Russia is in the Middle East again.Perhaps they never left. with agents and influencers all over the multiple places.It was the USSR that left and Putin is masterfully playing the game of influence.He’s our ally in fighting extremism but is free to define it.He doesn’t have to sift out Al-Queda from Isis or moderate revolutionaries from extremists.He knows that Hezbollah and Iran are allies and he gets his information from Iran,Hezbollah, Assad and Iraq.This has been going on for at least five years.
The mess that we are in comes directly from our naive belief that the vote can ensure democracy and that democracy has a power to impose itself wherever there is choice.We were given one hour to clear airspace for Russian bombers to cripple what we forlornly saw as our hope,namely moderate rebels.Of course we can blame Obama(why not?),but he came late to a game where we were entirely outpositioned. Destabilizing the middle east by destroying Sadam seems now to be the critical error.We can’t go back in time.Serena is resting her body for the rest of the tournament season.Frank Marshall’s style can’t win and Bobby Fisher is gone in a flash of madness and xenophobia.It would seem that all we can do is negotiate with Putin as a nominal ally and wait for him to blunder in overreach.Does anyone know if he’s asked for an audience with Pope Francis?
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Alexander: About your thoughtful words presented October 8:
I should have addressed this last week. You accurately point out that my use of “rational objectivity” would imply that objectivity is not always rational. In fact, I was only being (confusingly) redundant. Your comments about the high status of power are right. Without power of some sort, we could not lift spoon to mouth. But clearly power can be misused, so the “engineer” in us is needed to structure its use to constructive purposes. Being human, sentiments too are a (the?) major part of our makeup. To the degree that we can cultivate their appropriateness to the needed structuring (make life more workable) they will be an asset and not an obstruction. Even the game of chess requires ultimately the power to move things. To be among the winners in the bigger Machiavellian game-board of life sometimes requires us to be in wise control of more bishops, knights, and queens than any other player – or we lose – to someone else’s concept of “what works for them”. Maybe poker would be a better analogy given that the winning players often bluff – wanting their opponents to believe they possess and may actually play their super-power
Thank you Susanna, for your playful participation “in the sandbox”. It is fun (even thrilling) to explore and clarify our best guesses as to what it is, this place where we wonderfully find ourselves playing with ideas.
You presented an idea of kickboxing as “… a contact sport with no single official set of rules. Submission through pain.”
Yes, it is that, but that is only part of a more important truth. There will also be “winners”. History proves that hurtful-to-humanity forces can win. It is our job to see that the “winners” when winning benefit the human race. Fundamentally, it behooves us to be clear as to how we measure the meaning of “winning”. It behooves us to strive to be among the winners.
SB: “One person’s struggle AGAINST absolutism is another person’s struggle FOR absolutism.
It is unclear to me how “absolutism” follows from my observation that those who feel that they are morally superior tend to find ways to obscure evidence to the contrary (empirical and logical). A sense of self that focuses on “Does it work?” seems to be more objectively oriented (and safer for one’s neighbors) than a self that says, “I know what is moral and you do not.” I presented an invitation to those with psychiatric and psychology degrees to join in the discussion – support or otherwise.
SB: “Ah, the arrogance of the Crusaders! All in the eye of the beholder! Subjective or objective?
I am recommending that “in the eye of the beholder” refers to an eye educated to understand the importance of probabilities established by the scientific method and I am not recommending an “eye” beholden to the unjustified certitudes of faith – be they religious-based “morals”, or secular leaps to “moral” certitude. Beliefs based on probabilities and beliefs based on unjustified certitudes are not equivalent.
I wrote: “However, the concept of freedom should not be so deified that in its own name we tolerate the growth of that which would clearly destroy it.”
SB: “What a democratic thought! … in a controlling sort of way?”
Susanna is exactly right. Freedom cannot exist in the real world without an application of (controlling) disciplines. This understood, we can now focus on determining which freedoms obtained by which disciplines truly guide us to the best future. Will the disciplines of science give us a better future than the disciplines of faith? I think that the disciplines of skepticism (intrinsic to the scientific method) provide for us a greater range of adjustment options (freedom) than do the disciplines of unjustified certitudes (faith, and poorly examined moralities).
DS: “Thank you Susanna, for your playful participation ‘in the sandbox’.”
You’re welcome, Don! Anytime!
Professor Thomas … concurring with your definitions, conclusions … and, mostly, as to whether Putin has requested an audience with Frank (a cut above the average politician). Of course, in his support of differences of opinions, the Holy Sede would be judged hypocritical if not granting such a meeting.
But, not to digress too much, I am taking advantage of your liberal protocol and tolerance. As a response to the bellicose rhetoric that admires Machiavellian the-end-justifies-the-means philosophy, I would like to offer the following speech by Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff to Secretary of State General Colin Powell. Wilkerson is a professed devout Republican, hardly the old label of, heavens, a liberal/progressive. (We still need redefining of the political spectrum!) He seemed to have shocked his audience in the heart of Tejas.
I recognize the recording is lengthy. The first 40 – 45 minutes are his actual address, with the following 40 minutes of extremely interesting Q&A. In so doing, I’m attempting at Socratic questioning (a term you taught me). Colonel Wilkerson recently addressed Long Star College in Kingwood, TX, on the Travails of Empire. While “empires want the status quo forever,” history tells us that empires are eventually replaced … the ebb and flow of human existence if not development. As such, capabilities of adjustment are required … key being the ability to read the signs ahead. Amongst the many things mentioned, Professor Wilkerson (he currently teaches at William and Mary https://www.wm.edu/as/government/faculty/directory/wilkerson_l.php) stated that “modernity accelerates demise of empires” (instant information access). The signs to look for included the concentration “on willing to use force … use of mercenary forces,” spreading ourselves so thinly in the gargantuan growth of war that the core of the nation is neglected. The Roman Empire as a prime example. He further added “bankruptcy,” not just “financially, but morally and ethically.” This was in direct reference to our willingness to excuse/accept torture as a means … to what end? Sound Machiavellian? At each point made, Professor Wilkerson would ask … “Sound familiar?” Professor Wilkerson informed his conservative audience that, contrary to popular belief, we talk to our competitive adversaries. It’s done in secret, of course, but, nevertheless the lines of communications are constant. The Iran nuclear deal did not take place overnight. Years have gone into it, with ALL parties involved. In response to a question from the audience as to being better informed, he encouraged reading the foreign press. Foreigners know us very well and report accurately about us. By contrast, he further stated that we obfuscate the issues about the world around us. He particularly singled out the Financial Times as his daily reading … not for the financial news, but for the other matters they cover. He touched on an extensive list of issues that challenge the “travails of empire” … to include income inequality, racism (not very kind words on his own state of South Carolina), healthcare, the talk of seceding from the United States by states that, if successful, combined would look like Bangladesh … and cyber (in all its forms). For the common person, he referred to the Swedish author Stieg Larson’s “The Millennium Trilogy.” Having personally read it, Professor Wilkerson confirmed my interpretation of the vision the former reporter (who died in 2003) had tried to convey/alert using fictional genre. In conclusion (on my part), he encouraged young people … the cream of society … not to be lured by Wall Street, but to give meaning and purpose to their lives by entering service on behalf of our adjustment to what’s ahead. Climate change … the Department of Defense is the only government agency with a developed sense of urgency for what we will be facing … even in just “mere” rescue efforts. Overwhelming.
Hopefully, in providing Colonel/Professor Wilkerson’s speech, I have piqued interest beyond our anger/concern/bewilderment with Putin in the Middle East. Per Wilkerson, we and the pertinent area can use all the cooperation we can muster … and talking never hurts. Is talk really cheap? Of course, we always retain the option of beating our exceptional heads against the wall by paying the ultimate price … precious price that leads us to the inevitable anyway. As always, I thank you and I yield.
P. S. Not a chess player, I regret that I am unable to use the very useful strategic analogy that the game provides. However, I am rooting for Serena!
No need to be a chess player.Your comments and clarifications are to the point.
The chess master must manage(play) his domestic support keeping them out of direct intervention in the big game.They (domestic government)manage local government which in turn manages us(the hoi poloi).It is down here that we interact and seek fulfillment.In the digital age the protection of time and distance have largely been removed and we are accessed by Al Qaeda and Isis.The bitter and disenfranchised become potential resources for the big game.If those resources accrue preferentially to fringe players and fanatics ,the big players must refocus.It is obvious that in this game absolutist government has an advantage.If democracy isn’t providing representation and opportunity our master player is in trouble.
What makes the game three dimensional chess rather than kick boxing Don ,is the presence of many others in the game and many fronts for the game as well as the long term nature of the conflict.The neocon fantasy that the projection of American power in the world is enough to produce permanent change in a short time is abject nonsense.(consider the number of sites where this would have to be done and the cost in men,materials and national morale.)
As for President Obama,he has managed to govern and be a presence on the world stage for almost eight years despite the stated intent of the non loyal opposition to limit him to one term and to force all of his initiatives to fail.Significantly the same bunch who would return Cuban policy to non recognition and embargoes can’t wait to get in on the economic gains that are imminent in this new world of Cuban recognition and mutual cooperation.Failure to obtain exemption from local law for our troops seems a good reason to limit participation.Being taken in by Shiite factions (resulting in the humiliating death of Sadam)and covert dealing with Iran began under GW’s aegis.These folk who would “Act(transgress) in haste” have no stomach for”repenting at leisure”.
Daedal2207 makes a good point about kick boxing usually being between only two opponents. Along with Machiavellian rules let’s introduce any number of contenders into an expanded ring. Now the analogy may actually reflect the reality. “Look before you leap” and “he who hesitates is lost” will always be a balancing act. Best timing is always dependent on context. The “Neo-cons” (as Daedal2207 wants to call them) discovered that they were overly optimistic about the rapidity with which Iraqi citizens would embrace democracy. This lesson learned, General Petraeus fought for and achieved the opportunity to look longer at the proper time needed before we leap away. Present conditions prove that Obama prioritized “leaping” over “looking” and did so prematurely (U.S. power was sufficient such that “exemptions from local law” must have been a ruse). The “Neo-cons” made a mistake and corrected for it. Obama made a mistake and we will now pay for it (big time). Others have declared war on us. No matter the cost, we have to do battle for as long as it takes, or capitulate. Give me another option. Daedal2207 suggests that it was and is improper for Republicans to attempt to obstruct Obama’s agendas. Of course the political right would try to frustrate any action that would in their view harm the future of our Country. This should not be considered outrageous. This in-country issue should be that of providing the evidence (empirical and logical) that clarifies which one of two different political structures will provide for humanity its best future.
Well said Don, but the declaration of intent to obstruct was made before an agenda was made manifest!
I don’t think that a people “embrace”democracy.I think that the capitalistic democratic system has to be created,experienced and accommodated to over long periods of time.The neocon mentality has speed as an essential component(here kick boxing fits)but we are confronting centuries old antagonisms and mankind’s(ours as well) evolutionary proclivities.
Doe this outline conform to the evidence?
Let’s be as fundamental as possible. The following sentence will always be true: If we do not shape the world to our liking, other forces will shape it to theirs. U.S. interests will be eclipsed to the degree that we do not fight for dominance. Currently Shiite Islam and Russia are joining forces to collectively enhance their hierarchy of power (They will fight out their differences later). Complicating the equation is the fact that the U.S. is divided as to what is our liking. The political left depicts core traditional U.S. values as being dishonorable. Howard Zinn’s widely-taught leftist interpretation of history makes us more villain than hero. It makes the original idea of U.S. unworthy of promotion. The right’s emphasis on government-protected individualism and merit-based reward is at odds with Leftist concepts of government-advanced group equity and social fairness. Divided, the U.S. under the same flag fights itself while engaged in the creation of incompatible (conflicting) “shapes”. Leftist values focused on “social fairness” are more in sympathy with groups (i.e. Palestinians) perceived to be victimized by domineering powers (i.e. the U.S. and Israel). Currently being led by an ideologically leftist Commander-in Chief, the U.S. is confusingly hesitant to halt what is possibly seen by many on the American left as an improved reshaping of our world.
No.It doesn’t fit the game of “Cooperation through(and despite) competition”. It is the sound and fury of the old zero sum game and the lesson that we are all learning (although not at the same rate) is that it is the road to hell.If we wish to sell, we have to have buyers.Buyers need the wherewithal to buy.The pejoration that you apply to the inevitable leveling(not equalization)that must occur,reflects the greatest distinction between so called right and left.The same dynamic is occurring within this country and it does not mean taking money or possessions away from haves and giving it to the undeserving. In terms of the game, as I have outlined it,It is the key to keeping disenfranchised and disillusioned folk from adding to the reserves of the forces of evil.
I think that this is a debate focus that needs contributions from our readers.
Fully concur with Professor Thomas’ (daedal2207) 10/4/15, 6:28 am and 10/5/15, 8:04 pm statements. The neocon fantasy is embarrassingly contemptuous of the world at large. A Darth Vader vision. The historical record … ancient and modern … proves the ultimate blindness by the Dark Side and negates any ad hominem charges. A successful parent raises his/her child to feel secure in their self-sufficiency. The neocon paternalistic approach is to make imperialism feel secure by the insecurity instilled/promoted on the dominated/conquered. Their justification is that the subjugated is jealous or envious … or both. Thus, eventually, live by the sword, die by the sword. Those under the unfair thumb who claim evenhandedness eventually figure it out. The destructive actions of emotionally injured/abused children bring the outcome to the less grandiose stage. A touch of the Medea complex? Nations/societies are no different. Whom do you trust? Maybe adaptability is a more realistic survival approach than macho bluster?
Thank you Susanna for the Col. John Wilkerson reference.Lengthy yes,but worthwhile.The transience of “Empire” is an important concept as is the absurdity of reliance on force to make “Empire” endure.His is a voice “crying in the wilderness”of governmental advisers.Fortunately,unlike his namesake,his head is still upon his shoulders.Our own Darth(Dearth) Vader advising republican candidates is a justifiably frightening prospect. (That’s Cheney folks!)Gen.Petraeus’ sense of an adequate time is “insufficient unto the day”.While I do not regard his personal disgrace as necessarily disqualifying his judgment,I do not see it elevating him to the status of a sage.In terms of the great game of human survival, military judgments are always going to be tactical rather than strategic.
“While I do not regard his personal disgrace as necessarily disqualifying his judgment, …”
Thank you! Not my yardstick. Once again, Professor Thomas, we’re on the same page.
“… Gen.Petraeus’ sense of an adequate time is ‘insufficient unto the day’.”
To be sure.
My “hypothesis” of Oct 5, 6:08 PM is an effort to present what appears to be a possibly accurate description of what is happening. It does not depict any of the forces in play as being evil or moral. When accurately described, we can then use rational judgment as to which of those forces winning will provide for humanity its best future. Logically – a failure to advance the best must result in conditions less than best. I think that the psychiatrists and psychologists reading this will agree that a major obstacle to the process of rational objectivity exists in the form of a cultivated belief that one, and/or one’s group, possess a special state of ”moral” superiority.
I am operating on the premise that we exist in a mechanistic universe and thus the reasoning required is measurement based. It is not, as with most religions and religious-like dogma, morality based. For the scientific process, given known unknowns, it is understood that well intended people can rationally disagree. Dick Cheney and the “neocons” may have been wrong (or not) in some of their recommendations, but presenting them as a form of “Darth Vader” tells us more about the authors’ personal sense of superior moral status than about why Cheney or those identified as “neocon” were wrong. I am suggesting that it is best to engineer for the best future. Those who operate from a “moral” base tend to CRUSADE for the advancement of their vision of goodness. If it is true that values rooted in protecting the skepticism of free inquiry are best for humanity’s future, it would not be good engineering to allow that value to be destroyed.
Imperialist is a name given to countries that strive to create an empire. In spite of the fact that it is possible that a well-structured “empire” could be healthy for humanity, the use of that word among some groups refers to an “immoral” expansion. It is claimed that this describes the U.S. attempt to reshape (to be more “workable”) a part of the world where current governments loudly declare their religious-based intention to destroy free inquiry. Freedom for many reasons is among the most important conceptual tools to be used by humans in our endeavors to build our best future. However, the concept of freedom should not be so deified that in its own name we tolerate the growth of that which would clearly destroy it.
Ah, kickboxing … a contact sport with no single official set of rules. Submission through pain.
DS states: “I think that the psychiatrists and psychologists reading this will agree that a major obstacle to the process of rational objectivity exists in the form of a cultivated belief that one, and/or one’s group, possess a special state of ‘moral’ superiority.”
Well, said. DS has made my case. One person’s struggle AGAINST absolutism is another person’s struggle FOR absolutism. Would it be more rational if morality were to be considered an interpretive concept? Less personal? Furthermore, while not pretending in the least to possess the educational degrees that qualify “the psychiatrists and psychologists reading this,” appealing to their presumed joint conclusion is a powerful gauntlet. Any and all analysis is welcomed and encouraged … especially because it further enlightens. Introducing the fear of ridicule? Is learning something to fear?
DS: “I am operating on the premise that we exist in a mechanistic universe and thus the reasoning required is measurement based.”
Until an “unknown” is introduced/discovered/interpreted and the results of a mechanistic universe have to be adjusted. Even little ol’ Pompeii is getting revisions on theories arrived at through scientific measurements.
DS: “… it is possible that a well-structured ’empire’ could be healthy for humanity, …”
Without a doubt. Much good was learned from the Egyptians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, British. They left a trail of wonders. So will we. No one totally disappears … unless unable to follow Nature’s adaptability lessons.
DS: “… the use of that word among some groups refers to an ‘immoral’ expansion.”
Only when the “healthy for humanity” becomes corrupt and rots from the core … then some other upstart figures it out. Again, the historical record proves it so. Is someone able to tell us about Angkor and the Khmer Empire, and the forces that brought its demise? And, Machiavellian theory, a political calculus … what did it eventually guarantee for the Borgias and the de Medicis?
DS: “Those who operate from a ‘moral’ base tend to CRUSADE for the advancement of their vision of goodness.”
Again, very well said. Ah, the arrogance of the Crusaders! All in the eye of the beholder! Subjective or objective? Fortunately or unfortunately, only time will tell. Empires come, empires go. To quote the former sage of the Defense Department, Secretary Donald Rumsfeld … “Stuff happens.”
DS: “However, the concept of freedom should not be so deified that in its own name we tolerate the growth of that which would clearly destroy it.”
What a democratic thought! … in a controlling sort of way? Leaving the sandbox … for now.
“Rational objectivity” requires a definition.The implication is that objectivity is not always rational.I think that psychiatrists and behavioral scientists might agree to that ! Human behavior rests upon a core of emotion which can be summoned to aid or inhibit both thought and action but which always is part of the transaction..The objective…rational…engineering creature(an AI construct?)operates with a set of selected goals that have values (emotional contamination?)at their core.
This ” engineer” exists because of a power differential in the world which gives him(her) the power(right) to effect change..(“when all is said and done,we have got the Gatling gun and they have not.!)This is simply so,not a moral. injunction.However moral injunctions are not far behind.Reshape the world? Tolerate the growth?Make more workable?These are Power words disguised as logical discourse.The three dimensional complex game analogy is more clearly (and honestly) a power struggle with its goal containing a moral and practical objective…survival.It contains a means,the rules of play.It acknowledges unequal power and skill and “madmen” who cannot be allowed..to destroy the game and mankind but who can’t be safely excluded.In this game freedom is a value with a valence determined by whose board is being played upon and the characteristics of players supporting structure.
Alexander’s comments re power and apparent objectivity deserve attention.They identify values and presumption hiding behind lofty declaration of purpose and intent.The objectivity that is assumed by this latter is so inhuman as to be in the realm of Nietzche’s superman.
Let’s look at another possibility:
I think that Daedal2207 is using the wrong analogy. Three-dimensional chess is much too sophisticated. More apt an analogy would be that of kick boxing with the rules set by Machiavelli. Strength, agility and ruthlessness are uppermost in determining who will be running the show. History may present a few examples of brainpower alone winning (and losing). David cunningly had his slingshot. Goliath should have ducked. Most of the time shear strength and a willingness to use it are the determining element. About the accelerating mess (both at home and abroad) Obama is easy to blame. He said seven years ago that Iraq was a stable democracy. It could have remained that way had we kept and cultivated our hard fought “beachhead” deep in enemy territory. Obama clearly chose (for in-his-view “righteous” reasons?) to remove the (in-his-view morally offensive?) U.S. from the field of battle thereby (naively) allowing Iraq to be overwhelmed by forces strong enough to easily defeat their infant government but not strong enough to defeat us had we chosen to stay and use our power. For the time needed to cultivate the in-country disciplines necessary to sustain the advantages of democracy we stayed in Germany (and Berlin). We stayed in Japan. We stayed in South Korea. We abandoned South Vietnam and we abandoned Iraq. It took little in the way of brains to defeat Obama, just a willingness to take Machiavellian advantage of the fundamental weaknesses described above.
Picture the U.S. as a master player engaging simultaneously thirty or so other players at chessboards that are three dimensional and linked through an Elon Musk type tube.The pieces are the same but the quantities vary.They travel through space and time from one board to the next at different levels augmenting some players and diminishing others.The use of a powerful piece at any level will wreck the tube and destroy the game and the players.In such a game it is clear to the players that threat is more important than execution since the all powerful pieces cannot be used.The lesser players lack the all powerful pieces and much of the maneuvering is to keep them from acquiring them.There is a madman or two in the game, a lesser player who has been given a powerful piece ;there is agreement that at some point he is to be destroyed ,hopefully from within his board .The players are jockeying shifting alliances and lesser pieces.It is understood that time must be spun out as long as possible.Each player has an internal mechanism fueling his board over which he has to provide governance and motivation…The title of the match is “World Peace &Cooperation through Competition”
I’d do the same for the kick boxer analogy but I can’t.