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In a hard-hitting Op-Ed in this morning's Financial Times, Singapore's Kishore Mahbubani writes that The West is strategically wrong on Georgia

... most of the world is bemused by western moralising on Georgia. America would not tolerate Russia intruding into its geopolitical sphere in Latin America. Hence Latin Americans see American double standards clearly. So do all the Muslim commentaries that note that the US invaded Iraq illegally, too. Neither India nor China is moved to protest against Russia. It shows how isolated is the western view on Georgia: that the world should support the underdog, Georgia, against Russia. In reality, most support Russia against the bullying west. The gap between the western narrative and the rest of the world could not be greater.

He extends that diagnosis to our overall approach to the world (as quoted below the fold) and makes a convincing case that the West has an incoherent strategy towards the rest of the world. I would like to suggest, however, that the current 'strategy' has a narrow rationality intimately linked to our current dysfunctional politics.

Western thinkers must decide where the real long-term challenge is. If it is the Islamic world, the US should stop intruding into Russia’s geopolitical space and work out a long-term engagement with China. If it is China, the US must win over Russia and the Islamic world and resolve the Israel-Palestine issue. This will enable Islamic governments to work more closely with the west in the battle against al-Qaeda.

The biggest paradox facing the west is that it is at last possible to create a safer world order. The number of countries wanting to become “responsible stakeholders” has never been higher. Most, including China and India, want to work with the US and the west. But the absence of a long-term coherent western strategy towards the world and the inability to make geopolitical compromises are the biggest obstacles to a stable world order. Western leaders say the world is becoming a more dangerous place, yet few admit that their flawed thinking is bringing this about.

Mahbubani's main theme is that of the emergence of competing powers outside the West (in particular in Asia) that cannot be simply dominated by the West as they used to be. While he suggests that there is actually room for a lot of cooperation between new and existing powers, he acknowledges that the situation creates rivalries and that those might be seen - and deserve to be treated - as strategic enmities. His point is then to note that, in that perspective, it is stupid, and counterproductive, to treal all other powers as hostile and dangerous at the same time. His realpolitik suggestion is therefore simple: pick an enemy, and stick to it, and try to bring others on your side. Try to neutralise them or, at the very least, not to antagonize them.

The West, led by Bush & Cheney's White House, but idiotically, complacently, undoubtedly supported by European leaders, has indeed taken a belligerant approach to the world, treating all as enemies or potential dangers. Iraq and Afghanistan have been invaded, Islam as a whole is crusade-worthy, Russia is being encircled and demonised, and China is still seen as a threat both in the short term (for jobs) and in the long term (for political and economic influence around the world). When facts on the gorund prevent actual action, bluster and aggressive rhetoric fills the columns of a manifestly compliant and/or uncritical media (this FT Op-Ed and a few others notwithstanding).

Is it simply hubris? Or is something else at play?

One thing that our long list of enemies have in common is energy. They are either significant providers of energy for us (a good chunk of the Islamic world, Russia, Venezuela) or rival importers of the stuff (China). A sane strategy, rather than focusing on countries or geopolitical groupings, would simply look at energy policies. Given that we have a US administration largely coming from the energy sector, we are faced, once again, by the same quandary - manifest incompetence, or something else at play?

Now, a simple "something" would simply be to say that they don't come form the energy world, but from the oil world, and from the perspective of oil companies, things are going well, thank you. But this is not really the case. Despite their huge profits, oil companies are actually dying animals, without a clear future. Their production has been going down over the past several years, their reserve base is shrinking, and their prospects are rather dismal. Oh sure, they will make a bundle from their remaining assets as prices keep on increasing, but they are increasingly irrelevant on the global stage - they are not needed for most of the world's production to happen, and their political influence, other than in their increasingly dysfunctional home polities/markets, is becoming rather feeble. Sure, some will say that their "home polities" (the US and the UK) are all that matter, but I don't think they need a bellicose foreign policy to dominate that - well paid lobbyists will do just fine.

No, the harsh secret is that this energy-savvy administration is persuaded - and, to be honest, I see very little to convince me that they are wrong - that a sane energy policy is a political loser, and thus that they must continue with the increasingly chaotic international policies of the past to ensure that plentiful spice keeps on flowing. That policy has, for them, the additional advantage of helping on the domestic political front by creating plentiful external enemies that just beg for a party STRONG ON NATIONAL SECURITY, and by indulging the pro-military exceptionalism inherent in a large chunk of the US population - but I don't think that's the main goal.

No, the fact is, it's easier to convince voters to support a "war on terror" than it is to tell them that we need to start using energy differently because energy is not, in fact, cheap as it has long appeared to be in purely monetary terms.

Call our politicians cowards, call them pragmatists, but that's the reality. We won't have an energy policy until we are forced by reality to have one, and by then it will be a lot more painful to deal with that reality, but at least we'll have plenty of enemies to deflect the blame.

:: ::

The other thing that comes on top of that to promote aggressive internationalist policies is the "winner-take-all" nature of our current ideological paradigm. The Thatcher-Reagan revolution - all the neo-gangs thatt have come to the fore - has not just promoted greed and profit creed, they have explicitly called for the destruction of all social links ("society doesn't exist," Thatcher said famously) and for a morality that specifically states that we have what we deserve and we deserve what we have. There is an unsaid addendum: as long as you don't get caught (and everything will be done to weaken the organs that could catch you), anything goes and you can keep what you grabbed, plundered or swindled. Success is defined by how much you can accumulate, and, with increasing few restrictions along the way, that has meant an increasingly brutal arms race at the top, with everybody else as collateral damage of the plunder.

That logic also applies to countries - see how we love our rankings, whether of companies, medals, GDP or billionaires, and "we" have to win that race too. "We" is really our elites, but too many of the rest of us are too easily suckered into these jingoistic games. And what "we" want is total dominance across all measurable fields. Thus China needs to be cut down to size. Same with Russia or, occasionally, when their more favorable numbers get too obvious, Germany or Europe.

It is of course ironic that it is the plunderers' policies to outsource activity to pollution-welcoming and labor rights- indifferent China et al. that has made them into the economic powerhouses they are now, their policies to replace wage-driven consumption at home by the debt-driven kind (stagnant wages make for bigger profits) that have given huge financial clout to Asian and other countries and simultaneously destroyed our banks, as they sink under the weight or increasingly bad debt. But hey, we lived above our means, and "we" made gigantic profits, and headline growth, along the way.

After all, all "we" care about is to win in the billionaires' rankings, and if it takes bluster, arrogance and hubris on the world stage to hide that reality from the rest of us, that's what will happen.

In short, we have no strategy about china, Islam, energy or anything else,, but "we" have found a great way to get rich and keep friendlies in power.

Originally posted to Jerome a Paris on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 06:59 AM PDT.

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  •  Tip Jar - 21 August (259+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skybluewater, claude, Ed in Montana, Love and Death, jmart, vicki, keirdubois, catdevotee, ogre, wystler, SarahLee, Sparhawk, gaianne, XOVER, abarefootboy, 2pt5cats, Powered Grace, whataboutbob, mattman, DebtorsPrison, Robespierrette, Shockwave, wu ming, TJ, Lipstick Liberal, lysias, LEP, mslat27, eeff, devtob, MackInTheBox, marrael, frisco, RFK Lives, bumblebums, mataliandy, RubDMC, bronte17, megs, MD patriot, grassroot, highacidity, wanderindiana, mikidee, chuckvw, boilerman10, vmibran, Aquarius40, roses, samddobermann, nowness, Cardinal96, dksbook, Janet Strange, Melanchthon, IM, tidalwave1, nicta, psnyder, mrkvica, wordene, Fyodor, weasel, kalmoth, alizard, side pocket, Redbug, Lefty Mama, Wife of Bath, Deward Hastings, fran1, poemworld, zannie, kd texan, Blueiz, Jersey Joe, sxwarren, maybeeso in michigan, Bluesee, radarlady, Owl of Minerva, Jeffersonian Democrat, Nadnerb in NC, greatferm, JanetT in MD, NHlib, PBen, Superpole, JohnB47, Omir the Storyteller, Simplify, basquebob, Jfriday, fixxit, Pam from Calif, Sun Tzu, A Ernest Mann, skrekk, miguelmas, coolbreeze, Margouillat, Land of Enchantment, Asinus Asinum Fricat, Jim R, Jim P, lgmcp, elliott, Paul Ferguson, dus7, esquimaux, Jennifer Clare, Liberal Protestant, BachFan, Pinko Elephant, Milly Watt, BlueInARedState, Naranjadia, ActivistGuy, victoria2dc, LanceBoyle, smokeymonkey, EthrDemon, tecampbell, A Siegel, Barry Leonardini, imabluemerkin, joe shikspack, happy camper, NearlyNormal, bleeding heart, Pete Rock, doingbusinessas, Dianna, JDsg, MrJersey, jjellin, DanC, xylon, bstotts, Snarcalita, Granny Doc, Temmoku, Aaa T Tudeattack, DBunn, One Pissed Off Liberal, J Royce, ibonewits, Cottagerose, california keefer, milkbone, terryhallinan, moosely2006, threegoal, Outrider, power2truth, DvCM, LillithMc, Jimdotz, terabytes, Unbozo, Seneca Doane, jayden, brentmack, manwithnoname, akdude6016, vbdietz, jnhobbs, leonard145b, JohnnyRook, willb48, TomP, Theghostofkarlafayetucker, VA Breeze, 183skybear, rogerdaddy, adrianrf, tdub, kimoconnor, rontun, Youffraita, angel65, jfarelli, Remembering Jello, lineatus, Happy Days, happymisanthropy, bluesheep, Serpents Sorrow, mofembot, kyril, BYw, little liberal, dont think, In her own Voice, rhutcheson, papicek, forgore, Johnny Venom, legendmn, maggiejean, Jakob, Rhysling, artmartin, smellybeast, Neon Vincent, Texanomaly, meatwad420, divineorder, An Affirming Flame, banjolele, Rabbithead, SciVo, pvmuse, Fixed Point Theorem, Daily Activist, ancblu, klizard, beijingbetty, zbbrox, BDsTrinity, amsterdem, dansmith17, allep10, Shelley99, synductive99, Losty, PoliticalJunkessa, FundaMental Transformation, azadmanish, futureliveshere, Adept2u, AkaEnragedGoddess, Critical Dune, collardgreens, Colorado Billy, BigVegan, BetMyCitizenship, MariaWr, jcil5, pyegar, p gorden lippy, budr, LaughingPlanet, Dirk Thrust, politik, amk for obama, stunzeed, 4CasandChlo, That Anonymous Guy, Ronald Singleterry, Melissa J, creamer, Subo, Lize in San Francisco, halef, Earth Ling, MsGrin, skillet, ObamaFan2009
  •  Am I naive to think it's all Bush's fault? (8+ / 0-)

    I mean, what hasn't this administration FUCKED UP in the last 8 years.

    Seriously, someone please tell me what they haven't fucked up.

    Nothing worse in life than a Hypocrite. Nothing.

    by lrbreckenripple on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 07:01:17 AM PDT

    •  The Moon (5+ / 0-)

      Bush wanted to land someone there, remember? Maybe he was too tweaked out in '69 to remember...

    •  What they have not F---ed Up is (11+ / 0-)

      the profit levels of bu$hco connected oil and war related corporations.

      those corporate profit levels are soaring, ExxonMobile, etc.

      "Cigna cannot decide who is going to live and who is going to die." -- Nataline's mother

      by Superpole on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 07:32:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You're Dangerously Wrong (26+ / 0-)

      To begin with, Reagan overall was worse than Bush, not for anything he did, but for the foundation he laid which made Bush inevitable.

      Second, there are fundamental features of the Constitution that in some cases enable and in other cases cause this situation to be as it is.

      For example the fact that there's no way to prosecute crimes of anyone in the Executive Branch without asking the Executive Branch to do it.

      This country is more screwed up than we can suppose.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 07:34:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's a wonder we aren't a dictatorship already. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mataliandy, samddobermann, John Shade

        Or at least.. an overt dictatorship. Maybe we can reform our way back to a country of by and for the people... but I remain skeptical (with hope! and the willingness to work toward that dream)

        •  The fact that there aren't any "quick fix"s (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ActivistGuy, adrianrf, kimoconnor, klizard

          worries me.

          I think a lot of our major problems can be fixed, but there's a big roadblock to deal with: the mentality of "NOW above all else"--a willful ignorance of history coupled with an at-times pathological disregard for thinking beyond the next business quarter.

          "A word after a word after a word is power." -Margaret Atwood

          by John Shade on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 10:42:18 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Some deeper historical reasons, perhaps: (33+ / 0-)
        1. The US kept itself largely detached from and disinterested in European politics before the 20th century. At the same time it claimed its own vast sphere of influence in the western hemisphere and imagined that its "power" excluded military intervention by other European powers.
        1. The US therefore had very little experience with negotiating multipolar power arrangements in Europe. It got involved in European conflicts only in the 20th century, when power had been neatly bipolarized, pitting a united "Western Civilization" against nakedly aggressive and expansionist enemies--  the Huns, the Nazis, the Red Menace. This reinforced the American inclination to think of conflict in stark and simple "us vs them" dichotomies.
        1. America's involvements in European conflict in the 20th century-- in both World Wars, for example-- tended to be limited and come when the tide of conflict had already turned by others-- leaving the Americans with the mistaken impression they'd handily "won" these conflicts largely through their own effort. Americans tend to denigrate or even refuse to acknowledge the efforts of allies and to wildly exaggerate their own military prowess.
        1. The Americans never seriously examined the character of their Cold War. By imagining that the Cold War was a straightforward campaign to block Soviet conquest of Western Europe, they could also imagine that they won it, and won it by clearly demonstrating their military superiority (the "Reagan's Star Wars" myth). For Russians, though, the Cold War was a campaign of bluff, not requiring real military superiority, and aiming at deterring rollback by US military power; and by this test the Cold War went well for the Soviet bloc for over thirty years (in this period the Americans bombed or invaded lots of countries, but did not dare once to directly attack the Soviet bloc). In the 1980s the leaders of the Soviet bloc no longer considered it desirable to maintain their economic autarchy from the capitalist world-system; on the contrary, they now sought integration into it; and since the Cold War was no longer necessary to them, they just walked away from it. The Americans concluded all the wrong things from this, though; they imagined they'd won the Cold War by relentlessly pursuing military superiority; and worse, they imagined this victory meant "the end of history" and the dawning of eternal unchallenged US world supremacy.  
        •  Excellent comment... (19+ / 0-)

          And to expand on your point number 3 - everyday Americans have not experienced real territorial war for over 130 years.  Before anybody screams 9/11 or Pearl Harbor - I am talking about a sustained campaign on your own territory.  In the last century, Europe, Russia, China and Japan all suffered direct affects from war on their soil.  I honestly believe that one of the reasons why Americans are always so ready to make war is because it has always happened somewhere else for several generations.

          •  True. (0+ / 0-)

            there is a real different mindset on either side of the Atlantic.

            America is "AT WAR".
            CNN "This Week At War"
            Bush I am a wartime President etc.

            Europe has some troops deployed on operations or active service, WAR is something that involves risk to the nation at home invasion or at least air attack, coloniol wars that involve a limited commitment somewhere else is not War.

            It also affects the mindset of War and Peace.

            When was the last year a Briish soldier did not die on active service

            A. 1968

            When was the year before that?

            A. Some time in 1880 something!

            The use of some military force somewhere, often on something described as peacekeeping or peace enforcement, is seen as normal and occasional casualties accepted.

            Despite the reputation of the other Europeans for not willing to get involved, many have with the French fighting and dying in Africa, (though not usually 10 in a day), Italy has lost trops in Lebanon, Somalia, Afghanistan Iraq and the Balkans just since the 1990's.

            The US both public and Pentagon see peace as normal, nothing in between and then WAR. WAR requires the overwhelming use of force to bring about absoloute victory with the minimum level of US casualties. Emphasis US casualties. The US media and presumably by implication the US public do not care what happens to the local population.
            Though to be fair most countries media are probably like that.

            The issue with casualties is similer, no country is happy about it but US, has no media coverage of funerals or flag draped coffins arriving, UK and France significant numbers of casualties would always be a major story with full coverage, but at the same time seen as an inevitable part of taking part.

            The US seems shocked at 4,000 fatalties in 5 years. In historic terms that is tiny. Iraq was a major mistake and should never have happened but not because of the loss of 4,000 US troops.

            The aversion to casualties is also related to the Pentagons hunger for $$ and technology, it does not just want the best combat Aircraft in the world by a mile so that in the face of war with China it can win, it wants it so it can threaten war but still hope to have zero or next to zero casualties. wheras the european view would be wars are to be avoided but if they must be fought they will nescessitate some of your own people being killed, so you need an adequate military and beyind that the money is better of going to healthcare now than avoiding theoretical casuaties later.

        •  Re (14+ / 0-)

          leaving the Americans with the mistaken impression they'd handily "won" these conflicts largely through their own effort. Americans tend to denigrate or even refuse to acknowledge the efforts of allies and to wildly exaggerate their own military prowess.

          Case in point, a good argument can be made that the turning point of World War II wasn't the Normandy landings (heroic though they were), but the victory of the hated Soviet Communists at the Battle of Stalingrad, in which an estimated 1.8 million people were killed on both sides in a matter of a few months and in which more or less the entire German eastern army was completely obliterated.

          Too many people denigrate or do not notice the contributions of the Soviets to winning that war, no matter what kind of horrible schizophrenic political system they had.

          •  Add Kursk. (15+ / 0-)

            Blitzkrieg was blunted with surprising Soviet armor and the first major German offensive to be stopped with the Soviets going over to the offensive.

            Most in this country are very vague on the British contribution and think the U.S. just moved in and showed them "how it is done" when in many, many cases the reverse is actually true. During the darkest days many a British "secret weapon" was shipped to the U.S. for the one, absolutely overwhelming advantage it had: mass production techniques and capacity.

            Most experts do credit the U.S. with "winning the war"--with its industrial power. The stunning ability to just produce "stuff" was overwhelming. Some of it was inferior. The "Zippo" Sherman tanks are an example but we could turn them out to even overcome the general 3:1 odds needed to kill one German tank.

            Getting too deep in mythology, particularly self promoting mythology, is almost always a bad thing. Too many have covered the very real and important role of the U.S. in two world wars with misleading mythology.

            The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

            by pelagicray on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 09:45:26 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Excellent analysis (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Lefty Coaster

          I would go some distance further in placing many of the roots of our current situation in the logic of domestic politics - see my comment below. What Jerome is describing is America's version of 'Iron and Rye' - which I would label 'oil and autos' specifically or 'energy and consumption' more broadly.

          Sponge Bob, Mandrake, Cartoons. That's how your hard-core islamahomocommienazis work.

          by Benito on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 09:32:12 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  A related thing to ponder going forward (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Sparhawk

          What happens when (not if) a Latin American country (my bets are on Brazil, then Argentina), with their vast natural resources (including lots of fresh water) gets near "world power" stage?

          How will the US (and the EU, China etc.) deal with that?

          "A word after a word after a word is power." -Margaret Atwood

          by John Shade on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 10:44:26 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  reagan revisited (9+ / 0-)

        i disagree. i think bush beat reagan at his own game.  if you consider the game to be destroying social spending, or in other words dismantling the new deal, then bush succeeded in places reagan's handlers had no idea about.  consider this: during reagan's presidency, what was the main attack against welfare? the story of the welfare queen -- of welfare being too effective, and those needing help being able to live comfortably.  reagan tried to tell people that government is evil, but he couldn't convince them because, well, the government was helping them.  bush overcame this obstacle by taking a different route, reagan's "evil government" narrative had already taken hold, but was ineffective in dissuading people from using government resources.  bush needed to prove not that the government helps the wrong people, or helps improperly, but that the government can't help.  now it's not a problem of the government helping people too much so that they become lazy and weak (the reagan narrative) it's the concept that whatever your problem, the government can't do anything about it, and if they try it will be a waste of everyone's money, most importantly yours.  we also have the lovely side narrative that regardless of the problem, the only way the government can can respond is with military force (see the katrina response), and frankly the poor and hungry don't feel like eating bullets.  

        bush has succeeded where reagan failed by having a failure of a government.

        •  Bingo (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          klizard, dansmith17

          bush needed to prove not that the government helps the wrong people, or helps improperly, but that the government can't help.  now it's not a problem of the government helping people too much so that they become lazy and weak (the reagan narrative) it's the concept that whatever your problem, the government can't do anything about it, and if they try it will be a waste of everyone's money, most importantly yours.  

          I am shocked at how many Democrats I know who have fallen into this mindset. They believe that the government will screw up healthcare for example, thus the Democratic leadership is not going for single payer. That is only one example.

          01-20-09: THE END OF AN ERROR

          by kimoconnor on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 01:32:46 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Foundations Bush is Laying (9+ / 0-)

        Are far deeper and more solid than any laid by Reagan.

        With the politicized justice department, the hacks installed on the courts, the parallel non-governmental armies being built, the destruction of education, the take-over of the media, and so on, the next totalitarian-minded administration will need only to throw the switch, and even our Potemkin democracy will cease.

      •  Can't argue with the "more screwed up" part (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        adrianrf
        but there is a way to prosecute Executive Branch crimes when the Executive Branch is unwilling, it's called impeachment.

        Now, when the Executive won't and the Legislative is unwilling to contest it, then we are screwed, but the mechanism is there.

        The Empire never ended.

        by thejeff on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 09:57:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Yes. Bushco is just the pustulent boil on the ass (13+ / 0-)

      of a deeply infected body.

      The infection goes back to the Reagan-Thatcher era. Our corporate, intellectual and political elites, including the Democratic party have all been infected to one degree or another.

      If we think about it, so have all of us. It's in  our spending habits, our blindness to the rest of the world, and even our blindness to what we are leaving the next generations.

      It's not a fake orgasm; it's a real yawn.

      by sayitaintso on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 07:34:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's the fault of the Republicrats. (11+ / 0-)

      Or, as Andrew Bacevich has been wisely saying on forums ranging from Bill Moyers' show to Democracy Now, it's the fault of the American people:

      Our foreign policy is not something simply concocted by people in Washington D.C. and imposed on us. Our foreign policy is something that is concocted in Washington D.C., but it reflects the perceptions of our political elite about what we want, we the people want. And what we want, by and large - I mean, one could point to many individual exceptions - but, what we want, by and large is, we want this continuing flow of very cheap consumer goods.

      That's been a consistent theme for Jerome as well, at least as I read him in this and other essays.

      Every progressive should watch Moyers' interview of Bacevich here:

      http://www.pbs.org/...

    •  no hot war with china (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      In her own Voice

      and the hawaiian outer islands wildlife refuge.

      surf putah, your friendly neighborhood central valley samizdat

      by wu ming on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 10:08:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  They love dissent and unrest. That's how the (14+ / 0-)

    streams of money keep flowing. Disaster capitalists, witness Georgia, Katrina, Iraq, I can go on, but you get the drift. I do not understand why Poland believes ANYTHING that comes out of Condi's mouth. Witness Georgia. Georgia was pawned for missiles in Poland.

    SANKOFA(Akan) "One must return to the past in order to move forward."

    by MariaWr on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 07:06:26 AM PDT

  •  Another example (17+ / 0-)

    of what happens when too much power ends up concentrated in too few hands.  In the end, it may be why Boone Pickens and their ilk are trying to get control of wind and solar production -- if too much production is distributed too broadly (too many solar panels on too many individual houses, for instance), then power (in both senses) ends up diluted.  Sounds good to me.

    Good, persuasive analysis, Jerome.

  •  The "West" (14+ / 0-)

    isn't in charge anymore... it just hasn't sunk in yet.

    The world will end not with a bang, but with a "Do'oh!"
    "America is a free speech zone."

    by Love and Death on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 07:19:00 AM PDT

  •  How can "The West" have a strategy? (19+ / 0-)

    If "The West" = Europe + US, how is it possible that there could ever be a common strategy on anything?  I am beginning to think that the term "The West" is really about the US and those Europeans who are pro-US.  Otherwise, Euros can do their own thing, which if it does not completely align with US policy (i.e. Preemptive War in Iraq), doesn't count as Western behavior.  

    Why can't we just say US/Bush Admin Policy and those Europeans, whether they reside in Europe or not, who agree with it or support it.  For that matter, there must be some Australians, and South Africans, we can nail with the "Western" label, too.  What about all the Latin Americans in the Western Hemisphere?  

    I just think the term "The West" has become a spent Euphemism.  It is the US and those who support.  Those who criticize "The West" are criticizing the US and those who support its policies.  Non?

  •  A world of flunkies (28+ / 0-)

    ruled over by exceptional Americans, that's what we want, what's so hard for them furriners to understand about that?  Things to understand about the contemporary American outlook:

    (1)  Rules are for everybody else, never for me/us.
    (2)  Don't confuse us with facts that might interfere with our preconceptions.
    (3)  Might ALWAYS makes right, at least when its American might.
    (4)  Carrots are for us and our favored few, sticks are for everyone else.

    Follow those guidelines and  "western" (read:  US) strategy always makes perfect sense.

    A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves. ~Edward R. Murrow

    by ActivistGuy on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 07:21:05 AM PDT

  •  The problem is as much (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    In her own Voice, Thutmose V

    that "The West" doesn't understand the rest of the world as the rest of the world doesn't understand reality.

    As we know from the lessons of Iraq, France, Russia and others opposed the invasion of Iraq not on moral grounds, but on economic ones.
    They were dealing, in contravention of international law, with a rogue nation, and were simply trying to protect their investment.

    Right stance on the invasion, but for all the wrong reasons.

    The rest of the world is as selfish as America is, their motives just as impure, their ambition to be the top dog just as powerful.

    They just aren't as good at it. And they are envious.

    And Jerome, when you speak of "The West", say what you mean.
    The U.S.A.
    You are not fooling anyone. "The West" is not the root of all evil... just an excuse for the rest of the world to ignore their own sins.

    "As God is my witness, I thought wingnuts could fly".

    by Niniane on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 07:22:39 AM PDT

    •  oh yes (25+ / 0-)

      the West means the English speaking countries, ie the US and its permanent vassals like the UK. France and the rest of Europe are allowed to be included in the West when they agree.

      They (...) were simply trying to protect their investment.

      This is such a patently silly argument that I'm surprised to see it on DailyKos. If economic arguments had ruled, surely we'd have followed US cues, given the threats of economic boycott and the general bad blood with a country which is by orders of magnitude a more important economic partner than Iraq.

      The rest of the world is as selfish as America is, their motives just as impure, their ambition to be the top dog just as powerful.

      That's the "we're no worse than the [fill the blank]" argument. It used to be that some in America had higher standards than that.

      They just aren't as good at it. And they are envious.

      LOL As good at what?

      •  Hatred of America (0+ / 0-)

        is not a "Progressive" ideal... at least in this country, although I'm sure it is considered one in France.

        Shame... I used to enjoy your Diaries.

        "As God is my witness, I thought wingnuts could fly".

        by Niniane on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 07:39:43 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Who displays hate of a country? (27+ / 0-)

          You accused "France" of behavior re Iraq, and generally of jealousy. My whole diary was about the small number of people that are driving the current policies of your country for their personal gain and against the general interest of most Americans.

          Can you not see the difference?

          •  I understand the difference. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Timoteo, ChapiNation386, dRefractor

            I agree with that sentiment completely.
            Your tone, your stance... in this diary and the last few months seem to extend the sins of the Rethugs onto the American brand.
            I think that maybe, just maybe, you have lost just a little perspective.

            The problem lies not with the USA or it's citizens, but with those we have allowed to (mis-)govern us.

            My point is that it isn't just the governments of "The West" that are guilty of such behaviors.
            As these things go, the USA isn't even one of the worst offenders.
            I would place the USA firmly behind China, Russia, and much of Western Europe in that regard, and way behind pretty much everyone else. BushCo may have narrowed the gap, but we aren't the bad guys the rest of the world makes us out to be.

            I understand the USA for what is is, warts and all.

            I don't make excuses for our actions.
            Sometimes governments have to behave in ways we are not comfortable with. That's reality. We don't have to like it.
            But there are lines that should not be crossed, without dire necessity, if ever.
            The current administration has done that.
            We are trying to fix that particular problem.

            But every other sovereign nation has their warts too. But they try to hide their flaws with their criticism of the USA.

            It's time that we, as American Progressives, stopped letting them get away with it.

            Glass houses, don't you know.

            "As God is my witness, I thought wingnuts could fly".

            by Niniane on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 08:01:16 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Don't blame Jerome but your own naivete. (20+ / 0-)

              What has been happening could not have taken place without the assent of the American people.

              An American as red-blooded as any you could find--West Point grad, Vietnam vet, father of another soldier killed in Iraq--puts the blame squarely on the American people and the TWO political parties that have catered to them.

              From Andrew Bacevich's interview on Bill Moyers' Journal:

              BILL MOYERS: And do you remember that it was his successor, his Vice President, the first President Bush who said in 1992, the American way of life is not negotiable.

              ANDREW BACEVICH: And all presidents, again, this is not a Republican thing, or a Democratic thing, all presidents, all administrations are committed to that proposition. Now, I would say, that probably, 90 percent of the American people today would concur. The American way of life is not up for negotiation.

              What I would invite them to consider is that, if you want to preserve that which you value most in the American way of life, and of course you need to ask yourself, what is it you value most. That if you want to preserve that which you value most in the American way of life, then we need to change the American way of life. We need to modify that which may be peripheral, in order to preserve that which is at the center of what we value.

              Link to interview.

              •  Not with my assent (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                gatorcog, ChapiNation386, divineorder

                Not even with 50% of our population. Representative democracy is not inherently synonymous with popular will, you have to define who is being represented and how.

                To argue that our government reflects our collective will is laughable.

                Argue for your limitations and you own them - bach

                by dRefractor on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 09:32:59 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Major party candidates must be idiots then. (7+ / 0-)

                  Tell me, please, which of the major party candidates stands for the following:

                  1. single payer health care?
                  1. any reduction in the Defense Department budget?
                  1. impeachment of the criminals in the White House?

                  The two major parties certainly feel that they can win on platforms whose economic and foreign policy components make Nixon look progressive.

                  •  Our politician's masters (0+ / 0-)

                    are certainly not the voting public. You're not seriously saying that, are you?

                    There are several ways to vastly improve our "representative" democracy, but unless we do so, it is disingenuous to spout the "we get the government that we deserve" meme.

                    Suggestions in increasing order of controversiality:

                    1. Require 50+1 majority for all elected officials
                    1. Federal term limits
                    1. Eliminate corporate campaign contributions of all kinds (including to PACs and whatnot)
                    1. Require that voters know what/who they're voting on (i.e., eliminate low information voters)

                    Boatloads of other things we could do, but these would be sufficient (#4 being the diciest by far, but with the best potential payback -- give voters a study guide and give them a week to pass the test).

                    Argue for your limitations and you own them - bach

                    by dRefractor on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 10:51:48 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Voting Rights Act? (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      samddobermann

                      Remember literacy tests?

                      Imagine Republican election officials administering your little quizzes in the South.

                      Been there.  Done that.  Outlawed it.

                      Wow.  Does anyone left on this site have a memory that extends prior to 2000?

                      •  Well, don't you think it strange (0+ / 0-)

                        that we have local officials having so much sway on NATIONAL elections? Put that down as number 4 (i.e., nationalizing voting processes) and move 4 to 5.

                        And you can save your condescending remarks for someone else, I'm quite aware of our past follies. It would not be terribly difficult to require, in plain english, that people understand what they are voting on. Or perhaps you are of the extreme opinion that anyone with the motor skills of an 5 year old should be allowed to blindly vote on whatever the hell they want to for no reason whatsoever. That's our system today and it has led to lazy incompetent governance (amongst the other reasons).

                        Freedom without responsibility is crap. And you can't be responsible if you're ignorant. Gun owners don't want to be told how to use their guns, parents don't want to be know the abc's of child development, manufacturers don't want to tell people what's in their products, our government doesn't really want you to know what they do behind closed doors and on and on. Voting in ignorance is a pox like all the rest of our societal blindness'.

                        Argue for your limitations and you own them - bach

                        by dRefractor on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 02:31:58 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

            •  Right point, wrong target... (11+ / 0-)

              Niniane, while I'd agree with a lot of your points (anyone w/ relatives outside of the US should be only too aware of the 'sins' of other countries), I'm not sure Jerome's diary is the big offender in this area.

              It's true that foreign powers often use the "...bad, bad US..." talking points to distract their citizens from their own home-grown issues (and atrocities), I think the FT author was mainly talking about how the horribly disjointed and irrational approach of the US and it's western allies is at this point not doing any good for anyone - the US, our western allies, or the citizens in those other nations that are as bad or worse.)

              Those who fail to learn from history...are invited to submit an application for a position in the Bush administration.

              by Timoteo on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 08:42:08 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Shades of Socialism 1920/1930 style redux (4+ / 0-)

              But every other sovereign nation has their warts too. But they try to hide their flaws with their criticism of the USA.

              It's time that we, as American Progressives, stopped letting them get away with it.

              This exact idea is how every European working/middle class group fell obediently into line behind THEIR OWN ruling classes and followed enthusiastically the solutions of predatory capitalism that benefited their own country at the expense of all else and the military adventure was the final solution when nothing else the corporate rulers of the time tried worked.

              There is a wilfull blindness, be it sheer ignorance, excessive pride and hubris, or simple lack of analysis of the success and failures of the competition and the crises that came before. And it as bad or worse in America (ever hear of "American Exceptionalism"?) than anywhere else in 2008.

              McCain: Unlike Republicans, (most)he HAS dropped bombs on a people and country that did not attack America. It fits: Warmonger

              by Pete Rock on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 11:29:54 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  nini ane, your are what is wrong with America (0+ / 0-)

              Blaming the "leaders" and falling back on smug self satisfaction. The point is that almost all  Americans have participted in this. Few have fought against our very selfish consumerist society - and in fact the ideas of community to the extent that society itself is fractured.

              And you are determinedly dumb.

              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 02:26:20 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Seriously, (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            nicta, kalmoth

            My whole diary was about the small number of people that are driving the current policies of your country for their personal gain and against the general interest of most Americans.

            Thank you for stating that not all people here in the United States have that mind frame.  You diaries are sometimes a "hard spill to swallow", yet, good intellectual reading. It's good to hear other people's perspective of what they think of the United Sates and its policies.

            You're not to be so blind with patriotism that you can't face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says it.---Malcolm X

            by Queenie68 on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 11:47:40 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Hatred of America (18+ / 0-)

          besides going, "where the f did that come from?"

          Hatred of america would express itself as encouraging us as we dive headlong into disaster after disaster.  

          Love would be an intervention...

          The world will end not with a bang, but with a "Do'oh!"
          "America is a free speech zone."

          by Love and Death on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 07:56:15 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  No hatred in them. (15+ / 0-)

          His diaries are brilliant.

          So you think there is no useful truth to this diary? Nothing to be learned, then?

          YES WE CAN Register to Vote from China! http://www.votefromabroad.org

          by beijingbetty on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 08:03:40 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  You're kidding (0+ / 0-)

        I know you know that patently silly arguments happen here all the time.

    •  Even if everyone else is as bad as us, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      skrekk, Niniane

      everyone -- including us -- will benefit if there are enough of them opposed to us to block our actions, i.e., a balance of power.

      The influence of the [executive] has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished.

      by lysias on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 08:34:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  the lessons of Iraq... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      antiapollon

      In the countries you mention there was vast public opposition to the war on moral AND strategic grounds.  Governments aren't entirely immune from the opinion of the electorate (although it sometimes appears that way), and all of those governments voiced that opposition in private and at the UN.  Of course they had economic concerns...but so did we.  The US no longer had any oil contracts in Iraq, and that certainly was a factor in the decision to go to war.

      As far as dealing with a "rogue nation" (you seem unaware of which nation that really is), the US was perfectly willing to sell Iraq chemical weapons during the Iran/Iraq war, to turn a blind eye towards Iraq's use of those weapons, and to block a UN vote condemning such use.  We even went so far as to provide Iraq with satellite imaging data to help Iraq gas Iranian troop positions.  Moral high ground?  I think not.

      •  Oh, there have to be morals (0+ / 0-)

        for someone to claim that particular kind of high ground.
        Nope, too many mistakes were made for us to claim to be the good guys re: Iraq... not for decades now.

        But just because our feet are dirty, doesn't make theirs any cleaner.
        One does not have to be above reproach before one can comment on the sins of others.
        One just shouldn't play the innocent while doing it.

        Our guilt doesn't make them any less guilty, and cannot be used to justify their crimes.

        "As God is my witness, I thought wingnuts could fly".

        by Niniane on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 11:43:27 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Why not base our foreign policy on freedom? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mataliandy, mrkvica, Niniane, 183skybear

    This is not as dumb as it sounds.  When Obama takes office, we make an announcement through the State Department - Most Favored Trade status, full admittance to the WTO and tariff-free trade with the United States will from now on be contingent upon

    1.Freedom of speech
    2.Freedom of the press
    3.Freedom of religion/lack thereof

    When you have all three, you're in the club - and the further away you are, the less good stuff you get.  Not total isolation, but a much needed stick to compliment our vast array of carrots.

    Not only would a great many mistakes have been avoided over the years, we would've skipped this fiasco that is the Beijing Olympics.

    Tipped and rec'd - PS, it's 'belligerent'

    •  would be able to trade with ourselves? -nt (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mataliandy, samddobermann, mrkvica, skrekk, BYw

      The world will end not with a bang, but with a "Do'oh!"
      "America is a free speech zone."

      by Love and Death on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 07:56:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  "Freedom" is in the eye of the beholder. (5+ / 0-)

      The neocons have used it to justify using force to spread the free-market system all over the world.

      The Nazis used it to justify using force against others to ensure the "freedom" of Germany from foreigners.

      The Founding Fathers had the right idea: we can trade with the rest of the world, we can try to set an example for the rest of the world to imitate, but it's a very bad idea to use force to impose our system on others.

      The influence of the [executive] has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished.

      by lysias on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 08:38:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Carrots? (0+ / 0-)

      Not total isolation, but a much needed stick to compliment our vast array of carrots.

      What carrots exactly are in this array? True, access to the US consumer market is one... but the yumminess of this particular vegetable is presently somewhat diminished, and I can think of no other carrots. In the recent years, sadly, the US economy has been producing fewer and fewer things anyone would want, and corruption and inefficiency has led even to the US weapon systems becoming less desirable.

    •  typically Wilsonian (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      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

      [ Parent ]

      •  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

          [ Parent ]

          •  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

              [ Parent ]

              •  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

                [ Parent ]

                •  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

                  [ Parent ]

  •  Some points (9+ / 0-)

    I'll fire off a scattershot of random points.

    1. What is "the West"?

    "The West" many not have a strategy (in part because it has some many competing parochial interests and so few true threats to those in charges), but parts of it do.  I've been watching Poland's actions with little less than fascination.  Poland resisted the US missiles until very recently.  Why?  In part, because the US simply upped its price and agreed to put Patriot missiles and US operators in Poland to counter Russia.  But also, I think the Polish view goes deeper.  Poland feared that the US genuinely believed its own rhetoric, that the "missile shield" was aimed only at Iran.  After the Georgian war, Poland could feel safe that the US genuinely knew what it was doing, that it genuinely intended to hem in Russia.  Thus, the US could now be counted on to counterbalance Russia, and would not sell out Poland in exchange for Russian help on Iran.

    1.  I find this passage overly simplistic:

    Western thinkers must decide where the real long-term challenge is. If it is the Islamic world, the US should stop intruding into Russia’s geopolitical space and work out a long-term engagement with China. If it is China, the US must win over Russia and the Islamic world and resolve the Israel-Palestine issue. This will enable Islamic governments to work more closely with the west in the battle against al-Qaeda.

    The reality of the world today is that there is NOT one, single problem.  The US has a terrible habit of breaking the world into "friends" and "enemies," and lecturing or bombing accordingly.  However, the proper response is NOT to find a single "enemy" and make everyone else a "friend."  Rather, it is to understand that there are a lot of interests, a lot of players, and a lot of space between or completely outside of the friend-enemy dichotomy.  We need to understand what kind of world we want to live in and figure out what actions nudge the world toward that.

    1. On this:

    The biggest paradox facing the west is that it is at last possible to create a safer world order. The number of countries wanting to become "responsible stakeholders" has never been higher. Most, including China and India, want to work with the US and the west. But the absence of a long-term coherent western strategy towards the world and the inability to make geopolitical compromises are the biggest obstacles to a stable world order.

    I'll give a shout-out to a pundit I don't really like, Thomas Barnett (http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/).  He's one of the Pentagon's more strategic thinkers (and he's allow credited with getting Adm. Fallon fired by repeating too many choice quotes).  He largely advocates that the developed world (including Russia and China) get together and kick the Third World into line (or, export security to needy areas, as he says).  I bring this up only to note that a few high-level thinkers in the Pentagon agree with you.

    1. On this:

    Despite their huge profits, oil companies are actually dying animals, without a clear future. Their production has been going down over the past several years, their reserve base is shrinking, and their prospects are rather dismal.

    The New York Times agrees, and outlined some of the issues very well recently (reprint in the Austin American Statesman).

  •  Putin doctoral thesis.... (5+ / 0-)

    'Mineral and raw Materials Resources and the Development Strategy for the Russian Economy'...

    http://www.docstoc.com/...

  •  Is something else at play? (0+ / 0-)

    When the real history of this sad period is written, I'm confident what we will find is under all of the political and military blustering/saber rattling is an economic/corporate driven "war".

    The obvious signs are things like the U.S. military securing the Iraqi Oil Ministry building (seizing the records and computers) within 48 hours of invading Iraq, and control of which nations are allowed to do business in Iraq (i.e. only those who supported the U.S. invasion/"war on terror" in the press and with troops, even if only a token amount.)

    I pointed out here some time ago Russia was not going to sit back and put up with this; their recent occupation of Georgia supports my position. Now they are threatening a military response to the U.S. proposed installment of an anti-missile system in Poland.

    Georgia's NATO membership appears iffy at best now, not just because of the military implications, but due to the ability of those in charge of corporate eavesdropping/spying to do so on soil directly adjacent to Russia.

    Don't forget Gazprom recently turned off the natural gas spigot to the Ukraine.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/...

    "Cigna cannot decide who is going to live and who is going to die." -- Nataline's mother

    by Superpole on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 07:28:49 AM PDT

  •  Look, they have a Stratergy. That's Strategy (0+ / 0-)

    with an "r" for Rapacious, Republican Rapists.

    "If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich." JFK - January 20, 1961

    by rontun on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 07:29:40 AM PDT

  •  Americans play monopoly, Russians play chess. (19+ / 0-)

    I posted this the other day, but it is so bang on that I thought I would post it again for those that missed it. Link Here

       Think of it this way: Russia is playing chess, while the Americans are playing Monopoly. What Americans understand by "war games" is exactly what occurs on the board of the Parker Brothers' pastime. The board game Monopoly is won by placing as many hotels as possible on squares of the playing board. Substitute military bases, and you have the sum of American strategic thinking.

       America's idea of winning a strategic game is to accumulate the most chips on the board: bases in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, a pipeline in Georgia, a "moderate Muslim" government with a big North Atlantic Treaty Organization base in Kosovo, missile installations in Poland and the Czech Republic, and so forth. But this is not a strategy; it is only a game score.

       Chess players think in terms of interaction of pieces: everything on the periphery combines to control the center of the board and prepare an eventual attack against the opponent's king. The Russians simply cannot absorb the fact that America has no strategic intentions: it simply adds up the value of the individual pieces on the board. It is as stupid as that. But there is another difference: the Americans are playing chess for career and perceived advantage. Russia is playing for its life, like Ingmar Bergman's crusader in The Seventh Seal.

    I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it is much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers that might be wrong- Feynman

    by taonow on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 07:30:08 AM PDT

    •  accurate and imaginative analogy! eom (0+ / 0-)

      Finding your own Voice -- The personal is political!

      by In her own Voice on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 11:58:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  But Chinese play Go (Waiqi) - highly strategic (0+ / 0-)

      In terms of game complexity and strategic thinking, the oriental game of Go wins hands-down. Chess is suited to tactical thinking and the books I've read on chess strategy usually refers to a stagnant strategic goal or target sought from the opening that doesn't have much room for maneuverability once the tactics are employed.

      Go, played on a larger field, entails the need to think strategically at all times and requires a more fluid thought process for adjusting strategy as the game flows based on your opponent's (or your own) tactical play.

      While chess players think on the interaction of the pieces, Go players, who's pieces have no intrinsic differences in value, think on where and how to place the pieces on the board that augments their strategy and serves both tactical and strategic purposes. On the standard 19x19 board the field of play is much larger than that of chess requiring players to have a great deal of patience in applying their strategy.

      Western thought from chess and otherwise has not developed patient long term approaches to much of anything. Our markets are quarterly results driven with little room or patience by shareholders for strategic long-term thinking. Our energy policy (drill here, drill now) exhibits the same dense grab-it-all tactical thought as well.

      To illustrate the complexity differences, in Chess, the computing world has offered up challenges and won against Chess Masters regularly. In Go, the very strongest go computer programs can only challenge mid-level amateur players (with at one time a very large prize offered, now expired, to write a program that can beat a pro player.)

      Ok, I'm rambling - but the point is, if we don't start thinking really long term and develop strategies for far-far future consequences, then it's likely Eastern-style thought will win in the end.

      •  I hate the GO programs (0+ / 0-)

        Even so, the Go computer programs are very frustrating. I take 2 or 3 minutes to make a move deep in a game and then it takes a millisecond to make its counter move, and then it is back to me. It makes me feel so incompetent.

        I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it is much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers that might be wrong- Feynman

        by taonow on Fri Aug 22, 2008 at 05:25:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Hah! I too prefer to play people (0+ / 0-)

          It's that incompetent feeling I get from the programs that has me preferring a human opponent. (johngoes on KGS and Dragon Go Server) Oh and the john "go" es comes from Go not from my going anywhere.:)

    •  Bush taught McCain how to play Risk (0+ / 0-)

      Duhbya is a abmysal strategist and he'd usually lose to Powell.

      It's time to restore balance and fairness to our economy,... It's time to stop giving tax cuts to corporations that ship jobs overseas... - Barack Obama

      by Lefty Coaster on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 03:51:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Cheney and the Pentagon got their wish (8+ / 0-)

    Unfortunately for them, the economic ruin that was inevitable from that ,shifting the trillion dollar a year cost of these policies on the backs of the middle and lower classes in America is NOT sustainable indefinitely.

    When the Soviet Union's military consumed 40% or more of their GNP, their Empire became unaffordable and collapsed.That would have happened (and earlier if Gorbachov's offer was agreed to) even if Reagan had not become President. Notice all the countries that went independent because Russia couldn't afford even the bureaucracy and statecraft to hold onto them, let alone the military. Gorbachov started to lay off officers and men unilaterally in 1986 as the crisis deepened.  Back to America:

    16 years after the implementing of the Cheney plan (defacto in Clinton's time,explicitly in Bush Cheney's time) the unsustainability and ruin of America's economy on 700 billion dollar imported fuel bills and clearly over a trillion dollar/per year military/security budget to support that structure will collapse the US empire also. See it happening right now.

     There is no Western strategy because it is focussed around what America alone wants year to year. Even if America wants the moon or green cheese or everybody else's oil.

     The smartest neocon of the economic servant class of the corporate billionaires put into practice a plan to bankrupt America and as great a crisis as any ever in the nation's history. The debt crisis.

    He, Cheney accelerated the imbalances and fully raced to the BOTTOM. A CRASH IN JUST 8 YEARS. 3 trillion dollars in debt added in just 7 years, a fading dollar that no one wants to buy into. No strategy to get out of it because it squeezes the current kingpins, the fossil fuel companies and their financiers. Unacceptable. We have the grand crash coming. More wars bring it on faster.

    McCain: Unlike Republicans, (most)he HAS dropped bombs on a people and country that did not attack America. It fits: Warmonger

    by Pete Rock on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 07:30:14 AM PDT

    •  It has happened and it's exhausted as a strategy. (6+ / 0-)

      A 46-page document that has been circulating at the highest levels of the Pentagon for weeks, and which Defense Secretary Dick Cheney expects to release later this month, states that part of the American mission will be "convincing potential competitors that they need not aspire to a greater role or pursue a more aggressive posture to protect their legitimate interests."

      The classified document makes the case for a world dominated by one superpower whose position can be perpetuated by constructive behavior and sufficient military might to deter any nation or group of nations from challenging American primacy.

      Rejecting Collective Approach

      To perpetuate this role, the United States "must sufficiently account for the interests of the advanced industrial nations to discourage them from challenging our leadership or seeking to overturn the established political and economic order," the document states.

      Russia collapsed from imbalance of supporting empire at impossible debt ratios (and starving the domestic sector,its own wealth and labor).

      The conservatives learned nothing from that because they are such insufferable egotists and arrogant  chest thumpers they believe bad things that happon for irrefutable,logical reasons only apply to other people.

      McCain: Unlike Republicans, (most)he HAS dropped bombs on a people and country that did not attack America. It fits: Warmonger

      by Pete Rock on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 07:36:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  he who dies with the most toys (5+ / 0-)

    wins... is not considered by most of the world as a test for moral rightness.

    Now will someone send our idiots a message explaining that?

    fact does not require fiction for balance

    by mollyd on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 07:32:19 AM PDT

  •  US Leadership Is Not Attempting to "Govern" (9+ / 0-)

    It's mostly a scramble for corporate conquests both within and outside the US. The nation state is not what they're mainly running--that's only being used as a resource and of course for the military.

    "We" are no longer a nation. This is what system breakdown looks like.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 07:32:24 AM PDT

  •  The West is bad at strategy (0+ / 0-)

    because we have the conflict of trying to protect ourselves (and our interests), while trying to behave as moral human beings.

    Sometimes you can't stop the bad guys without the use of force, and for any moral being, that causes some serious headaches.

  •  Two things. (6+ / 0-)

    It is, in fact, simply hubris, and greed.  Borne out of snobbery and weird, craven psychological demons.

    Next:  check your email inbox, when you get a moment.

    Best -

    bRg
    ______

    "We in the gloam, old buddy," he said, "We definitely right in the middle of it." -Larry Brown

    by BenGoshi on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 07:37:10 AM PDT

  •  Of course, that depends on what they want (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fixed Point Theorem

    You don't have to search for deep, ultra-hidden goals to realize that the actual aims of state controllers in the West have nothing to do with their announced aims.  

    So we mustn't start with the assumption that what is awful for us mere humans, or for the majority of the population of the West, or even for the majority of Western politicians, is awful from the point of view of the policy directors.

    What appears to sane people as insane policy might be simpler to understand if we realize that state leaders don't necessarily want the things we think they should want to want.

  •  Jerome (5+ / 0-)

    Thanks for writing this. Keep up the good fight, buddy, lots of people are on your side.

  •  They know exactly what they're doing (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jerome a Paris, mrkvica, ActivistGuy

    They're not "bad" at this at all.

    They're just reckless, irresponsible, destructive, deceitful, and heinously criminal.

  •  Pick your fights (10+ / 0-)

    NATO's essential purpose was to protect the world from Soviet expansion.  The goal was achieved, though its debatable whether or not the same would have happenned without NATO.  When the USSR fell, it was time to disband or at least drastically change NATO's mission and structure.  Instead, we continued an anti-Russia policy.

    After 9/11, there was a perfect opportunity to create a new alliance against terrorism, even including middle eastern states, which were for the most part horrified at what happened and scared that it could happen to them too.  Instead, we decided to use it as an opportunity to fulfill the neocon wet dream of occupying Iraq.  

    •  Agreed (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      IM

      It's as if the NATO nations, especially the United States, didn't know what to do after the end of the USSR, or more insidiously, they knew exactly what they wanted to do and saw their moment to do it.  But it didn't turn out as they'd liked.

      Procrastination: Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now.

      by Linnaeus on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 07:57:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  NATO has outlived its purpose and (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      divineorder

      should be dissolved. If some kind of general European security organization remains necessary, let it it be a European-led one, an EU construction replacing NATO.

  •  The spice (0+ / 0-)

    the increasingly chaotic international policies of the past to ensure that plentiful spice keeps on flowing.

    Would be nice if we could get a Kwisatz Haderach to bring down the current Harkonnen administration and undo all their damage...

    But seriously, I think part of the reason that "the West" (and I actually think that term still has some meaning in the sense that we typically us it) is so bad at strategy, at least at this time in human history, is rooted in what we usually think of as a strength of "the West":  its (relatively) more democratic policies and political institutions.  It's easier to have a coherent strategy when power is centralized and democratic-decision making is compromised.  When you have to deal with the various domestic interests in your own nation as well as those of your allies, it becomes harder to coordinate.

    Procrastination: Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now.

    by Linnaeus on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 07:53:57 AM PDT

  •  I'll note that that bad strategy... (5+ / 0-)

    ...has put the vast majority of Eastern Europe and bits of Central Asia into the West's sphere of influence while Russia's grand chessmaster strategy has landed them a couple breakaway Georgian provinces and Belarus.

    Obviously things are more complex than that, but lets not go nuts. The West's strategy -- however messy and occasionally incoherent -- has vastly expanded it's realm of influence and its access to markets and capital.

    it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses

    by Addison on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 07:54:23 AM PDT

  •  'Benevolent domination', what could go wrong? (0+ / 0-)

    Sounds like the perfect justification from the noblese oblegese crowd.
    The hypocracy of those who rail against big government or social programs, when in reality they are skimming the system is a classic bait and switch con job.
    Our strategy should be to live up to our ideals. That way we wouldn't be spending our time efforts and energy fixing problems we have caused.

  •  Because it started to believe its own bullshit (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ohmproject

    starting around Reagan's time.

  •  Senor Gorbachev has a good take in Georgia (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skrekk

    In yesterdays NYT

  •  If you have no friends, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jerome a Paris, little liberal

    then you can't build the corridors and possibilities necessary for forming strategy.

    The West, led by Bush & Cheney's White House, but idiotically, complacently, undoubtedly supported by European leaders, has indeed taken a belligerant approach to the world, treating all as enemies or potential dangers.

     

    If you treat all external nations as potential dangers, then you don't have to take account of or observe their interests at work.
    This is our mistake.
    We have squandered upwards of 10,000 fighting people in two bullshit conflicts that were questionable under international law.
    Now a real threat emerges, Russians abusing Georgians on their own streets, and we're paralyzed.
    We attacked a sovereign nation and have obliterated the platform on which we could stand against Russia.
    Every neocon in government and in academia should be jettisoned from his or her job.
    Condoleezza Rice, as I recall, was a Kremlinologist.
    And yet, she can't seem to read a map and did not see this coming.
    But then, of course, she's a neocon.   She was too busy having supertankers named after her.  

    •  Watch BBC or read some non-American news papers. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      vivens fons

      Russians are NOT abusing Georgians on their own streets. They are taking out some of Georgia's USbought military equipment but leaving Georgians alone. And they helped rescue a hell of a lot of So Osetians - who rarely even speak Georgian.

      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 03:14:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  So if the South Ossetians (0+ / 0-)

        have been so oppressed, why wait till now to "liberate" them from their Georgian oppressors?
        It seems like a strategically planned time for incursion, don't you think?  And if South Ossetia is to be liberated and true justice to shine, then the province must be invaded and occupied permanently to set up a check against those God-awful Georgians.
        I wonder when the Russians will go charging into the Ukraine to free a minority?
        When does the incursion into Azerbaijan start?
        And how about those Latvians?
        I'm sure there are similar minorities in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, everywhere.  
        Perhaps the Russians should set themselves up as liberators of the minorities of the world.
        Kind of like the Bush Regime setting us up in the war on terror.
        Please, Czar Vladimir, save us all from--- ourselves!

  •  I disagree - somewhat. (6+ / 0-)

    I believe the current US brain trust does in fact have a comprehensive strategy, deeply flawed as it is, that is being driven from above the White House. That strategy hinges around support of the US green back as the worlds reserve currency.

    There is a real threat that more and more nations, and especially the energy exporting heavyweights of Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iran and others are considering a switch to the Euro away from the US dollar. This event would be catastrophic for a US financial system whose home currency underpins the worlds money supply - the US has been "cheating" for a generation, running up defecits and printing money to finance an empire built on economic, world wide expansion.

    I'm currently working on an extended piece on this which I shall post here at KOS once I have it together, however it is my assertion that the seemingly scattergun approach to contemporary US policy has had this goal - to defend the US dollar - as its ultimate agenda. If the current Bush Administartion can be faulted with anything, its moving the military agenda ahead of the traditional dollar one, thereby putting the old cart before the horse for the first time in our modern era.

    Putin has recently begun to talk openly of the prospect of the Russians switching to Euro, which would force a cascade in that direction given Russia's new energy exporting position in the world. Even the Saudi's are now talking about a retreat from US greenbacks, speculating that a "basket of currencies" might better serve them.

    It is here, in the very delicate world of international money supply and control, that the real damage to America is occuring, and where a series of Iraq-like bone headed decisions might really bring down what is at the end of the day, a delicate house of cards.

  •  Well said Jerome (5+ / 0-)

    I made somewhat of the same point as Mr. Mahbubani in discussing the US-Georgian joint military exercises in July which preceded all the mess.

    We would certainly think it was relevant if Russia sent troops to do joint exercises with Mexico 50 miles south of the US border, regardless of whether Mexico and Russia told us it was insignificant and not worthy of our notice.  

    The same applies here.  There is no way that holding military exercises with US troops in a country adjacent to Russia is not considered significant, at least by Russia, if not by our own government. [...]

    Now consider Saakashvili and his well-known issues. Talk about a volatile mixture.  I cannot believe that this was unknown by anyone in the Bush administration and I'm sure some digging would document that there were those who did know and warned about it.  

    The question then becomes why did these things happen?  Because of incompetence or were there other reasons?  I do believe that incompetence may account for some things but I don't think that the Bush administration and the people in the State Dept are  absolutely stupid.  So someone pushed for this policy.  Who and why?

    Assume that the Bush foreign policy administration did know that the activities would push Saakashvili over the edge and went forward with it because the predictable results would support some other action that they want to take.

    So what action would neo-conservatives about to be tossed out of power want to instigate? That is the real question.

  •  Let's take a look at what we mean by "West" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skrekk, esquimaux

    If it means, "why can't traditional colonial powers stay on top of the world?" then the answer is, "because we shouldn't."

  •  Strategy depends on objectives, (3+ / 0-)

    objectives depend on what one values. I agree that "our" strategy is currently serving the values of the American economic elite who value the perceived and actual privileges of their rank. Claiming number 1 rank means a lot more to these folks than anything else.

    A democratic foreign policy that reflected what is valued by the majority of people in the U.S. would be one where our military and industrial potential was focused on creating and protecting a domestic circumstance that reflected values something like the preamble of our constitution describes.

    Love = Awareness of mutually beneficial exchange across semi-permeable boundaries. Political and economic systems either amplify or inhibit Love.

    by Bob Guyer on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 08:29:45 AM PDT

  •  long term thinking (3+ / 0-)

    Politicians are inherently short-term thinkers. Presidents don't think beyond  8 years in the future, and even senators, except for men like Ted Stevens, don't think much beyond the 10-20 year window - and most just think in 2-3 year timeframes. External factors are necessary to force them to think coherently about the longterm. To some extent that's the role of political parties, whose agenda outlives its representatives - however in the US political parties have much less power over their own members than have political parties in the US. The Bush administration, for example, is a small sector of the pragmatic, party-for-the-upper-class part of the Republicans, completely unresponsive to the more populist or overtly ideological parts of the Republican party, and just doesn't much care what happens in 10 years. They will all be rich, and sitting on their ranches.

    This raises the question - what mechanisms exist to force our politicians to think longterm? Evidently the electoral process in and of itself is not working as such a mechanism.

  •  "We" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jerome a Paris, Calamity Jean

    I've been watching the Olympics online and they keep interrupting the coverage there to play this very disturbing (to me) ATT commercial, which I am sure the ad agency that created it calls "We."  The point seems to be that "we" worked hard and won . .  something. I find the details of the ad confusing, but the message is that "we" (all of us Americans? sports fans? people watching?) have accomplished these incredible feats of athletic prowess.

    Referring of course, to the habit of sports fans to talk that way ("We got the ball on the 45 and then  . . .")

    It always makes me cringe. "I" did not get myself to the gym at 5am for years, keep myself motivated in the face of losses and injuries, work out to the point of exhaustion day after day, leave my family at a tender age to train with that great coach in another country, etc.

    It's a fake sense of accomplishment - claiming athlete's accomplishments as my own - that has absolutely nothing to do with what I personally have accomplished.

    And a great way to distract us "masses" from our ever diminishing opportunities to realize our own dreams.

    It's even more disturbing to be reminded by your diary that the same psychology is used to "manufacture consent" for constant wars. ("We're number one!!!")

    Bread and circuses . . . .

    I am not going to sit here and be an idle spectator to the diminution, the subversion, the destruction, of the Constitution. - Barbara Jordan

    by Janet Strange on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 08:32:26 AM PDT

  •  Well, we're not bad at strategy (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jerome a Paris, Calamity Jean

    We've got a short term idiot in power in the U.S. that's messing up the long term strategy that's worked very well.

    Think of the world in 1950 and the world today.  Less poverty, more nations in the mold of Western liberal democracies.  The Soviets are gone, Chinese integrated into the global economic system.

    Get rid of the goons in the White House and put a real American back in the office and our strategy will continue to work.

    "When the President does it, it's not illegal" - Richard Nixon, 1974; US Congress, 2008

    by nightsweat on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 08:34:19 AM PDT

    •  I'm not sure about the 'less poverty' (0+ / 0-)

      I seem to recall a number of the graphics printed in magazines such as 'The Economist' that suggested that were mysteriously ignoring rises in CPI, that, if taken into account would have actually reflected stagnation or even worse conditions in many places.  Taking true CPI into account in the US, and not excluding food and energy as the government does now, even the vast majority of US citizens are relatively worse off in recent decades.

      Got a problem with my posts? Quit reading them. They're usually opinions, and I don't come here to get in arguments.

      by drbloodaxe on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 08:50:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Our long term strategy is idiotic (0+ / 0-)

      The strategy is to burn oil until we use it up.

      What kind of strategy is that?

      •  That's not the strategy (0+ / 0-)

        The strategy is to create a global market economy.  The secondary strategy is to create democracies.  The strategery that has been pursued by Bush and his friends is to make their friends filthy rich.  That's the stuff that has to be discarded, and the core strategies returned to.

        "When the President does it, it's not illegal" - Richard Nixon, 1974; US Congress, 2008

        by nightsweat on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 11:45:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You must be smoking dope (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          samddobermann

          Our previous strategy consisted in squandering our resources.  Our present strategy is not much different.  We are spending arguably one trillion every year on our military.  

          Also securing democracies is no more than an excuse for imperialism.  Our corporate government is not much of a model for anything any good.

          •  Then you must be licking hypnotoads (0+ / 0-)

            "Our previous strategy consisted in squandering our resources"?  That's just rhetoric.

            The goal of the West is to create wealth.  Wealth doesn't care if it comes from squandering or shepherding our resources - whatever works.  The global market is paramount in that strategy.

            "When the President does it, it's not illegal" - Richard Nixon, 1974; US Congress, 2008

            by nightsweat on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 01:13:08 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Singapore's Kishore Mahbubani is wrong (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Timoteo

    in that he talks about 'The West's' moralizing on Georgia.

    Obviously many people on this site alone feel that Georgia was playing 'mini-Russia' and imposing its will militarily on a region that didn't want to be controlled by Georgia, the same way Russia does in Chechnya.

    Likewise, I don't recall us militarily attacking any Latin American countries in decades, (Falklands thing maybe the last time we did anything militarily in LA?  Something about US students trapped down there?) unless he's referring to DEA agents or the CIA supplying arms and trainers to various groups, which is a far cry from us running tanks through Argentina.

    To blindly paint a country with the idiocy of the current ruling regime would imply we should have treated the Iraqis as complicit in Saddam's actions, or Zimbabweans with Mugabe's.

    It's a poor or ignorant writer who doesn't realize after 8 yrs and countless popularity polls that the majority of America rarely agrees with the Bush administration.

    Got a problem with my posts? Quit reading them. They're usually opinions, and I don't come here to get in arguments.

    by drbloodaxe on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 08:38:02 AM PDT

  •  Th United States has no coherent strategy (6+ / 0-)

    I think it is better to restrict the question of the 'West' to the subset of the West that is the United States and its chief fellow traveler, the UK.  My guess is that the other nations of Europe know better, and no doubt the foreign office in London knows better, but for the moment they are lying low.

    To understand American policy you have to appreciate the insularism of Americans and the parochialism of American higher education in history and the social sciences.  This may seem odd, as the United States hosts and can boast of some of the world's  finest scholars and thinkers in these fields.  But below that iceberg tip lies the great body of teachers and writers who have been conditioned over two to three generations to think that the United States is the model for the rest of the world.  This thought extends pretty far up the scale.  I do not consider myself uninformed, but when I moved to France about 15 years ago to work in a French research institution, I believed that the French had no equivalent of the legal notion of 'innocent until proved guilty.'  (I got that notion from Mark Twain, Innocents Abroad).  So most people in the US believe in the 'land of the free' tripe.

    The second reason can be ferreted out of Russell Banks 'Dreaming Up America.'  America acted out its 'manifest destiny' virtually unopposed.  The notion that its destiny includes the whole world is deeply engrained.  This doesn't make for a diplomacy based on the reality of other states and cultures having the capacity to resist American expansionism.  Most of our foreign policy establishment are in this case.

    The final reason is the view among our foreign policy elites (and not so elite) that the fundamental scarcity of things (i.e. oil, water, natural resources) necessarily signifies eventual armed conflict over their possession. For people who idolize the market, there is a surprizing lack of understanding of how markets allocate scarce resources to the comparative satisfaction of (almost) all parties.  Ms Rice is a good example of this. What she understands of economics wouldn't constipate an ant's ass.

    Madness, madness, madness.

  •  The Paranoid Superpower Syndrome (13+ / 0-)

    it is stupid, and counterproductive, to treal all other powers as hostile and dangerous at the same time.

    There's always been an underlying tendency towards this in US foreign policy -- for a whole bunch of  reasons, including our isolationist roots, the Monroe Doctrine, the official ideology of American exceptionalism, the unofficial one of American supremacy, the masculine cult of the lone gunman (Rambo or Lee Harvey Oswald, take your pick) and, lately, the influence of the neocons, who essentially have an extreme Zionist-Likud take on the world (never again; ourselves alone).

    There was a time when liberal internationalist elites could temper the paranoia a bit, or at least focus it on a real enemy, like the Soviet Union. But they're riding, not leading, the tiger now. Maybe that's both a cause and a result of the "unipolar delusion," with the intoxication making neoliberals and neocons increasingly hard to tell apart (they both want to run the world, although maybe for different reasons and to different ends).

    But it's still hard to understand the current US eagerness to turn every dispute into the next Cold War, and elevate every hostile power to the status of the next Hitler. Emmanual Todd has written a lot about this (see: After the Empire), but I'm not sure I find any single explanation for it very convincing.

    Maybe it's just a cynical cover for the scramble for oil in every nook and cranny of the globe, or a product of the deep scars left on foreign policy elites by 9/11 (which punctured the delusion that the homeland was "off limits"), or even a genuine, if utterly misguided, belief that America will only be safe when the entire world has accepted the blessings of American-style "democractic" capitalism.

    But we live in a country (and world) run by massive institutions, and so I'm more inclined to take a struturalist view of things. As I argued in my diary the other day, it looks to me like the national security machine is simply following its own logic, and protecting its own interests and privileges -- all of which require a steady supply of threats to justify the enormous claims the machine makes on national resources. (The fact that it all makes grand entertainment for the chattering classes probably has something to do with it, too.)

    But where does it end? A power that regards all other powers as rivals is nothing new -- it's the history of the state system since the Treaty of Westphalia. But a power that regards all rival powers as illegitimate (i.e. potential candidates for "regime change"), well, that's a pretty good functional definition of a rogue state.

  •   Quarterly shareholder reporting (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jerome a Paris

    We got no stinkin' time for strategy.

    HR 676 is the best health reform proposal worth my vote.

    by kck on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 09:17:48 AM PDT

  •  Jerome, with all due respect, the writer assumes (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jerome a Paris, skrekk

    that representatives of NATO and the USA actually believe in the principles they utter in defense of Georgia.

    I wish they did actually believe them, but they don't.

    Therefore the writer's point is moot.

    NATO and the USA use these principled positions to further their goals, and there's no way to know exactly how much Russia will cave into NATO's thirst for the Caucasus unless they are actually tested.

    Let's not kid ourselves: these last two weeks provided us with some excellent intelligence not only on the Russian military but on Russian resolve.

    The diplomatic fighting you hear now is just an echo of that, a test to see how each "gang" responds on the world stage. Simple as that.

    Look at these people! They suck each other! They eat each other's saliva and dirt! -- Tsonga people of southern Africa on Europeans kissing.

    by upstate NY on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 09:26:16 AM PDT

  •  The Corporate West (4+ / 0-)

    and their influential  government sympathisers who benefit, NATO particularly, is isolated from the people.

    "War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small 'inside' group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes."

    Smedley Butler would have been an influential member of Daily Kos if he had been born in our times.

    Think Tank. "A place where people are paid to think by the makers of tanks" Naomi Klein.

    by ohcanada on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 09:26:52 AM PDT

    •  Multinational capitalism keeps the pot boiling. (4+ / 0-)

      Ohcanada has an inkling but is still too trees over forest.  

      Their is no 'West' or East.  There is no 'Corporate West'.  Multinationals own countries but have no allegiance to them. Countries serve them, not the other way around.

      Yes, war - or more correctly ARMS - is good for their business.  So is any competition and rivalry. It's 'keeping up with the Jones' on a world scale.  But, of course, utter chaos is bad for business.  So until the next Uberpower comes along, the multinationals are happy to power the US delusion of 'control'.  

      And besides, the harder we squeeze to keep 'control' the more everyone else resent and envies it and pays to the multinationals.

      "It not personal, it's business."-Tony Soprano

      •  Chris you are aboslutely right.. (0+ / 0-)

        I am guilty, mea culpa.  Money knows no borders and has no loyalty to any nation. Have you heard of a company called Vitol?

        http://www.vitol.com/...

        Think Tank. "A place where people are paid to think by the makers of tanks" Naomi Klein.

        by ohcanada on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 12:08:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, pretty multi-national, eh. :) (0+ / 0-)

          (Tho, if really empployee owned maybe they just prove even 'good' companies can be multinational pirates?)

          Remember the Monty Python sketch in the first 15 minutes of ... I forget the movie.  About coporate pirates a float on the sea of chartered accountacy?  Halirous and utterly true (metaphoically). :)

  •  America's version of 'Iron and Rye' (7+ / 0-)

    No, the harsh secret is that this energy-savvy administration is persuaded - and, to be honest, I see very little to convince me that they are wrong - that a sane energy policy is a political loser, and thus that they must continue with the increasingly chaotic international policies of the past to ensure that plentiful spice keeps on flowing. That policy has, for them, the additional advantage of helping on the domestic political front by creating plentiful external enemies that just beg for a party STRONG ON NATIONAL SECURITY, and by indulging the pro-military exceptionalism inherent in a large chunk of the US population - but I don't think that's the main goal.

    No, the fact is, it's easier to convince voters to support a "war on terror" than it is to tell them that we need to start using energy differently because energy is not, in fact, cheap as it has long appeared to be in purely monetary terms.

    In Imperial Germany big industry and inefficient farmers teamed up to defeat free trade, oppose socialism and democracy at home, and supported an explicit program of militarism and imperialism abroad. The military was glorified and given a huge degree of independence over policy-making, an autocratic monarch ruled over a nominally democratic political system, and jingoism, nationalism, and racial and cultural ethnocentrism ruled the day in a country that was arguably the richest, most technologically advanced, most militarily powerful, and most cultured in Europe. Increasing militancy on the part of Germany, in part assisted by military leaders too sure of their own ability and based on gross misperceptions of the rest of the world, led to strategic encirclement and then a catastrophic war that Germany's armed forces couldn't cope with. The rest, as they say, is history.  

    Sound familiar?

    Jerome has, once again, hit the nail on the head. The root cause of our current problem is that certain entrenched interests in the United States are using foreign policy and a strategy of jingoistic nationalism and conflict with other states to shore up an increasingly dysfunctional economic model in the US. It is using this strategy because a change to a fossil-fuel constrained, renewable energy economic model would destroy their wealth and position in society in the same way free trade,  labor rights, and democracy would have destroyed the landed aristocracy, industrial cartels, and monarchy in Imperial Germany.

     

    Sponge Bob, Mandrake, Cartoons. That's how your hard-core islamahomocommienazis work.

    by Benito on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 09:28:42 AM PDT

  •  Excellent work ... (4+ / 0-)

    and thinking.

    Are you going to try to do a version of this for submission to the FT?

    And, FYI, I wonder just how many US leaders / key players ever look at the Financial Times?  This is an article to forward ... which I will.

  •  Unfortunately, many Americans still don't get it. (4+ / 0-)

    That's why McCain still has a chance to win, and why Congressional Democrats are so timid.  There are too many Americans who think in terms of American domination.  So when McCain talks about "winning" in Iraq, he does not say what we are winning.  The fact that the Iraq invasion has made the US less secure is seldom discussed, since for many it is more important to "win" for its own sake then it is to use our resources for useful goals.  Putin would probably use the same argument about how Russia needs to "win" in Georgia if any Russians complained.

    Our economy built on debt and our foreign policy is based on a very expensive de facto empire.  The short term thinking that got us into this mess is setting up disaster if we do not change course.

    •  If we do not change course? (0+ / 0-)

      ...disaster if we do not change course.

      It's far too late to change the path we are already on.

      Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
      Humpty Dumpty had a great fall;
      All the King's horses and all the King's men,
      Couldn't put Humpty together again.

      "This document is totally non-redactable and non-segregable and cannot even be meaningfully described." *

      by dratman on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 11:06:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Why must it be us vs. them? (0+ / 0-)

    Whatever happened to the concept of United Nations?  

  •  How the West Was Won (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    samddobermann, In her own Voice

    The "West" doesn't have a good strategy because we never really needed one. The west was won with a six-shooter and a Winchester.

    But we will have to get smarter now that the earthly frontier is closed. The first line on that is simply getting off the oil drip.

    That is particularly critical for Europe, which will be totally beholden to Russia as domestic supplies of oil dwindle in the North Sea. The West is wringing its hands over Georgia as much because it needs alternative pipelines to those Russia controls as it hates to see Christian Europeans killed off by the "ruthless" Russians.

    The way out is to cut a deal that really helps Europe move to solar power. Here's my plan:

    You run an oil pipeline from the south of Iraq through the Suni areas and Syria to Israel and then to the West Bank. You build solar panel manufacturers there, use the oil to power them, and ship the panels to everywhere on the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. You cut everyone in on the deal: Palestinians, Israelis, Sunis, Shia, and everyone else in the region.

    After that, no one can afford to be a terrorist because they are all in on the gravy train. Every drop of oil produces about 20x as much energy as it would burning it directly, so it cuts carbon emissions by that much.

    And without the superdemand for oil, prices drop and Russia can't afford to mount these kinds of campaigns in Georgia and Ukraine.

    Call it a pipe dream if you like, but the solution really lies in moving from oil to renewable energy. That's the right strategy. Announcing it, funding it and sticking to it is the way to get Russia to back down.

    But I don't see it happening because it doesn't involve a six-shooter or a Winchester. No one in the West can identify with it.

  •  Islamic world (0+ / 0-)

    Western thinkers must decide where the real long-term challenge is. If it is the Islamic world, the US should stop intruding into Russia’s geopolitical space and work out a long-term engagement with China. If it is China, the US must win over Russia and the Islamic world and resolve the Israel-Palestine issue.

    I think the challenge is China and I agree that we need Russia on our side. The author seems to think that we also need the Islamic world, which is laughable. The only thing we need the Islamic world for is oil and they already sell it to us. I doubt that Saudi Arabia would go for a second arab oil embargo seeing as the first one didn't really get the Palestinians anything and only made American opinion toward them negative.

  •  as posted on EuroTrib... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jerome a Paris, IM, In her own Voice

    Here's why...

    You're giving the "West" too much credit. It's more than energy policy. In the US, foreign policy is driven by various and competing forces. We have nothing like Russia's Foreign Policy Concept (as vague a document as that is, but above all, Russia wants to be flexible in its international relations), which leaves us with two or three major themes:

    • keep America strong in the world
    • build democracies abroad (with the idea that they'll more moral and be friendly to the US)
    • enhance the opportunities for US trade abroad
    • and lastly, US foreign policy is driven by the whims of internal politics of the US

    The result is a US foreign policy that tends to be chaotic, changing with administrations (as we've seen with the current one, most tragically).

    The last point is huge. The ignorance of the American public about the world, the vapid coverage we see about events unfolding around the world hinders everything else. The total lack of qualified discussion, leadership, and direction at home in defining what our real national interests and goals are, as well as the strategies we should choose to achieve those goals have elevated US Foreign Policy to the Theater of the Absurd we see today (Condi Rice lecturing Russia on invading sovereign nations.  Does she think pulling that off with a straight face makes her a diplomat?).

    Kissinger broadly defines the rift in American foreign policy divided between Teddy Roosevelt's realpolitik (the "realists") and Wilsonian morality in foreign affairs. In Kissinger's view, the moralists control the meme in public discussions on foreign affairs and broadly speaking, he has a point. The US has never come to a general concensus about the goals of foreign policy, pure and simple.

    As we've seen, this in itself is a danger to the rest of the world.

    For all that, there are signs of hope. If you look around, you'll find some excellent research being done by an unsung handful of "Westerners" (try checking out The Central Asia-Caucasus Institute, and there are others, of varying quality). In the long term, the goal should be to elevate the public understanding of what goes on beyond our borders. More immediately, I say leave the conduct of foreign policy to the professionals. And as Nicholas Kristof points out, with our entire diplomatic corps outmanned by the personnel in our military bands (for chrissakes!), we need to spend more, expand, and support a qualified, competent body of foreign service officers.

    And listen to them!

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

    by papicek on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 10:22:34 AM PDT

    •  Ignorance of the US public about the world (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Detlef, In her own Voice, papicek

      Yep. And our "strategy" is driven by the need to poll that public.

      = = =

      More Duck of Minerva (too much in one place violates copyright):

      So when the current Bush administration talks about "democracy" it does so in a neoconservative register -- becoming a democracy means choosing light over darkness, salvation over sin. All of the praise heaped on the Rose Revolution by the Administration has that tone: congratulations for choosing the right path, now you're on the side of the angels. But because this is a neoconservative perspective, becoming a democracy doesn't carry any obligations for the US, but simply takes a country off of the list of places to be redeemed by force if necessary. Similarly, the Georgian contribution to US military operations carries no obligations for the US, because coalitions of the willing are by definition short-term hook-ups of mutual convenience, not marriages.

      Shift the camera a bit, to the Georgian and Russian view. "Democracy" in that context doesn't play as a universal value, but as a civilizational one, and in particular as one associated (for generations, going back to the old Slavophile/Westernizer debates) with 'the West'. Hence becoming a democracy means moving closer not to some universal ideal, but to a concrete cultural community -- and that does carry obligations for other community-members. A civilizational claim is in that sense more like a marriage, or maybe a courtship: we're joining the club, we're on the team, we're joined to you in fundamental ways. Note that this is not just how Georgians see things, but it's also how the Russians see these things, including NATO expansion, which of course Georgia has long been pressing for.

      We led Georgia down the primrose path of "democracy" and NATO membership but walked out without leaving even a phone number when the going got tough.

      Just as soon as the Ossetia war broke out, Dubya canceled a trip to Atlanta . . .

      by Bill White on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 10:42:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I read that and passed along... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        In her own Voice

        what kudos I could.

        If I could set the FP agenda starting today, I'd beef up the staff of the State Department, the overseas staff mind you, and draw up state-of-the-art profiles of every state, nation, and region worldwide. Add to this an ongoing forum on things like international law, dilpomatic history, and the theories and practice of international relations. Just to create a baseline to learn what's really going on out there and how it's accomplishe -  without partisan spin and interpretation. Have you seen State's country profiles? Pathetic. The BBC has done a better job than both State and the CIA.

        Then I'd follow it up with permantent, regular reporting (also done by the overseas staff of State) to keep updated on developments abroad.

        And because I'm an American, and believe real information leads to real debate and progress, I'd make it public. I think it was Eric Sevareid who bemoaned the generation of college grads looking for journalism jobs. "Communications majors" with no background in history, law, economics, international relations, etc. As someone else wrote here, a class of so-called journalists only qualified to report on celebrity gossip. My point being, that the MSM, in which our national debate is carried out, really needs the product of the research I propose. (I recognize that for reasons purely to do with maintaining good relations, such government sponsored, official documentation might be limited and carefully worded.)

        A sort of global, non-partisan university without an agenda...this is a foreign policy initiative I could get behind.

        Then, and only then, the national debate on where our interests lie, and what our goals should be, can really begin.

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

        by papicek on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 11:33:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Jerome's expertise in the areas of energy and int (4+ / 0-)

      I hesitate to speak in response to those of you in the field of international relations, but I will be bold and just speak from my own peculiar perspective as an individual.

      Your analysis and suggestions are quite reasonable from a perspective of determining a basis for our foreign policy as a whole.  I believe Jerome's focus on energy being a determiner comes from  his expertise in the areas of energy and international economy.  He sees that energy/oil has been the basis for the value of our currency and a most significant source of all trade and commerce.  

      If we were not dependent on oil--and I don't just mean dependent on other countries--I mean dependent on it for having a way of making money, how would we accumulate wealth?  If we only had to finance the establishment of wind and solar energy for an electric future and pay to maintain it, if energy came from nature and didn't have to be drilled for, produced refined transported sold--where would all those people be employed?  If we didn't have to fight wars to obtain it, where would the soldiers work, and those employed by the military-industrial complex?

      What would we have for an economy if we didn't have oil as our energy base?

      I know I'm oversimplifying here, but this is such a complex subject.  Our whole culture, our lifestyle, economy, and political structure is facing radical change.

      Another thought from left field...
      If we need to change out our economy from oil to something else that can continue to grow, stimulate our economy, and our scientific and human outreach, then I believe Space might be the answer.  Not for the short term, of course.  Here and now we must develop renewables together in a cooperative effort with the rest of the world.  Then we could proceed on to space exploration, building orbital solar energy capacity, mining asteroids, the moon...and further, using solar wind ships to explore and expand into the rest of the solar system for whatever purposes we envision and design.  This could be the new role of our energy giants--this is where they could begin to invest all those remaining profits from the high price of oil.

      Yes, I know I can go way out beyond the theme of the moment--but that's just me--thanks for reading...

      Finding your own Voice -- The personal is political!

      by In her own Voice on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 11:33:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  energy is the theme of the moment... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        In her own Voice

        and yes, it's of immediate importance for all the reasons you describe, but it's only one issue. Terrorism and what looks to be a resurgent Russian Bear are others of immediate importance.

        Your idea about space exploration actually has some merit, though. I don't know about exploiting lunar mines however. But it captures the imagination, and does so globally. So it does carry along a certain amount of weight in the international relations equation.

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

        by papicek on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 11:45:08 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Soothing the Russian Bear (0+ / 0-)

          Terrorism and what looks to be a resurgent Russian Bear are others of immediate importance.

          That will require an administration change and some leadership here in the US and in the rest of the pro-US "West".  Leadership with diplomacy and focus on global cooperation.  Energy, global warming, economy--a good focus I think for pulling together that sort of cooperation.

          I believe Russia is mainly antagonized by the arrogance of the U.S. and its NATO allies.  Yes, they have some nationalistic pride and some need to re-establish themselves as an power in the international community, but I believe they also have a wish to be included.  Our current policy has been 180* out of sync with that.

          The wounds and ire of the Russian Bear shouldn't be so hard to soothe.  Terrorists--that's another story, but that is another focus upon which global community of purpose could be built.

          Have you seen:

          This briefing from the Brookings Institution?

          Finding your own Voice -- The personal is political!

          by In her own Voice on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 12:22:37 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  your comment about NATO... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            In her own Voice

            is exactly right. It's one of the reasons Russia invaded, and in that respect, what's going on now is a diplomatic shoving match between Russia and NATO over the location of the borders of everyone's sphere of influence.

            The other thing is that historically, Russia has always had trouble with the smaller, weaker states on it's borders. With such an open, vulnerable border as Russia has always been cursed with the internal unrest in those states spilling over onto Russian territory. For these two reasons, Russia insists on an iron grip on both the internal and external policies of its neighbors, and has done so for half a millenia.

            For Georgia, the real trouble began when Russia claimed that Chechen rebels had taken refuge in Georgia's Pankisi Gorge and conducting ops from bases there. Two things to note in this connection:

            1. Bush made the exact same claim about the Pankisi Gorge, only the culprits that time were Al Queda
            2. the exact same situation exists for us in the Provincially Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan.

            Russia wanted to go in and clear that area out, but Georgia demurred, asking the US for help instead. Which infuriated the Russians. Had that decision, right there, been made differently, we wouldn't have this NATO-Russian pissing contest now.

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

            by papicek on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 01:17:03 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  The rest of the world is a threat and inferior (3+ / 0-)

    That's the view of America and most of the people. A national politician would be finished if he/she advocated a policy of cooperation where the US actually has to give up some authority over anything. The US has always reserved the right to go its own way even if it has to break agreements. This has evolved because oceans separate the US from most of the nations of the world. Ironically, the US has the most to gain from international cooperation. One of the major reasons that the US gets away with its behaviors, for example invading Iraq and then criticizing Russian military action outside of its borders, is that Europe supports it. To me, European leaders seem like the biggest bunch of spineless, moral cowards on the planet. If the US got some feedback from its allies as to the reasonable limits of behaviors, the US would learn. It feels like every European nation has decided that its well being is totally dependent on pleasing whatever US administration is in power, even if that means ignoring its own citizens.

    •  there is, in fact, a real issue... (0+ / 0-)

      that troubles many Europeans over this Georgia incident.

      In fact, there are a pair. Can you name one of them?

      Sorry, I'm not trying to pick on you, but so far I haven't read anything in the comments that isn't a waste of time and bandwidth, and yours was last on the list as I replied.

      My point being; there are real events unfolding here which nobody (even Jerome) seems to recognize. (and this is my point)

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

      by papicek on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 10:33:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Duck of Minerva answers this question (4+ / 0-)

    Why is the West bad at strategy?

    When Worlds Collide:

    What we are seeing here (Russia/Georgia), I think, is a clash between universal claims and civilizational claims. And what's most striking to me is that the United States seems incapable of making up its collective mind about which logic to follow.

    * * *

    It seems that the US can't decide which way to frame this. One the one hand, neoconservative universalism, carrying no obligations for the US beyond its own unilateral strategic calculations. On the other hand, 'Western' solidarity, and a return to the cultural logic of the Cold War, which is also the cultural logic of Samuel Huntington and civilizational balancing. What's fascinating here is that the Georgians and the Russians are much less undecided about this, as both are pretty unambiguously invoking the civilizational strategy. It remains to be seen which world will ultimately prevail in US debates.

    Do we Americans believe the Declaration of Independence or not?

    "All men (and women) are created equal and are endowed with inalienable rights"

    or

    Is "America" or the "Anglopshere" somehow sui generis?

    Just as soon as the Ossetia war broke out, Dubya canceled a trip to Atlanta . . .

    by Bill White on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 10:32:24 AM PDT

  •  The Russians will need to leave Georgia (0+ / 0-)

    The US Army knows enough about insurgency warfare from Iraq to teach the Georgians the tricks of the trade.

    No Russian "surge" is going to help them.

  •  Strategy Versus Tactics (3+ / 0-)

    "The West" makes the mistake of confusing strategy with tactics, over and over again.  I know that this is a great problem in the USA with the environmental movement and the energy movement.  It seems it is endemic in our media culture and way of thought.

    Long term planning is limited to the next quarter and thus strategic thinking has no breathing room or scope of activity.  The time frame is too short.  Japan, China, India, even Russia have cultural training that seeks decade long and century long thinking.  The USA and "the West" have jettisoned those attitudes.  Even Brazil, a significantly rising and mostly ignored power, has demonstrated their ability to think ahead with their thirty years of investment in biofuels.  They were ridiculed for at least a decade for their plans and now have become an exporter of ethanol fuels and technology to the world.  

    The media culture in the USA is increasingly stupid and almost exclusively reactive if not reactionary.  With the present system of public debate, the difference between strategy and tactics will never be recognized and any long term thinking will be negligible.

    Solar is civil defense. Video of my small scale solar experiments at http://solarray.blogspot.com/2006/03/solar-video.html

    by gmoke on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 10:47:49 AM PDT

  •  One shouldn't make too much of what is (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JohnnyRook

    essentially a long-delayed stage of the breakup of the Soviet Union, the formation of a unified Ossetia.

    A unified Ossetia will be more of a problem for Russia than for the US.

  •  We've usually been far stronger than our enemy (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jerome a Paris

    Either collectively as NATO, the Allied Powers, etc., or individually as empires: the Spanish Empire, the British Empire, the American Empire, etc.

    When you have such an overwhelming advantage of numbers, firepower, technology, etc. things like strategy - which no doubt originated as asymmetric warfare by a weaker power against a stronger power - fall by the wayside. You get used to winning with brute force, and when someone refuses to wage that kind of war, when someone refuses to let you bring your strengths to bear against them, you're screwed.

  •  My opinion is that Bush (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean

    turned the region over to Putin, because they share values, agendas, and are planning to work together once Bush is out of office to undermine America's new Democratic leadership.

    They are fascists. And fascists stick together.

    So, personally I don't think they're bad at strategy... I just think they're liars who's real friends are Putin and the Saudis instead of decent Democracy loving global citizens.

  •  Reality is for the weak, doncha' know? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jerome a Paris, dansmith17

    Looking at the US budget, with an honestly accounted deficit of a trillion $ a year, and remembering that the Pentagon is pissing some of that money away on their "Long War"--projecting a million soldiers/contractors thousands of miles away for decades to come--

    Our political class is clearly insane.

    Not even factoring in about the inevitable disaster of consumer/energy capitalism.

    Until we break the corporate virtual monopoly on what we hear and see, we keep losing, don't matter what we do.

    by Jim P on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 11:34:10 AM PDT

  •  There are no "hemispheric"/"national" strategies (0+ / 0-)

    It's all about "multinational" corporate greed, or in the case of Georgia, oil. If certain oil interests can profit by cutting off, or restricting oil supplies, then "sovereign" "governments"(controlled by big business) will create the geo-political circumstances to make that happen. Any "hemispheric"/"national" strategy is controlled by and works in favor of "multinational" corporate greed. "Sovereign" nations are an illusion. Whichever forms of "government" that best serve greed will prevail.

  •  One more thing (4+ / 0-)

    We in the west, tend to think in very short time horizons.  We see this play out in business and the financial markets all the time.

    What caused the mortgage meltdown?  As much as anything else, it was the relentless drive to improve this quarter's bottom line.  

    I think that this short term - 30 minute sitcom - make the quarter thinking is so ingrained that it effects everything we do.

    Why is the west bad at strategy?  Because we don't do it.  We focus on tactics and immediate results

  •  Our Strategery is the best! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ActivistGuy, Lefty Coaster

    Why do you hate freedom, and why do you hate it when we stand up and tip the chess board over in our fury and frustration?

    Please don't tell me you feel sorry for Ben. Ben is a well cared for dalmatian and has not been harmed by my political views.

    by Bensdad on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 12:48:02 PM PDT

  •  It's pronounced "strategery" (0+ / 0-)

    That could answer your question as well.

    "Your poor huddled masses, let's club 'em to death --- and get it over with, and just dump them on the boulevard."

    by RogueJim on Thu Aug 21, 2008 at 01:00:03 PM PDT

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