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“Nobody Knows Anything”

March 16, 2014

In his memorable 1983 book Adventures in the Screen Trade, novelist and screenwriter William Goldman repeatedly cites a line, Nobody Knows Anything, meaning that, despite vast hours and sums spent by Hollywood on testing films with audiences, nobody in Tinsel Town really has a clue how a movie will do at the box office until it’s actually released. It’s all guesswork, and always has been.

Unfortunately, the recent Ukraine crisis has revealed that American foreign policy similarly has little idea what outcomes will be – here the recent and utterly unprecedented intelligence debacle engendered by Edward Snowden & Friends is surely a factor – and generally appears clueless when confronted by Putin and his merry band of Chekists in the Kremlin. That the stakes are higher here than in the entertainment world should be obvious to all. I have repeatedly explained just how weak I think the Obama foreign policy team is, filled with impressive-sounding people who clearly cannot handle a real struggle with Moscow, so there’s no need to belabor that point again. Recent weeks have made abundantly clear that the White House simply does not know what to do when confronted with hard problems being pushed by hard men who are more than willing to use cunning violence and naked intimidation as a matter of routine.

However, the rot goes far deeper than this White House, and is not confined to any party; indeed, the remarkable decline in American foreign policy over the last generation is one of our few truly bi-partisan national efforts, so there’s no point in fantasizing that an election or two will change this. This sad truth I explained in a recent post which got quite a bit of attention, particularly this part:

A related factor here surely is that the United States has groomed a whole generation of foreign policy wonks-in-training who lack any real understanding of how the world actually works. These impressive-on-paper people – let it be noted they are legion in both parties – the under-45′s who are always graduates of the right schools and first-rate players of The Game in Washington, DC (which really comes down to cultivating the right mentors who will guide you to the proper think-tank until your party returns to power), are no match for the stone-cold killers of the Kremlin, led by the Chekist-in-Chief Putin. They have grown up in a world where unipolar American power has never been challenged, and while they can utter pleasant, Davos-ready platitudes about the whole range of bien pensant issues – global warming, emerging trends in micro-finance, gender matters on the Subcontinent, et al – they have quite literally nothing to say when old-school conventional threats emerge and enemies – yes, enemies: not rivals or merely misunderstood would-be partners – emerge from the darkness with conquest and killing on their minds.

I stick by all that and I’ll add that the defect in this younger generation of wannabe foreign policy mavens – which, full disclosure, I’m part of, barely – is two-fold. The first part is a lack of courage that’s enabled by a culture of conformism in the corridors of DC power, where one false move with the wrong staffer or donor can derail a whole career before it really begins. “Speaking truth to power” features frequently in novels and films about the nation’s capital, but is seldom encountered in reality for this reason. Savvy young people on the make quickly learn to mouth platitudes and make connections with equally bland and conformist mentors: if any of these people have genuinely novel, much less daring, foreign policy ideas, they learn to suppress them awfully fast.

Second, most of these smart young people really don’t know anything. Oh, don’t get me wrong, they had great SATs and went to top schools and have mastered the art of sounding smart, attaining admirable fluency in that unnatural dialect known as Beltway-speak, but as for any deep knowledge about any particular subject relating to how the world really works, that’s about as rare in this crowd as unicorns and Bigfoot. There should be no surprise that Chekists are winning handily these days.

That said, it’s important to note that the ignorance of reality found among our Bright Young Things in DC is hardly their own fault. It can be attributed to their deformed education, especially among those who have studied International Relations, memorizing Game Theory and related unreality when what they needed to be doing was studying languages and history and getting out of the Beltway more. I won’t beat up on IR more than this, since everybody who has encountered IR lately, between zombies and related silliness, already knows how ridiculous it is.

There is no substitute for actually knowing something about a country and a region and how its people think and what they say; this cannot be learned entirely in books – though you will have to read a lot of books to build a foundation of understanding – and it cannot be done entirely in English. If you want to understand Putin’s Russia, you will need to seriously look at the history and culture of that place, and Ukraine too, and learn their languages to boot. If this is too hard for you, then don’t try. If you want to predict what Russians and Ukrainians will likely do next with any degree of accuracy, learn about Russians and Ukrainians. For Putin and his system, you will need to learn about Chekists too, since their worldview is unique and powerful to the initiated.

This diatribe against IR, and more broadly against Political Science, ought not to be taken as a defense of History, my own discipline, since it, too, has become mired in post-modern silliness. Just when its services are needed to help explain the world to decision-makers, History has self-marginalized to an alarming degree. While I would trust the guesses of random people off the street – cabbies, waitresses, bookies – over your average tenured IR guru, I’m under no illusion that your run-of-the-mill History professor is much better.

So turning to the Academy to help explain what we ought to do next is sadly a non-starter. Capturing the wisdom of the professoriate, which was more helpful than not during the Cold War, is not much of a plan these days, I’m sad to report. Everybody wants George Kennan to magically reappear, but the reality is that poor, brilliant George, were he to magically reappear among us, would immediately be run out of the room on grounds of racism, sexism, xenophobia, generic crankiness, and all-around obsolescence. He would still be brilliant, mind you, we just have lost the ability to listen to OldThink. Until we get over our own biases, hardened practitioners of OldThink, who are far more atavistic and unpleasant than anything Kennan ever pondered at Princeton, will keep winning.

[The opinions expressed here are the author's alone and in no way reflective of the views of any of his employers, past or present.]

From → History, Strategy, USG

53 Comments
  1. Some great stuff here and you hit the nail on the head in respect to the lack of understanding of foreign cultures and their histories. I talk to people working in the Beltway and will often be left puzzled when they make the assumption that Russia and Russians are dying to become a liberal democracy but Putin is the way. One has to make the time to explain to them that “American Values” i.e. current social trends in politics, aren’t universal and are often met with contempt by foreigners.

    It’s this detachment between perception (produced by the elements you outlined above) and reality that allows for such a vacuum of hard knowledge to exist, and has led to the current situation in the foreign policy community.

    I’m reminded of the classic line in Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket when the Army Officer harangues Modine’s character for wearing a peace symbol on his helmet by telling him to ‘get with the team’ and that ‘inside of every Gook is an American waiting to get out’.

    There is a dangerous hubris stemming from foreign policy circles in that their cries of ‘freedom of democracy’ often run smack into the face of the reality of value systems that run counter to their own.

  2. Long overdue criticism of The Coalition of the Fatuous !

    (No, dammit !! I’m not talking about Dieting !!!)

  3. Reblogged this on mrmeangenes.

  4. djm11g permalink

    Majority of America believes we are invincible. Specifically, many individuals of my generation (DOB – 1990) do not follow global affairs, let alone domestic affairs.

    I ask them why? General response: “I have no control over it, so why should I care? That’s what politicians are for.” <—- Root Problem

    Oh yeah, not to mention, many young Americans do not know the meaning of the 'Kremlin', I could go on and on.

    My point – I wish young Americans could maintain an open-mind and read your article. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

  5. Lyle Smith permalink

    Our President is a great example of this. Lots of attitude not backed up with much knowledge or understanding.

    The other problem is some students of history, foreign languages, and foreign cultures still learn the wrong things due to bias. Susan Sontag and Edward Said come to mind. We’ve got a knowledge problem, but a questioning and thinking problem among our intelligentsia.

  6. Saw this up close and personal in DC in the last two decades. There were two ways for you to kill your career if you wanted to “get the badge” and land a good position in an administration (whether Republican or Democratic) for dealing with Russian and Eurasian affairs.

    The first was to argue that the U.S. didn’t have the time, inclination or attention span to reshape Eurasia and had to focus on bigger things, so that cutting a deal with Russia in terms of leaving them alone domestically and letting them have a sphere of influence in the region where the West could have some play and some influence was the the best outcome for securing most U.S. interests without completely sacrificing U.S. values. No, that never flew because you were selling out democracy, Putin was always one step away from being overthrown by the flavor du jour of the latest opposition leader to win the hearts and minds of DC think tanks and handlers, and the U.S. didn’t need to recognize any Russian interests–because it was always 1992 and Russia had no choice.

    The second was to argue that Russia was a rising challenge to U.S. interests. OK, this sounds like many of the points raised by neocon talking heads–but the difference here was those who argued that not only was a rising Russia a challenge but that the U.S. would have to take concrete steps and pay costs–it would have to commit to a real program of aiding non-Russian states on Moscow’s periphery; it would have to accept higher international costs for dealing with problems like Iran without Russia’s active help, etc. No, that wasn’t popular either. Members of Congress loved wearing orange ties when Yushchenko spoke in 2005 but weren’t going to pay the costs, beyond some small-scale aid programs–just enough to piss the Russians off but not enough to do anything really constructive.

    No, instead what we got was the useless mantra of selective cooperation, which the DC talking heads interpreted to mean Russia does what the U.S. needs or wants but that the U.S. could ignore or block Russian interests without any real repercussions or costs incurred.

    • M Chamberlain permalink

      The surest way to avoid being taken seriously is to hedge in a serious idea with disclaimers such as “I’m not a neocon talking head, but…”. If you have to tell us what tribe you belong to we’re bound to wonder if you can think beyond your tribal loyalties.

    • Thanks for this insight, it’s much appreciated.

  7. Homer Simpson permalink

    Doesn’t Putin have to kill some Christians and dynamite a church or two before he can really qualify as a Chekist?

    I’ve heard that if you dress too nicely (i.e., break the brass button navy blazer and charcoal/khaki slacks dress code) it can adversely effect your career in DC. And the bars empty out at 11 on weekends. Not good signs.

  8. kasia permalink

    This is a problem also in some other countries and is a result of western attitude towards education.

    My husband and I we got our education in communist Poland. After few countries (including USA) we settled in France and were shocked that our children’s knowledge of French history is smaller then ours from our schools. They do not know basic facts and are only prepare to make quasi – intelligent bla bla bla. Students are admitted to the best university level schools “Grande ecole”, on the base of the personal opinion of their teacher and the most important in this is the professor of philosophy. To get the good opinion you have to agree with all his/hers leftist statements. With the teacher’s opinion on the application saying that student has a “independent reflection” one can be sure that the all good schools not only “Science Po” in Paris are closed for one for ever.

    And now about Russia. I’m Polish, this is a Slavic nation, Russian are also Slavic but there are some big differences. In Poland people are probably less talented than in Russia but we do generally believe in western type of democracy, liberties etc and because of that our politician can not lie like Putin, it will be not accepted. This is not the case of Russian nation. In Slavic culture before accepting Christianity lying was normal, this was so normal that in “Statue of Kalisz” from 1264 Jewish were made legally more trustworthy then new Christian, in situation one to one where there was no witness Jew’s testimony was taken as truth. This statue was legally bonding till XVI century. During this time Moscou was under Mongol influence and and this legacy in doing politics in Russia can be seen up to present. In comparison to Poland and now days Ukraine Russian never had any sort of democracy. Polish – Lithuanian Commonwealth had a democracy for nobility (7% of population); they were choosing their king ( kind of presidency for life) in free election and the king had to guarantee liberties of his subjects (nobility). The noble, if those liberties were broken, had right to revolt, to oppose the king and should not be punished for this revolt. This was the law few hundreds years ago but if you see the map of Ukraine those days and supporters of Euromaidan movements you will see the South – Easter border of Polish – Lithuanian Commonwealth before 1654. History does matter. The conflict in Ukraine is not a ethnic conflict between Russian and Ukrainians, this is a conflict of civilization. To grab Ukraine M. Putin already decided that he is ready for new cold war and for the real one in Ukraine also.
    As for Russian people in general their are ready to sacrifice almost everything for Great Russia their children also, they have mentality of slaves (the success of their own chef is their success no matter what is the price). The slavery was abolished in 1861, to be replaced sixty years later by communism totalitarian.

    sorry for my English, I had Russian and German at school

    Ps about specialist for Eastern Europe, The day Ukraine declared Independence from USSR, my husband and I, we were watching News Hour on PBS, the commentators were the “best specialist” of Easter Europe. The specialist were talking for about 20 minutes about stupidity of Ukrainians because in their opinion Poland would immediately invade western part of the new country. We couldn’t understand what their were talking about. Independent strong Ukraine is the primordial to Polish sovereignty. After 20 minutes moderator said that he just get the message that Poland as a first country recognized Ukrainian independence. The specialist didn’t say sorry nor did they give any explanation, they just change the subject.

    • We cannot help general cluelessness…but I am trying! Thank you for reading.

    • 1. Less talented? I guess that is the reason why Russian FSB is fighting over controlling graphene patents in Poland. And that would also be the reason why we stopped Russian agression in 1920. And most certainly it is the reason why we are the only nation who captured Moscow… ever. So yeah, sure, we are the less talented ones. And most surely Russian talented presence during IIWW and Poland Pople Republic (PRL) have been so much enlightening for us, so now we are at our best performance and spirit.

      2. We are an European nation (i.e. we belong to Latin civilization), it doesn’t matter that much that we’re Slavic in that context. We’ve got a tradition of thought that is purely Western, I recommend getting to know better Lvov-Warsaw School during Interwar period in Poland. Warsaw was called ‘Paris of the East’ at some time by the way and in 1573 our diplomatic mission in Paris had made a great impression, because they all spoke Latin perfectly and at the time only two people at French Royal Court had the same skill.

      3. There is a vast propaganda action right now aimed at depreciation of Poland and Baltic states, because col. Putin may be preparing for war. He will not stop at Crimea, he temporarily stabilized political situation in RF and he knows that in the long run there is no turning back anymore – there will be a pressure on Europe to finally find some sources of energy beside Russian gas. Note Russian action in Klaipėdos (Lithuana) and Transnistria (Moldavia). And in Estonia of course. I don’t think that German would really like to have a war so near their borders. That is: I like to believe that Europe is not a bunch of cowards.

      4. I agree with the rest – Felix Koneczny was right.

      • Hey, before you blow a gasket why don’t you read the large number of Poland-related things I’ve written, here on this very blog?

      • My gaskets are fine. Thanks for a good read on PL cases, I did read some of them.

  9. JohnMM permalink

    Hi John. It’s John M. from UMass Boston. It’s been a while. I found your blog after seeing your name referenced on a comment somewhere. Nice to see you’re doing well, too bad your views are considered obsolete by the Nancy boys we have running things.

    So now I’m middle-aged and I’m seeing the start of Cold War II. Since I don’t want to see my son facing the Russians in Germany, where do I sign up for a modern day Abraham Lincoln Brigade? Just ignore my lack of any military skills.

    Seriously though, could the US and what’s left of Western Europe’s military quickly send some troops to Eastern Ukraine and dare the Russians to cross the border? Isn’t that what the Airborne is for? Is Putin crazy enough to shoot on Americans or is he betting that our feckless President is too busy fretting that Putin won’t friend him on Facebook?

    I think the Ukrainian people are going to make thing tougher for the Russians than they think, but the next few weeks and months could get ugly. Human nature doesn’t change, despite people convincing themselves that this time it will be different.

  10. Why would the best and/or brightest go into civil service or the government? Silicon Valley and Wall St are much more lucrative if you’re motivated and intelligent.

    So at best, you’re staying out with a weak bench.

  11. Dang, man, I guess a Delphi study of all the IR smarty-pantses won’t help us figure out the Russkis? Half of Arlington just frowned.

    Maybe we can just turn everything over to the Neocons again – at least they don’t suffer from self-doubt and indecision.

  12. We all remember the joke told aboutt the Ivy League graduate, sitting in his Corner Office on the first day in his first real Job – doing nothing. When the janitor pos in late in the evening and asks what he did on his first day, his (or her) answer was: I’ve been waiting for them to bring me the first case-study.

    Sadly, this mindset seems to have become the reality, and I am not sure it is restricted to the Beltway!

  13. “‘Speaking truth to power’ features frequently in novels and films about the nation’s capital, but is seldom encountered in reality.”

    This is true in the private sector as well. When I read this section of your post, I immediately recalled an essay/speech that I read long ago (http://theamericanscholar.org/solitude-and-leadership/#.UyZJSfmwJqw). It is one of the best essays on leadership that I have read. As the speaker notes, mediocre conformists tend to flourish in established bureaucracies while those who have novel ideas or “moral courage” are often cast aside in favor of those who do not rock the boat.

    The private sector, however, is better at being self-correcting. There are countless examples of establishment rejects who start their own firms and ultimately become the establishment. John Lassetter was fired from Disney for daring to suggest that computer 3D animation was the future of the business. As founder of Pixar, which was ultimately acquired by Disney for billions of dollars, he ended up becoming a senior Disney executive and one of its largest individual shareholders. Mike Bloomberg was fired from Saloman Brothers, an established investment bank that ultimately became part of Citigroup. His terminals now supply most of Wall Street (including, most likely, Citi) with the data they now depend on to do their jobs. Lee Iacocca was fired from Ford only to rescue Chrysler and build it into what was one of Ford’s most formidable competitors.

    We need courageous elected officials (with a problem solving mentality) who are not afraid to embed a similarly self-correcting processes in the government bureaucracy. Unlike the private sector, where innovation can be bottom-up, our constitutional government requires that innovation in government be start with a top-down directive. I am not as pessimistic as you are, and believe that new leadership will ultimately fix the bureaucracy.

  14. Oscar permalink

    Im far from being educated in the matters of politics or history like you,
    but I enjoy reading your blog, there is no reliable opinions out there anymore, everybody
    loves conspiracies, online news papers are just parrots repeating the same thing from
    the same sources (people that love to be called specialists, middle est, latin America, Russia specialists etc), they barely speak one or two words on the language for which they are supposed to be thes specialists.

    Keep up the great work, only a few people nowadays speak their minds, the rest are cultivating the politically correct bs and think the world is nice and pink.

  15. This is an astonishingly inane post.

  16. randallr permalink

    KGB Deep State > American Deep State

  17. Mike permalink

    It seems that American Exceptionalism is being challenged around the world at this point in history. That shouldn’t come as a big surprise to anyone. As America crumbles from within, our influence waning around the world while we argue about abortion, religion and a multitude of equally relatively petty issues, especially when compared to current world affairs, the rest of the world is passing us by as if we were standing still. The debate never happens- what are our goals in relation to the rest of the world? How will we relate to and interact with our neighbors in a smaller and smaller world? Instead we put up our President to posture and preen without substance and imagine we are fooling everyone. It doesn’t matter which President, that argument is an old and tired one, the argument that this Pres is better than that Pres. Nonsense. Any more than the good cop is better than the bad cop in that game, which is the game called partisan politics.

    Our foreign policy has been belligerent and based on the idea that we are the worlds Hall Monitors due to our moral and political superiority, as well as militarily very strong. When we enter into agreements with foreign countries we make demands and impose conditions as if we are in charge, creating resentment everywhere we go. We certainly have honed skill sets in how to piss off everyone with our arrogance as a country. Now we’re surprised that no one around the world likes it. Really?

    We’re all wired the same around the world, despite efforts to paint others as the outgroup and evil. We have painted the world with our large brush of judgement and now it is our country that is lacking and wanting in the morals department. We’ve crossed every line, broken every rule, all while preaching to the rest of the world not to be that way. The gig is up. Is the great irony of Secretary Kerry blathering about interfering in other countries affairs without a real reason lost on everyone? It is, and it’s suppressed the minute it comes out so that we can maintain our illusion as the worlds greatest and brightest. The facts don’t support that any longer, we’re way down the list in many measures of societal health. We’re not going to catch up by blaming Obama again or Bush either. We as a people better wake up to the way we treat each other in this country as well as around the world. We’re still stuck on stupid reliving the Civil War every day, over and over the same arguments, religion, blacks, abortion, on and on., now gays to distract us from the real work we must do.

    The last thing we should be doing is doubling down on arrogant and lecturing Putin. Of course he’s not an angel, are we? Hardly. So there you are. We’re exceptional alright. Exceptionally stupid to think we can go on in this fashion without consequences.

    Just remember that game you used to play as a kid, King of The Hill. And how long did you last on the top of that dirt mound? As long as it took for someone else to knock you down off of there. Meaning we shouldn’t be naive about the intentions of other countries, but nor should we act as if we’ll always get our way like infants. We won’t and we better learn how to deal with it.

    • Mike Lumish permalink

      At one point I worked abroad in a country that had to deal with substantial problems on a limited budget. That experience opened my eyes to how much time and money and talent we Americans waste squabbling over stupid nonsense. I came to understand that we did so because we were so wealthy that we could waste all those resources and not really suffer, and even then I could see that this happy state of affairs was not going to last forever.

  18. David L permalink

    Hi John – Right on! So I was one of those folks in Gen X who actually got an IR Degree from GWU in D.C. I could have been one of those you write about but fate saved me: it was spring 1992 and we were in a recession and there were no jobs to be had. So, my then-girlfriend now-wife did the next thing which was to move to Prague where we lived 1992-1994. We traveled extensively in East Europe and former USSR. Holy Moly. Talk about reality check! If I had not lived there I would never have learned what I learned. Among many things: 40 to 70 years of communism + nazism really misses up a person. Men were infantilized. The whole moral compass we grew up in was backwards here. People are happy at thieving. Stealing was considered “normal.” Etc…
    But the worst were the Western IR people who cycled through. Blind as a bat.
    First thing I did when I came back to NYC was jettison IR and look for a job in business where I’ve happily worked in the real world since.

  19. Jim Taylor permalink

    I am afraid our country is about to get “schooled” by the Russians on the realities of the world. Lyndon Johnson inherited a defense and foriegn policy team dubbed “The Best and the Brightest.” Yet this dream team of Phi Beta Kappa key holders with their elegant educations led us into a war with a culture they had no understanding of.
    Fast forward 50 years and another bunch of men and women with elegant educations are about to repeat history. The amazing thing is that we are not dealing with some obscure culture or nation
    A high school graduate with an appetite for history and an appreciation for what drives men and nations could learn more about the Russian people and their politics in a month at any decent library than our experts have learned at all the “right schools.”
    We will learn a bitter lesson orchestrated by forty somethings but paid for in blood by twenty somethings.
    In twenty years time we will have a foreign policy crafted by bipartisan “hawks” who will keep our nation and the world safe from aggression.
    Those “Hawks” will be the men and women who were schooled in the realities of our world when THEY had to pay the bill for the lesson we are all about to learn.

  20. Mike Lumish permalink

    Hi folks.

    As it happens, I have been thinking myself about this issue of power and money being handed to people who are not in fact experts in anything other than self promotion. It wasn’t like that in 1979 when I got my degree, but now it’s everywhere I look and I don’t understand why. Your international relations experience resonates, despite my being in Science.

    My criticism stems the inclusion of Global Warming in the list of fashionable opinions mouthed by the wannabe foreign policy mavens. Yes, they don’t understand the issue and they believe it only because it has become what I call a badge of tribal identity to do so. But, in consequence, dismissal of Global Warming as a hippie plot has become a badge of tribal identity for team B which leads to political support of sabotage against solutions.

    Which is a problem because I know, as a scientist who is an expert and has worked in the area, that Global Warming (and allied issues) is very real. The science and the economics of addressing the issue have been worked out in mind numbing detail, and if we put the right people in charge (experts again) we can do it at an astonishingly low cost – especially when compared to the potential cost of taking no action, as determined by sober analysis. We can safely ignore the hippies and their Stop the Pipeline civil disobedience nonsense, but we can not safely ignore the potential destruction of twenty percent of annual global production in a few short decades. Look at what suffering has been produced by five percent reduction in the 2008 melt down from which we have yet to recover.

    Every year we wait, the price of the solutions gets higher even as the costs of climate change inflicted damage begin to mount. The only reason we wait is the political difficulty of organizing the solutions, which is profound even without the sabotage.

    So thank you for your stimulating thoughts on a subject in which you are an expert, and I ask that you at least give some thought to an unsolicited thought from a fellow expert.

    • I too am a scientist and it is beyond clear that man caused catastrophic global warming is a hoax-perpetuated by dishonest academics, tax hungry bureaucrats, power mongering statists, and their naive easily duped cheerleaders.

  21. J. Daniel permalink

    Always a fun read. Funny how when I talk to any street-smart members of any immigrant diaspora community say about the same thing. The weekend section of the FT had a nice article by E. Luce covering his interview with Prince Turki al-Faisal. Mr. Luce asks the former head of Saudi Arabian intelligence how the west should respond and gets a response including the bleating of sheep. It really does mix well with your illustration of both the sheep in DC and the wolves, yes more than Putin, are getting braver.

  22. Reblogged this on budbromley.

  23. You are so interesting! I do not think I have read something like
    that before. So good to discover somebody with some original thoughts on this issue.
    Really.. thank you for starting this up. This web site is
    one thing that is needed on the web, someone with some originality!

  24. Sam permalink

    In George Kennans own words at the age of 94.

    His voice is a bit frail now, but the mind, even at age 94, is as sharp as ever. So when I reached George Kennan by phone to get his reaction to the Senate’s ratification of NATO expansion it was no surprise to find that the man who was the architect of America’s successful containment of the Soviet Union and one of the great American statesmen of the 20th century was ready with an answer.

    ”I think it is the beginning of a new cold war,” said Mr. Kennan from his Princeton home. ”I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else. This expansion would make the Founding Fathers of this country turn over in their graves. We have signed up to protect a whole series of countries, even though we have neither the resources nor the intention to do so in any serious way. [NATO expansion] was simply a light-hearted action by a Senate that has no real interest in foreign affairs.”

    ”What bothers me is how superficial and ill informed the whole Senate debate was,” added Mr. Kennan, who was present at the creation of NATO and whose anonymous 1947 article in the journal Foreign Affairs, signed ”X,” defined America’s cold-war containment policy for 40 years. ”I was particularly bothered by the references to Russia as a country dying to attack Western Europe. Don’t people understand? Our differences in the cold war were with the Soviet Communist regime. And now we are turning our backs on the very people who mounted the greatest bloodless revolution in history to remove that Soviet regime.

    ”And Russia’s democracy is as far advanced, if not farther, as any of these countries we’ve just signed up to defend from Russia,” said Mr. Kennan, who joined the State Department in 1926 and was U.S. Ambassador to Moscow in 1952. ”It shows so little understanding of Russian history and Soviet history. Of course there is going to be a bad reaction from Russia, and then [the NATO expanders] will say that we always told you that is how the Russians are — but this is just wrong.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/1998/05/02/opinion/foreign-affairs-now-a-word-from-x.html

  25. Michael McCallion Sr permalink

    Just a comment on how a stroker for the AGW mindset has to be inserted on a comment page dealing with immediate and urgent action by individuals who can stop the young men and some young women of the United States from dying in another European War.

    I am writing from a Canadian perspective with an lower decks navy experience some fifty years ago. I felt then the American ordinary citizen’s children would be sent to fight for an indifferent elite over many decades. I have also experienced the sight of the many graves located throughout Belgium and Holland with the young men who did not return from WW One and WW Two. Canadians; Australian; New Zealanders; India’s; and of course Americans.

    The sadness of this, except possibly in Holland, there is little awareness of almost any Europeans of the sacrifice made by the many nations who were not part of Europe.

    The Ukrainian; Polish; and Baltic nations recognize the threat from the Russian politico elites and the drive and driven ordinary Russian civilian because they are and will remain the bulwark against the expansive Russian federation. The conundrum is to help maintain this bulwark without expending the lives of the ordinary citizen’s children who do not live in Europe.

    Western European nations will not take the initiative. Not even Britain.

  26. You ought to be a part of a contest for one of the finest sites on the net.
    I most certainly will recommend this website!

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