Author Topic: Grand Strategy for a Divided America  (Read 256234 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Thucydides

  • Army.ca Legend
  • *****
  • 196,510
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 13,771
  • Freespeecher
Re: Grand Strategy for a Divided America
« Reply #600 on: April 22, 2016, 10:05:12 »
Although this article is specifically about the election, it raises a point that America has a longstanding problem negotiating deals with other cultures and nations (for the reasons listed). If the US were to adopt some of the posture that Donald Trump is advocating, then perhaps it would be less likely to end up with bad deals like the ones negotiated with the DPRK and Iran:

https://pjmedia.com/diaryofamadvoter/2016/04/21/is-trump-right-on-trade/?singlepage=true

Quote
Is Trump Right on Trade?
By Roger L Simon April 21, 2016
 
One of the hallmarks of Donald Trump's presidential campaign is his insistence that the United States made terrible trade deals with foreign countries, resulting in significant domestic job losses, and that he -- or his fabulous friends (hello, Carl Icahn!) -- would fix those deals and make better, indeed "great," ones.  Trump also opposes the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) as written and maybe altogether.

As a reflexive free trader, when I first heard this, I dismissed it as so much campaign blather. Okay, we've lost jobs, but in the modern, increasingly high-tech world some will gain and others lose. Capitalism is about creative destruction. Trump of all people should know that -- his real estate properties have often done well, his personally branded vodka not so much. And there's the argument that outsourcing to low-wage countries keeps American prices down, so even welfare recipients can afford the new iPhone 5e, if they're dissatisfied with their Obamaphone.

And yet, two factors lead me to think Trump has a point:

One, we're horrible negotiators in general, not just the current abysmal administration, but all the way back to Clinton and Bush. This is particularly true in foreign affairs, an area many of us pay attention to, especially the nuclear deals with North Korea and Iran. Those negotiations involved our national security and the safety of the world and it's hard to find anyone these days, other than John Kerry and he's beginning to sound ambivalent, who thinks they were or are even remotely successful. They're pretty close to farce. North Korea continues apace with its nuclear program and Iran is on its way to becoming, thanks to us, the richest terror state in history, a veritable Middle East hegemon, with nuclear arms only years away.

That being the case, since we can't handle anything as crucial (and publicly discussed) as nuclear negotiations, is there any reason to believe we did a good or even decent job with the obscure intricacies of trade? These are agreements almost no one, other than those in some immediate industry usually with a direct corporate interest, even knows are being negotiated. I know I'm not alone in not reading the TPP deal, which is thirty chapters long and involves some 18,000 individual tariff negotiations. Which leads me to question two....

Who negotiates? For us, I would imagine, largely unsupervised government bureaucrats, some of whom may have business experience of some sort. Meanwhile, these trade deals are often negotiated on the other side by representatives of cultures very different from our own. Australia and New Zealand are part of TPP, but so are Mexico and Malaysia. Mexico's history of monumental corruption was well known long before the world's biggest drug dealer, El Chapo, built a mile-long tunnel and made his dramatic prison break, impossible without government help.  Malaysian corruption merits its own Wikipedia entry. China, not part of TPP but our biggest trading partner after the EU and Canada, is an elaborate corrupt communist-corporate-cronyist mega-state that would make the Soviet nomenklatura blush. No one, certainly no one on the outside, has real knowledge of the details of China's finances.

I'm not suggesting we stop trading because of this. That's a recipe for global meltdown. But what this does mean is that when we do negotiate trade deals with countries like these we should keep in mind we are essentially negotiating with the Mafia. Virtually no firewall exists for them between business and government and they have little or no oversight, no Sarbanes-Oxley or Dodd-Frank in Beijing (we probably shouldn't have them either). Many, perhaps most, of these countries are kleptocracies of various levels. Would you trust our government's bureaucrats to do the negotiating with people like that or would you prefer experienced business professionals from the private sector?

Trump clearly wants  to bring in that private sector, notably Icahn. Donald even finally mentioned a few other names at his New York victory party, but I missed them. I don't know if this approach would work necessarily, but there's something sensible in it and worth trying beneath all his often juvenile hodgepodge of insults.

It's important to remember Trump is primarily a negotiator, as he tells us repeatedly. He doesn't have many policies per se like the traditional politician, at least not yet; instead he has starting points for deal-making, negotiating positions. It's what he has always done, how he undoubtedly buys property before putting up an apartment complex or hotel. This approach accounts for the seemingly extreme statements on Mexicans and Muslims that are, in a sense, positions meant to be pulled back to a compromise point even as the assertion is made. The same goes for his NATO proposals. Everything is up for negotiation and intended to be.

Trump's technique of putting business negotiation first may seem unique to our politics, but it does have precedents of sorts in our history.  Calvin Coolidge -- revered by many conservatives -- did say the "business of America is business," which would make Trump a kind of a reality-show Coolidge. How this will play out, whether it will bring jobs home and make America even a little bit greater again, we will see in the days to come.
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline Thucydides

  • Army.ca Legend
  • *****
  • 196,510
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 13,771
  • Freespeecher
Re: Grand Strategy for a Divided America
« Reply #601 on: July 04, 2016, 17:29:26 »
A point to remember from a rather underrated President.

Happy 4th of July!

Quote
About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.

Calvin Coolidge, Address at the Celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia on July 5, 1926.
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline Thucydides

  • Army.ca Legend
  • *****
  • 196,510
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 13,771
  • Freespeecher
Re: Grand Strategy for a Divided America
« Reply #602 on: July 11, 2016, 00:36:34 »
As the general says, many people understand the problem, but very few seem to have the will to do anything about it:

http://nypost.com/2016/07/09/the-military-fired-me-for-calling-our-enemies-radical-jihadis/

Quote
The military fired me for calling our enemies radical jihadis
By Michael Flynn July 9, 2016 | 11:26pm

Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who is reportedly being vetted by Donald Trump as a potential running mate, was fired as head of the ­Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) in the winter of 2014 after three decades in the military. Here he tells the real story of his departure from his post and why America is not getting any closer to winning the war on terror.

Two years ago, I was called into a meeting with the undersecretary of defense for intelligence and the director of national intelligence, and after some “niceties,” I was told by the USDI that I was being let go from DIA. It was definitely an uncomfortable moment (I suspect more for them than me).

I asked the DNI (Gen. James Clapper) if my leadership of the agency was in question and he said it was not; had it been, he said, they would have relieved me on the spot.

I knew then it had more to do with the stand I took on radical Islamism and the expansion of al Qaeda and its associated movements. I felt the intel system was way too politicized, especially in the Defense Department. After being fired, I left the meeting thinking, “Here we are in the middle of a war, I had a significant amount of combat experience (nearly five years) against this determined enemy on the battlefield and served at senior levels, and here it was, the bureaucracy was letting me go.” Amazing.

At the time, I was working very hard to change the culture of DIA from one overly focused on Washington, DC, to a culture that focused on our forward-based war fighters and commanders. It was not an easy shift, but it was necessary and exactly the reason I was put into the job in the first place.

In the end, I was pissed but knew that I had maintained my integrity and was determined in the few months I had left to continue the changes I was instituting and to keep beating the drum about the vicious enemy we were facing (still are).

I would not change a lick how I operate. Our country has too much at stake.

We’re in a global war, facing an enemy alliance that runs from Pyongyang, North Korea, to Havana, Cuba, and Caracas, Venezuela. Along the way, the alliance picks up radical Muslim countries and organizations such as Iran, al Qaeda, the Taliban and Islamic State.

That’s a formidable coalition, and nobody should be shocked to discover that we are losing the war.

If our leaders were interested in winning, they would have to design a strategy to destroy this global enemy. But they don’t see the global war. Instead, they timidly nibble around the edges of the battlefields from Africa to the Middle East, and act as if each fight, whether in Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, Libya or Afghanistan, can be peacefully resolved by diplomatic effort.

This approach is doomed. We have real enemies, dedicated to dominating and eventually destroying us, and they are not going to be talked out of their hatred. Iran, for example, declared war on the United States in 1979 — that’s 37 years ago — and has been killing Americans ever since. Every year, the State Department declares Iran to be the world’s primary supporter of terror. Do you think we’ll nicely and politely convince them to be good citizens and even (as President Obama desires) a responsible ally supporting peace? Do you think ISIS or the Taliban wants to embrace us?

No, we’re not going to talk our way out of this war, nor can we escape its horrors. Ask the people in San Bernardino or South Florida, or the relatives of the thousands killed on 9/11. We’re either going to win or lose. There is no other “solution.”

I believe we can and must win. This war must be waged both militarily and politically; we have to destroy the enemy armies and combat enemy doctrines. Both are doable. On military battlefields, we have defeated radical Islamic forces every time we have seriously gone after them, from Iraq to Afghanistan. Their current strength is not a reflection of their ability to overwhelm our armed forces, but rather the consequence of our mistaken and untimely withdrawal after demolishing them.

We have failed to challenge their jihadist doctrines, even though their true believers only number a small fraction of the Muslim world, and even though everybody, above all most living Muslims, knows that the Islamic world is an epic failure, desperately needing economic, cultural and educational reform of the sort that has led to the superiority of the West.

So first of all, we need to demolish the terror armies, above all in the Middle East and Libya. We have the wherewithal, but lack the will. That has to change. It’s hard to imagine it happening with our current leaders, but the next president will have to do it.

As we defeat them on the ground, we must clearly and forcefully attack their crazy doctrines. Defeat on battlefields does great damage to their claim to be acting as agents of divine will. After defeating al Qaeda in Iraq, we should have challenged the Islamic world and asked: “How did we win? Did Allah change sides?”

We need to denounce them as false prophets, as we insist on the superiority of our own political vision. This applies in equal measure to the radical secular elements of the enemy coalition. Is North Korea some sort of success story? Does anyone this side of a university seminar think the Cuban people prefer the Castros’ tyranny to real freedom? Is Vladimir Putin a model leader for the 21st-century world?

Just as the Muslim world has failed, so the secular tyrants have wrecked their own countries. They hate us in part because they know their own peoples would prefer to live as we do. They hope to destroy us before they have to face the consequences of their many failures.

Remember that Machiavelli insisted that tyranny is the most unstable form of government.

It infuriates me when our president bans criticism of our enemies, and I am certain that we cannot win this war unless we are free to call our enemies by their proper names: radical jihadis, failed tyrants, and so forth.

With good leadership, we should win. But we desperately need good leaders to reverse our enemies’ successes.

Flynn is the author of the new book, “The Field of Flight,” (St. Martin’s Press), out Tuesday.
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline Thucydides

  • Army.ca Legend
  • *****
  • 196,510
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 13,771
  • Freespeecher
Re: Grand Strategy for a Divided America
« Reply #603 on: July 29, 2016, 19:13:13 »
The starting point for the next administration is going to be a pretty terrible one, regardless of who it is. *We* in the West have "lost the peace", and reestablishing a peaceful and prosperous new order in the world will be a very difficult task:

http://www.the-american-interest.com/2016/07/28/the-world-is-at-war-and-the-peace-has-been-lost/

Quote
AFTER OBAMA
The World Is at War and the Peace Has Been Lost
WALTER RUSSELL MEAD

From the quiet country churches of Normandy through the civil wars of Africa, the killing fields of Syria, Putin’s war against the modern European order and China’s lawless surge into the waters beyond its shores, the dark storm clouds gather.

Pope Francis has noticed:

Pope Francis compared recent terrorist attacks to last century’s world wars, saying that “the world is at war because it has lost the peace.”

In remarks during a Wednesday flight to Poland, where he began a five-day visit, the pope also decried the slaying of a French priest by attackers who claimed allegiance to Islamic State and tied it to the killing of Christians by terrorists in other regions of the world.

Francis is not always the world’s clearest thinker on matters of politics and policy, but he hit the nail right on the head here: we have lost the peace. It is an interesting counterpoint to the Democratic establishment’s celebration of itself and its wisdom last night. And the Pope’s point suggests what is likely to be the starting point of historians’ analysis of Barack Obama’s foreign policy legacy: not how he succeeded, but how and why was the peace lost on his watch?

Hillary Clinton is pursuing a job that will be much harder than the job her husband faced, and she will need to do something that many of her most ardent supporters hope she won’t have to do: when the world is at war because it has lost the peace, you have to think outside the box and go well beyond the world of stale liberal truisms of the Boomer Progressive Synthesis.

That she is more suited by intellect and experience to the Presidency than her principal opponent is not in question. Neither is there any doubt that the Democratic Party today is in better shape to provide the country with coherent leadership than the squabbling remnants and angry factions fighting over what used to be the party of Abraham Lincoln.

But what is very much in question is whether she and her party have what it takes to lead the nation through what is likely to be a very stormy and difficult time, a time that is likely to test many of the comfortable ideas and compromises that hold the party together well past their design strength.
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline Thucydides

  • Army.ca Legend
  • *****
  • 196,510
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 13,771
  • Freespeecher
Re: Grand Strategy for a Divided America
« Reply #604 on: August 04, 2016, 09:47:18 »
A look at the voter breakdown. If this election breaks the deadlock in American politics, then perhaps the United States can move in a new direction and the uncertainty gripping the West can dissipate:
(part 1)

http://www.aei.org/publication/the-coming-electoral-crack-up/

Quote
The coming electoral crack-up?
Will voter discontent shatter the partisan deadlock in U.S. politics this November?

Heading into the 2016 presidential election cycle, the most influential guide for political journalists was a 2008 book called The Party Decides. Written by four eminent political scientists, it explained that for several decades presidential nominees have effectively been chosen by unelected political insiders, as candidates fight in “invisible primaries” for endorsements by prominent politicians and interest groups. The voters, it argued, tended to ratify these choices and rally around candidates with widespread and prestigious support.

But like John Kenneth Galbraith’s 1967 book The New Industrial State, which argued that big corporations, tempered by big government and big labor unions, determined the course of the economy, The Party Decides turned out to be a better description of the recent past than an accurate forecast of the near-term future. Political science, despite its name, is not a science, and generalizations about presidential elections are risky because there have been so few of them—only 46 since something like the current two-party system sprang into existence in 1832 and only 11 since primaries started dominating the selection of party nominees in 1972. When I was in the political polling business, I was told not to base conclusions on the responses of subgroups comprised of fewer than fifty respondents. Scholars of presidential elections, even if they go back to the days when Andrew Jackson faced off against Henry Clay, have less data to work with than that.

Certainly few analysts in May 2015, just 14 months before the national conventions, predicted that Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders would be serious competitors for the Republican and Democratic nominations. Neither the New York real-estate billionaire nor the Vermont socialist had significant support from his party’s elected officeholders or party officials. Indeed, each had received endorsements from only a handful of party insiders up through the conclusion of the primary season 13 months later. Yet Trump won 42 percent of the votes cast in Republican primaries and caucuses up through the Indiana primary on May 3, 2016, after which his remaining two opponents withdrew. By the last contest on June 7, he had won 44 percent. Sanders had won 43 percent of votes cast in Democratic primaries and caucuses, but that was not enough to defeat Hillary Clinton in what was effectively a two-candidate contest. But Trump’s vote totals were enough to secure a delegate majority in a race that had started off with 17 serious candidates. “The party” got the Democratic nominee of its choice, but only after a longer struggle and by a narrower margin than it surely imagined, while “the party” was utterly foiled in the Republican contest despite an impressive array of attractive and competent candidates.

So why has this presidential campaign cycle been different from all other presidential campaign cycles? And is the general-election campaign likely to be as different from other general-election campaigns as the primary contests were different from their predecessors?

“One way to look at this election is as a collision of an irresistible force with an immovable object. This irresistible force is the widespread discontent with the direction of the nation today. The immoveble object is the persistent partisan divisions that have prevailed and intensified in presidential, congressional, and state elections over the past twenty years.”

One way to look at this election is as a collision of an irresistible force with an immovable object. This irresistible force is the widespread discontent with the direction of the nation today. The immoveble object is the persistent partisan divisions that have prevailed and intensified in presidential, congressional, and state elections over the past twenty years.

The sources of the irresistible force of discontent are not hard to discern. After resurgent growth and victory in the Cold War in the 1980s, and continuing economic growth in the 1990s, the 21st century brought Americans 15 years of mostly sluggish growth and a series of mostly unsuccessful, or at least inconclusive, foreign military interventions. Major legislation passed by one-party votes, notably the 2009 stimulus package and the 2010 Affordable Care Act, have proved to be far less popular than their sponsors expected. Major bipartisan legislation, frequent in Bill Clinton’s presidency and the first term of George W. Bush’s, has become rare if not extinct, with a President lacking the inclination and skill to negotiate and a Republican House majority often unwilling to trust its leadership.

This discontent found an outlet in the disruptive candidacies of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. Each attracted constituencies different from those in his party’s recent nomination contests. Republicans in 2008 and 2012 were divided between countryside and suburbs, between white Evangelical Christians and less intensely religious groups. The divisions can be seen in the critical contests between John McCain and Mike Huckabee in 2008 and between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum in 2012. In both cases the eventual nominee piled up big majorities in the relatively affluent and somewhat less Evangelical suburbs, while his opponent carried rural areas and small towns, but not by enough votes to prevail.

In 2016 the divisions were different. White evangelicals did not vote solidly for any candidate, but split their votes between Trump, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio. Large suburban counties in many states gave Trump pluralities or even majorities. One clear pattern is that Trump ran better among voters without college degrees (“I love the poorly educated!” he exclaimed after winning the Nevada caucuses) than college graduates, but he got sizeable numbers of votes from graduates as well. Certain demographic groups resisted Trump’s appeal: Mormons, Dutch-Americans in northwest and central Iowa and western Michigan, German- and Scandinavian-Americans in Wisconsin and the Upper Midwest states. Other ethnic groups tilted toward Trump. A majority of Italian-Americans live within a hundred miles of New York City, and in that arc Trump won more than 50 percent of the votes, including 81 percent in heavily Italian-American Staten Island. In addition, he ran strongest not in Florida’s Southern-accented congressional districts, but in those with the largest number of migrants from New York and the Northeast. Examining the returns, I argued that Trump fared poorly with those groups with large degrees of what scholars Charles Murray and Robert Putnam have called social connectedness or social capital, and did very well with groups with low social connectedness. His percentages in Appalachia—from southwest Pennsylvania through Tennessee, northern Alabama, and Mississippi—were especially large.

The Democratic primaries saw some reversals of the Party’s trends in 2008. That year, Barack Obama beat Hillary Clinton among black voters by wide margins. In 2016 Clinton won black voters over Bernie Sanders by similarly large margins in the South and somewhat smaller margins in the North. However, in 2008 Clinton dominated Appalachia; in 2016 it voted for Sanders. In both elections Clinton tended to carry Hispanic voters, but in 2016 she did significantly less well among white voters without college degrees, and Sanders tended to carry small towns and rural counties not only in his home area of New England but across the Midwest and in white-majority regions in the South.

Both nominees owed their victories to large majorities cast by their parties’ most downscale constituencies—blacks, especially Southern blacks, in the Democratic Party, whites without college degrees in the Republican Party. For the Democrats, the result conformed to the thesis of The Party Decides. Hillary Clinton had the lion’s share of endorsements from party officials and office-holders, but she won because of big margins from black voters; exit polls suggest she did no better than break even among white Democratic voters. For the Republicans, the result was directly contrary to the wishes of almost all party insiders. Trump benefited greatly from his celebrity, gained as a publicity-hungry real estate mogul even before he became a reality-television host, and he dominated news coverage of the Republican race—getting more airtime on cable and broadcast news than the 16 other candidates combined from the day in June 2015 when he rode the escalator down to the Trump Tower lobby to announce his candidacy.

Trump benefited as well from the dynamic of a multi-candidate race, in which it is not in the interest of one candidate to attack another: an attack by candidate A on candidate B may hurt B, but it is likely to hurt A as well and help C or D or E. That is exactly what happened when Chris Christie launched an attack on Marco Rubio in the debate days before the New Hampshire primary. Rubio lost his chance for a second-place finish that might have propelled him to a one-on-one contest with Trump, while Christie ran poorly and left the race the day after the primary. The New Hampshire results encouraged Jeb Bush to stay in the race through the South Carolina primary, where his percentage added to Rubio’s was just 2 percent lower than Trump’s, and it gave life to the candidacy of John Kasich—who, unlike Rubio, carried his home state on March 15 and remained in the race until May, though he only carried seven counties outside Ohio. Trump’s best-organized rival, Ted Cruz, did win the Iowa caucuses, but lost by agonizingly narrow margins in multi-candidate races in Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Missouri. He won a solid victory over Trump in heavily German-American and high-social capital Wisconsin on April 5, but lost in demographically diverse Indiana on May 3 and exited the race.

“Trump’s victory was not inevitable, but it was perhaps overdetermined. He was an outsider candidate, defying political correctness, in a year when discontent was an irresistible force.”
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline Thucydides

  • Army.ca Legend
  • *****
  • 196,510
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 13,771
  • Freespeecher
Re: Grand Strategy for a Divided America
« Reply #605 on: August 04, 2016, 09:47:55 »
(part 2)

Quote
Trump’s victory was not inevitable, but it was perhaps overdetermined. He was an outsider candidate, defying political correctness, in a year when discontent was an irresistible force. Not considered a standard politician, he announced his candidacy when the Republicans’ leading contender was the son and brother of two former Presidents and the Democrats’ was the wife of another. He criticized both parties while wooing a Republican electorate not only harshly critical of Barack Obama, but also of many of the programs of George W. Bush and of the current Republican congressional leadership.

So the irresistible force of discontent prevailed in the race for the Republican nomination and came closer to prevailing than almost anyone expected in the race for the Democratic nomination.

But how will it fare against the immovable object of persistent strong partisan attachments in the general election? The most downscale constituencies of each party have produced two nominees who are unpopular with a majority of general-election voters—how will it play out in November?

The partisan deadlock has been as protracted any in our history. Democrats have won four of the last six presidential elections, and a plurality of the popular vote in a fifth, while Republicans have won majorities in the House of Representatives in nine of the last 11 congressional elections. But neither side has won by big margins. No major-party nominee has won less than 46 percent of the popular vote or more than 53 percent over the past 16 years, or the past 24 years if you allocate Ross Perot voters in 1992 and 1996 to their second-choice candidates. This is in vivid contrast to the four decades after World War II, in which incumbent Presidents of both parties in times of perceived peace and prosperity won re-election by landslide margins in 1956, 1964, 1972, and 1984. In those years most voters remembered the horrors of the Depression and World War II and were glad to cross party lines for Presidents who seemed to produce better times.

Today most voters remember what seemed to be the more peaceful and prosperous decades of the 1980s and 1990s, a time in which party preferences were shaped increasingly by cultural issues. In the 1990s the demographic variable most highly correlated with voting behavior was religion, or degree of religiosity, with the most observant in each sectarian group veering Republican and the less observant or secular veering Democratic. As a result, suburban voters in major metropolitan areas outside the South moved toward the Democratic Party, while there was a countervailing but quantitatively smaller shift toward the Republican Party outside major metropolitan areas. At the same time, partisan preference in presidential and congressional elections converged. From 1968 to 1988 Republicans won five of six presidential elections, by an average margin of 10 percent of the popular vote, while Democrats won majorities with at least 243 seats in the House. Starting in 1992 Democrats have won most presidential elections, but by an average margin of only 4 percent of the popular vote, and Republicans have won most congressional elections but failed to hold more than 242 House seats until they won 247 in 2014.

This partisan deadlock has resulted in an unusually stable electoral map by historical standards. Only three states changed their electoral-college votes between 2000 and 2004; only two did so between 2008 and 2012. The list of 11 target states has become familiar even to those who are not political junkies, and campaigns have concentrated most of their organizational and advertising efforts there. Voters have responded accordingly. Total voter turnout sagged between 2008 and 2012, but it was up 0.8 percent in the 11 target states, while it fell 2.7 percent in the rest of the nation. It has become easy to predict how three-quarters or more of the states will vote in presidential elections, even as it has remained difficult to predict which candidate will win.

This immovable object may prove movable in November 2016, though probably not as movable as suggested by the predictions in some quarters that Donald Trump would lose by a wide margin, with something like the 38 percent won by Barry Goldwater and George McGovern in the postwar elections of 1964 and 1972. Pre-national convention polling indicates that, despite the turmoil of the primary campaign season, solid majorities of self-identified Republicans and Democrats are prepared to vote for their parties’ nominees. Neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton has received 50 percent in just about any national poll, and polls in the 2012 target states—which are less frequent and perhaps less reliable—have seldom shown either with overwhelming leads.

But there are some discernible differences from previous electoral cycles. Trump is polling as well as or better than Mitt Romney did in 2012 among whites without college degrees but is running perceptibly weaker among white graduates—results in line with the divisions in the Republican primaries. Clinton is running far ahead among blacks and Hispanics. But it’s unlikely that she will be able to equal the turnout or Democratic percentages among blacks achieved by the first black President. And Trump’s poll numbers among Hispanics—a more varied group, with quite different partisan leanings in different states—are roughly similar to what Romney was polling four years before. Young voters seem highly hostile to Trump, but young women as well as young men voted heavily for Sanders and against Clinton in the Democratic primaries, and their support for Clinton over Trump seems less than enthusiastic.

This suggests that Trump may be highly competitive in target states with older and less-educated populations, such as Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Together they have 67 electoral votes, without which Barack Obama would not have been re-elected in 2012. It also suggests that Trump’s prospects are significantly less favorable in target states with younger and more-educated populations, like Colorado, Virginia, and North Carolina. These have 37 electoral votes, with North Carolina’s 15 going to Mitt Romney in 2012.

And the list of target states could conceivably be expanded. Pre-election polling has shown Trump weaker than previous Republican nominees in heavily Republican states and Clinton somewhat weaker than previous Democrats in some heavily Democratic states. Democrats’ hopes of carrying Arizona and Georgia, with their large Hispanic and black populations, could be realized if Trump fails to match previous nominees’ large share of white votes. Polls have even shown a close race in Utah, Romney’s strongest state, whose Mormon majority has shown a clear distaste for Trump. Some supporters of Trump have claimed, unconvincingly, that he could win heavily Democratic New York and New Jersey and, more convincingly, that his anti-free-trade positions could enable him to carry Michigan and Minnesota. Both have been absent from previous target-state lists, but voted only 54 and 53 percent for Obama in 2012.

Moreover, there appear to be more undecided voters than in recent elections. At this stage in 2008 and 2012, fewer than 10 percent of respondents to most polls said they were not voting for either major-party candidate. In 2016 pre-convention polling that percentage has been higher, around 15 percent. When respondents are given a choice of voting for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein, the number who choose neither major-party candidate rises to about 23 percent. Polls giving respondents a choice of third- and fourth-party candidates probably overstate respondents’ actual support for these candidates, which has typically decreased or evaporated when it comes time to actually vote. With sizeable majorities of voters expressing unfavorable feelings toward both Clinton and Trump, it’s plausible that larger than usual percentages are unwilling to commit to either and could change their minds during the course of the campaign.

“In a nation closely divided between two partisan blocs, differences in turnout can produce differences in results.”

And it’s plausible as well that many of these people will simply not vote. Voter turnout surged enormously during the Bush presidency, from 105 million in 2000 to 131 million in 2008. But contrary to popular impression, it has sagged perceptibly during the Obama presidency, in both the 2012 presidential election (from 131 million to 129 million) and the 2014 House contests (from 86 million in 2010 to 79 million). In a nation closely divided between two partisan blocs, differences in turnout can produce differences in results. Democrats hope that voters antagonized by Trump will turn out in large numbers, but there is little history in presidential elections of high turnout motivated by negative feelings toward a candidate. Trump backers hope that voters energized by Trump’s unorthodox messages will turn out in great numbers, noting that Republican primary turnout in 2016 surged far ahead of 2008 and 2012 levels while Democratic primary turnout lagged behind that of 2008. But the evidence suggests that Trump’s specific appeal was responsible for less than half the increased primary turnout.

Both parties face difficulty in maximizing turnout for their sides. Trump won the Republican nomination without any large organization and in the weeks running up to the national conventions did little to assemble one, apparently intending to rely on Republican National Committee efforts. The Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party appeared to have a much more effective turnout apparatus, and one that delivered victory in 2012. But even then Barack Obama received 3.5 million fewer votes than he had four years before.

The Clinton camp is likely to have difficulty matching the 2008 Obama campaign’s success in mobilizing support from young voters. The exit poll that year showed Obama leading John McCain by 66 to 32 percent among those under thirty; his popular-vote margin among that age group amounted to 7 percent of the total electorate, identical to his overall popular-vote margin. In the 2014 House election, in contrast, the Democratic margin among young voters was 54 to 43 percent and, with lower turnout, amounted to only 1.5 percent of the total electorate. Young people tend to move frequently, have few community ties, and be less interested in politics and government than older people. Clinton’s weak showing among young voters in the primaries suggests they lack enthusiasm for her despite their evident distaste for Trump.

The Trump camp is likely to have difficulty maximizing turnout as well. His strongest support in primaries came from those with low social connectedness, who are presumably hard to contact and mobilize. For all his success in the primaries, he had won just 42 percent of Republican primary and caucus voters when he clinched the nomination in the Indiana primary on May 3.

So it remains an open question how the seemingly irresistible force of public discontent will shift the seemingly immovable object of partisan deadlock. There have been many surprises in the 2016 presidential election cycle so far. There may be many more ahead. The days of party decisions may be over. But it’s not clear who will be deciding now.

The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, 501(c)(3) educational organization and does not take institutional positions on any issues. The views expressed here are those of the author.
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline Thucydides

  • Army.ca Legend
  • *****
  • 196,510
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 13,771
  • Freespeecher
Re: Grand Strategy for a Divided America
« Reply #606 on: August 09, 2016, 11:00:08 »
This is the starting point for any discussion of her American and indeed Western society is going to change post November. The foundations have shifted and new alignments and possibilities will emerge. Of course we won't like a lot of what is going to happen....

http://www.the-american-interest.com/2016/08/08/a-wake-up-call-for-western-elites/

Quote
OF PEASANTS AND PITCHFORKS
A Wake Up Call for Western Elites
ANDREW A. MICHTA
Rebellion is stirring in the West, and maybe that’s not a bad thing.

It is easy to get caught in the tidal wave of pessimism that has gripped the West’s chattering classes and op-ed writers. The list of real problems confronting Europe and the United States is long, and getting longer still: slow growth, exploding jihadi terrorism, uncontrolled immigration, the hollowing out of NATO, and the weakening of the European Union. Region by region, the global security equation looks equally menacing, with the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) on fire amidst a Sunni-Shi‘a civil war, the fragmentation of Syria, Iraq, and Libya, and fighters flocking to the Islamic State intent on brushing aside the remnants of the Sykes-Picot system. The risk of armed conflict is growing in Asia and Europe, with China and Russia pressing their advantage, while Americans, weary of losses in what is now a 15-year War on Terror, look in vain for a viable strategy. Within the West itself events are approaching an inflection point; the liberal, globalist notions of the past two decades have suddenly (if only in hindsight not unexpectedly) run into a rapidly rising wall of popular resistance.

The forces that are reshaping the erstwhile globalist consensus are not, as critics would have it, simply “populism,” “racism,” or “lower class obscurantism,” but a 21st-century popular rebellion across the democratic West, which—warts and all—is readying itself to imprint the will of the modern demos onto what not so long ago many considered to be a progressively de-nationalized, postmodern consumer society. Steeped in resurgent nationalism, this public wave has crashed into the breach between the notional reality, which maintains that on balance Europe and America are still doing fine, and the perceived reality of high unemployment, high immigration rates, and segmented communities. It is amidst this sense of fragmentation and decline that latter-day peasants on both sides of the ocean are rising up, pitchforks in hand, against an increasingly denationalized aristocracy

The experience of open borders, mass migration, and top-down regulation has undercut the people’s sense of their own sovereignty in Western societies, leaving many to grapple not only with economic hardship but also, and perhaps even more importantly, with a growing sense of cultural marginalization in their own states. The backlash against immigration has been the key driver of the revolt. This backlash, however, is less against the principle as such; the West has been historically welcoming of immigrants. Rather, opposition has swelled against the speed and manner in which immigrants are brought into the national culture, as well as the official policies that exert little pressure on new arrivals to acculturate. Multiculturalism, with its anti-Western bent, in combination with the ascendency of the liberal left across national media and in culture debates, has convinced more and more people that their communities are being transformed with minimal elite concern for their aspirations and priorities. Today, the latter-day peasants of the collective West are massing outside the gates of the manor out of a sense that their governments have confined their values to the margins. To be sure, while some who demand closed borders are in the grip of prejudice, for the rest it is about the right to live in communities that remain familiar and, though they may evolve gradually over time, do not demand a sudden and wholesale transformation of culture.

The paradox of modern nationalism has always been its bifurcated nature: on the one hand, nationalism molds a larger community around a deeply internalized sense of reciprocity—what Ernest Gellner called a “special feeling” of community, even if, as Benedict Anderson later argued, these were “imagined communities”; on the other hand, it reaffirms the distinction between who is in and who is out, for kinship and discrimination are often two sides of the same coin. Still, a sense of shared national heritage is central to the cohesion of the state. The idea of a nation as an extension of some of the most rudimentary, if abstracted, ties that bind people to their family has historically created a sense of larger solidarity. Without it, the notions of a shared financial burden and obligation to defend the homeland or the need to sacrifice, if necessary, one’s individual comforts for the nation as a whole would never be possible. It is perhaps for this reason that the perennial talk of a European Union army has always been borderline delusional, for it implied a reciprocity of commitment and sacrifice where the internal ties were merely secondary to the national bond.

The gathering popular rebellion against the governing and cultural elites has begun to reshape the electoral landscape across the WestThe gathering popular rebellion against the governing and cultural elites has begun to reshape the electoral landscape across the West, as seen in the rise of nationalist parties in Europe and Trump in the United States. Though the process has only begun, the electoral map of Europe is already changing, with nationalist parties having polled in the latest elections 35.1 percent of the vote in Austria, 29 percent in Switzerland, 21 percent in Denmark and 21 percent in Hungary, 18 percent in Finland, 14 percent in France, 13 percent in Sweden, 10 percent in the Netherlands, 8 percent in Slovakia, 7 percent in Greece and 4 percent in Italy. In Germany, where nationalism historically has had a particularly toxic image, the nationalist anti-immigrant Alternative für Deutschland, which two years ago did not exist, polled 4.7 percent in the last election and now holds seats in half of the state legislatures. In Finland the nationalists came second in last year’s general election. In France’s regional elections in 2015 the National Front got 6.8 million votes—its highest number ever—and did not win in two regions it targeted only because the socialists threw their support behind the conservatives. And finally, in the United States, the unexpected victory of Donald Trump in the Republican primaries has shown the strength of anti-immigrant and anti-elite sentiment, forcing the GOP establishment hastily pick sides and realign party loyalties.

And yet there has been precious little introspection on the part of the intelligentsia on either side of the Atlantic as to what policies and factors of the past three decades have generated this surge of popular anger. The visceral response of our academic and professional classes to this rising tide of popular resistance in Europe and America has been initially to dismiss it as either another familiar populist spasm mixed with the fallout from the 2008 recession or as the inevitable aftershock of our transition to a post-industrial West. It has been called a manifestation of anger from those who lack the skills to adapt to a new economy—sore losers, unwilling or unable to retrain for new jobs, and therefore apt to fall through the cracks in the floor of our global edifice, which is otherwise seen as continuing to support unprecedented prosperity. This of course leaves aside the question of how one transforms a 55-year-old laid off automobile worker into a computer programmer, but such objections rarely figure prominently in academic debates on globalization.

The nationalist rebellions that are stirring across the West have thus far generated almost uniform elite condemnation on the grounds that such movements and the parties they have spawned are fed and driven by prejudice and intolerance, racism, discrimination, and—to quote one university discussion—a “desperate attempt to preserve white privilege.” And yet the vision of a globalized post-Westphalian, postmodern, and ultimately post-national future, which only a decade ago seemed well on its way to dominating political discourse as the new consensus in classrooms and boardrooms, is today shaky at best. It is being challenged by a new strand of nationalism taking shape across the West, still uncertain of its own language and the patterns in which it manifests itself in different societies, but by now unmistakably resurgent and growing in its appeal to the public.

Notwithstanding the many volumes written on the alleged arrival of a post-Westphalian era, globalization and the persistence of strong nation-states are in fact not contradictory: The former defines the current stage of capitalist development, while the latter is the territorial political unit that organizes land and population. The past three decades have been marked not only by the opening of national markets but also by fierce competition between nation-states. If anything, strong states ensure the stability that is critical to the smooth functioning of the global market, and perhaps here the globalists and the nationalists could actually find room to compromise. Yet part of the problem is that our elites seem unable to divorce the idea of nationalism from the historical narrative of fascism. Though seemingly counterintuitive, this accounts for their inability to recognize that the current wave could in fact be a positive restorative force reasserting the unity of Western democratic nations, provided we begin to seek a genuine consensus on the importance of common reference points in society. To do so would invalidate the most established and often cherished narratives about the direction of global change that envision and celebrate a world in which nation-states continue to surrender sovereignty to international norm-enforcing institutions and supranational projects. Simply put, the vision of a postmodern Europe in particular, as defined over the past three decades, cannot be reconciled with the experience of 21st-century nationalism, for the former envisions societies where national identities rooted in a shared culture and history are replaced by a generic concept of citizenship bridging between multiethnic and multicultural societal enclaves. A compromise would require some affirmation of a larger national culture, and most importantly a movement away from ethnic group politics in order to arrest the centrifugal forces that have balkanized Western societies for decades.

The fortunes of great powers wax and wane depending on their relative economic prosperity, the course of their more or less successful wars and foreign policy ventures, and/or the rise and decline of their international competitors. And yet—absent a system-transforming war—all shifts in global power distribution have at their base a set of domestic political factors. Whether a nation is looking ahead with confidence, diffidence, or fear depends on the ability of its elites to speak directly to public anxieties, aspirations, and goals while generating a vision and a sense of common purpose. Great powers do not implode simply because their economies have declined or because their military campaigns failed to produce the intended results. Economics and foreign policy matter greatly, but they require something much less tangible in society: confidence about the future that draws in part from a reaffirmation of the core tenets of the past. The surge of nationalism across Europe and the United States needs to be understood as still an essential ingredient of modern statehood, and engaged through democratic politics in ways that eschew Manichean choices.

However, thus far the narrative of this surge of public anger aimed at Western elites has been confined to the simple, safe, and ultimately maddeningly imprecise concept of “populism,” with its implicitly negative connotation. After all, populists are by definition unsophisticated rubes who pitch the public simplistic solutions to the increasingly inscrutable complexities of the modern world. But this dismissal does nothing to help us understand what these movements are about. Were it all that simple, we could double down on the narrative of the forces of enlightened progress under assault by those of retrograde parochialism, and in this modern tale of cosmopolitanism betrayed by nativism keep on shaking our heads at the lack of judgement that surprisingly ever larger segments of the general public across Europe and the United States are displaying.

The reality is quite different. The West is experiencing a nationalist awakening of a magnitude not seen in decades because the policies of those decades have run their course and are no longer accepted. It is time we stopped and took it seriously, instead of dismissing it out of hand as an aberration defying explanation and unworthy of consideration. Like all incipient movements, this new nationalist awakening has its low points, and its spokesmen and spokeswomen can be clumsy, clownish, and downright rude; however, the public sentiment behind it deserves a hearing not because we like it or dislike it, but because it is reshaping our societies. And most of all, the latter-day peasants have shown that they will not stand for being ignored
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline Thucydides

  • Army.ca Legend
  • *****
  • 196,510
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 13,771
  • Freespeecher
Re: Grand Strategy for a Divided America
« Reply #607 on: August 12, 2016, 09:41:07 »
While this is about the US election and could also potentially go under the Making Canada Relevant Again economic superthread, global trade is one of the key pillars supporting America's dominant position in the West and in the world, and this WSJ article suggests that Trump may have identified one of the issues which is decimating support for free trade in the Western world. Fix that and *we* can reap the benefits of free trade the way it was promised:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/trumps-contribution-to-sound-money-1470868946

Quote
Trump’s Contribution to Sound Money
The source of trade anxiety is a broken global monetary system that distorts price signals with sharp currency moves.
By JUDY SHELTON
Aug. 10, 2016 6:42 p.m. ET

The surest way to become alienated from Donald Trump supporters is to invoke the word “global” with regard to trade or economic interests. Even if you embrace the Trump economic agenda for enhancing U.S. competitiveness by lowering taxes and easing regulation, even if you support an “America First” approach for tackling domestic shortcomings from education to infrastructure—there is still a negative stigma attached to proposing any kind of global economic initiative.

Yet by insisting that the U.S. Treasury label China a “currency manipulator” and by promoting trade that is both free and “fair,” Mr. Trump may be laying the groundwork for a significant breakthrough in international monetary relations—one that could ultimately validate the rationale for an open global marketplace and restore genuine free trade as a vital component of economic growth.

The notion that something good might come out of a Trump policy elicits guffaws in certain economic circles. And questioning whether today’s exchange-rate regime serves the cause of beneficial cross-border commerce is tantamount to advocating protectionism. Nevertheless, Mr. Trump’s emphasis on currency manipulation brings into focus the shortcomings of our present international monetary system—volatility, persistent imbalances, currency mismatches—which testify to its dysfunction. Indeed, today’s hodgepodge of exchange-rate mechanisms is routinely described as a “non-system.” Or, as former International Monetary Fund chief Jacques de Larosière termed it at a Vienna conference in February 2014, an “anti-system.”

If monetary scholars once diligently sought to explain the relative virtues of fixed-versus-flexible exchange rates on global economic performance, they have largely abdicated any responsibility for the escalating political backlash against trade that blames currency manipulation for lost business.

RELATED ARTICLES

Monetary Reform or Trade War
Still Paying the Price of Keynesian Currency
The Nixon Shock Heard ‘Round the World

No serious economist would claim today that the “dirty float” intervention tactics practiced by numerous countries would be remotely acceptable within the freely flexible exchange-rate system envisaged by Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman. Nor would anyone suggest that any coherent mechanism exists comparable with the fixed-rate system anchored by a gold-convertible dollar that reigned in the decades following World War II.

Nobel Laureate Robert Mundell has consistently argued for the restoration of a system of formally maintained exchange rates to reduce uncertainty and promote growth. Yet the lack of willingness among the great majority of economists to recognize the imperative for global monetary reform to avoid a breakdown in global trade relations has left policy makers in the lurch. Faced with mounting demands to address currency manipulation through “strong and enforceable provisions”—i.e., tariffs—those who support free trade are being forced to consider the broader implications of a sluggish world economy that has become overly reliant on central banks.

Is it more egregious when governments deliberately intervene in foreign-exchange markets to manipulate currencies to gain an export advantage—or when central banks seek to accomplish the same thing through monetary policy?

The point is that today’s free-for-all approach to international monetary relations permits nations to pursue any exchange-rate policy they wish. Relative currency values are thus vulnerable not only to the manipulative tactics of government authorities, but also to the speculative maneuvering of foreign-exchange traders—the most active of which, in a market that averages $4.9 trillion in daily volume, are the world’s largest banks.

No wonder so many workers employed by U.S. companies that manufacture products requiring substantial capital investment—automobiles and tractors, computer and electronic equipment—have become disenchanted with the supposed long-term benefits of free trade. It is one thing to lose sales to a foreign competitor whose product delivers the best quality for the money; it’s another to lose sales as a consequence of an unforeseen exchange-rate slide that distorts the comparative prices of competing goods.

To brand trade skeptics as sore losers is to malign them unfairly. To resent being victimized by currency movements is not the same as being opposed to free trade, nor does it signal an eagerness to engage in protectionist retaliation. It’s simply an honest response to incongruity: We need to reconcile global monetary arrangements with global trade aspirations.

As former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker has observed: “Trade flows are affected more by ten minutes of movement in the currency markets than by ten years of (even successful) negotiations.”

Mr. Trump’s forceful rhetoric may help put an end to the politically correct attitude so prevalent among economists that breezily dismisses what was once accepted as a truism: Stable exchange rates foster long-term prosperity by maximizing the productive use of economic resources and financial capital. Why continue to passively accept the negative economic consequences of global monetary disorder? Why permit legitimately earned profits from business operations and investments in foreign countries to be wiped out by unpredictable currency losses? Why hold global economic growth prospects hostage to antiquated exchange-rate arrangements?

It’s time to end the intellectual vacuum and focus on serious initiatives for global monetary reform. The goal is to maximize prosperity by harnessing the power of free-market signals across borders. Monetary clarity is the key to reconciling the principles of free trade with the promised benefits of an open global marketplace.

By focusing on currency manipulation as an unfair trade practice, Mr. Trump has not only identified the crux of the economic dilemma, he has also spotlighted the social and political tensions its consequences have fostered.

Ms. Shelton, an economist, is author of “Money Meltdown” (Free Press, 1994) and co-director of the Sound Money Project at the Atlas Network, a nonprofit that promotes free markets and economic liberty.
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline Thucydides

  • Army.ca Legend
  • *****
  • 196,510
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 13,771
  • Freespeecher
Re: Grand Strategy for a Divided America
« Reply #608 on: September 07, 2016, 13:55:39 »
While this article from the the Claremont Institute might be considered for the election thread, it is discussing the vast changes in social,cultural and demographics which have changed America almost beyond recognition. Fix these issues and you can fix America, failure to address these issues means failure overall:
Part 1

http://www.claremont.org/crb/basicpage/the-flight-93-election/#.V83Jdt4id0g.twitter

Quote
The Flight 93 Election
By: Publius Decius Mus
September 5, 2016

2016 is the Flight 93 election: charge the cockpit or you die. You may die anyway. You—or the leader of your party—may make it into the cockpit and not know how to fly or land the plane. There are no guarantees.

Except one: if you don’t try, death is certain. To compound the metaphor: a Hillary Clinton presidency is Russian Roulette with a semi-auto. With Trump, at least you can spin the cylinder and take your chances.

To ordinary conservative ears, this sounds histrionic. The stakes can’t be that high because they are never that high—except perhaps in the pages of Gibbon. Conservative intellectuals will insist that there has been no “end of history” and that all human outcomes are still possible. They will even—as Charles Kesler does—admit that America is in “crisis.” But how great is the crisis? Can things really be so bad if eight years of Obama can be followed by eight more of Hillary, and yet Constitutionalist conservatives can still reasonably hope for a restoration of our cherished ideals? Cruz in 2024!

Not to pick (too much) on Kesler, who is less unwarrantedly optimistic than most conservatives. And who, at least, poses the right question: Trump or Hillary? Though his answer—“even if [Trump] had chosen his policies at random, they would be sounder than Hillary’s”—is unwarrantedly ungenerous. The truth is that Trump articulated, if incompletely and inconsistently, the right stances on the right issues—immigration, trade, and war—right from the beginning.

But let us back up. One of the paradoxes—there are so many—of conservative thought over the last decade at least is the unwillingness even to entertain the possibility that America and the West are on a trajectory toward something very bad. On the one hand, conservatives routinely present a litany of ills plaguing the body politic. Illegitimacy. Crime. Massive, expensive, intrusive, out-of-control government. Politically correct McCarthyism. Ever-higher taxes and ever-deteriorating services and infrastructure. Inability to win wars against tribal, sub-Third-World foes. A disastrously awful educational system that churns out kids who don’t know anything and, at the primary and secondary levels, can’t (or won’t) discipline disruptive punks, and at the higher levels saddles students with six figure debts for the privilege. And so on and drearily on. Like that portion of the mass where the priest asks for your private intentions, fill in any dismal fact about American decline that you want and I’ll stipulate it.

Conservatives spend at least several hundred million dollars a year on think-tanks, magazines, conferences, fellowships, and such, complaining about this, that, the other, and everything. And yet these same conservatives are, at root, keepers of the status quo. Oh, sure, they want some things to change. They want their pet ideas adopted—tax deductions for having more babies and the like. Many of them are even good ideas. But are any of them truly fundamental? Do they get to the heart of our problems?

If conservatives are right about the importance of virtue, morality, religious faith, stability, character and so on in the individual; if they are right about sexual morality or what came to be termed “family values”; if they are right about the importance of education to inculcate good character and to teach the fundamentals that have defined knowledge in the West for millennia; if they are right about societal norms and public order; if they are right about the centrality of initiative, enterprise, industry, and thrift to a sound economy and a healthy society; if they are right about the soul-sapping effects of paternalistic Big Government and its cannibalization of civil society and religious institutions; if they are right about the necessity of a strong defense and prudent statesmanship in the international sphere—if they are right about the importance of all this to national health and even survival, then they must believe—mustn’t they?—that we are headed off a cliff.

But it’s quite obvious that conservatives don’t believe any such thing, that they feel no such sense of urgency, of an immediate necessity to change course and avoid the cliff. A recent article by Matthew Continetti may be taken as representative—indeed, almost written for the purpose of illustrating the point. Continetti inquires into the “condition of America” and finds it wanting. What does Continetti propose to do about it? The usual litany of “conservative” “solutions,” with the obligatory references to decentralization, federalization, “civic renewal,” and—of course!—Burke. Which is to say, conservatism’s typical combination of the useless and inapt with the utopian and unrealizable. Decentralization and federalism are all well and good, and as a conservative, I endorse them both without reservation. But how are they going to save, or even meaningfully improve, the America that Continetti describes? What can they do against a tidal wave of dysfunction, immorality, and corruption? “Civic renewal” would do a lot of course, but that’s like saying health will save a cancer patient. A step has been skipped in there somewhere. How are we going to achieve “civic renewal”? Wishing for a tautology to enact itself is not a strategy.

Continetti trips over a more promising approach when he writes of “stress[ing] the ‘national interest abroad and national solidarity at home’ through foreign-policy retrenchment, ‘support to workers buffeted by globalization,’ and setting ‘tax rates and immigration levels’ to foster social cohesion." That sounds a lot like Trumpism. But the phrases that Continetti quotes are taken from Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam, both of whom, like Continetti, are vociferously—one might even say fanatically—anti-Trump. At least they, unlike Kesler, give Trump credit for having identified the right stance on today’s most salient issues. Yet, paradoxically, they won’t vote for Trump whereas Kesler hints that he will. It’s reasonable, then, to read into Kesler’s esoteric endorsement of Trump an implicit acknowledgment that the crisis is, indeed, pretty dire. I expect a Claremont scholar to be wiser than most other conservative intellectuals, and I am relieved not to be disappointed in this instance.

Yet we may also reasonably ask: What explains the Pollyanna-ish declinism of so many others? That is, the stance that Things-Are-Really-Bad—But-Not-So-Bad-that-We-Have-to-Consider-Anything-Really-Different! The obvious answer is that they don’t really believe the first half of that formulation. If so, like Chicken Little, they should stick a sock in it. Pecuniary reasons also suggest themselves, but let us foreswear recourse to this explanation until we have disproved all the others.

Whatever the reason for the contradiction, there can be no doubt that there is a contradiction. To simultaneously hold conservative cultural, economic, and political beliefs—to insist that our liberal-left present reality and future direction is incompatible with human nature and must undermine society—and yet also believe that things can go on more or less the way they are going, ideally but not necessarily with some conservative tinkering here and there, is logically impossible.

Let’s be very blunt here: if you genuinely think things can go on with no fundamental change needed, then you have implicitly admitted that conservatism is wrong. Wrong philosophically, wrong on human nature, wrong on the nature of politics, and wrong in its policy prescriptions. Because, first, few of those prescriptions are in force today. Second, of the ones that are, the left is busy undoing them, often with conservative assistance. And, third, the whole trend of the West is ever-leftward, ever further away from what we all understand as conservatism.

If your answer—Continetti’s, Douthat’s, Salam’s, and so many others’—is for conservatism to keep doing what it’s been doing—another policy journal, another article about welfare reform, another half-day seminar on limited government, another tax credit proposal—even though we’ve been losing ground for at least a century, then you’ve implicitly accepted that your supposed political philosophy doesn’t matter and that civilization will carry on just fine under leftist tenets. Indeed, that leftism is truer than conservatism and superior to it.

They will say, in words reminiscent of dorm-room Marxism—but our proposals have not been tried! Here our ideas sit, waiting to be implemented! To which I reply: eh, not really. Many conservative solutions—above all welfare reform and crime control—have been tried, and proved effective, but have nonetheless failed to stem the tide. Crime, for instance, is down from its mid-’70s and early ’90s peak—but way, way up from the historic American norm that ended when liberals took over criminal justice in the mid-’60s. And it’s rising fast today, in the teeth of ineffectual conservative complaints. And what has this temporary crime (or welfare, for that matter) decline done to stem the greater tide? The tsunami of leftism that still engulfs our every—literal and figurative—shore has receded not a bit but indeed has grown. All your (our) victories are short-lived.

More to the point, what has conservatism achieved lately? In the last 20 years? The answer—which appears to be “nothing”—might seem to lend credence to the plea that “our ideas haven’t been tried.” Except that the same conservatives who generate those ideas are in charge of selling them to the broader public. If their ideas “haven’t been tried,” who is ultimately at fault? The whole enterprise of Conservatism, Inc., reeks of failure. Its sole recent and ongoing success is its own self-preservation. Conservative intellectuals never tire of praising “entrepreneurs” and “creative destruction.” Dare to fail! they exhort businessmen. Let the market decide! Except, um, not with respect to us. Or is their true market not the political arena, but the fundraising circuit?

Only three questions matter. First, how bad are things really? Second, what do we do right now? Third, what should we do for the long term?

Conservatism, Inc.’s, “answer” to the first may, at this point, simply be dismissed. If the conservatives wish to have a serious debate, I for one am game—more than game; eager. The problem of “subjective certainty” can only be overcome by going into the agora. But my attempt to do so—the blog that Kesler mentions—was met largely with incredulity. How can they say that?! How can anyone apparently of our caste (conservative intellectuals) not merely support Trump (however lukewarmly) but offer reasons for doing do?

One of the Journal of American Greatness’s deeper arguments was that only in a corrupt republic, in corrupt times, could a Trump rise. It is therefore puzzling that those most horrified by Trump are the least willing to consider the possibility that the republic is dying. That possibility, apparently, seems to them so preposterous that no refutation is necessary.

As does, presumably, the argument that the stakes in 2016 are—everything. I should here note that I am a good deal gloomier than my (former) JAG colleagues, and that while we frequently used the royal “we” when discussing things on which we all agreed, I here speak only for myself.

How have the last two decades worked out for you, personally? If you’re a member or fellow-traveler of the Davos class, chances are: pretty well. If you’re among the subspecies conservative intellectual or politician, you’ve accepted—perhaps not consciously, but unmistakably—your status on the roster of the Washington Generals of American politics. Your job is to show up and lose, but you are a necessary part of the show and you do get paid. To the extent that you are ever on the winning side of anything, it’s as sophists who help the Davoisie oligarchy rationalize open borders, lower wages, outsourcing, de-industrialization, trade giveaways, and endless, pointless, winless war.

All of Trump’s 16 Republican competitors would have ensured more of the same—as will the election of Hillary Clinton. That would be bad enough. But at least Republicans are merely reactive when it comes to wholesale cultural and political change. Their “opposition” may be in all cases ineffectual and often indistinguishable from support. But they don’t dream up inanities like 32 “genders,” elective bathrooms, single-payer, Iran sycophancy, “Islamophobia,” and Black Lives Matter. They merely help ratify them.

A Hillary presidency will be pedal-to-the-metal on the entire Progressive-left agenda, plus items few of us have yet imagined in our darkest moments. Nor is even that the worst. It will be coupled with a level of vindictive persecution against resistance and dissent hitherto seen in the supposedly liberal West only in the most “advanced” Scandinavian countries and the most leftist corners of Germany and England. We see this already in the censorship practiced by the Davoisie’s social media enablers; in the shameless propaganda tidal wave of the mainstream media; and in the personal destruction campaigns—operated through the former and aided by the latter—of the Social Justice Warriors. We see it in Obama’s flagrant use of the IRS to torment political opponents, the gaslighting denial by the media, and the collective shrug by everyone else.

It’s absurd to assume that any of this would stop or slow—would do anything other than massively intensify—in a Hillary administration. It’s even more ridiculous to expect that hitherto useless conservative opposition would suddenly become effective. For two generations at least, the Left has been calling everyone to their right Nazis. This trend has accelerated exponentially in the last few years, helped along by some on the Right who really do seem to merit—and even relish—the label. There is nothing the modern conservative fears more than being called “racist,” so alt-right pocket Nazis are manna from heaven for the Left. But also wholly unnecessary: sauce for the goose. The Left was calling us Nazis long before any pro-Trumpers tweeted Holocaust denial memes. And how does one deal with a Nazi—that is, with an enemy one is convinced intends your destruction? You don’t compromise with him or leave him alone. You crush him.

So what do we have to lose by fighting back? Only our Washington Generals jerseys—and paychecks. But those are going away anyway. Among the many things the “Right” still doesn’t understand is that the Left has concluded that this particular show need no longer go on. They don’t think they need a foil anymore and would rather dispense with the whole bother of staging these phony contests in which each side ostensibly has a shot.

If you haven’t noticed, our side has been losing consistently since 1988. We can win midterms, but we do nothing with them. Call ours Hannibalic victories. After the Carthaginian’s famous slaughter of a Roman army at Cannae, he failed to march on an undefended Rome, prompting his cavalry commander to complain: “you know how to win a victory, but not how to use one.” And, aside from 2004’s lackluster 50.7%, we can’t win the big ones at all.
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline Thucydides

  • Army.ca Legend
  • *****
  • 196,510
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 13,771
  • Freespeecher
Re: Grand Strategy for a Divided America
« Reply #609 on: September 07, 2016, 13:56:33 »
Part 2

http://www.claremont.org/crb/basicpage/the-flight-93-election/#.V83Jdt4id0g.twitter

Quote
Because the deck is stacked overwhelmingly against us. I will mention but three ways. First, the opinion-making elements—the universities and the media above all—are wholly corrupt and wholly opposed to everything we want, and increasingly even to our existence. (What else are the wars on “cis-genderism”—formerly known as “nature”—and on the supposed “white privilege” of broke hillbillies really about?) If it hadn’t been abundantly clear for the last 50 years, the campaign of 2015-2016 must surely have made it evident to even the meanest capacities that the intelligentsia—including all the organs through which it broadcasts its propaganda—is overwhelmingly partisan and biased. Against this onslaught, “conservative” media is a nullity, barely a whisper. It cannot be heard above the blaring of what has been aptly called “The Megaphone.”

Second, our Washington Generals self-handicap and self-censor to an absurd degree. Lenin is supposed to have said that “the best way to control the opposition is to lead it ourselves.” But with an opposition like ours, why bother? Our “leaders” and “dissenters” bend over backward to play by the self-sabotaging rules the Left sets for them. Fearful, beaten dogs have more thymos.

Third and most important, the ceaseless importation of Third World foreigners with no tradition of, taste for, or experience in liberty means that the electorate grows more left, more Democratic, less Republican, less republican, and less traditionally American with every cycle. As does, of course, the U.S. population, which only serves to reinforce the two other causes outlined above. This is the core reason why the Left, the Democrats, and the bipartisan junta (categories distinct but very much overlapping) think they are on the cusp of a permanent victory that will forever obviate the need to pretend to respect democratic and constitutional niceties. Because they are.

It’s also why they treat open borders as the “absolute value,” the one “principle” that—when their “principles” collide—they prioritize above all the others. If that fact is insufficiently clear, consider this. Trump is the most liberal Republican nominee since Thomas Dewey. He departs from conservative orthodoxy in so many ways that National Review still hasn’t stopped counting. But let’s stick to just the core issues animating his campaign. On trade, globalization, and war, Trump is to the left (conventionally understood) not only of his own party, but of his Democratic opponent. And yet the Left and the junta are at one with the house-broken conservatives in their determination—desperation—not merely to defeat Trump but to destroy him. What gives?

Oh, right—there’s that other issue. The sacredness of mass immigration is the mystic chord that unites America’s ruling and intellectual classes. Their reasons vary somewhat. The Left and the Democrats seek ringers to form a permanent electoral majority. They, or many of them, also believe the academic-intellectual lie that America’s inherently racist and evil nature can be expiated only through ever greater “diversity.” The junta of course craves cheaper and more docile labor. It also seeks to legitimize, and deflect unwanted attention from, its wealth and power by pretending that its open borders stance is a form of noblesse oblige. The Republicans and the “conservatives”? Both of course desperately want absolution from the charge of “racism.” For the latter, this at least makes some sense. No Washington General can take the court—much less cash his check—with that epithet dancing over his head like some Satanic Spirit. But for the former, this priestly grace comes at the direct expense of their worldly interests. Do they honestly believe that the right enterprise zone or charter school policy will arouse 50.01% of our newer voters to finally reveal their “natural conservatism” at the ballot box? It hasn’t happened anywhere yet and shows no signs that it ever will. But that doesn’t stop the Republican refrain: more, more, more! No matter how many elections they lose, how many districts tip forever blue, how rarely (if ever) their immigrant vote cracks 40%, the answer is always the same. Just like Angela Merkel after yet another rape, shooting, bombing, or machete attack. More, more, more!

This is insane. This is the mark of a party, a society, a country, a people, a civilization that wants to die. Trump, alone among candidates for high office in this or in the last seven (at least) cycles, has stood up to say: I want to live. I want my party to live. I want my country to live. I want my people to live. I want to end the insanity.

Yes, Trump is worse than imperfect. So what? We can lament until we choke the lack of a great statesman to address the fundamental issues of our time—or, more importantly, to connect them. Since Pat Buchanan’s three failures, occasionally a candidate arose who saw one piece: Dick Gephardt on trade, Ron Paul on war, Tom Tancredo on immigration. Yet, among recent political figures—great statesmen, dangerous demagogues, and mewling gnats alike—only Trump-the-alleged-buffoon not merely saw all three and their essential connectivity, but was able to win on them. The alleged buffoon is thus more prudent—more practically wise—than all of our wise-and-good who so bitterly oppose him. This should embarrass them. That their failures instead embolden them is only further proof of their foolishness and hubris.

Which they self-laud as “consistency”—adherence to “conservative principle,” defined by the 1980 campaign and the household gods of reigning conservative think-tanks. A higher consistency in the service of the national interest apparently eludes them. When America possessed a vast, empty continent and explosively growing industry, high immigration was arguably good policy. (Arguably: Ben Franklin would disagree.) It hasn’t made sense since World War I. Free trade was unquestionably a great boon to the American worker in the decades after World War II. We long ago passed the point of diminishing returns. The Gulf War of 1991 was a strategic victory for American interests. No conflict since then has been. Conservatives either can’t see this—or, worse, those who can nonetheless treat the only political leader to mount a serious challenge to the status quo (more immigration, more trade, more war) as a unique evil.

Trump’s vulgarity is in fact a godsend to the conservatives. It allows them to hang their public opposition on his obvious shortcomings and to ignore or downplay his far greater strengths, which should be even more obvious but in corrupt times can be deliberately obscured by constant references to his faults. That the Left would make the campaign all about the latter is to be expected. Why would the Right? Some—a few—are no doubt sincere in their belief that the man is simply unfit for high office. David Frum, who has always been an immigration skeptic and is a convert to the less-war position, is sincere when he says that, even though he agrees with much of Trump’s agenda, he cannot stomach Trump. But for most of the other #NeverTrumpers, is it just a coincidence that they also happen to favor Invade the World, Invite the World?

Another question JAG raised without provoking any serious attempt at refutation was whether, in corrupt times, it took a … let’s say ... “loudmouth” to rise above the din of The Megaphone. We, or I, speculated: “yes.” Suppose there had arisen some statesman of high character—dignified, articulate, experienced, knowledgeable—the exact opposite of everything the conservatives claim to hate about Trump. Could this hypothetical paragon have won on Trump’s same issues? Would the conservatives have supported him? I would have—even had he been a Democrat.

Back on planet earth, that flight of fancy at least addresses what to do now. The answer to the subsidiary question—will it work?—is much less clear. By “it” I mean Trumpism, broadly defined as secure borders, economic nationalism, and America-first foreign policy. We Americans have chosen, in our foolishness, to disunite the country through stupid immigration, economic, and foreign policies. The level of unity America enjoyed before the bipartisan junta took over can never be restored.

But we can probably do better than we are doing now. First, stop digging. No more importing poverty, crime, and alien cultures. We have made institutions, by leftist design, not merely abysmal at assimilation but abhorrent of the concept. We should try to fix that, but given the Left’s iron grip on every school and cultural center, that’s like trying to bring democracy to Russia. A worthy goal, perhaps, but temper your hopes—and don’t invest time and resources unrealistically.

By contrast, simply building a wall and enforcing immigration law will help enormously, by cutting off the flood of newcomers that perpetuates ethnic separatism and by incentivizing the English language and American norms in the workplace. These policies will have the added benefit of aligning the economic interests of, and (we may hope) fostering solidarity among, the working, lower middle, and middle classes of all races and ethnicities. The same can be said for Trumpian trade policies and anti-globalization instincts. Who cares if productivity numbers tick down, or if our already somnambulant GDP sinks a bit further into its pillow? Nearly all the gains of the last 20 years have accrued to the junta anyway. It would, at this point, be better for the nation to divide up more equitably a slightly smaller pie than to add one extra slice—only to ensure that it and eight of the other nine go first to the government and its rentiers, and the rest to the same four industries and 200 families.

Will this work? Ask a pessimist, get a pessimistic answer. So don’t ask. Ask instead: is it worth trying? Is it better than the alternative? If you can’t say, forthrightly, “yes,” you are either part of the junta, a fool, or a conservative intellectual.

And if it doesn’t work, what then? We’ve established that most “conservative” anti-Trumpites are in the Orwellian sense objectively pro-Hillary. What about the rest of you? If you recognize the threat she poses, but somehow can’t stomach him, have you thought about the longer term? The possibilities would seem to be: Caesarism, secession/crack-up, collapse, or managerial Davoisie liberalism as far as the eye can see … which, since nothing human lasts forever, at some point will give way to one of the other three. Oh, and, I suppose, for those who like to pour a tall one and dream big, a second American Revolution that restores Constitutionalism, limited government, and a 28% top marginal rate.

But for those of you who are sober: can you sketch a more plausible long-term future than the prior four following a Trump defeat? I can’t either.

The election of 2016 is a test—in my view, the final test—of whether there is any virtù left in what used to be the core of the American nation. If they cannot rouse themselves simply to vote for the first candidate in a generation who pledges to advance their interests, and to vote against the one who openly boasts that she will do the opposite (a million more Syrians, anyone?), then they are doomed. They may not deserve the fate that will befall them, but they will suffer it regardless.
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline Thucydides

  • Army.ca Legend
  • *****
  • 196,510
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 13,771
  • Freespeecher
Re: Grand Strategy for a Divided America
« Reply #610 on: September 11, 2016, 21:54:43 »
WRM on the "real world", and how it does not conform to the viewpoint of liberal internationalists. This is a lesson that other Western leaders should take on board as well, since many of their actions seem at variance to the reality on the ground.

http://www.the-american-interest.com/2016/09/09/its-kim-jong-uns-world-were-just-living-in-it/

Quote
It’s Kim Jong-un’s World; We’re Just Living In It
WALTER RUSSELL MEAD

We don’t live in the world the “liberal internationalists” have imagined exists; we live in a world where, more and more, the law of the jungle applies.

News that North Korea has detonated another bomb comes as no surprise; few things are as obvious in this crazy world as the fact that this murderous dictatorship is making steady progress on its weapons program. The Norks are getting better and better at making more powerful bombs and longer range missiles to put them on. President Obama, like Presidents Clinton and Bush before him, sputters indignantly and wrings his hands, but the tick-tock tick-tock of North Korean nuclear build-up goes on.

This tells us many things. It tells us that the security situation is going to continue to deteriorate in East Asia. It tells us that China has resigned itself to an era of confrontation with Japan. It tells us that both South Korea and Japan are losing confidence in America’s will and ability to do anything serious about the scariest security problem they face.

Beyond that, it’s a harsh reminder that, despite the illusions and the optimism of the liberal internationalists among us, the world still runs much the same way it did one hundred years ago. When hard power fails, all the UN Declarations of Human Rights, all the Security Council resolutions, all the noble speeches about the “international community” are just so much hot air.

Kim Jong-un is getting away with a nuclear build-up and a murderous dictatorship because he can. In theory, the world’s great powers have the ability to stop him. In practice, they are too divided, too busy knifing each other in the back, to cooperate against even a very small and poor country. China won’t cooperate with the United States to stop North Korea because the government in Beijing doesn’t think it is in its national interest to do so. The United States can’t compel China to change its mind about its Korea policy because we lack the strength.
Syrian refugees understand what kind of world we live in; so do the starving people of Aleppo. The victims of Boko Haram, now faced with a famine, get it, too. We don’t live in the world the “liberal internationalists” have imagined exists; we live in a world where, more and more, the law of the jungle applies.

We should not forget that stopping the North Korean nuclear program has been at the center of U.S. foreign policy since the Clinton Administration. Back in the 1990s, everyone praised the Clinton Administration for negotiating a peaceful conclusion to the North Korean nuclear program. The decision not to attack the North but to trust to the healing powers of diplomacy was almost universally applauded. It may still have been the right thing to do, but one can hardly call it a success.

President Obama has made non-proliferation one of his core goals; what hopes he has of a serious foreign policy legacy rest on the Iran nuclear deal (in many ways a less robust arrangement than Clinton’s deal with the Norks) and the essentially illusory climate agreement that he and Xi hyped in Beijing. That the Norks should mark President Obama’s final departure from the region he placed at the center of his foreign policy career with the largest nuclear blast in their history is, in its way, fitting; it is a useful reminder of how history actually works.

The problem isn’t that the goals of the liberal internationalists are bad goals. They are excellent goals: no war, the spread of democracy and human rights, limits on weapons of mass destruction, strong institutions. The world they dream of is a much better world than the one we have now. And the liberal internationalists are also right that the world can’t afford to go on in the old way. Given 21st century technology and the vulnerability of our large urban populations to anything that disrupts the intricate networks on which we all depend, old-fashioned great-power politics with its precarious balance of power shored up by recurring wars is a recipe for utter disaster and, maybe, the annihilation of the human race.

But the difficulty that over and over sinks hopeful efforts by liberal internationalists is this: Liberal internationalist methods won’t achieve liberal internationalist goals. Power, not communiqués, is what makes the world go round.

We move in the general direction of a liberal world system when a potentially dominant liberal power forms a strong coalition with like-minded allies, and when that liberal power acts wisely, purposefully and at times unilaterally in the service of liberal order. We move in that general direction, but we are very unlikely to get there. Much of the world dislikes liberal order. Sometimes this is for religious reasons, as in much of the Islamic world. Sometimes it is for power-political reasons, in countries like Russia and China that want to topple the United States from its dominant global position, and that see liberal principles as a threat to their social order and power. Sometimes it is because the United States doesn’t always know what it is doing, and while we are more powerful than other countries we aren’t smarter or better than other people. That means that we frequently get it wrong, and in the name of liberal order we do things that other people quite rightly resist.

The dream of some liberal internationalists, that someday a beautiful world system will arise that will essentially get other countries to follow the U.S. vision of liberal order without U.S. power to back it, is an illusion. Too many people see the world in too many different ways, too many countries have interests that widely diverge, and, at the end of the day, passion and emotions play too great a role in human psychology, and human reason is too weak and too biased an instrument, for a beautiful and self-sustaining world order to rise up like Botticelli’s Venus out of the waves.

Since the end of the Cold War, the United States has had the power and the alliance networks to move the world toward liberal order. We have sometimes acted wisely and purposefully in the service of that agenda, but even at our best our concepts of liberal order were too crude to work as well as we hoped. Too often, our actions were foolish and misguided.  The last two Presidents in particular, Bush and Obama, were not up to the tasks of world leadership.The last two Presidents in particular, Bush and Obama, were not up to the tasks of world leadership. Both are good men in their way, both sought the good as they saw it, but the wisdom fairy failed to stop by the White House. They were relatively young, they were relatively inexperienced in foreign affairs, they were under the thrall of inadequate ideas and they placed too much faith in their instincts just when they should have been doubting themselves.

No country, and especially no democracy, is ever going to be guided by an unbroken succession of great leaders. This is one of the reasons we’ll never reach the liberal internationalist goal; neither we nor anybody else is going to throw up a string of leaders with enough genius, wisdom, and will to get us there. There are more Clintons, Bushes, and Obamas than Washingtons, Lincolns, and Roosevelts in the gene pool, and most U.S. presidents, like most leaders in other countries, have been mediocre at best.

However we assign the blame, and there is plenty to go around, it’s been increasingly clear since 2001 that the world’s progress toward a stable and liberal world order began to slow under Bush and has reversed under Obama. The world is less peaceful, less stable and less liberal today than it was when Barack Obama took the oath of office in January, 2009; Kim Jong-un’s latest nuclear test, and the lack of an effective response by the United States, is merely a sign of the times.
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline Thucydides

  • Army.ca Legend
  • *****
  • 196,510
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 13,771
  • Freespeecher
Re: Grand Strategy for a Divided America
« Reply #611 on: September 28, 2016, 22:58:07 »
Counterpoint: The election is lost regardless of who sits in the White House; the American experiment with a democratic Republic is ending. What comes after is open to question.

http://www.claremont.org/crb/basicpage/after-the-republic/

Quote
After the Republic
By: Angelo M. Codevilla
September 27, 2016

Over the past half century, the Reagan years notwithstanding, our ruling class’s changing preferences and habits have transformed public and private life in America. As John Marini shows in his essay, “Donald Trump and the American Crisis,” this has resulted in citizens morphing into either this class’s “stakeholders” or its subjects. And, as Publius Decius Mus argues, “America and the West” now are so firmly “on a trajectory toward something very bad” that it is no longer reasonable to hope that “all human outcomes are still possible,” by which he means restoration of the public and private practices that made the American republic. In fact, the 2016 election is sealing the United States’s transition from that republic to some kind of empire.

Electing either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump cannot change that trajectory. Because each candidate represents constituencies hostile to republicanism, each in its own way, these individuals are not what this election is about. This election is about whether the Democratic Party, the ruling class’s enforcer, will impose its tastes more strongly and arbitrarily than ever, or whether constituencies opposed to that rule will get some ill-defined chance to strike back. Regardless of the election’s outcome, the republic established by America’s Founders is probably gone. But since the Democratic Party’s constituencies differ radically from their opponents’, and since the character of imperial governance depends inherently on the emperor, the election’s result will make a big difference in our lives.

Many Enemies, Few Friends

The overriding question of 2016 has been how eager the American people are to reject the bipartisan class that has ruled this country contrary to its majority’s convictions. Turned out, eager enough to throw out the baby with the dirty bathwater. The ruling class’s united front in response to the 2008 financial crisis had ignited the Tea Party’s call for adherence to the Constitution, and led to elections that gave control of both houses of Congress to the Republican Party. But as Republicans became full partners in the ruling class’s headlong rush in what most considered disastrous directions, Americans lost faith in the Constitution’s power to restrain the wrecking of their way of life.

From the primary season’s outset, the Democratic Party’s candidates promised even more radical “transformations.” When, rarely, they have been asked what gives them the right to do such things they have acted as if the only answer were Nancy Pelosi’s reply to whether the Constitution allows the government to force us into Obamacare: “Are you kidding? Are you kidding?”

On the Republican side, 17 hopefuls promised much, without dealing with the primordial fact that, in today’s America, those in power basically do what they please. Executive orders, phone calls, and the right judge mean a lot more than laws. They even trump state referenda. Over the past half-century, presidents have ruled not by enforcing laws but increasingly through agencies that write their own rules, interpret them, and punish unaccountably—the administrative state. As for the Supreme Court, the American people have seen it invent rights where there were none—e.g., abortion—while trammeling ones that had been the republic’s spine, such as the free exercise of religion and freedom of speech. The Court taught Americans that the word “public” can mean “private” (Kelo v. City of New London), that “penalty” can mean “tax” (King v. Burwell), and that holding an opinion contrary to its own can only be due to an “irrational animus” (Obergefell v. Hodges).

What goes by the name “constitutional law” has been eclipsing the U.S. Constitution for a long time. But when the 1964 Civil Rights Act substituted a wholly open-ended mandate to oppose “discrimination” for any and all fundamental rights, it became the little law that ate the Constitution. Now, because the Act pretended that the commerce clause trumps the freedom of persons to associate or not with whomever they wish, and is being taken to mean that it trumps the free exercise of religion as well, bakers and photographers are forced to take part in homosexual weddings. A commission in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts reported that even a church may be forced to operate its bathrooms according to gender self-identification because it “could be seen as a place of public accommodation if it holds a secular event, such as a spaghetti supper, that is open to the general public.” California came very close to mandating that Catholic schools admit homosexual and transgender students or close down. The Justice Department is studying how to prosecute on-line transactions such as vacation home rental site Airbnb, Inc., that fall afoul of its evolving anti-discrimination standards.

This arbitrary power, whose rabid guard-dog growls and barks: “Racist! Sexist! Homophobic!” has transformed our lives by removing restraints on government. The American Bar Association’s new professional guidelines expose lawyers to penalties for insufficient political correctness. Performing abortions or at least training to perform them may be imposed as a requirement for licensing doctors, nurses, and hospitals that offer services to the general public.

Addressing what it would take to reestablish the primacy of fundamental rights would have required Republican candidates to reset the Civil Rights movement on sound constitutional roots. Surprised they didn’t do it?

No one running for the GOP nomination discussed the greatest violation of popular government’s norms—never mind the Constitution—to have occurred in two hundred years, namely, the practice, agreed upon by mainstream Republicans and Democrats, of rolling all of the government’s expenditures into a single bill. This eliminates elected officials’ responsibility for any of the government’s actions, and reduces them either to approving all that the government does without reservation, or the allegedly revolutionary, disloyal act of “shutting down the government.”

Rather than talk about how to restrain or shrink government, Republican candidates talked about how to do more with government. The Wall Street Journal called that “having a positive agenda.” Hence, Republicans by and large joined the Democrats in relegating the U.S. Constitution to history’s dustbin.

Because Republicans largely agree with Democrats that they need not take seriously the founders’ Constitution, today’s American regime is now what Max Weber had called the Tsarist regime on the eve of the Revolution: “fake constitutionalism.” Because such fakery is self-discrediting and removes anyone’s obligation to restrain his passions, it is a harbinger of revolution and of imperial power.

The ruling class having chosen raw power over law and persuasion, the American people reasonably concluded that raw power is the only way to counter it, and looked for candidates who would do that. Hence, even constitutional scholar Ted Cruz stopped talking about the constitutional implications of President Obama’s actions after polls told him that the public was more interested in what he would do to reverse them, niceties notwithstanding. Had Cruz become the main alternative to the Democratic Party’s dominion, the American people might have been presented with the option of reverting to the rule of law. But that did not happen. Both of the choices before us presuppose force, not law.
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline Thucydides

  • Army.ca Legend
  • *****
  • 196,510
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 13,771
  • Freespeecher
Re: Grand Strategy for a Divided America
« Reply #612 on: September 28, 2016, 23:00:37 »
Part 2

Quote
A Change of Regimes

All ruling classes are what Shakespeare called the “makers of manners.” Plato, in The Republic, and Aristotle, in his Politics, teach that polities reflect the persons who rise to prominence within them, whose habits the people imitate, and who set the tone of life in them. Thus a polity can change as thoroughly as a chorus changes from comedy to tragedy depending on the lyrics and music. Obviously, the standards and tone of life that came from Abraham Lincoln’s Oval Office is quite opposite from what came from the same place when Bill Clinton used it. Germany under Kaiser Wilhelm was arguably the world’s most polite society. Under Hitler, it became the most murderous.

In today’s America, a network of executive, judicial, bureaucratic, and social kinship channels bypasses the sovereignty of citizens. Our imperial regime, already in force, works on a simple principle: the president and the cronies who populate these channels may do whatever they like so long as the bureaucracy obeys and one third plus one of the Senate protects him from impeachment. If you are on the right side of that network, you can make up the rules as you go along, ignore or violate any number of laws, obfuscate or commit perjury about what you are doing (in the unlikely case they put you under oath), and be certain of your peers’ support. These cronies’ shared social and intellectual identity stems from the uniform education they have received in the universities. Because disdain for ordinary Americans is this ruling class's chief feature, its members can be equally certain that all will join in celebrating each, and in demonizing their respective opponents.

And, because the ruling class blurs the distinction between public and private business, connection to that class has become the principal way of getting rich in America. Not so long ago, the way to make it here was to start a business that satisfied customers’ needs better than before. Nowadays, more businesses die each year than are started. In this century, all net additions in employment have come from the country’s 1,500 largest corporations. Rent-seeking through influence on regulations is the path to wealth. In the professions, competitive exams were the key to entry and advancement not so long ago. Now, you have to make yourself acceptable to your superiors. More important, judicial decisions and administrative practice have divided Americans into “protected classes”—possessed of special privileges and immunities—and everybody else. Equality before the law and equality of opportunity are memories. Co-option is the path to power. Ever wonder why the quality of our leaders has been declining with each successive generation?

Moreover, since the Kennedy reform of 1965, and with greater speed since 2009, the ruling class’s immigration policy has changed the regime by introducing some 60 million people—roughly a fifth of our population—from countries and traditions different from, if not hostile, to ours. Whereas earlier immigrants earned their way to prosperity, a disproportionate percentage of post-1965 arrivals have been encouraged to become dependents of the state. Equally important, the ruling class chose to reverse America’s historic practice of assimilating immigrants, emphasizing instead what divides them from other Americans. Whereas Lincoln spoke of binding immigrants by “the electric cord” of the founders’ principles, our ruling class treats these principles as hypocrisy. All this without votes or law; just power.

Foul is Fair and Fair is Foul

In short, precisely as the classics defined regime change, people and practices that had been at society’s margins have been brought to its center, while people and ideas that had been central have been marginalized.

Fifty years ago, prayer in the schools was near universal, but no one was punished for not praying. Nowadays, countless people are arrested or fired for praying on school property. West Point’s commanding general reprimanded the football coach for his team’s thanksgiving prayer. Fifty years ago, bringing sexually explicit stuff into schools was treated as a crime, as was “procuring abortion.” Nowadays, schools contract with Planned Parenthood to teach sex, and will not tell parents when they take girls to PP facilities for abortions. Back then, many schools worked with the National Rifle Association to teach gun handling and marksmanship. Now students are arrested and expelled merely for pointing their finger and saying “bang.” In those benighted times, boys who ventured into the girls’ bathroom were expelled as perverts. Now, girls are suspended for objecting to boys coming into the girls’ room under pretense of transgenderism. The mainstreaming of pornography, the invention of abortion as the most inalienable of human rights and, most recently, the designation of opposition to homosexual marriage as a culpable psychosis—none of which is dictated by law enacted by elected officials—is enforced as if it had been. No surprise that America has experienced a drastic drop in the formation of families, with the rise of rates of out-of-wedlock births among whites equal to the rates among blacks that was recognized as disastrous a half-century ago, the near-disappearance of two-parent families among blacks, and the social dislocations attendant to all that.

Ever since the middle of the 20th century our ruling class, pursuing hazy concepts of world order without declarations of war, has sacrificed American lives first in Korea, then in Vietnam, and now throughout the Muslim world. By denigrating Americans who call for peace, or for wars unto victory over America’s enemies; by excusing or glorifying those who take our enemies’ side or who disrespect the American flag; our rulers have drawn down the American regime’s credit and eroded the people’s patriotism.

As the ruling class destroyed its own authority, it wrecked the republic’s as well. This is no longer the “land where our fathers died,” nor even the country that won World War II. It would be surprising if any society, its identity altered and its most fundamental institutions diminished, had continued to function as before. Ours sure does not, and it is difficult to imagine how it can do so ever again. We can be sure only that the revolution underway among us, like all others, will run its unpredictable course.

All we know is the choice that faces us at this stage: either America continues in the same direction, but faster and without restraint, or there’s the hazy possibility of something else.
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline Thucydides

  • Army.ca Legend
  • *****
  • 196,510
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 13,771
  • Freespeecher
Re: Grand Strategy for a Divided America
« Reply #613 on: September 28, 2016, 23:01:10 »
Part 3

Quote
Imperial Alternatives

The consequences of empowering today’s Democratic Party are crystal clear. The Democratic Party—regardless of its standard bearer—would use its victory to drive the transformations that it has already wrought on America to quantitative and qualitative levels that not even its members can imagine. We can be sure of that because what it has done and is doing is rooted in a logic that has animated the ruling class for a century, and because that logic has shaped the minds and hearts of millions of this class’s members, supporters, and wannabes.

That logic’s essence, expressed variously by Herbert Croly and Woodrow Wilson, FDR’s brains trust, intellectuals of both the old and the new Left, choked back and blurted out by progressive politicians, is this: America’s constitutional republic had given the American people too much latitude to be who they are, that is: religiously and socially reactionary, ignorant, even pathological, barriers to Progress. Thankfully, an enlightened minority exists with the expertise and the duty to disperse the religious obscurantism, the hypocritical talk of piety, freedom, and equality, which excuses Americans’ racism, sexism, greed, and rape of the environment. As we progressives take up our proper responsibilities, Americans will no longer live politically according to their prejudices; they will be ruled administratively according to scientific knowledge.

Progressivism’s programs have changed over time. But its disdain for how other Americans live and think has remained fundamental. More than any commitment to principles, programs, or way of life, this is its paramount feature. The media reacted to Hillary Clinton’s remark that “half of Trump’s supporters could be put into a ‘basket of deplorables’” as if these sentiments were novel and peculiar to her. In fact, these are unremarkable restatements of our ruling class’s perennial creed.

The pseudo-intellectual argument for why these “deplorables” have no right to their opinions is that giving equal consideration to people and positions that stand in the way of Progress is “false equivalence,” as President Obama has put it. But the same idea has been expressed most recently and fully by New York Times CEO Mark Thompson, as well as Times columnists Jim Rutenberg, Timothy Egan, and William Davies. In short, devotion to truth means not reporting on Donald Trump and people like him as if they or anything they say might be of value.

If trying to persuade irredeemable socio-political inferiors is no more appropriate than arguing with animals, why not just write them off by sticking dismissive names on them? Doing so is less challenging, and makes you feel superior. Why wrestle with the statistical questions implicit in Darwin when you can just dismiss Christians as Bible-thumpers? Why bother arguing for Progressivism’s superiority when you can construct “scientific” studies like Theodor Adorno’s, proving that your opponents suffer from degrees of “fascism” and other pathologies? This is a well-trod path. Why, to take an older example, should General Omar Bradley have bothered trying to refute Douglas MacArthur’s statement that in war there is no substitute for victory when calling MacArthur and his supporters “primitives” did the trick? Why wrestle with our climate’s complexities when you can make up your own “models,” being sure that your class will treat them as truth?

What priorities will the ruling class’s notion of scientific truth dictate to the next Democratic administration? Because rejecting that true and false, right and wrong are objectively ascertainable is part of this class’s DNA, no corpus of fact or canon of reason restrains it or defines its end-point. Its definition of “science” is neither more nor less than what “scientists say” at any given time. In practice, that means “Science R-Us,” now and always, exclusively. Thus has come to pass what President Dwight Eisenhower warned against in his 1960 Farewell address: “A steadily increasing share [of science] is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.… [T]he free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution…a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity.” Hence, said Ike, “The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present—and is gravely to be regarded.” The result has been that academics rise through government grants while the government exercises power by claiming to act on science’s behalf. If you don’t bow to the authority of the power that says what is and is not so, you are an obscurantist or worse.

Under our ruling class, “truth” has morphed from the reflection of objective reality to whatever has “normative pull”—i.e., to what furthers the ruling class’s agenda, whatever that might be at any given time. That is the meaning of the term “political correctness,” as opposed to factual correctness.

It’s the Contempt, Stupid!

Who, a generation ago, could have guessed that careers and social standing could be ruined by stating the fact that the paramount influence on the earth’s climate is the sun, that its output of energy varies and with it the climate? Who, a decade ago, could have predicted that stating that marriage is the union of a man and a woman would be treated as a culpable sociopathy, or just yesterday that refusing to let certifiably biological men into women’s bathrooms would disqualify you from mainstream society? Or that saying that the lives of white people “matter” as much as those of blacks is evidence of racism? These strictures came about quite simply because some sectors of the ruling class felt like inflicting them on the rest of America. Insulting presumed inferiors proved to be even more important to the ruling class than the inflictions’ substance.

How far will our rulers go? Because their network is mutually supporting, they will go as far as they want. Already, there is pressure from ruling class constituencies, as well as academic arguments, for morphing the concept of “hate crime” into the criminalization of “hate speech”—which means whatever these loving folks hate. Of course this is contrary to the First Amendment, and a wholesale negation of freedom. But it is no more so than the negation of freedom of association that is already eclipsing religious freedom in the name anti-discrimination. It is difficult to imagine a Democratic president, Congress, and Supreme Court standing in the way.

Above all, these inflictions, as well as the ruling class’s acceptance of its own members’ misbehavior, came about because millions of its supporters were happy, or happy enough, to support them in the interest of maintaining their own status in a ruling coalition while discomfiting their socio-political opponents. Consider, for example, how republic-killing an event was the ruling class’s support of President Bill Clinton in the wake of his nationally televised perjury. Subsequently, as constituencies of supporters have effectively condoned officials’ abusive, self-serving, and even outright illegal behavior, they have encouraged more and more of it while inuring themselves to it. That is how republics turn into empires from the roots up.

But it is also true, as Mao Tse-Tung used to say, “a fish begins to rot at the head.” If you want to understand why any and all future Democratic Party administrations can only be empires dedicated to injuring and insulting their subjects, look first at their intellectual leaders’ rejection of the American republic’s most fundamental principles.

The Declaration of Independence says that all men “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights” among which are “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” These rights—codified in the Constitution’s Bill of Rights—are not civil rights that governments may define. The free exercise of religion, freedom of speech and assembly, keeping and bearing arms, freedom from warrantless searches, protection against double jeopardy and self-incrimination, trial by jury of one’s peers, etc., are natural rights that pertain to human beings as such. Securing them for Americans is what the United States is all about. But today’s U.S. Civil Rights Commission advocates truncating the foremost of these rights because, as it stated in a recent report, “Religious exemptions to the protections of civil rights based upon classifications such as race, color, national origin, sex, disability status, sexual orientation, and gender identity, when they are permissible, significantly infringe upon those civil rights.” The report explains why the rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights should not be permissible: “The phrases ‘religious liberty’ and ‘religious freedom’ will stand for nothing except hypocrisy so long as they remain code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Christian supremacy, or any form of intolerance.”

Hillary Clinton’s attack on Trump supporters merely matched the ruling class’s current common sense. Why should government workers and all who wield the administrative state’s unaccountable powers not follow their leaders’ judgment, backed by the prestige press, about who are to be treated as citizens and who is to be handled as deplorable refuse? Hillary Clinton underlined once again how the ruling class regards us, and about what it has in store for us.

Electing Donald Trump would result in an administration far less predictable than any Democratic one. In fact, what Trump would or would not do, could or could not do, pales into insignificance next to the certainty of what any Democrat would do. That is what might elect Trump.

The character of an eventual Trump Administration is unpredictable because speculating about Trump’s mind is futile. It is equally futile to guess how he might react to the mixture of flattery and threats sure to be leveled against him. The entire ruling class—Democrats and Republicans, the bulk of the bureaucracy, the judiciary, and the press—would do everything possible to thwart him; and the constituencies that chose him as their candidate, and that might elect him, are surely not united and are by no means clear about the demands they would press. Moreover, it is anyone’s guess whom he would appoint and how he would balance his constituencies’ pressures against those of the ruling class.

Never before has such a large percentage of Americans expressed alienation from their leaders, resentment, even fear. Some two-thirds of Americans believe that elected and appointed officials—plus the courts, the justice system, business leaders, educators—are leading the country in the wrong direction: that they are corrupt, do more harm than good, make us poorer, get us into wars and lose them. Because this majority sees no one in the political mainstream who shares their concerns, because it lacks confidence that the system can be fixed, it is eager to empower whoever might flush the system and its denizens with something like an ungentle enema.

Yet the persons who express such revolutionary sentiments are not a majority ready to support a coherent imperial program to reverse the course of America’s past half-century. Temperamentally conservative, these constituencies had been most attached to the Constitution and been counted as the bedrock of stability. They are not yet wholly convinced that there is little left to conserve. What they want, beyond an end to the ruling class’s outrages, has never been clear. This is not surprising, given that the candidates who appeal to their concerns do so with mere sound bites. Hence they chose as the presidential candidate of the nominal opposition party the man who combined the most provocative anti-establishment sounds with reassurance that it won’t take much to bring back good old America: Donald Trump. But bringing back good old America would take an awful lot. What could he do to satisfy them?

Trump’s propensity for treating pronouncements on policy as flags to be run up and down the flagpole as he measures the volume of the applause does not deprive them of all significance—especially the ones that confirm his anti-establishment bona fides. These few policy items happen to be the ones by which he gained his anti-establishment reputation in the first place: 1) opposition to illegal immigration, especially the importation of Muslims whom Americans reasonably perceive as hostile to us; 2) law and order: stop excusing rioters and coddling criminals; 3) build a wall, throw out the illegals, let in only people who are vetted and certified as supporters of our way of life (that’s the way it was when I got my immigrant visa in 1955), and keep out anybody we can’t be sure isn’t a terrorist. Trump’s tentative, partial retreat from a bit of the latter nearly caused his political standing to implode, prompting the observation that doing something similar regarding abortion would end his political career. That is noteworthy because, although Trump’s support of the pro-life cause is lukewarm at best, it is the defining commitment for much of his constituency. The point here is that, regardless of his own sentiments, Trump cannot wholly discount his constituencies’ demands for a forceful turn away from the country’s current direction.

Trump’s slogan—“make America great again”—is the broadest, most unspecific, common denominator of non-ruling-class Americans’ diverse dissatisfaction with what has happened to the country. He talks about reasserting America’s identity, at least by controlling the borders; governing in America’s own interest rather than in pursuit of objectives of which the American people have not approved; stopping the export of jobs and removing barriers to business; and banishing political correctness’s insults and injuries. But all that together does not amount to making America great again. Nor does Trump begin to explain what it was that had made this country great to millions who have known only an America much diminished.

In fact, the United States of America was great because of a whole bunch of things that now are gone. Yes, the ruling class led the way in personal corruption, cheating on tests, lowering of professional standards, abandoning churches and synagogues for the Playboy Philosophy and lifestyle, disregarding law, basing economic life on gaming the administrative state, basing politics on conflicting identities, and much more. But much of the rest of the country followed. What would it take to make America great again—or indeed to make any of the changes that Trump’s voters demand? Replacing the current ruling class would be only the beginning.

Because it is difficult to imagine a Trump presidency even thinking about something so monumental as replacing an entire ruling elite, much less leading his constituency to accomplishing it, electing Trump is unlikely to result in a forceful turn away from the country’s current direction. Continuing pretty much on the current trajectory under the same class will further fuel revolutionary sentiments in the land all by itself. Inevitable disappointment with Trump is sure to add to them.

We have stepped over the threshold of a revolution. It is difficult to imagine how we might step back, and futile to speculate where it will end. Our ruling class’s malfeasance, combined with insult, brought it about. Donald Trump did not cause it and is by no means its ultimate manifestation. Regardless of who wins in 2016, this revolution’s sentiments will grow in volume and intensity, and are sure to empower politicians likely to make Americans nostalgic for Donald Trump’s moderation.
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline Thucydides

  • Army.ca Legend
  • *****
  • 196,510
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 13,771
  • Freespeecher
Re: Grand Strategy for a Divided America
« Reply #614 on: October 14, 2016, 20:47:05 »
Laying out the root causes of the culture wars. The source is very interesting:

http://www.cracked.com/blog/6-reasons-trumps-rise-that-no-one-talks-about/

Quote
How Half Of America Lost Its F**king Mind
David Wong ·October 12, 2016·1,741,424 views

I'm going to explain the Donald Trump phenomenon in three movies. And then some text.

There's this universal shorthand that epic adventure movies use to tell the good guys from the bad. The good guys are simple folk from the countryside ...

... while the bad guys are decadent assholes who live in the city and wear stupid clothes:


In Star Wars, Luke is a farm boy ...

... while the bad guys live in a shiny space station:

In Braveheart, the main character (Dennis Braveheart) is a simple farmer ...

... and the dastardly Prince Shithead lives in a luxurious castle and wears fancy, foppish clothes

The theme expresses itself in several ways -- primitive vs. advanced, tough vs. delicate, masculine vs. feminine, poor vs. rich, pure vs. decadent, traditional vs. weird. All of it is code for rural vs. urban. That tense divide between the two doesn't exist because of these movies, obviously. These movies used it as shorthand because the divide already existed.

We country folk are programmed to hate the prissy elites. That brings us to Trump.

6 It's Not About Red And Blue States -- It's About The Country Vs. The City

I was born and raised in Trump country. My family are Trump people. If I hadn't moved away and gotten this ridiculous job, I'd be voting for him. I know I would.

See, political types talk about "red states" and "blue states" (where red = Republican/conservative and blue = Democrat/progressive), but forget about states. If you want to understand the Trump phenomenon, dig up the much more detailed county map. Here's how the nation voted county by county in the 2012 election -- again, red is Republican:

Holy cockslaps, that makes it look like Obama's blue party is some kind of fringe political faction that struggles to get 20 percent of the vote. The blue parts, however, are more densely populated -- they're the cities. In the upper left, you see the blue Seattle/Tacoma area, lower down is San Francisco and then L.A. The blue around the dick-shaped Lake Michigan is made of cities like Minneapolis, Milwaukee, and Chicago. In the northeast is, of course, New York and Boston, leading down into Philadelphia, which leads into a blue band which connects a bunch of southern cities like Charlotte and Atlanta.

Blue islands in an ocean of red. The cities are less than 4 percent of the land mass, but 62 percent of the population and easily 99 percent of the popular culture. Our movies, shows, songs, and news all radiate out from those blue islands.

And if you live in the red, that ******* sucks.

See, I'm from a "blue" state -- Illinois -- but the state isn't blue. Freaking Chicago is blue. I'm from a tiny town in one of the blood-red areas:

As a kid, visiting Chicago was like, well, Katniss visiting the capital. Or like Zoey visiting the city of the future in this ridiculous book. "Their ways are strange."

And the whole goddamned world revolves around them.

Every TV show is about LA or New York, maybe with some Chicago or Baltimore thrown in. When they did make a show about us, we were jokes -- either wide-eyed, naive fluffballs (Parks And Recreation, and before that, Newhart) or filthy murderous mutants (True Detective, and before that, Deliverance). You could feel the arrogance from hundreds of miles away.

"Nothing that happens outside the city matters!" they say at their cocktail parties, blissfully unaware of where their food is grown. Hey, remember when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans? Kind of weird that a big hurricane hundreds of miles across managed to snipe one specific city and avoid everything else. To watch the news (or the multiple movies and TV shows about it), you'd barely hear about how the storm utterly steamrolled rural Mississippi, killing 238 people and doing an astounding $125 billion in damage.

But who cares about those people, right? What's newsworthy about a bunch of toothless hillbillies crying over a flattened trailer? New Orleans is culturally important. It matters.

To those ignored, suffering people, Donald Trump is a brick chucked through the window of the elites. "Are you assholes listening now?"

5 City People Are From A Different Goddamned Planet

"But isn't this really about race? Aren't Trump supporters just a bunch of racists? Don't they hate cities because that's where the brown people live?"

Look, we're going to get actual Nazis in the comment section of this article. Not "calling them Nazis for argument points" Nazis, but actual "Swastikas in their avatars, rooted against Indiana Jones" Nazis. Those people exist.

But what I can say, from personal experience, is that the racism of my youth was always one step removed. I never saw a family member, friend, or classmate be mean to the actual black people we had in town. We worked with them, played video games with them, waved to them when they passed. What I did hear was several million comments about how if you ever ventured into the city, winding up in the "wrong neighborhood" meant you'd get dragged from your car, raped, and burned alive. Looking back, I think the idea was that the local minorities were fine ... as long as they acted exactly like us.

If you'd asked me at the time, I'd have said the fear and hatred wasn't of people with brown skin, but of that specific tribe they have in Chicago -- you know, the guys with the weird slang, music and clothes, the dope fiends who murder everyone they see. It was all part of the bizarro nature of the cities, as perceived from afar -- a combination of hyper-aggressive savages and frivolous white elites. Their ways are strange. And it wasn't like pop culture was trying to talk me out of it:

It's not just perception, either -- the stats back up the fact that these are parallel universes. People living in the countryside are twice as likely to own a gun and will probably get married younger. People in the urban "blue" areas talk faster and walk faster. They are more likely to be drug abusers but less likely to be alcoholics. The blues are less likely to own land and, most importantly, they're less likely to be Evangelical Christians.

A day without hellfire and brimstone is like a day without sunshine.

In the small towns, this often gets expressed as "They don't share our values!" and my progressive friends love to scoff at that. "What, like illiteracy and homophobia?!?!"

Nope. Everything.

4 Trends Always Start In The Cities -- And Not All Of Them Are Good

The cities are always living in the future. I remember when our little town got our first Chinese restaurant and, 20 years later, its first fancy coffee shop. All of this stuff had turned up in movies (set in L.A., of course) decades earlier. I remember watching '80s movies and mocking the "Valley Girl" stereotypes -- young girls from, like, California who would, like, say, "like" in between every third word. Twenty years later, you can hear me doing the same in every Cracked podcast. The cancer started in L.A. and spread to the rest of America.

Well, the perception back then was that those city folks were all turning atheist, abandoning church for their bisexual sex parties. That, we were told, was literally a sign of the Apocalypse. Not just due to the spiritual consequences (which were dire), but the devastation that would come to the culture. I couldn't imagine any rebuttal. In that place, at that time, the church was everything. Don't take my word for it -- listen to the experts:

Church was where you made friends, met girls, networked for jobs, got social support. The poor could get food and clothes there, couples could get advice on their marriages, addicts could try to get clean. But now we're seeing a startling decline in Christianity among the general population, the godless disease having spread alongside Valley Girl talk. So according to Fox News, what's the result of those decadent, atheist, amoral snobs in the cities having turned their noses up at God?

Chaos.

The fabric has broken down, they say, just as predicted. And what rural Americans see on the news today is a sneak peek at their tomorrow.

The savages are coming.

Blacks riot, Muslims set bombs, gays spread AIDS, Mexican cartels behead children, atheists tear down Christmas trees. Meanwhile, those liberal Lena Dunhams in their $5,000-a-month apartments sip wine and say, "But those white Christians are the real problem!" Terror victims scream in the street next to their own severed limbs, and the response from the elites is to cry about how men should be allowed to use women's restrooms and how it's cruel to keep chickens in cages.

Madness. Their heads are so far up their asses that they can't tell up from down. Basic, obvious truths that have gone unquestioned for thousands of years now get laughed at and shouted down -- the fact that hard work is better than dependence on government, that children do better with both parents in the picture, that peace is better than rioting, that a strict moral code is better than blithe hedonism, that humans tend to value things they've earned more than what they get for free, that not getting exploded by a bomb is better than getting exploded by a bomb.

Or as they say out in the country, "Don't piss on my leg and tell me it's raining."

The foundation upon which America was undeniably built -- family, faith, and hard work -- had been deemed unfashionable and small-minded. Those snooty elites up in their ivory tower laughed as they kicked away that foundation, and then wrote 10,000-word thinkpieces blaming the builders for the ensuing collapse.

3 The Rural Areas Have Been Beaten To crap

Don't message me saying all those things I listed are wrong. I know they're wrong. Or rather, I think they're wrong, because I now live in a blue county and work for a blue industry. I know the Good Old Days of the past were built on slavery and segregation, I know that entire categories of humanity experienced religion only as a boot on their neck. I know that those "traditional families" involved millions of women trapped in kitchens and bad marriages. I know gays lived in fear and abortions were back-alley affairs.

I know the changes were for the best.

Try telling that to anybody who lives in Trump country.

They're getting the crap kicked out of them. I know, I was there. Step outside of the city, and the suicide rate among young people ******* doubles. The recession pounded rural communities, but all the recovery went to the cities. The rate of new businesses opening in rural areas has utterly collapsed.

See, rural jobs used to be based around one big local business -- a factory, a coal mine, etc. When it dies, the town dies. Where I grew up, it was an oil refinery closing that did us in. I was raised in the hollowed-out shell of what the town had once been. The roof of our high school leaked when it rained. Cities can make up for the loss of manufacturing jobs with service jobs -- small towns cannot. That model doesn't work below a certain population density.

If you don't live in one of these small towns, you can't understand the hopelessness. The vast majority of possible careers involve moving to the city, and around every city is now a hundred-foot wall called "Cost of Living." Let's say you're a smart kid making $8 an hour at Walgreen's and aspire to greater things. Fine, get ready to move yourself and your new baby into a 700-square-foot apartment for $1,200 a month, and to then pay double what you're paying now for utilities, groceries, and babysitters. Unless, of course, you're planning to move to one of "those" neighborhoods (hope you like being set on fire!).

In a city, you can plausibly aspire to start a band, or become an actor, or get a medical degree. You can actually have dreams. In a small town, there may be no venues for performing arts aside from country music bars and churches. There may only be two doctors in town -- aspiring to that job means waiting for one of them to retire or die. You open the classifieds and all of the job listings will be for fast food or convenience stores. The "downtown" is just the corpses of mom and pop stores left shattered in Walmart's blast crater, the "suburbs" are trailer parks. There are parts of these towns that look post-apocalyptic.

I'm telling you, the hopelessness eats you alive.

And if you dare complain, some liberal elite will pull out their iPad and type up a rant about your racist white privilege. Already, someone has replied to this with a comment saying, "You should try living in a ghetto as a minority!" Exactly. To them, it seems like the plight of poor minorities is only used as a club to bat away white cries for help. Meanwhile, the rate of rural white suicides and overdoses skyrockets. crap, at least politicians act like they care about the inner cities.


2 Everyone Lashes Out When They Don't Have A Voice

It really does feel like the worst of both worlds: all the ravages of poverty, but none of the sympathy. "Blacks burn police cars, and those liberal elites say it's not their fault because they're poor. My son gets jailed and fired over a baggie of meth, and those same elites make jokes about his missing teeth!" You're everyone's punching bag, one of society's last remaining safe comedy targets.

They take it hard. These are people who come from a long line of folks who took pride in looking after themselves. Where I'm from, you weren't a real man unless you could repair a car, patch a roof, hunt your own meat, and defend your home from an intruder. It was a source of shame to be dependent on anyone -- especially the government. You mowed your own lawn and fixed your own pipes when they leaked, you hauled your own firewood in your own pickup truck. (Mine was a 1994 Ford Ranger! The current owner says it still runs!)

Not like those hipsters in their tiny apartments, or "those people" in their public housing projects, waiting for the landlord any time something breaks, knowing if things get too bad they can just pick up and move. When you don't own anything, it's all somebody else's problem. "They probably don't pay taxes, either! Just treating America itself as a subsidized apartment they can trash!"

The rural folk with the Trump signs in their yards say their way of life is dying, and you smirk and say what they really mean is that blacks and gays are finally getting equal rights and they hate it. But I'm telling you, they say their way of life is dying because their way of life is dying. It's not their imagination. No movie about the future portrays it as being full of traditional families, hunters, and coal mines. Well, except for Hunger Games, and that was depicted as an apocalypse.

So yes, they vote for the guy promising to put things back the way they were, the guy who'd be a wake-up call to the blue islands. They voted for the brick through the window.

It was a vote of desperation.

"But Trump is objectively a piece of crap!" you say. "He insults people, he objectifies women, and cheats whenever possible! And he's not an everyman; he's a smarmy, arrogant billionaire!"

Wait, are you talking about Donald Trump, or this guy:

You've never rooted for somebody like that? Someone powerful who gives your enemies the insults they deserve? Somebody with big fun appetites who screws up just enough to make them relatable? Like Dr. House or Walter White? Or any of the several million renegade cop characters who can break all the rules because they get crap done? Who only get crap done because they don't care about the rules?

"But those are fictional characters!" Okay, what about all those millionaire left-leaning talk show hosts? You think they keep their insults classy? Tune into any bit about Chris Christie and start counting down the seconds until the fat joke. Google David Letterman's sex scandals. But it's okay, because they're on our side, and everybody wants an ******* on their team -- a spiked bat to smash their enemies with. That's all Trump is. The howls of elite outrage are like the sounds of bombs landing on the enemy's fortress. The louder the better.

Already some of you have gotten angry, feeling this gut-level revulsion at any attempt to excuse or even understand these people. After all, they're hardly people, right? Aren't they just a mass of ignorant, rageful, crude, cursing, spitting subhumans?

Gee, I hope not. I have to hug a bunch of them at Thanksgiving. And when I do, it will be with the knowledge that if I hadn't moved away, I'd be on the other side of the fence, leaving nasty comments on this article the alternate universe version of me wrote.

It feels good to dismiss people, to mock them, to write them off as deplorables. But you might as well take time to try to understand them, because I'm telling you, they'll still be around long after Trump is gone.

Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline Thucydides

  • Army.ca Legend
  • *****
  • 196,510
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 13,771
  • Freespeecher
Re: Grand Strategy for a Divided America
« Reply #615 on: October 18, 2016, 12:21:58 »
So what will happen after the election, when half of the voters simply will not accept the results of the election?

https://medium.com/the-american-singularity/it-cant-happen-here-can-it-3b3030c8223b#.ykjd39p87

Quote
It Can’t Happen Here (Can It?)
Tuesday, October 18th, 2016
By Reed Galen
Welcome to the American Singularity.

This dumpster fire of a campaign has three weeks to go. For a tired nation and a deeply-wounded political process, the end can’t come fast enough. Faced with the prospect of his impending loss, a humiliating one at that, Donald Trump has gone full Buzz Windrip, complete with conspiracy theories, angry rhetoric and a collection of malcontents in search of their own power. Daily, Trump now indicts and impugns the American electoral system with conspiracies enough to float a squadron of black helicopters.

Faced with an unwillingness or inability to temper his, well temper, or make meaningful progress to grow his share of the vote, Trump has instead chosen to superheat his supporters. Like adding fire to raw ore to remove its impurities, this small molten core has too often shown itself to represent too little of the best of America and too much of an ugly underbelly that is using Trump to bring itself into the mainstream political process.

“Why, why, America’s the only free nation on Earth! Besides, Country’s too big for a revolution. No, no! Couldn’t happen here!”

Like a clone army of Shad Ledue, Trump supporters forgive him his trespasses because of real and perceived trespasses against them. That he shares their anger, at whatever it might be — the system, the elites, the world, is enough for them. When The Donald first began talking about the “rigged system” many flocked to him because he was willing to say what other politicians weren’t: The government of 2016 (and for sometime) may be by the people, but it is far too often not for the people or of the people. While his words didn’t change, the meaning of Trump’s utterances certainly has.

According to a Politico/Morning Consult survey out this week, 41% of all voters, 73% of Republicans believe that the election could indeed be stolen from Trump. Trump regularly touts the specter of election irregularities and crooked surveys to claim he is actually winning the election, despite every other known indicator showing otherwise. His words shock the American political soul, are cause for concern and are a pro-active threat to how we conduct ourselves in the public square.

Hillary Clinton, however, represents the status quo on many different levels. She is the embodiment of what so many Americans (and almost all Republicans) see as a country run by elites who truly care little for their well-being. Clinton’s example is less stout, less noisy and less ugly, but no less insidious, odious or threatening to the Republic. Regardless of how she walked back her “deplorable” comment and many of Trump’s supporters are in fact deplorable, she meant what she said. The urban left has too little respect for suburban and rural America.

It’s funny that something we now consider old-fashioned, email, has been the root of so many of Hillary’s problems. First it was her own emails. She did it, but thought it was okay. Then it was a lapse in judgement. Then she wished she’d done it differently. Now it appears (shocking, I know) that there were players within the Obama Administration working on her behalf to clean up the mess she’d made with her own paranoia. Those old blackberries haunt her to this day because they make so many people, across the political spectrum, believe she’s really only in it for herself.

Then Wikileaks, or the Russians, or whomever, hacks the Democratic National Committee and we find out that they were in the tank for Hillary the whole time. Again, this should never have been surprising, but to see the DNC’s efforts to submarine Bernie Sanders so blatantly was shocking even to many people, like me, who do this for a living. Of course we saw Sanders’ supporters rightly outraged at the revelation. While many Berners will vote for Hillary, they’ll do it holding their nose, knowing Trump offers them no real alternative.

The continuing release of Clinton campaign chairman John Pedesta’s emails show that, after it’s all said and done, Democratic politicians and operatives are as calculating, insulting and tone-deaf as anyone else in the country. They’re further proof that high-level Clinton brass doesn’t apparently like too many of the people they’re so eager to lead into the next four or eight years. Working in politics, it is inevitable that your bright, shiny idealism will be swiftly and mercilessly torn away from you, but Hillary’s crew appears to have taken it a whole new level.

“Every man is a king so long as he has someone to look down on.”

And the Corpos, of course, are fine with all this. Hillary may ding them here and there in her rhetoric and as president may even propose so measures that Wall Street may not care for. But at the end of the day, they know she is a pragmatist, knows where her heart-healthy bread is buttered and will do no real or long-lasting damage to them. The status quo is the best they can hope for. Clinton one day may be immortalized in bronze as the politician, perhaps even more so than her husband, who knows how to work the system.

If our tottering economy should take another tumble, President Clinton and the next Congress will have their last chance to clean up our kindle-laden political system. Should they again look to save the big guys at the expense of the little, the ensuing wildfire will be more than just an election can hope to head off. Trump may be an outlet for the anger of many Americans, but his defeat will not end their disaffection.
Only real, sustained reform that begins to address the angst, anger (of both sides of the political spectrum) yawning inequality and stagnant economy we now face will allow us to chart a new path; one back to prosperity and stability. But not stability or security for their own sake — you can get that, as President Dwight Eisenhower said, in a prison cell. It doesn’t mean you’re free.

Per the same Politico survey mentioned above, 71% of the voters they questioned believe the United States is on the wrong track. As we conclude this tortuous and ugly election season, we must hope, and probably demand, that our elected leaders take a new tack on how they operate, begin putting those that elect them first and try out different ideas that should upset some of the most entrenched interests.
To do otherwise would be a failure on their part, and a continuation down the path of illegitimacy that has only dark outcomes — or we may one day wish Donald Trump was the worst we could imagine.

Republics are first and foremost tests of faith. Hundreds of millions of people must believe in the system of government our forebears collectively agreed to; and they must believe the elections are free and fair and that the rule of law applies to all — the lowliest of the low and highest and mightiest. Otherwise, the Constitution is just so many very eloquent words written on really old pieces of paper.
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline Thucydides

  • Army.ca Legend
  • *****
  • 196,510
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 13,771
  • Freespeecher
Re: Grand Strategy for a Divided America
« Reply #616 on: October 22, 2016, 14:05:02 »
As Instapundit asked "Who could have seen this coming?". Whoever is elected will have an extraordinary mess on their hands after 8 years of "Smart Diplomacy". A Clinton administration will probably be paralyzed from the get go since any halfway competent intelligence agency has years of American secret information lifted from her server. A Trump Administration is dedicated to rebuilding America, so might well be inclined to draw down American forces and deployments in favour of domestic policy, and any 9/11 type attacks will be met with a massive "punch in the face" by the Marines, followed by an equally rapid withdrawal (no nation building exercises here).

http://www.the-american-interest.com/2016/10/20/as-obamas-clock-winds-down-revisionist-powers-pounce/

Quote
As Obama’s Clock Winds Down, Revisionist Powers Pounce
WALTER RUSSELL MEAD
The Philippine pivot to China is just the latest consequence of Obama’s feckless foreign policy.

Hillary Clinton has swept her debate series with Donald Trump, and voters seem to like Trump less the harder they look at him. But as Clinton surely understands, even as she approaches the White House, the global scene is getting darker.

This morning, we saw a glimpse of that world, as one of America’s longest-standing allies in Asia turned its back on the United States and embraced China:

In a state visit aimed at cozying up to Beijing as he pushes away from Washington, the Philippine President announced his military and economic “separation” from the United States.

“America has lost now. I’ve realigned myself in your ideological flow,” he told business leaders in Beijing on Thursday. “And maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to Putin and tell him that there are three of us against the world: China, Philippines and Russia. It’s the only way.”
As usual, the Obama administration was caught off guard and flat-footed. John Kirby, the spokesman for the State Department, said the move was “inexplicably at odds” with the U.S.-Philippine relationship. “We are going to be seeking an explanation of exactly what the president meant when he talked about separation from us,” Kirby said. “It’s not clear to us exactly what that means and all its ramifications.”

Kirby is right that the outlook in the Philippines is murky; lots of Filipino officials are as appalled by their president’s remarks as anybody in Foggy Bottom. But what isn’t murky at all is that President Obama’s faltering foreign policy has taken another serious hit. It is hard to think of another American president whose foreign policy initiatives failed as badly or as widely as Obama’s. The reconciliation with the Sunni world? The reset with Russia? Stabilizing the Middle East by tilting toward Iran? The Libya invasion? The Syria abstention? The ‘pivot to Asia’ was supposed to be the centerpiece of Obama’s global strategy; instead the waning months of the Obama administration have seen an important U.S. ally pivot toward China in the most public and humiliating way possible.

Duterte clearly thinks that humiliating Obama in this way is a solid career move. He certainly believes that China will support him against the critics at home and abroad who will wring their hands over his shift. He presumably has had some assurances from his Chinese hosts that if he commits his cause to them, they will back him to the hilt.

This points to a broader problem: Obama’s tortuous efforts to balance a commitment to human rights and the niceties of American liberal ideology with a strong policy in defense of basic American security interests have made the world less safe for both human rights and for American security. As the revisionist powers (Russia, China, and Iran) gain ground, foreign leaders feel less and less need to pay attention to American sermons about human rights and the rule of law. Death squads and extra-judicial executions on a large scale: the Americans will lecture you but China will still be your friend. Barrel bombing hospitals in Aleppo? The Russians won’t just back you; they will help you to do it. Obama’s foreign policy is making the world safer for people who despise and trample on the very values that Obama hoped his presidency would advance. His lack of strategic insight and his inability to grasp the dynamics of world power politics have opened the door to a new generation of authoritarian figures in alliance with hostile great powers. Unintentionally, and with the best of intentions, he has opened the doors to the demons of Hell, and the darkest forces in the human spirit have much greater scope and much more power today than they did when he took the oath of office back in 2009.

Now in the final days of Obama’s presidency, Russia, Iran, and China are all stepping up their game. Putin has been humiliating and outfoxing Obama at one end of Eurasia; Iran has gone from routing Obama at the bargaining table to enabling its proxies in Yemen to fire on American ships. Xi now has a triumph of his own, with one of America’s oldest Asian allies insulting Obama at official events. Clearly, America’s opponents (and some of our allies) have reached the conclusion that this particular American administration is unable or unwilling to respond forcefully to provocations.

This isn’t just a painful and embarrassing time for President Obama; it is a dangerous time for world peace. Secretary Clinton is well aware of just how damaging the Filipino defection is in Asia; she helped develop the Obama administration’s Asia strategy and she knows that China’s challenge has just grown much more dangerous. She knows what a wreck the Middle East has become, and she is well aware that Obama will hand her a region that is in much worse shape than it was when Obama took office. She knows how Putin made a patsy and a laughingstock of Obama around the world, and she knows that Obama’s efforts to stabilize the Middle East by conciliating Iran have had just the opposite effect. She knows that even as Donald Trump’s poorly led, poorly conceived electoral campaign weakens, America’s enemies abroad are using every day of Obama’s tenure in office to weaken the foundations of America’s power around the world.

We do not know what other plans our opponents have to take advantage of Obama’s shortcomings as the clock slowly runs down on his time in the White House. Putin clearly hoped that his interference could muddy the waters of the American presidential race; the Russians believe that Trump is if anything less capable than Obama, and that a Trump presidency would give Russia four more years to work at dismantling American power and the European Union. As Putin now contemplates the likely frustration of those hopes, he is likely to think harder about how he can use the time remaining on Obama’s watch to further weaken the United States and erode its alliance system.

Should Secretary Clinton make it to the White House, her first and biggest job will be to stop and then reverse the deterioration in America’s global position that her predecessor permitted. She will have to convince both friends and foes that the President of the United States is no longer a punching bag, and that the United States of America is back on the stage. She will need, and she will deserve, the support of patriotic Americans in both political parties as she undertakes this necessary mission. President Obama’s mismanagement of foreign affairs is creating a genuine international emergency; the White House and Congress will have to work together to restore American prestige and stop the slide toward chaos and war.
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline Brad Sallows

  • Army.ca Veteran
  • *****
  • 73,935
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 3,945
Re: Grand Strategy for a Divided America
« Reply #617 on: October 23, 2016, 13:41:47 »
Foreign powers generally tend to act up when a change of administration is imminent.  The difference this time is that one or more of them may have been reading Clinton's mail.

The useful thing to remember is that regardless whether any particular secrets were compromised, the massive amount of correspondence - the kind of to-and-fro commonly seen in email threads - offers to its readers a window into Clinton's mind.  Imagine the power of an adversary who understands the president's thinking.
That which does not kill me has made a grave tactical error.

"It is a damned heavy blow; but whining don't help."

Despair is a sin.

Offline Thucydides

  • Army.ca Legend
  • *****
  • 196,510
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 13,771
  • Freespeecher
Re: Grand Strategy for a Divided America
« Reply #618 on: November 08, 2016, 01:13:36 »
How to guide and manage change. Most of the main article is behind a pay wall, so the excerpt here is from Instapundit:

https://pjmedia.com/instapundit/a-new-solarium-wargame-steve-metz-says-a-2017-edition-of-ikes-1953-analytic-game-would-help-re-s/#respond

Quote
A NEW SOLARIUM WARGAME?: Steve Metz says a 2017 edition of Ike’s 1953 analytic game would help “re-set” US global strategy. I wonder if Metz’ Solarium 2017 will be classified or could be kept classified — fair question given Hillary’s record. Ike’s “seminar-type game” was top secret and remained top secret until the mid-1980s. Ike’s Project Solarium analysis produced a Top Secret document, NSC 162/2, which articulated the strategic concepts that guided US Cold War security policy. Note I said guided, not dictated. To use a phrase Metz uses, it provided “conceptual clarity.” As Metz notes, during the Cold War the US could focus on one primary opponent, the USSR. After 1991 the bi-polar world faded and multi-polar conflicts returned. Since then there have scores (if not hundreds) of serious attempts to do what Metz advises, “reassess the fundamental organizing concepts of American security” in a multi-polar world. Some of these attempts have used Solarium-like methods.

Did these assessments have the president’s focused attention? I doubt they did. It was different in 1953. Ike possessed one of the country’s finest strategic minds. He was a highly experienced Army officer who understood the benefits conducting “structured, participatory thinking exercises” — that’s a phrase I’ve used to describe seminar-type war games. Ike initiated Solarium and made the final assessment of the team reports. We don’t have an Ike in the White House now, and we won’t in 2017.

Which is actually a good reason to conduct a Solarium 2017. Solarium 2017 would be a valuable training exercise for our new president.
Dagny, this is not a battle over material goods. It's a moral crisis, the greatest the world has ever faced and the last. Our age is the climax of centuries of evil. We must put an end to it, once and for all, or perish - we, the men of the mind. It was our own guilt. We produced the wealth of the world - but we let our enemies write its moral code.

Offline Journeyman

  • Army.ca Subscriber
  • Army.ca Legend
  • *
  • 569,750
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 13,305
Re: Grand Strategy for a Divided America
« Reply #619 on: November 08, 2016, 07:55:49 »
We don’t have an Ike in the White House now, and we won’t in 2017.
    Regardless of the vote.   :(

Offline E.R. Campbell

  • Retired, years ago
  • Army.ca Subscriber
  • Army.ca Myth
  • *
  • 488,550
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 18,413
Re: Grand Strategy for a Divided America
« Reply #620 on: November 08, 2016, 17:50:49 »

Quote
Quote from: Thucydides on Today at 01:13:36
Quote
We don’t have an Ike in the White House now, and we won’t in 2017.

Regardless of the vote.   :(

And, with all possible respect for those who are partisans of US political parties, there hasn't been one since Ike. From Kennedy right through to Obama it has been a parade of (relatively) weak sisters, some (Johnson, Nixon, Reagan, Clinton) perhaps a bit less weak (OK, Nixon was morally weak) than others.

There is a reason no president has held anything like Ex SOLARIUM: none had Ike's breadth of strategic vision nor his depth of knowledge of the strategic resources available and how they all fit together. He didn't have to situate the appreciation and the record suggests he didn't try ... but Kennan's team gave him the answer he was after: one which allowed him to play to America's strengths and NSC 162/2 which served as a guide to containing the USSR for successive presidents through to Bill Clinton.
It is ill that men should kill one another in seditions, tumults and wars; but it is worse to bring nations to such misery, weakness and baseness
as to have neither strength nor courage to contend for anything; to have nothing left worth defending and to give the name of peace to desolation.
Algernon Sidney in Discourses Concerning Government, (1698)
----------
Like what you see/read here on Army.ca?  Subscribe, and help keep it "on the air!"

Offline daftandbarmy

  • Army.ca Legend
  • *****
  • 259,430
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 14,354
  • The Older I Get, The Better I Was
"The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier." Napoleon

Offline Chris Pook

  • Army.ca Subscriber
  • Army.ca Legend
  • *
  • 209,750
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 12,808
  • Wha daur say Mass in ma lug!
Re: Grand Strategy for a Divided America
« Reply #622 on: November 10, 2016, 12:47:33 »
Quote
Trump throws the future of NATO into doubt. Europe must step up to defend itself
JULIET SAMUEL
Juliet Samuel 10 NOVEMBER 2016 • 6:30AM

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/2016/11/10/trump-throws-the-future-of-nato-into-doubt-europe-must-step-up-t/

Quote
Donald Trump has finally spoken by phone to Theresa May, after first calling the leaders of nine other countries, including Ireland and Australia.

The US President-elect spoke to Mrs May at 1.45pm after first speaking  to the leaders of nine other countries - Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, Israel, Turkey, India, Japan, Australia and South Korea within 24 hours of his victory.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/11/10/what-special-relationship-donald-trump-speaks-to-nine-other-worl/

Brits hyperventilating over not being the first call but there is value, and maybe even merit, in doing things this way.

America's national pastime these days is: Poker.

The most valuable asset any military commander has is: Surprise.

Fundamental rule of campaigning: Time spent in recce is seldom wasted.

The President, like our Prime Minister, is hired as an agent to act on the behalf of his clients - the country he serves.

A key element of deal-making is convincing the other party that you don't want or need the deal.

Based on all of these I suggest that Trump, as a well versed dealmaker and poker player, has done the following through his wilder statements:

He has created a persona of unpredictability, perhaps even instability. - This in turn means that he now holds a new hand.  The deck has been reshuffled and nobody knows how he will play them.  This creates Surprise.  That serves him and his country well.  The rest of the world, including Britain, needs to wait and see.

His isolationist statements serve to remind everyone else that the US can shut up its borders and survive.  The rest of the world be damned.  You want in?  You will have to pay.  He doesn't need the deal. Everyone else does.  They will have to come to him.

If I were going to develop a new market I prefer the Lanchester Strategy.  It found favour among Japanese businesses.  It favours indirect engagement. It favours learning about your situation before confronting it.

So, looking at the list of countries the Donald chose to call before he called Theresa:

Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, Israel, Turkey, India, Japan, Australia and South Korea

Regroup:

Mexico,

Egypt, Israel, Turkey,

India, Japan, Australia and South Korea

Ireland,


The Mexican call is a no brainer.  He has already had communications with Mexico.  It was a, if not the, leading issue during his campaign.  It is THE Domestic issue that needs to be solved.

Egypt, Israel, Turkey - Topics of conversation there?  Israel? Palestine? Syria? Russia? Islamism and the Muslim Brotherhood?

India, Japan, Australia and South Korea - China and Theresa May's recent visits and the prospects of her Free Trade missions.

Finally, Ireland - Nobody knows the Brits better than the Irish and nobody is more in tune with the EU-UK dynamic.


After all that?

Talk to Theresa and invite her over for coffee and conversation at her earliest convenience.


More interesting are the countries not on the list:

China

Russia

The EU

Any of the founder states of the EU.


My sense is that Trump is focusing on China  (Japan, South Korea, Australia, India)

He is likely to take Russia out of the picture by sidelining Putin through some conciliation - Ukraine isn't getting Crimea back any time soon but Syria will be tidied up as quickly as possible to deny Vladimir his chance to show off his ancient arsenal.

The EU will not be invaded from the east.  But neither will they be playing any serious roles in the near future.

Meanwhile Britain seeks free trade deals with Japan, South Korea, Australia, India and the US.

Canada has a free trade deal but that deal is always, like every other deal, always open for renegotiation.

I expect the following:

XL pipeline
Kinder Morgan pipeline
F35s
SM6s

And I would not be surprised if the Northern Gateway were approved through either Kitimat or Prince Rupert.

The Carbon Tax will be bloviated - the Liberals will not back down but neither will it be enforced.

And now I shatter my crystal ball.    [:D









"Wyrd bið ful aræd"

"If change isn’t allowed to be a process, it becomes an event." - Penny Mordaunt 10/10/2019

Offline Chris Pook

  • Army.ca Subscriber
  • Army.ca Legend
  • *
  • 209,750
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 12,808
  • Wha daur say Mass in ma lug!
Re: Grand Strategy for a Divided America
« Reply #623 on: November 10, 2016, 14:11:24 »
"Wyrd bið ful aræd"

"If change isn’t allowed to be a process, it becomes an event." - Penny Mordaunt 10/10/2019

Offline George Wallace

  • Army.ca Fossil
  • *****
  • 436,780
  • Rate Post
  • Posts: 31,597
  • Crewman
Re: Grand Strategy for a Divided America
« Reply #624 on: November 10, 2016, 14:42:25 »

Apparently Wynne is concerned.

https://www.thestar.com/news/queenspark/2016/11/09/wynne-worried-about-trump-threat-to-ontario-economy.html

I should hope she is concerned.  She has most likely done more to put Ontario's economy in the dumpster than anyone else in its' history.  Speculation of Trump fiddling with NAFTA could seal the Ontario decline in the history books.

[edit to add:]

This about says it:
« Last Edit: November 11, 2016, 18:43:42 by George Wallace »
DISCLAIMER: The opinions and arguments of George Wallace posted on this Site are solely those of George Wallace and not the opinion of Army.ca and are posted for information purposes only.
Unless so stated, they are reflective of my opinion -- and my opinion only, a right that I enjoy along with every other Canadian citizen.