Wednesday, January 14, 2015

What side are you on, indeed?

Empress Trudy

Sweet and sage words, certainly. But there's something to be said for having fuck you money. What do Iran, Russia, Syria, Egypt, Mexico and China have in common vis a vis diplomatic relations with their neighbors near and far? The don't respond to what they don't care to respond to. They project a wall of don't give a fuck to many types of criticism. Does China care what you think about Tibet? Nope. They don't even respond. Does Russia worry about protests regarding Ukraine? No. Does Mexico seriously consider American interests regarding the border, the drug cartels or illegal immigration? Or even address them in the press or at the government level? Not in the least. They don't bother with trying to craft a hair splitting spin on what everyone already knows is nonsense. In years of genocides and atrocities is Syria trying to make friends even with their allies? No of course not. They don't even give their Russian arms dealers the time of day. Is there really any such thing as Iranian diplomacy? No, there isn't. They're unconcerned with our public perception of them. Or even if we have a firm opinion about them.

That's fuck you money. That's being willing and able to tell your critics to fuck off and die and choke on horse cock in hell. Don't take it personally but please by all means go fuck yourselves with a road flare. Protest my ass. And they don't seem to suffer very much for it. Sometimes it even works to their advantage. Because if there's something you can count on, the west, particularly the US would rather be hated than ignored. Israel should give far LESS attention to some things because strategically that's the better play, the stronger move. Not everything requires defending. Not everything requires an excuse. Sudan's president is an indicted war criminal who is flown around Africa BY the UN. He needn't ever worry about seeing the inside of the courthouse at the ICC because he's never articulated any response to whether the claims are just and reasonable or not. And yet all the time Israel lends weight to her own critics by giving their grievances attention and air time. Why? Why give crazy Jew hating goat fucking retards the benefit of the doubt? Israel is a tiny country without unlimited resources. Spend the effort where it matters and make far more strategic and studied decisions about the value of diplomacy.

Which takes me to my second and related point - what IS diplomacy? IS it marketing and ad campaigns or is it something less obvious and more inscrutable? China's view of diplomacy is a basket of issues and factors which are good for Chinese economic strength, not good will. No one cares that there are hundreds of thousands of Chinese government workers, technicians and soldiers in Africa today backstopping Chinese commercial interests there (as BTW there are thousands of French government troops and staffers in the Central African Republic protecting their interests). Diplomacy is the public face, such as it is, of that integrated effort, most of which no one sees. Since their efforts are focused on neither being liked NOR feared, they don't worry about how they are perceived. They just proceed. China has learned the most valuable lesson from the British empire of the 18th and 19th century - that success in projecting and protecting national interests is only through a combination of government initiatives and economic trade and relationships. Where one doesn't work the other one has to. This is how England was able to maintain a vast empire with a tiny number of government staffers in key locations around the world. It was the economic interests of private industry that kept the whole organization running. Not 'diplomacy' per se but a cold blooded rational view of what their national interests were. Israel needs to look at her relations more in terms of right and wrong for Israel, that which is good for Israel vs that which is not, and not in terms of are they liked or not. No one likes them. No one likes anyone and they never will. The French don't like the Germans the Brazilians don't like the Argentines. No one likes the Americans and no one can fucking stand the Arabs.

Getting on in the spirit of good will is nonsense. "Bridge building" and "Confidence building measures"....that sounds good for the media and some of the NGOs that pay for them but everyone knows it's complete horseshit.  Do you know why there is a NATO? Because the US did 90% of the heavy lifting for a half century so that western Europe didn't have to. The very concept of NATO wold disintegrate the day after the US withdrew and we'd suddenly hear Merkel and Hollande extol the virtues of a new era of cooperation with Russia whatever the cost. Because what is good for them is good and what is bad for them is bad. A little bit of Aristotle and a little bit of Machiavelli. I think Israel has lost the thread of this line of thought, hoping against hope that being liked and being respected are interchangeable. But they are not. I'm afraid that learning this lesson is going to be painful and chaotic but that's the nature of national interests at its core. As my great aunt the ex communist like to say "Don't throw yourself on their mercy it's a painfully small target".


  1. "This is how England was able to maintain a vast empire with a tiny number of government staffers in key locations around the world. It was the economic interests of private industry that kept the whole organization running. Not 'diplomacy' per se but a cold blooded rational view of what their national interests were."

    A cold blooded rational view of national interests.

    There is often much to chew on with your insights, Trudy, but I want to take this one.

    It seems to me that the Jewish people have no choice but to take a cold blooded rational view of national interests.

    I think that it is fair to say, however, that diaspora Jews tend to be rather uncomfortable with the whole notion of "national interests."

    Although I cannot speak for all diaspora Jews everywhere... I will do so, anyways.

    For reasons that could hardly be more obvious, we tend to despise and fear nationalism.

    It was nationalism - within the common analysis - that gave us World War II, for chrissake.

    And what that means is that if you want diaspora Jews to actually stand up for the Jewish people, you will have to do so over their dead bodies.

    And yours.

  2. Well I wonder where this supranational ideal really springs from. Certainly in Europe there's the EU as an overlay that supersedes the nation state but in some ways competes with it. But at the same time those very same people pushing for the dissolution of the nation state are simultaneously calling for the micro-fracturing of Europe into dozens or hundreds of tiny ethnic, linguistic or cultural monocultures. Lombardy for the Lombards, Catalonia for the Catalan, Scottish independence, Welsh independence, the Basques, the division of Czechoslovakia, the breakup of Yugoslavia, the creation of Kosovo and on and on. So it's a bit schizophrenic to claim the death of the nation state on one hand and the creation of dozens more on the other. Perhaps it's really just tribalism at its core with no central coherent organizing power. Kind of sounds like feudalism to me. But....Europe has a long history of this. The Holy Roman Empire and the Church was intended to be THE single organizing continent wide force to hold all the squabbling tribes together. After a few hundred years of that not working well they moved on to revolution, socialism, communism, fascism, EU-ism and NATO and now Islam. We're lead to believe that nationhood is nothing more than a brand underneath the flag of......Islam? Transnational squishy liberalism? Who knows. Maybe it doesn't really matter.

    In any case there still is a French identity and a Finnish identity and a German identity and a Serbian identity. The only identity barred is a Jewish identity or an Israeli identity. That seemingly is verboten. That is really what's at the core of this. The Europeans aren't terrified of a Jewish nation state, they're terrified of a Jewish national identity. Going back as far as the French Revolution it was clear that the powers that be were offended by the idea. They permitted Judaism to exist individually but not collectively as 'a nation'. Napoleon said the same thing and every so called emancipation movement for the Jews in the 19th century reiterated that point. The Soviets said it, the fascist movements said it and Arabs, Iranians and their European hangers on say it now. It's acceptable to claim to be Jewish as long as you don't say or do anything to actually be Jewish. A nation-state? Where's my fainting couch! But fundamentally it's always been true that insignificant countries don't really HAVE borders whereas significant countries do. That which on this side of the line is us and that which is on the other side is someone else. We are us, we are who we are. Those people over there are something else. So if you really don't worry that Germans and French or Poles and Germans don't in fact share very much in common then by all means call it FrancPoleGermania or Charlemagne 2.0 or the Franconian Caliphate. But the Jews have decided that doing that is not in their collective interests, their national benefit.

    1. It seems the EU supranationalists are still pretty hesitant over who will 'go first,' and none seem to be willing to take the leap, either alone or together, any time soon.

      There's still a little hope, I suppose, in the obvious fact that even they realize that doing such a thing, especially in light of the fact of what would quickly sweep in to assert dominance in large parts of their former nations, is a pretty fucking stupid idea.

    2. I used to think I had a good answer to that. I don't believe that any more. Maybe when you peel away the layers and you discover that a continent where the government has to deal with what? 36 'official' languages is doing something wrong. And doesn't include the 100 or so 'minor' languages. Looked at it this way, Europe doesn't look that different from Ghana or Cote d'Ivoire with their hundreds of distinct groups that can't easily communicate with one another. Maybe Jared Diamond is right and Europe's success is an accident of geography, climate and geology. And in the 21st century those advantages no longer matter.

    3. So then it comes down to what matters next.

      I'll score Europe for a slight win, overall, as a result of what will happen due to climate change - the parts that don't sink will probably end up with slightly better growing climates, and slightly longer growing seasons. As the cheap oil age comes to an end, Europe will also be well set-up in having well-established walkable neighborhoods and societies which aren't completely reliant upon Walmarts, Big Macs and 3,000-mile Caesar salads.

      Where they face the most serious trouble is their Eurabia problem.

      Social troubles bringing them down, despite yet still somehow making out better than most in natural terms, would seem to be rather historically fitting, and cyclically accurate.

      I hope Enlightenment values will ultimately triumph.

  3. Best opening paragraphs of an essay on geopolitics I have ever read.