Monday, December 02, 2013
A brief reply: By Con George-Kotzabasis to:
Hirsi Ali is pop star of intolerance Greg Barns (leader of the Australian Republicans) On Line Opinion June 4, 2007
Greg, in your moral equivalence between Christian-Jews and Muslims you nullify your intelligence, your sense of history and reality. Certainly there are fanatic Christians and Jews, but they don't threaten the existence of Western civilization as fanatic Muslims do.
Moreover, life for Muslims is difficult because of their bigoted attachment to an atavistic religion, not because of the "pop star", to quote you, status of Hirsi Ali. Further, by giving fanatic Muslims a piggyback you play the role, in the unfathomable depths of your ignorance, of the tortoise, in the unforgettable fable of Orson Welles, The Scorpion and the Tortoise. When the former convinced the latter that in its transportation on the back of the tortoise from one side of the river to the other, it would be silly to sting it as it itself would drown, nonetheless, midstream it did sting it. And in the dying question of the tortoise why it stung it, the drowning scorpion replied, "this is my nature".
Likewise you will be stung by the "Muslim Scorpion" that you carry on your back because that is its nature.
Sunday, November 17, 2013
I'm republishing this debate as a result of Obama's cravenly and strategically foolish action to withdraw from Afghanistan without securing the country from future attacks by the Taliban and preventing its fall into the net of radical Islam.
For those who think we need to redouble our efforts to "win" the war in Afghanistan, I take it they mean we need to do whatever it takes, militarily and financially, to build a stable Afghan state run headed by a secure and US-friendly government. I have two problems with this idea. First, I tend to doubt that the US has the wherewithal to accomplish such a goal in such a rugged, decentralized and forbidding country - no matter how much our surge surges. The whole idea seems fantastical.
Second, I don't see how even achieving this fantastical aim would really help with the Al Qaeda issue, since I find it hard to believe that any Afghan government that we can realistically imagine taking shape will have the capacity to prevent Al Qaeda elements from gathering in remote locations and forming bases. As a basis for comparison, can we realistically imagine an Afghan government with even half the capacity of a state like Pakistan? Hardly. And yet Pakistan itself is not in control of large swaths of its country. Pursuing the quixotic state-building plans of the neoconservatives and liberal interventionists is a distraction from the methods that actually work.
My understanding is that we have been engaged in a global campaign against jihadist terrorism for several years now, and the main practical method is to rely on intelligence to stay one step ahead of the folks who actually pose a threat, and then disrupt their efforts, kill their leaders and interdict their operations. We're probably going to have to keep doing that sort of thing for quite some time, just as the effort against organized crime in the US never really ends. If Al Qaeda cadres build some kind of training base in Afghanistan, we go in and blow it up. If they build another one, we blow that one up too. We use predators and covert methods. The same is true of al Qaeda redoubts in Pakistan or Somalia or Yemen, right? We are going to have to do this no matter what kind of government we get in Kabul.
I can't believe that at this late date American political leaders and opinion leaders are still deluded by the theory that the chief enabling cause of terrorism is "state sponsorship", and so that our aim is to manufacture strong states where none exist now. This seems wrong-headed to me. I've used this analogy before, but the militant jihadist movement seems something like the anarchist movement of a century ago. Parts of that movement were violent. Was the solution some sort of state-building process in Europe and the United States? No. There were already strong states in Europe and the US. But it is of the nature of terrorist groups to slip between the cracks in the sovereign power of states.
Anarchist terrorism was basically a law and order problem. The idea was just to stay ahead of the perpetrators of terrorist attacks, and outlast the movement as its ideological fervor gradually dissipated and it burned itself out.
We should never have gotten involved in state building in Afghanistan. Now we have a generation of American leaders who are invested in that project, and see their personal honor and the national honor as riding on its very unlikely success. They need to get real.
Ben Katcher’s intellectually malodorous, and disingenuous, argument has reached the other shores of the Pacific. While he claims that “pouring more troops...into Afghanistan means fewer resources to pursue our other national security objectives across the globe,” he does not mention any of them by name other than the economic crisis mentioned by Dennis Blair. Hence his statement that “strategy is about priorities and trade-offs,” while true in general, is a contrived fiction when he applies it to international terrorism since these other priorities remain nameless. The reason why he does not name them is that if he had identified these priorities and contrasted them with the priority of global terror he would embarrass himself for being ludicrous.
Dan Kervick’s paragraph that contains “we use predators and covert methods,” which incidentally is an idea that I suggested myself too eight years ago, is very interesting although he contradicts himself further down on his post when he contrasts present terror with anarchist terror in the past and says for the latter that it “was basically a law and order problem,” which he first ventilated in a riposte to me on TWN three years ago. Surely, Kervick, who has learnt his logic by sitting in the spacious intellectual laps of Hume and Russel, could not cogently argue that “predators and covert methods” fall in the ambience of “law and order.”
"Surely, Kervick, who has learnt his logic by sitting in the spacious intellectual laps of Hume and Russel, could not cogently argue that “predators and covert methods” fall within the ambience of “law and order.”"
I do. When I say that terrorism is a law and order problem, I don't mean that the only tools to be used are the methods of the criminal justice system. Those latter tools have proven effective in many cases, including operations interdicted in the UK and Canada. But given the limits of applying these tools across borders and inside rugged countries, sometimes more aggressive means must be employed. What I mean is that terrorism is fundamentally a problem of a limited number of militant "outlaws", and that the strategy for addressing it should focus on that fact, rather than be distracted by extravagant projects for state improvement and state overhaul.
What I am most skeptical of is the idea that the problem of terrorism is a conventional military problem that calls for the use of conventional military operations - in the form of armies, invasions and occupations - against either states or sub-national "armies". And I am especially skeptical of the idea that the way to address the problem of terrorism is to launch massive - and generally very unrealistic - state-building operations in the hope that some day the dangerous backward parts of the world will be filled with well-functioning and capable states that will be able to suppress all of the militants operating inside their territories.
There are other means that need to be used as well, including denying the terrorists the ideological foothold that multiplies their influence and capability. That means not doing so many things that provide evidence of the very charges the terrorists make. To counter jihadist charges that the United States is hostile to the interests of Arabs and Muslims across the world the United States should stop behaving as if it is indeed universally hostile to the interests of Arabs and Muslims.
"When I say that terrorism is a law and order problem, I don't mean that the only tools to be used are the methods of the criminal justice system."
Your quote states the obvious. Of course one does not fight terrorism only with police methods but the question is out of all the methods which are the most effective by which one can defeat the jihadists. And while your paragraph in your previous post that mentions “predators” and all the other ‘hard things’ that one has perforce to do against the jihadists is full of strategic clarity, by reverting back to your old argument of three years ago that the present terrorists are similar to the anarchist terrorists of the past and can be interdicted by ‘police’ methods, you unconsciously downgrade the seriousness of your ‘hard things’ position.
Moreover, you are locked in the fallacy of a rational person who premises his actions that his enemies that ‘round’ him up are also rational and if he shows by his actions, in our case America, that he is not against Arabs and Muslims this will bring a definitive change in the attitudes of the jihadists. This is a ‘straightjacket’ delusion that has lost all contact with reality. Islamic fanaticism will not be influenced, soothed, abated, or defeated by moral examples or olive branches but only in the field of battle and that is why a military deployment against it is a prerequisite. In short, it’s just another but more effective method in defeating the jihadists in a shorter span of time.
I'm talking about the hearts and minds issue. There is a hard core of dyed-in-the-wool militant jihadists with an uncompromising Salafist ideology. They are not going to be swayed by US public diplomacy, or by forseeable changes in US policy. They can only be dealt with forcibly. They must either be captured or killed, and their plans must be disrupted.
But the hard core is surrounded by concentric circles of people who are associated with the hard core by various degrees of fellow-travelling or sympathizing or onlooking. The extent to which the jihadists are able to expand their movement to get material or moral assistance from people in the out rings depends on how well their message resonates.
In my view, the jihadists have been the beneficiaries in recent years of a number of wrong-headed US policies that help their message resonate strongly. If hundreds of innocent people in Gaza have their lives snuffed out in an over-the-top Israeli attack, some as a result of deliberate crimes, with nary a peep from the US Congress, then when your friendly neighborhood jihadist says, "Muslims lives mean nothing to the Americans," that message is going to get much more play on the street than it would if the US Congress had stepped up and condemned the excessive use of force.
Certainly the “hearts and minds issue” is a core issue. But the “concentric circles of people,” will not be influenced by US Congress pronouncements and condemnations, in this case of Israeli actions, if they perceive, which they will, that this change of American policy arises from the weakness of the latter and from the strength of the “hard core” “militant jihadists” in their war with the US. The concentric circles of support for the militants will only disappear by depriving the latter of the ‘aura’ of being seen as the victors (The ethos of Arab pride trumps all.) against the American hegemon. And that entails the imminent and decisive defeat of the militants in the field of battle, as it happened in Iraq to the Sadrist militias and al Qaeda.
Furthermore, your concentrated reasoning loses its force if your policy contains these two incongruous parts: The first one will destroy by predators and covert operations (Which will be seen in the Muslim world as American excesses) the incubators of “Salafist ideology”, which are the madrassas, while the second, will denounce American and Israeli excesses. Do you seriously believe that such denunciation will have greater influence upon fellow-travellers and sympathisers, than the destruction of the madrassas in which many civilians will be killed, and will win their hearts and minds?
Join the debate
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
By Con George-Kotzabasis
Professor Varoufakis loves metaphors, especially those penned by him! So I too will use a metaphor even if he will hate it. The Modest Proposal (MP) is the offspring of the comely wedlock of Stewart Holland and Yanis Varoufakis but as time passes even beautiful grooms and brides show their wrinkles and need to do something about their withering state and recover their ‘Bo Derek’ status. Thus a new younger bride was added to the old hag this time with a reputable name, though devoid of any accomplishments, that of James Galbraith, the son of the famous John Galbraith. In the two years of the MP”s existence it was unable to entice any eminent economist to support it and only one economist of run-of-the-mill standing added his name to it, i.e., James Galbraith.
The intellectual weight of both Varoufakis and Galbraith has been amply and brazenly demonstrated by a profound article of theirs published in The New York Times, in which they argued that only the left-wing party of Syriza, a potpourri of Marxists, Trotskyists, and green fear mongers, under its leader Alexis Tsipras, a populist demagogue and a mediocrity to boot, could save Greece from the crisis. That the two professors placed the salvation of Greece on the by now historically obsolete and defunct Marxism, vividly reveals their intellectual credentials and on such reputations they are trying to inveigle and persuade first class economists and serious politicians on the European continent that their MP is the panacea that will pull Europe and its periphery out of its virulent crisis.
But to come to the policies of their MP, which they are re-Christening as The European New Deal in imitation of Roosevelt’s New Deal that presumably pulled America out of the crisis and decreased substantially unemployment, they seem to be unaware that the ‘boom’ between 1933 and 1937 still occurred in conditions of depression as unemployment was still at the level of 15% and the depression only ended with America’s entry into the war as a result of the preparation for the latter and as the unemployed were recruited in the armed forces to fight the axis powers on the seas and beaches of the Pacific and on the deserts and fields of Africa and Europe. Moreover, other countries in the depression recovered more quickly than the U.S.A., for example Canada, as during the Hoover administration, from 1930 to 1933, U.S. unemployment was on average 3.9 points higher than Canada’s unemployment and during Roosevelt’s New Deal, from 1934 to 1941, unemployment on average was 5.9 points higher than Canada’s. But it was one of the greatest economists in America Joseph Schumpeter who passed his withering judgment on the New Deal when he blamed it “for the fact that the U.S.A. which had the best chance of recovering quickly was precisely the one to experience the most unsatisfactory recovery.”
The quackery, however, of their MP lies in its implied claim, after the multiple malinvestments, non-investments, and the gargantuan increase of the inefficient public sector and profuse consumption on credit all of which economically devastated the landscape of Southern Europe, that the recovery of the European Union and its periphery can be achieved without pain. That is why they are silent about any structural reforms and the privatization of the public sector, and the need of increasing competitiveness--which are primal conditions for any sustainable recovery--that inevitably involve severe pain for the majority of the people, especially in conditions of depression. But this is understandable as to admit the necessity of pain would shatter their wish and fanciful fantasy to live in the best of all possible painless worlds, and thus would debunk them from the comforts of an idyllic existence on an earth bound paradise.
Furthermore, and this is the most important factor, the crux of their MP is based on an assumption, whose chances of being realized is infinitesimally small, that the issuing of bonds by the ECB and the European Investment Bank (EIB) will be bought by public and private institutions as well as individuals to the degree necessary so the former can fund their programs and thus start the roll of the recovery. It will be hardly reassuring to these institutions and individuals however, to know that their money will be invested in countries of the European periphery with their chronic record of being economically underperforming and default looming is the order of the day. Who would be willing to invest in a seat on the Titanic? It is easy to buy bonds during a time of prosperity but is it as easy to buy them in conditions of economic crisis when there is greater uncertainty about future prospects? Moreover, what reassurance and confidence will render to the public a clause of “super-seniority status” that clearly adumbrates a high probability of “hard default?” It is precisely in highly risk conditions that such clauses are necessary. And once one inadvertently flags such a high risk one turns the market more bearish and scares members of the public from purchasing bonds. In such conditions Keynes’s “liquidity trap” reigns! So what is the fate of the MP, if the bonds purchased by institutions and the public are not adequate in number to finance the grandiose scheme of a European New Deal, other than its inglorious burial! And what will happen to Yanis Varoufakis? Will he abdicate from his vocation as an economist and enter successfully another profession, such as futurology, to compensate for his failure as an economist?
Lastly, what real resources other than artificial ones, such as the printing press and inflation, have the ECB, the EIB, and the European Stability Mechanism for launching a program of such huge dimensions? These are the questions that make the scientific validity of the Modest Proposal dubious. And these unanswered questions by the sires of the MP turn the latter intellectually untouchable to serious economists.
Thursday, October 03, 2013
By Con George-Kotzabasis
The globe-trotting Greek economist Yanis Varoufakis who flies around the world on other peoples money, to spread his Cassandra doomsday scenarios about the European Union and especially of Greece, in his latest preoccupation, deviously and exuberantly praises the leader of the opposition Alexis Tsipras for his speech before an assembly of Austrian Social Democrats in Vienna. Well that he is doing so, since the speech is a copycat of his own ideas as encapsulated in his Modest Proposal as well as in other of his writings, and therefore his praise of Tsipras, in the event, is an ungracious self-praise of himself. He has kept silent as to the authorship of the speech and to the questions of some of the commentators on his blog whether he wrote it, he doesn’t answer yes or no. He answers his questioners with an obfuscating one word that the speech is “verbatim,” but he doesn’t explain of what and of whose text it is verbatim of, hence his deviousness. But even if it is true, which is highly unlikely, that our professor is not the writer of the speech, then the latter cannot be anything else but a complete plagiarism committed by Tsipras of Varoufakis’s ideas and thoughts.
The following is a brief reply to Professor Varoufakis, which was sent to his blog for publication, but he refused to publish it.
Professor Varoufakis, you are displaying your intellectual bankruptcy by becoming the ventriloquist to Tsipras’s speech. To allow a mediocrity such as Tsipras to be the propagator and presenter of the ideas of your Modest Proposal and other of your own writings, not only shows the self-demotion you inflict upon yourself unconsciously, but also, your narcissistic temperament urging you to exhibit your intellectual wares to wider audiences by any means, even by vendors of disreputable standing.
P.S. I know you don’t have the guts to publish my comment, but at least I’ll get the pleasure that YOU read it.
Monday, September 09, 2013
By Con George-Kotzabasis
Barack Obama was, is, and will remain an appeaser of radical Islam, as it is a constituent part of his weak character and more dangerously of his effete leadership. Like a fearful child he avoids his fears by hiding his face under the bed-sheets. This is clearly illustrated by his fudging of the word “jihadist” with its inherent fanatical murderous action --which he fears to admit-- by changing it to the less fearsome one of “workplace violence,” his description of the Fort Hood massacre, whose jihadist perpetrator Dr Nidal Hasan was sentenced to death today. It is by such changes and meaningless laughable words within the scenario of terrorism that the commander-in-chief of the most powerful nation purports to fight the existential threat that radical Islam poses to Western civilization. A black comedy ham is the occupier of the White House.
Friday, August 23, 2013
By Con George-Kotzabasis—June 24, 2013
At last, Kevin Rudd, after swallowing a double dose of Viagra he is entering the ‘seraglio of reality’ that you can only stop the boats carrying asylum seekers not by a policy of immaculate conception, as he has done in the past when he repudiated and displaced Howard’s Pacific Solution, but only by forcefully violating the ‘hymen’ of this intricately difficult problem and giving birth to a hard line policy that will decisively stop illegal migrants from entering Australia. His deal with Papua New Guinea (PNG) to resettle refugees in the latter is a masterstroke that will achieve this up till now elusive goal.
This is a craftily made disincentive that will comprehensibly deter asylum seekers from reaching the shores of Australia by boat, since they will know beforehand that they will be send to New Guinea for perpetual settlement. And with the barrage of advertisements that the Rudd government is preparing that will make explicit the new government policy to would-be refugees and by implicitly conveying to them the inimical environment in which they will be residing, this will erase any incentive attempting to enter Australia by paying people smugglers when their dangerous and expensive passage over the sea will take them not to the social and economic paradise of Australia but to the hellish socio-economic conditions of the dangerous land of PNG. And the veracity of the appalling and dangerous environment in which refugees will be placed is being ironically corroborated, willy-nilly, by all their ‘humanitarian’ supporters, like David Marr, and defence lawyers, who have already in their shrill shouts denounced Rudd’s announcement as “a day of shame” for Australia depicting in dramatic terms the great dangers that refugees will be facing in this hellishly bad setting once they are settled in PNG. After refugees becoming cognisant of the infernal conditions in which they will be living in, by these statements of their own supporters too (thus all the fans and backers of asylum seekers will find themselves being redundant and deprived of their libidinal pleasure by showing their heart on their sleeves, by their own ironic contribution to the stopping of the boats), who of the illegal migrants would be willing to pay a smuggler to be transported by Charon to the Hades of PNG and not to the paradisiac land of Australia?
Beyond any doubt, if the Rudd government will retain to the end the strength and acquire the determination to implement this hard line policy and there are no insurmountable legal challenges to it will exultantly succeed in this endeavour to protect the borders of Australia. And Kevin Rudd from a weak politician will be metastasized into the Roman god Terminus who guarded the boundaries of the republic by the force of arms. But if he is going to avoid from embarrassing the Roman god, he must tear the veil of pretence that covers the ugly features of this new policy and hails it as being humanitarian by arguing fatuously and emotionally that it will save lives by preventing boat people from drowning. Indeed, he will save them from drowning at sea but only by drowning them on dry land, in the socially cesspool of Papua New Guinea. Thus, his ‘humanitarianism’ will be swallowed in the whirlpool of his own hard line policy. Mockingly, he himself has already admitted that his new policy on illegal migrants has all the hard features of a porcupine—to use a metaphor. And the reason he has adopted this porcupine is, other than winning votes, to prevent boat people coming to Australia.
In his by now double replication of “me-tooism”of John Howard—the first time he professed to be willing to imitate Howard, as dyed in the wool conservative, in economic policy, this time he is doing it on border protection—he is out-distancing the latter in his hard line, like a galloping horse running next to a mule. And if he doesn’t lose his balance riding this winning stallion over the rough ground of politics, which so many times before enfeebled his policies by making them captive to populism, he will triumphantly pass the winning post and stop the boats.
I rest on my oars: your turn now
Sunday, August 04, 2013
By Con George-Kotzabasis
@110 Tim Wilkinson—Starting from your last sentence. The great French historian, Fernand Braudel, in his magnum opus Civilization and Capitalism delineates the moving Centres of the World-Economy, i.e., Capitalism, initially from Venice, to Genoa, to Antwerp, to Amsterdam, to London and finally to New York. The propelling force of this movement was the ceaseless ever increasing and greater rolling achievements of these metropolises that were at the centre of capitalist development during which its long duration led, for the first time in history, to the improvement of “the lot of humanity” by raising in leaps and bounds its standard of living. The fact that America replaced Britain as the centre of capitalist dynamism was the ne plus ultra achievement of the United States. Are you a human metamorphosed into an ostrich that refuses to see these facts?
To associate Schumpetarian entrepreneurship with spoliation and plunder is to disassociate from serious intellectual discourse. Plunder is the vocation of pirates not of creative entrepreneurs!