In 2016 the Western political system had a stroke. Since then it has been incoherent and unable to focus. One example of incoherence is it's attitude towards Russia. One the one hand tensions are reportedly rising between the US and the Kremlin following the shootdown of a Syrian ground attack aircraft allied to the Kremlin by a US F-18. "The Kremlin is viewing the shoot-down, at least publicly, as an act of blatant aggression by the US and its coalition partners and is demanding a full investigation into to incident, including why the deconfliction phone was not used first before the order was given to blow the Su-22 out of the sky."
There is talk that Russia will begin patrolling east with its best fighter aircraft in the region, and that the way the coalition does business has also had to adapt significantly in recent hours. This has included repositioning aircraft and bolstering defensive air capabilities over the country. Lieutenant Colonel Damien Pickart said the following while speaking for Central Command (CENTCOM):
"As a result of recent encounters involving pro-Syrian Regime and Russian forces, we have taken prudent measures to re-position aircraft over Syria so as to continue targeting ISIS forces while ensuring the safety of our aircrew given known threats in the battlespace."
One site asked: "Are Russia and the US About to Go to War Over Syria?"
But on the other hand many Democrats believe the administration is colluding with Russia. "Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said on Sunday he believes the investigation into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russian election meddling is just beginning." In the words of progressive comedian Steven Colbert, the only thing president Trump is good for is "being Vladimir Putin’s c*** holster."
But the obvious question is how can the slave be in conflict with the master? How can the holster rebel against the holstered? It can't. The narrative is in an inconsistent state. Yet no one seems to be able to step back and ask the obvious. From one point of view it is easy to arrive at the truth: what does the objective evidence show about the state of relations between Russia and the United States? The truest indication of the situation should come from what state actors do rather than what they say.
Events suggest there is a true conflict or rivalry under way between Russia and the United States. They are not belligerents at war with each other. But neither is America the slave of the Kremlin. In Syria there is a bona fide race between the two to pick up territory abandoned by the collapse of ISIS. "The race to the Iraqi border begins," writes Omar Lamrani of Stratfor. "As the Islamic State is slowly being driven out of Syria, its enemies are scrabbling to pick up the territory it leaves behind. Syrian rebels, supported by the U.S.-led coalition, are facing off against the government of President Bashar al Assad, backed by Iran and Russia, to wrest control of the extremist group's remaining positions from its weakened grasp. Yet despite having the same finish line in sight, each participant is driven by its own interests, and is willing to risk colliding with its rivals to secure them." There is a genuine face-off in Eastern Europe, highlighted by recent NATO manuevers in the Sulwaki Gap.
But the impaired West cannot seem to come to grips with this contradiction. It cannot refer to external reality. Instead it goes on believing two opposite things at once. The events of 2016 have also impaired its ability to focus. Like a zombie it acts without thinking. US policy in Syria is sleepwalking into creating a Kurdish state. Russia, sensing the inevitable, is belatedly wooing the Kurds. But Washington is not even debating it, focused as it is on c*** holsters. Devin Nunes says "we have to stop chasing Russian ghosts around the closet and actually get to real work." But who's listening? The public debate hardly touches upon policy issues. It is consumed -- perhaps obsessed is the word -- with the Russian collusion narrative.
One would have thought the shocking loss of Jon Osoff to Karen Handel in Georgia would have snapped the system out of it's coma. At least it should alert them to the dangers of being transfixed by their own narrative. After all, when you keep losing the chess game to an opponent believed by the media to have the IQ of an orangutan, it's got to be more than bad luck, perhaps caused by ignoring the objectively real in order to serve one's mental boxes.
Yet nothing happens. The destruction of future of the Democratic party which Ossoff was supposed to have been, left the progressives with Bernie Sanders again as the standard bearer of tomorrow. It illustrates how trapped the Left has become in its own paradigm. It is an in absurd condition. The obsession with Trump's very real shortcomings obscures the fact that the biggest crisis in American political life today is the that of the Democratic Party. It never really recovered from the Clintons or Obama and it never really came to terms with the economic collapse of the Blue Model.
The Republican Party though also in crisis has fewer afflictions because it's model was not as clearly defined as the Democrats and therefore less disrupted by the Blue Model collapse. The Democrats were victims of their own success. They owned the unions, media, academe and public sector interest groups which was good while it lasted, but when things failed it catastrophically.
The American political system is operating in the curious condition of being an impaired state. It's not really thinking -- about China, Russia, Syria, Kurdistan. It's not really thinking about anything except half remembered slogans from 1968. Like a person afflicted by a stroke, it can't take a consistent view of external reality because it's regressing into atavisms by a loss of brain function. Democrats are being driven into the Van Jones, Bernie Sanders mode by collapse of its former command structure, which once kept it inflated like the Big Tent it aspired to be. Leaderless it reverted to type: the screaming, yelling, howling Evergreen State college archetype.
And in this condition America faces Putin, China and all the rest.
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The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis - and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance, by Ben Sasse. In this book, Sasse diagnoses the causes of a generation that can't grow up and offers a path for raising children to become active and engaged citizens. He identifies many of the coming-of-age activities that have defined the American experience since the Founding that young people should pursue but have skipped altogether - hard work to appreciate the benefits of labor, travel to understand deprivation and want, the power of reading, leaving home to start a family, becoming economically self-reliant ― and explains how parents can encourage them. The statistics are daunting: 30% of college students drop out after the first year, and only 4 in 10 graduate. One in three 18-to-34 year-olds live with their parents. Sasse believes these phenomena are an existential threat to the American way of life.
Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam, by Mark Bowden. The first battle book from the author of Black Hawk Down, Hue 1968 is the story of the centerpiece of the Tet Offensive and a turning point in the American War in Vietnam. Using war archives in the US and Vietnam and interviews with participants from both sides, Bowden narrates each stage of this crucial battle through multiple viewpoints. The battle, which included the most intense urban combat since World War 2, played out over 24 days and ultimately cost 10,000 lives. It was the bloodiest of the entire war.
The Winter Fortress: The Epic Mission to Sabotage Hitler's Atomic Bomb, by Neal Bascomb. Based on a trove of top secret documents and never-before-seen diaries and letters of the saboteurs, this book is a chronicle of a brilliant scientist, a band of spies on skies, perilous survival in the wild, sacrifice for one’s country, Gestapo manhunts, soul-crushing setbacks, and a last-minute operation that would end any chance Hitler could obtain the atomic bomb - and alter the course of the war.
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Did you know that you can purchase some of these books and pamphlets by Richard Fernandez and share them with your friends? They will receive a link in their email and it will automatically give them access to a Kindle reader on their smartphone, computer or even as a web-readable document.
The War of the Words, Understanding the crisis of the early 21st century in terms of information corruption in the financial, security and political spheres
Rebranding Christianity, or why the truth shall make you free
The Three Conjectures, reflections on terrorism and the nuclear age
Storming the Castle, why government should get small
No Way In at Amazon Kindle. Fiction. A flight into peril, flashbacks to underground action.
Storm Over the South China Sea, how China is restarting history in the Pacific