World Affairs Guru Picks Up Liberal Bastinado To Beat U.S.A.

A reply by Con George-Kotzabasis to:
 
Mahbubani Responds: Western Intellectual and Moral Cowardice on Israel/Palestine is Stunning

Washington Note, May 29, 2008

Professor Kishore Mahbubani of the National University of Singapore argues, with his impeccable credentials as an expert in international affairs, of a dawning shift of economic and political power from the round-eyed transcontinental continents of the West to the slant-eyed continent of the East. And in the eyes of Mahbubani it seems that the U.S. after reaching the peak of power and dominance in the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries will inevitably fall from the top branch of the tree of power (like Newton’s apple?) pulled by the gravitational force of Asia. Therefore “America should prepare well for a post-American world order”. 

This pending decline of the West and of America is not mainly based on economics that western bears compete with Asian tigers on the global market, but primarily on politics and on the art of political leadership. Although Mahbubani gracefully acknowledges and applauds “the liberal international order which has benefited humanity”, which was the creation of the West and the American hegemon, he claims that presently “Western geopolitical incompetence poses the biggest threats to our international order”. He pinpoints four areas where this incompetence is blatantly demonstrated. The blunders of the war in Iraq and its concatenation to Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo bay, the Israel/Palestinian conflict,  the dialogue between the West and the Rest, and global warming. All the four issues of course are the same that the liberal intelligentsia is using to condemn and chastise the Bush administration. Hence Mahbubani by picking up the liberal bastinado to beat the U.S.A. shows himself to be vacuous of any originality in his analysis, since all he does is to replicate and regurgitate the animadversions of the international coterie of liberals who like Charon, are preparing to transport the Bush administration and its Republican successors to Hades. Lastly, he blames and rebukes the U.S. for lacking the will and astuteness in its exercise of global  “governing”  to avail itself the inherent “benign characteristics” of power. Thus implying that in its political engagement with the rest of the world the U.S. is far from being a benign superpower.

The imprescriptible rule in power politics is that there are no benign characteristics in the implementation of power but only pragmatic ones. This is especially so when a nation in its greatness, such as the U.S., is burdened with the historical responsibility to tilt the balance of the world toward peace and to be the supreme arbiter between other belligerent and warring nations. In such a complex context while it’s possible for the U.S. to be benign in its relations with other nations some of the time, it’s impossible of being so all the time. The mere scale of its responsibilities and of having so many balls in the air, forces it to make its judgments on pragmatic grounds and to the highest degree possible with the precision of a juggler that dexterously keeps all balls in the air without letting any of them crashing with each another. And in this magnitude of the scale of its operations it’s inevitable that the U.S. is bound to commit mistakes, especially in the “fog of war” as it has happened lately in Iraq. But the greatness of a nation lies not that it doesn’t make mistakes in its exercise of political, economic, and military power, but in its ability to promptly acknowledge and correct its mistakes, as the U.S. has presently done with the implementation of the new strategy in Iraq that has critically changed the course of the war and which is leading to an American victory.

It’s an easy call for Professor Mahbubani to make his strictures against America ex cathedra without being directly involved in the quotidian, complex, intricate affairs of the world as the U.S. is as the sole superpower. In such involvement there are no magic or scientific prescriptions that can remedy the maladies of the world. There are no precise scientific instruments that can neither timely diagnose the ills of the world nor provide the instant remedies that can cure them. This is the reason why often in world conflicts the “surgeon” is the major domo. Only his dexterous handling of the knife can prevent a situation from getting worse. The Serbian-Bosnian conflict was a clear example. Conversely, the lack of political resolve to use a surgical strike against the Hutu regime in Rwanda led to the genocide of the Tutsis, as it’s also presently happening in Darfur.  But while no surgery is infallible, surgical strikes are unavoidable when a nation confronts an irreconcilable implacable foe. Israel has demonstrated this both in its attack on Iraq’s nuclear plant and on Syria’s incipient one, lately. And an impending attack either by America or Israel on Iran’s nuclear plant might be the next one.

Mahbubani completely ignores this narrative of the complexity and intractability of global conflicts and the often insuperable difficulties that a nation that tries to resolve them finds itself in. To him it’s the incompetence of the U.S. leadership that cannot resolve these problems, and, indeed, due to this incompetence exacerbates them and threatens the stability of the international order. He accuses the West, and by implication the U.S., of “stunning intellectual and moral cowardice” on the Israeli Palestinian conflict and of standing aloof from the “collective punishment” (M.E.) of the people of Gaza. Without giving a tad of consideration first that this collective punishment is a result of the intransigency and deadly bellicosity of Hamas, and secondly, in not acknowledging that next to the genocidal punishment of the people of Israel the collective punishment of the Palestinians, even if Israel was to be blamed for, is infinitesimal. Notwithstanding this great threat posed to Israel, Mahbubani claims only the plight of the Palestinian people is the “litmus test” for the West and America.

Further Mahbubani casting himself in the role of “Theodicy”, condemns America for its double standards, for its evilness of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. Like a bronze statue impervious and unaffected by the ravages of the weather, Mahbubani is impervious to the ravages of war. He does not recognize that war being the greatest atrocity of all inevitably atrocities of all kinds follow its trail. Even most of its civilized and disciplined combatants will yield to the ugly rules of war—no war can be fought clinically–especially in this case fighting an invisible enemy clad in civilian and often in women’s clothes and who can be identified only at the instance of their terrorist actions. Moreover the religious fanaticism of this “apocalyptic” enemy who believes he follows the orders of his God makes him impervious to any reasonable persuasion that would extract from him information that could save thousands of lives. In such an existential struggle it’s inexorable that human rights and values are secondary and are replaced by human existential rights and values. There are no absolute human rights and the latter are always relative to a particular situation. In the sinking of the Titanic the human rights of men were secondary to the human rights of women and children. Throughout history the values and laws of mankind have a concrete existence and not an abstract one. Their abstract existence is for philosophers but not for philosopher-kings.

Professor Mahbubani by picking the liberal bastinado to beat the U.S. shows himself to be just a follower and an aficionado of the dernier cri, the fads of the global liberal intelligentsia. And he cannot usurp least of all take up legitimately by the power of his intellect and imagination the position of a philosopher-king. He is just a pharisaic sophist superciliously weaving his thesis on the decline of the U.S.A. and its replacement by Asia.

I rest on my oars: Your turn now.

America’s Power Decline a Pseudo-Reality

“The U.S. Matters” vs. “No It Doesn’t”

Washington Note, April 28, 2008

A reply to an American Liberal

By Con George-Kotzabasis

While Dan Kervick’s perception of power as relative is “deep” his non-application of this concept of power to the U.S. is strange and makes his argument about the “decline” of the latter shallow and misleading. In his second post he uses ironically by a mental lapse the misconception of “absolute power” to demonstrate the decline of U.S. power. But the U.S. post the Cold-War is still “six inches” taller than all the other countries of the world and therefore according to his reasoning still remains, in relative terms, the dominant power. Unless he can show that any other nation or group of nations have grown “taller” or are very close to becoming so than the U.S., the “decline” of the latter in terms of power is a pseudo-reality. Moreover, to refer to the indisputable fact of the economic development and strength of countries in Europe and in Asia as a demonstration that America is becoming in terms of geopolitical power weak contradicts the also obvious fact that economic power is not automatically translated into military power, as both Germany and Japan illustrate.

David Hume’s “habit of obedience” is natural in a state when other countries are threatened by another strong power as it was during the Cold-War, but it becomes unnatural in an “anarchic” competitive world when that threat is no longer there. And, indeed, Kervick argues in those terms during the confrontation with the Soviet Union. However, the habit of obedience in relation to the sole superpower has not disappeared but is in a state of hibernation. With the looming real threat of IslamoFascism it will come out of its dormant state and move once again to its natural state, as presently, among all the nations of the world, only America can decisively defeat this menacing mortal enemy of Western civilization.

I rest on my oars: Your turn now

WAR ON TERROR: ISSUING FROM CULTURE OF FEAR OR DANGER FROM OMINOUS ATTACK?

By Con George-Kotzabasis

The respectable and cerebrally sharp Zbigniew Brzezinski, the former National Security advisor to president Carter, mounts an intellectually and strategically disrespectful argument, in the Washington Post on March 25, 2007, that the war on terror has created a culture of fear in America, and has a pernicious impact on American democracy and its psyche, and on US standing in the world. He contends, that the war in Iraq, could never had gained the congressional support it got, without the psychological linkage between the shock of 9/11 and the postulated existence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Further, that terrorism is not an enemy but a technique of warfare. And he caps his contention by stating, that the war on terror “defines neither a geographic context nor our presumed enemies”, and also creates a “sense of a pervasive but otherwise imprecise danger”.

It’s apparent that Brzezinski’s points are instigated by his experience of the Cold War era and Soviet communism–of which he was an exemplary acute observer and had identified clearly the dangers emanating from Soviet expansionism–and it’s precisely for this reason that are completely inapplicable to the undeclared “Hot War” that fanatical Islam is waging against the USA and the infidel West generally. To replicate the policies that were successful in eroding Communist power and finally casting it into the waste bin of history and apply them to an “ unidentified”, shadowy, religiously inspired fanatic enemy is not merely a lapse of historical nous but a totally inept and faulty strategy against such a foe. The fact that Communism was a limpidly identified enemy and precisely dangerous, was the cause that united the countries of the West and rallied them to stand behind the leadership of the USA. In contrast, it’s precisely because our present “presumed enemies” are lacking a “geographical context” that makes them nationally unidentifiable and hence an “imprecise danger”, is the reason that disunites Western countries and makes them reluctant, if not inimical, to stand behind the American leadership and strategy against global terror. Moreover, a false and unimaginative sense pervades many European countries that they are not equally endangered by global terror, like the USA is, and that they can wriggle themselves out of this danger by not engaging in the war against it and indeed, by appeasing the Islamic fundamentalists.

Further, Brzezinski’s psychology does not pass muster with the 9/11 portentous event. The latter was not, as he argues, the “psychological linkage” between its “shock” and the “postulated existence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction” that led to war and which “had gained congressional support”, but the reasonable reaction of the Bush administration, or for that matter of any historically responsible administration, to a future ominous and more devastating attack by terrorists armed with WMD, and indeed, with “portable” nuclear weapons, supplied by rogue states such as Saddams’, on the United States. The war on terror, therefore, did not create “a culture of fear in America” (e.a.), as he contends, since this fear was an instinctual fear on the part of Americans of the great danger hovering over their lives in the aftermath of 9/11. This was illustrated by the fact that nearly ninety percent of Americans initially supported both wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and this was the basic reason why it was also almost unanimously endorsed by congress. Hence, Brzezinski’s contention that this culture of fear had a pernicious impact on American democracy and on America’s psyche is baseless. Not to mention the fact that a culture does not spring up like a crop at the first droplet of rain. His culture of fear therefore is nothing else but a figment of his exuberant imagination.

Moreover, Brzezinski sublates to use a philosophical term, he assimilates the terrorist who is a real entity into a “technique of warfare”. Averring that terrorism is not an enemy but a technique of warfare. Who then is the enemy? Is he a disembodied being who uses this technique? Can one separate an enemy from the war technique he uses? And is the US led coalition in Iraq that is trying to deprive the terrorists of the wherewithal of this technique, i.e., factories that manufacture car bombs and IED’s (Improvised Explosive Devices), not fighting an enemy? The fact is that the terrorist who is the mortal enemy of civilians knows only this technique and uses it effectively and lethally to achieve his goals, in the case of fanatic Muslims, against the Great Satan America and the infidels of the West.

Brzezinski also states that the war on terror has tarnished the US standing in the eyes of the world. But is this surprising when so many people in the world, and especially in Europe, wrongly believe and presuppose that it was American policies toward the Middle East and ultimately its “adventurism” in Iraq that fomented and increased global terror? What people under such gargantuan misconception would be congenial to US involvement in the war against global terror? And especially when US actions are perceived to be unilateral and lack the backing of other major nations and the UN? Is it conceivable that under such misperception–not to mention the serious tactical errors committed on the ground in Iraq by US strategists in the aftermath of Saddam’s defeat that justified to a certain extent the wrath of the critics of the war–that America would not have eroded its standing and tarnished its reputation? Besides, who would expect that a powerful nation such as the USA, especially being the sole superpower, in conditions of world peace when nations are not threatened by another superpower and are in no need to be protected by the US as in the past, would have the respect and affection of the rest of the world and not the enmity and hostility that rises from the curse of envy against the great and the powerful?

By all historical standards the war against global terror in the wake of 9/11 was fully justified and prescient in its aim to prevent a future ominous and much more devastating attack on the United States by terrorists, who would use weapons of mass destruction and indeed nuclear ones in their irreversible goal to destroy the Great Satan. And if America could be attacked so easily by al Qaeda and its affiliates then European nations that are saturated with Islamic fifth columnists and activated jihadists would be sitting ducks.

It’s this great existential threat to America and Western civilization that has prompted the US to mobilize its military might and its brave soldiers in a long war against global terror. But in spite the clarity and awareness of the Bush administration about the real stakes of the war, it made a grave psychological error with devastating consequences to its overwhelming public support of the war by deflecting the invasion of Iraq which was quintessential to the defeat of global terror to the issues (a) of finding the elusive weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and (b) building democracy in Iraq. When these two issues had apparently foundered and were at the same time associated with the difficulties the US led-coalition countenanced in suppressing the insurgency, the war ineluctably lost its popularity among the US electorate, and reached the levels of unpopularity of the Vietnam War. The American electorate didn’t give a damn about whether WMD would be found or not, everyone believed at the time that Saddam was in possession of them, nor had they a modicum of interest in building democracy in Iraq. What they were concerned with was their security, and on this basis they were prepared undeviatingly to support the war both in Iraq and Afghanistan and to endure the pain and sacrifices that it would entail. This was the stupendous blunder that the Bush administration had committed. By substituting the war in Iraq as an essential part of global terror with building democracy in Iraq, it lost the support of the American people in the face of the arduous and tough difficulties of the war.

However, notwithstanding the serious errors of the Bush administration its original war plan to fight al Qaeda, its affiliate bodies, wherever they raise their hydra’s head, and the rogue states that support them, remains historically unblemished and is a tribute to the strong leadership of the triumvirate of Bush, Blair, and Howard. This was a historic decision, to stand up and fight the religious fanatics that threatened the viability of Western civilization and its freedom. And not to fall to the historically and politically naïve and supine blandishments of the nipple-fed liberal intelligentsia that terrorism and its state sponsors, like the Soviet Union, could be contained or that their Allah anointed grievances could be negotiated. It’s for this reason that the judgment upon Bush, Blair, and Howard, not to mention the indomitable, but so maligned by the media, Vice-President Cheney, whether their stand against global terror and their involvement in the Iraq war was right or not, will be made by history and not by political opportunists and leadership pretenders, such as Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and our own, Kevin Rudd.

I rest on my oars:Your turn now