War Is Politics By Other Means

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Chris Dierkes

Chris Dierkes (aka CJ Smith). 29 years old, happily married, adroit purveyor and voracious student of all kinds of information, theories, methods of inquiry, and forms of practice. Studying to be a priest in the Anglican Church in Canada. Main interests: military theory, diplomacy, foreign affairs, medieval history, religion & politics (esp. Islam and Christianity), and political grand bargains of all shapes and sizes.

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14 Responses

  1. Avatar Will
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    says:

    Post-cynical? Meta-discourse? What are you talking about, Dierkes? At the risk of sounding like a dunce, I really don’t get some of this stuff.Report

    • Avatar Chris Dierkes in reply to Will
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      says:

      I was just kinda throwing that out there. I have a not totally thought out position that what we generally call political cynicism is a function of a previous era’s politics (call it say modern for lack of a better term). What’s dominated politics at high levels (imo) post-Cold War are basically celebrity presidents. Politico-entertainment figures. Palin being I suppose the apotheosis of that trend. Obama is definitely in that mold. In fact ran (arguably) the best organized campaign in that mode. But in another way seems to want to get beyond it. But maybe not. Bush and Blair and even Sarkozy all have their “serious” political side. I dunno.Report

  2. Avatar Kirk
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    says:

    Great post. Although it was long, I read it all and thought it all very astute. War-fighting has never been separate from domestic and international politics, and those who pretend like it is are often the real cynics.Report

  3. Avatar greginak
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    says:

    great stuff, i think you have git this pretty much on the head. i think the Big O has always been pretty hard nosed and realist in his foreign policy and he has not tried to hide that. I would add that O is , aside from his realism, a believer in old school American Exceptional ism which has a big effect on his foreign policy. policy wise he would fit in reasonably well, skin color aside, in most of admin’s before Bush the Lesser. I don’t think simply withdrawing over a few years wouild be seen as a possible alternative.Report

  4. Avatar 62across
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    says:

    That was an excellent attempt to divine the mind of the President and your take is the first I’ve read that fits completely within what we know about Obama without suppositions that seem at odds with his character. One minor quibble: though it would have been creepy/cool for the truth to be revealed from beyond the grave by the late Speaker of the House, it was Paul O’Neill who let it be know that Bush was just looking for a reason to go into Iraq.Report

  5. Avatar North
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    says:

    Very good analysis Chris. I hate to side against pure Canuckistanians on this one but I think you’ve pretty much hit the bullseye on the administrations motivation. My only quibble, and it’s a minor one, is the you break it you buy it mantra. I don’t know that we can really be said to have broken the country on the initial invasion; they were pretty much in rubble when we arrived. Now goodness knows we didn’t improve things much and perhaps our part in the cold war also assigns blame to us historically but this isn’t quite as clear cut a case as Iraq where we toppled a central government that was very much in control of the country.

    One last aside; I think we should be careful flinging the term Rovian about because Turdblossoms’ principles and politics were so vile (and stupid) that calling someone akin to him is damn near blood libel (at least on the left and center).Report

    • Avatar Chris Dierkes in reply to North
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      says:

      Certainly the country was already smashed up in all kinds of ways prior to the US invasion–although the US did help fund the mujihadeen and then left, so America is not entirely blameless in that regard either.

      But anyway, yeah. Nevertheless, we did “break” their political system, such (and horrible) as it was. And then we brought essentially nothing in to fill that void.

      I think this Afghan surge really in the end is just going to be about trying to buy off various guys, make some deals, train some dudes. I think that the political endgame is still not in sight and I don’t believe it ever will be a function of a strong central gov’t (which is not native to Afghan history).

      I imagine however we do this there is going to be a political void which will be filled by violence. Hope I’m wrong on that one. Maybe with a surge, an Army & Police, some buy offs, and a promise of withdrawal (for guys like Hekmatyr) you could cobble together some post-jihadi government in Afghanistan. Or at least regional zones of influence that basically don’t mess with each other. But seems pretty tricky to pull that one off.Report

  6. Avatar JohnR
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    says:

    “We live in the post-ideological age.”
    Eh? I presume you refer to the (presumably) pragmatic President Obama, but I’m confused about how you chose to define your term. What makes this time period “post-ideological”? Certainly here in the United States ideology is the single greatest driving force behind most of the decisions made in the Halls of Power, and from what I can tell, it is presently much the same in Canada and Great Britain as well. Perhaps in Asia and Europe, ideology has been subordinated to pragmatic lust for national wealth and power, but I’m not sure where you would draw the distinction between nationalism and ideology. Perhaps we define “ideology” in rather different ways.Report

    • Avatar Chris Dierkes in reply to JohnR
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      says:

      By post-ideological I mean that no one offers an alternative to capitalism. Communism, fascism, etc. offered not only different political visions but ultimately different (and opposed) economic practices.

      There are certainly ideological (if you like) differences between China, EU, and the US say. Within the framework of global capitalism they have some various differences and obviously different political systems. But in that sense the world becomes increasingly multi-lateral. It’s not like the Cold War.

      And even the various radicalized jihadi terrorist groups really in the end offer an essentially unrealistic utopian vision which shows up as nihilistic action.Report

      • Avatar JohnR in reply to Chris Dierkes
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        says:

        Ah! You offer a very narrow definition of “ideology” then. Mine would be “a set of beliefs which must be imposed upon the world in order to correct any flaws in the current social system” (those flaws being summarized as “wealth and power are not being distributed in a manner of which I approve”). Certainly any strictly economic set-of-beliefs (like Capitalism) would qualify, but I would contend that most religions and some other sets-of-beliefs regarding the structure of the state (like any form of Nationalism) would meet the criteria. In that sense, I’d have to disagree with your contention that the world is in a ‘post-ideological’ age. We may be out of the communist/capitalist struggle (maybe), but we’re still wrestling away in the long-running theocratic/[“populist”? what would you call it?] struggle. Not to mention the 3-way Abrahamaic power struggle.Report

        • Avatar North in reply to JohnR
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          says:

          Maybe a more accurate term would be to say the world is less ideological than it has been in the past rather then post ideological? But either way the ideologies have weakened or died out a lot in the past century or so.Report

    • Avatar Barry in reply to JohnR
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      says:

      “Perhaps in Asia and Europe, ideology has been subordinated to pragmatic lust for national wealth and power, but I’m not sure where you would draw the distinction between nationalism and ideology”

      I’d say the same thing; the elites’ ideology tends to be that which favors their wealth and power (to the best that they can determine).Report

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