Sunday, March 19, 2017


Let's think about just a few of the high spots in diplomacy and foreign policy that Wile E. Coyote Fuckface Von Clownstick, Supergenius, is responsible for in just eight weeks:
  • Conducted sensitive national security discussions regarding North Korea missile launches in the dining area of his country club, allowing members to take photos and listen in;
  • Scolded the Australian Prime Minister;
  • Threatened Mexico with a military invasion to take care of the "bad hombres";
  • Accused the British of bugging his Manhattan lair;
  • Made implicit threats to China over territorial waters, as well as their handling of the NK situation.
And now, in keeping with this supergenius thing, we apparently think it would be a good idea to encourage the Germans to ramp up their military budget.

See, here's the thing about NATO and free-riding:  the failed and wildly unpopular Kenyan moooslin also nudged our Euro friends on that issue, urging them to pay their share according to NATO requirements. And as the Post article notes, that requirement is getting some teeth added to it, and is being phased in to 2024.

But especially as Europe seems to be undergoing its own spasms of right-wing nationalist political movements, it pays to be careful about pushing too hard. There are multiple types of and reasons for checkbook diplomacy, as scorned as it may be in certain circles. There's the "foreign aid" we provide to unstable despotisms, generally as a control/espionage mechanism to keep an eye on the regime and/or bring them around. There's the more blatant checkbook diplomacy we provide to defuse tensions. The prime example of this is the billions of dollars every year that we send Israel and Egypt. It's basically a tacit acknowledgement that it's more cost-effective to pay them to play nice, than to spend far more having to mop up a catastrophic conflict.

And then there's the extra money we pony up for international alliances such as NATO and the UN, which essentially buys us a louder voice. This is neither bad nor unprecedented. Humanity is still at an evolutionary level of civilization that necessitates some form of hegemony. Ideally, a set of relatively benign regional hegemons would cooperate directly or indirectly with an overall hegemon (which, obviously, is currently the US).

Now, with that theory in mind, as flawed as we are, I think it's better overall that that hegemon is the US, although it's certainly understandable why other powers would disagree, and our more recent political decisions deserve a rigorous amount of skepticism -- in other words, it's entirely sensible to argue that a country that would elect a cartoon character to its highest office no longer can be trusted to oversee a world order.

Anyway, with NATO specifically, because we do contribute so much more in terms of budget, personnel, and weaponry, it's strongly implied that those contributions purchase us a greater voice in how that organization functions. But let's say that Angela Merkel gets voted out, and some ethno-nationalist rides in on an assimilationist platform, and he decides that if he's got to spend more money militarily anyway, why not just keep it at home, back out of NATO, and invite American troops to vacate Schweinfurt and Ramstein and all the other bases?

The right-wing movements spreading through Europe are driven largely by the refugee crises from Africa and the Middle East. Those crises show no signs of abating, and in fact will probably continue and increase for the next few decades, and Europe's political systems are going to react accordingly. It's nice that the Netherlands pulled back from the brink and opted not to buy into Willy Wonka character Geert Wilders' Islamophobic rumbling, but they are minor players on the continent these days, and it would be unwise to read that as any sort of trend reversal. Marine Le Pen may very well win in France, and the Mediterranean countries (particularly Greece, Italy, and Spain) have always had powerful right-wing groups working the political structure.

This administration came to power with a unique operating paradigm, one found more frequently in tech startups:  move fast; don't be afraid to break shit; get to the next thing ASAP. This is fine in a Silicon Valley scenario, where a half-dozen 23-year-old nerds are mainlining Red Bull and tweaking code to buff the next hot app. It is an asinine approach to running the world's largest economy and military, a sprawling, diverse country of 320 million citizens. And it is stupid beyond belief to take such an approach to managing vital international alliances, cooperative organizations which have stood for generations, fended off a third world war, and maintained a tenuous but still tangible world order.

These people, with their deadly combination of arrogance and incompetence, are going to get people killed, here and abroad; in fact, that has already occurred in the Yemen raid. They are ignorant and indifferent to how the world has been set up to operate, with us at the helm. If you take away any financial incentive to stay aboard, and compound it with insults and stupid comments, you shouldn't be surprised to wake up one day in the near future to find that one or several previously strong allies have chosen to go their own way, or to reach out to other patrons. The entire point of the massive Russian agitprop operation, the pamphlets and magazines distributed through the continent, the cubicle farms of Macedonian teenagers trolling social media sites, is to extend the Russian sphere of influence. Key nations such as Hungary and Poland are already falling back within that sphere, slowly but surely. If Germany and France start heading in that direction (they will be more likely and able to play both sides against each other, but still), it is a strategic loss, and a large one at that.

But these people don't think about that, because they're morons. The one key trait about this wonderful new administration we have is that you always know what time it is, because it's always amateur hour.

1 comment:

Brian M said...

We are DOOMED:

A Tennessee woman who backs President Donald Trump credits God and the Republican health care bill — which hasn’t been voted into law — for her family’s dramatically lower insurance costs.

Charla McComic’s son recently lost his job, and his health-insurance premium dropped from $567 per month to $88, which she described as “a blessing from God” and a gift from the new president, reported the Washington Post.

“So far, everything’s been positive, from what I can tell,” she told the newspaper. “I just hope that more and more people and children get covered under this new health-care plan.”

Read more: