human being on Tue, 20 Aug 2002 11:05:33 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> RE: Power and Weakness by Robert Kagan

  Regarding: Power and Weakness by Robert Kagan

  it was difficult to understand the argument laid-
  out by Kagan, when proposing the European viewpoint
  was a 'postmodern paradise' at the same time as being
  'moral consciousness', the former written in parentheses.
  whatever kantian and hobbesian construct is overlayed
  upon current policy affairs, there seems to be major
  distortion at the level of analysis, that in this case
  being 'simple' is 'too simple'. USA=powerful, EU=weak,
  et cetera. and in many places the contradictions are
  more as paradoxes that could be switched around if the
  abstraction was not so neat and clean. for example, with
  currency- the rising Euro versus the falling US dollar.

  or, for that matter, the destabilization of US power, not
  by outside forces, but deeply internal ideologues which
  sit in the wings of most bureaucracies, waiting for the
  day when their ruler will rise. and it is this sense of
  power, Machiavellian maybe, yet centralized and idealized
  (not realistic) which seems to describe the US position
  in almost every arena of domestic and foreign diplomacy:
  it is similar to a wall made of chain-link metal fencing
  with rabid pitbulls (hard-liners) jumping up with open
  teeth, barking and biting, trying to jump the barrier
  and let free, these, the dogs/gods of war.

  if one looks at the US there has been _no coherency in
  anything (ideologically) yet ideologues act as if every-
  thing is happening according to some greater/unknown plan.
  maybe this is power. yet what it seems to describe in some
  way is a type of gathering/coherency of power, centralization
  of authority and systemic control, yet far from democratic
  or constitutional governance. how different is the European
  Union from this, in deep bureaus, may be hard to gauge. yet
  there needs to be some cooperation, or at least a divergent
  enough group for checks and balances. while in the US it
  appears that this insularity has softened any 'challenge'
  (supposed .EU-based wordage) to the current administration.

  to compare this to Nettime is difficult, yet the one aspect
  that seems to counterbalance this centralization and is also
  of note in networked diplomatic relations between citizens
  from various parts of the world is that while there may be
  a vastly aggregated power structure, both in Europe and
  elsewhere, with a symbolic pinnacle in .US administrators,
  it is that decentralized, non-centralized sense perception
  that may have a _coherency to the same degree found by
  those congregating power in the systems they operate within.
  it may not be clear, yet like the internet, and said before,
  it functions similarly and it does not seem to be divided
  between Europe and the US between 'power' and 'weakness',
  but between different experiences of reality, and how it
  is perceived locally and globally. in the US one has to
  look/search rather hard to find news outside of the US.
  yet, it seems there is a common 'interdependence' between
  various (non-theoretical) groups that cuts across diverse
  sectors, which might relate back to Kagan's premise of
  power|weakness, such that independence|interdependence,
  or incoherence|coherence.

  much is made of the question of 'US leadership' yet there
  seems to be an imbalance in where the US has not led its
  own citizens, or through world policy/diplomacy, in such
  areas as global climate change, AIDs and sexual education,
  workers and human rights, changing the voting system, etc.
  the United States has 'been the odd one out' of such inter-
  relations or has not had a leader/follower relation but one
  of total detachment from, say, sustainable environments.
  and this is not due to truth or logic or reasoning of some
  deeply philosophical pretext (kant and hobbes, even) yet
  to an ideological mindblock to dealing with reality beyond
  what primrose-colored glasses one may get in the hardliners
  ideological policy-of-the-month clubs. maybe these areas
  are in some strategtic sense, at this time, no-go or route-
  around areas due to complexity or a burden too great for
  a bureaucracy to get bogged down in (as a rationale), yet-
  in comparing Kagan's statements- it is the United States
  who is posturing itself as a mod-posterboy when it is
  preaching as its ideology a deeply surface (read: super-
  ficial) moralism trumpeted as the prime cause for action:
  a crusade, even. a crusade to ignore. a crusade for both
  reckless and damaging policies and politics, no holds barred
  all in the name of grabbing more and more power in fewer and
  few hands, and solidifying the political powerbase around
  this false moral rhetoric, with a strength at deception
  through rhetorical loops and the targeting of demagoguery.

  given the depths of delusion and distortion, by writing and
  reading and processing data at the level of this incoherent
  output, by using its language, its rhetoric, continues to
  shape the discourse in its own image. such that, yes, what-
  ever the outcome, people are saying a US attack on Iraq is
  now inevitable. the national security advisor even using as
  a rationale the word Evil, as the primary rationalization.
  this is the 21st century, or maybe, if inverted, the 12th.
  the only way it seems possible (or probable) to counter-
  balance such momentous aggressive hardliner tactics is to
  use logic. that is, to use though to counter this power-
  mongering. this is to say that when the US President is
  continually sound-biting everyone with the words that a
  decision will be made 'with the latest intelligence' it is
  not out of the ream of possibility for actions thus far to
  precipitate the events to happen, by sheer reaction to the
  weight and stress given to the demand for it to happen, and
  in the self-fulfilling prophecy, it may be what is both most
  desired, and most disastrous, that the situation is already
  in some motion beyond diplomatic control in the Middle East.
  that is just with Iraq, and not including the Palestinian
  nor Israeli nor other countries dynamics, except that, with
  breaking news tonight, it says Sharaon is calling on Bush II
  to attack Iraq, regardless. (1) which explains something of
  who is heavily influencing US foreign policy these days.

  yet, to be fair to complexity, if taking an issue to do with
  Iraq which is never 'officially' stated, and that is, OIL,
  the US and Europe do have very different outcomes it seems,
  and maybe this reflects the weird unilateral hysteria of the
  average citizen to gleefully send its own to fight and many
  likely who will die on a battlefield in Iraq. that is, to
  maintain the flow of that strategic natural resource, which
  can also be used as a weapon (may decrypt Bush II's out-of-
  place remarks: 'Saddam knows blackmail'). that is, if there
  is any threat that is capable of hurting the interests of
  the US, moreso than any other country in terms of degree,
  it would be the oil-card. whether a boycott, embargo, or
  lighting the oil-fields on fire and destroying the wells.
  that, one might imagine, could be a nightmare scenerio for
  the US, for its heavy dependency. and to not doing anything
  about this #1 weakness, or to try to eradicate the weakness,
  could prove equally as foolish, in the national self-interest
  and power-wise, regardless of diplomatic handshakes and nods.
  what precipitates this could be an ideology more than a reality,
  more an inability or unwillingness to change, or some complexity
  that bars that transition, and thus, a mental data-block which
  creates a standoff or a tension that could compress again in
  the battle of national interests. and these may not be those
  of Europe or elsewhere, if one looks at the Iraq sanctions and
  European and Russian and China policies, or backing for the
  fiberoptic infrastructure (.cn) or other infrastructure (.ru)
  in Iraq after the first gulf war.

  as far as it has been gleanable, it would seem that Europe would
  fair much better if Iraq and an independent United States went
  to war, as Russian oil would be easy to transport to the EU and
  could possibly offset more problems than might be encountered
  in the US. and this is not including the US' ideologically and
  unconscionable opposition to making changes in its strategic
  Energy planning and operations, which make the case for both
  invading Iraq all the more necessary and all the more dangerous
  and unlikely to succeed, as it becomes an all-or-nothing bet.
  and not only that but a wager driven by power and greed and
  an unwillingness to change or adapt or adopt a new strategic
  outlook. prior to Bush II coming into the Whitehouse there was
  a report about the oil situation, that it was an issue of dire
  consequence for short term planning and on (10 years). yet, upon
  Bush II's entry into the White House, the CIA released 'new'
  findings that the oil situation is 'just fine as is' and that
  there were no oil problems to be found: nothing to worry about.
  remember, these are the same people who will give impartial (sic)
  intel to Bush II about Saddam in Iraq and reasons for going to war.
  if this is somewhere near the case with the US positioning in the
  Iraq scenerio (and disconnecting it from the Middle East context
  for this moment) it would affirm certain aspects of Kagan's work,
  only that this may be a high-level distortion of the truth of
  motives and reasons for acting together, alone, or not at all.

  yet, the fever pitch has been an action. it is like letting those
  pit bulls out of the fence and they are running around biting and
  chewing and slathering up everything that bleeds from their sharp
  teeth. the US rhetorical machine, of power (and, pointedly, also
  about 'weakness' of the other, thus dominance and subservience)
  is used in the domestic arena to silence all criticism as both an
  immoral and unpatriotic act. God and Country has been branded, and
  the US is now a private Presidential ranch, and we, the citizens,
  are its steer headed for slaughter. (or, auction, depending upon
  if this ranch is also distorting the ongoing, spreading drought).

  the earlier aspect about European and US vantages depends, it
  seems, on what distortions one hears, repeats, believes, acts
  upon, and is caught within. and however vague, that disconnect
  for the 'official' propaganda, to a do-it-yourself peer-reviewed
  communication, beyond words, and sentences, and into thinking and
  thoughts and reasoning itself: using logic, careful rationales,
  and nuance, cannot be decrypted by ideologues who are unable to
  work outside of traditional systems, and grand narrated storylines.
  the bait-and-switch may be that gem posted here earlier, that Empire
  has been translated in Arabic. what more could one ask for cannon
  fodder, having both ideologues in the US and their pundits now in
  willing chorus to taking an Empire status, at the same time as their
  new identity and ego is ingratiated 'in the enemy' through a global
  process of post-modernization of sometimes false complexities and
  false simplicities, given rhetorical uses and abuses of power.

  sometimes it seems people elsewhere are 'playing' a bit, still are
  able to have some fun, be lighthearted, ignore some of the extra-
  state affairs of the US and the world. and sometimes it makes a
  curious though of deja-vu, that maybe this is what others saw of
  the US citizenry during their conflicts, a willing indifference
  to any connection to local concerns that are global concerns. a
  detachment. a lack of seriousness or even debate and discussion
  about the most pressing issues, for mundane and non-threatening
  expositions of belief, knowledge, trust, philosophies, faith even.
  maybe that is not what Nettime is about though, although it is
  the piece that has always seemed to bind various areas together,
  a willingness to try to understand both local and global phenom
  through various perspectives, and if not finding a type of co-
  herence, at least working through the incoherence enough to get
  a sense of the situation from whoever is contributing, however.

  the part of Nettime that seems similar to Kagan's piece is that
  of centralization of power, though. and in this sense there is
  a part that seems analogous to this in the celebratization of
  the network, personas and personalities, that sometimes can
  supercede or precede knowledge and questioning, beyond rhetoric.
  again, this is not a US or European thing, but that which seemed
  to be lampooned in the California Ideology, now net-ideologism.

  to challenge and change the scenarios, one of the best tools
  may be straight out logic. breaking down arguments and making
  a clear and reasoned case as to 'why' something is as it is.
  and the trappings of politicians in mediated space and the
  limited soundbite and imagesample is that of time, compressed
  arguments complexified through oversimplication or obfuscation.
  which makes it hard to break it down, turn it back on itself,
  and accurately digest and portray the question and response.
  not a political scientist or any scientist for that matter,
  still, there is such a thin-shell protecting the incredulity
  of such brazen and purposeful irrationalism, that any amount
  of truth and logic through language should be able to readjust
  the parameters of debate, if there are other participants/voices.

  all the while it is ever-shifting, though. and should the most
  undesirable outcome occur, and vast shifts in relations between
  the US and the EU, say, were to become different to a very large
  degree (say with oil and national security), there still seems
  to be something larger, beyond this, that still interrelates and
  bridges people. yet one of the most likely, in this person's take,
  events would be if all of this artificial earth-quaking via moral-
  superiority (and vapidly grand ignorance of a debased technocracy)
  would rupture the internal dynamics beyond the already broken -
  breaking-point, as seen last most clearly by the 50:50 split in
  the election, and elsewhere (judiciary, congress). if taking the
  analogy of an earthquake with regard to incoherent US policies,
  especially at home, there are so many failed maneuvers pending
  a reality-check that a disaster looms by the ideological shunning
  of dealing with actual scenarios beyond the grand strategic utopia
  of power unleashed and, in a specific sense-- its own omnipotence.
  not sure if the City of God is in the pentagon planners things-to-
  do file, but if it is, it would not be off the ideological mark.
  it is not this largest goal, but the many many smaller and-or less
  universal or more particular issues, such as with health care, or
  regulating business, or addressing educating, poverty, inequality,
  any and all of these and other issues which are shaking the very
  core of the United States right now, in ways unseen in the media.
  they are at the periphery (where everything is now coalescing).
  and their 'non-issue' status, or non-priority status, including
  the double-talking rhetoric, is causing sheer movements and a
  great force to churn against itself, the US versus the US, and
  things could get a lot shakier, a lot quicker, at any moment,
  when that quaking of the earth hits home to everyday people. it
  is this pent-up energy, anxiety, dissatisfaction, disaffection
  for the current status quo that has enough people from enough
  sectors coming out into interrelated yet almost abstract common-
  ality surrounding not a single issue, or ideology, or perspective
  on an 'intellectualization' of a decrepit US foreign and domestic
  policy, as much as knowing that things are basically: FALSE.

  that people are lying, while moralizing. they are power grabbing
  while demonizing anyone who 'challenges' them. and they are in
  some way superior, in their language, their identities, their
  rhetoric, and surely their gross stupidity and self-indulgence
  in their own self-worth and importance, unless their goal is truly
  that of Armageddon. their rhetorical assassinations, to say and
  do whatever it takes to gain power, regardless of truth or the
  veracity of their own statements, breeds a false and documented
  distortion which can and must be used to stop this insanity.
  should the US go to war, should the US at some point have to go
  to war, is not a question of war or no-war. it is how, why, and
  the shaping of the situation, all of which may be more transparent
  and 'polled' than is currently given credence to. if this 'leader-
  ship' is one of popularity, it is doomed to fail. if it is based
  in collective reality, for the best of the people, it may be what
  is called for. but to precipitate it is to already lose whatever
  truth there is, and to distort fragile geopolitical situations
  with massive insurrections of religiosity is to defeat systems
  meant to be guarded and protected. there is no order, there is
  no discipline, in the mentality of the current While House. it
  is chaos. discordant and grating. and enervating to see how care-
  less and without restraint the US has become, a half-cocked gun
  waiting to fire. pitbulls waiting to maim. earthquakes waiting
  to roar and shake, making geological shifts within milliseconds.

  these are some thoughts. they are not be 100% accurate in terms
  of having expert knowledge, but are from a common sense viewpoint
  that is not supported nor heard in traditional channels, unless
  vetted in advance for demographic palatability. yet it is this
  type of 'speaking', not from an official institution but from the
  fingers on the keyboard of a fellow citizen, of the world, that
  maybe some coherency can break through the disinformation, the
  distractions, and the distortions, to try to find interrelated
  connections, however vague, between our various veiwpoints. and
  it is in this way that Nettime seems to function across borders,
  and hopefully, across bureaucratic ideologies as they unfold.


1: Israel urges US to strike
By Jonathan Steele, Jerusalem, August 19 2002

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