A Vision in Manama

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This is a guest post written by Matthew M. Reed, a research intern with the New America Foundation/American Strategy Program.
The United States has for decades prioritized the Persian Gulf. Eisenhower did so as early as the 1950s; Carter pledged to defend it from foreign attack in 1980; Reagan’s corollary promised to thwart internal threats after the Iran-Iraq War raised alarms; and in the 1990s, Clinton aimed to handicap regional wildcards with “dual containment.” Many reasons for American involvement in the region remain compelling today.
First, the region produces 20% of America’s total oil imports and its reserves are the strategic linchpin of the global economy. Second, America will lose its monopoly on power projection when the unipolar moment draws to a close and other militaries achieve technical parity. This means other countries with modern navies could negatively influence the Gulf like never before. Finally, US leaders must account for Iranian hostilities if no future realignment or “grand bargain” is reached. Because of the value and vulnerability of resources in the Persian Gulf, not to mention the political cost of abandoning historic commitments, the US can’t simply sacrifice its position. It must remain a major player by declaring intentions and strengthening partners who share its vision.
One would assume that explicit policies or guiding logic was in place today but in September a Government Accountability Office report (10-918) concluded otherwise in September. “[The] State [Department] and DOD did not consistently document how arms transfers to Gulf countries advanced U.S. foreign policy and national security goals,” the report stated. If the GAO’s findings are correct, then a new strategic vision is sorely needed to meet current and future challenges.
The seventh annual Manama Dialogue provides the best venue for answering lingering questions and promoting American interests. Manama’s regional security conference, which begins tomorrow and lasts through Sunday, includes local heavyweights and foreign delegations. A variety of ministers will attend along with national security advisors and major military officialdom. Defense Secretary Robert Gates represented the US the last three years but Secretary of State Clinton will lead the delegation this weekend. She should use the opportunity to do something truly special, and articulate a strategic vision that offers real direction where there is only fuzzy policy.
Clinton’s remarks can and should focus on consent rather than American designs. The dramatic announcement of a new defense pact is unnecessary–it might even escalate tensions. A sense of common purpose is essential, however, as is framing new systems and programs as organic developments not imposed by Washington. In the coming days, Secretary Clinton should: confirm the Persian Gulf will remain an American priority after withdrawing from Iraq; recognize new tools and skills that partners will enjoy in the coming years–all of which are provided by the United States; stress that these new measures allow states to provide for their own security; and coordinate with friendly delegations to develop a common vocabulary.
A new (but familiar) strategic vision would hinge on safe waterways, stable markets, and isolating Iran–three conditions that enjoy support among Gulf leaders, as confirmed by the release of recent confidential State Department cables. Beyond this, it must be made clear that America’s physical profile matters little since its partners share the same vision, thus rationalizing arms sales to regional players. Defensive capabilities must be stressed above all precisely because they underscore the anxieties surrounding Iran’s nuclear program.
Authoritarian politics complicate this diplomatic thrust considerably. It is unclear whether or not Gulf leaders can explicitly endorse the United States because of domestic legitimacy concerns. Iran is consistently one of the most vocal champions of the “Arab street” these days–meaning it portrays itself as the primary sponsor of resistance to Israel and the United States–and so Arab leaders have largely avoided rhetorical contests with the Islamic Republic in recent years because it might hurt their standing at home. Because of this, American diplomats must instead seek approval of a general approach to Gulf security rather than one with an American stamp. Although the substantive differences are minor, the symbolic differences matter in those capitals upon which the US must rely for the implementation of its regional policies.
The US will not leave the Persian Gulf any time soon because so many strategic imperatives are concentrated in the region. When delegates arrive to discuss the role of the US and regional security cooperation–the focus of the conference’s first two sessions–Secretary Clinton should come ready with a strategic vision that envigorates those countries within America’s security orbit and checks those outside it. It’s time to end speculation about American resolve and call Iran’s ascendancy into question. A new vision in Manama is necessary.

— Matthew M. Reed

Comments

119 comments on “A Vision in Manama

  1. replice vertu says:

    “The lobbyists are all saying, ‘Welcome to Washington; let me help pay off your debt,'” said Nancy Watzman, who tracks political fundraisers for the Sunlight Foundation, a watchdog group. “It’s particularly interesting when so many of this year’s freshmen were running against Washington. But as soon as they get elected, they come to Washington and put out their hand.” ”

    Reply

  2. replice vertu phone says:

    Both Churchill and Roosevelt pegged Hitler from the beginning of his chancellorship as hellbent on domination.
    Of course the war was necessary, and I’m not sure Mr. Buchanan’s book can be properly classified as history. An exercise in vanity, perhaps, but not history.

    Reply

  3. replice cell phone says:

    Turkey already has a customs union with the EU and could join the European Economic Area
    right now. Free trade agreements may begin between the remaining EFTA countries and
    Colombia and the GCC states and others. There is room in these less intense ties for
    nations to move some of their laws and practices closer to European norms and benefit from
    European markets while reserving the right to pull back and relieving the EU of the burdens
    that full membership of these nations would automatically incur. It is these relationships
    that I think could grow and pull more of the world into the European sphere.

    Reply

  4. designer handbag replicas says:

    The http://www.webbestchoice.com/ Louis Vuitton Monogram Miroir collection isn

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  5. David Billington says:

    “I can’t see any chance that the EU will be evolving “into concentric associations that
    gradually pull in more of the world.” The appetite of the wealthier EU nations for expansion
    has been sated…” (Wigwag)
    Sorry not to be more clear. By concentric I meant successively less intense forms of
    association, not successive expansions of the most intense form.
    Turkey already has a customs union with the EU and could join the European Economic Area
    right now. Free trade agreements may begin between the remaining EFTA countries and
    Colombia and the GCC states and others. There is room in these less intense ties for
    nations to move some of their laws and practices closer to European norms and benefit from
    European markets while reserving the right to pull back and relieving the EU of the burdens
    that full membership of these nations would automatically incur. It is these relationships
    that I think could grow and pull more of the world into the European sphere.

    Reply

  6. John Waring says:

    Wig Wag,
    My last name is Waring, not Buchanan, and I have the utmost respect for the singular valor my distant cousins displayed after their army was routed from the mainland. They never gave up. They never gave in and they never succumbed to the evil genius in Berlin. They were willing to liquidate their empire in order to continue their struggle.
    Both Churchill and Roosevelt pegged Hitler from the beginning of his chancellorship as hellbent on domination.
    Of course the war was necessary, and I’m not sure Mr. Buchanan’s book can be properly classified as history. An exercise in vanity, perhaps, but not history.

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  7. questions says:

    This is Hill-arious!
    “”These guys ran against Washington, but they ran against the bad parts of Washington–the bloated bureaucracy and Nancy Pelosi’s agenda,” he said. “That’s not a contradiction to take money from a trade group or corporation that represents free-enterprise principles.” ”
    And on the previous page of the story:
    “The aggressive fundraising efforts underscore the financial pressures facing new members of Congress even before they take their seats. The contributions also represent a symbolic challenge for the Republican class of 2010, many of whom gained office by running against the ways of official Washington and monied interests.
    “The lobbyists are all saying, ‘Welcome to Washington; let me help pay off your debt,'” said Nancy Watzman, who tracks political fundraisers for the Sunlight Foundation, a watchdog group. “It’s particularly interesting when so many of this year’s freshmen were running against Washington. But as soon as they get elected, they come to Washington and put out their hand.” ”
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/05/AR2010120502691.html?hpid=topnews
    Gotta love that anti-Washington fervor that gripped the nation, put in a new class of some 60 pure as the driven snow representatives who are going to stay in their districts, live in their spartan offices (free rent, of course), not take a penny of corrupt money from anyone, and stay clean….
    Hahahahaha
    Turns out, there’s a system, and if you’re going to be in it, you have to be of it or you can’t get your job done.
    Could we start teaching basic civics again?

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  8. Don Bacon says:

    Italy and the UK had reps at Manama — some talk of NATO involvement.
    TARP: “Out of the 87 banks that saw benefits from the U.S. bailout measures, 43 were foreign banks

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  9. WigWag says:

    “The interesting question is whether the European Union could evolve into concentric associations that gradually pull in more of the world, eg. Latin America, the British Commonwealth, and eventually Russia

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  10. Don Bacon says:

    Ahmet Davuto?lu, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Turkey, gave an important speech at Manama.
    It deserves a full reading, but here are some main points: (quotes)
    But in our region, a substance of security based on hard power will not bring us to a sustainable peace. There should be a much more comprehensive understanding of security. Security in the sense of economic cooperation, security in the sense of cultural and political dimensions. [a point I often make, which makes it a good one]
    One is preventive security. When I say preventive security, I mean to prevent any crisis, any tension, any war in our region. The second is visionary security. These are interrelated. If we respond to the crisis, we cannot establish a sustainable security. . . the first striking example of Turkish diplomacy for this is before the war in Iraq, we called for a regional summit of the neighbouring countries of Iraq in January 2003.
    Economic interdependency is the best means of security, because if societies and countries are economically interdependent, even if there is a crisis, nobody would escalate the crisis because it would be against the interest of all of the countries in the region.
    The fourth principle is multicultural coexistence; respecting each other.
    The last dimension is the cultural dimension in the sense of the relationship between regional and global peace. As I said, our region is the backbone of world civilisation and we should not allow a clash of civilisations in our region.
    http://tinyurl.com/2c2a889

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  11. questions says:

    I wouldn’t say racial identity is the most important thing about anyone. However, I would say that there is a long history of using externally visible marks of identity to, umm, assist in the handing out of, ummm, social positions. So, like, if you’re dark enough, you’re a slave, and if you’re light enough, you’re not.
    And if you’re dark enough, use the back, don’t come in, get pulled over…and if you’re light enough, not.
    One of the neat little structural tricks we all use to make ourselves feel better is projection. I think that’s the term. One takes one’s inner demons and projects them onto others. Closeted homophobes would seem to play this game, as would those who freak about identity politics.
    The country’s racist legacy has been one long and wicked identity politics game. Someone comes along and tries to turn that negative into a positive source of strength and suddenly, presto magico, it’s a terrible deed to mention race, ethnicity, gender or any other identity. It was fine when it was being used as an excuse to legitimate ill treatment, but the moment it gets turned around, it’s a sin to mention it….
    These psychic moves are really something.
    Do I pin “racism” on every Republican? Not at all. I would guess that there are Republicans who are profoundly committed to racial justice, to making sure that stop-and-frisk checks by police are done properly, to making sure that schools are fair, that the courts are fair, that people all have a reasonable chance at life. I’m sure there are Republicans who are deeply concerned about disparities in health care, in exposure to toxic crap including lead and asbestos. I’m sure there are Republicans who do not take a great deal of pride in the history of slavery and Jim Crow. I’m sure there are Republicans who are good people.
    And there is still a structure within the Willie Horton-creating crowd that pushes true racist anxiety. The code words are everywhere — uppity, and urban, and lazy, and undeserving, and reparations, and lower IQ genetically determined, and watermelon and on and on. These words emerge routinely, they were all over the pres campaign, and it was pretty depressing.
    As for why I support Obama — for me, it’s not a racial thing. I really like the guy, I like a fair number of the policy attitudes, the way he’s turning legislation back over to Congress just like it’s supposed to be. He’s smart, I am basically comfortable with his instincts and his background.
    I don’t feel I’ve compensated for some kind of legacy of racial injustice or whatever the buzz is. I actually voted for the man, not for the skin color. Kinda like the Repubs want it to be. Funny, that.
    As for Nikki Haley, Rubio and the others, I’m thrilled. It does show something about the move away from the worst of the racism. Add in Bobby Jindal, and probably some others, and even the women who are moving in bits and pieces on the right — this is all good.
    I don’t claim that all Republicans are racists or that no Republican is capable of getting past some of it.
    Florida, though, is not the deep south, so there are still some barriers.
    Perhaps a whole generation of wildly conservative Blacks will emerge and win all sorts of contests across the deep south, and that will really mark a change in racial thinking and being in the country. It’d be nice. But it won’t likely happen until the Republican party stops using the dog whistles to gin up racial anxiety. When Willie Horton-style ads become unthinkable, we’ll have gotten somewhere for real.

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  12. DonS says:

    The ‘they’ of ‘they have been doing yeoman service for years’, above, refers to the SPLC, not FRC.

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  13. DonS says:

    Ha Ha. Here it the South, we call the CCC racist. Because they are racist, through all their updated code words.
    SPLC recently denoted Family Research Council as a ‘hate’ group. The have been doing yheoman service for years in shining bright lights on hate groups of various discriminatory types. To call that ‘left wing radical’ vs ‘simply’ civil rights is a obtuse and small minded distinction.
    But many ‘conservative’/’racist’/’supremacists’ call hate groups home. Just the way it is. McDonnell, Barbour, and their ilk, they don’t think that’s so bad. Their even proud of it. Like the KKK. Like the Dixicrats. Like all haters. Like the White Citizens Council.
    So if SPLC has branched out to protect more minorities rights, that’s a bad thing? See where your coming from there.

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  14. nadine says:

    “We have a racialized society with racialized poverty. We have one political party that plays especially hard on the racial fractures in our society. They use tropes, and hints, and suggestions all over the place. It works to generate votes, the way that any demagoguing works.”
    Yes, that party is called Democrats. for Domocrats racial identity is the most important thing about you. Unless maybe it’s union identity. But always identity. In fact it’s so damn important for Democrats that they nominated an affirmative-action Presidential candidate who is now royally screwing up his term of office.
    There is not one chance in a thousand that Obama could have been nominated if he had been white. His charm lay in his racialized identity and the absolution he offered to people like you who obsess over our racialized society. It certainly didn’t lay in his executive experience.
    “This does not mean that every Republican is racist, nor does it even mean that the racism is always self-aware. Social habits are funny that way.”
    So for Republicans, racism is like Original Sin, they are born guilty. But for Democrats, who also have their dog whistles (remember Obama telling SC voters not be be “bamboozled” and playing the race card against Bill Clinton?), none of this applies. Nice gig you got there.
    It’s absurd,questions. Find me some evidence of actual racism or admit that you are prejudiced. And while you’re at it, explain how this gang of Republican Confederacy nostalgists just elected Nickie Haley, Marco Rubio, Allen West, etc.

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  15. questions says:

    No, not “Republicans are racist because — well, just because”.
    Give me some explanation for what I see as dog whistles that doesn’t rest on racialized thinking.
    Explain “urban”, “Kenyan”, the watermelon references, the whole birth certificate thing, “hardworking”, “deserving”, Willie Horton, the move in the South towards the Republicans and the whole sorry history of segregation, The Bell Curve….
    Explain all of this with no reference to the racialization of this country. Oh, and might as well get in the crack/powder sentencing disparity, and whatever else gets tossed into the mix.
    We have a racialized society with racialized poverty. We have one political party that plays especially hard on the racial fractures in our society. They use tropes, and hints, and suggestions all over the place. It works to generate votes, the way that any demagoguing works.
    This does not mean that every Republican is racist, nor does it even mean that the racism is always self-aware. Social habits are funny that way.
    But indeed, the Republican party has some issues with regards to race.

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  16. nadine says:

    “Though the attendance of local Republican and Democratic office-seekers at political events partly sponsored by the CCC usually evokes little controversy,”
    um, yeah. Because the CCC is not actually racist. It’s just conservative. Which is the sole and entire basis for the Southern Poverty Law Center to call it racist. The SPLC may have been a civil rights org once but it is now a radical left-wing org. Citing it as a neutral authority is like citing Newt Gingrich as a neutral authority on Barack Obama. It’s ridiculous.
    Really, this is ludicrous bias. You have some 60s stereotype lodged in your head — and it’s not even of 60s Republicans, but 60s Southern Democrats. As if today’s Republicans are those people, with no relation to the Republican party and no change in the last 45 years.

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  17. nadine says:

    “Well, this is a risk. And it’s an obligation to take on the risk.
    I might indeed support someone who wishes me dead, who pulls out the knife and stabs me and leaves me bleeding on the sidewalk. Who rounds me up and sends me off to a long, lingering, and unpleasant death.” (questions)
    I don’t know about you, questions, but when somebody starts making noises about how I have it coming if I do get stabbed and starts musing about the merits of the idea that I deserve a long, lingering and unpleasant death (like some of the nuttier TWN commenters do on a routine basis), I start thinking this is not a nice guy, not a moral guy, and maybe I should stay away for reasons of health. YOU apparently are determined to ignore this minor unpleasantness.
    Well, good luck with that. You’ll need it, I’m thinking.
    But Republicans are racist because — well, just because.

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  18. questions says:

    should be “racially aware”

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  19. questions says:

    “On Friday, Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post proclaimed Mississippi Governor and former RNC chairman Haley Barbour “the most influential Republican in the country.” If so, that dubious title is a reflection of the sad state of the GOP and the nation. After all, just days after Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell’s Confederate History Month proclamation highlighted his party’s nostalgia for the antebellum South, Barbour on Sunday insisted its omission of slavery “doesn’t matter for diddly.” And as it turns out, Haley Barbour is just the latest neo-Confederate face of the GOP.
    Just four days after proudly proclaiming that he is a “fat redneck” with “an accent,” Barbour defended the slavery-free commemorations of the Confederacy in Virginia, Georgia and Mississippi. As he suggested to CNN’s Candy Crowley, for people outside of Dixie the old times there should be forgotten. Asked if McConnell’s omission was a mistake, Barbour responded:
    “Well, I don’t think so…I don’t know what you would say about slavery, but anyone who thinks that you have to explain to people that slavery is a bad thing — I think it goes without saying…
    To me it’s a sort of feeling that it’s just a nit. That it is not significant. It’s trying to make a big deal out of something that doesn’t matter for diddly.”
    A nit, that is, to Haley Barbour and the long list of Mississippi Republicans who traffic in neo-Confederate glorification with the likes of the Council of Conservative Citizens.
    Like his fellow rebel yeller and Strom Thurmond hagiographer Trent Lott, Barbour has been associated with the CCC, the kinder and gentler update to the White Citizens’ Councils of Jim Crow days. As the Southern Poverty Law Center documented, “Of the 38 current office-holders who’ve attended CCC events, 26 are state lawmakers — most of them, 23, from Lott’s home state of Mississippi.” And among them, as the ADL noted in 2004, was Haley Barbour:
    During the 2003 election, the CCC was at the center of another controversy involving the endorsement of a major politician. In July, Mississippi Republican gubernatorial nominee Haley Barbour, who served as Chairman of the Republican National Committee from 1993 to 1997, attended a CCC-sponsored barbecue. Though the attendance of local Republican and Democratic office-seekers at political events partly sponsored by the CCC usually evokes little controversy, this year the group posted on its Web site a photo of Barbour at the barbecue (l. to r.: Mississippi GOP aide Chip Reynolds, State Senator Bucky Huggins, Ray Martin, Barbour, John Thompson, and CCC Field Director Bill Lord.).”
    http://crooksandliars.com/jon-perr/haley-barbour-neo-confederate-gop
    *******
    “According to Newsweek, Barbour is quite a fan of the Confederacy and all of its trimmins’:
    The Republican governor of Mississippi keeps a large portrait of the University Greys, the Confederate rifle company that suffered 100 percent casualties at Gettysburg, on a wall not far from a Stars and Bars Confederate flag signed by Jefferson Davis.
    When Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia fumbled his way through “Confederate History Month,” Haley Barbour rushed to his defense, declaring that there was no need to mention slavery in the process. Everyone knows about slavery, Barbour reasoned, so why bother to mention it? Barbour, here, played up the debunked Lost Cause mythology — deemphasizing slavery as a means of ennobling the South’s instigation of the Civil War. Barbour said of the slavery controversy in Virginia, “It’s trying to make a big deal out of something doesn’t amount to diddly.”
    Newsweek also reported:
    Barbour was embarrassed by an aide’s nasty remarks about “coons” at campaign rallies. But in reprimanding the aide, he only made things worse. As The New York Times recounted it, Barbour warned the aide that if he “persisted in racist remarks, he would be reincarnated as a watermelon and placed at the mercy of blacks.”
    Right. Everyone knows you don’t speak the truth out loud. You keep your racist remarks to yourself. However, Confederate flags signed by Jefferson Davis are fine and dandy. And if you’re Haley Barbour, it’s also okay to appear at a Blackhawk fundraiser hosted by the Council of Conservative Citizens, a paleoconservative white nationalist organization that, among other things, proudly advances the positions of the old Confederacy. ”
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bob-cesca/move-over-sarah-palin-the_b_623319.html
    *****
    And there’s some stuff around regarding his response to the BP Macondo leak….
    He doesn’t come off well, if you ask me. But he does seem pretty, ummm, Republican.
    And as for racism, if you don’t see the transformation of the south from Dem (because the Repub-Lincoln connection is thick) to Repub (because of the dem-civil rights connection) — if you don’t see this as, I dunno, racially award (????), then I’m not sure what planet you’re on.
    Republicans use racist dog whistles all over the place, from the Willie Horton ad to “hardworking” to Obama is “urban”…. It goes on and on. And yes, it’s racist.

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  20. nadine says:

    “You really have to think past the jr. high version of “Give me liberty or give me death”.” (questions)
    And you really have to think past the reductio ad absurdum of conservatism=individual liberty=anarchy. Yes, Locke was in favor of a government. So were Burke and Madison.
    Not even libertarians favor anarchy and conservatives certainly don’t. You know better.
    As for this litany of Republican racism, greed, etc, would it be too much to ask for specific examples? So far I have only heard you accuse Haley Barbour of being pink, fat and from Mississippi. Well, he’s certainly guilty on all charges of those counts but I fail to see where racism comes into play.

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  21. questions says:

    And from BoA….
    “”I’m not a believer in the subprime business, and we have at Bank of America and all the legacy companies shut it down over and over and over again,” Brian Moynihan, the bank’s chief executive, said Nov. 4 at the BancAnalysts Association of Boston Conference. “We will not be in that business.” ”
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/03/AR2010120303490_2.html?sid=ST2010120400375
    ****
    I’m not a believer in subprime business…. but yeah, we bought Countrywide thinking that we could make a shit ton of money in the subprime business while not actually believing in it….. Doesn’t it sound like a televangelist — not believing, but making money anyway….
    The whole article is worth reading so that we come to know how totally BoA is NOT Countrywide!
    ****
    And by the way, the FBI informant in the article cited above was reported as a terrorist to the FBI. Will wonders never cease!
    “O, wonder!
    How many goodly creatures are there here!
    How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world,
    That has such people in’t!”
    Miranda
    William Shakespeare
    The Tempest Act V, Scene I

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  22. questions says:

    nadine writes,
    “How can you be sure you are not expressing your obligation to people who will be only too glad to declare that you deserve no obligation back, since you are a member of an unworthy “oppressor” group? With today’s left, identity politics is all and you and I have the wrong identity, questions”
    Well, this is a risk. And it’s an obligation to take on the risk.
    I might indeed support someone who wishes me dead, who pulls out the knife and stabs me and leaves me bleeding on the sidewalk. Who rounds me up and sends me off to a long, lingering, and unpleasant death.
    And, I could do the opposite, and express my obligation merely towards myself. And then perhaps I’d still find myself bleeding on the sidewalk because, FUCK, I forgot to have a solid education system, subsidies for tuition and med school, so no one in this generation could swing it and there are no doctors to suture me back together….. Oops!
    Or I could demand no pollution regulation and die from pollution-related cancer, or climate change-related tropical diseases in what didn’t used to be tropical climes, or I could drown on the coast as the oceans rise, or starve as the oceans acidify, or I could simply lose the amazing wondrous beauty of civil liberty that Rousseau is charmed by.
    I have no guarantee of a long and happy life. If I go it alone, early and unfun death is more likely. If I go it with others and we all control some of our dumber impulses, then I’m a social contractarian who agrees to limit my desires and impulses as long as everyone else is doing the same. It’s a good deal all in all.
    I’m more worried about prisoners dilemmas than I am about King George III’s re-emerging.
    I want push back from the press, I want Wikileaks, and when the gov’t does dumbshit, I want someone to scream bloody murder and help throw the bums out at election time.
    And I want corporate wills limited. I want limitations on the concentration of wealth. Corporations do a pretty damned good job of limiting personal freedoms, and that worries me a lot.

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  23. questions says:

    nadine,
    Game theory shows pretty persuasively that conservative individualism fails routinely, structurally, and frequently.
    Sheesh, even Alan Greenspan himself is seeing the fault lines in the right wing view of the world.
    Even John Locke finds rampant failures in the state of nature. The governmental system he sets up, with a government monopoly on the use of force, is, well, governmental.
    The libertarian view wants the state of nature, or such a primitive government that the fault lines will destroy it.
    It’s nice to talk about personal freedom and the fear of governmental authority. Fine. But the fact is that all those individuals who are asserting their individual rights to do individual shit (including, now, carrying knives in Arizona according to a NYT headline…) will end up causing more problems than they realize.
    When we don’t communicate, coordinate, coerce/assure we run into traps all over the place. And those traps structurally limit the freedom we have.
    You really have to think past the jr. high version of “Give me liberty or give me death”. Think Romeo and Juliet, as an example. Neither wanted to die, both ended up dead. They didn’t communicate or coordinate. They both wanted freedom. Oops. Unintended consequences.
    Think about wanting to do the right thing regarding, say, pollution or some other non excludable public good. You cannot act alone in such situations as the cost puts you out of business. You WANT to do the right thing, but you can only do it if your competitors also do the right thing. Every competitor in a field can want to do the right thing, and yet no one does without communication, coordination and coercion/assurance. This is classic prisoners dilemma territory. And it’s the government that allows us to have the freedom to act as we want (mitigating pollution instead of dying from it).
    I take game theory insights seriously.
    Can government overstep? Of course. But then, so can business. Look at the number of toxic items for sale, look at the shit corporations quite happily hand us, look at the bad practices that we engage in, the ridiculous salaries that people at the top pay each other as they sit on one another’s corporate boards….. Much excess comes from competitive non-communicative situations. Escalation dominance is not a game conducive to personal freedom.
    The fact is that having multiple sectors each with countervailing powers (thanks to Galbraith Sr. for that) against one another is far more free than having power locked up in one sector only.
    Aristotle had this figured out a long time ago. The oligarchs and the democrats are locked in adversity. They push back against one another, and it’s a dynamic not a static situation.
    I’m a lefty. I appreciate the push backs when the professional left goes crazy. And I have only slight tolerance for the excesses of the right. The racism, the selfishness, the all too convenient refusal to engage with corporate misdeed or with game theoretic tragedies of the commons — these are significant problems on the right.
    The left tends to be a little better at self-evaluation, bemoaning the failures, and in-fighting. I see nothing like this on the far right, and it’s only a small part of the liberal Republicans who are exiting the crazee right and trying to speak to some of the collective action problems.
    So, nadine, try for two weeks to engage with collective action/tragedy (dilemma) of the commons/prisoners dilemma problems.
    What do you do about these situations? Where do you draw the lines?
    Indeed, we all want what is good for all, and we all draw these lines in different places, and we’re all probably a little bit off the mark. But I will take the side of people who don’t merely think quite conveniently that if I just serve myself, give in to my own desires, engage in a search for “power after power that ceaseth only in death”, protect my property so completely that the property of my servants becomes mine as well (Locke)… if I think this way, I will somehow be serving all mankind and all good.
    The right really seems to think that self-focus is generous.
    That’s an odd substitution, psychically speaking.
    Rawls has a nice check on this stuff. He asks us to create a world in which we could well enough occupy any position at all. This is another game theory situation –how do you divide up a cake between to people — one cuts the other chooses. Then you tend to make the pieces pretty even.
    What we have right now is a situation in which the “cake cutters” already know their position, and they get to choose first as well as to cut.
    So they cut unevenly, they take the biggest part, and they leave the rest for us to fight over.
    They wouldn’t do it this way if they thought that they had to live on our portion, but because they set the rules for the game after knowing where they are in the game, they end up with an unfair advantage.
    The rules of a game should be set before the players know the outcome. That’s a simple definition of fairness. But with our current distribution game, the players set up the rules knowing that they’ll win, and knowing that they can grab the biggest piece and do with it what they will.

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  24. rc says:

    “The policies of other countries that have confronted relative decline may have something from which we can learn. To argue that a past is not relevant requires arguing that a real discontinuity exists and that itself could be an important and interesting point to establish.” (David Billington, Dec 05 2010, 1:44AM) — I’d suggest history is repeated ad nauseam until it is learned from — i.e., in this case learning is the only discontinuity.

    Reply

  25. David Billington says:

    “The result of the combined effects of both World Wars has made Europe increasingly
    inconsequential in world affairs; Europe now lacks any potency whatsover; the effect that
    the demise of an ally of this magnitude has on America’s superpower status remains to be
    seen.” (Wigwag)
    There is no question that the world wars accelerated the end of the British world system,
    although some have argued (I think with strong grounds) that we simply inherited it, minus
    the formal empire. The question is what we do with the position we have held.
    I don’t think Europe’s passivity is necessarily a bad thing. It is an immense achievement for
    Europe to be peaceful and prosperous. But it seems inevitable to me that even a partial
    withdrawal of the United States from the world, whether by choice or by necessity, will
    require Europe to take a greater role. The interesting question is whether the European
    Union could evolve into concentric associations that gradually pull in more of the world, eg.
    Latin America, the British Commonwealth, and eventually Russia. Our model was to
    encourage sovereignty large and small and then infringe it when the results were
    threatening to us; perhaps another model could do better.

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  26. David Billington says:

    “This is new history. So your assumptions and past comparisions will be useless. If you want to
    speculate at least use current world reality configurations.” (Carroll)
    To debate whether we should still have an obligation to defend certain countries or certain regions
    requires us to know why we did so in earlier decades so that we can determine if anything has
    changed or should change. The policies of other countries that have confronted relative decline may
    have something from which we can learn. To argue that a past is not relevant requires arguing that
    a real discontinuity exists and that itself could be an important and interesting point to establish.
    You raised an interesting speculative question upthread about Russia’s prospects for surviving a
    nuclear exchange. Historical perspective would strengthen your case by showing that Russia’s vast
    area also enabled it to survive several conventional invasions. In a nuclear war of attrition, though,
    Russia could be in trouble if an adjacent country could encroach on Russian territory in the far
    south or the far east afterwards. Understanding the historical claims of these neighbors could
    inform the context in which Russia might survive, affecting whether Russia uses all of its nuclear
    weapons or even goes to war.

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  27. DonS says:

    Forget the misenthropic Jew. Nadine is just pure crazy. She has found the holy grail of ‘conservatism’ and it is floating her boat. God help whoever is in her vicinity when that obsession fails.

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  28. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Its actually kinda bizarre seeing a Jew like Nadine whining about anti-semitism.
    Whats to like?
    When someone so despicable appoints themselve as a spokesperson for the Jews, anti-semitism is the inevitable product of her efforts.
    And does she think that when Israel’s leaders piss in the face of the President of the United States, that it boosts the image of the Jews?
    Its no suprise that anti-semitism is growing. Speaking for myself, I find Nadine loathsome. I’d love to entertain the notion that her ilk are a small minority, but the actual actions of Israel, with very little dissent from its Jewish population, points logic in the other direction.

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  29. nadine says:

    There, there, questions, I do not question the goodness of your heart, just the efficacy of your proposed solutions, which I believe are more likely to bring a hell on earth than a heaven…
    The right has more than a “lingering hope that it’s better this way somehow.” It has an actual philosophy espousing personal liberty, individual responsibility, and free markets. Since you are philosophically inclined, you really should read up a bit more on Locke and Burke and Madison and other sources of the political philosophy of today’s right.
    There may be kooks all over, but today’s anti-Semites are very firmly clustered on the left. Their only innovation is to substitute the word “Zionist” for the word “Jew”.
    Look how DonS claims I am imposing PC because I object to Helen Thomas’ calling for the destruction of Israel and the mass deportation of the Israelis to Poland and Germany. One is not allowed to object to any degree of anti-Semitism, it seems.
    How does that fit into your philosophy of mutual obligation, questions? How can you be sure you are not expressing your obligation to people who will be only too glad to declare that you deserve no obligation back, since you are a member of an unworthy “oppressor” group? With today’s left, identity politics is all and you and I have the wrong identity, questions.
    “Besides, the Republican party is far too comfortable with its own profound racism, its own profound selfishness, the Chamber of Commerce, fuckin’ Pat Buchanan and Rand Paul (blech), the fat pink guy from Mississippi, is it? Chris Christie…. Seriously, why are you a conservative?!!”
    What crime has Haley Barbour committed besides being a fat pink guy from Mississippi? Don’t you see the irony in condemning Republicans as racists in the same sentence you display such anti-pink prejudice? Come on, now! Are you going to condemn the sons for the sins of the fathers forever? At least try to give them a hearing.
    You ask, why am I a conservative? I can answer in three words: Because it works. The policies of the left do not. It took me many years to come to that conclusion, but once you open your mind to the possibility, the evidence starts to pile up…
    Obama is getting up every day and asking himself who is conspiring against him to keep the economy down, when he himself has put in the most hostile to business, job killing, anti-growth policies of the last generation…this isn’t my opinion, btw, but Mort Zukerman’s, who campaigned for Obama.
    This Youtube was just made for you, questions. Do watch it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZrqdZFFb5c

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  30. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “BTW, the questions, have you noticed how Helen Thomas says exactly the same things about Jews controlling Hollywood, Congress, the White House, etc. that anti-Semites said in the 1930s…”
    Yeah, and she’s even more correct and astute than they were.

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  31. questions says:

    Why am I a lefty?
    Because I firmly, deeply, profoundly, and completely believe that we owe the deepest debt to one another simply by having been thrown into the fucking world without asking for it. We’re born into debt, we can never pay it off, and we are obligated beyond obligation to pay anyway.
    I’m not the slightest bit theologically inclined, but I am completely socially bound to sentient life.
    The right, it seems to me, has some preference for self over other, with a lingering hope that it’s better this way somehow, that things will right themselves in the end, that if not, the deity will step in, that possibly people actually get what they deserve anyway, so the rich really are blessed in some deitific way. This set of views makes me want to puke. It’s too convenient, too self-justificatory, too easy, too nasty, too self-complacent.
    I don’t like this version of the world.
    So even if I have huge issues with the “professional left” and even if I see the logic of policy as different from what I cherish most in the universe and even if I know that policy has to win out over preference, that Rousseau’s general will trumps my particular one, I still want very much to have higher taxes, less in the way of oligarchic structuring, a sense of mass obligation for all.
    Those are pretty lefty fundamentals.
    Besides, the Republican party is far too comfortable with its own profound racism, its own profound selfishness, the Chamber of Commerce, fuckin’ Pat Buchanan and Rand Paul (blech), the fat pink guy from Mississippi, is it? Chris Christie…. Seriously, why are you a conservative?!!
    And as for Helen Thomas, whatever. I have never thought much of her, but I’m not a tv person anyway. She’s a nasty piece of work, and I don’t take responsibility for her any more than you do for, say, David Duke, a sometimes Republican candidate.
    There are kooks all over the map.
    What I like about Obama is that he does take policy as seriously as structures allow, and he knows that structures are a real limiting factor. He’s smart, which I find to be a good thing.
    Where he fucks up personally — education is a big one, I’m pretty pissed, as there is no real reason for his policy to be shaped the way it is. There are no structures demanding Arne Duncan’s crap, Bill Gates’s crap, Rupert Murdoch’s crap, the continuation and acceleration of the worst of NCLB. There’s no reason to visit this shit on another generation of kids. And if there’s no structural demand for this shit, there’s no excuse for the crappy policy.
    But on the whole, I’m ok with a fair amount of the admin’s attempts to move the world along.
    This new shutting the door after the pigs have escaped or whatever it is, I have no idea whose idea it is…. But this one is really dumb.

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  32. DonS says:

    I neither approve nor disapprove of Helen Thomas, despite Nadine’s ugly tendentiousness.
    Helen Thomas, for over 5 decades, is (was?) a respected voice of the White House press corps. Indeed, she had the reputation of speaking truth to power, whether deservedly or not. She was cast aside by the ultimate in political correctness, something Nadine likes to vomit about every now and then. It is easy for a scum like Nadine to side with the sunshine patriots who like to condemn a person of repute so easily. That she condemns me is not important. I don’t think much of her robotic cant either.

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  33. nadine says:

    “WASHINGTON

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  34. DonS says:

    About this, Questions, you are entirely right in your bemusement. It is beyond fucked up. And the legalistic/technological manhunt to lynch Assange is so preliterate it makes one wonder at 1) the fools these politicos think we motals be and 2) the arcane lengths to which the “911 changed everything” mantra has become a slogan for all seasons . . . maybe the next 100 or so seasons . . . and surely enough seasons to plant every living politico in the grave before America will evah get over the ignominy/pain/shame/anger at being, like, just another nation. Not anointed. Not the shining city on the hill. Not exceptional[ist]. Not an hegemonic power in decline (if you overlook, for the sake of decency, our very sexy military projection).

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  35. questions says:

    This is truly bizarre denial:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/05/world/05restrict.html?_r=1&hp
    We are one completely oddball society at this point.
    Legalistic and illegal are backwards and fucked up.
    What ever are we doing?

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  36. DonS says:

    OT: Helen Thomas doubles down, bring the smelling salts for the faint: “Helen Thomas: Zionists Own Congress, The WH, Hollywood & Wall St.”
    http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/12/helen_thomas_zionists_own_congress_the_wh_hollywoo.php?ref=fpb
    Thomas has a stark way of saying things, and I don’t think it’s because she’s senile. Is Helen the sacrificial [media] lamb who is paying in advance for the many media slaves who would love to speak without forked tongue about AIPAC and RW zionist influence on politics. Not to mention those Congresscritters who resent having to genuflect before AIPAC, the non-lobby lobby with curiously disproportionate influence upon a nearly unanimous Congress that, push comes to shove, will sell the entire Muslim and/or Arab world down the river for their own little Congressional sinecure.

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  37. Carroll says:

    In the interest of making this thread more worthwhile.
    Quit wasting time trying to predict US future
    power or demise of it by comparing it to bygone eras and the history of other countries since time began.
    This is new history. So your assumptions and past comparisions will be useless. If you want to speculate at least use current world reality configurations.

    Reply

  38. DonS says:

    Those who see no parallels between Vietnam and Iraq/Afghanistan/Iran(?) are deluded. There was no need to destroy Iraq; no need to blanket Afghanistan with the US military. As there was no need to rape Vietnam. And now we are in Afghanistan how long? Neither p;oliticians nor military seem to have seriously internalized the lessons of Vietnam — optimisticaly stated — or learned only too well how profitably the war game can be.
    Ironically, George Bush could probably have accomplished the same criminal activities under the cover of US law (how many FISA judges would have turned down expedited eavesdropping requests, for example; Congress continued to rubber stamp illegal aggression when needed), but he chose to circumvent law and policy and establish the quasi-totalitarian state. Laying the groundwork for a wannabe like Obama to garner favor from the rich and powerful by preserving and extending abuses of democracy.

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  39. Don Bacon says:

    Robert Strange McNamara was a rare dude who could admit a big mistake. “We were wrong, terribly wrong.” B-52 carpet bombing raids on Vietnamese villages were somewhat harmful to living beings. The US Air Force holds the world record for killing foreign civilians in horrible ways. But of course they weren’t war crimes (see above).
    Speaking of rich and powerful, and the Gulf, Qatar just paid for, er, was rewarded with the 2022 soccer games by FIFA. The Nobel Peace prize would have been a stretch.

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  40. JohnH says:

    Robert McNamara admitted in the “Fog of War” that he and others were beyond ruthless in their prosecution of those bombing raids. “LeMay said if we’d lost the war,” McNamara declares, “we’d all have been prosecuted as war criminals. And I think he’s right.”
    For all the US blather about the rule of law, fact is, the rich and powerful set the rules. And the rich and powerful use them selectively against their enemies. Which is why Assange gets indicted for not using a condom, while Bush goes scot free for presiding over the murder of a million Iraqis.

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  41. Don Bacon says:

    International law? In practice a “war crime” is revengeful retaliation for what a country other than the US has done while losing a war.
    Chomsky points out that at Nuernberg war crime charges were dropped against a German U-boat captain for sinking civilian ships when he pointed out that the US did the same thing. But that sort of dismissal has been rare.
    After the US-Japan war General Tojo was tried for crimes against peace and hanged. These crimes included the planning, initiating, and waging of an aggressive war. He was charged with furthering a hostile military act that violated the territorial boundaries or political independence of a sovereign nation. (Sound familiar?)
    Justice Radhabinod Pal dissented. The Indian justice argued that the exclusion of Western colonialism and the use of the atom bomb by the United States from the list of crimes signified the “failure of the Tribunal to provide anything other than the opportunity for the victors to retaliate.”

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  42. rc says:

    So they are trying to do Assange for not using a condom in Sweden — against the law there it seems. Perhaps he’s a Roman Catholic and following the Pope’s orders? Perhaps if Bill had used one then Monica’s little dress would not have been spoiled. Ironic that Hillary is after Assange … and gets him by the balls … could it be ‘Bill blowback’ theory?

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  43. WigWag says:

    “Britain receded to third strongest industrial state in the 1890s, when German iron and steel production surged ahead (making them second to us). The Germans translated their new industrial capacity into a high seas fleet, and turn of the century British governments found themselves having to raise taxes to increase defense and social welfare expenditures simultaneously because their economy could not support increases in both at previous rates of taxation…” (David Billington)
    The history that you cite is, of course, well known and not controversial. But it seems to me that there is little evidence that this was a proximate cause of the Empire’s decline. It did, however, play an indirect role. Bismark was assiduous in his efforts to keep the newly united Germans (under Prussian leadership) from coming into conflict with the British. He was famous for his lack of interest in overseas colonies; he said over and over again that “I am no man for colonies” and one of the few colonies that Germany had, in South West Africa, Bismark actually offered on a silver platter to the British because he believed it was a “burden.” Without colonies, German interest in building a high seas fleet to compete with the British was minimal.
    George Kennan is very interesting on this subject. See “The Decline of Bismark’s European Order: Franco-Russian Relations, 1875-1890” Sadly it is unavailable for the Kindle,
    http://www.amazon.com/Decline-Bismarks-European-Order-Franco-Russian/dp/tags-on-product/B000J15IV6
    After Bismark was sacked, the Kaiser’s appetite for colonial enterprises increased significantly and Germany started to invest in ship building in a much more serious way. This caused significant alarm in Great Britain where the guiding philosophy had always been that the British fleet needed to always be at least twice as big as any of its putative competitors.
    While budding competition between the British and German navies was one factor that inspired World War I it really was not one of the major factors. My thesis is that it took the combined effects of World War I and World War II to kill the British Empire; if this is so, then anything including a Germany wealthy enough to build more war ships is relevant to the fall of the Empire. But if anything, it had a very minor impact; the effect was really very indirect.
    World War I destroyed Ottoman power. Eventually, after World War II it destroyed British and German power as well, and turned Western Europe into a junior partner of the United States and Eastern Europe into vassal states of the Soviet Union. The etiology of World War I was far more about balance of power politics in Europe than it was about any competition between the German and British navies. Bismark understood how to play the balance of power political game that European peace depended on. Unfortunately, after his demise, the rest of the Kings and potentates in Europe did not.
    The result of the combined effects of both World Wars has made Europe increasingly inconseqiential in world affairs; Europe now lacks any potency whatsover; the effect that the demise of an ally of this magnitude has on America’s superpower status remains to be seen.

    Reply

  44. DonS says:

    This may be old news to some. Many have already surmised it must be so: “Wikileaks: Obama Administration Secretly Worked To Prevent Prosecution of War Crimes By The Bush Administration”. Seems relevant to the focus on this blog on foreign affairs, as Obama seems to be going out of his way to continue the Bush/Cheney criminal conspiracy and to undermine the rule of international law.
    http://jonathanturley.org/2010/12/02/wikileaks-obama-administration-secretly-worked-to-prevent-prosecution-of-war-crimes-by-the-bush-administration/#more-28905

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  45. PissedOffAmerican says:

    I see Israel is building like little beavers in East Jerusalem. The whore Clinton says we are doing everything we can to push negotiations forward. That doesn’t seem to include criticising or even mentioning Israel’s actions, which have pretty much put the last nail in the coffin of the two state solution.
    How fortunate that this wiki-leaks flap came at such an opportune time to hide one more example of the EXTREME COWARDICE of this piece of shit soiling the rugs in the Oval Office, and his duplicitous and scheming whore of a Secretary Of State.
    Heard one of the members of the “Fourth Estate” on CNN this morning mention Iran’s “nuclear weapons program”. Must know something we don’t, eh? Not about Iran, but about how to be a mouthpiece for deception, in the hopes we will do the bidding of this arrogant little Jewish State of racists, murderers, and land thieves.
    Helen Thomas has it right. Too bad she took so long to speak up.

    Reply

  46. DonS says:

    OT and right on topic:
    George Carlin, via Americablog . . . For all the true believing Rethugs, Dems and teabaggers out there: why you are so deluded, and so screwed. And who owns this country and owns your mind, if you buy any bit of the charade.
    http://www.americablog.com/2010/12/george-carlin-on-our-owners.html

    Reply

  47. rc says:

    Yes, questions (Dec 04 2010, 6:48AM), it is called plausible deniability.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plausible_deniability
    Wikileaks is a cybernetic feedback system. What’s leaking out of ‘the system’ is plausible deniability — especially for the elite. That is what they fear most.
    And so they should, because it introduces accountability — open and transparent accountability that has in the past lead to revolutions in France and North America.
    One problem with the U.S. today, it seems, is the jury has been drugged. Drugged and mugged by the continuous ‘feedback’ of information that is largely just propaganda.
    These systems have names — ‘Rupert Murdoch’ is one name that might capture a significant slice of it — you know the Australian from Adelaide.
    The other effect of this dump of mostly boring garbage is watching the media scrabble through it like urchins on a Calcutta rubbish heap. Looking for that story that just might be a scoop, or a lead, or a break, or whatever.
    What is important now is, we see an information market developing where the global publics are watching how their media systems are working (or not) in comparison to others.
    Assange is a new David in action — and he has just cast his stone on behalf of the rest of us who are not in the elite club.
    And it looks like Goliath is hit in the eye — or using a Greek myth, being a cyclopes by nature, this beast is kicking big time.
    Looks to me like the U.N. might call Hillary Clinton in to explain her illegal directive against them. Perhaps Iran will call for this? Perhaps China will agree? Perhaps North Korea will blow the shit out of the south if the South lands another ‘test’ shell over the border in their training sessions. (I understand that is what started it).
    Who’s next after Hillary?
    And will it occur before or after they manage to get Assange locked way into their Swedish ‘Gito Bay’ pen-cell?
    It’s marginally better than day-time TV.

    Reply

  48. questions says:

    Wikileaks = DADT
    Greenwald points out that Wolf Blitzer (I think it was) demanded not to know what was in the Wikileaks files. That is, as Greenwald notes, a newsman wanted not to know the news. He wanted protection FROM the government, protection from ever knowing what his government was doing.
    When we know what is going on and we want to be protected from that knowledge, we are recapitulating an old old story — think Garden of Eden and fruit of the tree of knowledge, think “ignorance is bliss”, think DADT, think letting the genie out of the bottle, opening Pandora’s Box….
    Over and over we repeat this narrative of never wanting to know what we already know because knowledge entails responsibility, moral decision-making, and all the attendant discomforts of actually being in charge and fully informed.
    Julian Assange kicked us out of our most recent Eden by dispersing the seeds of the fruits of the database of knowledge, and he must be punished somehow.
    What a curious event this is turning out to be.
    The Library of Congress, fed employees, Columbia U students — blocked or warned. Hackers and the gov shutting down servers, united in an alliance of temporary convenience.
    Do not know what you know, lest the exile be permanent. DNKWYK and DADT are one and the same.

    Reply

  49. rc says:

    Seems Clinton is a little vague on her directives to snoop illegally on the UN.
    http://blogs.aljazeera.net/americas/2010/12/01/deflecting-blame-state-department-and-wikileaks
    —QUOTE —
    So the position as outlined here is that some other agency – neither state department nor the secretary herself – is responsible for the directive. It would appear a transparent attempt to shift blame for a document that instructs diplomats to break the law.
    However, the name of the person that apportioned the level of security classification to the document is Michael Owens. He happens to be the acting director of the INR – the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. This is an agency that is described as “the primary source in the state department for interpretive analyses of global developments and focal point for policy issues and activities of the Intelligence Community”.
    Note the phrase “in the state department”. This is not an outside agency; it is part of the department.
    Amidst all of this apparent misdirection two clear possibilities emerge: either the secretary of state did know about the instructions and they were issued with her authority – in which case she has solicited criminal action – or she did not know about the instructions sent in her name in which case she could be accused of gross incompetence or negligence.
    Whichever way one looks at it, the cable raises huge issues about the probity or competence of the secretary of state

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  50. Warren Metzler says:

    I don’t understand why more people aren’t perplexed at these State Dept. memos. If you are going to give a wide range of people access to information, it shouldn’t be information that would upset the public. Further, there is no reason why each area of information (each country) is not compartmentalized. So it is structurally impossible for a person to download a whole raft of information.
    When the Washington Post did its recent intelligence community review, it was presented that only a dozen of so people in the entire government had access to all the programs; not data about, just programs; and then only in a private room where each program was described in an almost indecipherable short period of time.
    If all these memos were downloadable in one fell swope, by a pfc, which is the lowest rank possible for a person in the intelligence division with full clearances, then we need to recognize that most people in the government are actually stupid, regardless of how smart they appear in there much prepared presentations.
    Not stupid inherently, very smart inherently. But stupid after a while of pretending the ridiculous things they do are substantial. More proof we need a fundamental renovation of the context our government uses to work; or we will continue down the steadily degenerative path we have been on since wwii.

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  51. nadine says:

    Don Bacon, thank you for posting SoS Clinton’s remarks. They are very interesting, but not in a good way.
    They say: “The US is a helpless giant. Not only has our diplomatic security been revealed to be a joke, but we can’t even muster enough gumption to get mad about it and see it doesn’t happen again. Instead, we are having a few investigations and sending out lawyer’s letters that tell Wikileaks they really shouldn’t have done what they did. It’s official: we are doormats.”
    Have you considered what these leaks, combined with this pathetic public reaction, do the practice of American diplomacy?
    If you’re of a political stripe that is always favoring diplomacy over other options, shouldn’t you want to be able to actual do some? Who the hell do you think wants to trust us or talk to us frankly anymore? You think the Yemeni politician who has been exposed covering for American Predator strikes in Yemen is happy he cooperated with America? You think he’ll do it again?
    Let me give you the score, guys. Obama is Jimmy Carter. Times two. The date is late 1978. In 1979, China invaded Vietnam, the USSR invaded Afghanistan, and Khomenei took over Iran, seized our embassy and started the hostage crisis.
    Gee, I can’t wait to see what China, Russia and Iran have planned for next year, can you?

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  52. David Billington says:

    “But you lose me when you say that if the American economy continues on its current path it will come
    to resemble the economy of Great Britain after 1890.” (Wigwag)
    British industry came under severe competition from Germany and America after 1890. Both countries
    exported to free-trading Britain but excluded British imports with high tariffs. Before 1914 London
    exported its capital (and thus new industrial jobs) to the United States and the Empire instead of
    investing in new industry at home. I see this happening to us today.
    Britain receded to third strongest industrial state in the 1890s, when German iron and steel production
    surged ahead (making them second to us). The Germans translated their new industrial capacity into a
    high seas fleet, and turn of the century British governments found themselves having to raise taxes to
    increase defense and social welfare expenditures simultaneously because their economy could not
    support increases in both at previous rates of taxation. If our economy doesn’t return to high growth,
    we could face the same difficulties. The British came through the interwar period better than others
    only because they finally invested at home and abandoned free trade.
    It is true that the British Empire increased its territory after 1919 but at the time most in Britain thought
    the empire was overextended by taking in so much of the Middle East, and Egypt was decolonized in
    1922 and Iraq in 1930. It should also be remembered that the British ruled India and their African
    colonies through local elites. An Indian army always equalled the British garrison and when the Delhi
    police went on strike in 1946 the Raj came to an abrupt end.
    The Ottoman Empire and other premodern empires declined more gradually because the level of
    technology changed much more slowly before the industrial revolution. Once they came into contact
    with modern guns, railroads, and steamships, the trajectory of these empires accelerated as it did for
    everyone else.
    Modern great powers can survive reverses in the short-term but the record of the last two centuries
    really underlines (1) the need for technical knowledge and social cohesion and (2) the need to belong
    either to a large nation or to a large community of nations. The British could not convert their empire
    into a more durable and inclusive world state, although some debated doing so, and whether America
    can form a stronger and more inclusive world community may determine whether its role in the world is
    to evolve or retreat.

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  53. DonS says:

    The Canadians have their own problems,including sluggish economy. But they never let their banks and bankers go stark raving, unregulated insane like we did. They restrict cowboy banking and as a result have a very sound and stable banking system. They have an environmental disaster in the making with the whole issue of extracting oil from the tar sands in the West; it’s not an unmitigated blessing by any means. The Canadians do not have outrageous military cost, nor the exceptionalist mindset to need one, though they have been pressured to their disadvantage to go along with too many US adventures recently. And, as Wigwag notes, they do have a national health system, not perfect, but they have one and are incredulous that it’s even an issue in the rich neighbor to the South. It gives them some peace of mind, and flexibility, and probably greater overall happiness, to be able to switch jobs, and try out new things, including entrepreneurial, without having to worry about health care. They are a relatively sane and down to earth people. The Canadians would have to be crazy — and most would object ferociously — to ally themselves in a union with the US. The danger of infection with whatever it is that has driven the US to madness is too great.

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  54. Don Bacon says:

    SecState Clinton did provide some interesting commentary on wikileaks. (excerpts)
    Q: “In the case of WikiLeaks, we have had one individual who engaged in a rather strange transaction, that of downloading 252,000 diplomatic telegrams and memoranda.”
    Clinton: “The decision was made in the Bush Administration to add diplomatic cables to the Defense Department

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  55. nadine says:

    I first want to apologize to Nadine for my claiming that her knowledge of the SIRPNET networks from Israeli intelligence. I myself, before your response, realized this was put out by the media.
    I still think it is impossible that the US government has a massive data base, with everything that is secret and below available to several million users. I personally assume that is propaganda. ” (Warren Metzler)
    Apology accepted, Warren. As for several million users having access to SIPRNET, why impossible? Stupid, maybe, but not impossible. You do know that several million people have SECRET clearances, don’t you? Nearly anyone who works at a defense contractor has to have one. It’s a very low level of clearance. Anything that is really secret doesn’t get a SECRET or a TOP SECRET clearance but a compartmentalized clearance that really tries to restrict access. I used to work at a defense contractor in the 1980s so I learned about these things.
    The surprising thing to me is that diplomatic traffic was classified at such a low level and put onto a network under US Army control. The State Dept has its own networks and they have not been compromised. The explanation given, that this was a post 9/11 attempt to share information between agencies, makes sense, but the security arrangements, rather obviously in hindsight, do not.

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  56. Dan Kervick says:

    “That sounds great to me.”
    Me too. I could use an occasional change of climate.
    You’re right about the Tories and their own austerity mongering. But perhaps they would be willing to change their ways if the incentive was strong enough.

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  57. nadine says:

    “Nadine, those ethnic tensions have been simmering since the time of Cyrus the Great. Persia has always been a cosmopolitan state.” (Dan Kervick)
    No, Persia has always been a cosmopolitan *empire*, as were nearly all large powers until the rise of the modern nation-state in Europe in the 17th to 19th centuries. You’re trying to have it both ways.
    Today’s ethnic tensions seem to at a fairly serious pitch. there is an interesting Youtube out from an Iranian nuclear worker kidnapped by the Baluchi group Jundallah:
    Amir Hossein Shirani, Abducted Employee at Secret Iranian Nuclear Plant, Reveals Location of Plant and of Nuclear Scientists, Says: The Facility Enriched Uranium in Order to Build a Nuclear Weapon
    http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/4804.htm
    I sure hope we are funding some of these separatists.

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  58. WigWag says:

    “I pretty much agree with you WigWag. Maybe its time for the US to think about forming an English-speaking union with its own common currency. We could offer the Irish better bailout terms than the Europeans are offering them. Then we can get the Canadians, the Brits and the Australians.” (Dan Kervick)
    I am tempted to agree with you, but I’m not sure I’d include the Brits; Cameron’s economic policies are as bad as Merkel’s. It might work with the Canadians though; for a brief time today
    the loonie and the Greenback were at par; the first time that’s happened in quite a long time. The loonie closed at 99.09 and I think it will soon break parity and stay slightly stronger than the U.S. dollar. The Canadians have done a marvelous job at managing their economy; few of their banks melted down in the recent crisis; they have a rational if imperfect health care system and, of course, they are benefiting from the increasing price of oil. (I’m quite pleased to say I bought the loonie less than two years ago at .77)
    Of course, if we’ve learned anything from the recent Euro crisis it’s that a common currency doesn’t work in the absence of free movement of people (especially labor). To get your common currency to work, Dan, we’d have to let the Australians, Irish and Canadians into the United States to live and work and they would have to let Americans into their countries to live and work.
    That sounds great to me.

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  59. Don Bacon says:

    Well, son of a gun, SecState Clinton gave a very moderate speech today in Manama, Bahrain, considering past statements of her and Obama. Regarding Iran she was setting a hopeful setting for the upcoming Geneva talks. No threats of attacks, for sure.
    Clinton to Iran: “You have the right to a peaceful nuclear program. But with that right comes a reasonable responsibility: that you follow the treaty you signed, and fully address the world

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  60. Dan Kervick says:

    I pretty much agree with you WigWag. Maybe its time for the US to think about forming an English-speaking union with its own common currency. We could over the Irish better bailout terms than the Europeans are offering them. Then we can get the Canadians, the Brits and the Australians.
    40 million Irish-Americans might find this option a rather attractive alternative to watching their ancestral homeland driven into penury by ruthless continental landlords.

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  61. WigWag says:

    “It is true that the ability to project power can continue for some time during a period of relative economic decline. As a country’s relative economic weight decreases, it might invest more on expanding its existing advantage in military equipment and systems so that it can substitute accumulation and plunder abroad for industrial growth at home, or treat the security it provides for trade and finance as a competitive advantage for maintaining or re-building its share of those activities. A country can always choose to shift ever larger proportions of its economy into military power as a way of keeping up with economic decline. And it can live on prestige for a while, just as an heir can live on inherited wealth. It is always possible that the sheer momentum of the empire’s customary dominance limits the challenges it faces. But in the end, power has a material foundation, and over time power is bound to decline if the material foundations of power decline, even if the lag is a generation or two.” (Dan Kervick)
    It seems to me that a “generation or two” of residual power once a superpower/empire begins to experience a gradual economic decline doesn’t even come close.
    The experience of the Ottoman Empire is instructive. Most scholars would say that the power of the Ottoman Sultans began to decline with the failure at the Battle of Vienna in 1683. After this, the number of Ottoman possessions in Europe began a slow but inexorable decline. By this point European navies had more than caught up with the Ottoman navy in terms of numbers of ships and in the quality of the ships. By the 18th century everyone agrees that the economic vitality of the Ottoman Empire was eclipsed by several European powers.
    If your theory that a great power can only survive for a “generation or two” after it has begun to experience relative economic decline than the Ottoman Empire should have become extinct no later than 1750.
    The Ottoman Empire finally expired in July, 1923 after the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne.
    That’s a full 240 years after it began to decline.

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  62. Carroll says:

    Just noticed Israel is on fire. All their neighbors, Egypt, Turkey, Jordon, Greece…all neighbors Israel regularly slanders, attacks and pisses on have rushed fire fighting planes and men to help them.
    360 jets with which to bomb Palestine and Lebanon and Israel has not a single fire fighting plane.
    Next up, Israel will be calling Mother Nature an existential threat and have her put on the global terrorist list and demand the US destroy her.
    JERUSALEM | Fri Dec 3, 2010 11:19am EST
    JERUSALEM (Reuters) ———————— Israel was defenseless on Friday in the face of a wildfire, casting around desperately for help from neighbors with fire-fighting planes.
    Israel was caught flat-footed by the forest blaze now raging for a second day through the tinder-dry Carmel hills above the Mediterranean port of Haifa, because it has no water-bombers.
    The death of 41 people in the flames on Thursday shocked the country. Some 15,000 Israelis had to be evacuated from their homes as the flames swept down on them unchecked. The inadequacy of the response has been openly admitted.
    “Israel has never prepared itself in any form for such a need,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. “It was never taken into account.”
    He told reporters: “We have to stop the fire. It can only be done with the aircraft, we don’t have any other means…We need to bring in more planes.”
    Israel’s call for help had been answered by Greece, Cyprus, Britain, Turkey, Bulgaria, Russia, Egypt, Azerbaijan, Spain, Croatia, France and Jordan, Netanyahu said.
    Israel could buy three state-of-the-art Bombardier Superscooper firefighting planes for the price of just one of the F-35 stealth fighters it has on order.
    The highly specialized amphibious aircraft, costing $28.5 million each, can scoop and drop six tones of water up to 10 times per hour on a fire that is near a big body of water. The Israeli blaze is only a few km (miles) from the sea.
    IMPROVISATION
    But Israel does not have any. Instead it has to rely on Mediterranean neighbors who also face a constant wildfire risk and were prudent enough to buy the water-bomber aircraft. Greece has 21 of them, Croatia 6.
    Israel instead has chosen to “improvise,” critics said. On Thursday night, airforce mobile water cannon designed to operate on flat tarmac could be seen trundling warily into position on steep earthen slopes, their range still quite inadequate.
    By contrast, Israel has 360 F-16 fighters, far more than most countries outside the United States that have bought the world’s best-selling attack plane, not to mention many F-15s and the whole panoply of costly, advanced military aviation.
    Commentators said the national Fire and Rescue Service, with some 1,400 firefighters, was simply not prepared for the fire.
    “Firefighters know that their organization has been systematically neglected by the government for decades,” wrote Yaakov Lappin in the Jerusalem Post.
    Highlighting the need for adequate fire defenses, Israeli army planners say the densely populated Tel Aviv metropolitan area could be the target of a missile blitz in a future war, while northern towns could be set ablaze in a rain of short-range rockets from Hezbollah in Lebanon.

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  63. WigWag says:

    “And the same allies who are eager for the United States to solve all of their problems feel no compunctions about competing very aggressively with the United States for economic power. The Germans, for example, are currently engaged in a series of economic policies that are very contrary to American interests. Not only did they fail to do their part in buttressing world demand after the financial meltdown and preventing the global economy from collapsing through the floor into depression, they are now helping German creditors engineer the predatory impoverishment of Ireland, a country in which the US has invested considerable political capital. The German and UK-lead austerity regime that is being imposed on a wide group of Europeans is almost certain to lead to decades of social instability, division and weakness in Europe.” (Dan Kervick)
    I agree; but the picture is actually worse than you paint it. These same allies who refuse to work jointly with the United States to insist that China play the appropriate role in stimulating world demand, themselves implement austerity measures, confident that the United States government and consumers will provide all the aggregate demand necessary to reflate their economies.
    To put it another way, these nations are busy getting ready to pay down debt, comfortable in the assumption that the United States will take on more debt to prop up the world economy.
    When the worldwide economic calamity ends, as it surely will, these nations will emerge with far smaller debt; the United States will emerge with a far larger debt and we will face the prospect of the irresponsible Europeans, whose economies were reflated on the back of the United States, lecturing us about fiscal responsibility.
    It really is very annoying.

    Reply

  64. Warren Metzler says:

    I first want to apologize to Nadine for my claiming that her knowledge of the SIRPNET networks from Israeli intelligence. I myself, before your response, realized this was put out by the media.
    I still think it is impossible that the US government has a massive data base, with everything that is secret and below available to several million users. I personally assume that is propaganda.
    On this post, I want to ask people to consider what is the evidence basis for assuming it is good for nations to have 24 hour military personal on location in the gulf? Why assume that if there is no military there, all hell will break lose? Why not assume that having military forces there encourages violence to repeatedly break out? And that having large military forces there, send a message of strong discouragement to the many indigenous groups that want to have democratic and freedom change in their governments in all the Middle East countries? I suggest that us having over 700 military establishments all over the world is a major suppressor of peace movements in many countries; plus our large military, being the country in the world that most people look up to for personal freedoms, strongly encourages all non-free countries to feel they must have a military; thereby decreasing the money they have available for non-military development projects and and increasing the odds that a draconian government exists.

    Reply

  65. WigWag says:

    “Wigwag, The British could have kept their empire if they had accepted Hitler’s conquest of Western Europe. They could not abide Hitler and they did not keep their empire. They liquidated their overseas holdings in order to finance their war with Hitler.” (John Waring)
    Is your name John Waring or Patrick Buchanan? Are you the one who wrote this book?
    http://www.amazon.com/Churchill-Hitler-Unnecessary-War-Britain/dp/030740515X

    Reply

  66. John Waring says:

    O, by the way, we are an empire, an Empire of Schmucks. Please read this lovely rant from David Rothkopf.
    http://rothkopf.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/12/03/empire_of_schmucks

    Reply

  67. John Waring says:

    Wigwag,
    The British could have kept their empire if they had accepted Hitler’s conquest of Western Europe. They could not abide Hitler and they did not keep their empire. They liquidated their overseas holdings in order to finance their war with Hitler. After the war their position in the far and near east collapsed because they could no longer afford the cost of those military commitments. In the case of the British Empire, long-term economic decline did matter.
    It was British industrial productivity and the world wide commercial ties it engendered that underwrote the Empire. The Industrial Revolution took place in England during the period from 1760 to 1820. After the Napoleonic Wars British industrial dominance was greater than that of the United States after WWII. In certain industrial sectors England out produced the rest of the world combined. This dominance went into relative decline as other nations industrialized, most notably France, Germany, and the United States. This relative decline became more absolute after WWI when the British failed to modernize their industrial base. The various commissions formed to study the issue had made their findings known, but the economic boomlet after the war persuaded Parliament not to act. Churchill as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the 1920’s also dealt British industrial competitiveness a deadly blow when he pegged the pound sterling at five US dollars not at four US dollars. Mr. Empire himself did not understand the economic foundation of the British empire was the industrial productivity of the British Isles, and that a weaker pound would help that competitiveness. The British then began living off invested capital. Yes, they could have lived off the proceeds of the capital they had accumulated over several centuries for perhaps several more decades, but they refuse to concede defeat after France fell in June 1940. The British shot the remainder of their economic bolt in order to keep in the fight against Hitler. Indeed, that was their finest hour.
    But please let’s not contend that economic decline does not matter. It is staring us in the face in the United States in the stagnating incomes of the lower 60% of our population over the past thirty years, and sooner or later this economic decline will affect our military commitments.

    Reply

  68. Dan Kervick says:

    Nadine, those ethnic tensions have been simmering since the time of Cyrus the Great. Persia has always been a cosmopolitan state.

    Reply

  69. nadine says:

    “Nadine, I wasn’t talking about empires. I was talking about nation-states. Iran has a few regional allies, but no empire. There is no Iranian empire to fall apart. There are no significant Iranian armed forces engaged in risky expeditions abroad of the kind whose failure precipitates state or imperial collapse.” (Dan Kervick)
    A number of scholars of Iran (I cannot claim to be one) do regard Iran as an empire inside the borders of a nation-state. Internally, only half its people are Persian and the Persians rule the non-Persians. Several simmering separatist insurgencies are on-going. In this respect, “empire” vs. “nation-state” may be a matter of semantics.
    “There are no armies of imperial subjects involved in uprisings or predations that embroil Iran in a taxing cycle of remote defense and power projection. Most of the powers you mention that did crack-up or collapse were engaged in hegemonic empire building, and their collapses can be traced directly to the failures of those efforts.”
    Really? What do you call Hizbullah? Iran has spent billions of dollars building that force from scratch into the best terrorist army in the world and is using it to complete what amounts to an imperial takeover of Lebanon. Syria has already been co-opted into a client state. Iran also used Hizbullah internally to help put down the Green Movement. Nobody goes around calling Hizbullah “an army of imperial subjects” but de facto they fit the bill very well.
    “Iran is ethnically diverse, but has always been ethnically diverse. I don’t know why you think this is suddenly going to lead to an Iranian crack-up.”
    I didn’t say it was going to suddenly lead to anything. But Iran’s simmering ethnic rebellions also fit the bill of imperial stresses even if they are contained within the borders of a recognized nation-state. Don’t get too hung up on semantics, Dan.
    As for Iran’s regional imperial goals, don’t ask me – read the Wikileaks cables and see what the neighbors have been saying.

    Reply

  70. Dan Kervick says:

    “During the years between the First and Second World Wars, as the saying goes, it never did.”
    WigWag, this is a pretty superficial metric for measuring imperial power. An empire isn’t growing and healthy simply because its monarch’s face is printed on more money and there are more viceroys living in more mansions enjoying more sunsets in more climes.
    It is true that the ability to project power can continue for some time during a period of relative economic decline. As a country’s relative economic weight decreases, it might invest more on expanding its existing advantage in military equipment and systems so that it can substitute accumulation and plunder abroad for industrial growth at home, or treat the security it provides for trade and finance as a competitive advantage for maintaining or re-building its share of those activities. A country can always choose to shift ever larger proportions of its economy into military power as a way of keeping up with economic decline.
    And it can live on prestige for a while, just as an heir can live on inherited wealth. It is always possible that the sheer momentum of the empire’s customary dominance limits the challenges it faces. But in the end, power has a material foundation, and over time power is bound to decline if the material foundations of power decline, even if the lag is a generation or two.
    So sure, a country can continue to project power even if it is experiencing relative economic decline. But it is only kicking the can down the road and laying the foundations for its eventual reckoning.
    When the end came for the British empire, it turned out that that entire global network of nominal imperial clients and holdings wasn’t able to protect the Brits from the aggression of a single, powerful, industrial European state. So isn’t it clear that the empire had already been hollowed out long before it fell, even if it was enjoying all those scattered global sunsets?

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  71. WigWag says:

    “I guess the question is what is meant by hegemonic. I do not think a great power needs to win all of its wars all of the time to qualify; the British lost or bungled wars for a long time (starting in 1776 and continuing with things like the Charge of the Light Brigade, Gordon’s expedition to Khartoum, and useless incursions into Afghanistan). But they dominated the world’s oceans, ruled a fifth of the world’s people, and led the world financial system until 1940… If we continue our long-term economic decline, we will resemble the British economy after 1890. (David Billington)
    I think you’re right; even the strongest empires/superpowers experience numerous reverses. I’m not sure it is really fair to mention the Charge of the Light Brigade which was little more than a tactical error (the order to charge had been rescinded but the troops never got the word) but I take your point. You could have mentioned several other examples as well, from the failures of the Boer War, to setbacks in China and to the ultimate disaster in Ireland. Throughout this entire period, the British press obsessed about British vulnerabilities and worried that Britain

    Reply

  72. Carroll says:

    Posted by David Billington, Dec 03 2010, 1:08AM – Link
    On the other hand, I don’t foresee a time when we will not have the means
    to deter or defeat any country or coalition that wages war on us, unless ballistic missiles
    become obsolete or we decline as an engineering power.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    FYI, interesting fact…actually according the Federation of Atomic Scientist who track all weapons held, nuclear and conventional, missiles systems and shields and so forth…..Russia comes out best among all modern countries,
    They have more nuclear weapons than the US and would be the final survivor of any nuclear war in main because of their huge land mass and far flung population.

    Reply

  73. Carroll says:

    Would all those who believe that the US can continue to ‘project’ the power of it’s past and continue to play super cop and power balancer for the world explain what is required to maintain that US power capability.
    And if your answer is actually correct, then in making your case on that answer, you have to use the facts of all ‘current’ financial and international reality.
    Not talk in terms of Christmas past.

    Reply

  74. Don Bacon says:

    National power is the ability of one state to influence or control other states. It is therefore not strictly military power, nor does it even need to include military power.
    This is where China is strong and the US is weak in projecting power. China generally eschews (I love that word!) political/military involvement in other countries, focusing instead on economic relationships.
    The US on the other hand has divided to world up by military districts, each area with its own combatant command and military bases, while it continuously prattles about national security and spends as much on its military as the rest of the world combined.
    And then there are the wars. China doesn’t have any while the US has several and is seeking more, it seems, like currently in Korea and soon in Iran. Help wanted — send your sons and daughters.

    Reply

  75. David Billington says:

    “This does not seem right to me. By the definition you are offering, the United States
    has never been a hegemonic power” (Wigwag)
    I guess the question is what is meant by “hegemonic”. I do not think a great power
    needs to win all of its wars all of the time to qualify; the British lost or bungled wars
    for a long time (starting in 1776 and continuing with things like the Charge of the
    Light Brigade, Gordon’s expedition to Khartoum, and useless incursions into
    Afghanistan). But they dominated the world’s oceans, ruled a fifth of the world’s
    people, and led the world financial system until 1940.
    What I would call our hegemony has been somewhat similar thus far: we ruled the
    oceans after 1945 and anchored the financial system until 1971, when we moved to
    a position more of first among equals. We still rule the oceans, although we will rule
    less of them in a decade or two. Our financial position remains what it is only
    because the rest of the world is worse. If we continue our long-term economic
    decline, we will resemble the British economy after 1890.
    Our post-1945 relationship to Western Europe and Japan was essentially a
    geopolitical exchange: we spent about half of our defense budget to defend these
    countries and as our balance of payments moved from surplus to deficit they
    accepted trade deficits with us as compensation for the defense we were giving
    them. The reasons for this were political (1) we didn’t want to compel the Japanese
    to remilitarize beyond limited self-defense forces, and (2) the Europeans weren’t
    ready to federate and create an integrated defense of their own.
    Right now the geopolitical costs to us of continuing to command NATO and defend
    Japan are probably acceptable if these and other countries are able and willing to
    underwrite our declining economic performance. But if they no longer can, then all
    of us are in trouble. It is this prospect that causes me to wonder if our previous role
    (whether we call it “hegemonic” or not) can continue for much longer.
    The Chinese could make themselves about as popular as Imperial Germany a century
    ago. Our own lack of competence as an imperial power is reassuring to most of the
    world even as it is now worrisome in places where we are most stretched. But I think
    fundamental changes in the world order are on the horizon.

    Reply

  76. David Billington says:

    “The Arabs have not felt the need for nukes until now, and would not feel the need if they still
    had confidence in the Pax Americana. But they fear that America is going to sell them down the
    river and leave them at Iran’s mercy.” (Nadine)
    The question is whether it is correct to say that our commitment is inadequate if we do not go
    further and bomb Iran. The trouble here is that proponents of bombing seem to take the view
    that the possible consequences of such action cannot be allowed to intrude on the decision, for
    which the consequences of not acting are a sole and sufficient basis. Confronted with this
    apparent argument, the Pentagon has said no, and both the Bush and Obama administrations
    have decided not to challenge the Pentagon’s judgment. That seems to be where things stand.
    My own view is that if nations in the region are concerned about Iran, then they need to think
    out a sustainable future that does not boil down to our staying there forever, at our expense,
    while we ship them an additional $700 billion every year to pay for their oil. Something about
    this has to change and probably will.

    Reply

  77. Don Bacon says:

    The ability the US has to project power anywhere (not that it’s been successful at it, it hasn’t) basically depends upon the country’s economic strength.
    from the National Security Strategy
    May 2010
    “Our national security begins at home. What takes place within our borders has always been the source of our strength. . .In the long run, the welfare of the American people will determine America

    Reply

  78. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Gads. These poor NAF interns. How many of them must wish they had skipped dumping their prattle here?
    Watching the antics of the clowns in DC, making asses of themselves nightly in the media saturated living rooms of America, coupled with reading the swill that is constantly oozing out of these so called “think tanks”, doesn’t instill much optimism for the future of our country, does it?
    “POS, that is a lie like all your bigoted hate-filled spew. Israel sent lots of aid after the Turkish earthquake in 1995, whole plane loads of aid with trained search-and-rescue crews”
    1995???? Oh Nadine, you seem to forget, that was before the suicidal little racist shithole of a country, Israel, pushed Turkey into finally recognizing that “with friends like this….”
    “Similarly, the first functioning field hospital in Port au Prince after the Haitian earthquake in January was Israeli”
    No, actually, Nadine, it was the CUBANS that first stepped up to the plate with field hospitals. Why? Because unlike the Israelis, who were posturing, the Cubans were ALREADY THERE dispensing aid and care to those Haitians who were in need PRIOR to the earthquake.
    BTW, Israel is prosperous, and recieves billions upon billions of American taxpayer’s money. It can’t even put out a forest fire, that, by Southern California standards, is little more than a backyard bonfire? Yet we are to believe that it can defend itself from a concerted and prolonged attack from one of its more powerful nieghbors, who it regularly and routinely antagonizes, demonizes, and spits upon??? You were saying WHAT about national suicide???

    Reply

  79. Dan Kervick says:

    “This means that the military will have all the resources that it needs to project American power.”
    This is an extremely vague statement, WigWag. Of course, the United States will retain the ability to project power abroad. The question is how much power, and in what regions, and in what amounts, in what combinations and for what periods of time. Right now we seem to be in a period in which dreamy American myths and obsessive aspirations of total control are being readjusted to fall back into equilibrium with the material realities of American power.
    I have a friend from Germany who has told me for decades that I underestimate the degree to which Europeans simply expect the United States to *do something* in response to every crisis, and effectively to solve all problems and run the world. As we know, efforts to secure more European participation and expense-sharing frequently fall on deaf ears. The world’s security dustups are America’s problem.
    This has been true all over the world for decades. All of the beneficiaries of the impossibly large portfolio of US global “commitments” expect the same behavior. And the US Congress is very fond of making strings of promises we can’t possibly keep concurrently – not unless our adversaries all cooperate in making sure we only face one problem at a time.
    At the same time, the United States has not built a true empire in the world. Since the US-inspired economic order is built on free-floating and often stateless transnational capital, the prosperity that system builds does not get systematically funneled back into building up the American state that is supposed to be responsible for addressing all the myriad security and political responsibilities of that order. Indeed, the same nationalists in the US who make such a point of defending the maximal extension of US state power abroad make no secret of their bizarre concurrent desire to undermine the American state at home and “drown it in a bathtub”.
    And the same allies who are eager for the United States to solve all of their problems feel no compunctions about competing very aggressively with the United States for economic power. The Germans, for example, are currently engaged in a series of economic policies that are very contrary to American interests. Not only did they fail to do their part in buttressing world demand after the financial meltdown and preventing the global economy from collapsing through the floor into depression, they are now helping German creditors engineer the predatory impoverishment of Ireland, a country in which the US has invested considerable political capital. The German and UK-lead austerity regime that is being imposed on a wide group of Europeans is almost certain to lead to decades of social instability, division and weakness in Europe.
    The Japanese, as we know, spent decades competing very aggressively with US businesses and targeting firms in our industrial base. The Germans do the same thing. We now face stiffer competition all over the globe. So some of these countries whose governing regimes have their hands perpetually out for American protection against their local neighbors are going to have to adjust to the fact that they live in a world in which grandiose American mystique can no longer cover up the more limited material fundamentals of American power.
    The United States can’t sustain a system in which it is perpetually able to defend, Germany and Western Europe, Poland, the Ukraine, Georgia, the Baltic states, Korea, Japan, the Philippines and every other spouse on our polygamous global household. Maintaining these “commitments” is a high-wire juggling act that depends too much on everything going just right. Steve sometimes seems to think that this act could have been kept running for years by maintaining our mystique, allures or sizzle – a sort of Wizard of Oz magic act that would dazzle the spectators in perpetuity into overestimating our capabilities. This is the same kind of thinking that leads financial empires to think that it can inflate the values of assets indefinitely over the real values predicted by market fundamentals.
    Far-flung and wildly ambitious US military commitments have become a Madoff system.

    Reply

  80. DonS says:

    ” the economy is not as relevant a factor as people think. Even if it was, in the continuing conflict between “guns” and “butter” recent elections (including the most recent election) prove that given the choice, American will chose “guns.” This means that the military will have all the resources that it needs to project American power. Even with that ability to project power, the United States will not be a hegemon; it never was.” (wig wag)
    This does not see right to me. The recent election was primarily about economics, although a Murdoch bastardized version with a twist of Faux news. Beyond that Americans are caught up in a media stoked culture war confrontation which has less to do about actual guns than it does about perceptions of macho. In the medium term, the actual economic factors with delimit the extent to which America can continue to support huge military expenditure, to project military power. Unless you want to see the ‘butter’ part of the guns or butter equation turn into the cheapest margarine on the shelf. Americans deserve better and, just as the sun is currently rising on the small minded right wing, it will again recede . . . pray we don’t suffer a totalitarian catharsis before the pendulum swings.

    Reply

  81. Dan Kervick says:

    Nadine, I wasn’t talking about empires. I was talking about nation-states. Iran has a few regional allies, but no empire. There is no Iranian empire to fall apart. There are no significant Iranian armed forces engaged in risky expeditions abroad of the kind whose failure precipitates state or imperial collapse. There are no armies of imperial subjects involved in uprisings or predations that embroil Iran in a taxing cycle of remote defense and power projection. Most of the powers you mention that did crack-up or collapse were engaged in hegemonic empire building, and their collapses can be traced directly to the failures of those efforts.
    Iran is ethnically diverse, but has always been ethnically diverse. I don’t know why you think this is suddenly going to lead to an Iranian crack-up. I know some American strategic “thinkers” are fond of promoting racism and ethnic hostility abroad, and funneling money and weapons to ethnic separatist groups. But I doubt these busy bees are going to have the effect they think they will.

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  82. WigWag says:

    “The distinction I would make is between hegemony and the ability to deter or defend against
    any likely attack. Hegemony will probably give way sooner than we think, if the economy is
    an early warning. On the other hand, I don’t foresee a time when we will not have the means
    to deter or defeat any country or coalition that wages war on us, unless ballistic missiles
    become obsolete or we decline as an engineering power.” (David Billington)
    This does not seem right to me. By the definition you are offering, the United States has never been a hegemonic power; during the Cold War it took the United States decades to fend off the Soviets and their allies and we could only do it with the military and economic support of the two other most powerful economic units in the world; Western Europe and Japan. In 1956 the Americans, despite the bluster, looked on helplessly as the Russians crushed the Hungarian uprising; in 1968 the United States was powerless to assist the Czech’s during the Prague spring. During the Viet Nam imbroglio we were forced into an ignoble retreat and ever since the Bay of Pigs, Cuba has been an irritant that the United States has proven powerless to overthrow. Let’s not forget our ability to prop up the Shah or prevent the Iranian revolution.
    None of this suggests that at any point since its ascendency to world leadership in the aftermath of World War II, that the United States has exercised alot of hegemony over anyone.
    Whatever hegemony the United States has enjoyed since the collapse of the Soviet Union resulted from the fact that its adversaries, Russia and the Soviet satellites, crumbled while American allies like Western Europe and Japan saw their military edge dissipate as well. China was still recovering from the disaster of the cultural revolution and the complete mismanagement of the economy and India was still in the process of learning to deal with major sectarian strife and overcome its legacy of socialism. If the United States was a hegemon, it was a hegemon by default.
    The period between the collapse of the Soviet Empire and today is a historical anamoly destined to pass relatively soon. America’s place in the world in the next 50-100 years will depend primarily on whether it is able to replace the trilateral partnership that served it so well in the past 50 years. The United States needs to bolster its support from a fading Europe and Japan with support of other like-minded nations (or even some not so like-minded nations); India and even Russia come to mind as possibilities.
    Early indications (and they are only early indications) suggest that the Chinese may be doing the Americans a favor by scaring and annoying many of their Asian neigbors who seem to be looking with a more longing eye in America’s direction.
    The emphasis on the economy as a threat to American power is overstated. Compared to the Europeans and Japanese, the United States is doing fine (not great, but fine) and despite their rapid growth the Chinese and Indians still have decades to go before they catch up with the United States economically or even approach U.S. levels of per capita GDP. It’s not that the economy isn’t important, it’s that the economy is not as relevant a factor as people think. Even if it was, in the continuing conflict between “guns” and “butter” recent elections (including the most recent election) prove that given the choice, American will chose “guns.” This means that the military will have all the resources that it needs to project American power. Even with that ability to project power, the United States will not be a hegemon; it never was.

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  83. nadine says:

    “Hegemonic powers can make mistakes but they do not have the ability to dominate the
    world perpetually. The only way for a great power to preserve its way of life in the long
    run is to create a larger world community that shares enough in common to join
    voluntarily in the community’s government and defense.” (David Billington)
    It’s not an either/or proposition. There has never been an empire or a hegemonic power that lasted any amount of time (and many lasted for centuries) without obtaining a very significant degree of buy-in from the smaller powers: the empire was the larger world community which provided a common law and common values. The Roman empire excelled at this, one reason it lasted so long. The Pax Brittanica and its successor, the Pax Americana, have been relatively benign affairs which most members wanted to join; at least, compared to the available alternatives, such as becoming a member of the USSR.
    “>>Furthermore, a world without the Pax Americana is a far, far more dangerous world, as
    ruthless regional powers like Iran seek to fill the vacuum.”
    You may be right about this, but the real problem isn’t Iran filling a vacuum but the
    Arabs filling it with nuclear weapons of their own. ”
    The Arabs have not felt the need for nukes until now, and would not feel the need if they still had confidence in the Pax Americana. But they fear that America is going to sell them down the river and leave them at Iran’s mercy.

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  84. nadine says:

    “It seems to me that a more realistic expectation for the future of Iran than revolutionary regime collapse is a gradual evolution in which the role of the theocracy becomes progressively less prominent. Just a little more than a century ago, the European nations were still filled with influential royalist groups clinging to versions of the divine right of kings theory. Not so much any more. Most of those regimes did not collapse, they just evolved.”
    And it seems to me that you need refresher course on European history. Let’s run down the list of great powers in Europe 100 years ago and what happened to them:
    Imperial Germany – collapsed after WWI, Third Reich began 1933
    Austro-Hungarian empire – ditto
    Russian Empire – overthrown by 1917 revolution, collapsed into civil and Bolshevik takeover
    Ottoman Empire (which still ruled some of Balkans) – collapsed after WWI
    So far I’m not seeing much evolution
    France – evolved
    Britain – evolved
    Okay, the main victors of WWI evolved. But France was already a republic, and Britain had a constitutional monarchy. To make out that the old imperial powers of Europe “evolved” into today’s EU is nonsense.

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  85. David Billington says:

    “Why do realists talk about American decline as if they long for it? Rise and decline are
    in large part, acts of will on the part of states; most hegemonic powers that have fallen
    have committed suicide, not been done in by their foes.” (Nadine)
    Hegemonic powers can make mistakes but they do not have the ability to dominate the
    world perpetually. The only way for a great power to preserve its way of life in the long
    run is to create a larger world community that shares enough in common to join
    voluntarily in the community’s government and defense.
    “Furthermore, a world without the Pax Americana is a far, far more dangerous world, as
    ruthless regional powers like Iran seek to fill the vacuum.”
    You may be right about this, but the real problem isn’t Iran filling a vacuum but the
    Arabs filling it with nuclear weapons of their own.

    Reply

  86. David Billington says:

    “I do wonder how long it will be before any of the world’s navies (or any combination of the
    world’s navies) reaches parity with the American Navy.” (Wigwag)
    The prospect isn’t for anyone to achieve parity, in the sense of matching us ship for ship. It
    is for China and then other major nations to acquire hyperfast missiles and other weapons
    that can force us to keep our aircraft carriers and other expensive ships much farther out to
    sea. This will be a problem in about a decade and it will get more serious after that.
    “Clearly, in the fullness of time, American decline is inevitable but it is likely to take far longer
    than most people believe. Even when it does occur, the U.S. and its allies are unlikely to be
    ecliped by any other nation and its allies for a very long time.”
    The distinction I would make is between hegemony and the ability to deter or defend against
    any likely attack. Hegemony will probably give way sooner than we think, if the economy is
    an early warning. On the other hand, I don’t foresee a time when we will not have the means
    to deter or defeat any country or coalition that wages war on us, unless ballistic missiles
    become obsolete or we decline as an engineering power.

    Reply

  87. nadine says:

    “I think at this point there is little evidence that the last election was stolen. There might have been fraud here and there, but it still seems likely that Ahmadinejad won.” (Dan Kervick)
    You clearly did not read the election returns. The government claimed that Ahmadenejad had won exactly 2/3 of the vote in every major city of Iran, including the home towns of his opponents. In other words, they didn’t even bother to make their fraud look plausible. There was a good reason millions of people took to the streets in protest.
    David Goldman quoted the 1.6 figure for births; I’m not sure where it comes from. 1.8 is still under replacement level and represents a precipitous fall in fertility, which was over 5 births/woman in the 1980s. Family planning is one thing; but planning no families is not a vote of confidence in the future.
    http://www.prb.org/Articles/2009/iranyouth.aspx?p=1

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  88. JohnH says:

    Exactly, if the US couldn’t isolate its former colony, Cuba, right next door, how can it possibly isolate a large, distant country like Iran, which has gobs of oil and natural gas to bargain with?
    The US seems paralyzed by its rage at the Iranian hostage crisis 30 years ago, something that didn’t seem to bother Ronald Reagan all that much. Maybe Reagan’s people were more mature than the Keystone Kops running US “security” operations these days.

    Reply

  89. Dan Kervick says:

    It seems to me that a more realistic expectation for the future of Iran than revolutionary regime collapse is a gradual evolution in which the role of the theocracy becomes progressively less prominent. Just a little more than a century ago, the European nations were still filled with influential royalist groups clinging to versions of the divine right of kings theory. Not so much any more. Most of those regimes did not collapse, they just evolved.
    The best way to reduce the influence in theocratic power in Iran is to empower the commercial classes, the people who are focused more on material concerns than transcendent one. And the way to do that is by engaging in commerce with Iranians.

    Reply

  90. Dan Kervick says:

    JohnH, it’s even more far-fetched than the Cuba case. Cuba is an Island in the Carribean. Iran is the largest and most populous country in the Middle East and lies at the geographic crossroads of the region. It has a well-educated and worldly population. For the US to try to isolate Iran from the Middle East is like China trying to isolate Brazil from South America. It’s not going to happen. The US might succeed in finding some temporary business partners who have a competitive interest in suppressing Iran, but an enduring campaign to isolate Iran seems very unrealistic.

    Reply

  91. Dan Kervick says:

    The sources I have seen put Iran’s fertility rate at between 1.8 and 2.0 births per woman. In any case, Iran’s relatively low fertility rate is a result of deliberate family planning policies and rising living standards. Nevertheless, Iran still has a growing population due to population momentum, and its population is not expected to stabilize until it reaches about 90 million.
    I think at this point there is little evidence that the last election was stolen. There might have been fraud here and there, but it still seems likely that Ahmadinejad won.
    According to this paper from Critique: Critical Middle Easter Studies, weekly mosque attendance in Iran is not 2%, but closer to 25% to 30%:
    http://web.clas.ufl.edu/users/kenwald/pos6292/Tezcur%20et%20all%20Critique%202006.pdf
    The authors agree that the politicization of religion might play a role in relatively low mosque attendance, but also note that communal prayers do not play as large a role in Shia Islam as they do in Sunni Islam. Also, a majority of respondents categorized themselves as very religious, and say they do their prayers at home.

    Reply

  92. JohnH says:

    Kervick’s poses an interesting question about whether isolation worked elsewhere. Cuba is the most obvious example of the failure of isolation. Sitting right in the US back yard, the US could never bring the Castro regime to its knees. Of course, you could argue, Castro had Soviet protection. But Soviet protection came and went, isolation continued, and Castro survived.
    So why would anyone think isolation of Iran will work? Does anyone think the world will stop buying Iranian oil? And does anyone this that Iran will continue selling oil if it can’t buy freely on international markets?
    US policy: when the past policies fail, intensify the failed policies! How stupid is that?

    Reply

  93. Don Bacon says:

    “Call Iran’s ascendancy into question — with a new vision from the US?” No.
    The US has materially contributed to Iran’s ascendency by —
    *converting Iraq from an opponent to a close friend of Iran.
    *forcing Iran to turn from the West in its commercial dealings and look East particularly to China.
    *continuing to support oppressive Israel thus allowing Iran to champion the ME Muslim cause.
    call Iran’s ascendancy into question?
    Isolate Iran?
    No, by haranguing Iran the US will merely —
    * isolate itself from Iraq, which has a close relationship with Iran
    * ditto for Turkey, China and other Asian countries.
    * ditto for the ME Arabs who respect Itan for standing for them V. Israel.
    Iran is supported by the 118-nation NAM plus most other countries in the world, except the US and five allies, most of them in failing Europe — failing financially and failing in its military campaigns in Asia. They will fail in Iran also. Already have.

    Reply

  94. nadine says:

    Pop quiz JohnH: when did Brezhnev take power? How long did it take for the USSR to fall? Did it do any damage in the meantime? Hollowing out a revolutionary government is a long process.
    Meanwhile, the ideology of the Revolutionary Guards is already spreading mayhem all around the Mideast. Iran is the chief terror-master state in the world.

    Reply

  95. JohnH says:

    Nadine says, “the Iranian regime is tottering.”
    So why should we worry about it? Why not let history run its course? Why the constant warmongering? A need to loot the US Treasury with another war before that war becomes unnecessary?
    To hear Nadine make the case elsewhere, Iran is more like an emerging Third Reich than a declining Soviet Union.
    Someone is very, very confused. Or just enjoys spewing hasbara with no regard for consistency or logic.

    Reply

  96. Carroll says:

    http://www.usnwc.edu/Departments—Colleges/Center-for-Naval-Warfare-Studies/Strategic-Research/Global-Maritime-Survey.aspx
    Risks and costs of an attack against Iran remain prohibitive
    I don’t think he’s gonna answer me..LOL

    Reply

  97. Carroll says:

    Posted by Neo Controll, Dec 02 2010, 8:06PM – Link
    Matthew who?
    This is perhaps in appologia for Steve’s more progressive posts of late
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Hummm…I think you nailed it. LOL
    Matthew, let me apologize in advance for calling this garbage.
    This is garbage.
    I realize you are only 28 years old but that’s still old enough to know better than write opinions as fact.
    It concerns me that you work for the NAF and in every article you have done that I have read you state your opinion as fact instead of just your opinion. I think we all expect more from anyone at the NAF.
    In the following for instance:
    http://www.iranian.com/main/2010/oct/irans-faulty-toolbox
    by Matthew Reed
    Iranian.com is a community site for the Iranian diaspora
    In that article you state that Iran would be no threat and could do no real damage in retaliation if we or Israel were to bomb them.
    http://www.iar-gwu.org/node/159
    by Matthew Reed

    Reply

  98. Dan Kervick says:

    There was a story on NPR this morning about the drought conditions in Israel and Palestine, possibly related to systemic climate shifts.
    http://www.npr.org/player/v2/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=1&islist=false&id=131747291&m=131747331

    Reply

  99. nadine says:

    Dan, the Iranian regime is tottering. It may not fall this year, or next, or this decade, but it is being hollowed out.
    The young are not having children (only 1.6 births per woman), the economy is in shambles, the majority despises theocracy (weekly mosque attendance is 2%), the last election was stolen and the resulting protests of millions in the streets of the major cities was put down with brutality — and they had to import Hizbullah thugs from Lebanon to do it. On top of this, only half of Iran is Persian and they face several simmering separatist rebellions by Kurds and Arabs.
    Iran has entered a kind of Brezhnev era.

    Reply

  100. nadine says:

    “hope they don’t expect Israel to return the gesture should Turkey suffer any comparable calamity. If so, we can assume they will be sorely disappointed, because Israel, time and again, has demonstrated that they have no such national character or integrity.” (POS)
    POS, that is a lie like all your bigoted hate-filled spew. Israel sent lots of aid after the Turkish earthquake in 1995, whole plane loads of aid with trained search-and-rescue crews.
    http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/About+the+Ministry/MFA+Spokesman/1995/ISRAELI%20ASSISTANCE%20TO%20VICTIMS%20OF%20THE%20TURKISH%20EARTH
    Similarly, the first functioning field hospital in Port au Prince after the Haitian earthquake in January was Israeli.
    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/stephaniegutmann/100022827/israel-builds-a-field-hospital-in-haiti-anti-zionists-not-fooled/
    If the Turks have offered assistance in fighting the Carmel fire, that would be a good thing.
    The Turks refused Israeli offers of aid after the minor earthquake in Turkey earlier this year.
    Israel has asked for assistance from Cyprus and other neighboring countries. They don’t have enough fire-fighting planes to drop retardant.

    Reply

  101. Dan Kervick says:

    Maybe the Gulf States are looking for weapons to defend these new treasures:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DcAi3GLQyOI&feature=player_embedded

    Reply

  102. samuelburke says:

    remind me why were at war again.
    check out canada just paying homage, such obeisance.
    Galloway prophesying to canada.
    http://mondoweiss.net/2010/12/oh-canada-al-jazeera-
    expose-investigates-the-other-special-relationship.html

    Reply

  103. Pahlavan says:

    We give billions of dollars in military aid to Israel, yet they’re unable to put out a fire without international assistance! Yet another hint on who is pocketing the american tax payers money on the astronomical military expenditures and donations for Israel… It also begs the question on the IQ of the bunch who routinely vomit about Israel taking matters into its own hands by attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities.
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704377004575650683263451418.html?mod=WSJ_hp_MIDDLENexttoWhatsNewsForth
    This is consistent with this authors way of thinking about our approach toward the persian gulf.

    Reply

  104. Dan Kervick says:

    Well, Mr. Reed, you make a brave case for the old guard and our traditional 20th century ways. But I don

    Reply

  105. samuelburke says:

    good enemy, good for the country, same thing more or less.
    the word good is in there so they must be equal.

    Reply

  106. Don Bacon says:

    These folks are the US’s largest arms buyers currently thanks to hyping “the Iran threat” so look for it to continue with Hill leading the charge. Bibi has emailed her speech to her.
    I looked at what this group did last year. It was obviously engineered by the Anglo-US people who have done such marvelous things lately, with not a peep regarding the Arab League’s very real concern with Isreali nukes. Nothing in common with real Arab feelings in the ME. Bunch of out-of-touch plutocrats. Nothing to see here. It’s in the bag.
    Mr. Reed’s got it: “. . answering lingering questions and promoting American interests” with emphasis on the latter. The only lingering question is how much military junk the US will close on while the stuffed shirts are babbling in the front hall.
    Bottom line: The business of America is business and this is no time to drop a perfectly good enemy.

    Reply

  107. samuelburke says:

    so is there a belief that war is always good for the country?
    is that why these doctrines are so ingrained throughout?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mnzVq2t7bi4
    Happy Chanuka. Tis the holiday season.

    Reply

  108. JohnH says:

    If the US gave negotiations with Iran a serious try, then there would be no reasons for “US leaders [to] account for Iranian hostilities if no future realignment or “grand bargain” is reached.”
    US intransigence towards Iran complicates the situation immensely, potentially putting the security of the Gulf and of the world economy in jeopardy.
    But, as Flynt Leverett and Reza Marashi point out, the US engages only for a microsecond, and then only fraudulently, to “prove” that engagement is futile, and more the hostility towards Iran (the failed policies of the past) is the only solution.
    http://www.raceforiran.com/wikileaks-and-iran%E2%80%94take-ii-former-state-department-official-confirms-obama-was-never-serious-about-engaging-iran
    What the Manama conference really needs to envision is how to abandon 30 years of hostility and acknowledge that Iran is a sovereign nation with interests that must be recognized by the West.
    But instead of providing vision, Hillary will stay the course of the Incredibly Incompetent Condi.

    Reply

  109. Neo Controll says:

    Matthew who?
    This is perhaps in appologia for Steve’s more progressive posts of late.
    Let my betters tear this to shreds.

    Reply

  110. Neo Controll says:

    The woman is not well, and seriously needs attention, or will.

    Reply

  111. sanitychecker says:

    Nadine never disappoints: “a world without the Pax Americana is a far, far more dangerous world, as ruthless regional powers like Iran seek to fill the vacuum.”
    Nadine must mean the Pax Americana that killed nearly 3 million Vietnamese civilians and hundreds of thousands of Latin American women and children.
    For Nadine, 3 million innocent people killed don’t mean a thing. In her book, you only begin to worry when it’s 6 million.

    Reply

  112. sanitychecker says:

    >> “Secretary Clinton should come ready with a strategic vision that envigorates (sic) those countries within America’s security orbit and checks those outside it. It’s time to end speculation about American resolve and call Iran’s ascendancy into question.”
    I think NAF interns who are concerned about showing “American resolve” should be leading the way by spreading freedom in Afghanistan (instead of spreading neocon drivel from the comfort of a think tank).

    Reply

  113. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “….most hegemonic powers that have fallen have committed suicide, not been done in by their foes”
    Precisely why you can kiss Israel goodbye, Nadine. If any “hegemonic power” is committing suicide right now, it is Israel.
    BTW, I see that Israel’s one and only substantial forest is being razed by fire, with Turkey stepping up to the plate and offering full assistance. I laud Turkey’s efforts, but hope they don’t expect Israel to return the gesture should Turkey suffer any comparable calamity. If so, we can assume they will be sorely disappointed, because Israel, time and again, has demonstrated that they have no such national character or integrity.
    I’m a great believer in Karma. Although I don’t think we can judge and read Karma as observable cause and effect in our everday lives, I can’t help but bring to mind the thousands of acres of Palestinian olive groves that have been torched over the years by the Jewish Israeli settlers.
    But even if one doesn’t accept Karma as a real phenomena, the reality of cause and effect cannot be so easily dismissed, and Israel is well on its way to reaping the “effects” of what it has become. One cannot build a flourishing society of any longetivity by nurturing bigotry and hatred in order to rationalize and justify acts of inhumanity.
    I hope we come to our senses, and step back should Israel decide to intervene militarily and act to deprive Iran of its rights as outlined in the NPT. I am almost ashamed to admit it, but I would feel no small amount of a sense of justice should Israel get its arrogant and murderous ass kicked because the United States finally exhibited an ounce of humanity and integrity, and refused to get involved. I would derive nothing but sorrow for a loss of civilian lives, Iranian and Israeli, but, on the other hand, what Israeli society seems to be becoming doesn’t really seem to warrant much sympathy or compassion. Although segments of the Israeli Jewish community seem to be disgusted with its leader’s racist and inhumane treatment of the Palestinian people, I think Wig-wag and your blatant hatred and bigotry is an illustration of the majority sentiment in Israel. In short, it is becoming loathsome, ugly.
    Hows it feel knowing you are an active participant in Israel’s accelerated degradation and demise, Nadine? Are you really so naive, so devoid of character, that you cannot realize that no great nation, or people, can subsist, grow, or thrive on hatred? Say goodbye, Nadine, you’re about to be consigned to the back pages of history.

    Reply

  114. d says:

    “I do wonder how long it will be before any of the world’s navies (or any combination of the world’s navies) reaches parity with the American Navy.” (wigwag)
    . . . and whether it will be before, or after, the cost of military hardware nails the coffin shut . . . on the American century?

    Reply

  115. Don Bacon says:

    WigWag: “Yes, Questions, the WikiLeaks release is out and one of the main revelations is that the entire Arab world has spent the better part of the last three years begging first the Bush Administration and later the Obama Administration to attack Iran. If anything, the release proves that the Arab word is, if anything, even more obsessed with Iran than Israel is.”
    Now that wikileaks has revealed the true begging positions positions of the entire Arab world (WigWag claims) perhaps this Manama Dialogue will result in yet more begging for the US to attack Iran.
    Oh well, we’ll just have to resign ourselves to another war, I guess.
    Either that or discount everything WigWag claimed. Ah, I’ll go with number two. If there is any such begging I’ll eat my hat.

    Reply

  116. samuelburke says:

    excellent post.
    more synergy is needed.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3ntMHk_QiM

    Reply

  117. nadine says:

    “A new (but familiar) strategic vision would hinge on safe waterways, stable markets, and isolating Iran–three conditions that enjoy support among Gulf leaders, as confirmed by the release of recent confidential State Department cables. ” (Matthew Reed)
    Is this the realist fall-back position? If so, it is an improvement over the linkage nonsense they have been peddling to date, but it seriously misstates the picture presented by the State Department cables. Gulf leaders do not want Iran merely isolated — they want its nuclear program stopped by any mean necessary, before they become its victims.
    “Clearly, in the fullness of time, American decline is inevitable but it is likely to take far longer than most people believe. Even when it does occur, the U.S. and its allies are unlikely to be ecliped by any other nation and its allies for a very long time.”
    Why do realists talk about American decline as if they long for it? Rise and decline are in large part, acts of will on the part of states; most hegemonic powers that have fallen have committed suicide, not been done in by their foes.
    Furthermore, a world without the Pax Americana is a far, far more dangerous world, as ruthless regional powers like Iran seek to fill the vacuum.

    Reply

  118. WigWag says:

    This is a terrific and informative post from Mr. Reed; thank you for it. I didn’t know about the Manama meeting and am glad to have been educated about it.
    The one thing I wonder about is Mr. Reed’s assertion that,
    “Second, America will lose its monopoly on power projection when the unipolar moment draws to a close and other militaries achieve technical parity.”
    First of all, the reasoning in the paragraph is circular; it essentially says American will lose its monopoly on power when America loses its monopoly on power.
    Beyond that, the “unipolar moment” will surely draw to a close; it is a historical anamoly that wasn’t even the norm throughout the Cold War. The United States always relied on powerful allies to confront the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact friends. The victor in the Cold War was not the United States but the trilateral partnership of the United States, Japan and Western Europe. Sadly Western Europe and Japan have decided to commit suicide so the United States needs to look elsewhere for assistance from like-minded friends.
    I do wonder how long it will be before any of the world’s navies (or any combination of the world’s navies) reaches parity with the American Navy. It seems to me that this is likely to take a very long time; perhaps half a century. And even when China and India possess naval power that approaches that of the United States, it seems to me that the most likely scenerio is for the Americans and the Indians to be allied against the Chinese.
    Clearly, in the fullness of time, American decline is inevitable but it is likely to take far longer than most people believe. Even when it does occur, the U.S. and its allies are unlikely to be ecliped by any other nation and its allies for a very long time.

    Reply

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