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Thread: Obama has drunk the Kool-aid - Page 4







Post#76 at 09-20-2014 07:24 PM by TnT [at joined Feb 2005 #posts 2,005]
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Quote Originally Posted by '58 Flat View Post
But there are no Iraqi Kurds - any more than there were German, Russian, or Austrian Poles 150 years ago.

And this should have been our policy all along. What a laugh that the voice crying out in the wilderness turned out to be that of Joe Biden.
Years ago when Joe Biden was running for President, he spoke at length about the natural divisions in "Iraqi" society. After hearing him, over a campfire one night I predicted to my son that eventually we will see three political entities in "Iraq" - Sunni-stan, Shia-stan and Kurdistan.

I am still convinced.
" ... a man of notoriously vicious and intemperate disposition."







Post#77 at 09-21-2014 12:57 AM by B Butler [at joined Nov 2011 #posts 2,329]
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Left Arrow Another Way to Slice the Pie

Quote Originally Posted by TnT View Post
Years ago when Joe Biden was running for President, he spoke at length about the natural divisions in "Iraqi" society. After hearing him, over a campfire one night I predicted to my son that eventually we will see three political entities in "Iraq" - Sunni-stan, Shia-stan and Kurdistan.

I am still convinced.
I am told that when the colonial powers divided the Middle East oil reserves among themselves, they deliberately drew the borders such that every colony contained several rival tribes and/or religious factions such that the natives could never successfully unite to overthrow their colonial masters. In some ways it would be natural to reset to the old tribal borders. Thus, as an example, the Kurds on either side of the Iraq / Turkey border might unite to form a single state. There are two problems with this... the governments of Iraq and Turkey aren't ready to relinquish power or territory.

Perhaps reseting to the natural traditional tribal borders is the only route to peace in the Middle East. On the other hand, it would require overthrowing just about every government in the Middle East. Most to every political organization currently in power is apt to reject the approach.







Post#78 at 09-21-2014 04:09 AM by '58 Flat [at Hardhat From Central Jersey joined Jul 2001 #posts 3,300]
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Yet this phenomenon is not confined to the Middle East: See how Tito drew the internal borders of Yugoslavia, and how Stalin etc. drew the internal borders of the Soviet Union.

And if one is a true believer in classical Communist philosophy, then one defaults to self-determination - therefore one supports Kurdish ambitions, and also those of the Abkhazians, Ossetians, etc. On the other hand, if one is a "That was then, this is now" hypocrite ...
But maybe if the putative Robin Hoods stopped trying to take from law-abiding citizens and give to criminals, take from men and give to women, take from believers and give to anti-believers, take from citizens and give to "undocumented" immigrants, and take from heterosexuals and give to homosexuals, they might have a lot more success in taking from the rich and giving to everyone else.

Don't blame me - I'm a Baby Buster!







Post#79 at 09-21-2014 11:08 AM by B Butler [at joined Nov 2011 #posts 2,329]
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Left Arrow Communist Self Determination?

Quote Originally Posted by '58 Flat View Post
Yet this phenomenon is not confined to the Middle East: See how Tito drew the internal borders of Yugoslavia, and how Stalin etc. drew the internal borders of the Soviet Union.

And if one is a true believer in classical Communist philosophy, then one defaults to self-determination - therefore one supports Kurdish ambitions, and also those of the Abkhazians, Ossetians, etc. On the other hand, if one is a "That was then, this is now" hypocrite ...
Methinks Stalin exemplified the Communist version of self-determination. Stalin determined everything himself.

Of course in Marx's world view the state faded away to nothing, and each self sufficient commune made its own decisions. But Marx lived in dreamland. While he was very acute at spotting blatant problems with capitalism which often remain to this day, his supposed solutions did not and do not apply to human beings. In practice, the small units of production were under the thumb of an inefficient autocratic bureaucracy. Thus, I don't think either world view relevant to today's headaches.

Me, I'd kind of like to see a reversion to borders reflecting the world views of those living within the borders. This presumes not too much mixing of world views and values have occurred since the artificial modern borders were drawn, which is a problematic assumption.

Alas, there is an old New England saying about the situation. "Ya khant get deayah from heeah."







Post#80 at 09-21-2014 11:48 AM by TnT [at joined Feb 2005 #posts 2,005]
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Quote Originally Posted by TnT View Post
Years ago when Joe Biden was running for President, he spoke at length about the natural divisions in "Iraqi" society. After hearing him, over a campfire one night I predicted to my son that eventually we will see three political entities in "Iraq" - Sunni-stan, Shia-stan and Kurdistan.

I am still convinced.
Very interesting! This morning on TV, Samantha Power, Ambassador to the UN was interviewed. TWICE she referred to "... the Kurds AND the Iraqis ... "

I wonder, was she just running off at the mouth, saying something that she didn't realize the implications of? Surely she is a bright, intelligent woman who understands the finely sliced nuance contained in diplomatic language?

What will be the next step, referring to the gang as " ... the Shiites, the Sunnis and the Kurds ..." ?? And eliminating the term "Iraqis" all together?
" ... a man of notoriously vicious and intemperate disposition."







Post#81 at 09-21-2014 12:49 PM by pbrower2a [at "Michigrim" joined May 2005 #posts 15,014]
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Quote Originally Posted by Anc' Mariner View Post
True, but as you colorfully mentioned once Pb - the most rapacious and unrepentant minds hide their iron fist (claws?) beneath the soft but false veneer of a velvet glove.

The elites saw fit to furnish the crooked (and therefore easy to manipulate) secular nationalist Saddam with some pretty nasty items, because he was willing to send young men to fight against something the elites feared much more: the mass movement of principled theocratic socialism (whatever its archaicisms) represented by Khomeini.
Someone as unprincipled as Saddam Hussein is easy to manipulate for a while. He was clever enough to play the United States against the Soviet Union for his personal gain and the enhancement of his ego. Both tolerated his crimes for their own cynical reasons. In his case he let it go to his head and thought himself a great enough leader to begin a course of conquest that began with Kuwait. Then he started to look like another Napoleon or Hitler, and both the United States and the Soviet Union turned on him.

"Neighborhoods" are not the same as spheres of influence, but once the lion cub starts getting big enough to kill pets...

Unprincipled despots are a dime a dozen. Principled movements are much more versatile, because they do not solely depend on any leader. Plutocrats, who prefer to rule by opportunistic peer networks that hide from the light of day, hate that the common people might see their real practices.
It is no longer so easy to build an Empire. The United States is now one of the oldest -- and it was established as an empire in scale with the Treaty of Paris in 1783. It expanded mostly by picking off pieces of weakened empires -- a purchase here and a cheap conquest there, with the takeover of a puppet state in bad fiscal shape (the Republic of Texas) -- until 1898, when it took Puerto Rico and the Philippines from Spain. The great colonial empires that 'painted the globe red' or started teaching children from textbooks that 'our ancestors were Celts with red hair and blue eyes' disintegrated after World War II. The colonial empires were just too vulnerable to the attention of other colonial powers that tried to imitate France, Britain, America, and Russia. In the Pacific theater, most of the war outside of China was over colonies from British India to the Dutch East Indies to Guam. Technically, even Hawaii and Alaska were still colonies during World War II.

Empire-building is generally seen as futile -- but it takes only one upstart power to start it. If that ever happens and goes to any great scale, then World War III is underway.

Good law protects the common people, by setting out mutual duties and standards that apply to the rich and poor alike. The well connected and those who find themselves alone. Law is the great equalizer.
Good law -- so long as it is effectively and fairly enforced. Bad law, whether laws persecuting sorcerers, the Fugitive Slave Law, Prohibition, Article 58 of the Soviet Criminal Code, the Nuremberg Laws, or laws proscribing homosexuality (no attempt at equating those), gets bad results even if effectively enforced.

Long ago, money changers paid a share of their financial gains to the Temple. A physical structure that represented the Idea of unity and self sacrifice for the good of the whole. Not leveling the high, but bringing their assets to positive use for the evolution of the species.

Some people still remember that. Poor people need goals and ideals to look up to. Not just bread for the day. Ideals. Good role models willing to sacrifice for the greater good.
Noblesse oblige is good practice. Economic elites can act fairly and humanely. But they cannot operate fairly and humanely out of fear alone. They need to have or at least simulate humanitarian tendencies.

All For the Few does not create good will.
The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid "dens of crime" (or) even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered... in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by (those) who do not need to raise their voices. Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the office of a thoroughly nasty business concern."


― C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters







Post#82 at 09-21-2014 01:11 PM by pbrower2a [at "Michigrim" joined May 2005 #posts 15,014]
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Quote Originally Posted by B Butler View Post
Methinks Stalin exemplified the Communist version of self-determination. Stalin determined everything himself.

Of course in Marx's world view the state faded away to nothing, and each self sufficient commune made its own decisions. But Marx lived in dreamland. While he was very acute at spotting blatant problems with capitalism which often remain to this day, his supposed solutions did not and do not apply to human beings. In practice, the small units of production were under the thumb of an inefficient autocratic bureaucracy. Thus, I don't think either world view relevant to today's headaches.
Although right-wingers frequently offer the Soviet Union as an example of Big Government running amok, the ironic truth is that the Soviet government was always formally weak. The Party was all powerful, and Stalin was the definitive Party Boss. Police agencies, courts of law, all economic activity, academia, and even the Armed Forces were under effective control of the Party, and for a quarter of a century that meant Josef Stalin, one of the most ruthless despots who has ever lived. Weak state? How many statues were built of Mikhail Kalinin, the President of the Soviet Union during most of the Stalin era. A hint: "Kalinin" does not pass my spell check.

Weak and ineffective government (government that we can drown in the bathtub) may be the libertarian ideal, but know well: libertarians are hardly the first to envision the vanishing of the State. Marx, the antithesis of a libertarian, beat libertarians to it. We need government strong enough to serve humanity but that finds itself restrained from doing horrible things to innocent people.

Me, I'd kind of like to see a reversion to borders reflecting the world views of those living within the borders. This presumes not too much mixing of world views and values have occurred since the artificial modern borders were drawn, which is a problematic assumption.
Such would make a mess of the US. Say "Texas", and you have the Lower Rio Grande Valley which is very different from the Texas Panhandle, which has more in common politically and culturally with western Nebraska than with rural East Texas, urban centers like Dallas and Houston, and especially the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Illinois is one of the most Democratic-voting states, but outside of Greater Chicago the state votes much like rural Texas. Dallas and Chicago have much more in common than does either place with rural areas within their states roughly fifty miles away. The part of Michigan in which I live has demographics characteristic or the rural South, and not fairly-close Ann Arbor or East Lansing.

Alas, there is an old New England saying about the situation. "Ya khant get deayah from heeah."
Splitting America along any lines would get ugly. It will be far better that we make the workable reforms that we must make for the benefit of all Americans. Bad education that confirms a culture does few people much good.
The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid "dens of crime" (or) even in concentration camps and labour camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered... in clean, carpeted, warmed and well-lighted offices, by (those) who do not need to raise their voices. Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the office of a thoroughly nasty business concern."


― C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters







Post#83 at 09-22-2014 07:46 AM by Mikebert [at Kalamazoo MI joined Jul 2001 #posts 4,501]
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Quote Originally Posted by radind View Post
The US did wait until WWII to take on the role of England in the world, but I dont think that England gave up this role voluntarily. They had no choice after the war.
They had a choice. They could accept that things had changed (they had seen this coming sixty years earlier) and gone out with as much grace as is compatible for a prideful nation, or they could go out kicking and screaming like Imperial Spain. They chose the former, as did the Dutch. America is showing signs of desiring to take Spain's path.

One thing that might determine which way a country goes could be how comfortable the ruling elites feel their position to be. In Spain the ruling elite in favor of empire were the aristocrats who thought like military men and who had created an old-fashioned empire like that of the Romans which fueled itself by direct extraction of essentially money (i.e. silver and to a lesser extent gold). Spanish power was underwritten by this ability to "print money" using the "royal fifth" of the Spanish imports of American treasure. When the flux of silver peaked around 1600, wisdom would mandate that Spain make permanent peace with the Dutch along with the English. They should then have then focused on their global empire and NOT get dragged into another doomed European land war in 1618.

But Spanish aristocrats were incapable of looking at things from any perspective than their own, not even the Portuguese (whose trading empire was dismantled by the Dutch while the Spanish authorizes stood by (Portugal and Spain were unified under the Spanish crown over 1580-1640). And so both countries ended up in the toilet.

The Dutch were split between an aristocratic military elite and a merchant economic elite. Only the former was a supported of imperialism. The later only cared for profit, they had actually traded with the enemy during wartime, and by the late 17th century were investing in the British government. It did not hurt that their stadtholder became King of England and the English eagerly adopted so many of the Dutch ways of governing. So it was relatively easy for Dutch aristocrats to give it up.

The British Empire was an economic empire, and their ruling economic elites would be just as willing as the Spanish aristocrats to hang in there. Because of US isolationism England did not give it up until after WW II, which was almost too late to avoid the Spanish death spiral. Like the Dutch, they too had to share power with a rising Socialist political strain that cared nothing for empire. It did not hurt that the newcomer was a former British colony who spoke the same language and shared many of the same ideas on governance. So the British economic elites made their peace with American hegemony and have played a supporting role, through their "special relation" with the US.

Like Spain the American ruling elite is unchallenged at home. The Left is moribund and the church and American "mandarin class" have been entirely captured by the economic elites and share the same values. Finally the only power suitable to replace America is China who comes from a different civilization altogether.

The only possible way America can avoid the road taken by Spain, IMO, it to realize that the American empire is not only non-territorial (like Spain's and the classic empires of pre-modern times) it is also not economic (like the trading empires of the Western colonial powers). Rather it is a service empire. It exists to do a political job in support of the elites economic interests. But it operates at a net loss. It costs more for America to maintain the free flow of oil than the American profits generated from the sale of that oil. Thus empire is only a going concern if people who do not obtain its benefits can be persuaded to foot the bill.

The obvious place to go is the middle classes. But over the past 35 years these have been thoroughly drained; this modern version of "the silver train" is in decline. Todays empire is funded by a stream of money from chiefly China and Japan and the Federal Reserve. As a result the only people who are making cogent argument against empire (which I oppose on historical analogy) have been the libertarians, with whom I agree with nothing else. The libertarian viewpoint is most emotionally agreeable to financially independent people (professionals, self-employed, small businessmen, and investors) that is people who have enough on which to live comfortably (say around $5-15 million) but are not rich in their own eyes, preferring to think of themselves as (upper) middle class, or the affluent. They may have an inchoate fear that with the looting of those in the class below themselves; they are next, either through taxation, or more likely inflation.
Last edited by Mikebert; 09-22-2014 at 08:07 AM.







Post#84 at 09-22-2014 08:44 AM by Mikebert [at Kalamazoo MI joined Jul 2001 #posts 4,501]
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Quote Originally Posted by playwrite View Post
I'm sure you're aware of the relative military expenditures of the US vis-a-vis everyone else and the risks, up to and including possible nuclear exchange, of trying to knock the hegmon from its perch.
If Japan and the EU spent the same %GDP on their militaries as does the US, the US would be first amongst equals. The old hegemon and the new hegemon are often allies in the Global War struggle that establishes the new hegemon. In the global war of 1688-1714 the English (new) and Dutch (old) were allies. In the global war of 1914-45 the Americans (new) and English (old) were allies. Let the WOT serve as the global war. America sure seems like they want to make whatever is the bad guy "flavor of the month" as the a biggest monstrous threat since the evil Empire or Hitler. In that "war" America (old) and China (new) are again allies with America doing the fighting and China paying for it (like Britain used to pay Prussia and Austria to do the fighting against France, while the British Navy stuck to picking off the French colonies). And when the dust settles, who gets the economic benefits? China of course.

So why on earth would there need to be any sort of nuclear involvement for China to take over? In fact it may serve the Chinese interests to keep America in that role and simply pull the strings on them sort of like Israel does, only China would have more control since they paid for the wars fought by their puppet hegemon. It was a long tradition in Japan for a puppet emperor to "rule" Japan. I don't know how the Chinese system worked. Did the emperor actually rule or was he a puppet of others?

Also, while there are benefits to being the hegemon, there are also benefits (e.g. free rider) of not being the hegemon.
I agree. But this is whole point. In the past there were no benefits to not be hegemon. Now there are. So why not let someone else be the hegemon? Why shouldn't the US leave the stage and let China, India and Russia sort it out? India and Russia already have faced serious internal strife with their Muslim subjects. China has something to fear from this too. America does not. China and India both rely in imported oil as much as or more than we do (and our reliance is falling with increased domestic production and falling consumption). They have far more to lose from a hegemon-free world than we do. So why do you want America to continue to do it?

All the "problems" you envision that might happen if we throw in the towel would be worse for them (and Europe too). So why aren't they worried enough to pay for the resources needed to provide for their own security? Or do they feel they DO have sufficient resources and the US is a chump. The only people who say they are freeloading are Americans like you. So why do you let them freeload?

Could it be that they do not assign much value to US-provided "hegemonic services"? And if so, why are you so certain you are right and they are wrong?
Last edited by Mikebert; 09-23-2014 at 09:31 AM.







Post#85 at 09-22-2014 01:23 PM by Marx & Lennon [at '47 cohort still lost in Falwelland joined Sep 2001 #posts 16,709]
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Quote Originally Posted by Eric the Green View Post
I agree on that last score; but I'm not sure that giving the monsters another reason to castigate us, absolves us from responding (in a multi-lateral way and as helpers, not fighters, of course) to these monsters-- the IS and Assad. I think more should have been done to handle Rwanda too. And what NATO did in Bosnia/Kosovo, and how the Allies responded to the Nazis, were good things too.

This has nothing to do with our behavior in the region that has contributed to this mess; which it has. Those behaviors include our support for Israel and our invasion of Iraq.
Before we engage in any furthere behavior we might regret later, we should ask two simple quiestions:
1. Are doing more good that harm through our actions today?
2. Will our actions be a net good in a year or two, if we're still engaged?

Those should be minimum standards. Ideally, we should do as little as possible when the situation does not involve us directly, and nothing if "friends" in the region won't engage first.
Marx: Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.
Lennon: You either get tired fighting for peace, or you die.







Post#86 at 09-22-2014 02:06 PM by Marx & Lennon [at '47 cohort still lost in Falwelland joined Sep 2001 #posts 16,709]
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Quote Originally Posted by Mikebert View Post
We should repel with military force any invasions of the United states or its territories. I also support the US to pursue any war outside of the US provided a formal declaration of war has been made.

We should use our navy to pursue pirates who attack ships of American shipping companies that who pay US taxes, and so are authorized to fly the US flag. If they do anything to avoid paying taxes, they lose the right to fly the US flag. If we catch a ship flying the US flag without authorization, we sink them.

That's all I think is always justified. Ideally, we should not even help the Kurds.
10 years ago, I was the pacifist and you, the interventionist. Now, you're far mor the pacifist than I am. I don't think I've changed all that much. So I hae to ask, was your change of heart triggered by a single event, or more by the accumulation of the stupidity the workd has been wallowing in over the intervening years?

Quote Originally Posted by Mikebert ...
But, at present since we have the empire, we are always playing the game. Where I differ from you and Obama is I no longer believe that is possible to play the game well. As long as we have the ability to intervene I believe we will always be in a situation in which we are damned if we do and damned if we don't. And since I do not know how a hegemon can stop being one w/o somebody else pushing us out, we might not be able to give it up until it destroys us like it did Spain.
I think we can stop the process by simply refusing to play. We'll need to do two things first, though.

One, we have messes totally of our making that need to be addressed. Not every mees needs to be addressed, though. We do have a real hand in creating ISIS as a potent ofrce, because we stupidly left our latest cardboard Army fully furnished with advanced weapons. The last time we did that successfuly was Korea. So that needs to be addressed by destroying as much of the hardware as possible, and doing it quickly.

Second on the list is a mental readjustment to the rest of the world. This will take time, since it's not agreed internally at the moment, but we need to make it clear that not evey fight is ours, and any fight that is not being waged by those with skin in the game is not going to be our fight ... ever. This also needs to include fights that don't need our involvement, even though we might feel drawn to join. Our NATO alies are actually pretty good at doing this to us, we need to do it too. If Europeans are OK with Putin rolling-over their neighbors, why should we engage? And Israel needs to know that we aren't going to back them everytime they do something - especially as they've strayed from a defensive role, right through offensive, and all the way to outright aggressive. It's certaainly time to cut their allowance ... to zero.

Quote Originally Posted by Mikebert ...
You state there are benefits, but none of the ones you have offered make any sense. You just state Israel "won't let" Iran get a bomb. But there is nothing Israel is going to do that can stop them.
Israel can nuke them in advance. I doubt they will, but they certainly can.

Quote Originally Posted by Mikebert ...
Your view is patronistic. You call Iran and NK "cultic". Well the Soviet Union was cultic too, and most Americans simply assumed that if somebody was going to start a nuclear war, it would be the Russians. it would never be the US, despite the fact that (1) the US is the only country to actually have used nukes on civilian populations (2) the US always left open the option of starting a nuke war; the Soviets had rejected this and (3) in the 1980's the US proposed and then built what looked like a first-strike nuclear weapon.
Th MX was never a true first-strike weapon, but submarine based weapons certainly can be. They arrive in a much shorter time, so counter measures are much less effective. Stealth cruise missles are also out there, and they may give no warning at all.

Then again, the number of necessary targets that must be killed - submarines being both difficult and mandatory - continues to grow. How does any nation avoid a response strike of substantial proportion?
Marx: Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.
Lennon: You either get tired fighting for peace, or you die.







Post#87 at 09-22-2014 02:14 PM by Marx & Lennon [at '47 cohort still lost in Falwelland joined Sep 2001 #posts 16,709]
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Quote Originally Posted by radind View Post
The US did wait until WWII to take on the role of England in the world, but I dont think that England gave up this role voluntarily. They had no choice after the war.
There is an interesting article about China in the Economist.
Perhaps China is just more subtle in its approach and is waiting for the China economy to grow.
The real question remains, why do they want an empire at all? Answer that, and the kind of empire they'll try to build will amost define itself. One part of the answer has to be acquisiton of strategic assets. Another has to be secure borders. Both argue for the South China Sea as a primary focus, at least for now.

The Chinese also recognize the strategic adversay next door. India will be a counter balance, regardless of what we do.
Marx: Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.
Lennon: You either get tired fighting for peace, or you die.







Post#88 at 09-22-2014 02:49 PM by radind [at Alabama joined Sep 2009 #posts 1,595]
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Quote Originally Posted by Marx & Lennon View Post
The real question remains, why do they want an empire at all? Answer that, and the kind of empire they'll try to build will amost define itself. One part of the answer has to be acquisiton of strategic assets. Another has to be secure borders. Both argue for the South China Sea as a primary focus, at least for now.

The Chinese also recognize the strategic adversay next door. India will be a counter balance, regardless of what we do.
Good points.
Unfortunately, nations sometimes want an empire just because they can.
India would be a natural counterbalance, provided they have the economic and military strength,







Post#89 at 09-22-2014 04:08 PM by Kepi [at Northern, VA joined Nov 2012 #posts 3,664]
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Quote Originally Posted by Marx & Lennon View Post
The real question remains, why do they want an empire at all? Answer that, and the kind of empire they'll try to build will amost define itself. One part of the answer has to be acquisiton of strategic assets. Another has to be secure borders. Both argue for the South China Sea as a primary focus, at least for now.

The Chinese also recognize the strategic adversay next door. India will be a counter balance, regardless of what we do.
Whereas the US did it because "I think we're kinda supposed to, I guess? I dunno... the damn reds our something? Does that sound right? I'm not sure, I'm really just winging it." So we get a pointless, existentially fail, bloated bureaucracy that basically can't really achieve a goal to save it's life.







Post#90 at 09-22-2014 04:23 PM by Marx & Lennon [at '47 cohort still lost in Falwelland joined Sep 2001 #posts 16,709]
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Quote Originally Posted by Kepi View Post
Whereas the US did it because "I think we're kinda supposed to, I guess? I dunno... the damn reds our something? Does that sound right? I'm not sure, I'm really just winging it." So we get a pointless, existentially fail, bloated bureaucracy that basically can't really achieve a goal to save it's life.
When we were actively engaged in the Cold War, we did it very well. That's why we won. After that ceased to be important, we should have folded our tent. We didn't, so here we are.
Marx: Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.
Lennon: You either get tired fighting for peace, or you die.







Post#91 at 09-22-2014 05:35 PM by radind [at Alabama joined Sep 2009 #posts 1,595]
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Quote Originally Posted by Mikebert View Post
They had a choice. They could accept that things had changed (they had seen this coming sixty years earlier) and gone out with as much grace as is compatible for a prideful nation, or they could go out kicking and screaming like Imperial Spain. They chose the former, as did the Dutch. America is showing signs of desiring to take Spain's path.

One thing that might determine which way a country goes could be how comfortable the ruling elites feel their position to be. In Spain the ruling elite in favor of empire were the aristocrats who thought like military men and who had created an old-fashioned empire like that of the Romans which fueled itself by direct extraction of essentially money (i.e. silver and to a lesser extent gold). Spanish power was underwritten by this ability to "print money" using the "royal fifth" of the Spanish imports of American treasure. When the flux of silver peaked around 1600, wisdom would mandate that Spain make permanent peace with the Dutch along with the English. They should then have then focused on their global empire and NOT get dragged into another doomed European land war in 1618.

But Spanish aristocrats were incapable of looking at things from any perspective than their own, not even the Portuguese (whose trading empire was dismantled by the Dutch while the Spanish authorizes stood by (Portugal and Spain were unified under the Spanish crown over 1580-1640). And so both countries ended up in the toilet.

The Dutch were split between an aristocratic military elite and a merchant economic elite. Only the former was a supported of imperialism. The later only cared for profit, they had actually traded with the enemy during wartime, and by the late 17th century were investing in the British government. It did not hurt that their stadtholder became King of England and the English eagerly adopted so many of the Dutch ways of governing. So it was relatively easy for Dutch aristocrats to give it up.

The British Empire was an economic empire, and their ruling economic elites would be just as willing as the Spanish aristocrats to hang in there. Because of US isolationism England did not give it up until after WW II, which was almost too late to avoid the Spanish death spiral. Like the Dutch, they too had to share power with a rising Socialist political strain that cared nothing for empire. It did not hurt that the newcomer was a former British colony who spoke the same language and shared many of the same ideas on governance. So the British economic elites made their peace with American hegemony and have played a supporting role, through their "special relation" with the US.

Like Spain the American ruling elite is unchallenged at home. The Left is moribund and the church and American "mandarin class" have been entirely captured by the economic elites and share the same values. Finally the only power suitable to replace America is China who comes from a different civilization altogether.

The only possible way America can avoid the road taken by Spain, IMO, it to realize that the American empire is not only non-territorial (like Spain's and the classic empires of pre-modern times) it is also not economic (like the trading empires of the Western colonial powers). Rather it is a service empire. It exists to do a political job in support of the elites economic interests. But it operates at a net loss. It costs more for America to maintain the free flow of oil than the American profits generated from the sale of that oil. Thus empire is only a going concern if people who do not obtain its benefits can be persuaded to foot the bill.

The obvious place to go is the middle classes. But over the past 35 years these have been thoroughly drained; this modern version of "the silver train" is in decline. Todays empire is funded by a stream of money from chiefly China and Japan and the Federal Reserve. As a result the only people who are making cogent argument against empire (which I oppose on historical analogy) have been the libertarians, with whom I agree with nothing else. The libertarian viewpoint is most emotionally agreeable to financially independent people (professionals, self-employed, small businessmen, and investors) that is people who have enough on which to live comfortably (say around $5-15 million) but are not rich in their own eyes, preferring to think of themselves as (upper) middle class, or the affluent. They may have an inchoate fear that with the looting of those in the class below themselves; they are next, either through taxation, or more likely inflation.
Although far, far from rich, I lean toward some of the libertarian views.







Post#92 at 09-22-2014 05:41 PM by playwrite [at NYC joined Jul 2005 #posts 10,443]
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Quote Originally Posted by B Butler View Post
I am told that when the colonial powers divided the Middle East oil reserves among themselves, they deliberately drew the borders such that every colony contained several rival tribes and/or religious factions such that the natives could never successfully unite to overthrow their colonial masters. In some ways it would be natural to reset to the old tribal borders. Thus, as an example, the Kurds on either side of the Iraq / Turkey border might unite to form a single state. There are two problems with this... the governments of Iraq and Turkey aren't ready to relinquish power or territory.

Perhaps reseting to the natural traditional tribal borders is the only route to peace in the Middle East. On the other hand, it would require overthrowing just about every government in the Middle East. Most to every political organization currently in power is apt to reject the approach.
Not disagreeing, but to fully grasp the situation, it is probable worth understanding that "traditional/natural" borders of the 'tribal lands' is a relatively recent phenomenon in much of the Middle East. The Ottoman's got started in the 13th Century and most historians put their zenith in the 17th; before the US was a nation, the old Turks (the young ones came to power toward the end of the "sick man of Europe") control much of what is being contested today in the ME. The Ottomans had providential borders that were putting much in a constant state of flux that mirrored the flux of the peoples in the region.

Basically, before the Brits/French drew their borders, there was no context to measure who was where.

Interesting to think how long it took for Europe to settle out after the Roman Empire fell.
"The Devil enters the prompter's box and the play is ready to start" - R. Service

Its not tax money. The banks have accounts with the Fed so, to lend to a bank, we simply use the computer to mark up the size of the account that they have with the Fed. Its much more akin to printing money. - B.Bernanke


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If you meet a magic pony on the road, kill it. - Playwrite







Post#93 at 09-22-2014 07:14 PM by XYMOX_4AD_84 [at joined Nov 2012 #posts 3,073]
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An indicator: In 2014, we will set an all time record for spending on nuclear weapons.







Post#94 at 09-23-2014 08:48 AM by Mikebert [at Kalamazoo MI joined Jul 2001 #posts 4,501]
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Quote Originally Posted by Marx & Lennon View Post
10 years ago, I was the pacifist and you, the interventionist. Now, you're far mor the pacifist than I am. I don't think I've changed all that much. So I hae to ask, was your change of heart triggered by a single event, or more by the accumulation of the stupidity the workd has been wallowing in over the intervening years?
The latter.

I think we can stop the process by simply refusing to play.
I don't think so. As long as we can play, we will. And we do play, we will play badly some of the time.

One, we have messes totally of our making that need to be addressed.
But this is the problem. Why do we have to deal with ISIS? because we invaded Iraq in 2003.

Why did we invade Iraq in 2003? To clean up the mess (embargo and no-fly zone) we left after our invasion of Kuwait.

Why did we invade Kuwait? Because our ambassador give a stupid response when asked by Saddam what was the US position on the Iraqi-Kuwaiti dispute.

Why did we invade Afghanistan? Because of 911.

Why did 911 happen? Because al Qaeda was at war with the US.

Why did al Qaeda declare war on the US? According to their declaration, because of (1) the no-fly zone in Iraq (which meant American soldiers were stationed in Saudi Arabia) (2) the Iraqi embargo (3) US support for Israel

Two-thirds of causes/motives for 911 and the Afghanistan war stem from that same stupid response given to Saddam Hussein.

For want of a nail the kingdom was lost.

The problem is there is always going to be blowback in a world in which war is not longer conducted as war. For example we recently bombed the ISIS capital. Did we level it like we did Hamburg or Tokyo in WW II? Nope. We mostly struck at empty buildings, ISIS having vacated them and embedded with civilians.

I am not saying we should have destroyed the city and killed tens of thousands of civilians. I am saying we cannot really clean up our mess.

All we can rationally do is withdraw and hope that after some decade the blowback from what we have done diminishes. We do not have any power anymore to influence events using our military. This is why the US spends more than the next X countries combined. It's not that we spend so much, but they spend so little. They spend so little because they know that additional money spend on the military does little good.

Second on the list is a mental readjustment to the rest of the world. This will take time, since it's not agreed internally at the moment, but we need to make it clear that not evey fight is ours, and any fight that is not being waged by those with skin in the game is not going to be our fight ... ever. This also needs to include fights that don't need our involvement, even though we might feel drawn to join.
Here again I differ. I believe that such a mental adjustment is simply impossible as long as we are capable of projected power. We have to first lose the empire before we can make the adjustment. And we do that when we face the stark choice between the funding the empire or maintaining entitlements going to people now. Nobody has asked recipients of veterans social security, or Medicare benefits to accept smaller checks starting next month, so that we can maintain our overseas military assets. Until it comes to that, there will be no readjustment, as long as the exiting domestic political order remains.

And Israel needs to know that we aren't going to back them everytime they do something
But Israel calls the shots right now, as do big donors. This cannot be done unless you have a sea change in domestic politics. You see foreign policy is not about what's going on out there. It's about what is going on at home.

Israel can nuke them in advance. I doubt they will, but they certainly can.
I did not say there was nothing Israel can do. I said there was nothing Israel is going to do. And in that your agree with me. And, I suspect, so do the men in Teheran and Jerusalem.

I did not say the MX WAS a first strike weapon. I am saying that looked like a first strike weapon because it did not look like anything else. The actual purpose for the MX, IMO, was as a counter to the proposed Trident II system for the US Navy. With super accurate submarine missiles, the Navy would be able to carry out "counterforce" functions that previously could only be carried out by land-based missiles. The counterforce doctrine held that missiles were themselves targets. Prudence would dictate eliminating these targets if their functions could be performed by submarines which were not close to US population centers. Hence the mobile-based MX missile was envisioned in which the existing Minuteman missiles would be replaced by a smaller number of highly MIRV'd missiles that would be moved around. Essentially land-based submarines. This could keep the Air Force in the missile business, which was the real purpose for the MX missile. It really posed no threat to the Soviet Union.

One cannot expect the Soviets to interpret the MX in this way; they would see it as a new, unnecessary capability. What task, they would ask themselves, would the new MX accomplish that was not already being accomplished by the Minuteman? The only thing that made even a little sense was that the US might consider it as a first-strike weapon. That's how it would look to me if I was in their shoes.
Last edited by Mikebert; 09-23-2014 at 09:24 AM.







Post#95 at 09-23-2014 10:31 AM by playwrite [at NYC joined Jul 2005 #posts 10,443]
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Quote Originally Posted by Mikebert View Post
If Japan and the EU spent the same %GDP on their militaries as does the US, the US would be first amongst equals. The old hegemon and the new hegemon are often allies in the Global War struggle that establishes the new hegemon. In the global war of 1688-1714 the English (new) and Dutch (old) were allies. In the global war of 1914-45 the Americans (new) and English (old) were allies. Let the WOT serve as the global war. America sure seems like they want to make whatever is the bad guy "flavor of the month" as the a biggest monstrous threat since the evil Empire or Hitler. In that "war" America (old) and China (new) are again allies with America doing the fighting and China paying for it (like Britain used to pay Prussia and Austria to do the fighting against France, while the British Navy stuck to picking off the French colonies). And when the dust settles, who gets the economic benefits? China of course.

So why on earth would there need to be any sort of nuclear involvement for China to take over? In fact it may serve the Chinese interests to keep America in that role and simply pull the strings on them sort of like Israel does, only China would have more control since they paid for the wars fought by their puppet hegemon. It was a long tradition in Japan for a puppet emperor to "rule" Japan. I don't know how the Chinese system worked. Did the emperor actually rule or was he a puppet of others?


I agree. But this is whole point. In the past there were no benefits to not be hegemon. Now there are. So why not let someone else be the hegemon? Why shouldn't the US leave the stage and let China, India and Russia sort it out? India and Russia already have faced serious internal strife with their Muslim subjects. China has something to fear from this too. America does not. China and India both rely in imported oil as much as or more than we do (and our reliance is falling with increased domestic production and falling consumption). They have far more to lose from a hegemon-free world than we do. So why do you want America to continue to do it?

All the "problems" you envision that might happen if we throw in the towel would be worse for them (and Europe too). So why aren't they worried enough to pay for the resources needed to provide for their own security? Or do they feel they DO have sufficient resources and the US is a chump. The only people who say they are freeloading are Americans like you. So why do you let them freeload?

Could it be that they do not assign much value to US-provided "hegemonic services"? And if so, why are you so certain you are right and they are wrong?
A lot here as well as in your previous post that I must of missed. Let me take somewhat of a scatter shot approach to at least some of these -

- A couple of folks here keep interchanging "empire" with "hegmon" - that is wrong and confusing. Contemporary US is not an empire; one could argue the finer details of when it stop but its been that way for at least decades. It's hegemony is primarily now in the financial sector and, as you noted, it's military hegemony is basically supported by most countries except when it rubs against specific regional differences (e.g. China Sea with China, Eastern Europe with Russia).

- Just exactly what are these terrible downsides to being the hegmon? Generally, I would put them in two categories but each is greatly limited in magnitude.

The first is the fuck-ups like W's invasion of Iraq and earlier, Vietnam. That can be, of course, limited by not voting in fuck-ups. Also, it presumes a fuck-up getting into the WH will not fuck-up just because we are not the hegmon. It is likely that even if we become Fortress American, we will still likely have substantial military capacities that a fuck-up could throw at some 'problem' in an ill-conceived manner. It is certainly possible that by losing hegmon status, such fuck-ups could be even more difficult to extract ourselves from without getting something more than just a bloody nose.

The second is blow-back from being the hegemon, e.g. 9/11. The problem here for this being a reason to abandon hegemony is the combination of both a pretty long period of hegemony and a group of religious zealots that are not going to forget quickly. If they have the means to attack our homeland, they're going to do it; and that is going to be the status for some time after we run up the white flag. And running up the white flag is going to both embolden them and allow them to focus more on or previous allies. Here's where you will say, "fine, that's there problem." The problem with that is if we are having a difficult time dealing with it, our allies and others (e.g. China, Russia) are certainly not going to deal with it any better. The economic repercussions of that (e.g. major disruptions of Saudi oil flows) will be server on the global economy. Sure, in the long run, it has a good chance to all work out, kumbaya, but paraphrasing Keynes, in the long run we are all dead.

While you see limited benefits to being the hegemon, I just don't see the terrible downsides of it particularly the "delta" between 'to be or not to be'

Walking away has no consequences? I see this as somewhat of an academic exercise, at best, without getting into specifics. Two specifics to consider: ISIL and the China Sea. Without our checking ISIL, I'm certain the Kurds would have been massacred and a prolong Shia-Sunni civil war fully underway with Baghdad becoming Sarajevo '92 on steroids. To the extent your this-is-more-their-problem countries (i.e., Iran, Saudis, Jordan, Turkey) get involve, the more likely it just becomes a region-wide conflagration with extensive impacts on global economies and markets. Maybe your okay with both the moral issue of the resulting ethnic cleansing and the global economic hardships - I'm not.

Similarly, I believe our premature withdrawal from the China Sea would result in China's near-instantaneous invasion of Taiwan, a takeover of disputed islands from Japan, Philippines, Indonesia, and Vietnam and their claiming the most of the Sea as theirs. Russia would do the same for those islands in dispute with Japan. North Korea would become much more aggressive with a good chance of actually going to war with the South. The disruptions to the global economy and markets would be immense. - I would say most 401k, pension plans and stock portfolios in the US would lose at least 1/2 their value with any one of these events; the vast majority of people impacted would never fully recover their losses, even in the long run. In addition to the 10s of thousands of casualties from a China/Taiwan conflict, I find the economic consequences of these likely events being unacceptable particularly when our remaining the counter balance in the area means we or China occasionally have some tantrum over some diplomatic agreement and the even less frequent Chinese fighter jet getting a little too close to one of our blue ocean assets, i.e. no big deal.

I could go on, but I just don't see much downside to being the hegmon and I see a lot of upside. Its just that the big benefits to being hegmon are not the direct, more traditional benefits of territory or resources; it's much more indirect of having a relatively much more peaceful stable world. A world where 30K fanatical shitheads in some distant lands is seen a a reason to question US power - rather silly in comparison to what could be.
"The Devil enters the prompter's box and the play is ready to start" - R. Service

Its not tax money. The banks have accounts with the Fed so, to lend to a bank, we simply use the computer to mark up the size of the account that they have with the Fed. Its much more akin to printing money. - B.Bernanke


"Keep your filthy hands off my guns while I decide what you can & can't do with your uterus" - Sarah Silverman

If you meet a magic pony on the road, kill it. - Playwrite







Post#96 at 09-23-2014 11:20 AM by playwrite [at NYC joined Jul 2005 #posts 10,443]
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Quote Originally Posted by Mikebert View Post
The latter.


I don't think so. As long as we can play, we will. And we do play, we will play badly some of the time.


But this is the problem. Why do we have to deal with ISIS? because we invaded Iraq in 2003.

Why did we invade Iraq in 2003? To clean up the mess (embargo and no-fly zone) we left after our invasion of Kuwait.

Why did we invade Kuwait? Because our ambassador give a stupid response when asked by Saddam what was the US position on the Iraqi-Kuwaiti dispute.

Why did we invade Afghanistan? Because of 911.

Why did 911 happen? Because al Qaeda was at war with the US.

Why did al Qaeda declare war on the US? According to their declaration, because of (1) the no-fly zone in Iraq (which meant American soldiers were stationed in Saudi Arabia) (2) the Iraqi embargo (3) US support for Israel

Two-thirds of causes/motives for 911 and the Afghanistan war stem from that same stupid response given to Saddam Hussein.

For want of a nail the kingdom was lost.

The problem is there is always going to be blowback in a world in which war is not longer conducted as war. For example we recently bombed the ISIS capital. Did we level it like we did Hamburg or Tokyo in WW II? Nope. We mostly struck at empty buildings, ISIS having vacated them and embedded with civilians.

I am not saying we should have destroyed the city and killed tens of thousands of civilians. I am saying we cannot really clean up our mess.

All we can rationally do is withdraw and hope that after some decade the blowback from what we have done diminishes. We do not have any power anymore to influence events using our military. This is why the US spends more than the next X countries combined. It's not that we spend so much, but they spend so little. They spend so little because they know that additional money spend on the military does little good.


Here again I differ. I believe that such a mental adjustment is simply impossible as long as we are capable of projected power. We have to first lose the empire before we can make the adjustment. And we do that when we face the stark choice between the funding the empire or maintaining entitlements going to people now. Nobody has asked recipients of veterans social security, or Medicare benefits to accept smaller checks starting next month, so that we can maintain our overseas military assets. Until it comes to that, there will be no readjustment, as long as the exiting domestic political order remains.

But Israel calls the shots right now, as do big donors. This cannot be done unless you have a sea change in domestic politics. You see foreign policy is not about what's going on out there. It's about what is going on at home.

I did not say there was nothing Israel can do. I said there was nothing Israel is going to do. And in that your agree with me. And, I suspect, so do the men in Teheran and Jerusalem.

This is even more clear than your previous post I just responded to - you actually believe all evil, at least that which is directed at us, is simply a result of our own actions; and if we simply withdraw from the world, all evil directed at us will eventually cease. Is that kind of egotism simply a symptom of aged hegemony?

You do note, however, the long legacy of hegemony may result in blowback for a long time. Is that years, decades? Again, I hear Keynes noting the usual outcome of "the long run." So we just stand there and take it, hey? Wait until they're actually in the homeland setting off IEDs rather than shooting them in the barrel over there??? Not going to happen.

If you really dig into Osama bin Laden's history and his motivations, it becomes pretty clear he hated Saddam and thought most of Iraq was made up of Shiites who he believed (like all pious Salafis) were barely human and needed to be removed from the world. He only started to complain about US-led no fly zones and embargoes on Iraq years later when it became convenient for him in establishing al Qeada in Iraq.

What he refers to as his primary motivation in attacking the US on 9/11 was the Siege of Beirut in 1982 when Israeli jets bombed the city and set several residential towers on fire; he was there and watched them burn -

http://www.juancole.com/2004/10/towe...-asked-me.html

So 20 years later, OBL had his blowback; are we to sit on our hands for the next 20 years and take the blowbacks resulting from our actions up to the minute of our disengagment (which might take some time itself - at least in the eyes of the typical insane religious nut) - that would put us well after year 2035 - that's a lot of heartache for both of us if we should live that long.

It seems to me that where we are today and where we will be for decades boils down to - it is what it is, and no amount of wishful thinking is going to make the baddies go away.


Quote Originally Posted by Mikebert View Post
I did not say the MX WAS a first strike weapon. I am saying that looked like a first strike weapon because it did not look like anything else. The actual purpose for the MX, IMO, was as a counter to the proposed Trident II system for the US Navy. With super accurate submarine missiles, the Navy would be able to carry out "counterforce" functions that previously could only be carried out by land-based missiles. The counterforce doctrine held that missiles were themselves targets. Prudence would dictate eliminating these targets if their functions could be performed by submarines which were not close to US population centers. Hence the mobile-based MX missile was envisioned in which the existing Minuteman missiles would be replaced by a smaller number of highly MIRV'd missiles that would be moved around. Essentially land-based submarines. This could keep the Air Force in the missile business, which was the real purpose for the MX missile. It really posed no threat to the Soviet Union.

One cannot expect the Soviets to interpret the MX in this way; they would see it as a new, unnecessary capability. What task, they would ask themselves, would the new MX accomplish that was not already being accomplished by the Minuteman? The only thing that made even a little sense was that the US might consider it as a first-strike weapon. That's how it would look to me if I was in their shoes.
In the 1950s, it was certainly questionable who would emerge as a victor in either the Cold War or one that heated up to something hot. By a number of economic and military measures the Soviet ("we will bury you") Union was ahead of us (e.g. Spunik). The Soviets today are no more; they played the game poorly. What's left is Russia that now has its great fear from the last century of having hostile nations on its borders once again - all so it might get a land bridge through a ravaged part of a 3rd tier nation to an annexed port of Crimea for its 2nd class fleet that can be bottled up in nowhere lands by some pretty simple maneuvers at the Bosporus Straits. Looks like they're still playing the game poorly.

We, on the other hand, are left with wringing our hands about remaining as the hegmon because some religious fanatics are running Youtube recruiting tapes.

Maybe we should scrounge the nursing homes and try to find one or two leftovers from the GI Generation to smack us upside our heads?
Last edited by playwrite; 09-23-2014 at 11:25 AM.
"The Devil enters the prompter's box and the play is ready to start" - R. Service

Its not tax money. The banks have accounts with the Fed so, to lend to a bank, we simply use the computer to mark up the size of the account that they have with the Fed. Its much more akin to printing money. - B.Bernanke


"Keep your filthy hands off my guns while I decide what you can & can't do with your uterus" - Sarah Silverman

If you meet a magic pony on the road, kill it. - Playwrite







Post#97 at 09-23-2014 03:54 PM by Marx & Lennon [at '47 cohort still lost in Falwelland joined Sep 2001 #posts 16,709]
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Quote Originally Posted by Mikebert View Post
... As long as we can play, we will. And we do play, we will play badly some of the time.
We play badly when we fail to set an achievable goal, articulate it, and do it expeditiously. A lot of that is vanity and posturing, so we need to focus on that.

Quote Originally Posted by Mikebert ...
But this is the problem. Why do we have to deal with ISIS? because we invaded Iraq in 2003.

Why did we invade Iraq in 2003? To clean up the mess (embargo and no-fly zone) we left after our invasion of Kuwait.

Why did we invade Kuwait? Because our ambassador give a stupid response when asked by Saddam what was the US position on the Iraqi-Kuwaiti dispute.

Why did we invade Afghanistan? Because of 911.

Why did 911 happen? Because al Qaeda was at war with the US.

Why did al Qaeda declare war on the US? According to their declaration, because of (1) the no-fly zone in Iraq (which meant American soldiers were stationed in Saudi Arabia) (2) the Iraqi embargo (3) US support for Israel

Two-thirds of causes/motives for 911 and the Afghanistan war stem from that same stupid response given to Saddam Hussein.

For want of a nail the kingdom was lost.
OK, I can agree that we're vain-glorious, and that's always a bad state to be in. Still, we can escape that by setting internal expectations, and making them hard to ignore. For example, killing the draft was stupid. Instead, we should be expanding it to all Americans of both sexes and without deferrals. Actually drafting people every year on a lottery basis will make it a lot less likely that we will decide that war is a good option.

No, it's not perfect, but it does focus the mind when the real possibility exists that you or a family member could be the tip of the spear. War is a bit more personal that way.

And glancing at your list, there are really several classes of issues here:
  1. We should legitimately respond to aggression, and even support allies when the aggression is aimed at them, but we have to agree that aggression is really that: an attack or some similar activity. Responding to Somali pirates is legitimate, as is a response to an outright attack on Americans or American interests, assuming they are operating legally and without aggressive intent of their own.
  2. We have a responsibility to correct faux pas that hurt others. Apparently, the heavy weapons we gave the Iraqis should never have been given. Whether we were stupid or the Iraqis merely feckless, we need to remove those weapons from the field. I don't see that we are obligated beyond that point.
  3. We should not respond to taunts and insults. Most of that is just another player trying to use us in THEIR game. If we feel the need, we can taunt and insult in return, though that's pretty childish.
  4. Most important, we need to recognize when we've failed to follow our own advice, and refuse to be sucked into the back-and-forth that is typical of the activity we've seen in the middle east for the last few decades.


Quote Originally Posted by Mikebert ...
The problem is there is always going to be blowback in a world in which war is not longer conducted as war. For example we recently bombed the ISIS capital. Did we level it like we did Hamburg or Tokyo in WW II? Nope. We mostly struck at empty buildings, ISIS having vacated them and embedded with civilians.

I am not saying we should have destroyed the city and killed tens of thousands of civilians. I am saying we cannot really clean up our mess.
No, that was not our fight. After we disable the weapons we handed to the Iraqis, our job is done. If our supposed allies are anxious to take the fight to the enemy, we should cheer them on. It's their neighborhood, not ours.

Quote Originally Posted by Mikebert ...
All we can rationally do is withdraw and hope that after some decade the blow-back from what we have done diminishes. We do not have any power anymore to influence events using our military. This is why the US spends more than the next X countries combined. It's not that we spend so much, but they spend so little. They spend so little because they know that additional money spend on the military does little good.
Part of that's true, but at least equally it's the expectation that the Cop-of-the-World will take care of <insert the name of the bad actor> who <insert the offense of the day>. Just look at the Turks, Saudis and all the Gulf Kingdoms and Emirates? They finally agreed to fly a few sorties, but where are their soldiers? I think the answer is obvious: they expect ours any day.

It's fully reasonable, and a policy we should articulate and enforce, that we will offer help when it's needed, but we're never first-in, and we won't be in at all until we decide the fight is too big for the locals. In this case, ISIS needs to show that it's too tough for the armies of several much larger and more advanced states.

Quote Originally Posted by Mikebert ...
Here again I differ. I believe that such a mental adjustment is simply impossible as long as we are capable of projected power. We have to first lose the empire before we can make the adjustment. And we do that when we face the stark choice between the funding the empire or maintaining entitlements going to people now. Nobody has asked recipients of veterans social security, or Medicare benefits to accept smaller checks starting next month, so that we can maintain our overseas military assets. Until it comes to that, there will be no readjustment, as long as the exiting domestic political order remains.
In a way, that's already happened with anti-poverty programs, including unemployment insurance. It's easy to deny the powerless things they need, and much harder to deny the powerful things they simply want. I don't have a solution for rubber backbones, except to put them at risk of enforcing the actions we take in such cavalier manner. I'm open to more aggressive internal repsonse than just relying on the draft

Quote Originally Posted by Mikebert ...
But Israel calls the shots right now, as do big donors. This cannot be done unless you have a sea change in domestic politics. You see foreign policy is not about what's going on out there. It's about what is going on at home.
This is another case where we have a lack of will - in this case, to oppose a vested interest with clout.

Quote Originally Posted by Mikebert ...
I did not say there was nothing Israel can do. I said there was nothing Israel is going to do. And in that your agree with me. And, I suspect, so do the men in Teheran and Jerusalem.
Agreed.

Quote Originally Posted by Mikebert ...
I did not say the MX WAS a first strike weapon. I am saying that looked like a first strike weapon because it did not look like anything else. The actual purpose for the MX, IMO, was as a counter to the proposed Trident II system for the US Navy. With super accurate submarine missiles, the Navy would be able to carry out "counterforce" functions that previously could only be carried out by land-based missiles. The counterforce doctrine held that missiles were themselves targets. Prudence would dictate eliminating these targets if their functions could be performed by submarines which were not close to US population centers. Hence the mobile-based MX missile was envisioned in which the existing Minuteman missiles would be replaced by a smaller number of highly MIRV'd missiles that would be moved around. Essentially land-based submarines. This could keep the Air Force in the missile business, which was the real purpose for the MX missile. It really posed no threat to the Soviet Union.

One cannot expect the Soviets to interpret the MX in this way; they would see it as a new, unnecessary capability. What task, they would ask themselves, would the new MX accomplish that was not already being accomplished by the Minuteman? The only thing that made even a little sense was that the US might consider it as a first-strike weapon. That's how it would look to me if I was in their shoes.
I suspect that the Russians have a different attitude about their deterrent now, since it's obvious that the Chinese are a bigger, closer threat to them than we are. Of course, the Chinese are also building subs, so the world will have an even greater abundance of first-strike weapons in the future.
Last edited by Marx & Lennon; 09-23-2014 at 04:04 PM.
Marx: Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.
Lennon: You either get tired fighting for peace, or you die.







Post#98 at 09-23-2014 03:55 PM by Mikebert [at Kalamazoo MI joined Jul 2001 #posts 4,501]
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09-23-2014, 03:55 PM #98
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Quote Originally Posted by playwrite View Post
you actually believe all evil, at least that which is directed at us, is simply a result of our own actions,
That's your interpretation. M&L argued that we do need to clean up messes left over from past interventions. I replied that attempted to clear up messes can result in more messes. This is because we cannot predict the future. I strongly supported the Gulf War. This was a huge mistake, but there was no way to know what would happen because of it.

Yet why did we do it? Why did the US care about the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait? We were not allies with Kuwait. Look at this transcript of the famous conversation between the US ambassador and Saddam Hussein. We misinterpreted the depth of Iraqi feelings on Kuwait. Less forgivable is that we misrepresented our position and flat out lied when we said this:

But we have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait.
Eight days after this we found that the US DID have an opinion on Arab-Arab conflicts--one that meant war. And ten thousand Americans and more than a hundred thousand Iraqis died as a result.

So we just stand there and take it, hey? Wait until they're actually in the homeland setting off IEDs rather than shooting them in the barrel over there???
A couple of American journalists get killed by Islamic terrorists in a gruesome way and in your mind that means we HAVE to go to war. Bill Clinton says so. I'm sure Dick Cheney approves.

When 241 American servicemen were killed by Islamic terrorists, I'm sure President Reagan felt exactly the same way. But he didn't go there. Instead he took a different tack. The terrorists that did the deed, Lebanese Hezbollah, are still around (and currently fighting ISIS), but since 1983 they have left Americans alone. President Reagan sent a message to Hezbollah and (particularly their Iranian backers):

The message was heard, and they backed off from further messing with Americans. No massive military infrastructure was required to send that message.

But both presidents Bush (and I suspect Clinton too) did not follow Reagan's wisdom in their dealings with Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda. And now, Iraq is broken, we have been involved for nearly 13 years in a fruitless struggle in Afghanistan, and groups like al Qaeda proliferate. And now president Obama will follow the example of the Bushes, as opposed to Reagan, with this new ISIS group.

If you really dig into Osama bin Laden's history and his motivations, it becomes pretty clear he hated Saddam and thought most of Iraq was made up of Shiites who he believed (like all pious Salafis) were barely human and needed to be removed from the world. He only started to complain about US-led no fly zones and embargoes on Iraq years later when it became convenient for him in establishing al Qeada in Iraq.
From his 1996 declaration of war
The most recent calamity to have struck Muslims is the occupation of the land of the two sanctuaries, the hearth of the abode of Islam and the cradle of prophecy, since the death of the Prophet and the source of the divine message-the site of the holy Kaaba, to which all Muslims pray. And who is occupying it? The armies of the American Christians and their allies.
This occupation is the presence of US servicemen (infidels) in Saudi Arabia, which is forbidden in the opinion of very orthodox Muslims. These Americans were first brought into the country for the 1991 Kuwait invasion. After, some remained to enforce the no-fly zone. Bin Laden did not object to the no-fly zone per se, but rather to the way it was enforced (by having US personnel Infidels" in Saudi Arabia "the land of the two holy shrines").

What he refers to as his primary motivation in attacking the US on 9/11 was the Siege of Beirut in 1982 when Israeli jets bombed the city and set several residential towers on fire; he was there and watched them burn -

http://www.juancole.com/2004/10/towers-of-beirut-readers-have-asked-me.html


So 20 years later, OBL had his blowback.
No. The big issue for Bin Laden was the US troops in Saudi Arabia. The Lebanon event helped set his anti-American feelings and it is listed as the third pretext in his second declaration of war.

He strongly objected to the plan to send US troops to Saudi Arabia and was expelled from the country in 1991 for anti-government activities. American troops stayed in Saudi Arabia for more than a decade after the Gulf War as part of the no-fly policy. I believe this was the key issue because it was central in his first declaration of war against the US that was issued just five years after his expulsion and only a few years after forming al Qaeda. So blow back followed about five years after the Gulf War, not 20 years after Lebanon.
Last edited by Mikebert; 09-23-2014 at 04:25 PM.







Post#99 at 09-23-2014 05:08 PM by playwrite [at NYC joined Jul 2005 #posts 10,443]
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09-23-2014, 05:08 PM #99
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Quote Originally Posted by Mikebert View Post
That's your interpretation. M&L argued that we do need to clean up messes left over from past interventions. I replied that attempted to clear up messes can result in more messes. This is because we cannot predict the future. I strongly supported the Gulf War. This was a huge mistake, but there was no way to know what would happen because of it.

Yet why did we do it? Why did the US care about the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait? We were not allies with Kuwait. Look at this transcript of the famous conversation between the US ambassador and Saddam Hussein. We misinterpreted the depth of Iraqi feelings on Kuwait. Less forgivable is that we misrepresented our position and flat out lied when we said this:

Eight days after this we found that the US DID have an opinion on Arab-Arab conflicts--one that meant war. And ten thousand Americans and more than a hundred thousand Iraqis died as a result.
We were much more dependent on ME oil at that time, and the House of Saud was truly concerned that they were next on Saddam's hit list. I don't think Bush Sr wanted to be known forever more as the Prez allowing a spike in oil worse than Jimmie Carter - he already had the read-my-lips issue hounding him!

Also, I've always found it silly to suggest Saddam thought he got the US big go-ahead to invade because Glaspie said we didn't want to weigh in on a local border dispute. That's like saying I'm okay with you killing one of your kids because I told you last night I did not want to weigh in on how you were handling the kid not doing his homework. At best, I guess we could do better at understanding and talking to a psychopath.

Quote Originally Posted by Mikebert View Post
A couple of American journalists get killed by Islamic terrorists in a gruesome way and in your mind that means we HAVE to go to war. Bill Clinton says so. I'm sure Dick Cheney approves.
That was occurring before we started the bombing. I'm talking about an actual attack on the homeland, e.g. 9/11 redux, in the future.

Quote Originally Posted by Mikebert View Post
When 241 American servicemen were killed by Islamic terrorists, I'm sure President Reagan felt exactly the same way. But he didn't go there. Instead he took a different tack.
And that retreat is exactly what OBL referenced when he convinced his following that we were weak and vulnerable, and likely to collapse in fear over the planned 9/11 attack.

Quote Originally Posted by Mikebert View Post
The terrorists that did the deed, Lebanese Hezbollah, are still around (and currently fighting ISIS), but since 1983 they have left Americans alone.

President Reagan sent a message to Hezbollah and (particularly their Iranian backers):

The message was heard, and they backed off from further messing with Americans. No massive military infrastructure was required to send that message.
Yes, that was smart game playing. Too bad he didn't understand he was setting us up for OBL's 9/11 visit.

Quote Originally Posted by Mikebert View Post
But both presidents Bush (and I suspect Clinton too) did not follow Reagan's wisdom in their dealings with Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda.
... and we got 9/11. That's wisdom?

Quote Originally Posted by Mikebert View Post
And now, Iraq is broken, we have been involved for nearly 13 years in a fruitless struggle in Afghanistan, and groups like al Qaeda proliferate. And now president Obama will follow the example of the Bushes, as opposed to Reagan, with this new ISIS
The Bushes' calling card is massive boots-on-the-ground; I don't think Spock plays that. He's much more like Reagan and Clinton (let's just hope we're smart enough now to not mass jarheads, or today's equivalent, into a dormitory). And speak about Ray-gun sending messages by signaling alliances - did you notice Qatar was in last night's coalition of the willing? Opps, sorry ISIL about destroying all that cash in the bombing raid and shutting off your primary source of continued funding; let's now see how long you can keep that oil pumping and selling in Turkey. The vice is getting really tight now.


Quote Originally Posted by Mikebert View Post
From his 1996 declaration of war This occupation is the presence of US servicemen (infidels) in Saudi Arabia, which is forbidden in the opinion of very orthodox Muslims. These Americans were first brought into the country for the 1991 Kuwait invasion. After, some remained to enforce the no-fly zone. Bin Laden did not object to the no-fly zone per se, but rather to the way it was enforced (by having US personnel Infidels" in Saudi Arabia "the land of the two holy shrines").


No. The big issue for Bin Laden was the US troops in Saudi Arabia. The Lebanon event helped set his anti-American feelings and it is listed as the third pretext in his second declaration of war.

He strongly objected to the plan to send US troops to Saudi Arabia and was expelled from the country in 1991 for anti-government activities. American troops stayed in Saudi Arabia for more than a decade after the Gulf War as part of the no-fly policy. I believe this was the key issue because it was central in his first declaration of war against the US that was issued just five years after his expulsion and only a few years after forming al Qaeda. So blow back followed about five years after the Gulf War, not 20 years after Lebanon.
Yes, the King turning to the US rather than OBL's Mujaheddin was the biggest motivator for sure (along with certain OBL "daddy issues" - why isn't my daddy the king??? Whaaaaa!!), but if that hadn't tipped him into following the glory trail most likely something else would have - he needed his Satan, whatever Satan did would eventually yield OBL's MacGuffin. Remember that need to better understand psychopaths?
Last edited by playwrite; 09-23-2014 at 05:11 PM.
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Post#100 at 09-23-2014 05:34 PM by Eric the Green [at San Jose CA joined Jul 2001 #posts 22,504]
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09-23-2014, 05:34 PM #100
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I was strongly against the Gulf War; I thought we had no treaty obligation to defend Kuwait, and that sanctions was the way to continue going rather than an invasion. I opposed the 2nd Iraq War as an unnecessary war of choice. I favored action against the Taliban after 9-11 for harboring OLB, but opposed the way it was handled by bombing civilians instead of finding and capturing the terrorist leaders, and then diverting attention to Iraq. I have favored arming the Free Syrian Army. I support Obama's new policy against the IS militants, but I admit I could be wrong.

Our policies in the past have contributed to this current mess; these contributions including the Iraq wars, and the failure to support the free Syrians. I suspect if we allow the IS to grow and fester from the opening we helped to give them in Iraq and Syria, it will be worse than Afghanistan, and a threat to all nations. I don't know if air strikes will be effective or predominantly error-free. I know we are not ready to use our American ground troops. The ground fight is the job of folks in the region. If the USA supports them in all workable ways, we have a chance. Yes, we have to clean up our messes, at the risk of making the mess worse. Our current multi-lateral approach has more of a chance to work than our approach in Iraq in 2003 that violated international law, and was opposed by millions of people everywhere.

I think we need also to convince Iran and Russia to stop supporting Assad. Only when he is gone will peace have any chance in Syria. Only peace in Syria will enable the eventual defeat of the Islamic militants there and in the region.
Last edited by Eric the Green; 09-23-2014 at 05:36 PM.
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