Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Display:
I wrote this on the dkos thread, but it fits weel with what you wrote:

One thing that has always struck me in the books by Tom Clancy, which are a good introduction to the mindset of the assertive internationalist hawks, i.e. a good part of the mostly sane conservative foreign policy apparatus, is the respect the guy has for the Russians. They are the enemy, but they 'know the rules', and they are 'civilised', and they understand the stakes. They are taken seriously.

What's happening today is that Russia is treated with the same contempt reserved for Haiti or Sudan or other God- forsaken place that can be blatantly insulted, scorned, ignored or bullied. Cheney wants to play the big boys' games but he doesn't even have the discipline to take the game seriously.

Incompetent, arrogant fool.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 05:22:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One thing that has always struck me in the books by Tom Clancy, which are a good introduction to the mindset of the assertive internationalist hawks, i.e. a good part of the mostly sane conservative foreign policy apparatus, is the respect the guy has for the Russians. They are the enemy, but they 'know the rules', and they are 'civilised', and they understand the stakes. They are taken seriously.

What they respected was power and the skill at using it. Hence the different treatment of a powerless third world country. People like Bush I and his team were always amoral pragmatists, albeit competent ones. A few months ago an article in the NYT quoted Scowcroft as being bewildered by what the hell Cheney had become. The catch is that I think Cheney was always a bit like this - he strongly opposed the Bush I/Baker/Scowcroft policy of engaging with Gorbachev on what basically amounted to an attitude of 'commies are evil and can't be trusted'.

Whenever I see Cheney in action I'm always reminded of Churchill's old quip about John Foster Dulles,  - 'a bull who carries his own china shop with him'.  JFD and his ilk in the Republican Party of the day were also unable to understand that the internationalist hawks of the Truman administration were not appeasing wimps who were afraid of using US power, but people who understood how to weigh costs and benefits. And like Cheney the JFD types saw themselves as tough minded realists.  Back then, though, we had a sane and very experienced president in Eisenhower to restrain them, now we've got Bush II.

by MarekNYC on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 05:59:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Are you saying being an amoral pragmatist is a bad thing?

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 06:09:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Let's just say I have a few qualms about some of the tactics they used - making sure that Latin American states remained US clients was not a pretty process to take one example.
by MarekNYC on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 06:16:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course it was nasty and mistakes were made (remember Nicaragua?) but it was only a small piece in the big game. We were at war with the Soviet union and in the end we won. That's the only thing that matters. After 1991 though, everything has changed.

We can't go around being assholes in the name of freedom and democracy anymore as the vast threat to freedom and democracy (and the West) is no more. Some people (like Bush II) mean that after the 2001 terrorist attacks, everything has changed again. I don't agree.

But make no mistake. I think many (but not all) of the interventions, coups and assasination we did during the Cold war were warranted.

But then I am the evil ET rightist. ;)

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 05:19:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We were at war... we won... We can't go around... we did during the Cold war...

Who we?

I think many (but not all) of the interventions, coups and assasination we did during the Cold war were warranted.

Name just three. (I can't think of a single one.)


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 07:15:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe he means the assasination of Olof Palme.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 07:17:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As I have stated quite a few times, I liked Olof Palme. He did many interesting things like pushing the Swedish nuclear weapons program, building our nuclear power plants in direct opposition to a referendum, selling artillery to India using bribes, instituting an illegal domestic anti-communist surveillance system not controlled by the state but by the social democrat party and being a very close friend to the US.

So, I liked him. I forgive his romantic Cuban and Palestinian leanings as it was all for show anyway.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 07:49:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We as in the West, Europe and the US.

Some examples:

  • The Greek civil war.

  • The Korean Police Action.

  • Supporting rightwing dictatorships in Asia, like Tawiwan and South Korea.

  • The support of Israel throughout all it's wars (or at least until 1982).

  • The support of the Shah (but the coup against Mossadegh was likely a big mistake-a to make-a).

  • The military support to Saddam Hussein against Iran.

  • Supporting the mujahedin in Afghanistan.

  • The Gulf War (not really qualified, but still a Western intervention).


Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 07:48:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
  • Supporting Franco, as well as Salazar and his successors.
  • Manipulating the post-WWII Italian electoral system


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 07:51:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
At least the Italian manipulation resulted in some neat election posters.

Especially the one to the left.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 07:57:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Guilio Andreotti and Bettino Craxi make neat poster boys for the manipulation of Italian democracy.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 08:01:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, that theme was a direct continuation of one of Mussolini's themes.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 08:46:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You don't get it: Mussolini was a son of a bitch, but he was an anticommunist son of a bitch.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 08:50:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yep. Better our bastard than theirs. It's cynical yes, but that's war. It's not nice.

Hopefully, all that ended in 1991 and the short and awful 20th century is over and we are swiftly progressing into Brave New World (in a positive sense). At least we were until 2001 and the Bush overreaction.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 01:38:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One...Two...Three...Four...I don't want your dirty war...

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 03:34:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now bypassing for a moment that Rwanda, Bosnia, Afghanistan, curbing of long-term investments, US credit bubble from Clinton's time on, etc. consitute a progress to a Brave New World; you don't think the "Bush overreaction" was a direct result of previous developments? Remember, Dubya's crew got schooled in international politics in Reagan's time.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 04:03:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you need to spend some time with Nicaraguan, Salvadora, Guatemalan, Chilean [I think you have very many of those as refugees in Sweden, BTW], Dominican, Timorese, Iranian, Congolese... and tell them to their faces that their countries had to be destroyed in order to be saved.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 07:54:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, you don't get it. They were destroyed in order to save "us".

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 08:43:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, makes me feel so much better.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 08:44:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Another unfortunate but very real fact. War again, I'm afraid.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 01:39:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You don't get it either. Migeru (a Spaniard) and I (from Hungary) are no part of your "we".

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 03:59:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You don't get it, DoDo, we should celebrate our fine patriots for their anticommunism:


The end justifies the means.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 04:22:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, if we are here, trick question to Starvid: do you think 1956 deserved support from the USA or not?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 04:37:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You owe me a diary on that, I think ;-)

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 04:40:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Tabled, for the 50th anniversary :-)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 04:46:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Did it deserve support? Yes of course, but what could the West have done? Any action could have initiated a nuclear war. The satellite states in central and eastern Europe were a no-go area until the very end.

There was nothing to do. Don't think I am some coldhearted SOB who don't give a shit about the Hungarians. It could just as well have been the opposite situation, with Sweden becoming part of the eastern bloc after WW2.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 05:03:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This was a trick question, because DoDo's narrative of the 1956 revolution is of a "true socialist" revolution against Stalinism. Or at least that's what I expect to read in his 50th anniversary diary.

But of course, from a realpolitik point of view it deserved to be supported as a way to undermine the Soviet empire.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 05:06:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I guess I misunderstood what you meant by "support". I had tank battalions and para brigades in mind. But smuggling weapons and radio's etc could of course have been an idea.

In the end I wonder what good it would have done. The Russians would have crushed the revolution anyway in the end. Tanks can only be fought with other tanks if the oppressor is willing to use tanks against protesters and revolutionaries, no matter their political allegiance.


Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 05:15:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]

The Russians would have crushed the revolution anyway in the end.

"The Russians" did just as much as "The Swedes" or "The Spanish" or "The English".  Maybe you meant "The Soviets"?  Or, even better, "The Soviet leaders".  Europe still has a long way to go before this insane nationalism goes the way of the dodo - no offense to DoDo :-)

BTW, being a conservative Swede must be quite a case of mental gymnastics.  I'd be interested to hear your defense of Sweden's actions before, during, and after WWII.

by slaboymni on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 07:09:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's very easy, I don't defend them at all!

Or rather, the biggest mistake was the de-militarization of 1925 (1929?). With that decision our hands were tied. The biggest crime was telling Finland we would come to it's aid as an ally during the 30's while only giving limited help when the Soviet Union invaded.

While the transit of German troops and the iron exports were immoral, I can't say I would have opposed them back then. The result would probably have been a German invasion and they would easily have defeated us.

Still, I wouldn't have blamed the Allies if they had bombed the Swedish iron mines or the ore railroad to Narvik. Swedish ore was exported on a large scale to Germany.

The repatriation of Soviet soldiers (to Gulag...) who had fled to Sweden was a case of criminal appeasement as we at that moment had a choice as our military was far stronger than just a few years earlier. I hope I have answered your question.

And on the Hungary issue I didn't mean to offend. I obviuosly didn't mean the Russian people when I said "the Russians". I am under no illusions of how much say Boris Vladimirovich from Vytegra had in that decision. I meant the Soviet Union, the Soviet military or the Soviet leadership.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Wed May 17th, 2006 at 04:26:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My narrative is more complex than that, but wait 'till 23 October :-)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 05:25:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Did it deserve support? Yes of course

The US thought otherwise, thinking PM Imre Nagy, as a communist, is not to be trusted.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 05:24:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One of the most infamous provocations by that part of the local far-right which aligned itself with right-populist Fidesz was a magazine cover celebrating the fighters on the fascist side in the 1944 siege of Budapest as freedom fighters, defenders of Europe.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 04:45:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We as in the West, Europe and the US.

You have to be more precise. Not everyone of you in the "West", "Europe" and the US was gung-ho about the Cold War, many in fact were at the receiving end of it (see Migeru's replies). To the hell with the rest?

#  The Greek civil war.

Why do you think that one was justified? It would seem a poster case against, especially given the fact that Greek communists were left on their own by Stalin. (No wonder Greece's population is the most anti-American in Europe.)

# The Korean Police Action.

Likewise, why do you think that one was justified? It wasn't even successful (see Kim Jong Il), and discredited the UN as peacemaking force.

# Supporting rightwing dictatorships in Asia, like Tawiwan and South Korea.

These too seem more poster cases against.

# The support of Israel throughout all it's wars (or at least until 1982).

Definitely a poster case against. Supporting Israeli aggression gave friends to the Soviet Union in the first place.

# The support of the Shah (but the coup against Mossadegh was likely a big mistake-a to make-a).

Considering that the support for the Shah lead to the Iranian Revolution, why do you consider this one as positive?

# The military support to Saddam Hussein against Iran.

You won: two Gulf Wars, and a 20-year delay for Iran's surrogates (SCIRI and Badr, Daawa) to take over under circumstances when you can't even undermine them and have to smile, and of course those ubiquitous RPGs in Iraq - and all this wasn't against the Soviet Union, which was subcontractor in this business.

# Supporting the mujahedin in Afghanistan.

Gave you a destroyed Afghanistan, al-Qaida, and a flood of heroin into Europe. I thought Mossadekh's deposal would have been seen by you as less contentious a fuckup than this one.

# The Gulf War (not really qualified, but still a Western intervention).

Do you agree with Madeleine Albright?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 08:42:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually I think most of those were worth it as well.

  1. Greek Civil War - the communists were at least as bad as the government, so why not support them?

  2. Korea - Kim Jong Il was even worse than the South Koreans. Much worse.

  3. Supporting right wing dictatorships in Taiwan and South Korea. - way to little pressure on them to democratize (though interestingly enough, strong pressure to break the traditional landowning elites through land reform IIRC).  Any here who are sympathetic even in the slightest bit to Castro, or don't mind Chavez's support for him, should be positively giddy about the results in those two places - they started out poorer than Cuba, faces the same difficulties of hostile neighbours and being cut off from natural markets, and ended up much more prosperous and democratic.

  4. Support for Israel in all its wars - well both Americans and Soviets supported Israel in 1948, both opposed it in 1956, not much support in 1967, yes, justified in 1973, not in 1982.

  5. Iran was a complete fuck up on both moral and purely 'realist' grounds.

  6. Supporting Saddam against Iran - no, not justified.

  7. Supporting the mujaheddin - yes worth it, the screw up came in washing their hands of it after the Soviets withdrew.

  8. The Gulf War - absolutely worth it and justified.

My problem with the cold war tactics was the consistent choice to support brutal pro-American dictatorships against neutral or somewhat hostile democratic forces.
by MarekNYC on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 01:25:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Supporting right wing dictatorships in Taiwan and South Korea. - way to little pressure on them to democratize (though interestingly enough, strong pressure to break the traditional landowning elites through land reform IIRC).  Any here who are sympathetic even in the slightest bit to Castro, or don't mind Chavez's support for him, should be positively giddy about the results in those two places - they started out poorer than Cuba, faces the same difficulties of hostile neighbours and being cut off from natural markets, and ended up much more prosperous and democratic.
Er... South Korea, Japan, the philippines, Taiwan, Indonesia were all US client states, so the isolation argument doesn't count.

Now that I think of it, funny how we've glossed over US support for Sukarno, Suharto, and Marcos with barely a mention.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 01:30:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
  1. Huh? BTW, remember: you argued from a war against the Soviet Union.

  2. That's my point. The Korean War was on one hand not successful, on the other hand cemented a dictator's power by permanent military standoff (remember 1984).

  3. Both Cuba's and Venezuela's poverty are linked to US action (embargo and sabotage resp. supported coups and disastrous IMF 'reforms'), while the other two grew rich on exports to the US, so your comparison doesn't make much sense. As democratisation in the latter grew from the fight against, not from the US-supported dictators, crediting the US action with it is a bit rich. The US action delayed democracy, didn't help it (and left various stumbling bocks and unexploded mines behind). As for what this has to do with fighting the Soviet Union, I don't know.

  4. 1948, 1956: you yourself say it's nothing to do with fighting the Soviets. I note that while support for Israel's unannounced 1967 attack on its neighbours was implicit, it included covering up the Israelis' sinking of a US reconnaissance ship, which was almost 'answered' by a nuclear bomb on - Kairo. The two Cold War sides did become supporters of opposed sides in the conflict by 1973, but you should explain the strategic gain therein.

  5. The mujahedeen had a meeting in the USA towards the end of the eighties, taped by the FBI, on which they declared that the next enemy to take on will be - the USA. Nothing was deemed necessary to be done about it. That washing their hands later-on was structural to the US foreign policy elite's approach to the entire Afghanistan policy, no other outcome was possible with these. As for Afghanistan, methinks a repressive Soviet puppet state building public housing and widening education would have been preferable for the population to a landmine-infested country in ruins ruled by mujahedeen zealots.

  6. As part of the Cold War, how? And I again ask: do you agree with Madeleine Albright?

My problem with the cold war tactics was the consistent choice to support brutal pro-American dictatorships against neutral or somewhat hostile democratic forces.

Tactic or overall policy? Anyway, makes one wonder why you'd prefer to side with one superpower over another, especially given that Sweden was/is nonaligned.

(BTW, if it's not too personal, what is your age?)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 04:35:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
IIRC Starvid said early in his ET career that he was an Economics undergraduate.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 04:39:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Uh-oh-eh - Marek, sorry, I must have overlooked your handle, I thought I am responding to Starvid...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 04:49:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
  1. Supporting a friendly morally dubious government against a hostile morally dubious rebellion.

  2. It cemented two dictatorships, one absolutely horrible and hostile, one bad and friendly. Without the war you would have just had the former.

  3. South Korea was cut off from its industrial centers, from China, and from the USSR. Taiwan was cut off from China. They survived and prospered.  It's also a bit simplistic to see democratization as just opposition by anti-American populations. There's a strong element of that in South Korea, but US encouragement of the process in the eighties also played a role, similar to what Gorbachev hoped to accomplish in Eastern Europe. In Taiwan it was strongly pushed by pro-US leaders with the support of the US against the hardliners of the Kuomintang.

  4. In strictly US terms I've already explained elsewhere why I think it made sense for the US to support Israel in 1973 - it was going to win anyways, the only question was how.

  5. Umh, no, nothing to do with the Cold War.

Tactic or overall policy? Anyway, makes one wonder why you'd prefer to side with one superpower over another

Policy. And while I know your question was aimed at Starvid I'll answer it anyways. US actions in the Third World were as ugly as anything the Soviets did. But both domestically and in Europe, they were vastly different.

by MarekNYC on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 05:11:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
  1. The situation in Eastern and Central Europe was always different from the rest of the world. Why risk having a single potential Soviet ally if you could avoid it? What would the situation with Turkey have looked like if Greece would not have been a NATO member. But true, this example goes against the principle "Fight the Soviet Union, do not fight non Soviet communism" which was so sucessful when followed (China-Nixon) and so disastrous when it was opposed (Vietnam).

  2. The Korean war was a victory. The North Korean invasion was repelled even if North Korea was not occupied by South Korea and the UN, to it's own great loss.

  3. Taiwan and South Korea did not grow rich on US support (though they received support, just like Cuba got from the Soviets) but on hard work and state supported export industries. Democracy came as a result of wealth and a large middle class and not the other way around.

  4. Israel was used as a tool by the US (though many people like to say it's the other way around :p ) to stop any Mideast state to grow to strong and control the oil which the West needed. The Soviet Union had plenty of oil itself (at least until they peaked, ha!).

  5. Maybe better for the Afghans but not for us. The Afghan war helped bleed the Soviets. And then we have the risk of having Russian aircraft in Afghanistan, within striking distance of the Straits of Hormuz. And who knows? They might have stirred up trouble in Baluchistan, intervened and bam! the Soviet Union stretches to the Indian Ocean.

The threat of al-Qaida terrorism we helped create back then is nothing compared to the former threat of the former Soviet Union. Which is why Bush and his cronies seem so silly talking about World War IV.

8. To keep control of the oil, most vital of resources. To keep the Iranians (fresh from an islamic revolution and raving mad) from becoming too strong (and frankly, to exact revenge for the embarrassing hostage episode ). Something we could still be playing at if it weren't for the insane invasion of Iraq (controlling the oil that is).

If I agree with Albright? I guess you are talking about the infamous "are 500.000 dead children worth it?" quote.

Well. Those fatalities are entirely on the conscience of Saddam Hussein. He could have avoided them without any trouble at all. It's like asking if the holocaust is the fault of the Allies because they didn't firebomb the concentration camps.
Maybe the sanctions could have looked different. But would that have made any difference? Maybe, maybe not. Could Saddam easily have avoided killing those children? Yes. That the sanctions were necessary to contain Saddam Hussein is obvious. If the sanctions were entirely lifted it would have been only a matter of time until he invaded someone again.

But I guess the US can't use that argument anymore.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 05:51:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Something we could still be playing at if it weren't for the insane invasion of Iraq (controlling the oil that is).
Who is we again?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 06:34:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A bit sloppy use of the we there, sorry. Before 1991 it would have been the West. Today it seems interest are perceived as vastly different on the two sides of the Atlantic.

So we as in they, the Americans and the British, and the rest of their coalition.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Wed May 17th, 2006 at 04:35:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What DoDo and I are trying to tell you is that even before 1991 "the West" is not as monolythic a concept as you make it sound. Greece has been mentioned as having a very anti-american population because of US support for the fascists during their civil war, as well as for the dictatorship of the 1960's/70's. Spaniards are (were) not too keen either because of American support for Franco since Eisenhower in 1955, same thing with Portugal and the support for Salazar and his successors. The communist party was the largest party in Italy (as can be seen from the fact that most mayors were communist) and the only one to survive Mani Pulite as the corrupt system that unraveled then [1991... coincidence? I don't think so, it had outlived its "usefulness"] had as its only purpose to prevent the Communist party from attaining government democratically. By the way, part of why people in Spain and Portugal liked the EU so much was that the EU refused to allow the dictatorships to join.

So I repeat: you should maybe talk to some of the people on the receiving end of "the West"'s policies, because we tend not to be so grateful. It would have been much better for you to fight your cold ward on your own soil or with your own population on the line. No pain, no gain.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 17th, 2006 at 04:53:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Soviet Union had plenty of oil itself (at least until they peaked, ha!).
So, what happens to the US when the world peaks?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 06:41:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There will be interesting times, to say the least.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Wed May 17th, 2006 at 04:31:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
in the end we won

BTW, just curious, which version of the Cold War victory claim do you adhere to?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 08:51:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A mix of them all. Soviet military overspending (due partly to Reagan military spending), the uselessness of planned economy, the Homo Sovieticus, peaking of Soviet oil production. Basically it was the economy and all the nasty shocks that further aggravated it.

Also very important is the opposition to Soviet imperialism among the peoples of central and eastern Europe.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 01:33:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Soviet military overspending (due partly to Reagan military spending)

There was much more serious military overspending in earlier periods of the Soviet Union - while the collapse came after disaramment talks.

the uselessness of planned economy, the Homo Sovieticus, peaking of Soviet oil production.

These had nothing to do with Western action, just noting.

Basically it was the economy and all the nasty shocks that further aggravated it.

North Korea shows rather starkly that economic collapse doesn't necessitate system collapse. (What's more, the real economic collapse came after the end of 'communism' and the Soviet Union, with the introducion of free-market economics.)

Also very important is the opposition to Soviet imperialism among the peoples of central and eastern Europe.

Thanks for acknowledging us here, but this again had nothing to do with Western action, and we got free with much milder action than when we got stopped in 1956, 1968 or 1980. You have to look for the reason of the end of the Cold War and the Soviet system somewhere else.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 03:57:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Economic collapse had a lot to do with the fall of the dictatorship in Poland, and that in turn showed the other Soviet puppet states that the Soviets were not willing to enforce their control at the price of mass bloodshed.

Poland's economy in 1988 had been completely starved of all capital investment since the mid seventies and unsurprisingly that meant that it was running into serious problems, with production beginning to decline. It was heavily indebted and couldn't get more loans from the West. The Soviet economy wasn't collapsing but it wasn't in good shape either, and they weren't willing to provide massive financial aid to Poland. The PZPR couldn't cut wages without facing widespread strikes. So Jaruzelski and co decided that they'd try to throw some bones to the opposition in return for acquiescence for the inevitable pain that dealing with the mess would cause. But Solidarity insisted on major, substantive concessions - semi-free elections and their own press. It then swept the elections in early June 1989 and installed its own government toward the end of the summer. The Soviets did nothing, Hungary which had already been playing with reforms accelerated, the population of other states was emboldened to try to change things as well. By the end of the year the Soviet empire in ECE was dead.

And in the USSR, one major motivating factor for Gorbachev and co. was the fact that the economy was stagnating.

On military spending - sure the Soviets weren't spending as much as in other periods, but they were spending a lot more than the USA which, btw, was also spending less than in earlier Cold War peaks. That also mattered.

Nobody (rational) is saying that any one factor explains the end of the USSR, just that each of those cited played a role.

North Korea simply shows that if you're ruthless enough then economic collapse doesn't mean political collapse- as shown earlier in the USSR and China under Stalin and Mao. But the leaders of the Soviet Union weren't anywhere near as ruthless as that by the 1980's.

by MarekNYC on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 04:31:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My answer to why the Soviet system collapsed is in part included in yours, but I won't yet articulate it.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 04:39:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Cannot wait!

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 04:59:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the Soviets were not willing to enforce their control at the price of mass bloodshed.
So that's why the Soviets lost the cold war: they lacked nerve, they didn't have what it takes to be a global hegemon.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 04:42:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Gorbachev and co weren't willing to play that game anymore, so yes. Mainly for moral reasons from what I can tell, but also realist ones - mass bloodshed would have cost money while screwing up their economic ties with the West. They would have emerged with their empire intact, but weakened, while the opposing side would be more unified and would lose nothing. Again, no single factor explains it all.
by MarekNYC on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 04:52:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Haha.  But maybe it had more to do with an increase in pragmatism than loss of nerve ...

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 04:59:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Pragmatism? I would say Gorbachev was an idealist. He truly believed he could reform Soviet communism and make it democratic and economically viable.

Of course, I'm snarking on the 'nerve' bit.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 06:50:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You have to look for the reason of the end of the Cold War and the Soviet system somewhere else.

Ok, I very much value your opinion, but I am perplexed...

Western influence, economic collapse, opposition from to Soviet imperialism among the people of Central and Eastern Europe, military overspending ... you don't believe these things played a significant role in bringing down the Soviet Union?  I mean, obviously not one of those things alone did it (which is why I hate the way America congratulates itself for the accomplishment...) and I don't think we should leave out the basic will of the Russian people.  But I'm not sure you can discount those things listed above...

And I think you are right about the overmilitarization under, say, Stalin (though there is a difference between military spending during the threat of world wars and during peace-time arms races) and that the worst economic collapse came in the 90's, but those things don't disqualify arms races and economic collapse (or the brink thereof) from being important factors in ending the Cold War.

Where do you suggest we look?

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 04:52:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This article is not exactly about the reasons of the Soviet collapse, but it does take a matter-of-fact "it was an economic collapse" approach...
A slightly more commonsense explanation is this: during the pre-perestroika "stagnation" period, due to the chronic underperformance of the economy, coupled with record levels of military expenditure, trade deficit, and foreign debt, it became increasingly difficult for the average Russian middle-class family of three, with both parents working, to make ends meet. (Now, isn't that beginning to sound familiar?) Of course, the government bureaucrats were not too concerned about the plight of the people. But the people found ways to survive by circumventing government controls in a myriad of ways, preventing the government from getting the results it needed to keep the system going. Therefore, the system had to be reformed. When this became the consensus view, reformers lined up to try and reform the system. Alas, the system could not be reformed. Instead of adapting, it fell apart.

Russia was able to bounce back economically because it remains fairly rich in oil and very rich in natural gas, and will probably continue in relative prosperity for at least a few more decades. ... When I say that Russia bounced back, I am not trying to understate the human cost of the Soviet collapse, or the lopsidedness and the economic disparities of the re-born Russian economy.



A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 05:17:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Who is this Dmitri Orlov fellow?  This is the second time I've been sent from ET to read his stuff in as many days...

His "about" page is funny...

Along with providing curious Web-tourists with some mild diversion, ClubOrlovTM also strives to bridge the semantic gap between two extremes:

Those who love Dmitry Orlov and want to join his club
Those who hate Dmitry Orlov and want to club him

ClubOrlovTM is headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts.

I haven't read the whole link you provided, but from this bit, the WHY behind the comment "the system could not be reformed" is still unanswered...  If it were solely an economic matter, some kind of NEP 2.0 or Chinese model economy might have been preferred (maybe they were, who knows...), but instead, they went ahead and opened the floodgates of ideological change...


Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 05:58:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Orlov is a peak-oilist. I got to his text by following a link in a comment to one of rdf's Daily Kos diaries, the one that islinked from his latest ET diary.

The way I read this,

it became increasingly difficult for the average Russian middle-class family of three, with both parents working, to make ends meet
is why the sytem needed to be reformed, and
the people found ways to survive by circumventing government controls in a myriad of ways, preventing the government from getting the results it needed to keep the system going.
is the reason why it couldn't be reformed. I suppose Orlov's point is that the Soviet System, precisely because the economy was so inefficient and unresponsive, managed to go on on autopilot after it was dead, sort of like hair and nails growing on a corpse. By the time the government tried to do something (perestroika, glasnost, liberal reform) the very act of doing something was the jolt that made the system fall apart. Sort of like an overheated liquid boiling over as a result of a small perturbation. But I speculate.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 06:32:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know about Marek, but history teaches me that amoral pragmatist = producer of long-term problems.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 06:16:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Plus, that self-proclaimed pragmatists are often both clueless and ideology-driven.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 06:18:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
First of all we tend to remember the blowback but forget the successful stuff. Thus lots of talk about the 1953 coup in Iran (under JFD btw) and little mention of the fact that most of the dirty stuff worked out fine from an amoral standpoint - Chile, Guatemala, Indonesia, etc.  And anyways, in the long run we're all dead ;) You deal with the problems that exist now, and worry about what happens a decade or three down the line when the time comes.
by MarekNYC on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 06:26:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fine compared to what? What would have these places been like without 'fine' US intervention?

One of the most poisonous effects of globalisation has been its tendency to stamp out effective local-scale business development. When United Fruit rolls into town and says 'This is what we pay you - and if you fight back we'll take over your country and you lose anyway' the distortion on local economies is huge and fantastically destructive.

In a very simple and direct way more trade means prosperity. The real value of wealth in a culture isn't absolute GDP but the richness and density of the transactions that take place in it and around it. Monopolising small-scale markets makes sure those transactions never happen. The result is lower local spending ability and fewer trade opportunities for everyone - except for the elites, who mostly either sit on their money and buy stupid pointless stuff with it.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 08:00:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The real value of wealth in a culture isn't absolute GDP but the richness and density of the transactions that take place in it and around it.

spot-on TBG!  again I refer bavk to Jane Jacobs, who btw died  in late April -- the 25th, I believe, one day prior to the Chernobyl anniversary so many diarists were commemorating.  I meant to write sonething about her work -- which has literally changed my life -- but got busy with other projects.  Jacobs asserted many decades ago that the root of vibrancy and health in urban areas is that very "richness and density" of interactions, a fractal fine-grainedness and deep diversity -- the opposite of monoculture and top-down authoritarian simplification-by-force.

I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that the sum total of health in any systems is maximised by biomimicry -- of a rich i.e. functional biome.  this means an enormous density, complexity, and vitality down to the finest microbiotic level of detail -- maximum niche occupancy and maximum niche count.  the inevitable result of "plantation" (monocropping whether agricultural or economic) is a fundamental inefficiency resulting in poverty (i.e. a stripped or dysfunctional biome).  wealth may accrue at higher levels of predation in a decaying biome (this seems to have happened more than once in evolutionary time) but it is a transient phenomenon as it undermines the  richness and density at the microlayer.  without this richness and density at the roots, eventually external inputs are required to prevent die-off (bankruptcy) -- whether cultural, agrarian, or whatever.

haven't time to spell it all out but the parallels should be pretty clear;  overapplication of Taylorism  (everything's a nail) plus hyperpredation leads to systemic bankruptcy and far lower overall energy throughputs than a functioning system would show.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 08:21:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hurry up with a full-blown diary.

I saw a couple of obituaries of Jane Jacobs, but the importance of her work passed me by. I look forward to reading more.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 06:38:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Fine compared to what? What would have these places been like without 'fine' US intervention?

I don't understand your objection. The thread started with me explaining that these people were amoral and used very ugly methods. I then said that from the perspective of amoral traditional center right realism it worked out fine more often than not. That means fine for US power. In the case of Latin America, making sure that every country remained a client state of the US. Washington used diplomacy, development aid, bribes, torture, and murder in that task.  The welfare of the local population was at best a means of accomplishing their ends, at worst collateral damage.  

by MarekNYC on Mon May 15th, 2006 at 09:01:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So then Iran also worked fine for 26 years...

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 05:17:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You don't think that the current breakdown of US influence in Latin America is a direct consequence of those 'realist' policies? What about the flood of drugs into the USA? Elsewhere, what about the creation of the Sunni Islamist fundamentalist internationale in Afghanistan?

I really meant long-term consequences.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 07:04:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If by "long-term" you mean one generation away. Which means the realists end up having to fight their own monsters, or their parents' monsters in some cases.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 07:09:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
most of the dirty stuff worked out fine from an amoral standpoint - Chile, Guatemala, Indonesia, etc.
I am tempted to time-machine you back to Poland under Jaruzelski, Marek.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue May 16th, 2006 at 05:16:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Display:

Occasional Series