Out of control IOs

by Henry on February 12, 2007

Putin’s speech on the evils of US unipolarity has gotten a lot of chewing over in the press and blogosphere, but one “part of his argument”:http://www.kommersant.com/p741749/r_527/Munich_Speech_Vladimir_Putin/ hasn’t gotten much attention.

Finally the president turned his attention to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which has always gotten a strong response from him. “They are trying to transform the OSCE into a vulgar instrument designed to promote the foreign policy interests of one or a group of countries. And this task is also being accomplished by the OSCE’s bureaucratic apparatus, which is absolutely not connected with the state founders in any way. Decision-making procedures and the involvement of so-called nongovernmental organizations are tailored for this task. These organizations are formally independent but they are purposefully financed and therefore under control.”


There’s an interesting story here, at least for IR specialists. Not many people without a professional interest in international organizations have much of an idea of what the OSCE is, or why it gets on Putin’s nerves so consistently. Briefly, the OSCE is the successor organization to the CSCE – it’s a not very well funded international organization, which focuses on internal security questions in Europe and Eurasia, with particular attention to minority issues and to democracy and election monitoring. It’s the latter that upsets Putin – the OSCE monitors elections and has gotten consistently bolder over time in highlighting how various dubious autocrats friendly to the Russian government have manipulated votes and the media to ensure their continued grip on power. It can be expected to play an interesting role in next year’s elections in Russia.

This is interesting for two reasons. First, Putin is right to say that the OSCE isn’t being very well controlled by the states that set it up and fund it – its operational part has succeeded in doing a lot of things that upset major member states such as Russia. However, despite increasingly bellicose rhetoric, they haven’t been able to do much to rein it in. Second, it demonstrates that election monitoring has become quite important as a naming and shaming mechanism in international politics – important enough that Putin and other Russian government officials spend a lot of energy denouncing the OSCE’s efforts in speeches, “op-eds”:https://crookedtimber.org/2004/11/29/spreading-democracy-in-practice/ etc. Neither of these are what traditional IR realists would predict – their arguments would suggest that international organizations don’t have any real room to deviate from the preferences of major member states, and that normative tools such as election-monitoring (for more on election monitoring and norms, see this _International Organization_ “article”:http://www.mta.ca/faculty/socsci/international_relations/workshop/PDFs/arturo1.doc by Arturo Santa-Cruz) don’t have any real impact on international politics. IOs and naming and shaming have only limited effectiveness on their own, but given the apparent disinclination of the US to follow up on some of its rhetoric from a year or two ago about spreading democracy &c, they’re about as much as we can hope for over the next couple of years.

{ 27 comments }

1

Erik Voeten 02.12.07 at 10:08 pm

2

otto 02.12.07 at 11:10 pm

I suppose the IR specialist might say that it’s fundamentally the insistence of powerful EU member states that prevents Russia straightforwardly exiting the OSCE, and so the influence of the OSCE is largely (wholly?) derivative of those pressures. Much like (tho much is different) the influence of the Chinese Maritime Customs Service influence in pre-1950 China reflected British, US and French power.

3

otto 02.12.07 at 11:11 pm

Is comment moderation a permanent feature of CT now?

4

Dan Kervick 02.12.07 at 11:28 pm

Ummm…I think you missed Putin’s point Henry. It is not the independence of the OSCE and similar organizations that Putin is complaining about. While these organizations might indeed be independent of many of their “state founders”, Putin’s charge is that organizations like the OSCE are increasingly the creatures of the foreign policy of the US and its closest allies. Thus, by Putin’s lights, their “formal independence” and status as “so-called” non-governmental institutions masks the fact that they act as agents for the foreign policies of a small groups of nations, nations whose international posture is driven by increasingly non-democratic and unilateral dispositions. This is part of a long-running criticism that challenges just how “non-governmental” these alleged non-governmental organizations are, with their revolving door management by people who move in and out of government, their financing by foreign capitals, and their infiltration via government agents. It’s not mere election-monitoring that gets Putin’s goat, but what he regards as active quasi-clandestine subversion by front organizations.

You say:

Neither of these are what traditional IR realists would predict – their arguments would suggest that international organizations don’t have any real room to deviate from the preferences of major member states, and that normative tools such as election-monitoring (for more on election monitoring and norms, see this International Organization article by Arturo Santa-Cruz) don’t have any real impact on international politics.

While I think you are right that traditional realism often unrealistically discounts the influence of non-state actors, I don’t think traditional IR realists have any trouble at all in understanding how purportedly non-state organizations can become fronts for state action.

5

Brett Bellmore 02.12.07 at 11:55 pm

If you’re depending on rigged elections, election monitoring and quasi-clandestine subversion are one and the same thing. That’s Putin’s problem with election monitoring.

6

john bragg 02.13.07 at 12:01 am

To the extent that the OSCE is an actor, it is not as an agent of a traditional state but as part of a network of non-state and inter-state actors known as the “international community”. Putin, projecting a KGB apparatchik’s view of the world, may see it as a subversive tool of national interest, but that’s a limitation of his vision. They are not interfering in Russia’s sovereignty or sphere of influence as part of a campaign to limit or contain Russian power or spread NATO or American influence. They are international busybodies, acting for their own reasons. If anything, their loyalties are beyond nationality to a transnational elite.

All that said, government by that transnational elite would be a darn sight better than government by the national elites of a very big chunk of the globe. They are on the side of the angels in Russia and the Near Abroad, don’t get me wrong. But the old Marxist who only sees that, at the moment, they are “objectively pro-American” fails to see that they are independent of America and have their own motivations.

7

Henry 02.13.07 at 4:52 am

dan – I should perhaps have elaborated more. There is no evidence that I am aware of that the OSCE is a catspaw for the US or anything like this. The history in short form is something like this. The OSCE’s ancestor, the CSCE, played an important role in the transition to democracy in Central/Eastern Europe. In the immediate aftermath of this, all the participating states agreed on a broad set of declarations on human rights and democracy, and some institutional mechanisms – in particular ODIHR and the High Commissioner on National Minorities – to back them up. The consensus on democracy evaporated – but the institutions remained in place (and it’s pretty hard under existing rules to get rid of them). Putin accuses them of being instruments of US hegemony, but without any evidence of same that I can see. John Bragg is closer to the truth I think – the OSCE represents a sort of quasi-hegemonic consensus – but one that is primarily normative, rather than one that is backed by hard power. International busybodies is about right.

otto – the EU played a key role in bolstering the OSCE’s human rights presence in countries that had a credible shot at EU membership (Estonia etc). I don’t think that this is a major factor in the countries where the OSCE is playing an important role nowadays. Comment moderation btw is a bit hit or miss – it seems sometimes to have a mind of its own …

8

Doug M. 02.13.07 at 5:10 am

Note that there’s an organization called “OSCE Watch”, which looks and behaves exactly like a classic, old-fashioned fully paid-up KGB front organization. Their “watching” seems to consist entirely of sending observers to elections in the former USSR and then declaring that, hey, everything’s fine here, nothing to see, move along.

OSCE Watch is associated with the British Helsinki Human Rights Group, a skeevy organization that has nothing to do with Helsinki, but that somehow always ends up supporting whatever Moscow’s policy is today. (Independence for Transdnistria GOOD! Independence for Kosovo BAD! Orange Revolution a SHAM conducted entirely by WESTERN PUPPETS!)

The venerable KGB tradition of _disinformatsiya_ is alive and well. As we’d expect, yes?

Doug M.

9

Dan Kervick 02.13.07 at 6:13 am

As much as I would hate to be a useful KGB idiot, Henry, I think there is more than you, Doug and John want to admit of old-fashioned hegemonic coordination here, rather than a mere quasi-hegemonic consensus among independent do-gooders. These various freedom monitors like OSCE and Freedom House seem to have a lot more trouble with elections when they are not won by candidates aligned with western carpetbaggers or west-leaning scalawags.

In the contrast beteen normative consensus and hard power, do money and the desire to make it count as hard power? Or is the profit motive just a moral norm? These organizations seem to be the charitable civic arms of a well-financed and eminently well-connected network of governments, private firms and entrpreneurs who are executing an extended corporate takeover of the holdings of the post-Soviet world – which includes governments. They were trying to do the same thing to Russia itself, before Putin achieved some modest success in halting the auction sale.

They are far more than busybodies. They might engage in mere busybodying in their extended Saturday afternoon “non-governmental” civic activities. But then these same concerned civic fathers go back through the doors to the banks and government offices from whence they came. They all belong to the same club: the Benevolent Order of Western Robber-Barons.

10

Estland 02.13.07 at 9:09 am

Putin now has state revenue increased two times. Due to increases in oil, subsequently gas prices and prices of whatever else based on it, over several last years. He was also successful in consolidating his “vertical of power”, and – one of crucial points in recent Russia history – crushing Chechen rebellion. This gives him great political resources – by not needing IMF loans to run the country anymore, he doesn’t have to listen as carefully as his predesessor had to.

Putin understands OSCE as (idealogical as opposed to mere military power) tool in the hands of the Western Powers, USA and EU key memberstates. He understands that who’s got power got tools. He is drawing attention to the fact that he’s got now power and wants to have his share of power. He indicates that he is capable of even not co-operating. He understands OSCE agenda is bringing CEE countries into EU (soft European Empire, countries go through OSCE stage before considered good for EU), while he’s openly declared aim is to revert the cause of “greatest geopolitical catastrophe of 21 century”. However for this Russia uses military forces – support of Moldova’s rebels, Georgia’s rebels and Armenia’s independence fighters. This backfired at Russia in Chechnya, Bassayev being the hero of Abkhazia. OSCE, on the opposite does not go as low as to supply troops or weapons.

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abb1 02.13.07 at 9:09 am

What Mr. Kervick said. There seems to be this weird common naive belief (see also the recent bird flu thread) that international organizations (like WHO and OSCE) are created by God for the benefit of Humanity. Nothing can be further from the truth; they are created (and financed) by states for the benefit of these states. And they can’t just evolve out of it, the mechanism is always in place. I am not familiar with the mechanics of OSCE specifically, but you’re asking to believe in miracle here.

12

Alex 02.13.07 at 12:46 pm

9: Can you name these OSCE officials-turned-bankers?

13

Henry 02.13.07 at 3:29 pm

abb1 – if, as you acknowledge, you really don’t know what you’re talking about, it’s best not to say it in the first place.

dan – the suggestion that the OSCE’s ‘civic fathers’ go back to the “banks and government offices from whence they come” is empirically wrong. Have you ever met and talked to an OSCE official? There’s a very small political part surrounding the rotating chairmanship which does indeed consist of government officials on secondment – but this has nothing to do with the parts of the OSCE that Putin is complaining about, and that we are talking about (primarily ODIHR). What Putin is looking for is for the semi-autonomous bits to be _brought under the control_ of the political bit (where Putin and his mates can bring more pressure to bear). OSCE officials are mostly lawyer types with a human rights background. There aren’t to my knowledge bankers working for the OSCE for the simple reason that there isn’t any plausible connection between what the OSCE does and the possibility of large _ex post_ profits. Nor is the OSCE anything like Freedom House, which is indeed funded largely by the US government; you’re comparing apples and oranges here.

If you want to make sweeping statements about the “Benevolent Order of Western Robber-Barons,” you need some actual empirical evidence even to make this claim vaguely plausible, let alone make it stick. Your specific suggestion that the OSCE has “a lot more trouble with elections when they are not won by candidates aligned with western carpetbaggers or west-leaning scalawags” is contradicted by the facts. The OSCE started to get critical of elections in the former Soviet space in the mid-1990s, criticizing, for example, Yeltsin’s election, which the Western Overlords were vigorously in favour of. If you can point to a specific place where the OSCE has gone soft on western carpetbaggers, you really should do so. There should be examples out there (as I presume you know, there are corrupt Eurasian autocracies that the US quietly is strongly supportive of – to the best of my knowledge, the OSCE hasn’t been any softer on them than on their Russia-backed cognates). I’ve done a fair amount of research on the OSCE in my time, and I can tell you in all honesty, that I don’t see how your broad claims are going to make it.

14

abb1 02.13.07 at 3:44 pm

Actually, in this case I do know what I am talking about; it’s just that I’m not familiar with the specifics of OSCE. And it’s exactly because I know quite a bit about similar organizations I find it difficult to believe that the OSCE is so dramatically different.

15

Henry 02.13.07 at 5:32 pm

abb1 – if you don’t know anything about the specifics of the OSCE, then how do you know that it’s ‘similar’ to the other organizations that you do believe that you know something about.

16

Doug M. 02.13.07 at 6:00 pm

Shorter abb1: I don’t know anything about OSCE, but I know so much about similar organizations that, really, I don’t need to.

What Henry said. I can give a couple of specific, recent examples from my region.

— The OSCE was critical of last year’s constitutional referendum in Armenia. This was mildly embarrassing to the US, which knew perfectly well the referendum was a sham but chose not to challenge it anyway. (US policy is not to challenge Armenian President Kocharyan, since Armenia is a friendly country bordering both Turkey and Iran.)

— OSCE/ODIHR was also quite critical of the 2005 parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan, correctly pointing out that they were a complete sham.

— In 2004, ten of the twelve CIS countries signed a declaration complaining that OSCE was “too focused” on human rights and was “not observing the principle of non-interference” in internal affairs. Looking at the list of signatories does not make one think less of OSCE…

This is not to say that OSCE is hunky-dory. Henry, I think you’re wrong on one point — OSCE was not very critical of Yeltsin’s 1996 re-election, nor of Putin’s first election in 2000. Critics have seen this as OSCE following the collective will of the West. This seems plausible in 1996 (it’s hard to remember now, but everyone was worried that Yeltsin would lose to the Communists), somewhat less so in 2000. But it is worth nothing.

That said, the willingness of people to believe Vladimir Putin continues to baffle me. He’s a _KGB agent_, people. Spook spooky spook. He lies like most of us breathe.

Doug M.
Armenia

17

Henry 02.13.07 at 6:10 pm

Doug – as you say, the OSCE wasn’t as critical as it should have been – but it _was_ critical (and rather more so, as best as I can recall, than the Western press, and certainly the US govt). My read of what has happened is that it has been, at least in part, a gradual but consistent increase in the willingness of ODIHR to criticize participating states over time. The norm of relative bluntness took some time to get established – in large part because the OSCE is an organization of states, and it’s politically chancy to engage in direct criticism of members. Hence the gradual upwards ratchet in the willingness of the OSCE to describe what is going on in plain language. Not to say that the OSCE isn’t vulnerable to criticism of course (the good deeds stuff goes together, I would think, with a lot of standard bureaucratic power-politics) – but the specific sorts of criticism that dan and abb1 seem to be making look to me to be completely off target.

18

abb1 02.13.07 at 7:18 pm

I think I actually met one of their IT managers once, very nice and highly talented fella from Georgia.

Sure, I could be wrong, there are exceptions to every rule. On the other hand, there are some things that are simply not possible, just because of the fundamental laws of nature, y’know, that affect, I’m pretty sure, even the IR.

Putin’s speech at that conference was very good, here’s a part of it; excellent essay, I must say.

#16: That said, the willingness of people to believe Vladimir Putin continues to baffle me. He’s a KGB agent, people. Spook spooky spook. He lies like most of us breathe.

Who said anything here about believing Vladimir Putin? That would be stupid. Otoh, to read his words and immediately assume that the opposite is true would be even sillier.

And btw, I bet you would never express this sentiment in these words about former pres. Bush, who was the head of the CIA at one time. Why is that, I wonder?

19

Doug 02.13.07 at 11:32 pm

And btw, I bet you would never express this sentiment in these words about former pres. Bush, who was the head of the CIA at one time. Why is that, I wonder?

Because I, for one, do not draw an equivalence between the KGB and the CIA. Do you?

Anyway, if I remember correctly, there’s a long-ish history of the Soviet government trying to assert that the CSCE commitments did not mean what they plainly did mean. Putin is in some ways picking up this tradition.

Also, there’s a long-standing tension between the principle of non-interference and the other principles. The trump has always been the states recognition that violation of CSCE/OSCE commitments is by definition a matter of concern for other participating states. If some states are trying to re-forge the broken shield of non-interference, that’s an interesting indicator by itself.

Further, there was tension between self-determination of peoples and inviolability of borders. I don’t think that this one has been settled in theory, but it certainly has in practice.

What about the view that states are not the only actors in the international system, and that as the OSCE becomes more established, it is an actor in its own right, with interests that it pursues (more precisely, perhaps, interests that the people who cromprise the organization pursue, out of a variety of motivations), one of which is increasing effectiveness? I’m a bit out of date, so I’m left to wonder if there are any IR traditionalists who argue that the international system is states, only states and nothing but states. This seems an odd way to look at the world.

Doug (not to be confused with Doug M.)
Germany

20

abb1 02.14.07 at 7:20 am

Because I, for one, do not draw an equivalence between the KGB and the CIA.

So, the CIA are honest and decent spies and murderers and the KGB are lying bastards spies and murderers, is that it?

Good, that saves me the trouble of skimming the rest of the comment.

21

ajay 02.14.07 at 10:58 am

abb1: And btw, I bet you would never express this sentiment in these words about former pres. Bush, who was the head of the CIA at one time. Why is that, I wonder?

OK, abb1, just for you: George Bush sr was a former CIA officer. Spook spook spook. He lies like most of us breathe.
Happy.

dan: when people start saying “Oh, they’re anti-Russian because they’re run by members of the International Western Financial Conspiracy”, I tend to dismiss the rest of what they say as, basically, drivel. Please try to sound more sane. Or at least provide some evidence.

22

abb1 02.14.07 at 11:42 am

Yes, quite happy, thank you.

Funny, when I hear that NGOs are often being used as “instrument designed to promote the foreign policy interests of one or a group of countries”, I know this is a trivial statement and the most natural thing in the world; I’m not trying to come up with a wisecrack caricature. But it does take all kinds.

23

Estland 02.14.07 at 1:09 pm

Still. This particular tool – OSCE is in the hands of many, not one. Its practical use is more likely to be less inethical compared to situation if it were in the hands of one country.
In order for it to work it has most of the time have some agreement of majority behind it – in most cases EU countries, USA and in many cases, Russia. It can ignore one element, but not all of them. In this organization smaller countries have less weigth which Russia should in principle appreciate.

Russia is referring to the problems where she was outvoted by combined US/Europe alliance. Like OSCE did not support Moldova reconciliation plan developed by Kremlin.

Same case is with European Court of Human Rights, where there’s judge from every European country. If matter gets complicated, they vote. They are directly appointed by the convention memberstates. Russia is unhappy about that too, in part due to recent and growing burden of war crime cases. So far it was Foreign Ministry which was speaking in its official notes against Strasbourg, not the Chief himself.

Same problem is with PACE (more broadly, COE). Also a conspiracy. PACE is not doing what the Russians want, hence calls by Duma and Russian FM to reform this organization.

There’s no single international body in bigger Europe, with which Russia would agree. Conspiracy is everywhere. Russia cannot have just one vote as some kind of Austria, it has to be special everywhere and have extra super powers.

24

abb1 02.14.07 at 1:46 pm

Well, the US is special everywhere; nothing like Austria, and has extra super powers. Apparently the Russians feel that on this scale they should occupy a position much closer to the US than to Austria.

Personally, I would prefer for every country to be like Austria, but if some have to be more equal than others, then the Russians certainly have a good case asking for more super-powers than Austria – or France, for that matter.

25

Dan Kervick 02.15.07 at 1:36 pm

Henry,

Fair enough in pointing out the differences between OSCE and Freedom House. The latter does indeed appear to number more bankers and financiers among its top staff and trusteeship, and in the OSCE those kinds of people seem to be confined mainly to the organization’s economic arm.

Nevertheless, it still seems true to me that the OSCE is part of a broader international network of neoliberal institutions that collectively seek a gradual takeover – political, economic and military – of all or almost all of the post-Soviet world. By “takeover”, I mean nothing more than that they seek to incorporate this part of the world into a western economic, political and military order. Since the Cold War ended the west has tried to consolidate its victory and benefit from it by breaking up and absorbing what used to be the Soviet empire. Frankly, I didn’t think this would be taken as a particularly controversial idea based on some dark conspiracy theory. You might think Putin has no basis for objection, because the takeover is being accomplished fair and square, but it is happening.

The relationships between the groups that compose the western order are too incestuous to be prized apart. It’s a team effort. Your view seems to be that the actual leadership of the OSCE has virtually nothing to do with the organization’s policy agenda and behavior. But I simply can’t believe the policies and overall direction of an organization like the OSCE are determined by mid and low level bureaucratic staffers who are just out of control and acting on their own. Call me a conspiracy nut, but I tend to think that when a western diplomat heads OSCE one year, and becomes NATO Secretary General the next, there is probably more to connect the two organizations than the accidents of a single resume.

Their economic arm of OSCE claims on their website that part of their mandate is to forge ties with other international organizations that share the same goals, and to develop similar ties with the private sector. The Economic Forum exists to “give political stimulus to the dialogue on the transition to free-market economies” and “suggest practical means of developing free-market systems and economic co-operation”. Since much of the political conflict in the post-Soviet world is rooted in competing economic power sources, with western-financed or western-allied privatizers taking on the old Russian or Soviet guard running economic sectors that have evolved directly out of the old Soviet-run structures, this is an inherently political agenda that goes beyond being a human rights watchdog. It means participating in transferring the power of states from one group to another.

My understanding is that Putin’s complaint is specifically based on a trend at OSCE toward greater NGO involvement and cooperation in OSCE’s reporting activities. In other words, he believes the bureaucracy has been infiltrated by or compromised by the increasing involvement of organizations outside the OSCE. Isn’t there something to this? The OSCE claims to have developed several initiatives over the past decade, “to enhance the OSCE’s interaction with relevant international organizations” and “to broaden OSCE contacts with non-governmental organizations and the private sector;” It seems to me the OSCE has made no secret of its aim to fuse public-private-nonprofit partnerships among similarly oriented groups to extend the western order.

I simply don’t agree that there is no connection with what the OSCE does and profits. Certainly the side that wins an election in eastern Europe has a significant role in how and to what degree industries are privatized, who will own them, what kinds of investments will be available to others and who will make those investments. There are huge economic stakes here. I’m not simply talking about quick buck artists who might use a stint at OSCE for their own personal enrichment (there are always people like that in any organization); I’m talking about people who are working throughout the western world to continue the incorporation of as much of the former Soviet empire as possible into the western economic order. Bankers and financiers can be just as “idealistic” as election monitors. The entire history of US and western imperialism is built around a symbiotic relationship between financiers, industrialists, missionaries and other NGOs, and the government.

Now maybe this concerted effort is just the right thing to, and there are a lot worse things that could happen to the post-Soviet world than to have their economies, political systems and security systems incorporated into the western world on a western model. But I don’t think we can pretend this isn’t going on, and that the effort is based on a lot of hardball politics, drawing on the strengths of a diverse group of institutions. The world is still witnessing an important struggle over who owns the productive capacities and resources of the globe, and the countries that used to comprise the Soviet empire are a very important battlefield in that struggle.

You can call the OSCE part of the “international community” if you like. But it really tends to represent only one portion of that community. The international community these days looks a lot more like the “free world” institutions of the Cold War than a truly global collection of internationalist organizations.

I’m sure all of these organizations are full of earnest and honest busybodies, just trying to do their human rights thing. I have no doubt that a good part of the makeup of this effort consists not of selfish profiteers, but earnest reformers out to save the political souls of the heathens, just as in an earlier generation imperialism was accompanied by Christian missionaries out to save souls of the old-fashioned variety. But the organizations themselves are part of a much larger international effort, fully integrated into the larger western governing system, and shot through with government agents and representatives, both open and clandestine. I don’t, for example, think the chain of color-coded revolutions “just happened” as a spontaneous chain-reaction of purely domestic movements. They are manufactured, using some substantial base of domestic enthusiasm to be sure, but heavily assisted by western intelligence, western non-profit “foundations” and injections of capital and economic promises.

Lawyers are part of the effort as well. Lawyers like Amsterdam and Peroff work for gangsters Mikhail Khodorkovsky and on behalf of a variety of clients seeking to get a larger piece of the Russian action. The lawyers are getting rich from the loot that these guys liberated from Russia, and which now is funneled back into funding for the NGO and public relations barrage against Russia. Boris Berezovsky, for example, is widely reported to have transferred large sums of cash to Ukrainian enterprises as part of the takeover effort there. Let’s be careful what we say here, though, since we might end up like Paul Klebnikov otherwise.

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Dan Kervick 02.15.07 at 2:46 pm

Sorry all for the many typos and garbled sentences in my previous post. I was rushing to finish it this morning before leaving for work, and should have done more proofreading.

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garhane 02.15.07 at 11:31 pm

What can this debate be about, I mean , is there anybody home down there? Putin is “dissing” you, and oh boy is it funny. Can anyone imagine this tone 20 or 10 or even one year ago? Suddenly you lot begin to seem like the high school zombie who passes from playing TV games to a school shootout only pausing to pick up Daddy’s gun on the way out the front door. It is clear that such an automaton will be laid out as work for one of the SCI shows in a few hours. And in a weirdly similar way it is clear that the American empire, the most short lived of all, will also meet that fate shortly. It is such a relief to realize that you lot and all your vainglorious and murderous attitudes will be largely restricted to your own ground in the near future.

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