prone to messy, dangerous and harmful policies that tend to needlessly get a lot of people killed.”
    But it is not Obamaite R2Pers or Bushmen getting killed. The self-rightous risk free R2Pers and Bushmen “create their own reality”. In that reality, and ours, they don’t wind up dead regardless of how many people do get killed.

  17. Fred says:

    Are you referring to the Washington Navy Yard? That was an employee who committed murder. All the money in the world won’t stop that kind of action.

  18. Babak Makkinejad says:

    It is nuclear weapons that have kept the peace in Europe and not EU project.
    And what European resistance to US policies are we talking about?
    Not on Syria, not in Ukraine, not on Yugoslavia, no on Russia – as far as the eye can see.
    Europe’s difference with US are like this: US bombs and EU follows, offering band-aide.
    If US attacks Iran, will any European state break diplomatic relations with US?
    Or sanction US?
    If Israel attacks Iran, will any European state break diplomatic relations with her?
    I doubt that.
    My recommendation to you is to be more forthright on the strategic alliance between US and EU states and the mutual succor and assistance rendered between the 2 sides of the Atlantic.

  19. Thomas says:

    “In this there is not that much of a practical difference between the Obamaite R2Pers and the Bushmen. They’re essentially two kinds of the same utopian breed.”
    Two clans of the same Trotsky Tribe, bringing the world creative destruction, death, and doom since 1917.

  20. Thomas says:

    In regards to strategically stupid meddling, any one know which (if any) DC area policy shops are advising Shinzo Abe?

  21. VietnamVet says:

    Thanks for the great posts; but, include me among those who don’t quite get it. We have to search through the waves of propaganda and our beliefs to try to discern the modern reality.
    First, since the Napoleonic Wars until the collapse of the Soviet Union, the State and the Elite required a mass army to survive. Lincoln spelled it out at Gettysburg “we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth”. Not any more! Nuclear weapons made the draft army obsolete. “History Ended”. Today, America fights endless unwinnable wars with a volunteer army that siphons off taxes to the profit of military contractors. The Elite are stealing the middle class’s wealth and not going to jail for it. Western Nations including the USA are pushing austerity. Class warfare is a reality now that millions of soldiers are no longer needed for the rich to stay alive.
    Second, there are no restraints on regime change for States without nuclear weapons. Ethnic conflict “Us verses Them” is hardwired into our genome. But, today ethnic revolts from Libya to the Ukraine and Syria are funded and fueled by outsiders to get rid of leaders who do not kowtow low enough to the deciders. What is best for the people is not a consideration.
    Finally, Davos Plutocrats run things in the West. They get together and agree what is best for themselves and their corporations. It is not surprising that NATO member States walk in lockstep.

  22. Jose L Campos says:

    Finally someone has said it. That much lampooned statement about who makes history and who writes about it is pure Hegelianism. Minerva’s owl takes flight at dusk.
    Both those who act and those that think they do not act, “les belles ames” act despite their wishes.. Nobody escapes history.
    We are at the end of the European American Capitalistic hegemony and troubles are coming thickly.

  23. The beaver says:

    Don’t know whether you’ve seen this piece before:
    Roy Pfautch ???

  24. Alba Etie! Agree and IMO most USA elites dillatantes [sic] without skin in the game!

  25. Highlander! Will Scotland’s departure from Great Britain have implications for the US? I am assuming this departure a given!

  26. turcopolier says:

    Polling support for independence is at 38% pl

  27. turcopolier says:

    Jose L. Campos
    Very deterministic. So, people are merely puppets, of, what? Economics? pl

  28. ALL! There was a time when policy differences were important in Washington! Now it is about “issues” not policy
    development and implementation. Someone picks an issue and all choose sides and hope to be on the winning side.
    The “wise men” PRESENT AT THE CREATION like Dean Acheson [a Wall Streeter like Paul Nitze] were fundamentally flawed in their thinking. They thought it was all about US when in fact this stance gave little credence to the goals and achievements of others.
    Stunningly at the windup of the Soviet Union the US sent Wall Streeters to lead the conversion to democracy. The last thing Wall Street believes in is democracy.

  29. turcopolier says:

    “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth” Beautiful poetry but utter nonsense. The Confederate States in no way threatened “government by the people” in the North. JF Davis stated the foreign policy of the CSA clearly at the beginning. “All we ask is to left alone” was his statement when inaugurated. There was nothing in the US Constitution then or now that says that the Union is indissoluble and the Declaration of Independence established the principle of popular sovereignty as the basis of democratic government. pl

  30. CK says:

    Economics of something less rational but more forgiving like religion or social psychology.
    One can be a string puller or one can have one’s strings pulled, or both, either way eventually the string gets cut and that is very deterministic

  31. CK says:

    Too true. ( except for the “beautiful poetry” part. Government is always: of some of the people by a few of the people for even fewer of the people; the style matters not the substance of all governments is envy of and theft from and a monopoly on intra-national destruction of the rest of the people.

  32. fanto says:

    Highlander, it seems to me that you are also falling prey to the constantly repeated mantra that Germany has conquered Europe, or the Southern part of it (sc. ClubMed countries) ; the common German people have not been the beneficiaries of that conquest! far from it – the poverty there is increasing, the infrastructure is crumbling, slums show up in once beautiful Ruhr-Region, Berlin, Stuttgart. Crime is rampant. The German Conquest is not a ‘nifty trick’ – the exported goods are sent out but not paid! have you not heard of the TARGET obligations? Please , give us a break!

  33. Will says:

    the eventual credo for the North is there in the Battle Hymn and the Gettysburg address. “new birth of freedom,” and “In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
    As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,.” It might have not started out that way but as the casualties mounted the dead had to be given a noble purpose.

  34. turcopolier says:

    Yes. Propagandistic BS. pl

  35. turcopolier says:

    I was attempting politeness. pl

  36. Fred says:

    Yes. And the North is still in fear of the South. See the latest drumbeat on slate:
    I’m tempted to call Georgia to see if I can get one of these things just to piss off some of my liberal friends.

  37. LJ says:

    PL, thanks for the reply. Actually I am not a European. When I referred to Hegel, that was a reference to the Karl Rove quote by Suskind and how one makes history.
    My point is that the Ukrainian situation is seen as a crisis and we know that we should never let a crisis go to waste. We are seeing history being produced.
    To keep this short, I suggest going to one location to see a single example of the what I am talking about: http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2014/02/16/350986/israel-exofficer-leads-ukraine-unrest/
    To eventually destabilize Russian, you destabilize her neighbors, and you also get to pick through the Ukrainian bones for whatever of value you can find. Then you rebuild and the contracts go to the big multinationals.
    The US at least shares in the sickness.

  38. walrus says:

    As Tony Judt pointed out before his untimely death, the danger comes from academics and true believers who believe they have found that the answer to Dostoyevskys question in “The Brother Karamasov is a resounding “Yes!”
    ““Imagine that you are creating a fabric of human destiny with the object of making men happy in the end, giving them peace and rest at last. Imagine that you are doing this but that it is essential and inevitable to torture to death only one tiny creature…in order to found that edifice on its unavenged tears. Would you consent to be the architect on those conditions? Tell me. Tell the truth.” ”
    Victoria Nuland and her acolytes are no different from Lenin, Pol Pot and a host of other would be social renovators who believe that the end justifies the means – in other words blowing the crap out of Pakistani Children will “freedomizer” the region.
    To put it another way, this is not “American Exceptionalism”, it is an academic tendency to believe they have found the solution to mans ills and that any collateral demage in achieving nirvana is more than worth it. The R2P crowd are no different from hard core marxists in my opinion.

  39. Tom in Texas says:

    With no disrespect intended, this reminds me of the Steven Wright joke, “Why don’t they just make the whole plane out of that black box stuff?”

  40. Highlander says:

    Actually,until the last few months the departure didn’t appear imminent, but England’s incompetent conservative politicians are making it more likely by the day.
    In my opinion the entire nation state system is under great strain, and well into the process of break up.
    As to the break up of Great Britain being good or bad for the US. I imagine bad. We after all are the successor empire to the British, and have maintained a useful and profitable relationship for the last 100 years. At least there will still be Wimbledon tennis with strawberries and champagne. I hope.
    As for you krauts taking offense at my observation on German economic skills. No offense meant. Europe is infinitely better of with Frankfurt bankers running the show like adults. Than we Americans are, under the thumbs of the rapacious whores of wall street and their DC stooges.

  41. CP! Are not the economies of Germany and France almost totally integrated?

  42. WRC, Colonel Lang,
    I think a poll showing 38% Scottish support for independence is likely to be an outlier. Today’s TNS survey poll puts support in Scotland at 29%.
    (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-02-20/scottish-independence-support-unchanged-in-poll-before-pound-row.html )
    According to a Financial Times analysis of polling data over the past year published earlier this month, ‘opinions have barely changed, with about 50 per cent wanting to stay in the union, a little over 30 per cent favouring independence and the rest undecided.’
    (See http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/152e7870-8d84-11e3-9dbb-00144feab7de.html#axzz2tlVieVOy ; )
    What the FT report does suggest is that, contrary to what has generally been the case in recent years, Scottish independence is no longer more popular south of the border than north of it.
    It quotes a YouGov survey in the Sun, according to which the percentage of supporters rose from 21 in November to 24 percent in early January, while opponents fell from 55 to 54 percent.
    Surveys reported in the Huffington Post last September, by contrast, showed English support for Scottish independence clearly, if not greatly, in excess of Scottish.
    (See http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/09/10/scotland-independence-english_n_3898845.html )
    Actually it is not clear to me all that many people in England have strong views. My wife, who is a Londoner born and bred, from time to time explains that she can’t wait to be rid of the Scots, but she is probably an exception.
    For my own part, I think I am more representative in thinking that if the Scots want to stay, let them, and if they want to go, no skin of our nose.
    What is clearly unsustainable in the longer term is the current situation where internal Scottish affairs are run by a Scottish parliament, whereas the same affairs in England are run by a UK parliament where Scots MPs are allowed to vote on them – and indeed, can make the difference as to which party is in power.

  43. Babak Makkinejad,
    Why should anyone assume that there would have been another major war in Europe in the absence of either nuclear weapons or the EU? As Donald Cameron Watt put in his 1989 study ‘How War Came’, ‘what is so extraordinary about the events which led up to the outbreak of the Second World War is that Hitler’s will for war was able to overcome the reluctance with which virtually everybody else approached it.’
    Do you think that either Russians or Germans would have been enthusiastic about a re-run of World War II, after what they had been through in the Second World War?
    An argument can also be made that nuclear weapons destabilised the relationship between the U.S. and the Soviet Union after 1945. For one thing, it is a moot point whether George Kennan would have been so keen to advocate ‘rollback’ of Soviet power, which he always anticipated could trigger a process of destabilisation leading back into the Soviet Union and triggering the collapse of the regime there, had the United States not possessed the atomic monopoly. That he anticipated the possibility of a Russian military response to these attempts is made quite clear in the key NSC 20/1 planning paper of August 1948, where he wrote:
    ‘We cannot say, of course, that the Russians will sit by and permit the satellites to extricate themselves from Russian control in this way. We cannot be sure that at some point in this process the Russians will not choose to resort to violence of some sort; i.e., to forms of military re-occupation or possibly even to a major war, to prevent such a process from being carried to completion.’
    It seems that Kennan also contemplated the possibility that the objectives he set for U.S. policy – which included a transformation in what he termed the Soviet ‘theory and practice of international relations’ – might be interpreted in Moscow as implying an American readiness to resort to war:
    ‘It might be concluded, then (and the Moscow theologians would be quick to put this interpretation on it), that to say that we were seeking the adoption of these concepts in Moscow would be equivalent to saying that it was our objective to overthrow Soviet power. Proceeding from that point, it could be argued that this is in turn an objective unrealizable by means short of war, and that we are therefore admitting that our objective with respect to the Soviet Union is eventual war and the violent overthrow of Soviet power.’
    (See http://www.sakva.ru/Nick/NSC_20_1.html )
    The argument that this was essentially the conclusion that the Soviets did draw is developed in an unpublished 1987 paper by Commander Michael MccGwire, RN (to give him his service title) – the most important British intelligence analyst of Soviet military planning, which is now available on the web.
    (http://www.ucis.pitt.edu/nceeer/1987-800-05-McGwire.pdf )
    As a result, in MccGwire’s view, Eastern Europe became yet more strategically important for the Soviets, both as a glacis and as a springboard for an offensive westwards to eliminate the bridgeheads on which the vastly superior U.S. military industrial potential could be deployed.
    Whether Kennan would have been prepared to run these risks, had the U.S. not possessed nuclear weapons, is unclear. The initial effect of the Soviet atomic test of August 1949, moreover, was not to reduce the emphasis on the objective of ‘roll-back’, but rather the reverse.

  44. confusedponderer says:

    I for my part do see the strategic alliance between the US and the EU as it is.
    Europe was off worst, when we were all armed to the teeth. Then we usually massacred ourselves. The Cold War and US protection allowed us to deflect our attention from ourselves to the outside and to focus on reconstruction and cooperation.
    In a sense, the EU is a manifestation of the idea that by treaties and law states can be bound inpueaceful coexistence. And if one looks at our last 50 years it has worked reasonably well.
    As far as expansion is concerned, perpetuation of the structures created for expansion sure plays a part in that. I see that in NATO as much as in the EU.
    I feel that at least some of the proponents expansion is the path of least resistance, thee is an established ascension process, structures and institutions and precedent.
    It takes a resolute mind to say that enough is enough and that henceforth there will be no more expansion into Eurasia. Nobody in Europe is resolute enough to tell the Turks that they’re never going to join, because it is unpleasant and the price will be a loss of influence.
    And while I write of continuity: I think that the civil society NGO mischief we see today wherever a regime needs to be toppled is likewise an outgrowth of established earlier policies. It would be interesting to have a study about the continuity from the Cold War to today.
    These NGOs were established, in a bipatisan consensus as far as the American ones are conderned, to fight the ideological cold war, and arguably they were necesary then. Yet with all the merit of civil liberties and freedom, there always was a spark of subversion in them. For these NGO’s the Helsinki Accords were a triumph. With that they had practically won.
    With the fall of the Warsaw Pact these NGOs didn’t disappear. They became vessels of integration and never lost sight of the old enemy. They eventually expanded their mission to roll back Russia some more. The colour coded revolutions give testimony to that.
    To get back to NATO and Europe and the institutionalisation of policy:
    Europe is using the promise of integration as a means to spread influence, much like the US peddle their ware – protection from enemies real or imagined.
    The US is bi-polar in their attitudes towards the EU, ranging from treating them as irrelevant to regarding Europe as a ‘Near Term Competitor’, and a ‘national security threat to the US’.
    Practically for us that means that we are being scolded by the US to take a greater share of defence responsibility, only to be blamed at the same time for being a threat whenever we acquire a capability and we put it under EU command (out of US control).
    Under Bush one could well see how, in the eyes of the Hegemonists, the ideal strategic partnership with Europe would look like:
    The US would do as they please, and we would fall in line and lend them legitimacy by support (see, not unilateral) and provide token support (think about those micro contingents from Europe’s minors), do the cleanup and carry the cost. As far as decisionmaking goes we were not supposed to have a say. Dissent with the US’ righteous cause was met with livid outrage at the time.
    Obama today is more subtle, but he isn’t any less unilateral. He is, again, just trying to be smarter at it than the Bushmen. It’s a little bit like with the people who enthuse over the indirect approach – to the same policy. Yet even with Obama, there still is a mailed fist under the velvet glove.
    To the extent that Europe has assented to Obama’s policies of regime change – I think that’s probably the fruit of the US having worked European leaders over the last decade. I still don’t think that the Europe has made a fundamental reassessment of policies.
    I think that, despite all the talk about NATO’s and Europe’s irrelevance, the US will IMO stay in NATO because they want a foot in Europe’s door, even when they don’t see a direct military benefit in it. The access they gain probably is to them worth the cost.
    And on a gut level, the Exceptionalists in the US probably distrust anything that could challenge it’s hegemony, like a stronger and unified Europe. Probably, if you’re the epitome of virtue, any compromise is corruption.
    With the US, diplomacy nowadays runs a lot through military channels, with military commanders often having far more sway than the diplomats: Alliances, like NATO, give these commanders the access to exercise this influence. Similar structures exist in the Pacific as well.
    For the promise of safety, of course, there need to be enemies, real or imagined to protect from (Russians and China always work, and nowadays there are also Iranians and, of course, the terrorists). Since that is an established mode of operation, threat inflation is part of the trade.
    Then, of course, there are the think tanks. When our notably vain SecDef von and zu Guttenberg fell over having copy-pasted together his disertation, he went into exile, laying low iirc at some Atlanticist think tank in the US to weather the storm. I predict that, like a zombie, he will return from his grave.
    The EU in contrast to the US, promises credibly trade, wealth, subsidies – and with the carrot of integration, tries to draw countries into the European orbit. The stick is the misery of the status quo of being an unpriviledged trading partner behind EU tariff barriers. Europe exercise influence through the access they gain through integration.
    When Europe seems to always want a diplomatic solution, that is probably because for us, diplomacy works, and works well, as we see every day in the European context.
    That one neocon, I forgot his name, once wrote that Europeans are from Venus and that the US are from Mars, but I think, as far as silly metaphors go, it would have been better put as the US being Klingons and the Europe being the Borg.
    In many ways, the EU try to play with the US on an eye to eye level, yet never manage to secure the funds to purchase the military means necesary to speak with the US on an eye to eye basis. The capability gap is vast, and unlikely to be closed any time soon.
    The US have not shared the European experience, largely because they were so strong as to not having to accomodate themselves to the extent Europeans had to. And part of their national narrative is that they won the Cold War (I’m not so sure), and won it through militarsy strength (again, I’m not so sure). Part of ours is that European integration was instrumental to peace and reconciliation (I’m not so sure here as well).
    The US also have been so rich as to not find large military spending as much of a burden than Europe did, with her welfare systems that competed for funding.
    To put it placatively:
    The price Americans pay for military strength is austerity at home. For our military weakness, we have an excellent infrastructure.

  45. confusedponderer says:

    “slums show up in once beautiful Ruhr-Region, Berlin, Stuttgart. Crime is rampant”
    Sadly, there is a point to that.
    Heavy indusries that once secured employment there have crumbled and unemployment is rampant. Coal and sten from abroad are much cheaper to produce. There are some rather downbeaten places in the Ruhrgebiet nowadays. It is much like those places in East Germany where the same had happened.
    And as of the Ruhr region being ‘beautiful’ – while a steel cooker is a sight indeed, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It is in other ways certainly nicer without industry.
    An aunt told me what a mess it was when in the 1950s, when the region was in its industrial prime, the rivers were dead and that her nylon stockings kept mysteriously dissolving in the fog, not to mention the fact that it was a pain to dry laundry outside when a factory was downwind.
    Yet – on the whole, Germany is still pretty prosperous. We just whine on a high level. Many of our poor have flatscreen TVs. I don’t.
    One particularly silly Green Party lady a couple years ago quipped that if poverty kept increasing in Germany at such an alarming rate, people may eventually have to patch their socks again instead of buying new ones. The horror!

  46. Alba Etie says:

    Rudyard Kipling is a brilliant author ..

  47. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Thank your for your apologia of EU.
    The fact remains that EU pushed 20 million people into poverty in Iran.
    And made 8 million refugees in Syria.
    Will you stop please hiding behind US, Neo-Cons, etc. and man up to what is really transpiring?

  48. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Well, I disagree.
    Nuclear weapons have prevented wars in the Korean peninsula – were Clinton was clearly going in that directions – as well as prevented India from swallowing up Pakistan.
    If nuclear weapons are irrelevant to international security, I suggest UK and France both disarm.

  49. Babak Makkinejad says:

    That seems to be the case; regrettably.

  50. Babak Makkinejad says:

    EU Is sanctioning her customers in Syria and in Iran.
    She destroyed another one in Libya.
    This is not about economics.

  51. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Why is Australia so adamantly against Iran?
    Or Syria?
    When did Iran or Syria become enemies of Australia?
    Or are you, like CP, are going to hide behind US and claim that US brow-beat poor Australia into toeing the “Party Line”?
    To me, it looks almost religious – Christians against Shia Muslims and their allies….

  52. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I am really sick and tired of all these people who are unwilling to accept their own countries’ significant contributions to wars in Syria and elsewhere.
    Why was Spain attaching Iraq?
    Or Poland?
    Why did a European coalition of the Willing destroy Qaddafi?
    [And even then the pathetic Europeans had to run to US for help.]
    Why is Iran and Syria enemies of Australia or Austria?
    And please spare me the bad bad American wolf putting a gun to the head of the political leaders of these states and threatening to pull the trigger.

  53. Ulenspiegel says:

    Sorry, Babak Makkinejad,
    your arguments do not make sense:
    Why should we Europeans invest political capital to address “Muslim sensibilities in regards to the 2 mosques on the Temple Mont” etc. when the perceived ROI is considered piss poor.
    Think in terms of differential costs. Only if the costs of the alternative are smaller than the support of some problematic US politics, the investmet makes sense.
    Or with a different POV: As long as you do not comprehend the basic fact, that most muslimic states do not offer any reasonable “gain”, and here your take of religion is ONE your basic problemS, it is IMHO a little bit naive to expect dramatic changes only 20 years after the end of the cold war.
    “There is no qualitative difference between EU and US when comes to Iran, Syria, Ukraine, and Russia – in my opinion.”
    Maybe your opinion is the issue. 🙂 Or do you really assume that Poland or Germany can afford stupid stunts in respect to Russia as we saw in the last months on the other side of the Atlantic?

  54. rjj says:

    CP and Walrus comments suggested
    Faust complex
    Grand Inquisitor complex
    Dragon slayer complex
    Quixote complex
    as political occupational disorders. need a DSM-POD.

  55. confusedponderer says:

    Re: “The R2P crowd are no different from hard core marxists in my opinion”.
    Well, the neocons at their root are Trotzkyites.
    I think you are quite right when you point out that this is about academics and true believers who believe they have found the answer.
    They are all ignoring reality.
    The neocons IMO read Hegel’s philosophy like a cooking recipe for how to hurry up history.
    That is to me what underlies the neo-con and neo-liberal (economic shock therapy?) ideas about ‘creative destruction’ – the notion that if one produces an antithesis (destruction) to a thesis (status quo) something wonderful will inevitably result as a synhesis.
    One only is not afraid of this when one believes in that synthesis being determinable, like when one believes in an end of history that history marhes towards, in which all mankind will finally be as awesome as the US, the pinnacle of civilsation – like when one thinks that the world is flat.
    Iraq and Libya as exemples for synthesis ought to be a stark warning in theis regard.
    I read iirc in Emerald City that initially Lord Bremer of Baghdad found it not necessary to regulate or organise anything in Iraq because he apparently expected that spontaneous order would emerge from the ashes of the bombed and then looted city. Alas, it didn’t. What a pity. Maybe, there is no such thing as a free lunch after all?
    Or take a neo-liberal lunatic like Milton Friedman, who insists that the market is simply self regulating, just as if the laws and regulations that shape the market don’t exist.
    You want people to buy smaller cars? Enact a gasoline tax, and the market will change. You punish fraudulent miscreants like the Wallstteet looters and the behaviour of market participants will change. You don’t need a mathematical model for that. Ecomnomic orthodoxy maintains that it is all about numbers. This is wrongheaded stuff being taught at western universities.
    As far as utopianism is converned, neocons, marxists, a bleeding heard do-gooder types have nothing on neo-liberals.
    The only difference is the flavour of utopia they pursue.

  56. Highlander says:

    Tom in Texas,
    I was once in a fairly significant bar brawl in scenic downtown Beeville TX. My experience was real Texas cowboys could throw a punch and take one too. After the brawl those of us who could ,had another beer together. It was all part of the game.
    If I upset you, maybe you should consider changing your handle to: oh say,”Tommy of Brookline Massachusetts”. As for our German friends sensitive natures, history has shown, at the end of the day, they do a damn fine job of taking care of themselves.

  57. Charles I says:

    Frankfurt bankers tapped into the FED.

  58. Charles I says:

    I can’t see avoiding it. With our astounding unprecedented personal agency and technological prowess we are still personally and socially in The Cave. Ditto foreign policy apparently.
    Once I sorta came to, and began to see the connections and obfuscations between the reality bone and the delusional bone(s), it seemed to me that civilization would greatly benefit if we could insert some explicit emotional intelligence component into primary school. Bit of self awareness and self-control would go a long way toward providing better leadership IMHO.
    Of course it’d take a lot of pointy heads to design that to everyone’s liking, its hopeless, we can’t even get our heads together around sex and death.

  59. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Thank you for your comments.
    Have it your way:
    What is the ROI in supporting Israel to the hilt when she invades Lebanon or murders Palestinians?
    How much money does Germany make from the murder or the humiliation of each Palestinian or Lebanese?
    Please put a Euro price on that.
    What is the reasonable gain for EU in making 20 million people poorer?
    Funny you mention Poland – there were more that 20,000 Polish refugees in Iran during World War II – yet that state also has an anti-Iran posture.

  60. Babak Makkinejad,
    Actually, Michael MccGwire has argued for half a century, ever since he began contributing to an in-house Royal Navy journal in the early Sixties, that our ‘independent nuclear deterrent’ was quite worthless and should be scrapped. A more recent version of his argument is in 2006 paper ‘Comfort blanket or weapon of war: what is Trident for?’
    (See http://www.chathamhouse.org/sites/default/files/public/International%20Affairs/Blanket%20File%20Import/inta_559.pdf )
    In his 2005 paper ‘The rise and fall of the NPT: an opportunity for Britain’, MccGwire sets out reasons why Iran – in contrast to the U.K. have precisely the kind of urgent security concerns to which nuclear ‘deterrence’ is liable to be seen as the only possible response.
    (See http://www.chathamhouse.org/sites/default/files/public/International%20Affairs/2005/inta_441.pdf )
    From mid-1987 onwards, MccGwire was arguing that the so-called ‘new thinking’ introduced by Gorbachev was not simply propaganda, but involved a fundamental rethinking of Soviet security policy. And he has consistently argued that the likely long-term alternative to the adoption of Gorbachev’s agenda for the abolition of nuclear weapons – which was also Kennan’s – is the widespread proliferation of such weapons, and their eventual inevitable use.
    I have been in two minds about this, as the agenda seems to depend upon an assumption that states can act ‘rationally’ for which I can see little evidence. On the other hand, the directions in which American, and European, security policy are headed seem to me fraught with potentiality for catastrophe.
    In comments on this thread, ‘walrus’ has once again harked back to Dostoevsky’s polemic against the notion that ‘the ends justify the means.’ Arguments about ends and means are liable to be acutely complex and difficult. But the policies adopted by the Americans and Europeans towards Iran, Syria, and Ukraine seem to involve the worst of all possible words: a patent lack of concern with the physical suffering they inflict, combined with a complete absence of cold Machiavellian calculation about likely consequences.

  61. CP,
    ‘And part of their national narrative is that they won the Cold War (I’m not so sure), and won it through militarsy strength (again, I’m not so sure).’
    Precisely the people who have most vociferously argued that the Cold War was ‘won’ through ‘military strength’ are those who were caught completely by surprise by the so-called ‘new thinking’ introduced by Gorbachev, and remained in denial right through until the Soviet Union disintegrated.
    And even then they kept gibbering on about ‘reversibility.’ I used to think that if they had been alive at the time of the French Revolution, they would have watched the execution and of Louis XVI and then said sagely that anyone who did not grasp that his head might pop back onto his shoulders was a naïve fool.
    There are important military dimensions in the disintegration of Soviet communism, but they are only part of a complex picture. A fundamental problem is that within the intellectual frameworks of their own version of nationalism, there was no way in which Americans could understand their own success.
    Because the ‘truths’ of the ‘American creed’ were held to be self-evident, it followed – and continues to follow – that failure to embrace them could only be explained as a result either of ignorance of evil will.
    The complete collapse of confidence in their own system and ideology among intelligent elements of the Soviet ‘nomenklatura’ – as distinct from the Orwellian ‘pigs’ who made up a great part of the country’s elites – was something which American elites simply did not understand. Their intellectual frameworks ruled out the possibility that elite opinion could dramatically shift.
    Part of this collapse had to do with the fact that members of these elites were looking at themselves in the mirror, and not liking what they saw. This mirror was provided in large measure by the contrast provided by the extraordinary success of the post-war ‘Pax Americana’ in Western Europe and East Asia – although the rediscovery of suppressed elements in the Russian past was also critical.
    That the widespread pro-American euphoria among the Soviet elite at the end of the Eighties has dissipated is, to my mind, sad: and doubtless, somewhere down in hell the old Georgian mafioso is laughing, and saying ‘I told you so’.
    The more important aspect, however, has to do with the extraordinary, and perhaps fatal, damage which has been done to the United States by the widespread acceptance of the view that the retreat and collapse of Soviet power represents a vindication of militaristic thinking and militaristic approaches.

  62. Highlander says:

    I am curious as to your take on the Fed’s ability to call the ECB’s shots.
    You are also exactly right. At the end of the day for the entire planet it comes down to energy and demographics.

  63. Babak Makkinejad says:

    When will EU sanction Israel?
    When Will Canada and Australia sanction Israel?

  64. Fred says:

    Spain and Poland, those were tokens to keep the US from screwing their economies.

  65. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I understand what they were; I am suggesting that those two, as well as other EU states, love to be tokens.
    But it is at all times the fault of US, Neo-Cons, AIPAC, Tea Party and others that they are assigned that role.
    No, indeed, EU states are paragons of virginal virtue which has been soiled by the uncouth brute from across the ocean….
    [Cynics might say that a certain exchange of value took place before the consummation of the deal…]

  66. Babak Makkinejad says:

    David Habakkuk:
    The quotation from Dostoyevsky in the posting by Walrus above is symptomatic of the intellectual affliction reigning over men evidently everywhere since the publication of the Principia by Newton.
    That is, if material objects could be subject to the 4 laws of Newton, then social formations and polities must be also subject to such laws of motion.
    Once those laws are discovered, then societies could be re-organized/engineered the way any mechanism could be disassembled, re-designed, and re-assembled.
    This is the assumption underlying Dostoyevsky’s polemic.
    If you are like me and reject Human-Society-as-Machine paradigm, then you know what Dostoyevsky poses is an impossibility and with it his rhetoric looses much of its cogency.

  67. Thomas says:

    The beaver,
    Thanks, it appears Isao Iijimia is part of the problem. Your link’s author provided the answer to my suspicion that whenever there is a Belligerent and Stupid policy a neo-con is around.
    “During his December visit, Iijima purposely avoided contact with experts and officials euphemistically known in Washington as the “Ampo Mafia” (“Security Treaty Mafia”), the don of which is Richard Armitage, the former US deputy secretary of State. Instead, he sought out “neo-con” critics of the Obama Administration’s foreign policy, whom he calculated would be sympathetic to Abe’s nationalistic antipathies toward China.”
    Contrary to the Protesting Persian here, affluently influential policy factions can bring about their will when they have crewmembers steering the ship of state. That society has to clean up the resulting wreckage of the delirious and delusional is the comma replacing their period at the end of history. And the Tao turns on…

  68. harry says:

    I think Publius Varus could have given the same speech. Where are the 17th, 18th and 19th now?

  69. walrus says:

    To Babak
    yes, that is indeed the tragedy, there are people around who still think in this mechanistic, deterministic manner.
    The irony of Americas position now is that the nation was originally “The Great Experiment” challenging the then orthodoxy. Now of course the majority believe that the experiment was a success and the orthodoxy is that its fruits can be replicated anywhere by the simple means of holding “democratic” elections.
    This is just as bad as “scientific” Marxsism in some ways. However I’m unsure of the pivotal work of scholarship – the armature of the democratic belief system.

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