Some Links On The Kurds And Where Some Moderate U.S. Political Ground Might Be Found

Russia appears a post-ish Communist, revanchist, fairly corrupt petro-State run by a ex-KGB guy. Russian leadership is actively paying individuals, groups and orgs to undermine Western interests and U.S. sovereignty.

If you believe in institutions which promote various conflicting, but often shared, Western-man-on-the-street beliefs in Western secular humanism (democracy promotion, the use of U.S. military force, the use of the U.S. military to preserve liberal world order, expansion of global liberty as residing within individuals, Constitutional and/or Westphalian-style state promotion, working for human rights etc.) then you likely don’t want to see Russian leadership gaining much tactical advantage.

The terrorist-sponsoring, post-1979, expansionist deliverable nuke-seeking gang in Tehran, the clinging, chemical-weapons deploying Assad in Syria, and our ‘friends’ in Moscow all share common interests; undermining U.S. strength and inhibiting Western influence are tops on the list.

Maybe Erdogan, consolidating his power autocratically and riding a deeper wave of Islamic resurgence and sentiment, will keep looking Eastward and continue to play both ends more than he’s doing now.

A lot of moderate political ground is now occupied in the U.S. by people lamenting the major rifts within both U.S. political parties, the celebrification of high office, and the lack of institutional stability, social trust and decently functioning politics. I suspect Trump has become a symptom of, and a lightning rod for, the changes occurring within and without our Republic.

As for the Kurds, well, they have some potential to reflect more of what most Americans would generally like to see out in the world (conveniently found in Israel and in many States having emerged from the Eastern Bloc).

Totten:

‘The Syrian-Iranian-Hezbollah axis is poised to emerge victorious in the Syria war, stronger than ever, thanks to military assistance from Russia. Assad is surviving the biggest threat to his family’s rule since it seized power four decades ago. Short of political revolutions in Tehran and Moscow, he’s likely to die an old man in office. And he’ll have no incentive whatsoever to change his ways. He’ll continue exporting terrorism all over the region, and the next war between Israel and a now far-stronger Hezbollah will likely make the last one look like a peace process. The Kurds in Syria—our only true friends in that country—are likely to lose everything they have gained without American backing.’

I suppose we’ll see what happens, as the wise Kurdish position appears to be lobbying the hell out of anyone for support while recognizing they’re still on their own, scrambling to survive…

Ofra Bengio At The American Interest: The Kurds’ Proxy Trap
As previously posted

Independent Kurdistan-A Good Outcome For American Interests?

In his book Where The West Ends, Totten describes visiting Northern Iraq briefly as a tourist with a friend, and the general feeling of pro-Americanism in Kurdish Northern Iraq that generally one can only feel in Poland, parts of the former Yugoslavia etc.

Remember Who We’re Dealing With, Here-A Few Iran Links

Via Via Media:

Original WSJ piece here.

Al Jazeera English

Walter Russell Mead:

‘…the WSJ also reports that Iran sent to Russia 25,000 pounds of enriched uranium this week. That will, the story notes, reduce Tehran’s capacity to make nukes and it has strengthened America’s position.’

A lot of American leverage was sacrificed for this deal, and now the same ends, however idealistic (this blog thinks somewhere between peace activism and vague promises of humanitarian intervention), will likely be pursued by the current U.S. administration.

The White House’s page isn’t exactly reassuring.

John Kerry, a little while ago:

‘Let me underscore that. The United States and the international community will be monitoring Iran nonstop — and you can bet that if we see something; we will do something.’

Mead again:

‘The Iran nuclear deal is the foundation stone of President Obama’s Middle East policy. He has paid an immense price for the deal at home and abroad. The highest price, moreover, has been paid by the hundreds of thousands dead in sectarian strife and the millions forced out of their homes in Iraq and Syria as the U.S. avoided any actions in those countries that might have threatened Iran’s willingness to sign on the dotted line.’

It’s quite likely many of the deeper reasons for Western confrontations with a nuclear-seeking Iranian regime have been pushed out and/or will spill out into other conflicts and challenges as we move forward.

-Dexter Filkins on Iran here.

-Scowcroft and Brzezinski may be offering plans: ‘George Shultz & Henry Kissinger At The Hoover Institution: ‘What A Final Iran Deal Must Do’

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

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’

Passed Along By A Reader-Robert Satloff’s 10 Questions For Obama On Iran

Jeffrey Goldberg has reproduced the questions without comment at The Atlantic.  Some of them are pretty good.

Click through.

Here are a few concerns I’ve produced in the last 20 minutes:

In working to constrain the use and threat of military force to the strict conditions of the deal (the terms of which have gradually grown more lax), are you prepared to deal with the continued fallout of rewarding the Moscow-Damascus-Tehran alliance, traditionally adversarial to U.S. interests?

In setting such narrow conditions for the use of American force, have you not inherently given Putin leverage in Ukraine and possibly increased the likelihood of raised tensions in the Baltics and a flare-up along old Eastern boundaries?

Do you envision a longer-term American strategy regarding the bitter Syrian civil war, Assad’s regime still clinging to power (and chemical weapons), and the subsequent growth of Daesh/Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, which also can threaten U.S. interests?

By riding a wave American isolationist sentiment at home, funneling foreign policy decision-making through a smaller group of like minds and executive branch management (away from State and a lot of experienced, principled men and women), have you not weakened American foreign policy by splitting the parties and country along partisan lines in order to achieve your objectives?

Add your own!

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

Some Monday Links: The Left, Money & The New Republic-Garry Kasparov & Christopher Walken As ‘Max Zorin’

I think the only man who can save us from Silicon Valley as it currently stands, is the strange Nazi/Soviet funded superfreak, Max Zorin:

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Now that’s a plan, but we probably don’t need to be saved.

Megan McArdle discusses the reality of trying to monetize not only writers and journalists, but intellectuals.

Chris Hughes, a founder of Facebook bought the New Republic:

‘Every new owner looks at media and thinks, “This is insane and inefficient. Obviously, this is a dinosaur industry ripe for rationalization by someone who actually knows how to run a business.” When you get inside, however, it turns out that the industry is not actually staffed, as previously assumed, by archaic snobs who wear suspenders and spats when they sit down with a glass of sherry to read the latest Dos Passos epic. Instead, most of the seemingly inexplicable inefficiencies are driven by the peculiar nature of this business.’

Tech-industry business models producing deliverables out of high-end, labor-intensive coding and programming work in ‘the Valley’ don’t necessarily translate successfully for East-coast, establishment ‘bookstore’ intellectuals, apparently.

Writers and academic refugees, political theorists and idea people tend to think differently than engineering types, especially when those writers are coated with the dust of the marketplace, harbor the skepticism and suspicion of journalists on the beat, and are busy just being the lone-wolf, creative, artistic and introspective types they often are (software engineers can be highly creative, but in a generally different way).

Of course, the New Republic was a space where the progressive Left, and some genuine radicals and true Leftist ideologues gravitated, and where they were often pushed against by and for practical purposes by more moderate, establishment liberals and other thinkers.  They will continue to have a lot of influence.

We’ll see what happens, but nowadays the New Republic appears to my eyes more like Upworthy, Salon, the Huffington Post and other Left-leaning sites in the marketplace.

Visit the Upworthy generator if that’s your thing.

Libertarian editor of Reason Matt Welch took a look at the change of ownership at the New Republic under Hughes, and the move further Leftward:

‘The great irony is that The New Republic is repudiating contrarian neoliberalism precisely when we need it most. Obama proposes in his State of the Union address to jack up the minimum wage to $9 an hour, and instead of surveying the vast skeptical academic literature, or asking (pace Charles Peters) whether such liberal gestures are “more about preserving their own gains than about helping those in need,” TNR columnist Timothy Noah declares, “Raise the Minimum Wage! And make it higher than what Obama just proposed.”

Adam Kirsch, Simon Blackburn, Martha Nussbaum, John Gray.  Here are a few links on this site to the New Republic:  Leon Wieseltier At The New Republic: ‘A Darwinist Mob Goes After a Serious Philosopher’Adam Kirsch At The New Republic: ‘Art Over Biology’

****Tech money and technology are affecting not only old media.  Kids starting out now have touch screens all around them, staring at their smart phones, games etc. for hours on end.  They aren’t necessarily idle.

The NY Times, the Ivy League, lawyers and law schools and various, assorted guilds in our society…take note.

This is probably more important than just debates about politics, ideas, and political theory.

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On that note (yeah, I don’t think the New Republic is full of totalitarians):

From a Thomas Sowell piece, the Legacy Of Eric Hoffer:

‘Hoffer said: “The less justified a man is in claiming excellence for his own self, the more ready he is to claim all excellence for his nation, his religion, his race or his holy cause.”

People who are fulfilled in their own lives and careers are not the ones attracted to mass movements: “A man is likely to mind his own business when it is worth minding,” Hoffer said. “When it is not, he takes his mind off his own meaningless affairs by minding other people’s business.”

What Hoffer was describing was the political busybody, the zealot for a cause — the “true believer,” who filled the ranks of ideological movements that created the totalitarian tyrannies of the 20th century.’

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As sent in by a reader for Reason magazine:

Chess-great Garry Kasparov grew up as part of the Soviet empire, in its waning days, and is now a human-rights activist in addition to his chess-work.  He is calling for many in the West to have the courage of their convictions, which also challenges many on the Left, liberal-Left, as well as the libertarian anti-war crowd and activists of all stripes.

This is the stuff out of which neo-conservatives can be born.

Yes, the Soviet days are over, but don’t just fold and walk away from the table (poker, not chess, as Kasparov points out).  Putin is bluffing, but still playing a dangerous, destabilizing game, from Ukraine to China, from the Baltics to his influence in Tehran, and this requires strategy and leadership.

(And, can you trust an activist?: What are his interests aside from his ideals, what truths may be be telling and why might they appeal?)

Not necessarily breaking things, just strategy and leadership:

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That’s more of what Kasparov was likely driving at in this tweet from a while back:

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I suppose we’ll also see what happens.

Stay tuned, and if you’re interested in supporting this blog, just read it, because it’s probably never going to make any money.  It’s a labor of love.

Related On This Site:  Are we still having the same debate…is it manifest destiny?: A Few Thoughts On Robert Bork’s “Slouching Towards Gomorrah”Repost-Heather MacDonald At The City Journal: ‘The Sidewalks Of San Francisco

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”… From George Monbiot: ‘How Freedom Became Tyranny’…Looking to supplant religion as moral source for the laws: From The Reason Archives: ‘Discussing Disgust’ Julian Sanchez Interviews Martha Nussbaum.Richard Rorty tried to tie postmodernism and trendy leftist solidarity to liberalism, but wasn’t exactly classically liberal:  Repost: Another Take On J.S. Mill From “Liberal England”

Things Are Heating Up In Ukraine

Lilia Shevtsova At The American Interest ‘Putin Ends The Interregnum:’

‘What a mess Putin has gotten us all into! But let’s also give him his due: He has paved the way for the emergence of new trends—or at least he’s called the existing ones into serious question. He has also facilitated the formation of Ukrainian national identity, ensuring that the country will never again become a mere extension of Russia. He has thus undermined his own dream—that of creating the Eurasian Union. He has precipitated a crisis in his own country, making its future path completely unpredictable. And finally, he has reminded NATO of its mission and prompted the liberal democracies to reflect on their own principles.’

It seems there’s a Russian ethno-nationalist core Putin’s playing to aside from the clear interest in Crimea and a corridor that means splitting Ukraine in two.  Just how Putin defines that core in order to play-up to Russian pride, nostalgia and national security via his own power via a cagey ex-KGB, authoritarian, petro-Czar ruling-style is up for debate.

Over at the New Republic, they’re going to have to work harder to figure out how to maintain humanist, Left-liberal ideals in the face of such meddling and aggression (they might have to think about rebuilding the Peretz wall separating a kind of liberalism from full-on Lefty activism that new ownership has since removed):

Putin Will Never, Ever Admit That Russia Has Invaded Ukraine

‘The Kremlin will continue to deny its involvement in Ukraine, and the U.S. and E.U. will take their time calling this an outright invasion. Russia has made its objectives in Ukraine clear, and has signalled its resolute unwillingness to participate in military negotiations while its political concerns go unresolved.’

It’s pretty clear the Georgia model is in play, to some extent.  Ukraine’s economy is weak, and its civil institutions very corrupt, but Putin’s aims are pretty clear.

An interesting interview with an American volunteer with Army experience and Ukrainian roots who’s joined the fight.  A surprisingly reasonable-sounding guy via VICE:

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Via a reader: George Kennan’s ‘Long Telegram’ back to Washington in 1946.

From Vlad’s pen to NY Times readers’ eyes.

Also On This Site: Obama’s Decision On Missile Defense And A Quote From Robert Kagan’s: ‘The Return Of History And The End Of Dreams’From The National Interest: ‘Inside The Mind Of George F. Kennan’

Some Links On Foreign Policy & Ukraine…Kasparov, Kerry, Putin & Obama?-Some Links On Ukraine

James Baker At The NY Times: ‘3 Presidents and a Riddle Named Putin’

Nearly three years ago now: Eric Posner At The Volokh Conspiracy: The Bear Is Back!

A Cold Dose Of Realism-‘Americans Play Monopoly, Russians Chess’

Full piece here.

Neo-cons, humanists, human-rights advocates…religious and secular idealists, missionaries of all stripes who want to see more freedom and democracy cast in our image…it’s good to get other points of view:

David Goldman wrote the following back in 2008, a few years after Ukraine’s Orange Revolutionjust as Georgia was flaring up, and when Putin stepped-in (to Georgia) to maximize his advantage:

‘The place to avert tragedy is in Ukraine. Russia will not permit Ukraine to drift to the West. Whether a country that never had an independent national existence prior to the collapse of communism should become the poster-child for national self-determination is a different question. The West has two choices: draw a line in the sand around Ukraine, or trade it to the Russians for something more important.

My proposal is simple: Russia’s help in containing nuclear proliferation and terrorism in the Middle East is of infinitely greater import to the West than the dubious self-determination of Ukraine. The West should do its best to pretend that the “Orange” revolution of 2004 and 2005 never happened, and secure Russia’s assistance in the Iranian nuclear issue as well as energy security in return for an understanding of Russia’s existential requirements in the near abroad. Anyone who thinks this sounds cynical should spend a week in Kiev.’

The argument is pretty clear:  Putin is looking at demographic decline, and he’s an ex-KGB ethno-nationalist looking to keep the empire together:

‘Russia is not an ethnicity but an empire, the outcome of hundreds of years of Russification. That Russification has been brutal is an understatement, but it is what created Russia out of the ethnic morass around the Volga river basin. One of the best accounts of Russia’s character comes from Eugene Rosenstock-Huessey (Franz Rosenzweig’s cousin and sometime collaborator) in his 1938 book Out of Revolution. Russia’s territory tripled between the 16th and 18th centuries, he observes, and the agency of its expansion was a unique Russian type.’

Worth a read.

Related On This SiteRobert Merry At The National Interest: ‘Spengler’s Ominous Prophecy’“Spengler” At PJ Media: ‘Lessons From Europe’s Winners And Losers’

Is Barack Obama A Realist?From The National Interest: ‘Inside The Mind Of George F. Kennan’

Kasparov, Kerry, Putin & Obama?-Some Links On Ukraine

Two Friday Links On Ukraine

We don’t necessarily want a continuation of the Cold War, but understanding the strategic realities The Cold War created is as vital as ever. The younger generation in Ukraine, as well as a lot of people in the West, are getting a hard lesson in Putin’s power politics.

Young Ukranians have yet to taste the economic possibilities of getting a job in a growing economy without living amidst the corruption and cronyism of a rotten, post-Soviet oligarchical no-man’s land.  They have yet to learn how to build and defend institutions that can secure their liberties against Putin’s aggression, and also protect them from the ethnic, linguistic, and historical strife within.

And now the Russian bootheel is back.

I think we ought to be pretty clear about where we stand on Ukrainian aspirations for such an economy, such liberties and the possible development of such institutions.  We have many strategic interests at stake here, despite our clear limitations.

The drift of the current U.S. administration is sending many messages, and not just to Ukranians.

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The Cold War strategists are still around:

Henry Kissinger At The Washington Post: ‘How The Ukraine Crisis Ends:’

‘Putin should come to realize that, whatever his grievances, a policy of military impositions would produce another Cold War. For its part, the United States needs to avoid treating Russia as an aberrant to be patiently taught rules of conduct established by Washington. Putin is a serious strategist — on the premises of Russian history. Understanding U.S. values and psychology are not his strong suits. Nor has understanding Russian history and psychology been a strong point of U.S. policymakers’

Adam Garfinkle at The American Interest talks with Zbigniew Brzezinski: ‘Coping With Crimea: In Ukraine And Beyond

‘It’s hard to understand how Putin could calculate that doing what he did in Crimea would make the Ukrainians more supine toward him in Kiev. So unless it’s a sudden burst of poorly calculated activism, the Crimea operation could be the first stage of a series of steps he’s planning, perhaps to create exploitable unrest in eastern Ukraine. The aim would be to demonstrate that Ukraine is falling into anarchy, thereby making a case for a wider Russian intervention, and then we’re back to having to ask ourselves: “How do we react to make that not happen, and if it does happen, how do we make it ‘

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Vice link from a reader: