Thursday, October 29, 2015

Paul Robinson — What Putin got wrong

Western states have blundered spectacularly and repeatedly in recent years – invading Iraq, bombing Libya, supporting the overthrow of the Ukrainian government. Viewing all this, Putin, along with a lot of Russians, seems to be telling himself, ‘They can’t be that dumb. They must have some sinister motive.’ And that’s where he makes his big mistake. We are that dumb. If only Russians could understand that, they would realize that they don’t need to feel so threatened by us, and Russian-Western relations might become a whole lot better. 
What Putin got wrong
Paul Robinson | Professor, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa


Ralph Musgrave said...

Love it. Reminds me of someone who said something like “History is determined by a series of spectacularly stupid ideas”. Wish I’d kept the quote.

The debt limit idea is an example of “spectacularly stupid”. Another is Caesar’s invasion of what is now France 2,000 years ago: he did it to further his career. I mean invade an area the size of France and kill a million people in the process just to further one man’s career? If that’s not stupid, what is?

Random said...
Well done yanks! I guess we will just have to trade with China now :)

Random said...
China lifts one child policy! Promote to post please.

John said...

The "blundering giant whose full of good intentions but destroys everything in sight" argument. That's the limit of any possible criticism. If he thought anything else he wouldn't be a full professor at a top university. Institutional and ideological selection along with flagwaving nationalism explains this absurd argument.

Tom Hickey said...

I think that there is a lot of truth to the ignorant rather than complicit argument. But that overlooks the fact that there are two governments in the US — the political government and the deep state.

Politicians are in the dark for the most part about the operations and intentions of the deep state. The deep state does act in full awareness of policy, strategy, and tactics, with very specific longterm objectives. All deep states do.

Where the two governments interface is at the funding, which is politically controlled under liberal constitutions. This involves both the military-industrial complex and the clandestine services as well as their "non-governmental" adjuncts and operatives.

I don't think Professor Robinson is looking deeply enough here, since I assume he is writing honestly rather than as a shill.

But there is some truth to what he says, too. The military-industrial-political complex is a lumbering giant that lumbers toward war and upping the arms race. This is really, really stupid, even though extremely "rational" on the part of those profiting from it. To keep this racket going, the deep state needs to keep upping the ante by creating a narrative that funds it.

The bottom line though is that great powers are always in competition for spheres of influence, and US policy is that other nations aspiring to be great powers and former great power shall not be allowed spheres of influence. That is leading to war as the US moves up against red lines. The US is now at the red lines of Russia and China as former great powers asserting themselves in the world and demanding an equal place in the global order. The US deep state is committed to deny this demand at the cost of war.

Ryan Harris said...

I get what the deep state does, but what makes up the deep state in practice? Is it the companies and career officials that tend to pursue policy objectives regardless of the rotating elected figure heads?

This is what I found on google: and it seems to say that deep state is sort of the bureacratic momentum and people and organizations that aren't centrally coordinated but none the less produce a coordinated policy. Interesting idea that keeps appearing as a theme in the articles you post.

Tom Hickey said...

The deep state originated in the clandestine services along with foreign policy experts whose origins go back centuries. They came to be linked in clandestine services, foreign offices (state departments) and interior ministries. The US never had an actual interior ministry until the Department of Homeland Security was established. But the CIA and FBI existed prior to that, although Allen Dulles and J. Edgar Hoover may run their own agendas, their outlook was similar — "Communism" (Russia and China) must be defeated and the end justifies the means.

The non-governmental aspect of this has been the commercial interests led by the principal owners of wealth, in the US this has been coordinated by the inner circle of the Council on Foreign Relations, for example.

The military-industrial-political complex is pretty identifiable if one looks into it.

In Russia, the high level military-clandestine service is called the siloviki and the top level of governmental administration is the nomenklatura. The US has a similar structure but without the labels. Without the labels, it is more difficult to recognize and only people that study these matters tend to be aware of them.

The concept of the deep state is originally Turkish, left over from the Ottoman Empire. It is called derin devlet in Turkish. The Wikipedia article. The deep state in this sense tends to be nationalistic, anti-democratic or pseudo-democratic, and at least borderline fascistic (corporate statism). Presently, the deep state is increasingly going transnational as class power supersedes national border and jurisdictions. For example, London is a more free-wheeling financial center than Wall Street, and Wall Street does its dirtier deals there to avoid US oversight. Of course, dark money has traditionally been protected in Switzerland and Luxembourg, as well as tax havens often under UK aegis. As always, follow the money.

This brings up the concept of the state within a state as the interests that actually control a state and run it for their interests. This often involves commercial capture of the apparatus of the state, especially by financial interests.

The deep state as a shadow government and the state within a state as commercial capture can come together, of course, and to some extent have in the US and UK, Japan, and other Western developed nations.

The American Empire involves cooperation and collusion of the deep states of the five eyes, at least — US, UK, Canada, Australia and NZ. There is also some cooperation and collusion among the traditional great power of the West — the US, UK, France, and Germany in particular, as the most powerful militarily and with a common interest relative to other former, existing and potential great powers.

See, for example, Peter Dale Scott, The State, the Deep State, and the Wall Street Overworld

Ignacio said...

The deep state is the self-serving bureaucratic machine to advance the interests of the managerial class, not even necessarily the capitalist class. This is probably what the current capitalist institutions and the USSR have the most in common.

In the current system it takes shape through the revolving doors and dealings between corporations and the state. The state has the coercive and executive power and the corporations have the power to channel the wealth created by that coercive and executive power.