“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The New World Order?

"The People are suffering through no fault of their own."

With the recent economic downturn, Gordon Brown, the embattled and belittled Prime Minister of Great Britain has gone from being written off as a "has been" to Savior of the Banking World. Reports are that W. has been receptive to Brown's ideas which are being feted in Europe as a world solution to the current crisis. But at what cost to free enterprise?
European leaders press for new economic order

Fri Oct 17, 2:19 PM EDT

The idea is ambitious: World leaders joined by aides to the new U.S. president-elect would gather before the year's end in New York and attempt to forge a new vision for the global economy.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has teamed up with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to press for such a summit, and the French leader travels to Camp David this weekend to lobby President Bush to sign on.

Brown, buoyed by the praise he won for engineering a British bank bailout that inspired U.S. and European rescues, is proposing "radical changes" to the global capitalist system, including a cross-border mechanism to monitor the world's 30 biggest financial institutions. Sarkozy has floated the idea of reforming rating agencies and even exploring the future of currency systems.

Details remain vague and the obstacles are many.

But the political pendulum, at least in Europe, is swinging decisively in the direction of tighter control and supervision, away from the laissez-faire economics that fueled a colossal global boom and appear to have enabled an equally dramatic bust.

In Brown's view, what's needed is nothing less than a new version of the 1944 Bretton Woods conference that brought together Allied leaders and established a post-World War II global monetary and financial order, laying foundations for the International Monetary Fund and a currency exchange regime that lasted for three decades.

"This is a defining moment for the world economy," Brown wrote in Friday's Washington Post. "The old postwar international financial institutions are out of date. They have to be rebuilt for a wholly new era."

Behind the lofty rhetoric, Brown and Sarkozy are backed by a degree of clout.

They have proved instrumental in the past two weeks in corralling European governments to dig deep into taxpayers' pockets to shore up banks, unfreeze credit, and soothe markets.

But experts wonder whether leaders at the proposed summit will truly be able to set aside national interests and clashing legal and business cultures to agree on a common vision. In exchange for global financial stability, nations could be forced to sacrifice autonomy and economic growth under tighter regulatory shackles.

The gathering aims to bring together the Group of Eight industrial powers as well as emerging players like China and India — and countries at different stages of economic maturity will bring different needs to the table, as climate change talks have made abundantly clear.

Officials in the waning Bush administration are also politely dismissing global regulation and some observers are skeptical Europeans can sell the idea to any U.S. president.

"I'm very dubious that much can be done," said Charles Wyplosz, an international economics professor in Switzerland.

The White House is playing down the likelihood Bush will agree to a time and place for a summit when he meets this weekend with Sarkozy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

For Brown, the banking bailouts are only phase 1 in getting finance working again. Phase 2, he argues, will require global action as sweeping as that which gave birth to the United Nations, the World Bank and the IMF in the 1940s.

At a European summit this week, Sarkozy and Brown started to flesh out their proposals, backed by Barroso and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The most eye-catching proposal from Brown — albeit one based on a proposed European system — envisions a cross-border monitoring program for the 30 biggest giants of global finance, such as America's Citigroup Inc. or Britain's HSBC PLC.

He also called for the 185-nation IMF to be turned into an "early warning system for the world economy," with international monitoring powers. Such reform would mark a revival for the IMF, which has receded to the sidelines of the global economy in recent years.

Sarkozy cast his net even wider. The conservative — who has in recent weeks sounded increasingly like a leftist — wants discussion on tax havens, hedge and sovereign wealth funds, the "folly" of big pay bonuses for risk-taking executives and even how many major currencies the world needs.

Some of his harshest words were for ratings agencies, hinting that he wouldn't be sorry to see them disappear altogether in the financial architecture that he and Brown say they want built.

"Do we keep them?" he asked. "What do we replace them with?

"Should they only be American?" he added, in a statement bound to get attention from U.S.-based Moody's and Standard & Poors.

As always, Sarkozy is in a hurry. Waiting three months until John McCain or Barack Obama is sworn in runs the risk of the crisis getting worse or getting better, which could frustrate the drive for fundamental reform, the French leader warned.

He suggested instead that the winner of the November election send economic aides with Bush to the summit. Sarkozy is pushing for a November or December meeting in New York, "where everything started."

"Europe wants it, Europe is asking for it, Europe will get it," he said. "If we wait for the new president that means, in the best case scenario, we would get together in the spring ... It's much too late and not acceptable."

But obstacles abound.

Brown's talk of "very large and very radical changes" could prove highly problematic in a capitalist system that has grown increasingly complex and intertwined since the end of the Cold War.

Experts say experience shows that getting nations to agree on specific rules that could crimp their economic strengths can be a long, frustrating and sometimes fruitless process. And politicians now howling that capitalism needs curing turned a deaf ear to warnings of flaws in the banking system when economic times were good, they point out.

Wyplosz predicted that leaders will find, once they get down "to the nitty gritty," that reforming the World Bank and IMF is going to be difficult.

And he was pessimistic about the prospects for effective cross-border policing of banks, saying countries have a habit of wanting to protect their own banking champions from outside meddling.

"There will be a lot of talk but the discussions will go nowhere and two or three years from now the urge to change things will be gone," he said.

On closer inspection, Brown's still ill-defined proposal to better supervise big financial groups may also not live up to the billing of radical reform.

A British Treasury spokesman, who could not be identified under government policy, said Brown was referring to creation of committees that would meet regularly to swap information on big banks' behavior.

Each committee would be made up of regulators from an array of countries, likely including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Singapore, Switzerland, Britain and the United States, the spokesman said.

He added: "It's not a regulatory thing, it's about information sharing and keeping each other informed."

Julian Jessop, chief international economist at London-based Capital Economics, said "this could be just another set of ghastly committees with a bunch of countries on them."

Some experts are also concerned that a summit with such an ambitious yet vague agenda could distract leaders from far more concrete and pressing steps, not least forcing banks to squirrel away more money so they can better ride out tough times.

"The French are always good at launching very conceptual discussions," said Harald Benink, a professor of banking and finance in the Netherlands. "That doesn't address the fundamental problems that have become all too obvious."


AP Business Writers Aoife White in Brussels and Emily Vencat and Pan Pylas in London contributed to this report.

Do you get the impression that panicked leaders are grasping at straws in a post-Katrina political world?

Periods of strong economic growth are neither sustainable or desirable for too long a period. Long periods of boom inevitably lead to periods of bust or as we like to say, market corrections.

We've seen the effects of the recent long boom. While millions worldwide were lifted out of poverty, millions in the first world were added to the ranks of millionaires. Remember the Millionaire Next Door ? During the heyday, it was reported that more Americans than ever owned mutual funds or shares in individual companies. The term "Day trading" made its way into the lexicon as many ordinary Americans made a very nice living for a while. McMansions began to dot the landscape as more boomers than ever inherited their parents wealth and saw their paper assets swell as tech start-ups raised unprecedented amounts of IPO capital. Tech Shares traded at ungodly multiples and wiser heads puzzled at how their Price to Earnings ratios dwarfed the old stalwarts of business and industry. Brick and mortar became passe as the public was sold on the unlimited, hightech future of a world online. Happy days, heady days until that market collapsed. The panicked herd then ran to real estate and a new race was on as house flipping became the latest theme for television shows and gist for office water cooler conversations. Everyone was invited to the party. "No job? No income? No Problem! Come on in!" Times were so good that cash littered the street as the ubiquitous armored cars were often involved in accidents or guards became nonchalant about security procedures.

Ah, the good old days, before 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and 500-year floods in England when we were suddenly reminded that civilization has a thin veneer and a government that is tone-deaf to manmade and natural disasters puts itself in jeopardy.

Now we find ourselves in the "bust" phase of a free-market system. Human nature being what it is, this was our inevitable destination as greed triumphed over wisdom and experience. Now, it is obligatory for our politicians to solemnly acknowledge, "the people are suffering." Having learned their lessons, they will not be seen as callous lackeys for Wall Street, the City or any other capitalist center of free enterprise. Instead, they see this as a time to console the downtrodden speculators and busted fatcats like Joe Six-Pack whose portfolio has taken quite a hit in recent months. The nanny-state must be seen as doing everything in its power to evacuate Joe from the rising flood waters of the deregulated financial tsunami. Even in America, Joe's hand is out. He wants whatever the government is offering.

Damn the consequences, dire times call for dire measures, right? Spend whatever it takes, do whatever it takes, just make the pain go away. Worry about tomorrow, tomorrow.

America seems to want a nanny-state but the politicians need to do as the nanny in my life, my mother, did. After we suffered a scrape or a bump, she said, "It's okay, it will feel better when it quits hurting." Then she sent us out of the house, back into the world to again take our lumps and bumps.


  1. Original content of unusual length for an EB topic starter, usually we just get a flash video we're supposed to watch. Good stuff, whit.

  2. And no more "lesser light" crap, this time, I promise.

  3. Yes, excellent post, Whit.

    I'd like to jump in and say something, but that post deserves a little thinking. (Dang, that's getting harder, and harder.)

  4. Ah, to heck with it.

    A few thoughts.

    First off, the 20th Century was Bloody. (As was the 19th, and 18th, and . . . . ) We don't want to ever do that again.

    Cooperation is, obviously, better than War. It's, also, the best strategy for business success.

    China, Really, has to be brought in. As, of course, Russia. We're getting along ok with China, now, but the S really hasn't hit the F, yet.

    The Muslims are pretty much determined to be "odd man out." It'll require luck to avoid one last war, there, before the oil runs out.

    All that said, the Euros have been doing that "alliance," and "bugger thy neighbor" stuff for a long time. The whole idea is fraught with enormous dangers. George W (the original one) was thinking of them when he warned against "entwining alliances."

    Intrestin times ahead.

  5. "entertwining?" yeah.

  6. I guess it would be too much to hope for to discuss Europe's responsibility to provide for it's own defense.

  7. Outstanding post, Whit. I don't think 60% of the country realizes what is coming.

    The last fifty years have been a fluke of history. It was a great ride, but the party is truly over. Time for everyone to grow up and realize that each is responsible for his / her well-being.

    Ironic that Obama is the epitome of the nanny-state appearing just-in-time for a nanny-state hungry country. There just won't be enough money for any of it to happen.

    Keep in mind that Ghawar, Cantarell, Orinoco and other oil fields going into decline will make this economic downturn different from the 1930s. At least then we were just exploiting the oil reserves.

  8. Maybe we could start by sending George Soros back to serve his time, and they could send us Marc Rich.

  9. Interesting stats.

    #1 Canada 2,390,000 - 276,000 = 2,114,000
    #2 Saudi Arabia 1,675,000 - 0 = 1,675,000
    #3 Venezuela 1,340,000 - 24,000= 1,316,000
    #4 Mexico 1,290,000 - 408,000 = 882,000
    #5 Nigeria 822,000 - 22,000 = 800,000
    #6 Iraq 696,000 - 0 = 696,000
    #7 Angola 652,000 - 0 = 652,000
    #8 Russia 556,000 - 1,000 = 555,000

    The first number is Imports from said country. The second number is "petroleum "exports" to said country (usually, gasoline) The third number is "Net" imports from said country.

    Note that our 700,000 Barrels/Day of ethanol produced + probably 40,000/day of biodiesel puts our domestic biofuels slightly behind Mexico, and Nigeria, and ahead of Iraq, Angola, and Russia.

  10. By the way, best guess is that Mexico will be, pretty much, out of the Oil "Exportig" business by the end of 2010.

  11. Oh, those numbers are expressed as Barrels/Day.

    By the end of 09' biofuels will be #4, behind Venezuela, but ahead of Mexico, and Nigeria.

  12. We now get more transportation fuel from bio than from Alaska.

    North Slope average daily production in state fiscal year 2007 was 738,000 barrels per day, down from an average of 844,000 barrels per day in the previous year.

  13. Within two years we will be getting more transportation fuel from bio than from Texas.

    Within four years ethanol/biodiesel will outstrip the Gulf of Mexico.

  14. In the meantime, these crazy runaway-credit induced busts have been going on since the Crusades. This one was caused, basically, by the Government getting as "carried away" as the "speculators."

    We, probably, shouldn't over-react.

  15. Shocker!!! Vandals Lose 46-14

    Your intrepid reporter fell asleep, and only caught half the locker room interview, but coach seemed to put on a good performance.

  16. I hope I don't lose my respect for Colon Powell tomorrow.

  17. My old man used to say, Ho, Ho, Ho, helping me laugh it off. When the pain quit, we'd always laugh together.

  18. My outlook is, and I would wish this for everyone in some way, "there will always be an Idaho".

    Find yours.

  19. That's what pisses me off, Rufus, when people say, tish tish tish, you spend so much on defense.

    Not realizing the people we have protected don't pay shit.

  20. Wary of Islam, China Tightens a Vise of Rules
    China places intricate restrictions on Muslims in a vast autonomous region in an effort to control Islam’s spread.

  21. I hate it when they say Trish, Trish, Trish, we spend too much on Colombia.

  22. Could not have put it better.

  23. Ha, ha, ha:
    I CAN'T lose my Respect for "Colon" Powell.

  24. We only have four to go, to pull off that 'perfect season'.

    Only a Vandal could appreciate this.

    They hexed themselves, the morons, when they burked up the cheerleaders, which pissed even my wife off.

    Sat, Oct 25 New Mexico State University

    Sat, Nov 1 San Jose State University

    Sat, Nov 15 Boise State University

    Sat, Nov 22 at University of Hawaii

  25. Dammit it Doug, you make sure you whip our ass on Nov. 22, or, I'll never talk to you again!

  26. The Cheerleaders wear Burkas?

  27. Trish, along with the rest of us, will still be here after the election.

  28. Go Bigots!
    "It's not too late to register to vote and vote Californians! Polls indicate that the YES on 8 bigots are winning. We need EVERY SINGLE CALIFORNIAN to vote NO on 8"'s already Californicated Enough, already.

    You won't settle for domestic partnerships, Kim?

  29. Dang near, they had really nice looking uniforms that revealed a little, a little too much, aaccording to the Athletic Directots Office. So, they made them burka up. The cheerleader coach quit over the issue. And, even my wife is pissed, too.

  30. Our football program is the worst in the entire United States of America.

  31. I read your article Doug about the
    Chinamen and the muzzies.

    Good article.

    Everywhere the muzzies and others come together, there is trouble.

    To hell with the muzzies.

  32. What's the World come to?
    From the New York Times!
    Building Flawed American Dreams
    Henry G. Cisneros spent years helping low-income families buy homes, part of a broad national trend with dire consequences.

    Chechen Urban Renewal and Partial Amnesia

    A mosque is named for the father of Chechnya’s president, Ramzan A. Kadyrov, who professes loyalty to the Kremlin and has ordered the removal of architectural scars of war.

  33. 'Rat will cancel his subscription, them missing a chance to blame the Pubs like that.

  34. Doug, I heard on the radio, BBC I think, the other day, that some of the 'muzzies' in Albania, were expressing their Christianity. After carrying the faith subterranean like, for hundreds of years.

    Coming out and expressing their faith openly.

    If true, surely this is a good sign, and a good thing.

  35. Yeah, great post. Only that there's a 1.4 trillion dollar hand out that no one wants to address.

  36. This comment has been removed by the author.

  37. bobal said...
    It's amazing really, when you think of it, how an outlook on life, suppresed by the worst means, lives on an on in the hearts of some peoples. The Catholic repressions in Europe come immediately to mind, but there are many other examples.

    The Tree of Life, the most ancient of symbols, still flourishes, here and there, despite the attempts to chop it down, and substitute for that wonderfull symbol, which comes natuarally to everyone, the sign of a dead man hanging on a pole.

    You must hang on that pole yourself, but it is the tree of life.

    No one can do it for you, not even Jesus Christ.

    It is your tree.

    So say the myths, which we all know in the darkness of our light, are true.

  38. If the US starts to seriously go democratic socialist, I'm considering backing China. It may be authoritarian, but at this moment in time, they seem to be stronger believers in capitalism than Americans. And they haven't been infected with PC-ism yet.

    Of course, recent incidents with their products show that maybe they're TOO enthusiastic about it.

  39. the wobbly guy,

    When idiots like you start working the way that the average Chinese works, we'll see who you back. Fsckin moron.

  40. Mika's suffering from Mid Life 'Roid Rage!
    "See that Antonio Lopez de Santa Mika has called us spent shells.
    He should know.
    He fired the rounds out of his Aggie target pistol.

  41. As for myself, I have worked my entire life, to keep the government off my back, so I can invite my few friends, to my dinner party when I can afford it, once in a while.

    Fuck china, except for their tea.

  42. Good Christ Mat, the whobbly guy wants to work in a paddy, I assume.

    I agree with you Mat, he is quite 'wobbly'.

    I quess all we can do, is, let him do so.

    grrrnite, Mat!

  43. He fired the rounds out of his Aggie target pistol."

    And that dried up stalactite goo started calling itself Dave.

  44. grrrnite, Mat!

    G'nite, Bob.

    Hope you check out that film. It fits well with your tree of life comment.

  45. As an Asian American, I find unconscionable offense heaped at Whobbly. The parlor is rank with it, I tell you!
    Isn't Methusa~specialcharacters a Canadian? He loves his Southern neighbor much to curse for it.

    Whobbly simply asked, who wants to win?

    Perhaps America would rather sit this one out and consider its philosophical quandaries, those same quandaries and conundrums and contradictions laid before it by first its own, then the Rest-Of-The-World.

    Consider this: Hasn't Al-Jazeera increased the value of the Muslim life? Before there deaths could happen in obscurity, without significance or gravity. Now, a Muslim death must be placed in elaborate historical contexts. Depending on the audiences, the context may vary, but they've all reached the crescendo of establishing the normative value of Muslim lives in the Western and even recently, Japanese minds.

    Ask yourself, what news media organization has lamented the cost of American lives? What news media organization sought to remind its audience constantly of sacrifice and martyrdom, for instance? Has any US media firm done anything to increase the value of the US citizen's life?

  46. Habu, I ask you seriously, how the hell can I get a good nights sleep?

    Other than that, I believe we might profit if we should delve into the works of Jeremy Bentham.

    "the greatest happiness of the greatest number"

    I posted at BC the idea that the best thing we can do, compassion wise, is kill everyone in all the Turdistans(Afghanstan, Pakistan, Iran, Saudi, etc) and replace them with Swiss, or Swedes, my race.

    My argument was, over time,"the greatest happiness of the greatest number" would prevail.

    What say ye?

  47. I got a Jewish lawyer that I love and I passed the idea by, and he considered the idea, and then said. "Bob, we're supposed to be better than that" without totally rejecting the idea.

  48. Just askin'.

    Kinda like pruning The Tree of Life.

    So there are are no more stonings of the women to death, which I can't stand to watch.

  49. MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Six Alabama counties have more people registered to vote than adults of voting age.

    The Birmingham News compared the state's voter registration numbers with the Census Bureau's population estimates and found more registered voters than voting-age adults in Conecuh, Greene, Lowndes, Perry, Washington and Wilcox counties.
    After Alabama's party primaries in June, Perry County District Attorney Michael Jackson asked the FBI to investigate an unusually high voter turnout and complaints about absentee voting in the west Alabama county. The FBI has not announced any results...

    M. Simon, via Ace of Spades

  50. Neither Obama or Acorn implicated in Alabama. Yet.

    j willy, you got any insights on this?

  51. ...and replace them with Swiss, or Swedes, my race.

    Bob, you keep overlooking the Finns. You'll give Mat an inferiority complex if you keep it up.

  52. Disturbing news tonight. Neighbor told me about a very conservative lady rancher of his acquaintance who's already cast her vote. For Obama. Go figure.

  53. Well, we might lose, but I think I'll just go along with my life, and my wife.

    I was just trying to get a rise out of Habu with all that talk.

    We only have four more games to go for that perfect season.

    And, is the case always around here, the trees are beautiful in the fall!

    After the elections, I think I will put in some time advocating for that nuclear reactor in south Idaho.

    Letter to the editor, phone calls, that kind of thing. All I can do.

    I think that is good. I hope we can get it done.

  54. Obamaland.


    My wife and I have some apartmets here.

    It's work.

    You got to keep them up.

    And we do.

    Cause they are ours, and we got some pride.

    And, need the money.

  55. Your notes remind me for no particular reason of a friend I ran into a couple years ago, now. Said he'd decided to sell a place he'd gotten some time back. Five acres surrounded by national forest right on the banks of the Salmon River. Somewhere near Stanley, as I recall.

    Hope he got his money's worth. I could handle that. My '65 F-100 would look good there, once I replaced the California plates.

  56. I am really kind of optimistic about the future.
    All the kids that come throgh here are really nice. Good kids, all.

  57. We only have four more games to go for that perfect season.

    Those coaches sure earn their money, eh? Has to be a real challenge coming up with fresh happy talk, week after week. I feel for the FSU coach during the interviews after a loss, which isn't that infrequent. He's a good guy, though. Emphasizes the local kids in his recruiting and promotes valley agriculture with a big green V on their helmets.

  58. stanley is near Redfish Lake , I think.

  59. Our coach is doomed, this year.

    You can feel it in the air.

    We will need another 'rebuilding year'.

    The only years we have around here.

  60. The river ran right through the property, if I recall right.

    "A River Runs Through It." Gordon McLean

    You must have read it.

  61. Think I'll flick it in.

    Good night, Bob.

  62. Yes,
    I read it. It was a Christian book.
    Very well writen.

    But it took place in Montana ,not sure where.

    Down by Yellowstone, maybe.

    My pastor talked about it once.

    Great book.

    The kind I like.

  63. You'd like McLean's "Young Men and Fire", also. About the Mann Gulch fire that killed most of a crew of smoke jumpers. McLean died before he'd finished it. His son wrapped it up for publication, as I recall.

  64. History can give us some guidance, but is fraught with people chasing down the wrong parallels. Pat Buchanan gave us an excellent reminder recently that it was natural and expected that Hitler would try to take the Germanic peoples under 1 Reich following principles of democratic self-determination we later applied in high moral dungeon to de-colonialization, majority rule in East Timor, Bangladesh, Bosnia, Kosovo, S Africa…
    Munich!!! was as natural and expected in freeing the Sudetans from harsh Czech repression as retaking the Rhineland and liberating it’s people from French rule. It was the wrong point in history to argue “would have stopped Hitler”.
    Perhaps a more justifiable point was when Poland, the Germans, the Slovaks, Ruthenians all agreed to carve up the rest of Czechslovakia into their own territory save the Bohemian Protectorate (the Czechs) they agreed to put under the Nazi’s rule.

    Buchanan lays the cause of WWII as entangling alliances in Europe. The French and British were drawn in by their foolhardy mutual defense pact with Poland over German efforts to reclaim Danzig as part of Germany again. Something Hitler had the full backing of the German public on, In the Pacific, to the success of the French-Dutch-British-American strategy of economic warfare against Japan to strangle Japans effort to establish it’s own belated colonial empire.
    Japan’s war was a war for oil and other vital resources it was denied. It was capitulation or war against the successful embargo. Japan chose war.

    It’s important to talk WWII as well as WWI.

    As prior to WWI, we see the Ruling Elites confident that the 2nd period of globalization and free trade (pre WWI was the 1st) will bind all nations into peace through an interconnected economy and financial system. Germany can’t war with us, nor Russia, the Brits reasoned “because they would lose a lot of trade and money if they did”. Sort of the same logic we apply today to the “impossibility” China and America will ever clash because “we trade so much!”
    Pre-WWI was also the period of nutty entangling European countries with other countries they had no vital interest in - but ties of royal bloodlines, allies seen as “useful” in peacetime. “The Guns of August” and other books detail how those entangling alliances and great misjudgments of men unaccustomed to reacting in crisis and unfamiliar with total war (They ignored the bloodbath of the US and Mexican civil wars and how all the resources of nations were mobilized to killing the other side. Thinking instead that conflict would be Napoleonic, a few set battles involving a few tens of thousand “hero” troops, and the war would quickly be over. They got Gallipoli, Verdun, the Somme, and the Russian Army broken from reckless use as cannon fodder.)

    The US had the sense of George Washington’s warning of entangling alliances to stay out of it and let others shed most the blood and wreck their countries for most of WWI.

    The tie to market instabilities and growing anarchism pre-WWII to the present is not weak. They were harbingers that the Old Order was tattering. The Brits in particular were overextended - they had lost most of their high end and low end manufacturing and scientific supremacy to better abled competitors like the USA and Germany once “free trade” and the 1st Globalization started. Yet the Brits retained their commitments of Empire and even accelerated new commitments, seeking strength through alliances, ANY alliances. They retained an inordinate confidence in their military - the Navy and superbly trained colonial troops trained in “counter-insurgency”. Not realizing that new styles of warfare - U-boat fleets, trench warfare where colonial “spec ops” people were just another target for machine-gunners - was going to neutralize much of their advantage. Only at the end was the British Empire able to choke off enough food & materials supply to the Germans to make a difference - and then is was not to win the war - but enforce a vengeful French & Brit Labour quest for ruinous terms on Germany.

    But we now see people wanting a declining America with the same instabilities, trade deficits, loss of manufacturing and science edge - to expand it’s entagling alliances as Britain did to it’s ruin in two wars.
    Georgia, Ukraine? Sure, lets add them to NATO! What’s the harm? And why not a treaty with Our Special Friend? Pakistan AND India!

    In the Pacific, while we are the primary contributor to the Rise of China by gutting our industries and jobs to profit a small cabal of Ruling Elites in America - We are also doing a stealthy encirclement of China, blocking the spead of their sphere of influence commensurate with their USA-dollar-fueled explosive commercial and military growth. As, without actual embargo, we are demonstrating that with “partners” like Japan, India, Indonesia, the Philippines - we can choke them of oil and other resources if we “need to”. The Chinese know this vulnerability and are working on ways to end this vulnerability and neutralize the Old Powers.

    Of coure modern times are quite different. We now live in an interconnected world where populations that find themselves in a future war will not receive one-sided propaganda communications with all their phones, radios seized - but global comms. The 1st time this happened was Vietnam, as the morale of the Americans was successfully targeted and every subsequent war has had an info-war element. Which now include new forms of war like cyberwar, space war, and head-chopping web pages blending the medieval to high tech.
    Add nukes of course, where even small shitty nations can now have a global impact with use or threatened use of a small nuke arsenal. Add nukes also by how awful their use would be - add caution and margin to war starting. They held the Red Army at bay for 40 years and stopped shitty little wars from spreading to major powers.
    Add in other new factors like (1)demography driving resource depletion, political destabilization of populations as new “sorts” arrive, and global warming - much as Christian, Muslim Fundies and Growth Ideologues deny that overpopulation is any problem. (2)Transnational Islamism - though likely never to be the threat that transnational Communism or its response - Fascism and National Socialism in modern high tech, lethal countries was - is still very destabilizing, could involve a limited nuke use in worst case - and like JOhn Brown, the terrorist Jewish Bolsheviks or Gavrilo Princip of the Serb Black Hand - serve as the initiating charge to the bigger bomb that goes off.

    I think just about everyone agrees we live in a far more dangerous world than we did 20 years ago, and more and more have come to believe that “Islamofascism” is not the primary danger but one of the modest-sized threats that could do planty of damage on its own, but also trigger a bigger global conflagration. It may be a world where conflict cannot be avoided by US troops overextended and bogged down in 3-5 wars, by UN peacekeepers in 100 countries, or by major powers desperately trying to craft new entangling alliances to “keep the lid on”.

    Peace at any price may be a crazy notion. Much as extreme zealotry in preventing any and all forest fires because on tree or one baby bear dying is “too much” piled up decades of tinder. Which finally went off in an out-of-control major conflagration that no one can stop that destroys everything.

    Perhaps the strategy of blocking any and all wars from being fought at a low-intensity or intense regional level, in place since we had a “world-sized” forest fire is a wrong strategy. Piling up unresolved grievances like forest tinder until a fire breaks out that is so pervasive and intense that no tree or baby bear survives..

    Maybe we do need to “let” smaller wars happen until the grievances are resolved, one way or the other.

    And maybe we need to rethink the idea that the civilians should be “completely safe” in war - and face no consequencies for the policies and actions they push, or consequences like losing civilian land or other wealth if they lose. And civilians in danger in a war they joined in agreement to start is not an abomination - it may be an absolutely vital feedback mechanism to make them rethink sending forth the suicide bombers or the money& security equipment sent to assist Israeli settlers grabbing land from Palestinian farmers.

    The response we may need is completely counterintuitive to the international laws, and morality we have all been drilled on the last 60 years.

    Let wars happen. Let civilians suffer. Don’t get into obligations to “save” everyone at the risk you are setting up a day when we lose masses, and masses of people.

    Consider it like allowing small fires to happen to burn up the tinder. Consider brush cutting and dead tree removal vital - as with fire - to achieve a healthy forest at lower risk of overall conflagration. And consider that we manage our private forests with compartmentalisation - construction of firebreaks rather than one vast swath where a fire in one place may spread to involve a vast, larger forest all connected together (the reason why a fire on private timberland in Georgia affects a few hundred acres, while prohibition on roads, firebreaks, and tinder and timber management burned down half of Yellowstone National Park 10 years ago.

  65. Low intensity fire works well in forest management. It's not foolproof. There's always the risk of big winds. Winds that can blow up a controlled burn into something quite undesirable.

    Extending that metaphor to small wars seems to overlook the big winds that use their small war proxies to further their own ambitions.

  66. C-4 only does hit and miss over here Lineman. He never counter responds. Good point.

  67. Germany can’t war with us, nor Russia, the Brits reasoned “because they would lose a lot of trade and money if they did”. Sort of the same logic we apply today to the “impossibility” China and America will ever clash because “we trade so much!”

    Russia and Germany rejected the British maritime "free trade system", which really was and should have been called the "free slaves system". Russia and Germany instead opted to adopt the American "isolationist" or internal market economic development approach, and in fact had American experts guide them to that end.

    The rest of your drivel is no better.

  68. I’m hearing that the governments in the east are now guaranteeing their bank depositers.

    what you have not heard out of the aussies nz or asia is any bank failures. the reason is that their banks were not as highly leveraged as banks in the US or the EU. therefor they have been better able to handle financial storms.

    further it may well be that the east was less exposued to bad US assets.

    1.)Does it follow from these two premises that banks world wide should be regulated or even certified internationally so as to preclude them from engaging in interbank lending if their leveraging exceeds certain ratios?

    2.)As far as I know there are no other other countries in the world but the USA with mortgage backed assets circling around the globe–corrupting the balance sheets of banks in far away places. Does it follow from this that the practice of circulating mortgage backed assets beyond national borders should be banned.