« Good! Hit ALL jihadi groups! Create a coordination center! | Main | Linda Lau on the state of Palestinian affairs »

01 October 2015

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

JLCG

I want to indicate a marvelous result from a bombardment in Hamburg ca. 1944 1945.
There is a picture in the Internet of a bombed out quarter of Hamburg. In it all the houses are burned out but the park that they surrounded is completely intact. Even the trees next to the burned out houses seem intact.. In the distance there is another park and there also the vegetation is alive.

Babak Makkinejad

From the Mster:

“Zilu said, The prince of Wei has been waiting for you to govern, what shall you do first?

The Master replied, The one thing needed first is the rectification of names.”

“The Master said: If names are not right, what is said does not accord with the truth.

When what is said does not accord with the truth, affairs cannot be carried on to success.

When affairs cannot be carried on to success, rites and music do not flourish.

When rites and music do not flourish, law and justice will fail.

And when law and justice fail, the people do not know how to move hand or foot.”

the Unready

Unlike the British or the Americans, Assad is bombing his own country.

turcopolier

Unready.

The Syrian Air Force is not bombing their own country. They are bombing targets WITHIN their own country. When you are fighting a civil war it becomes necessary to do damage WITHIN your own country. If he were around you could discuss the matter with Willian T. Shernman. pl

HankP

Mr. Habakkuk -

These statements appear to be comparable to US foreign policy and military statements I've heard since my childhood (Vietnam era). Every administration makes similar statements as far as I can tell. I think the problem is much bigger than Obama, the problem is that we have a bipartisan foreign policy establishment which means that basic assumptions and "common sense" policies are never questioned nor challenged.

William R. Cumming

We all have long passed through the LOOKING GLASS! Thanks for this posting.

jld

LMAO, even the most timid attempts at "sanitizing" SST are not going to fare very well.

walrus

Thank you Mr. Habakkuk for your cogent observation. If am afraid that the best one can say about President Obama is that any good he does in the world is purely accidental. I am haunted by my own prediction that, like all narcissists, President Obama is going to do something monumentally stupid before the end of his Presidency.

The speech? I was tempted to write an analysis of it pointing out the twisted logic, over use of "nominatives" that can mean anything in the mind of the observer (for example "American values"), and the complete and utter abandonment by America of the Golden Rule as a basis for foreign policy. However I gave it up in favour of completing the construction of my vegetable garden, much more satisfying and better for the blood pressure.

VietnamVet

Mr. Habakkuk,

Thanks. This is at the heart of the matter.

We in the West are subjects of a concerted strategic communications campaign. Like all propaganda, there are shreds of truth but they are manipulated so that the messages to the targeted persons are framed within the primal human emotions of motherhood, family and culture. The reporting on the European Refugee crisis focused on women and children. Welcoming refugees is identified as good. Reality is ignored. Most for the refugees are young males who could trek for a thousand miles, whose families were forced out of their homes by a civil war supported by western and gulf state plutocrats, and who believe in a fundamentalist monotheistic religion that considers all other religions obsolete.

The propaganda is directed primarily at selling more corporate weapons and at covering up America’s allies (Turkey, Israel, and the Gulf States) lurch towards a Middle East Jihad. It is also funded by the campaign to destabilize Russia.

Only Donald Trump among the candidates who sees this. This is frightening. No doubt; because he is a plutocrat himself. This will be a year of living dangerously. The world is stumbling towards a Eurasian Total War.

Words do matter. I hope this committee continues to spread the truth.

ex-PFC Chuck

As I understand it the bipartisan foreign policy dates back to a year or two after the end of World War II. Many of the Congressional Republicans wanted to return to the isolationist stance that dominated the party up until Pearl Harbor, but as relations with the USSR degenerated President Truman was able to convince Senator Arthur Vandenberg, the chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, to support a unified front.

Prior to the USA's entry into the war the controversy between the isolationists and the internationalists was bitter with the former predominating. That ended a few days after Pearl Harbor when Hitler unilaterally declared war on the USA without getting Japan to declaring war on the USSR, or at least not seeking a neutrality agreement with it. Prior to the war the isolationist America First movement was bitterly opposed to getting involved in the war in Europe that had started over two years earlier.

One of the more provocative subjects for counter-factual historical speculation is how events might have unfolded if Hitler hadn't done so. Could Roosevelt have gotten Congress to declare war against Germany right off the bat? Personally I doubt it and suggest that it could have taken a year or more if Hitler had been careful to avoid provocations if at all possible. Also, what would have been the impact on Britain and the USSR? If we weren't at war with their enemy the American people, via Congress, would have demanded our industrial resources be focused on the Japan conflict. Without the American supply convoys could they have survived? If as 1942 dragged on into 1943 with only a trickle of American supplies would dropping British morale driven Churchill from office to be replaced by a government committed to a negotiated peace? IIRC, Hitler effectively offered exactly that in 1940 after the fall of France. That would have freed him up to focus on obtaining the Lebensraum in the East, which was his major war objective.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/America_First_Committee
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_H._Vandenberg

ex-PFC Chuck

Great post, David. Thank you.

I suspect that decades from now Barack Obama is going to be just as rich a vein for historical psyciatric miners as are Abe Lincoln, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon.
http://amzn.to/1Obhswx

Tyler

Mr. Habakkuk,

You recognize the dangers of rhetoric, something that often gets brushed off as "not a threat" by the so called respectable sorts.

different clue

On the blog Naked Capitalism are here-and-there video segments of Obama speaking about this and that. They show Obama's unique delight in lying crassly and openly to his audience's face about something, to show that he has the power to do so and that there is not a thing they can do about it. Unfortunately those videos are scattered among thousands of comments and millions of words. It would take a decently funded project to pay someone to find all those videos and create easy-links to them.

I have considered Obama to be a Draculoid figure of cool and dispassionate Evil for some time now.

Fred

David,

I think a number of readers did not see the link you provided in the prior post to the President's speech to the UN:
https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/09/28/remarks-president-obama-united-nations-general-assembly
Here are what I think are some illustrative remarks from President Obama.

"It is not a conspiracy of U.S.-backed NGOs that ... raise the expectations of people around the globe; it’s technology, social media, and the irreducible desire of people everywhere to make their own choices about how they are governed.” The national endowment for democracy spent billions over a decade in Ukraine just prior to the “spontaneous” Maidan Square revolution. Does he think the people he is addressing are ignorant of that fact?

These utterances below were just a few minutes after speaking about NGO's, national sovereignty and the Ukraine:
"America has few economic interests in Ukraine. We recognize the deep and complex history between Russia and Ukraine. But we cannot stand by when the sovereignty ... of a nation is flagrantly violated.” The actions of the National Endowment for Democracy and of Victoria Nuland, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, in Ukraine were of course not flagrant violations of national sovereignty.

"We can be patriotic without demonizing someone else. We can cherish our own identities -- our religion, our ethnicity, our traditions -- without putting others down." Right, like the folks in South Carolina who were just forced to remove that flag that Americans must no longer mention less people of color and liberals take offense.

This is the haute couture language of the R2P intellectual. They are busy trying to eradicate American symbols (mostly in the South) while replacing them with a carefully crafted verbiage that does not resonate with anyone outside the radical left.

To quote another piece from SST: "Collective memory is the toolshed, tomorrow's ideological arsenal, from which political concepts and symbols are selected, reinterpreted, and manipulated both by established governments and opposition groups. It may wait for decades, patiently dormant, only to be reactivated suddenly as an explosive, contagious force."

I post this because I want to ask if you saw the photo of the Russian Security Council on the VOA News article linked to in the last post? Take a look at the flags in the room. I think that they are very informative of the reclamation of the symbols the link to the collective memory of the Russian people. President Obama and his advisors are blind to those cultural changes taking place in Russia and are still constrained by their own reliance on the intellectual language of academia and the theory of economic determinism. They have forgotten (or willfully ignored) both the recent history - how the West savaged the social safety net in the member states of the former USSR with all of the privatization projects and banking reforms immediately upon its collapse; and of course, the multiple terrorist attacks within the Russian Federation since that time as well as more historical events such as the Russian people's sacrifices during WWII. Obama failed to mention that it was a Soviet (Russian led) army that fought the Nazis to a standstill from June of '41 onwards and marched all the way to Berlin at a cost of millions of Russian lives. They are a charter member of the UN and have a permanent seat on the UN Security Council for a reason. Points he does not even have the courtesy to comment on in his opening remarks.

robt willmann

I wonder who wrote Obama's UN speech? I doubt that he wrote it himself.

One response which can and should always be made to the "killing his own people" statement, is that the U.S. -- through sanctions against Iraq in the 1990's -- contributed to the death of 500,000 Iraqi children, which the U.S. secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, did not deny and publicly said on the CBS 60 Minutes television program was "worth it"--

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4iFYaeoE3n4

Mongoose

David Habakkuk,

A very fine analysis. In the same spirit may I offer up a brilliant (my opinion only) dissection of the pitfalls of the "corruption" of language re: political thought and thinking in general. I'm referencing George Orwell' "Politics and the English Language," of course. It can be found here and on many other websites.

https://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/orwell46.htm

mhorowitz

"Politicians tell lies to journalists and then believe what they read. That's how wars start" Karl Kraus

readerOfTeaLeaves

Just as a mental exercise after this post, I looked up English translations of Putin's speech, and Obama's speech, to the UN. I pulled out what looked like key subjects and verbs, and for the first time I have a genuinely unsettling sense that these two men are talking right past one another.

Obama speaks of principles, and resists the idea of 'might makes right', although after the past 12 years of US foreign adventures his words lack the gravitas and credibility that I'm sure Mr Obama intended. Ahem.

-----------------------

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  
the United States has worked …to prevent a third world war -- forging supporting building
an order that recognizes ... dignity ... equal worth...  
That is …That is
there have been… times when, collectively, we have fallen short
terrible conflicts have claimed
we have pressed
this international order … [has] underwritten unparalleled advances … 
this collective endeavor … brought… cooperation …
these international principles … helped constrain bigger countries from imposing... on smaller one…
This progress is real.  
It can be documented…
And yet, we come … knowing …that dangerous currents risk pulling us back into a darker, more disordered world.  
…we see the collapse of strongmen... fragile states breeding conflict…

Brutal networks of terror have stepped …
Technologies… are now … exploited ...
Global capital flows have… accelerated inequality.
How should we respond…?  
…(those who argue that) the ideals enshrined in the U.N. charter are … not suited….  (to today)... argue … that power is a zero-sum game; that might makes right; that strong states must impose their will on weaker ones; that the rights of individuals don’t matter; and that in a time of rapid change, order must be imposed by force. 
we see some major powers …contravene international law.  
We see an erosion of the democratic principles and human rights …
We’re told … retrenchment is... only way to stamp out terrorism, or prevent foreign meddling.  
In accordance with this logic, we should support tyrants like Bashar al-Assad, who drops … because the alternative is surely worse. 


The subjects in Obama's speech are mostly abstractions.
-----------

Mr. Putin argues very forcibly for the importance of something like the UN in a dangerous world:

In 1945, the countries that defeated Nazism joined …
But I remind you that the key decisions … were made… at Yalta,.
The Yalta system was … born in travail. It was won at the cost of tens of millions of lives and two world wars.
This swept …
Let us be fair.
It helped humanity … It saved the world from large-scale upheavals.
The United Nations is unique… lately the U.N. has been widely criticized …. insurmountable differences, first of all, among the members of the Security Council.
However… there have always been differences…
The veto right has always been exercised …
the U.N…. founders did not … think that there would always be unanimity.
The mission… is to seek … compromises,… strength comes from taking different views and opinions into consideration.
Decisions debated …are either taken… not. …(the decisions) either pass or do not pass.

… actions… bypassing this procedure are illegitimate.
They… defy international law.
We all know that … a single center of domination emerged in the world, and… those … at the top of the pyramid were tempted to think … they were strong and exceptional, … knew better and … did not have to reckon with the U.N., which, … often… stands in the way.
It has now become commonplace... (to say the UN) has become obsolete and completed its historical mission.
Of course, the world is changing and the U.N. … transformation.
Russia … consider the attempts to undermine the legitimacy of the United Nations as extremely dangerous.

[The efforts to undermine the UN] could lead to a collapse (of)…international organizations, and… no other rules left but the rule of force.
We would get a world dominated by selfishness… characterized by dictate … an ever-growing number of de facto protectorates and externally controlled territories.

-----------------------------------

I've taken only the first sections of the two speeches, just as a mental exercise.
Putin's topics are always about the UN, about its importance, about the huge costs Russia paid for UN participation, precisely because they understand the costs of war very personally (historically speaking).
Putin's subjects are more concrete and specific; he's dealing with practical matters.

Here's hoping Obama actually *heard* what Putin had to say, because it is a safe bet that the rest of the world was listening. (FWIW, the Economist describes Obama as 'dithering', whereas Putin is being 'decisive'. In the two speeches, the abstract, amorphous topics of Obama would probably lead to dithering; it's hard to act decisively when contemplating vapor or ideas. It's a damn sight easier to take action whenever we know WTF we are actually talking about, to say nothing of supposed to be doing. That's simply human nature.)

Obama seems to be missing the kind of concreteness and specificity that Putin lays out.
Heaven help us!

LeaNder

Scroll down to Katie Halpers assessment of the Donald looking into the multitude of friends of BN among US candidates, VV:

http://mondoweiss.net/2015/09/president-friends-benjamin-netanyahu

HankP

ex-PFC Chuck -

Yes, the overall outline of US foreign policy was set during Truman's time, but through the 70s there were still differences between the parties (hawks vs. doves in the 60s is the one I remember the most). However, since Reagan it seems that there really hasn't been any meaningful difference between the two parties. As a disclaimer, I'm not in politics or foreign affairs and this is just the impression I get as an average citizen. But it does seem that there's literally no difference at all since the GW Bush administration, we see the exact same people kept on from a Republican -> Democrat transition. Victoria Nuland worked for Strobe Talbott under Clinton, Dick Cheney under Bush and now John Kerry under Obama. Obama kept Gates at DOD and Petraeus at CENTCOM. That seems like a lot more holdovers than was usual in the past.

BTW, I love counterfactuals and alternate history. If you get a chance read The Man in the High Castle by Phillip K. Dick, it's about the US after being partitioned by Germany and Japan after they won WWII.

William Fitzgerald

David,

I am now of the opinion that you and Dr. Brenner are correct about Pres. Obama. His "recipe for disaster" statements made today, concerning Russian operations in Syria, were divorced from reality. Adding to the farce, the entire amen chorus of Mrs. Clinton, McCain, various administration mouthpieces, and the array of republican candidates are on board with the program.

I have a notion that the original "Assad must go" and the "red line" comments were put into speeches as "make me look strong and decisive" without much thought their becoming national policy. It's almost as though consequences don't exist in the rarefied atmosphere of the upper levels of American foreign policy mandarins. Someone earlier described it as a closed loop, which it surely must be.

WPFIII

William Fitzgerald

Babak,

A good dictionary must surely be the most important book in a library, though I fear it is not consulted as often as we would wish.

WPFIII

William Fitzgerald

ex-PFC Chuck,

If you keep this up, you might make ex-Spec-4. That is an interesting what if you brought up. In considering the possible outcomes we should recall that the Wehrmacht was decisively defeated at Moscow and Stalingrad before appreciable aid came from North America. And, at Kursk in July of 1943, the last German attempt at a strategic offensive was utterly shattered before the war in the west got to Europe. I would say that, had we not been at war with Germany in 1943, the lend-lease would have moved as it did. The Pacific war was primarily naval and the resources to fight it were ships, planes and landing craft.

The result? Perhaps a Russian and British victory without a cross-channel invasion. Or, perhaps a stalemate along the German border in the east, with the British winning in North Africa and maybe moving into the Balkans?

WPFIII

Tyler

WFIII

President Gay Urkel does not like to be thwarted!

ARISTONMENHYDOR

I don't even think "civil war" applies to Syria. It's more like a foreign invasion by mobsters and cultists.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

November 2020

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30          
Blog powered by Typepad