Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
This doesn't work because it doesn't square with the US narrative of aggressively potent machismo.

The right especially believes that it's living in a fantasy world where all it has to do is swagger into town with its massive weaponry and the rest of the world acknowledges it not just as heroic winners, but as saviours.

Iraq is just one more example of policy being dictated by a stale collection of old men who really believe this is how it works.

You can't retool the economy without retooling the national psyche. And since the mythology more or less goes back to the first days of the US, that's not an easy thing to do.

Narratives only usually seem to get retooled when people get a nasty reality check that tells them what they used to believe was wrong. And even then, people usually jump in the direction that saves patriotic face rather than dealing with the new reality like adults.

It would take an exceptional leader to change the direction of the narrative. And there would be a significant proportion of the population who would hate him (or her) passionately for trying to make them give up the guns and big toys.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu May 17th, 2007 at 05:33:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Iraq is just one more example of policy being dictated by a stale collection of old men who really believe this is how it works

I am not entirely convinced it isn't working. They have regained an access toehold to the resources of Iraq, and better than that in the Kurdish region. Despite their claims to the contrary a balkanization of the country is a likely outcome and perhaps one they wanted all along. The bushistas who started this mess will be crucified but the conditions to access and exploit most of the resources will remain.

by Fete des fous on Thu May 17th, 2007 at 11:34:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There are two separate issues here. One is whether or not military resource grabs work. And they do - at least up to a point. Especially when the goal is to create instability, which seems to have been what happened in Iraq.

But there's also the narrative, and that's clearly nonsense, as it was in Vietnam and in so many other places.

I'm not sure how cynical the leaders are. Bush keeps making interesting Freudian slips which suggest that he knows it's all a joke and that he's really the sales manager, not the CEO.

But a lot of popular support - such as it is - for the right comes from that macho rescuer here-comes-the-cavalry narrative.

Many Americans will tell you that it was the US that saved Europe from the Nazis - even though it was the Russian campaign that effectively destroyed at least half of the German army, and even though Eastern Europe was sold to the Soviets at Yalta.

And that was partly because the Western faction was too spineless and inept to take more of a stand during the negotiations.

So I don't know if it's a Straussian two-level system of rhetoric for the proles and realpolitik for the pols. Or whether they truly believe their own PR.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu May 17th, 2007 at 08:08:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree my remarks are not central to your point. Concerning resource grabs in Iraq, I am not sure I can imagine the details but it seems they had little to lose considering Saddam's designs w.r.t. the reserve currency and partnership in the development of the 2nd (1st?) largest oil reserve on the planet, in the midst of Peak Oil. Access to much of the resource could be retained even if the US was forced to eventually withdraw.

The spokespeople can appear to believe in the P.R., yet it seems improbable that much is left to chance or incompetence in the running of the empire.

by Fete des fous on Fri May 18th, 2007 at 02:47:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]


Occasional Series