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July 10, 2008


We don't get to drive off the lot with the car though. In this case, the emotional gratification is instant but the diplomatic benefit is amorphous, far away, or not directly effectual on your life. So jackasses with no emphatic or long-term planning sense will take the gratification. It's what our culture demands.

Perhaps that is too harsh. But feh.

Sorry, I meant empathetic.

This is just another facet of Macho Sue-ism, IMHO. As John Wayne says, 'Never say sorry - it's a sign of weakness.' Diplomacy means you're taking account of other people's feelings, which means you sometimes don't get your way, which means you're weak and womanish.

This also IMHO is why the position of Secretary of State -- though theoretically the highest-ranking member of the Cabinet -- has gone to two women and a black man in the last 10 years. It's not that the glass ceiling has become permeable, it's that the Secretary of State is the chief negotiator, therefor less manly, therefor less prestigious. Secretary of Defense is the job for a real (white) man.

Brilliant post--which should be required reading for many people in the workplace. Also, brilliant followup by Dr Science--I hadn't ever thought of this reason for Sec'r of State, but it certainly fits. ("wussy striped-pants diplomats")

The thing is an awful lot of conservatives and libertarians treat economics like a religion. they have a set of principles in hteir heads that are not derived from or modified by real world experience and they measure all things economic in terms of these faith based premises. Any action that is based on their premises is good. Any action that challenges or ignores their premises is bad. Results of policy decisioons are accepted or dismissed the same way. If deregulation causes probems then we need more deregulation! If we are facing a global challenge that will force changes in how we make a living and use energy in our daily lives then the challenge must not be real!

It is at bottom a problem of cowardice. People who adhere ro rigid ideologies do so because they are afriad to learn or change their minds. They are ego invested in percieving themselves as being utterly right, smarter than everyone else. This isn't a problem unique to ideological conservices or liberatarians of course. Ideologists of all sorts are more concerned about protecting their self image of superior knowledge than living and evolving mentally in the real world or solving real problems.

The ironly is that these folks who,because they are possessed of an ideoplgy, think they are smartrer than everyne else are actually dumber because they can't think rationally. They can only rationalize in defense of their ideology. Which means they rerely contribute anything worthwhile to a discussion.

As we muddle through the climate change crisis any helpful actions taken will be accomplished in spite of conservatives and liberatarian influence, not because of their contributions.

I like the Swedish farmer approach better.


You understand it more when you recognize that the emotional foundation of modern American movement conservatism is an inexhaustible supply of resentment. Resentment at being 'forced' to wear seat belts and recycle and feel guilty about throwing empty cups out the car window. 'Forced' by all the damn hippies to lock up their guns and restrain their warmaking impulses.

The adolescent in chief is the physical embodiment of that resentment.

I think this is an excellent analysis of diplomacy. Specifically, I think you can easily use it to analyze why some people have a "Yeah, kick 'em again!" reaction to Bush's remarks. 1) They don't believe that the rest of the world really has the ability to give us anything we actually care about. 2) They don't believe that CO2 releases are responsible for climate change and 3) they want to continue burning cheap gas as fast as they please.

Without any one of these things their reaction doesn't make sense. Without 1, they would prefer Bush to just stonewall, but not be actively obnoxious. Without 2 you don't really have 1 (you want the rest of the world to reduce emissions enough that we can keep emitting without dooming ourselves.) And without 3 it might make sense to agree to some CO2 reduction targets in order to get something from the rest of the world that we care about more.

It's admittedly strange to imagine holding all 3 beliefs, but it does seem consistent with the evidence.

I think you're missing the obvious explanation: these people are happy to see Bush sabotage the negotiations is because they want the negotiations to fail. And they don't just want them to fail now. They want Bush to burn our bridges with those other countries so that future Presidents can't change course.

Action should start with the with the number one polluter.

As to whether the U.S. is the #1 polluter, I would expect that cumulatively over time, we may still be eligible for it. On a real time basis China may be it, but the conduct itself is still reprehensible on its face. It is troubling to me, because it might be a tell tale that his attitude is the result of building situations unrelated to tree hugging, for instance some excellent new military adventure that he knows is going to spoil everybody's day anyhow. This is imperialism in full feather. I hope we never elect another damaged individual to be President.

Um, hilzoy - your answer is right in the post.

This is just a group of people who are willing to give up things that matter (like a strong negotiating position for anything diplomatic) for things that don't matter (the ability to kick sand in the face of European "LIEBERALS"). It's the exact same impulse.

Of course, this group considers the two things reversed - negotiations are for wimps and the only thing that "matters" in a negotiation is the size of your dick army (which no one has more of than us), so a strong diplomatic presence doesn't matter. Likewise, kicking "LIEBERALS" around is fun - domestic or foreign makes no difference - so that part matters. It's mainly an example of a really warped worldview combined with a set of bad priorities.

Action should start with the with the number one polluter.

Let's see:

China pop. = 1.3 billion
US pop. = 0.3 billion

I'm not saying there isn't a problem here, but the US passing the blame to China is a bit rich.

Let us explore the ramifications of the "kick 'em in the nuts" attitude. If we take that stance, and simply refuse to negotiate issues with other countries, then they will surely reciprocate. Which means that the only way to resolve any differences we have with them -- or that they have with us -- will be through violence.

Negotiate or fight -- the basic choice really is that simple. And those who applaud Mr. Bush's actions are implicitly advocating war.

You understand it more when you recognize that the emotional foundation of modern American movement conservatism is an inexhaustible supply of resentment.


They want to take my money and give it away to those people.
They think they're smarter than we are.
They're always looking down their nose at us.

Now those pointy headed scientists are trying to tell us we have to drive stupid little cars like they do in France. Screw them.

Thanks -

It might not be 100% about gratification.

It's more that these guys don't recognise negotiation as a valid activity, because they don't see how any piffling little foreign states could get so arrogant as to think they have any goddamn right to gainsay America's authority.

What they think America should be doing is telling the foreign £$%*s what they are going to do, and they had better £$%*ing like it. If they don't like it, £$%* 'em. Stick all the options on the table, see how the uppity £$%*ers like the barrel of a nuke.

That's basically the whole PNAC idea, isn't it? Knock a couple of 'em Arab kids about a bit, teach the wimps who's in charge of this playground. Instil a bit of healthy fear about the place.

A quibble on Samizdata: They are a group blog, just like here. The post was from Johnathan Pearce, in London. I think that both the fact that it is a group blog and that the byline is London make a difference.

We are also a varied group made up of social individualists, classical liberals, whigs, libertarians, extropians, futurists, 'Porcupines', Karl Popper fetishists, recovering neo-conservatives, crazed Ayn Rand worshipers, over-caffeinated Virginia Postrel devotees, witty Frédéric Bastiat wannabes, cypherpunks, minarchists, kritarchists and wild-eyed anarcho-capitalists from Britain, North America, Australia and Europe.

Suppose that Charles put up a “just one more Friedman Unit” post and it was linked as “I find, not to my surprise, some responses like this, from Obsidian Wings”?

Just sayin' ;) (Sorry hilzoy!)

Diplomacy 101? These are people who think its funny to fart in the elevator if it happens to be full of liberals.

These are people who think its funny to fart in the elevator if it happens to be full of liberals.

Hey – I don’t stop to take a tally of political affiliations first. I just think its funny period. You have to time it right though. Right before the door opens, as you are getting out.

With comedy, everything is timing…

(kidding – trying to lighten the mood around here.)

They are a group blog, just like here.

Well, not quite like here. As opposed to the people running the show at ObWi, with whom one might respectfully disagree on occasion, the Samizdatas all seem to meet several of the criteria on the check-list for psychopaths. The place is just brimming with aggressiveness.

I agree with the main point completely, but want to explore a sidenote a bit. You say
(b) Things that don't matter, like giving in on the shape of the table to be used in negotiations.

Of course, the most famous arguing about the shape of the table goes back to the Paris Peace accords, which is often set out as an example of the intransigence of the North Vietnamese. However, as Edwin Möise points out:

For a long time, the negotiations went nowhere. The diplomats spent months simply arguing over the shape of the negotiating table. The US wanted to have two sides: US and Saigon on one side, Communists on the other. The Communists wanted to have four sides: 1) the US, 2) Republic of Vietnam (the Saigon government), 3) the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (the Hanoi government), and 4) the guerrilla movement in South Vietnam which had originally called itself the National Liberation Front and was by this time calling itself the Provisional Revolutionary Government (PRG). Many people have criticized this as a remarkable piece of stupidity, a case of diplomats wasting time on trivialities. They are mistaken; the debate over the shape of the negotiating table was perfectly rational.

The US wanted a peace settlement in which the Saigon government would win full control of South Vietnam. If this happened the PRG, and the South Vietnamese Communist apparatus which formed the guiding core of the PRG, would be wiped from the face of the earth. What the US wanted was, in effect, an agreement under which the North Vietnamese Communists would sell out their southern comrades. The PRG was not likely to approve of any such agreement. As long as the North Vietnamese were demanding that the PRG have its own separate delegation at the conference and speak for itself, rather than being included in a combined Communist delegation where the North Vietnamese could speak for it, it was obvious that the North Vietnamese were not willing to sign an agreement satisfactory to the US. On the other side, the Communists were determined to get an agreement that would bring South Vietnam under Communist rule. If the US were not even willing to have a separate delegation of South Vietnamese Communists at the conference, the US was obviously not willing to sign any such agreement. It would have made no sense for either side to accept the other's view as to proper shape of the conference table and then expect anything useful to come out of the conference. A compromise was finally reached involving one large circular table and two smaller rectangular ones, arranged in a way that the United States could interpret as representing a two-sided negotiation, and the Communists could interpret as representing a four-sided netotiation.

The problem was that there was no real possibility of compromise. Both sides talked about peaceful political settlements, but in fact there was no way the Communist organization and the Saigon government could ever get along peacefully together within South Vietnam; they were going to go on trying to destroy one another until one or the other succeeded.

I also found a JSTOR article on the question, but I don't think my university has access.

Part of the problem is the authoritarian mindset that believes that are no, or few, actual meetings of equals, and that instead the vast majority (or all) interactions actually have a dominating participant and a submitting one. This doesn't actually have to mean a zero-sum transaction - it's conceivable that the benefits of submission outweigh those of standing independently and coevally - but in practical terms, it leads to zero-sum exchanges or even worse.

Bush and Cheney both clearly regard accepting others' ideas and deferring any of their own as surrender. There is no such thing as diplomacy, really, as far as they're concerned, so nearly as I can tell. It's all power plays. And just like most value-destroying CEOs who hold such views, why not? They have people to shield them from any harmful consequences of their ignorance and stupidity.

The more I think about this, the more it just seems to boil down to this.

George W Bush is a d*ck.

It might just be as simple as that.

Thanks -

Let me say something regarding offending others.

Sometimes, if we are going to sustain peace, prosperity, and freedom in this world, people need to be offended ... especially if they are buying into the Leftist/realist conventional wisdom of the last century.

Before we submit ourselves to the collective will of others, perhaps they should do more (in word and deed) to show that "http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/declaration_transcript.html">"hold these truths as self-evident", so that we have reason to trust them to do the right thing.

Then, realize that economic prosperity facilitates environmental protection ... and to degrade that in the name of a wealth-redistribution agenda hiding behind extrapolative speculation clothed in the trappings of science, can easily be COUNTERPRODUCTIVE to environmental protection.

When people are wondering where their next meal's coming from, they're more likely to fillet Willy, than free him.

Oops ... busted link.

Here it is ... as if you needed it.

My Willy will remain unfileted, for the nonce.

"As opposed to the people running the show at ObWi, with whom one might respectfully disagree on occasion, the Samizdatas all seem to meet several of the criteria on the check-list for psychopaths."

This seems to be a rather over-broad, and, at best, careless, generalization, unless you can, say, at least name each of the posters off the top of your head, and give at least one sentence's worth of description as to how each individual differs, indicating that you are at least that truly familiar with them as individuals, and how their positions differ or do not.

Moreover, "psychopath" seems to go well beyond political disagreement, and into dramatic excess for its own sake.

I also very much doubt it's true.

Bias alert: I've been on the Samizadata blogroll since 2002. On the other hand, I sure couldn't tell you who has or hasn't been posting there in recent years.

[takes quick glance] Okay, I have plenty of disagreements with Perry deHaviland, but last I looked, he was no more a "psychopath" than Sebastian or Von is. Ditto some of the other names I recognize.

Picking a random post, does this strike anyone as the product of a "psychopath"? Glancing down the front page, I see plenty I don't agree with, but not a lot of stuff remotely labelable as "psychotic."

It's possible one could be a bit more thoughtful than this level of analysis, perhaps.

Psychopathy and psychosis are two different things, Gary. But it's true, "psychopath" is an overly broad term, I'll settle for the more specific subcategory of "malignant narcissism".

Action should start with the with the number one polluter.

Why do you hate America so much that you would claim someone else to be in the #1 position?
Do you reasonably expect the POTUS to debase his country by saying "Goodbye from the world's second biggest polluter!"?

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