Organizing For Action?-Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: ‘What Erdogan’s Pivot To Putin Really Means’

Mead here:

‘The issues in Syria are difficult and the alternatives are few, but President Obama’s Syria policy is one of the shabbiest and sorriest displays of serial ineptitude that has unfolded in world politics in all these many years.’

Assad is still there…

My long-winded, critical take: Many bad actors claim to honor the rules of the ‘international community’ while continuing to pursue their aims, which often work against any such definition of said ‘community’ many in the West would like to see.  The Moscow/Tehran/Damascus alliance has strengthened considerably, while the Syrian conflict has continued.

Of course, acquiring deliverable nukes doesn’t just potentially conflict with American interests, but against the professed ideals of those claiming to currently speak for the ‘international community’ within American leadership. American interests are still primarily bankrolling (blood and treasure) much of the ‘international community’s’ ability to influence bad actors.

It’s not clear to me current American policy will stop the Iranian regime from trying to get where, quite apparently, it wants to be.  In trading the previous negative constraints (sanctions, threat of force), for such weak affirmative restraints (the current deal), this may have simply deleveraged American advantage for little ‘yield’.

It’d be nice to be wrong.  I’m listening.

A potentially useful analogy: The American military could be analogous to the police in Dallas, or St Louis, or Boston:  They still have to protect and serve American citizens but they’ve been brought to heel under the scrutiny of activist logic.

Such logic incentivizes a lot of people, including bad actors, without much in the way of constraints upon behavior, except in joining the activist’s cause or the activist’s definition of ‘community’ in de-legitimizing current traditions and institutions, and in often dehumanizing ‘others’.  The American military, much like the police in Dallas, St Louis, or Boston, are still responsible for dealing with bad actors who wish to do them (and us) harm, but their risk has gone way up, while their legitimacy has gone way down (and our legitimacy wasn’t great before Obama).

***I suspect anti-American interests will keep doing what they can to maximize advantage in the meantime (Putin is a prime example), while interests that could align with American interests may look around for other strong-horses.  Situational logic applies in decisions that could be a matter of life and death for smaller players (you’ve got to cozy up to someone, maybe just to keep ’em off you). More strongly allied nations will likely wait around and quietly diversify their portfolios.

At home, putting an activist at the helm has tacked American policy/politics Leftward, and may well create more hawkish Democrats, neo-conservatives, and conservatives both angry/disconsolate at this state of affairs, looking to carve out a path forward in reaction and response.

Populist anger and political dysfunction don’t tend to make for great foreign policy.

Let me know what/how much I’ve got wrong.

Via A Reader: Walter Russell Mead On The Steve Paikin Show…

Is Barack Obama A Realist?

Addition: Link sent in to a Ben Domenech piece at The Federalist: ‘Reject Naive Foreign Policy, Whatever Its Source

Syria And Russia, Michael Totten On Cuba-Some Links

-Rick Francona at Middle East Perspectives: ‘American-Russian Cooperation-What Could Go Wrong?

‘In that case, Russia and Iran will have achieved their foreign policy objective, that being the survival of the Ba’ath regime of Bashar al-Asad; we will have failed in ours.

That’s what can go wrong.’

-Lilia Shevtskova at the American Interest ‘The Kremlin’s Triad As The Means Of Survival

‘Let me reiterate: We are dealing with the logic of a particular civilization—one whose survival resources are dwindling and whose political class is powerless to transform the system—that will continue to reenergize itself through the enemy search (even as it cooperates with this enemy).’

-Michael Totten ‘Cuba’s Walled Garden:’

‘Cuban citizens, of course, yearn for the Czech model where communism collapsed in spectacular fashion and was replaced all at once with political liberalism and a market economy. It’s what those of us in the free world should hope to see down there, too.

If you want to visit Cuba before it changes, fine. Go. I did. It’s interesting. Just understand that change is a good thing, and the more change the better. Doubt it? Ask yourself if anyone but a political psychopath thinks abolishing communism destroyed Prague.’


As previously posted: Michael Totten At World Affairs: ‘The Once Great Havana’

Gloria Estefan offers a window into Cuban culture, music, honor, and immigration as it mixes with American culture.

———————-

Some light humor:

Michael Moynihan reviewed Michael Moore’s ‘Sicko’ which praised the Cuban Health Care System.

Christopher Hitchens took a helicopter ride with Sean Penn, and that tracksuit-wearing strongman of the people, Hugo Chavez-Hugo Boss:

It’s a long way out of socialist and revolutionary solidarity, which continually occupies the South American mind. One more revolution: Adam Kirsch takes a look at Mario Vargas Llosa. The Dream Of The Peruvian.

——————

The true time-warp and bizzaro-land is likely still North Korea, however:

Denis Dutton, Somewhat Anarchic Tagging, Biography Of Hume-Some Links

-Getting a little snobby around here-Via Kottke: ‘Worst Of The McMansions

-Graffiti, the law, development and Detroit.

-Edward Feser reviews a new biography on that arch-empiricist, David Hume (subscription required).

The Sunni/Shia divide is not one well-bridged by deliverable nukes.

-From a reader -Denis Dutton below:

Hmmmm….

Henry Kissinger’s Remarks Reprinted At The New Criterion-‘The Limits Of Universalism’

Worth a read.

On Burkean Conservatism:

‘The billiard table is a seductive analogy. But in real foreign policy, the billiard balls do not react only to physical impact. They are also guided by their own cultural inheritances: their histories, instincts, ideals, their characteristic national approaches to strategy, in short, their national values. A realist foreign policy needs a strong value system to guide it through the inherent ambiguities of circumstance. Even Bismarck, the supreme realist, emphasized the ultimate moral basis of realist statesmanship: “The best a statesman can do is to listen carefully to the footsteps of God, get ahold of the hem of His cloak and walk with Him a few steps of the way.’

and a partial look at ideas underlying his multipolar vision:

‘The distinction between idealism and realism rejects the experience of history. Idealists do not have a monopoly on moral values; realists must recognize that ideals are also part of reality. We will be less frequently disillusioned if we emphasize a foreign policy designed to accumulate nuance rather than triumph through apocalyptic showdowns, and our values will benefit over the longer term.’

Related On This Site:

Henry Kissinger & George Schulz Via The WSJ: ‘The Iran Deal And Its Consequences’Inside Everyone Is A Western Individual Waiting To Get Out?-Repost-Roger Sandall At The American Interest: ‘Tribal Realism’

Are there dangers of idealism/German idealism that come with a Kantian influence in the political realm?  Are they addressed here?:   From The Internet Encyclopedia Of Knowledge: Immanuel Kant And Utilitarianism.  Kantian Metaphysics and J.S. Mill’s Utilitarianism More On Daniel Deudney’s Bounding Power

A quotation from Burke:

‘A state without the means of some change is without the means of its conservation.  Without such means it might even risque the loss of that part of the constitution which it wished the most religiously to preserve.  The two principles of conservation and correction operated strongly at the two critical periods of the Restoration and Revolution, when England found itself without a king.  At both those periods the nation had lost the bond of union in their antient edifice; they did not however, dissolve the whole fabric.’

Edmund Burke, commenting on the French Revolution, in The Evils Of Revolution, What Is Liberty Without Wisdom And Without Virtue It Is The Greatest Of All Possible Evils, New York, NY. Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 2008.  Pg 8.

Some Old Times Square Photos And Nearly Dying In The Desert-Some Links

-Via David Thompson: Some photos of Times Square when it was awfully seedy (one of those one photo per page sites…)

***The Greene Street Project: A Long History of a Short Block-An interactive site that follows, longitudinally, one small section of New York City.

-Light-rail fantasies:

‘What would happen if your city, in the name of progress, started giving poorer residents vouchers for landline telephones rather than smartphones? Or if, rather than stocking public libraries with computers, so that people could write emails, your city installed fax machines?’

It’s like a time-machine back to the future utopia, at $8 a ride…

-What really, really happened to ‘D.B. Cooper,‘ other than that he lives with Bigfoot in a lodge near Johnston Ridge

-Walter Russell Mead: ‘Turkey And The Ruins Of US Foreign Policy

‘Yet America’s relations with both Turkey and Russia are in shambles. ‘

-From a reader, how Jerry Pournelle was on his way back from a hacking conference and nearly died in Death Valley.

From Politico-‘Inside The Plan To Undo The Iran Deal’

Full piece here

Hmmm….

‘Deal opponents say their focus now is to expose Iran’s bad behavior and risks for business, and to minimize Iran’s economic gains so the regime can’t use new trade and investment to spend more money on terrorist activities, ballistic missiles, wars in Syria and Yemen and repression at home. Once a new U.S. administration is inaugurated, getting a better and broader deal is still possible, they insist: if Iran wants access to the U.S. financial system, for example, it should agree to end financing for terror groups like Hezbollah, Dubowitz says.’

Full deal here.

The Holes In The Iran Deal (And How To Plug Them…subscription required)

 And as a reader reminds:  At what cost?

‘When it was announced a year ago, the Iran nuclear deal stoked intense debate among pundits and policymakers about whether it would accomplish its core purpose: keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons. But in recent months, the criticism has shifted. As the sanctions unwind, observers have grown more concerned about whether Iran is getting the economic relief it had expected and how the unwinding might affect the remaining bans on Iran.’

A Link On Nice

Another probable attack…

(Addition): Few surprises when it comes to the local French-Tunisian attacker Mohamed Louhaiej Bouhlel, who has some criminal history (fitting more the profile of disgruntled, 2nd-generation, more rootless, criminally drifting sort that tends to radicalize peripherally, sometimes with or without groups of others…attracted by the ISIS cause and reach….or maybe even DIY).

As I see it, this implies more of a failure of French society to adequately recognize many natural tendencies of human nature, the colonial legacy, as well as the economic and social/institutional limits as found in any strongly ethno-identified Western Republic such as France.

It’s often people with nothing else/left to do or be, or those more well-educated sorts who don’t have the kingdom they were promised who tend to do things like this…or become attracted by the reach of ISIS as it currently stands.

-As mentioned elsewhere on the web, George Packer’s piece ‘The Other France‘ about what’s going on in the banlieues around Paris can be instructive…

-After the Bataclan attacks, a piece about Molenbeek, Brussels, from which many attackers came.

At least 77 dead (84) dead as a truck plow(ed) into a crowd of people on Bastille Day:

It’s almost as if the West is in a War, soft and hard, with people from another civilization who take that civilizations’ ideas and turn them into weapons.


As previously posted, start getting up to speed anytime

Even the NY Times notes that Western fighters heeding the jihadi call into Syria pose a risk upon return.

All that righteousness and fighting experience with nowhere to go.

Michael Moynihan jihad.com.

A tense relationship: Fareed Zakaria At Newsweek: ‘Terrorism’s Supermarket’Christopher Hitchens At Vanity Fair: ‘From Abbotabad To Worse’Repost-’Dexter Filkins In The NY Times: The Long Road To Chaos In Pakistan’

From Slate: ‘In Aleppo, Syria, Mohamed Atta Thought He Could Build The Ideal Islamic City’From The NY Times: Review Of Christopher Caldwell’s Book “Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West”

Repost: Kenan Malik In The Spiked Review Of Books: ‘Twenty Years On: Internalizing The Fatwa’-Salman Rushdie’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 Slate: ‘In Aleppo, Syria, Mohamed Atta Thought He Could Build The Ideal Islamic City’From The NY Times: Review Of Christopher Caldwell’s Book “Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West”And: Philip Bobbitt Discusses His Book ‘Terror And Consent’ On Bloggingheads