The Baghdad Bobification of The NPR-Americans

Take a little trip back to the Dark Bush Days with me. I’m talking peak chauvinist American hooting. 2003-2007 in particular. If you are too young to remember, just humor me here. No matter our opinions on the Iraq War, we all appreciated Baghdad Bob. The Iraqi Information Minister whose hyperbolic claims of American defeats at the hands of victorious Iraqi Army forces in 2003 came in the face of obvious and mounting evidence that his government lived on borrowed time and that he was either willfully or ignorantly shouting a propaganda rear guard action into the howling void of events beyond his control.

Fast forward just a year or two later. The general consensus among everyone not on the political right or center at that time was that our own government was made up entirely of Baghdad Bobs. If you lived through this period, you might remember that liberals back then were kind of cool, even if you already knew you weren’t really one of them. We were all in the anti-neoconservative boat together, those who thought ill of Bush and company. Humor was meant to offend the delicate Christian sensibilities of republican wieners. The Daily Show had yet to lose its teeth and was a better critical news source than network TV, and Stephen Colbert was playing an amazing parody of an ironic hyperbolic conservative (the only kind you saw back then) who had yet to slip into his more depressing current phase of playing an unironic hyperbolic liberal. In general, liberal culture (though not politicians) were kind of cool. They were at least playing at being anti-establishment. Common things you would hear from them would be phrases like ‘You can’t trust intelligence agencies, its their job to lie’, and ‘Obviously the government lies all the time, so you can’t trust what they say about foreign countries.’ The most pertinent to those of us- like myself- fighting for gay rights and to defend secularism at the time was ‘the government is overrun by religious ideologues, and therefore must be treated with skepticism.’

Such sentiments are common place in most parts of the world. But not the North Atlantic. Most people are naturally suspicious of their own government first and foremost and it is a testimony to a few centuries of riding high that Anglos don’t often share this vital skepticism. And, as we have seen since about 2014 if not earlier, this brief moment of Bush Era liberal clarity was lost. What events like the Iraq War taught the tastemakers that occupy the overlapping space between mainstream media and the military is that the yokels don’t need propaganda to whipped up against foreigners. Wave a cross and a flag around and holler about foreigners marrying their daughter and they are good. No, the section of the population you really need to convince is the fence-sitting highly educated liberal elite. Gain them, like in 2001-2, and you gain the media. Lose them, like after 2004, and you lose the information war. Obama was the master of manipulating these people, hence why the media tacitly dropped coverage of the Libyan War once that went as bad as Iraq did. ‘Reasonable People’, you know the type: Doonesbury, NPR, Saturday Night Live, Hamilton, etc, never became bothered about Libya because the media effectively covered up the failure there. An unprecedented effort was unleased to sway these people, especially about foreign countries. Something pioneered by their most trusted news sources, PBS and NPR. These are, to use a term introduced to me by Shant Mesrobian, the NPR-Americans.

These people, who once let out tiresome sighs when people around them were too patriotic, suddenly began to take up the mantle of American Exceptionalism with the coming of Trump. They were the true guardians of the republic, and thus they stood against him. When he said (falsely) that he would scale down the military interventions abroad they opposed it reflexively. When he said he opposed giant free trade deals, they announced they were for it. When a newly resurgent paleocon right became one of the factions pointing out we were on the same side as Al Qaeda in Syria, they took this as evidence that blockading and occupying Syria was now good. The one time they praised him was when he bombed Syria in a pique of virtue signaling by cruise missile. Perhaps it reminded them of the Clinton Administration. Granted, many had already imbibed those opinions from their Tulpa, Hillary Clinton’s super hawkish campaign promises the year before.

But what was the reason Hillary lost to Obama in 2008 (in a campaign far nastier than the 2016 primary against Sanders)? That she was too much like Bush and McCain. Of course, so was Obama secretly but he hid it at that time. These opinions had passed the point of heyday. Liberals no longer fought the Bush establishment, they had become it. Makes you wonder how much of that old Gen X coolness they had in 2005 was all just show. Do they really just believe in Team Blue Yay, Team Red Boo and not care about actual policy? It is looking more and more like it every passing year.

Could an average liberal today hold those same positions about distrusting the media and intelligence agencies that they once had? After staging larger protests for Trump’s firing of Jeff Sessions than for any actual substantive cause they believe in that was trampled on then, the answer seems to be no. Question any state narrative and you are a ‘conspiracy theorist’ as if uncritically reported false claims about Tonkin Gulf, Iraqi WMDs, and Libyan Viagra Militia never happened.

The ultimate article of faith for these people seems to be RussiaGate. A farcical conspiracy theory in its own right but one supported by influential actors within the state. It is constantly used as a litmus test to affirm loyalty to the state and to what is considered respectable discourse in the media ecosystem. I have consistently and since the very beginning called these claims either exaggerated or fully bogus, as can be seen going through the archives on this site. A clearly designed program to ingratiate liberals and democratic party partisans into being a strong support base for neoconservative policies and spending priorities they once would have opposed. Last week, this story that was hyped for years finally and obviously collapsed. Granted, if you had read the book ‘Shattered’ back in 2017 like I had, you could have predicted this turn of events easily, but apparently most had not or missed the part where its revealed Podesta and company cooked up the whole thing to excuse their epic, historic, and humiliating surprise loss to a carnival barker.

There have been no mea culpas from the RussiaGate obsessed media for this. Not even from the supposedly objective news organizations that Very Serious People take as objective purveyors of truth. There has only been a constant doubling down akin to faith based sectarianism, as much with the NPR set as with the cable news people. Russel Brand, of all people, brought up the collapse of Russiagate and faced an immediate swarm of liberals denouncing him and comparing him to Alex Jones.

These are not the liberals I grew up with.

Often I think, maybe its me that has changed. Liberals are the first to accuse people they used to get along with of changing when they no longer tow the BlueAnon line, as I have seen happen to the few journalists who have kept their sanity amid a profession riddled with Trump Derangement Syndrome. I have, in fact, changed a lot since then myself. But the core of me is not that different. I was then a realist (if far less sophisticated) of a socially libertarian but still community policy oriented bent who really *really* hated neoconservatives and theocrats. Those things are all still true today. My only really big change are my views on economics, which have become far more left-wing now than they were then. This means the liberal canard that everyone who crosses them is a secret conservative now cannot possibly carry water. Sure, I am philosophically if not politically ‘conservative’ (anti-progressive would be a far better term for me) in many ways, but this was also true back then. So it is they who have changed. For the worse. This makes it far more difficult for them to keep making that ‘lesser evil’ argument they are so fond of. At this point, Pompeos and Cottons aside, I fear more about their vision of the world than the other guys on more than a few issues.

I blame supposedly trustworthy news organizations like NPR more than most things for this shift. The ones with a supposedly objective front who lie via omission and selective fact presentation while being unaware that what they think is sensible is an ideological as any other position. Gwen Ifill’s death removed one of the last straight-up great reporters and the space she left behind has been filled by utter mediocrities and occasionally outright malignancies (such as the apparently Thalmor-named Yamiche Alcindor who serves, perhaps, as the ultimate example of a commissar figure in the guise of an objective reporter). I will always champion the right of PBS to exist, with its excellent science and nature documentaries, but every year since about 2016 it has continually lost what once made its news section great. NPR, with its strange frenetic jazz and morphine addict-sounding monotonal inflections, has always been a waste and could be cut for the benefit of taxpayers. Add on to this the ultimate irony of the fans of these state-funded media enterprises being the first criticize foreign countries with powerful state media organs as always being suspicious or illegitimate and…well, you get the point.

While it is one’s credulousness that is ultimately responsible, the unholy alliance of liberals and media sets the tone for so much of the cesspit of dialogue we are forced to wade through regularly today. This has an extra and hysterical quality because it is becoming increasingly apparent that, philosophically speaking, the 21rst Century has not been kind of the ideology of liberal-humanism. America’s special role of spreading its mode of government and its ideals around the world have led to instability and sectarian conflict, as well as given its rivals strong cards to play as reactive oppositional forces. Inevitable results of overreach for any hyper-expansionist state, regardless of its self-proclaimed ideology. Populist causes of both substantive and non-substantive issues rebel constantly at home. Supposed expertise leads to nothing but decaying infrastructure, declining living standards, and perpetual imperial expansion to benefit only defense contractors and ideologues who wish to play missionary. The market does not liberate but enslaves. Social media no longer serves a counter-cultural role as it did in the Aughts but is now a rigid tool of world wide homogenization into Anglo-American culture wars. The liberal dream is dying because it succeeded. We are now atomized little market-humanists screaming into echo chambers and regulated by human resources rhetoric.

They weren’t supposed to be the bad guys. History wasn’t supposed to keep going. But they are and it did. They cannot allow themselves to question the ideology they have buried so much of their life into, so they lash out, defiant and angry. How dare the very real forces of the disaffected interrupt brunch? Don’t those unwashed masses know that it is the liberals who are always on The Right Side of History?™ Steven Pinker is there to provide the citations to the thesis, you know.

And Baghdad Bob would be so proud of them for holding the line doggedly in the face of reality.

From Whence Come Refugees? They Come From You

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I have a small but somewhat regular audience for this blog. WordPress is kind enough to give me view stats and though I am overjoyed to see over 40 countries so far have taken a peek, I do get more from the United States than elsewhere. Since I live in DC and this often guides me to write about directions in U.S. foreign policy, this is no surprise. I do, however, miss my earlier focus on more historical and sometimes even fictitious hypotheticals and do plan on moving back in that direction soon. Nonetheless, when something is topical its topical.

No doubt you have heard about the capstone of the raging shitstorm that is Week 1, President Trump. I speak of course of the temporary executive order banning migration from certain countries. This move actively harms U.S. foreign policy and undermines its position at working effectively with allies on the ground to combat extremist movements and build diplomatic bridges. It unjustly harms people and is a rank hypocrisy from a nation which is 98% descended from immigrants. It has also directly harmed those who have served U.S. interest abroad more than most American citizens have. But you don’t have to take it from me, the internet is flooded with outrage on this issue, and rightfully-for once-so. Because of this widespread condemnation, however, I do not feel it would be useful to add to an already common opinion. I would like to bring up something else, something specifically addressed to many, but by no means all, of the outraged:

I am happy you are so empathetic to refugees. But why, if you support these people so much, were you so content for so long to launch military operations in their countries, at least when your party was in power anyway? Operations not made necessary by major security concerns and operations which often resulted in furthering a crisis rather than alleviating one?

On social media I have noticed that so many of those who are first to proclaim themselves righteous defenders of Muslims are those who were either silent or tacitly supported various misguided American actions in the Middle East which resulted in thousands of casualties. We had legions of ‘woke’ partisans actively shrieking for a presidential candidate who promised, on multiple occasions, an expanded regime change war in Syria. These are the same people now, after this disastrous first week for a new administration, who blithely and smugly proclaim, ‘we were right, see?’ While ignoring that we could just as easily have been in an equally damning crisis a bit further down the line, with Syria as a new Somalia, hemorrhaging even more displaced people fleeing sectarian genocide in a power vacuum through the region and setting off radicalization like never before. Not to mention the resulting explosion in even more right wing populism in reaction to this in Europe and eventually America. The most effective means to counteract the refugee problem is to deal with it at the root and de-escalate military options in the region. Not inflame them. But no one, and no major party in America, seems to consider this an option. Despite all the money, time, and lives it would save. No one even seems to care about this issue that lies at the heart of everything from the rise of the right to the refugee crisis. The thought that the United States (and others) plays a major role in creating the refugee situation in the first place barely enters the equation. ‘We are the light of the enlightenment, shining forth in Buzzfeed Listicles, attracting only The Elect from their Hell of being born outside the glow of the North Atlantic World.’ Of course, being one of the tacit causes of these conflicts, the least liberals can do is take the refugees in.

But perhaps this is to overthink more simple motives. Most likely its that in their world of snarky op-ed pieces, ‘zingers’, childish fantasies of living in a world where The West Wing is real, and understanding everything through Harry Potter analogies- the American liberal simply does not care about anything that happens outside of their heavily domestic-oriented media consumption. Maybe the people who fancy themselves cosmopolitan are in fact merely putting on a show to cover up their superficiality and provincialism. Sometimes, a cause becomes fashionable and a status symbol, but until you see the human suffering on a screen and know it is in your country now, then, and only then, can you take a stand. Since our media barely covers Yemen, this would explain by no one outside of the foreign policy field seems to be even be aware of its existence as a major battlefield. The same once happened in the Congo. The more photogenic breakup of Yugoslavia, however, got all the attention. And naturally, when a Democrat launches a ill-conceived war, its not a problem. Its not even a war, but rather a kindler, gentler, ‘intervention’. Being opposed to a war is only popular with such people when the other party launches it.

I don’t know about you, but I was happy to see such a large turnout for the women’s march here in DC. A crowd much larger than the inauguration took to the streets to assert themselves against the looming shadow of a government potentially hostile to their interests. But I could not keep a sneaking and depressing suspicion out of my mind…had the election gone the other way, what percentage of these people would have shown up to protest an attack on Damascus by another new administration? Even after knowing everything that comes from such policies and how they come back to haunt us later. Even after Iraq, which has if anything a less toxic combination of internal factors than Syria does, ended up widely acknowledged as the biggest policy blunder so far of the 21rst Century? The answer? That crowd protesting in the National Mall would not be in the hundreds of thousands, but rather the hundreds.

But these are all speculations. So the question remains open: Why is it, for the average American liberal, more acceptable to drop bombs on someone than to ban them from entering the country?

 

Politics is Not a Safe Space: Neoliberalism and the Electoral Race to the Bottom

 

Poverty Rates in Appalachia, 2007–2011

Outside of self-imposed social media bubbles, history is not progressive like technology. While the march of technology changes how societies evolve in ways that no two eras are ever really the same, the cycle of the rise and fall of governments, regions, and classes continues with a somewhat random yet patterned process not dissimilar to biological evolution-itself not a progressive process in any demonstrable way. When I first reached adulthood and began to study history at the college level this was a harsh lesson to learn. In America and other countries like it we are fed a steady diet of individualism and liberal idealism from an early age. We want to believe, as the Puritans once did before they consumed themselves and burned out as a culture, that  we are at the forefront of a new era. We want to think history can be guided in such a way as to be manageable for everyone. This ignores that politics would not exist if convergent interests greatly outnumbered divergent interests. Most importantly, it ignores Ibn Khaldun‘s most prescient observation: that complacency breeds decline, that the losers of history often deserve to lose, and that the winners of today are the losers of tomorrow. It is the very act of winning that can be the most dangerous thing of all.

The Democratic Party at the national level became this complacent ruling elite, even while they kept losing house seats and state governorships. They had a bland faith in demographics and this restricted their campaigning only to certain swing state’s suburban enclaves. This strategy cost them an election they probably should have won. Women were assumed to be a safe bet, but white women ended up favoring Trump. Minorities were expected to just show up out of a sense of obligation and duty to a party that does not overtly hate them, Bill’s mass incarceration and drug wars and Hill’s ‘superpredators’ aside. The threat of Trump was supposed to keep the Obama coalition together. But the Obama coalition was first forged in a democratic primary against the Clintonian status quo. Even eight years later, it could not so easily flip to supporting that. Clinton did worse with all minority groups than Obama did, Trump did better than Romney with them. This is a massive failure on behalf of the Democratic Party.

The seeds of this failure were sown by Clinton. Not Hillary, but Bill. When Ronald Reagan became the first partially neoliberal president and Thatcher rose to power in the UK the mantra to their deregulation and free trade deals was ‘There Is No Alternative’ (TINA). The defeated left of center parties took heed and decided two could play this game. This led to Tony Blair and Bill Clinton. Clinton would soon outstrip Reagan in his zeal to adopt the newest faddish ideas of governance of the post-Cold War era. The new Democratic Party was a party of globalized cities, and while big coastal regions thrived due to a complex combination of factors not necessarily related to these policies (Chinese growth, the arrival of the internet, etc) the rural areas of the country were written off as irrelevant to the future. Abandoned, left to rot, and with the government slashing domestic budgets for infrastructure and welfare, places like Appalachia withered on the vine. They were sacrificed on the altar of neoliberalism by a two party system in thrall to it. And nowhere was the betrayal bigger than Bill Clinton’s policy record. If you need proof, look at electoral maps from 92 and 96 then compare to 2000. So many states that backed Clinton against the Reagan-Bush consensus went to Bush Junior once Bill’s terms were up. Meanwhile, people took ‘thinkers’ such as Francis Fukuyama and Thomas Friedman seriously despite the blatantly historically ignorant Kantianism they peddled about the end of history. History, however, has a nasty habit of never ending. This ideology was remarkably self-congratulating to the ruling class and their middle class henchmen in large cities, most of whom were liberals. It told them that the values they had been raised with were fundamentally correct, and that by living those values they were making a positive difference in the world, and that by merely thinking the right thoughts and using the right language they could make the world a better place. It may only now be becoming apparent to most of those people that this was delusion, but I have to say, I always saw this as delusion. So did others, but those others were shouted down consistently as being ‘unreasonable’ or ‘not serious’ or ‘not with the times.’

Had Dubya not had the good fortune to be president during the most massive terrorist attack in American history he likely would have been a single term president. He was able to use security issues to further ramp up the neoliberal drive which was now securitized. When asked during the surge of patriotism after 9/11 what the average American should do, the Bush administration responded with ‘go shopping.’ Civic responsibility was sought by the people only to be met with more market fundamentalism. The vagaries of a supposedly logical global market was not only now in charge of domestic policy-it ran foreign policy as well. Here the strains and cracks in the edifice really began to show. The blithe predictions for Iraq bore bitter and contradictory fruit. The war itself became so toxic it cost Hillary Clinton the democratic nomination, rightfully, and the Republicans the general election, also rightfully.

Obama ended the most odious influence of the evangelicals on domestic policy and reigned in (though did not significantly reduce) the neoliberal/neoconservative drive on foreign affairs, but while he did not accelerate the objectives of neoliberalism at home, he did absolutely nothing to stop them. He failed to undo enough of the odious Bush legacy but ironically was able to scale back many worst excesses of Clinton era policies such as Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, The Defense of Marriage Act, the fever pitch of the War on Drugs, and the massive deregulation of speculating financiers. Even the affordable care act, which I admit I have directly benefited from, was really a gift to insurance companies and further entrenched the for profit civics model this country has adopted since the 80s.

Appalachia, non-farming rural enclaves of the midwest and south, and significant chunks of remote regions continued to suffer and be neglected. Rather than appeal to these people who obviously have nothing to gain from Republican theories of governance, the Democrats wrote them off as irrelevant and cast blame on them for supporting many of the policies the democratic party itself once espoused. Obama won by getting people in Florida and Ohio to recognize the horror of Bushism, but all the while the Democratic Party did nothing to substantively address many of those concerns. And yet it expected, if not demanded, people vote for them anyway. Worse still was their liberal minions outside of the party who assumed that what was good for New York City (where both campaigns and most mainline media were headquartered, it should be noted) was good for the country. They also assumed that the neoliberal consensus and the bland liberal language it used for legitimacy was not the problem-just who managed this consensus was. For a decade I have tried to convince people this was not so, and I and many people far more famous than I failed utterly in the face of this delusional alternate reality by the 21st Century bourgeoisie. We warned, correctly, that if a smart alternative to this hegemony was not presented than a dumb reactionary one would be. Trump is a new Obama, electorally speaking. He built a coalition of those dissatisfied and in so doing showed the fragility and unpopularity of the status quo.

Is this to discount the role racism and possibly sexism plays in these regions? No. And it is precisely those factors that made it important to control the backlash against the bipartisan financial interests in America. Having failed to take heed from the more observant people on the left and even the occasional clever paleocon, the liberals and centrists sowed the seeds of their own destruction. The best they could hope for was meliorist Clintonite ‘triangulation’, and this became increasingly unappealing to everyone. As it is, identity politics has clearly failed. The world is not a safe space, and a bunch of liberal theorists ignoring actual material and structural issues, writing off class or in fact actively being classist (especially towards people who do not live in cities) is an ideology for the complacent and lazy and nothing more. This is further shown by the fact that these people only get fired up about the presidency and never really bother with midterms. It is a testament to the intellectual bankruptcy and irrelevancy of 21st century liberalism that people sharing JK Rowling quotes and suggesting *all* opposition to them must be rooted in prejudice of some personal identity is assumed to be ‘woke’ and that the solution to this is some sort of vague ‘awareness’ and moralistic posturing. The fact is, liberals are not intellectually superior to conservatives and they never really were. I may find them personally somewhat more palatable largely due to social issues, but I see both of them as deeply complacent ideologies that avoid critical thinking in favor of sounding righteous and upholding some form of doctrinal status quo. People arguing for political discourse on college campuses to be made as safe as their parents suburban mcmansion are not people talking about real issues that impact people in real physical space. People who do not have the privilege of being perpetually outraged by the casting of movies or a dumb joke because they struggle to survive are not won over by this middle class fatuousness. Navel-gazing is for those who prioritize their personal feelings and the liberal concept of individualism and virtue signaling becomes a form of self-branding regarded as superior to civic responsibility. Worst of all, and as I once warned, this tip to identity politics was inevitably going to picked up by the other side, the side who deals in overt race baiting. This has been my fear ever since I first learned of politics via identity back in college. Liberals cannot castigate rural whites for being identity voters when they so clearly opened that door of political acceptability for them. Like imitates like, and under neoliberalism they both spiral down together in a race for the basest form to turn out the largest amount of famously ignorant undecided voters. It is, after all, the logic of free market capitalism that one’s civic duty exists for purposes of self-fulfillment. This is an ideological point no other successful society has ever engaged in, probably because it is blatantly untrue.

What is most insufferable is the liberal pretense to great wisdom merely by *not* being conservative. It is a low standard, and when you set such low standards it drags both sides down. Much in the same way that Clintonism made the Democratic Party abandon the working class and its union core for faddish ideology and therefore lost much of its traditional support. The SensibleSerious consensus creates a large swath of disaffected voters with nothing to lose. Both parties, working together, made this happen. Both parties, in their own way, will suffer for it. So will the country at-large, who had much less say the implementation of these policies.

And that brings us to the centrists, a group of people who I have previously made my feelings of intense disdain quite clear. Since Bill Clinton, the liberals have basically meshed with the center with the partial exception of immediately after 9/11. But the center is a place of laziness which always represents the current status quo-and these days that status quo is an ecological and regional destroying neoliberalism. Now, back in Bill’s day this was a new thing worth giving a shot, but no longer. It is dead. Even if you support it, you must acknowledge that. Brexit and Greece were merely the precursors. Want electoral proof? In all the post-Bill presidential elections the candidate who was a less doctrinaire neoliberal won over the one who was more. Or to be more specific, centrists always lose in the 21st Century. Gore, Kerry, McCain, Romney, Clinton (II): all the more traditionally centrist candidates. Centrism isn’t just intellectually sloppy, its a recipe for losing as well. No one likes centrists, and given their record in this century, no one should. In primaries this was especially obvious. Hillary Clinton’s perpetual running on the presidency and career as a milquetoast senator striking unsustainable bargains with a loathed two party system smacks of Henry Clay, a historical figure no one admires any more nor wishes to emulate. The democratic party itself reminds me of the Whigs-an unstable coalition that devours opposition movements with actual ideas in order to present a bland front against the party that holds the initiative.

There is a final key to Trump’s victory people might talk about later but haven’t so far that I have seen: endorsements hurt and castigation helps, *especially* from the media. The late night comedians which were so entertaining and good at poking holes in the paranoid post-9/11 consensus did not keep their credit as those who speak truth to power, but rather became establishment cheerleaders. They sacrificed their vital role as the opposition for one of a deeply partisan cheerleader. As these various talk show hosts and actors lined up to condescendingly urge people to vote for the democrats they unintentionally aided the narrative that the media was all for Clinton, that the ruling classes controlled everything to get the result they wanted. It is B.S. of course, plenty of the ruling class supports Trump and he has no trouble attracting upper income voters. But the comedian/actor axis made it an obnoxious reality that people in affluent cities wanted something, and considering their previous track record on what they want and how those policies effect other parts of the country. If one wanted to, say, ‘Make Comedy Great Again’ it should go after the entire system, not just one half of its Janus-face.

America does not deserve Trump as a whole, but liberals and conservatives do, and neoliberals especially. They made him by creating the conditions for his rise. If history is a guide however I do not expect them to learn this lesson as they never have before. Instead, they will lash out at everyone they can to avoid taking personal responsibility. They will fail to recognize that it was their candidate’s record, not her gender (though it likely played a subsidiary role), that was the primary reason for her loss. They will probably blame minorities for not showing up to vote, rather than themselves for not giving much of a reason for said minorities to vote as they had before. The smug condescension of Manhattan and Los Angeles returns to its traditional role as reflexive defense mechanism. People like me who saw the dangers lurking in this neoliberal system will be the ones they will blame for their own failures. I cannot count the amount of times that I personally got talked down to on issues involving minorities by people who are entirely white, affluent,  and straight. I am none of those things. I fear what might happen in a Trump presidency as much if not more than these people-but this did not happen in a vacuum and it was the liberals who were at least half of the enablers.

But this potential for at least intellectual and grassroots organizational upheaval will be surrendered and sacrificed to the right alone if major changes are not made to the dark and desperate future of having Henry Clay liberals be the primary opposition. Ironically it is the America-First candidate who has destroyed the myths of American Exceptionalism once and for all by making our right wing so blatantly European. That honesty could at least free up all sides to be more intellectually rigorous, not just one. But that requires looking beyond the consensus of the SensibleSerious™.

FOREIGN POLICY:

American elections are important to everyone, so it was worth talking about on this blog. But this is a primarily foreign policy blog and so we should now deal specifically with foreign policy issues. This is no mean task given the many contradictory statements Trump has made.

The most important and concerning thing is the cavalier attitude Trump has regarding Asia-Pacific relations. The most important countries in the world for U.S. interests are in that region and the second and third largest economies also dwell there. Hyper-nationalism and territorial disputes are legion. And no matter what the British say, the U.S.-Japan Security Agreement is the world’s most important and stable alliance. It comes closer to the bedrock of global stability than any other bilateral relationship. It is also unique in modern history for bringing together two countries which are so globally powerful for so long. Trump has been openly dismissive of this alliance, asking why the Japanese do not pay for themselves, when in fact they have been quite good at doing so. In fact, Japan payed most of the expenses of the first Persian Gulf War.

The status of this alliance is the most concerning foreign policy issue of a Trump presidency. Coupled with a trade-tariff war with China it could be a recipe for disaster. One fear I can at least tone down, however, is that of Japan acquiring a stronger and more autonomous defense. This has been in the workings for almost a decade. A great power can only be governed like a banana republic for so long. For obvious historical reasons Japan may prove more reticent to acquire a nuclear deterrent, but I do not believe it would be inherently destabilizing if it did so. Still, the alliance should be maintained.

In China, Xi Jinping is a far more intelligent leader than either Clinton or Trump, but especially Trump. It remains to be seen what opportunities this might open up to to the PRC, if any.

Europe represents opportunity in equal parts to danger. A vast over-estimation of Russia’s conventional capabilities due to a few flashy brushfire victories over smaller armies in remote theaters often guides American grand strategy, but Russia probably could be contained so long as Germany, France, and Poland stick together. Especially so if the UK stays with them, but that is less certain as we see how Brexit shapes up. The most likely reason Putin wants Trump is not some childish liberal conspiracy theory of Manchurian candidacy but rather because he expects he can run circles around him at the negotiating table. It is ever so slightly possible that some kind of mutual bargain could be struck between the two Bros-in-Chief.

The one decided potential benefit here is that Trump will probably be better than Clinton in the Middle East and possibly Africa as well. Gone will be the tone of the preaching humanitarian racist that has bungled US policy towards Africa for decades and driven important countries into the arms of the Chinese. The expansion of AFRICOM might get a more critical eye-though that remains a big maybe. Most importantly, the odds we will attack the government of Syria have gone from somewhere around say 70% under Clinton to about nil now. This is the only true demonstrable gain I can see from this election in either foreign or domestic policy for the average person-but it is (potentially) a gain. One of the few issues that Trump was consistently right on was the need to go after ISIS alone and not fight 3 sided conflicts where our intervention is not needed. Considering how utterly disastrous, deadly, and expensive 21st Century regime change policies from Iraq to Libya have been, with unintended consequences of causing surges in terrorist attacks (which in turn fuel the far right) this could be a truly concrete benefit not only for foreign policy people like me of the realist persuasion but in breaking up the neocon establishment in DC proper.

So us geostrategists have to be even more wary than usual in the near future. Uncertainty is high. But there is hope for some new ideas and a re-orientation of a neoliberal hegemony quite long in the tooth to keep representing U.S. (and others) strategic interests. That vague hope does not, however, allay my fears for various minority communities in this new era. But as there was a big backlash to Bushism on social issues that ended up winning the argument far more effectively than Democratic meliorism would have, so too that fight should never be given up. Let this be the shock to renew it with vigor rather than simply wait for the mythical liberal fairy tale of ‘inevitable progress’ to happen. Those of us against the rising global tide of reactionary identity politics can have a bright future indeed if they reject neoliberalism, complacent cosmopolitanism, ‘woke’ classisism, and the other faith based homilies that got them in this mess in the first place.

Tipper Warnings: The Petulant Death Rattle of an Obsolete Liberalism

I realize this deviates somewhat from the normal topic of this blog, but as an ex-academic who sees many of these issues overlapping I feel it belongs here.

Brian Cox’s decision to boycott Warwick University gives me an idea. The hypersensitives overrunning and ruining academia today are a group of people who generally lack creativity, critical thinking skills, and the capacity for new and original ideas. Largely, they are just parasites badly co-opting the arguments of others and capable only of upholding the conservatism of their suburban backgrounds but with a thin coat of supposedly progressive paint. One does wonder if jealousy motivates them deep down. Not to mention that politicians are getting in on the action too like a pack of vultures.

Like their liberal precursor, Tipper Gore, they believe that the inherent corruption of ‘bad attitude’ in the public sphere will somehow compromise their righteous virtue, ignoring that being exposed to something is just as likely to make one reject it as accept it. It is, ironically, a remarkably evangelical attitude to have. After all, the rising crime rates and youth suicides of the 80s were quite obviously caused by the rampant neoliberal structural adjustment of the decade as well as a rough transition out of the last vestiges of the security of the industrial economy. Not to mention the revving up of the Drug War which did nobody any good. You know, actual real life factors. Politicians helped create that political environment but never once thought to blame themselves but rather shifted the blame to the entertainment industry.

PMRC

Tipper once proclaimed herself indignantly to Jello Biafra as ‘a proud liberal Democrat.’ And she was right. Now, on the internet and festering in certain universities we see the new version of that type of ‘progressive’ stultification. The crisis of contemporary liberalism clearly illustrated. Unable to admit their ideology is now nothing but a group of intellectually bankrupt status-quo centrists trying to defend a philosophical and political program increasingly long in the tooth and clearly running out of ideas, as well as lacking the will to come up with new ideas or admit their mistakes, they resort to greater and greater levels of witch hunting in order to construct the fantasy that they are the only real moral option left. Everyone else is compromised because they don’t acknowledge your feelings like the liberals do. You special, special snowflake you.

But a future filled with austerity, increasing environmental emergency, the failure of populist movements to increase living situations in the post Arab Spring world or bring about actual change in the case of Occupy Wall Street, and little to no remaining desire on both the once euphoric right and left alike for using great power politics to enforce some idealist program of universal human rights, it must be said that the reality of the situation is that liberals of all stripes, right, left, and center, have shot their load. The conditions that enabled their delusions such preeminence in the 90s are passing and what you see now in both the neoconservative remnants of the establishment as well as the youthful enthusiasm of Tumblr is its death rattle. No wonder 90s nostalgia is so popular in my generation-people pine for a time when they could believe they were the center of the universe and ignore all the negatives of such a time period.

So, getting back to the point at the start, what if the ‘ideas class’ boycott universities who cave to hypersensitives en masse? Having no ideas of their own, and being the unwitting dupes of institutions and a political system hostile to different ideas, the student councils and universities would break before the people seeking speaking fees would. And considering how profit motivated universities are these days, that would be the necessary incentive for them to stop kowtowing to middle class teenagers whose life experience consists of pressing ‘reblog’ and thinking its noble to shelter themselves from ideas they don’t like.

Whether one likes it or not, the present consensus is breaking down. That doesn’t mean we can control what comes next. We can’t. We aren’t the center of a ‘narrative’ be it of progress or anything else. We are creatures that respond to external stimuli with instinct that we rationalize later. But what that does guarantee is that the future is full of painful truths who only the adaptable and intellectually self-critical and self-challenging will survive and thrive in.

So let’s end on a note that hypersensitives and Tipper Gore alike would hate!