Archive for the ‘World’ Category

Quote notes (#29)

Neoreactionary crime-think twitches in an unlikely place:

I am well aware of how this statement is likely to play among my liberal friends: to say something like this is to be orientalist/patriarchal/arrogant/imperialist/racist, but could it be that it may also be true?

(3QD tacks quite determinedly Islamo-leftist, but this whole piece — on the US Syria decision — is well-worth reading, and the first half, in particular, is excellent.)

ADDED: Another unlikely crime-think eruption.

 

September 10, 2013admin 4 Comments »
FILED UNDER :World
TAGGED WITH : , , ,

Broken Pottery

An irritated Pottery Barn disowned the Pottery Barn Rule — “you break it, you own it.” Colin Powell sought to create some distance, too:

It is said that I used the “Pottery Barn rule.” I never did it; [Thomas] Friedman did it … But what I did say … [is that] once you break it, you are going to own it, and we’re going to be responsible for 26 million people standing there looking at us. And it’s going to suck up a good 40 to 50 percent of the Army for years.

Wikipedia concurs with Powell, in attributing the phrase to Thomas L. Friedman (in a February 2003 column for the New York Times). Those with a diligent sense for historical detail might be able to accurately trace its spread amongst journalists and foreign policy officials, including Bob Woodward, Richard Armitage, and John Kerry. Regardless of such specifics, it captures the spirit of grand strategy during the Nullities, and explains why the US military is no longer of use for anything.

In its rational usage, the military is a machine for the production of negative incentives. It is designed to hurt people and break things, with the understanding that in its optimal — deterrent and intimidatory — function, the actual exercise of these capabilities will not be necessary. When considered from a Clausewitzean perspective, as a policy instrument, usable military power is directly proportional to a credible threat of punishment. It sets boundaries to the behavior of (rational) potential antagonists, by projecting the probability of extreme negative outcomes if diplomatically-determined triggers are activated — or ‘red lines’ crossed.

Continue Reading

September 9, 2013admin 16 Comments »
FILED UNDER :World
TAGGED WITH : ,

Quote notes (#28)

Some  ‘who-whom’ sense from Andrew C. McCarthy:

To me, the shrieking over weapons of mass destruction is the international version of the Left’s domestic campaign against guns, and of a piece with its trendy revulsion against land- and sea-mines. This is the delusion that discord is caused by the song, not the singer.

(Yes, sorry, it’s from the National Review, but it’s right.)

ADDED: Why stop at National Review?

September 7, 2013admin 11 Comments »
FILED UNDER :World
TAGGED WITH : ,

Quote notes (#27)

Whatever the moral philosophy that underpins this, it ends up in the right place:

Now in the large I’m for the bombing of foreigners  — partly on principle and partly just personal satisfaction. … But sometimes there really is nothing at all in it for us and we’d all be better off if they brutally slug it out for a few years. 

[Edited to eliminate the off-key quasi-qualmy part]

The sensitive version.

ADDED: RAND does rough triangles: “Divide and Rule focuses on exploiting fault lines between the various Salafi-jihadist groups to turn them against each other and dissipate their energy on internal conflicts. This strategy relies heavily on covert action, information operations (IO), unconventional warfare, and support to indigenous security forces. …  the United States and its local allies could use the nationalist jihadists to launch proxy IO campaigns to discredit the transnational jihadists in the eyes of the local populace. … U.S. leaders could also choose to capitalize on the “Sustained Shia-Sunni Conflict” trajectory by taking the side of the conservative Sunni regimes against Shiite empowerment movements in the Muslim world.”

September 5, 2013admin 6 Comments »
FILED UNDER :World
TAGGED WITH : ,

Border Follies

Bryan Caplan’s latest on the open borders question illuminates an imaginary world. Perhaps the strangest thing about this fantasy earth is that it corresponds almost perfectly with an achieved libertarian utopia, marred only by pesky borders that impede the frictionless completion of labor contracts.

In Caplan World there are two significant levels of social organization: private owners — fully secure in their property rights — and the human race as a whole, struggling to sort itself into productive relationships of voluntary cooperation. In his figurative simplification, there are households, and there is the planet. Nothing done to de-fragment the planet could negatively affect households to any significant extent. In fact, they could only benefit from open-access to several billion potential tenants. On Caplan World, open-borders is a no-brainer.

On Sol-3, unfortunately, things are not nearly so simple. The most obvious reason is that nobody on this planet enjoys secure property rights. Freely-contracting Caplan World ‘tenants’ are — in reality — also voters, and what they vote upon, most substantially, is other people’s property rights. In this, real world, geographical fragmentation means that a whole bunch of (once) non-random other people do not have any voice in regards to your business. In an age of rampant democracy, the only way to maintain this situation is to keep them on the other side of a border, at least formally (polite visitors don’t get to decide whether your house should be expropriated). Eliminate the borders, and the only property rights remaining are those that the global population, as a whole, are willing to grant. Does it really need to be spelt out that this is not the recipe for a libertarian society?

Continue Reading

September 3, 2013admin 48 Comments »
FILED UNDER :World
TAGGED WITH : ,

Obamanation …

… isn’t an insulting name for Obama, or even for what he has ‘wrought’. It’s a name for America, and thus for the leading spirit (or Zeitgeist) of the world. A country where support for a Harvard Law presidency ‘bottoms out’ (repeatedly) at something above 40% knows what it wants — and is getting it (good and hard). Blaming Obama for any of this is like blaming pustules for the bubonic plague.

The world deserves Obama almost as much as America does, and in many cases, even more. If the Cathedral is basically to be applauded — and who doesn’t believe that? — there’s every reason to mainline it, by putting the authentic voice of the academy in power. As the chrysalis-husk of a universal project, America is duty bound to abolish itself as a particular nation. If it defers to its own ‘propositional’ ideals, how could it not? There are even chunks of the Tea Party who kinda sorta felt it was the right thing to do. The conservative establishment certainly did, including the Republican campaign machines of the two last presidential elections. The Idea necessitates blood sacrifice, which Obamanation consummates.

Continue Reading

September 2, 2013admin 13 Comments »
FILED UNDER :Neoreaction , World
TAGGED WITH : , , , , , ,

Yesterday’s News

“The missile strikes the White House is contemplating would advance Syria’s dissolution,” writes Steven A. Cook in the Washington Post.

What is this ‘Syria’ of which you speak?

Such senseless language should have been dismissed from the practical lexicon by now. It belongs strictly to history books.

Between the Mediterranean coast of the northern Levant and the Iranian border, the internationally-recognized state system exists only as a set of tokens in diplomatic games. It isn’t coming back.

This article (and book) will be seen as astonishingly prescient soon, and deserves to be already.

September 1, 2013admin 4 Comments »
FILED UNDER :World
TAGGED WITH : , ,

Quote notes (#24)

Adam Garfinkle makes an obvious point beautifully:

… whatever the Administration has said about the purpose of an attack being to “degrade and deter” Syrian capabilities, but not to change the regime, everyone expects the attacks to be modest and brief, thus not to much affect the battlefield balance, and once ceased to stay ceased. That is because the Administration’s reticence at being drawn into the bowels of Syrian madness is both well established and well justified. The attacks, then, will likely not degrade or deter anything really; they will be offered up only as a safety net to catch the falling reputation of the President as it drops toward the nether regions of strategic oblivion.

This has all been so vividly sign-posted it is getting hard to see how even a ‘cosmetic’ effect is going to work. How can an operation pre-advertized as an awkward spasm of embarrassment be realistically expected to restore honor and credibility?

Handle brims with sense on the topic.

August 30, 2013admin 2 Comments »
FILED UNDER :World
TAGGED WITH : , ,

Great Games …

… you have planned, shame if something bad were to happen to them.

Tyler Durden (of Zero Hedge) casts some harsh light on the lead up to WWIV recent diplomatic engagement between Saudi Arabia and Russia — countries that seem to be uniquely serious about the outcome of the Islamic civil(izational) war.  Roughly a month ago, these countries had a less than complete meeting of minds on the future of the region. TD quotes Al-Monitor on the conclusion: “At the end of the meeting, the Russian and Saudi sides agreed to continue talks, provided that the current meeting remained under wraps. This was before one of the two sides leaked it via the Russian press.”

Since we know all about this, it means no more talks, an implicit warning that the Chechens operating in proximity to Sochi may just become a loose cannon (with Saudi’s blessing of course), and that about a month ago “there is no escape from the military option, because it is the only currently available choice given that the political settlement ended in stalemate.” Four weeks later, we are on the edge of all out war, which may involve not only the US and Europe, but most certainly Saudi Arabia and Russia which automatically means China as well. Or, as some may call it, the world.

Russian leverage is aligned with inertia, so it can be exercised with some subtlety. The Saudis, on the other hand, are in an awkward spot:  they either back down, or they have to make ‘a splash’. Anyone looking for upcoming trigger events knows where to pay attention.

(For graphic context, try this.)

August 28, 2013admin 9 Comments »
FILED UNDER :World
TAGGED WITH : , ,

The Islamic Vortex (Part 5)

So – does Mecca get nuked? For the purpose of this series, that’s a reasonable candidate for the terminal question.

A direct assault on this question stumbles quickly into a paradox of stimulating profundity. Of all the geopolitical and religious agencies determining the outcome, the one most theologically predisposed to the vaporization of Islam’s spiritual center is the Wahhabi sect, which presently controls it. The case can easily be made that, within the limitations set by peacetime conditions, this objective has already been pursued with spectacular ardor. (If you noticed the Iranian media links there, save that observation.) Also worth mentioning: it’s a necessary antecedent to the Islamic Apocalypse (al-Qiyamah) that Mecca and the Kaaba be destroyed.

Continue Reading

August 10, 2013admin 21 Comments »
FILED UNDER :World
TAGGED WITH : , ,