Neo-Imperialism

Understanding American Interests (Steven Heydemann in Washington Post)

“It is sadly ironic that the president’s commitment to inaction has undermined his vision of an international system in which military restraint and a smaller U.S. footprint would produce a more stable and peaceful international order.”

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“no good options” (Obama Doctrine Notes)

“No good options” at some point becomes a rule of moral abdication – a declaration of incapacity to distinguish between worse and better, or of paralysis. Obama himself seems to oscillate between the two views: On the one hand, since there is no good option, judgment has to be suspended, but on the other hand he wants to view or wants us to accept inaction or maximal distance as the better option, so “as good as we can get if not perfect.”

Posted in Comments Elsewhere, Neo-Imperialism Tagged with:

“incredibly piss poor leadership” (Obama Doctrine Notes)

Obama seemed to be hoping that a legacy of American “credibility” on such threats would be sufficient to make this one work, without acknowledging – perhaps according to all the best and latest political scientific critiques of “credibility” – the possible damage to American credibility that his own policies had reinforced.

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On Obama Doctrine Thesis #4 (The world cannot afford…)

The world cannot afford the diminution of U.S. power, but U.S. power is diminishing.

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The Pathos of the Rational Leader: Goldberg’s Obama

How can a nation survive, can its institutions function, can it prosper and triumph, can the People experience or aspire to satisfaction without recourse at some point to such “tribalism”? The President cannot answer, because no one can.

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

Neo-Imperialism and the 2016 Campaigns (Reply to Marchmaine)

Notes on understanding the 2016 presidential campaigns in world-historical context.

Posted in Neo-Imperialism, Politics

In This Galaxy, Now

The Alt-Right is criticizeable in many ways, and is undoubtedly full of unpleasant people given to saying repugnant things and taking pleasure in doing so, but the Alt-Right is not wrong to point to a transformation whose existence is obvious, but whose significance is difficult to discuss. The denial their statements receive may in turn reflect a determination on the part of a type of true believer to accept the narrative as a kind of sacred truth, rather than as an even conceivably debatable proposition.

Posted in Featured, History, Movies, Neo-Imperialism Tagged with: , ,

Notes on America in the Philosophy of World History: Ronald Reagan’s ‘A Time for Choosing’

The critique of neo-conservatism and of Reaganism, especially the right-libertarian critique from within conservatism, amounts to a critique of their shared Hegelianism.

Posted in Featured, History, Neo-Imperialism, Political Philosophy Tagged with: , ,

Empire of Straw

I won’t attempt to characterize the diverse – or one might say combined and uneven – motivations of Kaplan’s critics, but I doubt that their approach does as much to advance the discussion, or the potential of any interesting and useful discussion at all, as his does, or as it might in some other intellectual world under a different ideological regime.

Posted in Neo-Imperialism, notes Tagged with: ,

…and, Ultimately, to Destroy (4): Difference

For the destruction of IS to occur without our aid and participation would be for us not just to have shirked a responsibility, but to have declined to assert our existence, to have absented ourselves from the course of events. The alternative for us to a world in which we helped to destroy IS would be for us an unjust and absurd world.

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

From the Featured Archives

Noted & Quoted

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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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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[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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