Worse Incentives & Bad Knowledge In Bad Faith-What Worries Me Most

Dear Reader, I think I’m a reasonably normal person. My primary loyalties are to those I love most (and how politics might affect us). Should the terrorist threat become dangerous enough, no sitting President, nor anyone responsible for the security of American citizens at home, will allow organized terrorist organizations a staging area in Afpak. The lower probability, but higher consequences, of a terror attack here, will likely dictate some sort of action there (SpecOps, intel, cyber warfare, drones etc.). This can affect my family/loved ones directly (the attack and the laws and policy coming out of the threat, and the incentives for all of us dealing with the threat).

People on the right, and myself more often, place higher value on defeating external threats. We’re more likely to route decision-making through a few nodes against these external threats (or tens of thousands of nodes in the current, bloated, semi-woke monstrosity of a Pentagon and contractor complex). I hope it’s in as good faith as possible.

The common defense is the primary reason we have a government in the first place.

People on the Left, as I see things, generally will see the primary threat within the West (the oppressor), and/or rally their troops against the threats to health/education and the institutions in which they gather (COVID safetyism and authoritarian impulses through the health/education industrial complex, for example).

My next ring of loyalty is to those few I know who’ve served in Afpak who are friends and fellow citizens. They volunteered and heard the call. They saw, and sometimes did, some shit…to keep us safer here. This is a thankless task. I live in a country of laws and borders. It’s a place. This place is my home. It comes with freedoms and responsibilities.

My next ring of loyalty (concentric rings) are to those standing up for policy and who claim to speak in my name as politicians and lawmakers, and maybe those who stand up for Afghanistan (Afghanis) with the help of our troops. This loyalty is much more negotiable for me personally, and lately, much more negotiable than ever in my lifetime. I simply don’t really trust our politics to handle immigration reasonably at the moment.

This saddens me, because some honorable, decent people are getting chopped up as a result.

The fact which worries me most: Our political leadership is especially sclerotic, failing in many important ways, for many important reasons. The Afghanistan withdrawal disaster was a conscious decision, and a clusterfuck.

Politics, to some extent, corrupts military leadership. The longer ex-generals hang around the political sphere, the less honor and respect they tend to wield. The longer politicians hang around Washington (especially past their sell-by date), the less honor and respect they hopefully wield (there’s probably a point of ideal ripeness/rottenness). At this point, the rank and file has more reasons than ever to question our political and military leadership. And we’re not even at the bottom of woke yet, with many illiberal and righteous actors leveraging bad knowledge in bad faith (as I see things).

The more conflicts that pile up from the bottom of a military hierarchy, and the more reasons anyone on the bottom has to question, bypass, endure or challenge the hierarchy itself, the more brittle the hierarchy.

Dear Reader, this worries me most.

A Few More Links On The Afghanistan Withdrawal Mess

When truth and reality fade, from the views within institutions; when the virtue required to maintain a Republic wanes, the rot merely becomes more visible. Legitimate authority becomes much, much harder to maintain.

Oh, there always have been horse-tradin’ types, somewhere between used car-salesman and admirable men sacrificing their liberty for the rest of us. There were always assholes and charlatans, glad-handing lifers, as well as principled men sticking their fingers into the political winds for their turn at the wheel.

Gathering some views on the Afghanistan ‘withdrawal’, and the current clusterfuckery.

About that Haqqani network.

I’d like to think if you’ve been paying any kind of attention, you’d have realized we’ve got a lot of serious problems. Internal problems. Some system-wide problems.

What say you?

Repost-Some Links On Robert Kagan’s New Book: ‘The Jungle Grows Back: America And Our Imperiled World’

Our author reviews Robert Kagan’s new book ‘The Jungle Grows Back: America And Our Imperiled World.’

The piece contains liberal pushback (the search for a center?) against what’s argued to be Kagan’s proselytizing neo-conservatism.

I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t advocate for too many young people to join a military run by the current institutional leadership without serious thought. You may have your reasons, but think twice:

That is precisely what today’s moment cries out for: Kennan’s humility rather than a new crusade against a new Evil Empire. It cries out for a skeptical liberalism that sees the world as it is rather than going looking for new monsters to destroy.’

Our ideological troubles spring, I have argued before, from liberalism’s lack of perceived legitimacy. Authoritarianism emerges as a symptom either where the liberal approach to organizing society has failed to take root, or where an established liberalism is seen to be overreaching unopposed. We ought to be on the lookout for these failures of liberalism—for “the appeals to core elements of human nature that liberalism does not always satisfy,”

There’s lots of stuff in the piece for regular readers of this blog (Mention of Edmund Burke, Isaiah Berlin etc.).

The author finishes with the area of most shared agreement [between himself] and Kagan (a view of ‘teleological’ progressivism as dangerously narrow and very authoritarian itself; delegitimizing and destabilizing Western liberalism from within).

It’s going to be harder to deal with the rest of the world when these core elements of debate rage within Western hearts, minds and institutions:

The Jungle Grows Back is an important book insofar as it contains all the debates outlined above within it. And Kagan opens the space for these ideas to breathe a little by rightly dismissing teleological progressivism in his book’s opening pages—a great service that makes reading the book a richer experience than it otherwise might have been. But a more moderate, and therefore much wiser, conclusion is passed over by an author whose commitment to his priors prevents him from seeing what a gem he might have had on his hands. It’s too bad.’

Kagan discusses the book here with what I’d describe as an evolutionary psychologist/soft-ish Marxist:

Also On This Site: Taking on the telos of progress and questioning  modern liberal assumptions with a largely nihilistic approach (progress is learned but doesn’t stay learned in human affairs; the lesson of various 20th centry writers and one of the main purposes of a humanities education): Repost-John Gray At The Literary Review Takes A Look At A New Book On Michael Oakeshott: ‘Last Of The Idealists’…Repost-John Gray Reviews Francis Fukuyama At The Literary Review: ‘Destination Denmark’…Repost-Classical Liberalism Via Friesian.Com-‘Exchange with Tomaz Castello Branco on John Gray’

People on the Left and a more moderate middle, and from libertarian conservative backgrounds are increasingly challenging core ideological assumptions of far Left doctrines having crept into so many institutions.  They must defend their own disciplines and be of exemplary character: Repost-Moving Towards Truth And Liberty, But What To Conserve?-Some Thoughts On The Bret & Eric Weinstein Interview…Jonathan Haidt At Heterodox Academy: ‘The Blasphemy Case Against Bret Weinstein, And Its Four Lessons For Professors’…Charles Murray From ‘The Happiness Of People’…The Hoover Institution Via Youtube: Charles Murray On ‘Coming Apart’

Repost-Looking For Liberals In The Postmodern Wilderness-Jordan Peterson & Stephen Hicks

A restatement of Anglican, British conservatism with deep Kantian, Hegelian roots: Repost-Roger Scruton At The WSJ: ‘Memo To Hawking: There’s Still Room For God’…Link To Roger Scruton’s First Of Three Charles Test Lectures Hosted By Princeton University

The Religious Conservative American right advocating a step back from a common Constitutional project?: Two Links To Rod Dreher On How To Live And What To Do... Another view of the 60’s radicalism on campus: Repost-A Few Thoughts On Robert Bork’s “Slouching Towards Gomorrah”

Out of the Valley of modernism, post-modernism, and relativism…one path from Nietzsche’s nihilism is through Leo Strauss and Allan Bloom: Update And Repost: ‘A Few Thoughts On Allan Bloom–The Nietzsche / Strauss Connection’Some Tuesday Quotations From Leo StraussFrom Peter Berkowitz At Harvard: ‘The Reason Of Revelation: The Jewish Thought Of Leo Strauss’

Kant chopped the head off from German deism and the German State has been reeling every since…is value pluralism a response?: A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”

Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest on Egypt: ‘Still More of the Same—and Something New’

Full post here.

From a Reuters article as Egypt holds elections:

‘Both contenders may herald further turbulence. An Islamist president will face a mistrustful army, while a victory by a Mubarak-era general will rile the revolutionaries on the street.’

and from Garfinkle’s piece:

No one knows where this will all lead. The satyrs of history are on the loose again. Many say that, after Tahrir Square, Egypt will never be the same. And that is true: Egyptians have dared to dream that things could be different, better, and that their own hands and hearts could make a difference. But most likely, in two or three years’ time Egypt will look for all practical purposes very much the same as it did before the so called revolution’

And a previous quote from Walter Russell Mead:

What we are seeing in the streets of Cairo is less a revolution seeking to take shape than a haggling process.  The leaders of the Egyptian political parties want to be able to choose all the parliamentary candidates through naming them to parliamentary lists.  That would make party leaders the chief power brokers in a parliamentary regime.  The military wants more MPs to be elected as individuals, weakening the parties and making it easier for the real powers in the country to manipulate the parliamentary process.’

—————————————–

Update:  The Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Mursi claims victory with 52% of the vote…we’ll see how this goes from here as the military is unlikely to transfer power to the office of the Presidency.  Where has there been a deep transformation in Egyptian society…deep enough to embark on a bold new path of representative government?:

The Shafiq campaign rejected Morsi’s claim of victory and accused him to trying to “usurp” the presidency or lay the groundwork to challenge the official result if it shows Shafiq winning

Another Update:  Mubarak suffers a stroke.

Related On This Site:From Abu Muqawama: ‘Mubarak And Me’From Michael Totten: ‘The New Egyptian Underground’Michael Totten At The American Interest: “A Leaner, Meaner Brotherhood”

Francis Fukuyama At The American Interest Online: ‘Political Order in Egypt’

Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: ‘Mubaraks, Mamelukes, Modernizers and Muslims’……James Kirchik At The American Interest: ‘Egyptian Liberals Against the Revolution’

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From Foreign Policy: ‘No Brothers In Arms In Egypt’

Full piece here.

A more tense relationship has developed between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Supreme Council Of The Armed Forces, which is essentially running the country.

As Murad Mohamed Aly, a Morsi campaign official, told me, “The Egyptians did not revolt to get rid of Mubarak … to get another Mubarak — Shafiq or someone.” And this same logic could apply to Amr Moussa, Mubarak’s former foreign minister who currently leads most national polls. “We have strong doubts that Egyptians will elect someone who is connected to the previous regime,” said Aly. “If [Moussa is elected] through interference, we will protest.”

A previous quote from Walter Russell Mead:

What we are seeing in the streets of Cairo is less a revolution seeking to take shape than a haggling process.  The leaders of the Egyptian political parties want to be able to choose all the parliamentary candidates through naming them to parliamentary lists.  That would make party leaders the chief power brokers in a parliamentary regime.  The military wants more MPs to be elected as individuals, weakening the parties and making it easier for the real powers in the country to manipulate the parliamentary process.’

Related On This SiteWalter Russell Mead At The American Interest: ‘Mubaraks, Mamelukes, Modernizers and Muslims’……James Kirchik At The American Interest: ‘Egyptian Liberals Against the Revolution’

From Abu Muqawama: ‘Mubarak And Me’From Michael Totten: ‘The New Egyptian Underground’Michael Totten At The American Interest: “A Leaner, Meaner Brotherhood”

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From Foreign Policy: ‘Afghanistan The Beautiful’

Photos here.

A rough country, geographically divided.

Related On This SiteFrom March 27th, 2009 At WhiteHouse.Gov: Remarks By The President On A New Strategy For Afghanistan And PakistanStephen Biddle At Foreign Affairs: ‘Running Out Of Time For Afghan Governance Reform’

Repost-From Michael Yon: ‘The Battle For Kandahar’Dexter Filkins Book On Afghanistan And Iraq: “The Forever War”Monday Quotations-Henry KissingerTom Ricks Via Foreign Policy: ‘American General Dies In Afghanistan; An American Lt. Col. Goes Off The Reservation

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From Foreign Affairs-‘Former Syrian General Akil Hashem on the Uprising in Syria’

Full interview here.

‘Western countries will only intervene if the Assad regime escalates its killing, or there is a massacre on the scale of Srebrenica. According to my sources, the regime actually regulates how many should be killed per day. At the beginning of the armed uprising, the number was about 50; after the assault on the Baba Amr neighborhood of Homs, the number increased to 100. Assad knows that if he commits a large-scale massacre, he will trigger intervention. So if the numbers climb to 30,000 or 40,000 dead, or many thousands are killed at once, then you may see the international community act. Syria may also provoke its neighbors — similar to what happened last week, when Syrian troops fired across the border into a Turkish refugee camp’

Democracy does not seem to be forthcoming…

Related On This Site: …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’James Kirchik At The American Interest: ‘Egyptian Liberals Against the Revolution’

As much as there is American Leftist political support against colonialism, has Obama just invested us in a human rights based, neo-neo colonialism?: A Few Thoughts On Watching Operations In Libya

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From Foreign Affairs: ‘Stephen Biddle and Max Boot Discuss U.S. Afghanistan Policy’

Audio only (~1.00 hr)

‘Stephen Biddle and Max Boot discuss U.S. Afghanistan policy with Jonathan D. Tepperman’
Is continuing COIN (counterinsurgency) possible without a long-term commitment?  Is advise and assist part of a withdrawal trajectory, harming our troops ability to do their jobs? Is a negotiated settlement even possible with a timeline?  Good discussion.

From ABC News: ‘Afghans Lob Grenades at US Base, Clash With Police’

Full piece here.

I doubt the public apology from the President will have the intended effect.  Maybe advise and assist was just a cover for withdrawal, a bump on the road to the currently planned way out.  There is a high likelihood of leaving Afghanistan much as we found it:  very poor and tribal, wracked by conflict, and a strategic backyard for other interests.  The Taliban and other militia groups could gain back political control, making it hard to have enough political stability for greater economic opportunity (the Chinese will likely just take what they need, capitalizing on our efforts).  A space for terrorist activity could appear again which neither the Jirgas nor the current Afghan government would have incentive/interest enough to stop, even if they could.

Tom Ricks offers a possibly new strategy, but the underlying logic remains: no sitting U.S. President can allow a place where known terrorists have safe haven to plot and carry out attacks on our soil, without taking some action.

Related On This Site: This blog is at least two years behind events in Afghanistan, if it’s on them at all. From March 27th, 2009 At WhiteHouse.Gov: Remarks By The President On A New Strategy For Afghanistan And PakistanStephen Biddle At Foreign Affairs: ‘Running Out Of Time For Afghan Governance Reform’

Repost-From Michael Yon: ‘The Battle For Kandahar’Dexter Filkins Book On Afghanistan And Iraq: “The Forever War”Monday Quotations-Henry Kissinger

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From The New Republic: ‘A Tour Of Egypt’s Half-Finished Revolution’

Full piece here.

‘There is a correlation, I’ve noticed, between the volume of mosques’ loudspeakers in a country and its radical Islamists’ ambitions and aggressive claims to power. Thirty-three years ago, one of the first hints of rising religious despotism in Iran was the sudden increase in the volume of loudspeakers in every neighborhood mosque. Piety was no longer private and voluntary, but public and mandatory.’

Related On This SiteJames Kirchik At The American Interest: ‘Egyptian Liberals Against the Revolution’