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24 January 2015

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Mongoose

Reading these comments reminds me of the old saw that there are two types of people in the world--optimists and pessimists. Optimists, such as Voltaire's Dr. Pangloss and countless others (primarily but not exclusively Americans) believe that this is the best of all possiblle worlds. Then there are pessimists, such as me and many others, who think that the optimists are right, i.e., this is as good as it gets.

Alba Etie

Mr Kiracofe ,
Listening to the BBC on Sirius radio today - its being reported one of the dead terrorist spoke perfect "America English " - if true that is troubling ..

Tyler

I tell my wife that the advantage of being a pessimist is that all your surprises are pleasant ones.

Babak Makkinejad

Optimist (glass half-full) or Pessimist (glass half-empty) are missing the point; Who is in control of the glass?

Babak Makkinejad

Surely you cannot be serious; you are married.

optimax

An optimist is someone that looks only one way when crossing a one way street. Twice, when a young optimist, I was almost hit by a car and now look both ways.

The Taoist asks if the glass is filling or emptying, nothing being static in nature.

Bill H

Hard to imagine how a dead terrorist could speak at all, English or otherwise. Sorry, could not resist.

Babak Makkinejad

China will not become a destination of choice for budding entrepreneurs any time soon, if ever. US is still the most innovative society on this planet since her culture fosters and accepts innovation and does not try to break, hinder or otherwise destroy innovators.

To my knowledge, there is no place in Asia or Oceania that comes close - from Western Asia to Eastern Asia are just billions of people looking to US (and parts of EU) for Innovation Manna.

Not even Japan comes close, that country's hive-like conformity makes the Chinese look like rugged individualists.

Babak Makkinejad

The Europeans, Israelis, Australians, the Koreans, the Japanese, Indonesians, Malaysians, the Indians, the Vietnamese, the Thais, assorted Arabs, and Pakistanis who would want US to remain engaged in the world affairs.

If US withdraws into isolationism tomorrow, these states will be begging US to come back.

Clearly, you cannot satisfy these many clients, often with contradictory - or foolish - agenda of their own and keep them happy with you.

And then there are those states that US is trying to beat into line, like Iran and North Korea and Cuba that may actually prefer an isolationist US.

The pathetic Arab leaders of the Southern Persian Gulf are a good example: they do not want US to attack Iran, they do not want US to leave the region, they do not want US to settle her differences with Iran, they want US to be there indefinitely so that she can protect them from all enemies - foreign or domestic.


confusedponderer

Walrus,
I think that it goes beyond the complete American refusal to learn that the people of the world are NOT the same.

There is also the sentiment that apparently everybody is out to get the US, how else to explain their irrational criticisms? The latter aspect has a fierce and tribal jingoistic streak.

Take the matter of Lance Armstrong. A couple years back, when the first allegations of doping surfaced, I had a discussion with some Americans about it. Some where thinking the allegations credible, as did I, after all, it was rather implausible that anybody would be that good, that long, and consistently so. Some were flatly refusing the charges as bogus.

Interestingly, in that discussion the opinions among the Americans went along US partisan lines. What struck me, and what stayed in my memory, was that the self described right wingers firmly insisted that not only Lance Armstrong was not doping, but that, obviously, it was the jealous, dastardly FRENCH trying to get back at him and the US, and were trying to cheat him out of his title, for beating them at their own game - because clearly, Armstrong was simply exceptional, and the accusations were plain Anti-Americanism.

It is that, and the more general sentiment that America doesn't have to learn anything from anyone, because they are exceptional, and nothing could possibly ever get better than that. It is not stupidity per se, it is a stubborn insistence that there is nothing to be learned from anybody else.

That these Middle-Easterners are not what Americans expect them to be is not traced to the root - the mistaken assumption of their nature. Instead, inevitable failure of ideas based on the flawed assumption is being taken as evidence for the petty spitefulness and the generally nefarious character of these incorrigible evildoers. Indeed, if they don't meet expectations about their character, the reason is that they intentionally and maliciously refuse to meet these expectations.

It is the sort of blind self-righteousness that in ye olden days had teachers beat deaf students for their spitefulness. Indeed, they had it coming for spitefully not listening.

There are a corresponding 'policy proposals' along such lines on the US right.

Clifford Kiracofe

For reporting (in French) on the Algerian situation see the local newspaper "Liberte". The reporting contrasts with "Western" reporting to say the least:

http://www.liberte-algerie.com/actualite

Clifford Kiracofe

"Algerian sources said the attackers had come from Libya, but two of the Islamist fighters whose bodies were recovered appeared to be Canadian."
http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/21/us-sahara-crisis-raid-idUSBRE90H1DE20130121

There are some differences in accent and in usage between Canadian/English and American that foreigners might not notice.

The pattern of Canadians involved in jihadi terrorism relating to North Africa is not new. There is an Algerian French speaking community in Quebec. We can recall the case of the Millenium Bomber.

If it happened to be Canadian English speakers then this could relate to several communities. We can await details from the Canadian press if this was the case.

And then we do have our own "home grown" problems here, of course. So we shall have to await details.

Clifford Kiracofe

CP,

From an analytical perspective, IMO, the problem is with the American elites and specifically the foreign policy establishment and political Washington.

The dominant mentality in these circles is that "We" (the policy and policitcal elites) took over the "responsibilities" of the British Empire after World War II and are behaving accordingly.

The issue is mentality/mindset of the various political and policy elites who control Washington and thus our foreign policy and military policy.

The public is easily manipulated with modern mass communication techniques and a press which functions as a stenographer for the Imperial crowd at "Court".

Down here in the "Country" folks don't seem to pay too much attention to the goings on inside the Beltway about 170 miles north.

turcopolier

Cliford Kiracofe
IMO you are too generous to much of the American populous. They are as rotten with self-love as the elites. You may be living in an island of sanity. It is hard for me to know. My youthful memories may deceive me. pl

Clifford Kiracofe

Earlier an Algerian security source told Reuters that documents found on the bodies of two militants had identified them as Canadians, as special forces scoured the plant following Saturday's bloody end to the siege.

"A Canadian was among the militants. He was coordinating the attack," Sellal told a news conference, adding that the raiders had threatened to blow up the gas installation.

The Canadian's name was given only as Chedad.

In Ottawa, Canada's foreign affairs department said it was seeking information, but referred to the possible involvement of only one Canadian
."
http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/21/us-sahara-crisis-idUSBRE90F1JJ20130121



Clifford Kiracofe

Yes, I suppose in the masses there is a high level of decadence and ignorance as well. We just spent $5 trillion (to 2020) on Iraq and Afghanistan and the masses appear clueless. Can't seem to relate the cost of the wars to the present economic situation, for example. The elites could care less as long as the masses come up with the money for the foreign adventures.

Charles I

I think at heart the inability of "America" to see the world as it really is, or as it is seen itself by the world can be traced back to the failure, on both citizen and national levels, to abide the advice of the Oracle at Delphi.

confusedponderer

Polls suggest that FOX viewers are usually poorer informed than the people who don't consume news at all. Critics tend rightly point out that that is a result of FOX' staying on message and their distinct partisan viewpoint.

There is a thing that usually goes unmentioned in the mostly justified criticism on FAUX and their news, and that is the fact that they also sell a message that is in demand. While they do shape the market, they also serve it.

Personally, I have come to think that people believe that Saddam had WMD because they wanted to believe it because it fit their preconceived notions. They didn't bother checking the veracity because it didn't really matter to them.

Propaganda, in which FOX enthusiastically engaged, did play a major part in producing that, but in order to justify a war it needed that mentality that was perfectly at peace with using force abroad.

As Madeleine Albright put it so inimitably in 1998: "If we have to use force, it is because we are America! We are the indispensable nation. We stand tall. We see further into the future."

Indeed, somebody had to pick up the White Man's burden and 'make the World safe for democracy', and, of course, Freedom (tm). Who else to pick it up but the Indispensable Nation (tm)?

walrus

Yes Ponderer, Fox certainly sells a message that is "in demand" but so do pornographers.

The trouble is that the Murdoch media do not label its products as pornography and less discerning consumers eat it up thinking its good red meat.

I have no problems with spirited debate of all points of view, but it is lethally dangerous to free speech and good government when facts are either surpressed or lied about as a matter of course.

For example, the simple fact that total health expenditure as a percentage of GDP in the United States is 17.9% versus a developed world average of around 10% should trump all blatherings about "Socialism" and "death panels". Unfrtunately it didn't.

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SH.XPD.TOTL.ZS

walrus

Yes Babak, engagement is certainly wanted, and it suits American interests to remain engaged or AMerica would disengage.

And if America did disengage completely, Japan, Australia and a host of other countries would have to become nuclear powers quickly - and would do so.

Clifford Kiracofe

Oh yes, Madeleine whose father the BBC reportedly would not allow on air owing to his alleged admiration of the Soveit Union. Her father having been in the Czech diplo service and was in London with the exile government as a spokesman...

Yes, Madeleine the student of Brzezinski at Columbia and on his staff at NSC.

Yes, Madeleine whose father, Josef Koerbel (Korbel) taught Condi Rice in Colorado and Madeleine who mentored Susan Rice.

The phrase "indespensible nation" I believe was lifted by Madeleine from some political scientist in International Relations theory. I forget which professor. One of the "Neorealists" perhaps.


Here is an interesting technical paper on American unilateralism:

http://www.hks.harvard.edu/m-rcbg/CSRI/publications/workingpaper_16_ruggie.pdf

Clifford Kiracofe

Update:

"Abdelmalek Sellal, Algeria's prime minister, added on Monday that the kidnappers came from Egypt, Canada, Mali, Niger, Mauritania and Tunisia. He said the group, wearing Algerian army uniforms, included a former driver from Niger who worked at the facility and a team of explosives experts who had memorized the layout of the sprawling complex and were ready to blow the place sky-high."

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/01/21/death-toll-in-algeria-hostage-crisis-continues-to-rise-as-more-countries/#ixzz2Iddmm5s1

Babak Makkinejad

Yes, and what if Australia or Japan become nuclear powers?

In Australia the "White people" have been afraid of being over-run by Asiatic races for generations; first Japanese, later Chinese and now Javanese.

Margaret Thatcher stated that nuclear weapons have kept the peace in Euope. They seem to have served the same purpose on the Korean Penninsula and in the sub-Continent.

I personally do not think US needs to be engaged in Australia or in Korea. They are irrelevant to US security, in my opinion.

Babak Makkinejad

An American friend who had lived in Benares for 4 years and in an Indian village for a year once mentioned that he prefers to be in a Japanese POW camp than to be living in an Indian village.

Mind you, he spoke several Indian languages.

I think the interior of all countries are like that - it is left to the leaders of various countries to manage conduct their foreign and domestic relations in spite of their populations.

YT

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way.

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