"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Sunday, August 29, 2021

American Pie In The Sky Idealism–Seeing Only What You Want To See

Joe Biden is not the first president to fall prey to Utopian selective vision.  He is but the last American leader to put hope above reality, illusion over fact, idealism over truth.  Ever since the American victory in World War II, the routing of Nazi armies, and the defeat of Hitler and National Socialism, American foreign and military policy has become flaccid and idealistic.  

American military and political planners refused to see the defiant nationalism of Ho Chi Minh, his victories against the Chinese, and his determination to extend his own particular, homegrown, and appealing nationalistic Communism.  They refused to see the corruption of their puppet regime in South Vietnam and the disaffection of its people, and underestimated their nationalism and political defiance. 

 They refused to see the strategic brilliance of General Giap and dismissed out of hand the black-pajamaed, sandaled, bowl-of-rice-and-a-little-rat-meat Vietcong, as the most determined, implacable, and steadfast enemy they had ever faced. 

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Worst of all, they overestimated what they assumed to be the irresistible allure of democracy, compassion and Christian goodness.  Once the Vietnamese were exposed to such righteousness, fairness, and equality, Americans believed, they would turn their backs on Communism and support the American liberators and embrace their principles. 

It came as a surprise to them that few Vietnamese were tempted by this foreign vision because Vietnamese nationalism was so deeply-rooted in Vietnam’s two thousand years of social, cultural, political, and religious history. Americans ignored the importance of such historical destiny, the nature of patriotic will and determination, and the willingness to die in great numbers to preserve their nationhood.

American military planners grossly underestimated the defensive prowess of the Vietnamese; and how the mightiest American weaponry would be no match for the ingenuity and courage of an enemy which hunkered down in simple but deep tunnels as Rolling Thunder passed and emerged to fight a canny guerrilla warfare on the ground.  These same planners underestimated the American electorate's impatience with war and longstanding belief in innate American might and quick results.  They misread the conflicting signals from Congress and the increasing public anger with the war.

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The war was unwinnable from the start – a misadventure of epic proportions, a conflict characterized by American idealism, political myopia, and historical ignorance.  Only Clark Clifford, close friend and advisor to Lyndon Johnson, expressed his conviction that neither was North Vietnam the dangerous enemy that the President thought but a proud nationalistic nation; nor was the political strength of Ho Chi Minh and the military mind of General Giap to be underestimated.  But Johnson was swayed by the political ideologues surrounding him, convinced that America had a moral responsibility to defeat the Communists and had the might to do so.

Despite the ignominious defeat of the United States in Vietnam, its foreign and military policy never changed.  George Bush I who successfully led an invasion of Kuwait to remove Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi army and end its occupation, halted American armies short of Baghdad, believing that it had destroyed enough of Iraqi military strength without having to cause civilian casualties.  This so-called compassionate military decision left Hussein’s Republican Guard intact and left Hussein in power with enough resources to continue his aggressive attempts at regional hegemony.

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When George W. Bush, decided to finish his father’s business, invade Baghdad, and topple the dictator, he too stopped before the job was done.  When the statue of Hussein was toppled to cheering crowds, Bush assumed that the country would quickly adopt liberal democracy and become a loyal partner if the United States; and there would be no need for a military occupation and martial law.  Once again classic American idealism trumped reality, and soon after the United States withdrew from the country, it quickly reverted to tribalism, violent internal struggles for power, and a new, Islamic radicalism.

American foreign policy regarding Iran has been as fanciful and idealistically ignorant as any.  State Department planners assumed the basic reasonableness of the ayatollahs, and that despite their revolutionary religious fervor and intent, they would stop the development of nuclear weapons.  What the nuclear treaty did not do was to address Iran’s support for regional Islamic terrorism, its intent to destroy Israel, and its willingness to wait out the treaty, conduct undergrown, clandestine nuclear development, and emerge stronger than ever. 

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The United States with a vain, hopelessly idealistic view of Palestinians' desire to create a modern, democratic state, poured billions of dollars into the territories, only to see most of it siphoned off for terrorism against Israel.  Despite whatever economic resources remained after the investment in warfare, the Palestinian territories remain backward, undeveloped, poor, and corrupt.

So, given this history of American failed engagement, Joe Biden should have seen that a precipitous pull-out of all military forces in Afghanistan would usher in the Taliban who would then rout the Afghan army, expropriate millions of dollars in arms and materiel for the new Islamic regime, and ensure that the few, largely cosmetic changes to traditional Afghan society would be dismantled and forgotten.

Biden should have seen that the puppet regimes of the country put in place by America were as corrupt and venal as those in South Vietnam only a few decades before.  He should have seen that the Taliban were little different from the North Vietnamese in terms of will, purpose, and intent; and that with the added ferocious belief in radical Islam, their desires to establish a ruling caliphate in Kabul from which to extend hegemony through out the region they would be unstoppable.

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It is no surprise that most Americans watched the chaotic exodus of Americans, British, and their Afghan collaborators and saw a replay of the final days of the Vietnam war – helicopters on the roof of the American Embassy while thousands of South Vietnamese clambered to get aboard.  Nor is it any surprise that the Taliban immediately declared their intentions to restore a fundamentalist Islamic society and to undo all that the American-supported secular governments had begun.

This fantastical imagination is by no means restricted to foreign policy.  The current domestic agenda to reform American society into a gender-neutral, race-dominant, feminized brew of identity politics is equally idealistic and Utopian.  The automatic support of Black Lives Matter as an organization supposedly representing the legitimate claims of minority, inner city communities ignores their dysfunction, and the endemic subcultural isolation that are the real factors limiting social mobility and integration.   

The equally automatic support for gay and transgender politics similarly overlooks the legitimate objections of most Americans to the lionization and imposition of the claims of a tiny, statistically insignificant community.  Worst of all, the deliberate move to remove, expunge, and ignore history is not an anodyne for ‘systemic racism’ but an ignorant attempt to assume racial identity rules all considerations.

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Donald Trump fought the tide.  He proudly declared that his foreign policy would be ruled by ‘America First’ considerations; that wars were for winning; and that the foundational principles of Jefferson, Hamilton, and the Founding Fathers were still valid; that religion, especially Christianity must be at the very core of the American ethos; and that individualism without regard to race, gender, or ethnicity would return as the essential sine qua non of American life.  

However, true to form, Biden and his progressive supporters in Congress, intend to roll back all of Trump’s conservative policies, programs, and initiatives.   American politics is back to normal – idealistic, historically myopic, and hopelessly Utopian.

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American citizens are used to the swing of the American pendulum, but they are smart enough to see the similarity between Democratic and Republican regimes – both are imbued with Exceptionalism, idealism, and pie in the sky fancy.  We are far from European realism, Russian imperialism, Iranian Islamic fundamentalism or Chinese nationalism and we will never close the gap.  We will always be behind, trailing the Machiavellians, hustling to catch up, and always mired in fanciful aspirations.

The chaotic denouement American twenty year involvement in Afghanistan is just the latest example of a country which has still no learned how to act.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Oops! - Biden’s Bumbling And America's Policy Chaos

It isn’t so much that Biden’s policies have come unexpectedly – the pullout from Afghanistan had been foreseen years ago, and progressives had been demanding a more humane and inclusive border policy from the very beginning of his administration – it’s that even the most casual observer could have seen the folly of these policies and the certainty of their failure.

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The policy to open the southern border to all comers resulted from three foundational progressive principles – a defiant commitment to undo anything and everything that Donald Trump had put in place; an assumption that all people of color, discriminated-against ethnicities, and people living in poverty caused by the corruption of capitalism are ipso facto worthy of entrance to the United States; and  an a priori judgement that diversity alone is a legitimate reason for open immigration. The sooner the white majority becomes a minority, the better. 

However, no sooner were these principles applied, then their errancy made clear.  Hordes of illegal immigrants stormed the border on the assumption that they would be let in on even the most tenuous grounds.  They claimed that they were political refugees, fleeing the sequelae and consequences of civil war, although all Central American armed conflicts were long past.  They claimed that they were fleeing oppression, but such heavy-handed governance was par for the course in regional Banana Republics. 

They claimed that poverty itself was the worst oppressor; but they, unlike their poor counterparts in Asia and post-Soviet Europe did little to promote and enable economic reforms.  The coyotes and handlers of Central American immigrants shamelessly played on the heartstrings of liberal sentiment in the United States and insisted that migrants' children, those who suffered most from autocracy, capitalism, and elitist greed, should be given entry priority.  They, said the coyotes, were the most vulnerable, the most innocent, and the most deserving.  They, cannily and callously knew that these border-crossing innocents, once admitted in the United States, would, as anchor children, provide legitimacy to their parents’ claim for admission.

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No one, except the politically blind, could fail to see the transparency of these motives, and that the Administration’s policy – emotional, ill-defined, and moth-eaten – would not only permit but encourage tens of thousands of illegal immigrants to the United States.  Those many in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua who had waited years for this opportunity and who had been decisively thwarted by Donald Trump, now packed their bags and headed to El Norte. There was nothing to lose, and much to gain.

No observer in the United States was surprised at the resulting chaos at the border - holding pens and tent cities, helter-skelter dispersal of immigrants inland, easy entry of criminals, gang members, gun runners, and drug cartel operatives, and the howls of ‘foul’ by local law enforcement, citizens groups, and political leaders.

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The  disaster of the Biden policy to ‘end the war’ in Afghanistan and ‘bring the troops home’ was also a surprise to no one except the usual shills, claques, and political lackeys.  Anyone else paying the least attention could see that the years of American presence in the country did nothing to eliminate the Taliban, had encouraged a series of corrupt puppet regimes hated by the conservative, religious populace, and had effected only cosmetic social changes while the ruling party secretly colluded with the Taliban, salted away millions in ‘aid’ money, and never had any intention of real structural reform.

Not only that, historical myopia was at work. Afghans had never been ruled by any foreign power since Genghis Khan – not the Ottomans, Indians, Persians, British, or Soviets. The Taliban were patient, savvy, determined, and religiously motivated.  They wanted control of the country far more than the American-indentured regimes or America itself, and they were willing to wait patiently for the right moment.  The ease of their complete control of the country and assumption of power showed how ready, well-prepared, provisioned, and organized they were.  They had been planning this move for two decades. 

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Despite the self-serving attempts at justifying the American withdrawal and explaining away the chaos at the airport as civil dislocations ‘inevitable’ in any radical political change, there was no fooling the American public.  Even the media claques and shills who had enshrined the new President before he even took office and given him the honeymoon of all presidential honeymoons, were critical. 

Every ham-handed justification for such an unconscionable retreat and dereliction of the very moral authority Biden hoped to re-establish was met with smirks and back-room laughter.  The more the Administration talked, defended, and evaded, the deeper they dug the hole; and by the end of the week the White House was in political shambles.

Politics are like life on the African veldt, subject only to the law of tooth and claw, kill or be killed, and most of all, even the most liberal commentators are increasingly critical of an Oops, Sorry policy agenda, and given the particular nature of political momentum are expanding their attacks and finding fault with the absurdities of the cancel culture, the 1619 Project, and Critical Race Theory.  

Thanks to their energized critical and objective appraisal of Biden era policies, more and more of the politically hesitant are speaking out against more than just The Border and Afghanistan, and have taken on MeToo abrogation of civil rights, kangaroo courts, suspension of due process, and the entire woke political agenda.  

Gender spectrum and transgender priorities? Nonsense, a pure and simple refutation of biological determinism and the assertion of common sense.  Inclusivity and diversity? Identity politics at their worse, championing individuals on the basis of race, gender, or ethnicity only.  

The conservative bandwagon has started to roll.  No longer will muddled, 'Oops, I’m sorry' leadership be given a free pass.

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It’s about time, of course, and Biden, caught now in the first storm surge of the hurricane season which he never expected, is flummoxed.   Half the electorate voted for Donald Trump and endorsed his conservative agenda; and having been shamed, laughed at, dismissed, and declared irrelevant by the progressive Left, are now feeling renewed traction.  It is time for all this sanctimony and presumptuous, arrogant righteousness to end, they say; and Biden, propped up by the Squad and his liberal lackeys, can only nod and agree.

Meanwhile to anyone else Biden and his White House assemblage look and act befuddled, in-over-their-heads, and hopelessly overmatched.  A Cabinet chosen on the premise that race, gender, and ethnicity will always win the day, provide native inspiration to even the most ill-prepared, and will guide every executive decision as perfectly as if the Holy Ghost himself were in the room, will obviously bumble and shuffle.  Once again, even the most casual observer could see this coming.

The Great Rollback has started barely six months into the Biden presidency.  He has done nothing right – failure on the southern border, chaos in Afghanistan, absurdly inflationary and misguided give-away-the-store multi-trillion dollar infrastructure bill, knee-jerk support to Black Lives Matter hype and neglect of the systemic problems of the inner cities, kneeling obeisance to historical revisionism, arrogant dismissal of religious sentiment and Christian heritage….The list goes on,

Conservatives and moderate Democrats knew that Biden would have his comeuppance, but no one expected it so soon; but there is cheering in the bleachers nonetheless.  Uncle Joe, the deer in the headlights president, will soon be history.