Yes, says James Jeffrey. We didn’t have to wait long for a bona fide member of the Washington establishment to recommend more “stupid” regarding Ukraine. That’s because their minds are embroidered with assumptions and views that they cannot shake. He’s a “man of empire”. It’s his life. We can’t expect most of these men and women devoted to empire to show flexibility or adaptation in their thought. They got it in their blood when they were young. They chose colleges and courses to reinforce it. They have made their livings and livelihoods in empire. This is their world view. By now it’s consolidated with all their beliefs. They can no more change than I can change from advocating freedom.
The argument for “smart” (staying out of Ukraine) is that “stupid” means asking for trouble in futile attempts to remake the world, and this trouble harms Americans. For them, it is stupid. In what way? By spreading the U.S. government through or into the government, politics, military, financing and other elements of the society of other nations or countries. These involvements simply tax Americans while wrecking the home economy.
The U.S. government cannot run its own affairs in such a way as to benefit Americans, but it goes abroad in search of demons to slay and societies to construct or reconstruct. “Stupid” has resulted in a big playing field for America’s rulers, more power for them, more prestige for them, and more money for them. For them, it’s smart. For the rest of us, their smart is our stupid: two world wars, a major war in Korea, another major war in Vietnam, plus a slew of wars starting about 25 years ago, all of which have diverted resources into unprofitable paths, undermined the economy, destroyed the money, and made the claim of American freedom into a joke. What’s smart for us subjects is not smart for our masters. What’s smart for them is stupid for us. There is a huge conflict of interest between rulers and masters, between Americans and the establishment class that peoples their governments.
Let’s look at an example. Jeffrey leads off saying “the situation in Ukraine worsens”. We should question this. From whose perspective is the situation worse? Not from that of most Americans. For most of us, Russia is no problem. We have no reason to worry about the politics of Ukraine, much less send our sons and daughters to fight over it. The same was true of Korea and Vietnam and many wars since, but that’s water over the dam. For us, if we can think clearly and not be swayed by patriotic appeals or Cold War memories or propaganda or mistaken comparisons to Nazi Germany, Ukraine is neither better nor worse. It’s their ball game. The world is filled with issues, problems and evils. Ukraine has no special standing.
But from the standpoint of a member of the Washington empire like Jeffrey, Russia is virtually an enemy, or at least a serious challenge to U.S. expansionism. He speaks for himself when he says the situation worsens. He does not speak for many of us. He does not speak objectively.
“The West’s reaction has been weak.” To him this is a negative. To me it is a positive. The weaker the better. Best is no U.S. reaction at all.
Jeffrey raises the tired old issue of U.S. credibility: “Can we rely on Washington to make hard military decisions?” But, once more, what is his standpoint? This is only an issue for those who support an expansionist Washington empire. “Hard” means placing troops and weapons into various foreign countries. It means expending resources in those countries that are extracted from working Americans. It means possibly engaging in unpopular wars. It’s only “hard” for Jeffrey because he supports the empire and cannot think of these matters from the perspective of what it means for Americans at home. He’s an establishment man, an empire man. It’s not at all hard for many of us to ignore Ukraine and let them decide their own future, or let the Europeans interfere if they wish. There is no hard military decision for us to make who are not about expanding up to Russia’s borders and then beyond.
It’s only because Jeffrey’s god is the empire that he wants to send Putin a message. That’s why he says “The best way to send Putin a tough message and possibly deflect a Russian campaign against more vulnerable NATO states is to back up our commitment to the sanctity of NATO territory with ground troops.” To those of us who think American empire is a very bad thing, we are not about defending NATO states. We don’t need NATO or want it. Let the Europeans defend themselves or else reach an accommodation with the Russians on peaceful terms or both. We do not have to send Putin any messages. We don’t have to imagine wildly that Russia has plans for a campaign against vulnerable NATO states. We do not assume that the U.S. is making or should make the world safe for democracy.
“Stupid” on Ukraine means taking provocative moves. Jeffrey recognizes this when he asks and answers “Would such a deployment be provocative? Only if being serious about deterring Putin is provocative.”
Yes, it’s provocative, and for no good reason. There is no prospect of Russia attacking the U.S., so there is nothing to deter in Ukraine that has anything to do with American security. There is no reason for American military forces to be anywhere near Russia and to risk nuclear war. Europeans can learn how to deter Russia themselves. Again, it is only because Jeffrey automatically assumes that the empire has these objectives and concomitant duties that he thinks in terms of deterring Russia and sending Putin messages.
To the rest of us who are not men of empire but value freedom in this country, the policies of empire appear not only “stupid” but irrational, because they cannot make us better off, which would seem to be a sensible enough objective, as opposed to making the world a safe place, or protecting other nations, or setting up so-called democracies in other lands, or, what seems to be the ultimate belief of the people of empire, which is eventually uniting the world under some sort of general framework that’s imposed by the United States as its leader. This is an impossible dream. General unity is an impossible dream. It has to backfire. It has to end up being totalitarian. This dream runs smack up against individual freedom and individual values, and against differences in perception and understanding at the individual level. Whether it be a religion that has this quest for unity, or a philosopher, or an empire, it is an impossible dream, inconsistent with individuality and individual free persons.1:46 pm on April 15, 2014 Email Michael S. Rozeff