edward.luce@ft.com on America’s ‘Image’ & ‘Brand’ in peril. Old Socialist comments

As a regular reader of Mr. Luce,  I’ll just focus on one telling paragraph, in his essay suffused with doom and gloom, about the erosion of both the soft and hard power of the American Hegemon: all neatly wrapped in the Madison Ave. idea/practice of ‘Image’ and ‘Brand’, as key to any successful advertising campaign. ‘The Market’ and its imperatives rule all!   

It is a measure of America’s reduced expectations that the alternative to Mr Trump is a 77-year-old man who is past his prime. Mr Biden is a fundamentally decent person. His victory would be celebrated in most of Europe and liberal America. But he is a far cry from much younger predecessors, such as John F Kennedy, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, who so skilfully channelled American dreams. His candidacy is an admission of shorter horizons. It is about damage limitation rather than hope. 


The reluctance of Mr. Luce to confront the utter corruption of Biden is no surprise, it is the Party Line of the respectable bourgeois pundit class, its shared political baggage that renders their pronouncements null: ‘Mr. Biden is a fundamentally decent person’ 

Headline: Solomon: These once-secret memos cast doubt on Joe Biden’s Ukraine story

Former Vice President Joe Biden, now a 2020 Democratic presidential contender, has locked into a specific story about the controversy in Ukraine.

He insists that, in spring 2016, he strong-armed Ukraine to fire its chief prosecutor solely because Biden believed that official was corrupt and inept, not because the Ukrainian was investigating a natural gas company, Burisma Holdings, that hired Biden’s son, Hunter, into a lucrative job.


Hundreds of pages of never-released memos and documents — many from inside the American team helping Burisma to stave off its legal troubles — conflict with Biden’s narrative.

And they raise the troubling prospect that U.S. officials may have painted a false picture in Ukraine that helped ease Burisma’s legal troubles and stop prosecutors’ plans to interview Hunter Biden during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

For instance, Burisma’s American legal representatives met with Ukrainian officials just days after Biden forced the firing of the country’s chief prosecutor and offered “an apology for dissemination of false information by U.S. representatives and public figures” about the Ukrainian prosecutors, according to the Ukrainian government’s official memo of the meeting. The effort to secure that meeting began the same day the prosecutor’s firing was announced.

In addition, Burisma’s American team offered to introduce Ukrainian prosecutors to Obama administration officials to make amends, according to that memo and the American legal team’s internal emails.

The memos raise troubling questions:


What follows is the triad of what represents American political virtue according to Luce ? Kennedy, Clinton and Obama. But what of Reagans Morning in America? Or was that just a misapplication of political nostalgia, for an imagined political past? 

Given Mr. Luce’s  essay, that places Biden in the ‘decent person’ category’, the question arises what can the reader make of Martin Sandbu’s September 28 2020 essay: 

Headline: Atlanticism will remain in retreat, whoever wins the US election

Sub-headline: Public opinion in Europe is cooling towards the US while Americans’ ties to the old continent have loosened

Many European leaders may quietly nurse a hope that a Joe Biden victory in November’s US election could herald a new era of Atlanticism after Donald Trump’s diplomatic rampage which threatened trade wars and cast doubt on his commitment to Nato. They may have to ask themselves if their own people agree.

Last week, the Clingendael Institute published a survey of public opinion in the Netherlands. It showed rising Dutch scepticism about the reliability of transatlantic co-operation. When asked whether the US represented a threat to European security, 29 per cent answered yes — not far below the 35 and 36 per cent who said the same about China and Russia. A whopping 79 per cent expect the US to reduce its protection of Europe in the next five years and demand that the continent takes more responsibility for its own security.

“The Dutch population expects the policy challenges of the day to be solved primarily in a European context rather than a western, Atlanticist context,” said Rem Korteweg, a Clingendael senior research fellow and co-author of the report. Indeed, 72 per cent of the respondents said the Netherlands should collaborate more with France and Germany, including 53 per cent saying so when asked about military co-operation.

“That is surprising — the transatlantic reflex is super strong traditionally,” said Mr Korteweg.

The Dutch are not alone. Earlier this month, a Pew Research Center survey found that in France, Germany, the UK and Sweden, as well as in the Netherlands, the share of the public with a favourable view of the US was at or near its lowest level in the two decades the poll has been run. Perceptions have not been helped by the US response to the coronavirus pandemic, which all national respondent groups rated as worse than their own country’s, the EU’s, the WHO’s or China’s.

As Europeans cool towards the US, Americans are distancing themselves from Europe, said Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer, director of the German Marshall Fund think-tank in Paris.



The American National Security State needn’t fear Joe Biden is a New Cold Warrior: 

Mr. Trump’s endless  political tantrum, in the first debate, demonstrated his only real power, that of producing political discord, with alarming consistency,  ignoring any possible notion of debate, as an exchange of ideas and/or political positions. It was alarming , but consistent with his closing monologues on his television series ‘The Apprentice’ ,in its various iterations, that ended with his tag line ‘You’re Fired’ . The only problem for Trump, was that Mark Burnett could not carefully edit a live television performance. 

Political Observer 



About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.' https://www.lrb.co.uk/v15/n20/perry-anderson/diary
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