Thursday, September 10, 2009 43 Comments

The Honduran rebellion - or, State's invisible world displayed

In case you hadn't noticed, Honduras - tiny Honduras! - is currently in a state of full diplomatic rebellion against USG. And the latter, predictably, is not pleased:
Our action today is to send a very clear message to the de facto regime: Their strategy will not work. They have to sign on to the San Jose Accords. There are things that they must do. This is not about what the United States is doing. This is about what they must do if they’re going to get out of the hole that they have put themselves in.
[...]
And our hope is that as they see the seriousness of purpose, and as they also see that, at this point in time, there’s no way out of this – they, we believe, had the judgment that if they just get to an election – to election day, that this would absolve them of the actions they’ve taken. And we’re saying that based on conditions as they currently exist, we cannot recognize the results of this election. So for the de facto regime, they’re now in a box and they will have to sign on to the San Jose Accords to get out of the box that they’re in.
The transcript does not record that Mr. Crowley uttered any of the following phrases:
"You will now decide whether to join me, or die."

"I propose to move immediately upon your works."

"I find your lack of faith disturbing."
However, this may be a mere clerical omission. What we are looking at is a rare 21st-century opportunity to hear USG speaking in its Darth Vader voice. As a student of history one becomes quite familiar with this tone, but it is not often seen in the papers these days.

It is too much to expect evil to walk naked in the world. In real life, evil does not wear a skull helmet or speak through a respirator. Why would it? Why not drape itself in silks of good? But this clothing interferes, by its very nature, with the fangs and sting and claws. So the patient watcher is rewarded, every now and then, with a flash of black scales or a yellow demon grin. But most of the time, he sees a kindly, wise and charming pillar of the community. Such is State.

Or if you want to sound like a real insider - DOS. DOS talks to Israel in the Vader voice all the time, of course. Nor are historical examples difficult to identify. However, the case of Honduras is a beautiful, tiny, perfectly-framed picture of USG's modern imperial style, and it would be a shame not to notice it.

Brief summary of events in Honduras: President Zelaya was attempting to organize an extra-constitutional referendum to make himself president-for-life and join the Chavez bloc. He was removed, more or less legally, by the Honduran Supreme Court and deported by the military. The "San Jose Accords" are State's plan - endorsed by American tools in 61 nations, 57 states and the District of Columbia - to return President Zelaya to Honduras, and Honduras to its rightful place in USG's glittering constellation of partners, allies and friends. No doubt Honduras would do the same for its equally good friend, America, were right and disordered mind reversed.

Here is one good overview from the right side. Here is another. Here is a view from the left.

("Accord" is a typical Orwellism. Diplomacy has a word for an imposed agreement. The design, or at least effect, of this spinology is to subtly suggest to the uninformed mind that the "de facto" (ie, actual) Honduran government has in some way agreed to said "Accord," and is now dishonestly trying to weasel out of it. Imagine how much marketing trouble Foggy Bottom would have with the "San Jose Order." Why, it might almost make us think of some interaction between Brezhnev and Gomulka.)

In any case, Honduras - tiny Honduras! - has not been a good boy and signed its confession, I mean, "Accord." Therefore, State has now taken away its allowance (about $40 million a year), and grounded it (stopped issuing visas to Hondurans). The Hondurans have scheduled a new presidential election for November, and are attempting to "run out the clock" until this event - which they foolishly believe will give them a "new down." As I write, Mr. Crowley has just informed them that this belief is incorrect. "Pray I do not alter it further."

Honduras! This is Washington. We find your lack of faith disturbing. Ha ha! Just kidding. Actually, amigos, we are both of the same faith. We both believe in democracy. While we can't tell you exactly what democracy is, we can tell you that it involves your guy getting out, and our guy getting in. Oh, BTW, we invented democracy - so you should probably take our word for it.

Now, one could continue indefinitely in this vein. But this is UR, not Mark Steyn. Our goal is not to mock, but understand. What, exactly, is going on here? If Honduras is, as I assert, a clear case of a general pattern, what is that pattern? If it raises unanswerable questions about current history, what are those questions?

Scott at Power Line, which is really the only establishment-conservative blog you need to read, takes a pretty good stab at the pattern:
At first it appeared that Barack Obama and his foreign policy team might be having a hard time distinguishing America's friends from America's enemies. With their treatment of Israel and Honduras, however, one can safely infer that they have a pretty good bead on the friend/enemy distinction. The problem is that in many cases they choose to undermine America's friends and side with America's enemies.
So (as Scott might tell you) State's approach to Iran - another nation with which America's relations are strained - is to offer it bags of candy if it will be nice and make up. This is generally described as "engagement," or even (quite boldly, I should say) as "realism." Whereas Honduras, which would like nothing better than to kiss and be friends, gets a taste of Lord Vader's Sith grip.

Honduras, of course, is not Iran. The disparity can be explained in many ways. However, this is certainly not the only case in which it is seen. If you do not have an explanation of your own, I hope you will consider UR's.

Powerline's standard conservative narrative, while basically accurate, is a piece of rhetoric rather than an explanation. It raises far more questions than it answers.

For instance: is it Barack Obama personally who is responsible for this odd pattern of kissing up to haters and hating on friends, or "his foreign policy team?" If the latter, could we not better summarize it with one word - "State?" If so, when did this tendency toward inverted foreign policy arise? 2009? 2008? 1908? And how, exactly, can USG be changed in order to correct it? No doubt Scott could answer the first two questions. The last two are out of his pay grade.

Jeane Kirkpatrick, in her famous essay Dictators and Double Standards (1979), explores the general issue in considerably more than a paragraph - with the considerable benefit of a Carter Administration fresh in her mind. Many fine insights are found in this work. Unfortunately, since the Honduran regime in question is not in any sense an "autocracy," her framework does not quite fit the case. Nor does she answer the above two questions.

Progressives have their own difficult questions, of course. Namely: when, exactly, did Honduras become a colony of the United States? If Honduras is not in fact a colony of the United States, but actually an independent country, why does Washington get to decide who is, or is not, the President of Honduras?

Honduras is not a large country. If you collected all the pages of rhetoric, English or Spanish, ever produced about Yanqui intervention in Latin America, you could surely cover its surface - possibly one or two books deep. Yet here is the government of the United States, speaking in the third person to the government of Honduras:
There are things that they must do.
(Alas, they have not yet done these things. But perhaps Mr. Crowley and friends can find new ways to motivate them. In fact, I rather suspect they will.)

And the noise from Noam Chomsky? Crickets? Not even:
Chomsky pointed out that the ongoing coup in Honduras, which began on June 28th, is the third coup the United States has supported in Latin America so far this century...
Supported! Indeed:
Facing criticism, Obama’s defenders say that the United States can’t do any more than it’s already doing, and that a military intervention to restore the constitutional president to power would be absolutely unacceptable. Putting things in these terms, the White House washes its hands and ends up favoring, albeit indirectly, the position of the coup perpetrators.
[...]
If the White House were to [...] bureaucratically stifle the remittances of Honduran immigrants to the U.S. without further delay, as well as warn U.S. businesses that they must plan for a rapid withdrawal from Honduras, Micheletti and his gang would last less than the blink of an eye. If the immediate recall of the U.S. Ambassador in Honduras and the instant interruption of all forms of economic or military aid were added, while the White House asked its European friends to abstain from relations with Tegucigalpa, the days of the putschists would be numbered. Does Obama have the necessary courage to impose this alternative? Or is he resigned to being a simple figurehead for a reactionary alliance that experienced its most glorious days during the years of George W. Bush?
You see how Chomsky can be right. Chomsky is always right. By its failure to take truly bold, visionary acts to oppose the Micheletti regime, Washington is in fact supporting that regime. Black is never absolutely black, white is never absolutely white. To make something white look black, simply define white as whiter than whatever white thing you are making look black.

Unsurprisingly - for a man with no shortage of progressive connections - Teh One himself has heard these voices. His answer - surprisingly - is the same as ours:
"It is important to note the irony that the people that were complaining about the U.S. interfering in Latin America are now complaining that we are not interfering enough," Obama said in early August.
Note that this is a response to a question, not a scripted line - Barack Obama, the actor himself, actually improvised these words. I feel much of his appeal is due to the genuine sense that there is a real human being behind the character, as of course there is. A lightweight, a Gatsby, a man of no courage, principle or purpose. A human soap bubble. But still, capable of noticing irony.

But I digress. Our goal is not to criticize these people. Since you are here, you are already quite safe from the grip of Darth Noam, let alone Teh One. We can laugh at the Jedi mind tricks for a moment, but we are here to understand them.

What we see is that progressives object to American intervention in Latin American politics, but only to a certain class of American intervention in Latin American politics. They claim to hate eggs, but they actually only hate hardboiled eggs. Scrambled eggs, they can eat all day. It is only if you assume that all eggs are hardboiled that this rhetoric makes sense. But once you see the progressive chowing down on a big plate of scrambled eggs, the following questions arise:

What is the difference between hardboiled and scrambled eggs - bad Lord Vader, and good Lord Vader? What criteria can we use to distinguish hardboiling from scrambling? Why do progressives hate hardboiled eggs, and why then do they spend so much time condemning eggs - rather than the real problem, hardboiling?

Old readers of UR should have little difficulty in answering both progressive and conservative questions, and applying the results to Honduras. But since not everyone here has dredged through the entire archive, let us present a reactionary narrative.

Start with the conservative critique. "The problem is that in many cases they [ie, State] choose to undermine America's friends and side with America's enemies." Now, why would that be?

Generalizing, we quickly find ourselves staring at the broader question of sadistic government. What we see here - if we agree with Scott at Powerline - is USG, an entity formally constituted to promote the collective interests of Americans, acting against those interests. Is it really? But why? And if so, how can it be stopped?

Recovering the actual meaning and purpose of foreign policy from two centuries of democratic spin is a task only slightly less difficult than recovering Jimmy Hoffa from the foundations of the Meadowlands. Scott at Powerline has his own vision of American interests in foreign policy, as of course does Darth Noam. Neither has much to do with the natural law of nations, which Americans once knew and perhaps can learn again. Indeed there is very little of Vattel in the relationship between Washington and Tegucigalpa.

But even without the great edifice of classical international law, mere common sense is sufficient to describe American interests in foreign policy. A foreign government serves American interests if it supports American security, trades honestly with American businessmen, does not kidnap American tourists and hold them for ransom, etc, etc, etc.

This is (a) more or less what Scott at Powerline would tell you, and (b) more or less identical with the general right-wing tendency in American foreign policy. Toward the right end of this spectrum, what we see is the ultimate self-interested foreign policy: colonialism. (Note that we are intentionally avoiding the question of Honduran interests - to be covered later.)

By this simple analysis, supporting Zelaya over Micheletti in Honduras is indeed a case - if a tiny case - of USG working against American interests. Chomsky no doubt has his own elaborate answer to this question; indeed the beauty of the Honduran example lies in the increasingly baroque suits of nothing in which the progressive tailor must clothe his emperor. The obvious is much more compelling.

Moreover, we see that the general left-wing tendency in American foreign policy, at least in the modern era, is to support at least one class of foreign regimes who oppose these interests - cooperating militarily with powers hostile to America, confiscating American investments, even murdering American diplomats.

Thus, again: undermining friends and siding with enemies. Sadistic government. USG, constituted to act for the collective benefit of Americans, instead acts for their collective harm. Obviously, the phenomenon of a state persecuting its subjects, seemingly without rhyme or reason, is no historical novelty. Since the pattern is neither new nor random, it is not without rhyme or reason, and we must explain it.

The interests of government and governed are never perfectly aligned. A government is the owner of valuable human and geographical capital, and the profits from this capital must go somewhere. Even a government that runs a persistent deficit does so not because its land or population is not valuable, but simply because its accounting is bad and it is paying too many dividends to its proprietors - typically disguised as employees or other beneficiaries.

However, once we realize that every government tries to extract as much revenue as possible from its subjects, we see an alignment of interest on every point beyond the tax rate. The authorities profit by extracting a percentage of their subjects' prosperity; thus both share an interest in maximizing the pie.

The classic analogy is the relationship between shepherd and sheep. The shepherd shears his sheep. The sheep, presumably, do not like being sheared, but they will not do well without a shepherd. The shepherd, while he could probably get more for a sheepskin than a bale of wool, does not in general skin his sheep. Nor does he carve swastikas into their sides, tie their hind legs together, and surround them by a wall of giant speakers playing Hootie and the Blowfish.

USG is obviously not operated on the shepherd model. It is operated on the democratic model. Rather than preventing sheep-torture by aligning the interests of shepherd and sheep, democratic theory asserts that since sheep will never consent to have swastikas carved into their sides, state sadism is precluded by requiring the shepherd to obtain the consent of the sheep - at least, in some formal sense. Our experience does not suggest that this system is infallible.

(Notice the simple mental steps we have taken to separate our minds from democratic cant. By talking about "USG" rather than "America," we not only use the normal language of Washington, but emphasize that USG is a corporate entity whose actions and interests cannot be axiomatically identified with those of its subjects. Whereas when we use the conventional language of politics, the proposition that America is acting against American interests seems inherently nonsensical, almost impossible to express or discuss.)

So we see two general ways in which a sadistic government can appear. One, it can be run on the pure shepherd model, with perfect central authority, and said shepherd can be insane or otherwise irresponsible. If your shepherd is Marcus Aurelius or Lord Cromer, you are doing well. If he is a sadistic, Hootie-loving Nazi, you will have to grin and bear it. But again - since USG is obviously not run on the shepherd model, this option does not apply.

Two, sadistic government can arise in a state of scattered authority. This class of defective political structure, which is about halfway done destroying European civilization, is generally held at educated circles at present to be the philosopher's stone of government. Indeed: the more people who have input into a decision, the better that decision is likely to be. As so often, the fallacy is the simple polar opposite of the truth. The Romans knew this error as imperium in imperio - the ass's bridge or fool's mate of political engineering.

The ideological parent of modern scattered authority is Montesquieu's doctrine of separation of powers - originating in a very misguided view of the 18th-century British constitution. Since one may search the modern power structure of Britain, inasmuch as any such thing remains, in vain for any relic of the Crown or Lords - or even much of the Commons - Montesquieu is easily seen as refuted. No separated authority structure is stable. (Note that in all private administrative structures, corporations and nonprofits alike, executive authority is often delegated, seldom shared or divided, never scattered.)

Scattered authority is the principle of Montesquieu taken to an extreme. Formally, every man or woman has a vote - although the 20th-century separation (utterly factitious) of "politics" from "public policy", the latter far predominating in actual decision control, the former fast sinking into the mere ceremonial, makes this nanoslice of authority still more counterfeit, primarily a tool of emotional manipulation for the permanent civil-service state. But even within the real world of public policy, the general principle is that the more people who are cut into the loop, the better their collective decisions will be. This is contrary to every principle of human nature.

Most important: any such division of authority is rivalrous. All humans crave and enjoy power. It is an evolutionary drive only slightly less ancient than sex. Our ancestors have lived in complex hierarchical societies since before they were baboons. In these societies, the only stable division of authority was a complete geographic division, ie, territorial sovereignty.

The common cause of modern state sadism is rivalry between divided authorities. Just as it is a fundamental mistake to confuse USG with America, it is an equal mistake to consider USG itself as a single actor - to say that Washington wants this, or thinks that. (It is not a mistake to confuse USG with Washington. One day, the Potomac will again flow unvexed to the sea.) In the case of Honduras, we must speak not of USG, but DOS - State.

And nor is DOS a unitary actor. It is not actually an empire within an empire, like Hoover's FBI. We should be so lucky. State is almost entirely immune to any interference from that archaic political absurdity, the White House, and of course in a Democratic administration power flows more in the other direction. (The whole point of electing Democrats is to allow the permanent government to do its thing. When you vote for a Democrat, you are saying: I am tired of politics. I am loyal to the permanent government and trust in its prudent guidance.) The organization has no leader - internal or external. Not the President, not the Secretary.

No: State is a corporate culture, a set of employees that gradually turns over (the last corps within USG selected by that true dinosaur of American history - civil-service examinations), and of course a set of power networks that are utterly and completely invisible. There is one thing you can say for scattered-authority systems: they are impossible to decapitate. Critical individuals are not to be found. Thus, these systems (commonly known as "bureaucracies") are not only very ineffective, but also very stable.

Thus, the determining causal factor in American foreign policy is the corporate culture of State. To explain why USG does X or Y or Z in its foreign relations, our simplest answer is that X or Y or Z is consistent with the corporate culture - the shared opinions and perspectives, the professional consensus - of the State Department. Since State is responsible to no one, if this consensus leads State toward actions whose effect is sadistic toward Americans (or others), USG acts sadistically.

It is easy to explain why State - or other scattered-authority institutions, ie, bureaucracies - tends toward a fundamentally sadistic corporate culture. Moreover, we can answer one of our questions right now: the problem is completely unfixable. Your vehicle is totaled.

An invariant property of scattered-authority institutions is that real power within these institutions, since it does not flow top-down as in a healthy corporation, always exists in informal social networks. (Being informal, these networks can never be precisely traced. A little prosopography is never uncalled for, but Satan's invisible world cannot be displayed.)

Being old hands at the chimpanzee coalition game, humans are also very good at adjusting their ideas to those of their peers. Our question, when we inquire into the corporate culture of State or any other permanent scattered-authority institution, is what ideas will prevail within State. Again, if these ideas tend toward sadistic foreign policy, sadism is a certain result.

It seems clear that two kinds of ideas are popular in all bureaucracies. One form of idea is that either the entire bureaucracy, or some part of it, should grow larger or more important. The other is that more people should be involved in the decision-making process. Obviously, the opposite ideas (smaller bureaucracy, more authoritarian management) are equally disfavored.

These are popular ideas because they produce results that attract individuals. More precisely, they tend to empower the clerks of the enterprise - to give them more personal impact on its decision process, either by creating more decisions or cutting more people into each decision.

In an institution run by coherent authority without imperium in imperio - ie, on the shepherd model - all authority is at the center. Employees are just employees. In a scattered-authority institution, however, the matter is quite different. The power of the institution is truly distributed around its employee network. The clerks are servants, but also masters.

Especially when the institution is USG - the planet's only true sovereign - this attracts a rather different type of employee. Power, again, is universally desirable. So those who work in Washington are paid in two currencies: dollars, and power. The conventional word is impact. Impact implies social status: it determines how often you get laid, and with whom. Of course, in a scattered-authority institution, no one's impact is very high - but everyone's can be compared.

To have impact, you must have an effect, and that effect must not have happened without you. The analogy to work in physics is irresistible. Work is force times distance moved. Similarly, there is no impact unless you (a) produce some change, and (b) do so against some resistance.

Thus everyone at State can be expected to strive for impact - both personally and institutionally. Each individual wants to leave some mark, no matter how tiny; all, or at least most, can be expected to favor maximum impact for State, as a whole.

(It is important to note that this process is not conscious. Rather, it is Darwinian. The giraffe, contra certain fanciful early evolutionists, did not intend to grow a long neck. Rather, long-necked okapis browsed gleefully as their short-necked siblings curled up and died.

The corporate culture of State can be expected to favor perspective X, if perspective X maximizes the impact of State. Networks of colleagues who favor Y, which minimizes impact, will not prosper. But the individuals who believe in perspective X do not motivate this by their desire to aggrandize State. No, they always have some other explanation - generally perfectly sincere.)

All this may be simplified into the commonly-known fact that bureaucracies love to expand, and hate to shrink. Remembering that State is not a single coherent actor, we can fold it into this generalization and continue.

Now, we notice something right away about official sadism. It fits this profile perfectly. The formal purpose of the organization, which is never of course sadistic, may provide limited scope for impact. American interests are of course quite limited - especially with respect to Honduras. However, when we get into sadism, a whole new door opens.

The varieties of sadism are effectively unlimited. Tired of carving swastikas on your sheep? It's a delicious, fresh, brand-new Sunday morning - why not turn over a new leaf? Why not Mace them instead? What happens when you Mace a sheep? There's only one way to find out.

But best of all, sadism always creates resistance. If you hurt the sheep, they will resist - so much as they can, in their sheeplike way - and you will have impact. You can have someone make a film of you, courageously overcoming an entire flock of sheep - large ruminants, let's not forget - with only a small can of Mace to defend yourself. Cut properly, the film will show you as a hero, standing up against the vicious sheep.

This is the broad historical pattern of US foreign policy: in one word, sadism. It is a very different pattern of sadism than the likes of Darth Noam suppose. Far more damning, in fact. But the basic moral judgment is the same. The fundamental drive is the libido dominandi - the lust to dominate. Another word for impact is victory; and there is no victory without victim. (The victim may, of course, deserve it.)

What is new, in the last century, is the direction of this sadism against American interests. Until the post-1945 era, USG had been content with dominating the benighted subjects of its unlucky neighbors. In the Cold War, however, it learned a new trick: rewarding its foreign puppets for abusing America and Americans. History will record this design as one of our great masterpieces of high baroque sadism - comparable even to Pasolini's 120 Days of Sodom.

Again, sadism always generates resistance. If you attack the corporations, the churches, the military, or any other institution of an undemocratic reactionary bourgeois kulak nature, said institution is unlikely to roll over and turn the other cheek. It will fight back, or at least complain. Presto: you are being oppressed. It is you who must resist. A luta continua. Moreover, sheep are remarkably resilient and have thick skin under their thick wool. Don't cut the swastikas too deep, and you can keep the game going almost indefinitely.

Now, again, those who support a sadistic foreign policy do not see it as a sadistic foreign policy. To be more precise, they do not believe in it because they believe in sadism. Quite the opposite, usually. They believe in it anyway, however, and sadistic it remains. Let's see how this works out, in practice and in history.

The history of USG's interventions in Latin American politics can be separated into two classes: self-interested, and sadistic. Self-interested interventions tend to favor right-wing parties, for the reasons described above. Sadistic interventions tend to favor left-wing parties. Earlier in history, as in the Spanish-American War, the two are intertwined and very hard to separate. (The British Empire, of course, was the master of interventions both sadistic and profitable.) Later in history, as in Honduras, self-interest disappears and all we see is sadism. This is the dominant pattern, so we discuss it first.

The state of mind involved in a sadistic intervention is almost always humanitarian. The sadist reasons: A is, in some way, abusing B. Therefore I must attack A, for the good of B. Again, A may or may not be genuinely abusing B, and the result of defeating A may or may not genuinely benefit B. Usually, my impression is - not. But either way, this is a very easy path to sadism. There are other excuses, of course.

Thus, in the 19th century, the thrust of US policy in Latin America is the Monroe Doctrine. The US is the land of revolutionary democracy. It exports revolutionary democracy to Mexico and parts south - replacing the stable Spanish government that had kept the peace for so long. After its own little internal conflict over the Rights of Man, it terminates the French attempt to restore European government in Mexico. Result: chaos, murder, destruction. No country except the US achieves a democracy that is stable by American standards.

In the 20th century, our brown brothers discover a form of government that provides more or less the same services as the Spanish: kleptocratic military dictatorship. It is not perfect, for sure. The fabric of social and political authority is considerably decayed since colonial times. But the dictators keeps order, pays the bills, cuts the sugarcane and hangs the thieves. The classic example: the Porfiriato of Diaz.

Rather, these countries - whose so-called independence is more dubious every year - must adopt either socialism or social democracy. American Puritanism has mutated again, finding a new, more virulent, nominally atheist form. It must spread south, by persuasion or force - or better yet, a bit of both. "I am going to teach the South American Republics to elect good men!" Result: chaos, murder, destruction.

It is especially critical to note the relationship between conversion and coercion in this process. Americans, Yankee and Latin, take the most fashionable ideas of the North and bring them South. The tough moral fiber of Yankee society is almost impervious to radical democracy - it has taken two centuries to break down, and much still remains. The delicate Catholic succumbs at once. Overnight, he is an atheist, a Communist or both - probably both.

And why are these ideas, so obviously destructive, so popular in the South? Because they are the ideas of power, and they come attached to American strings. With the blessings of the Alliance for Progress and the Ford Foundation. It was even better to have the Soviet Union, itself the product of ideological colonization, competing furiously in the puppet-state count. This was the best possible excuse for impact - it gave State a pretext to develop its own socialist empire in the Third World, under the guise of anti-Communism.

Hostile socialist states - ie, regimes even more socialist than USG - are great material for impact. Many jobs are created in soothing them, apologizing for them, apologizing to them, and otherwise trying to coax them back into being friends rather than enemies. This never happens without a collapse of government, because being America's enemies is their business - just as nurturing America's enemies is Foggy Bottom's business.

One of the many fascinating details in Waugh's Robbery Under Law, essential for anyone interested in this destructive process, is the popularity of Fascist ideology in Mexico in the late 1930s, such as the Falange and their concept of Hispanidad. This was of course nothing but the same intellectual attraction of power - taking a very different direction. Alas, this fabulous alternate reality of Mexican Nazis received its fatal blow at Stalingrad.

And speaking of Nazis, we need to consider the other half of the equation: the "pro-American" forces. Such as these people in Honduras.

Alas, the Honduran oligarchy appears to be just about exactly what the left claims it is. Featuring such charming individuals as Billy Joya. Personally, if I were given a choice between Che and Billy Joya, let alone Chavez and Billy Joya, I would pick Billy Joya. I feel it's unfortunate that Steven Soderbergh has not done a Billy Joya biopic, especially considering Sr. Joya's remarkable resemblance to the young Robert Redford. There is certainly no denying that the man knows a thing or two about sadism, and Communists. Perhaps he should start a blog of his own.

On the other hand, there are a lot more people than Billy Joya in this march. What we are looking at here is more or less the entire Honduran upper class - ie, except for a few Communist professors and other professional malcontents, anyone that you or I could possibly find socially compatible in Honduras.

This is the general support base of "pro-American" regimes. They are "pro-American" because they generally produce the best possible semblance of orderly government, which is good for both Americans who interact with Honduras, and Hondurans. Duh.

Here is the real beauty of leftist foreign policy. Any anti-American policy, ie, any foreign policy sadistic toward Americans, is likely to be sadistic in its effect on the foreigners as well. It thus generates resistance, and impact, from both. Since it does so, the two will appear to be in cahoots - in fact, they may even actually be in cahoots. Thus we see not only foreign resistance, but resistance from foreigners and Americans working together. Can you say "sinister," boys and girls? I knew you could.

Honduras, alas, is not known for its high patrician-to-plebeian ratio. These people fear real democracy for a reason. Honduran politics appears to be stuck in the classic Liberal-Conservative dichotomy of old-school Latin American politics, familiar to anyone who was ever forced to read Gabriel Garcia Marquez. In other words: two century-old parties, more or less indistinguishable, both representing the social elite. Honduras was blessed with a military dictatorship that lasted into the '80s, and has never had a really democratic or socialist government. Mr. Joya and his friends certainly knew how to deal with the Communists in the '60s through '80s. It is not quite clear to me with what tricks the Honduran constitution suppresses the mob, but it appears to do a relatively decent job of it.

Because Honduras is not known for its high patrician-to-plebeian ratio, it was obvious that someone - especially a rogue like Zelaya - would eventually try the game of full-scale, Chavez-style vote-buying and the rest of the democratic apparatus. And, although the force of USG, that good old Wind of Change, is definitely fading, I am really not sure these Honduran clowns can resist it. All it takes is one election. One Chavista president, and the oligarchy is toast. If Zelaya returns, he will return victorious - the oligarchy is toast.

Consider, for instance, these protests raised in the name of "democracy." Scott at Powerline will tell you: USG has been promoting democracy for 200 years, and now it is winking at tyrants in Iran and squashing freedom fighters, such as Billy Joya, in Honduras. Obviously, it has suddenly changed its mind, and needs to be set back on the right track. This is the approved conservative line, which is so attractive to everyone.

Whereas in fact, the neoconservative attempts to promote democracy are nothing like their liberal ancestors. Neoconservative foreign policy is right-wing foreign policy. Whether in Honduras or Iran or Iraq, it aims not to destabilize an existing pre-democratic or reactionary regime, but to avert or remove a post-democratic or revolutionary regime. Thus it is not destructive, but constructive. It may in fact involve some impact, as in Iraq, but this impact is of precisely the kind most hated by the progressive - it is, in a word, colonialism.

Destructive? Am I that over the top - to describe progressive foreign policy as sadistic and destructive? Well, for an answer, head over to Al Giordano's (Mr. Giordano is widely published in the little progressive tabloids so popular among the young and enlightened), and watch him fantasize about starting a civil war in Honduras. Alas, he concludes, the time is not quite ripe:
That correlation, if objectively analyzed, does not at present contain the successful ingredients that would be necessary to overturn the coup through the barrel of a gun.
Let us, and Honduras, be thankful for small mercies. Of course, others may disagree. And is Billy Joya constructive? Well, if he wins. I, myself, would be happy to leave Billy Joya to Honduras, but I would certainly not be so bold as to preclude the possibility that Honduras needs a Billy Joya. It certainly does not need a Manuel Zelaya, although it will almost certainly get one.

Honduras is just a living fossil, as Rhodesia and South Africa once were, as Israel also is - an independent country, sort of, not quite assimilated and destroyed. A strange relic of the past. Someday there will be a country that successfully stands up to USG, but probably not soon, and probably not Honduras. Alas. It'll take a lot more work and a lot more thought.

43 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Honduras - tiny Honduras! - is currently in a state of full diplomatic rebellion against USG.

Send the Marines!

What we are looking at is a rare 21st-century opportunity to hear USG speaking in its Darth Vader voice.

And it's like the entire Empire bullying a single Jawa. Could one pick a more perfect example of something the United States simply should not care about?

While we can't tell you exactly what democracy is, we can tell you that it involves your guy getting out, and our guy getting in.

Oh, and by the way, your so-called "Constitution" should be ignored just like we ignore ours.

Two, sadistic government can arise in a state of scattered authority. This class of defective political structure, which is about halfway done destroying European civilization, is generally held at educated circles at present to be the philosopher's stone of government. Indeed: the more people who have input into a decision, the better that decision is likely to be. As so often, the fallacy is the simple polar opposite of the truth.

Thomas Friedman agrees with you! American democracy: bad, inefficient, sclerotic. Chinese autocracy: good, efficient, gets things done.

Note that in all private administrative structures, corporations and nonprofits alike, executive authority is often delegated, seldom shared or divided, never scattered.

But we note that in private administrative structures, there is an authority independent of that private structure (i.e. the government), and it is possible to escape that authority (i.e. quit your job). Nothing stands outside the government to keep it honest, and it is very hard as a practical matter to quit your country in the same way you can quit your job.

It exports revolutionary democracy to Mexico and parts south - replacing the stable Spanish government that had kept the peace for so long.

Um, the history of Spanish rule in Latin America prior to the Monroe Doctrine is many things, but "stable and peaceful" is not one of them.

After its own little internal conflict over the Rights of Man, it terminates the French attempt to restore European government in Mexico. Result: chaos, murder, destruction.

There was plenty of chaos, murder, and destruction in Mexico prior to 1865. Before the Civil War, Americans typically described Latin regimes as "imbecile" with good reason.

September 10, 2009 at 7:00 AM  
Blogger Alrenous said...

It's important to remember that a government with fiat currency can't actually run a deficit.

Also, the reason for Mencius' voting was laid bare. It's kind of interesting to think back and see that it was there before, but not clear.

September 10, 2009 at 10:30 AM  
Anonymous togo said...

Moreover, we see that the general left-wing tendency in American foreign policy, at least in the modern era, is to support at least one class of foreign regimes who oppose these interests - cooperating militarily with powers hostile to America, confiscating American investments, even murdering American diplomats.

Does murdering American sailors count for anything?

September 10, 2009 at 11:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

DOS talks to Israel in the Vader voice all the time

LOL!

September 10, 2009 at 12:08 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

I've never been into auto decals, but I like the European system of identifying which country a car is from by the little oval stickers. I recently bought a nice used car (actually a Toyota pickup) and while scraping the Honduran flag off the back it occurred to me that I should find something fitting to go in its place.

With Google in hand, it took awhile, but at last I have found my brand: http://www.cafepress.com/thereaction

September 10, 2009 at 12:08 PM  
Blogger Thrasymachus said...

Is the Communist tendency an offshoot and client of the Cathedral? I think that is a step too far.

Guy White- countering the white nationalist assertion that Communism was a Jewish plot- says the whole thing was set up by the Germans to clear the eastern front in WWI- Lenin was paid and under orders by the Kaiser's government to overthrow the Russian government and make peace.

While I wouldn't doubt Lenin had some help from that quarter I'm not sure that's the whole story either. The Cathedral *likes* communism. It hopes to bend it to its own ends. It may have helped keep the egg warm, but communism is something different and comes from someplace else.

Prof. Moldbug, regardless of your fine theories, the only thing that has ever worked against the beast is Billy Joya and his ilk.

September 10, 2009 at 11:53 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

I've been waiting to bring out the "Mencius is really just offering the Peter Wiggin solution to world problems" argument, but today's xkcd is too wonderful to pass up.

September 11, 2009 at 4:17 AM  
Anonymous josh said...

Alrenous,

"It's important to remember that a government with fiat currency can't actually run a deficit."

Can you explain this a bit or link to an explanation?

September 11, 2009 at 5:45 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

They can always pay their debts (as they are debts in fiat currency) by making more money (though running the danger of ruining said money).

MP

DUDE. My captcha is "cop's arse."

September 11, 2009 at 6:51 AM  
Blogger MarcWPhoto said...

I'm not sure where the whole deficit thing came from in the comments to this post, but to be excessively pedantic, it is possible for a fiat-currency-issuing government to both run a deficit and to default on its debts. All it has to do is decline to actually issue the necessary fiat currency to meet its current needs (which the USG is currently doing) and/or redeem its obligations as they come due.

However, it is completely accurate to say that both deficit spending and debt default are entirely voluntary on the part of such a government, as it could, at any time, issue additional fiat currency to address either situation. The USG can default on those T-Bills your Great-Aunt Margaret was so kind as to leave you, but it would be at its sole discretion.

M

September 11, 2009 at 8:30 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

MWP,

That was hardly excessively pedantic, even for this blog.

Have an internet, sir.

September 11, 2009 at 8:36 AM  
Anonymous Hollowname said...

While I wouldn't doubt Lenin had some help from that quarter I'm not sure that's the whole story either. The Cathedral *likes* communism. It hopes to bend it to its own ends. It may have helped keep the egg warm, but communism is something different and comes from someplace else.

Thrasymachus, I think Moldbug has covered this before; Socialism isn't the cathedral exactly, but it's a close relative. Specifically, it's another descendant of radical Protestantism.

If you think of the Oneida Community as typical of stem-Socialism, and think of Marx's nominal rejection of religion as a memetic mutation to make socialism seem more scientific, then this line of reasoning seems plausible.

September 11, 2009 at 10:38 AM  
Blogger Alrenous said...

Then let's up the pedantism until we can find the line demarking 'excessive,' shall we?

I would put UR into the political philosophy bucket, so it's technically on topic...


A fiat currency owner cannot run a deficit. They basically have the power to command goods and services be rendered regardless of payment, and payment costs them nothing whatsoever.

Do this accounting trick; every dollar USG receives is burnt. (Ceremoniously.) When it feels like paying for something, it simply prints more. It may print less, the same, or more than it actually received.

Because this trick works mathematically, it means that USG cannot meaningfully carry a balance, and indeed pretending to is, financially, pointless. This works for debts as well; the cash USG has bought is burnt. When it's time to pay up, if it is not rolled over, it may print enough to cover the obligation, or not.

Try this check: USG decides to carry a balance of one trillion. It prints one trillion dollars, and holds onto them. And the cost to the economy is...? If the check holds, then it may as well carry a balance of zero, because the actual balance is meaningless.

That's the essence.


But since if you want to go into specifics:

Governments redistribute wealth. A fiat currency simply gives more options for that distribution.

They can use tax revenues, formally redistributing. They can issue currency, informally redistributing. They can not pay, in which case they're laying the burden on the producer. They can borrow money, (which, history shows, they will never effectively pay back) in which case they redistribute from a (rotating)* bundle of donors.

*(Ponzi scheme alert.)

At no point does it become equivalent to any practise of private accounting, where wealth is actually created, stored, and later exchanged. (Or confiscated by the state for distribution.)

If USG runs a deficit and refuses to issue the currency, it is combining formal redistribution with simply commanding services.

If it defaults on debts it turns a voluntary redistribution scheme into a partially involuntary scheme.


This came up because of Mencius' line, "Even a government that runs a persistent deficit does so not because..."

While 'deficit' is a good shorthand, it only works logically if you remember that fiat currency owners cannot run deficits. They pay all debts at their sole discretion.

If they were to repeal the fiat and try normal accounting, their currency may actually represent wealth and we'd find out if they do, in fact, run a deficit or not. This is a flaw of having only one known measurement of value and wealth - if you mess with it, you simply stop knowing how much wealth you have.

September 11, 2009 at 12:26 PM  
Blogger MarcWPhoto said...

There is being pedantic, and there is deliberate misinterpretation.

"Running a deficit" means that one spends more money than one takes in (and by taking in we may include outright creation, although only governments are allowed to "take in" money in this fashion at the present time.) If Warren Buffett were to convert his entire fortune to cash, resign all income-producing positions, and simply spend twenty thousand dollars a year living a spartan lifestyle in darkest Nebraska, he would be running a deficit even though it would take centuries for him to actually spend all his money - and he could, by simply converting enough of it to income-producing assets to generate the minuscule amount he wants to spend, remove himself from deficit spending at any time. He could, likewise, by using his fortune as capital borrow twenty thousand dollars a year for a very long time indeed, although again that would be a purely voluntary action on his part.

You are confusing, deliberately or otherwise, being in deficit with being insolvent. Deficit means spending more than you take in: insolvency means owing more than you can pay back. I would be the first to agree that a fiat-currency-issuing government can never be insolvent, because there is no amount of spending and/or debt which it cannot pay for or back. Such a government can avoid insolvency forever: however, it cannot run a deficit indefinitely because at some point the rest of the world will not be able to "lend" it enough money to continue to service the debt. At that point - which is mathematically inevitable and will come whether or not the rest of the world wishes to continue to lend the issuer of the fiat additional money - it will either have to default on the debt (voluntarily) or create additional fiat currency to inject into the system, either to support current spending or to allow additional debt issuance/service.

Furthermore, even though such a government can never be insolvent, it can still default on debt if it chooses not to redeem such debt when it comes due. However, as our humble host would be keen to point out, if it is a truly sovereign government, it does not matter whether it issues fiat currency or not: it could simply dissolve the debt itself by fiat. Practically speaking, deficit spending and/or debt default are accounting decisions by the sovereign issuer, but technically and logically, they can perform such actions even if they are such a sovereign issuer.

September 11, 2009 at 5:06 PM  
Blogger newt0311 said...

@MWP and Al

I believe we have hit the point of excessive pedantry now. What you two seem to be arguing over are definitions while the underlying reality is shared by both.

September 11, 2009 at 5:43 PM  
Blogger Alrenous said...

Yay! Full pedantry reached.

September 11, 2009 at 10:27 PM  
Blogger juantblanco said...

TGGP will call me a prole, but, I know which part of a gun a bullet exists. Josh will point to my Turing results, and I will be generally be ignored, but, I have no life to speak of....

-----

For the sake of levity, and, of awesome, I submit this bumper sticker:

http://bumperstickers.cafepress.com/item/fascism-is-socialism-with-shareholders/286117559


Another one, for fun:

http://t-shirts.cafepress.com/item/unscdf-mobile-infantry-dark-tshirt/162442452

-----

And MM, thanks for re-introducing Carlyle to me, I've even found out that a certain leftist university has quite a large collection of his works. And I read them listening to classical music and drinking bourbon, they are a delight!

You see, I'm a graduate student at Kent State University and would pass by the May 4th Memorial on the way to work and to class and to bother the undergraduates.

Being gauche I like to tell people that, "Oh my, it was so wrong what the National Guard did!"

And, thinking I'm one of them they agree...

Then I say, "Well, yes, they should have used artillery."

------

The Cathedral is training some mighty fine killers these days and some of the weapons are amazing. Look up the AA-12 and the .50 Beowulf.

-----

Enough of my irrelevancies,

--juantblanco

September 12, 2009 at 12:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like to tell people that, "Oh my, it was so wrong what the National Guard did!"

Whenever it comes up, I observe that anyone dumb enough to taunt armed soldiers and throw rocks at them deserves to be shot.

September 12, 2009 at 6:44 AM  
Blogger Alrenous said...

In other news, I would like to see what, exactly, USG ends up threatening Honduras with. Given competent leadership (ha ha! I know) a few embargoes and trade difficulties should be easy to survive.

Glancing over wikipedia to check the population - which I suspect is large enough to be self sufficient - I notice this:

Independence
- from Spain September 15, 1821
- from the Mexican Empire July 1, 1823
- from the Republic of Central America

I think I've read too much MM. This read to me like,

Conquered by USG
- from Spain
- from Mexico
And COME ON guys,
- Central America
How many times do we have to DO this?

I doubt any but the last is accurate, but the impression is now unavoidable...

And the pop is 7 mega plus. They don't actually need other people.

September 12, 2009 at 12:53 PM  
Blogger Aaron Davies said...

@alrenous: just yesterday, i was thinking that the best possible outcome for honduras (or at least for micheletti) would be the creation of a new north korean-- a (near-)perfect autarky.

September 13, 2009 at 2:52 AM  
Blogger Aaron Davies said...

btw and apropos of nothing, happy $1000 mold, all you moldbuggerers!

September 13, 2009 at 2:53 AM  
Blogger TGGP said...

I agree with Obama & Mencius that Chomsky is being completely hypocritical here. He also says intervention was a good thing in WW2, making me more dovish than Chomsky.

Mencius always complains about foreign aid as the mechanism by which State conducts its incompetent replacement of colonialism. So by cutting off aid, are we now granting Honduras independence? Using aid as a metric, we also can't place Honduras and Israel in the same boat. Israel of course receives by far the most aid of any country (with #2 being Egypts bribe for remaining at peace with Israel), which never gets reduced no matter what they do. The "Vader voice" doesn't have much credibility then.

Other people have been noticing Mencius' point about aid incentivizing disorder in Afghanistan. The government knows that if the Taliban ceases to be a threat, they can kiss their aid goodbye. So it must remain a permanent threat. Hilaire du Berrier in Background to Betrayal thought that was one reason why Diem chose to crack down on the sects rather than communists.

MM's point about "impact" seems completely backward. Under that logic, liberals should be subsidizing conservatives so they have someone to fight. The equation for "work" really means "energy expended". You can drag an object back and forth across a high-friction surface to expend a lot of energy while not changing the final position of the object. When it comes to accomplishing something, most people would view it as more impactful if you put some wheels under the object and moved it along a great distance without wasting much energy as heat. If anyone else is familiar with that Laurel & Hardy short where they're delivering a piano, dragging it up the stairs meant a lot more resistance than the incline, and had less "impact" in the normal sense of the term.

The Chomskyites have recognized both hardboiled and scrambled as eggs. There used to be a big list at Zmag of U.S interventions that included the assassinations of Diem and Trujillo along with the ouster of Mossadegh & Arbenz. I can't find it there anymore though. Message control?

What we are looking at here is more or less the entire Honduran upper class
You seemed to regard that as a bad sign in Pakistan.

Neoconservative foreign policy is right-wing foreign policy. Whether in Honduras or Iran or Iraq, it aims not to destabilize an existing pre-democratic or reactionary regime, but to avert or remove a post-democratic or revolutionary regime. Thus it is not destructive, but constructive. It may in fact involve some impact, as in Iraq, but this impact is of precisely the kind most hated by the progressive - it is, in a word, colonialism.
Iraq seems to fall precisely in the destructive, sadistic camp. Is money from Iraq into the U.S or the other way around? Saddam was a force of stability.

juantblanco, I'm not sure what I said to give that impression.

September 13, 2009 at 4:59 PM  
Anonymous The Undiscovered Jew said...

Iraq seems to fall precisely in the destructive, sadistic camp. Is money from Iraq into the U.S or the other way around? Saddam was a force of stability.

Neoconservatism is half-assed imperialism.

If we are going to invade other countries, then we should do it the way the Romans and British did, ie, overthrow the nutcase local tribe leader and install a military governor.

It would have made far more sense if America had simply installed an Iraqi Pinochet and left than try our hand at turning the place into Switzerland.

If we had gone with the "Pinochet" or "Mossadeq" option the Marines would have been in and out of Iraq in one year, AQ would have been killed off by an Iraqi strongman not likely to treat terrorists with full rights under the Geneva Convention, the pro-American/Zionist puppet government would be in our pocket just like Mubarak in Egypt and the Saudi Royals are, and the Iraqis would have cranked up oil production to keep our SUVs humming.

September 13, 2009 at 6:20 PM  
Blogger Mitchell said...

"It would have made far more sense if America had simply installed an Iraqi Pinochet and left than try our hand at turning the place into Switzerland."

In this counterfactual, was the war still fought over WMDs? Does Iraqi Pinochet get any US bases, to protect him against Iran? What happens if there's a neo-Baathist coup that overthrows Iraqi Pinochet, and we're back to 1991? Are you abrogating the Carter Doctrine as well?

September 13, 2009 at 9:19 PM  
Blogger TGGP said...

Saddam didn't have any objections to selling us oil. Despite all his rhetoric, even Hugo Chavez sells plenty of oil to us. That's part of what makes the "war for oil" thing so stupid: we got LESS oil after the war. And of course we had lots of sanctions on Iraq before the war that made it harder to do business with them (I believe Cheney actually argued on behalf of Halliburton against said restrictions).

September 13, 2009 at 9:45 PM  
Anonymous The Undiscovered Jew said...

TGGP and Mitchell,

I wasn't attempting to justify the invasion; my point was - regardless of our motivation - if we are going to the do the imperial stuff, then we ought do imperialism using the time tested methods of previous great empires rather than the politically correct neocon approach.

The paleocons are wrong to think an Ameican empire would not be politically durable for many centuries. All we'd have to do is take the gloves off and there would be no stopping us just like there was no stopping the Roman Republic and Empire for so many centuries.

Saddam didn't have any objections to selling us oil. Despite all his rhetoric, even Hugo Chavez sells plenty of oil to us.

From a purely self interested, BigOil view, Saddam and Chavez are emotionally unstable and not as reliable oil producers as an American puppet government would be.

It makes more sense for Exxon and BP if we replaced them with a Western friendly Mubarak and Lula.

September 13, 2009 at 10:49 PM  
Anonymous The Undiscovered Jew said...

TGGP,

Hugo Chavez sells plenty of oil to us.

Venezuelan oil output is stalling because Chavez's anti-business policies are discouraging badly needed investment from foreign oil companies.

Again, from the perspective of BigOil and corporate America, it's better to install a third world Westernized dictator and bribe him and his associates with money and blond Russian call girls as long he promises to keep the crude oil flowing rather than relying on some unstable Che wannabe.

September 13, 2009 at 10:58 PM  
Blogger newt0311 said...

I agree with the Undiscovered Jew in all of his so far mentioned points except for his insistence on setting up a puppet government. It seems easier to me to just annex these locations into the US proper. It gets rid of the uncertain human element.

September 14, 2009 at 3:12 AM  
Blogger juantblanco said...

TGGP -- My entire post was tongue in cheek. Even without Moldbug vision the Honduras situation merits a sigh.

newt0311 -- If you rule a place outright you have to pay all of the internal and security costs, its often cheaper to let people have the illusion that they are ruling themselves.

Undiscovered Jew -- The problem with the paleoconservatives is that they believe in the Old Republic. I don't think I have to explain to you the connection between the neocons and Trotsky but elsewhere on the Right its hard to find a constituency for Empire.

Also, Empire isn't necessarily Right or Left wing domestically... and probably would have to draw votes/ support from traditionally Democratic groups as bribes (bread and circuses) and because its better for the invaders to look like the people they are invading.

September 14, 2009 at 5:44 AM  
Blogger newt0311 said...

@Justinblanco

If you rule a place outright you have to pay all of the internal and security costs, its often cheaper to let people have the illusion that they are ruling themselves.

Yeah, but we get all the tax revenue (which in a well run country is sizable even by Washington standards). We also get rid of the weak link in the whole plan -- the temperamental puppet.

Also, Empire isn't necessarily Right or Left wing domestically... and probably would have to draw votes/ support from traditionally Democratic groups as bribes (bread and circuses) and because its better for the invaders to look like the people they are invading.

Perhaps not strictly. However, in the current political climate, it will be completely right-wing. It simply gives too much added power to the military for it to be anything but a right-wing movement. Thats also why its not going to happen. Also, there is no need for invaders to look like the invaded -- witness the success of the British in Africa and India where they looked nothing like the natives and did nothing to assimilate themselves or give any impression of themselves other than overlords.

September 14, 2009 at 7:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's part of what makes the "war for oil" thing so stupid: we got LESS oil after the war.

That's why the war wasn't about oil (duh!).

September 14, 2009 at 10:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He also says intervention was a good thing in WW2, making me more dovish than Chomsky.

And also dumber.

September 14, 2009 at 10:37 AM  
Blogger newt0311 said...

@Anon 10:34

Thats the thing. The war was not about oil,it was about some vague idealistic crapshoot of a bunch of demophilic imperialist naive fools.

The demophilic imperialist is by far the worst part. Those ideologies, while not in conflict logically, are in conflict practically.

Here, we are wishing that the war was all about oil. It would work out better for Iraq, better for the US, and most importantly, better for us.

September 14, 2009 at 10:40 AM  
Anonymous togo said...

Thats the thing. The war was not about oil,it was about some vague idealistic crapshoot of a bunch of demophilic imperialist naive fools.

Not so vague.

September 14, 2009 at 2:25 PM  
Blogger newt0311 said...

@togo

Seriously, Israel or secret cabals? That's your explanation for the Iraq war?

This is what happens when I am sloppy with my words and reasoning.

My sloppiness relies primarily on assigning agency where there is none. Namely, in assigning agency to Washington. As MM has pointed out time and time again, in Washington, there is nobody in charge. Thus there is nobody there to really refer to when one speaks of the will of Washington or why Washington did something. Washington is a mass chaotic influence machine (of which elected officials are only one of the parts). Every once in a while, some disparate group of interests line up somehow and Washington "does" something. Whats really happening is that all these interests are pushing towards that something and as a result of this mass action, stuff is happening in Washington.

When I spoke of the "reason" that the US (i.e., Washington) went to war in Iraq, I collected up what I thought to be the dominant group of influences for the war. The wish to spread democracy was obviously one of the influence, at least among the more naive players (i.e., at least voters). Note that this is also imperialist as it spreads one own social system to others whether they want it or not.

Of course, the defense related influences were there as well but these could not (I think) have sustained the war by themselves. This is amply hinted by the many policies the US adopted when Iraq was occupied which were blatantly detrimental to defense but not necessarily detrimental to the demophilic imperialist agenda. Note that the weakness of the defense influences is especially evident now as the US government seems to be doing very carefully exactly what will put the US in the most danger.

Did one or two people want to go to war to benefit Israel? Maybe but I have yet to see any evidence that this was a major influence.

A few important things here: no individual or small group of individuals (I am thinking on the order of a few tens) can make any difference whatsoever in Washington. The idea that a few high-level defense officials could initiate the Iraq war is ridiculous and if you want to push that view, you will have to provide articles that offer hard evidence instead of just idle speculation.

That is what I meant when I wrote: "it was about some vague idealistic crapshoot of a bunch of demophilic imperialist naive fools."

September 14, 2009 at 3:55 PM  
Anonymous togo said...

Seriously, Israel or secret cabals?

No,open cabals-plus whatever was going on in the mind of the POTUS. Add credulous fools like Colin Powell.

September 14, 2009 at 4:44 PM  
Anonymous The Undiscovered Jew said...

As MM has pointed out time and time again, in Washington, there is nobody in charge.

To be precise, MM argues that nobody competent is in charge in DC because nobody (except interchangeable and mediocre presidents) has any clear, traceable, authority in DC.

Again, empire is an extremely durable form of government.

Empire only comes apart when the empire builders get sentimental about the "human rights" of the savages they seek to rule.

Either go in with the intent to kick ass and take names or don't go at all.

September 14, 2009 at 5:10 PM  
Blogger newt0311 said...

@Undis... Jew

To be precise, MM argues that nobody competent is in charge in DC because nobody (except interchangeable and mediocre presidents) has any clear, traceable, authority in DC.

When I said nobody, I meant single body or small group of body. A good rule of thumb would be a body where everybody knew the names of everybody else. Instead, MM argues that the people in charge are those of the cathedral, a group that numbers in the thousands. With influence spread this far wide, individual authority has no place to play and thus, as I said, decisions are not made, they happen as the result of a chaotic pseudo-random alignment of interests and influences. As the group interests and those of the ruled are different, it is pretty much a given that the resulting rule will resemble that of an incompetent fool. However, it should be noted that the people who are a part of this are decidedly not incompetent. They are very competent -- at forwarding their own interests and those of their cabal.

I think this is another case of getting definitions crossed while agreeing on the uderlying subject matter.

Also, I agree with your analysis on empire. Civilizations always rot from within. History is quite clear on this matter.

September 14, 2009 at 5:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From the New York Times article on Joya:

“The policy at that time was, ‘The only good Communist is a dead Communist,’ ” he continued. “I supported the policy.”

Now there's a government policy I can get behind!

September 14, 2009 at 5:46 PM  
Anonymous P.M.Lawrence said...

The Undiscovered Jew wrote "If we are going to invade other countries, then we should do it the way the Romans and British did, ie, overthrow the nutcase local tribe leader and install a military governor".

Only, they didn't. They installed or adapted locals as client rulers, only resorting to direct rule when that wasn't or ceased to be an option.

September 14, 2009 at 7:41 PM  
Anonymous The Undiscovered Jew said...

Only, they didn't. They installed or adapted locals as client rulers, only resorting to direct rule when that wasn't or ceased to be an option.

I meant they ruled by proxy in a number of cases by installing a puppet government.

And proxy control proved highly effective for both empires.

September 14, 2009 at 8:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With the exception of perhaps the original action in Afghanistan, Honduras follows the pattern of USG-DOS behavior since the Berlin Wall fell. What else would one expect from the Harvard/Yale/Oxford mafia that dominates DOS?

The good social(ist) democrats at DOS are not Americans; they're citizens of the world. They're ashamed of American power and prosperity. The pampered elite correctly regard their good fortune as the consequence of theft and good luck rather than determination and hard work, but incorrectly extrapolate their own life experience to that of their countrymen. It's only natural that they would support socialists -- either democratic or totalitarian -- over those who favor free markets, individual liberty, and limited government because they know that "free markets" is just code for bourgeois exploitation, "individual liberty" conflicts with their communitarian ideal, and "limited government" contrains the goodness of their god.

September 15, 2009 at 8:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"It's only natural that they would support socialists -- either democratic or totalitarian -- over those who favor free markets, individual liberty, and limited government because they know that "free markets" is just code for bourgeois exploitation, "individual liberty" conflicts with their communitarian ideal, and "limited government" contrains the goodness of their god."

Very well said.

September 17, 2009 at 10:03 AM  

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