2009

by Henry on January 20, 2017

DSC_0258 (1)

A photo I took back in 2009 (I lucked into a great ticket at the last moment when I ran into someone I’d known in Dublin who had a couple of extra, and no-one to give them to). Consider this an open thread on today, if you want to discuss it.

{ 101 comments }

1

Fran 01.20.17 at 4:39 pm

Tragedy

2

a.y.mous 01.20.17 at 6:03 pm

Pained. I cringed and shed a couple of tears when I heard the BBC presenter calling him “former President Barack Obama”. This is “unknown unknowns” territory now. God save.

3

Bill Snowden 01.20.17 at 6:13 pm

Farce.

4

bob mcmanus 01.20.17 at 6:26 pm

Failure

5

cwalken 01.20.17 at 6:33 pm

Actually, second time as farce.

6

jake gibson 01.20.17 at 6:46 pm

Not yet, but very likely for many people. Including a lot who voted for Trump.

H. L. Mencken knew what he was talking about.

7

Belle Waring 01.20.17 at 6:52 pm

Thanks, Obama. [runs from room wailing abjectly]

8

Matt_L 01.20.17 at 7:10 pm

What a great day in January 2009! This cheers me up immensely. Don’t worry we’ve lost elections before. We can win again.

I honestly don’t know what the future holds. It could be fascism and a one party state, but I tend to think that won’t happen. Remember how all your right wing gun nut friends thought President Obama was going to void the Second Amendment and take away their guns? And how that didn’t happen? I tend to think the same thing will happen with all the people who say the sky is falling and that the GOP holds all the cards.

We need to stick together and look after our neighbors, friends and co-workers who are most vulnerable to all the hate the election has generated. We just need to keep doing what we have always been doing; struggle for equality and dignity.

Remembering 2008 and the way we felt with Obama’s election is a way to keep the heart warm.

9

Ben 01.20.17 at 7:33 pm

Farce

10

marcel proust 01.20.17 at 7:34 pm

2009? Not sure what this is, but I’m guessing the inauguration.

11

Neville Morley 01.20.17 at 8:26 pm

This is the darkest timeline.

12

Pavel 01.20.17 at 8:31 pm

*Suddenly doesn’t view “preppers” as just a bunch of paranoid cranks. Just mostly paranoid cranks.

13

LFC 01.20.17 at 8:33 pm

Do you mean ’08, or January ’09?

14

Tom Slee 01.20.17 at 8:36 pm

A few months ago I read (well, actually listened to) a couple of historical novels by Philippa Gregory, set in the reign of Henry VIII (The King’s Curse, and The Taming of the Queen). I thought I was reading for entertainment, but they have been the best guide to what to expect from Trump that I’ve come across.

Henry was a second son, not brought up to be king, and so he was spoiled and became vainglorious. He could not bear for anyone to be better than him, at riding, at archery, at jousting, whatever.

So what Gregory’s books convey very well is how not to deal with a privileged and powerful narcissistic orange bully with no attention span. He would flatter and be generous to some people, and they would think they had influence. But when Henry’s needs changed, these people were suddenly cast aside. His wives are the obvious example, but various counsellors and ambassadors and nobles too.

All of a sudden, they would hear that Henry was disappointed in them. That after years of friendship and loyalty, Henry was dismayed to find that they had let him down. And then they would simply be frozen out, unable to reach him, refused entrance to court. And maybe they would lose their head.

So when I see people saying that Trump understands them (the Canadian government, the technology leaders who paid court), that — in the words of the tech leaders — they will set him straight if he goes off-course, I just think: you have no idea how this works. Of course he and his crew will flatter you, tell you how brilliant you are, how much he admires you. Until he doesn’t. Until he decides that you have disappointed him. And then you will hear about it second hand. You’re out, and the axe will fall, and you’re not so special after all.

Those “realist” commentators saying that Trump can be managed and negotiated with (a bit of flattery here, a few wise words there) need to read about Henry VIII to see how that story ends.

If that takes too long, they should at least follow @KngHnryVIII on Twitter, who set it out in August here.

15

Tom Slee 01.20.17 at 8:38 pm

From that second link:

Let me put it this way, you know that feeling of anxiety and fearful remorse that can steal over you in the darkest hours of the night? I don’t have that. Neither does Trump.

16

b9n10nt 01.20.17 at 8:47 pm

Nah, Reagan was tragedy, this one is farce.

A farce wherein a capitalist aristocracy is dressed in the torn and soiled fabric of democracy, proclaiming its will to represent the people.

17

Layman 01.20.17 at 9:24 pm

Has anyone noticed the creepy banner CNN is using for their coverage? Two general’s stars on a red ribbon? I was struck by it, so I went to CNN’s archive to see what they did for the last two inaugurations. I couldn’t find anything like it. And of course there is the story that his team wanted a military vehicle parade, e.g. Tanks, mobile missile launchers, etc. How long before the Don dons a uniform?

18

Jerry Vinokurov 01.20.17 at 9:33 pm

It’s going to be real bad, fam.

19

SC 01.20.17 at 11:36 pm

The new White House site is up.
http://www.whitehouse.gov

Looks like they are still hiring.
https://apply.whitehouse.gov/

Much of the Issues area is a repeat of the inaugural speech but . . . it’s still interesting. Whoever wrote it did a pretty job of avoiding specifics, they will be able to recycle it for the 2020 campaign website. For example, under America First Foreign Policy
you’ll find “The world will be more peaceful and more prosperous with a stronger and more respected America.”

Issue number 5 is: Standing Up For Our Law Enforcement Community
” . . . The dangerous anti-police atmosphere in America is wrong. The Trump Administration will end it.”
“Our job is not to make life more comfortable for the rioter, the looter, or the violent disrupter.”
“Supporting law enforcement means supporting our citizens’ ability to protect themselves.”

20

Collin Street 01.20.17 at 11:51 pm

Actually, second time as farce.

I don’t like farce. It’s pointlessly cruel to the characters; that’s not stuff I usually find amusing.

21

William Berry 01.21.17 at 12:07 am

For this old former union officer and labor activist, this feels like the utter defeat of everything I ever stood for. The icing on the cake: I learned that my adult son is a Trumpster. This resulted in a serious falling out, which rift is yet to be healed.

Maybe it can be. In any case, I will probably “cross over” well before we even begin to recover from the destruction to our nation and society (if not the world) that will result from the rule of the radical Repugs, and the Orange Shit-gibbon who will carry their water.

22

Henry 01.21.17 at 12:11 am

Yes – 2009 – I think in election not inauguration years, this not being my native political system. Thanks all and fixed.

23

kidneystones 01.21.17 at 12:23 am

What I told my own first-year students yesterday:

For the first time in the lives of just about all of you we are all less likely to see the most powerful nation on earth overthrow another government in the Middle East. From 1991 to 2016 the United States has been bombing nations in the Middle East as part of US foreign policy. Americans love bombing other countries – dropping bombs on people in the Middle East is one of America’s favorite methods of bringing peace to the world.

I reject all war. We are all extremely fortunate that Hillary Clinton will not be taking office this weekend. Had Hillary been elected we would be facing a crisis over Syria. Hillary wants to overthrow the Assad government by threatening to shoot down airplanes over Syria. Putin supports Assad. The only airplanes flying over Syria are Russian, or Syrian. Do any of you want a war with Russia? Does shooting down Russian airplanes sound like a good plan to you?

Americans helped overthrow the elected government of the Ukraine. Americans have been bombing countries in the Middle East for decades. Under Obama the US has been at war for his entire presidency. We don’t know what will happen, but for the first time in a very long time Americans elected a president who wants to trade with everyone. He wants to do deals with Kim, with Putin, with China.

He’s not interested in what goes on in other people’s countries. He wants to mind his own business. He wants to get rich and become as famous as possible. We don’t know what will happen, but for the first time in a very long time Americans have elected a president who does not want to attack other countries.

We are not looking at a new US war in the Middle East for the first time in a very long time. That doesn’t mean the war won’t happen. Americans love bombing people. But I’m immensely pleased Hillary Clinton is not fighting more wars in the Middle East, and that for the first time in a very long time Americans seem to have decided to leave the rest of us live our lives in peace.

God bless everyone.

24

ZM 01.21.17 at 1:24 am

Hope for the best, and prepare for the worst.

Off topic, but I realised I never saw The Apprentice, I was thinking I watched it with my Mum but actually it was Undercover Boss. I found it slightly comforting thinking that Donald Trump seemed okay on TV, oh well, hopefully the shows were pretty similar.

25

harry b 01.21.17 at 1:44 am

Tom Slee — at least Henry had Thomas Cromwell. Till he had him killed, that is.

William Berry. Wow, that is sad. I hope you can both figure out how to heal the rift. Don’t let Trump take that from you, too. In solidarity, H

26

rea 01.21.17 at 3:10 am

“The new White House site is up.

Unlike the Obama version of the site, it does not have links to Spanish-language and accessible versions . . .

27

Alan White 01.21.17 at 3:14 am

William Berry–

Your post deeply resonates with me. After not sleeping for two days after the election, I was later in the week taken by a friend to the ER for serious symptoms. (I have an arrhythmia and bad family history.) After admittance and my very first ( and still only) Xanax, my alarming vitals calmed–and I self-diagnosed my first panic attack. I realized only then that Donald Trump put me in the hospital. And I can now see why–as your post says, I must have known perhaps at that time unconsciously that I would die without real hope for this country or the world. I took it personally as someone who actually believed that my long teaching career, as a self-perceived advocate for reason and progress, meant something–but with eyes wide open saw that I was just more of a nothing than I had already concluded that I was. The world is not marching forward; anything but.

I wish you hope with rebuilding with your son–I wish it for you desperately.

28

oldster 01.21.17 at 4:25 am

This is why I valued Krugman’s adage the day after, which was something like:
elections redistribute power. they don’t change the truth.

The values that we have lived by are still the true values–the values of rationality, decency, humanity, liberty, and respect. The enemies we have fought are still the true enemies–whether the abstract enemies of irrationality, inequality and fascism, or the personal enemies of McConnell, Ryan, and Trump.

It will not take long for Trump’s manifest viciousness and incompetence to become as clear to the rest of the country as it has been clear to us all along. William Berry, I grieve for you, but within a year the scales will fall from your son’s eyes, and he will come out of the shambling stupor in which he is currently enthralled.

I concede–there will be some who will never learn, or never admit it. There will always be a 27%. But the vast majority of the nation will come around to seeing the sordidness, the ugliness, the stupidity of the man.

I am not being a polyanna–much damage will be done along the way, and the US will take a long time to recover its equilibrium. We have absorbed a virulent pathogen, and our immune system was weaker than we had thought–weakened by decades of Fox news and fake news, tribalism and anti-intellectualism. And underneath it all, of course, America’s original sin.

But we will expel the pathogen, and I hope that it will bolster the nation’s immune system once again. The nation of our parents and grandparents never would have fallen for such a transparent faithless gutless swindler. The nation of our children is a lot smarter, too–Trump would have lost in a landslide if only those under 35 had voted. But it was my generation and my slight elders–the 60s and 70s , the Baby Boomers and retirees–who are to blame for this atrocity. After we’re dead, there will be better things to come.

29

William Berry 01.21.17 at 4:27 am

@harryb: Much appreciated. Thx

In solidarity.

30

Guy Harris 01.21.17 at 4:59 am

Matt_L:

It could be fascism and a one party state, but I tend to think that won’t happen.

Who needs a one-party state if you’ve got the gerrymandered districts, voter ID laws to make it harder for the sort of folks who vote for the other party to vote, too few polling places for those who do manage to get a voter ID, etc?

(Heck, Russia’s a multi-party state, for what that’s worth….)

31

William Berry 01.21.17 at 5:36 am

@Alan White:

Thx for the moral support. Hope things works out for you as well.

32

nastywoman 01.21.17 at 6:01 am

– and so it is –

https://youtu.be/NDzADdH0aC8

33

Dave 01.21.17 at 6:04 am

<3 you Henry

34

ADifferentChris 01.21.17 at 8:02 am

Fuck

35

Collin Street 01.21.17 at 8:54 am

Who needs a one-party state if you’ve got the gerrymandered districts, voter ID laws to make it harder for the sort of folks who vote for the other party to vote, too few polling places for those who do manage to get a voter ID, etc?

Something I’ve pointed out a number of times before, but: the way “primary elections” and party registration works in the US means that the boundaries between “state” and “party” are uncomfortably blurred. Having more than one “party” organisation intermeshed with the organs of the state like some sort of bureaucratic lichen is not a step forward.

[the government doesn’t keep records of private organisation membership and doesn’t dictate their internal processes for determining who should represent them: the US government does both for the US political parties, and so insofar as that goes US parties aren’t private organisations but quasi-governmental.]

[the solution to this depends on whether you regard party affiliation in the US as purely political or instead as being to some degree ethnic/cultural; if it’s political then you just dissolve both the current parties and ban their symbolism, but if it’s ethnic you need some variety of structurally-enforced power-sharing, northern-ireland style or what-have-you.]

36

Keith 01.21.17 at 9:41 am

kidneystones must do some great drugs…. The arch reactionary party have won all power centres with a con artist front man to gut the safety net, undermine civil rights and liberty and cut taxes massively for the ultra rich. We will see how big a peacenik these people are soon.

37

kidneystones 01.21.17 at 10:13 am

Further to thank god Hillary is not president via TPM this exchange between John Judis and Joshua Landis on US FP is eye-popping and germane to Trump’s inaugural speech and his stated policy of ending the US practice of ‘imposing our way of life on others’.

Joshua Landis:

“Our national religion is democracy. When in doubt, we revert to our democracy talking points, which is what Obama did. It is a matter of faith. He didn’t know what the hell was going on in Syria. I was invited to participate in a number of CIA confabulations and policy “think-out-of-the-black-box” hoedowns during the first months of the uprising. The intelligence community was unanimous in predicting that Assad would fall quickly. People were lost. Everyone was simply projecting their own interests and pet theories onto the uprisings. It was only natural that our aspirations would overtake fact-based analysis…

Judis: …So by setting up the Syrian National Council in August 2011 as a transition to a new Syrian regime, were Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton fostering illusions?

Landis: Yes…”

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/cafe/americas-failure-russia-success-in-syrias-war

38

Layman 01.21.17 at 10:38 am

@ William Berry,

I wasn’t surprised to find that my father & brother were Trump supporters – they are long-time conservatives, apparently beyond redemption – but I am surprised to learn that my nephews, my brother’s sons, are. I tried talking with them myself, and got only a litany of complaints about false things and nonsense in response. Apparently they believe a pack of lies, and there doesn’t seem to be any way to convince them that they are lies. I’d blame my brother, but his daughters are solidly on the left and horrified by Trump, as is the rest of their generation in my family. I don’t know what I’d do if my own son was a Trumpster.

@Alan White, be well.

39

J-D 01.21.17 at 11:15 am

kidneystones

For the first time in the lives of just about all of you we are all less likely to see the most powerful nation on earth overthrow another government in the Middle East.

No, that has not become less likely.

We don’t know what will happen, but for the first time in a very long time Americans elected a president who wants to trade with everyone.

No, he doesn’t.

He’s not interested in what goes on in other people’s countries.

Yes, he is.

He wants to mind his own business.

No, he doesn’t. (Nobody who wants to mind his own business runs for President.)

We don’t know what will happen, but for the first time in a very long time Americans have elected a president who does not want to attack other countries.

No, they haven’t.

But I’m immensely pleased Hillary Clinton is not fighting more wars in the Middle East, and that for the first time in a very long time Americans seem to have decided to leave the rest of us live our lives in peace.

No, they haven’t.

But then, you’re already on record as asking to be played for a sucker.

40

Hidari 01.21.17 at 11:37 am

@23 The New York Times reported that just today the US military killed 100 people whom it claims (and this claim was uncritically repeated by the Times) to be ‘Al-Qaeda fighters’ (the bad kind, presumably, not the good kind we arm in Syria).

Do you seriously think that this sort of activity will stop under Trump?

It may well be that, on average, Trump bombs less people across the globe than Obama did (remembering of course that almost all American Presidents since the 1920s have bombed foreigners with impunity) but don’t hold your breath.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/20/world/middleeast/us-airstrike-al-qaeda-syria.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

41

Matt_L 01.21.17 at 11:58 am

@ Guy_Harris

We sue. We use the courts. We fight to win back each and every state legislature and governorship. Nothing has changed. Even if HRC had been elected we would have had to fight uphill against the gerrymandering, the Voter ID Laws, and all the other tricks of voter suppression because that stuff has to be changed at the state level anyway.

I am not going to do anything different than I did before November 2016. I still believe in the same ideals. I see no point in reacting to things I cannot control. I plan on keeping my eyes open and head ready for the opportunities to help out people in need and to make a better future happen for everyone.

42

Lee A. Arnold 01.21.17 at 12:30 pm

The appointment of Mattis signals clearly that Trump foreign policy is very likely to follow Obama & Secretary Clinton’s foreign policy, at least in the Middle East: Avoid U.S. troop involvement in another big war; tinker around the edges; work quietly with Russia; remember that Assad is not a good actor; the Iran deal was the temporary best of a bad situation, etc.

Of course the news reports will blabber about big Middle-East changes afoot, to fool people and to make America into a Great Reality TV Show Again.

China is a bigger problem for Trump, if he decides to reject TPP and other big trade agreements. Discussion of this gets into a complex briar patch that also involves fiscal policy, foreign exchange, Wall Street, business and/or infrastructure investment and global ROI, the question of who is going to get stuck with the US taxation, as well as military arrangements in the Pacific, etc. — so it may be easier to point it out, as events arise… Suffice it to say that, since Trump is a racist (blaming a Fed judge for bias because Mexican parents, etc.) who sees no downside to coarsening the public dialogue for his own ends, we soon may all be justified in calling Trump an international “tar-baby”, with an added meaning that gives this phrase its 3rd semantic incarnation.

Over in domestic policy, the Berniecrats can start driving more wedges in between the congressional GOP and the Trump voters. This is vital both for the distant future and also the mid-term election less than 2 years from now.

The voters want jobs, fairness, and trust in leaders. In pursuit of which, they just elected someone who is very willing to take advantage of the fact that they can be lied to, without them knowing about it. Case in point: Trump’s recent lies about the jobs that are already coming back, because of him — Carrier, Sprint etc., which were deals made ages ago. His voters already believe this.

So what are the facts? Is the rate of job growth increasing beyond what was expected anyway, coming out of a lengthy depression? And are these high-paying jobs, or more Wal-Mart jobs with their employees advised by the Personnel Dept. to go and sign up for Medicaid? etc.

What the US needs is a news-and-information system which isn’t reported by the clowns of TV and radio. The internet & cell phones enable this technically — but without a clear bundling-and-editorial function to weed out the fake news. The only way good editing happens is by personal repute, not by some nutty economist’s idea that the market or the “wisdom of crowds” will reveal the Truth.

43

Manta 01.21.17 at 12:59 pm

I was quite disappointed by this election, mainly for 2 reasons

1) the conspiracy nuttism that I thought was the province of the republicans move swiftly to the democratic side when the president changed color.

2) Lord Voldemort was not elected. Americans preferred to settle for the lesser evil.

44

Manta 01.21.17 at 1:07 pm

45

this pea 01.21.17 at 1:18 pm

@kidneystones: Here in Eastern Europe, every day since the election I’ve wondered how long before Uncle Putin feels like having us for dinner, with no-one to stop him.

46

anymouse 01.21.17 at 1:47 pm

It is really weird for me. I think Trump’s personality defects should have disqualified him from being president and I dislike the core of the Republican public policy platform

but……..

William Berry you win the thread. You are the perfect symbol for the new America.

47

Anarcissie 01.21.17 at 3:29 pm

nastywoman 01.21.17 at 6:01 am @ 32 —
After I played that, YouTube brought up a lot of recent, highly appropriate Pussy Riot videos for me.

48

nastywoman 01.21.17 at 3:52 pm

@47
There are Trump Beggars in Europe everywhere –
Here is the French one:

https://youtu.be/uD7VusC8-UA

and the Italian one is following today

49

Kiwanda 01.21.17 at 4:13 pm

kidneystones:

He wants to mind his own business.

Unfortunately, yes. That’s why he was in violation of his oath of office the moment he took it, and why he should be impeached.

50

Anarcissie 01.21.17 at 5:45 pm

this pea 01.21.17 at 1:18 pm @ 45 —
It seems that appearance at Uncle’s lunch is going to be voluntary. The friendship and support of Russia for growing right-wing nationalist parties in its near abroad is widely noised about, but if you need more, search Google for something like ‘russia supporting rightist/right wing parties in europe’ or ‘putin funding far right’ and you’ll get all you can stand. Israel is getting in on it, too, including buddying up to anti-Semites: see http://forward.com/news/world/360436/european-jews-alarmed-by-israeli-outreach-to-anti-semitic-far-right/ .

51

Dipper 01.21.17 at 6:19 pm

@ this pea “Here in Eastern Europe, every day since the election I’ve wondered how long before Uncle Putin feels like having us for dinner, with no-one to stop him.”

Relax. You have Jean-Claude Juncker and his European Army to defend you. And of course us Brits. Although why the UK would intervene on the behalf of nations who want to punish us for voting for our independence and against a nation who recognises our independence is a question worth contemplating.

52

Steve 01.21.17 at 7:15 pm

I suspect the most important, long term effects of Trump’s election won’t be in the US, where, as several people have suggested above, the Dems may well come back, but on the developing world. As Joseph Heath pointed out just after the election, this kind of outcome will play a significant role in dampening any moves towards democracy in China. In turn, the attraction of alignment with China, and the Chinese model more generally, can only grow (particularly when one contrasts Xi and Trump on climate change). Whether that is good or bad in the long term, I don’t know. But the Chinese model just received a major boost (even if the Chinese economy may be about to take a hit).

53

mclaren 01.21.17 at 8:42 pm

APHORISMS FOR THE AGE OF TRUMP

Beauty is weakness; ugliness is strength.

Decency and honesty are the virtues of the poor, while sadism and contempt remain the distinctive Ἀρετή of the rich.

The wisdom of the authoritarian comes from knowing that Americans love seeing victims tortured, because most people will instinctively put themselves in the place of the torturer.

With great power comes great irresponsibility.

The most noteworthy achievement of the wealthy is to make those without it hate themselves.

The hallowed principle which animates education is that it’s never enough for one person to excel, unless everyone else loses and sinks into the lower end of the grading curve.

Only the poor require measures of merit. For the rich, wealth and power is its own measure and needs no further confirmation.

In a true meritocracy, the weak can never achieve the minimum required standard, no matter how great their accomplishments, while the powerful can never drop below the highest mark indicating supreme greatness, no matter how enormous their failures.

Genuine capitalism does not involve those at the top creating more, but rather their taking away what little those at the bottom already have. The highest expression of capitalism is asymmetric warfare by the rich against everyone else, and the true magnificence of markets comes from the torture they inflict to force 99% of the population to act with unnatural selfishness and cruelty.

The real entrepreneur dares to impoverish himself so that those below starve.

The highest flowering of democracy comes from the realization that one machine gun can kill many hundreds of poets, artists, and labor organizers.

The genius of representative government is its embodiment of our primal intuition that dissent is a sign of mental illness.

Justice reaches its supreme expression in a heavily-muscled prizefighter beating up a crippled child. This is the one spectacle that never fails to bring a crowd of Americans to their feet spontaneously singing the national anthem.

Political legitimacy derives from the sacred principle that 9 out of 10 participants approve of a gang rape.

Imagination is no substitute for cruelty, and intelligence can never replace brute force. Only the loser relies on cheats like skill, talent, or knowledge — the winner acts, then bludgeons his peers into applauding, no matter how disastrous the result.

“The American people, taking one with another, constitute the most timorous, sniveling, poltroonish, ignominious mob of serfs and goose-steppers ever gathered under one flag in Christendom since the fall of the Eastern empire.” — H. L. Mencken, 1922

“Don’t get thinking it’s a real country because you can get a lot of high school kids into gym suits and have them spell out “bananas” for the news reels.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald

54

J-D 01.21.17 at 8:59 pm

kidneystones

[Quoting from an exchange between John Judis and Joshua Landis]
Landis:
‘… I was invited to participate in a number of CIA confabulations and policy “think-out-of-the-black-box” hoedowns … People were lost. Everyone was simply projecting their own interests and pet theories onto the uprisings. It was only natural that our aspirations would overtake fact-based analysis …’
Judis:
‘…So… were Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton fostering illusions?’
Landis:
‘Yes …’

That’s unsurprising, although it’s interesting to see it quoted by somebody whose aspirations regularly overtake fact-based analysis.
But no change is to be expected under the new administration; fostering illusions is one of Trump’s main schticks.
Manta

I was quite disappointed by this election, mainly for 2 reasons
1) the conspiracy nuttism that I thought was the province of the republicans move swiftly to the democratic side when the president changed color.
2) Lord Voldemort was not elected. Americans preferred to settle for the lesser evil.

Americans elected as President the candidate of the bosses’ party (the Republicans); that’s not the lesser evil. It is, of course, one of their main schticks to foster illusions about saving people from fictional threats. (I don’t get, though, why you feel disappointed that Lord Voldemort is not President.)

55

Guy Harris 01.21.17 at 9:37 pm

kidney stones:

Americans love bombing other countries – dropping bombs on people in the Middle East is one of America’s favorite methods of bringing peace to the world.

Including, presumably, bombing the shit out of ISIS.

I reject all war.

So do you also reject the idea of increasing the size of a military that’s already the largest in the world? No, Trump isn’t the only one who wants to do that, but he didn’t talk about shrinking it, and isn’t talking about it now. You want change from Trump? How about “Our military is the largest in the world. It’s not our job to defend the rest of the world, or impose our values on the rest of the world, so we will cut the military to the level needed to defend America, and use the savings to put Americans to work building up the infrastructure of America.” (“America” three times – it’d have fit right into the tone of the inaugural speech!)

Americans love bombing people.

Including the American who now has a 4-year lease on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

56

Guy Harris 01.21.17 at 9:40 pm

(That’s “kidneystones”, not “kidney stones”. Damn you, autocorrect. I give the moderators permission to edit my post and delete this one, if possible.)

57

LFC 01.21.17 at 10:45 pm

Hidari @40
Did you read that NYT story you linked beyond the lead paragraph? The training camp in Syria that was struck was being run by the group formerly known as the Nusra front (or variations on that name), whose claims to have broken with Al Qaeda the U.S. does not credit.

58

engels 01.21.17 at 11:16 pm

👏 Bernie 👏 would 👏 have 👏 won 👏

59

kidneystones 01.22.17 at 12:02 am

Thanks to Henry for opening up the thread. I hope Henry will let this comment pass, a comment which serves as a reply to all and to serve notice of my departure at least for the short-term. I’ll be brief.

I take virtually all the points raised in response to my original comment. I agree that the bombings are likely to continue. Under Obama bombing other nations has become the new normal for liberal Americans. I’m so old that I can remember a slightly different world.

What confuses many, I suspect, is that Clinton is far and away the better GOP candidate and Trump with his trap shut would be the better Dem. That’s certainly the way some Brit experts I watched the other night see it.

The battle lines are just starting to be drawn. Trump and his populist hordes against the donor class and their allies on both sides of the aisle. I watched a number of Trump GOP early adopters making noises about ‘conservative values.’ Ideology has been flatly rejected in favor of pragmatism. Doubtless, there are large numbers of GOP politicos and military types keen to use violence as a substitute for dialogue and to enrich themselves and their donor-class paymasters.

Trump will continue to defy expectations. The majority of millionaire bubble-heads continue to whine publicly that ‘Trump is doing it wrong.” The clue-free class offer the rest of us nothing. During the bleak days of 2002-3 we at least had balanced reporting buried at the back of the WP and the NYT. No longer – it’s all spin/all the time. The international press isn’t much better. Which is very bad for Dems.

A truly astonishing number of people have very little to do with the legacy media. The ranks of the genuinely disinterested have been swollen by voters vehemently hostile to a media that openly surrendered all pretense of objectivity and neutrality in the last cycle. Nobody voting for Trump cares anymore what Krauthammer has to say than Henry. The NYT generates stories that few read and rarely reach beyond donor class stooges and literate dunces. The media will continue to produce ‘news’ very few any trust. So, how do Dems reach beyond a base of voters who’ve come to expect a Bruce Springsteen concert, or celebrity endorsements to show up to a political rally?

I’m willing to support almost anyone willing to take on and rip apart the GOP/Dem establishment that has brought us nothing but greater income inequality, despair among the lower orders, and endless war. I wish him every success.

Best in 2017 and in the future to one and all.

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Manta 01.22.17 at 12:05 am

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Manta 01.22.17 at 12:20 am

this pea @45
http://www.globalfirepower.com/defense-spending-budget.asp

Military spending by country:
1st, of course, is USA.
Russia is 5th, below UK.
Germany, France, Italy are in the top 10, and together spend twice as much as Russia.

I think I can safely say that your statement that nobody would stop Putin from “having Easter Europe for dinner” is not founded in reality.

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Suzanne 01.22.17 at 5:46 am

@53: ‘“The American people, taking one with another, constitute the most timorous, sniveling, poltroonish, ignominious mob of serfs and goose-steppers ever gathered under one flag in Christendom since the fall of the Eastern empire.” — H. L. Mencken, 1922’

The voters rejected Donald Trump by three million votes. This is worth repeating now and then, I think.

The speech at CIA was quite something. Dutch Schultz on his deathbed was more coherent.

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J-D 01.22.17 at 6:34 am

kidneystones

I’ll be brief.

Ha!

Trump will continue to defy expectations.

Yours, certainly.

I’m willing to support almost anyone willing to take on and rip apart the GOP/Dem establishment that has brought us nothing but greater income inequality, despair among the lower orders, and endless war.

Trump is not that person.

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Robespierre 01.22.17 at 4:48 pm

@kidneystones Sure. The billionaire with his billionaire cabinet will make a fine democratic president. In your head at least.

“I don’t want to go into Iraq, but I will tell you, when we were in, we got out wrong,” Trump said. “And I always said, in addition to that, keep the oil. Now I said that for economic reasons, but if you think about it Mike, if we kept the oil, we probably wouldn’t have ISIS because that’s where they made their money in the first place. So, we should have kept the oil, but OK. Maybe we’ll have another chance.”

Not the first time he said that about stealing Iraq’s oil, either. This is from september 2016:

“We go in, we spend $3tn, we lose thousands and thousands of lives, and then … what happens is we get nothing. You know, it used to be to the victor belong the spoils.”
“One of the benefits we would have had if we took the oil is Isis would not have been able to take oil and use that oil to fuel themselves.”

This is from 2011:

“I very simply said that Iran is going to takeover Iraq, and if that’s going to happen, we should just stay there and take the oil. They want the oil, and why should we? We de-neutered Iraq, Iran is going to walk in, take it over, take over the second largest oil fields in the world. That’s going to happen. That would mean that all of those soldiers that have died and been wounded and everything else would have died in vain — and I don’t want that to happen. I want their parents and their families to be proud.”

His one constant in foreign policy is pillage.

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engels 01.22.17 at 5:40 pm

(And also evident from scale of yesterday’s protests perhaps: Warren woulda won)

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William Berry 01.22.17 at 7:26 pm

An admittedly mild act of resistance, but a start (x-posted at LGM):

I just ordered five “#unpresidented”* bumper stickers from Zazzle. Will put them on both of my vehicles and give some to anti-Trump friends. Thinking I might order a larger batch to give away. Hope they catch on.

*Hopefully, clear enough to be a signal of anti-Trump solidarity but not so aggressive as to invite keying, window-smashing or, FSM forbid, some sort of road rage incident.

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engels 01.22.17 at 8:47 pm

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Hidari 01.22.17 at 9:14 pm

@64
Yes he said something similar in his speech to the CIA. I think this is part of the reason liberals loathe Trump. There is an elaborate game that almost all (mainly white, mainly male) intellectuals have to play in the ‘Anglosphere’ (and, to a slightly lesser extent, in Western Europe), in which we all have to sit and close our eyes and pretend that the United States got to be top dog (or dawg) in the world because of a prolonged act of moral abnegation (same reason St Francis of Assisi became Emperor of the World, I guess) , that its rule since 1948 has been a prolonged exercise in philanthropy, that its endless wars are always ‘mistakes’ or provoked by the other guy, that its hopeless electoral system is ‘highly democratic’ etc. etc. etc.

Trump tells the truth. I mean, I know he lies, all the time, but about the main things, he tells the truth. He states that Iraq was about oil. He states that the role of the Presidency is to put the US first and fuck everyone else on the planet. His apologies are openly apologies only for getting caught (all other politicians are, as well, but they hire people to make them sound sincere).

You’re just not supposed to talk like that. It threatens the illusion. If people genuinely started to get the idea that Iraq was simply an oil grab, if people genuinely started to believe that in reality it’s ‘America first’, (and it always has been) people might get ideas about governing themselves and no longer automatically genuflecting towards Washington. The moral basis for the existence of entities like Nato is like the Emperor’s new clothes: it only exists because we all sit down and agree to pretend it exists.

And most members of the liberal media have built their careers on building and supporting these illusions.

So Trump is a great threat to them, which is one of the reasons they hate him (another one, of course, is that he hates them and doesn’t bother to hide it).

This does not, of course mean, that Trump is not awful, he obviously is, but really only insofar as he is a Republican, ‘cos they are all like him (a fact the liberal media can barely bring themselves to report. Not a few liberals are openly hoping for impeachment so that nice reliable man Mike Pence can come to power).

Anyway, interesting times.

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Jerry Vinokurov 01.22.17 at 9:20 pm

Arguments that Trump is anything other than the distilled id of the Republican party can only be made by someone blind to what he’s actually doing.

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LFC 01.22.17 at 11:24 pm

The neocons around the Project for a New American Century and their allies, incl key figures in the GWBush admin such as Wolfowitz, who were the biggest advocates of invading Iraq and overthrowing Saddam, didn’t give much of a sh*t about oil. They believed in spreading democracy (or what they think of democracy as) to the Mideast at the point of a gun.

So Hidari’s claim, above, that Iraq was “all about oil” is false. For the neocons in general, ‘the free market’ and economics have never been the prime motive, and that also goes for some non-neocons on the right. Read what Buckley and Irving Kristol told C. Robin some 15 years ago, as reported in ch.8 of The Reactionary Mind.

And btw, no one has ever claimed that ‘the liberal order’ or US hegemony or whatever you want to call it is “a prolonged exercise in philanthropy.” That’s a straw man, pure and simple.

Also another thing on oil: what does Trump mean when he says the US “shd have taken the oil”? Deprived Iraq of any revenue from oil sales? Putting aside its likely illegality, this wd have been a bad move. Revenue, even diminished, from oil sales was one of the few sources of foreign exchange for the post-Saddam regime, so depriving it of that revenue wd have made a very bad post-2003 situation even worse.

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LFC 01.22.17 at 11:30 pm

Contrary to engels, above, there’s really no way of knowing whether Sanders wd have won, or whether Warren, had she run, could have won. Maybe, maybe not.

Engels’s claim, stated as a flat assertion, contributes absolutely nothing to this discussion (such as it is).

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Jerry Vinokurov 01.23.17 at 1:54 am

And btw, no one has ever claimed that ‘the liberal order’ or US hegemony or whatever you want to call it is “a prolonged exercise in philanthropy.” That’s a straw man, pure and simple.

Not to be a pedant, but strictly speaking this isn’t true. Vide Robert Kagan, who although doesn’t say it in quite those words makes pretty much this case. Now, this is of course exactly what one might expect Robert Kagan to say, but… not nobody. Lots of somebodies, I’d say.

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LFC 01.23.17 at 3:26 am

@J Vinokurov
Thank you for the Kagan link, as I hadn’t read that particular piece; I’ll do so and try to get back to this before the thread closes.

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J-D 01.23.17 at 8:11 am

Hidari

There is an elaborate game that almost all (mainly white, mainly male) intellectuals have to play in the ‘Anglosphere’ (and, to a slightly lesser extent, in Western Europe), in which we all have to sit and close our eyes and pretend that the United States got to be top dog (or dawg) in the world because of a prolonged act of moral abnegation (same reason St Francis of Assisi became Emperor of the World, I guess) , that its rule since 1948 has been a prolonged exercise in philanthropy, that its endless wars are always ‘mistakes’ or provoked by the other guy, that its hopeless electoral system is ‘highly democratic’ etc. etc. etc.

This is an error; no such game, elaborate or otherwise, exists.

Yes, some people take this position, or something like it; but other people take different and often contrary positions.

Perhaps — although this is dangerously speculative guesswork on my part — you find it difficult to accept that many intellectuals disagree with you so thoroughly on points you consider so basic that you are impelled to believe that they don’t really mean what they say and say it only because they are compelled to play along with an elaborate game. If so, that would explain the error.

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Anarcissie 01.23.17 at 4:20 pm

LFC 01.22.17 at 11:24 pm @ 70:
‘The neocons around the Project for a New American Century and their allies, incl key figures in the GWBush admin such as Wolfowitz, who were the biggest advocates of invading Iraq and overthrowing Saddam, didn’t give much of a sh*t about oil.’

As the neocons seemed to believe in war for its own sake, I can believe they did not particularly care about the oil, but it is hard to explain the continual wars and other violent operations perpetrated by the US across the Middle East since at least the 1940s without it. I wonder if you have some alternate explanation?

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J-D 01.23.17 at 6:18 pm

Anarcissie

As the neocons seemed to believe in war for its own sake, I can believe they did not particularly care about the oil, but it is hard to explain the continual wars and other violent operations perpetrated by the US across the Middle East since at least the 1940s without it. I wonder if you have some alternate explanation?

It can be difficult to provide an explanation without a careful account of what it is that has to be explained. Can we see the list, please?

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LFC 01.23.17 at 10:31 pm

Anarcissie @75
Obvs. oil plays a v important role in what happens in the Mideast, incl US and other countries’ actions there over the years.

If you re-read the exchange, you’ll see I was responding to a specific comment about the Iraq war of 2003 onward and the role oil played in it, not to a comment about the Mideast generally or the US role there in general.

I tend to believe in multiple motivations. Capitalism, greed, the influence of profit-seeking corporations, oil, and imperial hubris do indeed explain a fairly significant amount of US for. policy since the end of WW2. They do not, imo, explain all of it. There is a pertinent passage from a bk by W. McDougall on this pt, but I can’t take time to reproduce it now.

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Anarcissie 01.23.17 at 11:01 pm

J-D 01.23.17 at 6:18 pm @ 76:
It can be difficult to provide an explanation without a careful account of what it is that has to be explained. Can we see the list, please?’

This is kind of silly, but here is a partial list:
1943-1946: US, UK, SU intervene in Iran.
1953 : Iran (Mossadegh deposed by CIA)
1958 : Lebanon
1963 : support of coup in Iraq
1980 : Iran
1982-1984: Beirut
1987-1988: Iran (‘Tanker War’)
1990-1991: Gulf War
1992-1995: Somali Civil War
1998 : Sudan bombed
2000-? : Yemen
2001- : Afghanistan
2003-2011: Iraq
2004- : operations in Pakistan
2011- : Libya
2014- : ISIL, Syria, Iraq, etc.
Plus very large amounts of money, materiel, and diplomatic support given to Israel, Turkey, Egypt, and others; plus whatever is too covert for people like me to know about.

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hix 01.24.17 at 2:30 am

The double virtual reality in which there are
A) no nukes so a war between developed nations is not unimaginable due to the threat of world ending disaster
B) A bunch of drunk frustrated Russian conscripts could win a non nuclear offensive war against central Europe never stops to amaze me. I mean come on, 140 million vs ~800, where the 800 have twice the per capita gdp….

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Anarcissie 01.24.17 at 4:19 am

LFC 01.23.17 at 10:31 pm @ 77 —
The 2003 invasion of Iraq was embedded, indeed, imbricated in the very incomplete list of wars, bombings, raids, strikes, blockades, assassinations, and other examples of prolonged philanthropy I just provided above for J-D, that must, it seems, originate from the fact of there being a lot of oil in the Middle East. Again, I await alternative explanations, conceding in advance that there are some, but not many, for whom war itself is the goal.

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LFC 01.24.17 at 3:04 pm

@anarcissie:
explanations for certain episodes on your list include:
1) Cold War anti-Communism and containment of regimes, such as Nasser’s, deemed to be in or in some cases flirting w Soviet orbit: see e.g. Eisenhower Doctrine, Lebanon 1958 intervention.
2) desire to spread democracy by force to Mideast, (ostensibly) transform region in, among other things, a pro-U.S. direction: see e.g. 2003 invasion of Iraq.
3) desire to reward/bribe Israel and Egypt for their ’79 peace treaty: see levels of US mil aid to both countries since then.
Oil is important, but not only thing.
I intend this to be my last comment on this thread.

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Jerry Vinokurov 01.24.17 at 5:27 pm

Apropos of recent comments on this thread, may I recommend Andrew Bacevich’s “America’s War for the Greater Middle East?” It’s a bit more military history than I think is necessary (the man is a military historian after all), but it also discusses the intellectual and philosophical motivations behind the overall project.

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J-D 01.24.17 at 8:19 pm

Anarcissie

Throughout recorded history, powerful nations have repeatedly intervened in the affairs of weaker ones; they have done so largely because they have perceived affairs in those countries as affecting their own interests, mostly economic interests.

That’s a much better explanation than yours, because it covers a much wider range of facts. Your explanation doesn’t even cover all the examples you mention. The US did send troops to Lebanon in 1958 and again in 1982, as you mention; but Lebanon is not an oil producer.

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engels 01.25.17 at 1:15 am

One for the ‘stoner:

“Marc Short: Koch Dark-Money Operative Is Trump’s Liaison to Congress

“When the history of Donald Trump’s administration is written, people may point to the appointment of a Koch Brothers’ operative to a little-known White House position as a turning point in Trump’s evolution from unorthodox Republican candidate to doctrinaire corporate politician…”

http://www.prwatch.org/news/2017/01/13204/marc-short-koch-dark-money-operative-trump-legislative-director

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Anarcissie 01.25.17 at 3:13 am

J-D 01.24.17 at 8:19 pm @ 83, etc.

Do you want me to climb through the poison tree at the root of which the British decide around the beginning of the 20th century that if they want to continue to rule the waves they had better change from coal to oil for fuelling their ships, and find that there is a lot of relatively weakly defended oil in the Middle East? From which many poisonous branches grow, including the interventions into oilless Lebanon, related to oilless Israel, related in turn to other earlier games like the British promise to give the same territory to both the Jews and the Arabs while chuckling ‘Divide et impera’ to one another? No oil, but oil mighty nearby? No, I am sure you do not.

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J-D 01.25.17 at 3:22 am

Anarcissie
Do you want to make a case that you have a better explanation to offer than mine? It doesn’t seem so.

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Another Nick 01.25.17 at 3:52 am

LFC @ 70: “The neocons around the Project for a New American Century and their allies, incl key figures in the GWBush admin such as Wolfowitz, who were the biggest advocates of invading Iraq and overthrowing Saddam, didn’t give much of a sh*t about oil. They believed in spreading democracy (or what they think of democracy as) to the Mideast at the point of a gun.”

From the “Wolfowitz Doctrine”, authored by Paul Wolfowitz, leaked in 1992 to the NYTimes:

“While the U.S. cannot become the world’s “policeman,” by assuming responsibility for righting every wrong, we will retain the pre-eminent responsibility for addressing selectively those wrongs which threaten not only our interests, but those of our allies or friends, or which could seriously unsettle international relations. Various types of U.S. interests may be involved in such instances: access to vital raw materials, primarily Persian Gulf oil; […]”

“In the Middle East and Southwest Asia, our overall objective is to remain the predominant outside power in the region and preserve U.S. and Western access to the region’s oil.”

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bruce wilder 01.25.17 at 3:54 am

Throughout recorded history, powerful nations have repeatedly intervened in the affairs of weaker ones; they have done so largely because they have perceived affairs in those countries as affecting their own interests, mostly economic interests.

That’s a much better explanation . . .

Actually, that use of empty abstractions (“perceived affairs . . . affecting . . . their own interests“) comes pretty close to no explanation at all. You offer no structure, no specifics, no historical context, no parameters — your “explanation” explains everything with nothing. You might as well say, nation-states do what they do.

Oil is the great geopolitical fact of the Middle East — it is not the only fact, as LFC duly notes. But, anyone who denies greed for oil as a factor dominating Western policy considerations is playing the fool.

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J-D 01.25.17 at 8:34 am

bruce wilder

‘Geopolitical fact’? ‘A factor dominating’? ‘Western policy considerations?’ How are those abstractions less empty than mine?

It’s part of the historical context of United States interventions in the Middle East that over the same period of time the United States has also intervened extensively in other countries all over the world. The position that all the interventions in the Middle East constitute parts of a single interconnected phenomenon which is not, however, interconnected with interventions in other parts of the world is something that should be argued for, not assumed. To suggest that we can know that they’re a unified phenomenon because there’s a lot of oil in the Middle East and then to explain them as a consequence of the presence of a lot of oil in the Middle East would be to argue in a circle.

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engels 01.25.17 at 1:02 pm

But, anyone who denies greed for oil as a factor dominating Western policy considerations is playing the fool.

Can’t find the link now but iirc even the FT now admits the Iraq war was basically about oil. Of course, if you suggested such a thing at the time you revealed yourself as an idiot paranoid Chomsky fan boy who should be shut out of serious conversations about American Foreign Policy…

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LFC 01.25.17 at 5:08 pm

Another Nick @87
Maybe Wolfowitz was not the optimal cite on my part, but if one looks at the manifestos of PNAC (Project for a New American Century) my strong hunch is that while there will be refs to ‘access to vital raw materials’, the strongest emphasis will fall elsewhere. These various concerns/themes weren’t/aren’t mutually exclusive.

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bruce wilder 01.25.17 at 5:51 pm

J-D @ 89

If you are willing to affirm “powerful nations have repeatedly intervened in the affairs of weaker ones; they have done so largely because they have perceived affairs in those countries as affecting their own interests, mostly economic interests” and someone else (Paul Wolfowitz, say, as quoted by Another Nick above) identifies a primary economic interest in the case of the Persian Gulf / Middle East region as oil, I do not see what you are arguing about.

The explanation you offered @ 83 is a series of abstractions serving as blanks waiting to be filled in; you have to fill in the blanks to make it operative and “oil” is rather obvious, unless you are not arguing in good faith. I think when you do that, you expose some of the glaring weaknesses of your explanation of @ 83, such as the apparent presumption that powerful nations know their interests and act on those interests as unitary actors.

Part of the power of cutting away the superfluous abstractions you offer and leading with the importance of oil is akin to the old adage for the investigation of criminal conspiracy, “follow the money”. Recognizing that greed for oil is a constant, a salient, a lodestar for the pursuit of interest by many factions and institutions can help to organize a detailed interpretative explanation for what may seem complex even chaotic events and behavior. You might not be ready to excuse as a chance “intelligence failure” the insistence of Dick Cheney, ex-Halliburton executive, on some bullshit about WMD. (Not that I am intimating that you, J-D, are ready to excuse. I am saying that obfuscating the dominating importance of oil serves a propaganda purpose for some and we ought to be wary of being drawn into hair-splitting arguments that serve reprehensible purposes.)

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LFC 01.25.17 at 5:57 pm

If you think US foreign policy is exclusively about the drive for resources and markets, you’re going to miss some revealing (intra-elite) debates. E.g., between the view of Walt Rostow, who wanted to spread democracy and capitalism to the Third World, and that of George Kennan who, in criticizing a paper by Rostow in the early ’60s, wrote that the capacity for democratic development is “peculiar to peoples who have had their origins on or near to the shores of the North Sea” (as quoted in D. Milne’s book on Rostow, America’s Rasputin, Hill & Wang, 2008, pp.114-15).

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WLGR 01.25.17 at 6:05 pm

Y’all motherfuckers need Timothy Mitchell! It’s trivially obvious (or at least it should be) that Western interest in Middle Eastern politics is inseparable from oil, and that “democracy” and related shibboleths function as empty signifiers to justify literally any conceivable Western intervention on behalf of this interest, but the attempt at analysis goes off the rails as soon as control of oil supply is interpreted as a matter of “taking the oil” — what is being maintained isn’t control of oil per se, it’s control over the artificial scarcity of oil. Mitchell explains this issues well in this wonderful article from 2002 (later included as a chapter in his excellent 2011 book Carbon Democracy: Political Power in the Age of Oil) on the interdependence of political Islam and Western imperialism, where he entertainingly twists the vapid meme of “Jihad vs. McWorld” into his title “McJihad”:

It is often said that the politics of the Middle East are shaped by the power of the international oil industry. It would be better to say that they are shaped by its weakness. Extraordinary rents can be earned from controlling the production and distribution of oil. The multinational oil corporations seek to secure and enlarge these rents in a rivalrous collaboration with the governments that control the oil fields. Large rents can also be made from controlling the production and distribution of weapons, for which the same governments have become the largest overseas customers. The oil and arms industries appear as two of the most powerful forces shaping what is called the capitalist world economy. Yet their power exists to overcome a weakness, a deficiency that always threatens the enormous potential for profit.

On the one hand, there is the overabundance of oil, creating the permanent risk that the high rents earned by the oil industry might collapse. The industry must constantly manufacture a scarcity of oil to keep this threat at bay. On the other, there are the political structures that have come into being to help achieve this end. Since the oil industry was never strong enough to create a political order on its own, it was obliged to collaborate with other political forces, social energies, forms of violence, and powers of attachment. Across the Middle East, there were various forces available. But each of these allies had its own purposes, which were never guaranteed to coincide with the need to secure the scarcity of oil. At the heart of the problem of securing scarcity, for reasons we have seen, was the political control of Arabia. The geophysics of the earth’s oil reserves determined that the rents on the world’s most profitable commodity could be earned only by engaging the energies of a powerful religious movement.

McJihad is a term that describes this deficiency of capitalism. The word does not refer to a contradiction between the logic of capitalism and the other forces and ideas it encounters. It refers, rather, to the absence of such a logic. The political violence that the United States, not alone but more than any other actor, has promoted, funded, and prolonged across so many parts of the Middle East over recent decades is the persistent symptom of this lack.

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Anarcissie 01.25.17 at 6:19 pm

J-D 01.25.17 at 3:22 am @ 86 —
‘Powerful nations sometimes intervene in the affairs of less powerful nations’ does not seem like much of an explanation of the sequence of events I tediously listed for you. Yes, they do. Sometimes the interveners appear to have manifest practical reasons (US in the Middle East: to get the oil and possibly keep it away from others) and sometimes they don’t (Vietnam: for the Hell of it?) As you seem to suggest, it may be that the actions in the Middle East are simply part of a grander, more comprehensive urge to create death and destruction on the part of our great leaders, rather than a quest to control an important source of energy, but there does seem to be a kind of focus on the Middle East that is lacking elsewhere. Otherwise, why not devastate and slaughter in Uzbekistan, Mongolia, Tasmania, Tierra del Fuego, Namibia? Maybe they just haven’t gotten around to them yet? Even I am somewhat hesitant to adopt such a dire view of our national psyche.

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J-D 01.25.17 at 10:23 pm

Anarcissie

‘Powerful nations sometimes intervene in the affairs of less powerful nations’ does not seem like much of an explanation of the sequence of events I tediously listed for you.

It’s not a connected sequence of events. It’s an arbitrary hodge-podge.

Sometimes the interveners appear to have manifest practical reasons (US in the Middle East: to get the oil and possibly keep it away from others) and sometimes they don’t (Vietnam: for the Hell of it?)

And practical reasons are easier to find for some of the events on your list (for example, the 1943 US contribution of troops to the already establisehd Anglo-Soviet occupation of Iran) than for others.

As you seem to suggest, it may be that the actions in the Middle East are simply part of a grander, more comprehensive urge to create death and destruction on the part of our great leaders, rather than a quest to control an important source of energy

I didn’t sugges that, and I don’t know what makes it seem to you that I did.

but there does seem to be a kind of focus on the Middle East that is lacking elsewhere.

Does there? The events you listed don’t seem to me to form integrated parts of a focussed plan, nor is it immediately evident that they are different from examples of US intervention in other parts of the world, lying outside even your extraordinarily elastic definition of the Middle East.

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bob mcmanus 01.25.17 at 11:14 pm

Recently with the mad escalation of Russophobia I am starting to wonder if oil is only a secondary consideration for the kind of IR bigthink idiots who get taught in spooky preparation by the Kissingers and Brzezinski and have actually bought into Heartland Theory

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LFC 01.25.17 at 11:23 pm

From the 2002 Timothy Mitchell article referenced by WLGR @94:

If conservative religious reform movements such as the muwahhidun in Saudi Arabia or the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt have been essential to maintaining the power and authority of those states and if, as we are often told, the stability of the governments of Egypt and Saudi Arabia, perhaps more than that of any other
governments in the global south, are [sic; should read “is”] vital to the protection of U.S. strategic and economic interests, in particular the control of oil, it would seem
to follow that political Islam plays an unacknowledged role in the making
of global capitalism.

Fine, but it’s worth noting that, e.g., the current Sisi regime in Egypt is obsessively opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood, leading to the regime being repressive domestically and to a foreign policy that revolves around opposition to ‘jihadism’, and that the U.S. gives Sisi billions in military etc. aid (and Trump just had a phone call with Sisi, assuring the latter that the aid will continue).

Now it’s true that Egypt is not a major oil producer, but since Mitchell mentions the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt the point is worth making. Moreover (usu. caveat about not an expert etc), I believe the Egyptian governments since Nasser for the most part (w the exception, of course, of a brief period after Mubarak’s overthrow) have treated the Muslim Brotherhood as an opponent/threat to one degree or another.

p.s. Worth recalling how pivotal, personally and otherwise, Ayman al-Zawahiri’s stay in an Egyptian prison, where he was tortured, was for him; on this, see the account in Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 (2006; paperback, 2007).

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LFC 01.26.17 at 2:23 am

@ bob mcmanus
You may not agree w him, and I may not, but Mackinder was not an idiot.

An informed reading of the course of US for. policy since c. 1947 indicates that oil has not been the only consideration, and in a number of cases — esp outside the Mideast — not even the primary one. Containment took on a life of its own, and ideological, geopolitical, and economic considerations often got all tangled up together.

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Anarcissie 01.26.17 at 2:47 am

J-D 01.25.17 at 10:23 pm @ 96 —

‘As you seem to suggest, it may be that the actions in the Middle East are simply part of a grander, more comprehensive urge to create death and destruction on the part of our great leaders, rather than a quest to control an important source of energy….’

‘I didn’t sugges that, and I don’t know what makes it seem to you that I did.’

Well, surely something motivates the killing of millions of civilians and the devastation of several countries, not in any way threatening the US as a state, or its citizens. What could it be? In the case of the Middle East, one suspects something about the oil. But if you deny this, then either you must think all this violence is motivated by some other rational concerns, or, I guess, that it is a manifestation of some kind of deep homicidal madness. So, which is it?

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J-D 01.26.17 at 9:11 am

Anarcissie
Given the widely varying extent, form, and context of US military operations/interventions, it is grossly unlikely that they all have the same specific primary motive, rational or irrational. If a question is posed in a general way ‘Why does the US conduct so many military operations, with so great an aggregate effect in death and suffering?’, only a general answer is possible, and a large part of it has to be ‘Because the US is by far the most powerful and so has the capacity for that behaviour and the ability to get away with it, for the most part’. If a question is posed about a specific example, a more specific answer is possible, and in some cases the presence of oil is going to be a factor (for example, the presence of oil was the motive for Operation Tidal Wave, although the object in that case was not to secure the oil for the US); but generally the presence of oil can’t be the motive for a military operation in a place where oil is not present, like Lebanon.

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