Friday, November 05, 2021

Best and brightest

Masterful summary of the American problem:  "The U.S. Moral Superiority Complex Is Accelerating Its Decline" (Ruggeri): 

". . . anyone taking a dispassionate look at the establishment liberals who are deemed America’s “best and brightest” in Washington circles would reach the conclusion that they are stronger on slogans than substance, which leads to a disconnect between ideas and implementation, and lack overseas experience: there is only one career diplomat in a senior position on the National Security Council, the director for Africa.

Their ability to display ideological cohesion at the expense of a reflexive process of dialogical thinking is remarkable but not surprising: establishment liberals do see themselves as the centre of political enlightenment. If they appear vainglorious and self-righteous it is because they are part of a power structure that produces and perpetuates these character traits. Those who entertain the possibility of failure are side-lined as bearers of bad news, the centre-stage is reserved for those who project confidence and a sense of moral superiority. As to considering opposing viewpoints, that is entirely optional."

and:
"Carefully crafted narratives are crucial for the U.S. because it is selling the world a failed model of development. Trumpeting it as inclusive, gender equal, green and sustainable is like putting lipstick on a pig, it looks grotesque. Managing perceptions, denigrating alternative civilizational and economic models, and demonizing the competition is no longer working, an increasingly large segment of the world population is developing stronger antibodies to the virus of American propaganda. That’s why traditional soft-power tools — trade, legal standards, technology — are increasingly being used to coerce rather than convince.

After the Afghanistan disaster former French ambassador to Israel, UN and U.S. Gérard Araud shared his dismay on Twitter: “The absence of self-examination in the West is seen elsewhere with disbelief. Wars waged by the West have recently cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians for no result and we still lecture the world about values. Do you have any idea about how we are seen abroad?” 
If even allies are growing tired of America’s preaching, guess how it is going down in the rest of the world."
and:
"Biden’s closest aides never learned the fundamentals of realpolitik, they hold the belief that liberal values are universally valid and the use of force (rebranded “humanitarian interventionism”) morally motivated. They never doubted that the Western model would conquer the world because they grew up at the end of the Cold War, a time that was indeed characterized by a “unipolar moment”. This period is well and truly over and the Western liberal order in its present form is a fraying system.

While the U.S. allocated resources to the destruction and destabilization of sovereign countries, and ignored the widening income gap at home, their main competitor, China, lifted millions of its citizens out of poverty and kept building state-of-the-art infrastructure at home and abroad, that is projects that make a tangible difference in people’s livelihoods. No wonder concealing the truth has become a matter of national security.

Democrats openly admit their intent to co-opt Silicon Valley to police political discourse and silence the bearers of inconvenient truths. They effectively sowed the seeds for a future where everything and everyone can be(come) a national-security threat. Glenn Greenwald revealed that Congressional Democrats have summoned the CEO’s of Google, Facebook and Twitter four times in the last year to demand they censor more political speech. They explicitly threatened the companies with legal and regulatory reprisals if they did not start censoring more. Pulling the plug on dissenting opinions and de-platforming people who challenge the dominant discourse makes a mockery of free speech, one of the rights that the U.S. claims to be defending when it selectively condemns alleged violations of human rights in other countries. Increasing censorship is also an indication that control of the narrative both at home and overseas has become vital for the U.S.

The conviction that “for America, our interests are our values and our values are our interests’’, one of the tenets of NeoCons, has been revamped by the liberal Left to aggressively promote a different kind of values and causes. A sort of symbolic capital that would allow the U.S. to maintain dominance as rights defender while its own constitutional rights are being eroded at home. Moral grandstanding can only compound the hypocrisy, but that is not stopping liberal totalitarians who are trading off freedom of speech for a child’s right to gender self-identification or for a binding gender or race quota on corporate boards.

History shows that declining empires tend to produce incompetent, self-delusional and divisive leaders who unwittingly accelerate the inevitable fall. That’s exactly what seems to be happening now."
and:
"A case in point is The Summit for Democracy that Biden will convene in virtual mode on December 9–10, 2021, while a second meeting will take place a year later. The plan is to bring together over 100 leaders from selected governments (some of the choices have already stirred controversy among democracy advocates) plus various NGOs, activists (regime change actors) and corporations to “rally the nations of the world in defence of democracy globally” and “push back authoritarianism’s advance”, “address and fight corruption”, “advance respect for human rights”.

Though this initiative is mainly a way to strengthen ideological cohesion among allies by appealing to “common values” and conjuring up yet another global threat, namely “authoritarianism”, it effectively divides the international community into two Cold War-style blocks, friends and foes. On one side countries that earned a seal of approval for toeing the line and therefore deserve to be labelled “democratic”; on the other side a basket of deplorables that refuse to recognize the superiority of the U.S. model of governance and civilizing mission. Basically, the politically correct version of neocolonialism."
and:
"For the corporate donors of both the Democratic and Republican Party other countries’ national interests are a relic of the past that should be done away with. And indeed national interests would hardly be compatible with a world order led by the U.S. in partnership with global stakeholders (global corporations, NGOs, think-tanks, governments, academic institutions, charities, etc.)

These global stakeholders and their political representatives effectively want to replace the modern international system of sovereign states that is enshrined in the United Nations Charter. Under this system, commonly referred to as Westphalian system, states exist within recognised borders, their sovereignty is recognised by others and principles of non-interference are clearly spelled out. Since this model doesn’t allow the government of one nation to impose legislation in another, the U.S. loudly promotes the idea of global governance, under which a global public-private partnership is allowed to create policy initiatives that affect people in every country as national governments implement the recommended policies. Typically this occurs via an intermediary policy distributor, such as the IMF, World Bank, WHO, but many international organizations now play a similar role.

In the Biden administration we see a dangerous convergence of the national security establishment and Silicon Valley tech giants. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines both worked for WestExec, the consulting firm that Blinken cofounded with Michèle Flournoy, a former undersecretary of defence under President Obama. Google hired WestExec to help them land Department of Defense contracts. Google’s former Chief Executive Eric Schmidt made personnel recommendations for appointments to the Department of Defense. Schmidt himself was appointed to lead a government panel on artificial intelligence. At least 16 foreign policy positions are occupied by CNAS alumni. The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) is a bipartisan think tank that receives large contributions directly from defence contractors, Big Tech, U.S. finance giants.

These donors spend considerable resources shaping the intellectual environment, academic research and symposia in order to build consensus around their agenda. The Biden administration also features dozens of officials hailing from the Center for American Progress (CAP), a think tank set up by John Podesta, a longtime Clintonworld staple, with George Soros’ generous contribution. The ties between Open Society Foundations (OSF) and CAP are so strong that Patrick Gaspard, the former head of OSF, was nominated president and CEO of CAP.

When government becomes the expression of global corporate interests and channels the belief system of a small, privileged elite it can be hard to tell who is leading who, who is really making policy and setting national security strategies and goals.

Biden’s national security team is the product of this corrupt system. Its members may tone down the “freedom, democracy and human rights” rhetoric if it gets in the way of achieving a particular strategic goal, but they won’t abandon it because it has proven to be effective in providing a legitimating frame and moral justification to U.S. hegemony."
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