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Belmont Club

The Narrative Implodes

August 17th, 2013 - 10:06 am

Mark Steyn argues that two things have happened simultaneously. America has “imploded on the world stage” while its current leaders have increased their power at home.

A couple of months back, I quoted Tocqueville’s prescient words from almost two centuries ago: Although absolute monarchy theoretically “clothed kings with a power almost without limits,” in practice “the details of social life and of individual existence ordinarily escaped his control.” In other words, the king couldn’t do it even if he wanted to. What would happen, Tocqueville wondered, if administrative capability were to evolve to bring “the details of social life and of individual existence” within His Majesty’s oversight? That world is now upon us.

Steyn was referring to the NSA. But speaking of instruments of control, Michael Ledeen reminds us not to forget the Big Lever: the IRS. “Benghazi is an event, a terrible event, but the systematic use of the IRS as an instrument of oppression, the omnipresent long arm of the state-to-be, is even worse. It’s a crucial instrument for redistributing wealth, for intimidating critics, and for preventing political opponents from amassing the wherewithal to challenge the would-be tyrants.”

American weakness abroad and the establishment’s attempt at omnipotence at home are two slices of a single pie; complementary aspects of the breakdown of American democracy.  Consider what they mean taken together. They raise the prospect of  foreign rulers buying influence over America — and Americans — while their minions put the whole of the nation at the disposal of the highest bidder through the magnificent tech instruments Americans themselves have built. What’s going to stop them? The scruples of politicians in Washington?

No. But maybe something else.

Events in the Middle East suggest that perhaps God does bless America in a way.  Checks and balances are coming in the form of rivalry between the foreign patrons of American politicians. The moneybags are fighting among themselves. The crisis in Egypt is a case in point. Washington is torn between the support for the Muslim Brotherhood (as supported by Qatar) and for the Egyptian military (read Saudi Arabia). Since this thread runs through Syria as well the Russians are trying to pull on it.  If they pull hard enough the whole fabric may unravel. Foreign Policy’s Zachary Keck writes:

On Thursday afternoon President Barack Obama announced that the U.S. would be cancelling a joint military exercise with the Egyptian Army over its violent crackdown on supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Shortly afterwards, Egypt Independent reported that Putin had called an extraordinary session in the Kremlin to put “all Russian military facilities ‘at the Egyptian military’s disposal.’” The report, which cited several sources without providing any further details about them, also said that “Putin will discuss Russian arrangements for joint-military exercises with the Egyptian army.”

What could be a more blatant attempt than that? If true then Putin’s openly trying to grab Egypt. Breitbart reports Egypt is sending a diplomatic mission to Russia. “Sadat threw Russia out of Egypt,” the source told Breitbart News. “Peace came from that. If Russia reenters Egypt, they reenter the world.”   Are the reports true?  But things may have reached a crisis. The Egyptian military is planning to outlaw the Muslim Brotherhood.

That would put Obama’s hand squarely in a vise. He may be forced to do what he loathes most: to take a definite, public stand that must alienate part of his international coalition. He has thrived so far by selling the same real estate to all comers; by being the blank slate who is each and every supplicant’s friend.

But now he must anger somebody. Now somebody’s asking for a refund. The web is rife with rumor that one side or the other is holding a scandal over the administration’s head. There is no proof that any such scandal exists.  But given the parade of scandals already too numerous to mention it cannot wholly be discounted that some such exists.

So Obama remains hunkered down in Martha’s Vineyard, emerging periodically from his vacation home, like a cuckoo from a clock, to make a statement no one appears to hear, playing for time. No one in the Beltway seems to know what line to take. Shall they restore democracy in Egypt by supporting the Muslims Bros, knowing they too will take their revenge on the generals and the Copts? Suspend aid to the Egyptian military and open the door to Russia, who might do a hat trick and scoop up Saudi Arabia into the bargain?

Choices. Choices. What happened to the good old days when one could vote “present”? The Beltway is reading the tea leaves for a sign. And all they’re getting is Jay Carney.

The interesting thing is that these policy dilemmas have not arisen from an internal debate within the institutions of the Republic but as a consequence of a crisis caused by the conflicting agendas of foreign interest groups. It’s a war among the lobbies, and Washington knows not how to caper to which tune.

What may happen next is hard to predict other than to say that the Chinese fire drill — did I mention China? — will get worse. The apparatchiks are paralyzed because their patrons are squabbling. The Narrative priority now is probably to keep the voters distracted so they don’t notice the men behind the curtain are scuffling on the floor. But that will only work for so long. Sooner or later the voters will notice. And if they’ve got no jobs or money they may not even care about threats from the IRS.  The next few weeks will probably see some kind of patch applied to cool things down. But eventually the crisis will intensify and the tension will rise again. There’s too much bad merchandise floating around for it not too. Iran’s nukes, Pakistan, Syria — to mention just a few. The cuckoo clock is broken. The Narrative is showing signs of dementia.


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Top Rated Comments   
The loose thread on Obama's cheap suit was always that he has never won an honest election. How many electoral votes were stolen in 2008 or 2012? Certainly Ohio and Florida were flat out stolen. Even without saying that IRS abuse deligitamizes the election the illegally collected unrecorded foriegn money, remember the safeguards physically removed from the web sites and the phone banks in Gaza, are reason to invalidate the elections.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Then they can really give Obama the big prize. He will have managed to hand Russia all the marbles. Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia -- and as you say, perhaps even Israel.

If that happens I will personally stand and clap. Not out of approval for the policy, which is suicidal, but out of sheer unadulerated awe, in complete admiration of how anyone could achieve so overwhelming a defeat, so comprehensive a setback, while starting the game with all the aces. It will be a record for the ages.

And after that I'll go out and get drunk.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Isn’t it interesting that the Obama Administration says that in Egypt we need a democracy, a rule of law, a a constitution that is adhered to by the government, and insurance that government forces will not be used against “the people” – rather than a strongman ruling by decree and overruling the other elements of the government.

And meanwhile, in the USA we have – what? That which the Administration claims to despise so much in EGYPT!

What kind of example is Obama setting?

P.S. I wish to point out that whenever I put “Osama” when I mean "Obama" – that ain’t me doing that! MICROSOFT WORD is changing Obama to Osama!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (61)
All Comments   (61)
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Wretchard, I'm a great fan of yours but I must admit that this statement leaves me confused:

>>Consider what they mean taken together. They raise the prospect of foreign rulers buying influence over America — and Americans — while their minions put the whole of the nation at the disposal of the highest bidder through the magnificent tech instruments Americans themselves have built. <<

I'm not seeing how "American weakness abroad and the establishment's attempt at omnipotence at home" leads to foreign rulers buying influence over America. Could you elaborate on that mechanism?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Who wouda thought, US pulls out, Russia advances? Is this the early 90s in reverse?

The real problem might come in September when the markets add everything up, and bond yields really do soar, because a nation in retreat is never the best bet, as we in the UK have long known.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
There has been so much incompetence and malfeasance from this president and no one notices. I simply no longer believe that any consequences will be forthcoming. When a nation is intent upon committing suicide nothing can stop it. Sorry to be so glum but it seems the country has lost its way and no longer possesses the values that made it great.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
There is no incompetence.

There is willful treason.

Please learn the difference.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
So many just cannot handle the cognitive dissonance of knowing the Obama is competent as can be. His avowed goal was 'Fundamental Transformation & Change'. They just did not realize the change was of address so that his opponents end up in camps. Yeah, he is that evil.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Conundrum in Egypt explained by discovery of buried cities on Mars:

"Simultaneity"

G_d is Good:
They're playing Art Bell reruns.

WHO BUILT THE PYRAMIDS? [http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/piramides/esp_piramide_3.htm]

To this eternal question, Boris says,

"they were Egyptians, they lived in Egypt. I mean... we've called them variously "Atlantians" and, I suppose, "Little Green Man from Mars", but that was Egypt, and so therefore, to me, they're Egyptians."

He says there is no way the pyramids were intended to be tombs for Pharaohs.

"They've never found bodies in them. There's no single mark that identifies the pyramids as the tomb of any particular Pharaoh and, to the extent that in some of the pyramids bodies were later found, I think these structures were probably used as tombs by people who came later. I think that whoever created these structures used something that we don't know [about]."

Robert Bauval revealed how, at the dawning of the Age of Leo, the air shafts in the Great Pyramid point directly to the stars of Orion. Boris continued to point out how the Sphinx looks like a lion, "its got to give you some indication that the people back then knew something we don't know."

Richard adds that we are the descendants of these architects of the Egyptian monuments, whoever they were. He notes that when he first began his research into the Face on Mars in 1983, he remembers the almost unanimous reaction of archeologists when they were shown unidentified pictures of the Martian anomalies.

"The answers ranged from Hanuman, the Indian monkey god, to an aerial view of some pyramid complex in Egypt.. Initially looking at these things, I was thinking in terms of aliens, in terms of other, in terms of visitors to the solar system who had erected a stunning artificial complex on Mars.... Over the ensuing 15 years... my thinking has come perhaps 180º and in good measure because of... John West, Graham Hancock and Robert Bauval."

Richard began wondering about the possibilities that the anomalies an Mars perhaps could indeed be related to the monuments in Egypt.

***

Can't wait til Jay Carney clues the MSM in on this.

...is Art still alive in the Phillipines?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It's come to my attention that Barry has made a recess appointment:

In the absence of his administration, he's put Putin in charge of foreign policy.

That's quite a hat trick: he's already holding down the fort as our Secretary of Defense/ Apologies.

Ultimately, we should expect Barry to 'off-shore' all of our policy manufacture.

Such is globalism in the year Zero.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
isn't it funny, Saudi Arbia is sidin the new military power in Egypt !

Than you our americans friends, you made such a mess everywhere you wanted to direct policies

sorry fer ya, but in Europe there'sstill leaders that are pragmatic, don't mess with people understandings of Democracy !

I salute Putin for his realism
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
That's hilarious! Europe died a long time ago. We are pikers compared to you guys.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"he who laughs the last laughs longer"

Bush was singing the swan song of the American hegemony

Europe isn't dead, just that some Europeans were asleep with your paternalist endorphines, Thomas de Maizière in Germany doesn't seem to favor your umbrella anymore, the French manage their war alone, the Brits also could if they would feel more Zeuropeans than the US followers...
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
That's the thanks we get for doing your dirty work in Libya?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
what was our work that you didwhich you didn't want to do?
Libya was a worl great demonstration fr American arms and planes, I'm sure that that served your Rand Companies to sell more of them around the world
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The damage of Libya is that it showed Congress to be ineffective and unable to act on its own prerogatives. That leaves Obama free to do what he wants in Syria and in Egypt.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The loose thread on Obama's cheap suit was always that he has never won an honest election. How many electoral votes were stolen in 2008 or 2012? Certainly Ohio and Florida were flat out stolen. Even without saying that IRS abuse deligitamizes the election the illegally collected unrecorded foriegn money, remember the safeguards physically removed from the web sites and the phone banks in Gaza, are reason to invalidate the elections.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Let's not leave off Pennsylvania....

Cheating almost brought North Carolina into the D column.

It wasn't even deemed a swing state!

Google black hats were part of team obama. Mitt never saw it coming. Everything the Atlantic said they were working to thwart -- happened to ORCA. What a coincidence.



1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
There is nothing about this that even comes close to making any sense. The Obama Regime never had any real policy or strategic concept of what they wanted.
It was always ad hoc, always making it up as they went, re-inventing the past, and having a willing Media to continuously sustain whatever this week's narrative was.
Video on You Tube caused riots! Muslim Brotherhood is legitimate! Afghanistan is the important theater we should be in. McCrystal is in! McCrystal is out! Petraeus is in! Petraeus is out! Hero, patriot or lout, they're all the same.

What a madhouse. And yet, all the clever academics cheer him on, and declaim the moron Bush.

And we are concerned about the fate of homosexuals in Russia.

I work with someone that is ostensibly very intelligent, but inisists on the stupidity of Bush and the wonderfulness of Obama. It's a roller coaster ride to Hell.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"And we are concerned about the fate of homosexuals in Russia."

Because it's for their children.

Everything this regime does is "for the children."
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES

I spoke to a progressive liberal the other day, and she said she saw no sign of any implosion, and insisted that as long as Jay Carney says all is well she will sleep well at night, knowing the president is on the job.

“The country’s in the best of hands,”
She said with much emotion
“We do what president demands
We’re safe behind our ocean
These places are a long way off
Their actions have no meaning
And yes I know that some will scoff
And be some wails and keening
But all is well, we have the best
And brightest we can trust and
As far as up to any test
The president is just grand”
I said the US was at war
With people who will kill us
Perhaps tonight if not before
And you people just fill us
With lies and pap and narratives
That only tend to leave us
With devious comparatives
Intended to deceive us.
“Ah no,” she smiled and walked away
“Obama speaks no blarney
He tells the truth most every day
Just go and ask Jay Carney

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"There are three classes of people: those who see, those who see once they are shown & those who will not see." Leonardo da Vinci
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Well, Wretchard, while I thouroughly enjoy watching Obamas policies go up in smoke, the fact is this incompetence is hurting us. So, in an effort to be not quite as cynical as I usually am, I would like to offer a plan for action, or at least an outline for recovery.
So, specifically the USA at this poiint should:

1. Support the Egyptian Army. Announce the Muslum Brotherhood has turned to terrorism and is no longer worthy of American support. Give the Army carte Blance to do what needs to be done to suppress the Brotherhood. When that is done and order is restored, encourage economic reform and political reform on the South Korean model. The timeframe here should be in terms of decades, not months.

2. It would be best in Syria for both sides to lose, so try to see that they do. Cut off support for the Muslum Brotherhood and their Salafist and Al-qaida allies. Encourage Jordan and Turkey to close their borders. At the same time, establish a naval quarantine of Syria, cut off the Assad regeime from supply by sea. (This of course assumes our politically correct, feminized, money-starved Navy can carry out such a mission. One can only hope). Contain the Syrian fire, and let it burn itself out.

3. The Iranian nuclear program must be stopped. Simple as that. That can be done in only one way, by war. So, accept that. Blockade and mine the Iranian coast, shut off their ability to export oil. go after the Mullahs, the revolutionary guard forces, and the nuclear facilities. Yes, this would be war. It is the responsibility of the President to protect the US from dangers foriegn and domestic. Let him carry that out, for a change. He will, I am sure, have no difficulty in getting Congress and the people to follow him.

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
There is no incompetence.


Those who STILL think Obama is stupid, are stupid.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Re 3 After Egypt, the Saudis might have gained the confidence to green-light Israel, even with their co-operation. They are usually the dog which 'does not bark in the night' ; to see overt moves, and successful [so far] ones at that, kinda changes the game.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The problem is that the army is not much better. Forgotten in this whole mess is the source of the unrest. The people don't have enough to eat, they have nothing to lose. The Army administration under Mubarak has been a shake down racket on any and all producers of wealth in the country; it is simply hitting the wall. The Army is protecting their position by killing Muslim Brotherhood protesters.

The whole of the middle east is just plain dysfunctional. Syria 'worked' for as long as it did because there was a cohesive group that benefited from the hard control of the country and economy, and they too are fighting to maintain what they had.

Bush had the idea that maybe with stability there would be prosperity; that the innate riches of the region could be used to benefit everyone, laying a groundwork for a working society. Tough job, something that would have taken a couple of decades in Iraq. Egypt has had that chance and blown it. Now it is simply have power or be killed, and since the Army has the weaponry, they seize power and kill someone else.

We forget at our peril that the utter ruthlessness of Al Qaeda had it's roots in the torture chambers in Egypt where Muslim Brotherhood members were systematically dehumanized.

What we are seeing is the lid being blown off of a pressure vessel. I doubt that any existing regimes will survive. There will come an event that gives the West moral clarity though. The Israelis will be attacked and will respond with force. The blithering idiots in the west will find comfort in being able to paint their world view in black and white again, all the confusion coalescing in opposition to the only functioning country in the region. It is the fault of the Jews, obviously.

We had a moment of clarity last week. Racism and evil is now defined as not being shown a $38k handbag while visiting Switzerland. The best and brightest of the US and Europe have placed themselves in a situation, a state of mind which drives policy decisions that could only be described as lunacy. The only corrective we know from history is that alot of people die far too young. I suspect the Chinese, the Russians and many others who have for a long time done well on a rising tide can smell, can feel what will happen to them if things go sour. If someone is to have the noose around their neck, better it be someone else. The fools in the west are a great candidate.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You are blaming the Army for the collapse of Egypt's economy. But Egypt's economy depended upon a balancing act of tolerance for its wealthy Coptic community and the encouragement of tourism. Tourism has dropped under the Muslim Brotherhood rule - indeed Morsi's appointment of the very Moslem Brotherhood leader who ordered a terror attack at a pyramid site some years ago was among the triggers for the coup.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
This country is on the Nile delta and can't grow enough food to feed itself. The Army is responsible, they ran the place for decades. This is a failed state, and the mistake the fools in Washington made is not seeing it.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
There were also the constant demands to destroy the pyramids much the same way the Taliban dynamited the Buddhas. I'm sure those didn't help. Taken together, it signaled an end to Egypt's economy.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The Left is the US is not interested in war but it may be interested in them. Remember we have untold riches under the ground. There may be "War for Oil" in our future but not in the way they fantasize about.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
We forget at our peril that the utter ruthlessness of Al Qaeda had it's roots in the torture chambers in Egypt where Muslim Brotherhood members were systematically dehumanized.

Al Qaeda's roots are historical and far older than the MB.

Forgotten in this whole mess is the source of the unrest. The people don't have enough to eat, they have nothing to lose.

You're 1000% right on this, we have all taken our eyes off the ball here. If the Egyptian army were all angels and won tomorrow - then what?

The only corrective we know from history is that alot of people die far too young.

The Malthusian truth here may be exactly that, that what Egypt most needs right now is exactly large-scale, bloody civil war. Or else maybe a mass conversion to Christianity. Sadly the war seems more available. Though I suppose the winners could then convert - and safely.


1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Thank you for the satire. Not the prescriptions you offer , which are merely knowledgeable common sense. Rather for the utterly hilarious suggestion that Obama would ever apply common sense to the issues that confront America.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Re your #1: Over on PowerLine they propose imagining that, before WW II, the German Army had seen the threat of Hitler (who was fairly elected) and had thrown him in prison and wiped out his fledgling organization. How much the world would have been spared!

Of course that's hindsight but they propose the situation in Egypt is much the same: a democratically-elected horror show.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
And the German General Staff did just that. They proposed a plan to overthrow Hitler and froma new government. They asked the Brits and French if they would recognize the new government - who responded that they were horrified at the very thought.

Meanwhile a British officer proposed to assassinate Hitler when he gave a speech at a certain location, submitted a plan to do so to his superiors - who were horrified at the very thought.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"...a democratically-elected horror show. "

Kinda like what we have here in the US.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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