Quote notes (#32)


In other words America is gone, replaced by this tricycle of strife. And the paternal hand wheeling it down the road is Vladimir Putin’s.  Andrew Sullivan thinks this is proof, if any more were needed, of Barack Obama’s surpassing genius. He writes that America’s ejection is not a bug but a feature; that “Obama, reflecting American public opinion, is perfectly happy to have Putin assume responsibility for the Middle East. Let Russia be drained, bankrupted and exhausted by managing that fractious and decreasingly important part of the world.” In Sullivan’s view Putin is hurting his fist against Obama’s jaw.

But Sullivan doesn’t quite understand that Russia is not going to “manage” the Middle East but raise it up against America. Totalitarians don’t do management. They do conquest.  They do agitation. They do trouble. As for upkeep, Putin will be sending the bill to the White House. He will get Obama to pay for it. When Egypt starves expect the bill to come to Washington. After all, why use “food as a weapon?” Yet when the time comes to kiss the ring, Putin will receive the obeisance of the sheiks while Obama will be sent to the back of the bus, even if America is paying for the bus. That is nothing new. Perhaps Sullivan has never heard of Lenin’s bon mot “when we hang the capitalists they will sell us the rope we use.”  Putin is probably familiar with the phrase:  heck, he probably went back by Time Machine and ghostwrote the original line for Lenin.

I’m not at all sure how much of this I agree with, but it’s brilliant, and indisputably thought-provoking.

September 15, 2013admin 14 Comments »


14 Responses to this entry

  • Tryptophan Says:

    Surely it’s all nonsense? He calls Putin a totalitarian, but I’ve never seen a totalitarian regime with a 13% flat tax. Could anyone name any?

    It’s a quirk of the Cathedral that democracy must be imposed everywhere, even when that means insane governments and massacres of ethnic minorities as there surely would be were Syria to have real elections. Government that works is a reactionary goal, so we should favour Assad over Al Qaeda and Putin over the Cathedral (personally incarnated in Obama).


    admin Reply:

    Sure, but these criticisms are incidental to the point of the quote. Has Putin won a tar baby, or is that just loser Cathedralist projection? (I’d have been naively tempted by the first option, before Fernandez jolted my brain.)


    Thales Reply:

    It is Cathedral sentiment that puts the tar in the baby. Putin is indeed conquering by creating an anti-West Shiite coalition from Tehran to the Mediterranean to stand against the (nominally) pro-US Sunni roustabouts of Yemen, Jordan, SA, etc. and become the new local hegemon.


    admin Reply:

    That seems right to me, and squares with the Fernandez analysis (doesn’t it?).

    Posted on September 15th, 2013 at 4:20 pm Reply | Quote
  • spandrell Says:

    Lost me at “Sullivan thinks…”.


    admin Reply:

    He’s been casually poking sharp pieces of metal through Sullivan a lot recently


    Posted on September 16th, 2013 at 4:20 am Reply | Quote
  • Saddam Hussein's Whirling Aluminium Tubes Says:

    “Barack Obama’s Faustian pact with Vladimir Putin over Syrian chemical weapons brings despair to allies.”

    Those allies would include Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey”

    One of the more loathsome sets of allies around.

    Anyway, the fact that Obama has been escorted out of the Middle East is probably for the best. Not because it’s going to bankrupt Russia (why do we want that?), but because the U.S. might have broken something (else) if we kept flailing around.

    Putin’s not going to be bankrupted by his larger leadership role in the Middle East, he’s going to make money by selling arms and protection and blocking pipelines. He’s not a totalitarian or an ideologue. He’s a bandit, which implies a certain level of pragmatism.

    Putin’s going to raise the Middle East against us? I don’t think we have a lot to fear from Putin’s Shiite (and polytheists pretending to be Shiite) allies. Syria, barely winning a civil war against troubled youths from all over the Muslim world. Iran, hoping not to get invaded / bombed until that they can get a primitive nuke for deterrence against the Sunni bomb and the 300ish Israeli bombs. Possibly we’ll see greater Russian influence in Shiite run Iraq, a country that is likely to be involved in a low level civil war for the next few decades. Not exactly huge threats to the United States, assuming we leave them alone.

    Russia can form mutually beneficial relationships with these states, selling them weapons, training and technology without excessively meddling in their internal affairs and trying to convert them to alcoholism and Orthodox Christianity. We’re no longer sane enough to form such benign relationships.

    Better for all involved if we’re less involved in the Middle East.


    admin Reply:

    “Just when I though I was out … they pull me back in.” No way is the USA going to be allowed to extricate itself from the Middle East. (It’s in the Bible, or something.)


    Thales Reply:

    I agree. The US cannot extract itself. Because Israel. She is The Mother of All Tar Babies.


    admin Reply:

    Saudi isn’t exactly little Miss Smooth …

    Lesser Bull Reply:

    Because Cathedral. Supporting Israel would be easy as pie and would require little to no Middle East embroilment if we didn’t feel guilty about doing it and/or feel like we had to restrain the Israelis.

    Thales Reply:


    Ah, there’s that British talent for understatement…

    @Lesser Bull

    Agreed, if no Cathedral. q.v. mothers, wheels and trolley carts.

    Lesser Bull Reply:

    you’re on to something.

    One of the plainer meat-and-potatoes expositions of neoreaction is here:

    I mention it because one of the plainer, meat-and-potatoes objections to neo-reaction was later put up by the same guy. I can’t find the link now, but he basically argued that some of the most obviously wasteful parts of progressivism were only obviously wasteful because conservatives/reactionaries were strongly resisting those areas. They were wasteful they way war is wasteful.

    I don’t buy that thesis. The Left Singularity is a real thing, and if conservatives weren’t resisting the inevitable march of progress in one way, another way would have to be found.

    But with the Middle East, I do buy it. The progressive ‘solution’ to the Middle East would be fairly harmless (for Americans). Boycott Israel or something, spend no money on policing the area, and have lots and lots of peace initatives, which would be pointless, but cost comparatively little. Israel would take it in the shorts, there would probably be lots of chaos and strife in the local area, the price of oil would go up, but the US would probably actually make a lot of profit from that.

    Some neo-reactionaries would do basically the same thing, except with less peace initiatives. But the mainstream popular conservative solution would be to continue to support Israel, because its a Western settler state, and because it fits with our Protestantism. But support them actually solving their problems. Cleanse the West Bank and the Gaza strip, crush any state that interferes too much, and if the US gets terrorist blowback, either swiftly overthrow the government and leave, or else break out the nukes. The end result would be much like the progressive one, except with more Israel.

    Instead, we get Iraq. An unholy mess of conservative means for progressive ends that accomplishes nothing and costs everything.

    Why is this state of affairs allowed to continue? How does it serve Cathedral interests to be thwarted in a way that leads to grotesque waste and inefficiency?

    People in these parts will sometimes say that Democrats and Republicans are two sham parties, both superfical masks for the ruling elites. I don’t think so. It best serves elite interests if there are two actually different flavors of policy emphasis to choose between. It gives them more room for maneuver. While we shoulld not expect that the parties will serve the different interests their supporters think they will, we should expect actual differences.

    The waste and inefficiency that comes from the influence of both sides on the Middle East may just be the price of doing business.


    Mike in Boston Reply:

    The post Lesser Bull refers to is at http://slatestarcodex.com/2013/03/13/valleys-have-two-sides/ . Gets the Soviets quite impressively wrong.

    Posted on September 16th, 2013 at 12:43 pm Reply | Quote

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