zenpundit.com » 2007 » February

Archive for February, 2007

Tuesday, February 27th, 2007


In a Sunday New York Times book review, eminent diplomatic historian, John Lewis Gaddis examined Nixon and Mao by Margaret MacMillian. Gaddis writes:

“A professor of history at the University of Toronto, soon to move to Oxford as warden of St. Antony’s College, MacMillan in her earlier book defended the peacemakers of 1919 against the charge that they had failed. The outbreak of a new world war two decades later, she argued, resulted not from their mistakes but from those of their successors. She has little need, in “Nixon and Mao,” to defend the peacemakers of 1972, for in the three and a half decades since they met, regrets have been remarkably few. An event that seemed inconceivable before it happened was instantly regarded by almost everyone after it happened as having made perfect sense. Rarely has foresight been so at odds with hindsight.

When Nixon took office in 1969, he inherited a war in Vietnam that was costing the United States far more in lives, money and reputation than is the current war in Iraq. The strategic arms balance had shifted in favor of the Soviet Union, whose leaders had crushed dissent in Czechoslovakia and were promising to do so elsewhere. Meanwhile race riots, antiwar protests and an emerging culture of youthful rebellion were making the United States, in the eyes of its new president, almost ungovernable: the nation, Nixon worried, was on the verge of going “down the drain as a great power.”

Playing the “China card” did not resolve these difficulties, but it did regain the initiative. With this single act, Nixon and Kissinger dazzled their domestic critics, rattled the Soviet Union, impressed allies (despite their exasperation at not having been consulted) and set up an exit strategy for a war that had become unwinnable: the United States might indeed “lose” South Vietnam, but it would “gain” China. Despite its implications for the unfortunate Vietnamese, this was an outcome with which it was hard to argue. “

Read the whole review here.

Yet there are those who would. H-Diplo is running a thread on Nixon and Mao as well as having an upcoming roundtable planned. I intend to put my two cents in as the debate develops.

Monday, February 26th, 2007


Gunnar Peterson – “Thinking about Robert Garigue

Here Gunnar expounds on the ideas of the late Dr. Garigue, a powerful systemic thinker who understood how integration and risk-management in the information security field changes human/organizational performance to attain new efficiencies. A post that should be of interest to Tom, Steve, John and Dave in particular.

Fabius Maximus – “Forecast: the Death of the American Constitution

FM critiques America’s status as a nation-state in light of the text of the Constitution, which he argues we have moved away from in search of equality and prosperity. It would be interesting to look at Fabius’ essay in light of Bobbitt’s Shield of Achilles and the transition from state-nation to nation-state and to the market-state. I certainly agree with Fabius on the point that the elite in America have a class disdain, despite partisan differences, for the constitutional order of the Founders that impedes contemporary technocratic and oligarchic policy preferences.

Wiggins – “Regarding Black Globalization

The volume and velocity of these “flows in the shadows” make Black Globalization the sleeper national security issue of the decade. The legitimate international banking industry is deeply complicit here ( some $ 200-300 billion of looted Soviet and Russian funds, some under the control of high ranking ex-KGB and CPSU bureaucrats, dangerous people in my view, made its way to Western banks in the 1990’s) which is why Western governments have been loathe to address this issue forthrightly.

That’s it.

Sunday, February 25th, 2007


President Vladimir Putin of Russia is under increasingly critical western scrutiny these days. Drum roll please….:

Post-Putin” By Steven Lee MyersNYT Magazine

The Putin Era in Historical Perspective” (PDF) –National Intelligence Council report

“Kremlin Inc. Why are Vladimir Putin’s opponents dying?” Michael Specter, The New Yorker

“Who’s killing Putin’s enemies? -Part I” and “Part II”Michael Specter, The Guardian Observer Magazine

“Seven Questions: Russia’s Cloaks and Daggers ” –Foreign Policy

Europe wary after Putin tirade” – The Daily Telegraph

Russia’s Managed Democracy” by Perry AndersonLondon Review of Books

The Russians have expressed some concern on how Putin’s recent speech in Munich has been portrayed:

“One Cold War Was Enough” – Foreign Minister Sergei LavrovWashington Post

They should be concerned.

Russia’s siloviki political system is a carrot and stick machine for quiet, minimalist, authoritarianism that seeks to keep the masses of the Russian public complacently supportive while neutralizing intelligentsia critics (unpopular with the masses anyway), neutering the free press and preventing the emergence of any serious (or semi-serious) power blocs or public figures who might challenge the interests of the regime.

Normally, Russian hamfisted behavior at home and abroad raises more hackles than this but at the moment, much of the world’s intellectuals and political literati are obssessed with George W. Bush. The Bush administration soaks up a great deal of negative rhetoric and political energy both here at home and overseas. But as Bush’s term wears on and certainly by the time he leaves office, this enormous global resentment and capacity for selective outrage will begin casting about for new “villains”. This is not to say Putin’s regime is a good one or that Russia can be regarded as a democracy; it can’t. These are real issues to be addressed and not swept under the rug. But if you become highly exercised over Vladimir Putin, while being conspicuously silent over Robert Mugabe or Dar Fur, your moral calculus is in disarray

Putin will clearly be in that bulls-eye at that time and there will be a media stampede to push the already poor state of U.S.-Russian and EU-Russian relations over a cliff.

Hat tips to Dr. Diane Labrosse of H-Diplo and Stan Reber of the SWC

Saturday, February 24th, 2007


Simulated Laughter

Collision Dectection

Danger Room

Check’em out. If Danger Room looks familiar it may be because it is edited by Noah Shachtman. (Hat tip to YH of Coming Anarchy)

Saturday, February 24th, 2007


From the Hoover Institution – ” War 2.0” by Thomas Rid. Courtesy of The Small Wars Council.

Yes, yes, posting has been light this week due to my fighting off a bad cold and doing some other writing on the side. Things should be back to normal soon.

Switch to our mobile site