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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The Shortcomings of the Obama Doctrine

May 24, 2010 at 11:47 am (tWP) (, , , , )

The Obama administration has done well in terms of foreign policy. From early on it was made very clear that any possibility of costly foreign adventures was put aside in favour of a more sensible and moderate approach.

The antagonizing of strategic rivals stopped and the emphasis on democratisation and other evangelisation doctrines ceased.

Intervention in Iran is financially impossible. The stabilisation policy in Iraq was maintained but in the administration’s defence, it was the Petraeus team that conceived the policy as an answer to the grave mistakes of Iraqi Freedom. Policy towards Russia is also much more conciliatory now. The attempted rapprochement to Turkey is a smart move made difficult only by the more Ottomanian tone of the AKP government in Ankara.

However, if true that for those who were weary of Obama’s vague foreign policy plans, the new approach was a pleasant surprise, it also seems that his populist campaign platform is now affecting his administration’s work.

There are three main moments where this becomes visible: the Guantanamo process, the Honduras coup and the Israel estrangement.

It has been clear that the Guantanamo closure was not well thought out and only pursued in order to please the progressive electorate.

In Honduras and Israel, it is not at all clear that the American interests were served. The administration has chosen to act according to a very partial leftist narrative. It did so in Honduras where both parties were guilty of unconstitutional moves but where the administration chose to support the – pro-Chavez – Zelaya faction. It did so again with Israel where the administration chose to buy into the Palestine-excusing-Israel-bashing-euro-left narrative and thus put pressure on Israel as if the key to the Israelo-Palestinian problem lies in Tel Aviv or the Middle East problems might get solved with peace in Palestine.

While true that Israel has begun to tread a path of its own, to make Israel sole responsible for the stalled peace process, especially when most stake-holders have an interest in the perpetuation of the conflict, is wrong.

The officials of the Obama admin however, are not naïve, they are consequential in their decisions and these seem to be motivated by reasons of popular support.

This leads us to the AfPak. The campaign in Afghanistan was in 2001 about destroying Al-Qaeda and punishing the Taliban regime. It has however transformed into a war against totalitarianism and many fear that it might turn into a nation-building endeavour. It is not but the danger is there. This danger derives from the fact that many in the West either want to leave Afghanistan to its fate, or want to leave but only after a stable regime is in place. Very few would be comfortable with  a lingering low level conflict or with a semi-stable authoritarian government, which are the most likely outcomes.

The elections in Afghanistan though, appear to have proven that the White House is willing to tolerate some level of corruption in order to achieve its goals. This is positive for any demand for strict liberal democratic practices and rule of law in a region like Afghanistan would have dire consequences for Washington’s desire to retain its influence.

But there is a disease at work in the western world: the disease of sympathy. It would appear that all regimes in the west have a dire need to be liked abroad in order to survive at home. While important, likeability as an absolute is impossible when pursuing national interest, since often enough interests collide.

Diplomacy is necessary but it is not foreign policy. When governments are held hostage by popularity, short-term improvisation tends to replace long-term planning.

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Les Uns et Les Autres

December 24, 2009 at 10:01 am (tWP) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Expo 1937 - Soviet and Nazi buildings face to face

When Francis Fukuyama confidently announced that after the end of the Cold War – or Third World War according to the Neoconservative mythology – the world would become a paradise of demo-liberal harmony, that History would end and the now free Mankind would forever live in blissful democratic peace, most Realists shrugged and went on with their lives.

While the end of the bipolar order was not the revolutionary utopia Fukuyama expected, it is also true that the economic paradigm shifted in the entire world, in favour of capitalism and free market economics.

It is altogether natural that the excesses of capitalism are to be felt in those states who advocated it beforehand and concurrently exacerbated it after 89. It is a matter of course that those who adhered to it under some reservation and with great precaution during the period of Pax Americana, now find themselves thriving in what, for many, are desperate times. Even modern day pseudo-revolutionaries don’t dare to do entirely without free markets. The few who do are autarkic and totalitarian remnants of times that were.

A more pernicious consequence of the fall of the symmetric paradigm however, is the loss of ideological politics. Ideologies throughout the second half of the XX century were largely driven by economic philosophies and with a new uniform (Washington) consensus, the political struggle in many polities eroded into the politics of personality. The new monopolising paradigm standardised not just economic thought but also political thought.

Unlike some nostalgia filled generations – from the 40s up – one can clearly see that the absence of charismatic statesmen and clearly defined ideological fault lines are not necessarily “bad” things. The new generations aren’t worse off because they don’t have an ideological identity or because they are no longer forced to take up arms to fight for what they believe. One might even make the case that more civilised politics makes for more civilised citizens. It is ludicrous to expect great leaders in a time in which the threat of world war and the annihilation of Mankind are not at stake. The great statesmen were men of their time.

The new consensus on democracy and economic liberalism has led to a moderation of politics and that explains the generalised voter apathy, experienced in every society throughout the globe. This is not a bad thing for while civil war is a great political motivator, it is also an awful solution for specific and technical problems that need to be addressed by society as a whole and not through the imposition of ideological prejudices.

But the world is changing. The current moderates are increasingly compelled to polarise their electorates in hope of garnering the preference of the apathetic constituencies. The politics of personality are giving rise to populists in all continents and civilisations, who use demagogic tactics to keep themselves in power. The “new” parties, the “people” coalitions, the “civic” platforms, the “popular” unions are more and more the rule instead of the exception.

New fault lines are being drawn in politics. Under the new commercial-republican standard, the interests of specific sectors of society and/or business groups are being refocused on the personal merit of the political classes. The events unfolding in Thailand, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Bolivia, Honduras – and even the US and Europe – are now set in the populist-elitist dichotomy. The red shirts, the Bolivarians, the “natives”, the “indigenous” and the reds respectively, opposing the yellow shirts, the “oligarchs”, the “colonisers”, the “colonialistas” and the “golpistas”.

In societies being polarised top-down, there will increasingly be little room for neutrality or moderation. Interestingly, it is in less developed societies where ethnic allegiance still determines electorates, rather than governance efficiency or leader popularity that the nefarious consequences of demagogy will be less felt.

How will this tendency work in a multipolar world? Could it be that elitist or populist solidarity will lead to inter-polar client-states/protectorates in a dual geopolitical competition? To trans-polar common identities? The power of nationalism tells us otherwise but that doesn’t mean that ideological internationals cannot make an appearance.

The republics of all continents are entering a spiral of polarisation that may lead them down the path of the old Roman Republic: whereupon the patrician and plebeian parties drove Rome into a civil war and, ultimately, to autocracy.

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