Friday, September 08, 2006

The REAL Road to 9/11...

Amid all the fury and hoo-row over the ABC miniseries "Road to 9/11"... which apparently concocts entirely fictitious actions by officials of the Clinton Administration, blaming them directly for negligence in preventing the attack... I just have to ask. Is anybody really all that surprised to see this sort of thing come out just before critical mid-term elections?

Can you say “October Surprise?” Of course, this pop culture grenade is the 2006 equivalent of "Swift Boat Veteran's For Truth." And if it works, we’ll deserve what we get.

I won't go into a detailed rebuttal. Let other bloggers do that (far better than the hapless democrats will). Still, I do have one tidbit-insight to offer into the blogosphere.

Only first, a little context.


The Embarrassment of The Century (so far...)

Do you recall the approximately one BILLION dollars that was spent, throughout the nineties, and after, on desperate efforts to prove that the Clinton Administration was the "most corrupt in US history"?

Remember the solemn vow, propounded by everyone from Limbaugh to Rove, from Cheney to (ironically) Delay? "As soon as honest Republicans win control of the Executive Branch and open all the file cabinets to light, the scandalous truth will emerge and heads will roll!"

Lest we forget, we were promised - absolutely guaranteed - indictments by the hundreds, scores of convictions, millennia of total prison time. Perhaps even enough to justify all the yelling and posturing. A cumulative torrent of time, energy, expense and fury sufficient to propel an entire Manhattan Project.

Only there was a rub. After all that sturm und drang, all they ever managed to get on Clinton was a fib-under-oath about marital infidelity, answering a question that was later ruled illegal and inadmissible. Embarrassing, to say the least! No, not the fib. Rather, vastly more embarrassing was the fact that a fib was all they ever came up. Period.

In fact, to this day, the total number of Clinton Administration officials who have been convicted... or even indicted... for actual malfeasance in the performance of their official duties, amounts to a big fat zero.

Let me give you that figure again. Nil, nada, zip, null, none.

In fact, I do believe this is the very first time in all of American history that it has happened. I can’t think of any other in which nobody was found to have broken any law concerning official duties. At all. Can the "most corrupt" administration have actually have been the least? The facts say so, unequivocally.

In science, the mark of a mature adult is to be able to say “I guess I was wrong.” But you’ll not find dogmatists willing to act that way -- not on the right ...or the left.


Getting to the point.

All right, the stage is set. It is early 2001. The Clintons are finally gone and DC is under new management. Onward into the brave new Century Twenty-One.

So. What is the absolute top priority of the Bush Administration, upon entering office?

Well, almost their first official action was to cripple the Border Patrol, reducing manpower, cutting equipment budgets, opening whole swathes of countryside to floods of undocumented (and therefore cheap) workers. Look it up! In contrast, one of Bill Clinton's very first acts, in 1993, was to DOUBLE the Border Patrol. These clear facts do not fit our political prejudices and stereotypes. But they are facts. Diametric opposites. Live with them. Better yet, understand them.

Alas, there was yet another betrayal of our national security in store, one that may have had far more dire consequences. For, just as soon as they entered office, the Bush group began devoting top priority to finding that Clintonian smoking gun.

They unleashed scads of GOP lawyers - many of them at taxpayer expense - to sift through filing cabinets in every executive department, trawling for something, anything, that might let them indict at least one Clintonite. To help justify what they had put the country through for a decade.

As I’ve said, this hunt proved unavailing. And that pathetic failure would be amusing... an expensive but hilarious joke... but for one additional fact.

Not only GOP political operatives were engaged in this witch hunt.

Agents of the FBI, along with skilled operatives at other intelligence and law enforcement agencies, were diverted from normal duties, in order to join in this frivolous activity, during the months leading up to September 11.

While this administration filled the topmost ranks at Defense and other agencies with political cadres (many - perhaps most - of them former consultants or employees of Saudi Arabia), they meanwhile redirected the efforts of skilled officers and civil servants away from activities that involve public safety. Instead transferring those trained investigators over to a futile and petty search for nonexistent Clintonian improprieties.

An unproductive program, fixated solely on political and ideological revenge.


Can I prove any of this?

Do I even have to? At one level, it’s an obvious, a no-brainer. That is, to anyone who remembers the summer of 2001, as the nation waited breathlessly for the promised tsunami of indictments to begin... then people started wondering “well?” As the administration’s excuses started getting shrill. Then desperate. And they began trawling for a distraction.

At another level, no. I cannot back it up with statistical proof -- numbers of agents reassigned and/or demonstrable effects upon counter-terror investigations. I do not have the resources of a major news agency... and those bureaus that do have the resources are now mostly suborned. Hence, it seems unlikely that any of this will ever rise above the futility of speculation, unsupported assertion and outright blogitude. (At least I openly admit it.)

All I can tell you -- (and you have no reason to take my word) -- is that two private sources have told me morose tales of how they wish they had been “on mission” during the summer of 2001, instead of chasing ignoble and trivial innuendos about a far classier set of public servants.

Of course, my allegation looks positively scientific compared to the outright fabrications and deliberate lies spread in polemical hit pieces like “The Road to 9/11.” Above all, I don’t pretend that what I’m doing is journalism.

In fact, how could anyone assign exact cause-and-effect, correlating and attributing the monumental intelligence errors of that year to an insanely compulsive political witch hunt? That would be as stupid as, say, conflating the purported Whitewater graft (in five figures) to the billions received by Halliburton in no-bid, crony deals. Sometimes the human power of comparison is simply beggared.


An invitation to real journalists, with real resources.

Ah, but hope springs, eternal. There’s always a chance that courage and professionalism and skill and hard work haven’t died off yet. Not completely. This could be a major scandal - a juicy one - waiting for some reporter with skill and ambition and guts. A little leg work. Some number crunching. It’s what the Fourth Estate’s supposed to do well.

That is, if they did their jobs.** Ah, but there’s an even deeper rub.

In this benighted 21st Century... is ANYBODY doing their jobs, anymore?


-------------------------
-------- Notes -----------

*1. Expect more such stunts, as November approaches. There will be many. They will come from dozens of directions, VERY well-financed, unprincipled and utterly ruthless. For they cannot afford to have either branch of Congress resume business. Issuing subpoenas, holding hearings... because this time heads would roll. Hence, expect frenetic tricks during a mid-term election.

Nevertheless, the whole effort may backfire this time, when some trusted inner henchman in the cabal finally gets fed up and says “I’ve had enough...”

...and decides to be a patriot, instead.

Think about how nervous this must make them, knowing that just one principled “mole” in their midst might decide to value citizenship over partisanship and cash. Even now, he or she may be squirreling away evidence, recording conversations, getting ready. Al it might take is just one!

When that happens -- if it happens in time -- watch out! There won’t be a bigger hero in America. His or her face will adorn a hundred magazines. There will be streets and high schools renamed.


**2. There is more than enough blame to pass around. The left deserves plenty. But more on that, anon.

59 comments:

Warren said...

There will be streets and high schools renamed.

[Groan] Not again! I just got done getting used to calling them all "Ronald Reagan" this and "Ronald Reagan" that!

Mark said...

Think about how nervous this must make them, knowing that just one principled “mole” in their midst might decide to value citizenship over partisanship and cash. Even now, he or she may be squirreling away evidence, recording conversations, getting ready. Al it might take is just one!

I wish that were true. But the bookshelves are filled with former Bush people crying foul; hasn't seemed to help as much as it should. I guess if some official made a big announcement of some type while still employed and had a bunch of documents to back it up -- that might do it. Still, give all else, I have my doubts.

On the other hand, we may not need our own October surprise. I've been burned too often lately to really get my hopes up, but it looks good so far.

For your investigative work, get into contact with Josh Marshal over at Talking Points Memo. He is the one blogger with an actual payed staff of investigative reporters. If anyone can uncover this, it would be him.

Rob Perkins said...

I put this in another area, but I think that the furor the Clintonites stirred up over the ABC docudrama will increase viewership.

Far better for them, in my opinion, would have been to let the thing air, and then object. Then their fame would not be attached to its ratings.

In any case I'm not going to be watching. I have better things to do, and haven't tuned into ABC since well before Mr. Jennings' passing.

Tony Fisk said...

Speaking of lies:
No Saddam link to Iraq al-Qaeda
There is no evidence of formal links between Iraqi ex-leader Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda leaders in Iraq prior to the 2003 war, a US Senate report says.

Surprises can spring either way...

From what you've been saying it seems that all US national news services are compromised (although Keith Olbermann sounds like he could apply the flame). Try some reputable overseas nets like BBC, ABC (the Australian variety: something like 'Four Corners')

And could someone add a reference to 'Road to 9/11' to the October Surprise ScreechMeter?
I'll be away this week, and wikis are meant to be collaborative (hint;-).

Mark said...

Rob,

I see your point but gotta disagree. For one, we may actually win this battle. The pressure on ABC and Disney is huge right now. The fact that former Democratic Majority Leader George Mitchell is the Chairman of Disney should help a little, as does the fact the largest holder of Disney stock and another seat on the board is Steve Jobs. They may yet pull the plug on the whole thing. We already go Scholastic to stop it's plan to distribute this to school children. (Yes, the propaganda campaign really ran that deep.)

If this was just Clinton's legacy I really wouldn't care that much. If they want to send this out as a DVD to all the right wingers out there, they have every right in the world to do that. (Though some scenes may actually be legally slanderous, at least according to Fox News man Chris Wallace.)

But this is about justifying a world view that is very dangerous for society and the rest of the world. Not only does that influence the upcoming elections, but the world we create going forward. Sure, this is just one battle, but the stakes of the overall war really are this high.

monkyboy said...

Ralph Peters, one of the right's chief military guys, stepped away from the dark side yesterday:

The most repugnant trend in the American shouting match that passes for a debate on the struggle with Islamist terrorism isn't the irresponsible nonsense on the left - destructive though that is. The really ugly "domestic insurgency" is among right-wing extremists bent on discrediting honorable conservatism.

http://tinyurl.com/fdk74

The wingnuts of course...are going crazy...

Stefan Jones said...

STOP THE PRESSES!

9/11 wasn't Clinton's fault.

It was our godless liberal culture that caused the terrorists to target us!

The Enemy at Home

"He argues that it is not our exercise of freedom that enrages our enemies, but our abuse of that freedom—from the sexual liberty of women to the support of gay marriage, birth control, and no-fault divorce, to the aggressive exportation of our vulgar, licentious popular culture."

That's right: Your gay cousin Ernie, the producers of Sex in the City, and the drug store owner who sells condoms . . . they forced those poor Saudis to do it.

Mark said...

Stefan,

I was shocked that the conservatives would bring this up because there is more than a bit of truth under all that drivel. Beyond some specific events in the middle east, past and present, the main reason they hate us is our liberalism. America's promotion of liberalism world wide is a threat to their world view.

There is a reason we sometimes call the far right in this country the "American Taliban".

David Brin said...

One of you referred to conservative (but human) columnist Ralph Peters disavowing the monsters, along with broad-brush hatred of all muslims. It is a terrific article at:

http://www.nypost.com/postopinion/opedcolumnists/islam_haters__an_enemy_within_opedcolumnists_ralph_peters.htm

It does contain a combination of wisdom and foolishness in a single sentence.

“Our "allies," the Saudi ruling family, are the embodiment of evil - but they've done far more damage to the Muslim world than to us.”

Well, well. One might argue they have harmed their WOMEN... and their chances of becoming modern people. But since they would define "harm" differently, I'd say we should look for common definitions. By THEIR definition AND ours, they have harmed US immeasurably more.

A stunningly arrogant gamble. They MUST believe that we will stay decadently unaware of what is being done to us. Because if we do wake up - a sleeping giant - history shows what happens.

In a sense, you gotta admire such.... chutzpah.

As for the neocons' ironic rant that American liberal morality drew in the terrorists...

1. New Yorkers fought back that day. They showed every positive American trait. The victims, they are also the ones who most intensely reject Bush's VERSION of the War on Terror. They are unafraid. While fear is expressed mostly in Red America.

2. Again, READ THE LETTER TO PRESIDENT BUSH FROM THE IRANIAN PRESIDENT a few months ago! Appealing to Bush as an ally in the war to crush Western Enlightenment/Liberal values. Har!

Anonymous said...

david

Stop... you are going to far, really too far.

President aza-icantremember the rest is a REAL enemy, now that doesnt mean we should go to war (the USSR was a real enemy too)BUT it does mean his words lack credance.

The enemy of your enemy can ALSO be your enemy too.

In this case the guys out to spread discord Dont back him up - ignore him.

Then vote the Neocons out for the RIGHT reasons

David Brin said...

nonymous, you misconstrue me.

One reason I despise the Bushites in part BECAUSE THEY PUT THAT JERK INTO POWER IN IRAN!

Khatami begged Rice et al to give him a break, give him some maneuvering room to help the moderate cause in that country. They stabbed him in the back and drove the people into the mullahs' arms.

Anonymous said...

BUSH IS SAUDI ARABIA'S ATTEMPT TO
DESTROY AMERICAN POWER

Sorry about the all caps, but i am trying to get that idea down to a bumper sticker, any ideas?

monkyboy said...

I think Khatami had served his maximum allowed number of terms as president of Iran...Ahmadinejad beat Rafsanjani, a political hack, in the most recent presidential election...

bryan @ shotgunfreude said...

Khatami was the best kind of guy we could hope to have been allowed to serve as Iran's president, but he was too constrained to accomplish much good - I guess besides simply refraining from the kind of hate speech and lunatic excitement about the return of the hidden imam that we get from Ahmedinejad.

Iran can't really change until Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamane’i and the Guardian Council lose their grip on the nation's sack. Lots of tremendous people there - of the ilk of Anousheh Ansari - would love for that to happen. Not sure how it will be accomplished at this point.

Of course, like Dr. Brin implied, a primary reason why Khatami was hemmed in and why Ahmedinejad got elected was the idiotic saber-rattling the U.S. carried on with - like out of the blue naming Iran as one of the ridiculous "Axis of Evil", then quickly turning another member of the "Axis of Evil" into a shockandawed hellhole to make its point.

Even just as a matter of pure, Machiavellian self-interested strategy, this was a colossal mistake. The Iranian people were actually holding pro-U.S. solidarity demonstrations soon after 9/11, and they despised the Taliban regime on their border, not least because of the rise in economic and other refugees it was prompting into Iran. And even if we had still wanted to go into Iraq too, they would have been all for that also - no one had more reason to hate the Saddam regime than Iran.

If we'd taken advantage of those conditions and schmoozed up to Iran, and followed it up with massive offerings of humanitarian, educational, and foreign aid, and bring over as many students as we possibly could on foreign exchange, we might have made more inroads with them by now than we have with Pakistan - to the profound betterment of both their prospects for the future and ours, at a teency weency fraction of the cost of the Iraq fiasco.

But of course none of that would have squared with this administration's neocon doctrine, the foremost goal of which is apparently to act like belligerent assholes.

bryan @ shotgunfreude said...

As for the potentially libelous depictions of Democratic officials that are apparently featured in ABC's Swiftboat Path to 9/11, John Dean made a compelling argument two years ago that Kerry should have immediately sued the "Swiftboat Veterans for Truth" - not only for the direct purpose of the disinfecting sunlight a court can bring to bear of the otherwise hopeless disputes between different flavors of truthiness, and dissuading against the use of similar tactics in the future, but also to immediately prove a public relations point - that we are confident enough that you are lying your ass off that we are sure the truth will come out on our side.

The various defamed Clintonistas should have filed just such a suit against Disney as soon as the facts on this came out, with a motion for a temporary restraining order against showing it and seeking relief in the form of a permanent injunction to the same effect, and in case it is shown, for a massive damage award and an injunction against further distribution and to issue public retractions. I don't think there's any really good argument against this plan, and again on a public relations perspective, it would give the public the idea, like no amount of bloviating and indignation would, that there is something seriously wrong with the way the facts are being depicted.

And, if one of the defamed officials can come up with standing to sue in someplace like the U.K. or Australia with far more severe standards and penalties for defamation, which shouldn't be too hard, we could compound ABC's reasons to regret their September Surprise.

As for the idea of more reverse September/October surprises, like the new Senate report showing the intelligence indicated no connection, and in fact active enmity, between Saddam and al Qaeda, the release of which was apparently engineered by the Senate Democrats - anyone want to venture what other closet doors Democrats, journalists, or critics of the administration will be able to yank open before the election?

On the other hand, the GOP Congress is pretty effectively pulling a September Surprise against itself - when their political lives are on the line, they've accomplished far less this term than the infamous Do-Nothing Congress of 1948, and the nation is beset with compelling concerns - they parody themselves with a torrential debate about what to do with aging horses, for what even the GOP majority leader referred to as "the horse-shit bill". (For what it's worth, I used to eat fried horsemeat on a stick from the corner friet stand when I lived in Belgium. Naturally, it tastes like chicken.) Are they just trying to get swept?

Dana Milbank puts this Congress's lotus-eating in shocking perspective:

"Even before the horse bill, House leaders had been a bit sensitive about their legislative pace. The People's Representatives have been in session for all of 80 days this year, and with 15 days remaining on the legislative calendar, the House is on pace to shatter all records for inactivity. The "Do-Nothing" House of 1948 was positively frenetic by comparison, passing 1,191 measures in 110 days in session.

The current House has passed barely 400 measures..."

monkyboy said...

Hehe, bryan,

Iran can't really change until Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamane’i and the Guardian Council lose their grip on the nation's sack.

If that happens, we have another, bigger Iraq on our hands.

A little meaningless talk doesn't hurt anyone...it's a small price to pay for stability in Iran.

Andrew Smith said...

Monkeyboy, why do you say that? Iraq is tearing itself apart because of its cultural subdivisions (shiite, sunni, kurdish).

Iran, OTOH, is 90% Shiite, and has a rather modern (i.e. liberal) youth culture.

I don't see the comparison at all.

monkyboy said...

Andrew,

I think Iraq is tearing itself apart of $10+ trillion worth of oil.

I think Iran is about the most stable country in Asia...if the mullahs were gone, we have no idea what would follow them.

REB 84 said...

Don't forget about Afghanistan and Pakistan. Recent developments in those two countries point to serious trouble in the future.

The following provides another perspective on the Iranian situation and the mess we have gotten ourselves into over the last five years.

9/11 – An Attack Against Humanity
I read a very interesting note on meetings between Iran, China, and Russia at misneach blog a couple months ago. I wonder why I haven’t heard much about this anywhere else? The strategic value of developing closer relationships between theses countries is clear to see, for anyone who is paying attention.

China's rapid growth is fueling an insatiable appetite for Oil.

Russia is looking for any market to sell its products and services. Is Iran hiring? Have they posted any want ads for a nuclear scientist?

Both China and Russia are permanent members of the UN Security Council. Any UN sponsored sanctions against Iran will likely face a veto from one or both of these nations, based upon their own strategic reasons. What is America to do? The military option is unrealistic.

Today, America is over extended militarily and out of touch diplomatically. I am most saddened by the reckless disregard for diplomacy, civility, and sportsmanship the Bush Administration has displayed since 9/11/01. They have managed to pull defeat and division from the jaws of victory and cohesion in the real "war on terror." Just look at Afghanistan if you doubt this assertion.

The world mourned with us and for themselves after Sept. 11th. The attack on the World Trade Center was not only an attack upon America. It was an attack against all humanity. Citizens of far too many other countries died on 9/11 in NYC.

The other countries and thousands of families who lost loved ones at "ground zero" are fighting their own personal wars on terror everyday. Their lives have been changed forever. How dare we allow our "public servants" to exploit their sufferings to launch a preemptive war on Iraq, while not bringing Bin Laden to justice?

QuestionItNow - Still In Iraq

Don Quijote said...

I was shocked that the conservatives would bring this up because there is more than a bit of truth under all that drivel. Beyond some specific events in the middle east, past and present, the main reason they hate us is our liberalism. America's promotion of liberalism world wide is a threat to their world view.

Yeah, I am sure that none of the following facts had a thing to do with it,

- The fact that we have spent the last 50 years backing Israel while they kicked the Palestinians of their lands.
- The fact that we let the Turks massacre tens of thousands of Kurds in the eighties & nineties.
- The fact that every goverment we back in the ME is a dictatorship (Egypt, Jordan,SA, UAE) of one sort or another.
- The fact that our sanctions probably killed half a million Iraqis in the nineties.
- The fact that we encouraged the Shiites to rebel against Saddam and then left them to their fates.
- The fact that we let Israel occupy Lebanon for twenty years.
- The fact that we have just let (practically encouraged) Israel destroy Lebanon.
- The fact that we encouraged Saddam to start a war against Iran and then supplied both sides with weapons causing the deadliest war of the last quarter century.
- The fact that we overthrew the sole Democracy in the Region to put the Shah in power.

jomama said...

In fact, to this day, the total number of Clinton Administration officials who have been convicted... or even indicted... for actual malfeasance in the performance of their official duties, amounts to a big fat zero.

And so it will go for all present and future administrations.

They can do no wrong.

They all tell us so...so it must be true.

I have a bridge for sale for those that believe that...

David Brin said...

Thanks Quijote. Some of your opinions are so unfair-loony that it makes me proud. We have a BIG tent in this anti-neocon alliance. I look forward to the day when our alliance has defeated the neo-feudalist monsters, and you and I can go back to benignly loathing each others’ opinions... in a civilization of freedom.

Here’s another good nugget of wisdom from that Ralph Peters article: “A wise strategist seeks to divide his enemies, not to recruit for them.”
Now, a cogent rant from Russ Daggatt (The following is in his words):

”For me, the moment in the current nightmare presidency that revealed the most about Bush's character was at the beginning of the Iraq war. As Baghdad exploded in the "Shock and Awe" of our initial massive bombing attack, Bush (watching the Hellish inferno on TV) is reported to have pumped his fist in the air and exclaimed, "Feels good!" (http://www.unknownnews.net/insanity032003.html.)

Starting a war is the ultimate war crime. Even the most "just" war is still organized mass murder on an industrial scale. It's one thing to fight to a defensive war that someone else launched. Morally, the bar is a lot higher when it comes to starting a war. Bush's war in Iraq has killed many hundreds of times more innocent people than Ted Bundy, Charles Manson, David Berkowitz, John Wayne Gacy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and Jack the Ripper combined.

Even if you believe the Iraq war was morally justified -- a good idea badly executed -- only a true sociopath can "feel good!" about unleashing death on that scale.”

Only it gets worse. In his nationally-televised 2003 State of the Union address, Bush implicitly boasted of extrajudicial killings!
http://www.chris floyd.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=698&Itemid=1:
Bush: "All told, more than 3,000 suspected terrorists have been arrested in many countries. Many others have met a different fate. Let's put it this way -- they are no longer a problem to the United States and our friends and allies."
Note that he is referring here to "suspected terrorists." What he was saying – to the bipartisan laughter and applause of the assembled legislators – was that people who had merely been accused of terrorism – arbitrarily, outside all judicial process, with no set standards for evidence, perhaps on the word of a single, unreliable informant or a bounty hunter – have been killed by American agents or foreign proxies. This was perhaps the most bloodchilling statement ever uttered publicly by an American president: an open boast of "extrajudicial killing."
(DB: Mind you, while I agree with him completely up to this point, I part company with Russ in some details. I am much more of a supporter of the general notion of a dynamic and vigorous Pax Americana backed by force... if done right, as in the Balkans. I was certainly much more eager to go after Saddam, and erase the stain on our honor committed by “Bush-Cheney Rumsfeld”... (but a different Bush) in the horrific Betrayal of 91. That is, if the people of Iraq could be freed from the US-made monster in some way that made sense. Almost any way other than getting sucked into a Vietnam-style land war of attrition in Asia.

( Indeed, when I first heard of the terrorist stash in Guantanamo I murmered “How clever.” A way to hold suspects for a couple of weeks and ask questions without lawyers shouting “shut up!” viz self-incrimination and habeous corpus, before psy ops professionals could trick some useful intel out of them. Cool. Of course there was a slippery slope. But I figured anyone with half a brain would PROTECT this innovation, by using it with moderation. Instead, these &$#@! idiots over-used it to such an outrageous degree that it will have to be banned, outright.

In other words, even if you were a totally militant and amorally aggressive war fighter - even by those standards (!) - you would still have to conclude that we are led by incompetent imbeciles.

(Oh, btw, there is no evidence that these methods have worked to a degree justifying their cost.)

Returning to where Russ and I totally agree.

RD: ”It does help cue up what this election is all about. In one word: ACCOUNTABILITY. It seems there is nothing the Rubber Stamp Republicans in Congress won't overlook or approve.

Don Quijote said...

. Some of your opinions are so unfair-loony that it makes me proud.

You'll have to let me know which ones.

Rob Perkins said...

All right, I think that's enough.

(Referring to the OP, here)

It's *not* an October Surprise. Use Occam's Razor. Which anniversary is this coming week, again?

monkyboy said...

Don,

The only acceptable part of Pax Americana for discussions is our rebuilding of Germany and Japan after WWII and our noble defense of South Korea in the 50s.

Please don't mention anything the U.S. did after 1953.

Especially in South America and the Middle East...

Thanks!

Mark said...

Have you seen this European trailer to "Path to 9/11"? It leaves no doubt about its intentions.

David Brin said...

Thing about ideologues. M KNOWS that just providing "pax" (peace) is a pax's greatest contribution - so that people can go on with commerce in safety. Latin America has enjoyed the lowest arms expenditures per capita of almost any civilization, due to border agreements brooked by the US-led OAS, that made it the most stable region ever. But such things never enter the dogmatic radar.

Now that democracy has spread (the second ingredient -- and one that I admit the US was NOT good at spreading down there, till Jimmy Carter -- the Latin trends are good. (They'll be even better when they start liking SF!)

Or take the Cold War. Dogmatists see only Reaganist saber rattling... which was the risky end-game. (It worked, but WHAT a risk. Rushing the inevitable USSR collapse via an unnecessary arms race. Sure it bankrupted them and drove them to glasnost, but it could just as easily have provoked a war.)

All of which is besides the point. The dogmatic left was right in some critiques of Reagan, but not all. (He was a saint compared to Bush.) One STUPID carp was over his "evil empire" speech about the USSR. Um, duh? What the #%#! ELSE was it?

Keeping that empire frozen in place was Marshall's great plan (driven first by the AFL-CIO.) It was not always done well, sometimes horrifically stupidly (Mossadegh and Vietnam) but the overall goal of waiting out their paranoid schizophrenia with calm firmness SAVED THE WORLD.

Likewise, europe was saved by PA a dozen times. The most recent, the Balkans Intervention, finally gave the continent peace under democracy for the first time in 4,000 years. A worthy war aim - especially at the cost of zero US lives lost.

(And they were grateful! Even Islam was grateful! Bill Clinton is still hugely popular overseas. The right - stupidly - considers this to be a BAD thing.)

Above all, there is Asia. An entire continent, lifted out of grinding poverty by Marshall's anti-mercantalist trade policy... the ONLY time an imperium (pax) ever created trade rules that favored foreign, not home, factories. Resulting in Americans buying SEVEN TRILLION DOLLARS WORTH OF CRAP WE NEVER NEEDED. The greatest foreign aid program ever, by several orders of magnitude. THE reason there's hope in the world.

And a product of Pax Americana.

I could go on and on, but what's the point. Right-wing dogmatists won't ever be able to see the actual ways the PA winds and succeeds... and left-wing radicals will never turn their eyes to history and see how VASTLY better PA has been than every single alternative that ever took central position on the world stage.

They cannot. And so, this vastly most-successful pax has - ironically - nobody at all to defend it.

=======
As for Quijote, let me just say that the Euro-left shows their true (nazi) colors in the incredible rationalizations about Israel.

(Nazism as "National Socialism. remember that.)

A tiny country is surrounded and vastly outnumbered by enemies who declare openly they want to kill every single person living there. Horrific and cruel regimes with a totally reliable history of brutalizing their own people, enemies, friends, anybody in reach. Their death vows are totally credible and plausible. They start a dozen wars to carry out their plan...

...and yet, THEY are the victims.

Oh, there are torts on all sides. While most Jewish settlement pre-1947 was on land fairly purchased from willing sellers, there certainly were refugees in the 48 war... an equal number on both sides, if you include jews kicked out of Yemen, Egypt etc. Only there was a disparity of how those refugees were treated. Israelis gave fellow jews succor while fellow Arabs barred Palestinians from moving and working in any Arab land, restricting them for generations into cruel camps, in order to keep a sore alive.

It isn't black-white. There's plenty of this-that that could be argued back and forth. And parallel worlds in which the Hashemites were heeded (who invited Europe's Jews to "come home") instead of the credence that was given in this world to Hitler's best pal, the Husseini Family's Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. Those are happier worlds

But that back and forth isn't what the neo-Hitlers of Europe (and America's left) want. They want an excuse to despise and hate the greatest victims of hatred of all time.

Never a thought to one core possibility. That they are the heirs of the rationalizers and the Henry Fords and the believers in the Prtotocols of Zion.

monkyboy said...

Yow!

So, America propping up feudalist regimes in South America and the Middle East is just fine if its all in the name of "Pax?"

But it is a poison that must be combatted with all our our might here at home?

And calling anyone who doesn't think Israel has the right to bomb their neighbors into squalor periodically Nazis doesn't exactly seem "enlightened."

matthew jones said...

So can we count the announcement of the Jack 2 oil field in the Gulf of Mexico as an “October Surprise” by Chevron?
Published reports (www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/05/AR2006090500275.html, and www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/4165848.html) are surmising that it may double the US oil reserve. I think it is suspicious that both Jack 2 and the neighboring Kaskida field (announced a couple of weeks ago by BP) have been known quantities for years, but big announcements are being made just now.
I know that gas prices poll pretty consistently in the top ten reasons for dissatisfaction with the Bush regime. Economic good news for the New Orleans area could also factor into this.
A lovely final irony is that deepwater wells are particularly vulnerable to hurricanes, giving this a certain type of pathos.

David Brin said...

Monkyboy being typical. Not a scintilla of look at the evidence I presented as a reason to self-question. He cannot refute it, either. Hence the only option?

Dishonest distraction and misdirection.

I never claimed that Pax Americana is without crimes. Crimes that I have fought against all of my life and continue to fight. Likewise, one can criticize Israeli policies and over-reaction without spewing unreasoning bile and overlooking context -- like how YOU might behave if you had your back against a wall, facing frothing threats of murder every day.

Indeed, contect of human history is the one thing that lefties and righties utterly ignore, frantically.

Lefties cannot even glance at the sweep of history, because PA looks good compared to EVERY other era.

Indeed, the only comparison they allow is VS THE IMAGE OF AN IDEAL WORLD... an image of ideal univcersal tolerance and freedom...an image that has been generated entirely by... America.

Likewise, Righties must divert attention from all of human history, a vast sweep in which EVERY culture that had metals and farms swiftly became brutally feudal. We might notice this trend and better fight it. So, when we do start accusing the Rupert Murdochs of ripping us off, it's "class warfare."

Fact is, only modernists like history. Because it shows both the universal dangers and the incredible recent successes achieved by the Enlightenment.

NoOne said...

To monkyboy and don quijote:

Please give David Brin a break on Pax Americana (PA). The US has created the first modernist (as opposed to imperialist) empire in world history and I think this modernist empire - almost a contradiction in terms - is why there's so much talking past each other between you guys and David. While Brin emphasizes the modernist aspect, you guys emphasize the empire aspect. I was raised in India (but have lived in the US for twenty years) and growing up, I was extremely puzzled by the US's support for Pakistan - a military dictatorship - and its hostility toward India. It took me a long time to understand that this hostility was due to India being outside the Empire.

Now that the empire is crumbling, I think it is time for the US to emphasize its modernist aspect and move on from there. This is what I hear David preaching over and over and over.

Don Quijote said...

Please give David Brin a break on Pax Americana (PA).
Why?

The US has created the first modernist (as opposed to imperialist) empire in world history and I think this modernist empire - almost a contradiction in terms - is why there's so much talking past each other between you guys and David.

Please Define the word modernist, cause I have a sneaking suspision that it's a whole lot like the conservative phrase "Family Values", it means what ever you want it to mean...

While Brin emphasizes the modernist aspect, you guys emphasize the empire aspect.
Again, define Modernist.


I was raised in India (but have lived in the US for twenty years) and growing up, I was extremely puzzled by the US's support for Pakistan - a military dictatorship - and its hostility toward India. It took me a long time to understand that this hostility was due to India being outside the Empire.
Thank you for making my point about the Empire. What kind of goverment a country has is far less important than it's subversiance to US interest. As far as the US is concerned, a violent dictatorship which rules with an iron fist but does what the US wants is better than a Democracy which does not do what the US wants.


Now that the empire is crumbling, I think it is time for the US to emphasize its modernist aspect and move on from there.
While it is fraying on the edges, it's not crumbling anywhere near as fast as you think it is! As long as NATO exists, the US Empire will survive.

This is what I hear David preaching over and over and over.
What I hear is David telling us that we are good guys, have good intentions and when bad things happen, it was an accident and this is where I am in absolute disaggreement with him.

Our empire is built on the same values (Might makes right) and with the same methods (War) other Empire were buit on. If we do something good like rebuilding Europe, Japan or Korea it's because it's in our self-interest. If we go to South America or the Middle East to plunder Natural Resources, it's because we can and it's in our interest.

David Brin said...

NoOne is right about talking past each other. Except for this. Except that I have proved myself perfectly willing to discuss crimes and mistakes committed by PA, from Mossadegh to Nicaragua (three times across a hundred years).

Meanwhile, Q&M are completely unable to acknowledge that. Nor can they take in my counter examples and discuss them. It's not possible because to admit the counter-examples would be to admit that something can be fixed, by pragmatically learning how to increase the incidence of good things and decrease the incidence of bad ones.

This cannot be discussed because it is - as I have said - vastly more a matter of personality than it is of geopolitics or even facts.

Note that not a whit of attention was paid to the aspect I raised of looking at the sweep of history.

Nor something even more fundamental... the valuye system against which they are judging Pax Americana... a value system that would have got them locked away as utterly delusional in any other era. The value system of actually hypothesizing that empires even remotely can or ought to behave altruistically.

It happens that I agree with that value system! I fight, every day of my life, for it to come true.

The difference is that I see that as a NEW thing, (which it is) and an accomplishment to keep steadily moving toward. But, as romantics, they can only see it as an idealized state of grace from which we have FALLEN.

1. despite recent events, the macroscopic trends of history show upward and not downward moral trends

2. this imagined state of grace is wholly a product of myths and mythos spread BY this civilization. M&DQ are totally products of this mythic system. Fine. But to be unaware of it? To preach - based on American-romantic Wilsonian ideals and to ignore where they came from?

Non cognizant. Alas and sigh.

Don Quijote said...

Except that I have proved myself perfectly willing to discuss crimes and mistakes committed by PA, from Mossadegh to Nicaragua (three times across a hundred years).

Only thrice over a century? You'll have to let me know what they were...


Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq (Hardcover) by Stephen Kinzer only discusses 14 coups, you'll have to let me know which 11 countries got their just deserts.

NoOne said...

To quijote:

I'll take a crack at defining modernism and perhaps David could set up a wiki where the word modernism is hashed out by many.

For me, modernism stands (at minimum) for i) separation of church and state, ii) rule of law, iii) open democratic process with elected officials (at all levels) and iv) an independent media. So, on this count, Iran for example fails on i) and iv) at the very least. Others will have different non-negotiable items - separation of legislative, judicial and executive branches for instance, freedom of speech, etc.

I'm not sure what you're going to gain by proving that the US was involved in more than just 3 coups (as David suggests). You keep looking at the US through an empire lens while he looks at it thro' a modernist lens. So, for every Iran, you'll have a South Korea, for Haiti you'll have Taiwan, for Nicaragua you'll have Malaysia and Singapore etc. Why do you only look at the negative aspects of the US? After all, if the Nazis had the internet, you'd have been rounded up by now.

David Brin said...

NoOne, you tried and it was a good effort. But you need to step back a bit.

Modernism is much more a PERSONALITY TRAIT than a specific program. We believe in a notion that nearly all human societies deemed both mad and dangerous in the past... and still do in many lands... the improvability and (gradual) perfectibility of human individuals and societies through hard work, increasing knowledge, good will and citokate.

Moreover, we see that our parents and grandparents, who shared this mad dream, strove hard toward achieving it... and that they somewhat SUCCEEDED.

Their efforts weren't wasted. They weren't fools.

The dogmatic/romantic personality cannot abide this notion. They cling to "eternal verities" and cynicism and the comfort of incantations. Romanticism relies utterly upon certain Campbellian tropes like the notion of a fall from a state of grace. Hence (a majority of) Libertarians -- supposedly modernistic -- are in fact among the MOST romantic and anti modern groups around!

On a practical level, this personality trait became UN-insane at the time of John Locke and Adam Smith, when some old ideas discussed by Pericles were given another try. All the things you mention, like democracy, are not sacred in themselves. But they - and open markets and science, etc - were found to be fantastic new tools for impleementing Preicles's dream.

A dream of curbing our inner, predatory devils NOT with Hobbes's coercion-from-above, but with the new method of reciprocal accountability. Where we police EACH OTHER mostly, and let our other sides, our angels, cooperate and compete more freely than ever before.

Horrifically imprefect, this method has nevertheless succeeded in 200 years better than 99% of human history did with its horrid tribes and feudalisms. The Enlightenment started out with help from some romantics, but they turned on it, as soon as they saw its power and success. And they have been attacking it ever since.

Marxists and Nazis and Rand-droids and mystics and plutocrats and all of their ilk. They are incapable of understanding the Enlightenment, as a matter of basic personality. Hence it fills them with loathing and they clutch at incantations in order to dismiss it.

Notice how Quijote once AGAIN evaded the challenge. He is simply incapable of discussing MY points. He can only return again and again to his own. And no matter how often I show that I understand his complaints, nothing I say will ever be enough.

Romantics only understand on-off. Complete acceptance of the catechism. If I wrote an LONG rant against the crimes against Mossadegh and Allende and Nicaragua, but mentioned ONE item like the low arms expenditures and 150 years of peace in Latin America, I would still be outside the tent. Only total incantation of the full party line counts.

Do you see what we're up against? Human nature is so insidious that HALF OF THE ENLIGHTENMENT failed... the Franco-European half. With Hegel and Sartre and all their utter bullshit nonsense about "reason" they got suckered back down the paths of Platonism, turning thier branch into one more version of romanticism.

It is a frail thing that made us, that created the Wilsonian idealism that Quijote now spouts without noticing or caring about the irony of where it comes from!

It is a frail thing. It is under attack from a huge fraction of humanity that is incapable of getting it, even when they have benefited all their lives.

monkyboy said...

Dr. Brin,

I''m sure you see yourself as a rational, enlightened person, but I find your arguments not much different than the Bushites you claim to despise.

Take your comment on those who disagree with Israel:

But that back and forth isn't what the neo-Hitlers of Europe (and America's left) want. They want an excuse to despise and hate the greatest victims of hatred of all time.

In other words: Dissent = Treason.

There couldn't possibly be any rational reason to question the way Israel has treated the Palestinians and the Lebanese, therefore...these people must just hate Jews.

And your defense of Pax Americana:

The value system of actually hypothesizing that empires even remotely can or ought to behave altruistically.

This reminds me of the Bushie argument that goes...Sure, we've killed a lot of Iraqi civilians, but Saddam would have killed more, so...it's okay.

I don't deny that Pax Americana has been operated under a rather unique umbrella policy that at least pays lip service to altruism...but below that umbrella, I see something else rather unique:

Micro-Imperialism.

Corporations or individuals associated with America exploiting the hell out of the "little brown people" we claim to be bringing enlightenment to.

The exploited have no chance to challenge this exploitation, the exploiters have no chance of being prosecuted for it.

In a few very public cases, like the Bhopal disaster, a few dollars are spinkled on the little brown people (most of it probably taken by corrupt local officials) to "make things right."

If America was truly an altruistic empire, we would have long ago set up a system where those who are being exploited can have their day in court, and the exploited have a real chance of facing justice for what they have done.

Instead, those little brown people are forced to seek justice with the help of a few "leftie" organizations and the press...

David Brin said...

Yup, notice folks how the romantic personality must apply its own values to opposition. Whereas I have addressed many of his issues, and he has addressed absolutely none of mine, he take my criticism of that fact as repression...

...then commences yet again to rant incantatory catechisms of the left, like a frantic priest throwing holy water at some creature he does not understand.

Moreover, he is not even INTERESTED in the process aspects of all of this. The aspects of personality and perception. Even though I have made this the focus of several postings.

Indeed, it is the only part of this topic that remains of interest to me.

And even that much is becoming tediously boring, since all I ever get is ever more frantic moralistic cant. Yes, it illustrates my point. But so?

For the record, all accusations of imperialism - micro or otherwise, - shrug off of me like rain off a teflon duck. I have fought against evil of all types, all my life and stand up for the only process that has ever given people hope. The Enlightenment. If it survives, all the problems that these two dogmatists yammer about will eventually be solved.

If it doesn't then either they will get croaked or become our commie masters. No other outcome suits the desire of romanticism.

monkyboy said...

Hehe,

Once again with the ad hominem attacks and the cryptic accusations?

So America has tried to brand itself the Benevolent Empire!

Where's the proof?

Pax Britannica, loosely defined, produced such democracies as India, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan and even...The United States of America itself.

What has America produced?

Take the case of Iraq:

The most obvious question that should be put to a vote of the people in our newly calved "democracy" is:

Should American troops pull out of Iraq?

Odds that America will ever let anyone besides our corrupt puppets answer that question?

Zero.

And I have a feeling that Ken Lay is smiling from wherever he is, at the sight of $200 million a day worth of oil revenue disappearing into hungry pockets of those who are busy bringing "enlightenment" to Iraq...

bryan @ shotgunfreude said...

Just a few factual corrections first for Don Quixote's litany: Arbenz was overthrown in '54, and Allende in '73.

For Monkeyboy's allegation that the "brown people" in America's "Micro-Imperialism" have no chance of challenging their exploitation: go tell that to Carlos Slim Helu, Lakshmi Mittal, Li Ka-Shing, and Azim Premji, and then tell it to the hundreds of millions of other wealthy or middle-class college graduates from among America's "developing world" trading partners.

And as for its persecutors having no chance of being prosecuted for that exploitation, such as for the Bhopal disaster, I am right now looking out my window at a building two blocks away that includes the office of Mike Ciresi, who acted as counsel to the government of India in winning a half-billion dollar settlement from Union Carbide.

Granted, although that is a lot of money, it is chump change relative to the magnitude of the disaster. But the point is, however imperfectly it works at present, the U.S. has a system in place in which foreign interests can regularly challenge U.S. entities in U.S. courts, where judges follow U.S. laws to rule against U.S. entities without regard to "imperial" allegiance. And in both America and its developing world trading partners, both the concern for and ability to deal a greater share of economic benefits more fairly to ground-level workers on both sides, have generally been rising over the decades.

Both are currently threatened too at present, by factors from Team Bush's commitment to directing all economic benefit to the wealthiest few, to the new leftist embrace of wholesale trade protectionism (so much for the left being the champions of international solidarity) - both factors that need to be rejected if the rise of the global middle class is to continue.

As for a working definition of a modernist, I would take it as someone who recognizes and applies to all areas of human activity and inquiry the modes of investigation that have proven themselves in physics and astronomy, since Kepler and Galileo, to be spectacularly superior at understanding the world around us, i.e. logical, analytical, skeptical reasoning based on and repeatedly confirmable in varied settings by objective evidence, while actively searching out and honestly considering rationally compelling alternative explanations and criticism.

For working definitions of opponents to modernism, I would start with anyone who disagrees with the above assessment because it fails to flatter their preconceived axioms, or those who dispute that the above assessment is cold and seems to admit no room for human feeling, based on that commonest of logical fallacies that what an individual finds comforting or satisfying has anything to do with determining objective facts.

David Brin said...

What democracies has Pax Americana produced?

Uh.... Japan, Germany, Italy, Poland, Mongolia... I invite people to continue the list yourselves. I haven't the time and I've lost interest in being accused of everything possible, rather that see my points addressed with the curiosity that befits modern minds.

Don Quijote said...

Modernism is much more a PERSONALITY TRAIT than a specific program.
To paraphrase Henry Ford, Modernism is BUNK.


What dictatorships has Pax Americana produced?

Uh.... Guatemala, Nicaragua , El Salvador, Chile, Argentina, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Pakistan, Indonesia... I invite people to continue the list yourselves. I haven't the time and I've lost interest in being accused of everything possible, rather that see my points addressed with the curiosity that befits modern minds.

Big C said...

Don Quijote said:
"To paraphrase Henry Ford, Modernism is BUNK."

Okay, could you tell me, specifically, what parts David's definition of "modernism" you disagree with? I'm refering to what David said here:

"We believe in a notion that nearly all human societies deemed both mad and dangerous in the past... and still do in many lands... the improvability and (gradual) perfectibility of human individuals and societies through hard work, increasing knowledge, good will and citokate.

"Moreover, we see that our parents and grandparents, who shared this mad dream, strove hard toward achieving it... and that they somewhat SUCCEEDED.

"Their efforts weren't wasted. They weren't fools."


And could you also tell me what can be done given the current situation now in the US and the world in general? Are we all doomed, or is there a possible, plausible solution you see we can put in action?

If "modernism" is bunk, what is the alternative? What do you suggest?

monkyboy said...

I'll give you Japan, but their idea of "democracy" seems to be on the same level as Iran's.

Germany and Italy already had democracy...Hitler was elected after all.

The idea the the U.S. turned Poland into a democracy is rather laughable...

I think we are all in agreement on the idea of accountability here...but we all seem to have groups that we think should be excluded.

Dr. Brin,

The groups I think you consider above criticism:

1. Israel
2. Scientists
3. U.S. military
4. Pax Americana in general

Rob Perkins said...

DQ, if you're so diametrically opposed to what David claims, so much that nothing he can say to you is right...

Why bother? Why not just go be his enemy somewhere?

Ohyeah, almost forgot, you both share a loathing for G.W. Bush.

Well, fine, stay on that account, but *try*, please, to come up with rejoinders that are a bit cleverer than simple repetition fallacy.

Nicholas Christian Walter said...

To come against all sides here, I'll give Monkyboy a point in that the US can't take responsibiity for Poland or really the rest of the East Bloc, except by the slimmest of considerations in that the USSR collapsed in the first place.

However, defending David, if you read his other essays there aren't ANY groups or countries that he doesn't criticize. I don't know where the reference to Israel came from, since I think the only time I've ever seen him mention it on this site or davidbrin.com is in this particular discssion, and the only reason to bring it up is to point out the hypocrisy of the left on the subject of that country.

Pax Americana rebuilt Europe, Japan, and Korea REGARDLESS of whether or not the US saw benefit to the project (sure, we built up markets so we could sell our stuff... that didn't quite work out). If you want to argue ad nauseum that any hint of self interest betrays altruism, then even St. Francis has to be crucified as selfish, since being altruistic made him feel good.

Pax Americana did make messes in Latin America and Southeast Asia, sure. I don't dispute that. But Latin America was already messed up and they were quite happily killing each other regardless of our policies; we simply helped out. Geopolitically, it made sense since we didn't want Soviet satellites close to us. Remember, the USSR had promised to "bury" us.

Modernism means not applying such litmus tests. What David is saying is that while the US has made mistakes, which you have brought up (Allende, et al), that does not take away the fact that the Chinese economy now, the German and Japanese earlier, and now Hungary and Turkey are largely if not entirely because of the US and our spending habits - and these have been DELIBERATE policy choices.

For Mossadeq, there's Bosnia. For Allende, there's Korea. For Nicaragua, Japan. For El Salvador, Germany. For Iraq, there's Western Europe, China, the fall of the USSR, the collapse of Apartheid, the Internet(!), the UN.

Standards of living around the world are rising, for a variety of reasons, many of those reasons a result of American policies. Costa Rica has no army, in part because they can count on American defense. Similar with Western Europe. Other countries can afford to invest in their people and foreign aid because OUR military protects them. The meteoric rise of the Chinese economy is entirely the result of American consumption. Japan and Korea previously benefited thus. Taiwan's very existence as "independent" is due to Pax Americana.

No one is suggesting that everything is perfect, or that the US is the St. Nicholas to the child-nations of the world. But the single-minded focus on US imperialism, particularly taken out-of-context (compared to previous empires) is to ignore the dynamic benevolence the US is responsible for.

Dweezil said...

Bill Clinton's tough stance on immigration is something that is easy to understand, considering that he lost a gubernational election basically over increased fuel taxes and escapes/riots/craziness at an immigration detention camp at Fort Chafee, which contained many people that Fidel Castro no longer wanted in his country, some of whom had formerly resided in prisons and mental hospitals...... and there was a run on guns in the Fort Chaffee area during that craziness, people actually bought every firearm that was for sale .....

And Bill Clinton said later that his daddy never had to whip him twice for the same thing, and he won election again.

Bush on the other hand represents big business which loves a large, low-paid workforce. So he's naturally pro-immigrant.

I think that at this point, the Republicans are winning simply because they've achieved a critical mass of voters who will elect them based solely on faith. Faith that the Republicans will do the right thing for them because they are God's annointed. The Republicans don't have to do the things that the people want - the Republicans don't even have to falsely promise to do the things that the people want - and the people will vote for them any. Dr. Brin may think this is a matter of media and framing and identification, but I fundamentally see it as a religious phenomenon where Bush is God's servant and can do no wrong. I see it as idolatry. Maybe this is a harsh way to judge the matter, but that's what it looks like to me.

David Brin said...

Why do I bother?

The groups I think you consider above criticism:

1. Israel
2. Scientists
3. U.S. military
4. Pax Americana in general


Of course he knows that this is a diorect and diametric falsehood, a knowing and deliberate lie.

So why say it?

Because despite the fact that there is dismetric disproof in my very words, within this very thread, he MUST say these things and actually believe them.

Really, what he calls ad hominem attacks really are attempts to point out what I consider to be a FASCINATING problem in human nature and personality.

The dogmatic-romantic personality type really is unable to contemplate the existence of complex or nuanced opinion-sets outside of rigid incantory premises.

I really thank M for this demonstration. Moreover, let me say to him that this attitude of mine should NOT be viewed as utter rejection... (though it is certainly within the range of possible reactions to call it patronizing!) (mea culpa!)

He remains welcome here. I only wish the REASONS why he is still welcome here were as plain to him as it is to some of the rest of us. I am done on this thread.

monkyboy said...

Wow!

From "Lefty" to "dogmatic-romantic personality type."

Is that a promotion?

Quite a Frist-like remote diagnosis.

I was just trying to say that someone who calls anyone who criticizes Israel a Nazi might not be as enlightened as they think they are...

Andrew Smith said...

I believe Dr. Brin's words were "declare openly they want to kill every single person living there,"

not "criticize."

Anonymous said...

What democracies has Pax Americana produced?

Uh.... Japan, Germany, Italy, Poland, Mongolia... I invite people to continue the list yourselves. I haven't the time and I've lost interest in being accused of everything possible, rather that see my points addressed with the curiosity that befits modern minds.



Japan -- Chalmers Johnson and others would take issue with your assessment there... ...http://tomdispatch.com/index.mhtml?pid=81088

Poland -- I think Pope John Paul II had more to with that than the U.S.

Italy -- is Italy really a democracy. Seems like its ruled by organized crime syndicates who buy their way into power (wait a second, that seems to work here too...) and corruption, according to many, is rampant...

Germany, I suppose I'll give you that one, though I haven't studied much on German affiars post WWII...

monkyboy said...

Interesting link on Japan, anon. I've never looked at Japanese politics that closely, but I've never considered them a democracy.

I hate to be thought of as cynical...

I just see the ghost of Richard Feynman pointing at everything America has done in the last decade or so and saying...

"Cargo Cult."

W0X0F said...

Been reading this blog for a while now. I am under the impression that some of the responders would forgive a lot of the current and past U.S. foreign policy if 'twere done COMPETENTLY, while others are fixated on its questionable MORALITY. I can say that the report of my commander-in-chief not knowing of the millenia-plus old Sunni/Shiite split in a country he had already decided to invade is deeply disconcerting. I ran into similar ignorance of Islam in the service - one co-worker seriously asked if this split I was describing might be a ruse by diabolical moslems. I don't know if it will help, but I haven't heard any rants about nuking them all lately, so the Way Too Loyal Oppostion might just have a chance.

Andrew Smith said...

Yes, W0X0F, but they are too cynical to believe it can be done competently at all.

Which is why Dr. Brin spends time providing evidence that it can.

Nicholas Christian Walter said...

Anon,

"Is Italy really a democracy?"

Try addressing the meat of Dr. Brin's posts, or mine, or anyone else's. The No True Scotsman fallacy neither buttresses your contention (whatever that may be since it bears no relevance to the rest of this discussion), nor diminishes ours.

NoOne said...

David Brin said
Romantics only understand on-off. Complete acceptance of the catechism....Only total incantation of the full party line counts.

But why? Surely, there must be some aspect of human nature that resists process oriented thinking and clings to obsolete absolutes (with apologies to Neil Peart). Why can't more people see the progression from clans to tribes to feudal states to imperialist empires to modernist empires to a worldcentric civilization based on progress. We are so clearly headed there. And yet nearly everyone seems to have gone stark raving mad these days.

David Brin said...

NoOne, you hit on the key point.

I have often been accused of incredible naivete because of my "optimism" about the power of enlightenment processes and my belief in human improvability. And yet, I cannot say that these beliefs are rooted in optimism, at all.

Rather, I grew up steeped in history (even more than science or art), a tale which is a long litany of absolutely horrible behaviors by wretched and stupid human animals. The more you learn about (for example) the relentless way that we return to bad habits of feudalism, romanticism, incantory justification, predation, rationalization...

...the more cynical you are tempted to become. Especially seeing all of the same character traits in your neighbors. Especially when looking in a mirror and seeing them in yourself! It all seems so hopeless. That is, until...

...until you (if you are an honest person) stop for a moment and blink and realize that DESPITE ALL THAT, something new has started happening. Something new and better.

What makes me optimistic is that something better is happening, despite human nature and the wretched weight of all those horrid habits. My life has been spent trying to understand this new thing.

(Some basic observations are at:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000EOU4S0)

Imagine you are watching a talk show, and on stage comes a TALKING DOG... who jokes with the host with a pronounced growling LISP. Is the interesting thing the defect, the speech impediment? No, the amazing thing is that you are looking at a talking dog!

That is how we should look at this Great Experiment. It may end tomorrow (many on the far right and far left and far-weird and far nasty are trying very hard). But while it lasts, it is the greatest thing in human history. Maybe the greatest in the history of this galaxy. I plan to die defending it.

Don Quijote said...

Okay, could you tell me, specifically, what parts David's definition of "modernism" you disagree with? I'm refering to what David said here:

"We believe in a notion that nearly all human societies deemed both mad and dangerous in the past... and still do in many lands... the improvability and (gradual) perfectibility of human individuals and societies through hard work, increasing knowledge, good will and citokate.


a) Human nature is what it is and I seriously doubt that it will change any time in the near future. we can and we will build better Gizmos but it will not change what we are.

"Moreover, we see that our parents and grandparents, who shared this mad dream, strove hard toward achieving it... and that they somewhat SUCCEEDED.

"Their efforts weren't wasted. They weren't fools."


No, they weren't fools, but their children were, the generation that survived the depression && WWII created one of the fairest & best run societies on the Planet, their children are working very hard at undoing their hard work and are very likely to succeed in taking us back to the 1880's.

If "modernism" is bunk, what is the alternative? What do you suggest?

Balance of Power! In Goverment the legislative, judicial and legislative branch keep each other in check, in society at large, goverment, labor & capital keep each other in check and in foreign affairs Countries keep each other in check, a new version of the concert of Europe where the players instead of being European powers are Global powers, China, India, Russia, EU, US, Brazil, keeping each other in check.

Anonymous said...

David Brin said

Maybe the greatest in the history of this galaxy. I plan to die defending it.

I know i'm being nitpicky here, and I realize that your statement is simply emphasizing how important how important defending our great experiment is, but I noticed anyway.
What is so great about dying for a cause? It's a romantic notion, and certainly there are certain instances where one (or a group) of people have stepped into life threatening or even hopeless situations to protect/rescue others. Heck, the 'noble sacrifice' is a tradition in much of our fiction.

But dead men (emotionally or physically) spread no memes. Though possibly not intended, that ending also seems to have a hint of desperation to it.

I am concerned (as many rightly are) about the spread of what I would interperet as the paranoia meme under the guise of neoconservatism.

Yet, I believe that people, once "uplifted" through education and experience to independently reason and consider the posibilities that lay before them, will make more good decisions than bad, and that our society is gradually self-correcting. (Back in the days of the founding fathers, they limited the vote to landowners - those who had training to understand the enlightement ideals. Now the vast majority of our society enjoy the tools and abilities of self-determiniation once available only to the elite few. I have done the streetcorner 360 you recomended several months back, and I am sold.

We have exported these memes worldwide, and they continue to circulate. Though the paranoia meme is scary, and does appeal to a primitive part of our brain that is evoltionaraly wired to be wary of the unknown; my bet is still on the massive prefrontal lobes who's skill and curiosity have regularly and more rapidly improved our situation by replicating increasingly effective and productive memes.

I consider the paranoiac meme self-defeating. Fear tends to feed on itself. Still, I'd rather we didn't have to learn the hard way. And to avoid that, I am willing to talk, and debate, and spread (and encourage the further spreading) of modernist/rational memes actively in my life. Not only a lot more productive and positive than dying, but a lot less unpleasant too.