This most recent post is...?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

War of Peoples: On the new violence in Palestine

The war of peoples is on (in contrast to the old clash of civilizations idea)! The recent spate of clearly unofficial acts of war between Palestinians and Israelis signals a war of peoples. These governments do not want total war (if you can call these strange entities governments, the PA and Likud). But the Peoples are not so disciplined and some want and draw upon the idea of war to act out.  The War of Peoples is the effect of the End of Representation. It stems from the effect that the myth or illusion or possibility of representation is finally dead. Just as delegates no longer represent constituents (not with districts so gerrymandered) and votes no longer register preferences (votes are stoked through data mining) nor purchases represent desires (consumers purchase a thing due to advertisements) and governments no longer represent interests, people are no longer represented by ‘their’ government. Peoples have then become an independent, even hostile, political force. Governments will do and seek one thing (no war, in this case) and Peoples will do and seek another outcome. The war of peoples, which takes the apparent form of tit for tat murders, is one effect of the End of Representation. This is true divergence and nothing that governments can do anything about. Unlike Machiavelli’s modern notion that government should initiate or be aggressive as a general rule in their acts and policies, governments must now also be regularly reactive and backpedal out from the dizzying ‘out of control’ vortex that disrupts their carefully laid goals. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Why Kobani? It's all about the Image, stupid

The role of image and its interplay with power is a major theme of postmodern thought. Image is Power.

Kobani is interesting only because for once in this peculiar war the world can see it. Kobani is located on the border between Syria and Turkey. So unlike Raqqa or Hit or these other places that have supposedly been bombed by the United States, Kobani can have big cameras on it (not only little phone camera which allow videos to be posted somewhere online for a few terror experts and enthusiasts to watch). There are networked cameras that can transmit the image broadly.

This puts the contending parties in an interesting, postmodern war. One side or the other may win this worthless border crossing. It will at that point be demolished and essentially useless to the victor. But the fight and the image of this fight can go on for some time. At a low cost to ISIS, the long-running image of fighting for that particular place can be spun usefully in many different ways.

How this war-event is interpreted over time will be what matters, not who has more jets. The battle for Kobany is entirely image, notwithstanding the carnage.     

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

On Exploratory Wars

IR specialists are confounded today by the actions of nations not following their national interests. This is especially required, they say, in cases of war. But now and in the future, war will happen for a different, non-rational reason. 

Instead war will be exploratory. It will be waged to shake things up. Because the postmodern age offers no grand ideals, not even nationalism, to fight for (yes I know of Ukraine so don't contradict yet). There is little to guide big moves in a postmodern world. Random shocks can arrive but they will not be new. Progress as Hegelian rationality is well done.

Postmodernism is a fast world but a slow one too. Change becomes the result of accretion of mass, of events unrelated which gather but which press history forward in no particular direction. Postmodernism condemns us to repetition of familiar events that pop out of the mass briefly (witness the terribly derivative Hong Kong occupy movement). 

Wars are now efforts to effect desired change in an era that works against such desire. In the face of the ongoing, massive accretion of many, less weighty, events, then wars will be waged to shake loose the status quo in a favorable direction. But be assured that national interests will not be served by it today.      

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Obama's World War preparations

Don't believe for one minute the narrative that the USA is threatened by ISIS and seeks to destroy it. The real target is Assad's Syria, a Russian ally. (Why? some say that Assad/Russia is what prevents a gas pipeline running from Qatar to Europe but that seems farfetched to me).

The stupid concentration of NATO/Saudi forces plus Israel is going to provoke Russia and Iran to concentrate their forces there too. They are not going to let Assad get Gaddafied.

And the compelling national interest reasons for this buildup are nonexistent.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Ferguson as the end of politics

Ferguson: An event that signals the emptiness of a political system. One of the most surprising features of this event was the escalation of force. Much has been made of the use of military hardware by the local police. But that has been known for awhile and merely accelerated since the Patriot Act. But it was shocking to see this duel on the streets at night grow and grow. Like a cancer it had no rules to regulate its growth.

Is this the kind of duel envisioned by Baudrillard, the seduction of a new politics born of a politics that otherwise proceeds nowhere?  You could say that local police provoked a population under siege to rise in anger; a siege that had become too blatant to be tolerable. Race issues too. That narrative was part of it.

But I was taught that martial law, which this was, is always the signal of the failure of politics and I read Ferguson as such. There was nothing left to say or rather nothing left to represent or believe, for both sides. I think more of such unexpected events, based upon the same premise, will be forthcoming. It will not take the same form of an uprising...that’s done. But they will surprise.

War on Islamic State: What is President Obama really up to?

[Just heard the O. speech...yes indeed Syria/Assad/Putin is THE target NOT ISIL, stopping the 'bad guys' is just an excuse to get more involved there. Proof? Obama's claim to arm the Free Syrian army and other 'moderate' Syrians to take on ISIL...but they are ISIL] 

Prediction: The United States government will push Islamic State back into its hole in Syria so it can wreak its terror there. It is not that the US cares deeply for Iraq, mind you. Iraq for US policymakers has now been classified as lost to Iran, a part of their growing Shiite empire. Expect the US Air Force to 'persuade' IS to go back into Syria and do its pro-Sunni thing there. It will be a tricky move because Saudi Arabia probably likes what is happening, more or less. But Kerry will have to convince them to give up on their dream of a Sunni recovery of Iraq, for now. Expect more refugees, more distraction from domestic problems, and more US sales of armaments. In short, what was once called a jolly good war.

This is the zeroth degree of politics. The hateful but prescient Carl Schmitt said politics is defined by the friend-enemy distinction. But the Islamic State is not the natural enemy of the US the way France was for Schmitt’s Cromwell. And moving against IS has little to do with national interests of the US. So this seems to be ‘play politics’ or politics for its own sake with NATO opening up a new Southern front against Russia, to best Putin perhaps.  

Friday, August 8, 2014

To Help Yazidis is to help Satan?

Yes I know people trapped on a summer mountain top is sad. But Yazidis are perceived throughout Mideast, especially in Sunni-land, as devil worshippers. True or not that is the perception. Now the US is their friend? Or does perception not matter? Probably the latter...have we entered Rousseau's final cycle of civilization? Alternatively, in a postmodern space, none of that matters overly. Everything contributes a bit maybe, but not enough to tip any scales in a definite direction. Ukraine will test this theory because if big powers can't produce big movements then no one can.

Obama: Lord of Chaos

So today we hear that the USA is bombing ISIL in Iraq. Whatever the reasons given, keeping Iraqis and Americans safe, can also be added the production of instability. The only pattern I can see behind US policy in the Levant is to make sure no one wins...not Assad but not the Free Syrians, not Gaddafi but no other Libyan, and in Iraq not ISIL but not Baghdad either. Toss in just enough kinetics to prevent any kind of stability. So long as the oil flows now and in the future...hence the price goes down!

(Check out Stephen Walt today on for this Lord of Chaos premise but with an opposite suggestion: to get out of the ME and do no more harm. Wow, is Stephen becoming an idealist?)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Gaza: Obama's Rwanda?

As Israelis war on Palestinians, witness the struggle between people who refuse to lose anything and people with nothing to lose. The outcome could be terrible quite quickly and what could have easily been stopped for minimal cost (like Clinton's Rwanda: Hutu with machetes were no match for Marines) becomes a historically cowardly mistake.

American Blowback

1. foreign kids streaming across the border.
2. high gas prices.
3. drought

These 3 phenomenon and more are blowback effects: from helping militarize Central America, to destabilizing oil-rich Iraq and Libya, to just plain old greed, some say these policies have reaped a terrible windfall (see

Poststructuralism? it says that identity and dominance come from the production of Others and threats.

The points are not quite the same. But it does  suggest that we think in terms of relations and connections.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Manipulation by Facebook

The Guardian recently opined that we should expect Facebook to manipulate its users. It is a profit-seeking company after all and it wants effective advertising.

But this charge of manipulation hides a false, fixed  ideal: Autonomy, or the idea that individuals give their own law to themselves based upon rational decision-making regarding their circumstances. Whether that ideal ever held is one question. But it certainly does not hold now.

Facebook users expect to have their feelings changed, whether by their friends, responses to Likes, or their tailored newsfeeds. Facebook just happens to momentarily dominate that effect. But soon it will fade into one of many such feeders.

That researchers changed the feeds deliberately to test their effects only proves that users were not autonomous as according to the old model. This does not mean that users will accept any program. Luckily, there are too many incoming messages for any one message to predominate for long. Put another way, paradoxically, people can no longer be manipulated into being only autonomous.  

Friday, June 20, 2014

A Serious Suggestion for Iraq: The Middleman

A source told me that the Arab world often uses middlemen to coordinate outcomes. I suppose since you can't trust others (rightly so said Hobbes) then the use of a middleman can come in handy.

Maliki need not and should not go right now. No leader should step down under such conditions.

What is needed is the right diplomacy. Example: the US or the UN should use an ambassador to Iraq or a special one to shuttle between the various contenders. With some initial confidence building measures at first and then leading to something like an Office of the Purveyor to continue the Middleman role.

More likely is a de facto partition of Iraq with ongoing low level violence.

Sending in US spotters or spies will piss off someone. If they spy on Iran from Baghdad to see what it is doing in Syria that will piss off Baghdad too. If they spy on Sunniland to bomb targets that will piss off the Gulf States.

You see the goal of the US is instability: don't let anyone win, not Maliki (would help Iran), not Assad (helps Russia), not ISIS (helps Saudi and ould scare Israel).

But the backers involved want these factions to WIN. Unlike the USA, they dont want the pot to just keep on simmering forever.

Keep in mind too the track record of the US in that region has been a general failure. Things always seem to backfire over there.   

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Bergdahl Event

In postmodern thought, an event is singularity, either of one major theme or (more likely) of them all. It would be for example the coming together in thought or politics or writing all of the extant ideologies at once…i.e. a hot mess. The Bergdahl debate is such a happening. It has all that can be thought about war and POW’s in one spot. Traitor or patriot? Was too much given up for the trade? Were the exchanged only Taliban officials or warriors? Can Qatar be relied upon? Let’s look past the truth of these questions for a moment.  

But Bergdahl will mean nothing in terms of the outcome in Afghanistan. He will not provide much help either on the campaign trail. No Republican will talk it without undermining the ‘support the troops’ idea. No Democrat will talk it without the worry of what the exchanged might do. A wash. But a fluorescent one. A singularity which fits perfectly in no one narrative.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

dumb Goodluck, dumber boko haram

The location of the 200+ Nigerian girls was not known. But the CLAIM that that location was known elicited 'chatter' from the kidnappers, the location of which was then triangulated. Cool. The mere use of publicized speech did the trick, not physical sleuthing nor tracking.

Unfortunately while the Nigerian army is good at burning down Hausa villages, it is not able to do a surgical operation. And most of the girls have been married off or ransomed by now anyway.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Edward Snowden wasted his life

Sorry to say but the NBC interview with Snowden shows a technically savvy guy but an historically idealistic and naïve one. He sacrificed his life for an America that no longer exists.

No one cares about privacy anymore! Has he not heard of Facebook and Twitter? You might counter that we intentionally share in such forums while the NSA scoops up our secrets or even incidents from our seemingly banal, everyday life. But so does Google and all the rest. And so too would any observant person you meet downtown or in Home Depot.(However, neither Google nor Home Depot can slap handcuffs on you and throw you into a dungeon, unlike a government apparatus). 

Baudrillard says we are in a world of obscenity....if so, we would like to flaunt ourselves more if we could. As the age of Metanarratives fades, including Snowden's beloved ideal, it becomes more and more necessary to prove that we are real or that we exist.

It is about time to think about enjoying life without privacy. For example, we should consider legal immunity from prosecutions or being fired for our cyber profiles. Otherwise the potential of cyberspace will be stifled.

Monday, May 19, 2014

National interests

The fight over  the future of Ukraine between Russia and America is most interesting as a test of the value of national interests. Policies which enhance the power of a State in the World should be pursued and those which do not should not be pursued. It is the simple and cold logic of the realists. But that was for a modern, Westphalian globe. Now the interests of the State are only one of many policy considerations, not the main one. On Ukraine, Russia has major interests at stake while the US has relatively little, other than denying it to Russia. But ,as S. Walt noted the costs for the US to support  Ukraine far outweigh the benefits. It is one thing to put on the requisite show of disapproval for the sake of NATO allies but another to risk damage on an array of pressing political and economic issues. Finding asymmetric sanctions is not the question. Knowing what and who you need is. But in a postmodern age, pushpin is a good as poetry. Thus, a bit of self-interest, some sanctions, some posturing can all happen together. If so, the response should be muddled too. No retreat from Russia but no invasion either; no breakup of Ukraine but no national solidarity either....a frustrating, exciting, incremental political world

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Eric Holder, US Attorney General, on Too Big to Jail

Let's get a bit deep again and consider the future meaning of Holder's statement. In a recent video he stated that Too Big to Jail is a wrongheaded theory that banks and other financial firms that are highly interconnected will never be criminally prosecuted due to their size. 

Cynics might chuckle at Holder's view as either lie or doublespeak. Certainly the facts would seem to confirm their view since none have been charged with a crime. Also it is late in the game. Not only has the crime festered since 2007-8 but Holder is about ready to exit.

But what if the statement is genuine? How? Assume no difference between theory and practice, i.e. that it is always possible to read politics, speech or acts, as text. Then Holder's statement is the accusation and it has melded into the blogosphere and been disseminated to others listening (less cynical listeners) will assume the guilt of Wall Street. That is bound to constrain their future actions.

Why? The post-Mandeville days when commerce could be deemed good, clean, and virtuous become then more difficult to sustain. Slightly more anyway. 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Ukraine and the May 2014 Clash of Democracies

May will see two momentous elections for two decisions. One election on the 11th will be for the liberation of E. Ukraine. The other, two weeks later, will decide upon a new leadership for the State of Ukraine. Is this what Kant envisioned regarding perpetual peace when he claimed that democracies do not clash? But Kant was a modern. In a postmodern field, where everything possible can happen simultaneously, (quantum-ness) tensions are ever-present not only between the old democracy and dictatorship binary.

Ukraine's present history may point the way to a new form of democracy as electionism.  

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Wooing Jobs...Should Texans celebrate?

It seems without any doubt. Getting jobs to your citizens is a good thing. See here: But what is overlooked is the importance of your market. California does not have to woo jobs. It has 40 million great consumers. CA can call the shots with any potential employer. No tax breaks need be offered. Freeze them out of your market otherwise (what do you think the European Union is for? to welcome anyone to trade or to set trade in advantageous ways???). Compared to CA, TX has less consumers. But they too are valuable. TX also does not need to offer tax breaks to corporations. Texans are squandering their power.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Will Russia send peacekeepers to Ukraine?

Some might think that something has to give before late May since that is when elections will be held. And that leadership will have more legitimacy. It could happen if things get ugly. But I think that Russia will play the long game. They have a lot of levers. No need to overplay a strong hand if you are winning already. Nationalism in a postmodern age be it Russian or Ukrainian depends solely upon production of it. It has to be stoked, energized, and focused. That is not easy to sustain when there are so many other messages floating around, big and small.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Ukraine's Blue Revolution

Interesting...we are witnessing at long last the dissassociation of liberty versus democracy. They are not the same thing, despite what thinkers of liberal democracy beleive. The Orange revolution rung in democracy as election and rule by the numerous. Ukraine's Blue revolution is about liberation, not necessarily as far reaching as what happened in Crimea, but certainly pushing the practical limits of the concept. (Yes, Russia and NATO will each try to take advantage of the situation but that is another matter from witnessing the philsophical distinction). At the least, a Ukrainian confederation will create new market niches...

United States to substitute Israel with Iran

You heard it here second and here first... Imagine a Near East region with rivalries and where America's closest allies despise each other and the differences are profound as when Palestinian liberation is championed by one and not the other. Sound familiar? It's today and yesterday. Well, this scenario does not change whether Israel or Iran fits the USA alliance slot! Due to oil, the US will never leave the Near East alone. But the question of which ally would be better is intriguing. If you tally the costs and benefits, you might be surprised at the result. In a postmodern era, where differences abound and (digitized) morphing of one thing into another is snap, trading Israel for Iran is theoretically possible. But what about the Iranian hostage crisis?...well what about Israel and the USS Liberty?

Friday, March 28, 2014

dollar versus bitcoin

Postmodernism is about thinking politically without references. So comparing the currencies of bitcoin (which lacks a reference source) and the dollar (supported by the US) is a contrast of pomo and modern strategy. Bitcoin (recently forced into the reference zone by the IRS which said it is not a currency) is clearly pomo and should not be expected to hold steady. The dollar should. But bitcoin may have the advantage. Why? The US and world must use the dollar a lot...for oil and everything. Its steadiness of value depends on that. Should that slow, expect bitcoin to become more distinctive and popular.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Ukraine and Grenada, Putin and Reagan?

Set on opposite sides of the world, Ukraine, with Crimea, and Grenada would seem to share few similarities. One is located in the temperate, even Arctic zone. The other is tropical. One is large, flat, and expansive. The other tiny and hilly. What these cases do share is the experience of superpower invasions for the safety of superpower citizens. Reagan invaded Grenada to save American students at its medical school (and pursued regime change too). Putin has moved to help fellow Russians in Crimea and perhaps too eastern Ukraine. Let's take them both at their word. The lesson: if you are a national leader and wish to avoid such invasions, don't allow in any citizens of superpowers.


Clever, clever, clever. Democracy in action. Soon there will be an election/referendum to decide to secede from Ukraine. The People have spoken. Aftermath? Much more posturing from the USA and its military. Why? To reassure the rest of E. Europe that they have not been forgotten. Estonia, for example, now feels nervous.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Venezuela: class warfare

They have not forgotten about class warfare in Latin America. You can let it boil over, reduce the differentials between them, or hide it. Aristotle said that the rich are relentless in their quest to dominate. It seems that the protesters agree. Expect Venezuela to simmer for awhile. If oil prices go up more however, then it could simmer down. (I am assuming the leaders there are more or less rational actors...but right now Maduro just seems paralyzed).

The boiling over of Ukraine!

It should have happened long ago...a territory filled with people that have 2 different dreams. One side wants the West and the other prefers working with Russia. The solution is obvious and maybe the pol. class has stumbled upon it. Play off both sides. Indeed recent events could be read in that fashion. First scare the West into offering more concessions. Now, with the recent agreement stepping away from a Presidential system and towards a more Parliamentary one, squeeze Putin for better loan offers. Of course it is too bad that people had to die. But that certainly makes the drama, and the shifts, more compelling. I know nothing about the region, but this tantrum could be the start of a better future. At these levels, I would buy some long term Ukrainian bonds right now.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Political theater example 2: Rand Paul versus NSA spying (through a LAWSUIT)

Senator Rand Paul is suing President Obama over NSA spying (on Americans!). It is unconstitutional and Paul is going to fight it in court. Paul says that he wants there to be judicial oversight, and right now, there is not enough such oversight. What a limited, limited objection! 'Not enough oversight' is not the same objection as unconstitutional. Why not repeal the Patriot Act? This guy is a US Senator! He could filibuster or even write up a bill and have it introduced to committee. Instead Paul opts for the public show of a lawsuit (which the ACLU is already doing). Paul, that is weak (in the colloquial sense of the word)! Senators have so many more tools at their disposal. Lawsuits are the instruments of the weak not Senators. I wonder if this show trial will fool his libertarian supporters?

Political theater example: Karzai versus USA, not!

I am the only one that thinks that the tiff between the (purported) President of Afghanistan and the USA is overdone? Karzai knows that he is destined to hang from a lamppost like Nasralluh and so to avoid that fate he is doing his best to act like an independent player. The USA plays along, why not? Example: Karzai refusing to sign a status of forces agreement that would formalize a US role there. Example 2: Karzai released some (harmless) 'detainees' as a show of his independence and the USA dutifully protests. What a show! It is funny to see US diplomats and journalists wring their hands over this act. (The mayor of Kabul is also setting himself to act as future mediator between the Daru speakers and the Pashtuns. I hope he succeeds because some peace will be a much needed respite there).

Friday, January 31, 2014

Stop Fast-Track and Stop trade Anarchy

The recent State of the Union speech mentioned Fast Track permission to enact the Trans-Pacific Partnership. This is a law that would speed the exchange of goods and services between non-China, Asian powers. The idea is bad for most American workers. The President is also trying to bypass the slow and constitutional rules for approving a treaty with foreign powers. Partners are nice but patriots are better. Say no to trade Anarchy and yes to trade that is controlled to benefit each nation, as much as possible, while also allowing trade. When did the President of the US become the President of the Pacific? Don't tell me that this is part of grand strategy to control the world. No one sustains such control anymore without overly high costs. It is an illusion, like trying to turn Afghanistan into Iowa. The trick is to let others try to so control and exert and exhaust themselves, and then pick up the pieces. Read Sun Tzu if you don't believe me.