Tuesday, August 12, 2008

21st Century Pot Decries 19th Century Kettle

(BTW, that's Robert Kagan's face)

Robert Siegel offers place of honor to the historian-war monger Robert Kagan's rubbish that the WaPo sadly saw fit to print. Siegel, with gravitas, states,
"The historian Robert Kagan writes this today in the Washington Post about the Russian attack in Georgia : 'Historians,' he writes, 'will come to view August 8, 2008 as a turning point no less significant than November 9, 1989 when the Berlin Wall fell. Russia's attack on sovereign Georgian territory marked the official return of history, indeed to an almost 19th century style of great power competition complete with virulent nationalisms, battles for resources, struggles over spheres of influence and territory, and even - though it shocks our 21st century sensibilities - the use of military power to obtain geopolitical objectives.' "
Poor Kagan can't even get his dates right. You don't have to sympathize with Russia's actions to note that the attacks of August 8th were launched not by Russia, but Georgia. And you don't need more sense than a fool to note that there is this other country in the world that - every now and then - likes to throw its military might around to "obtain geopolitical objectives." What a sad reflection on US academe that Dr. Kagan is what Yale and Harvard churn out (of course nothing new there, really).

Siegel's interview with Kagan only gets more ludicrous. Jumping on the Russia-as-Nazi-threat invocation that is sweeping the Homeland (e.g. see NYT, WSJ, and Newsweek ), Siegel notes,
"You invoke a chilling analogy: Russia...is like Germany after WWI....Not to belabor the analogy too much, as you would say, in the 1930s the US, Britain and France have been faulted by historians for failing to contain similar ambitions of Nazi Germany - what should those same countries and the rest of western Europe be doing now to confront Russia?"
Funny, but I just don't recall Siegel or NPR raising concerns about how to confront naked aggression during all those birth pangs in Lebanon just 2 short years ago!

If you read any of the Russia-as-Nazi-threat pieces cited above, it's interesting to note how the 19th century vs. 21st century meme gets worked into their "logic." Of course, in these pieces the US is the hip and with-it 21st century power, while Russia is the 19th century bad boy. The concept even crops up in the Decider's remarks: "Such an action is unacceptable in the 21st century...." I guess the Lord intervened to put the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq in a special non-21st century exemption zone so that the US could never be slandered with the accusation of being - OMG - 19th century!


Porter Melmoth said...

Those darn Kagans! (Bob's brother, Freddy 'The Fluffy Freeloader' Kagan was baby godfather of The Surge!)

Anyway, this neocon interpretation of history would be gut-bustingly hilarious if it weren't so vile. The Russian tsars had trouble in the Caucasus region for centuries (check out Tolstoy's military memoirs and Lermontov's 'A Hero of Our Time'), and when Stalin, a Georgian, came to full power, there's considerable evidence that part of his purge program of the '30s was to get back at the Russians for past deeds against Georgia. Today's conflict is directly related to this history. Any 'nazi' comparison is entirely grounded in neocon paranoia. OK then, what about the US's ('nazi-like?') strikes in Panama, Dominican Republic, and Grenada?

BTW, Gori, recently taken by the Russians, was Stalin's birthplace. I don't believe I've heard that fact mentioned on NPR.

Surely though, the witty, urbane and refined Blob Siegel knows all this stuff? Well, I suppose he's just being polite to his benefactors. It's a good thing we can't see them playing footsie with each other while on the air.

Flávio Américo dos Reis said...

OMG! Tip of the hat to Port!

I had forgotten that Gori was Stalin's birthplace (or that Stalin was a Georgian!).

Kudos to Porter Melmoth! Hip, hip, hooray!

Also, thanks to MYT Words for the post and the very perspicacious analysis of the 19th vs. 21st century meme!

War On War Off said...

"In the 21st century, nations don’t invade other nations."

-- John McCain

Heh heh heh. Oh jeebus.

GrassyNo said...

Wow. You actually blame the Geogians for the invasion because they dared to try and police their own country. That's like blaming the woman for being raped because she had a short skirt on. And you think NPR is too conservative, when all their programs are left of center (except perhaps, car talk). I guess you won't be voting for Obama either because he's not communist enough for you. Haw-haw!

War On War Off said...

You actually blame the Geogians for the invasion because they dared to try and police their own country.

You actually blame the Russians, because they dared to enforce the Bush Doctrine?

Slave Revolt said...

To the comments above: a better analogy would be if the US were severely weakened, and, say, China tried to surround the US mainland by picking off Quebec, Newfoundland, and some North Mexico states that fringe the US mainland. (Cuba is another example here--and more historically appropriate).

If China were setting up bases to 'contain' the US, what would our reaction be? Compound that with China foisting an economic policy on the US that was terrible for the US people, but great for US bankers.

Need I say more? Is it too hard to imagine that Russia would have problems with former republics that cozy up to Bush, and help US imperialism in lands like Iraq?

Indeed, given the the Ossetians have been quasi independent, and that US-backed Georgia is held in contempt by most South Ossetians--and that the people of these break-away republics have voted for independence. Given all these factors, do you really see Saakashvili's attack agaisnt the Ossetian capital in a surprise midnight raid in any way sane, legal, or legit? If you do, it is no surprise that you totally back most former imperialist moves by the United States.

When you play in the Bear's backyard, be prepared to have a claw scrape your ass when you piss this beast off.

Russia would be smart to take control of any oil pipelines going into Wester Europe, and to demand that Saakashvili face a war crimes tribunal.

Never, never, should Georgia be allowed to invite troops from a hostile, villanous, foreign super-power (the USA), a power that has shown a total lack of concern for civilian lives as it tries to straddle the globe and impose its greedy will on all.

eff that. Russian nationalism and sensitivities should be respected. The stoodges for the US empire can mock these sensibilities if they wish--but I doubt the yahoo patriots that swallow US npr/corporate propaganda will be filing into the recruiting offices to fight in the backyard of the Bear. They'd rather watch sports, eat fast food, watch sit-coms, and terrorize nature with jet-skis and atvs. And the NPR liberals won't be sending their kids off to fight the Bear--they are smarter and more hypocritical for that. Fighting is for the poor and ignorant--the real victims of the US lib/conserv ruling classes and their delusions of martial grandeur.