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June 27, 2008

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Thanks, Hilzoy! This is an incisive and thorough take on an important policy deficiency (and serious inconsistency) in McCain's platform.

I hope you won't take the rest of this comment as a threadjacking; I have a broader concern, and I'm not sure where else to share it.

Back in February, documenting McCain's policy reversals and his general madness/disorientation was fun. It felt like we were setting the stage for a political denouement--a chance for Democrats to drive the narrative about a candidate for once and engage the vacuity of Republican policy thinking at the same time.

Today, it feels more like the last days of a long siege. I've been reading and writing about McCain's policy hodgepodge for the better part of 2008. I've been sending around articles and cleverly edited video clips. I've tried to make the case for why this wild flip-flopping is substantively important, politically interesting, and just plain funny.

So far, after months, not more than a whisper of it has broken through. The Democratic candidate, today, if the media coverage is determinative, has a worse consistency problem than John McCain.

Is it possible that the mainstream narrative of this campaign will never focus on McCain in the way we want? And if so, what do we do? Should we all quit reading and blogging and give our money to Bob Barr?

But the fact that he's proposing to try, risking a return to Cold War tensions with the world's second-largest nuclear power

Russia has already returned to its Cold War status - it's a communist dictatorship run by the KGB that has no respect for human rights, and where those who oppose state power tend to end up dead.

You seem to be suggesting that the US should not oppose that. I think that's wrong - one entry in my ever lengthening litany of complaints against the current administration is their coddling of the murderous and criminal Russian regime.

That state is evil, and it needs to be opposed. Now is not the time to be frightened of irritating Russia.

now_what,

It's always time to be frightened of antagonising a vast country with hundreds of intercontinental ballistic missiles tipped with thousand of massive nuclear warheads. Overcoming that fear to oppose Russia to achieve something meaningful is one thing; just mindlessly irritating it for the hell of it is stupid.
Also, I think it's a hell of a stretch to say that modern Russia is a Communist dictatorship - it's more complicated than a dictatorship and it certainly doesn't seem to be meaningfully Communist

It's not the intercontinental missiles the U.S. is afraid of at the moment, it's the vast reserves of oil underneath Soviet territory that we are trying to buy with rapidly depreciating paper that account for the coddling.

Pop over to The Cunning Realist for a view from Wall Street about why an invasion of Iran won't be off the table in a new Democratic Administration and how it all has to do with the tragically precarious position the Federal Reserve is in at the moment.

We can't bomb Russia.

We can bomb Iran.

When a thief runs out of money, they go back to stealing.

We're going to steal the oil.

And once Americans of most stripes realize that their retirements and their financial security are just pieces of paper with a lower price tomorrow than today, everyone will want a piece of the action.

Apropos of nothing, and not even apropos of THAT:

Now that the Supreme Court has affirmed the individual right to self-defense in one's home, what happens if a fetus (a second-story fetus) convinces its mother to break into someone's home (because the fetus knows its mother has even less depreciating paper than the owner of the home) and the armed homeowner takes a shot at the get-away vehicle (the mother) and plugs the fetus.

Will the resulting Supreme Court case be called Focus on the Family versus the National Rifle Association?

When fetuses have guns, Wade is going to be really confused.

now_what: "You seem to be suggesting that the US should not oppose that."

On the contrary: I am arguing that if we want to oppose that, we should be smart about it.

Tell me exactly how kicking Russia out of the G-8 would change any of the things you said. And note that McCain is not advocating kicking them out if they don't do something we want. It's not a matter of gaining leverage. He just advocates kicking them out, period. What goal, exactly, would that serve?

(I'm leaving aside the fact that we can't just kick them out. If you want, you can tell me how making an empty threat that we can't carry through on would help, too.)

The basic principle of McCain/Bush diplomacy is that we don't talk to countries unless they first agree to do what we want. Therefore, we must expell Russia from the G8. And there's no point is worrying about whether the other members of the G8 agree--if they don't agree to do what we want, we can't talk to them, either. We'll just have to make do with a G1.

I think this is like Ahmadinejad's threats to wipe Israel off the map. He's playing to a domestic audience and doesn't really care if it makes him- or his country- look bad to the rest of the world. It's a stupid, counterproductive strategy that will make life harder for our next president, but he's still willing to try it if it helps him get elected.

He just advocates kicking them out, period. What goal, exactly, would that serve?

Presumably Russia derives some benefit from being a member of the G8. Expelling them would deny them that benefit. In addition it sends them, and other similarly evil states, a clear message that their behavior will not be tolerated. If they see that as a slap in the face, or a kick in the teeth, or a kick in the gut, good.

now_what: OK, that's progress, even though I note that 'denying them a benefit' does not count as 'getting something we want', absent further explanation. Now for the next question:

Do you have any reason to think that the benefits of kicking them out would outweigh the costs? Start with the need to get their cooperation on securing loose nukes, in order to keep those loose nukes out of the hands of terrorists, unpleasant countries, etc. Continue with the need to secure their cooperation on dealing with Iran. Continue further to securing their cooperation on things like trade, not doing evil things to other E. European countries, etc.

Note that McCain counts many of these things as benefits, so it's not as though he is prepared to say: to hell with securing loose nukes! He's just not prepared to say how his policy of cooperation squares with his policy of kicking them in the teeth for no good reason.

Why is Russia part of G-8? Was it a mistake to increase the size of the group from the original 7 to the current 8?

I never understood why they were allowed to 'officially' join the club. Russia had been an unofficial member for several years, being the "1" in the G-7+1 meetings that took place.

If it were to be decided today I would bet Russia would not be officially welcomed into the Group but would be kept on as a 'provisional member' until they proved worthy of full membership among the industrialized democracies. It appears to me that Clinton was premature in pushing for Russia's admittance. Russia under Putin has gone from a budding democracy to a statist thugocracy. Do they really belong in a group of real western democracies? I don't think so.

And it is not like Russias membership in this group provides the only chance at addressing diplomatically the issues McCains critics raise.

In addition it sends them, and other similarly evil states, a clear message that their behavior will not be tolerated.

Is the goal here to change their behavior, or just to show our attitude toward it? If the former, how likely is expelling them from the G8 to accomplish that? If the latter, how does that help anyone or change anything?

risking a return to Cold War tensions with the world's second-largest nuclear power

Not bug--feature.

I never understood why they were allowed to 'officially' join the club.

Because we'd rather have them inside the tent exmicturating, than outside immicturating?

(Cliche changed in deference to posting rules)

According to the GOS, McCain's also taking credit for Webb's veteran's benefits bill -- the one he opposed, didn't show up to vote for, and then sent out that essay lambasting Obama when Obama called him out on it. Does anyone know if the addition of transferable benefits is something that was added to the bill later? It's hard to tell if he's fudging his position or just blatantly flip-flopping.

If they see that as a slap in the face, or a kick in the teeth, or a kick in the gut, good.

I'm curious: do you go around picking bar-fights, too? Because that's essentially what you're advocating here, only with waaaay more guns.

Ah, I answered my question. Transferable benefits were added to the bill, but the vote was yesterday and McCain skipped out. I'm still confused, but no more derail needed, I guess.

even though I note that 'denying them a benefit' does not count as 'getting something we want'

If Russia is going to revert to its Cold War behavior, then denying them something economically and politically beneficial certainly counts as 'getting something we want', for certain values of 'we'.

Start with the need to get their cooperation on securing loose nukes, in order to keep those loose nukes out of the hands of terrorists, unpleasant countries, etc.

An argument that plays on over-hyped fears of terrorists with WMD? Really? Couldn't you have worked in the phrase "mushroom cloud" there somewhere?

Continue with the need to secure their cooperation on dealing with Iran

10 years of G8 membership hasn't done that, let's keep trying the same thing, with the only difference being that we have let them know that we are unwilling to enforce even the smallest of sanctions against intransigent behavior.

Continue further to securing their cooperation on things like trade

First of all, Russia has more to lose on that front than the US. And Russia's share of imports and exports to the US is nearly insignificant. Finally, their main export is fungible, which means we do not need their cooperation to benefit from trade in it.

not doing evil things to other E. European countries

For such countries that are market democracies, the solution to that problem is to let them join NATO. For such countries that not market democracies, some people deserve their neighbors.

I’m thinking that it was an “inartful” comment made by a staffer. ;)

Half teasing for now, but I am going to have to start prodding you for a post on the big O’s many flip-flops.

;)

Now-what would fit right into a Bush or McCain foreign policy team. He has the style of reasoning down pat; X is evil. Doing Y will annoy X. Let's do Y!

You really think the Bush foreign policy team took into account whether or not a given country was evil?

That's an absurd statement, given the facts.

now_what still hasn't answered to the fact that this whole conversation is meaningless. So it really doesn't matter if this a good thing or not.

Here's my question:

Who died and made us God?

My nimble math-foo tells me that there are 8 nations in the G-8. We are one, Russian is another. That leaves six.

What do those six nations want?

McCain wants to kick Russia out of the G-8 because they are bad. Bad, bad, bad.

What happens when we are bad, bad, bad? Do we get kicked out of the G-8, too?

What if Russia says, "The US is fomenting war in the middle east. They need to be kicked out of the G-8".

What if the other nations say, "You guys have a point"?

Plus, Russia brings a lot of oil to the table. Industrial nations need lots and lots of oil.

I'm not sure we bring enough to the table anymore, economically or morally, to dictate terms to the rest of the world.

Thanks -

Mr. McCain seems pretty consistent on foreign policy.

Right on, Russell. I'm not being in the slightest flippant when I say that I'd love to see other nations tell the US things like "How about you prosecute war criminals instead of electing and promoting them for a change, and submit your elections to the standard of oversight that's good enough for everyone else, and do a little house-cleaning, and then come lecture us." We deserve to be shunted to the back of the bus, and to stay there for a good long while until we get our house in order.

It would be great if Russel and Bruce were in charge of Foreign Policy

Re: Russian Oil and Foreign Policy

Per infoplease, Russia has 60 billion barrels of proven reserves, or twelve years worth of US consumption. They are not more ‘oil-rich’ than the United States, which has 68 billion barrels (14 years) offshore and 20 billion barrels (4 years) on government land.

Saudi Arabia reportedly has 264 billion barrels, but their state religion directs them to lie to us so the number is probably far less. The reason they waffle about raising production has probably much more to do with geophysical limits within their oil-fields than government policy.

Iraq and Iran combine for 250 billion in reported reserves, which may be accurate because those countries have been inefficient at exploiting their resources in the past.

Russia is run by grown-ups who seem to take an interest in the well-being of the Russian people. When the time comes, they are surely prepared to simply take the Middle Eastern oil.

We should use the belligerence of Iran to engineer a conflict that would allow us to claim the oil-rich Iranian islands are a war-prize. You can sink an aircraft carrier, but you can’t sink an island. Either Russia, China, or the West will eventually take the oil. Its best for all involved for the West to take the oil.

The real problem is that Republicans like John McCain are used to negotiating with Democrats like John Reid. If the Democrats ran Russia, they'd yell, scream, and eventually quit the G8.

The rest of the universe says "oh, so we're playing hardball? I'll give you hardball!"

Per infoplease, Russia has 60 billion barrels of proven reserves, or twelve years worth of US consumption. They are not more ‘oil-rich’ than the United States

USA: world's largest oil importer.
Russia: world's largest non-OPEC oil exporter.

The greatest short-term growth in non-OPEC oil production is expected in the former Soviet Union, including Russia and the Caspian Sea area states.

That's all as of 2005, cite here.

And never fear, I'm sure your point of view is well represented among the folks currently making our foreign policy.

Thanks -

Hey russell; don’t you recognize Bill’s inflatable straw man™?

I thought McCain wanted to kick Russia out because his lobbyists worked for Georgia, so he’s on Russia’s case.
It’s one of those lobbyist things, hey? No morals or sense involved; just money.

Just, in fact, like all his ‘policies’.

Bruce @ 10:28am: amen to that.

I'd like to assume the responsibility for addressing now_what's suggestion that we should oppose Russia because it is evil (i.e., undemocratic. Freedom House (www.freedomhouse.org) publishes ratings of the amount of freedom in countries around the world. It lists a great many countries whose level of freedom is equal to or worse than Russia's. Among these are Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Thailand, Iraq (that bastion of democratic success!) and the UAE. If now_what is to be consistent, then he must believe that we should also oppose all these nations. This raises a number of problems. If we are to oppose Saudi Arabia because of its evil government, then we had better brace ourselves for the Mother of All Oil Shortages. And of course Iraq poses special problems. We can't invade, because we already did. Should we shoot the members of the government? Kick Iraq out of any international organizations? What do you do with an evil government that you yourself set up?

Hey russell; don’t you recognize Bill’s inflatable straw man™?

Actually, I'd rather take Bill's proposal at face value. Because even if he is just Another Guy Talking On The Internet, I have no doubt that there are folks in a position to influence our foreign policy that would advocate exactly what he has suggested. Perhaps not so nakedly, but with the same result, nonetheless.

Let's say that, through some military intervention, we manage to secure the combined reserves of both Iraq and Iran for our exclusive use. That is, already, a pipe dream, but humor me. That will buy us fifty years at our current rate of consumption.

There is nothing, whatsoever, in the history of this nation that leads me to believe that we will use that time to plan and implement an intelligent transition to an economy based on something other than plentiful, relative inexpensive oil. If it's available, we'll consume it. Period.

So, if we follow Bill's plan, we will initiate a thinly disguised aggressive war for the purpose of bequeathing the hard work of changing the way we live to our grandchildren. Tens or hundreds of thousands will die, and millions will experience dislocation, deprivation, and other hardships, so that we can put off the day when we finally have to wean ourselves off of cheap oil until we have all passed on.

I'm not sure if I believe in hell or not, but if I did, I think that would pretty much qualify all of us here in this country for a do not pass go, do not pay $200 ticket directly to one of the inner circles.

Further:

My father, stepfather, father-in-law, and uncle all spent their young adulthood fighting a war against nations committed to exactly that kind of aggressive, expansionist foreign policy. My uncle died in that war.

That war was fought until our enemies were thoroughly, utterly destroyed and defeated. Tragic though that was, it was correct for those nations to be destroyed, because they were wicked, to use a term that has fallen from favor.

If we follow their path, we deserve their fate.

To initiate an aggressive war, openly or covertly, against another nation for the purpose of securing access to their oil is a crime. It ought to be a crime, and it is a crime.

If we take that path, we will richly earn the condemnation of the rest of the world.

Somewhere along the line, we acquired the attitude that the world is, potentially, our oyster to shuck and devour, and the only thing that prevents us from doing so is our good and benevolent nature.

The world is not our oyster. Other nations are not going to stand idly by while we start wars to take other people's stuff.

If we head down this path we will pay, and pay, and pay, and pay, and pay. Then our children and grandchildren will do the same. The reason I feel comfortable making this prediction is that every time we do it, that's what happens.

It's stupid, idiotic, hubristic folly.

We need to use less oil. If that means we need to change the way we live, then we need to change the way we live.

We need to adopt a different attitude toward the rest of the world. The brave Yanks coming to save the day was a long time ago. I'm not sure what we've done for the rest of the world lately that should entitle us to tell them what to do, or how to live.

Invading Iran is a f'ing stupid idea. If that isn't firmly embedded in your consciousness, repeat it to yourself 20 times a day until it is.

Invading Iran is a f'ing stupid idea.

Rant over.

Thanks -

It lists a great many countries whose level of freedom is equal to or worse than Russia's. Among these are Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Thailand, Iraq (that bastion of democratic success!) and the UAE. If now_what is to be consistent, then he must believe that we should also oppose all these nations

I'm consistent.

Freedom is a GO.

Meaning?

now_what, your statement of consistency implies that we should oppose Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Iraq at least as vehemently as we oppose Russia. So, what do you propose we do against these countries to match your desire to eject Russia from the G8?

we will initiate a thinly disguised aggressive war for the purpose of bequeathing the hard work of changing the way we live to our grandchildren....

I'm not sure if I believe in hell or not, but if I did, I think that would pretty much qualify all of us here in this country for a do not pass go, do not pay $200 ticket directly to one of the inner circles.

But then we could call ourselves the greatest generation and wonder why these kids can't take the bull by the horns the way we did.

It's worth remembering that it's not World War II veterans and other survivors of the Great Depression calling themselves the greatest generation. That's a label projected onto them by the next generation, and in particular by members of that generation looking for excuses for their own self-perceived failures and lack of accomplishments. I remember Dad's comment to the effect that one book of praise for an author's father and other guys of Dad's vintage was kind of nice, but that when it turned into a campaign, it got less and less appealing. And totally unappealing when it turned into one more PR tool to support unjustified, immoral war. Dad never did like being anyone's tool.

But, but, but russell...
You’re saying we should stop?
Stop spending money on all the stuff we really, really want?
All that stuff that makes us cool and sexy and good? (I’m not really sure what that is, but I know there’s a lot of it.)
Because, you know, God wants us to be, ah, red-faced sweaty GREEDY gobblegobblegobble?

Shop till you drop: Go to Hell.
Sounds about right.

Put it another way.
People who plan(sic) for their grandchildren’s future in Hell on Earth will have their reward.
If there’s a God.

Maybe Hell isn’t such a bad idea.

Mr. McCain's custodians at the Hanoi Hilton were trained by Russia and China. His view on the G-8 issue, influenced by his POW experience, is not surprising, and while not feasible, nor even desirable, sends a clear message. Mr. McCain has an honorable service record and the respect of his political peers. However dysfunctional this congress may be, it's members are capable of recognizing integrity in others. The same can be said of Russia. They may not like Mr. McCain, but they respect him.

The assertion by "Independent" that McCain has integrity doesn't square with what I've seen of McCain. For example, McCain misrepresented Romney's position on Iraq, falsely claimed he had not met with Paxton, and gamed the public financing system. The press often plays along with McCain's attempt to portray himself as a "straight talker", but just because McCain claims to be a "straight talker" doesn't mean he has integrity.

I'm sorry, I know this is quite irrelevant and frivolous, but I simply have to unburden myself of the image of John McCain calling G-8 and his Battle Aces ( http://members.aol.com/battleaces/home.html ) out of retirement to invade Russia.

Boy, I would love to read that story, preferably written by Philip Jose Farmer.

My guess is, they'd return home with Lenin's mummified head on a pike.

It would be stupid to invade Iran Russell. We don’t have to invade Iran to achieve our strategic goal of continued access to Middle Eastern oil. Or more importantly, to prevent the Russians and/or Chinese from seizing the oil for their own exclusive purposes. See the arctic for a datapoint.

The wars of the 21st Century will not be over ideologies, they will be over oil. There is no substitute for oil. That is the reality.

Iran is the country rattling the sabre. Iran has oil-rich islands. The proper response to an Iranian aggression is to take their islands and the oil fields that surround them. No invasion is necessary.

The proper response to an Iranian aggression is to take their islands and the oil fields that surround them.

And what constitutes aggression on the part of Iran? Being Iranian?

And what constitutes aggression on the part of Iran? Being Iranian?

Close enough. The extreme left has been screaming “blood for oil” for years – but we never have yet come close to that. It is coming though. I can see the day, in my lifetime, where we actually do invade to take the oil. Some day soon the US, Russia, and China will divvy up what’s left of the world’s oil. It may be a negotiation in a smoke filled room, or it may take a war or two. But I expect to see it in the next 20 years,

You ain’t seen nothing yet….

It's apparent that "the culture of life" has really been a cynical rhetorical cover for "the culture of death."

I remember when many "conservatives" were calling Muslim political groups, "Cults of Death". It's apparent that the United States, the Republicans in particular, is one huge whore for war, when it comes to oil.

The ease with which so many Americans can turn to mass death and genocide to make their life comfortable is utterly degenerate. I think now_what is just as “evil” and depraved as the Russians he claims to despise.

now_what,

Do you even know what evil is?

Do you know what it means?

There is no substitute for oil. That is the reality.

We're 5% of the world population. We use 25% of the oil. We are not, remotely, the only advanced industrial nation on earth. Other folks have figured some of this out. We could, too.

There are some alternatives available to us. At a minimum, we should be able to reduce our consumption of oil significantly without a dramatic decline in our standard of living.

We might have to live differently, but not necessarily worse off.

The extreme left has been screaming “blood for oil” for years – but we never have yet come close to that. It is coming though.

Actually I think we're there now.

I find it completely believable that the world is about to descend into -- actually, already is deep into -- a decades long struggle over who controls access to oil, and that military force or the threat of military force will play a huge role in who comes out on top in that struggle.

It will suck. A lot of people will die, and lots and lots more will suffer. A very small handful will get unimaginably rich. Probably not anyone reading this.

It will all be unnecessary and stupid. It will all only postpone the day when we, finally, have to figure out what's next, because all the oil in the world won't keep the current model going more than a few decades. Maybe a hundred years.

We will f*ck the world up because we're too damned lazy and stupid to figure out a better solution.

None of you folks arguing for this -- not BOB, not OC, not any of you -- will bear the brunt of this. Your lives will remain as comfortable as they are now until you die and leave someone else holding the bag.

Nothing new about that. It's the way of the world. It's just unbelievably, astoundingly stupid.

Thanks -

I'd just like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation for Brick Oven Bill, who makes my point-of-view collection look sane; even well-considered, by comparison.

Thanks, Bill!

Kenneth--
You may be correct, but what choice is there, other than staying home. Each election cycle we wait in line to vote for the lesser evil. If you figure it out, let me know.

russel:

We're 5% of the world population. We use 25% of the oil.

And the US produces about 22% of world GDP.

At a minimum, we should be able to reduce our consumption of oil significantly without a dramatic decline in our standard of living.

Americans disagree, which is why it takes such a large increase in oil prices to produce a tiny decrease in the amount of oil being used.


someotherdude:

The ease with which so many Americans can turn to mass death and genocide to make their life comfortable is utterly degenerate. I think now_what is just as “evil” and depraved as the Russians he claims to despise.

Advocating removing a country from a global coalition due to their unacceptable behavior is what passes for genocide these days? It meant something else at one point, didn't it?

Although I'm honestly glad to see that calling someone evil and depraved is within the posting rules here. I will be taking advantage of that fact in the near future.

Do you even know what evil is?

Yes.

Do you know what it means?

Yes.

It's nice to have folks worrying about Russia, kinda opens up the playing field a bit and gives a bit more elbow room so the OMG the Muslims! and OMG the Chinese and OMG the North Koreans! can spread out a bit. I hope we don't run out of nationalities...

The notion that the USA, or Russia, or China could seize oilfields of other nations defies military reality. Oil infrastructure is exceedingly vulnerable to sabotage; even in Iraq, where the government is nominally on our side, it has proven difficult to keep the oil system functioning at peak. In a country where the population resents the invader, it will prove impossible.

Well, if the US are the good guys and should legitimately commit genocide to get the oil (as some propose), then the bad guys will have even less problems with that kind of final solution (as the same persons have stated). I believe I remember the proposal to just nuke all the oil countries* (or kill all inhabitants by other means). Other sources of oil would then last long enough for the radiation to sink to acceptable levels to take over the oil fields.
The "ideal" solution would of course be to let the bad guys do the dirty work of killing and to then "liberate" the territory for US use.
Somewhere Curtis Le May is laughing madly.

*at least those in the Middle East, Venezuela optional

And the US produces about 22% of world GDP.

That's great. If we continue to rely on readily available, inexpensive oil to do so, it will become increasingly difficult to remain that productive.

Americans disagree, which is why it takes such a large increase in oil prices to produce a tiny decrease in the amount of oil being used.

Couldn't agree more.

Peak oil production in the US was predicted by Hubbert in 1956. We became a net importer of oil sometime in the 70's. I believe we now produce something like 25% of what we consume.

We're now in a position where we will, in fact must, do whatever it takes to preserve a ready supply of oil. Oil is the ring in our nose, and somebody else is holding the rope. Oil is our crack, and somebody else is the dealer. Insert whatever other folksy metaphor you like.

It's not a good position to be in.

Nobody saw this coming?

There are about 1,000,000 things we could do to reduce our dependence on oil. Some are hard, some are very very easy. Doing them is basically left as a matter for individuals to do, or not do, according to their personal preference. There are, in fact, many public policies that incentivize wasteful use of oil.

Americans may disagree, but that doesn't mean they don't have their heads where their heads don't belong.

It's stupid. Our own stupidity and laziness will be our undoing. I'd like to say you heard it here first, but I'm far from the first to say it.

At this point, I think it's just a matter of watching as the train wreck happens.

Advocating removing a country from a global coalition due to their unacceptable behavior is what passes for genocide these days?

No.

Initiating war with other countries, either explicitly or via some trumped up excuse, to seize or control their mineral resources is what was being discussed.

Personally, I don't call it genocide, just a crime against peace. People have hung for it.

Thanks -

OCSteve: The extreme left has been screaming “blood for oil” for years – but we never have yet come close to that.

You forgot about the million dead in Iraq. I assure you that while they might not be redblooded Americans, they had blood...

"The real problem is that Republicans like John McCain are used to negotiating with Democrats like John Reid."

Who is John Reid?

BOB: "Saudi Arabia reportedly has 264 billion barrels, but their state religion directs them to lie to us so the number is probably far less."

Your logic is as impeccable as ever.

russell's June 29, 2008 at 02:27 AM: "Rant over."

I sign onto your rant, agree with it, and and applaud your flame on.

And thank you.

now_what: "Freedom is a GO."

I'm very big on freedom, myself.

I'm also very big on cost-analysis, and being aware of the trade-offs necessary to get various people to freedom, and thus having a sense of what actions do and don't make sense at a given time.

E.g., if we can help a country's people get to a free, democratic, state, with civil liberties, and a generally sound and secure and popular and relatively non-corrupt government with out much death or destruction: great!

If, on the other hand, helping them get there -- and it's always ultimately in the hands of those people, not us -- by, say, killing one hundred million of them over the course of ten or twenty years: not so great.

And where the result would lay in between those two, that's where the necessary non black-and-white decision-making lies.

This is a world in which wise policy decision-making is rarely binary.

"Boy, I would love to read that story, preferably written by Philip Jose Farmer."

Heh. How about Howard Waldrop? Or Tim Powers?

"The proper response to an Iranian aggression is to take their islands and the oil fields that surround them. No invasion is necessary."

Bill, what is the difference between your advocated foreign policy, and that of Adolph Hitler's?

Do you know what a war of aggression is? Have you heard of the Nuremberg Principles?

Why, Bill, do you wish to see the future leaders of the U.S. tried, rightfully, by our own sworn principles, as war criminals? Why do you advocate a Nazi-like policy of criminal aggression?

Have you no understanding of what the ideals and stated principles of America, of the Declaration of Independence, and our Constitution, and the Four Freedoms?

In short, Bill: why do you hate America?

Hi Gary;

Adolf Hitler advocated the establishment of a master race to kill or subjugate the rest of the world. Ahmedinejad advocates the establishment of a master religion to kill, subjugate, or convert the world.

I’m only advocating taking a few little islands from Ahmedinejad in the aftermath of his impending aggressions. Think of if as a policy statement that indicates that attempts to kill, subjugate, or convert the world may have negative economic consequences.

I’m only advocating taking a few little islands from Ahmedinejad in the aftermath of his impending aggressions.

Can something impending have an aftermath?

Doesn't something actually have to *happen* to have an aftermath?

I think I am beginning to understand the logical process that led to our involvement in Iraq...

Thanks -

"Adolf Hitler advocated the establishment of a master race to kill or subjugate the rest of the world."

That was a key part of his ideology -- although saying that his racial theories said that he and his favored folks were the "master race" would be a bit more accurate -- but it wasn't his foreign policy, per se.

His foreign policy was wars of aggression; so is yours. So how do you reconcile your advocated policy with the Nuremberg Principles (and those we similarly applied to Japan), Bill? Why should right-thinking people not go to war against you, as a war criminal, to hang you, if you were an actual leader of this country who committed the acts you advocate, according to our historic American principles, which are now enshrined in international law, by our own hand?

As a trivial aside, since Ahmedinejad neither controls the military nor the foreign policy of Iran, why should anyone care greatly what he does or does not desire? Not to mention that Iran isn't in a position to do much world-conquering, anyway.

Doesn't something actually have to *happen* to have an aftermath?

BOB's clearly doing beforemath planning. Do try and keep up. Note: not to be confused with pre-calculus.

russell: None of you folks arguing for this -- not BOB, not OC, not any of you -- will bear the brunt of this.

Arguing for this? I’m just noting that I think it will happen. That hardly means I’m for it.

Slarti: BOB's clearly doing beforemath planning. Do try and keep up.

If everything happens simultaneously all at once, does this require polymath planning?

I’m only advocating taking a few little islands from Ahmedinejad in the aftermath of his impending aggressions. Think of if as a policy statement that indicates that attempts to kill, subjugate, or convert the world may have negative economic consequences.

So if Canada or the USSR took Alaska from the US in the aftermath of the US's actual aggressions, you'd be fine with that?

Let me give you a hint: if your foreign policy is based on the principle that it's OK for a country to do X if and only if it's the US, that's not an ethically-based policy. If you think that might makes right, you should come out and say that.

<>blockquote>If everything happens simultaneously

Einstein says that can't happen, but I'll grant near-simultaneity. Sure, that might take a polymath. Say, one that can both build himself a brick oven AND pronounce authoritatively on foreign policy.

Ack.

Well, we could always just drink their milkshake. We'd need a decent-length straw for that, though.

Arguing for this? I’m just noting that I think it will happen. That hardly means I’m for it.

Noted, with apologies.

If everything happens simultaneously all at once, does this require polymath planning?

I think it requires a calm, quiet, comfortable room to sit in, perhaps with a trusted and reassuring friend, some slow, deep, even breathing, and a mental note to try a lower dosage next time around. :)

Thanks -

Hitler was not the only white dude intent on preserving white privilege. It has been an essential characteristic of American foreign policy for a few hundred years.

The terms used to describe the genocide are also very telling is this context -- terms such as melting, receding, shrinking, dwindling, disappearing, vanishing. Most of these have connotations of natural processes, like the melting of the snow or the receding tide. None of them have any type of active component. They are all devoid of conscious effort. They "happen" under their own auspices without any intent. These terms are used consciously or unconsciously to, again, lift the burden from the perpetrators of mass murder, thievery, and genocide and place it solidly on the shoulders of the victims, or even more pointedly, on God. They also serve to halt any type of reflection on the realities of expansion. How can one stop the snow from melting in the sun? How can one stop the tide from receding from the shore? These are all processes that are beyond human design. They are Divine processes, natural process, scientific process, that are completely absent of human will or intent.

[...]

Manifest Destiny is, of course, much more than what is presented here. What I find most intriguing about it, however, is how a broad concept can combine many others into a unifying theory. This is what strikes me as being the power Manifest Destiny had on the American psyche. It gave a holistic and Divine rationale for what in any other era would have been simple conquest and empire building. It is what also made Euroamerican expansion uniquely cruel and genocidal. With the advent of racism and social Darwinism, extermination and supplantation replaced simple imperial designs. This is only one aspect of Manifest Destiny -- mostly psychological -- there is obviously much more to it, yet I do not think one can overestimate the power philosophy plays in human affairs. A philosophy such as Manifest Destiny once internalized in the culture, is never really abolished, it merely adapts to the present conditions and transforms itself into a suitable logic for the times.

Time (n): nature's way of preventing everything from happening all at once.

[funny, I was just having this conversation with someone else.]

"drink their milkshake"

Yes, but there will be blood. ;)


Russell's 6:45 am question:

"Nobody saw this coming?"


Well, some far-seeing elitist busybodies did. There was what's his name, way back when, who put the Cartergan before the horse, the horse being a mule who looked into the blackness of its blinders and planted its ass firmly in denial -- otherwise called the market -- the deaf, dumb, and blind mob who sees all and ignores all for ideological reasons, waiting primly and virtuously for the proper incentives and not permitting itself to be whacked across the brow by the two-by-four of government -- that would lead to too many winners and not enough losers and a market without losers is a sadist's nightmare.

Let's say oil sells today for $142.00 per barrel. Under Kudlow's rule of market donkiness, no alternatives shall be cost effective and thus permissable until oil reaches $142.37 per barrel.

He'll let you know.

From the gallows.


This is what made Manifest Destiny such a powerful force in empire building. It placed the responsibility of the destruction of nations and peoples on the victims themselves, not on the perpetrators of it. The power of Manifest Destiny lied in the fact that it created a cosmological rationale for genocide, taking the responsibility out of the hands of the individual. When you set about to dispossess a people of their land and source of livelihood, unless you have no conscience at all, one must find an excuse to safely hide from the truth of the pain and suffering you are inflicting on innocent peoples. In the era of Manifest Destiny and Anglo-Saxonism the excuses were varied but most boiled down to the simple fact that if, indeed, these people were human beings (which is questionable), then they were in fact a lesser type of humanity who had no rights to life, land, or liberty. They could not use the land like Anglos, so they had no right to it; they had no civilizations, so they had no right to their own political institutions; their lives were not worth that of an Anglo, so they had no right to life. Any suffering felt by them is of their own making, or simply a byproduct of their inferior nature when placed in contact with the superior Euroamerican types of humanity. The fault resided with them not the Euroamericans. The fault was that they lived in contact with Euroamericans -- Natural Law dictated the rest. Present conditions were used as proof that this was indeed the divine order. Anglos were the master of the non-Anglos therefore it was their nature to be masters. Non-Anglos were subservient to the Anglos, therefore it was their nature to be servants. Circular arguments were the order of the day.

[..]

Another excuse to hide from genocide and global dispossession of non-Euroamerican peoples was the myth of expansion ridding the world of tyranny and despotism. It made it quite easy to think of expansion in the context of spreading freedom and civilization to the rest of the world that lived under despots and tyrants, spreading culture and philosophy, knowledge and science, to the unlearned masses -- bettering the world with Euroamerican genius and technology. The march of conquest was not genocide, slavery, and dispossession; it was the Peace Corps of the 19th Century.

There are, as one might expect, inherent contradictions in the propaganda of Anglo-Saxonism. All non-Euroamericans were savage, brute, warlike, and ferocious -- Euroamericans, contrastingly, were peace-loving, humane, civilized, moral, just, and bringers of freedom giving institutions. Yet when the mood was inviting, the formally negative attributes placed upon non-Euroamerican peoples were all of a sudden some of the most positive aspects of the Anglo-Saxon race. Instead of being brute, warlike, or savage, these attributes when used in the context of Anglo-Saxons conferred upon them heroic qualities; the heroic conqueror, the exterminator of inferior races, replenishing the world with superior institutions and peoples.

There was what's his name, way back when, who put the Cartergan before the horse

Yeah, but he was always giving boring lectures like some schoolmarmish scold. What a drag.

The man looked like Orville Redenbacher, for crying out loud, and he wore that stupid sweater on the damned TV like that nerdy doofus Mr. Rogers.

Seriously.

Didn't he know it was morning in America?

Why settle for the moral equivalent of war when you can have the real thing?

Thanks -

OCSteve: The extreme left has been screaming “blood for oil” for years – but we never have yet come close to that.

Iran? 1954? The Shah? SAVAK? Are you ignorant of everything?

OCSteve wrote: The extreme left has been screaming “blood for oil” for years – but we never have yet come close to that.

To add to BigHank53's list, there's always http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Causes_of_World_War_II>WWII.

As usual, I'm with Russell from start to finish, but I would add that it's not just our gluttonous, lazy, take-more-than-our-share habits that are in play, or good sense, wisdom, and conservation on the part of ordinary citizens that would solve the oil problem. http://www.peak-oil-news.info/military-oil-usage-statistics/>The military itself "needs" the oil.

So...we need a strong military to ensure our supply of oil so that we can continue to have a strong military....

Adolf Hitler advocated the establishment of a master race to kill or subjugate the rest of the world. Ahmedinejad advocates the establishment of a master religion to kill, subjugate, or convert the world.

Whereas the American advocating of a master economic policy to kill, subjugate, or convert the world is... different?

Think of if as a policy statement that indicates that attempts to kill, subjugate, or convert the world may have negative economic consequences.

Heh. Indeed.

Since I'm fundamentally at odds with both the political and economical models represented by the G-8 and am not buying into their regular CYA exercises, I'm all for McCain's proposal in a divide and conquer kind of way.

I'm a bit puzzled as to why the consensus at ObWi seems to be that the G-8 does more good than harm. Sure, talking is better than waging wars, but that sure cannot be a sufficient reason.

Since I'm fundamentally at odds with both the political and economical models represented by the G-8 and am not buying into their regular CYA exercises, I'm all for McCain's proposal in a divide and conquer kind of way.

I'm a bit puzzled as to why the consensus at ObWi seems to be that the G-8 does more good than harm

Perhaps you might offer some specific critiques for discussion?

If anyone's interested, someotherdude's quote seems to come from here. Who Thomas Jimson is, I dunno. Most, if not all, of the few mentions of him ("Results 1 - 10 of about 143 for 'Thomas Jimson'"via Google seem to go back to the same document, which doesn't go very far to establish why we should be interested in his opinions.

Hey, if you google me, you get "Results 1 - 10 of about 51,100 for "gary farber," and some 40,000+ plus of those seem to be me, not one of the other Gary Farbers, so I suppose I have approximately 5,000 times the credibility of Thomas Jimsom. Everyone feel free to cite me as an authority!

Oh, and not to mention if we include Usenet: " Results 1 - 10 of about 57,500 for 'gary farber'"

I have 10,000+ times the authority of T. Jimnson! Respect mah authoritah!

My real name gets nearly 800k hits, so RESPEKT MAH AUTHORITAYYY!

None of them are me, I don't think. Who has time to puppydog through a pile that big?

Just to be clear: the premiss of my post wasn't that the G-8 is good, or that Russia should originally have been invited to join, or whatever. Just this:

When you gratuitously insult someone whose cooperation you are overwhelmingly likely to need, you should have a good reason for doing so.

That's all.

Sorry, about that, I have a folder with stuff related to or about these books.

Race and Manifest Destiny: The Origins of American Racial Anglo-Saxonism. By Reginald Horsman.

The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class by David R. Roediger.

The Mind of the Master Class: History and Faith in the Southern Slaveholders' Worldview. Elizabeth Fox-Genovese and Eugene D. Genovese

Reforging the White Republic: Race, Religion, and American Nationalism, 1865–1898 by Edward J. Blum.

Whiteness of a Different Color: European Immigrants and the Alchemy of Race by Matthew Frye Jacobson

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