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Belmont Club

It’s Not Personal, It’s Business

March 10th, 2013 - 3:47 pm

Lord Palmerston was British prime minister when the Empire was at the height of its power. His foreign policy is best remembered by this motto: “therefore I say that it is a narrow policy to suppose that this country or that is to be marked out as the eternal ally or the perpetual enemy of England. We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.” It is often paraphrased as “nations have no permanent friends and no permanent enemies. Only permanent interests.”

Palmerston’s sympathies in the American Civil War (1861-5) were with the secessionist Southern Confederacy. Although a professed opponent of the slave trade and slavery, he also had a deep lifelong hostility towards the United States and believed that a dissolution of the Union would weaken the United States (and therefore enhance British power) and that the Southern Confederacy “would afford a valuable and extensive market for British manufactures”

Palmerston wanted at all events to back the winning horse.  He believed slavery was a bad thing, but that was personal.  Weakening the United States on the other hand was a ‘permanent interest’ of a rival great power, like Great Britain. That was business. Sentiment was one thing, but come right down to it foreign relations was all a question of “interests”.

Thus it is not at all surprising to discover the widespread perception in Egypt that Barack Obama is backing the Muslim Brotherhood, even if it involves the suppression of Egyptian Christians.  The Muslim Brotherhood runs Egypt and to influence Egypt,  so he will have to give the Brotherhood the quid to get the pro quo.

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), a veteran religious freedom advocate, visited the region to hear first-hand the concerns of Christians about their future amid turmoil in their countries …

Wolf witnessed the perception that the U.S. is backing the Muslim Brotherhood … “[T]he feeling is that as long as the Brotherhood protects the United States’ interests in the region, it can act with impunity within its borders.”

Wolf met with Copts and other Christians, and heard about at atmosphere of intolerance towards Christians and women, regularly fostered in television programming.

The calculus is essentially this: Obama  is  betting that the Muslim Brotherhood will be wind up on the winning side of the Arab Spring and remember his support with gratitude. He needs to be on the winning side. So he will scratch their back and expect them to scratch his. Interests, remember?

However, two things can go wrong with this. The first would be if the Muslim Brotherhood in fact loses. This is called ‘backing the wrong horse’. This is why the anti-Islamic phase of the Arab Spring is especially worrisome to him. Suppose, like Palmerston, he winds up holding the losing ticket?

The second possibility is that the bookie won’t pay off on the bet.  Suppose the MB after winning in fact shows no gratitude for Obama’s support?

Well he would have made an error in judgment also known as being double-crossed. You know, as in Libya, the place “Americans helped free” but which burned down the consulate?

Suppose the  MB takes  the administration’s help and suppresses the Egyptian Christians while Washington looks the other way, yet  feel no obligation to pay Obama back? Well in that case Obama may yet receive an enlightening letter from Egypt some day that goes like this.

‘Dear Mr. President:

I feel I owe it to you explain why we have decided to double-cross you and  explain our decision not to support your administration’s diplomatic initiatives.

I am well aware of the fact that you unhesitatingly assisted us in all our endeavors: that you gave us billions in money, tanks and aircraft; that you ignored, indeed abetted our suppression of the Copts.

Why then did we show you no gratitude?

Well personally I feel it. But as you well know gratitude is not part of the calculus of states. Neither Egypt nor the Muslim Brotherhood can share the ‘gratitude’ which I individually feel for you. I am sure that as a fellow President, you will understand. As Lord Palmerston once said, “we have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.” In case you didn’t recognize Palmerston’s quote, it is sometimes paraphrased as, “nations have no permanent friends and no permanent enemies. Only permanent interests.

So long sucker.

Yours truly,


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All Comments   (13)
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I think there is no doubt that Karzai is working with the Taliban, at some level. He expects the US to leave him in in the lurch, and is indeed, backing the stronger horse. How much use the Taliban have for Karzai remains to be seen. As long as the money tap is open for the Karzai government in Kabul from the US, the Taliban will use him to get some of our money.
Once we cut him off, the Taliban will depose him, I suspect. Or he escapes with his skin and the money he has skimmed from us, and hates on the US from wherever he exiles himself.

Over time, the stronger horse in Afghanistan has been the Taliban. The US kept a relatively light foot print until Obama. The Obama-McChrystal surge put more troops and more money into Afghanistan. And apparently, all for nothing. The NATO contribution was also.....all for nothing apparently. All the motion and excercise, death and losses....for nothing.

The Taliban endures and will inherit control over most of the country when the US/NATO leaves.

If the narrative from Steven Pressfield's novel "The Afghan Campaign" is even moderately true, nothing has changed there in 2500 years, Islam included.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Civilizations and Great Nations have fallen and been forgotten as long as humans have been on this planet. Their demise has been hastened as often by betrayal from within as by assault from without. The present culture is dominated by worthless drones who vote for whichever perverts will confiscate wealth from those too dumb to stop being productive, and toss some of the loot to the lazy.

Watch how quickly the drones are for the chop once the productive subjects are bled white. There's no satisfaction in it, though. It's like watching a patient with necrotizing fasciitis losing ground to the infection at an accelerating pace.

The good news is that there's a huge supply of antibiotics.

The bad news is that the pharmaceutical company diluted the supply to make the product more profitable.

The good news is that the planners ordered enough to increase the dosage to make up for the dilution.

The bad news is that crooked administrators have sold the antibiotics on the black market to line their own pockets.

The good news is that the patient has enough money to buy the black market antibiotics.

The bad news is that the black market distributor is also infected with the necrotizing fasciitis, and infected the crooked administrators.

The good news is the antibiotic doesn't save the evil crooked administrators.

The bad news is that the antibiotic doesn't save anybody. We all die.

The good news is that the universe continues, and somewhere, life goes on.

I try to keep the long view in mind...

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
In short, communists, socialists, dictators and Moslem strong men all follow the same path of bullying the weaker and submitting to and flattering the stronger. They work together where their ends are the same, society formed into masters and serfs or slaves. Christianity and Judaism are natural enemies thru the teachings in the Old Testament (or Jewish Bible). For example, all people are made in God's image; laws apply to all regardless of status; judges must disregard status, high or low.

Please show me where I am wrong or ask for a longer statement.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Meanwhile the Republicans use the same pathetic hope-based strategy in dealing with the "immigration" (illegal immigration is what they refuse to say) issue. They have this flabbergastingly dumb notion that if they give illegals amnesty that the GOP might get some voters out of it. The Supid Party Strikes Again.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Weakening EUrope is in the permanent interest of all its former colonies (all nations of the Americas, India, Australia) and victims of its 19th century drug policies (China).
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
For decades people have been able to count on America as the refuge of last resort. For Soviet Jews, or Tibetan Tibetans or Christians in Muslim countries there was always hope if they could get out. Now that door is closing. The Christians in Egypt and in Pakistan are taking to the streets. After centuries of dhimmitude and the concurrent expectation that someone somewhere,, the British or French or Americans, would do the heavy lifting, they now know they are on their own and facing the existential end. Desperate people do desperate things. This will not end well.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
There's no need for Morsi to explain anything to Obama: betrayal is as much a part of Egyptian as Chicago politics. Both Obama and Morsi know this: just look at the way Obama treated Morsi's predecessor, Hosni Mubarak. Still, we return to the 4-year-old question: is Obama destroying America out of ill will and hatred or because he's totally incompetent? I had thought the former, but recent reporting on Obama by people who have observed him at close hand for his first term are inclining me toward the latter explanation. The Obama doctrine appears to be "kick the can down the road, delay, refuse to make any decisions, and eventually things will work out your way." That worked for community organization in Chicago but I don't think it will much longer in international affairs. Too many heads of state have taken Obama's measure.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Read Peggy Noonan's account of the Republican Dinner With Obama. She interviewed two Senators who said:

" Senator No. 1: When pressed on the question, the president seemed to step back. “His idea of a process is, ‘You guys figure it out and work with my staff, and if you need me call me.’ But in the end, unless the president really gets engaged and forces meeting after meeting, I don’t see how you get past the logjam.”

He will judge the president’s level of “real sincerity” by this: “Does he follow up?” “If he just takes the standoff attitude—my guess is he’s gotta be smart enough to know that’s not gonna work.”

Senator No. 2: “At the end I mentioned, ‘Share [with us] how you see this going forward.’ ” Here the president “got hazy. . . . I told him this will never work without adult supervision from the White House. I don’t think he comprehends that this is part of getting something done.” "

Roger Ailes said the same thing. He lazy and risk averse. Historically that reminds me of Darius of Persia. If Obama meets a foreign Alexander he is done.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was greeted on his first visit to Afghanistan since taking office by suicide bombs, threats and Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s accusation that the U.S. is colluding with the Taliban."

I wonder if Karzai isn't colluding with them too. So we are now in the battle of the double-crossers. President Obama's grand bargain with Islam really depends on one unexamined premise: who can you make a deal with?

Ironically Osama Bin Laden had the key insight. "They will follow the Strong Horse". In the Islamic universe gratitude seems to count for little. But fear counts for a lot. A President who is willing to instill fear in his domestic enemies but not in his foreign ones has got things precisely backwards.

The domestic enemies will respond to deals. The foreign enemies respond to fear. But somehow it comes out the other way around.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"A President who is willing to instill fear in his domestic enemies but not in his foreign ones"
Its like a man who bullys his family but is a coward out the safety of his home.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Its strange that at this 'Pivot point' in history, America has precisely the wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time in the person of Barak Obama.
Or, from another perspective, just the oposite, if you are looking for the renewal of the Caliphate.
There's a scene in 'Patton', in which the general is looking over a battlefield and notes the carts the Germans are using to move men and material. He takes that as a sign that the Germans are finished, and that he has the right instrument at the right place at the right moment in history to take down the Reich, but for the gasoline to do it.
We have the right instrument, the U.S. Military, in the wrong hand.
In Egypt they are burning out the Christians, in Israel the horizon is filling with their enemies.
And our leader is declaring for Islam in every action he takes.
For the first time in our history, an American president is siding with the enemies of The Faith of Our Fathers.
Woe unto the Gentiles.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The enemies of The Faith of Our Fathers may not be his enemy. Indeed, they probably share a deep hatred for a common enemy - you know, the one Bernadine Dohrn, Bill Ayers, Noam Chomsky, Osama Bin Laden all share.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
What may here don't fathom is when 0bama and his ilk say "We Won" it doesn't mean just the resent election it means the struggle between the Constitution and Fair, honest and legal elections, 0bama and his Masters mean they WON, Chicago Politics has WON, stealing the elections forever, the Peters who will rob Paul have WON! They have destroyed what once kept us the home of the Free.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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