Earlier this evening, in the comments to my post about the concerns being expressed about the US at the Munich Security Conference, a couple of commenters expressed their views that the US has wasted tons of money interfering all over the world, ignoring international law, and basically doing terrible things. And as a result the US is poorer and the world is worse off than if we had just not done any of it. I’m not some pollyanna who is unaware of the fraught and conflicting history of the US’s international activities post World War II – and in some cases before WW II. However, it is one thing to recognize that we often fall short of our ideals or compromise them because of the domestic politics or failure of leadership or short term fears and simply throwing the baby out with the bathwater of US involvement in international affairs post WW II. The point of the earlier post is that our partners’ and allies’ view of the US, warts and all (and I wrote warts and all in the original post) under the current Administration is beginning to sharply diverge from how most Americans, and American leaders, continue to view the US as being a force for good in the world.
So how have others viewed the US? Here’s one example:
Bill & Hillary Clinton, at dinner Friday, were brought to tears by their waiter, an immigrant who was tortured in Kosovo
via @playbookplus pic.twitter.com/dzsX050hXx
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) February 19, 2017
What is described above is just one example of the good that comes from America using its national power – diplomatic, information, military, and economic – within the global system. There are many others. For instance, US Army – Japan’s, as well as other Pacific Command elements’ and US government agencies’ assistance after the tsunami and Fukeshima Daiichi meltdown. There is no one else on the planet, no one, that has the strategic lift capabilities, or the expeditionary forward deployed personnel, to conduct over the horizon, global humanitarian assistance, disaster management, and emergency response. While many countries may contribute when something like the Fukeshima Daiichi disaster happens they rely on the US to get their assets and aid on site. And they rely on the US to have personnel close enough to provide immediate response until everyone else can get moving.
In case it was unclear in the earlier post, or any of my other posts, I’m not arguing that the US is perfect. That we never screw up or that we’re always able to align our values and ideals and our strategic objectives. We do screw up and we quite often fail to align our values and ideals and our strategic objectives. Even worse we elect leaders with feet of clay or who’s personal ambitions outweigh the public good. This doesn’t make us evil. It makes us human.
Rather, my intention in the earlier post, and one’s similar to it, has been to argue that we largely established the post WW II order. And that it has benefited us immensely even as we often didn’t always get it right. But until or unless someone can coherently explain who is going to ensure that the Ground Lines of Commerce and Communication (GLOCCs), Sea Lines of Commerce and Communication (SLOCCs), and Air Lines of Commerce and Communication (ALOCCs) if the US doesn’t. Or how a post US driven international order would work, what it would look like, how it would be more stable, then simply either throwing it all out in pursuit of national populism or badmouthing the US for its failings without recognizing its successes, you’re not constructively moving the conversation forward. You’re just picking nits.
We’re not perfect. We screw up. But if you think Vladimir Putin is going to provide strategic lift and take the lead in doing humanitarian assistance, disaster management, and emergency response if the US pulls back or that the People’s Republic of China will, then you are deluding yourself. One day the PRC may be ready and willing and able to do so, but they aren’t now. And even if they reach the point where they have those capabilities, they may not have the desire or will to do so.
What do you think is going to happen if/when the Kim regime fails/falls in North Korea? Sure, the People’s Republic of China is going to have to play a huge role in the response, as will South Korea. Especially for the political, social, and economic responses. But a great deal of that response is going to be humanitarian and the US will be in the lead for that. Not just because its in our best interest to quickly secure North Korea’s nuclear stockpile, but because it is in our interest, as well as in line with our national values, to prevent millions of impoverished North Koreans from over running the Peoples Republic of China, South Korea, and possibly Japan as refugees. This would destabilize the Asia-Pacific region quickly overwhelming the states and societies there, throwing the regional, and possibly the global, economy into chaos. And leading to untold amounts of suffering.
As for Russia, as long as Vladimir Putin runs Russia in order to benefit himself and his select group of oligarchs and agents, it will never have the capabilities, let alone the intentions to pick up the slack. The US is not an indispensable Nation because over the long course of history no Nation-state or person is indispensable. But until or unless someone else demonstrates they have the will and the capability to step up, the US’s role in the global system is as close to indispensable as can be.
And with that I wish you all a goodnight.
Well said. So few see the international picture as a whole.
I said Good Day!
Nice post. Can I get a couple of Amens here?
Adam, I am certainly glad we do these things. However, that is entirely disconnected from the millions whose deaths we have caused by unnecessarily imposing ourselves on the internal politics of literally dozens of nations, usually on the side of the oppressors, rather than the oppressed.
So it’s nice that we have that forward lift capability. Let’s put it in an international FEMA department, and allow it to draft personnel from the military to operate as needed, and stop doing Chile/Cuba/Honduras/Iraq/Iran/
Brazil/Argentina/El Salvador/Guatemala/Phillipines etc.etc.subversion and funding of civil wars and dictators.
It’s really two completely different things. And no amount of airfreight of pedialyte to cholera inflicted areas makes up for the 300,000 dead in Central America. So let’s stop it.
Any of them named Noam Chomsky?
This is lazy thinking. Yes, the United States has done terrible things overseas. The answer to that is not to stop trying to improve things throughout the world. The answer is to elect better presidents and hold them accountable. Very, very few Americans vote for a president based on foreign policy choices. Jimmy Carter tried to introduce the idea that we would conduct foreign relations based on principles that were designed to protect human rights. The American voter did not care. Does that mean Carter was wrong? No, it means nobody pays attention to these issues, outside of an educated group of people who follow and understand international relations.
Amen from me.
America has never been perfect. You only need to read Zinn to know that.
Still, the principles America stands for, however imperfectly, and the international order it has set up and maintained, also imperfectly, has clearly resulted in unprecedented prosperity, international peace and progress in human rights globally. Will China or Russia be better?
I actually think there’s a chance China may grow into the role, someday. But that day isn’t today.
By all means, be critical of US policy. We need to find better. But don’t toss out the baby with the bath water. You may get what you wished for.
Here’s the shorter version:
If you’re going to make a change, trade up.
Applies to wives, girlfriends, houses, cars, jobs, and the global world order.
Also, too the corollary – think things can’t get worse? Think again.
Nice write-up, Adam.
As for the PRC, I would argue that in the government’s/nation’s current configuration, they are much too nationalistic to prioritize humanitarian in any form, even if they could. It strikes me that nearly everything they’re doing right now is for national gain.
One hundred years ago, someone was probably pissed because Herbert Hoover was using American power to feed people in Europe:
Contrast that with the policies of Lenin and Stalin, which also came after the war. Steve Bannon considers himself a Leninist, but no one really understands what he means because no one has bothered to explain that to the American people. All this adulation for Russia from the right, and they don’t know a thing about history. Why is anyone surprised?
@Jerzy Russian: Will you settle for a “Heh, indeed?”
Well said, Adam.
@wjs: I don’t think even Chomsky would deny that the U.S. has done a number of undeniably good things, though he’d probably also be quick to point out that many of them had strings attached (e.g., the Marshall Plan was motivated in part by preventing the spread of Communism and had some specific provisions to that effect). He certainly criticises the U.S. government a lot more than most, but he also definitely doesn’t think other countries are anywhere close to perfect; he just focuses most on us because he lives here. He’s much more of a pragmatist than he’s usually given credit for being; for instance, unlike a lot of purity trolls on the left, he’s fully aware of Duverger’s Law and endorsed Clinton and Obama (though while also acknowledging that voters shouldn’t expect either of them to be perfect while in office).
Adam, I know I don’t comment often here, but I want to thank you for your posts. I almost always learn something from them.
I mentioned this anecdote once before, about a friend who once angrily insisted that if the US gave up its nuclear weapons, then every other nation would give theirs up. In a twisted way, he still believes that the US is the primary force for good in the world, but only if it absolutely renounced evil and does good, living up to its image.
But what is most nuts is that this idea, like the idea that the world would be better off if the US does nothing, is that it deliberately and ignorantly ignores how other nations act in their own national interest. You even see this in discussions of the fall of the Shah of Iran which focus solely on the role of the US and the CIA, and ignore or minimize the British role in the overthrow.
There is also a myopic selfishness involved as well. If the US is not involved, then it is easier to look away and pretend that nothing is happening, or that nothing can be done. Not much different from the Trump America First vision, without the economic nationalism.
@(((CassandraLeo))): Right, but it’s the people who follow through and conclude that “everything the United States does is inherently evil and destabilizes the world” without understanding that the world is more complex than that.
We should be ready to criticize American exceptionalism whenever possible. We should be more honest about our intentions, actions, and results. We should be a country that rights wrongs whenever possible. And voters should care about these things.
@dollared: I don’t mean this to be harsh, but ….
Your ideas sound like utopias. To get there, you’ll need to fight thru enormous entrenched interests, both at home and abroad, bureaucratic inertia, and that’s just speaking of the -competent- ones. It seems to me that you’re just -assuming- all of this can be done. But if it can, then it will require emormous quantities of good governance. Of sanity and rationality. For a lot less, we could merely -improve- the current situation and bit-by-bit, produce that world you’re wishing for.
A world we -all- wish for.
There are different schools of thought on how the “liberal utopia” will be produced. Some believe in “heighten the contradictions” (let things get shitty enough, and the people will rise up and their revolution will install the utopia — the counterpoint is that they’ll install Stalin). Some believe that we just need enough vim, vigotr, and will to bull-pulpit our way to that promised land. And some believe that by making small steps, we can create the constituency for further small steps. We see the way that the New Deal and Great Society entitlements were created, as a model for how to proceed. B/c they weren’t created in their current form — it took iteration to get them to where they are today, and it’ll take more iteration to update them with the changing times.
It’s true that the path of small steps is painful and frustrating. And sometimes there are reverses. But history tells us (it seems to me, and I’ve read in various places) that revolutions rarely improve things; by contrast, slow, steady chipping-away at injustice is much, much more predictably effective.
Almost everybody on this blog (I’m guessing) agrees with your goals. But there’s no path from wishing, to getting. To -get- these things, requires a -path- from -today- to that wished-for state.
WZhoops. I typed incoherently.
Nice to see you here, too. Hang around more.
@Chet Murthy: I don’t think I’m trying to bring on the liberal utopia. I don’t know where you got that idea. Nothing about that in my post.
Just. Don’t. Fund.Homocidal. Authoritarians. That’s it. Not hard, really. it’s actual saves money, you know.
We do wonderful things when we focus on defining and supporting (and yes, paying for) robust international institutions and multilateral relationships. We suck when we act as if the Fortune 500 or wealthy individuals are the State Department’s – or the CIA’s – clients, trying to produce some sort of targeted result at the expense of local self-determination.
So again, I’m just not sure what campaign or effort you’re referring to. Just stop doing stupid things. Obama kind of got it. We just need to keep heading in that direction.
@dollared: @Chet Murthy: Another example comes to mind. We all read about the “collateral damage” of US military operations. We also read about how there are supposedly rules for our military — rules governing proportionality, military necessity, etc. Sometimes, those rules are followed, and sometimes they aren’t. In our country, we liberals view it as a problem when those rules aren’t followed. There is an actual discourse about these things in our political life. E.g. the Abu Ghraib fiasco (which was, to be clear, the torture, not the exposure of said torture).
Somehow, I have to believe that Russia’s forces are not thus constrained (and have read to that effect, regarding their operations in Syria).
Now, you can either decry our inability to fully live up to our treaties, as an argument for our disbanding our armed (or at least, expeditionary) forces. Or you can push for us to -further- adhere to our treaty committments. Either way, Putin’s not about to lift a finger, is he?
You want to get to an “international FEMA”? You’ll get there thru the Western Alliance all slowly getting to where they adhere to the treaties they already signed, and jettison their asshole clients, and bit-by-bit sideline their defense industries, and and and and …. a million steps. But at least, it’s a comprehensible, executable path.
Which has a less than zero chance of being started, politically, in the foreseeable future.
It’s one of those nice theoretical things, like abolishing the senate or the EC, or expecting Republiklowns to care about the country, or the future, in any rational way.
OK, now we’re reaching a meeting of minds, I think. Yes, I agree, that Obama kind of got it. But he (a) lent our airpower to kicking over Libya (which was, in retrospect, not clearly a good idea), (b) ditto Syria (our allies there are some decidedly sketchy muj, eh), (c) lent our airpower to KSA’s war on Yemen, etc.
Lots of stupid stuff. I claim it’s unreasonable to say that Obama “stopped doing stupid stuff”. And YET, I think he did a better job than the Dem alternative (Hillary) (I completely dismiss the idea that Grandpa Walnuts would have done as good a job as a Dem). I think that if we’d get a few more turns of that crank in the same direction, the US might actually improve the way it conducts itself. Maybe, just maybe, we might stop with the kicking over Latin American countries’ governments. Maybe we’d kick KSA to the curb. Who knows. But not for a SECOND do I believe that Obama could have, should have, or wanted to, achieve that. Not for a second. B/c you don’t get a President in the current state of our Empire, who would want those things, and could still be elected. And sane (gotta add that).
So if you really do believe that Obama is an example of what you’re wanting, then I claim to you that Hillary is -also- (now) on that path. She maybe not be as -trustworthy- on that path as Obama was, but then, he wasn’t completely trustworthy either. We, the people, have to do our part to hold them to the path. To make it clear thru our voices and our representatives, that we expect more morality in our foreign policy.
Sadly, that’s not what’s on offer today. Instead, we have to use our voices and our votes to wrest back our democracy.
@efgoldman: You think separating our humanitarian relief from the military is somehow the equivalent of abolishing the Senate?
You do realize even Herbert Hoover was able to do that? And George Marshall?
@Chet Murthy: I hear that. However, IMHO one of the greatest failures of modern liberalism is a failure to articulate and consistently work for a more moral, Democratic, democratic, government of the people on all levels. So we are agreed on goals. We certainly view Obama and Hillary similarly, and I worked for a voted for both. We should still imagine the long term goals and work toward them. Otherwise there is no vision guiding our short term actions.
@efgoldman: Well yes, true, now that those choosing between brussel sprouts and dogshit chose dogshit, on the off chance that there was an undigested carrot in there they could wash off …… I take your point that we face the choice of which of the good things we have, can we salvage in partial working order.
Amen from me, because America can do some sucky things, but we do way more good ones. No one expects a baseball player to hit 1.000. We are the Babe Ruth of countries.
People are geared towards absolute statements. Reality isn’t. Thanks for pointing it out.
Unfortunately, as of November 9th, we are no longer heading in that direction. In fact, we’ve done a 180 and are speeding back in the direction we came with our foot on the gas pedal.
Anyone who actually thought that Trump was going to be some kind of isolationist was a fool. We’re going to be going back to doing really stupid shit like the invasion of the Philippines.
@dollared: I recall reading that in the runup to the Iraq War, there was both a lot of fiery debate in Congress (Dems pretty angry about iit) and enormous protests worldwide. A LOT of folks on the left -do- have those big-picture long-term ideas. I’ve heard from at least one elected pol the idea that we MUST fund alternative energy simply to free us from our clients in the Middle East. look at the way in which the left approaches climate change. Or land mines. Or women’s reproductive rights (which, btw, is key to almost every development issue worldwide).
But OTOH, the Dem party is …. a big tent. And we don’t have the ideological purity of the Rs, do we? Is that good or bad? I think it’s good. B/c we also don’t have the *money* of the Rs, do we? Our unions are gone, and it *does* take money to run modern campaigns — if nothing else, for staffers to be able to eat.
There are surely Dems who are venial and corrupt. There are Dems who only partially share your goals. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t Dems who -do- much more fully share your goals. I was about to write “we can’t expect them all to be Obama”. But even Obama had his (little) Rezko (sp?) scandal, and he wasn’t a pure shining leftist pony.
I’m heartened by remembering that Hillary was the one who said, “women’s rights are human rights”, so long ago. And she’s kept at that. Sure she’s enriched herself quite a bit. But she’s kept at that.
Something else, too: I think we’d be idiots to believe that Obama & Hillary came around on gay marraige in the last eight years, right? The reason for the qualified hedging positoins was simple: they weren’t sure the rest of the country was ready for it. That’s it, plain and simple.
So if you want this improvement in our country, then you have to help the country reach a point where it’s something we all want, and we’re willing to sacrifice other things to get it. That’s going to be hard. As Matt Yglesias (?) once said, “it’s a red-state world”. We can dream that people all over the world, or all over America, can see others as fully human and worthy of respect and dignity. But we should ask for a pony, too.
OT but for Adam — did you know that Lucy Worsley did a debunking of the Glorious Revolution? I’d be curious to know if you think she got it right.
Neither was letting Ghaddafi slaughter the inhabitants of Benghazi. Judging actions on the basis of events yet to transpire is a particularly Republican Party form of revisionism. It was a worthwhile idea to give the Libyans a chance to set up a civilised society. It’s not Obama’s fault that they blew that chance.
Am I wrong in remembering that Obama held off on Syria for months for just that reason? Until the pressure put on him to act by most Republicans (and some Democrats) became too great to ignore. That same pressure that they almost immediately reversed to blame Obama for everything that later went wrong in Syria.
There is a reason for the divergence between Costa Rica and Guatemala. It has to do with American foreign policy.
Hoover was almost a century ago; Marshall was 70+ years. You don’t think for a second that our INTERNAL politics now are such that we could or would get the same or similar things accomplished, do you? Because if so, I’ve got this bridge for sale – just email the Kenyan prince for all the details.
I’ve actually seen people get mad at them for that exact reason — namely, that Obama and the Clintons should have been “leading” on gay marriage rather than holding back and waiting for the rest of the country to catch up with them. But IMO those people miss the point of being president. IIRC it was Truman who said that his job as the president was to find the parade and then run to the front of it.
Norcal folks, prepare for this storm:
What happens if the Sacramento levee fails?
Many parts of the upper and lower Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers are above monitor state or above flood stage right now. Dams like Oroville cannot restrict flow into the rivers – so their capacity to regulate this is very limited.
NWS is asking anyone in the central valley and flood prone areas to be ready to evacuate with 15 minutes notice. Keep your radios/TV on. Set your phone to notify you for NWS alerts.
Really? More than Nawlins?
@? Martin: Yes, I heard a weather report warning people that the system could stall between Livermore Valley and western Sacramento Valley tomorrow afternoon.
I think I’ll go buy a few more gallons of water tonight.
I can’t help but recall that this alternation between drought and massive rain was some of the medium run predictions of climate change models when I looked through articles on it several years ago. I have them on my computer someplace. Increased atmospheric heat retention had some funny interaction with the Alaska and California currents.
Last rain the river was still at least 10 vertical feet (and a lot of horizontal) from the berm. I figure it has to have dropped at least 8 feet since then as well, when I looked around 10am. Hoping that the American doesn’t get that much water.
Thru the Looking Glass...
Why do I get the bad feeling that these capabilities will end up significantly degraded by the Trump Administration? And that the recipient of those services just might receive a hefty bill ASAP once the emergency is over, including a mandatory 15% gratuity?
@efgoldman: Sacramento and San Joaquin river deltas are ‘inverted’ deltas that go back upstream from a narrow opening out to the ocean (Carquinez Strait) between a gap in the Coast Range. A couple of hundred square miles east of the Carquinez Strait are below sea level and protected by levies that are well over a hundred years old by now.
Edit: and most of the levies are just old mining and flood debris and mud piled up on top of each other.
Villago Delenda Est
@ruemara: “Only a Sith deals in absolutes”.
@Viva BrisVegas: I agree with you 100% on Libya and Syria. That’s why I put it so …. weakly. It seems my wording did not convey my meaning so well. So: yes, exactly what you wrote. Exactly. In the case of Syria, indeed Obama faced enormous pressure to act. He authorized funding muj, and various other things, but (wisely I think) drew the line at attacking the Syrian government. I -want- to believe that he didn’t want to get involved at all, but it isn’t clear. Notwithstanding, that he even came to change his mind from favoring to opposing US involvement, is a great thing. B/c the entire national security eilte were pushing him to get involved, eh? (well, except for Gates, IIRC).
Yemen is pretty problematic though, isn’t it? I’ve read that basically every Saudi fighter-bomber sortie is made possible by us inflight refueling capability.
i sure wish he’d keep us well away from that. But KSA is one helluva drug.
ETA: upon further reflection, I can’t subscribe to your defense of his decision to bomb Libya. A -lot- of knowledgeable foreign policy intellectuals were warning that it was a quagmire, and we had no idea how to prevent the situation from imploding. And yes, a lotta people would be killed in Benghazi. But then, a lotta people are getting killed there today. We didn’t know what we were doing, and we should have stayed away. All that said, I was pretty gentle in my criticism of him on that, right? B/c I can understand that he was under a lot of pressure to “do something; bombing is something; let’s do that”.
And those people don’t ever consider that Obama’s actions like repealing DADT, and establishing same-sex benefits for federal employees played a non-insignificant role in getting the country to be more open to the idea of gay marriage.
Societal change doesn’t happen all at once, and every push forward is a victory that prepares us for the next step. Obama played his part, but as you say, Presidents don’t change society — society itself decides to change, and a President can help codify that change.
thanks for this post.
Who is Lucy Worsley?
I have been reading some British naval history, and have been looking for some references to this period, and to the Glorious Revolution. Your mention of it here and the link is a nice bit of serendipity. Thanks.
The specific argument I recall was “so you wanna knock over Ghaddafi; and then what?” A short version of Shinseki’s testimony before the Iraq War. And I think it had the same relevance — we had no idea what would come next, and we sure didn’t care much, did we? Just knock things over and hope for the best.
Again, I -hasten- to note that lots of people made the mistake. But after the Iraq war, we couldn’t exactly argue that we hadn’t seen this outcome coming, eh? The point of having professionals (and I do believe that Obama had professionals advising him) is to ensure that these viewpoints are heard.
ISTR it was Gates wo said something like “I’m trying to finish up two wars, and you want to give me a third?” with cutting scorn.
@dollared: But think of all the women Herman Cain DIDN’T sexually harass.
@Brachiator: she’s from what I gather the in house historian for the royal palaces. Mainly a presenter for a series of documentaries that were posted to YouTube this month. I’m not certain anything is new on her interpretation of the glorious revolution. It’s just countering the idea that “Britain was never successfully invaded after 1066”, when clearly William was staging a coup that involved the Dutch army and navy.
I liked her social history of the house, though. I had no idea that living rooms had history.
@Chet Murthy: noted philanthropists Tony Blair and Nicolas Sarkozy are the ones to ask about Libya. Also the Gulf States, KSA. As far as I can tell, the US did Libya on behalf of France and the UK. It’s up to them to manage the peace. But why did they want that so badly? I think someone should ask those two allies what they really wanted. Ask them every day. The French, especially Sarkozy, aren’t actually known for being too humanitarian. Really, they need to ask him.
It means he hates Wings like all good Americans and was more into Plastic Ono Band.
@Peale: Thanks for the info. I think I may have read or seen something about the social history of the house. A fun notion, and offers a different perspective on history.
You can bet that if Obama hadn’t acted, Benghazi would have been branded “Obama’s Rwanda”. Ghaddafi wasn’t going to give the inhabitants of Benghazi a stern talking to. For how long do you think the Europeans would have stood back while Ghaddafi’s troops pushed piles of bodies of women and children into ditches? The Libyan intervention was inevitable in any way that you look at it. Obama could either take the lead or stand back.
The real question was “So you don’t want to knock over Ghaddafi, are you prepared to stomach what comes next?”.
Without (wisely) foreign boots on the ground, the “What’s next?” was up to the Libyans.
@Peale: Yep. Also BHL, eh? I’m completely in agreement with you. There’s a lotta blame to go around. And while in the case of the UK and France, as allies they had “chits” they could call in (we were, after all, the first NATO signatory to invoke Article 5), our “clients” in Middle East …. well, they’re our clients, not our allies.
Again, it wasn’t a deal-breaker, and he’s still My President (sigh/whimper). But it was still a stupid thing to do, esp/esp/esp given that we were trying to extricate ourselves from two other stupid things (Iraq and Afghan Wars). I understand why he did it. Still “stupid stuff”, and that, -before- doing it.
[to be clear: after 9/11, we -had- to go into Afghanistan and find bin Laden, take out Al Qaeda. It isn’t at all clear to me that we had to stay, or that it was wise to stay. Here, I will bow in the direction of @dollared and note that -at- -the- -time- there wasn’t such consensus that we should get in, get him, and get out.]
Partly to @dollared’s point, perhaps if Dems can once again run foreign policy someday before I die, they can learn from these and other lessons, and not be forced to repeat the course again and again. Ah, well.
@wjs: Agreed. I just don’t think Chomsky can be fairly classed as a knee-jerk anti-American. He’s fully aware that Putin is several orders of magnitude worse.
@efgoldman: I probably will comment here more regularly at some point. I find discussions more difficult to follow here because I get tired of clicking on links to see what people were referring to. But then again, I’m also not quoting anyone here, so I’m not exactly helping. In my defence, I am on my phone.
@wjs: I think it means his tactics are Leninist. It’s certainly not his politics.
To be fair, I don’t see how this distinguishes him from other Republicans in any important way.
@sigaba: Live and Let Die.
As Peale said, she’s a British historian and TV presenter — sort of like the Neil de Grasse Tyson of British history.
I may send Schroedinger’s Cat a link to Worsley’s “Jewel in the Crown” (India) fibs program after I watch it and see if there’s anything she might find interesting. MikeJ provided me a link to Worsley’s “A Very British Romance” series about the history and influence of the romance/romantic novel and I’ve been working my way through that tonight.
I’m still very peeved that there’s a piece of music in episode two of Worsley’s series about the Regency that means that the audio track for THE WHOLE DAMN EPISODE has been blocked on YouTube, and there’s no other way to watch it, including via the BBC website or by buying it from Amazon UK. Grrr!
I have her book about the history of the home — I think I got it used from Better World Books. The book came before the series and is not a companion to the series, IIRC.
right right. As i said in my original comment,
things looked bad either way. Lots of forces pulling. Clear and present danger to many innocent people. His public image. Allies. Clients. But we knocked over a (poorly) functioning state and replaced it with … what? chaos? To say “the rest was up to the Libyans”, well, I’m sorry, but that’s like Rumsfeld’s “sometimes democracy is messy” (or whatever he said after Saddam fell, when the looting started). We didn’t accept it from Bush, and after such a recent failure, we shouldn’t accept it from Obama, either.
Again: I’m not saying he was WRONG WRONG WRONG. I’m saying that this wasn’t an obviously good decision. I do feel he learned his lesson from it, and was more reluctant in Syria.
That someone was Ayn Rand, among othes. The evil bitch actually included within Atlas Shrugged as one of the “heroes” a pirate and rated relief ships traveling to Europe so that the tax payer money spent on them could be returned to the disgruntled citizens of Galt’s Gulch
FWIW, unlike in Iraq, the allied forces in Libya (which were actually led by France, not the US) did not overthrow Gaddafi. He was overthrown and executed by his own people. That’s one of the other things that makes it a tougher call — the allies did some air support and the rest was done by rebels in Libya.
And, frankly, there was a reason that US Ambassador Stevens was targeted for assassination in Benghazi, and it wasn’t because the group that killed him was trying to create stability in Libya.
@Viva BrisVegas: Also, while sure, people would have argued that Libya was Obama’s Rwanda, there were significant differences. Most critically, ,the Hutu were going to murder the Tutsi, and it wasn’t a political argument. It was straight-up genocide. As in Kosovo, or Bosnia. And -not- as in Syria.
In both Libya and Syria, it was a political difference, that unraveled into a civil war. Off the cuff,the biggest difference I can see between the two (as a nonspecialist with a bad memory) is that by the time we got to Syria, we’d been thru Libya, and in Syria there are lot more muj a lot sooner. So maybe it’s reasonable that the reason we didn’t go into Syria, was that we just didn’t see the opposition as being … any better than Assad. But this is pretty weak tea. I think the real reason we didn’t go in, was that we’d been thru Libya, and Obama recognized the stupidity of that decision.
P.S. Well, that and, there was a certain amount of (bloody-minded) “let ’em grind each other to a pulp”. Which to students of history is …. pretty stupid, but has a certain short-term attraction.
@Mnemosyne: True dat. And it might be the Phillipines. Seriously, the random thought patterns from the White House might have us invading Finland….
In neither of those two instances did de facto Nazis have veto power over whether we would provide humanitarian aid two foreign countries.
@Mnemosyne: IIRC, it had to do with an undeclared CIA station in that benghazi consulate, right?
@Mnemosyne: I will also add that I like her pearls.
Nah, the CIA guys just ended up in the crossfire. The local Islamists in Benghazi wanted to get rid of Stevens because he was actually doing a decent job of helping the various sides get a coalition government set up, and the Islamists wanted the chaos to continue.
I usually like Worsley, but I’m getting a little annoyed with her romance series. She’s getting a little too into the dress-up aspects, but the costumes aren’t fitted properly. I’m sticking around for episode three just to see if she talks about Georgette Heyer (no spoilers, anyone!)
Dog Dawg Damn
Anyone else following the Milo controversy? The fact that he’s on video advocating borderline pedophilia yet is headlining CPAC is so delicious. I just can’t anymore. Just can’t with these people.
Husband’s dad called today and was complaining about protesters…again. Made some nod to how awful “Fake News” is. I just don’t know how to react. He’s a very successful, intelligent person. Poisoned by Fox News. Really wish I could just jet to a different country and start over. This shit is ridiculous.
@Dog Dawg Damn:
Didn’t realize there was a controversy. Caught a little bit of his act on Bill Maher’s show, found it trite and tiresome, and not worth either the protests or the air time he has been given.
I might ask him if he was also tired of Trump’s fake rallies, especially since they seem to be a poor substitute for actually governing.
David ?Canadian Anchor Baby? Koch
but, but…. paid speeches!
@Dog Dawg Damn: Borderline nothing, 13 years old is firmly pedophilia for his 33 year old ass.
Dog Dawg Damn
@EBT: As someone said on twitter:
GOP 1980: “Shining City on a Hill.”
GOP 2000: “Compassionate Conservatism.”
GOP 2020: “It’s actually ephebophilia.”
If you told that story about Bill Clinton and the refugee waiters to President Trump, the lessons would be quite lost on him. Trump has no concept of America doing best by doing good. His vision is sharply limited by his personal selfishness: he believes that the mission of American foreign policy is to exact “fair treatment”, whatever he may conceive that to be, from other nations; to get the best possible deals from them. The idea of working with those other nations to keep the world from falling into chaos, war and suffering doesn’t seem to be in his thinking at all, let alone the idea of helping humanity achieve its full potential.
@Dog Dawg Damn:
This seems to be the season of the narcissistic sociopath. I can’t imagine why anyone would be remotely interested in Milo or anything he says. He’s repulsive (the jewelry is hideous and laughable). It’s not enough that he spews a bunch of mindless drivel designed to focus attention on Milo, but he’s an overwhelmingly overdone third rate clown. Maher’s infatuation with the clown was pathetic. That was the first and last time I will ever waste my time watching or listening to that POS.
Usually telling someone to fuck off is a lazy way to deal with an unpleasant person. However, both Larry Wilmore and Malcolm Nance were right to tell Milo to “fuck off.” Wilmore was clearly angry with the clown, but Nance, I thought, was right to treat and dismiss him as both laughable and contemptible. Milo is one of those people it is better to ignore. He craves attention and no amount will ever be enough. Starve him.
@Brachiator: One old answer to obsession is to get someone outside to contact real people. Take Dad to your meetings if you are going to them to meet real people who are protesting.
@Dog Dawg Damn: Something Awful (briefly) had the ephebophilia debate, which lasted exactly as long for someone to look up that in the dictionary, decide it was *worse* than pedophilia then continue SOP of calling the FBI.
Cutting taxes to increase revenue fails for the billionth time:
Why is this still an “economic theory”? Has it ever once worked? They have to run out of money every single time, over and over again?
They’re like those people who run out of gas over and over. Wouldn’t once be enough?
@Dog Dawg Damn:
CPAC has him on as a performing monkey simply because he flings poo at liberals. They don’t care what he says, so long as he pisses sane people off.
If the conservatives weren’t so desperate to get their hardons by taunting the left, these “friends” of Milo would have him in a orange jumpsuit with a pink triangle, ready to be shipped off to the nearest conversion therapy camp so quick that his gold necklaces would leave rope burns. Where he would stay until he learned the Trump techniques for grabbing pussy, and liking it.
@dollared: FWIW, I agree with you 100%.
Adam- this is still a really generous view of American global influence, and as true as it may be I cannot get over the million dead Iraqis, millions of dead Koreans and 10 of millions of dead Vietnamese directly killed by American interference in the post-WW2 era. How do you square that circle? I can’t do it. I appreciate your well-written and persuasive perspective.
It’s an article of Republican faith, isn’t it, that cutting taxes stimulates economic activity and thus boosts tax revenue? No matter how many times experience shows them otherwise, belief must always win out over arithmetic.
One: Argument by anecdote sucks. Maybe a dead Serbian civilian could have told Bill and Hill a different story, if he hadn’t been killed by US bombs while riding in a train.
Two: I, for one, am not, and was not, arguing for any kind of isolationist or hypernationalist US FP. The world order that the US helped create does not rely on unilateral US actions to function. And can we please not conflate our longstanding policies of “regime change” with “humanitarian” efforts and “disaster relief?” If the world needs us to respond to human and natural disasters, we can do that without playing Great Power games everywhere from Tashkent to Timbuktu.
And a blog comment is also hardly the place to “explain” why and how US domination of every GLOCC, SeaLocc, Airlocc and Morlock (you sure do love your jargon!) around the world is not a good or necessary thing. Read some Chomsky. The US should abide by the UN Charter is the short answer. If real threats to the world order and world commerce develop, it is just as much in the interest of the other UNSC permanent members, and the other large nations and entities, to deal with them as it is in ours. We don’t need to posit a replacement for the USA in its role of world domination. Because the world does not need to have anyone play that role.
Colonialists ALWAYS resort to these “there is no real choice but for us to intervene” arguments. Churchill said it, as did the Victorians. Somehow, the whole rest of the world would always be in “chaos” were it not for the wise folks (then in London, now in DC) who have all the answers. Yeah, no.
O. Felix Culpa
Not once, not ninety, not ninety-nine times. I think the word you’re looking for is NEVER. Cutting taxes is an article of faith with them, Republican Theology 101. They will NEVER get it.
ETA: Amir got there ahead of me. :)
Power systems don’t get wished away to a cornfield. The anti colonial and imperialist arguments are of the ignore it and hope it goes away variety. That never works.
Embrace it or some way worse fuckers will.
I’m rather more sympathetic to Adam’s thinking. I don’t think he’s offering anything more controversial than the idea that when the US gets it right, it can do a great deal of good with its intervention. It doesn’t seem to me that he’s trying to whitewash the history of the US’ interventions. It’s a fact of life in world affairs that the US has more human and material resources to engage in such than any other nation. It’s also a fact of life that its interventions haven’t always been well-intentioned or well-judged, even allowing for the many situations where the options all sucked. It’s still an improvement on the days when all major-power interventions were purely self-interested and/or driven by greed, and sod the darkies if they didn’t like it.
@efgoldman: California Megaflood of 1861-62:
In general i agree with what Adam is saying but the world changes. It is 2017 not 1946 so we do have to review our role in the world at least on the margins. China, India and other countries are growing economically and militarily so we have to adjust for that. After all Nixon did make a major geopolitical change by going to China. But it was done after a lot of planning and strategic thinking. He didn’t go just because Beijing has the best Chinese takeout on the planet.
The only strategic plan the current administration has is how much money can I make off of it. If a country doesn’t have a Trump property it might as well be on the far side of the moon
Minor point of correction: David Cameron was the UK’s prime minister when the Libya campaign started in 2011. Tony Blair was no longer in office.
@wjs: The one problem is that for nearly three generations now the US has taught selfishness as a virtue. US citizensnresent helping each other because it impacts the individual bottom line. “Government is the problem,” “personal responsibility,” and massive shifts away from extended family and community have pushed people away from the idea of the larger whole and toward the illusion of self-sufficiency. One look at the mess that is eldercare is enough to get the picture.
At the same time, the means for self-sufficiency are becoming increasingly difficult to obtain and preserve: the loss of manufacturing, the hollowing of the middle class, and the deemphasis of education are producing a society increasingly incapable of achieving the individual-level ability to thrive on one’s own skills and resources.
This combination is damping the US’sense of global responsibility and empathy, because it’s damping individual citizens’empathy for each other. In such an environment it’s difficult to advocate for global action when local/domestic action is becoming less palatable daily.
“Charity begins at home” may be trite, but its impact is clear. Without respect and empathy of citizens one for another, effective global operations are impossible because the building blocks for the drivers of global action are missing.
Something that didn’t get much attention is that within days of the Benghazi murders, a mob of Libyans actually marched to the compound of what was believed to be the islamist group responsible for the murder and threw them out. Stevens was pretty popular, which for an American government official in the post-2003 Middle East, is remarkable.
I believe there were voters that cared and diplomats and state department people who were deeply influenced by this ideas. They still care. The Clinton administration’s response to Kosovo was strikingly different than any other intervention in my memory. Not just the lead up to the bombings (Europe was begging for us to get involved, had been since Bosnia); or the NATO peace keeping afterward (this was in no way an American occupation and the Clinton administration made that decision from the get go), and the whole way the Dayton Peace Accord and three state solution came about and was implemented (a solution that was out there for Bush after the Irag invasion, but rejected because no way does Blackwater and Sugar Bush get there big fat government contracts then). Clinton was in no way the flailing of a Johnson administration stuck in a Vietnam quagmire. It wasn’t just the military operation that was conducted differently, it was part of larger effort that actually stabilized the area. It was a formula for coalition building that got completely rejected by the Bush Crime Family, the GOP, and the Pentagon. There was a reason the State Department was so thrilled to have Secretary Clinton back on board after Bush.
The GOP and chicken hawk responses to Kosovo were, IMO, all about being pissed that a Democratic president was in a war and they didn’t get to enjoy their usual spoils. Also, they waged a political war against BigDawg just because it was another great tool to have in the CDS toolbox. I don’t believe for one nanosecond that the shitflingers in the MSM who were screaming “wag the dog” cared one ounce about the genocide or the stability of eastern Europe after the break up of Yugoslavia. They just had some nice juicy headlines again and got to play skewer a Dem. The military establishment went batshit crazy too over handing off the the thing to NATO. It became a real thing among vets and active military to badmouth NATO right around that time. Can’t imagine why. Also, there was a real trial in the Hague. War criminals went to trial and were convicted. The US wasn’t involved in some massive cover up in the aftermath because there was no Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib.
Carter may have implemented the concept awkwardly (the Olympic boycotting thing, bad idea). He was military. I think it is a mistake to paint him as anti-war. That was Raygun’s and the GOP’s characterization and I don’t accept their framing. I think that is really simplifying the changes Carter tried to make and has made in public policy. The seeds have influenced many people in State and in the relief organizations. College kids and alumni are pressuring university Presidents to divest endowments of fossil fuel investments. Tens of thousands of people showed up to protest at airports in a heartbeat to defend human rights. Not just for Americans, but for foreign nationals. Millions of voters embrace the basic concept of human rights as the center of public policy (not just commerce). They still believe in it. That is the heart of the war we are waging in this country today. Removing commerce, consumption, capitalism, and corporations from the center of our lives and replacing them with improving the lives of human beings.
Davis X. Machina
But it won’t be US fuckers. And that’s what’s really important, isn’t it? Besides, being not-US they can’t be worse. )
(American exceptionalism really is a ‘both sides do it’ thing…)
J R in WV
What house are you guys talking about? English royal palace ? Not quite “a house” then, wot?
No Drought No More
Maybe one day Bill and Hillary Clinton will cross paths with the Iraqi man whom, as a little boy in 2003, had his arms shot off by the same American shell that killed his family.
Granted, Hillary later (much, much later) deigned to admit that her whole hearted support of the Bush/Cheney plot to war had been a “mistake” (although she refused to elaborate). Still, I doubt that man would drop to his knees to address them, or even bring tears to their eyes if he did.
Tally all the dead and maimed of our War in Vietnam, and then add them to the ongoing tally of slaughter in the mideast. At the risk of picking nits, do it, lest we forget them while we applaud all that is good and great about our nation.
J R in WV
This is really late… but the Korean War wasn’t started by the US, it was started by an invasion of South Korea by the North Koreans. At first the NK army did quite well, until the US Army conducted an amphibian landing well behind the front lines and was well on their way to cutting off the NKoreans when China attacked the flank of the American incursion.
So I don’t think US Imperialism had anything to do with those deaths. Kin Jung Un’s grandfather ( or ggrandfather, I don’t care to take time to look that up) is responsible for all of that, plus the immiseration of the whole DPRK population even since.
The Viet Nam war was a long and complicated clusterfuck, starting with French Imperialism, IndoChina was a wholly owned colony of theirs until the Japanese Imperial Military conquered everything in Asia from India to the Philippines. After the destruction of the Japanese Imperial Army and Navy, the Vietnamese wanted independence from the French, and fought them to a standstill in 1954 at Dien Bien Phu.
After much international negotiations, the communist-nationalist Viet Minh won a nation of their own, North Viet Nam. But they didn’t stop fighting western imperialism and South Viet Nam (so very similar to North Korea and South Korea, but less FKed up because that war was fought to a conclusion) asked, begged the Dulles brothers (founder of the CIA and Secretary of State at the time) for help against the Communists.
Many people die after that, the vast majority under the helm of right-wing anti-Communists Republicans Dick Nixon and Henry Kissinger, especially those in Cambodia and Laos, but over 50,000 Americans as well.
Note that Nixon and Kissinger were willing to work with the Communists to defeat the Democratic candidates who may well have deescalated the war instead of heating it up as the Republicans did. Nixon and Kissinger first lied to Americans by telling everyone there was a secret plan to end the war while lying to the Communists, telling them they would get a much better deal from the Republicans than they would from the Democratic candidate, Hubert H Humphrey,
And of course, the murder of hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of Iraqis was part of a conspiracy concocted by Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Donald Rumsfeld, and assorted Iraqi revolutionaries. All Republicans or right-wing monsters from other countries and their right-wing parties.
So I think you should be blaming right wing reactionary fascists for killing people rather than Americans in general or the American government. Also, I agree with Amir Kalid’s viewpoint he expressed much earlier.
J R in WV
@No Drought No More:
The vast majority of people killed in Vietnam died while Nixon and Kissinger were in control. Everyone who has died in Iraq did so as the result of a fraudulent conspiracy cooked up by Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and fascists from Iraq, all under the orders of George W Bush. Republicans, anti-communists, religious sectarians and fascists.
Hillary and Bill Clinton may have made mistakes, but they never committed war crimes. As far as American war crimes are concerned, Nixon, Bush, Cheney, Kissinger, Rumsfeld and their minions too numerous for me to remember are the people who should have been in the dock at The Hague. Hillary and Bill, for all their faults, are saints compared to those fascists I listed above.
Fuck you for blaming Hillary Clinton instead of George W Bush! There is no comparison.
Hillary made the mistake of believing President Bush, she did not commit the active evil of fomenting with lies an unnecessary war that has killed and injured hundreds of thousands of people and continues today, still the responsibility of Bush and his appointees.