The lunchtime meeting today had been organized by the Henry Jackson Society, the Left’s particular bugbear, in the House of Commons (luckily in one of the committee rooms where the acoustics were good and the mikes worked). The guest was the eminent academic and commentator, Professor Walter Russell Mead and his topic was an obvious riff on a once highly influential book by Professor Francis Fukuyama: The Crisis in Europe: the Return of History and what to do about it.
As one would expect, Professor Mead gave a very cogent and exhilarating analysis of the many problems the world is facing today but, as a journalist from Die Welt pointed out, we have all heard a great many depressing talks and read a great many even more depressing articles of that kind recently. What did Professor Mead think were some of the answers?
Professor Mead’s main solution was (and, to be fair, we were coming to the end of the session but, to be equally fair, that was supposed to be part of the presentation) that the US should restore its interest in Europe and re-engage in a dialogue with its European partners. Or, in other words, as he said the Lone Ranger, having ridden away, should now return (no word of how Tonto might feel about that).
The European Union, Professor Mead explained, was American foreign policy’s greatest accomplishment; it had been one of the aims of the Marshall Plan (some stretching of history here), had been supported diplomatically and politically throughout its history but has, to some extent been left to its own devices in the last few years. The US underestimated the difficulties European weakness and lack of cohesion will cause to it. Having, as it thought, defeated the bad guys (twice, presumably), knocked all the European heads together, the US announced that it will do what the European had always said they wanted and that is leave them all alone. Apparently, that is not what the Europeans wanted deep down and it is time to recognize this fact.
We’ll be over, we’re coming over
And we won’t come back till it’s over, over there.
Well, that’s fine, except that it would appear that it is never going to be over, over here. We saw that when Yugoslavia disintegrated into a series of wars in the nineties, the EU though the egregious Jacques Poos announced that “this was Europe’s hour” only to plead with the Americans to come back and sort the mess out after all. It seems that they will have to come back again in the sense of taking greater interest in this pesky little continent and its pesky problems.
Is that really the answer? Obviously, as an Atlanticist and an Anglospherist I want to see a continuation of the existing links between certain European countries and the United States, adding Canada, Australia and New Zealand into that network. But would a greater involvement by the US in the EU’s problems really help anyone? Somehow, I doubt it.
I got a little carried away with my blogging and had to put up two posts on Your Freedom and Ours on the subject of Professor Mead’s presentation, the discussion and my own opinions. So here they are: Post 1 and Post 2.
15 thoughts on “The view from over here”
“leaving them all alone” would have meant removing the bases and dropping the NSA Police State and quit browbeating them when necessary, simply paying them off when not, into supporting US wars in the Mideast and elsewhere.
Wasn’t it Valéry Giscard d’Estaing who, at the ratification of the European Constitution, famously said:
Ask not what you can do for your country.
Ask what the United States of America can do for you.
Given the consequences of all the American mischief in the Ukraine, be careful what you wish for. The US isn’t run by people like Truman, Nixon, or Reagan any more.
…all the American mischief in the Ukraine…
Can you spell that out? I’m completely at a loss as to what you’re talking about. Did I miss something?
To respond to blog post #1, I would refer to David Goldman’s analysis of Iran where he postulates that Iran is dying.
“Iran’s low fertility rate has produced a rapidly aging population, according to a new U.N. report. The rate has declined from 2.2 births per woman in 2000 to 1.6 in 2012. This has pushed the median age of Iranians to 27.1 years in 2010, up from 20.8 years in 2000. The median age could reach 40 years by 2030, according to the U.N. Population Division. An elderly and dependent population may heavily tax Iran’s public health infrastructure and social security network.”
In 2005 and 2006, I was the first Western analyst to draw strategic conclusions from this trend, the steepest decline in fertility in the history of the world. Iran must break out and establish a Shiite zone of power, or it will break down.
Iran’s theocracy displays the same apocalyptic panic about its demographic future that Hitler expressed about the supposed decline of the so-called Aryan race.
The population of Iran is rejecting Islam and the women are voting with their uteruses.
Iran’s decline cannot be reversed. Iran’s leaders know this quite well. Its universities have competent demographers who helped frame the first studies of Iran’s fertility decline, and its leaders have inveighed for years against the failure of Iranian women to bear children. Persian-language websites warn of the tidal wave of elderly dependents who will swamp Iran’s economy. For all the public anguish the situation gets worse by the year. Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute is doing the definitive work on this.
Does a dying society lash out as Germany did in 1939 ?
But it is difficult for Iran to be patient when its self-conceived guardians of God’s message are staring into an inescapable abyss at the horizon of a single generation. This is a culture inherently incapable of reflection on its own deficiencies, one that has nourished itself for 1,200 years on morbid rancor against the Sunni Muslim majority and more recently against the West. Patience in this case is a poison.
Israel thus faces a new Hitler and the threat of a new Holocaust. There is no way to portray the situation in a less alarming light. That is one parallel to 1938; another is the response of the world’s powers to the emergence of this monster.
Someone else has written that Muslim young men are the most sexually deprived and obsessed in the world. China has a somewhat similar problem since the “one child policy” has driven the ratio of male to female well below 1.
China has an excess of young men and that is always dangerous to neighbors. Iran has a different excess of young men who have sexual obsession and who seem to pine for “72 virgins.” However, mosque attendance in Iran is reported to be below 2% and the population may be rejecting the death wish of the leaders and the Quds Force , which seems to be the shock troops and the only true believers in Iran.
Obama, of course, has botched any attempt to deal rationally with this situation.
With respect to post #2, I would quote, I think, John McCain that “Russia is a gas station with a foreign policy.”
Putin is the richest man in the world and the Russians are happy to be out of the Soviet Union but their economy is a mess. The oligarchs stole a good part of the national wealth that was left lying around when the wonderful Jeffrey Sachs was advising Yeltsin on how to set up a modern economy.
He is co-founder and chief strategist of Millennium Promise Alliance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending extreme poverty and hunger. From 2002 to 2006, he was director of the United Nations Millennium Project’s work on the Millennium Development Goals, eight internationally sanctioned objectives to reduce extreme poverty, hunger, and disease by the year 2015. He is director of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network.
Now there is a list of useless organizations. No wonder Russia got robbed by the KGB mafia which knew a bit more about modern economies than Sachs who seems to be a lefty on the order of Gruber.
Oddly, the Russians (and Ukranians) I’ve known – but that’s a small number – have been among the sweetest, most decent, most kind, and most educated people I’ve ever known. And they were all emigrants or children of emigrants. How lucky we have been to have many of the best and brightest escape to our shores.
On Post 1
China has nothing to gain and everything to lose from upsetting the apple cart. They now have more in common with Japan, South Korea, Canada, the USA and Europe than Russia or Iran or North Korea. There are also the same strains and currents within the Chinese leadership cadre that exist in all countries. The Taiwan Crisis that brought American carriers into the region and the local island oil rights disputes may be probes. That they chose not to overturn the table to achieve their goals says they beyond the near term and consider the long term consequences of alienating much needed partners. That’s a hopeful sign. It’s a sign that, to me, says we should work with them. The want to resolve Taiwan, it’s unfinished business from their civil war. They need energy. We have lots of coal and gas. We can work out an agreement I think.
Russia always manages to alienate those it needs the most. Every short term advantage is an opportunity to maximize their self interest at the expense of others. Who trusts them? Who would trust them?
Iran is very near the center of a whirlwind they have helped create. When the collapse comes it will be bloody and catastrophic, along the lines Iraq or Syria. I see their ability to change their region, but into anything constructive or stable. Islam is not a constructive ideology. It’s evil, barbaric and backward, and all it’s works follow that. The change they foment will only hasten its own demise. The bigger question, how will we pick up the pieces afterward and try to paste something decent and stable together again.
“Can you spell that out?” I had thought that it was well known; here are four things I’ve laid my hands on – there are doubtless many more around.
The big foreign policy advances in my sentient lifetime were (i) Nixon’s detaching of China from the USSR, and (ii) Reagan’s decision to pursue the ending of the Cold War: note that his purpose was to end it; that he did so by winning it was a bonus. In the Clinton/W/O years the US has succeeded in making an enemy of Russia all over again, and has pushed her into the arms of China. To do so over bits of territory of such remoteness from any vital US interest is folly of a very high order.
Dearieme, are you paid to propagandize for the Russians, or is it a hobby?
Foreign Affairs is an echo chamber of Wilsonian bias. I would imagine they have a huge following inside the Beltway.
Unfortunately, the EU propoganda machine has done a splendid job of convincing their subjects that the Ukrainian crisis is the United States’ fault. After all, it was the United States that tried to admit Ukraine as the 51st state. Whatever were we thinking, silly us.
Just an aside- the more I read about Truman the more I realize what a disaster his second term was. He was extremely unpopular when he left office, and he deserved it.
Dearieme, the zero hedge piece is baloney.
Nearly two weeks later, neither the US nor Europe has provided substantial evidence of any sort to support their assertions that Ukrainian separatists and/or Russia are to blame for the MH-17 catastrophe. There’s literally been nothing.
The Russian SAM unit was seen leaving the area after the shoot down. They were boasting about it. You can’t make a decent case that anyone but Russians shot it down.
Obama noted the rebels get weapons and training from Russia and had previously shot down government aircraft, including a claimed strike of a fighter jet.
“A group of separatists can’t shoot down military transport planes, or they claim, shoot down fighter jets, without sophisticated equipment and sophisticated training, and that is coming from Russia,” the President said.
My God ! Even Obama said so. !
1. I read Mead’s site “www.the-american-interest.com” every day. It has the best commentary on international affairs of any web site that I frequent. Mead is not a right winger, but he is not afraid to criticize Obama, and he is not in synch with the environmentalists.
2. That said, I don’t agree with him on the subject of Europe and Russia. I think we need a complete restructuring of our involvement there. We have paid for their defense too long, and they have grown sclerotic and weak. They have to understand their own situation and take charge of it.
3. NATO reached its sell-by date 20 years ago. At this point nobody believes that it is a credible deterrent to anything, let alone to Russia aggression in Eastern Europe. NATO ought to be dissolved.
4. Is Russia a problem to the United States? Yes, it is. No European country is closer to the US than is Russia. Hint: Bering Strait. Also we directly confront them across the Arctic Ocean, which according to Algore is now ice free. Russia has made some aggressive moves in the arctic. Further they have resumed, unprovoked Cold War style bomber patrols around Europe, near Alaska, and, what is worst, in the Caribbean. We face Russia with Canada, Japan, and South Korea in the Western Arctic, and with Canada, Denmark, and Norway in the Eastern Arctic. We should establish Arctic and North Pacific alliance to control Russia, and in the North Pacific, China.
4. In Europe, Russia is separated from us by a large number of countries who ought to be able to ally and defend themselves with not more than encouragement from US. My perspective is that we should encourage the formation of a Baltic alliance, which should include Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Finland, Sweden, and Denmark. These are the countries most endangered by Russian aggression. They cannot depend on France, Italy, and Spain to kick in for their defense. But Germany cannot tell itself that the smaller Baltic countries can go it alone and that Germany is not threatened if Russia picks off Estonia. The US should be willing to join this alliance, but only as a coach, and not as a player.
5. Russia is very aggressive around the Black Sea, where it has already started to carve up Georgia and Ukraine. What stake the US has in that area is not apparent to me, other than wanting to cabin Russia as a general principle. Turkey has been quite unhelpful for the past decade, and I see no reason to support its defense. Germany might be concerned with the Balkans, but the US has no particular reason to be interested.
6. Except for bombing Iran and Pakistan in order to protect the Persian Gulf, we have no interest in Central Asia. If China, wants to oppose the Russians in that arena, let them do it.
“Professor Mead replied that the connection between GDP and world influence is not all that straightforward, pointing to the fact that in the mid-nineteenth century France’s GDP was greater than Britain’s but that did not lead to French domination of the world.”
Must we list all the wars France fought—and mostly lost—to show why France’s influence wasn’t equal to its GDP. Add to that the changes in government, and the conclusion, I’d hope, would be clear.
A recognition of history makes Mead’s assertion a bit different. China is like France in 19th century: a nation with a bloody history of revolutions (at least two) and wars (many) from 1700-1849.
If China will be like France, its neighbors better prepare for hell.
“Dearieme, are you paid to propagandize for the Russians, or is it a hobby?” That may be the lamest remark I’ve ever seen on this blog: content-free.
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