[ExI] putin and the three pirates problem

Brian Manning Delaney listsb at infinitefaculty.org
Wed Mar 5 23:56:09 UTC 2014

El 2014-03-05 04:54, Aleksei Riikonen escribió:
> On Wed, Mar 5, 2014 at 3:53 AM, Brian Manning Delaney
> <listsb at infinitefaculty.org> wrote:
>> El 2014-03-04 19:53, Aleksei Riikonen escribió:
>>> (Also, I personally *want* NATO to break-up, since we could
>>> then have a German-led military alliance in Europe  [...].
>> Germany's track record with its use of appreciable military
>> power isn't exactly enviable.
> There's no sense in arguing that that'd have anything to do with the
> Germany of today, just like Americans aren't necessarily particularly
> prone to supporting race-based slavery because their Founding Fathers
> practiced it.

Well, eight or so generations is a different matter from two or so. (And 
I'm not sure the attitudes that made slavery possible have changed so 
radically, alas....)

There is no historical exception to the following rule: when Europeans 
have "super" power, really bad things happen. But it doesn't mean it 
would have to happen again. But I still would prefer a deteriorating US 
superpower to a resurgent European one, if I had to choose. (But things 
may look different in twenty years.)

Personally, I would love to see what would happen if Australia could be 
the next superpower (which it can't because it's population is too low). 
It has so many things in common with the US it would sort of be like a 
Take 2 on the experiment of a geographically huge country with strong 
historical connections to the UK, and with tons of resources and a 
diverse though, at least to begin with, mostly Western European population.

>>> I see the US as being on the somewhat inevitable road of
>>> becoming a very nasty plutocratic police state
>> All industrially developed countries are on that same path. It's just more
>> obvious in the case of the US, because the US is a superpower.
> The plutocracy part is pretty universal, but the nastiness thing can
> only really happen with large and strong countries, and not with e.g.
> Iceland, since small democracies necessarily have only small power
> apparatuses that can't easily get very far removed from the people.

Well, the UK seems nastier than the US (with respect to snooping, etc.), 
annd it's much smaller, and shrinking (in many ways) at a faster rate.

> I also think there's a specific thing here about "empires in decline".

Agree strongly here! But, the question is whether you're right here:

> The US is about to become an empire in decline  [...].

I fear you are indeed right, but it's not obvious to me. The US has 
faced somewhat (only somewhat) similar circumstances in the past, and 
grown even stronger.

> and such is a
> circumstance particularly prone to inducing nastiness when the empire
> tries to hold on to as much of its power as it can.


>>> they don't really care about human rights or anything,
>> The US, compared to other superpowers that have existed throughout history
>> (no other comparison matters), has perhaps the greatest concern for human
>> rights. Doesn't say much, since superpowers per definition don't NEED to
>> care about others much. But still.
> It is true that the US at least *had* more concern for human rights
> than any other superpower has had, but I don't see how this'd be very
> interesting in the present situation. Mostly this just has to do with
> the US being the most recent Western superpower, anyway, and if some
> other country ends up becoming the next Western superpower, they very
> well might have significantly more concern for human rights, just
> because of the trend of increasing respect for them that has existed
> in the West at least up to now.

I don't see much of a general increase. A bit, sure, but not much 
changed for a couple centuries. And leaving the criterion of the West 
aside, compare the US of the late 1930s/early 1940s to, say, the Japan 
-- to say nothing of the Germany or even the UK (which was a pretty 
nasty entity then) of the same period. I'd say the US is exceptional, 
or, let's say "unusual", as a superpower.

And note: the biggest historical increase in concern for human rights 
may have been driven by Americans, not a wave Americans simply rode.

> So there's no American exceptionalism here, just the thing that some
> Western superpowers are more recent than others.

I think the US has been exceptional, but it's gradually falling into a 
condition of "state capture" (moneyed interests control too much power 
for that power to be taken from them), like virtually all empires 
eventually do. Of course, that's begun happening before, and the US has 
recovered. But it might not this time.


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