Friday, February 09, 2007

The New World Order

Kriegsgefahrzustand links to this disturbing news out of Russia:

Yesterday the Russian defense minister, Sergei Ivanov, announced that Russia intends to build a new generation of long range nuclear missiles, capable of reaching America and the capitals of Europe. He promised a new fleet of eight submarines, all armed with nuclear weapons, and hinted that he reckoned it was also time to launch a few more aircraft carriers to patrol the seas.


Then there is the fact that the mullahs of Iran and their plans to build a nuclear capacity threaten to change the global order of battle. No one who has listened to the ravings of President Ahmadinejad doubts that the Iranian goal is to fire its first nuclear missile at Israel. But that is only the beginning. European Union leaders who tend to thumb their noses at American foreign policy objectives and accuse Israel of crying wolf should be in no doubt that the long range missiles North Korea has provided the mullahs are capable of reaching London, Madrid, Paris, Rome, and all the capitals of western Europe as easily as they can rain upon Jerusalem.
We got through the 20th century and the Cold War without a nuclear conflagration. I would guess the odds are we will not get through the 21st century without one. The commies, as bad as they were, did not believe they would be rewarded with their own personal whore house in Heaven if they died fighting capitalism.

What kept peace in the 20th century? American strength. Altruism, egalitarianism and multiculturalism have been undermining that strength. Assertion of American power is increasingly controversial. The Democrats have now been taken over by anti-American New Leftists, the ones who protested the old Democrats in Chicago in 1968. The Republicans are now led by a man whose favorite political philosopher advises turning the other cheek. Just War theory is now taught at West Point. We now lack the will to do what we did in WWII: crush the enemy with overwhelming, decisive, disproportionate force. If we tried to force our way of life on Islam the way we did to Japan and Germany after WWII, the intellectual establishment would scream.

The glue that held the world order together in the 20th century is dissolving. The New World Order is the order of altruism, in which America sacrifices for the rest of the world. We are pursuing this policy of American weakness on principle. The principle is not spelled out clearly in any policy document, but it is the logical outcome of our culture's prevailing philosophy. The policy has been effected piecemeal in thousands of little pragmatic compromises, evasions, blank outs and fear-ridden alms-giving to the church of world opinion.

As the glue of American strength dissolves, we see the fissures widening in Russia and the Middle East. The Chinese space program is a fissure that began in the corruption of our 42nd President, Bill Clinton. The march of socialism in South America is another fissure. Someday the structure will collapse.

UPDATE: Slight revision.


madmax said...

You depressed the hell out of me Myrhaf and yet I agree with every word. It seems like a race against time. Can Ayn Rand have a cultural impact before the shit hits the fan? We'll see. A new cold war with Russian looming; a cold war already real with China; another cold war with Iran - and this one wont stay cold for long... All this while our Democrats are sprinting ahead with their plans for a socialist America and the Republicans are one step behind them.

I want to believe that we'll pull through but the West may take a hit. We (the West) may have to take a century or two step backwards before we take an Objectivist leap forward. Hopefully the current power and wealth of the West will hold untill the middle of the century. After that, I'll be too old to care.

Dismuke said...

Very scary times we live in indeed.

On the other hand, things were pretty scary for those who lived back in the 1930s as well and during the Cold War.

"As the glue of American strength dissolves, we see the fissures widening in Russia and the Middle East. The march of socialism in South America is another fissure. Someday the structure will collapse.

If a nuke landed on Israel, or a European city or on the United States, do you think it will be enough to "wake a sleeping giant"? I still hold out hope that it might - though, sadly, it will probably take an overwhelming and senseless tragedy that could have been prevented in order to do it.

The reaction to 9-11 by large segments of the population in this country was perfectly appropriate - and, if you recall, the Leftists crawled back under their rocks for a while with a few Hollywood types slithering out every so often to complain about how they were being "persecuted" because nobody wanted to listen to them.

Given the nature of the Leftist opposition and media and given the nature of the Congress in 2001, could a better leader in Bush's job have perhaps done better and prevented some of these emerging threats mentioned? I tend to think so.

As for Russia - well, perhaps that is nothing more than big talk from a country desperate to puff itself up and make people think it is the big bad Evil Empire of a few decades ago. My understanding is that the Russian fleet is rusting in port for lack of spare parts and because the government cannot afford to pay the people who operate it. As that country's collapse into dictatorship becomes more and more obvious, foreign capital is going to disappear and Putin will find himself in the same position economically that Gorbachev did except he will be much weaker militarily than Gorbachev was.

If South American follows Venezuela and destroys itself - well, that will be sad but I don't know that it will have that much of an impact on us beyond the benefits we would have othewise gained from free trade with prosperous countries in that region.

And if Ahmadinejad does get his hands on a few nukes - well, what is he going to do once he has set off all he has?

American altruism has always been sort of like forking money over to a worthless and bothersome mooching relative with the hope that the person will just shut up and stay as far away as possible. It is easier to simply fork over a few bucks and say "now go away" than it is to actually confront the person, say all sorts of uncomfortable things like "go to hell" and endure the unpleasant outbursts and snarling that will inevitably follow.

On the other hand, once that relative actually moves into the house most people will very quickly find the resolve to be selfish and say and do what they should have done a long time earlier.

In a way, I think American foreign policy has been very much like that. People don't want nasty talk about missiles and nukes distracting their attention from their cable TV and worrying about what happened to Anna Nichole Smith. So let's just send Madeline Albright over there, throw some money at it and hope it all goes away so we can get back to the next episode of "Survival."

If the threat suddenly is no longer a problem merely because it distracts people's attention away from their cable TV and other pop culture type stuff and people realize that their very lives and the lives of the people they love are in grave danger - well, I think a lot of people are going to see that they need to act selfishly and quickly. At least I hope that is the case.

Anyhow - that's my little attempt to try and have a more optimistic attitude about the scary things you wrote.

Myrhaf said...

I fear that modern philosophy and the New Left have advanced so far in America that it is now impossible for us to respond properly to a big attack. For instance, if al Qaida set off a suitcase nuke on Wall Street, some on the far left would cheer (as would muslims everywhere). Others on the not-so-far left and in the State Department would argue that we should go after the terrorist organization involved, but not destabilize the Middle East by attacking Iran. Moderates and students of Just War Theory, including some Generals would argue that we can respond with one suitcase nuke, but anything more would be going too far. Liberals would moan that we must learn to live with terrorism. Compassionate conservatives would assure us that Islam is still a religion of peace. We might lash out in fury, but as soon as we struck, the same forces that have neutered us today would begin their counter-offensive.

I don't see any substantial change until our culture's philosophy improves. The only question is: do we have enough time? I hope we do because of the information revolution and the speed of modern communications. I'm hoping that 100 years from now people look back and say, "You know what? The internet saved Western Civilization."

Dismuke said...

myrhaf wrote:

"For instance, if al Qaida set off a suitcase nuke on Wall Street....."

I agree with what you said about all of the groups you mentioned. A snake will always be a snake and John Kerry will always wipe his ass with the American flag til the day he stops breathing.

I guess my question is, when all is said and done, is it really up to the people you described? Or is it up to the sense-of-life reaction of the American public?

If we got nuked and the American public became as outraged as I suspect they would be, the people you mentioned will react exactly as you described. But will anyone be paying attention to them anymore? Or will there be new voices on how we should properly respond?

Aren't there already voices on the Right who have views that, if we listened to in terms of foreign policy, would put us in a vastly better position than we are today? My impression based on the somewhat limited degree I have been paying attention is that there are such voices - they have just been more or less marginalized by the sitting Republican president who seeks to appease and compromise to everyone and everything before we even get out of the gate.

If the American sense-of-life is still capable of what I suspect it is, then if we were nuked, I think those better voices would be immediately pushed to the front and the "compassionate conservatives" and the Leftists and the others you mentioned will either be marginalized or will be changing their tune to the prevailing winds in order to keep their positions of power. If so, we might very well be able to muster up what it takes militarily.

"but as soon as we struck, the same forces that have neutered us today would begin their counter-offensive."

I agree with that completely. My thought is it would bring the Republicans back to power in a very big way and, after the dust on the battlefield clears, at home we would probably be much further along the road Dr. Peikoff warned of in his election advice than we are now. And, we might end up having our tax dollars confiscated in order to rebuild that which we have wiped out. What will be different, however, is we will have dealt with the Islamo-fascists the way we did the Nazis. But that will not prevent us from destroying ourselves in other ways.

Isn't that pretty much what happened after World War II? The same president who fought that war also regarded Stalin as a good guy and agreed to Yalta which, in large part, honored the terms of the old Hitler-Stalin pact which helped spark the war in the first place. And the same president who ok'd the nuking of Japan to end World War II also presided over the start of the Cold War in which America basically tried to deal with the Soviets the way we are dealing with the terrorists today.

When Andrew Bernstein was in town a while back for a debate, he said several times that we need to fight this war like we did World War II verses like we did the Cold War, which we are doing now. Fighting World War II the way we did was not enough to stop the self-destructive trends which were already in place within our culture. It was not enough to neutralize the Soviet Union or eliminate the fact that the American intelligentsia, Hollywood and the Roosevelt administration were riddled with communist sympathizers. But it did end the specific, short-term threat that was posed by the Nazis and Imperial Japan and allowed us to live on to deal with the other things later.

I don't think the best elements of the American sense-of-life are enough to save our culture. But I do suspect it is still capable of taking out the governments which give aid and comfort to the Islamic terrorists and to at least keep us alive in the short term.

"I hope we do because of the information revolution and the speed of modern communications. I'm hoping that 100 years from now people look back and say, "You know what? The internet saved Western Civilization.""

I think you are on the mark with that. The Internet changes everything. Heck, it has already revolutionized our lives in countless ways. And institutions which once seemed mighty no longer seem so. Who watches network news anymore? Remember Dan Rather? (He is still going around trying to tell anyone who will listen that his story with those forged documents was legit. I hope he lives a very long life and is still trying to justify the story twenty years from now when the current administration is history and nobody cares or even remembers him!) The publisher of the The New York Times just the other day said that he did not even know if the paper would have a print edition in five years and his primary task is to oversee its transformation into an Internet based media organization. Who would have ever thought? And I am sure the Internet will continue to evolve in ways we can't even begin to imagine. That, combined with the fact that Objectivism exists and is out there for anyone who has an interest - well, both are pretty important factors in our favor. And I think it would be a mistake to underestimate the power of either.

Anonymous said...

President Ahmadinejad's real views are summarized on this website:

Myrhaf said...

My only disagreement is that I think we're no longer capable of fighting as we did in WWII. Remember, General Curtis LeMay incinerated Japanese civilians on purpose. In Afghanistan we dropped food packets (some of which, I read, were fed to animals because the people did not like the taste). Our troops in Iraq have to check with lawyers before they widen an engagement. We watch al Qaida in Pakistan, but don't cross the border. WWII is another universe; it happened in an America that is now dead and gone. It's gone. People can be outraged all they want, but we have lost the will and the ability to fight the war right.

Dismuke said...

Myrhaf -

There is certainly an overwhelming amount of evidence to back up what you are saying - some of which you cited. So there is no doubt in my mind that a strong case can be made for your position.

My position, on the other hand, is based on little more than my observations of the various people I have interacted with - as well as other people I have seen on non-Objectivist Internet message boards and heard phoning in to radio talk shows. I will also point out that I live in Texas where people on average tend to be much more sane than people in many other parts of the country.

On the other hand, I think I am rather good at reading people - but that is hardly something I can put forth as objective evidence.

Based on my observations, the "man on the street" in this country does not give a great deal of thought to the important issues of our time. Even worse, he does not take them very seriously. When he does think about them - well, it tends to be on a very superficial level and can be easily influenced by totally irrelevant matters brought up in places such as the Oprah show. The "man on the street" does not like confrontation. He would rather buy a street beggar or a foreign despot off than confront him. Bring up serious matters that jeopardize the comfort of his little pop-culture bubble - well, he doesn't want to hear it and will push you away telling himself that you are some sort of alarmist. The "man on the street," like most Americans is soft, fat and lazy. He has never known hard times. To most Americans, hard times means not having a cell phone and being unable to afford cable television. And, of course, "the man on the street" is easily manipulated into feeling guilty by hard core altruists.

The "man on the street" is all those things and more that I am sure one can come up with. But, based on my observation, the "man on the street" in this country is NOT yet to the point that he is willing to simply roll over and passively allow himself to be murdered. Suicide is NOT a part of his mindset. There is still a difference between the French and the Americans.

My basic premise here is this: people, even those who have grown soft and lazy, tend to act very different when they are confronted with the harsh and real possibility that they or the people they love might actually die.

I will try to illustrate this by using myself as an example of someone who is a "soft modern" within a particular context.

One of the very few times I ever had words with my late grandfather took place some years ago when I was visiting my grandparents. My grandfather offered to fry me up a big batch of mushrooms from his garden for breakfast. Well, I hate mushrooms - I think they are beyond gross and the smell of fried mushrooms makes my stomach turn. I do not do fungi (though I am a very fun guy!!!).

Unfortunately, refusing to eat a certain type of food was about the most politically incorrect thing one could ever do or say around my grandfather. He was a young adult during the worst years of the Great Depression in, of all places, Dust Bowl era Kansas. Imagine spending a couple of years going to work every day with all the expenses that are involved in that but never getting a paycheck. That's what happened to the farmers who were the backbone of the local economy. My grandfather had a job - but his pay consisted of nothing more than room and board. And he considered himself to be very fortunate to have the job. I must have heard my grandfather say a hundred times when I was a kid that, while he cared for some foods less than others, he would eat any food that was put before him and be grateful for it. For him, turning one's nose up at food was nothing less than a moral issue.

So when I politely declined my grandfather's offer of the mushrooms he, unfortunately, pressed the issue as to why I was not interested. "Well, I don't like mushrooms," I answered. "You would like them and eat them if you were starving and had nothing else," he snapped back. To which I snapped back: "You are probably right - but since I am not starving, I see no reason to act as though I were."

To take the food issue one step further - while I do eat meat, I try my best to block out of my mind exactly where it comes from. If I were to think about it too much, I would eventually lose my appetite and perhaps even become a vegetarian. Furthermore, if I read the ingredients of certain meat products such as sausage and see it contains hearts, salivary glands, tripe, kidneys, livers, etc - well, I will not buy the stuff. The very thought grosses me out. And I have zero desire to go hunting. I simply do not have it within me to be able to point a gun at some defenseless animal who is not attacking me and deprive it of its life. If I did - well, I would probably be very sad and perhaps even a bit traumatized for the rest of the day. And I would be especially traumatized if I had to butcher it. I have butchered fish before and did not consider it a big deal as fish are stupid. But a mammal would be an entirely different matter for me. I feel sad whenever I see dead kitty cats and doggies on the side of the road. My guess is I am far from being alone in having such a mindset in today's world.

Now, to my grandparents and even to my father - well, my mindset on such issues is, to them, simply bizarre and beyond absurd. It was simply not possible on grounds of necessity for a person to have such a mindset in rural America when my grandparents were born in the early 1900s.

Something like this is, in a certain way, beyond the power of intellectual argument. Intellectually, I actually agree with my grandparent's mindset on the issue. In this respect, I openly admit that I am a spoiled, soft, wuss. That having been said, next time I decide I wish to cut my grocery budget, I will NOT be trying lower priced items with guts in the ingredients - and I will turn my nose up if it is offered to me. Nor will I be accepting any offers to give hunting a try. I really have no desire to be anything but soft and spoiled in this respect - and, so far, there has been nothing of substance to motivate me to make the attitude adjustments needed to overcome that mindset.

On the other hand, if I suddenly found myself trapped in the wilderness or some other privative area and my survival depended on my getting over my squeamishness about dead animals and dislike for mushrooms - well, I have zero doubt that I will be able to get past that very quickly. It is certainly within me to overcome that - but in order for me to do so, I would have to be in a situation as desperate as what I described before I would ever even consider doing so.

I think a parallel can be drawn to the mindset that most Americans have about war and doing anything and everything that is necessary in order to win. To most Americans, war is something which is remote, distant and abstract. It is something which takes place on the other side of the world and, unless they have a loved-one involved in it, something which they give little thought to as they go about their day-to-day lives - just as the existence of meat packing plants is something I am aware of but try not to think of in terms of exactly what happens in them, especially at meal time.

Just as it would take a very desperate situation for me to summon up the resolve that I do have within me if needed to try my hand at hunting or butchering or to eat a plate of fried mushrooms on account of the fact that I have grown so soft, I think the American sense-of-life is still enough intact that the "man on the street" does have a similar ability to summon up the resolve necessary to fight a war the way a war needs to be waged. Unfortunately, I think the "man on the street" is as soft about war as I am about food and it will require a similarly desperate situation before he will be able to fully get over it.

So that's my take on it. I think a case could be made that you probably have the stronger argument. And you have certainly offered more and better evidence. But since the only way to know for sure is to wait and see, in the meanwhile, as a matter of principle on these sorts of things, I tend to side with the "glass is half-full" verses "half-empty." If I am wrong and it is half-empty - well, we are screwed regardless of what position we take. But if we are wrong and it turns out the glass was actually half-full - well, perhaps we will have missed out on and not taken advantage of opportunities where we could have made a difference. If one accepts the premise that one is doomed - well, why even bother? So sometimes I think it is better to accept the premise of hope even if the odds are smaller on grounds that one can at least try and change the situation to the degree that is open to him.

Myrhaf said...

I understand what you're saying about the American sense of life. My point is that even if our leaders try to fight the war right because of overwhelming pressure from the people, the forces of altruism, egalitarianism, multiculturalism, etc. will be working to undercut the war and in the long run, the prevailing philosophy will win. Politicians might start out fighting hard, but they will start looking for pragmatic compromises. To do what General LeMay did takes absolute certainty that it is moral to do wage total war in self-defense. Our intellectuals have destroyed that certainty.

Of course, we're arguing about what might be, so we don't know for sure either way.

Dismuke said...

Myrhaf wrote:

"My point is that even if our leaders try to fight the war right because of overwhelming pressure from the people, the forces of altruism, egalitarianism, multiculturalism, etc. will be working to undercut the war and in the long run, the prevailing philosophy will win."

But is it appropriate to include egalitarianism and multiculturalism on the same level of abstraction as altruism?

I think if we got nuked and the American sense-of-life operates the way I speculated it might in my previous comment, there is going to be a HUGE backlash against multiculturalism and egalitarianism. A significant percentage of the American public has never really signed on to those things in the first place. Other than a few RHINO Republican politicians, what percentage of the political Right in this country eagerly embrace either and put forth agendas explicitly in their name?

Of the three you mentioned, the one that is most dangerous and which cannot be destroyed without wider philosophical change is altruism. Multiculturalism and egalitarianism are but variants of altruistic sacrifice.

I think multiculturalism and egalitarianism can very definitely be discredited in even today's cultural climate as a result of how visibly disastrous both have been. But what would happen is they would be quickly replaced by some other agenda based on altruism. And I think what the new variant of altruism will undermine is not so much this war but rather the next war that pops up on the horizon (in a similar way that the very same people who had the resolve to fight the Nazis and Japan in World War II did not have the resolve to fight the Soviets thus giving us the Cold War) and it will undermine us domestically.

A likely possibility is in the USA is that multiculturalism and egalitarianism will be replaced by religion as Dr. Peikoff suggests. So we might very well get the resolve to root out and destroy Islamic fundamentalism only to discover afterwards that we now need to start worrying about Christian fundamentalism. But, if so, at least the Islamic terrorists will have been destroyed.

I even think that there is a chance that multiculturalism and egalitarianism will become discredited in Europe of all places. What is very possible there is those things will be replaced by nationalism and racism. If so, things will get very ugly - as in concentration camps, mass deportations, ethnic cleansing, etc. If I were a rational person in Europe who came from a Middle Eastern or Islamic-African background I would be doing whatever I could to get out. I think it is very likely that such a person will have to worry about both the local Muslims and the racist Europeans in the not-too distant future.

Altruism is the real enemy. I think the American sense-of-life is still sufficiently intact that it can rebel and overthrow the form of altruism that they wake up and realize has placed everyone on the brink of suicide. But without philosophical change, they will end up being taken in and falling for some different variant of the same thing.

So to sum up, I hold out hope that the American people might be able to bring forth the necessary resolve against the Islamic world if things become dire enough. But all that will do is enable us to stay alive. Without philosophic change - well, who knows what new form of ugliness we may face afterwards. Perhaps the decades of the disaster of sacrificing ourselves to others will give way to a Left-Right coalition of Pat Buchanan types who talk about how the sacrifice should not be of themselves but of the inferior heretical others to some new form of Divine Manifest Destiny.

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