politics

Kennan Most Relevant To War on Terror

I knew I was on to something and now I have found a bit of a help. This piece from the NYTimes.

READ THE WHOLE THING HERE

Writing 50 years after George Kennan’s famous containment missive, Nicholas Thompson says that whatever we may think of Kennan’s urging that the Cold War be fought with less military and more smart diplomacy, Kennan’s prescriptions are excellent for the so-called war on terror. Strikes me as exactly the case. And I would argue that had Truman and others not bought into the military-clandestine mode of cold war, we could have proved out Kennan’s view that Communism would topple of its own internal difficulties.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL KENNAN DOCUMENT

CLICK HERE FOR THE SERIES TO DATE

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politics

Kennan Containment > Obama Foreign Policy 3

Continuing a series of posts based on the famous missive that helped define the United States position in the world following the Second World War. I am taking relevant sections of George Kennan’s “The Sources of Soviet Conduct” (1947) and transposing them to suggest that the policy of containment he proposed then, in relation to the Soviet Union, can and perhaps should, be applied to current conflicts, even though there are radical differences between the Cold War era and now.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL KENNAN DOCUMENT

CLICK HERE FOR THE SERIES TO DATE

Original:

Now it must be noted that through all the years of preparation for revolution, the attention of these men, as indeed of Marx himself, had been centered less on the future form which Socialism would take than on the necessary overthrow of rival power which, in their view, had to precede the introduction of Socialism. Their views, therefore, on the positive program to be put into effect, once power was attained, were for the most part nebulous, visionary and impractical. beyond the nationalization of industry and the expropriation of large private capital holdings there was no agreed program. The treatment of the peasantry, which, according to the Marxist formulation was not of the proletariat, had always been a vague spot in the pattern of Communist thought: and it remained an object of controversy and vacillation for the first ten years of Communist power.

The circumstances of the immediate post-revolution period — the existence in Russia of civil war and foreign intervention, together with the obvious fact that the Communists represented only a tiny minority of the Russian people — made the establishment of dictatorial power a necessity. The experiment with war Communism” and the abrupt attempt to eliminate private production and trade had unfortunate economic consequences and caused further bitterness against the new revolutionary regime. While the temporary relaxation of the effort to communize Russia, represented by the New Economic Policy, alleviated some of this economic distress and thereby served its purpose, it also made it evident that the “capitalistic sector of society” was still prepared to profit at once from any relaxation of governmental pressure, and would, if permitted to continue to exist, always constitute a powerful opposing element to the Soviet regime and a serious rival for influence in the country. Somewhat the same situation prevailed with respect to the individual peasant who, in his own small way, was also a private producer.

Transposition:

Now it must be noted that through all the years of preparation for their attacks, the attention of these men (sic), as indeed of Bin Laden himself, had been centered less on the future form which the reclamation of the “peninsula” would take than on the necessary overthrow of rival power which, in their view, had to precede the takeover. Their views, therefore, on the positive program to be put into effect, once power was attained, were for the most part nebulous, visionary and impractical. There was no agreed program. There was most generally a fissure between activists like Bin Laden and the clerics who from place to place led or dictated to movements that embraced terrorism.

The circumstances of the the period leading up to 9/11 helped to solidify the resolve of the movement by achieving advances without suffering major setbacks. 9/11 marked a serious advance and served mainly to galvanize both sides in the conflict, while reducing the Western response almost to a childish war mentality with virtually no appreciation for the nature of the opposition or understanding of its basic aims. The leverage of 9/11 and the aftermath probably was as seismic as the forces that created the Soviet Revolution. The financial jolt to the “West” more than likely amazed the attackers as much as it surprised Americans.

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Obama Gearing Up for A fight

Get ready. We are about to take on banks for real, insurance companies for real and the energy industry for real. If you thought the campaign was a struggle, do not even apply. This is long-term and real and each victory will require real work, not just a nod of support. Organization, letters to the editor, vigilant reporting of the evil these forces will unleash to try to replicate and exceed the work of swift-boaters and the generators of Harry and Louise. We have a stern advocate in our President. We had better be up to the task.

Today’s Daily Beast email has it right:

FEUDS

1. Obama “Gearing Up For Fight”

Republicans have so far been the most rancorous about President Obama’s $3.6 trillion budget, but he is training his sights on a different opposition: the special interests. “I know these steps won’t sit well with the special interests and lobbyists who are invested in the old way of doing business, and I know they’re gearing up for a fight as we speak,” Obama said in his weekly radio address Saturday. “My message to them is this: So am I.” Obama singled out the insurance, banking, and energy industries. Politico notes it’s a return to Obama’s campaign rhetoric and, “having faced almost unanimous Republican opposition to his stimulus plan, the president is now embracing confrontation over
conciliation.”

MORE

[This should open up a Politico page with a video of President Obama. It starts a few seconds after you open the page, at least on my Firefox browser.]

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Kennan Containment > Obama Foreign Policy — 2

Continuing a series of posts based on the famous missive that helped define the United States position in the world following the Second World War. I am taking relevant sections of George Kennan’s “The Sources of Soviet Conduct” (1947) and transposing them to suggest that the policy of containment he proposed then, in relation to the Soviet Union, can and perhaps should, be applied to current conflicts, even though there are radical differences between the Cold War era and now.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL KENNAN DOCUMENT

CLICK HERE FOR THE SERIES TO DATE

Original:

The rest may be outlined in Lenin’s own words: “Unevenness of economic and political development is the inflexible law of capitalism. It follows from this that the victory of Socialism may come originally in a few capitalist countries or even in a single capitalist country. The victorious proletariat of that country, having expropriated the capitalists and having organized Socialist production at home, would rise against the remaining capitalist world, drawing to itself in the process the oppressed classes of other countries.” It must be noted that there was no assumption that capitalism would perish without proletarian revolution. A final push was needed from a revolutionary proletariat movement in order to tip over the tottering structure. But it was regarded as inevitable that sooner of later that push be given.

For 50 years prior to the outbreak of the Revolution, this pattern of thought had exercised great fascination for the members of the Russian revolutionary movement. Frustrated, discontented, hopeless of finding self-expression — or too impatient to seek it — in the confining limits of the Tsarist political system, yet lacking wide popular support or their choice of bloody revolution as a means of social betterment, these revolutionists found in Marxist theory a highly convenient rationalization for their own instinctive desires. It afforded pseudo-scientific justification for their impatience, for their categoric denial of all value in the Tsarist system, for their yearning for power and revenge and for their inclination to cut corners in the pursuit of it. It is therefore no wonder that they had come to believe implicitly in the truth and soundness of the Marxist-Leninist teachings, so congenial to their own impulses and emotions. Their sincerity need not be impugned. This is a phenomenon as old as human nature itself. It is has never been more aptly described than by Edward Gibbon, who wrote in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: “From enthusiasm to imposture the step is perilous and slippery; the demon of Socrates affords a memorable instance of how a wise man may deceive himself, how a good man may deceive others, how the conscience may slumber in a mixed and middle state between self-illusion and voluntary fraud.” And it was with this set of conceptions that the members of the Bolshevik Party entered into power.

Transposition:

The rest may be outlined in Osama Bin Laden’s own words: “Every Muslim must rise to defend his religion. The wind of faith is blowing and the wind of change is blowing to remove evil from the Peninsula of Mohammad, peace be upon him.

“As to America, I say to it and its people a few words: I swear to God that America will not live in peace before peace reigns in Palestine, and before all the army of infidels depart the land of Mohammad, peace be upon him.

God is the Greatest and glory be to Islam.” SOURCE It must be noted that there was no assumption that America and other enemies would perish without a growing, essentially religion-based movement. A final push is needed to reclaim the territory related to Islam.

For more than 50 years, this pattern of thought has exercised great fascination for those in militant movements, including non-Islamic movements that have sought to achieve their objectives by means of terror. Frustrated, discontented, hopeless of finding self-expression — or too impatient to seek it — in the confining limits of their political systems, yet lacking wide popular support or their choice of bloody and suicidal terror as a means of social betterment, many found in the simple aims of Bin Laden a highly convenient rationalization for their own instinctive desires. It afforded pseudo-theological justification for their impatience, for their categoric denial of all value in the secularized Western system, for their yearning for power and revenge and for their inclination to cut corners in the pursuit of it. It is therefore no wonder that they had come to believe implicitly in the truth and soundness of Bin Laden and related teachings, so congenial to their own impulses and emotions. Their sincerity need not be impugned. This is a phenomenon as old as human nature itself. It is has never been more aptly described than by Edward Gibbon, who wrote in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire: “From enthusiasm to imposture the step is perilous and slippery; the demon of Socrates affords a memorable instance of how a wise man may deceive himself, how a good man may deceive others, how the conscience may slumber in a mixed and middle state between self-illusion and voluntary fraud.” And it was with this set of conceptions that the various terror-based movements have sought to achieve power.

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Is Pakistan Imploding?

IT LOOKS THAT WAY MORE AND MORE

I am not certain that immersion in all things Pakistan is the solution. More and more I believe that we need to identify danger zones as zones we need to disengage from in a direct military way and confine our efforts to transparent “carrot offerings” to governments that will play by the rules of tolerance, helpfulness, democracy and nonidolatry. Is this neocon lite? Well, imagine if Bush 2 had said we will fight terror with our minds, not by playing their lethal war games.

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Kennan Containment > Obama Foreign Policy 1

This is the first of a series of posts based on the famous missive that helped define the United States position in the world following the Second World War. I am taking relevant sections of George Kennan’s “The Sources of Soviet Conduct” (1947) and transposing them to suggest that the policy of containment he proposed then, in relation to the Soviet Union, can and perhaps should, be applied to current conflicts, even though there are radical differences between the Cold War era and now. Consider these posts dots and that you are the connector. I will try to post these ASAP.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ORIGINAL KENNAN DOCUMENT

Original:

The political personality of Soviet power as we know it today is the product of ideology and circumstances: ideology inherited by the present Soviet leaders from the movement in which they had their political origin, and circumstances of the power which they now have exercised for nearly three decades in Russia. There can be few tasks of psychological analysis more difficult than to try to trace the interaction of these two forces and the relative role of each in the determination of official Soviet conduct. yet the attempt must be made if that conduct is to be understood and effectively countered.

It is difficult to summarize the set of ideological concepts with which the Soviet leaders came into power. Marxian ideology, in its Russian-Communist projection, has always been in process of subtle evolution. The materials on which it bases itself are extensive and complex. But the outstanding features of Communist thought as it existed in 1916 may perhaps be summarized as follows: (a) that the central factor in the life of man, the factor which determines the character of public life and the “physiognomy of society,” is the system by which material goods are produced and exchanged; (b) that the capitalist system of production is a nefarious one which inevitable leads to the exploitation of the working class by the capital-owning class and is incapable of developing adequately the economic resources of society or of distributing fairly the material good produced by human labor; (c) that capitalism contains the seeds of its own destruction and must, in view of the inability of the capital-owning class to adjust itself to economic change, result eventually and inescapably in a revolutionary transfer of power to the working class; and (d) that imperialism, the final phase of capitalism, leads directly to war and revolution.

Transposition:

The political personality of Al Qaeda and related groups as we know it today is the product of ideology and circumstances: ideology inherited by the present leaders from the movements in which they had their political origin, and circumstances of the power which they now have exercised in numerous locales. There can be few tasks of psychological analysis more difficult than to try to trace the interaction of these two forces and the relative role of each in the determination of this movement’s conduct. yet the attempt must be made if that conduct is to be understood and effectively countered.

It is difficult to summarize the set of ideological concepts of Al Qaeda and related terrorist groups. But the outstanding features of their thinking as it exists today may perhaps be summarized as follows: (a) the central factor in the life of man (sic), the factor which determines the character of public life and the “physiognomy of society,” is the desire for respect in the world as the bearers of a tradition and way of life which is in many respects at odds with the ideals and principles of “Western” secular societies and governments; (b) that the culture and politics of the secularized world is nefarious and an insult to the primacy of the Islamic heritage and inevitably leads to the exploitation of the Islamic world which is the primary, but not the only, location of the terror movements; (c) that secularized “Western” societies contain the seeds of their own destruction and must eventually and inescapably fall to a patient and focused effort of terror movements; and (d) that “Western” imperialism can be overcome by a decentralized, committed and growing movement of the disaffected who can use acts of violence as leverage in the struggle.

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What Does The New York Times Know?

Happily, with Robert Reich to speak some truth, it knows more than it otherwise would.

“It represents the biggest redistribution of income from the wealthy to the middle class and poor this nation has seen in more than forty years,” writes Robert Reich, the former Clinton labor secretary, at American Prospect. And he’s thrilled: “Fairness is at stake but so is the economy as a whole. This Mini Depression is partly the result of a widening gap between what Americans can afford to buy and what Americans, when fully employed, can produce. And that gap is in no small measure due to the widening gap in incomes, since the rich don’t devote nearly as large a portion of their incomes to buying things as middle and lower-income people. The rich, after all, already have most of what they want.”

Hmmm, I think the rich might beg to differ on that last point.

SOURCE

The rich may differ but we are going to win this one, just as we won the primaries and the election. The NYTimes has not seen the ground game yet.

SEE THE GROUND GAME GROWING HERE

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