Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 18, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

A DANGEROUS WORLD....In the LA Times today, Paul Kennedy has an op-ed on one of my pet subjects:

Last week, Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates responded to Russian President Vladimir V. Putin's polemical attack on the United States by remembering the 50-year Cold War as a "less complex time" and saying he was "almost nostalgic" for its return.

....Nor is he alone. There is a palpable sense of nostalgia these days for the familiar contours of that bygone conflict, which has been replaced by a much more murky, elusive and confusing age.

If you happen to be someone who agrees with Gates, read the whole thing. I've always figured that anyone who thinks that the world today is more dangerous and more frightening than, say, the decade after WWII, is either too young to remember, too incurious to have read any history, or else just plain nuts. Kennedy explains why.

Kevin Drum 1:14 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (132)

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I'm reminded of Bob Schieffer, once again internalizing Republican talking points, and his weird question to Kerry (NOT to Bush) during one of the debates: "Will we ever know a world as safe as the one we grew up in?"

Posted by: captcrisis on February 18, 2007 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin -

The people that agree with Gates are, more often than not, shameless Bush/GOP mythmakers who insist that the modern era poses more difficulties than any other in order to provide a cover for their own incompetence.

Bush, after all, can't be blamed (as much) for being such a screw up if he's facing the most difficult tenure in US history. Civil War? Great Depression? World War II? Decades Long Threat of Nuclear Annihilation? That was kids' stuff.

Posted by: keptsimple on February 18, 2007 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

I think this is the truest thing in the article:

Today's world is far less stable and indeed much less favorable to the comfortable Western democracies.

For most of the developing world, the situation isn't vastly different. The browner and yellower peoples of the globe were the principle casualties in the US and USSR proxy wars, which westerners are quick to forget, gloss over, or justify.

9/11, and to some degree Chechnya, can be seen as attempts to visit upon the protected, predominantly white hegemons some of the horror which they had been routinely exporting to the third world.

It is the fact that Americans and Russians are now direct targets that makes the old Cold War criminals nostalgic.

Posted by: Nads on February 18, 2007 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

Do you completely disregard anything our President says? You'd think you thought he was just another bum on the street.

The President says this is the greatest test for our civilization this century. YOu many not believ that, but I do. And if we fail to meet this challege, we run the risk of our women being forced under burkhas and our courtsystems brought under Shah'ria law. Liberals are so concerned with looking multicultural, and so resentful of their own civilazation that they are delivering us to this state.

Thus, the ramifications if we loose is much greater than anything experienced under the Cold War. Mushroom clouds are still a reality after all.

I yearn for that simpler time. If only we knew then what we know now, perhaps we wouldnt have ceded so much of our discourse to the liberals.

Posted by: egbert on February 18, 2007 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

Mutual nuclear annihilation is always more comforting; get with the program Kevin. We have "Dr. Strangelove"..where is the corresponding terrorist comedy?

I rest my case.

Posted by: Mudge on February 18, 2007 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

egbert -

If this is "the greatest test for our civilization this century," what are you still doing around here? If you're too old to enlist, I hear that Halliburton is looking for truck drivers.

Posted by: keptsimple on February 18, 2007 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

Keptsimple, perfectly said.

Egbert, what kind of extremist, neo-con fool are you?

Posted by: ethicalrealist on February 18, 2007 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

Keptsimple, perfectly said.

Egbert, what kind of extremist, neocon fool are you?

Posted by: ethicalrealist on February 18, 2007 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

Nostalgia for nostalgia's sake.

Posted by: catherineD on February 18, 2007 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

I am old enough to remember the Cold War; and, it was scary--especially to children. I remember Kruschev pounding his shoe at the UN and making statements that Russia would bury us. I used to have nightmares for many of my younger years. However, I have been more scared since Bush became President than ever because I believe he is more than willing and happy to nuke someone--anyone. At least, during the Cold War, we had real leaders who cared about our country and our people first, who were willing to talk to our enemies, who were willing to do EVERYTHING they could do to keep peace. Peace was always the ultimate goal. War is the ultimate goal for Bush and his supporters. Bush and his supporters are for lies, torture, war, death, and destruction. They set very poor examples for me to believe they could even remotely be "pro-life." It seems that the younger generation has no clue as to what one nuclear bomb would do to the world if dropped in Iraq or Iran--not to mention contaminating the oil (which is more important than people). They seem to think it won't hurt them. But, it will and it will hurt their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc.

As I reread the above, I realized Bush is now Kruschev. Way too scary to me.

Posted by: Mazurka on February 18, 2007 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

considering the century is only five-plus years old, i think george is spot on for a change. however, to say it's the biggest challenge to face us over the next 95 years makes about as much sense as mckinley trying to forecast the 20th century.

Posted by: mudwall jackson on February 18, 2007 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

I think Condi's secretly wishing for its return so that her area of study might again become relevant.

Posted by: norbizness on February 18, 2007 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

Egbert is just proof of the sad state of the country. I can tell Egbert has no clue what leadership means. I suggest he get a dictionary and look it up.

Posted by: This Machine Kills Fascists on February 18, 2007 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

The Cold War was a lot easier, especially for Republicans, simply because there isn't any money in communism. It was a downhill fight. When it ended the conservative need for eternal conflict was without an enemy. They tried Clinton, but that didn't work, they thought about China, but they're too smart. That left the only idiots on earth actually spoiling for a fight, Middle Eastern religious maniacs. But they're not as simple as communists or Nazis and there's a lot more of them.

So now we see Republicans retreating into nostalgia as they prepare to let someone else figure out the mess they caused.

Posted by: cld on February 18, 2007 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

Umm while there are certainly some right-wingers out there with that attitude I don't think Gates is one of them. Maybe I've misread this but I was under the impression that Gates's comments were intended, and received, as tongue-in-cheek. Here's Time's report on them:

(Link: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1588122,00.html)

Gates' rebuke of the Russian president relied on humor and some pointed jabs.

"As an old Cold Warrior, one of yesterday's speeches almost filled me with nostalgia for a less complex time. Almost," Gates said. Then, as the audience chuckled, the defense secretary said he has accepted Putin's invitation to visit Russia.

"We all face many common problems and challenges that must be addressed in partnership with other countries, including Russia," said Gates. "One Cold War was quite enough."

Posted by: Nick on February 18, 2007 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

What's the next ideological battle going to be about? It looks to be Abrahamic neo-Luddite theocracy (Muslim, Christian, whatever) vs. Anarcho-capitalism. Those nostalgic for the cold war are worried there will be decades of conflict ahead that will mirror the past ideological battle between communism and capitalism. The only problem is that communism and capitalism had more in common-they were materialistic. It seems there is yet again another re-polarization brought on by the hubris of "winning" the Cold War. Where is Osama Been Forgotten?

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on February 18, 2007 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

Mazurka nailed it. The only thing about this century that makes it far more dangerous than the Cold War era is that we have an infantile sociopath with god delusions with his finger on the nuclear button.

And determined to push it.

Although that's obviously not what Gates meant, it's a good response to wingnuts' hysterical screams of national security/terrorism.

"You're absolutely right. We must rid ourselves immediately of the person whose every decision for the past six years has put is in greater and greater danger."

Wingnuts for Impeachment!

Posted by: Yellow Dog on February 18, 2007 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

It's scary because Bush is president, period.

Posted by: John Emerson on February 18, 2007 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

"BAGHDAD, Feb. 18 — Two car bombs tore through a crowded market here today and killed at least 60 people . . .

"Abdul Hussein Ameer, 41, ran when he heard the first blast shortly after 3 p.m. local time; he is so familiar with the pattern of the suicide bombers that he knew another explosion was likely. But before he could get out of his shop, where he sells plastic containers and dishes, the second bomb detonated.

"'I hold the American forces responsible for this,' he said, black soot on his face and clothes. He said the Americans passed by the site of attack only minutes before it occurred and yet were unable to stop it.'"

So much for the purported "lull" and the purported "early success" of the U.S. troop surge.

Posted by: bert on February 18, 2007 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

Well, this conflict has to be a "clash of civilizations" and the greatest peril to our society in history to justify an insanely expensive military budget. The fact that 9/11 was instigated by a few guys with box cutters doesn't fit our military profile at all. We've spent a lot of money to become the best in the world at blowing up stuff and defeating other standing armies, and then these guys come along with their asymetrical warfare and ruin our script.

We're not very good at this empire stuff.

Posted by: AnotherBruce on February 18, 2007 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps, but we are also closer to annihilation via natural selection: Global Warming. That is a scarier problem than any nuclear exchange because nuclear exchanges are in large part controlled by PEOPLE. What can we do against global warming and an influenza pandemic (that will almost certainly kill me)? Build bunkers or die. Or both.

Posted by: MNPundit on February 18, 2007 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

Nads basically says it. It's all where you are sitting. I don't see the world as any more safe or more complicated than it was, although there are slowly evolving a greater number of potentially serious forces, nuclear proliferation, etc. It's just that we are not so much in control as before.

Before the end of this century it will be global climate change that challenges every ideology especially capitalism. It will challenge resource use and distribution, from clean water to food to minerals. It will challenge population levels and the right to procreate. Because we have proven that our nations refuse to act in common interest, it is more likely that violence will be used to secure resources.

I am not an optimist on this one because we have so many in positions of both public and private power that don't see the personal benefit in admitting there has to be a change in direction.

Posted by: notthere on February 18, 2007 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

The problem with the cold war was that it ended. When it ended we no longer had a looming threat to justify the grotesque defense budgets that had fed the military/industrial complex since the sixties. Now we have the war on terror and it can go on forever because there will NEVER be a way to determine when it is over. Happy days are here again and if we twist Putin's recent comments into another threat we can double the money poured down that rathole. won't that be great?

Posted by: Saprky on February 18, 2007 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

egbert touches on the conservative dillusion (part nightmare part wet-dream) that, if we dissent in anyway from our leadership we are just one step from marauding hordes of islamists landing on our beaches taking over our country like Red Dawn the movie.
The only answer to to outlaw christ hating liberals trying to help the islamist/hispanic invasion already underway.
Egbert, you are a true moron.
They only want us to leave their portion of the globe, and stop imposing our Paris Hilton filled universe upon them.
Doesn't make an excuse for their actions, just a reason. Go watch Red Dawn, we had our on fantasy.

Posted by: cboas on February 18, 2007 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

Judi Dench in Casino Royale:

"In the old days Bush would have had the decency to defect. How I miss the Cold War."

(I may have remembered this wrong.)

Posted by: phil on February 18, 2007 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

Now we're trotting out Judy Dench to support your arguments?

LOL! She's some British snaggletoothed hollywoord liberal. Show's you what liberals think passes for valid opinioin.

Posted by: egbert on February 18, 2007 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

Off topic, but just that people should be aware not only are we sending under-qualified, under-trained, under-equipped troops to Iraq, we are treating them like this when they return:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/17/AR2007021701172.html

Meanwhile, there's not a toy that the Pentagon sees that it does not put it on the Xmas wish list, whatever the cost. And if they don't want it, then the state Reps and Sens for that manufacturer or base will make sure they do.

Posted by: notthere on February 18, 2007 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

egbert --

not only have you shown yourself as perversely ignorant, it also seems you lack that most essential element, a sense of humor.

You are one sad dude.

Posted by: notthere on February 18, 2007 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Life in the past decades has been fine--the quality of politics and the daily grind
just went to crap in the past 6 years--stolen elections, an admin. trying to scare people
with the boogey man of bin ladin, the patriot act turning citizens into suspects, efforts to legislate social behavior/add to revenue of the cities and towns with setting traps to arrest people for driving under the influence charges, a bigger police state, a more pervasive big government.
Domestic spying, immense surveillance yet unprotected borders, bin ladin never nabbed and likely deceased long before they stopped making him such a boogey man. I hate these times, but I am more comfortable in other ways, would not want to be 20 years old again.
An immoral perpetual war and an administration who won't let you forget for one minute how much they messed up our last six years. I can't bring my self to post the f-word, but that is what it has been.

Posted by: consider wisely always on February 18, 2007 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

I just moved into an early 50's house that has a bomb shelter--concrete walls 5 feet thick. That really hit it home for me what a scary time that was.

Posted by: Bad Shift on February 18, 2007 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

Exemplary essay on pervasive Republican incitement to violence,

The normalcy with which Republicans now call for acts of violence against Democrats is alarming. . . .

What I see is a growing ease with which Republicans use the media to call for violence to be committed against Democrats. And as far as I can tell, they have been allowed to do this without any consequences whatsoever.

Are these calls for violence harmless? They are not. In fact, there is ample evidence to suggest that even the most poetic calls for violence by conservatives in the media put them on a path to violence--a path that starts with insults, leads to death threats, and then ultimately arrives at actual murder.

The problem is not just incitement, but the lack of consequences for this behavior. In other words, while Democrats now enjoy a majority in the Congress, the culture of public discourse is still determined by almost a full decades of authoritarian conservative media dominance. . . .

What we are witnessing with these calls for violence is the radicalization of authoritarian conservatism as the prospects for electoral success diminish.

Just as the success of authoritarian conservatism in electoral politics led to the increase in foreign violence perpetrated by the Republican Party, the failure of authoritarian conservatism in electoral politics will likely lead to an increase in domestic violence perpetrated by the Republican Party. . . .

The violence frame, invoked with regularity and increasing boldness by leading voices of the Republican elite, should serve as a constant reminder that this latent authoritarianism has lashed out at our own from time to time in American culture. It has been a while since we have had a season of burning crosses, assassin's bullets, truck bombs, or clinic murders. But as new political alignments rise to the surface, I fear we may be heading for the rapids of domestic violence yet again.

In this respect, we must waste no time acknowledging that the authoritarian conservative violence frame is already far too prominent in the media and in government. We risk far too much by letting even one Congressman's call for violence go unanswered.

Posted by: cld on February 18, 2007 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

What is more dangerous about the world today is that the cumulative destructive impact of human activities on the Earth's biosphere is degrading and depleting the ecological "goods and services" on which human civilization depends, and pushing the Earth to the brink of planetary ecological collapse and mass extinction of most species of life, which will render the Earth inhospitable for thousands, if not millions, of years to anything resembling the rich, diverse, resilient biosphere in which human civilization developed and prospered during the last 10,000 years or so.

Of course these processes have been ongoing for a long time, but they have accelerated to an extreme level in the 20th century, and especially so in the last 50 years.

Many people have been aware of this grave and gathering danger since at least the beginning of the modern "environmental movement" in the 1960s, but for the most part their warnings have been ignored, and humanity has continued along a path of more and more destructive abuse of the Earth's capacity to support life.

Anthropogenic global warming is the overarching problem now, and it alone could lead to global catastrophe. However, unfortunately it is not global warming alone that is impacting the Earth -- a range of other human activities from unsustainable, extractive agricultural practices to deforestation to overfishing, are also contributing to the degradation and destruction of entire ecosystems, as documented in the UN's Millennium Ecosystem Assessment report.

Today it is not at all clear that we still have time to reverse these destructive practices and avert the worst outcomes. It may already be too late, for example, to stop "runaway" global warming, in which anthropogenic warming has triggered self-reinforcing feedbacks (decreased albedo from melting ice, increased release of carbon and methane from warming soils and thawing permafrost, die-off of oceanic phytoplankton, etc) that will continue to drive rapid and extreme warming even if we cease all anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases immediately.

Short of a global thermonuclear war (which, contrary to popular belief, is still entirely possible, with both the USA and Russia maintaining to this very moment arsenals of thousands of hydrogen bomb warheads on ICBMs on "use it or lose it" alert status), we humans can go on killing each other in our stupid wars indefinitely, if we are such a pathetically vicious species as to choose that path. However, if we continue to degrade and destroy the Earth's biosphere upon which we are completely dependent, then we will ensure our own extinction.

The world is indeed a more dangerous place now than it was in the mid-20th century, but not because of some fake, phony, trumped-up threat from a nonexistent "global radical Islamist jihadist terrorist movement". It is dangerous because of our population growth, our consumption of fossil fuels, our mining, our agriculture, our forestry, our fishing -- because of the fundamentally destructive and unsustainable way that the human species "makes its living" on this planet.

From the mid-20th century on, civilization-destroying nuclear war was always a possibility, but it was never an inevitability. Civilization-destroying global ecological collapse is now approaching inevitability.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 18, 2007 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

When I was in college, we were debating whether the school health centers ought to carry cyanide pills, so we could commit suicide rather than die of radiation poisoning if we were nuked. So no, I don't think we felt all that safe and comfortable.

Terrorism isn't anywhere near as scary to me as the possibility of nuclear war between the USSR and the US was. But I admit global warming is sounding scarier and scarier. Slower than nuclear war, but even more pervasive.

Posted by: Emma Anne on February 18, 2007 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

Fear is good for Halliburton.
And I AM Halliburton.

You don't like it?
Go fuck yourselves.

Posted by: One-eyed Dick on February 18, 2007 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, but it all comes down to what Big Oil wants...

Posted by: TeesMyBody.com T-Shirts on February 18, 2007 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

The John Birch Society is still in existence, still recruiting, and still loony as hell. I've heard some of their nutcases fear monger over dead communists as if they would be coming back from the dead. Khrushchev is still a bugaboo for these whacks. In days of yore, the rulers were rational. That cannot be said of Cheney/Bush, the modern Republican Party and their AEI ideologues.

In the meantime, it is shameful way Bush treats our wounded while his little lickspittles cheer his every incompetent act.

Posted by: Mike on February 18, 2007 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

"And if we fail to meet this challege, we run the risk of our women being forced under burkhas and our courtsystems brought under Shah'ria law. "

That has to be about the most ignorant thing I've read in a while. The abject fear and terror some people seem to have of a few goat-fuckers living in a cave somewhere never ceases to amaze me. Hell, combined the Islamists can't even whup tiny little Israel even though they outnumber them by a factor of many. And yet they are going to come here and steal our women and force everyone to kneel and face Mecca every day... Quit pissing in your pants and get a grip

Posted by: Cromagnon on February 18, 2007 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

I'm reminded of Bob Schieffer, once again internalizing Republican talking points,...

You mean "Bob-although Bush-appointed-my-brother-US-ambassador-to-Australia-but no-way-am-I-biased Schieffer,,,"

Posted by: Conrad (Con) Sordino on February 18, 2007 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

Methinks some people need to google conelrad and learn a little something about the 'happy' past.

Every radio sold in the US had a marker or markers on the dial for the Civil Defense frequency.

We school kids were taught to duck and cover, meaning crouch under our desks with our heads down and our hands 'sheilding' our necks.

At least one year I remember being told not to eat the snow because of fallout from some Ruskie test.

I venture to guess that most people were aware of the risk of nuclear attack and were reminded of it on a daily basis. I remember a Reader's Digest article my parents made me read on what schools would be like if the US was conquered by Russia.

Sheesh.

Posted by: Tripp on February 18, 2007 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

I have great con-dar.

I can always spot a conservative by how easily they soil themselves whenever you mention some kind of terrorist threat, however improbable.

People keep bringing up the question of why these guys don't enlist if they think terrorism is such a threat.

But do you really want this kind of pussy next to you when you go into battle? I didn't think so.

Posted by: frankly0 on February 18, 2007 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

"We have become a monster in the eyes of the whole world – a nation of bullies and bastards who would rather kill than live peacefully. We are not just whores for power and oil, but killer whores with hate and fear in our hearts. We are human scum, and that is how history will judge us..." – Hunter S. Thompson

Posted by: consider wisely always on February 18, 2007 at 5:05 PM | PERMALINK

Was the cold war safer for Americans? Well, ask a Korean War or Vietnam War vet and see what they say.
The Korean War killed about 36,000 Americans and the Vietnam War killed about 58,000.

This so-called War on Terror looks pretty peaceful in comparison.

Posted by: McCord on February 18, 2007 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

This egbert guy is ridiculous. He's afraid Islamists could take over America?

Islamists couldn't take and hold any neighborhood in this country for 24 hours. The local SWAT team could take 'em out without much effort.

I know many rightwingers are pants-wetting chickenhawks, but sometimes the extent of their fear and their lack of confidence in American defense is appalling.

Posted by: John on February 18, 2007 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

The Oil Wars of the early Twenty-First Century brought dormant hostilities to the fore. Everyone, from local warlords to leaders of nation-states, resorted to military confrontations, usually with appeals to national or religious identities.

As we look back, the opportunity to shift to a sustainable solar-electric, non-polluting, carbon-free, egalitarian world society was lost when the easy energy resources from oil and natural gas were consumed in fratricidal wars, and selfish pursuits, instead of using the remaining oil to build the necessary solar-based infrastructure.

Conservatives refused to believe the oil would run out, while liberals sought marginal solutions, like slightly more efficient automobiles.

Finally, the last drop of oil was used to bull-dose the last tree in the Amazon Desert.

--Notes from 2025.

Posted by: deejaays on February 18, 2007 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

John nailed it. There is as much chance of al-Qaeda taking over the United States as there is of green and purple winged monkeys flying out of my ass. If we had responded to 9-11 in a rational fashion, namely by recognizing it as a crime and marshalling international support for police action to bring the perpetrators to justice, the world would be a fairly peaceful place right now. Osama bin Laden and Zawahiri would be dead or in jail. The U.S. could be well on the way to being energy-independent and at peace with Muslim nations. By invading Iraq, Bush squandered all of the good will that the 9-11 tragedy created.

Air pollution kills 3 million people a year. Why are we wasting $600 billion on an enemy that has killed a little over 3,000 people in five years????

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on February 18, 2007 at 5:43 PM | PERMALINK

"almost nostalgic"

But not quite.

The rest of Gates' reply had elements of sincere humor, conveying a sense of self-confidence.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on February 18, 2007 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

Great article on climate change, The End of the West as We Know It?,

For market economies, and the Western model of democracy with which they have been associated, the existential challenge for the foreseeable future will be global warming. Other threats like terrorism may well be damaging, but no other conceivable threat or combination of threats can possibly destroy our entire system. As the recent British official commission chaired by Sir Nicholas Stern correctly stated, climate change "is the greatest and widest-ranging market failure ever seen."

The question now facing us is whether global capitalism and Western democracy can follow the Stern report's recommendations, and make the limited economic adjustments necessary to keep global warming within bounds that will allow us to preserve our system in a recognizable form; or whether our system is so dependent on unlimited consumption that it is by its nature incapable of demanding even small sacrifices from its present elites and populations.

If the latter proves the case, and the world suffers radically destructive climate change, then we must recognize that everything that the West now stands for will be rejected by future generations. The entire democratic capitalist system will be seen to have failed utterly as a model for humanity and as a custodian of essential human interests.


I think the point we can take away from this is that adaptation is opportunity. Even effective limitations on pollution are only treating the symptoms, the cure is to alter the way that corporations are allowed to exist in our society and what they contribute to the character of our people.

Posted by: cld on February 18, 2007 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

I was born when Herbert Hoover was President. The Cold War was, in my experience, the scariest time of the century, but we grew accustomed to it — and became a nation of hysterics. We were all crazy.

Posted by: buddy66 on February 18, 2007 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

I suspect what right-wingers miss most about the bad old days of the Cold War, and what they thought 9/11 had restored to them, is a domestic political scene in which dissent is treason, and the masses can be told they must uphold their reactionary rich white male "betters" or risk enslavement or collective death. Clowns and heavy-breathers are working this scam every day on FNC, from the floors of Congress, and in the White House.

Posted by: Dabodius on February 18, 2007 at 6:25 PM | PERMALINK

I guess if you're a DC-Moscow type realist who sits in their office uses theories to control and understand the world, the Cold War was easier to comprehend. Everything could be reduced to maintaining the balance: our trade policies with Korea, our relations with Argentina, our support for the House of Saud. Now the challenges cannot be so easily reduced: global warming, terrorism, bird flu, a rising China, a falling Russia, Darfur, North Korean nukes, A.Q. Khan, Israel-Palestine, oil prices, the Latin left, AIDS, failed states, India-Pakistan, Japan-China-SK-NK, natural disasters, etc. don't so easily add up to a coherent whole like bipolarity.

For Russians, especially imperialist ones like Putin, the fall of the Soviet Union wasn't the good event it was in, say, Poland. The Soviet Union, despite the presence of Stalin and others, was always at the end of the day an attempt to modernize the Russian Empire. When the Soviet Union collapsed, the Russians lost their empire. The Russian state has never been able to exert soft, extraterritorial power except through the Comintern. The end of the USSR also brought along shock therapy to Russia that wrecked their economy. The Cold War was the closest time that Russians were ever the #2 power in the world. They had always been behind other empires like the Chinese, the British, the French, the Spanish, the Indians, etc. in terms of material wealth or influence. Even when they were more powerful than the Ottomans, British power rose faster than Russian power. For the Russian imperialist, the Cold War was Russia's golden age and then it ended.

Posted by: Reality Man on February 18, 2007 at 6:42 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist's comment was spot on.

Yeah, Kevin just plain nuts. No, in fact those who don't believe the world is infinitely more dangerous today - for the reasons SecularAnimist cited - are just plain nuts.

And in this obviously more politically atuned group a multitude of comments are made about egbert's obviously moronic statement but a very few noting the real issue, why today is so much more dangerous. I believe SecularAnimist was being overly optimistic in stating that the environmental catastrophe on the horizon was only approaching inevitability.

Posted by: brian on February 18, 2007 at 7:05 PM | PERMALINK

Comments completely unread (which is not how I usually post) I want to share an immediate reaction to this statement "There is a palpable sense of nostalgia these days for the familiar contours of that bygone conflict..."

In, I imagine, that famous Soviet "expert" Condi Rice. Who, I read today, (Newsweek maybe?) put Iran in the Axis of Evil to sort of round it out, and make it not look so much like we were just going after Saddam as, just after 9/11, Iran was approaching us through intermediaries with some pretty interesting ideas. Certainly good starting points for diplomacy.

But, as they say, nnnooooooooooo.

Posted by: Cal Gal on February 18, 2007 at 7:10 PM | PERMALINK

Cheney's bunker?

Hot damn. I hadn't thought of that angle.

Do you suppose it is WW2 rated?
Cold war rated?
Or definitely post 9/11 rated?

Do you suppose they have the best artificial heart nearby ready for rapid transplant?

Hot damn!
Only the best for our top-doggy.
Gravitas baby. Gravitas.

Sure wish these fuckers in the media would let us Cheney-adorers know.
God damn fucking liberal media...
Keeping us Cheney-lovers in the dark...

Posted by: An egg with buckshot on its face on February 18, 2007 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK

The main purpose of claims that we live in a uniquely complex and dangerous world is not to cover for incompetence, but to justify the loss of our liberties and the centralization of power in the "unitary executive". Declare permanent war, then stamp out dissent as unpatriotic.

Posted by: Joe Buck on February 18, 2007 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK

Just as a note and re a couple of comments above, especially those going on the global climate change tack, do not conflate democracy and capitalism. This is what the right do all the time to justify their "rightness". What they actually seem to condone is fascistic capitalism; the defence of minority rights, the constitution and democracy actually rank pretty low with these types.

In fact, informed, educated democratic citizenry is exactly what Republican party and their capitalistic cronies are all about preventing.

Posted by: notthere on February 18, 2007 at 7:26 PM | PERMALINK

egbert: "Now we're trotting out Judy Dench to support your arguments? LOL! She's some British snaggletoothed hollywoord liberal. Show's you what liberals think passes for valid opinioin."

Are you for real?

If you mean to parody right-wing trolls, it's not even remotely funny.

However, if you are for real, then --

CONGRATULATIONS!!! You've just become eligible for nomination as the Bush Administration's new Director of Intelligence -- replacing none other than John "Those Dead Nuns were Really Gun-Running Rebels" Negroponte!!!

Ah, just one final question here -- what are your views on abortion and the teaching of inteligent design in public schools?

Posted by: Bush Administration Recruitment Office on February 18, 2007 at 7:43 PM | PERMALINK

for some "magical thinking" about garbage and fuel, plasmas and high temperatures, go here:

http://www.popsci.com/popsci/science/873aae7bf86c0110vgnvcm1000004eecbccdrcrd.html

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on February 18, 2007 at 7:46 PM | PERMALINK

cld: I think the point we can take away from this is that adaptation is opportunity.

That's a good line. And there are many cooporations working to seize the opportunities.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on February 18, 2007 at 7:57 PM | PERMALINK

Jeebus( as you love to say), Kevin.

Posted by: Brian on February 18, 2007 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK

Condi and Mary?

That's old black velvet hat:
Condilicious...

Posted by: Kevin the Jeeb on February 18, 2007 at 8:22 PM | PERMALINK

To go back to the original idea, partly the reason the world seems so more diverse, non-cooperational, and harder to deal with springs from GWB the moment he came to power.

He turned his back on all world organizations and cooperative ventures. He (Cheney?) decided that it would be much better for the USA to pursue all negotiation on a one-on-one basis -- or, at least, one-on-few-basis -- to maximize all benefits for the USA. Another neo-con, no factual basis for believing, proved untrue in practice ideology.

This administration is so far removed from reality it is unreality itself. But we are forced to live it every day.

Posted by: notthere on February 18, 2007 at 8:27 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking of the good old days, Mitt Romney told George Stephanopolous today on ABC's This Week that Mayor Giuliani is a "genuine American hero."

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on February 18, 2007 at 8:36 PM | PERMALINK


Folks that think that the threats from the "terrorists" equate to - say 1952 or 1962 or 1987 are fools. If you think politics is worse than the McCarthy era (featuring tricky dick)- ditto.
If you want to scare yourself, think population, or it's euphamisim - global warming.

Posted by: jay boilswater on February 18, 2007 at 8:38 PM | PERMALINK

Nostalgic for an enemy that REALLY did have weapons of mass destruction? That controlled a good chunk of the globe? The same people that could press a button and put a ballistic missile in your linen closet?

Gates is insane.

Posted by: Daryl on February 18, 2007 at 8:47 PM | PERMALINK

Daryl --

they still do and they still can. And more will if present policies continue.

Posted by: notthere on February 18, 2007 at 8:51 PM | PERMALINK

I well remember the "duck and cover" drills and I feel no nostalgia for the threat of "mutually assured destruction". Unfortunately the Bush administration wants to possess the only weapons of mass destruction on earth and declare its own empire. I don't see them having the brains to do this, but they are truly frightening people. I also look for our government to do all it can to militarize and control space in the coming years. They're setting it up now-just look at how much of the NASA hierarchy right now is retired military brass!

Posted by: Fred on February 18, 2007 at 8:53 PM | PERMALINK

I am in between the boomers and gen X, or whatever the next one after the boomers is supposd to be. I was too young to remember most of the Cold War. I remember that I, and my classmates, used to laugh at the older teachers who went apeshit over the commie menace in HS.

I think anyone who is notalgic for the Cold War is an idiot. I remember thinking about the magnitude of the threat, and what it the stress must have felt like when I read some years ago that Russia had retargeted their missiles so they couldn't be launched on short notice. I thought 'Wow, that is a very big deal.'

In my opinion, you have to be really really stupid to think that there is anything now that is one tenth as dangerous as the threat of thermonuclear war. If the US, Russia and China really went off the cliff during the Cold War, they could have killed hundreds of millions of people within a few hours. And then the nuclear blasts would have killed millions more from the effects on the climate, slow death from radiation, and then there would be epidemics, starvation and death from poisoned food and water. People dying from living in shitty conditions after being forced to migrate sick from uninhabitable areas. It would have been a true global disaster.

My God, what an awful time.

You have to be a reall stupid moron chump idiot fool asshole to think things are more dangerous now. Either that, or you have a hidden agenda -you just want to keep ignorant people scared for no good reason other than to acquire power to do shady stuff.

Time to strip to Presidency of all the Cold War command and control stuff. We are not longer a few hours away from surprize mass nuclear attack or the old Soviet Union wiping out all of our European allies in a few days. So why do fools like Bush and Cheney have all these relic Cold War powers to get the US into trouble, and do wicked thing, when there is no threat that could not wait a few days or even weeks for deliberation?

And no, don't give me this terrorist threat jive. That is total crap. Stopping terrorist attacks may require the police, FBI, Coast Guard, Special Forces, special part of Air Force, etc. to have power to immediately spring into some kind of TACTICAL action. You don't need the President to be able to order all kinds of big time strategic military stuff, or invade somebody.

Nostalgia for Cold Ware, indeed. that is Stone Cold Big Tiime idiot low grade moron retarded mentally deficient stoooooppppiiiiddd.

Posted by: boomer-X: cold war stunk on February 18, 2007 at 9:00 PM | PERMALINK

There was an article in a recent Nation, which made the case that the situation IS more unstable than during the cold war.

Russia is seeing it's self encircled by US airbases, while it's interests in the area are written off as imperialistic. They feel increasingly betrayed and threatened, with a boatload of Nuke material.

Everyone from Condi to Edwards seems to be antagonistic towards Russia. An opportunity to take them on as an ally has been blown in our attempt to keep our boot on the worlds throat.

.

Posted by: agave on February 18, 2007 at 9:11 PM | PERMALINK

And we interrupt this commercial for a momentary look at the REAL world:

SPATE OF ATTACKS SHATTER RECENT BAGHDAD CALM

by Borzou Daragahi in The Sunday Los Angeles Times

"BAGHDAD -- At least 60 Iraqi civilians are killed and scores more wounded in ferocious bomb and gun assaults targeting Shiite areas of capital.

"Two more American troops were reported killed Sunday in weekend fighting around Baghdad."

And now, folks, we return you to the wonderful and zany show at the White House starring George W. Bush and Richard Bruce Cheney and moderated by your wonderful and zany host, Tony Snow. Let's hear it for Tony!

Posted by: bert on February 18, 2007 at 9:32 PM | PERMALINK

Young would be really young. I was born in 78 and remember the 80s pretty well.

Posted by: aaron on February 18, 2007 at 9:41 PM | PERMALINK

Boom! Another bomb kills 63 in Baghdad. Only a few dozen right-wing echo chamber neocons are still supporting this over on LGF, Polipundit and a few other hate sites. The other 99% of the American people oppose this farce. Kind of funny that it's literally Bush + Neocon bloggers VS everyone else?

BTW, I'm not a liberal, so don't lump me in with knee-jerk appeasers. I still think Iran is a danger.

Posted by: Disgruntled_Conservative on February 18, 2007 at 9:50 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know if counting the number of ghastly explosions is a good way to measure the success of the 'surge.' I think that reflecting on the reports of strategic actions and plots by Sunni and Shia in Iraq indicates that it is doomed, regardless of whether these terrorist acts continue at the same rate or not.

I've read reports that Sadr has successfully ordered the Mahdi army to lay low, allowing Maliki to say there is no problem with any of the Shia, the US should put all its muscle on the Sunni. Meanwhile, I've read that the Sunni are trying to provoke the Shia, and also using their own access to all sorts of arms to inject evidence of Iranian involvement in the destruction -and maybe get the US to go try to break the link between the Iraqi Shia and Iran. Which it looks like BushCo wants to do anyway. And the neighboring Sunni countries get restless about the fate of the Sunni, and pour aid to them.

And we have an idiot President and psychotic shadow president VP who think they are smarter than their counterparts in the Middle East, or they can kill their way to a military solution. One of the constants of the Bush administration that they can only play the US population (until recently). When they try to use their clever schemes against anyone they are afraid to kill, and try to out think their opponents, the Bush/cheney's get taken to the cleaners. Because they are fools.

Comprehensive regional negotiations are only hope of not creating more disaster, regardless of whether we stay the course, or leave.

Cold War is over. Time to strip the exectuvie criminal loons of their Cold War powers, since they can only use them to commit crimes and blunders, and blacken the reputation of the US around the world. And how many lies have these people told us about Iran in the last ten days in order to either stir up a bogus war, or attempting some obscure but stupid PR trick? Beginning to look like they told quite a few.

Posted by: boomer-X on February 18, 2007 at 10:13 PM | PERMALINK

Disgruntled_Conservative on February 18, 2007 at 9:50 PM: Well, I am a liberal, and I think Iran is a serious potential threat. But if you see a threat, that is not a sign that you should automatically do something stupid. Routinely using risky wars with only unrealistic chances of success as the first resort in response to potential international threats is stupid. But it looks like that is the preferred Bush/Cheney approach.

Posted by: boomer-X on February 18, 2007 at 10:16 PM | PERMALINK

The risk of nuclear warfare remains as long as the weapons exist. Russia, China and India will never be our ally/allies unless under a marriage of convenience against one or two of the others. Their most bassic interests are in direct competition with those of the USA and will remain so.

If you want to get an idea of the consequences of a nuclear accident -- I said accident, not bomb -- try this:

http://www.kiddofspeed.com/

As a pre-teen in the mid-60s, I remember reading articles about the rising level of Strontium-90 in milk around the world thanks to the UK, France, the USSR and, of course, the USA that brought an end to most above-ground tests. This is one avenue for international (UN) enforcment of a ban on tests, above-ground at least.

Posted by: notthere on February 18, 2007 at 10:20 PM | PERMALINK

boomer-X:

I don't subscribe to your Bush/Cheney = EVIL nonsense. It's true that they implemented the PNAC policy, but that by itself is only evidence of stupidity. The fact is that Congress authorized the war in fall 2002, and if the Dems really wanted to exercise their Constitional muscle, they could easily defund the war. Congress should issue declarations of war, I've had enough "police actions".

Posted by: Disgruntled_Conservative on February 18, 2007 at 10:25 PM | PERMALINK

Disgruntled_Conservative: "I don't subscribe to your Bush/Cheney = EVIL nonsense."

I don't necessarily think that either, for the simple fact that the usual references to "evil" that we read here -- be they from the right or the left -- are nothing more than exercises in lazy hyperbole.

I do think, however, that a very strong case can be made for both Bush and Cheney being profoundly amoral in character, frequently delusional in thought, and entirely selfish in behavior.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on February 18, 2007 at 11:15 PM | PERMALINK

The human memory is a funny thing. When I was a young man I used to fly airplanes. One day just after takeoff I lost all power. Objectively that is a very dangerous situation. Many a pilot has crashed and burned in similar circumstances.

Well I got lucky. I was able to restart the engine and continue my flight. By the time I landed I had forgotten the real danger I had encountered. I swaggered about proud of my supreme piloting skills. In truth I was just dumb lucky.

I think all those feeling nostalgic about the Cold War are the same way. They have forgotten the real danger we collectively faced. A miscalculation here, or a mistake there could have turned the world into a burning mess. The folks who look back to the cold war with nostalgia have just forgotten the real danger. The truth is we were all dumb lucky.

Objectively a few religious extremists living in caves in Pakistan are just not an existential threat. Yes they can do a lot of damage. Even if they were able to buy a nuke from a rogue nation the damage they could do is nothing compared to a full blown nuclear exchange.

Posted by: Ron Byers on February 18, 2007 at 11:27 PM | PERMALINK

Disgruntled_Conservative on February 18, 2007 at 9:50 PM:
I agree with you on the police actions business.
As for Bush and Cheney = EVIL, well, that is your intepretation. I think Bush and Cheney DONE EVIL. I did not start that way. After the 2000 election I defended Bush to my more liberal friends, I was foolish enough to believe Bush's campaign talk though I did not vote for him. I told people I thought Bush would be a conservative Clinton.

As for the DONE EVIL part, I came to that through a process of elimination, since there are only a very few explanations for their behavior that makes any sense. I am down to
-really stupid
-really arrogant and really ignorant
-evil.

I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that these two are very very bad news. Do they "=EVIL", I think that is putting words in my mouth.

Posted by: boomer-X on February 18, 2007 at 11:29 PM | PERMALINK

What's really scary is the absense of American statesmen & stateswomen since the end of the Cold War who are capable of responding to world events outside a superpower framework.

We are still living through the end of careers in government and the foreign service that were built on an understanding of the world as a struggle of capitalism vs. communism (Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, etc.). The world changed, our leaders' mindset didn't.

I also wonder if Gates' nostalgia for the Cold War masks a Trent Lottesque pining for "simpler" relations between races.

When you put democracy and human rights and economic development into practice the world gets so darn complex. Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?

Posted by: pj in jesusland on February 18, 2007 at 11:42 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, whats going on today man? Only 2 posts? Well, its 11:40, you still have 20 minutes. Step it up and give us something.

Posted by: Tyler on February 18, 2007 at 11:50 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter Disgruntled Con:

It's the Dems' fault for not stopping Bush.

Ya know, at some point stupidity and evil are indistinguishable. We've gone way beyond that pt with the current admin.

Posted by: Disputo on February 18, 2007 at 11:50 PM | PERMALINK

I go for arrogant/ignorant theory on Bush/Cheney. They're ignorant of the fact you can't bring democracy/human rights to the Arabs and arrogant because they insist on pursuing the policy to the bitter end.

Posted by: Disgruntled_Conservative on February 19, 2007 at 12:06 AM | PERMALINK

... especially while invading them illegally ... to free them from a strongman dictator we installed 20 yrs ago ... while killing >600,000 of them.

Posted by: Nads on February 19, 2007 at 12:18 AM | PERMALINK

The guy I really do not like is Cheney, and I think he is responsible for a lot of this. Sometimes I feel sorry for Bush who I think is in over his head. Then Bush goes and does or says something that removes any feeling whatever, except "how can we get out of this mess?"

Using Cheney methods, I don't think you could bring democracy to the Swiss or the English (both of whom had to work through serveral nasty civil wars before they arrived at their current long standing models).

Posted by: boomer-X on February 19, 2007 at 12:20 AM | PERMALINK

I am picturing students laughing at teachers who went "ape-shit" over the commie menace. These must have been the smart ass generation, for the real truth is that genuine communists genuinely killed more folks through genuinely genocidal programs than did Hitler. I won't try to give you a history lesson because obviously you only listened to what you wanted to hear the first time around, but I will say this--the major difference between Hitler and Bloody Joe Stalin is that Hitler had no open fan club in Hollywood. Stalin did, and still does for that matter.

Fidel Castro once quite explicitly outlined why any Marxist should absolutely despise the American bourgeois middle class lifestyle. I don't believe that everyone in the Soviet Union was hell bent on surprising America with a nuclear strike given any chance whatever of surviving the retaliation, but some were.

Ultimately, communism could not keep up with the pace of modernity set by free market economies. The communist idealists were shoved aside by realists. Part of their realism was to keep up those military technologies which might still be useful in a cost-effective sense.

But let's set history aside altogether, except for last summer when Israel took on Hezbollah in Lebanon and made an untypical mess out of a desired military quick fix. I'd like to make anyone out there a Monopoly money bet that W.W.III does not start this coming summer over Iran doing anything in Iraq so bad and so conspicuous that even Democrats have to be appalled.

I'm going to bet that W.W.III starts in Lebanon, with no American soldier or diplomat within miles. Now I really pray and hope The Big One will not start, but if it does, it will be because right now, at this very minute, some very aggressive,dangerous ideas are being bantered around between Moscow and Tehran.

Posted by: mike cook on February 19, 2007 at 12:46 AM | PERMALINK

I recommend this long look at Donald Rumsfeld’s vampire like career in the Asia Times, which connects the dangers of our present dilemma very directly with those of the cold war era. Dick Cheney, Wolfowitz, Bush senior, James Baker, Kissinger, Nixon, Ford and Reagan it’s amazing that a small tight knit group of people exerted such toxic influence right up the present moment.

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Front_Page/IB17Aa01.html

Posted by: antiphone on February 19, 2007 at 12:47 AM | PERMALINK

That's the net result when we don't prosecute our war criminals.

why is ollie north not dead? although a career on fox is a sort of death.

Posted by: Nads on February 19, 2007 at 12:52 AM | PERMALINK

One of the greatest dangers I see in the world today is the prospect of george bush deciding that nuclear winter would be a cheap easy technological fix for global warming. Bomb Iran, cool the planet. Two birds with one stone. Such a deal.

On one level I'm almost glad that bush doesn't think global warming is a problem.

Posted by: Dave Howard` on February 19, 2007 at 12:58 AM | PERMALINK

THE UNDERTAKER'S TALLY, Part 1
Donald Rumsfeld's sharp elbows
By Roger Morris

…Rumsfeld avidly stepped up ongoing US arms shipments to the shah of Iran's corrupt, US-installed oligarchic tyranny - its torture-ready SAVAK (Organization for Intelligence and National Security) secret police intimately allied with Mossad, the CIA and the DIA. In 1976, Rumsfeld also pressed the sale to the waning shah of up to eight nuclear reactors with fuel and lasers capable of enriching uranium to weapons-grade levels. Ford was prudently uneasy at first, but relented under unanimous pressure from his men. Cheney backed Rumsfeld from the start in urging an Iranian nuclear capability; and, in this at least, they were joined by their arch-rival Kissinger, ever solicitous of his admirer the shah, ever oblivious to internal Islamic politics - he himself primed by an obscure but vocal 33-year-old State Department aide named Paul Wolfowitz.

At its Rumsfeldian peak in 1976, US weapons and intelligence trafficking with the rotting Iranian imperial regime took up the time of some 800 Pentagon officers. Barely two years later, the shah's regime would fall to the ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's Islamic Revolution, in part under the sheer weight and waste of the Pentagon's patronage. Like CIA-DIA connivance with SAVAK - which included coordinated assassinations of Iranian opposition political figures or clerics and, in 1977, even Khomeini's son - Pentagon complicity with the hated old order made all but inevitable the widespread anti-American sentiment in Iran that would in the future be so effectively exploited by the Islamic regime's propaganda. Detonating in the 1979 seizure of US Embassy hostages in Tehran, popular Iranian hostility would burn out of a history of intervention and intrigue few Americans ever knew the slightest thing about…

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Front_Page/IB16Aa03.html

Posted by: antiphone on February 19, 2007 at 1:14 AM | PERMALINK

mike cook on February 19, 2007 at 12:46 AM:
-your comment began rather snidely, and you assumed a little too much.
-we laughed because the teachers were going ape-shit over the commies invading the US, or taking us over by subtle ideological increments. We laughed because they said Gorbachev and Yeltsin were part of very deep very sinister commie plot to pretend that the Soviet empire was falling apart. We laughed because they were flogging the idea that the Soveit Union was a mighty growing threat when it was obviously falling behind and falling apart, for exactly the reason you stated. Most of us had no doubt that the Soviet Union had a very bad government that had done very bad things, and most of my politically aware friends knew that smart ass punks like us would last about five minutes in that nasty place. Do you think any good student doubted the reality of Stalin's Russia, the purges or the Gulag?
-but I am older and more mature now, so I do not laugh at you.
What very subtle surprising, deep and evil mischief would Moscow and Iran be cooking up now? Tell us. And what might happen in Lebanon that would be worth starting WWIII over? Some violent and tense things happened in Lebanon during the Cold War and they did trigger a nuclear exchange. Tell us what is up. Or at least give us your ideas. Otherwise, I think that your comment is worth as much as that Monopoly money you are willing to bet.

Posted by: boomer-X on February 19, 2007 at 1:27 AM | PERMALINK

Sorry, meant to type:
"did NOTE trigger a nuclear exchange."

Posted by: boomer-X on February 19, 2007 at 1:28 AM | PERMALINK

Darn:
"did NOT trigger a nuclear exchange."
Too late at night to be typing. I think I got it right this time.

Posted by: boomer-X on February 19, 2007 at 1:30 AM | PERMALINK

...profoundly amoral in character, frequently delusional in thought, and entirely selfish in behavior.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on February 18, 2007 at 11:15 PM | PERMALINK

And the definition of sociopath is...?

Posted by: notthere on February 19, 2007 at 1:30 AM | PERMALINK

Every radio sold in the US had a marker or markers on the dial for the Civil Defense frequency.
Posted by: Tripp on February 18, 2007 at 4:32 PM

Wow, so THAT was what the little white triangle with the circle around it at about 700 KHZ on the AM radio in my Dad's '64 Falcon was about?

Here's another Hunter Thompson quote:
"The kids are turned off from politics, they say. Most of 'em don't even want to hear about it. All they want to do these days is lie around on waterbeds and smoke that goddamn marrywanna...yeah, and just between you and me Fred thats probably all for the best."

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on February 19, 2007 at 1:30 AM | PERMALINK

http://www.tomdispatch.com/index.mhtml?pid=165669
When I ran into this today I figured it was worth a good look even though it seemed dated : definite "oh yeah" on that prognostication. Gives quite the look at the history of our nasty cockups in charge.

Posted by: opit on February 19, 2007 at 1:36 AM | PERMALINK

I think it's just plain nuts to think that the world isn't worse off now than it was during the Cold War -- pick a decade -- if you include the savaging of the environment -- where the '60s and '70s actually saw progress against pollution we've regressed under GOP rule; the unprecedented aggression of the U.S. -- Vietnam War was a colossal mistake but whose origins preceded U.S. involvement, and in any case, we did LEAVE that one, finally; the utter incoherence of foreign policy -- diplomacy was always an option before, now it's an afterthought at best, and our present administration is actively involved in expanding terrorism through its stupidity; the complete capitulation to the military-industrial complex that Eisenhower warned about -- and if you throw in Big Oil as an adjunct to the complex it's really ugly.
And, we have been, in fact, attacked on American soil.
That said, I have NO nostalgia for the Cold War except to the extent that the leaders of this country, however flawed, were at least working towards a good solution whereas our leaders now behave in a resolutely pernicious way.

Posted by: secularhuman on February 19, 2007 at 1:42 AM | PERMALINK

Gives quite the look at the history of our nasty cockups in charge.

Yeah opit, that’s the same series I was quoting from Asia Times. I found it fascinating.

Posted by: antiphone on February 19, 2007 at 1:43 AM | PERMALINK

I believe SecularAnimist was being overly optimistic in stating that the environmental catastrophe on the horizon was only approaching inevitability.
Posted by: brian

Just so.

'But the challenge is huge, said Matthew Simmons, an industry banker who sent shock waves through the oil world when he questioned whether Saudi Arabia, the most important oil source, would be able to continue to expand production.

“The ability to extract this heavy oil in significant volumes is still non-existent,” he said in a recent speech.

“Worse, it takes vast quantities of scarce and valuable potable water and natural gas to turn unusable oil into heavy low-quality oil.”

“In a sense, this exercise is like turning gold into lead,” Mr Simmons said.'
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/11ba213e-bf7e-11db-9ac2-000b5df10621,_i_rssPage=6700d4e4-6714-11da-a650-0000779e2340.html
The Financial Times

Posted by: MsNThrope on February 19, 2007 at 9:09 AM | PERMALINK

They DO equal evil, and I am in a position to know!

Posted by: Lucifer on February 19, 2007 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

It is correct that the Cold War era was "simpler". The enemy was distinct and cohesive. You knew who they were and who all their pawns and other chess pieces were, and you knew that all the pieces were under control.

Sure, a bad move could have led to utter destruction of modern civilization and the deaths of many hundreds of millions of people, but it was simpler.

Now, countries and spheres of influence are fluid and weak and totally noncohesive. Groups and subgroups can cause no small amount of chaos. Sure, there is NO danger (not from a nuk-u-ler N.K. nor from a nuk-u-ler Iran or any terrorist groups) many hundreds of millions of deaths (no way, no how, even if terrorist nukes are set off in a city or three...NOTHING like the Cold War potential...not even remotely close).

Chaos is the rule now. Chaos and poor predictability. It will remain thus until a new equilibrium is reached, only after all the nasty regimes in the ME have gone through their unavoidable bloodbaths (this includes Israel, by the way). Inevitable. Particularly when you have even a single neocon getting the ear of even a single GOP leader.

In some ways I preferred the Cold War (I was a front-line cold warrior on B-52s) because it was all set, pretty predictable, etc. That isn't to say I really want a repeat. Hidden behind the curtains of that "more certain" time were about half a dozen times when incidents very VERY nearly lead to nuke exchange...all without anyone of consequence (We the People, for instance) knowing jack about it.

Nothing about any terrorists anywhere is a threat to civilization. Nope, not at all. The threat to modern civilization is restricted entirely in how countries like the US responds to objectively relatively minor attacks by terrorist groups. Only WE can destroy the US, not Al Qaeda, not NK, not Iran. Only us. We seem hellbent on destroying the US at the drop of a hat these days, with the Patriot Act, Rendition, torture, violations of international laws (which we helped write), domestic destruction of civil liberties, "unitary" executives, etc. That is all US citizens and their "leaders" choosing to destroy their own country...something Bin Laden could NEVER do.

Posted by: Terminus Est on February 19, 2007 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

There was an horrifically prescient piece in The Atlantic several years ago (I don't have a current subscription so I can't access the archives on their site. They're extremely stingy about access in any case.) the premise of which was that we would shortly become nostalgic for the Cold War. The main thrust was that the post Cold War world would become mired in 'fracture zones' (Balkans, former Soviet republics and ME) and chaos.

'Instead, the market is worried, worried, worried about an American recession. We have news for the market. The recession arrived seven years ago and is gathering strength. GDP in real terms is contracting if one deflates it using an inflation index calculated the way it used to be calculated instead of the hedonic, chain-weighted nonsense that the government churns out to ensure that GDP stays positive. If Uncle Sam was still calculating the rate of inflation the way he did in 1970 when US oil production peaked, it would be over 10% per annum instead of the fictional 2.6% that the government claims today.' - Chris Sanders. 'The Fortunate Fifth'
http://www.sandersresearch.com/index.php?option=com_content
&task=view&id=1110

Posted by: MsNThrope on February 19, 2007 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

'fascistic capitalism' -nothere

Isn't all capitalism, fascistic, and all fascism, capitalistic?

Isn't this the central truth that we are never allowed to see or mention?

I'm not much into the a priori belief of economics: that wealth can be created, either. Wealth is always converted from one form into another. As in, what is the total worth (in today's dollars) of the North American continent before Europeans discovered and plundered it? How much, in today's dollars, would it cost to replace it? Obviously an infinite amount of dollars couldn't replace that 1000 AD north America, so no matter what the total worth of everything here now it is not enough. We have all lost value in the the long term, while certain individuals concentrated wealth for themselves in the short term. Fascist capitalism at work.

Posted by: slanted tom on February 19, 2007 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

Terminus Est,

Agree with your points - Close encounters of the disastrous kind on the ground occurred as well in those days of yore. Having gone down memory lane recently in checking on my old kaserne in Germany, I recall the time one of our batteries came within seconds of firing an eight inch Special Weapons warhead across the border into Russian and Czech troops.

Perhaps some may recall those days nostagically because they remember a time when we had a viable middle class, pension and health plans, and no peak oil or climate change problems looming
around us. Of course I speak as a male caucasian. Other gender, racial and ethnic groups, undoubtedly, see those times in a far different light.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on February 19, 2007 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

But, I thought $hrub did have his hands on nuclear weapons.

Posted by: stupid git on February 19, 2007 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

Dear slanted tom, wealth is created from natural resources with value added by human intelligence and artfully directed human energy. Plenty of peoples throughout history have lived on top of resources they didn't even realize were valuable and which never would have become valuable, either, had these peoples been the only ones with a say in things. Arabs might have eventually developed their oil resource in half a thousand years or so, for one example.

I am relieved that boomer-X was not as clueless in class as he seemed. I caution all such people as boomer, however, that it is possible to be entirely too clever in one's predictions about what a potential enemy might do or how well they might do it.

Take the conventional wisdom of France in the Spring of 1940. The French had invested a whole lot of money in the Maginot Line, which was designed not to stop a huge enemy army permanently, but to hold back a million-man army for a few months with only a hundred thousand men. The Maginot Line, in fact, did what it was intended to do.

The French knew that there existed a tremendous area to the north of the Maginot defenses where the French army, Dutch, and British forces would have to engage a mobile German army. The French thought they were prepared for this because they actually had more tanks than the Germans and the French tanks were arguably superior. The same went, to a lessor degree for the French air corps, but they would get a lot of help from the British.

Right between the planned mobile warfare area to the north and the Maginot Line was the Ardennes Forest. This was a problem area in French thinking but they smoothed over the problem by all agreeing that the Ardennes would be impassable to armored forces in any timely manner. Things kind of depended on how much it rained.

On paper, the French should have been perfectly safe. In practice, the Germans had a plan for the first four weeks of the war and it was a very, very good plan. The Germans had such a plan in August of 1914 but it hadn't quite worked, so this time (1940) they made sure their plan would work.

We have no clue at the moment what Iran might do. The cautionary military principle is to never make assumptions about enemy intentions, but to be ready to cope with the absolute worst thing they are physically ABLE to do.

In today's world, that leaves a lot open. We should not under-estimate what even a pretty bedraggled al Qaida is able to do, or a smallish nation like Iran.

Posted by: mike cook on February 19, 2007 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

The current enemy, however, has made it clear- to rational people- that they love death more than we love life. That's something new.

mhr,

It depends who you mean by the 'enemy.' If you mean the relatively small group of fanatics who flew the planes and are suicide bombers then I disagree this is something new. There have always been nut cases willing to commit suicide for a cause.

There have not always been nukes, but depending on the response to a nuke attack I don't think a single bomb can kill the entire human race. The risk is if the attack triggers a cascade reaction of retaliations.

Posted by: Tripp on February 19, 2007 at 12:16 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps some may recall those days nostagically because they remember a time when we had a viable middle class, pension and health plans, and no peak oil or climate change problems looming around us.

You are such a victim. We have a viable but shrinking middle class only because we have a new and rapidly expanding affluent class. We have the best health care system in the world by far accessible to everyone and the best pension system defined not just by the defined benefit plans common in the 60's and 70's but with greatly expanded savings plans such as 401K's. Peak oil is a recurring myth which repeats every 25 years or so while global warming is simply the new Scientology. It has it's religious converts despite zero proof. It's pure nonsense but fortunately rather harmless nonsense. Conservatives in the USA and Australia are far too smart to allow any Kyoto style nonsense while the developing world won't even discuss it.

Global warming is a useful diversion designed to allow the worlds victims feel as if they are doing something. Think about it. Anything using Al Gore as it's high priest and reinging intellectual has to be a joke. Albert even sells indulgences. GW could hardly be more pathetic.

Besides they did have climate change worries during the cold war. It was referred to as the coming ice age.

Posted by: rdw on February 19, 2007 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

The risk is if the attack triggers a cascade reaction of retaliations.

You can count on it. We have such a large nuclear arsenal and spend 80% of total military R&D investment to ensure we can eliminate the risk of a 2nd attack from a nation such as Iran by eliminating Iran.

This is dramatically better than MAD. There's no mutual. This is Reagans legacy. We win they lose. Even Russia, a nation with 1/2 the population, rapidly on it's way to 1/3 and then 1/4, is no longer remotely competitive with the USA economically or militarily. They will never be so again.

Posted by: rdw on February 19, 2007 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

Instead, the market is worried, worried, worried about an American recession

Except it isn't. The American economy is the 8th wonder of the world continuining to blow the door off of Old Europe. Check out todays WSJ for the analysis on Europes labor market problems with chronically high unemplopyment and inefficiencies. You can also chack out the DOW and other indexes to see how worried investors are over the US Economy. NOT!!!!

The fact is the USA economy has been surprisingly strong absorbing major recessions in both the auto and housing markets that would have in the past caused a major recession. Not in 2007. Exports are booming after a long list of trade deals have been completed and a long transition from European focused trade to Asian trade which is just gaining speed with the opening of the Indian economy. THe USA has been able to maintain it's share of global GDP while Asia takes an expanding chunk directly from Old Europe and other highly regulated markets.

This is a trend that will of course continue. Old Europes turn toward socialism is of course a death spiral. The USA will remain quite vigorious using India and other markets to expand our labor pool in addition to our export reach.

Posted by: rdw on February 19, 2007 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

I respect you and Kennedy but see nothing in his essay to celebrate. Kennedy starts with gloom “Today's world is far less stable and indeed much less favorable ... we face an almost-impossible-to-manage "war on terrorism," with all of its capacities for asymmetrical damage to ourselves.. we are deeply mired in Iraq and Afghanistan ... the whole Middle East may totter because of the failure (one hopes not, but let's not blink) to win on the ground... we haven't a clue how to deal with the present, disturbing Iranian regime...we haven't the energy to block Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez from his arrogant anti-American policies across Latin America”

He ends with false cheer, “ Those were scary times.. but, humankind as a whole is a lot more prosperous, a great deal more free and democratic and a considerable way further from nuclear obliteration than we were in Dwight Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy's time”.

Why should we try to block Chavez? Kennedy has written about the thoughtful management of imperial decline, but tussling with Chavez will only increase hatred of the US in our backyard. Kennedy implies that the risk of nuclear war has evaporated. I’d say the reverse. US and Soviet leaders of the 50s and 60s had first hand experience of the terrible consequences of WWII- none of today’s leaders ahve that experience. Nukes will be used. it will be terrible, but not the end of civilization- Schell’s essays are exaggerations.

We must abandon our ideas of moral and military superiority. Our military meddling actually hurts US corporations, as more and more people, even in Europe, say “I won’t buy American goods”. Most Americans see that the war is a disaster but fear to back out because there may be more killing and less Middle Eastern oil after we go.. We might negotiate a deal with Iraq’s neighbors, including Turkey (crucial because of the Kurd issues), Iran, Syria, KSA and Israel. However, King George will only negotiate with his pals, KSA and Israel. He can’t achieve a post-US withdrawal agreement. There will be no negotiations as long as Republicans or Democrats allied to Israel and KSA control the White House. However, there may be a sane way out.

Iran, KSA and the Gulf States must sell oil. A massive war would hurt them economically and politically. Iran has minority problems. Israel needs peace and can’t possibly achieve military victory over all its adversaries in the age of global guerillas. The US remains the single most powerful country in the world. We probably can work out a modus vivendi with Chindia, which supports our economy, needs oil and gas and has minority problems. Oil production in the KSA is probably already falling- they aren’t the answer. Yes, protect Israel, but don’t allow or sponsor more actions such as the stupid IDF Lebanon invasion. The British Empire never faced the need to compromise with growing Asian powers. We do and it’s tough for domestic politics if we claim special eminence. That’s Kennedy’s failing.

Posted by: maracucho on February 19, 2007 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

Ummm, rdw, I said a cascade of retaliations - for example a terrorist explodes a dirty bomb so we nuke Iran so Iran tries to nuke Israel who nukes someone and Russia jumps in.

I did not mean we turn the desert into glass and there are no repurcussions.

Your worldview is so skewed that it is probably not even worthwhile talking to you. Is the sky blue in your world?

Posted by: Tripp on February 19, 2007 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

Larry Kudlow

So, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, testifying before Congress this week, officially threw in with Goldilocks — moderate growth and declining inflation. And stock markets loved it, with shares soaring in all sectors around the world.

Bernanke & Goldilocks 02/15

Just look at Bernanke’s bullet points: Business is strong. U.S. exports to the rest of the world are rising. The consumer is healthy. Unemployment is low. Wages are on their best run in years. And inflation is in check.

Pure Goldilocks.

The key geo-political factor libs miss is the surging trade data. Exports are running up 12% due to expanding trade with places like India. We need India to provide the skilled labor US markets need but cannot find. THe emerging relationship has been one factor driving the diplomatic shift by the USA away from Old Europe toward more natural allies such as India, Japan, Australia, Israel, etc. Because it's so important economically it cannot be stopped.

It is our post-European future.

Posted by: rdw on February 19, 2007 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

I see that really dumb wingnut has come in to close down the thread with his regurgitation of cherry picked news from today's business section.

Posted by: Disputo on February 19, 2007 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

The sky is always blue in my world.

Russia can 'get in' against France for sure but Russia could never directly challenge the USA, ever. Russia can only do what they did in the 70's against Carter in funding and supplying proxies to do their bidding. Which is exactly what Iran has been doing. Another Afghanistan type adventure is always possible but very unlikely. That would merely invite the USA to supply their enemies with disasterous implications for the 2nd rate Russian military.

It's not exactly a new or imaginative game. The bottom line is Russia's economy is about 10% the size of the USA economy and totally dependent on oil and natural gas. With a male life expectancy near 60 and collapsing birth rates Russia is a demographic disaster. They have the ability to upgrade Irans defenses but not change the results on the ground in the middle east.

The future of the middle east won't be decided by terrorism or military issues. The key issue will be economics. We are watching Israel destroy Palestine and it's other enemies economically. They've lowered tax rates, de-regulated and jump-started trade in the post 9/11 world and are growing a diversified, high-tech economy at very healthy rates. At the same time all lands with Palestinian populations remain mired in recession almost fully dependent on the largess of others. The fence has provided Israel with security and prosperity which they are using to build and buy ever more sophisticated weapons. More interesting is the increasing network of allies finding Israels skill at anti-terrorism so valuable. The result has been rapidly increasing trade with India, Eastern Europe and other parts of Asia. It's interesting how politics can make strange bedfellows. India isn't crazy about Islamic terrorism either. Israels exposure to these rapidly growing economies promises continued prosperity vastly greater than that of it's neighbors.

This says it all. In 2007 Palestinains living in Israel will see their per capita incomes increase over $1,000 to over $26,000. The Palestinians outside Israel will be lucky to reach $800. That's more than 30 to 1 and before you know it it'll be 50 to 1.

Posted by: rdw on February 19, 2007 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

Kennedy has written about the thoughtful management of imperial decline, but tussling with Chavez will only increase hatred of the US in our backyard.

Kennedy has also been totally marginalized with his excessive pessimism and false predictions. He was entirely wrong about Reagan and the USSR as was the entire left. The USA isn't tussling with Chavez. We've been ignoring him. Which is a shame for the Venezuelan people because their economy is becoming quite the disaster.

Leave it to Hugo to sell his Oil to New Englanders at 40% discounts in order to give Patrick Kennedy and the other libs a boost. Most Venezuelans don't even have indoor toilets or pubic sewage and waste disposal yet that clown is selling oil at cut rate prices to relatively Americans.

The fact is Venezuela will be an economic disaster GWB has very wisely marginalized by improving relations with Brazil, Columbia, Panama and most of its other neighbors with a series of free trade agreeements. The liberalized countries will become increasingly prosperous while Venezuela collapses.

We'll know they hate us when they stop applying for green card and visas to come to the USA. That isn't close to happening. A report in the WSJ last week detailed the flight of skilled labor from Venezuela with admissions to the USA more than doubling annually with higher levels in Canada and other oil producing regions. As Hugo puts his cronies in the oil and other nationalized businesses the experts leave for greener pastures. Venezuela will soon be where the USSR was in 1989.

There's absolutely no reason to bother with Venezuela. Hugo is destroying his own regime just as Fidel did. These lefty religions are disasters everywhere, at all times.

Posted by: rdw on February 19, 2007 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

Let's vote on the dumbest thing rdw said in the above post. The nominations are:

1) "GWB has very wisely marginalized [Venezuela] by improving relations with Brazil, Columbia, Panama and most of its other neighbors"

2) "Hugo is destroying his own regime just as Fidel did."

Posted by: Disputo on February 19, 2007 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

for example a terrorist explodes a dirty bomb so we nuke Iran so Iran tries to nuke Israel who nukes someone and Russia jumps in.

This is a nonsensical scenario. If we nuke Iran it'll end there. There won't be anyone left in Iran to nuke Israel or anyone else. And if Hezbollah or Hamas or the PLO even thought about using such a scenario to attack Israel they w/b wiped out 1st. Southern Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank would be depopulated immediately as well as Syria.

You were correct to assert earlier these islamic radicals are not a threat to civilization. They would be exterminated long before that possibility ever evolved and they know this. They learned from Putin Russia will use any and all methods to eliminate islamic radicals. They only posture against the western media because they feel the west is weak. It will work in Western Europe. It will not work anywhere else.

Posted by: rdw on February 19, 2007 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

Disputo,

Hugo and Fidel are socialists. It's been proven time and time again everywhere socialism is practiced it's a disaster. Venezuela is just at the front edge of its collapse. Inflation is running at 20% and they have a shortage of skilled manpower.

Cuba once had the 3rd highest income the America's. Now it's among the lowest and getting poorer.

Relations between the USA and Brazil are much better with rapidly increasing trade. Relations between Brazil and Venezuela as well as between Mexico and Venezuela are a disaster. Hugo is a lefty whackjob. Venezuela is screwed.

Posted by: rdw on February 19, 2007 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

Idiot

Do you even know the name of Lula's political party?

Look it up and see if it sounds "conservative"

Posted by: True North on February 19, 2007 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

I'm still thinking over where the bottom line of the so-called "swiftboating" phenomenon really takes us. The underlying issue must be whether ANY Vietnam veteran can be honorable in any sense having served in what some still ardently proclaim was a "dishonorable" war?

Bill Clinton once hinted at this conundrum when he whined that he would have loved to serve in the military, enjoyed all the male bonding, had a chance to win medals and such, but he was denied this chance because there was no honorable war to go to.

Iraq veterans have the same problem as they enter politics. It's not a problem to me because I consider both the Iraq invasion and Vietnam to have been honorable wars. In fact, it is a crying shame we let at least a stalemate slip away in 1975 when it would have been relatively easy to bomb a conventional armored invasion to pieces. It will be a shame if we let the chance of a stable, fledgling democracy in Iraq slip away because of a fanatic determination to retreat.

Democrats are always hinting that they would fight al Qaida in some magical way at some magical place and time. I reluctantly agree that al Qaida was not especially welcome in Iraq under Saddam, but al Qaida more recently has indicated that they are in Iraq now and they regard it as crucial that they win in Iraq. They are, in fact, expecting to win in Iraq. Things look brighter for them every day.

So, if some American says that, gee, I kinda might sorta wanna fight al Qaida someday, why would they urge leaving Iraq and start looking somewhere else?

The argument that the U.S. presence in Iraq has really been a recruiting tool for al Qaida is a flawed analysis. When the U.S. invaded Germany in 1945 it caused, temporarily, a recruiting boom for the Hitler youth and old men who were pressed into home defense. When Sherman marched through Georgia in 1864 he inadvertently recruited a lot of KKK members who would lie low for awhile, but then surge forward later to completely stymie the idealistic Northern Reconstruction plans for the South. Our advance on Japan "recruited" a lot of kamikaze pilots, but two nuclear bombs put an end to the idea that suicidal desperation could stop American forces.

Of course, our social outlook anymore is nothing like the generation that won World War Two. They were the "can do" generation. We are the whine, whine, whine, leave me alone so I can pleasure myself to death crew. Also, their generation did not believe in a "proportional response" to Pearl Harbor. They really didn't believe even in the porportion of an eye for an eye. If someone poked them in the eye at a Pacific naval base, they would nuke 'em. And first, they would create the nukes (not to mention the even more expensive than the Manhatten Project) B-29 bomber to carry the nukes!


Posted by: mike cook on February 19, 2007 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

"Dear slanted tom, wealth is created from natural resources with value added by human intelligence and artfully directed human energy. Plenty of peoples throughout history have lived on top of resources they didn't even realize were valuable and which never would have become valuable, either, had these peoples been the only ones with a say in things. Arabs might have eventually developed their oil resource in half a thousand years or so, for one example." - Mike Cook

Of course that's what the textbooks say.
But do they point out that 'wealth' is an abstraction and therefore subject to the beliefs of the beholder? The number of people who believe something has nothing to do with whether it is true or not.

People with 'wealth' believe in the 'facts' of economics. People without 'wealth' may have different points of view about these 'facts/beliefs' and about their place in the natural world.

Posted by: slanted tom on February 19, 2007 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

To the extent that "wealth" is an abstraction, we must view "poverty" as another. That's why religion is important, because belief systems really do inform you how high on the hog you should expect to live.

To me, there is only one sensible definition of "rich" and that is: you have seven year's supply of food laid away and a snug little home that no one (under current laws) can take away from you if you don't work for seven years.

Everything beyond those basics is gravy.

Posted by: mike cook on February 19, 2007 at 6:15 PM | PERMALINK
…So, if some American says that, gee, I kinda might sorta wanna fight al Qaida someday, why would they urge leaving Iraq and start looking somewhere else?…mike cook at 4:57 PM
The only reason al Qa'ida is in Iraq is to fight the US. If the US was not in Iraq, the Iraqis would get them out. The leadership of al Qa'ida is not in Iraq, they are in Pakistan, one of your allies. If you were serious about al Qa'ida, you would demand action from Bush who is charge of the military as he says so often. Instead you are playing rhetorical games by having Americans continue to die for Bush's fiasco.

Wealth is an abstraction? Ask the man who has none because the cries of hungry children are not abstractions.

Posted by: Mike on February 19, 2007 at 11:49 PM | PERMALINK
If we nuke Iran it'll end there… rightist dim wit at 4:20 PM
That is beyond your usual ignorant ranting and is pure insanity. If you nuke Iran you will suffer the world's condemnation and the Arab world where you store your oil will retaliate. It is always the ignorant old fools who think killing millions is sound policy. The Islamists in Afghanistan and Chenya have defeated Russia and the US is still losing in Afghanistan and Iraq. You spend the most money of any nation on your military machine and you are losing two wars at once.
It's been proven time and time again everywhere socialism is practiced it's a disaster…rightist dim wit at 4:26 PM
Cuba has suffered all the illegal and immoral sanctions the US could inflict and has endured. That is an admirable record of perseverance of the Cuban people. You have tried and failed in your coup against Chavez which was counterproductive for American interests. At this point, the people of Venezuela are seeing their lives improve after being held in economic thrall to the former ruling oligarchs. Your paeans to capitalism fail to recognize that it died in 1929 and all that remains are government sponsored corporations. Social works for the people, capitalism is the means the rich use to subjugate them. Just look to the successful socialist economy in China on which your multinationals depend for much of their profits. You keep repeating the same ignorant crap. Perhaps you need to study the subject Posted by: Mike on February 20, 2007 at 12:05 AM | PERMALINK
…Global warming is a useful diversion designed to allow the … rightist dim wit at 1:53 PM
You certainly specialize in ignorance. There is nothing good about global climate change and only a fool would treat it lightly. Gore has empirical evidence for his facts; you have nothing but bs. There was not serious claims of a coming ice age during the cold war except as a temporary consequence of nuclear winter. Your straw men are tiresome.
This is Reagans legacy… rightist dim wit at 1:59 PM
Raygun's legacy is debt, waste, fraud and abuse. Russia still has an overwhelming nuclear arsenal and is capable of destroying the US and your allies.
…The American economy is the 8th wonder of the world …rightist dim wit at 2:09 PM
Were you recently released from a mental institution? The American economy is debt debt debt. The only wonder is that the rest of the world continues to finance that debt in spite of the financial irresponsibility of Republican governments. The European economy has a higher GDP than the US and European nations enjoy a better standard of living. You are sending your jobs to Asia, your engineering to Asia and selling your future to the Chinese communists. Not smart, but you have never said anything smart ever. Posted by: Mike on February 20, 2007 at 12:18 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, no. He's baaaack! Our own cargo cultist. Damn.

'Financially, the US economy has degenerated into a sort of cargo cult, where people feel that they can continue to attract recycled petrodollars by dancing around piles of internet servers with their cell phones and their laptops.' - Dmitri Orlov

And to everyone else: Happy Mardi Gras! Bon temps roulet. Or not.

FEMA says the beads are in the mail.

Posted by: MsNThrope on February 20, 2007 at 7:51 AM | PERMALINK

Wealth is an abstraction? Ask the man who has none because the cries of hungry children are not abstractions.
Posted by: Mike on February 19, 2007 at 11:49 PM

Food is not an abstraction, nor is cash money if it should find its way into this man's hand. 'Wealth' and 'money' are still abstractions.

Economics has turned the Earth's very real ecosystem into an abstraction we might call 'natural resources','value' or 'wealth'. As complicated as economics may seem, it is trivial when compared to the total ecosystem.

Something is definitely lost in the translation. That loss may be hazardous to your and everyone else's health.

'To the extent that "wealth" is an abstraction, we must view "poverty" as another. That's why religion is important, because belief systems really do inform you how high on the hog you should expect to live.' -Mike Cook

Economics, like religion, is an act of faith and belief. That's my point, thank you for making it for me.

Posted by: slanted tom on February 20, 2007 at 8:54 AM | PERMALINK

rdw wrote: "Peak oil is a recurring myth which repeats every 25 years or so while global warming is simply the new Scientology. It has it's religious converts despite zero proof."

You are an ignorant dumbass. I understand that the underlying cause of your inane, delusional, incoherent ranting is your rapidly progressing senile dementia, and this does give me a sense of pity towards you, but nonetheless, you are still an ignorant dumbass.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 20, 2007 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

Mike to rdw: "Were you recently released from a mental institution?"

I believe that rdw suffers from rapidly progressive senile dementia. I think it is likely that he also suffers from bipolar disorder. When he is in the manic phase of his bipolar disorder, he posts dozens of lengthy, rambling comments here, which, given the deterioration of his cognitive functions, uniformly consist of delusional rants, always revolving around repitition of certain "fixed ideas", typically having little to do with the actual subject of the thread or of the comments that he is ostensibly replying to.

On top of which, he is steeped in the corporate-funded propaganda of the right-wing extremist media (he has written that Rush Limbaugh is "a great man" and seems to think the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal is a source of actual news), he is deeply and toxically ignorant, and has little or no connection to reality to begin with. He lives in a one-dimensional cartoon comic-book imaginary world populated by simple-minded stereotypes of evil "liberal" or "socialist" villains and mighty "conservative" superheroes.

Arguing with him is about as useful as arguing with a paranoid schizophrenic. When other commenters demonstrate conclusively that his assertions are flatly, absolutely and incontrovertibly false, he simply repeats them with redoubled frantic energy. Attempting to engage him in actual discussion (of which he is incapable) is a guaranteed way to waste time that you surely can better spend on almost anything else.

It's sad, really.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 20, 2007 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, that's a flat misreading of what Gates actually said. Here's the AP version:

Gates' rebuke of the Russian president relied on humor and some pointed jabs.

"As an old Cold Warrior, one of yesterday's speeches almost filled me with nostalgia for a less complex time. Almost," Gates said. Then, as the audience chuckled, the defense secretary said he has accepted Putin's invitation to visit Russia.

"We all face many common problems and challenges that must be addressed in partnership with other countries, including Russia," said Gates. "One Cold War was quite enough."

Can someone honestly suggest that that's nostalgia for the Cold War? And as to Kennedy's column, I'm reading a whole lot of foreign policy folks (inclusing some doubtless more hawkish than typically read here, and I certainly don't see any fantasist longing for the good old days of MAD.

A.L.

Posted by: Armed Liberal on February 20, 2007 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

SecularAnimist: It's sad, really
That was to have been my next question, did he run out of lithium because he sounds like a classic case.
Still, why let all that bandwidth be wasted? If he goes unchallenged, he'll never stop.

…that's nostalgia for the Cold War… Armed Liberal at 1:42 PM

Actually, it's worse. It was a flippant response to a major concern shared by a large proportion of the world's population.

Posted by: Mike on February 20, 2007 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

I would really like to agree with rdw on a lot of things, but not on brushing off Russia as a has-been power militarily. Nothing in the world is more nebulous or speculative than defining what "military power" might be.

For one instance, when Queen Boadicea headed up a furious rebellion against Rome she had the local legions outnumbered by at least two to one, plus she certainly had inflamed her supporters with allegations of rape and those peoples considered themselves to be quite warlike as individuals. As individuals, their armaments were probably equal to the Romans whom they greatly outnumbered.

But the outraged Britains got their butts kicked. Why? They fought the show-down battle on terrain the enemy had chosen and they committed themselves in a way that the Romans must have loved.

The U.S.A. has a big show-down battle coming this summer. Forget about Iraq and all the rancor over the history of the last four years. The only thing that matters now is Iran and that is where my disagreement with rdw over Russian military prowess comes in.

My guess is that Ahmadinejad is going to go for a Tet Offensive. He is going to hit the U.S. forces with SOMETHING that really hurts us, no matter how suicidal the effort. Russia is going to, somehow, significantly aid and bolster Iran in standing up to an American response that may or may not be withering.

Frankly, Iran expects to break the will and the spirit of the American people to resist Iran's agenda in the Middle East. Why should Ahmadinejad imagine that he can succeed? Well, why not? Tet succeeded, despite being a short-rn military disaster for the Reds. America sounds for all the world like a nation begging for a reason to surrender and quit. The leader of Iran will give them that reason.

But Iran and Russia may not succeed, for the reason that the Israelis have thought all this over quite in detail and they will go all out to save the U.S. forces in the region at the moment of most dire danger.

Stay tuned this summer, world citizens. It's going to be a bumpy ride.

Posted by: mike cook on February 21, 2007 at 11:25 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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