International Politics Debate

General discussions of interest to readers and fans of Harlan Ellison.

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FrankChurch
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Re: International Politics Debate

Postby FrankChurch » Mon Sep 30, 2013 3:43 pm


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FinderDoug
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Re: International Politics Debate

Postby FinderDoug » Mon Sep 30, 2013 5:31 pm

Yes it would, Frank - if we knew about it real time. It would be front page for days as the international community figured out what to do, and weeks as the global response was put in place.

But: if we only suspected it for twenty years, but had no evidence, and then another ten years passed where some facts trickled out on one side and then the other, and then finally, thirty-odd years after the fact, a previously classified Iranian document provided actual evidence of what the world first suspected thirty years ago, do you think that would constitute front page news? MAN CONFIRMS WHAT WE ALL PRETTY MUCH FIGURED OUT THIRTY YEARS AGO. That's not really much of a headline.

You can choose to disregard the reality of what was reported and discussed as early as 1965, when Israel started building a nuclear reactor, right on down the line through the 70s (disclosure of Israeli missile builds, suspicion they were involved with India's nuclear test, the investigation of the Vela "double flash" in 1979) into the 80s, the 90s disclosure by South Africa, to McGreal getting someone from inside Israel's security infrastructure to actually say they did help South Africa develop the bomb in the Oughts. It was reported a lot, even though you weren't there to read it.

So you can say the apparent lack of reportage years after the fact is a sign that journalists are trained to obey their masters and directed to turn a blind eye to Israel's foul, black heart (which is where I presume you're going with this). But your argument evidences some bias in ignoring the facts of the real-time reportage of the last 48 years, as well as an incorrect blanket assumption of what journalists do and why, as well as a previously illustrated white-hot jones to make Israel the bad guy at every possible opportunity.

On this basis, I reject your assessment of the education provided by journalism schools as completely without merit.

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Steve Evil
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Re: International Politics Debate

Postby Steve Evil » Mon Sep 30, 2013 9:03 pm

I've always wondered: what did South Africa need with an atomic bomb? It never really had pretentions to great power status. Were it's neighbours really such a threat?

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Re: International Politics Debate

Postby FinderDoug » Tue Oct 01, 2013 5:23 am

From what I've read, a lot of it was rooted in concern over growing Soviet presence/influence in Africa; this may or may not have been paranoia fueled in part by the nuclear arms race between the superpowers and the emergence of India in the 70s as a bomb-wielder; and it may too have been facilitated by the relationship with Israel. I haven't read extensively on the matter. I think it says a lot that they built six or seven and decided to shelve the program. When they 'came out' in 1993, there was probably discussion of their motivations.

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FrankChurch
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Re: International Politics Debate

Postby FrankChurch » Tue Oct 01, 2013 9:11 am

The whole Cold War was mostly about independent nationalism or taking the economy in one's own hands. Communism played very little in it. Allende is Chile, Sukarno, Arbenz, none of these men were communists, they were more social democrat. Now we did spy on MLK, so in the eyes of the paranoid state everybody to the left of LBJ was a communist.

I'm still waiting on Obama to ask that the FBI change it's name. Hoover emblazened shows what a joke we think rule of law is.

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Re: International Politics Debate

Postby Mark Tiedemann » Tue Oct 01, 2013 9:51 am

I'm almost finished with a curious little book that just came out, John Lukacs A Brief History of the Twentieth Century, and it rather echoes Frank's statement about communism playing a small part in the Cold War. It was a puffed up contest, in Lukacs' views, between the United States and Russia, specifically the Soviet Empire, which mangled and mashed up definitional ideologies as excuse for protecting spheres of influence. The book is fascinating as one of those things that will start debates (and arguments) because Lukacs, despite tepid disclaimers, has attempted to write as if from a much more removed perspective, i.e. the late 21st Century. We're all familiar with the disjunction between what people in their time thought was going on and what later analysts are able to determine by virtue of not being caught up in the moment.

I've always contended that the argument over communism is a pointless one because there has never been a communist state. We've had autocracies acting under the banner of communism but a close examination of their internal policies shows that the closest they ever got to actual communism was collectivism, and that done more under a fascist model than anything Marx would have recognized. Lukacs goes a bit further than that in attributing the Cold War as ideologically driven over essentially misunderstood distinctions. While the American people and by extension The West became obsessed with the spectre of communism---which most people knew nothing about---Stalin, who started it, was merely obsessed with buffer zones. He wasn't afraid of capitalism so much as of losing control and the Russian people (loosely defined) knew less about the West than we did about them, which is saying a lot.

Lukacs doesn't say this, but I believe that on another level the Cold War was an agreeable economic driver because it enabled us to maintain a war economy---which is highly productive and expansive---without actually engaging in the kind of war just ended, namely WWII. Brushfire wars, "police actions" and so forth, while costly in blood, actually drove a good deal of our prosperity, which a settling back into the kind of international indifference that maintained before WWII would not, at least not as quickly or as efficiently.

This is one reason why, when the Soviet Empire collapsed after 1989, we scrambled (well, the nebulous "we") to find a replacement enemy. This is also one reason America is such a puzzle to a goodly portion of the world---for the most part, Americans are liked, but the United States is resented and feared.

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Re: International Politics Debate

Postby FrankChurch » Tue Oct 01, 2013 12:42 pm

Lukacs is a conservative, but a realist, so he gets how idiotic our military interventions are. He also gets the dangers of populism, but some populism is better than others. His views are similar to this bloke, an ex-air-force gent:

http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/01/07/ ... ng-empire/

Mark, I was wondering if Lukacs mentions NSC 68?

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Robert Nason
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Re: International Politics Debate

Postby Robert Nason » Tue Oct 01, 2013 1:29 pm

John Luckacs is a brilliant historian, one of my favorites, and the rare academic historian who can really write. His books HISTORICAL CONSCIOUSNESS, THE HITLER OF HISTORY, FIVE DAYS IN MAY, A THREAD OF YEARS, THE END OF AN AGE, A NEW HISTORY OF THE COLD WAR, BUDAPEST 1900, THE LAST EUROPEAN WAR, OUTGROWING DEMOCRACY, his autobiography CONFESSIONS OF AN ORIGINAL SINNER, and his volumes on Churchill and Stalin are all wonderful and should be required reading. I do take issue with him somewhat when he downplays the role ideology played in the Soviet Union. Following the reasoning of his good friend George Kennan, Lukacs sees the Soviet Union driven more by traditional Russian imperial aims than by communist doctrine. To some extent that's true; but many crucial decisions both foreign and domestic were influenced by adherence to the peculiarly Soviet interpretation of Marxism that Tsarist Russia would never have contemplated.
"Thought is a strenuous art -- few practice it, and then only at rare times." - David Ben-Gurion

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FrankChurch
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Re: International Politics Debate

Postby FrankChurch » Tue Oct 01, 2013 5:08 pm

Kennan was a total imperialist, but softened his stance later. Paul Nitze was the real baddie.

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Robert Nason
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Re: International Politics Debate

Postby Robert Nason » Tue Oct 01, 2013 5:55 pm

Kennan was an imperialist because he formulated the doctrine of containment??? I'm glad the people in charge were reading HIS memos and not yours, Frank!

Netanyahu gave a great kickass speech at the UN today. Don't mess with the Jews in THIS century, fellas. This time we bite back.
"Thought is a strenuous art -- few practice it, and then only at rare times." - David Ben-Gurion

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Ezra Lb.
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Re: International Politics Debate

Postby Ezra Lb. » Tue Oct 01, 2013 7:52 pm

I remember a debate while I was in school about the subject of the Cold War and ideology. The prof quieted the class by asking a couple simple questions.

Give a single example where the Soviet Union put the cause of world socialist revolution above Russian national interest.

Then give a single example where the USA placed the cause of world democracy above US national interest.

His point? Ideology did impact the actions of these nations during the Cold War but make sure you understand just what ideology you're talking about.

A good teacher. He had worked for many years at the UN so he knew his realpolitik.
“We must not always talk in the marketplace,” Hester Prynne said, “of what happens to us in the forest.”
-Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

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Steve Evil
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Re: International Politics Debate

Postby Steve Evil » Tue Oct 01, 2013 9:06 pm

Robert Nason wrote:Following the reasoning of his good friend George Kennan, Lukacs sees the Soviet Union driven more by traditional Russian imperial aims than by communist doctrine.


Very true. One of Stalin's first actions on gaining absolute power was to ditch the whole idea of World Revolution in favour of "Socialism in One Country", utterly rejecting Lenin and Trotsky's ideas (to the extend of bumping off Trotsky altogether). He'd go on to prevent revolution in Spain, and dissolve the Communist International as a favour to his allies. After that it was all the usual stuff: power, resources, power.

Yeah, Russian society was a very different beast by then, but the game was the same.

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Re: International Politics Debate

Postby Mark Tiedemann » Wed Oct 02, 2013 7:11 am

Lukacs made a few comments in his book that still give me pause. He seems to discount personal ideological drives with which he is unable to come to terms and he threw in one line that almost ruined the book for me---"It is my belief that this is God's design." I held myself in check and realized that, careful stylist that he is, he said "my belief" and then did not expand upon that notion. Yes, there were other observations---similar to but less than the kind I've seen in Paul Johnson---with which I had serious problems.

But I decided that he had attempted something almost guaranteed to fail and yet is admirable and, most importantly, thought-provoking.

His observation about the importance of communist ideology in Russia---or lack thereof---is based on a simple question: since the Soviet Union collapsed, how much of communist doctrine been retained by the people? His assessment, little or none. He therefore viewed the 70-odd years of Soviet rule as an aberration. He also noted that, unless it was forced on them, no European country---possibly no country anywhere---accepted communism as a ruling ideology outside Russia. With some minor qualifications, I agree.

Stalin was a nativist, even though he was Georgian, not Russian. Everything he did was about protecting the Soviet Union as a country.

There were other things Lukacs says in his little book with which I took exception---in one sentence he discounted almost the entire women's movement, reducing it to purely economic factors. But I think his entire purpose was to spark dialogue and in this he succeeded admirably.

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Robert Nason
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Re: International Politics Debate

Postby Robert Nason » Wed Oct 02, 2013 1:28 pm

Mark: Well, Lukacs is a practicing Roman Catholic, so that kind of thing is going to pop up in his works now and then. It's something I have to put up with when reading many fine writers who nevertheless have these tedious religious beliefs.
"Thought is a strenuous art -- few practice it, and then only at rare times." - David Ben-Gurion

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FrankChurch
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Re: International Politics Debate

Postby FrankChurch » Wed Oct 02, 2013 2:22 pm

I would say that Dorothy Day was a much better Catholic. She hated injustice, ours too.


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