The Kos Paradigm

August 19, 2015 at 3:27 pm (tWP) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

3195_m_charles_verlat___beggars_in_jerusalemThe current refugee crisis in the Mediterranean is a direct consequence of having elected counter-culture politicians and being under the influence of a May of 68 generation of journalists. It is staggering that under the weight of such incontrovertible evidence of, what can only be called, a disastrous policy, the public opinion – including those most affected – remains unchanged. Perhaps the most egregious example at the moment is that of the island of Kos in Greece or that of Calais, in the channel.

When the illegal immigration crisis began in earnest, two camps emerged advocating for diametrically opposed policies. One led by the centrist and left-wing parties as well as supported by the politically correct media, defended opening the doors to the migrants and rescuing as many as possible. The other, for the most part limited to fringe right-wing and populist parties, advocated for the use of law enforcement means to turn the boats around, reject the migrants and deter any future temptations to cross the Mediterranean.

Greece, in the midst of a severe economic crisis, followed the open door policy. In the island of Kos, 1/4 of the population is now made up of illegal migrants. A major surprise seemed to have been that a government struggling to secure the miserable pension paychecks for its own population (and with much of the working-age segment unemployed), was unable to find financial means to provide adequate  aid to the enormous wave of migrants. The solution, the media keeps parroting, is for the well off countries of northern Europe to pick up the bill for the subsistence costs of the newly arrived migrants. This is typical of those who despise the nation-state and non-ideological policies. Be they Euro-federalists or Global humanitarians, that Greece and Europe should be turned into a multicultural United States, with the associated problems, in the middle of an economic crisis, is actually a good idea. The riots of Paris, London, Malmo or the terrorism of France, the Netherlands, the UK; none of it matters. That ghettos emerge in countries such as Belgium where the fantastic wave of unqualified, culturally dissimilar, immigrants only adds to the enormous problem of unemployment and social security unsustainability, all that is unimportant. Mere details to be ignored by high-minded hippie politicians.

Let us say that the policies of the left were followed to their logical conclusion: the north paid for the rescue of and aid to the migrants, immigration was made legal and all migrants naturalized. Let us assume that the tens of millions fleeing Africa and MENA were welcomed in Europe. What evidence is there that Europe would turn into anything but another Brazil, with slums, extreme crime and bad economic governance? The West has spent trillions in development aid and yet the societies it seeks to transform have not been transformed. Are we now to adopt them into change? What does this say of the responsibility and probity of politicians who should look after the best interests of their constituencies rather than trying to transform them top-down according to whichever ideology they espouse? 

Daniel-Garcia-Art-Immigration-Africa-Europe-Boats-Migration-MediterraneanDoes the immigration policy solve the refugees problem? No. Does it benefit the Greek population or the local economy? No. Is it a sustainable policy in any way shape or form? Not at all. Will the policy be maintained? Of course it will. Naturally, the establishment is stupefied that such political pearls as Golden Dawn make gains in the popular vote…

This is a suicidal policy but why be surprised at the monstrous irresponsibility and lack of patriotism when this is the same political class that spent into bankruptcy and left it up to the next generation to pick up the tab?

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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.

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