Tuesday, September 2, 2014

On Isolation and the New Order

Alternate title: We're apes, remain vigilant.

One can never say that history doesn't have a sense of humor. On the centennial of WWI we're seeing what seems to be a shift to the violent in the world...

I was initially going to write this article to focus on the current cynicism and isolationist slant that America has taken (witness the unwillingness to do much about Syria). I was in favor of these stances that we Americans, tired of war, tired of spending money everywhere but at home, had taken (to the predictable dismay of our leaders).

In fact, I was going to tout this lean towards isolationism as a natural lean away from carrying out too many wars (and something our founding fathers were very concerned with) with a caveat: What about WWII? [1]. In other words, was our need for isolationism going to allow evil to happen in the world? Most Americans would not want this to happen, but they were wary about being entangled in another senseless war as well as the accompanying lies (and all-too-regular cries of evil).

But now there appears to be a danger of that isolationism dying off—at least in the corridors of American power and punditry (it's not yet certain if Americans are for these interventions). In other words, the machinery that helps us drive towards war is still alive and well. [2] As cynical as we Americans are, we will ask for action if there appears to be a threat to the homeland; so expect those in power (this will include most in the media as well) to keep ramping up the rhetoric and propaganda to wear down American cynicism. [3]

So what is my stance on isolationism? I take it as a healthy default for any nation, especially for one as powerful as ours. But when there is evil abroad, then we should indeed find ways to confront it (such as Rwanda). How can we accomplish that? [4]

That's where the new world order comes in, for it appears as if the events around the world are pointing to something dark on the horizon. [5] Not that things were always rosy, but they were cordial for quite some time. Since WWII we have not had a major fight between the world powers (though they did use proxies). Some of the causes could have been the result of dialogue in the United Nations (UN) or simply the fact that nuclear weapons, and the knowledge that there would actually be nothing to rebuild, stayed most hands from a full on fight (though some recent revelations show that not even this is certain, we came close to nuclear war on a few occasions).

Whatever the reasons, it appears as if we stand at a fork whereby we could try and reaffirm some of the principles behind dialogue and having world peace (to include international law as well as having a universal regard for human rights), or end up marching down a path like the one hundred years ago.

Am I talking about ISIS and their recent announcement of the annulment of the Pikes-Scott agreement that was also the result of that war 100 years ago? No. Though Islamic extremists make for frightening news or writing, I have no biases that they are the problem, rather that they are a symptom whose cause we need to confront before things get out of hand.[8]

The main cause are the mistakes the great powers are making (to include the winners of the last WW and the new rising powers from the colonial world) by moving away from the language of dialogue and coexisting, and moving towards that of the might makes right doctrine. When has this not been so, you ask? Perhaps never (yet official statements and dialogue in general would point away from such a belief). But with nuclear weapons on the table, we need to move towards a non-violent order as soon as possible.

“We’re actively considering what’s going to be necessary to deal with that threat, and we’re not going to be restricted by borders.”

The above is considered a sane quote from somewhere in the belly of Washington. When would this be acceptable if repeated by a weaker nation? I doubt that it would ever be. For such language, when used by all, will lead to more war and fighting (and why should only a handful of nations be allowed to use such language?). And in this situation, again might will make right. But what of stability? Of  law helping achieve that, as it does within many nations?

And when nations now know that having nuclear weapons will lead to a level of safety (see Ukraine, see many other nations), why should any of them stop trying to possess these weapons?  When more countries have these weapons do the chances for war go up or down? [6] I'm not sure, but there will surely need to be a new way to contain and discuss their use or even their threat. Laws, come to mind.

How do we get this change? We use our voices and we talk to our representatives in Washington so that they understand the want of all Americans: that we want peace. In other words we actually want national security, not power games. [7] But for now we sit at the edge of a new world taking over. Will we let history repeat itself?

Also relevant:

[1] Anyone who knows me, or perhaps who follows any geopolitical talk here in the states must be wary of such comparisons (too many times we hear of the next Hitler and the need for intervention). After all, what of the isolationism (and even Europe's wont to avoid war at all costs) in the States that preceded that war, and the evil that was allowed to happen as a result of not using military power.

[2] Just take a look at any of the prevailing opinions and it seems to be taken as fact that groups like ISIS or even Putin is a danger to the American people.

[3] This will bring to the forefront that the reasons for a wrong war like Iraq being fought are still around. In other words (this is especially counts for my liberal friends who think that the Iraq war was a simple aberration of one wrong headed leader—it wasn't) that was a war symptomatic of many things that we as a nation still need to confront.

[4] When it comes to specters, none hangs above our heads like that of the Holocaust (as it should). It's taken as fact that we will/should stop the next one. But many genocides and attempts at them have occurred without us lifting a finger. And it appears that outside of verbal condemnation, there is no proper way to get an international consensus (in other words, our interests and the interests of the world must align for any of this to properly occur). And I should reiterate that the word evil itself is a tool of propaganda many times over.

[5] At this point I should mention that I have read much of the evidence for climate change and think that it's a definite issue we need to deal with and that the more it's delayed, the worse off we will be. And that anyone who studies conflict knows that a large part of the equation is resources and with more climate change (droughts and shifts causing a decrease in crops or water supply, as well as a simple increase in heat leading to more violence in general) we're going to see a higher amount of conflict.

[6] Two things when it comes to this discussion: One, mainly that it doesn't take much to twist the prevailing military view—if it's not already, and I believe that it's not—that nuclear weapons are merely another tool for fighting; two, that such were the horrors of the two dropped nukes that Japan gave up and the world moved towards not using these weapons; for the former, many historians know that it wasn't another ravaged city that forced Japan's hand, rather that it was more about the USSR joining the war, whereby Japan knew it couldn't manage some sort of peace.

[7] This is not withstanding the current theory that being weak in the world results in more evil occurring in that world. There is no evidence for this, merely confirmation bias at its worst. 

[8] I will get further into this Islamist reaction in the future. As an atheist I regularly hear others say things like this is why religion is bad (after seeing some violent action... ISIS comes to mind), without any acknowledgment of the violence perpetrated in these places by other powers and what that does to any group of people. 

Some other articles that might pique your interest (ostensibly on all matters global or books):
#This one is on the global conflict of the West and Islam as seen through the lens of the Rushdie affair.
#This one is a list of the five best science fiction novels out there.
#This one is an article about drone warfare and its effects on the world.
# This one is about reading news in today's world. The solution is that global is better.
#This on is an article with links to matters of the Iraq war and players not commonly known.

My book: Ministry of Bombs is an exciting and unconventional take on the War on Terror.

Thanks for reading. As always, you can contact me at nlowhim@gmail.com if you have any questions or wish to discuss something. Look forward to hearing from you.

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  1. That this is happening (whether or not it's unique does remain to be seen) seems to be a necessity of history: powers come and go. Climate change proponents have been pointing to something like this happening for a long time (as you mentioned, reduced resources such as water increased heat will lead to greater violence). So what then, in such a world will stability look like?

    Look around you, look at what is happening in this country, in all countries. National Security is not being used for what it claims it needs to be used (an outside enemy), instead it's being used on the citizens it's meant to protect. How can anyone think that only good will come from NSA and its ilk spying upon us. That is the elite making sure that they can watch us carefully (note that this amazing spying has not once predicted a single revolution in the other parts of the world... why?) because heaven forbid we act up. Also note the militarization of our police. For our safety? No, that (and the accompanying decrease in violence and the jailing of undesirables on a level that would make Stalin blush) is not the point. It's for their safety. Watch how they will slowly make certain that the law is there for their help and our crushing.

    Just watch.
    And what of the reactions around the world? They will be used to keep us in check. See ISIS (some of whom have been trained by our own forces), be scared.

    That is the new world order. I'm not sure where Putin and his ilk stand there. At least he attempts to take on a few of the oligarchs. That is all for now. Oh, and as far as Chomsky, whom you linked, he is right that we will soon see that being a wage slave (and a silent one) is not much different from the other forms.

    That is all

    1. Not sure I agree with all the points here. But I can agree that as fresh water becomes more of an issue, there will be more fighting. And perhaps Orwell's point is best: that governments start wars to impoverish their people and so that they are less formidable as opponents. I'm not sure it's entirely accurate. One can rarely sum up the world in a single quote (even might makes right has its limits).

      Nevertheless, I do see that there is a reaction occurring to the accumulation of wealth in few hands. As well as a challenge to the global hegemony.

    2. I call bull. What makes you think that you have all the information that those on top have? It is these people's job, according to the constitution, to protect us. They are need the secrets to do so.

      And where does such a new world order leave all of us? Especially since it would require the UN to gain technology in terms of projecting actual power

    3. Plato, call bull all you want, but giving that much credit to those in power isn't wise. History is on my side with regard to this one.

    4. What? You saying so doesn't make it so.
      Go on.
      Oh, you were finished? Then allow me to retort:
      Not on the matter of history, I'll let you flounder on that one, but rather on the real reasons behind the shift towards violence (noted I said nothing about pie in the sky dreams of power sharing and so forth):

      It could be that it's climate change. I'd say the bigger threat is democracy itself. Want me to go on? Not the amazing freedoms it brings (cue the eagle), but that it allows for all nations with democracy to have the following as their driving force: to lean towards over population, and hungry (not literally, but hungry for the comforts of a bourgeoisie life) people.

      Think about this ultimate social construct (something you seem keen on): that those groups that want more of a say in a democracy had better start having more babies to represent that group. And so it shall go. Any religion, any group that feels harangued shall have this as a driving force.

      There's your answer. I await yours.

  2. Ah, thought provoking stuff:
    I do think the new world order has been called by others. it's more than just another fight between the powers. In this age of information (and perhaps misinformation) what we are seeing is another rise for dignity amongst the masses. Marx called it. He called it what it was or is: not logical, but a need of most humans. And with the information age what we're seeing is that everyone can see how good others have it. They start to ask why. Then they revolt. They will choose to be Islamists or other things, but what it is isn't evil, merely a shaking of the foundations of the world, shaking of the tree so that others may get the fruit for which they've worked so hard.

    Those at the top won't give it up so easily, and they will fight until the end for all of it. Personally, I cheer on those who fight power.

    Also read this on the revolt of the weak:

    1. Read the article by Brooks: it is simplistic at best. I'm not sure how to respond. Perhaps I should point out that he, like many esteemed columnists at the big papers, seems to take for granted an assumption of greatness that is not apparent when one looks at history. He also seems to be enthralled with calling the other bad. Nothing can be gained from such views of the world. Sorry. And you are smarter than to listen to such ramblings, or perhaps I have you all wrong?

      As to your other comments: well said. There is an inherent drive in humans that will not be driven down. Or if it is, it will not be kind to humanity itself. We shall see.

    2. Can Confirm they do take many things as assumptions. But this is what gets clicks. Are you complaining? Because you should be thinking along these terms too.

    3. Anon: not complaining, rather pointing out how a certain aspect of how articles/news media are set up (punditry is what I think you're talking about, right?) without regard to truth, but rather to a specific status quo. Is this wrong, right? I want to discuss that specifically. Not the assumption that money makes all right (as an American, is it even right to think in such terms or in terms that our founding fathers would have wanted: such as the items enshrined in the Constitution, for I don't think the former should shadow the latter).
      Does it? Please discuss, tell me how I'm wrong.

  3. What an apt first line. The statement drawing in the specter of WWI brings something else to mind (to include that of apes not achieving much): the words in All Quiet on the Western Front. I'm paraphrasing here, but I'm certain that it was something along the lines of what good can be said of a civilization that can bring forth such horrors? What good is all its art and technology if that's all it amounts to? When we draw red lines and make threats, we too should consider such things. What will be made of our civilization?

    1. All well and good if one merely doesn't want to engage in meaningful conversation. Not saying anything against you, just saying that this is the kind of humanties thoughts that doesn't bring light to anything. Better to think on the other aspects, such as how does a nation that considers itself powerful, smart, intelligent, on some level the flag bearer for civilization, how does this fucking country fall into the: oh, they beheaded one of ours. Better send the cavalry. That's the basic thought here. On level with a gangster, on level with a child. Fuck. This wont to be a new Roman derivative is going to be our downfall. but I hear it everywhere, and sure as hell don't hear you denouncing it. Let's move from playground politics and move to something better. We know if one decides to live in a neighborhood like this, it will be horrendous. But the world is okay?

  4. Bravo! Get the feeling one day I'll watch the news and there'll be a moment where the anchor mentions WWI as a tragedy caused by a wilingness to march into war, then turn to current events and say: now for something evil.

    The other is still strong in the world, and this sentiment is out there. I feel like I'm watching a joke on TV, all those suits, all those fucking suits trying to be so serious. Then, at the same time, we have repeated stories about the inherent evil of these fucks. And sure, I know they're not all that good as people, but in war how good are most people? How good was Assad. How good were we... fuck
    The parade of bad guy (insert multiple stories for whomever we're going to bomb) articles is fucking impressive. Who the fuck do they think they're fooling? Oh, I know, just about everyone in town. How is this? How is it that we're slipping down the same rabbit hole and not a single soul has the courage to say something? Are these articles selling, getting the clicks. Is that it? do we have a national neurosis whereby whomever our elected leaders claim is evil, we go after?

    I'm telling you, it's nuts. Borges dealt with the same thing, same fucking thing when his nation had a hardon for the Nazis and their ilk. He said it best when he said that he couldn't believe that intelligent men were more than willing to believe something because it was written in ink. Well, now my blood pressure's up. Fuck

    1. My man, you're swearing too much, but you're spouting some truths. What's crazy is when all these discussions degenerate into some orgy for military hardware. I'm not kidding you. It's all people can talk about. They love it. Love war. It's a sickness. I say for all these people who love blood so much, they needs to get the top ten or twenty leaders and have a fight. Only way, man, only way

    2. Agree with what Borges said (and many other great minds have said, over and over): that the inability to think critically, to think away from the text or a piece of news is scary. It might be inherent of all humans, and if so, we should think of ways to combat it.

  5. Okay. Let's take your need for a step towards a new order at face value. What then? You need to have concrete steps that someone in power can be convinced of, or people who are voters will agree upon. Your turn

    1. You're right. What I have written isn't specific enough. I will add more on this matter later as I'm currently formulating it.

    2. Go ahead, then. This is the meat of the article. You should have it.

    3. Then let me lay a few things that I've thought on this, based off this article and other items (and seeing that your answer isn't forthcoming):

      The article doesn't take a stand: what of isolation and the wont not to do anything, or that doing something is worse than doing nothing? And who is to compare what to what? What happens when there is evil in the world, do we just stand aside?
      To wit: democrats have been getting on my nerves (they were in the 2000s too) because of all their hate for the Iraq war, but mainly when things went wrong. Little did they acknowledge that Clinton before was trying everything he could (let's leave aside the million children killed under his watch there) to undermine the regime. Are we really to believe that Iraq, if Saddam fell out of power, perhaps resulting in a Syrian situation, would be better today? If it is, they need to understand how much more they have in common with Kissinger than the liberal ideal.

      Let's then take their Saint Clinton and look at what he did in Somalia (a morass where the UN didn't want to help) and basically left because there was too much to do, too much chaos to deal with). And we also have Rwanda, with its genocide. He did nothing, when much could have been done there with very little.
      Take from that what you will, but doing nothing isn't always the right answer.

      So, I ask again what do you do? In this situation? Blaming, I agree, doesn't work... A world order works, but that would require some proper international framework. Will Empire ever concede that much? We'll see.
      still waiting to hear from you.

    4. I will answer some of these questions in a full post. There's no other way to do so. Will also say that I agree with your point on Kissinger and some people who went against the Iraq war (a majority only after things went wrong). Let's not let those on the right off the hook, or those in the MSM who think the entire situation is intractable and no matter what we do, there will be nothing good that comes out of the area. This attitude enables as much as any other. Sad to say but most pundits have (or should have)... let's just say that at this point I'd give Rage against the Machine lyrics more authority than them..

  6. Nice article, ones linked are good too. I'll say this, too: that Kissinger (how many souls of the innocent does he eat to keep so good at 90? Boomers want to know) is full of wit and brevity, as much of a war criminal as he might be. And he seems to have more sense than the whole lot of pundits we have now, as much as it pains me to agree with him.

    From the bulk of this post, as well as others on this blog, I'm to take that you're in some limbo of liking Chomsky as well as Kissinger? If so, I'd recommend that you choose a camp. Those two are as opposite as one can get...

    1. I'd say that your points here are hugely undermined by having a commie like Chomsky on. Even if it's just a link. Maybe, he sounds good (more like Cheney). But listen to the words, and you'll get something else entirely. But okay, okay, let's say for a second that we can step away from transparency that is Chomsky (sure, sure he has a few things right, but all charlatans do). Freedom of speech, I guess, is the only thing letting this fuck say what he wants.
      So he can shit on the states (he does) and then live in its free world, with free speech and all else. I mean, what kind of hypocrite does that? Why doesn't he just swim to Cuba? It'd be heaven, right? So read up, you need it. and don't link Chomsky. Want proof/samples?
      Read this:

    2. I know right? Though the Kissinger link is fine, will be buying that book for sure. Here's the thing that gets me about all the liberals (I'm speaking of American ones, and their phony prophets, can't speak to the world, but I think they're much the same):
      The dream world they think will happen if people listen to them. I've never seen more conceited or narrow minded people in my entire life. Sure they read. But what do they read? Junk.
      But they sound good, and they're on Tv, so we listen. Or someone listens, though I'm not sure why.
      Here's the thing that gets me: I remember when Obama came in charge. All these people, all they wanted to do was say how great it was and how they would now have a clean conscious because all wars would end (I talked to a woman who believed, no lie, that in 2009 there were no wars anymore... like that!). And peace would fall on the earth and that was because someone like them was in power, and this someone shared all the thoughtful and caring characteristics that they had. So what could go wrong?
      And look at them now, the world didn't bend to hopeful wishes, and they are burying their heads in the sand by the boatload (or blaming Bush, still!!). Pansies.
      What do you say to them? They're small people, and everytime they hit out to us people they only try to do it by being nice and committing economic warfare (take away our gun manufacturing take away our drilling, tree harvests), no way man no way.
      But it is nice to hear the pretzels they're twisting themselves into. What to do with ISIS? Those fuckers only understand one thing: bombs. I swear to God that we need some of these people to shutup. Their way doesn't work either. (not saying Bush was right, but he was undermined in every which way... what we need is to unite and do so now).

    3. I'm with you on this one: That Kissinger is indeed a man with much knowledge and with something that seems to be incredible wit. A the age of 90, no less, this is impressive. That being said, one should take what he says with a grain of salt. I will say that many liberals (read the ilk to the left of Hillary these days, who is acting pretty much like a neo con, proving several points at once) should admit that their points (usually very short sighted, and very partisan) against Bush are either as cold-hearted as Kissinger's or lack a any semblance of a doctrine. Note, I'm talking about the liberals in the states, and mainly the ones I've come across. They're all lacking much in the way of substance (when it comes to a global view).
      Not to say that I agree with the right and their idiotic view. It's just that it seems to be an easy one to articulate and one that always wins over the liberals in the end (or the liberals end up being silent).
      So to that end, it appears I agree with you. Many people think that wishful thinking is a substitute for good analysis. It isn't. I disagree when you think that the right (the bomb bombbomb) is any better in regards to this. They aren't. They too rely on wishful thinking or a horrendous view of the past. Only they sound 'tough' whatever that means (something fed to the world view myopic hero-worship, I suppose).
      As for your point on ISIS. Are you really lacking any insight into history as to see that simply bombing away won't work. That simply an increase of technology won't work? Many great nations have fallen when goaded into that siren song (though, perhaps many have expanded on that same ideal). Bush was undermined because he was wrong.
      Thing is, we need better leaders so that we aren't goaded into a war (that ISIS very much wants) out there in the middle east. Without a clear-headed foreign policy, with polities that are rewarded for failure (think about what an attack will do, more money into those very institutions meant to save us) and also an easy way for those who want to increase defense spending, to push us towards confrontation (remind me why? Is it because we've suddenly signed up for an unwritten Roman creed of any citizen is worth going to war for? As tempting as that is... Think about that. If we sign up for that, then we have to go to war, and could technically be goaded into war anywhere in the world. or everywhere). That all needs to change.

    4. Jim,

      Chomsky isn't perfect. But before you go flinging labels at people, please tell me why it is that you consider his view, and that article especially, to be worthless? To complain about policies is an inherent right of living in a free nation. What don't you like about that? There are authoritarian nations you can go to, if you want quiet obedience.
      The link you provided has nothing to do with what was in the article i linked, but neither was it a complete refutation of Chomsky's views on labor in the US. Perhaps you would do better to read and discuss (I'm always open to changing my mind when evidence has been prevented). Thanks for reading

    5. Anonymous,
      You raise a good point with people, on either side of the aisle, being backed by some economic force. It is hard to untangle what is a good idea (I'd say that climate change is just such, where the science backs certain views) that garners many people, to include those with money, or where money backs an interest and does so purely for its own sake.

    6. Anonymous#2 (assuming there's a difference).
      I think what you've said is spot on. Every group will have its level of informed and uninformed people. There is no way around that. Even the left has that. I do agree that the left (remnants of the enlightenment?) seems to be the one on the ropes. They have no answer. When people like Maher and the rest have said that they loved drones, they accepted it all. They also accepted, without reason, that those in power would give them accurate information saying that the drones were even working. This is less a left or right thing, and more of a news/punditry=entertainment and money and the need to kowtow to those in power. Pure and simple. Thus those like Maher peach to the choir, rarely ask tough questions, and get paid to let power be (while jeering the 'right-leaning' power challenger). This is not to say he doesn't seem to raise good points. But that's usually domestically. When it comes to geo-politics, he is just as lost as many others.

  7. This blog seems to be leaning a certain way: let me point out that there may be several hundred ways of looking at one thing. And (forgive the tangent) with regards to you looking at people who see foreign policy as a chance to make partisan hits, may I ask what's wrong with that? Surely you cannot be against what is an inherent part of our country?


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