Sunday, October 25, 2020

The Idiocy of the Anglosphere

(A guest post by D-Jay)
Some especially committed Cannonfirers may have noticed the short profile of myself I attached to some of my earlier articles.  Those with particularly good memories might recall that I am a American/Brit dual national who was born and grew up in the States and, after working for about 30 years in East Asia and Oceania, have been living near Liverpool in the UK since my semi-retirement in 2013.

Boy do I know how to pick ‘em.

In 2016, I had the dubious distinction of being on the losing side of two of the most disastrous elections in human history – Britain’s decision to leave the EU and America’s selection of Donald Trump as president. 

The catastrophic consequences of both choices are still unfolding, but it hasn’t been pretty on either side of the pond.  In the US, democracy is one election away from collapse as our American Nero blithely fiddles the country towards a raging inferno.  In the UK, meanwhile, Trump mini-me Prime Minister Boris Johnson dithers, delays and dissembles while Europe’s worst coronavirus performance re-ignites and the economy faces collapse if no post-Brexit trade agreement is reached with the EU before the looming deadline of December 31st.

Now we  the reason BoJo hasn’t tried harder to reach a settlement with the EU, in spite of the potentially catastrophic results if he doesn’t.  
(Think a 30% price increase on imported goods, 20 mile traffic jams on both sides of the Channel Tunnel, no more health care for Brits living in the EU, shortages of food, medicine and spare parts, visas and international driving permits suddenly needed for European travel, and a sudden shortage of health care workers in the middle of a pandemic, to name just a few of the problems likely to occur.) 

He’s been waiting to see if his good buddy Trump gets re-elected or not in November.  

According to today’s Guardian:
Ivan Rogers, who was the UK’s permanent representative in Brussels from 2013 to 2017, told the Observer that a view shared by ministers and officials he has talked to in recent weeks in several European capitals, is that Johnson is biding his time – and is much more likely to opt for no deal if his friend and Brexit supporter Donald Trump prevails over the Democratic challenger, Joe Biden.

Rogers said: “Several very senior sources in capitals have told me they believe Johnson will await clarity on the presidential election result before finally deciding whether to jump to ‘no deal’ with the EU, or to conclude that this is just too risky with Biden heading for the White House, and hence live with some highly suboptimal (for Johnson) skinny free-trade agreement.”

Rogers said that if Trump won he and others in Europe believed Johnson would think “history was going his way” with his rightwing ally still in the White House. The prime minister would therefore be more likely to conclude he could strike a quick and substantial post-Brexit US-UK trade deal than if Biden emerged as president after the 3 November poll. By contrast, a Biden administration would prioritise rebuilding relations with the EU that have been damaged by Trump.
Good thinking Boris…of course you can rely on Trump to give you a great deal.  He’s such an honorable man of his word, after all.  He would never insist on you privatizing parts of the beloved NHS public health system or accepting without question every chlorinated chicken or genetically modified organism his US buddies might want to sell.


I often find myself wondering what it is about the Anglosphere, or at least the US/UK “A-Team,” that makes us so dumb.  How is it that, with all our scientific know-how, wealth and democratic traditions, we have been getting it so disastrously wrong on such important issues?  Why do my two countries both have some of the world’s worst Covod-19 results?  Why do we have some of the greatest wealth inequality among all developed nations?  Why do we both accept so much Russian interference (in the Brexit campaign as well as the US presidential elections) and place so little value on science and critical thinking?  Why are both states ruled by political parties who get less than 50% of the vote?

Could it be our arrogance?

Does the myth of American exceptionalism make it impossible for most Americans to honestly examine their country’s shortcomings or blind them to the ways in which other countries might have found to do some things better than us? 

Have the British ever realized that they are no longer a great imperial power?

Do the citizens of either country understand how much is riding on the decisions we will make in the next few weeks and months?

Sad to say, I doubt it.

At this critical point in world history, I really hope that our brothers and sisters on both sides of the Atlantic will take a long, hard look in the mirror and ask themselves if they like what they see.


Josh said...

Like you, I also have questions about the Anglosphere. Questions which go unanswered and ignored. Do people in these United States, the UK and Israel ("the holy trinity" of nations) realize that the United States is in deep decline? I'm not saying that from an economic perspective. Consider the following:

* The US & allies lost the Syrian War, the Afghan War and the Iraq War. The [Second] Iraq War was a decisive military victory, but a geopolitical loss. Iraq today is influenced by and under the control of neighboring Iran. Iraq has a woefully corrupt, inept government that ranks very low on the Democracy Index. The Afghan War was a loss because we invaded the wrong country. We should have invaded Pakistan, which is where all the Islamic theocrats/crazies in Afghanistan pour in from. So long as we do nothing about Pakistan, it will continue to be a revolving door and release valve for the instability and insanity of Afghanistan. As for Syria, both the PRC (Communist China) and Russian Federation (Chekist Russia) rebuffed our efforts and Bashar al-Assad remains in power (controlling over 60% of the country's territory through tyranny and despotism). As for the Kurds, they are left to the mercy of two dictators - Recep Erdogen (an Islamic fundamentalist nutjob) and Bashar al-Assad.

* The superpower status of the US has always been based upon the US' control of its own hemisphere. The world is divided into two hemispheres, the Western (or New World) & Eastern (containing the Old World). The US became a superpower by geographic happenstance (it has nothing to do with our politics, our "values", our religion - Christian fundamentalism), a country with two weak neighbors (Mehico & Canada), the largest moats in the world (the Pacific Ocean, making up 31% of the entire Earth, and the Atlantic). Aside from the singular exception of Cuba, we have always been able to effect regime change and control affairs in the Western hemisphere. This is no longer the case. We can't even effect regime change anymore. We can't even remove two-bit dictators (such as Nicholas Maduro or Daniel Ortega). We no longer control the Western Hemisphere.

* We use to have the most powerful Navy in the world. A powerful Navy is far more important than an Army, Air Force or Space Force. It is powerful Navies that control the world and create superpowers. We are no longer top dog. This year, the PRC's Peoples Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) because the largest, most powerful Navy, passing and exceeding the United States Navy. Chairman Xi Jinping (de facto Emperor of China) has plans to take Taiwan/Formosa (ROC) by force by or in the year 2022.

Anonymous said...

So Josh your problem with America mow is that it's no longer able to,by force, dominate and change regimes all over the world at will?
By the way that's wasn't my takeaway from the post.

Josh said...

@Anon posting 6:49 on 10/26/2020,

First, a correction. I meant to say "The People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is now the largest and most powerful Navy in the world and in all of history, assuming that status this year (2019)".

The superpower status of the United States has always relied on having the most powerful Navy in the world (and by extension, in all of history). The Earth's surface is 71% made up of the World Ocean. Our technology is nowhere near the point that a 'Space Force' would even matter.

My problem, dear Anon, is that nature abhors a vacuum. The slide to despotism (the world as it was before 1789 - the French Revolution) is everywhere. Turkey has turned into a dictatorship and an Islamic theocracy (something which would horrify the Mustafa Ataturk), meaning that NATO now includes a dictatorship that is brazenly antagonistic toward Europe.

China (more correctly Zhongguo, Jongguo, or 'Centralia') is returning to it's pre-Xinhai imperial form, with Xi as the new Emperor, claiming all the territory that was part of the Manchu Qing Great State (or Qing Empire). Russia failed to democratized and the adoption of "marketism"/Capitalism has completely failed the Russian people. Russia today is a Chekist state. Meaning what? This means that Russia has only ever had democracy for the brief period between February-October 1917, while China has never had democracy (with the exception of the unsinkable fortress of Taiwan).

Do you realize that the alternative to American supremacy in the world is a darkness beyond the most excessive machinations of the National Socialists (NatSocs/Nazis) or the Bolsheviks? Taiwan/Formosa is the key geostrategic territory in the entire Indo-Pacific (the nomenclature now in use to refer to the Southern half of the Pacific Ocean), because it acts as an unsinkable fortress. If the PRC takes that by 2022, feeling emboldened by the violent capture of Hong Kong (with the world having done nothing about it), the US will lose it's dominance of the Pacific.

The end of all this is that the US is no longer a superpower. The sun is setting on Pax Americana. The alternative is a world left to the mercy of the Chinese Communist Party. The basis of geopolitics is the very same basis of the theory of evolution - Might Makes Right. Geopolitics is just evolution being played out on an international scale.

Anonymous said...

Rupert Murdoch

Ivory Bill Woodpecker said...

Garth! Take your Ritalin, man!

Yes, China is a tyranny and no, I don't approve of their form of government. However, when has China ever displayed any strong, continuing interest in imperialism? I do not claim to be an expert on China, but IIRC, that is the civilization which had gunpowder first, blast furnaces first, the magnetic compass first, and built Zheng He's (sp?) magnificent fleet--and so, could conceivably have built the greatest empire humanity had seen to that date--only to piss it all away, because the emperors feared their own generals and mercantile classes more than they craved the benefits China got from military and economic strength. (IIRC, the old Roman Empire faced a similar dilemma, so this is not a peculiarly East Asian issue.)

Why won't they just piss it all away again?

fred said...

Assessing broad geopolitical moves is always difficult.

"However, when has China ever displayed any strong, continuing interest in imperialism?"

Look at ethnic cleansing in Xinjiang and Tibet and their expansive claims on the South China Sea. They are also using debt diplomacy to take over multiple Pacific Island nations. It's a small hop from there to installing naval bases.

"The People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is now the largest and most powerful Navy in the world.

And there is an arguable case that they could gain creeping control over much of the South Pacific. However, the technology is far from insuperable. Hypersonic missiles can only get better rendering shipboard defenses useless. Then there is the nuclear standoff. In any open conflict the US can tell China to fuck off of see their South China Sea military bases obliterated. And amp up a few more threats. So it's not all one way.

China will continue to press, especially with factors of global warming, resource wars and regional political instability. A China-Russia alliance would be a worry. The Anglosphere has abandoned global leadership, contenting itself with the Libertarian pilfering of their own domestic economies. Too busy thieving to lead on anything.

Joseph Cannon said...

Fred, that's an old joke -- one which I first heard in the early '70s.

"You know why I admire the Chinese? They're not imperialists."

"Want Tibet?"

It seems that, right now, the anti-communist Chinese -- I'm thinking in particular of the Falun Gong cult -- are the ones aiding Trump, Bannon, and the cause of international fascism. But we shouldn't sympathize with the China's ruling Communist party simply because its enemies are in bed with people we despise. If the year is 1969, we should not sympathize with Charlie Manson simply because he claims to be anti-Nixon.

Ivory Bill Woodpecker said...

By "continuing", I meant over a span of at least a century. I should have been more specific.

The Chinese are human. As such, they will grow weary of tyranny, and modestly increased prosperity will only whet their appetites for liberty to go along with the prosperity.

Authoritarianism is order, and Mommie Dearest Nature prefers chaos. Hence, authoritarianism violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics (aka Entropy). Authoritarians, being not overly bright, never perceive that.

The Communist Party will fall. Perhaps not in my lifetime--I have completed 57 solar orbits--but it will fall.

Josh said...

@IBW and others,

Today's PRC ("China" - Zhongguo/Centralia) is not a successor state to the isolationist Ming Great State (which was precided by and followed by two non-Han/non-Chinese continental Asian Empires - the Yuan Great State or Khanate and the Qing Great State), it is a successor state to the Qing Great State ("Great State" being the the Mongol inner Asian concept roughly equivalent to our word 'Empire'). The Qing Great State was extremely authoritarian, expansionist and utterly genocidal (having committed "the genocide of the 18th century" by systematically eradicating over 95% of the Junghar Mongols, after having destroyed the Junghar Khanate following 80 years of a Cold and Hot War for Inner Asia). "China" formed merely one component of the Qing Great State (which was a Manchu/Jurchen Empire, not a Han Chinese one). The PRC is the successor to the Qing Great State, having claimed all territory belonging to the Qing Empire, with the exception of Mongolia (Joseph Stalin got the Chinese to surrender claims to Mongolia in exchange for giving them all of East Turkestan - what is now called "Xinjiang").

While the US, UK, Ireland, Continental Europe, Australia, NZ, Canada, etc. are busy adopting the most extreme forms of capitalism to ever exist, pushing 'neoliberalism' beyond its limits, the PRC (and the CCP) is not captured by nor bound by the limits of neoliberalism or corporate capture. In the PRC, it is the CCP who controls corporations, not the other way around. Corporations like Alibaba or Huawei answer to the CCP, there is no political gridlock as there is in the West.

Furthermore, as I have already mentioned, the United State lost its ability to effect regime change. That would be unthinkable in the days of Truman or Eisenhower. Additionally, let me repeat, we lost three consecutive wars in a row.

1) The Iraq War (2003-2011): like the Anglo-French Suez Crisis (1956), it was a decisive military victory. Also like the Suez Crisis, it was a geopolitical loss. With the Suez Crisis, it signified beyond any doubt the beginning of the end of the British Empire as well as the end of the UK's status as a world power (let alone superpower). The Iraq War was fought on the basis of faulty intelligence provided by Iranian sources. It felled a regime (the Ba'athists) that was hostile to Tehran (Islamic Iran) and today the government of Baghdad is aligned with Tehran. The US got nothing out of it, failed to establish a democracy in Iraq and ended up with an Iraq that is aligned to Tehran. This war may be the US equivalent to the Anglo-French Suez Crisis.

2) The Afghanistan War (2001- present): The origins of the Taliban and of Islamism (that is, Islamic theocracy, Islamic fundamentalism applied to politics) is in Pakistan, not Afghanistan. We invaded the wrong fucking country. We should have invaded Pakistan, not Afghanistan. The reason we cannot get a decisive victory in Afghanistan is because Islamic fundamentalists run over the border into Pakistan, where they are shielded and supplied by Pakistani Intelligence, when things go bad. They return when they feel the US presence if weakened. No victory in sight, no end in sight, because we invaded the wrong place.

3) The Syrian War (2011-present): We could not even remove a piece of shit dictator like Bashar al-Assad. The PRC and Russian Federation jointly support the Syrian Ba'athists, currently led by dictator Bashar al-Assad, and have successfully rebuffed any and all attempts by US forces to bring the Syrian War to a conclusion.

We are losing everywhere. Even at home, the US infrastructure is awful, we do not invest in ourselves. We lose nearly every geopolitical battle we get involved with, we do not achieve our aims, assuming we even have aims or vision.

The US is no longer a superpower anymore than the British Empire still rules the seas.

fred said...

"The Iraq War was fought on the basis of faulty intelligence provided by Iranian sources."

The US and UK both knew that Curveball and others were providing dodgy intel on wmds. There was no error of judgement here. The intel was fixed around the invasion.

fred said...

And I can't believe your hostile Syria narrative, completely absent of the truth -- that the US, UK, France, Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States all cooperated to bring down the Assad regime by systematically supporting al Qaeda and ISIS monsters and lying to the public about everything.

Here's some corrections:

In 2015 the 'Army of Conquest', supposedly a Syrian rebel force but comprising mostly al Nusra and other jihadists, attacked the city of Idlib. Charles Lister, a respected and conservative senior analyst at the Brookings Institution in Doha, blew the whistle that US personnel in an 'operations room' control centre in Turkey had been 'facilitating' the Idlib attack. That's the US backing al Nusra.

Brookings had also reported in 2013 that the US Treasury had recorded payments of hundreds of millions of dollars a year by Gulf allies to ISIS and al Nusra and US officials had turned a blind eye.

The CIA had been trafficking arms to support the insurgency, arms they knew were going to murderous jihadists.

"The PRC and Russian Federation jointly support the Syrian Ba'athists... have successfully rebuffed any and all attempts by US forces to bring the Syrian War to a conclusion."

What 'conclusion'? The takeover of Syria by a pack of jihadist monsters fully backed by the West? With repeated calls for a sham 'ceasfire' process?

And what about the sarin gas? Blamed on Assad but given to the jihadists by Turkey.

And then there was the oil embargo put in place by the West to restrict Assad but later lifted specifically so that ISIS could export oil into Turkey. These daily convoys were known to all parties but allowed to continue until Putin showed the surveillance photos in 2015 at the G20 Conference in Brisbane and forced the US to respond.

When the Syrian people had had enough of these murderous jihadist monsters they voted overwhelmingly for Assad. And those same Western jihadists who got free visas back to the UK after the fall of Idlib? They should have been driven into the desert and bulldozed into the ground.

Yet the lies continue.

Josh said...

I appreciate your responses and citations you provided, but I think you misunderstand me. You seem to think I'm a witting tool or stooge, that is not the case. Unwitting, maybe, based upon the information I have available to me.

So, to your first rebuttal about Curveball. My understanding of the lead up to the Iraq War is this:

The Iraq-Iran war ended inconclusively, leading Saddam Hussein to turn Iraq into a degenerate fascist state. There was a Cold War tension between Iraq and Iran (similar to today's tension between Saudi Arabia & Iran). Ahmed Chalabi gained the trust and confidence of the Bush II administration and was feeding them faulty intelligence. Chalabi was an Iranian double-agent whose job was to provoke the US into a war with Iraq (Iran's archnemesis at the time). The plot worked as the George Bush Jr. and his cabinet bought into the Iranian intelligence hook, line and sinker.

The war was decisive and swift victory for the United States, which comes as no surprise. However, in the end, the US lost the Iraq War. It felled a regime (the Baathists, specifically Iraqi Baathists, somewhat distinct from Syrian Baathists) that was hostile to Iran, but it failed to democratize Iraq. Now, Iraq is aligned with Iran, which was exactly the aims of Chalabi and his Iranian controllers.

Ultimately, the United States fought a costly, expensive war against the Baathists (whom they originally supported and propped up) at the best of Islam Iran (Persia). The United States gained absolutely nothing. A military victory followed by one of the biggest political losses in all of history. A misstep on the level of the Suez Canal Crisis, or even bigger than that.

Now to respond re: Baathist Syria. It is my understand that, even early on, Baathism was very much viewed by the White House as 'Pan-Arabian Fascism'. Stanley Payne described Iraq's situation under Baathism thusly: ""There will probably never again be a reproduction of the Third Reich, but Saddam Hussein has come closer than any other dictator since 1945."

My understanding is that US wanted to destroy Baathism completely, a sort of defeat against neo-Fascism festering in the Middle World (I prefer Tamim Ansary's phrase instead of 'the Middle East'). Destroying Baathism in Iraq was only half the job, in fact the real problem lay in Syria. Baathist Syria ranks near the very bottom of the Democracy Index (well below China or Russia) and sits with North Korea at #164. So it would have been good to knock out the Baathists, capture or kill Bashar al-Assad, give a portion of the country to the Kurds and establish liberalism and parliamentarianism in Syria.

The conclusion to the Syrian War that I spoke of would be the demise and abolition of the Baathist Party, the imprisonment or execution of Bashar al-Assad and his enablers, and transitioning Syria into a parliamentarian democracy that is aligned with Israel, the United States, United Kingdom, NATO, etc. That is the conclusion that was denied because of the interventions of Communist China and Chekist Russia.

I question this idea that Turkey wants Bashar al-Assad ousted. The fact is, the Kurds, who want their own state with sovereignty and self-determination, would form a nation-state out of parts of both Syria and Turkey. The Turks, under Recep Erdogen, do not want to give up any territory and are extremely hostile to the Kurds (wishing to visit a genocide upon them, ala. what was done with the Armenian Christians). If anything, Recep Erdogen is incentivized to work with Bashar al-Assad in destroying the Kurdish people.

The United States has lost three major wars in the last 20 years. There is no fucking way the US can be considered a superpower anymore. And there is no way the world can be considered unipolar. For someone to argue that the US is a superpower, on the back of losing three wars, on the back of losing the ability to control the Western Hemisphere, means that person is brainwashed by nationalism.

fred said...

Josh, many thanks for your views. We are closer than you think. I tend to go troppo when Syria is mentioned without any acknowledgement of the neglected truth that the war there was run from the outset as an invasion by jihadists with the full knowledge and backing of the West and its ME allies.

On Iraq and Afghanistan you are correct -- they were failed missions brought about by ill-considered goals, no end-game plans, no engagement with the populace and no sale-able democratic vision.

You are also correct that it is no longer a unipolar world and the US has lost its way. No vision, no values and no political will. It has a domestic population driven by self-interest, lead by fools and criminals feeding them BS. It's a divided country. China won't win because of its military but because the US cannot be relied upon to present a global vision, form alliances or be relied upon to stand up to China.

Many thanks for your views and cheers.

Josh said...


Thanks for your kind words and again for the information regarding Western intelligence activities in the inflammation of conflict and death in Syria.

I use to be standardfare hypernationalist. I use to believe the United States was the good guy, the world police, the indispensable nation. A country that had a global Manifest Destiny, to spread liberalism and republicanism (small 'r' republican, meaning the abolition of monarchy, not GOP capital 'R' Republican) across the globe.

The last 20 years have changed all of that. Watching the US lose three major wars (in fact, the most significant armed conflicts of the 21st century) in a row, watching it flail about aimlessly. Misusing the largest and most powerful military forces the world has ever created.

To make matters worse, my view of the past was skewed by nationalist claptrap. For example, the US lost the Korean War (again, failing to reunify the peninsula, topple the DPRK or achieve any gains whatsoever) and it lost the Vietnam War.

I no longer believe the US is capable of delivering democracy. Of spreading Enlightenment values or the liberalism ("all men [gender neutral use meaning 'all people'] are created equal and are equal before the law"). The US has betrayed all its values. To quote Aldous Huxley: "The perfect dictatorship would have the appearance of a democracy, but would basically be a prison without walls in which the prisoners would not even dream of escaping. It would essentially be a system of slavery where, through consumption and entertainment, the slaves would love their servitude."

This year, the CCP's PLAN (Chinese Communist Party's - People's Liberation Army Navy, it is important to note that the Chinese state and people do not have a military, the PLA is specifically the military arm of the CCP not the Chinese people) has surpassed the US Navy in size, power and capabilities. The PLAGF (Army of the CCP) is already larger than the US Army and has been for a long time, but not yet more powerful or capable. The PLAAF is not yet larger or more powerful than the USAF. However, in both instances, this could change by 2030.

The US is not in any position to respond to the CCP's rise. It is not in any position to dictate to anyone. It cannot even dictate to Daniel Ortega, Raul Castro or Nicholas Maduro (neither of these three dictators have a military strength remotely near the top 20 armed forces in the world, as measured by Credit Suisse, yet we cannot remove them).

For me, the US has fallen into the category of "one among the many nations that considers itself to be a 'world power', which like the UK's nostalgia for Empire, can only look back with rose-spectacled glasses at the supreme status it once had". Biden alone cannot and could not bring back superpower status. Morever, he is not very concerned about Chairman Xi Jinping, the CCP, the dystopian police state the Chinese people live under, etc. As far as I see it, whether Trump or Biden wins, the US will be a "has been" that any nation can ignore without consequence.

What a sad and stupid fall for the once Mightiest Nation of all.