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19 June 2017

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The Twisted Genius

pl,

Damned straight we should renounce it. Not only is it boorish and notably un-Christian behavior, but our bullying ways will end up getting us all killed. I remember an interview with Bush the Younger before the 2000 election. He was asked what kind of foreign policy he would pursue. He thought for a few seconds and sad said "I want to have a humble foreign policy." That was the smartest thing he said for the next eight plus years. I want that humble foreign policy.

Outrage Beyond

"Soros, Finkelstein, Chomsky" are all Zionists. At best, Chomsky and Finkelstein could be considered "controlled opposition." Soros is more of a controller.

Kooshy

Colonel I agree, the problem is, grandstanders are easy to manipulate.

walrus

Lemur, this is indeed the same as pre WW1 jingoism.

Charles Michael

Yes,
The Quatar story, just after the Ryad saber-dance, is a case in point: 12 billions $ F-15 sold against major shift from Turkey.

Huey Pierce Long, I had to refresh my memories on wikipedia.

Many Thanks for your endurance.

Brunswick

Col,

It's not the "royal" we.

Blackwater had State and DOD contracts paid for by US Taxpayers,

They also had Iraqi and Afghan contracts, paid for by:
-US Aid
- International Aid
- Iraqi and Afghan revinues from their tax and royalty base.

https://www.lrb.co.uk/v27/n13/ed-harriman/where-has-all-the-money-gone

Naomi Klien's "Shock Doctrine" is well worth reading in this regard.

ISL

Dear Colonel,

So the two wars cost 5 trillion dollars.

http://www.militarytimes.com/articles/war-costs-report-brown-university

So who got the concessions on the oil? Well almost none of the companies are US. China and Malaysia did nicely, as did Russia.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Iraq#Energy

The Iraqi economy is 170 billion. If the US could tax 10% of this (and the govt is nearly financially insolvent), it would cover nothing - not even the interest on the cost of the wars.

Raw materials from Afghanistan for US manufacturing?

The wars have been a great sucking sound (loss) to the US treasury.

meanwhile....

From 1990 to 2002, the US was pulling ahead of China in relative GDP. Since 2002 China has caught up from a third to near parity.

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/12/the-world-s-top-economy-the-us-vs-china-in-five-charts/

So instead of investing in the US to maintain our competitiveness, we spilled blood and treasure in the sands where Ozymandias once ruled. (http://www.potw.org/archive/potw46.html)

Jack

All

We should not forget that the Russians were our allies during World War I & II. We were not always implacable enemies.

I don't know if you have seen the Oliver Stone interview with Putin. This is a man who took responsibility for Russia in its darkest days in recent times and lead it through to the other side. He is clearly a leader we can partner with. The issue is not Russia but the quality of our own politics and the vast bureaucracy we have created that has its own imperative.

I remain convinced that until we drastically reduce the scope and scale of our government we are going to continually lurch towards a state where we become the enemy of the world as the primary instigator of instability.

Jack

Sir

I certainly believe we are living in a period of mass delusion, not only in our foreign relations but also in our economic & financial policies.

Our actions in interfering in the internal affairs of sovereign nations and destroying international law by acting with impunity as hegemon will no doubt have its consequences as other nations build their strength to secure their boundaries and their interests.

Maybe we'll be brought down like the school yard bully who gets his comeuppance. My concern is that we will not be able to right the ship of state until we face a catastrophe.

Swamp Yankee

Col. Lang, I hope you'll permit an historical footnote which I hope is of some interest:

I think it's quite germane to your point, Colonel, to note that the City on a Hill vision of Winthrop almost immediately ran up against the messy realities of the human experience. Within the first decade of Winthrop's settlement at Shawmut (Boston), you have problems with schismatics of the Anne Hutchinson variety, questions about the nature of church-state relations (the Halfway Covenant), war with the Pequots, the splitting of significant numbers of settlers towards Connecticut, Roger Williams in Rhode Island, and etc. Indeed, the great scholar of Puritanism Perry Miller wrote astutely on the Puritan obsession with the failure of their mission; I think this gets at something that remains significant in the national psyche.

For what it's worth, as John Demos has shown in his fine book _A Little Commonwealth_, down here in New Plymouth -- separate from Mass. Bay until 1691 -- the fact that settlement was initially made by a combination of radical Separatists (Saints) and various adventurers (Strangers), combined with the much more desperate circumstances of first settlement and a comparatively less yielding physical environment than occurred in Mass. Bay, made for a relatively more pluralistic and less expansionistic society than in either Mass. Bay or Connecticut. This is not to even get into the demographic differences (if memory serves, in 1640 - 10 yrs post settlement MA Bay, 20 yrs post settlement for New Plimoth - pop. of MA Bay -- c. 30,000; pop. of Plymouth - 800) or Indian relations.

I've always thought this made for a better, more laid-back model for the country to follow than the Puritans of Mass. Bay, but then again, as I'm writing from up the hill from Plymouth Bay, I suppose I am a biased observer.

Old Microbiologist

It is an interesting gambit. It is possible that ISIS will be eliminated within several weeks. Once that happens the solidification of Syrian, Iranian, and Hezbollah forces with Russian oversight will begin to clean house. If I were Assad I would go to the UN and announce that every foreign invader inside Syria has 1 week to get out or be destroyed. No resolution has any chance of passage but he can go on record. Russia has so far given every indication they won't directly support anything like this. But, it could include escalation of supplies with newer weapons and jamming systems.

In the mean time Russia has shut down the deconfliction process and now will light up every target overflying Syrian airspace. The pilots will never know if it real or not and perhaps it might just be real often enough to make them re-think their presence in the area. I suspect a few drones might get shot down but not piloted aircraft. But, the Iranians just might see this as an opportunity to poke the bear. I can envision a cruise missile attack on the American air base illegally in Syria. If the other Arab groups are really getting in the game then it could grow quickly into something the US never imagined and would be typical unintended consequences caused by very poor thinking by analysts in the US. Russia is treading a fine line and there are a lot of fronts in motion now. Tillersons ludicrous attempt to normalize relations yesterday are an indication of the bizarre logic operating in the US. The opening and arming of new bases this week in Norway are more examples of US aggression against Russia and this will not end well.

scott douglas

I seriously doubt that LTG Brown will commit to any requested operations within Russia's new, de facto, no-fly-zone. Would you conduct a mission with your squadron lit up on SA radars, hostage, whistling past the graveyard? No. That all has to be suppressed, thus the shape of the Russian challenge.

It's not a matter of 'will the Russians fire on coalition aircraft?'

More 'will we make war on Russia in order to operate within Syrian airspace?'

Again, no.

Advantage: Putin.

No doubt negotiations are in progress!

Igor Bundy

Syria has slowly been rearming itself, already activated its coastal defenses. Its air defenses are being setup. Priority is defeating ISIS. Al queda and their members will get their own area to preach over.. perfidious kurds would need perpetual US protection because at this point Turkey is not going to put up with what is happening and there will be a genocide. And once the political process is started, Syria will activate its defenses and watch what the US does. Nether Syria or Russia will stand by idly while US does an Iraqi.. Neither President Putin or Assad is that stupid. And the first place on any kind of US strike on Syria would be the the only nuclear reactor in the middle east smoking..

Linda

Pat - why didn't you do something about Derek Harvey when he was a major?

Pundita

All,

Have you noticed that the more fault Americans find with their own history, the more fault they find with other peoples and their histories? And where has this led? It's led to a great many peoples around the world thoroughly despising Americans. So Americans need get a grip and rethink.

The saga of the early Puritans in the new world and their belief that they were a specially chosen people is part and parcel of what it means to be American. Not to celebrate our heritage, to use history as an excuse to roll out a list of American wrongdoings, serves no good purpose.

The worst part is that self-flagellation over historical and present wrongdoings has become a global pastime, as people compete to see whose culture has done the worst. So now we are between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea.

We all know the dreary Devil in this case: a totalitarian religious government, which only anal-retentive people can willingly tolerate. Or it's Marxism, which stuffs all individuality into the categories of Oppressor or Oppressed and sets people to squabbling about who among them is the bigger victim.

Bringing up the Devil's rear, as it were, is modern Globalism: no matter what the economic benefits, it makes societies in which identity to reduced to algorithms for brand preferences, and where consumerism replaces national interests.

But when we turn away from the Devil we're faced with the Vasty Deep: an obsession with diversity that leads to balkanization and the tribalism of a thousand tongues, with everyone wanting their diverse government edicts written in their own diverse language, and where nobody wants to sit next to someone on a plane unless they've first checked the person's Facebook page to learn whether he she or it is my kind of diverse.

Is there a tiebreaker here, some way societies can lurch onward in this era without having to choose between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea as the only defense against collapse?

Gregory R. Copley did see a way around the dilemma. He calls it simply "specialness." Here is what he means by it:

Every society has a unique geolocation and a history, and this gives it a specialness that transcends differences in the society's groupings. Shared knowledge of the specialness can bring cohesion to the groups in a society, a common purpose and sense of pride that offsets divisiveness fostered by politics and political media.

How did Gregory discover this way forward? His professional duties landed him in the catbird seat while the Ethiopian government and the country's large diaspora felt their way out of their ghastly Marxist era, which had reduced a once-proud nation to just another dirt-poor African country.

But many Ethiopians eventually rebelled against their self-image as a basket-case. They said to themselves (my paraphrasing), 'You know what? We may be poor, and we may be fools, but by God we have a history, a great history, and that makes us a special people.'

And with that realization the Ethiopians began to get off their knees.

Of course there are terrible things in the Ethiopian past, as there are in any society's past. Yet people are able to take the bad parts of their history in stride. What they can't manage is being cast adrift in the sea of life without an anchor for their identity.

As to the truth of a society's creation story -- a reporter once asked Black Elk whether he actually believed that his tribe's creation story was true. Black Elk replied, "I don't know if it's true. I know this is how it was told to me."

In that sensible answer is the larger truth about the roots of one's society, beyond any specific facts.

More than a decade ago I told my readers in Britain that they'd better muster civilizational certainty or they were headed to the trees. Soon after British officials began saying that the British school system should stop teaching British history because the British had done so many awful things to other peoples. They cautioned it would be harming the tender minds of British schoolchildren to expose them to the truth about their country's dark colonial eras.

Just when I thought I would have to start serving bananas to the British, someone -- this might have been Her Majesty -- woke up and said in so many words, 'You know, we really must start embracing some civilizational certainty.'

And thus the stunningly beautiful reification of Christian marriage bonds and the British Crown's mystical connection to Christianity and the British people celebrated in the marriage of Prince William and the commoner Kate.

The marriage ceremony was broadcast (live, if I recall) in all the Commonwealth countries. And so for the first time many young people around the world got to see a concrete statement of a heritage which they could all share in no matter their religion or culture.

To return to Gregory Copley's talk about specialness -- it's a long story how an Australian defense analyst and advisor to governments got involved in watching the Ethiopians rediscover and appreciate their history. Gregory told some of the story during a talk he gave at the U.S. Library of Congress on May 11, which he wrote up on May 25 for his Defense & Foreign Affairs publication (paywall) and gave the tedious title, "Strategic Symbolism in an Era of Resurgent Identity Politics."

Happily he also outlined his talk for free to John Batchelor's radio audience. He recounted some of the history of Ethiopians' rediscovery of their history and appreciation for its specialness.

He also discussed why modern peoples should learn to appreciate that a sense of specialness about their society is vital to keeping it healthy.

And he mentioned a couple countries other than Ethiopia where many people have recognized that a shared knowledge of their history is their best defense against losing their civilizational bearings.

Gregory's discussion is available in a free podcast with the human-sized title "Ethiopia reawakens its Solomonic legacy." The podcast page also quotes a few passages from his May 25 article.

https://audioboom.com/posts/5983268-ethiopia-reawakens-its-solomonic-legacy-gregory-copley-defense-foreign-affairs

turcopolier

Linda

He didn't work for me. As DIO I had control of the message but not the people. He hung around my office but I didn't rate him. He worked for the current branch I suppose since he was in the Pentagon. pl

turcopolier

Swamp yankee

As you know I have both Pilgrim and Puritan ancestors. none f hem seemed to be able to get long with the theocracies in Massachusetts Bay and Connecticut. that included the ones who were born in the new world of Puritan minister families. They kept trying to move away from them. pl

Degringolade

Colonel: I have spent entirely too much time thinking about this particular quote.

"So, we are a spiritually proud, domineering people? If so, should we not renounce that?"

If I were still in college, I would have hated you as a professor. An seemingly innocent question has a whole bunch of nasty thorns on it.

I may even write a serious essay on just this issue. If it turns out at all well, don't think me presumptuous if I (in the words of Rod Serling)submit it for your approval.

turcopolier

Brunswick

That's my point. The money whether paid directly from the USG or indirectly out of foreign aid funds ultimately came from the feringhee rather than the Iraqis or Afghans. pl

Enrico Malatesta

One speculation about the widespread revelation of Israel's 'long standing support for the "Syrian rebels" ', could the US political elite's reduced ability to accept responsibility for their shortcomings make this revelation about Israel a set-up for Trump to blame Israel for "losing Syria" as Hillary blames Russia for losing 11/16?

turcopolier

enrico Malatesta

It will not be necessary to frame Israel. They will clearly be responsible in a major way for the pressure that has led to folly in Syria. pl

ex-PFC Chuck

re: "So why doesn't he?"

Someone may have pointed out to him what happened subsequent to President Kennedy's issuance of NSAM 263.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Security_Action_Memorandum_263

JJackson

all
If - as pl - suggests there a significant number of those in power who believe that Russia has neither the ability or will to do anything about the US and friends invasion and occupation of parts of Syria or the attacks of government forces how can the R+6 disabuse them of this notion without provoking a major war. Russia and the Syrians have shown amazing restraint having been bombed, and had two of their aircraft shot down but the US does not seem to take repeated warnings to desist seriously. If Russia does start using its air defense batteries America shows every sign of behaving as if they are the victims of an unprovoked attack. Given the US mindset how can the R+6 remove this infestation from Syrian soil without the whole situation getting completely out of control? I am not seeing an exit strategy.

Thomas

"There are lots of anti-Zionist Jews. Soros, Finkelstein, Chomsky and other leftist luminaries. They all drone on about this point, and have little impact."

Soros funds the White Helmets which have had a very powerful impact in western propaganda.

Lemur

This seems to be a sort of attempt to rescue the liberally ordered society from its logical conclusion of dissolution and nihilism by engineering binding narratives sustained by sheer will to power. It's telling the Kate-William wedding becomes an example.

"Essential to situationist theory was the concept of the spectacle...The situationists believed that the shift from individual expression through directly lived experiences, or the first-hand fulfillment of authentic desires, to individual expression by proxy through the exchange or consumption of commodities, or passive second-hand alienation, inflicted significant and far-reaching damage to the quality of human life for both individuals and society"

Real societies never self-consciously 'celebrate their heritage' like this. Because in doing so, a distance - the space of interpretation (by who?) - has been apriori introduced between the people and what binds them together. Genuine culture enthralls, acts spontaneously through us, and ultimately springs from a numen which is nonrational and thus ineffable. The result is a qualitatively bounded society, which excludes those who were never acted upon in this fashion. No fancy spectacle can possibly unite the immigrant groups within Britain into a spiritual organic unity with actual Britains.

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