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September 12, 2008

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"It is time for us to acknowledge that our love is an act of war." - the sky is falling, 11th September 2008

Eric, you are just teasing me. I'd urge anyone interested in this history of Japan to read up about it and then read van Wolferen's Enigma of Japanese Power, not to find out more about what the CIA did, but to see the link between this kind of govermental manipulation and the totally gormless nature of the populace. The former ensures the latter.

Well, this seems relevant: a few days ago Jonathan Schwarz posted a recording of Obama reading from his bio, in which he discusses the US role in the slaughter in Indonesia a few years before he lived there.

Obama is right. Weiner gets into all the shameful, gory, brutal details of our role. Obama is only scratching the surface.

-----------------How good is he at distinguishing the impact of these activities on the local balance of political power?

Pretty much anything that was really needed to keep communist-dominated governments from power in Japan, West Germany, Italy, even France was justified.

Where the intervention was more than was needed to negate communist power, or was used to press gang those countries to a more particular agenda, it was not.


In Brazil and Indonesia I can see a stronger argument for staying more principled, even unilaterally so and at the risk of communist power in those countries, because they didn't have the industrial weight of Europe and Japan.

Of course this is my Kennan-ite bias talking.

Pretty much anything that was really needed to keep communist-dominated governments from power in Japan, West Germany, Italy, even France was justified.

By "anything," do you mean anything that we actually did or anything that we could have done? That's a serious question, not snark.

Pretty much anything that was really needed to keep communist-dominated governments from power in Japan,

Sorry, there was very little chance of the post-war government becoming communist. You might say that this is 20/20 hindsight, but at some point, the stench of paternalism becomes too much to bear.

Also, Japan was barely a blip in terms of industrial might, so there is more that a whiff of a post hoc justification there. If I were you, I'd try arguing from geographic position, but reaching for the industrial might already damages the credibility of your argument, perhaps fatally.

Slacktivist has a response to McCain's sex-ed ad that Obama might want to use, if he ever decides to stoop to McCain's level.

Pretty much anything that was really needed to keep communist-dominated governments from power in Japan, West Germany, Italy, even France was justified.

So if the Germans decide that they really really don't like George W. Bush's neocon policies, they're justified in doing "pretty much anything" to produce regime change? Or is God-like discretion that justifies "pretty much anything" given only to the security apparatus of the US government? I ask this in all seriousness.

Watchout here comes the theocracy...

The prayer that I tell myself every night is a fairly simple one: I ask in the name of Jesus Christ that my sins are forgiven, that my family is protected and that I am an instrument of God's will. I'm constantly trying to align myself to what I think he calls on me to do. And sometimes you hear it strongly and sometimes that voice is more muted.

That's right in line with her other one:

Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right. Also for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders are sending them out on a task that is from God. That’s what we have to make sure that we’re praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God’s plan.”

Spock: In places like Indonesia, Chile and Iran, the CIA actually started misinformation campaigns in order to portray the applicable regimes of being communist.

Because they weren't.

But were still problematic because they were neutralist and, in some cases, they sought to take control of their natural resources. Neutral regimes were not tolerated, even democratically elected ones.

In some cases, the CIA operation was clearly anti-communist. In some cases, not. And then, in other cases, the regime in question sought the patronage of Washington first, but when met with overt hostility, they went to the other option. The Soviet option.

I wish people would lay off the criticisms of a lot of Palin's "God" talk, unless they really want to claim most Christians are disqualified from holding office, which might be understandable but is politically suicidal. Attacking her for statements like those gregm quotes is not going to get us anywhere, since (1) anyone offended by them is unlikely to be voting Republican anyway, (2) we need a significant number of people who would find those statements perfectly ordinary to vote for Obama, and (3) some of Obama's prayers likely contain language you'd find just as offensive.

I also find nothing objectionable in gregm's quotes. Fwiw.

"Not much to say other than I'm currently finishing up Tim Weiner's Legacy of Ashes, and I could not recommend it more"

I could recommend it more, and it's not the only book on the CIA one should read, if interested, nor gospel, but it's very good, and very much worth reading, and if one had to pick only one book on the CIA, it's a good choice.

"Watchout here comes the theocracy..."

As an atheist of Jewish heritage: huh? Those are statements immense numbers of plain old Christians can make, and make asking that their plans are in line with God's. Nothing there about ruling via religion. I'm fine with those quotes.

It would be different if they were affirmative statements, rather than prayers: "I am the instrument of God's will," etc. -- but expressing the hope that what you're doing is right? I don't believe in a God, but if I did, and thought it was a just and merciful god, and all that, then, hypothetically, I'd hope I'd be doing what is just and right, etc.

Why is this on the front page of washingtonpost.com?

Palin Unsure of Obama VP Pick

In ABC News interview, she says Democrat likely regrets not choosing Clinton as his running mate.

Can we get some headlines with Biden reading McCain's mind as well?

The Post also has a story on the front page of the print version and a Krauthammer column both explaining how Palin's answer on the Bush Doctrine was no problem at all.

Currently the US governemnt is putting pressure on Sweden to prevent the Baltic Sea gas pipeline from Russia to Germany (it would partially run through Swedish territorial waters). This is seen by some as both an anti-Russian and anti-German action* (and applauded by Poland). The German government sent a note to the US ambassador using words like "irritated" (the diplomatic equivalent of WTF, I'd say).

*for perceived lack of support on the Georgian question.

I was planning on a really witty joke about what a big coincidence it would be to find another ObWi on my new Internet Tubes, but then realized that it'd only be funny if there was the possibility I knew nothing of infrastructure. So no crappy humor on that front.

On a more substantive note, I'm just finishing up Arthur Herman's To Rule The Waves. It's an interesting take on how British naval power, and the Royal Navy in particular, has shaped the modern world. Some of the connections are a bit tenuous, but at least in a thought-provoking way. A lot of it is naval history of course, but the stories about Francis Drake and Walter Raleigh are nifty too. I'd recommend it if you're into military history.

I'm really looking foward to Monday, though, when I finally get a copy of Nixonland at the library.

Dave C,

"By "anything," do you mean anything that we actually did or anything that we could have done? That's a serious question, not snark."

not everything that was done but everything that was actually needed to be done (a matter of legitimate debate) to keep West Germany, Japan, Italy and France non-communist, non-Soviet dominated and viably functioning political economies.

Liberal Japonicus,

"Sorry, there was very little chance of the post-war government becoming communist. You might say that this is 20/20 hindsight, but at some point, the stench of paternalism becomes too much to bear."

Exsqueeze me? From the optic of blood-soaked 1945, paternalism was hardly one of the more bothersome odors, especially because the world had reached that state due primarily through the wrecklessness of half the world's non-American powers and the inability of the other half of the world's non-American powers to stop it.

I do say its only 20/20 hindsight to say that leaders in the late forties would have thought there was little chance of Japan becoming Soviet-dominated or an unviable mess acting as a drag on the global economy, if not actually communist.


Liberal Japonicus,

"Also, Japan was barely a blip in terms of industrial might, so there is more that a whiff of a post hoc justification there. If I were you, I'd try arguing from geographic position, but reaching for the industrial might already damages the credibility of your argument, perhaps fatally."
Well actually I said industrial weight, and industrial "potential" may actually be a better word. As for being all "post hoc" making that argument, I say not at all, Japan was considered to be among the five leading clusters of industry within the world at that time . Are you denying that Japan was one of the top ten economies in the middle third of the century?
The whole idea behind Kennan's original idea of containment, as originally stated in the forties and later restated by latter-day scholars like Hans Morgenthau, Paul Kennedy and John Lewis Gaddis was thus: 5 geographical clusters clearly stood above the rest of the world in terms of industrial potential: 1. The US, 2. The Soviet Union, 3. the UK, 4. Western Europe (centred on Western Germany) and 5., yes, least of the five, Japan.
Kennan's idea was the chances of another world war and any risk of the US being on the losing side if one did start, would be vastly less if Western Europe and Japan were kept out of the Soviet orbit, or conversely, the only way the Soviets could pose a threat matching or exceeding the Axis would be if they dominated Western Europe or Japan. Under this theory, also, most of the non-industrialized world, especially the southern and eastern Asian mainland, could turn into new Soviet republics and it really would be irrelevant to American security, and he acknowledged that those regions were likely to be too fractious in any case to really be dominated for long by the Soviets (or Americans).
If you had to categorize postwar Japan in terms of industrial potential, who did it group better with? France, Italy and Germany or Indonesia, Guatemala and Iran? Most would say the first group.


Eric Martin:

"Spock: In places like Indonesia, Chile and Iran, the CIA actually started misinformation campaigns in order to portray the applicable regimes of being communist."

Did I put those in my four country list that were "important enough to play rough"?

Nope. So that reply about a few third world countries was a bit of a non-sequitir.

You're eliding the question. Do we set principled, strict and absolute limits on foreign policy conduct regardless of what other players may do and how that effects power equations, or is there some kind of a sliding scale weighing power/security imperatives versus moral ones?

The argument I gave was in favor of the latter option. Frankly, ideological representatives of the first option have never held power or even been the second place party in American politics and never will. Obama, Reid, Pelosi, Jack Murtha, Howard Dean, John Kerry, Ted Kennedy! are all sliding scalers, leaving the strict moral abstentionism solely to Dennis Kucinich and Ralph Nader.

I didn't say "yippee, go CIA have fun with dirty tricks to your little hearts content", I said basically, "some places maybe there was no good option other than to use dirty tricks". So a reply of hey, "you know they did alot of dirty tricks" is not much of a rebuttal.

Lastly and for all, what were the long-term consequences of CIA manipulation in West Germany, Japan, Italy and France? Rule by a heartless oligarchy and death squads gunning down the peasants, with thieving governments and a loss of economic standing?

Nope, you had countries with more generous social safety nets, stronger unions, stronger socialist parties, and more economic equality than either the United States or their own pre-WWII selves. Are we suggesting that the US intelligence knocked Western Europe and Japan off a path guaranteeing a shinier and happier future than the one they actually had?

The US national security apparatus was in cahoots with Social Democratic parties in those areas for Pete's Sake.

I've seen arguments now and again about the US tamping down on real "reform" in the post-WWII occupied areas and somehow tragically missing something better. But US policies were usually endorsed by Social Democratic leaders. The people making this type of argument had an axe to grind, Social Democratic leaders were too far to the right for them. That tells you something.

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