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Applebaums and oranges
Posted by: McQ on Tuesday, November 20, 2007

These are the columns which make me shake my head:
Casualties are definitely down. Other places suddenly seem to need more urgent attention. News coverage is shrinking, as is public interest. All of which may help explain the breath of optimism one can now detect in Washington, and even in other places, about the war in Iraq. "It will all come right in the end; wait and see" is an expression I've heard more than once. Other versions of this include: "The surge is working" and "Why doesn't the mainstream media tell the truth about our successes in Iraq?"

Though I don't especially want to perpetuate any stereotypes about the mainstream media, I have to say that this optimism is totally unwarranted. Not because things aren't improving in Iraq — it seems they are, at least for the moment — but because the collateral damage inflicted by the war on America's relationships with the rest of the world is a lot deeper and broader than most Americans have realized. It isn't just that the Iraq war invigorated the anti-Americanism that has always been latent pretty much everywhere. What's worse is the fact that — however it all comes out in the end, however successful Iraqi democracy is a decade from now — our conduct of the war has disillusioned our natural friends and supporters and thrown a lasting shadow over our military and political competence. However it all comes out, the price we've paid is too high.
A "lasting shadow over our military ... competence?" Really? I can buy the argument over our political competence, but the only thing which has kept us in Iraq and is now seeing the change taking place is our military competence. It has certainly been a process of adaptation, but the bottom line is it appears the military has successfully made the changes necessary and, if the trends we now see continue, have outlasted the opposition. And despite the caterwalling to the contrary, done it with relatively few casualties when you consider the length and breadth of the conflict.

Couple that with what the military has been asked to do outside their real areas of expertise. They've literally put governments together at local levels, helped ensure critical infrastructure is rebuilt, formed relationships with locals while training up their security forces.

Name another military anywhere in the world which could have done what ours has done.

But Anne Applebaum's piece uses that premise to talk about striking Iran. And it essentially boils down to this argument:
As for the "military option," the surest way to sell newspapers in Europe, at the moment, is to print an article hinting that the United States is about to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities. The very suggestion causes outrage, not because of rampant pacifism — "Americans are from Mars and Europeans are from Venus" — but because most commentators (and, off the record, most diplomats) believe it would fail.
Again, I have to scratch my head. Why in the world would it necessarily fail? An attack on Iran wouldn't be an invasion (which, btw, didn't "fail" in Iraq) but instead a strike to take out key Iranian nuclear facilities. That's not a difficult task, relatively speaking, for our air forces. And it is also rather easy to assess success through our "bomb damage assessment" process (and if it isn't sufficiently degraded, you hit it again).

So here's the short-form premise Applebaum is pushing. We screwed up Iraq royally. The "we" includes the military. Therefore if "we" attack Iran, based on how we screwed up Iraq, we will screw up Iran.

Two different scenarios, two different methods of attack, two different desired outcomes all lumped together. But, as Applebaum claims in her second paragraph, she doesn't want to "perpetuate stereotypes".

Uh, yeah.
 
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McQ, don’t even bother.

This is a trial run for the new talking points/meme that they’re going to trot out to try to blunt the political damage of any Iraq success/try to hamstring Bush with if Iran becomes a "hot" issue.
As for the "military option," the surest way to sell newspapers in Europe, at the moment, is to print an article hinting that the United States is about to bomb Iranian nuclear facilities. The very suggestion causes outrage, not because of rampant pacifism — "Americans are from Mars and Europeans are from Venus" — but because most commentators (and, off the record, most diplomats) believe it would fail.
Hey, if the EU wants to take the inititive and do the bombing, I’m all for it. If they succeed, hooray! If they fail, Iran retaliates at them.
the anti-Americanism that has always been latent pretty much everywhere.


our conduct of the war has disillusioned our natural friends and supporters
Our friends and supporters who are just full of latent anti-americanism?

??????

Not even coherent. Anyway, just ask Sarkozy how much we’re alienated our natural friends.
 
Written By: Shark
URL: http://
So, Appletree has a hot line to all the diplomats too eh?
Bet they call her up and have confidential chats about diplomatic stuff all the time.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
And I might have a quibble or two with this:
but because the collateral damage inflicted by the war on America’s relationships with the rest of the world is a lot deeper and broader than most Americans have realized. It isn’t just that the Iraq war invigorated the anti-Americanism that has always been latent pretty much everywhere.
I think this is another meme the mainstream press is promoting in order to support the anti-war efforts. I think that the elections of Sarkozy and Merkel speak to that dichotomy.
 
Written By: tom scott
URL: http://
McQ, you’re looking at things technically, she’s looking at it from a broad perspective. The US military attacked a small country that had been decimated by war and sanctions, and could not create security or provide for a stable political system after the regime was toppled. This suggests that the US military is relatively impotent in terms of creating internal security and stability, even if it can topple a government.

You’re arguing that the US has actually improved its military tactics and that is now yielding some success. I’d disagree there to some extent — any success we’re having comes from a political change. The goals have been altered once the original policy failed, no longer is the focus on an Iraq friendly to America with a large long term presence, able to influence the region and create a western style democracy. Now, the goal is just to make it stable enough for us to leave without too much embarrassment. To do that, we’ve moved from wanting to defeat the insurgents to buying them off. When once granting amnesty to those who had attacked Americans was seen as unacceptable, it is now something we urge. With Iran, we’ve essentially let it be known that if they cease supporting direct attacks, we’ll not try to defeat radical Shi’ite militias. Instead, we’ll make a deal with them. This assures strong Iranian influence in any future Iraq.

These are very good political choices — the original dream of a ’model Iraq’ or the US attack reshaping the region (or leading to regime change elsewhere) was never feasible. The Bush Administration has learned that, and has changed their goals, something difficult for any administration to do. I give them a lot of credit for that actually, even if they don’t come out and admit what they’ve done. In short, the policy failed so now they’re trying to achieve what Nixon would call "peace with honor."

As for Iran, most think it would fail because Iran has had so much warning that it’s unlikely that we’d be able to damage all their facilities, and an air attack would create a nationalist pro-government backlash in Iran which would help the regime and perhaps give it rationale to leave the NPT and increase ties with China and Russia.

In short, America’s status in the world is declining like the dollar. We are not the hyperpower we once were, the Iraq war showed inherent weaknesses and created a true anti-American backlash. I hope that will be mended because the West, working together, can do a lot of good in the world. America alone, focusing on military power, cannot.

Sarkozy and Merkel recognize what most European leaders recognize: partnership with the US can do a lot of good, and the Bush administration has changed course diplomatically too, reaching out and compromising in ways he didn’t do early on. However their elections say nothing about anti-Americanism, they won on domestic economic issues, and the weaknesses of their opponents. I never have seen anti-Americanism as dramatic in Europe as in recent years. However, I think it’s easily repairable if our policies change, and again, Bush has been changing course quietly — though in a way European leaders recognize and appreciate.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Yes, there has been a strong investment in the "Vallandigham platform".
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
any success we’re having comes from a political change.
Thanks Erb, we’ve all been waiting for that politcal change.
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
Thanks Erb, we’ve all been waiting for that politcal change.
Unfortunately it took the Bush Administration a long time to recognize the failure of their policy and accept that they had to radically reduce and alter their goals, and change their form of diplomacy. If they’d realized this in late 2003, things could have gone much better. The Bush Administration didn’t really accept the failure of the policy until late 2005 and into 2006. But better late than never. The sooner we can get out of there the better, this has been and continues to be a real drag on our country.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Erb sez:
I never have seen anti-Americanism as dramatic in Europe as in recent years.
I was stationed in Germany from 64-70. I remember much more anti-Americanism which, for me, culminated in the bombing of the officer’s club in Heidelberg.
But then I may be a little older than history professor Erb.
 
Written By: tom scott
URL: http://
Prof,
We’re there, and will be there for the remainder of your lifetime. Don’t hold your breath for a total withdrawal.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://

We’re there, and will be there for the remainder of your lifetime.
Sure, just like we’ll be greeted as liberators, oil revenues will pay for the war, it probably won’t even last six months, Iraq will be a model, etc. I suspect if we’re "there" in any significant number in the future, the "there" will be in Kurdistan.

Tom S. - the radicals of the late sixties were not broadly supported (quite the opposite, in fact); public support for the US was broad, especially in places like Germany. It dwindled a bit during the missile modernization crisis, but overall nothing like in recent years.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Here is a really interesting article about anti-Americanism and its history in Europe.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
it probably won’t even last six months
Uh, no. The public was warned from the very start that this was going to be a long, difficult process.
 
Written By: Ted
URL: rocketjones.mu.nu
Memories are short. The primary argument for not attacking in both Afghanistan and Iraq was that neither were conquerable.

Don’t you recall?

Afghanistan was the "graveyard for armies". From the British to the Soviets, all invaders were decimated. Winters were harsh. Mountains were hideouts for all sorts of fierce fighters who could never be beaten with force.

Iraq would fight to the death. The fourth (or fifth) largest army in the world. The latest Soviet tanks. House to House fighting in Baghdad. It would be Worse than Stalingrad.

Of course, in both countries the invasions went far better than expected. It was really a "cakewalk" as invasions go. Normandy’s casualties the first day were nearly double four year figures for both Afghanistan and Iraq.

In Afghanistan, the follow up was not as successful as the invasion, but was also much beter than most endeavors of this kind. Karzai is a relatively fair minded, competant and charismatic leader, and despite many difficulties, is making reasonable headway towards a stable government.

In Iraq, the wrong tactics and strategy were applied during the first several years of the follow up to the invasion. Part of the problem was that politically, the US could not act like an "occupying power".

But the strategy shifted. Tactics have changed. Things seem to be going better.

Now folks like Appelbaum start up on Iran. And we haven’t done anything there yet.
 
Written By: vnjagvet
URL: http://www.yargb.blogspot.com
Why bother pleasing the Europeans? They’re like that "friend" who pesters you to start smoking, just because he does it and wants to convince himself that it’s cool instead of stupid.

Instead, just go read this, and understand something about the true cost of the vaunted Europeans’ long-term strategy:
If America were to follow the Europeans and maintain only shriveled attenuated residual military capacity, the world would very quickly be nastier and bloodier, and far more unstable. It’s not just Americans and Iraqis and Afghans who owe a debt of thanks to the U.S. soldier but all the Europeans grown plump and prosperous in a globalized economy guaranteed by the most benign hegemon in history.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Maybe Erb needs to call up his Mom again to refresh his memory:

"If all your friends ran off a cliff would you?"

European approval or disapproval of our foreign policy should be taken with this grain of salt.

 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Sure, just like we’ll be greeted as liberators, oil revenues will pay for the war, it probably won’t even last six months, Iraq will be a model, etc. I suspect if we’re "there" in any significant number in the future, the "there" will be in Kurdistan.
Pity you weren’t around in 1945 - you could have pontificated on how swiftly
our presence in Germany would be down to an embassy guard.

This one proves once more, you really don’t get it.
Remember Scott, you yourself claim we’re ’imperialists’.
We don’t just go home.
You can suspect what you like, we’ll be closer to Baghdad than you are to Portland for years to come.

As to Iraq ’being a model’, don’t rule that out. We learned something and changed our methods, you said so yourself.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Frankly, I think the kind of imperialist "we’re benign, we’re great" sort of rhetoric is silly, and given America’s current decline, it sounds shill and defensive. Europe learned the hard way the cost of imperial power and war as statecraft. They have now fashioned a system that works well with the EU, and they certainly don’t really need the US any more than the US needs them. The Europeans know that if the US would abandon militarism (and instead use military means only when absolutely necessary), and focus on real global problems, we could as partners do much good. But if the US wants to engage in dangerous militarist adventurism such as in Iraq, it’ll only hasten the American decline. Meanwhile, European connections with China and Russia grow, and the US risks marginalization.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Boris Erb writes:

McQ, you’re looking at things technically, she’s looking at it from a broad perspective.
Ah, no, McQ is looking at the situation realistically, and with a strong background on the military effort. She is looking at things from the wrong end of the telescope. Her perspective isn’t broad, it’s ridiculously narrow.

And you, Boris, have the "tragedy of victory" perspective of the self-loathing American concerned about how much more your friends in Europe hate American success even more than they savor American failure.

Well, at least in you they can enjoy an exemplar of American failure, so don’t worry too much about your next trip to the Continent.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
What the Continental Europeans fashioned is the ornamental trim on the Pax Americana.

American decline, yeah, keep talking (wishing).

Only when clowns like the current Democratic congress and Presidents like Carter get into power.
Been here, done this, have the T-shirt.
Don’t need another, thanks.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
And the only ’shill’ sounds I hear are from your constant harpings about our plunge to doom caused by "booooooooooooo!!!!! quagmire!!!!!!" Iraq.

Shill is a good word though, very apropos.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Meanwhile, European connections with China and Russia grow, and the US risks marginalization.
Because, after all, European connections with Russia have worked out so well in the past...

Scott, you did study history at some point, didn’t you?
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Because, after all, European connections with Russia have worked out so well in the past...

Scott, you did study history at some point, didn’t you?
Yes, European history quite extensively. I’ve also looked quite a bit at the history of German-Russian relations particularly.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
China and Russia
Russia -
Putin doing so much to give the Norwegians, Swedish, Finnish, English practice with scrambling their fighter jets these days and all. I’m sure the Euros are happy with his recent venture back into sabre rattling just for the sake of hearing the sabre rattle to recall the ’good old days’ of Stalin and the Greater Soviet.
I’m sure the Polish, Germans, Latvians, Estonians, Hungarians, Lithuanians, Romanians, Czechs, etc are eager to embrace Russian power again.

China -
as long as the Americans are around to keep the peace, the Europeans will be happy to stick with practicing business instead of worrying about being armed.
And thereby hangs any relationship they will have with China so long as China continues to sell them lawn furniture, cheap electronics and flip-flops for the beach at reasonable prices. They are only upset with us when we do something that costs them business opportunities.

Your ’American decline’ fantasy is getting very tiring.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
What the Continental Europeans fashioned is the ornamental trim on the Pax Americana.

American decline, yeah, keep talking (wishing).
Well, Looker, we’ll have to disagree on our analysis of the current situation. However, I think you may be driven more by emotion/nationalism than a rational assessment of the situation (that’s evidenced by how you fantasize that my assessment is somehow wishful thinking — with two young children a true decline of the US is not something I want!) The evidence is very powerful pointing to a decline, and the limited value of American military power. You can mock that, or we can discuss the differences. It’s OK to disagree, but ask yourself it’s more your gut or your brain making the call.

The Europeans know Russia isn’t going to attack, they can’t. And they aren’t afraid of China, they’re more worried about US adventurism creating instability. Seriously, you need to think through these issues and get into detail. Also, note the US current accounts deficit, the declining value of the dollar, who holds the most American assets in the form of currency and portfolio investment. Check out this article from the Wall Street Journal about oil production and think of what that might mean for the future. Iraq was classic imperial overstretch, and as the military loses personnel (AWOL number are high and getting higher, recruiting is difficult) and the public certainly does not want military involvement like this again, what exactly do you see to be a source of American power? Our nukes?
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
what exactly do you see to be a source of American power? Our nukes?
I think you’ll find I’m one of the least likely to suggest any kind of military action, and certainly not a believer in the threat of our nukes hanging over everyone’s head to demonstrate how wonderful and powerful we are.

No, what makes me see our ’power’ and influence, is having lived through phases where things were infintely worse both nationally and internationally.
You allege to have lived through the same period, but I can only conclude you were paying attention to your books rather than what was going on at the time.

In case you missed it, the world opinion of us today is not even marginally close to what it was during the height of the Vietnam war.
National opinion against the government is also not even marginally what it was during that period.

The countries you worry about gaining influence now, China and Russia, considered us their deadly enemy. Now we do business with both of them.
they’re more worried about US adventurism creating instability.
Only when, as I said, it impacts their ability to do business.
And I’m not going to sweat a temporary trade imbalance, I’ve seen too many to worry about it.

But stick with your narrative, in addition to giving you something to teach, it seems to give you comfort.

And feel free to tout your ability to be unemotional, rational, etc while all around are being irrational and emotional. You always do at some point in these posts. It’s a steady fall back position for you.

I’m working from personal experience, what you’re working from, is your cold analytical ability to see things that confirm whatever view you’re currently espousing.

The biggest overstretching going on here is your sermons about our national decline.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
What’s worse is the fact that — however it all comes out in the end, however successful Iraqi democracy is a decade from now — our conduct of the war has disillusioned our natural friends and supporters and thrown a lasting shadow over our military and political competence. However it all comes out, the price we’ve paid is too high.
Actually, I would say that our winning of the war has disillusioned our natural enemies and detractors from any notion that they have the ability to stymie American intentions. We can and will act unilaterally when needed, and they have now been shown to be powerless to stop or hinder that.
 
Written By: Phelps
URL: http://phelps.donotremove.net
In case you missed it, the world opinion of us today is not even marginally close to what it was during the height of the Vietnam war.
National opinion against the government is also not even marginally what it was during that period.
I disagree completely. Where are you getting your data? Also you say our situation was "infinitely worse" in the recent past. Regardless of the overstatement (infinitely), I have to disagree with that completely. Even in the post-Vietnam era when a scandal involving the President and a sudden oil crisis hit, the US was in a position of economic global dominance, and the Soviet Union was only approaching nuclear parity. Perhaps you remember the ’mood’ of the late seventies, but that was more a very short term reaction to the Iran crisis, and was over as soon as oil prices dropped.

No, what’s happening is probably inevitable. The US was the only remaining superpower after the Cold War. Other countries inevitably see a unipolar power as a potential threat and want to limit its power; the unipolar power gets tempted to think that exercise of power will allow it to expand security and shape the system. The result is fiascos like Kosovo and Iraq, which really shows the limits of that power. Economically, the US has run an unsustainable current accounts deficit for years, meaning the dollar has been overvalued. That’s finally starting to deflate — which it inevitably would. The global economic system is rebalancing to recognize the weakened status of the US. Did you read the Wall Street Journal article (hardly a bastion of liberalism) on oil? What will that mean for our economy and the global economy? How about for countries like Russia, Venezuela, and Iran? What about the on going cost of Iraq?

Saudi Arabia has been openly critical of the US recently, and OPEC is even thinking of pricing oil in Euros. Where is US power in all of this? What prospects can you provide? Saying it in vague terms "things have been better, things have been worse" doesn’t even address the issue. To be sure, I do not begrudge you disagreeing with my analysis and interpretation of the evidence. That’s fine — there can and should be numerous perspectives out there. But you don’t really give a reason to accept your position. Disagree with me, but I’m giving your my reasons, and I can go into the analysis deeper if you wish. But all empires and great powers rise and fall. I think we can actually avoid a fall if we simply shift course and embrace a cooperative policy. Ironically, I think George W. Bush is moving along that direction, especially if it’s true that he’s sided with Rice over Cheney about Iran and military options.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Actually, I would say that our winning of the war has disillusioned our natural enemies and detractors from any notion that they have the ability to stymie American intentions. We can and will act unilaterally when needed, and they have now been shown to be powerless to stop or hinder that.
That’s simply wrong. First, I’m not sure who you mean by ’natural enemies,’ but any potential rivals like Iran have been delighted to see how unable we’ve been to shape politics in Iraq to the point that now we’ve accepted considerable de facto Iranian involvement with Iraqi parties. Iraq and Iran are allies. The cost of this "war," including how it has turned the American public more anti-war than any time since Vietnam (the Iraq syndrome will make the Vietnam syndrome look mild), assures lack of public will for "unilateral action." The ability of insurgent groups and rag tag terrorists to tie the US down shows a deep weakness in our supposed strength, and that has created much less fear of US power. We are neither as respected nor feared as we were just five years ago.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
What’s worse is the fact that — however it all comes out in the end, however successful Iraqi democracy is a decade from now — our conduct of the war has disillusioned our natural friends and supporters and thrown a lasting shadow over our military and political competence. However it all comes out, the price we’ve paid is too high.
Actually, I would say that our winning of the war has disillusioned our natural enemies and detractors from any notion that they have the ability to stymie American intentions. We can and will act unilaterally when needed, and they have now been shown to be powerless to stop or hinder that.
Nailed. Well done.

The fact that this is the opposite opinion to that held by various university professors is probably your best evidence that you’re on the right track.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Actually, I would say that our winning of the war has disillusioned our natural enemies and detractors from any notion that they have the ability to stymie American intentions. We can and will act unilaterally when needed, and they have now been shown to be powerless to stop or hinder that.

Nailed. Well done.

The fact that this is the opposite opinion to that held by various university professors is probably your best evidence that you’re on the right track.
Billy, either you are being funny, or you are so lost in your own blog world that you have completely lost sight of wider reality. The cost of Iraq and the difficulty we had shows our weakness. Add to that the Afghanistan war, and the fact 2007 has had the most American deaths, and things seem to be getting worse there rather than better as well. The fact we’ve already abandoned unilateralism shows that we won’t go that route any more. The fact our society is more anti-war than any time since after the Vietnam war shows there won’t be a public will to engage in such pointless adventurism again. Iraq has been an utter fiasco, with enormous costs (and its not over) and not real benefits. Perhaps rather than unsupported chest thumping you might try things like analysis, consideration of evidence, and engaging different opinions?

But that post above is so over the top I think you’ve got to be just trying to jerk my chain with obviously absurd comments.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Hollis writes:
The fact that this is the opposite opinion to that held by various university professors is probably your best evidence that you’re on the right track.
That’s correct. The "international politics" types on the American university campus seem not to be able to qualify for their positions unless they can recycle the KGB line from the Cold War without ever being distracted by facts.

It’s a most curious phenomenon.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
I can go into the analysis deeper if you wish.
I have, read, at great length, your analysis for as long as you’ve posted here.
It’s always the same. You aren’t going to add anything fresh to your arguments. You can drag in whatever current event you like, because there’s always something that points to "American decline!" in the press. Yet we just seem to keep on keepin on.

Kosovo was a fiasco? I disagreed with it, but consider it a fiasco? I don’t think so.

Feared....
Is it important to you that we are ’feared’?
I’ve never thought of that as a positive thing.
A country to be reckoned with, yes, but feared, no.
The only people I want to fear us are holed up in little caves in the outer reaches of Afghanistan.
I don’t want the average Iranian to fear us, not in the sense of ’fear’ I think you mean. I want them to know we can take them down, but I’d prefer they not push it to that point because I’d rather we didn’t have to demonstrate how powerful we can be.

Nope, you actually ’enjoy’ telling everyone we’re in decline. You’re one of those people. Probably plays real well at thoughtful parties where you hold forth. You’re a doom and gloom kinda guy Scott because it makes you appear wise and knowledgeable.
I’m not one of your students, my grade doesn’t depend on buying your sorry view of your country and by extension, your countrymen. I have enough real world historical and personal experience to know I can safely disagree with your view of reality without having to wade through another of your lectures.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
The fact we’ve already abandoned unilateralism shows that we won’t go that route any more.
OK, that statement was soooo stupid I just have to point and laugh.
Nope, you actually ’enjoy’ telling everyone we’re in decline. You’re one of those people. Probably plays real well at thoughtful parties where you hold forth. You’re a doom and gloom kinda guy Scott because it makes you appear wise and knowledgeable.
I’m not one of your students, my grade doesn’t depend on buying your sorry view of your country and by extension, your countrymen. I have enough real world historical and personal experience to know I can safely disagree with your view of reality without having to wade through another of your lectures.
Wow. That nailed it. Say Goodnight.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
Boris Erb bleats:
The cost of Iraq and the difficulty we had shows our weakness.
What’s the cost, Boris?

Our deficits are now below the 40-year average.

The cost of Iraq as a percentage of GDP should bring criticism of Bush for running a bargain-basement war.

Is it the time-frame that’s got you fooled? Of course, because the terrorists know who their target audience is: You! They gained nothing, stretched out the car bombings (which never failed to excite your craving for failure), but managed to kill plenty of Iraqis along the way, which a creep like you turns around and blames on the U.S.

We’re finally reshaping what was the most unstable nation-state in the most unstable and most destabilizing region in the world, and you’re off in the corner chewing on your everpresent belief in failure.

It all must be a failure, you see! It simply must!

Now you’re bleating on about how Iran is so happy. Funny, Boris, how they don’t look or act so happy. Totally losing any sort of international demeanor and managing to look ridiculous for years now. With even Putin reporting that they’re lunatics gone out of control.

How it must suck so tremendously to be you, Boris. It must suck like an 11th Avenue hooker on Saturday night to be you.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
and the fact 2007 has had the most American deaths
You keep bringing that up. Don’t you understand the reason behind the numbers? We’ve engaged the enemy more in 2007...more troops on the ground, more fighting, so more casualties. But US deaths have declined markedly of late. Here’s something I found in The Nation, a bastion of conservative thought:
U.S. combat deaths in Iraq for the last month have dropped by more than two-thirds compared with October of last year, while the total death toll has been reduced almost 50 percent since September.
Just think about what the number really means before you use it again.

As far as costs go, in inflation-adjusted dollars, this is the least expensive war the US has ever engaged in.

 
Written By: Steverino
URL: http://
But US deaths have declined markedly of late.
I think he was referring specifically to Afghanistan when he brought up the increased deaths (since the #/month has been fairly consistent — although, the deaths are spread around the nationalities quite a bit for it being so "unilateral.")
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
WOW...all these anti-Iraq war marches we have going on in Washington, Paris, Madrid Rome, Berlin, and London.
Yes indeed, it’s just like it was during Vietnam, the world hates us, hates us!
Americans are unwelcome everywhere we go throughout Europe!

And Oil!
Oh my Gosh! We’re running out!
And gas! it’s so expensive when you can even get it!
I sat in a line the other day,
there must have been... one person at the pump in front of me trying to get gas!
It was a panic!
People were acting all crazy, getting out of their cars!
Pumping the gas themselves!
And we could only fill our tanks once every time we went!
I had to wait 5 minutes to get it!
Wow, it’s all coming back to me now, just like then!!!!
It’s bad, bad!

The Russians and the Chinese,
they’re...
they’re talking to us!
They’re talking about trade deficits!
A cheap shoe gap is developing between us and Red China!
And Russia!
Getting good Vodka gets tougher and tougher every day!
It’s madness! madness I’m telling you!

Bush has destroyed the country for a mad imperialist venture in Iraq!
The US, it’s, it’s in decline!
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
And meanwhile, in peaceful Russia
President Vladimir Putin cautioned Tuesday that Russia would increase the combat-readiness of its strategic nuclear forces to ensure a "swift and adequate response to any aggressor."
I’m sure the Euros will appreciate this calm Russian determination to lob nukes at ’any aggressor’, because they’re REALLY worried about the US and the ’war’ in Iraq.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Steverino asks Boris Erb to do the impossible regarding the number of deaths of U.S. troops in Iraq this year after explaining the obvious to him:
Just think about what the number really means before you use it again.
Most scholars agree that Boris does not do "what the number really means."

Boris has never had much luck with "one thing at a time," either.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Did I mention the SDS and Weather Underground and SLA blowing up ROTC offices on college campuses, robbing armored cars, and destroying college science buildings where work is going on that might have links to military research being done for the Iraq war?

And I heard President Bush is implementing a wage/price freeze called Phase I!

oh wurrah wurrah wurrah!

 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Looker, you like to try to ridicule, and that’s cute and all, but you don’t really counter my position or give any reason to accept what you’re saying. In the end, it appears you have nothing but bluster — no reason, no analysis. In my position I need to consider evidence and analysis in judging US foreign policy, and weigh different perspectives. Next semester I teach a course on American Foreign Policy, so I have to really think through and do justice to a variety of perspectives. But you apparently can’t counter mine, you try to ridicule it, but it seems a bit vacuous. You don’t deny I thing I say, you don’t defend any claim about what kind of power the US has. Your posts are, frankly, devoid of substance.

And your weird cyberpsychoanalysis that I "enjoy" telling people we’re in decline seems bizarre. First, whether or not I "enjoy" it (I don’t, but that’s beside the point) is irrelevant. What matters is whether or not I’m accurate in my analysis. I tend to take an historical view towards things, and my outlook is in many ways very conservative — I defend Samuel Huntington, for instance, against those on the left who attack his theory (and I don’t think they understand it at a number of levels).

So maybe calm down, there is no need to get emotional. I have an analysis of world politics in the early 21st century that sees the United States in decline for a variety of reasons: a) economic (high debt load, current accounts deficit, reliance on oil, a commodity increasing rapidly in price, credit woes, etc.); b) the inability to project power effectively; c) domestic — division and ineffective policies at home; d) the rise of other states in terms of economic power; and e) the decreased importance of raw military power. The US is also following a classical pattern of great power overstretch and decline.

I also think there is a way to remedy that, it’s not too late.

As for Kosovo — I could go into it more, but it also was a policy that failed on its own terms, and probably caused more harm than good — the mass exodus of ethnic Albanians began AFTER the bombing started, after all.

As for the SDS and stuff — those were radical fringe groups. Yeah, thankfully such groups are less common now. But what does that have to do with any of my points? Again, you can’t really counter my argument — yet clearly it irritates you and you feel a need to write something, even if it’s ridicule rather than substance.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
What matters is whether or not I’m accurate in my analysis
Correct...
I have an analysis of world politics in the early 21st century that sees the United States in decline for a variety of reasons: a) economic (high debt load, current accounts deficit, reliance on oil, a commodity increasing rapidly in price, credit woes, etc.); b) the inability to project power effectively; c) domestic — division and ineffective policies at home; d) the rise of other states in terms of economic power; and e) the decreased importance of raw military power. The US is also following a classical pattern of great power overstretch and decline
.

And so if that’s your analysis, it’s wrong.
And I’m not the only one who’s told you that, is telling you that, and will tell you that.
It happens here almost every time you post this ’decline’ drivel.

I’m telling you every single thing you point to as an example of our coming decline is something we’ve already, in my life time, seen, survived, and surmounted. And having done so once, I see absolutely no reason to believe we cannot do so again.
In the process we ’defeated’ two major military rivals in proxy wars and turned them into trading partners!
By ’project power’ - what, do you mean we can’t use our Army to hunt down weasels hiding in foreign countries? Because if you’re talking about our ability to absolutely, positively destroy your military almost overnight, it seems like we’re a hell of a lot better at it than we’ve ever been.

Dependence on Oil? As opposed to what period in time?
Before we started using it?
There’s no shortage. Still lots, but...sob...we’re just having to pay more than we like.

In fact, I’m certain it’s better now than it was when I was growing up, and I base that on the average news from all over the world, and the average news from here in this country.
As for the SDS and stuff — those were radical fringe groups. Yeah, thankfully such groups are less common now
Less common now? My, you ARE the master of understatement!
At certain schools you used to take your life in your hands going to class because some group of wackos was going to level the science building.
When did that last happen here?
what does that have to do with any of my points?
It’s a sign of decline Scott. A sign of divisions so dramatic people are resorting to violent violent action to express their disagreements.
You look at this stupidity between the Democrats and the Republicans and act as if relations between the parties has traditionally been very cordial, when a look at history since the Civil War will demonstrate it’s probably been at least this divisive in several other periods.
I also think there is a way to remedy that, it’s not too late.
There’s lots of ways and I expect we’ll find them long before we ’decline’.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
And, by the way, no one, with the exception of countries like the tunes in Iran and North Korea, would WANT our current job.

They’re quite happy to have you and I and McQ send in our yearly tax offering to keep the Pax Americana running, and send our kids in harms way to settle their petty@ss ancient arguments while critizing the things we do.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Looker, you like to try to ridicule me, and I guess that makes sense since I’m such a vapid, clueless person, but you don’t really counter my position or give any reason to accept what you’re saying. Well, no reason I’ll ever admit, anyway. Or if you did counter it, I’d just post a few thousand repetitious words that proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that my completely objective analysis is so much better than anything produced by someone grounded in the real world.

In the end, it appears you have nothing but bluster. Well, I call it bluster. I mean, I don’t really know the difference, since I bluster a lot myself. In my position I need to consider evidence and analysis in judging US foreign policy, and weigh different perspectives, but I don’t really do that. I just toe whatever the anti-American line is.

Next semester I teach a course on American Foreign Policy, so I have to really think through and do justice to a variety of perspectives. Of course, all of those perspectives will be anti-American, but then there’s no reason to admit that any of those neocon nuts might be anywhere close to the truth, is there?

But you apparently can’t counter, or at least you won’t because you’ve learned that I’ll simply deny any facts or logic you put in front of me, no matter how obvious they are. You try to ridicule it, but it seems a bit vacuous to me because I have absolutely no sense of humor and would not recognize something funny if it came up and slapped me in the face and said "Hey, I’m funny!" But I’m pretty sure it’s vacuous. And let me tell you, I know vacuous. I’m the champion of vacuous prose.

You don’t deny I thing I say, since you know how pointless that would be, and you don’t defend any claim about what kind of power the US has. I don’t know what that last phrase means, but it certainly sounds impressive, don’t you think.

And your weird cyberpsychoanalysis that I "enjoy" telling people we’re in decline seems bizarre. The fact that I take relish in repeating those things over and over and over again means nothing, really.

Anyway, whether or not I "enjoy" it (I don’t think I do, but I’m pretty clueless about my own motivations) is irrelevant. What matters is whether or not I’m accurate in my analysis. And I’m always sure that I am. I’m a professor of such things, and I teach a class in them, so I must be accurate. I tend to take an historical view towards things, though my history is limited, as any qualified academic’s must be, to stuff about how bad America ia. And my outlook is in many ways very conservative, if you define conservative as "not quite as far left as Noam Chomsky." I defend Samual Huntington, for instance, against those on the left who attack his theory, and I don’t think they understand it at a number of levels. Neither do I, of course, but I have to pretend I do so that I can pontificate about him to my students, and to you of course. But believe me, I don’t enjoy pontificating! No, not at all. I am just here to teach you ignorant neo-con proles about the finer points of why America is such an inevitable failure and the Europeans have it all figured out. That naturally requires me to completely ignore the economic, military, and demographic decline of Europe, but I’m experienced in ignoring data that contradicts my opinions, as all leftist academics must be.

So maybe calm down, there is no need to get emotional. I’m not emotional. No matter what kind of idiot people accuse me of being, I just plod on trying to educate the poor sods, doing my best to emulate Data on Star Trek as the totally dispassionate, objective observer.

I have an analysis of world politics in the early 21st century that sees the United States in decline for a variety of reasons: a) economic (high debt load, current accounts deficit, reliance on oil, a commodity increasing rapidly in price, credit woes, etc.); b) the inability to project power effectively; c) domestic — division and ineffective policies at home; d) the rise of other states in terms of economic power; and e) the decreased importance of raw military power. The US is also following a classical pattern of great power overstretch and decline.

Now, you might say that factors a, b, c and d apply in spades to the Europeans too, but they’re certainly not in decline. No way. I can’t come up with convincing sounding rationalizations for that this instant, but give me some time and I’ll come back with a few thousand words on why it makes perfect sense.

As for the SDS and stuff — those were radical fringe groups. Yeah, thankfully such groups are less common now. But what does that have to do with any of my points? Things are just bad, and it’s really unfair for you to point out that they are not as bad as they were before. I just know intuitively how horribly bad and awful things are. Again, my expertise as a professor gives me special intuition about such things, and it’s so foolish to doubt me that I don’t understand why you do it.

Again, you can’t really counter my argument, as least not with anything I’ll admit counters it. Of course, I have to bend my own position into a pretzel-liek state and deny obvious things like you SDS point to say that, but we university professors are trained in such things. Clearly that irritates you and you feel a need to write something, even if it’s ridicule rather than substance. And others do exactly the same thing, all the time. I just don’t understand it.
 
Written By: Ott Scerb
URL: http://clueless.maine.edu
If the US is "in decline", Professor, who would you say is ascending?

Great Britain? France? Germany? Spain? Italy, Russia? China? India? Vietnam?

Of course, some of these countries might be ascending because they have a long way to go to get to where we are now.

 
Written By: vnjagvet
URL: http://www.yargb.blogspot.com

And so if that’s your analysis, it’s wrong.
And I’m not the only one who’s told you that, is telling you that, and will tell you that.
It happens here almost every time you post this ’decline’ drivel.
Funny, but asserting "you’re wrong" isn’t really a response. You have to explain why you think I’m wrong. So far, you don’t.

You say you’ve survived everything I’ve mentioned. No. That’s my point. While it might have appeared similar in feel (people protesting or something), the structural conditions — the relative power, the state of the world and American economy, and the fundamental conditions facing the US — are different. The SDS and all that — those aren’t at all signs of decline, that was part of a broad terrorist movement that hit Europe far harder than the US, and weakened as a whole by the eighties (weakening earlier here than in Europe). Also, did you read the WSJ article I linked to about oil? Do you understand what the rise of China and globalization means for America’s relative economic and political power? Do you comprehend what the end of the Cold War means, and how interdepedent we’ve become — and how sovereignty overall has weakened in the international system in the previous decades.

I’ll post a longer explanation later — gotta get the kids ready for bed now. But if you’ll put aside the ridicule and disdain perhaps we can have a serious discussion about why I — and many others — believe that conditions have changed in the international system in a way that has serious negative ramifications for the US, in a way that didn’t exist before. I’ll take your arguments seriously as you make them, but you need to return the favor. Anyone can just stick to their biases and mock someone who takes a different perspective. Real dialogue is how you explore contradictory claims and try to figure out what the truth is.

My approach is rooted in history, international relations theory, and comparative analysis. It may be wrong, but it’s just the kind of knee jerk "things are bad so we must be in decline" as you seem to imagine it to be.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Oh, a couple of articles from this week’s Economist:
http://economist.com/opinion/displayStory.cfm?Story_ID=10134118

http://economist.com/world/na/displaystory.cfm?story_id=10134077
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
slide:
"In the end, it appears you have nothing but bluster — no reason, no analysis."
It’s like watching the string retract on one of those early talking dolls back in the 60’s.

You could just about set your watch around this stock dump of his.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
I’ll take your arguments seriously as you make them, but you need to return the favor. Anyone can just stick to their biases and mock someone who takes a different perspective. Real dialogue is how you explore contradictory claims and try to figure out what the truth is.
Don’t you ever get tired of playing the holier than thou card?
You say you’ve survived everything I’ve mentioned.
I didn’t say I’d survived all that, I said the country did.
Big difference.
I was just along for the ride, doing what I was supposed to be doing,
despite the gloom filled predictions from people like you with their doomsday clocks and their decline of Western Civilization courses.

Disdain? Yep, I’m just that way when it comes to this subject.
Comes of having to endure listening to this "America headin down" stuff in college.
Good to see you educators are still at it these 30+ years later.
If you keep at it long enough, you folks will probably be right someday.
Meanwhile it’s important to keep the story going, pass it on to the next generation of boo birds.
You have to explain why you think I’m wrong. So far, you don’t.
Yeah, I did, you just didn’t like the answer. I don’t have to explain any further why I think you’re wrong, and frankly, don’t see the point.
I’ll post a longer explanation later
You already have, all over the place here.
If it’s not AGW, it’s Iraq and the decline of the United States on the world stage.
Two of your favorite subjects.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
It’s like watching the string retract on one of those early talking dolls back in the 60’s.
At least I don’t take seriously philosophers who engage in literal non-sense with propositions like "existence exists."
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
If you knew sh*t about philosophy and its history, you might be on your way to understanding just how important that assertion is to the last century or so.

You are a howling fool, Erb.

When you’re not outright lying.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Looker, you’re obviously emotionally upset to hear an argument that America is in decline. Here’s the facts:

1) Public and private debt started increasing at a massive rate around 1980, with private debt growing quickly from 1990 on. During that time the US went to being the world’s largest debtor nation (having been earlier the largest creditor). The US economy shifted from industrialization to service economy, with emerging markets like China and India growing fast, and competing for oil. US Debt went from 30% of GDP in 1980, quickly to 70% of GDP.

2) From 1980 to the present the US managed to hide some of the structural problems by enjoying some of the lowest oil prices in history while running up a huge debt. The private debt increase was due to a credit boom, which fueled two bubbles: the stock bubble and the housing bubble. The latter led to more debt as people kept the economy going through consumer spending through home equity loans. Those have dried up. We’re now in deep debt, with recession looming.

3) The current accounts deficit is unsustainable at 6% of GDP. That means the dollar is overvalued. While the bubbles existed we pulled in enough foreign capital to keep the capital account high, financing the current accounts deficit. Now that the bubbles have collapsed and credit is in crisis, that is collapsing, meaning the dollar is losing value fast. That also means oil prices are rising faster for us than, say, the Europeans, and the dollar becomes a less important currency. The US economy has never been in this position in recent years, you’ve not experienced this EVER. Times in the past where you think things were bad our economy was in much, much stronger structural shape.

4) The capital account "boom" meant that countries like Japan, China and Saudi Arabia purchased large amounts of American currency, as well as portfolio investment. That gives them a chunk of the economy that is unprecedented — and if the dollar keeps falling, they could add to the woes by pulling out and shifting their investments elsewhere.

In short, the US economy is in a structural mess, with no clear way out, and dependent upon foreign investment and the service sector. Again, this is unprecedented, you’ve not experienced this before. The bubbles have burst, oil prices are high, and as the WSJ article shows, production is leveling off as demand continues to increase.

This creates an obvious conclusion: the US is in economic decline. Not a radical collapse, just a fall from dominance, and more dependent on others than before. This will force us to be less unilateral in foreign policy, and more responsive to other states — circumstances are forcing humility on us.

5) Militarily the us spends half the world’s military budget and is stationed all over the globe. This has created a kind of empire, which Charles Krauthammer labeled a ’unipolar power.’ This unipolarity naturally creates competitors for power, and insecurity in others. China, Russia and others have been working to undercut US influence, and supporting countries like Iran. The EU recognizes that the future is not dependent on the US, and their interest lie in forging closer ties with other states as well. The US is still important, but relative to other states, not as important. Again, a decline in relative power.

6) The US in Iraq has shown that even as a "hyperpower," the US military cannot easily shape a weak, decimated country to its demands. Instead, after bluster and bravado, we’ve been forced to define down goals to try to just find a way to have stability, as Iran and Syria each have expanded power.

7) the rise of non-state actors like Hezbollah, al qaeda and others provide threats not easily dealt with by our traditional military. Moreover, the importance of economic factors over military ones make it possible for states to respond to American military power by using oil as a weapon or other economic tools, which can be extremely effective, perhaps doing more damage than bombs. Iran is emboldened by the fact we’ve had such horrific problems with Iraq, and only could find some stability after essentially giving up the desire to "win," in the manner originally intended.

8) The US by ignoring the UN and other international efforts pushed the EU and allies towards anti-Americanism in their publics, and distrust of American policy. While the Bush administration, but altering its ’with us or against us’ tone and reaching out and compromising has adapted (thanks especially to Rice), it’s clear that the US is no longer the leader of the western alliance, and the Europeans and others will ignore us or work against us if they decide they don’t like our policies.

9) The Iraq war’s cost also demonstrates classic imperial overstretch, and the fact that the globalized world system isn’t easily shaped by raw military power. It is unlikely that American military might is all that useful — economics seem to matter more.

In short, the dominant period of the US is over, undercut by political errors and economic problems. This is not a collapse, simply a relative decline. We do not have the respect we had, or the power to act independently and be successful. This is forcing a change in policy, and the economic problems will have a direct influence on our way of life.

Now, you can dismiss this all by saying "we’ve been through bad times before," but we haven’t been through anything like this. You see superficial similarities, but you don’t look at the fundamental shift in economics (going from a creditor to a debtor state, and relying on foreign investment, or moving away from an industrial economic base) or the impact globalization has had on both economic and military power. The 21st century is being governed by new rules, sovereignty is weaker, oil more expensive, and new states rising in power.

Your choice: 1) be thoughtful, consider the arguments, keep an open mind, and recognize that it makes no sense to deny the possibility of American decline — the Soviets in 1979 or the Brits in 1910 probably thought they’d seen it all and were going to keep going; or 2) just dismiss without thought the possibility that I might be right — that perhaps studying this for decades and reading a myriad of different perspectives gives me some insight, even if there is of course the real possibility I’m wrong. Rather than dismiss by ridicule, deal with the argument. Moreover, my argument is extremely common, coming from conservatives, realists, and many other quarters you might not expect. You should take it seriously — because, ultimately, the future is unwritten, and if we make different choices we can forge a better national policy.

Note that despite your attempts at ridicule (or those of others) I’m trying to maek a real argument and explain the rationale for my position. This is too important to turn into some kind of partisan game. This is the future of our children.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
If you knew sh*t about philosophy and its history, you might be on your way to understanding just how important that assertion is to the last century or so.
Billy, I’m convinced you understand philosophy and history from a very biased perspective, unable to break out of the cage of "isms." The enlightenment desire for some kind of universal rationalist path to truth has utterly and completely failed. You go with ridicule and emotion because you cannot defend your philosophy, it is structuraly weak. It’s a secular religion, you have faith.

Dump Rand. Go with Nietzsche and James, and take seriously different perspectives, including that of people like Ayers. Because, if you fear or reject discussion on any terms other than your own, then you admit intellectual weakness.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
"I’m convinced..."
I know you are. I’ve seen the whole gruesome film, Professorboy.
"Dump Rand. Go with Nietzsche and James, and take seriously different perspectives, including that of people like Ayers."
Quiet, sonny. All of those people have been on my shelves since before you ever saw my name, and I have taken them seriously.


 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Quiet, sonny. All of those people have been on my shelves since before you ever saw my name, and I have taken them seriously.
Perhaps you have. But you don’t show it in your posts, you don’t do much but lob insults from behind the safety of a persona of bravado. That’s fine, but meaningless. Believe it or not, people can be just as appalled by the crimes of history, especially the 20th century, and not share your particular perspective.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Looker, you’re obviously emotionally upset to hear an argument that America is in decline. Here’s the facts:
Like I said, don’t you ever get tired of accusing the people who don’t agree with you of being emotional? No, check that, it’s such a useful stage prop why would you ever think of doing otherwise?
possibility of American decline

Well duh there Scott, of course there’s a possibility of decline. It is not unreasonable to assume that will happen, internally, more than likely.

Given the dynamics of the new globe, with communication and all, you might barely notice that it’s happening now, as opposed to observing the Alans and Vandals breaking the nose and fingers off the statue of Lincoln as they overrun Washington DC like they used to do in the good old days when empires declined.
But since no power to ever be top dog has stayed there, I can eventually see a future where we’re not it.
I don’t even care for this argument, because I don’t view us as ’top dog’ in the sense that generally means to people.
Say what you will, as top powers go, we’re fairly unique in history.
But never is a long time.

The fundamental problem with your future where China rises is, I don’t believe they want to ’rise’ to the top position we occupy.
That doesn’t leave a lot of others for the job.
Russia?
India?
Some not yet, and never to be, super state composed of a South American Union with Simon Bolivar Chavez at it’s helm?
No.
No one.
As you note, it’s expensive, we spend half the world’s military budget, remember? It’s a meaningless statistic on many levels, but what the hell, obviously it still represents a bundle of money.

The Euro’s don’t want the job right now.
They like trading as a means of maintaining their life styles.
The Chinese have a long tradition of staying inside the boundries set approximately by the Great Wall, and are making some nice gains by merely trading instead of sending carrier battlegroups around the world.
The Russian, still too nostalgic about the good old days of having people ’fear’ them, and taking a stroll down memory lane that’s going to make the neighbors nervous if they aren’t nervous already.

And the Brits, while I dearly love them, let’s face it, they were a colonial empire in every sense of the term, and the modern world, communication, education, and transportation, killed that. Difficult to appear to be decent people and exploit your colonies when the world is watching so closely. Hard to look yourself in the mirror every morning if you are, essentially, a decent sort of person.
the Soviets in 1979
Being able the scare the snot out of people by overrunning various parts of eastern Europe with your tank armies is not the anywhere near the same as the light, (and we do use our power comparatively lightly if we’re using the Sov’s as a meter stick) touch the US uses. That’s the only reason the Sov’s had an empire - note geographically contiguous because using their methods, if you can’t run tanks in to keep the locals in place, you can’t keep the locals in place. Traditional, military, empire.
that perhaps studying this for decades and reading a myriad of different perspectives gives me some insight
Ah yes, I’ve had my head under a pillow for the last 5 decades, how foolish of me to disagree with you.
And your position - I mean....that we could decline in the future?
I go back to my previous intelligent statement - duh.

Of course we could.
But you have yet to demonstrate where this new ’power’ is going to come from, or why it should rise up to challenge the fact that a very large part of the world seems content to let us patrol the sea lanes and maintain some sort of order behind the American shield and at American expense.
Except for the Islamist boobs the neighborhood is getting progressively better. With a couple of exceptions, that keep screwing themselves, even the socialists are getting the idea that capitalism works.

If we stop doing the job, it will be because we want to, not because some other power is going to take it away.
You keep citing the past as a reason why , as you note yourself, a new and very different world, is going to go back to acting like the old one.

Energywise?
In your future world if we are given a choice between ’decline’ and not drilling the ANWR, or the Gulf of Mexico near Florida, or the California coast (can’t have those platforms spoiling the view and possibly spilling oil on the beaches!) we’ll let the enviro’s run the show and we’ll just decline.
Given the choice between decline and new refineries, we’ll accept decline.
Given the choice between decline and more coal burning plants, we’ll accept decline.
Given the choice between decline, and building nuke plants, we’ll accept decline.
Given the choice between putting up wind power stations near Teddy Kennedy’s sacred ancestral home and decline, we’ll accept decline.

Globally
Iran, Iraq? They’re not just our problem.
Islamists? They’re not just our problem.
The French are already coming around on the Islamist issue.
The Dutch are beginning to discover they have a problem.
And now Putin is starting to high step around his office in the Kremlin again, which has got to be making the neighbors a little uneasy.
It’s Ghost Buster’s Scott, when there’s something strange, and it don’t look good - who they gonna call?

When your ’AGW’ strikes the world, who, exactly, do you think is going to work outside their own borders to any large extent to ameliorate the problem?
The same guys who can barely muster two squads to fix a problem they all acknowledge they have in Afghanistan?

You’re sandwiching your view of the US into the time frame from when we invaded Iraq in 2003 till today, and based on, essentially the time GWB has been in office, continue to prognosticate the decline of the US. I suspect things will get brighter in your predictory world if we elect someone you approve of who does things the way you think they should.

As noted - You frimly believe in AGW too...heavy emphasis on the A in AGW. And I should consider your evaluation of real world situations valid?
4 years from now, you’ll be standing on your corner, on top of your soap box, wearing your ’end is near’ sign and saying the same sorts of things you’re saying now.

Unemotionally, of course.
Me, I’ll still be emotionally arguing you’re wrong.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Boris Erb writes:
My approach is rooted in history, international relations theory,
Your approach is rooted in a grotesque lack of even a passing acquaintance with reality. As for the truth, that is not in you.

If you had anything, about anything, other than your sing-song blathering, you would have brought it years ago.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Just to pick one of Boris Erb’s "points":
6) The US in Iraq has shown that even as a "hyperpower," the US military cannot easily shape a weak, decimated country to its demands. Instead, after bluster and bravado, we’ve been forced to define down goals to try to just find a way to have stability, as Iran and Syria each have expanded power.
None of that, not one word of it, is true, or even within an Apollo moon shot of the truth.

Iraq has shown, in so many ways as to make your claim laughable were it not so stupid and coming from a college professor, that the U.S. military is maximally adaptable, that it has more tools in its toolkit than any military in history, that it has the best of America in it, and can do things no other agency in the world, of any kind, would even conceive of attempting. When insurgent violence ramped up in Iraq, it was the UN that was first out the door, incontinent with fear and incapable of adapting and responding. So, the U.S. military took on its tasks too.

And it’s not bluster or bravado you slinking, slithering, lying, miserable wretch.

Good God, if I could afford it I would buy every last American soldier, airman, or Marine who has served in Iraq a gold-plated pistol and a Corvette. I have never seen in my life better work under more difficult circumstances by anyone of any sort anywhere. I know that American soldiers have done incredible things in all of our wars, but these men I am convinced are the best ever, with more grit and savvy and guts.

And to listen to a creep like you blowing smoke up your own a** about what they’ve done in that creepy disgusting way you do it, Jesus help me...

And Syria has "expanded power"? Did the Israelis just take out one of their nuclear facilities in the most un-secret secret raid in modern memory? And did they not fail to have a single thing to say about it?

Iran? "Expanded power"? When the president of your country is running around the world "joining forces" with Hugo Chavez, Boris, you’ve got exactly one rung left to you down the ladder, and that belongs to North Korea.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
looker,

If you want me to take you as seriously as I take Erb, you’re gonna have to get that word count up. It also might help to toss in a few Latin phrases here and there - I’ve noticed that is a weakness in Erb’s game: no Latin phrases.

Of course, it doesn’t help that you’re all emotional and "shill", kinda like a girl.
 
Written By: Jeff
URL: http://
Latin phrases like -
Seek trainseat Gloria Monday!
(which would be appropriate if I’d just stop fooling around)



 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
sigh...

you have to put Latin in italics.


No wonder Erb’s kicking your @ss on this thread.

;)
 
Written By: Jeff
URL: http://
Vos vestros servate, meos mihi linquite mores!
Better?

8^)
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Mr. Erb’s main problem with the situation in Iraq is that his teachings on the subject have been built on lies for a very long time now. It’s hard to go back to all your students and say "hey, facts that were readily available at the time just came to my attention", so he ignores them. Like earlier in these comments when (another) Ted reminded him this was not supposed to be a six-month process. He ignored that statement completely, not because the shocking realization left him dumbfounded, but because there is simply no honest answer to blunt truth than to say "um, I may have been wrong".
Examples from what Erb is telling his students about the first Gulf War:
Why not containment or economic sanctions?
They could have "contained" Iraq, but decided to "roll back" Iraqi influence. Why? The answer was mainly coalition politics. The economic sanctions would work, many thought, but only in years. During that time the coalition might fall apart, either out of sympathy for Iraq, or something bringing Israel into the fray. Also, Arab governments did not reflect popular opinion; popular opinion was much more pro-Iraq in countries within the coalition.
Well let’s see what’s wrong here:
A) Maybe the people of Kuwait didn’t want to undergo years of rape (both literal and figurative) while waiting for those sanctions to work.
B) Sanctions were shown to not work in the dozen years after the Gulf War.
C) Aside from the US, most of the coalition was from Arab countries.
D)There may have been places where people didn’t really care about Kuwait, but there was nowhere in the coalition where popular opinion was pro-Iraq. In Erb’s defense to be "much more pro-Iraq" than Kuwait or Saudi Arabia a country would only need to have 5% of its citizens support Iraq, as opposed to nearly zero.

Example 2
Iraq gave up
Later:
So the US added a new demand: inspectors would have to assure that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction — chemical, biological, or nuclear. The Iraqis had to give in or continue being attacked, so they did.
Iraq did not give up before the cease-fire was signed. At no point in time before agreeing to inspections did Saddam say "please stop attacking" or "I renounce my claim to Kuwait".
Emaple 3;
once the troops were departing and the force levels down, they basically played games to prevent the inspectors from finding everything.
Then:
But at a certain point Iraq started ignoring the inspectors.
Iraq’s point of view: we cooperated, but enough is enough!
Iraq could claim to have cooperated, but the only way that could be Saddam’s ’point of view’ would be if he didn’t know that they were playing games to avoid the inspectors. Just plain contradictory statements.

These inaccuracies have been pointed out before, yet they remain in the background information given to his students.
He also explores how ’inhumane’ our conduct was during the Gulf War while completely ignoring what Iraq did to Kuwait. Surely a balanced discussion.
My approach is rooted in history, international relations theory, and comparative analysis
The only difference between his approach and Billy Beck’s is the addition of recent history, actual facts that can be proven as opposed to mushy ’forces of history’ or trends.

Pure theory can be effectively debated by people with vastly different points of view, but a back and forth discussion on policies and strategies is only possible if both sides start from a similar understanding of facts.


 
Written By: Ted tpilewski@hotmail.com
URL: http://
This is not a collapse, simply a relative decline. We do not have the respect we had, or the power to act independently and be successful.
Nothing in that statement, or in the arguments given to support it, can be either proven or refuted because it’s not specific enough. If we are in decline now, when was the peak? Give a time frame. There are always aspects of a countries’ power that are in decline at some point in time while others are on the rise.
My earlier point about needing a similar frame of reference for concrete discussions comes into play here. If you had proposed ‘America’s power will decline, due to the following…’, there could be a debate over whether it would really happen with all opening perspectives being equally valid; a theory could be developed based to the sensibility of the arguments presented.

By asserting that America’s power is really in decline, people on either side need to bring actual facts to support their comments. Without knowing what peak you are referring to, no one knows what facts are germane to the discussion. (For instance, three people are asked whether temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere are rising or falling. The first two people say falling and the third says rising. All three are absolutely correct. They just assumed different start points – the Jurassic, last month and 15 years ago respectively).
 
Written By: Ted tpilewski@hotmail.com
URL: http://
Ted, I’m sorry your comments won’t be more widely read. I think this thread is about over, but your comments were a great response to Scott.

I suspect Scott will be back. He really likes having the last word. But by now most of us have gone on to newer threads.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Ted, I’m sorry your comments won’t be more widely read. I think this thread is about over, but your comments were a great response to Scott.
Not really — I had facts in my post, he claimed I didn’t. I made an argument, he ignored it. He brought up other areas where he said I was wrong, but didn’t show I was, and in fact didn’t counter my points (except to call them ’lies,’ which is blatantly false). Oh, and it was Rumsfeld that predicted that it wouldn’t likely even be six months to complete the military ’victory.’ Most of those involved thought it would take a lot less time — the fact is that it is undeniable (indeed, even the neo-conservatives admit it) that they did not expect the kind of conflict we had, they expected things to go well quickly. Anyone who tries to pretend otherwise is being dishonest.

I think you guys are simply afraid to confront this head on — I think you realize I am raising valid concerns, concerns shared by people across the political spectrum. Close your eyes, turn away, ignore reality... After all, most of you can’t even admit how wrong you were about Iraq despite five years of failed predictions and errors. I mean, seriously — you can support each other on blogs where mostly like thinking people attack those who think differently, but that’s pretty lame.

Oh well, sloppy thinking is OK, as long as you’re not in a position of responsibility.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Nothing in that statement, or in the arguments given to support it, can be either proven or refuted because it’s not specific enough.
Bullfeathers. The argument was very clear, and rested on economic facts and logic, as well as a recognition of the changing nature of the international system. You apparently can’t refute it so you hem and haw, and in essence say nothing. Your entire argument seems to be "you can’t assert you believe we are in decline because you don’t say exactly when the peak was." First, that’s a bad argument — one can claim a power is in decline without saying exactly when the peak was. Indeed, historians argue about the peak of power of many past empires. Second, I did note that: a) in the eighties we moved from being a net creditor to a net debtor, and that’s when our massive public and private debt started growing; and b) after the end of the Cold War (in the early nineties) there was what Krauthammer called the ’unipolar’ moment. I also noted other changes economically.

You ignore that. You ignore all the facts and arguments to simply try to dance and weave. Very weak.

Then you compare discussing a country’s relative power to measuring temperatures *eyes rolling.*

The funny thing is that the whole world recognizes the shift in power and the relative decline of the US, as do most who analyze this. You can be in denial if you want, but I think given the hypersensitive reaction to my statement, you know I’m right.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
I think you guys are simply afraid to confront this head on — I think you realize I am raising valid concerns, concerns shared by people across the political spectrum. Close your eyes, turn away, ignore reality...

Oh well, sloppy thinking is OK, as long as you’re not in a position of responsibility.
A clearer case of projection I have not seen in quite some time.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
A clearer case of projection I have not seen in quite some time.
I expect more from you, Billy. I make a clear argument noting fundamental changes in the structure of the American economy, new vulnerabilities due to those changes, and changes in the internatinoal system and American power which indicate a strong argument that America is in decline. You do not counter those, instead you try to say other peoples’ non-responses are strong. That isn’t only debate on the cheap, that’s debate on the cheap from the sidelines! Clearly I stated facts and made an argument; clearly no one has countered that argument, though they’ve tried ridicule. If not, point one place where a counter argument has been made. One.

Looker seems to be saying "people said we were in decline in the past and we weren’t so it pisses me off when people say that now." That rests on an assumption that if people were wrong in an analysis in the past than anyone who makes an analylsis that comes to a similar conclusion must be wrong in the present. That’s clearly fallacious.

Ted makes a huge error when he tries to find something to trip me up on (he clearly was searching) and he found my notes on line and made this argument:
Examples from what Erb is telling his students about the first Gulf War:

Why not containment or economic sanctions?
They could have "contained" Iraq, but decided to "roll back" Iraqi influence. Why? The answer was mainly coalition politics. The economic sanctions would work, many thought, but only in years. During that time the coalition might fall apart, either out of sympathy for Iraq, or something bringing Israel into the fray. Also, Arab governments did not reflect popular opinion; popular opinion was much more pro-Iraq in countries within the coalition.

Well let’s see what’s wrong here:
A) Maybe the people of Kuwait didn’t want to undergo years of rape (both literal and figurative) while waiting for those sanctions to work.
B) Sanctions were shown to not work in the dozen years after the Gulf War.
C) Aside from the US, most of the coalition was from Arab countries.
D)There may have been places where people didn’t really care about Kuwait, but there was nowhere in the coalition where popular opinion was pro-Iraq. In Erb’s defense to be "much more pro-Iraq" than Kuwait or Saudi Arabia a country would only need to have 5% of its citizens support Iraq, as opposed to nearly zero.
First, it’s flattering that he’s trying to hard and that the best he can do is come up with something that actually reinforces my statement! "A" is irrelevant to the point at hand, at best it is an argument against sanctions — I was asking why sanctions weren’t chosen, not whether they should have been. "B" is also irrelevant because that would have required decision makers in 1991 to know the future of from that point to 2003 to be able to take that into account (though sanctions clearly weakened Iraq to the point they were much easier to defeat in 2003 than they would have been in 1991). "C" is in fact a premise of my claim that it was coalition politics — Arab states were in the coalition, but Arab publics were sympathetic to Iraq. That meant that Arab governments would be hard pressed to keep up sanctions, and sympathy to Iraq would likely grow. "D" is factually wrong if it means that popular opinion supported a war against Iraq. Not only were populations in many countries opposed to the war in 1991, but governments like that of Yemen were actively opposed. Saddam did have sympathy.

That’s what I mean by weak thinking. He ignores my argument, tries a tactic of digging to come up with something different to attack me about (essentially trying to argue by changing the subject), and then can’t find anything real so he makes up something completely inane and irrelevant.

Look, I can appreciate that you all have your biases, and most of you haven’t really studied foreign policy and international politics. You’re reading my posts as being ’political’ rather than essentially ’academic,’ and you’re treating it like some political street fight and ignoring the real issues. That’s fine, but that really is only a way to assure that your biases are simply protected against outside views, and that your views aren’t persuasively communicated to those like me who have a different opinion, because I’m certainly not going to see a non-responsive personal attack as somehow convincing me my analysis is wrong.

But seriously — if you can find a real response to my argument in the post, present it. Because, frankly, I’ve not seen so much anger and emotion backed by so little substance in response to any post I’ve made recently. Given that my contention that America is in decline is pretty widespread, it seems odd that this would even be that controversial.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
I didn’t say you had to declare when the absolute peak of American power was, merely that you had to choose some frame of reference for starting the discussion. Stating we are in decline compared to the early eighties is fine. Or 1991. Or five minutes ago. It doesn’t really matter. Just pick one.

 
Written By: Ted tpilewski@hotmail.com
URL: http://
You made a huge error when you assumed my post on Iraq was there for you. It was meant to show everyone else why discussing Iraq with you hasn’t produced much headway for either side. You diverged from reality on that subject a long time ago.
As for your response:
"A" is irrelevant to the point at hand, at best it is an argument against sanctions
In a discussion about why sanctions weren’t chosen, an argument against sanctions is irrelevant?

"B" is also irrelevant because that would have required decision makers in 1991 to know the future of from that point to 2003 to be able to take that into account
Most reasonable people knew sanctions wouldn’t work, they were proven correct. You want people to respect you arguments for the future, but when it’s proven that the people who decided to go to war in 1991 could predict that part of the future it’s irrelevant?
governments like that of Yemen were actively opposed.
Yemen wasn’t in the coalition, so that doesn’t apply to your statement about popular opinion within the coalition. You are still disconnected from the facts.

There is a huge difference between an ’academic’ discussion of the issues (which you prefer) and a more ’scientific’ evaluation of statements and policies (what most others here prefer). Neither type of discussion is superior, but both sides need to be having the same type of disussion.
 
Written By: Ted tpilewski@hotmail.com
URL: http://
First, yes, a general argument against sanctions is not the same as an argument as to why sanctions were not chosen. If you argued that the Bush administration was very concerned about Kuwaiti sensibilities and that drove their decision making process, then it would matter.

Second, most people thought sanctions would take a few years to work. Note that the sanctions that "didn’t work" from 1991-2003 are not a good example, because it’s not clear what they failed at. Iraq wasn’t occupying a country, so it’s a very different case. Again, that point really doesn’t address anything (let alone the real issue of America’s relative global power).

Third, you really didn’t address my point, namely that popular opinion in much of the Arab world was against war. Yemen wasn’t in the coalition, but still the fear that popular opinion would drive coalition governments to leave if war happened later rather than sooner was real. I’m surprised you’d deny that.

Finally, this isn’t science. We’re dealing with interpretations. I’m not trying to prove America is in decline, I’m stating that this is my interpretation of the relevant evidence.
I didn’t say you had to declare when the absolute peak of American power was, merely that you had to choose some frame of reference for starting the discussion. Stating we are in decline compared to the early eighties is fine. Or 1991. Or five minutes ago. It doesn’t really matter. Just pick one.
I’m not sure about the "peak" (and there could have been multiple peaks, since relative power also depends on other countries), but I’d say clearly relative to 1985 we’re weaker, and I’d say relative to 2003 we’re weaker as well.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Billy. I make a clear argument noting fundamental changes in the structure of the American economy...
No, Scott, you didn’t, and repeating your self-generated talking points ad infinitum does not make them true.

Your argument was not clear. I’ve told you this before - you post your own opinions and assumptions as if they were fact, and act petulant when people insist on pointing out that they’re not.

For starters, as a person who makes a signficant portion of my income by writing, I’d advise you to learn the virtue of conciseness. Piling on thousands of words does not bolster your case the way you think it does. Your writing is verbose and unclear. (I suspect the book you wrote probably didn’t sell worth squat outside academia because of that.) Whether you like it or not, your writing comes across as condescending and pompous. If you’ve got any real ideas to impart, then figure out how to say them clearly and concisely, and try to get your ego out of the process. Otherwise, you’ll keep getting ridiculed because you richly deserve it.

Quite candidly, I seriously doubt that you will be able to do that, because when you try I think you’ll find there’s no more substance to what you’re trying to say than there is in cotton candy. That’s not much of a problem in academia, as Alan Sokal proved, but out in the real world where people don’t have to read such blather, the standard is higher. I’m betting you can’t meet it.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Again, Billy, you go by accusation and assertion, and do not counter one of my points. They are concise; the fact that the argument involves many facets does not alter that. I could have spent pages and a lot of time on each point. In the end you simply want to reject the conclusion but you do not seem to have the capacity to support your argument. That is fundamentally weak, and the fact that you cover your inability to provide an argument with personal attacks reflects very poorly on your personal integrity. I’m seriously interested in counter arguments. I’m teaching American Foreign Policy next semester, and already plan to build the course around debating and discussing this kind of proposition. I’m going to use Fukuyama’s new book as representing the neo-conservative perspective (Chalmers Johnson presents a view more radical in its criticism of US policy than my own, I also use Gaddis’ new book — he’s a conservative Cold War historian — and Naftali’s book on the history of American counter-terrorism to look at that issue). But if you can make a real cogent argument, that would be helpful.

Here again is the argument; Friday I’ll put a version of it in my blog:

1) Public and private debt started increasing at a massive rate around 1980, with private debt growing quickly from 1990 on. During that time the US went to being the world’s largest debtor nation (having been earlier the largest creditor). The US economy shifted from industrialization to service economy, with emerging markets like China and India growing fast, and competing for oil. US Debt went from 30% of GDP in 1980, quickly to 70% of GDP.

2) From 1980 to the present the US managed to hide some of the structural problems by enjoying some of the lowest oil prices in history while running up a huge debt. The private debt increase was due to a credit boom, which fueled two bubbles: the stock bubble and the housing bubble. The latter led to more debt as people kept the economy going through consumer spending through home equity loans. Those have dried up. We’re now in deep debt, with recession looming.

3) The current accounts deficit is unsustainable at 6% of GDP. That means the dollar is overvalued. While the bubbles existed we pulled in enough foreign capital to keep the capital account high, financing the current accounts deficit. Now that the bubbles have collapsed and credit is in crisis, that is collapsing, meaning the dollar is losing value fast. That also means oil prices are rising faster for us than, say, the Europeans, and the dollar becomes a less important currency. The US economy has never been in this position in recent years. Times in the past where you think things were bad our economy was in much, much stronger structural shape.

4) The capital account "boom" meant that countries like Japan, China and Saudi Arabia purchased large amounts of American currency, as well as portfolio investment. That gives them a chunk of the economy that is unprecedented — and if the dollar keeps falling, they could add to the woes by pulling out and shifting their investments elsewhere.

In short, the US economy is in a structural mess, with no clear way out, and dependent upon foreign investment and the service sector. Again, this is unprecedented. The bubbles have burst, oil prices are high, and as the WSJ article shows, production is leveling off as demand continues to increase.

This creates an obvious conclusion: the US is in economic decline. Not a radical collapse, just a fall from dominance, and more dependent on others than before. This will force us to be less unilateral in foreign policy, and more responsive to other states — circumstances are forcing humility on us.

5) Militarily the us spends half the world’s military budget and is stationed all over the globe. This has created a kind of empire, which Charles Krauthammer labeled a ’unipolar power.’ This unipolarity naturally creates competitors for power, and insecurity in others. China, Russia and others have been working to undercut US influence, and supporting countries like Iran. The EU recognizes that the future is not dependent on the US, and their interest lie in forging closer ties with other states as well. The US is still important, but relative to other states, not as important. Again, a decline in relative power.

6) The US in Iraq has shown that even as a "hyperpower," the US military cannot easily shape a weak, decimated country to its demands. Instead, after bluster and bravado, we’ve been forced to define down goals to try to just find a way to have stability, as Iran and Syria each have expanded power.

7) the rise of non-state actors like Hezbollah, al qaeda and others provide threats not easily dealt with by our traditional military. Moreover, the importance of economic factors over military ones make it possible for states to respond to American military power by using oil as a weapon or other economic tools, which can be extremely effective, perhaps doing more damage than bombs. Iran is emboldened by the fact we’ve had such horrific problems with Iraq, and only could find some stability after essentially giving up the desire to "win," in the manner originally intended.

8) The US by ignoring the UN and other international efforts pushed the EU and allies towards anti-Americanism in their publics, and distrust of American policy. While the Bush administration, but altering its ’with us or against us’ tone and reaching out and compromising has adapted (thanks especially to Rice), it’s clear that the US is no longer the leader of the western alliance, and the Europeans and others will ignore us or work against us if they decide they don’t like our policies.

9) The Iraq war’s cost also demonstrates classic imperial overstretch, and the fact that the globalized world system isn’t easily shaped by raw military power. It is unlikely that American military might is all that useful — economics seem to matter more.

In short, the dominant period of the US is over, undercut by political errors and economic problems. This is not a collapse, simply a relative decline. We do not have the respect we had, or the power to act independently and be successful. This is forcing a change in policy, and the economic problems will have a direct influence on our way of life.

Now, you can dismiss this all by saying "we’ve been through bad times before," but we haven’t been through anything like this. You see superficial similarities, but you don’t look at the fundamental shift in economics (going from a creditor to a debtor state, and relying on foreign investment, or moving away from an industrial economic base) or the impact globalization has had on both economic and military power. The 21st century is being governed by new rules, sovereignty is weaker, oil more expensive, and new states rising in power.

 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
When people say something is in decline, the way you insist on repeating it, with all your evidence mounted and piled, it has a meaning.

At a fundamental level you think you’re right because relative to say (picked at random), two months ago when the price of oil was lower, we were more powerful because our economic situation with regards to trade looked better on paper (which is where all this crap is, on paper, and by the way, heavily guided by emotion as people make emotional decisions about their money....).
I’ll stop at that one point -

So, we ’looked’ better on paper, fewer people were talking about moving their investments to other currencies, Hugo Chavez hadn’t been told off by Juan Carlos, etc...
Fast forward to this month...economic outlook in downturn, oil price per barrel high..etc....

Decline doesn’t generally cover, to most people, the idea that what you’re talking about is the constant international dance going on where sometimes our basic power is a little weaker than yesterday, and a little stronger tomorrow.
Decline means reduction in significance, less influential, less powerful over a loooooooooooong period.
We do not have the respect we had, or the power to act independently and be successful. This is forcing a change in policy, and the economic problems will have a direct influence on our way of life.
Real world. Bumps in the road.
Though, I’m curious, at what point in our ’power period’ did we have the authority to ’act independently’ in a major way? What, we can’t replace the ruler of Panama without permission? We can’t invade Honduras? What? What can’t we do today that we could do at the beginning of 2003 because of our power loss? I remember being told the world stopped respecting us when we elected George Bush, if not the first time, certainly the second time.
That’s how quickly we gain and/or lose this nebulous ’respect of the world’ on a regular basis.
This is forcing a change in policy, and the economic problems will have a direct influence on our way of life
Ah, and everyone else is static, they’re not readjusting anything? Oh, right, many of them are headed up!
Now, you can dismiss this all by saying "we’ve been through bad times before," but we haven’t been through anything like this. You see superficial similarities, but you don’t look at the fundamental shift in economics (going from a creditor to a debtor state, and relying on foreign investment, or moving away from an industrial economic base) or the impact globalization has had on both economic and military power. The 21st century is being governed by new rules, sovereignty is weaker, oil more expensive, and new states rising in power
Hey, you sound all cool and knowing and wizardlike, but, unemotional of course.
The 21st century is being governed by new rules, sovereignty is weaker, oil more expensive, and new states rising in power
Hmmmm news states rising, new rules, a declaration that sovereignty is weaker. People must have fundamentally changed when Y2K hit eh? Fundamental human fears and wants all changed to meet the new rules.
Let’s use sovereignty as an example. Everyone is going to be forced to accept their countries boundries are porous as people, who have no power I might point out, elect to wander from place to place at will. As opposed to, this little experiment in wandering nomads is about to come to an end as nations re-assert their sovereignty.

Bumps in the road Scott, not a ’decline’.

Like I said, 4 years from now, 10 years from now, you’ll still be using the word Decline to mean readjusting our position on top of the pile, like it really, in the end, means something.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
Real world. Bumps in the road.
Time will be the test. I’m not going to convince you, and you aren’t countering my arguments. Indeed, bringing up Hugo Chavez, or saying that we weren’t going to invade Honduras is meaningless. If we thought Honduras a threat, we could have invaded. I believe the evidence is clear that we are no longer the dominant power, and in fact we’re entering a true multi-polar age where both American military and economic power will be less effective than before, and push us towards far more multi-lateral policies and compromises than in the past.

Time will tell. Clearly my evidence isn’t going to alter your interpretation, and your reaction doesn’t give me any reason to alter mine. I’m not bothered that you don’t share my view, you seem upset that I don’t share yours. C’est la vie.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Whether you like it or not, your writing comes across as condescending and pompous.
Question: how do you think the writing of those who insult and try to ridicule come across as — what kind of people talk to people that way in the real world?

I think you don’t quite realize that in forums like this the way something is read is usually due more to the bias of the reader than the style of the writer. In the real world — and believe me, teaching in a small rural state school is far more real world than a lot of professions — I don’t get the kind of reaction a few give me here (and I do win teaching awards and get invited to speak at a variety of events). All in all, if I’m going to take my daily interactions and activities and how people respond to me, and compare that to how people in a blog commentary respond, where there are a lot of flames and emotional reactions against any who take a view that doesn’t go along with the ’majority’ of blog commentators, I’ll go with the real world. In fact, I think that what you consider ’condescending’ is simply the fact that I don’t hold grudges, don’t take insults seriously, don’t dislike anybody who argues against me, and actually try to engage in real discussion. Disagreement is good. Getting irritated when people disagree isn’t.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
You keep trying to throw some kind of emotion thing on to me Scott.
I’m not upset you don’t see it the way I do. Why, in the end, would I actually care what you believe, other than to be concerned about what you teach students.

And in reality, that is also a bump in the road. It doesn’t make any difference what you teach your classes. Some will ignore you, some are just there for the grade, and the ones you convince to think like you will just be another collection of whiney kids who grow up to act like whiney adults, but in the end there won’t be enough of them to make any difference and the rest of us will just keep on keeping on.

I’m comfortable you’re wrong. You have your research to keep you warm in your belief, I have watching the real world to keep me warm in mine. As you said, time will tell, and won’t prove either of us wrong or right, in the next 2 days, 2 weeks, or 2 years.

Like I said, I don’t like the whole ’big bad us’ philosophy in the first place.
I appreciate it when other countries help out, I’d like them to help more, and take some of the load off us, so I’m not worried about sharing the top of the hill with someone else, and that includes China as long as China seems to be acting for the general good of the world (and by inference us, the US).
Top of the hill, I like that much better than top of the pile, and wish I’d used that earlier.

You seem concerned that ’we’ can’t project power, yada, yada, yada in some unilateral fashion like that’s necessarily some bad thing.
And, more to the point, you seem to be of the belief that there was a time when we could swagger around like the local bully and do what we liked.
I don’t ever see a time when we could have done that. When I was younger we couldn’t have done it because we were busy playing slaphand with Ivan and Xhu-huan.
That’s the point, it’s not the style I even want us to have, so I’m just as glad when we work with friends to get things done. But I also see we can do things without them, it just takes longer, makes it harder, and is more noisy, having to listen to them, and you, whine about our behavior.

Let me know when there are more anti-American alliances formed amongst the sane countries of the world will ya?
Let me know when the Europeans kick us out of NATO for our mis-behaviors.
Call me when they foreclose on their investments in the US.
Advise me when we stop producing crops for world export.
Let me know when the UN doesn’t rely on us for their army, and when various world bodies stop coming with hat in hand for monetary support.

Till then have a nice Thanksgiving and hope the Patriots don’t ’decline’. It would be entertaining to have two of my childhood teams win their respective titles in the same year.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://

Like I said, I don’t like the whole ’big bad us’ philosophy in the first place.
I really think you’ve read far too much into my statement that ’America is in decline’ than I intended. But I guess we can agree to disagree.

I’m actually a Vikings fan, but this year I’ll gladly follow the Pats. Tom Brady is unbelievable — I think the Pats are the best team I’ve ever seen. First the Red Sox win the World Series and now the Pats seem invincible. John Kerry must really be jealous.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm

 
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