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28 June 2014

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kao_hsien_chih

I can only think of the motive behind the nonsense being spewed by he West--both Washington DC and its European acolytes--as a sort of religious fundamentalism untainted (so to speak) by reason and science. Their cause is right because they say so and anything that says otherwise must be burned at stake, whether they are domestic skeptics or foreign adversaries. Any treachery and deceit in course of this holy secularist jihad/crusade is justified by the end--kill all the unbelievers and the let the great atheist god sort them out, so to speak, seems to be their prevailing attitude.

R.L. Kirtley

All..I Think We May Be A Little Too Harsh On The Wonks Who Have Come Up With Our Plans For Syria,Ukraine,Iraq,ect. After All,I'm Sure That Everything Worked Out Perfect On Their Powerpoint Slides...Sarc.

Ryan

Confusedponderer,

Well written and well stated.

Bandolero

Confusedponderer

That's a brilliant article.

Thank You!

JohnH

"For the policymakers hegemony overrides sovereignty." And showing resolve (being intransigent) is policymakers' highest value. According to the conventional version of recent history, Kennedy stared down Khrushchev on Cuba. Reagan made the Soviet Union collapse. Recent American shows of strength forced Iran to cave, Syria to abandon chemical weapons and Putin to knuckle under. Vietnam was lost only because of lack of resolve on the part of American public opinion, which should not have been listened to in the first place.

Most of these narratives are at best questionable, but they show how much being pig headed has trumped sound judgement, learning lessons, and finding win-win solutions. And, of course, any experience (Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya) that doesn't fit the narrative get swiftly swept under the rug.

It's amazing how strictly prominent politicians and news organizations adhere to this crazy narrative, trapped in their alternative group-thinking universe. Yet no one seems willing to rock the boat and put and end to this nonsensical echo chamber.

joe brand

So much of what you describe here -- the self-constructed cul de sacs, the debates over fiction, the aggressive oversimplification, the reliance on regime change as policy -- sounds like a good description of the Dulles brothers and the policies they pursued. So I wonder if it's merely true that D.C. has rejected self-restraint and prudence for "more than a decade." Isn't it more like six or seven?

Denis O'Brien, PhD

Yes, sir. Well stated and over-due. I don't know if most Americans are to the point yet where they would agree, but it's fast getting to that point.

Confusedponderer: The Obamaites act in much the same way when they blather about Ghouta being Assad’s handiwork, when it is by now pretty much clear that that was not the case.

Obama's red line to Syria on Aug20.2012 was, apparently, impromptu. He made an impromptu appearance at the press briefing and the question was, ostensibly, off the cuff, as was the answer.

Obama: "We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus. That would change my equation."

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/08/20/remarks-president-white-house-press-corps

What people are missing is that the red line was not directed at Assad exclusively. It was, in effect, if any CWs are used, there will be trouble. But a very strong case can be made that CWs were not, in fact, used -- certainly not "a whole bunch." No more than small amounts were employed very locally to promote the insurgents' false flag initiative and to give the UN some sarin samples to take home.

I am trained in neuropharmacology, and I have spent 6 months studying many of the Ghouta videos in excruciating detail. I believe I have made a very strong case that the biological evidence virtually proves that those victims we see -- including scores of kids -- were killed with carbon monoxide or (less likely) cyanide and certainly not sarin or some other organophosphate. My formal conclusion was: "This was a false-flag stunt using murdered children as bait to lure the Americans into an attack on Assad." That conclusion is backed up by a 288 pg treatise titled "Murder in the SunMorgue." I believe this is the most detailed study on the Ghouta Massacre available -- certainly the most detailed pharmacological study.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/230748990/Murder-in-the-SunMorgue

Before ISIS stormed into Iraq and began butchering hundreds or thousands of unarmed people, I don't think most people were willing to accept the thesis that these blood-thirsty Sunni/Salafists/Wahhabi -- whatever -- were capable of murdering scores or hundreds of children (probably Alawites) in a failed attempt to get the US to take on Assad.

Sadly, that thesis does not seem all that extreme today, just a year on. Having replaced their consciences with screwball ideology, they will stop at nothing.

But of course, the American neocons have also supplanted conscience with ideology and killed hundreds of thousands of Muslim children throughout the Levant and ME. So I don't think anyone is entitled to play the holier-than-thou role in this mess. ISIS could just as well point to Americans and the West and say "they will stop at nothing."

Aka

reminds me of this
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_8xW1Wuae0z4/S3ABmxh569I/AAAAAAAABo4/OgbT-mGVYrA/s1600-h/tr011122.gif

confusedponderer

Denis,
"Obama's red line to Syria on Aug20.2012 was, apparently, impromptu. He made an impromptu appearance at the press briefing and the question was, ostensibly, off the cuff, as was the answer."

Ok. But in a way, that'd be even worse. It means that, as far as Obama is concerned, there was no plan, and that Kerry seized the opportunity.

Obama's own warhawks and their allies who want a US intervention in Syria, tried to put him in a bind after he said that. That was what led to Ghouta.

Think of a form for how to get the US into a war:

Is there US treshold for intervention?

What's the treshold:
Massacres (-) they all do it, PR problem with headchoppers.
Children as victims (+) always works
CW use (+) everybody hates gas, reliable PR wise
...

Are these contitions met?
Massacres (+) but too ambiguous
Children as victims (+) but not in a way good for PR
CW use? (-) Assad has announced CW disarmament and let inspectors in
...

Can these contitions be created?
Massacres (+) but too ambiguous
Children as victims (+) but not in a way good for PR
CW use? (+) Well Turkish intelligence knows a guy who knows a guy ...
...

Cheney thought along the same Gleiwitzian lines when he wanted to paint a U2 baby blue to have the Iraqis shoot at it, or when he proposed to have SEALs create an incident with Iran in the Persian Gulf.

If it doesn't rain, make it rain.

But of course, the precondition to have such deceit work is secrecy.

To maintain secrecy, it will probably be necesary to lie about what happened if impertinently pertinent questions are being asked.

Which means that again the debate is about virtual realities and not about what actually did happen. Neither the pulic nor their elected representatives know enough to come to an informed judgement.

turcopolier

CP

congratulations and welcome aboard. pl

Babak Makkinejad

Thank you for including the European governments in this - they bear major responsibility for this and I suppose - in good time - for World War III.

Ex-PFC Chuck

Agreed!

steve

Thanks for the clear and concise article.

oofda

Excellent piece, CP. In addition to demonizing the leaders of countries, the US simply doesn't take the interests of those countries into account. And to those countries, their interests are legitimate, even if our foreign policy elite don't respect them. As observed in the comment:
"The Russians have interests, and these interests won't go away with Putin." The Russians had, now have and will have strong concerns about Ukraine. And Ukrainians have interests in relations with Russia. Remember the elite of old Ukraine used the term "Little Russia" to describe their region, and "Great Russia" for the large Russian mass of the Empire.
Actually, I am probably giving too much credit when I say the US foreign policy elites don't consider other countries' interests- they probably just aren't aware of them.

YT

Der Untergang des Abend ist nahe ...

FB Ali

CP,

An excellent examination of US policy.

The only other item I would have liked to see discussed is the extent to which some in the policy establishment are pursuing specific agendas of their own, and are able to push the dumb consensus into desired directions.

A couple of days ago Moon of Alabama referred to an article last year by Edward Luttwak in which he argued that unending conflict in Syria best suited US interests; there must be many others who think along those lines. It also serves Israeli interests, as does increased turmoil everywhere in the Middle East; I think it is fairly well-established that there are influential people in the US policy-making structure who push the Israeli agenda.

There are also the moneyed interests, for whom conflict and war mean vast earning opportunities. They also use the dumb majority to further their own purposes.

Anna-Marina

The ground for the deceptive narratives is the desire to be absolved of any responsibility. The glaring display of dishonesty, whoring, and pettiness tells everything about the shameless society we live in now, where individual self-serving follies have no responsibilities. Our judicial system is bent towards the power and money. The Internet is thus a wonderful tool to expose the villains. There should be no mercy towards the profiteering buffoons.

David Habakkuk

kao_hsien_chih,

Reverting to an earlier discussion, one might say that Tocqueville in his studies of the different outcomes of the American and French Revolutions was wrestling with two curses which the ‘wicked fairy’ of reaction laid on the ‘sleeping beauty’ of egalitarian politics.

One was that ‘liberty’ would naturally degenerate into ‘licence’, creating a Hobbesian anarchy from which the only refuge was absolutism; the other that politics would become a religion, developing the kind of ‘antinomian’ propensities commonly found among adherents of millenarian religious creeds.

To those who believe they have the key to a secular salvation, just as to those who believe they are instruments of the will of God, the doctrine that the ends justify the means can easily come to seem natural, particularly in dealing with non-believers. And it is a doctrine which not only can easily open the door to complete societal collapse – but also, as Tocqueville noted, can provide a perfect apologia for tyrants.

A key part of his polemic was directed to demonstrating that the antidote proposed by many ‘reactionaries’ to dangers they themselves accurately identified – to defend or reconstruct traditional hierarchies – was not only unworkable, but was likely to guarantee the realisation of their own worst nightmares. Part of the reason for this, Tocqueville argued, was that, in the civilisation of the Christian West, the trends making for the disintegration of traditional hierarchical and ‘collectivist’ beliefs and systems were ineluctable.

What he could easily demonstrate was that the example of the United States refuted the case that liberty necessarily produced an immediate collapse into ‘licence’, and that egalitarian politics necessarily became an antinomian pseudo-religion.

After 1945, the notion that the United States was, as it were, the ‘good face’ of democracy, in the sense of egalitarian politics, appeared overwhelmingly compelling to very many people in Europe: including many sometime fascists and communists who had to face up to the bankruptcy of their earlier beliefs.

The fact that, in the aftermath of their triumph in 1989, latent ‘Jacobin’ propensities in the American elite took over – with European elites raising only intermittent protest – completely baffles me.

What makes it much worse is that – as indeed conservatives commonly argued about Jacobinism – a pseudo-religious politics, professing to be leading the world to universal emancipation, seems increasingly to be turning into an instrument of an unbridled ‘licence’: a will-to-power which is all the more dangerous because unacknowledged.

Indeed, I sometimes find myself inclined to parody Kennan’s famous ‘Long Telegram’, and suggest that American elites have become committed to the ‘total destruction of rival power.’ If they cannot pull back, this is likely sooner or later to end in complete catastrophe. That British elites appear totally complicit in this insanity is to me beyond belief depressing for me, although doubtless I should not have been surprised.

David Habakkuk

CP,

A very fine post indeed, which gives a lot of nails a resounding bash on the head.

On Ukraine, incidentally, a very interesting article by Nikolai Gvosdev has just been posted on the ‘National Interest’ website.

The conclusion is worth quoting:

‘The worst choice, however, would be to make rhetorical commitments to Ukraine that the West has no real intention of fulfilling. This would only anger both the Russians (who see it as unacceptable interference in their affairs) and the Ukrainians (who have trusted the promises made to them by Western politicians). Putin takes the fate of Ukraine seriously, and has shown he will take major risks to secure the Kremlin’s position. He may be willing to reach an accommodation with the United States – but it is not clear that the United States should or would accept it. But Putin won’t meekly accept that Ukraine, like the Warsaw Pact states before it, will drift into the Western orbit. In his view, Russia, since the end of the Cold War, has signed off on too many compromises and found itself pushed out of Europe. In Ukraine, in 2014, he has drawn the line and effectively said, “This far, and no further.” The decision by the United States – and its allies – to accept that line or to cross it should not be made lightly.’

(See http://nationalinterest.org/feature/ukraines-ancient-hatreds-10736?page=show .)

I don’t like much Gvosdev – I think him a highly intelligent man, without much guts and self-respect. It seems to me he probably understands the crucial point which your analysis illuminates – that precisely what we are doing is ‘to make rhetorical commitments to Ukraine that the West has no real intention of fulfilling.’

On and off, I have spent decades explaining to Eastern Europeans that anyone in the area who ‘trusted the promises made to them by Western politicians’ really is a ‘mug punter’, and that they might usefully read a little history.

What do they want, for God's sake – the guarantees to Czechoslovakia that weren’t honoured, or the guarantee to Poland which precipitated the Nazi-Soviet Pact and destroyed the last chances of avoiding the Second World War, the genocide inflicted on the Jews, and the catastrophe which was unleashed upon Poland and the Baltics?

But it appears that irrational optimism is incurable.

Castellio

I agree. While there is nothing "new", the article creates a broad, interwoven, and most importantly, "realistic" platform of analysis. It is trying to create space for a new, badly needed consensus.


nick b

CP,

I would posit that one of the main reasons that two, or more, decades worth of US foreign policy has been "plain dumb", is that American voters assess little or no political/electoral penalty on our leaders for getting it consistently wrong.

Valissa

David, there is at least one Brit with a clue about today's "pseudo-religious" politics.

I found John Gray's book,'Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia' has some very interesting food for thought. I have several of his books and I typically have little use for political philosophers, but I find Gray enjoyable reading. Perhaps because he came from a working class family he's more lucid and blunt and not as pretentious a writer as so many philosopher types are.

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_N._Gray
"John Banville praised Black Mass, saying that 'Gray's assault on Enlightenment ideas of progress is timelier than ever'."

Valissa

Oops forgot to add 2 things...

Here is a link to Gray's book at Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Black-Mass-Apocalyptic-Religion-Utopia/dp/0374531528/

Thank you Confusedponderer for an excellent essay, and btw, you rarely seem 'confused' to me :)

confusedponderer

Well, thank you.

VietnamVet

CP,

I could not agree more.

What we are watching is the purposeful destruction of states and sovereignty. In reality bank robbers and war profiteers are running things for their benefit. Governments by and for the people are dead.

You cannot get more dysfunctional than the US government warning about bombs and bombers coming to the Homeland from the Syrian Civil War while at the same time proposing to spend 500 million dollars in tax money to ship bombs to the bombers.

Yes, even Poland now recognizes that it has given the USA a “blow job” for nothing. There is no there, there. We have hollowed out States.

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