Podcast With Niall Ferguson At The American Interest: ‘Chronicling Kissinger’

Podcast here.

As previously posted:

On Niall Ferguson’s new Biography- ‘Kissinger: Volume I: The Idealist.1923-1968:’

FT review. 

The Economist

Ferguson discusses the first volume in D.C.

=========

A previous Kissinger quote found here.

“The purpose of bureaucracy is to devise a standard operating procedure which can cope effectively with most problems.  A bureaucracy is efficient if the matters which it handles routinely are, in fact, the most frequent and if its procedures are relevant to their solution.  If those criteria are met, the energies of the top leadership are freed to deal creatively with the unexpected occurrence or with the need for innovation.  Bureaucracy becomes an obstacle when what it defines as routine does not address the most significant range of issues or when its prescribed mode of action proves irrelevant to the problem.”

and:

“Moreover, the reputation, indeed the political survival, of most leaders depends on their ability to realize their goals, however these may have been arrived at.  Whether these goals are desireable is relatively less crucial.”

Kissinger, Henry. American Foreign Policy:  Three Essays.  New York: W.W. Norton & Company Inc.  1969.

Henry Kissinger & George Schulz Via The WSJ: ‘The Iran Deal And Its Consequences’

 

Sent In By A Reader-‘Graham Greene’s Last Interview’

Full piece here.

Well, it can be easy to criticize American idealism and naivete:

I can’t think of a novelist who has skewered the American sense of manifest destiny more effectively than Greene. If you said he was automatically anti-American you’d be right, but I wish presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson and Dean Fusk and Robert Mcnamara had read The Quiet American instead of Walt Whitman Rostow before they launched their war in Southeast Asia.

But from which vantage point, exactly?:

“I went down to Bratislava to give a talk,” he said, “because I’d accidentally been in Prague in 1948 on the night the Communists took over. I talked about the French Revolution and quoted Wordsworth writing of its beginning, ‘blissful was it in that dawn to be alive, but to be young was very heaven!’ And I said. ‘I was there on the first day of your revolution, but one changes one’s mind. Wordsworth changed his mind.’

A writer’s writer?  A Catholic?  A fallen idealist?  A hard-bitten realist and world-traveler? Man-Of-The-Left?

Also On This Site:Michael Dirda At The Washington Post Reviews ‘Nabokov in America’…Interview With Vladimir Nabokov In The Paris Review

From HenryKissinger.Com, Published In The WaPo August 5th, 2012: ‘Idealism and Pragmatism in the Middle East’

Repost-John Gray At The Literary Review Takes A Look At A New Book On Michael Oakeshott: ‘Last Of The Idealists’

Via Youtube: (1 of 3) Kant, Chomsky and the Problem of Knowledge

What about value pluralism…positive and negative liberty?: The classical liberal tradition…looking for classical liberals in the postmodern wilderness: Isaiah Berlin’s negative liberty: A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”

A reader points out that I’ve put forth no real arguments…: The Politics Of Noam Chomsky-The Dangers Of Kantian Transcendental Idealism?

Martha Nussbaum criticizing Chomsky’s hubris in Martha Nussbaum In Dissent–Violence On The Left: Nandigram And The Communists Of West Bengal

The American Response To ISIS-Not So Strategic

I can claim no expertise on the matter; except that of a moderately informed American citizen trying to keep up…

Key points:  ISIS clearly represents a form of radical Islam; one with fascistic and Western elements, yes, but Islam-inspired nonetheless. To my knowledge, there are no non-Muslim, nor non-Muslim-aspiring converts and self-radicalizers joining this fight, nor seeking to advance ISIS aims.

I do not believe people in the West are at war with Islam, perhaps that’s not as obvious as it should be in certain quarters, but in other quarters it should be just as obvious the West has been in a form of warfare with radical, guerilla-style, Islamic-inspired terrorist groups for some time. These groups keep emerging out of Islamic societies, capable of attacking Western societies, and even radicalizing a few Muslims within Western societies.

Some of these radicals have been forged (supported even) out of direct contact with American military engagement in the past and present, and also other Western/Russian engagement, too. Some such radicals can even be born within, or travel freely to and from, Western societies and the front lines of their ordained battlefield, as many Muslims are voting with their feet; seeking more freedom, opportunity, and security than their own societies can provide, becoming immigrants, economic migrants, and in some cases, benefit-seekers, and in a few, rarer cases…radicalized terrorists and murderers.

Deeper down, though, it seems these radicals are being born out of the conflict within Muslim societies and those societies’ contacts/conflicts with both the West and what is generally called ‘modernity.’  Islam and Islamic societies are having a pretty rough time with so much change, and most Muslims’ view of how society ought to be, and what the good society is, and what will happen in the future, differs greatly from what many in the West live and propose.

So, how does the West respond, and according to which leaders and ideas?

As to ISIS, Grame Wood’s piece and interview seem like a decent place to start:

Here he is in a VICE interview on the same subject:

===============

As to the American response, I’m quite sympathetic to viewing the President thusly:  Take the easy path of blaming your ideological enemies at home when the fruits of your foreign-policy decisions are borne.  Elide over the radical Islamic nature of the threat which can cost people their lives and likely prohibits reasonable policy-making.  Gloss over the humanitarian disaster Syria’s become, largely on your watch.

If necessary, double-down on your own policy positions and political coalitions (climate change is the real threat, peace is next, the Syrian mess will be solved by humanitarian means alone, that’s what ‘good’ people do).

Jonah Goldberg here.  Walter Russell Mead here.

‘From the standpoint of American interests and of the well being of the Syrians, the primary responsibility that the United States has toward the people of Syria is not to offer asylum to something like 0.25 percent of its refugee population. The primary duty of this country was to prevent such a disaster from happening and, failing that, to support in-country safe havens and relief operations. No doubt President Obama and the unthinking press zealots who applaud his every move prefer a conversation about why ordinary Americans are racist xenophobes to one about why President Obama’s Syria policy has created an immense and still expanding disaster.’

Any thoughts and comments are welcome.

Which map are you using to understand this conflict?:  From The American Interest Online: Francis Fukuyama On Samuel Huntington

Ebrahim Moosa At Bloggingheads Discusses Islamic Reform

al-Zawahiri’s Egypt, a good backstory: Lawrence Wright At The New Yorker: ‘The Man Behind Bin Laden’

Michael Moynihan jihad.com.

Repost: Kenan Malik In The Spiked Review Of Books: ‘Twenty Years On: Internalizing The Fatwa’-Salman Rushdie’

Link sent in by a reader to Alexander Hitchens essay:  As American As Apple Pie: How Anwar al-Awlaki Became The Face Of Western Jihad

Paul Berman At The New Republic: ‘From September 11 to the Arab Spring: Do Ideas Matter?’From Foreign Affairs: ‘Al Qaeda After Attiyya’….From The AP: ‘Al-Awlaki: From Voice For Jihad To Al-Qaida Figure’

From Reason: ‘Mohammad Cartoonist Lars Vilks Headbutted During Lecture’

Many libertarians stand firm on freedom of speech:  Repost-A Canadian Libertarian Making Noise: Ezra LevantFrom Volokh: ‘”South Park” Creators Warned (Threatened) Over Mohammed’Christopher Hitchens At Slate: Yale SurrendersYale concluded that the risk of violence and the potential consequences that stemmed from their decision to publish a scholarly work about the Mohammed cartoons (reprinting those cartoons) was not worth the risk. Hitchens was not a fan of religion.

Some Things Ought To Be Looked At As Clearly As Possible-Islamism

From The Atlantic:  ‘U.S. Forces Eliminate Key ISIS Official

‘In a statement released on Saturday, the Obama Administration described the mission as a success, and said no American forces or Syrian civilians were injured. But the raid also illustrates some of the larger strategic difficulties faced by the United States in its fight against ISIS. As Joshua Keating noted in Slate, the U.S. typically uses drone strikes rather than ground forces in targeted assassinations, an indication that the mission was to capture Sayyaf alive’

It’s important to remember the work many are doing on our behalf.

I’d say the current administration is having to use special forces and drone strikes as quietly as possible because, you know, there’s still a war going on with Islamic radicalism, which can become organized and focused enough to strike us here at home.  The logic behind this war hasn’t changed much, and for the record, I remain open to other options in analyzing the problem.

Simultaneously, the base for this President tends to the anti-war, activist, and at times quite radical when it comes to what it sees as legal and moral institutional authority.  Let’s just say the military establishment is to be looked at suspiciously, if at all, amongst many there.  Naturally, this base must be assured a peaceful, progressive future is in the cards, and its interests are at the table.

As a result, the dirty work is still being done by those on the front lines, while the continual goal of transforming the military according to many of the same ideals through policy are pursued a progressive President, while this President can barely acknowledge what the military often must do.

There’s plenty to criticize, of course, when it comes to bloated military spending and procurement (all across the government, and in police departments as well, honestly), as well as a lot of vigilance on the part of the citizenry and elected officials to send the right signals up the chain, by decent, everyday folks in and out of the government and in the armed forces to keep it lean and effective, incentivized properly.

Most importantly (stop me if you’ve heard this before): It’s important to keep in mind the flip side to much of this utopian, progressive idealism, anti-authoritarian, anti-establishmentarian radicalism etc. is not utopia, but usually a harsher realism when utopia fails to emerge, a potentially more repressive authority, and a more corruptible, poorly functioning establishment and set of institutions.

Many folks there have all the moral certainty needed to be in charge of you, rest assured.

=============================

On that note, fortunately, the elder Tsarnaev, the failed professional boxer cum online jihadi searching for roots is already dead, and the younger has now received the death penalty.  I can’t say I find myself caring too much if he lives or dies, and if the people of Massachusetts so deem it.  So be it.

Here’s some video from the gym owner where Tamerlan trained.  Let’s not forget his criminal activity, nor the myopic denial of his parents that anything had gone wrong:

===============

Statistically speaking, very, very few Muslim immigrants in the U.S. will radicalize in such a fashion, but all it takes is one to deliver very serious consequences, not only to innocent lives, but to our institutions and what choices we face in handling our freedoms.  The general qualities of the Tsarnaev family, its history and its choices, have a lot to do with the eventual bombing and the fact is that the religion of Islam was the springboard for the radicalism.  Mom had a lot to do with it.

The risks and rewards, costs and benefits, and how much we can actually control when it comes to individual immigrants wouldn’t be a bad starting point for discussion.

Though for a more muddled, ideological debate, in this blog’s opinion, with all the troubles of Britain and Australia’s radical Muslim communities, one key ingredient seems to be a more entrenched Left, promoting victimhood, solidarity and class warfare.  Multiculturally inspired laws and constant activism in the mainstream don’t necessarily lead to better outcomes.

Remember those Sydney protests?:

====================

Henry Kissinger & George Schulz Via The WSJ: ‘The Iran Deal And Its Consequences’

Piece here (link may return behind a paywall)

A good analysis, likely worth your time. ======================

This blog remains skeptical, and mostly critical (surprise me) of the potential Iran deal so far, because, as Richard Epstein has pointed out, without the threat of force, the deal doesn’t have the leverage needed to really put pressure where it’s needed:  Upon a throughly committed, anti-American incentivized group of mullahs and post-1979 revolutionaries running terrorism, militias, guns and money around the region (and sometimes further afield) to become as powerful as they can.

Deliverable nukes are not just a means for an authoritarian theocracy to keep repressing its own people (though there’s plenty of that) nor a way to quell Iranian hostility towards and isolation from international institutions (plenty of that, too), but also a way for deeper Persian, Shia, and national Iranian identity and pride to assert itself in a dangerous region under an authoritarian theocracy. The basic security issues are more than mullah-deep, and the basic security of the Saudis, Israelis, and other interested Sunni-led countries and parties leads one to conclude this could easily turn into an arms race.

This is very risky if you’d prefer peace, or fighting the wars that you need to fight for the security of yourself and your own people, for treaties, alliances and trade, basic human rights or whatever interest or ideal you’d like to see leading our policy in the world (I’d prefer to stay ahead of war in the first place). More details at the link:

‘Under the new approach, Iran permanently gives up none of its equipment, facilities or fissile product to achieve the proposed constraints. It only places them under temporary restriction and safeguard—amounting in many cases to a seal at the door of a depot or periodic visits by inspectors to declared sites.’

The negotiations may yet do a lot of harm because they may not be capable of stopping the Iranian regime from buying time, nor ultimately getting deliverable nukes, nor changing nor constraining their activities enough for the possible opportunity costs involved. Our authors finish with:

If the world is to be spared even worse turmoil, the U.S. must develop a strategic doctrine for the region. Stability requires an active American role. For Iran to be a valuable member of the international community, the prerequisite is that it accepts restraint on its ability to destabilize the Middle East and challenge the broader international order. Until clarity on an American strategic political concept is reached, the projected nuclear agreement will reinforce, not resolve, the world’s challenges in the region. Rather than enabling American disengagement from the Middle East, the nuclear framework is more likely to necessitate deepening involvement there—on complex new terms. History will not do our work for us; it helps only those who seek to help themselves

Addition:  Richard Epstein ‘Barack vs. Bibi:’ takes the classical liberal, non anti-war libertarian position:

‘In the end, it is critical to understand that the current weaknesses in American foreign policy stem from the President’s adamant reluctance to commit to the use of American force in international relations, whether with Israel, Iran or with ISIS. Starting from that position, the President has to make huge unilateral concessions, and force his allies to do the same thing. Right now his only expertise is leading from behind.  The President has to learn to be tough in negotiations with his enemies. Right now, sadly, he has demonstrated that toughness only in his relationships with America’s friends and allies.’

Another Addition: Adam Garfinkle has a thoughtful piece on American political discourse and the Iran deal.

Another Addition: Israel, Iran, & Peace: Andrew Sullivan Responds To Charges Of Potential Anti-SemitismSome Saturday Links On Iran-Skepticism, To Say The Least George Shultz & Henry Kissinger At The Hoover Institution: ‘What A Final Iran Deal Must Do’ So what are our interests and how do we secure them as the fires in the Middle-East rage?  Michael Totten makes a case here in Why We Can’t Leave The Middle-East.’  He gets push-back in the comments

Democracy as we envision it requires people to constrain themselves within laws and institutions that maintain democracy…through Mill’s utilitarianism?: Thursday Quotation: Jeane Kirkpatrick – J.S. Mill  Is Bernhard Henri-Levy actually influencing U.S. policy decisions..? From New York Magazine: ‘European Superhero Quashes Libyan Dictator’Bernhard Henri-Levy At The Daily Beast: ‘A Moral Tipping Point’
Do we try and invest in global institutions as flawed as they are…upon a Kantian raft of perpetual peace?:  Daniel Deudney On YouTube Responding to Robert Kagan: Liberal Democracy Vs. Autocracy

Repost-From Bloggingheads: Robert Kagan Discusses The U.N. Security Council

5:00 discussion here.

Well over ten years ago now, we willingly decided to pretty much ignore the U.N. and the U.N. security council with our decision to invade Iraq.  It’d be nice to think that a better system would have forced us to balance our interests against those of other powerful and influential states with some stake in the claim.  But make no mistake, the U.N. has got serious problems and seems at times hopelessly outdated and inefficient…attractive to secular humanists and idealists, inclusive of rogues and dictators, and creating lots of bad incentives.

As a result we (and we aren’t the only ones) have to rationally pursue the majority of our self-interest outside the U.N. and still must find common ground and form alliances as we did in Iraq.

Boots On The Ground Against ISIS, Or No?

Matthew Continetti-‘Don’t Authorize Obama’s War:’

Perhaps we’re getting to that six-year point when the politics of the nation start becoming all about the next election and the changing-of-the-guard.

Continetti:

‘Far better for us all if the Congress refused the president precisely because he is unserious and untrustworthy with the security of the United States and the world, and spent the remaining two years of his presidency making the case publicly and robustly for the roll back of ISIS and the removal of Assad, an end to the Iranian nuclear program, a military buildup, and a renewal of the alliance system and of American support for Western principles of liberal democracy’

I suspect if the President wanted to fight ISIS the way a new AUMF implies might be necessary, he’d already be doing so.  Rather, I think he wants to cement the idea the U.S. troops will be very limited on the ground and thus, his legacy.  Hence, Continetti’s piece.

So, is a lower probability, higher-risk strategy of withdrawing most American military influence from the region while simultaneously working alongside strategic non-allies working (mostly Iran…the Moscow, Tehran, Damascus alliance…and by proxy Hezbollah and old Revolutionary Guard types)?

Do we have closer relations with our allies as a result?  Have we set up incentives that would lead to the ‘international community’ the President so often invokes while using American military leverage to gain it?

As posted:

Here’s a quote from Anne-Marie Slaughter, on liberal internationalism (addition: which is probably a few ticks center-ward of further Leftward progressive, semi-radical peace and democracy advocates)

‘The central liberal internationalist premise is the value of a rules-based international order that restrains powerful states and thereby reassures their enemies and allies alike and allows weaker states to have sufficient voice in the system that they will not choose to exit’

Related On This SiteMore Syria-From Via Media: ‘Congress on Syria: Going In On A Wing and A Prayer’From Slate: ‘In Aleppo, Syria, Mohamed Atta Thought He Could Build The Ideal Islamic City’

Michael Totten At World Affairs: ‘Syria’s Regime Not Worth Preserving’A Few More Syria Links-’Unmitigated Clusterf**k?’

From Reuters: ‘Analysis: Syrian Kurds Sense Freedom, Power Struggle Awaits’

Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest: ‘What Did The Arab Spring Really Change?’…Liberal Internationalism is hobbling us, and the safety of even the liberal internationalist doctrine if America doesn’t lead…Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill

Two Monday Links On Syria And Iran