Wednesday, September 05, 2007

A Trip to Japan and China Part 1

Freshly back from China and Japan, where I was Guest of Honor at the World Science Fiction Convention. An amazing experience which I will relate at here ... a bit later.


But first an alert!


If you have never watched the George Clooney movie THREE KINGS, see it tonight on FX. Record it to show that "ostrich conservative" you've been working on. Beneath the adventure movie is a very clear depiction of what George Bush Senior did to the Shiites of Iraq, back in 1991... the worst stain on American honor in our entire history, allowing Saddam to murder almost a million people who we had promised -- in Bush Sr's own words, broadcast on Army radio! -- to liberate.

Seriously. Bush urged them to "rise up" against Saddam, promising that "we're on our way!" Only to betray them to that monster, standing aside while he butchered them. When General Schwarzkopf PLEADED to be given just 12 more hours to reach Basra.

Instead we consigned the Iraqis to 12 more YEARS of hell.

And these fools had the gall to claim we'd be greeted, in 2003, with "kisses and flowers"?

They are the ones who sowed the seeds of 9/11.

36 comments:

Adam Rakunas said...

One thing I forgot to mention to you in Yokohama: this site is blocked by the Great Firewall. Beijing doesn't like Blogspot. Blogger, however, was fine, so Rob Sawyer got through. Just a thought for future upgrades...

Don Quijote said...

the worst stain on American honor in our entire history, allowing Saddam to murder almost a million people who we had promised

You've got to be kidding...

Worse than two centuries of slavery?

Worse than a century of apartheid?

Worse than the genocide of American Indians?

Worse than the two wars we started with Mexico?

Worse than the Spanish_American war?

Worse than the conquest of the Philippines?

Worse than the conquest of the sandwich Islands?

Worse than overthrowing the Mossadeq Government?

Worse than training the Savak?

Worse than overthrowing the Arbenz Government?

Worse than overthrowing the Allende Government?

Worse than killing three million Vietnamese?

Worse than supplying the PKI's membership list to our new puppet government so that a half million Indonesians could be killed?

Worse than supplying the Indonesian Government weapons so that they could invade and terrorize East-Timor for twenty years?

Worse than training death squads and torturers at the school of the Americas?

Worse than financing and training the Contras in Nicaragua?

Worse than financing and training the Death-Squads in El Salvador?

Worse than overthrowing the Aristide government? twice?

Worse than attempting to overthrow the Chavez Government?

Stefan Jones said...

Wait . . . you mean the worst stain on America's honor WASN'T Bill Clinton's "hummer?" :-)

Seriously, I agree with DQ in this case. Abandoning the Shiites is perhaps the worst stain on our honor during the 90s. But we've done worse . . . and do our best to forget about it, over and over, and then wonder why we're not universally admired.

* * *

Three Kings is a remarkable movie. An earnest attempt to show what combat is like, without swelling music or heroics or deus ex machina. Unless you count that cell phone . . .

Stefan Jones said...

((Oh My...)

Bush knew Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction

By Sidney Blumenthal

"Sept. 6, 2007 | On Sept. 18, 2002, CIA director George Tenet briefed President Bush in the Oval Office on top-secret intelligence that Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction, according to two former senior CIA officers. Bush dismissed as worthless this information from the Iraqi foreign minister, a member of Saddam's inner circle, although it turned out to be accurate in every detail. Tenet never brought it up again.

Nor was the intelligence included in the National Intelligence Estimate of October 2002, which stated categorically that Iraq possessed WMD. No one in Congress was aware of the secret intelligence that Saddam had no WMD as the House of Representatives and the Senate voted, a week after the submission of the NIE, on the Authorization for Use of Military Force in Iraq. The information, moreover, was not circulated within the CIA among those agents involved in operations to prove whether Saddam had WMD."

David Brin said...

Okay, it's a fair cop, Don. I'll grant you three or four items on your list. Um... duh. Mea culpa for polemical excess.

Still, deliberately and blatantly urging five million people to stand up to a monster, then telling him it's okay to slaughter hundreds of thousands of them... that is pure and distilled evil. Many of the evil deeds on your list were rationalizable by men of their time, in the context of their time. (Not the top five, of course.)

But Bush KNEW. He knew exactly.

Anonymous said...

"Worse than two centuries of slavery?
Worse than a century of apartheid?
Worse than the genocide of American Indians?
Worse than the two wars we started with Mexico?
Worse than the Spanish_American war?"

Of those, I'd say the last 100 years of slavery might count as worse - we could have bought free all the slaves in the 18th century, but no one was willing to bear the cost. Still, it's easy to be self-righteous, living so well, supported by fossil-fuel powered machines they lacked.

Genocide of American Indians would also count as worse. We had the opportunity in the 18th century to reform our relationship, and greed won out again and again.

The Mexican wars were more a mixed bag - which had greater moral standing - Mexican sovereignty (over largely empty territory) or Texan self-determination?

While the Spanish-American war seems to have been pushed by a few (e.g. Hearst), most of the popular support was for assisting the Cubans in their war for independence, and anger over The Maine. We invaded Afghanistan in anger over 9-11 - most of us think that justifiable. Will it suddenly become a blot on our national honor, if we discover that Bush arranged to allow 9-11 to happen?

Don Quijote said...

The Mexican wars were more a mixed bag - which had greater moral standing - Mexican sovereignty (over largely empty territory) or Texan self-determination?

A) Anglo Texans were illegal aliens who started a civil wars in Mexico so that they could expand the number of Slave States.

B) The largely empty territory could not be all that empty since it has left us with a bunch of cities whose name starts with "SAN" like San Diego, San Fransisco, Santa Cruz, Santa Fe, etc... Not to mention Los Angeles...


While the Spanish-American war seems to have been pushed by a few (e.g. Hearst), most of the popular support was for assisting the Cubans in their war for independence,

Funny cause the first thing we did after Cuba became independent was pass the Platt Amendment

and anger over The Maine.
And we now know that neither the Spaniard nor the Cubans had a damn thing to do with the explosion on the Maine.

We invaded Afghanistan in anger over 9-11 - most of us think that justifiable.

You do, I don't.

Never forget the Trans Afghan Pipeline.

Will it suddenly become a blot on our national honor, if we discover that Bush arranged to allow 9-11 to happen?
Yes.

The American conquest of the Philippines caused an estimated 220,000 dead bodies. Would you care to give me the moral argument for invading and conquering multiple Islands in the middle of the Pacific that never attacked the US?

Enterik said...

DON QUIXOTE: The American conquest of the Philippines caused an estimated 220,000 dead bodies. Would you care to give me the moral argument for invading and conquering multiple Islands in the middle of the Pacific that never attacked the US?

ENTERIK: I was wondering when someone was going to get around to the Philippines. Didn't the US win that in a card game? Or was it the Spanish-American War? Either way, it was ours fair and square, we won it from Spain, why shouldn't we Democratize it as we see fit? Those islands were rife with anti-government terrorists.

SpaceGhoti said...

At risk of beating a dead horse, I have yet another example to demonstrate how the professional class is not going to rise up against their masters in rebellion of this imperial administration.

We Are Going To Hit Iran...Bigtime

"I know this will sound crazy coming from a Naval officer", she said. "But we're all just waiting for this administration to end. Things that happen at the senior officer level seem more and more to happen outside of the purview of XOs and other officers who typically have a say-so in daily combat and flight operations. Today, orders just come down from the mountaintop and there's no questioning. In fact, there is no discussing it. I have seen more than one senior commander disappear and then three weeks later we find out that he has been replaced. That's really weird. It's also really weird because everyone who has disappeared has questioned whether or not we should be staging a massive attack on Iran."

"We're not stupid. Most of the members of the fleet read well enough to know what is going on world-wise. We also realize that anyone who has any doubts is in danger of having a long military career yanked out from under them. Keep in mind that most of the people I serve with are happy to be a part of the global war on terror. It's just that the touch points are what we see since we are the ones out here who are supposedly implementing this grand strategy. But when you liason with administration officials who don't know that Iranians don't speak Arabic and have no idea what Iranians live like, then you start having second thoughts about whether these Administration officials are even competent."


The professionals are too worried about themselves to stand up for the greater good. They, like so many others, have been properly cowed.

Naum said...

Excellent post here:

The fate of the basic elements of US national power under the Bush administration

A comparison chart showing status at end of 2000 compared to fall of 2007…ch

David Brin said...

Ghoti, your quotation from the Naval Officer is chilling... but I read it differently. All it shows is that there are countless officers who WILL stand up... if only the democrats will recognize this fact and offer them politiccal cover.

THE VERY TOP DEMOCRATIC PRIORITY SHOULD BE TO OPEN HEARINGS ABOUT THE WAR AGAINST PROFESSIONALISM” (Which would encompass the GOP War Against Science, but also expose the War against the Civil Service, the Officer Corps and the Intelligence Community.)

Those hearings could then subpoena every officer who has been punished for standing up... Thus offering an inducement for more of them to stand up.




CATCHING UP ON MISC REPLIES (note all of these are un-official and scribbled in comments, by a guy still suffering from jet lag and exhaustion.)

Keitosama, thanks for your input, both here and at the worldcon (more about that event soon). Though of course at Worldcon I was in full blowhard mode. Sometimes bipolarality is not a matter of neurochemistry or clock, but circumstance. I am normally a quiet person, but can flip into garrulous logghareah whenever a spotlight falls on me. In a few cases, the result does me more harm than good. In any event, glad you had a good time in Yokohama!

Occam... fortunately, I think the fellow you quoted is wrong on many counts. Re-read the passages and this time note the undercurrent of smug contempt. To him, everybody else is either a malignant conspirator or a sheep. Always remember that the left has its own jerks, and this fellow is one of them.

In fact, our military hates this futile and horrible quagmire war. They would far rather go back to hard training and the aura of invincibility they had after quick, surgical successes in 91, 97 and 2001. They have absolutely no motive or reason to want to become a counterinsugency swat team, being ground down to dust and irrelevance in a horrid repetition of Vietnam.

I agree with Robb about the effort to “privatize” force, creating secretive and unaccountable armies that answer only to certain elites. One more neocon crime. But that is not the military. It is undermining them.

As for Robb’s overall view, we’ll see if the people really are sheep. You had better pray that he is wrong.

re genocide of the Native Americans, of course it is tied with slavery as our worst stain. Forgive my excess... though te Betrayl of Ninety One ranks WAY up there.

Nevertheless - and at risk of being reflexively attacked as politically incorrect - I need to play contrarian toward the normal liberal reflex to portray this multi-century tragedy in simplistic terms. Self-flaggelatory explanations are mostly off target. Examining the record closely, you see - for example - countless efforts on the part of “good” Americans to establish honorable relations.

Especially notable: the fact that in most Anglo-settled regions, the AmerIndian PLACE NAMES were adopted; initial first-contacters nearly always pointed at the river or the valley or lake and asked “what’s the name of that?” In contrast to the Spanish, who always said “this is Santa Julia-Roberto de Las Putas and your name is now Juan.” This difference is so ubiquitous that it must have meaning. ( Actually, many of those place names mean “It’s “your finger”, you honkie dope” in the local dialect. Re-read this para till you get the joke.)

The problem was that the “good” anglos always lacked persistence. They would make a treaty or appropriate funds and then wander away in an aura of smug contentment over their noble achievements, leaving the way open for horrid predators to - for example - actually serve as the local Indian Agent, skimming funds or delivering diseased beef, or bribing some drunken old “chief” into selling tribal land that he had no right to sell, or provoking little violent tiffs that soon spiralled out of control into full scale wars that the natives always lost (and some of these were provoked by blockheads on the other side - there was no monopoly on foolishness)...

...followed by yet another intervention by “good” superiors and another hopeful treaty. It’s a horrible pattern of good intentions gone awry and spoiled by laxity and human nature and very, very bad habits. (And by some guys like Sherman, who actually did foster genocide.) The picture I present is not as pure as the standard liberal position portrayed for forty years in Hollywood films, and hence it is discomforting and easy to denounce. But it is more accurate and it is the one that teaches a far more useful lesson - that good is only good when it is backed up by diligence, persistence and genuine honor.

Oh, notable in evidence - the fact that the one tribe who TRIED HARD to adapt - the Cherokee - showed incredible agility against the State of Georgia’s land grab during the 1830s, enlisting aid from - among other decent whites - Daniel Webster, Sam Houston and Davy Crockett of all people! They took Georgia to the Supreme Court... and won! An epochal moment. That should have been the end of it and set precedents for the next century...

...but alas, they were betrayed by that horrific asshole, Andrew Jackson, who sent in the troops ANYWAY! (Cherokee had saved his life during the Creek War.) SC supremacy had not yet been established. The result was the infamous Trail of Tears. See where I discuss this in SUNDIVER.

I agree with Anonymous that the Mexican and Spanish wars, while wrongly incited, were also more complex than the stereotype supposes. In particular, Don is totally wrong about the Texicans, who were invited to settle, and whose rebellion was totally against Santa Ana’s illegal coup d’etat, at first, and in support of the 1820s democratic constitution of Mexico. At first. Till things got carried away. Indeed, the rebellion had equal numbers of local Mexicans on its side, for that reason. At first.

Moreover, it is trivial to name “empty space.”

Um, Don? What pipeline? Show it to me.

Yes, the first decades of US presence in the Phillipines were botched. Nasty. Still, if they were THAT botched, how come Fillipinos were so courageously loyal during WWII? Only a few dozen wupported the Greater East Asia Co Prosperity Sphere. They resisted like crazy and are pals to this day.

Liberal dogma can err too... if in no other way, by oversimplification.

But all of this is contrarian, bleary-eyed poking away. Do not mistake it for being on the other side. The side of intolerance and imperialism.

Don Quijote said...

Um, Don? What pipeline? Show it to me.

Just cause the Bush administration could f**k up a wet dream, it doesn't mean that they haven't tried...

BBC - Afghanistan plans gas pipeline

BBC - Afghan pipeline given go-ahead

TRANS-AFGHAN PIPELINE PROJECT MOVING FORWARD, FACES RISKS

U.S. Companies Eye Trans-Afghan Pipeline

Afghanistan Fact Sheet - Transit

Yes, the first decades of US presence in the Phillipines were botched. Nasty.

We killed over two hundred thousand Filipinos for no justifiable reason what so ever.

Still, if they were THAT botched, how come Fillipinos were so courageously loyal during WWII?
Cause the Japanese were even more racist and brutal than we were.

Anonymous said...

Because they wer the invaded by the Pre-atom bomb nipponese?

("I think" im mis-quoting Cryptonomicon by Niel Stephenson here for the) "..before they were nuked and decided they were all paciists"

besides look how well the philippinos did compared to the enemy in that war, why Philippines technology and manufacturing as invested in and rebuildt after the war is the env of the world, whilst japan languashed unde a long term foscist dictator supported by the US despite his obviouse corruption

Don Quijote said...

Dr Brin,

The problem was that the “good” anglos always lacked persistence. They would make a treaty or appropriate funds and then wander away in an aura of smug contentment over their noble achievements, leaving the way open for horrid predators to - for example - actually serve as the local Indian Agent, skimming funds or delivering diseased beef, or bribing some drunken old “chief” into selling tribal land that he had no right to sell, or provoking little violent tiffs that soon spiralled out of control into full scale wars that the natives always lost (and some of these were provoked by blockheads on the other side - there was no monopoly on foolishness)...

...followed by yet another intervention by “good” superiors and another hopeful treaty. It’s a horrible pattern of good intentions gone awry and spoiled by laxity and human nature and very, very bad habits. (And by some guys like Sherman, who actually did foster genocide.) The picture I present is not as pure as the standard liberal position portrayed for forty years in Hollywood films, and hence it is discomforting and easy to denounce. But it is more accurate and it is the one that teaches a far more useful lesson - that good is only good when it is backed up by diligence, persistence and genuine honor.


You must be joking... You have to stop, I am really going to hurt myself laughing.

Now if an Indian tribe is displaced, or slaughtered it's an unfortunate event, if it happens twice it's an evil Anglo stealing land, if it happens every year for over a century, it's not an isolated incident, it's not a crime, it's government policy.

Don Quijote said...

It's still about oil in Iraq


It's spelled out in Recommendation No. 63, which calls on the U.S. to "assist Iraqi leaders to reorganize the national oil industry as a commercial enterprise" and to "encourage investment in Iraq's oil sector by the international community and by international energy companies." This recommendation would turn Iraq's nationalized oil industry into a commercial entity that could be partly or fully privatized by foreign firms.

This is an echo of calls made before and immediately after the invasion of Iraq.

The U.S. State Department's Oil and Energy Working Group, meeting between December 2002 and April 2003, also said that Iraq "should be opened to international oil companies as quickly as possible after the war." Its preferred method of privatization was a form of oil contract called a production-sharing agreement. These agreements are preferred by the oil industry but rejected by all the top oil producers in the Middle East because they grant greater control and more profits to the companies than the governments. The Heritage Foundation also released a report in March 2003 calling for the full privatization of Iraq's oil sector. One representative of the foundation, Edwin Meese III, is a member of the Iraq Study Group. Another, James J. Carafano, assisted in the study group's work.

For any degree of oil privatization to take place, and for it to apply to all the country's oil fields, Iraq has to amend its constitution and pass a new national oil law. The constitution is ambiguous as to whether control over future revenues from as-yet-undeveloped oil fields should be shared among its provinces or held and distributed by the central government.


GAO Report: Iraq Failed US Benchmarks Senate Told



Benchmarks Not Met
* enacting and implementing legislation to ensure the equitable distribution of hydrocarbon resources of the people of Iraq without regard to the sect or ethnicity of recipients, and enacting and implementing legislation to ensure that the energy resources of Iraq benefit Sunni Arabs, Shia Arabs, Kurds, and other Iraqi citizens in an equitable manner


GAO Report Shows The Administration Refuses To Take Responsibility For Initiating a War Based On Lies


“The report states the Iraqi government is making unsatisfactory progress toward enacting and implementing a ‘hydrocarbon law.’ This ‘hydrocarbon law’ is in reality a law that would privatize Iraq’s own oil. There has been a broad deception about the content of the hydrocarbon law, a deception which has taken in Members of Congress and the media,” Kucinich said.


A war that was not about oil...

David Brin said...

Unbelievably obdurate and dogmatic to the point of lobotomy.

Note folks, Don never actually reads opposing views to learn anything, or to expand what he can perceive. He only looks for things to despise.

Typically, he ignores the fact that the Bushites have used the Iraq War to achieve every possible destruction of the leadership of the United States in the world, all without actually getting any new oil, ever, from anybody, but successfully boosting oil PRICES. Ironically, these facts ARE consistent with a paranoid scenario. But because it is not HIS "standard" leftist paranoid scenario, it all must be explained away.

Botched? Try this on for size. It was never ever ever about "getting oil". These fellows are geniuses and everything we see is a direct outcome of deliberate effort. Except for the fact that the pwople and professionals are waking up. But maybe they hae a plan to deal with that, too.

Andrew S. Taylor said...

Anonymous said...
Because they wer the invaded by the Pre-atom bomb nipponese?

("I think" im mis-quoting Cryptonomicon by Niel Stephenson here for the) "..before they were nuked and decided they were all paciists"


Look, I know this is a bit off-topic, but since were talkin' history, I feel I need to point out the fallacy behind this myth of the Japanese "barbarian" transformed to peace and democracy by "the bomb."

Remember that all of East Asia was colonized by Western Imperialist powers for centuries before Japan embarked on its own colonial enterprises. While the British and the Dutch were torturing, enslaving, and murdering Asians by the millions - what crime did Japan commit? For 250 years, it closed its borders and minded its own business. Its post-Meiji expansionism was directly inluenced - and initially supported - by the western powers. They did not become "barbarians" in the Western view until their ambitions were no longer in line with the West's.

To Dr. Brin,

I'm not sure I understand you - do you really believe that the current situation in Iraq is deliberate, and the perps are "geniuses"? I've entertained that thought myself at times, but is not an easier explanation - call me naive if you will - is that this small cadre of over-confident neo-cons actually believed in their stated goals, dismissed their naysayers, and, simply failed miserably? What about the current situation - constitutional crises included - does not accord with the mundane narrative of hubris and failure? If they were geniuses, and their primary goal was the erosion of an otherwise sacrosanct presidential humility (as per the law), I'd think we'd see much more success on their part by now, instead of the constant legal challenges.

Jumper said...

blogger ate my long comment. So I will restate it. don Q has come up with a good list. Astute, that is.

Before the Iraq invasion of Kuwait I knew of Saddam's reports of Kuwait slant-drilling into Iraqi reserves. The US has always promoted cheating by OPEC members. We promote kleptocracies relentlessly, then point at the region's moral failings. No fair!

Mark said...

But because it is not HIS "standard" leftist paranoid scenario, it all must be explained away.

Botched? Try this on for size. It was never ever ever about "getting oil".



I think you have to look at "getting oil" from the paranoid perspective to really understand what is happening. It isn't so much that they want to get the oil as prevent the bad guys from controlling it. That's what scares the bejebus out of them.

David Brin said...

Andrew, two points.

1) The "neocons are all greedy bozos" myth is not a "try it on for size." It is the standard liberal dogma. But it beggars imagination to attribute such a PERFECT record of destroying US influence and prestige and economy and social cohesion and strength, to simple incompetence.

It is YOU who should try something new on for size. Stretch. Hard. Imagine that everything that has been achieved was INTENDED.

2) The proof that you oversimplify Western colonialism is that many former colonies have warm relations with their former colonizers and embrace their culture. Why has India managed to maintain a democracy in the face of vast disparities of power that would - under any other circumstances - quickly resolve into feudalism?

This is not to deny the occurance of horrific crimes. Belgium is not "warmly" regarded in the Congo, where Leopold personally commanded genocide. Indeed, every colonial power, including the US in the Phillipines, committed crimes that seem outrageous in today's context.

What is utterly naive is to forget OTHER contexts. e.g. the way that anti-globalists decry Addidas factories (with some just cause) but fail to understand why people flock to them from the countryside...

...because their local, feudal lords on the land were VASTLY worse than supervisors at the factory. Why do you think the commonfolk in so many Indian states welcomed the British Raj, whose main function (other than East India Company greed) was to spread commerce and universal law... and to rein in local tyrants, who often treated their people far, far, far, far worse.

Again, I am not excusing colonialism. I am instead asking that it be viewed as a historical phase. A phase that involved many crimes that need correction and study... but a phase that took some positive steps as well. Or at least one that's understandable in context.

I mean, dang, what has HAPPENED TO the left? They used to be willing to do this, back when they studied Marx. Marx was cockeyed, but at least he bothered to get informed, a little, before spouting oversimplifications.

DIg it, Human beings are ferocious bastards. Find me a time/place when we weren't, including many so-called "admirable" cultures. But at least the "white man's burden" West took one step forward. Unlike other conquerors, they told themselves myths that they were "doing good."

Lies, mostly! Of course. Utter hypocrisy.

But hypocrisy is a funny thing. (Someone find me that quotation?) Sanctimonious, hypocritical prats who utter self-serving rationalizations may raise children who actually believe the bullshit their dads spouted from the pulpit. kids who may (as a result) have larger consciences.

WHERE DO YOU THINK YOUR OWN VALUES CAME FROM?

Indeed, I have always thought that the colonial powers committed three sins - aggressive conquest, hypocritical self-serving rulership....

...and then perhaps worst... once they roused to moral recognition of the crime, they got out too quickly! A generation of genuine reparations and step-by-step democracy might have prepared Ghana, for example, instead of simply cutting it off, all at once, to enter a downward spiral of calamity and misrule.

In any event, note this. The Fillipinos resisted from day one. Atrocities only enhanced their resolve. Don't get me wrong. I admire the Japanese Meiji transformation. They were among the few people who successfully adapted to a changing world. We are talking about two very different sets of admirable qualities.

Again, this is all off-the -record. I am pondering unconventional ideas. It's my job.

Anonymous said...

"Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue" - La Rochefoucald.

Is that the quote you were looking for, David?

- Lars

Don Quijote said...

1) The "neocons are all greedy bozos" myth is not a "try it on for size." It is the standard liberal dogma.

With good reason.

But it beggars imagination to attribute such a PERFECT record of destroying US influence and prestige and economy and social cohesion and strength, to simple incompetence.

No it doesn't. The neo-cons are a bunch of over-educated idiots who have never built, created or run anything in their lives. They are the tools of our Elites who themselves have never accomplished in their lives.


whose main function (other than East India Company greed) was to spread commerce and universal law...

You have to stop doing that, I am going to rupture my spleen from laughter.

I am sure that the Indians were thrilled to grow poppies at the barrel of a gun on their stolen land so that the Brits could shove Opium to China by force of arms.

As far as colonialism goes, I would suggest that you go through some of Steve Gilliard's post on the subject.


A generation of genuine reparations and step-by-step democracy might have prepared Ghana, for example, instead of simply cutting it off, all at once, to enter a downward spiral of calamity and misrule.

It would not have made a damn bit of difference, Colonialism was and is a power relationship, it's purpose is for the powerful to steal everything that wasn't/isn't nailed down.

Brother Doug said...

Brin there is a real kernel of truth in your last post. But I saw one statistic that showed lifespan in India dropped from 43 to 33 years after the British takeover. That was in a time of lengthening lifetimes in the western world, and calls for an evaluation to see if your point is valid. Undoubtedly the merchants and middle class city dwellers benefited greatly being part of a huge British trade network that allowed them to expand their middleman function. Gandhi was of the opinion that this overseas trade was destructive to the poor village economy, and in the long run he may have been right considering the extreme ecological problems and shameful rural illiteracy rates in India at present. But you are right that that hypocrisy did foster some genuine enlightenment idealism that has made India an economic powerhouse.

The Japanese were an interesting example with the Shogun’s administration knowing more about America than Commodore Perry when he landed. The Shogun actually had sets of almanacs and books bought from the Dutch along with scribes translating into Japanese. A big mistake on our part to force open trade with them, they knew that Japan could not support more overseas trade without becoming a colonial empire, as they had tried in the 1600’s in Korea.

Found this interesting link on Opium trade restance.

http://www.drugpolicy.org/library/opium_india.cfm

matthew said...

Interesting article on the opium wars, if a little biased toward the libertarian viewpoint.

I find it not terribly surprising that our policy on the opium fields in Afganistan is failing miserably. We managed to stop Turkey from growing opium for the unlawful drug trade by paying the farmers there a fair price for their raw opium, then using it for legitimate drug trade.
Why don't we do this in Afganistan? My guess is that it serves our administration's goals in two ways:
1) Cheap heroin in blue cities.
2) Since the Taliban is funding itself with the opium trade, the opium fields are militarily important to them. Our eradication raids may be designed to draw Taliban fighters out of hiding to protect their funding sorce.

Anonymous said...

But it beggars imagination to attribute such a PERFECT record of destroying US influence and prestige and economy and social cohesion and strength, to simple incompetence.

How about attributing it to complicated incompetence? Genius would not create a perfect record either. Genius reaches for the untested and suffers false starts. Practice, not creativity, is required for perfection.

The neo-cons have practiced and honed their philosophy in the political arena. They learned how to grab power. But though their methods worked, that does not mean that they understand the consequences of those methods. History has many examples, such as Rapa Nui, of people stripping their ecosystem bare because their farming or hunting methods worked well in the short run. Perhaps the neo-cons are foolishly strip-mining America's strength in order to feed their own power, and they are not geniuses so they don't see the consequences.

Their political methods include fearmongering, deflecting criticism, and party loyalty. The US losing prestige and influence helps feed the fearmongering. Deflecting criticism leads to a bad habit of ignoring contrary views. Party loyalty means that people keep their worries to themselves.

I agree with Andrew Taylor. This looks like hubris, not genius.

Erin Schram

David Brin said...

Funny. It seemed to me that Japan IS an overseas trading giant, without a colonial empire.

As for the reflexive and automatic defense of the "incompetence" theory, what I find bemusing is that NOBODY will bite on the alternative and even chew it around a while. Even though the "manchurian" explanation fits all available facts vastly better than any other. I wonder why that is. What ever happened to curiosity and ornery exceptionalism? The trait of seeing the entire herd moving in one direction and therefore trying something else out, just to be different?

Yes, yes. History is rife with monsters who were geniuses at attaining and keeping power, yet dunces at management and statecraft. Stalin. Saddam. It is tenable to suppose that the Bushites fall into this category. Indeed, the top thing they have done to stay in power -- relentlessly intimidating the professional public servant caste -- is also the top thing that will generate mismanagement of the state.

But really, is it SO hard to imagine that all this could be deliberate? Think. The Enlightenment has always relied upon systems that PIT ELITES AGAINST EACH OTHER so that the people can have a chance. Government bureaucracies were invented so that the true enemies of free enterprise, the ones that Adam Smith called "cronies of the King", would have powerful opponents.

Is it that unimaginable a step to take, to ponder that weakening government, so that plutocrats could steal, is only a small step away from deliberately crippling and suborning government, so that plutocrats can RULE?

And if those plutocrats are led by one group that has every means, opportunity and dogmatic motive to want to destroy the Enlightenment altogether, is it really impossible even to ponder the possibility that they would do so?

Indeed, none of us can know. That is why I have called for the professionals to look into this. They are the ones sworn to protect us from this kind of thing. They are trained and have resources to examine the patterns and see if subornation has taken place.

Ah but there's the rub. The assault upon our professional protectors has been the FOREMOST program pursued by the Bushites. All agencies are now supervised, ruled and dominated by partisan attack dogs (who cannot all be "manchurians" - I admit - because there are too many of them; but does that matter?). If true, this is a scenario never imagined by the CIA or FBI... one in which the counter-intelligence operatives who are supposed to sniff out subornation are already directly commanded and controlled by the enemy. Any one of them who even shows a glimmer of interest in the topic can be re-assigned, or bullied, or sent chasing after geese. Or simply forced to resign.

And yes, I am hoping some of them are reading this right now. if so, I have to ask; are you smart and brave enough to take on this challenge? The steepest and most dangerous and most difficult ever to face agents of a great nation? I wish I could help. Really. But all I can do is cheer you on. Urge you to find courage and skill. Pray that you guys can save us. In time.

Andrew S. Taylor said...

Dr. Brin,

Two replies to your two points (and also taking into account your most recent comment):

1) I'm actually coming at this as someone who held the "by design" argument for a number of years, and has only more recently abandoned it. Not only am I willing to "bite" - I have chewed and spit, as it were.

My main problem with it now is exemplified by your use of the word "Perfectly." As an attempt to destroy the Enlightenment, this current effort seems lacking. Where's the draft? Why didn't we invade Iran a year ago? Why hasn't political opposition been imprisoned? Why not use some of those tactical nukes in Iraq we keep hearing about? On the home front, the prez has claimed all kinds of absurd presidential priveleges, but to no effect. Neither terrorists nor his opponents have been caught. Things could be much, much worse than they are now (imagine that Giuliani become prez). In the past year, my view of the Bushites as puppet-master overlords has diminished - now I only see impotent ideologues.

Or is this appearance of utter incompetence, replete with rock-bottom approval ratings, all part of "the plan"?

You seem to view the Bush Administration as something fundamentally, categorically unlike every administration that preceeded it (I apologize if I misread you). I do not. Most of the current cadre are former Nixon-Reagan cold warriors, after all. The worst aspects of the current administration, sadly, are not the perps themselves but the precedents that were in place before them, and which will continue to be in place after they leave. Perhaps our disgreement can be summarized thus: I see a symptom where you see a cause.

I see much continuity from the "free trade" corporatism of the Clinton years into the Bush era.

Look, why not engage in a thought experiment? Imagine that the government was run by a few over-confident jackasses, who were so self assured of the own (b)rightness that they felt they could safely ignore all the naysayers and bean-counters, whom they viewed as entrenched interests, whose jobs would not be justified if they DIDN'T complain/disagree, etc. Imagine that they only heard what they wanted to hear, and felt, furthermore, that they could get their buddies in the private sector to help out and make a pretty penny while saving the world. Idiots, obviously, and thugs. But what about the current cirumcstance does not match that scenario. What does it fail to explain? Sure, we've pissed off many nations perfectly well. Not so difficult - no genius mastermind is required...just a child with a toy much too big for him.

2)You again misunderstand me (though my brevity is largely to blame).

You said: "The proof that you oversimplify Western colonialism is that many former colonies have warm relations with their former colonizers and embrace their culture."

I agree completely with your attempt to bring nuance to the history of colonialism. I would simply like to see the same attititude applied to Japanese Imperialism.

Not everyone in East Asia takes the stance of China and Korea. Taiwan, India, and Indonesia, etc., have much more favorable views of Japan that would belie the monolithic narrative of unmitigated barbarism. So my point was only that a double standard is often unfairly applied to Western vs. Japanese Imperialsm. One should not excuse the atrocities committed by either party, nor should one make a blanket generalization about either side as the embodiment of pure evil.

For instance, when you say, "Find me a time/place when we weren't, including many so-called "admirable" cultures. But at least the "white man's burden" West took one step forward. Unlike other conquerors, they told themselves myths that they were "doing good." you seem to be saying that Western Imperialism was significantly "better," overlooking the fact that many East Asian colonies fought with Japan to evict "The White Man," and at least a few were materially improved as a result.

Sure you, can bring up forced labor and brutality, but can you say, tit-for-tat, that the Japanese were worse? Seriously? The Western narrative looks askance of its own atrocities, and obsesses over those committed by Japan. In the present, this is largely due to our blind acceptance of Chinese and Korean claims that Japan continues to "whistewash" history, by perptuating demonstrably false claims about textbook omissions and atrocity-denials. Even in the present day, Japan is pressured by the U.S. and China to continually apologize for events 60 years in the past, yet no house resolution is forthcoming asking China to apologize for the 60 million killed under Mao. China gets to demonize Japan for the sole pupose of giving its own oppressed populace an outlet of vitriol which clearly cannot be directed by the people against their own government.

So if you want to embrace the complexity of history, embrace it fully. Your point about exporting western ideals - that even hypocrites can transmit worthy ideals - is of course a true and valuable point. Again, let this point also be applied to Japan, which had practiced democracy into the late 1920's.

David Brin said...

You ask why - if the manchurians are out to destroy the Enlightenment and the American Experiment, they haven't already nuked Iran and declared martial law?

The answer is simple. Their task is a prodigious one, requiring time. America is remarkably robust! The thing that its enemies fear is that it will exemplify the new stable state of civilization. Its strengths are immense.

If they tried to pull too much shit, too soon, they would simply be shrugged off like fleas.

Ponder how they have tried for nearly SEVEN YEARS to purge and crush the professionals of the CIA, FBI, and civil service and officer corps. And still there are more than enough skilled people to thwart them, if their actions get too overt and blatant.

These people have absolutely nothing in common with Clintonite "corporatism" as you call it. Yes, Clinton liked free trade and enterprise. Sorry... but I like em too. THAT is not a feature of the Bushite putsch. Indeed, successful free enterprise requires reduced secrecy, increases in accountability, adherence to open law, true competitive bidding, suppression of cronyism and attention to the needs of developing societies. Name one of these things that the Bushites did not diametrically reduce.

One.

I tried your experiment. It does not work. Because the destruction of American influence in the world IS so consistent. There is not a single thing about destroying our alliances, for example, that merely benefits lazy, corrupt, dogmatic assholes. The ONLY beneficiaries of that relentless program are our cultural enemies.

Andrew S. Taylor said...

DB,

M'kay. I think I see an aspect of this where we might agree somewhat, in a way that is not immediately obvious. And in fact, I'm not sure that our two competing versions are mutually exclusive in all respects.

Yes, I do see how there can be a long-term effort to slowly and methodically undue Enlightenment democracy. There is, to be sure, a certain right-wing element in American society which has always pursued that goal over many decades, and no doubt more than a few of their worst are in the current admin.

However, this fact alone does not necessitate that I accept the "planned choas" theory. What's hard to swallow about it is that it is virtually unfalsifiable as you've described it - both "successes" and "failures" serve as equal confirmation of the theory.

We'll have to agree to disagree about the pre-Arbusto era. Going tit-for-tat on our differing views of the Clinton admin may prove too time consuming. In essence, I do not accept your proposition here:

"Indeed, successful free enterprise requires reduced secrecy, increases in accountability, adherence to open law, true competitive bidding, suppression of cronyism and attention to the needs of developing societies. Name one of these things that the Bushites did not diametrically reduce.

One.
"

I would first have to believe that these things existed in abundance before Bush came to office, in order for them to be supressed once he was there.

Was the Clinton era an exemplar of crony-free, constitutional, above-board transparancy? Did Clinton do anything to make government more open and accountable? Did he defend the Constitution, and supress the expansion of government powers? Did he defend privacy laws? Did he fight the influence of corporate interests on government? Did he contribute nothing to the choas in the Middle East?

I see see only a difference of degrees, not type. But that is because I don't believe that free-trade as it is practice in the Clinton doctrine is in any way based on a concern for the well-being and advancement of China, Mexico, etc. You, being a pragmatic Libertarian of sorts, will of course see this differently. I understand your viewpoint and respect it. But I fear your view of Bush as the Ultimate Criminal involves an overly rose-tinted view of those who went before him.

Andrew S. Taylor said...

Just to briefly add (now that I've pondered it a bit more) one could even accept completely your characterization of the Bushites MO in office, and still not find the outcome in Iraq to be a planned consequence.

David Brin said...

Was the Clinton era an exemplar of crony-free, constitutional, above-board transparancy? Did Clinton do anything to make government more open and accountable? Did he defend the Constitution, and supress the expansion of government powers? Did he defend privacy laws? Did he fight the influence of corporate interests on government? Did he contribute nothing to the choas in the Middle East?

I'll accept this as a sincere question and so answer with a resounding yes.

Secrecy HALVED in the federal government, according to independent auditors, under Clinton. ANd after a billion dollars spent hounding them, the Bushites found NOT ONE INDICTABLE OFFENSE to pin on the entire BC administration. The first time that has ever happened. Ever.

Those two facts contrast DIAMETRICALLY with the Bushites' skyrocketing secrecy and avoidance of accountability. This is NOT a matter of degrees.

It is a matter of unalloyed and pure black compared to slightly smudged white.

Your cynicism in this case is not only reflexive but utterly illogical.

You must read this:
http://www.davidbrin.com/neocons.html

especially about the Balkans war. All still true. Cinton wanted to be a good president of an enlightenment civilization. Bush does not. That is absolute. As flawed as BC was, you do him ( and us) a gross injustice.

TwinBeam said...

DB, regarding colonial empires: "...and then perhaps worst... once they roused to moral recognition of the crime, they got out too quickly! "

Um, if you're serious about that idea, have you tried applying the same logic to our neo-colonial adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan?

David Brin said...

You are looking at words, not meanings. And only a few selected words, at that.

Anonymous said...

Clinton and Bush were both backed by corporate lobbyists; however one group has targeted Asia's cheap labor, while the other focuses on benefits deriving from natural resources in the Middle East.

Nevertheless, thanks to Clinton, China is now a major neo-colonialist along with the U.S.

TwinBeam said...

I figured I gave enough that people could find the context, but here's more of your words - I don't see that it changes their meaning when applied to Iraq...

"Indeed, I have always thought that the colonial powers committed three sins - aggressive conquest, hypocritical self-serving rulership....

...and then perhaps worst... once they roused to moral recognition of the crime, they got out too quickly! A generation of genuine reparations and step-by-step democracy might have prepared Ghana, for example, instead of simply cutting it off, all at once, to enter a downward spiral of calamity and misrule."

So - Iraq: aggressive conquest - check. Hypocritical self-serving rulership - well, at least some here would say "check" to that one. And it looks to me like we're currently planning a rapid pull-out, with a very strong likelihood that Iraq will descend into calamity. Check.

Gee, now you've got me sounding like I'm arguing for staying in Iraq - not my intention, though I do feel some resonance with the "you broke it you bought it" point of view.

So - do you think Iraq would be better or worse off, if we could stand to stay longer? After all, the British actually spent more time trying to transition the region to self rule than we've been in Iraq, and you've said they "got out to quickly"!

Andrew S. Taylor said...

DB,

I'm well aware that Clinton declassified a number of largely antiquated Cold War documents at the beginning of his term. I'm not impressed. This is the same Clinton who, like Bush, sought to increase the wiretapping of all "suspected terrorists", in an expansion of FBI surveillance powers that was opposed by both parties. Sound familiar?

http://www.cnn.com/US/9607/29/clinton.terrorism/index.html

This is the same Bill Clinton who claimed "that the president has "inherent authority" to order physical searches — including break-ins at the homes of U.S. citizens — for foreign intelligence purposes without any warrant or permission from any outside body. Even after the administration ultimately agreed with Congress's decision to place the authority to pre-approve such searches in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court, President Clinton still maintained that he had sufficient authority to order such searches on his own."

http://www.nationalreview.com/york/york200512200946.asp

Yes, utterly unlike Bush.

This is the Bill Clinton who expanded the death penalty and enacted the first restrictions on habeus laws in, what, a century or so?

This is the Bill Clinton whose allegedly open and accountable government did more to sell the public trust to corporate interests than many previous Republicans. Thanks to NAFTA, American workers can more freely compete with empoyees beyond our boarders with fewer labor rights, in regions with less (and hence cheaper) environmental regulations. I suppose our standard of living has improved thanks to all this free-enterprise? Our wages have kept pace with inflation? The wealth is trickling down?

How about selling out our publicly owned airwaves by loosening ownership rules (I'm sorry, but they are owned by the public, - it's the law on the books and we have a right to regulate them). Yes, I recall well how Clinton's open and accountable government allowed the public input on how their property was being divvied up to Clear Channel, Time-Warner, and Murdoch. (And print journalism, to be sure, is seen thriving as a result as well).

Oh, yes, Rupert Murdoch, world-class neo-con, the master of Sock Puppets and Fox news, and current supporter of none other that Hillary Clinton.

I suppose, unlike Bush, Clinton received congressional approval for the use of force in Kosovo?

Free-Trade, as has been noted by others, is only ever supported by those assured that they will "win." Economic alliances have always trumped "freedom and democracy" in American foreign policy, and I see no evidence that Clinton saw things differently. One year after "defeating" one communist monster, Clinton shakes hands with another. Witness the subsequent spread of freedom and openness in China.

And Clinton, clearly did much to reverse the skyrocketing rates of incarceration in the U.S., right? And to reverse unfair drug policies?

And where are Bush's "indictable offenses?" I count quite a few, and yet our Democratic opposition - be they house speakers or white-house candidates - are oddly reticent when it comes to taking Bush himself to legal task for what he's done. We get small-fry antics, like hysteria over Gonzales' unethical firings, but no talk of impeachment. Pelosi signalled from the get-go that impeachment was "off the table." They make a big show of attacking bad apples at the periphery like Abramoff and Libby, but the big fish remain unpersecuted (though some have peacably resigned). And neither Hillary, nor Barack, nor Johnny Edwards are making any noise whatsoever noise about enforcing the rule of law. And when I hear said candidates falling over one another to be the first to invade Pakistan, all of them implicitely suggesting that it's their decision to make as prez and theirs alone, the phrase that comes to mind is "same s**t, different day."

Dr. Brin, this is the environment in which the Bushites operate with impunity; in the presence of a Democratic, Clinton-worshipping "opposition" party that, in the midst of enldess anti-Bush bluster, somehow manages to rubber-stamp every FISA-warping Big Brother bill that comes their way, and to fund a war that they profess to oppose. Could it be that they are secretly salivating over what they will get to do once one of their own are in office, with access to these new and unchallenged presidential powers? This is hardly what I'd expect to see if the Bushites were rogue elements in an otherwise law-abiding government entity, rather than unusually ruthless players in an all-too-familiar game.

And despite this astonishing lack of Democratic resolve, of anything that might resemble a moral principle, despite a party so weak that it quails before a genuine showdown with the El Arbusto even as it holds the majority...the Bushites are still an embarrasment and a failure. Nobody takes them seriously anymore.

Yes, you can say that Bush is much worse than Clinton all you want - I'll agree with you completely. But fundamentally different? Maybe Clinton had one foot in the water, while Bush dove in. That's as far as I'll go.