The Ethnic Origins, Source of Power and Current Political Methods of Globalism

July 26, 2016 at 12:19 pm (tWP) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

The first image in this article is that of the English royal family’s coaagincourtt of arms. It is not chosen by accident but it is a powerfully symbolic image for the topic in question. The coat of arms is emblazoned with two repeated heraldic icons: the three fleur-de-lys and the three lions. The former were the arms of French royalty for a millennium, the latter are to this day the arms of the Danish royal family. Why is this relevant? Because it is an especially apt way of defining Britain: a mix of continental Europe and Nordic Europe. It is specifically in Nordic Britain that lies the original sin whose offspring globalism – universalism academically – is today.

Nordics are a very distinct group among the world’s ethnicities. Their geographical circumstance forces them to be highly productive since they have to generate enough resources to survive the winter. Simultaneously, they cannot rely on family ties or resources because the territory, while harvestable, is scarcely populated. This has bred a mentality which is individualistic to an extreme and radically self-reliant and disciplined. Other regions of the planet are too densely populated and too easily farmed for self-reliance to take hold. In the case of aboriginal peoples, their mentality was usually Asian and therefore collectivistic. This meant some level of discipline but not self-reliance and therefore not productivity. Discipline can be a competitive advantage in fertile regions but not in difficult ones since creativity is especially needed when overcoming challenges.

The reason why the Reformation reached almost exclusively Germanic Europe is easily explained by the mentality already in existence there: the self-reliant kind. One who is self-reliant requires a personal relationship with God and eschews collectivistic rituals. Such rituals may be well suited for preserving community ties but not so for allowing a personal interpretation of the good book. In the case of the Reformation phenomenon too, Britain is a rare breed, as its Anglicanism is a clear compromise between protestant principles and catholic ritual.

England in particular is worthy of note because it was there that many Nordics settled during the Middle Ages. We call Britain Anglo-Saxon because of these raids and invasions and what better place demonstrates this History than the tellingly named East Anglia? East Anglia is a very special place for English History: it was one of the main sources of puritanism in Britain and it was also one of the earliest regions to support the Parliamentarian (republican) revolution under the authoritarian Oliver Cromwell.

It is worth understanding that one of the key features of the Nordic mentality is that of political correctness. This is probably due to the higher need for an efficient decision-making process within Nordic settlements. Human resources are scarce and weather is unforgiving which translates into a laconic and simplistic conferential system. The great poets of the world, after all, come from the South: Middle Eastern poetry, Latin novels, etc. And lest we forget, time became a commodity in northern formal cultures, not in southern ones, which means that there was concern in optimising its usefulness in the North, not the South.

Political correctness must be understood in its puerile simplicity before moving to the next link in the chain: New England. As it happens, New England was settled mostly by …you guessed it: East Anglians; and puritan ones at that. Is it then really surprising that the two most important radical anti-hypocrisy revolutionary movements in American History – namely republican separatism and abolitionism – began in New England?

The cause of independence found its earliest and most passionate support in puritan settlements, the ‘tea party’ took place on Boston, Massachusetts. Northern (New England) colonies contributed about as many soldiers for the Revolutionary War as the Southern ones but while the northern fought the English, the southern fought with the English. The contradiction of ‘taxation without representation’ could simply not be tolerated by the puritans’ protestant ethics. Nor could, for that matter, the contradiction between the ‘self-evident truth’ that ‘all men are created equal’ and slavery. The founding fathers, of course, could perfectly tolerate it but then again, most of them were southerners like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson or James Madison.

The puritan zeal eventually spread into the Midwest and it is again revealing that it was a Midwesterner that led the abolitionist revolution: Abraham Lincoln. Indeed, most actual Nordic-Americans (those who immigrated directly from Scandinavia to America) still inhabit the Midwest and this fact became very salient during the recent Republican primaries when Donald Trump lost Wisconsin to Ted Cruz. Nordics have precious little tolerance for the antics of eccentric political incorrectness; Trump’s Berlusconism is a competitive disadvantage with Nordics and Puritans. During the civil war, whereas French-Americans and Catholics in general supported the South’s secession, English-Americans and protestants in general, supported the North.

Yet both the Midwest and New England have seen their demographics change: Boston has become progressively catholic – which explains Trump’s appeal in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and New Jersey – and the industrialisation of the ‘rust belt’ brought with it labourers from the South – whereas enriched original settlers slowly moved to the vicinities for better living conditions – which allows us to understand Trump’s success there.

9815a31c194e4a99dcc7488a12d6c153This same zeal was in evidence in the baby-boomers political conscience during the protests of the May of 68. The soixante-huitards were extremist in their beliefs, calling for absolute pacifism and social justice with the world’s poor. As soon as they reached power towards the end of the Cold War and at the onset of the ‘new world order’, theirs became the generation of endless indebtedness, overwhelming generosity towards to 3rd world and moralisation of every conflict via the ‘end of History’ paradigm. The EU itself being the ultimate soixante-huitard project of replicating in Europe the utopian extreme idea-state of American exceptionalism – a notion whose germen had been established by the founding fathers in rhetoric and by Lincoln in practice. After the end of the Cold War, America’s East-Anglian exceptionalism has now become for the Atlanticist elites, the foundation for their messianic vision of the “end of History”: a liberal-democratic, and, ultimately, a Nordic individualist, world.

It is this ethnic record that explains why Western universalists periodically do not find it difficult to support neonazi or jihadi movements. At the heart of the matter is the cause of universalism. A normal state would only consider supporting extremist movements if vital existential interests were at stake. In WWII the Allies brought in the USSR because they alone could not beat Nazi Germany, for instance. Yet, Western universalists show much smaller compunction in doing so today because they know a victory of extremist forces would advance the universalist cause. Better to have a jihadi regime in Syria or a neonazi one in Ukraine so long as they subscribe, even if only nominally, to universalist doctrine. In practice of course, a moderate but anti-universalist regime in Syria may be brutal to its citizens but it does not genocide them, and a moderate regime in Ukraine may be incredibly corrupt but it doesn’t launch the army against its citizens nor does it pass discriminatory laws which cause respect for minorities and political opponents to drop.

The world is divided between universalists and those submissive to them, and the ones who resist universalism. The Manichean division tolerates absence of universalist practices only in so far as those who don’t practice are submissive to those who preach it. Thus Saudi Arabia Egypt or Hungary can exist at the margin of universalist practice because they contribute to the cause worldwide and they can even hypocritically call for democracy, human rights and rule of law elsewhere, so long as that fits the interests of the globalist elites.

The problem is not hypocrisy, the problem does not lie in cooperating with ideologically dissimilar regimes, the problem rather consists in the fact that, at the end of the day, what is being advanced is not the interests of the different Western states, what is being advanced is only an ideological cause. Being ruled by activists means the powers of the state are subverted into serving a particular ideology.

Part of the reason why the universalists’ power is slowly eroding is their zealotry, to be sure. However, another factor is the immense contradictions that serving a failed ideology cause since the more it fails, the more excuses one requires to justify it and at some point too many excuses become counter-productive as justification.

AKP Turkey is an excellent example of this very phenomenon. According to most (recep_tayyip_erdogan_by_setobuje-d2rs6grWestern) standards, by now Turkey should be one of the most reviled regimes in the world: it is an authoritarian state where its leader is manipulating parliament to unilaterally alter the constitution in order to reinforce his own powers and remain in office, political adversaries are regularly lustrated, journalists are periodically incarcerated and media outlets brought under governmental/ruling party control, the will exists to restrict the internet, the leader’s family is corrupt and syphons money using its family connection to the leader, the country is restricting individual liberties and reinforcing religious norms, its foreign policy is disastrous since it has deteriorated its relations with most neighbours, geopolitically the government either tolerates or actively supports extremist movements abroad and it is aligned with another illiberal state to accomplish it (Qatar).

Turkey is even better as an example than Saudi Arabia because the Kingdom only seeks to survive and to what extent it changed internally, it did so to become more liberal, not less. Also important is foreign policy orientation since Riyadh has geopolitical reasons to wish to force into power an anti-Iranian regime in Syria and in Yemen. Turkey, on the other hand, has nothing to fear from Iran both because it is equivalent in size and because it can count on NATO.

Apart from totalitarian DPRK, Russia is perhaps the most detested regime in the world as far as the West is concerned but in terms of values, Putin pales in comparison to Erdogan in every respect except one: resistance to universalism. Putin may actually be more democratic, less tolerant of extremism, more accepting of opposing media, his nepotistic corrupt ties less obvious/sizeable, be more respectful of the constitutional order, less restrictive of personal freedoms, his foreign policy more successful, rational, predictable and purveyor of stability. Unlike Erdogan though, Putin is not a team player. Quite to the contrary, the Kremlin actively resists universalist influence and that is a much greater threat to an ideology than herded black sheep.

Why is that so? Because this particular ideology is revisionist to the core. It matters little that individualist universalism is not implemented in actuality. Thanks to a culturally Marxist academia and largely sympathetic media and intellectuals, what is preached today will slowly be practiced tomorrow so long as there is enough critical mass for it. The populace has a short memory and its very language and thoughts can be manipulated by the elites.

The West is often histrionic, and rightly so, when other countries revise their history books so as to gloss over past crimes. The West is not quite so outraged when the same is done in its own turf to promote its own ideology.

So at a time of record ignorance on the part of Westerners, of the role played by Russia in defeating Nazi Germany – according to polls, most Westerners believe Western troops were the ones that made the biggest effort to defeat the III Reich – Western leaders decide they will boycott V Day celebrations in Moscow because of the Kremlin’s intervention in Ukraine… so much for statesmanship and concern for historical accuracy. Similarly, there is outrage and mockery when Russian soldiers are filmed in Ukraine while Russia issues denials, and there is scandal at the breach of international law that the ‘little green men’ represent but when Western troops are found operating in secret in other countries such as Libya or Pakistan, there is no problem, no cartoons, no talk of ‘little green men’. European values are often touted as the unifying factor of the EU’s ‘unity in diversity’ project but when eastern Europeans vote against gay rights or western Europeans vote in xenophobic parties, when the death penalty is praised in one place or corruption keeps a leader in power in another, the narrative of the common values does not go away… the end of the UK’s membership of the EU was supposed to be the harbinger of multiple catastrophes from economic collapse to the erupting of wars across the continent – at least according to BBC’s ‘documentaries’ on the matter – and yet things simply went on as usual. Last but not least, one of the myths propagated by Western historical revisionists is that the EU brought with it peace to the continent: this is an outright lie which ignores that other parts of the world have been at peace without the EU or more simply that without a common security and defence policy until the 90s it was the sheer will of the states that kept Europe at peace, or that indeed, it still does today.

Then again, most citizens don’t study History so if the new truth is not canon now, it will be for the next generation.


Permalink 1 Comment

Of Westphalia and Appomattox (II)

March 8, 2015 at 2:19 pm (tWP) (, , , , , , , , , )


In the 50th anniversary of the Selma-Montgomery march, it is interesting to observe the foreign policy consequences of the civil rights movement. The empowerment of African-Americans in the mainstream narrative goes together with conscientious objection, the  anti-war pacifist wave, and the overall May of 68 counter-culture movement. However, at the time, the Vietnam War was more popular with African-Americans than it was with WASPs…

While this might seem contradictory, it actually makes a certain sense. On one hand, the armed forces were an easy conduct for employment to a minority without qualifications, and this would also enlist the GIs’ families into the patriotic narrative. On the other hand, in the process of ending electoral and economic disenfranchisement, Blacks had a vested interest in appealing to the Appomattox roots of American nationalism.

Based on a more fundamentalist and literal interpretation of the constitution, Northern liberals advocated for a national absolute abolition of slavery. This was something the founding founders – many of them slave owners and Southerners – had not envisaged and even rejected during the revolutionary war against the British, by ignoring the Dunmore Proclamation. This helps explain the Confederate flags raised against the Selma march – whose participants conversely waved the stars and stripes – since for Southern whites the argument revolved around states rights. Whereas great federalists such as Lincoln and Roosevelt originated from the Midwest and New England, the Confederacy had been a reaction against centralisation. The spirit of the original constitution was that of a confederal system, where the absence of a federal army was the very proof that the initial compromise was far less ‘national’. Indeed, while the American Revolution began in Boston, much of the financial war effort was Southern, as the South was then richer than the North.

As with the Jewish Brigade or the Free French Forces during WWII, or even the national legions serving in the Grande Armée during the Napoleonic Wars, the aim of many of the anti segregation but pro war African-Americans , was to exchange military service for political concessions; to reinforce their claim to full citizenship rights. There is in fact a vested interest on the part of ethnic minorities to promote a US national narrative that is interventionist. Jews, Greeks or Armenians all lobby the Congress to keep the US engaged in a number of conflicts around the world. While there are no statistics, it would not be surprising to similarly observe a stronger tendency among Blacks and Hispanics , to lend support to liberal humanitarian initiatives  by the US, internationally. It is the more parochial/rural WASPs as well as Native-Americans – coincidentally also the Confederate constituency – that represent the more paleoconservative opposition to internationalist policies. 

The Selma activists triumphed because their cause was one in which the post Lincoln regime was deeply invested. The question was never ‘whether’ African-Americans would attain full citizenship but rather ‘when’. Southern segregation was only furthered by the civil war trauma and by Reconstruction but it was always doomed to be suppressed entirely, in a reality where the abolitionist puritanical and evangelical North was hegemonic within the Federation. 

In contrast to federal exceptionalism, in Westphalian Europe such modern phenomena as PEGIDA reflect instead the triumph of state particularism; the attempt to import the US model into Europe which the EU represents, though, always finds significant opposition. Everyone in the EU system has a political mission but the more political the institutions try to become, the more popular reaction they seem to incite.

battle of mobile bay

The European nation-state system is seen as repulsive by the multiculturalist Liberals who ultimately would like to see nationalism disappear – the very word has become synonymous with racism. This, however, reveals ignorance since it brushes aside the empirical teachings of the Thirty Years War: in Europe, the tendency of states to proselytise rival normative systems had led to a massively bloody and destructive, continental wide war and such an outcome was meant to be avoided if the imperative of nationalism kept conflicts local and limited. Westphalia instituted the paradigm that after a millennium of Respublica Christiana, the normative would henceforth be rendered subordinate to the political. This system would prevent political rivalry from equating normative rivalry, and consequently preclude dragging all political entities into a universal doctrinal dispute – often caused by mere local grievances.

After 1648, there were many conflicts but few universal ones: the Napoleonic Wars, the Second World War and the Cold War being exceptions. The First World War deserves a more attentive analysis. It is true that the conflict was not caused by universalist reasons, and it is therefore an easy argument to the detractors of Westphalia but what most Liberals often forget is that the end of the conflict was not a traditional Westphalian solution. As in WWII, the Allies demanded an unconditional surrender from the Central Powers. By doing so, the conflict was transformed from a particularist dispute over a specific grievance inflicted in Sarajevo, into an absolute moral contest between the forces of ‘civilisation’ and the forces of ‘imperialist barbarism’. If the Great War had truly been a pure Westphalian conflict, the outcome would have been a negotiated settlement sometime in 1916/17, akin to the preceding Franco-Prussian War or Italian Unification Wars. 

The old continent evolved as a fractured territory. Throughout its history, slowly but surely, cultural identity became synonymous with territory. Europe is divided topographically by several mountain ranges, large rivers; it is characterized by islands and peninsulas as much as it is by continental space. Many an empire failed in trying to unify it: the Romans were stopped in Germania and so were the Habsburgs, Napoleon and Hitler never managed to subdue England and Russia. The formula that best captured the political essence of Europe was the one produced by the 1648 Treaties of Westphalia: ‘Cuius regio, eius religio’.

The reason why normative matters are exclusive jurisdiction of the ruler of each state is precisely because it is impossible to enforce them universally in Europe. Indeed, religion is often used as a dividing line between different nationalities, rather than as a means for unity as can be clearly observed in the British Isles or in the Balkans. As a result of Westphalia, the normative was forever rendered secondary to the ethnic in Europe. The Hapsburgs accelerated the German national awakening in trying to enforce Catholicism and Bonaparte’s invasions were always poorly received in spite of their ‘international volunteers’ – sometimes local – fighting for universal republican enlightenment. In short, when it comes to identity, Europe is fundamentally particularist.

Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, Duke of Alba, was Europe's General Grant to be. His mission was equally one of unifying politically a continent and enforcing an absolute normative doctrine, not that of Enlightenment in his case but simply Catholicism.

Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, Duke of Alba, was Europe’s General Grant to be. His mission was equally one of politically unifying a continent to allow the enforcement of an absolute normative doctrine, not that of Enlightenment in his case but simply Catholicism.

This does not prevent wealthy nations from financing universalist policies around the globe but it is an affordable choice, not a necessity. It is also in part because of this evolution that many immigrants in Europe feel discriminated against, even in its most tolerant and generous nations. Europe has never been multicultural and when such a model was tried, the outcome was less than successful. The tacit civic compromise of being a migrant in a nation-state is the mandatory assimilation of the host culture. Failure to do so results in ostracism, as Jews and Gypsies painfully learned. Conversely, the American dream requires only compliance to normative values enshrined in the US Constitution; there is no mention of identity.

The USA is a country-idea. America’s system was put to the test during the Civil War when the Confederates tried to implement a Westphalian solution to North America. General Grant eventually proved that the cohesive continental US was not a terrain prone to political fragmentation. Appomattox cemented the very opposite of Westphalia: in the US, identity is primarily defined by the normative and only secondarily by the ethnic. African-Americans were citizens because the Constitution required as much and only marginally because they were Christian and spoke English. It is not unlike the Asian standard of multi-ethnic empires where executive power was not necessarily related to the ethnicity of the citizenry but to the laws emanating from the imperial capital. America is thus a paradoxical country: demographically European but geographically Asian. 

In the past decades things began to change and this might be related to the current growing polarization.  The WASPs’ proportion of the general population is decreasing. More importantly, the Democratic Party now rarely carries the white vote and Obama is certainly a President who does abnormally well with the minorities (vice-versa is true of the Republicans). Because no one ethnicity can be said to be completely politically supportive of any one side and because the American system privileges ideology over identity politics, it is then unsettling that the ethnic vote is becoming more and more neatly packed along racial lines – as is the political polarization of news media, with phenomena like FOX News. 

One of the problems plaguing Ukraine’s political system is precisely ethnic divisions. There are those who will argue that all Ukrainians are opposed to corruption and authoritarianism, and that all would like closer relations with Europe, along with the trade benefits that come with it. This is, however, misleading. The same could have been said of Czechoslovakia or Yugoslavia before the breakups but true democracy didn’t bring its constituent ethnicities closer, it drove the factions apart. Ethnic separatism doesn’t start with outright claims of independence, it creeps in as just another political argument, it simmers in mutual civic distrust and matures in partisan charismatic leaderships. Fear-mongering can only mobilize popular opinion if there is a fertile and conducive political climate in the mix. In turn, this is only possible if the demos is absent from the democracy in question. Nevertheless, Ukrainians are highly similar in culture just like Serbs and Croats or Czechs and Slovaks were before them. The same cannot be said of WASPs and African-Americans or Latinos.

Will the Peace of Appomattox survive the loss of WASPs as America’s ethnic core?

Permalink 2 Comments

Is Petraeus Eligible?

March 6, 2015 at 9:28 am (tWP) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

iraqi freedom Satans-Sandbox - Cópia

It has been a historical constant that after periods of heightened social and political upheaval such as wars, citizens turn to icons of stability and fortitude. America is no exception and unsurprisingly, the greatest military achievers of the War of Independence, the Civil War and the Second World War, were all elected President – respectively Generals George Washington, Ulysses Grant and Dwight Eisenhower.

After the acrimony of war and its ultrapartisanship, a good administrator and leader of men is the perfect choice to manage peacetime reconstruction. In addition, military figures possess the advantage of appearing meta-partisan: they are admired for their deeds, not their words and the defense of the motherland is a matter of bipartisan consensus. This may even mobilize anti-establishment protest votes.

Concurrently, rumors have circulated in Washington DC on the likelihood of Generals David Petraeus and Stanley McChrystal running, since the drawdown of combat troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Not only did they distinguish themselves during the War on Terror campaigns, they were the intellectual architects of the military doctrine – counter-insurgency (COIN) – that successfully dealt with the terrorist insurrections the US battled with.

While McChrystal left his duties in a rather inglorious manner and is said to be a Democrat, Petraeus’s scandal was much less controversial militarily and he is known to lean Republican. Given that the Republican Party’s foreign policy circle is nowadays dominated by neoconservatives and liberal interventionists, a military President would intuitively appear like an ideal choice. Nevertheless, not much enthusiasm has been observed for the occasional touting of Petraeus’s name but rather derision. Why is that? After all, neocons often repeat that the ‘surge’ – Petraeus’s brainchild – was a resounding success and that if only US troops had remained behind, not only would Iraq have remained stable but the Islamic State would not have been allowed to cannibalize on the country’s territory, resources, people and grievances for growth. 

The reasons why Petraeus would in fact be unpalatable for the GOP’s neoconservatives are found in the forgotten detours of the Bush doctrine and the opaque origins of counter-insurgency doctrine itself.

Let us start with George W. Bush. The 43rd President made many mistakes in his first term but he did show signs of empirical learning in his second. Many of the advisors who had served him counter-productively in the first term were either let go (such as SecDef Donald Rumsfeld) and replaced with their ideological opponents (the realist Robert Gates), or they were simply promoted away from the White House (Paul Wolfowitz went to the World Bank). The President also reversed course on some war policies: namely by allowing the ‘awakening’ campaign to dismantle the initial deBaathification of Iraq, in working together with former Saddam regime cadres to counter al-Qaeda. There was also a move away from pressuring illiberal allies into democratizing (elections in Egypt or Kuwait not having gone well for liberal democracy). Most notably though, there was the ‘surge’: an additional deployment of infantry to a military campaign that was supposed to liberate rather than occupy, that was supposed to be one of many simultaneous fronts in the Global War on Terror rather than a chief battlefield, that was supposed to fight technologically rather than socially against America’s foes.

Portrait_of_Gen._D.PetraeusThis backpedaling on Bush’s part is inconvenient to those whose advice – taken and found wanting – was eventually ignored; and as already pointed out, Petraeus was very much a focal point of the backpedaling.

But apart from bitter memories, why does the COIN General rub Washington’s interventionists the wrong way? Was he not just a soldier following orders?

The problem lies with counter-insurgency and what it symbolizes ideologically. David Petraeus didn’t invent COIN, he adapted it from French military doctrine designed during the Indochina and Algerian wars.

It was David Galula, a French military officer, who decided to draw on the teachings of insurgent tactics in Indochina to turn the Algerian War around. The French contre-insurrection with its population-centric social operations constituted in fact a reverse-engineering of Maoist guerilla tactics in China and Indochina. Inhere lies also the root of all ‘evil’. Maoist tactics, originating in a brutal totalitarian ideology, brought such political brutality, in turn, to the battlefield. Instead of focusing on attacking enemy soldiers, equipment and infrastructure, Maoists sought instead to exercise control over populations. This of course brought the war to the civilians and caused mass casualties. After all, throughout the 20th century, individuals have been empowered across all societies and so too the responsibilities of state have progressively been put on the shoulders of the common man.

Because COIN draws on a totalitarian tactic, COIN is itself partly totalitarian. Perhaps the first person to notice was General Lansdale, David Galula’s American friend who facilitated the introduction of counter-insurgency doctrine in US military thinking. Lansdale admired Galula’s innovative ideas but he did not fully subscribe them. Theirs was actually a debate between a colonial officer and a revolutionary; between French culture and American culture. Galula’s thinking was strictly pragmatic: a combatant cannot hope to win by abstaining from using methods his enemy uses. Lansdale however, took issue at the forceful control of populations to deprive them of enemy influence as well as their indoctrination through propaganda instruments. Galula on the other hand saw this is as essential.

Iraq was a manifestation of this very debate. The neoconservatives believed Coalition forces would be greeted as liberators and they could not fathom that a society could possibly attribute secondary importance to individual liberties; yet Iraq’s sectarian politics proved just that. In such context, the political lustration of Baathist cadres only made sense from a neoconservative point of view: ostracizing those who injure individual liberties could only result in gaining the favor of the citizenry because according to natural law, every individual longs for freedom, first and foremost. Concurrently, all was necessary was a high-tech blitzkrieg (‘shock and awe’) liberation campaign to destroy the oppressive forces and then allow the natives to naturally rule themselves as a free society. Saddam Hussein’s Baathist regime had been an aberration in the natural progress of civilization which America’s operation ‘Iraqi Freedom’ had helped destroy, in order to advance the democratization and liberty of the Middle East.

What General David Petraeus did was to set aside the ideological dogma and play by the rules of the locals: he brought tribal leaders and former Baathist military officers back into the fold and bribed local entities into joining his anti-jihadist cordon sanitaire. Whereas Lansdale believed the ultimate goal of war was to liberate, Galula believed the ultimate goal of war was to exercise executive control.Household-Cavalry-Afghanistan-F3_600x374

This is the fundamental incompatibility of neoconservatism and counter-insurgency: COIN is not consistent with universalism but is rather a direct philosophical challenge to American exceptionalism. COIN relies on cultural relativism to win hearts and minds. Worse still, COIN is the result of materialistic and utilitarian logic – rather than moral principles – in that it posits that any population can be controlled, with the correct application of coercive and persuasive means; which certainly contrasts with the Liberal ‘end of History’ teleology.

The pursuit of a noble mission is at the center of Straussian neoconservatism. For this reason the neocons will never cease to call for military power projection and will always praise the troops and generals. In the case of General Petraeus though, they will stop short of inferring political potential from military merit. Another neoconservative paradox.

Permalink Leave a Comment

Archangels in America – America’s Realists’ Crisis of Conscience

January 27, 2011 at 1:37 pm (tWP) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Realists throughout the world share two main characteristics: they are few and they are constant. In every foreign policy establishment one can find Realists. They are the essence of diplomacy, with their obsession for national interest and little appetite for the values of whatever may be the ideological soup du jour. Unfortunately they are also few: be it because Realism doesn’t appeal to the masses or because political factions struggling for power need an ideological platform. Most diplomats, politicians and statesmen prefer to whenever possible convey an image of piety and morality, in an ever elusive attempt at monopolising the moral high-ground.

As discussed before, ‘Pre-eminence Derived Universalism’ tends to corrupt the gains acquired through pragmatic competitiveness with prior great powers. This was the case with the reaction of America’s intelligentsia to the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989 with many political-realists defecting the Kissingerian canon for either side of the political spectrum. The ‘Wilsonian Realists’ saw before them the long sought opportunity of their youth years, to transform the world according to the vision of leaders such as Kennedy. Now, the Wolfowitzes of America could finally grab the opportunity to ‘make the world safe for democracy’ and become pro-active on ‘Democratic Peace’. Their long lost battles with the Kissinger doctrine or the Kirkpatrick doctrine, veritable Sisyphusian efforts within the government, at fighting all communists and forsaking illiberal allies, would finally pay off since they now possessed the empirical weapon of transformative democracy. ‘Jeffersonian Realists’ on the other hand now saw the political meddling of the US throughout the world as unnecessary given that there was no other global rival to American power and Offshore Balancing would offer an effective tool of management at little cost. There was little need for Washington to take a stand in regional conflicts since neutrality and local balancing would suffice to implement its national interest. Additionally America could begin to dismantle a far too onerous military-industrial complex which began to burden the quality of its democracy at home.

These tectonic shifts within American political-realism – colouring the grey, as it were – were exacerbated by Operation Iraqi Freedom and later epitomised by two seminal events in the academia: the 2005 take-over of ‘The National Interest’ by The Nixon Center and the 2007 publishing of ‘The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy’ by Mearsheimer and Walt. The first saw a secession of neoconservative minded academics such as Samuel Huntington or Francis Fukuyama from TNI going on to found their own ‘Realist’ publication ‘The American Interest’. The second consisted of a denouncing of American interventionism in the Middle East as counter-productive, using Washington’s Israelophile policies as case in point for a wider critique of burdensome military commitments all through the world.

As Trombly suggests in his article over at Slouching Towards Columbia, traditional Hamiltonian Realism is withering in America. The reason why is not terribly complex: America is the remaining superpower and does not need to seriously strategise its international moves. America’s power is as uncontested as to allow Washington to afford incurring in idealist or semi-idealist pursuits. Similarly I agree that super-presidential administrations are much more required in times of war – or imminent war – rather than in peace, and that this constricts arbitrary presidential decisions to employ less popular foreign policy experts (such as Kissinger).

There is yet another problem for America: being a young nation, ideology is still an intrinsic identity factor in the American psyche. As long as an American finds it politically incorrect to identify its nationhood with language, ethnicity or history, he’ll resort to values. This need only strengthened with the demise of the Soviet Union for America remains today an exceptionalist empire at odds with an international community composed of older and more cynical national experiences.

The attempt at harmonising the United States’ exceptionalism – as the forefront of the ‘free world’, the champion of the ‘end of history’ – with a globalised and interconnected world reality resulted in the – perhaps unavoidable – idealist contamination of Hamiltonian Realism and its slide to leftist anti-elitist trends.

Will traditional realists be forced to wait in the shadows of the American right, lingering in institutions such as the Nixon Center, the Kennan Institute or the Kissinger Institute, until a new global threat to America emerges? Or will the multipolar world push Washington into an offshore balancing act earlier than anticipated?

For the time being, it is the most irredentist trends that thrive and realists who remain isolated in the ideological shantytowns of foreign policy debates, sharing the exile from limelight with paleoconservatives and libertarians. Cold War dinosaurs like Kissinger and Scowcroft continue to be respected but their protégés don’t make the talk shows. As for Robert Gates, his position with the Obama administration is precarious due to his Republican credentials and the most likely Republican successors prefer to make noise using neocon undertones.

The Cold War forced into the academia and the intellectual elites a securitarian logic which constrained to a great extent any idealist temptations. The conclusion of what the neocons call the ‘Third World War’ brought with it the end of the convictions of a bloated realist intelligentsia. Realists have now returned to their position of general discretion and minority, having lost their less dedicated extremes to the easy peace time idealism. It is also worth keeping in mind that in times of ideological moderation – such as the era we live in – the relative difficulty in claiming distinctions in domestic policy areas, drives the ideological discourse to the foreign policy niche – among others. It is significant for instance that the Israelo-Palestinian conflict is as important as it is for the Left, given the loss of its Marxist platform with the fall of the USSR.

There are those who remain hopeful that a presidential candidate originating from the military might enact if elected a sufficient ‘imperial presidency’ to cut with the current tilt towards populism but for now this remains wishful thinking.

Permalink 1 Comment

Multipolarism is Upon Us

March 20, 2010 at 10:24 am (tWP) (, , , , )

It started early in the century when in 2003 the US decided to throw all the weight of their control of the international system behind a hubris based drive to democratize the world and in general, reshape it in America’s eyes.

The Freedom Campaigns, which under the PR spin of the War on Terror were to make the world safe for democracy, ended up alienating the US from much of the world. In Europe most notably, the Paris-Berlin tandem chose not to side with the Americans. True enough that leftist anti-American prejudice was already high but Paris and Berlin wisely saw no interest in an invasion of Iraq – WMDs present or otherwise – that would destabilise the Middle East and spike oil prices.

Then was the time of the Turks. Relations strained from Turkey’s refusal to allow an American second front in “Iraqi Freedom”, the post-invasion free handed Kurds in northern Iraq caused problems and Ankara itself had to intervene to militarily curb the breath of fresh air given to the independent Kurdistan concept. US-Turkey relations were then further damaged by the US Congress pandering to Armenian and Greek lobbies, which caused an American recognition of the Armenian genocide.

Most recently, Washington’s relationship with Jerusalem and Tokyo has also seen some cracks open up. Israel and Japan are some of America’s closest allies with sensitive technologies being sold and intelligence sharing being especially intimate. If they go their separate ways, will the US alliances be restricted to some carved up pseudo-liberal protectorates in Eastern Europe? And there are even doubts concerning America’s uber more sensitive ‘special relationship’

However, unilateralism is not the order of the day for America’s sake exclusively. Turkey itself has chosen to distance itself from traditional European allies and Israel by choosing a more populist pro-Arab stance, Putin’s Russia has proven throughout the past decade that it does not have to listen to the Washington Consensus anymore and China has pursued autonomous foreign policy goals in Africa and the Indian Ocean rim.

The world is changing. The post-89 realignment ceased in 2008 with the Beijing Olympics symbolising the “rise of the rest”. As the world watched the epic parades and the glamorous displays that the Chinese leadership had devised for its debutant ball, the hallways of Wall Street were filled with recession anxiety and Russian tanks drove into Georgia proper, thus destroying NATO’s influence as a security mechanism.

The US is now on its path towards normalcy and liberal exceptionalism has been checked by lack of funds and a discredited security structure. One should not however, mistake all these events for US or Western downfall. The globalisation of the economy has allowed more economic independence throughout the world and less reliance on superpowers controlling the world’s supply lines.

The centre of the many changing allegiances seems to be the Middle East, where many spheres of influence juxtapose. It is here that the event of multipolarism will be most felt and it is probably here that the most painful realignments will take place.

Just how much there is to fear will depend on how quickly and how profoundly the new security structure is implemented. From Europe to Asia, stability in the Middle East will be the priority, even if the interpretation of relative gains there will rest on very dissimilar perspectives.

Permalink 1 Comment