International Relations

After East Ghouta – Interlude: The Deal

For now, as spectators, we may hope that our cheers or jeers may be heard on the field and somehow affect the outcome. From orbit, relieved of any such aspirations, we can see that the deal took the only shape it could take.

Posted in International Relations, Neo-Imperialism Tagged with: , ,

Mike Doran’s One Might Say Somewhat Critical Take on Kerry-Lavrov

“Assad just got a whole lot stronger. He’s celebrating right now.”

Posted in International Relations, notes Tagged with:

After East Ghouta 2: Nowhere To Be Found

The mass annihilation of civilians in war, the conversion of citizens or subjects into eradicable vermin, ought to refer us to events at the inception of the American-centric international order as we know it, its immediate predicate in a shared experience of total war and a victory both in and against it, and its older predicate in the longer movements of history.

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After East Ghouta 1: Minimum Leader

If at this moment the President appears less than he was, he is the image of our own self-diminution reflected back at us: His state is our state.

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No Center at the Center

The world’s chieftain cannot serve the general interest effectively and reliably unless convinced that serving the general interest also serves “his” self-interest – that the two interests are finally the same or non-severable. When the chieftain falls into a depressive state – of apathy, or aboulia, or neurasthenia; doubting all, negating itself to negate all – the system fails, and the will to stasis is realized, or hypostatized, as crisis.

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Putin: If the world is essentially Americanized, who needs America?

Putin’s argument against American exceptionalism is effectively that the American project as an ideological project is essentially over. The prophecy has been fulfilled: What in 1776 was a message of a few colonial upstarts – that “all men are created equal” – is now everyone’s basic belief, even the belief of Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad. Belief in equality no longer sets Americans apart: Everyone believes everyone is equal – or equal before God – so there’s nothing exceptional about believing so, and no need for Americans to go abroad seeking monsters to destroy.

Posted in International Relations, Neo-Imperialism, notes Tagged with: , ,

Unbelievably Small

Even worse, for the committedly anti-committal majority, which seems to include the President himself, the proposal of minimal means is burdened not only by threateningly maximal moral and historical justification, but by multiple additional independently intimidating justifications, each seemingly more disqualifyingly persuasive than the last.

Posted in International Relations, Neo-Imperialism, War Tagged with: , ,

Not poker

According to Ulfelder’s logic – which is not at base much different from the traditional and time-honored understanding of human nature – a definitive change in calculations in favor of escalating future mass atrocities is precisely what must occur if his preferred policy is adopted.

Posted in International Relations, War Tagged with: , , , , ,

What We Find Interesting: Reply to Noah Millman on Obsolete IR Realism

If any serious attempt to define the American national interest leads us to an overdetermining or geographically, political-economically, and ideologically mutually conditioning internationalism or transnational impetus, borne out in the great events and ideas and seemingly inexorable material processes of the last two centuries, resulting in the state of the world as we know it, then nation-state Realism in relationship to America turns itself inside out or upside down.

Posted in History, International Relations, Neo-Imperialism, Philosophy Tagged with:

Re-Statement on the World State of States, in Seven Theses, in Relation to International Relations Realism

The United State of America, by process of geographical and historical election, and by related ideological pre-disposition, plays a unique role in the administration of the global state interest, a role seemingly little understood by many whose occupations and pre-occupations are explaining, arguing about, and, in some places, denying it.

Posted in History, International Relations, Neo-Imperialism, War Tagged with: ,

From the Featured Archives

Noted & Quoted

(1)

TV pundits and op-ed writers of every major newspaper epitomize how the Democratic establishment has already reached a consensus: the 2020 nominee must be a centrist, a Joe Biden, Cory Booker or Kamala Harris–type, preferably. They say that Joe Biden should "run because [his] populist image fits the Democrats’ most successful political strategy of the past generation" (David Leonhardt, New York Times), and though Biden "would be far from an ideal president," he "looks most like the person who could beat Trump" (David Ignatius, Washington Post). Likewise, the same elite pundit class is working overtime to torpedo left-Democratic candidates like Sanders.

For someone who was not acquainted with Piketty's paper, the argument for a centrist Democrat might sound compelling. If the country has tilted to the right, should we elect a candidate closer to the middle than the fringe? If the electorate resembles a left-to-right line, and each voter has a bracketed range of acceptability in which they vote, this would make perfect sense. The only problem is that it doesn't work like that, as Piketty shows.

The reason is that nominating centrist Democrats who don't speak to class issues will result in a great swathe of voters simply not voting. Conversely, right-wing candidates who speak to class issues, but who do so by harnessing a false consciousness — i.e. blaming immigrants and minorities for capitalism's ills, rather than capitalists — will win those same voters who would have voted for a more class-conscious left candidate. Piketty calls this a "bifurcated" voting situation, meaning many voters will connect either with far-right xenophobic nationalists or left-egalitarian internationalists, but perhaps nothing in-between.

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(5)

Understanding Trump’s charisma offers important clues to understanding the problems that the Democrats need to address. Most important, the Democratic candidate must convey a sense that he or she will fulfil the promise of 2008: not piecemeal reform but a genuine, full-scale change in America’s way of thinking. It’s also crucial to recognise that, like Britain, America is at a turning point and must go in one direction or another. Finally, the candidate must speak to Americans’ sense of self-respect linked to social justice and inclusion. While Weber’s analysis of charisma arose from the German situation, it has special relevance to the United States of America, the first mass democracy, whose Constitution invented the institution of the presidency as a recognition of the indispensable role that unique individuals play in history.

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(0)

[E]ven Fox didn’t tout Bartiromo’s big scoops on Trump’s legislative agenda, because 10 months into the Trump presidency, nobody is so foolish as to believe that him saying, “We’re doing a big infrastructure bill,” means that the Trump administration is, in fact, doing a big infrastructure bill. The president just mouths off at turns ignorantly and dishonestly, and nobody pays much attention to it unless he says something unusually inflammatory.On some level, it’s a little bit funny. On another level, Puerto Rico is still languishing in the dark without power (and in many cases without safe drinking water) with no end in sight. Trump is less popular at this point in his administration than any previous president despite a generally benign economic climate, and shows no sign of changing course. Perhaps it will all work out for the best, and someday we’ll look back and chuckle about the time when we had a president who didn’t know anything about anything that was happening and could never be counted on to make coherent, factual statements on any subject. But traditionally, we haven’t elected presidents like that — for what have always seemed like pretty good reasons — and the risks of compounding disaster are still very much out there.

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