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View Diary: Why is the "West" so bad at strategy? (244 comments)

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  •  typically Wilsonian (1+ / 0-)
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    samddobermann

    An assertion of American values worldwide. A worthy goal, perhaps, but it'll never fly in your lifetime or mine.

    Try reading Clans, Authoritarian Rulers, and Parliaments in Central Asia for a good look at what regimes like these have to deal with.

    This, right here at dKos, is exactly what's wrong with our foreign policy debate: it's American-centric and ignores the realities on the ground out there (of which we are woefully ignorant, but this being a democracy, we are required to take a view, no matter how uninformed. The biggest weakness in our foreign policy formulation).

    "The cure for bullshit is fieldwork."
    --Robert Bates, Department of Government; Harvard University

    by papicek on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 11:04:05 AM PDT

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    •  I HATE the different culture argument (0+ / 0-)

      It leads down a road.  The road starts with China and its wanton abuses of human rights, and then curves around to the public beheadings in Saudi Arabia of women who had the audacity to reveal the fact that they were raped.

      Just because your culture does not value - nay, revere - the Big Three Freedoms (speech, press, religion) does not mean it should not.  We have a duty to attempt to bring living standards up worldwide, and you don't do that by funding totalitarian, corrupt regimes.

      Especially if you're borrowing billions from them to keep your government running.

      •  first of all... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        samddobermann

        I don't condone what you describe, but the fact of the matter is, someone out there, for whatever reasons, regards those actions as legitimate. Out there are alien cultures, support systems, and institutions which have helped them adapt and survive over the centuries, and I suggest that an American, with the world's two largest oceans barricading our borders, has damned little conception of what it means when your country is as vulnerable as say, Russia's, to the problems of your neighbors spilling over your border.

        Your privileged attitude is the reason I don't reccomend foreign policy debate take place in an open forum. You've made up your mind about whose values matter and whose does not.

        Follow the link to that paper. It's excellent.

        "The cure for bullshit is fieldwork."
        --Robert Bates, Department of Government; Harvard University

        by papicek on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 01:35:08 PM PDT

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        •  None of that makes what they does right (0+ / 0-)

          Not that paper, not their sincere belief that it's legitimate (if that's the case, Hitler's off the hook since he thought he was doing a good thing) - and not the fact that my past has not been scarred by violence.

          Values that protect human freedom are not only easy to defend, they're easy to define.  Those that don't are easy to identify and easy to counter - don't send the people who do it vast sums of money.

          Yes, I was lucky enough to be born into a culture that honored those values and imbued me with them - and I won't be pleased until every human being on Earth has the same freedoms that I do.

          Unlike some people.

          •  you can't fix it... (0+ / 0-)

            if you don't really know what's going on. That's my larger point, as you'll see from the other comments I've made to this diary. My old training in anthropolgy has stayed with me over the years, and the theory of cultural relavitism...in other words, suspend your judgement and ask only one thing: is a behavior adaptive or maladaptive?

            I don't see any way beheading a rape victim is ultimately adaptive, but the institution that allows it is ancient and gives me pause before judging. I refuse to judge until I see the whole picture. I refuse to try to impose my values on others—which has a snowball's chance in hell of success anyways.

            If you read the entire article, you'd find that it proposes a new focus in promoting democracies in the 5 "stans." That in itself, self-determination—though from time to time it likely puts in power regimes hostile to the US, though it will almost certainly elevate pseudo-madmen to power (like Hitler was elevated in a democratic Germany)—is still a goal I support. I don't want to bother being the world's cop.

            The foreign policy of "my way or the highway" is what we've got now. We send vast sums of money to practically nobody these days (except China) because the US gave up on diplomacy and foreign aid in 1980.

            "The cure for bullshit is fieldwork."
            --Robert Bates, Department of Government; Harvard University

            by papicek on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 05:15:17 PM PDT

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            •  Except military aid. Keep our arms manufacturers (0+ / 0-)

              happy.  Oh and a bit of food relief.

              But not real economic aid.

              We are in a time where it is risky NOT to change. Barack Obama 7-30-08

              by samddobermann on Fri Aug 22, 2008 at 02:39:26 AM PDT

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              •  even military aid... (0+ / 0-)

                take for example Pakistan and the PATA, where bin Laden is supposedly holed up. I'd seriously consider certain kinds of military aid to Pakistan, things like training and some kinds of equipment in order clear up that nest.

                Speaking of military aid, that which was sent to Georgia by the US as some kind of excuse for Georgia's invasion of the S. Ossetia enclave, fell entirely into two programs, the biggest of which involved anti-terrorist training and equipment, the biggest items of which was a couple of helicopters. The other program was one to integrate Georgian coalition forces involved with Bush's War in Iraq. The most important part of the first program was an overall military assesment, which advised Georgia to cut the size of it's army in half (from the existing 32,000 men to an optimal size of 13,000 to 15,000 - 3 active bridages plus one motorized company, and for awhile Georgia was moving in that direction, forces had declined to about 20,000). One of the requirements of NATO membership is that the military budget not exceed about 2% of GDP.

                How's that for military aid?

                In 2004, Georgia decided on its own that because of its internal security situation (Russian troop buildup and the growth of militias in S. Ossetia and Abkhazia) to maintain a troop level of 32,000.

                "The cure for bullshit is fieldwork."
                --Robert Bates, Department of Government; Harvard University

                by papicek on Fri Aug 22, 2008 at 04:31:36 AM PDT

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