‘The Clash of Civilizations’ still ensorcells the Neo-Conservative coterie. Political Skeptic comments.

Headline: A Clash of Civilizations with Chinese Characteristics

Sub-headline: A civilizational struggle of the “rest” versus the West articulated by Mao Zedong and embraced by Xi Jinping is at the very core of the ideological foundations of the grand strategy of the Chinese Communist Party.


The author of this essay: Wesley Jefferies is a graduate student at the Walsh School of Foreign Service’s Security Studies Program at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. Is Mr. Jefferies following the time honored tradition, of cultivating the favor of his teachers, and adapting to the current climate of opinion, of the Foreign Policy Security Experts, who will judge his academic worthiness to receive a Degree in ‘Foreign Service’s Security Studies’ ? It seems like the obvious question. The reader should consider the cost of pursuing a post-graduate degree of such a specialized area of study. In line with that, the establishment of your political credentials seems the paramount consideration?

‘The Clash’ has lain fallow for sometime, Prof. Huntington’s  hysterical xenophobia, all dressed in World Historical finery reads just like what it is, a paranoid screech against the ‘other’ that threatens the hegemony of Pax Americana. Even though later in his essay he denies the ‘othering’ of the Chinese.    

This sentence :

‘The central problem of these analogies that they all refer to competition between powers or systems of Western origin. The rise of China poses conceptual and strategic challenges that do not lend themselves to ready-made analogies from the official canon of Western military and diplomatic history.’

And the next sentence:

The conceptual and geopolitical dimensions of the Chinese threat are not accounted for the historical and theoretical explanations to which Western scholars and commentators are accustomed. 

The rise of China’ in all its benignity, is followed by ‘the Chinese threat’: propaganda must always appear to be benign, in Mr. Jefferies hands it is self-canceling? Yet the last iteration of what ‘China is’ in  ‘conceptual and geo-political terms’ is ‘threat’ the most likely to be recalled is that final term. 

What precedes this is a collection of cliché’s : The Cold War, The Great Game, the so called Thucydides Trap, as ways of providing rhetorical ballast to his essay, by mere reference, rather than an actual consideration-in sum-a of presentation of relevant arguments. Should the critical reader dub this pseudo-knowledge, as maladroit a descriptor as I could produce in the moment! 

What follows is a potted history of the geopolitical outcomes of world wars: decolonization. Here is Mr. Jefferies dizzying historical reductionism: 

The most significant geopolitical outcome of the world wars was decolonization. The most dynamic and deadly manifestations of the competition between the new superpowers that emerged after the world wars occurred in the contested spaces left behind by the former empires. The most dynamic and deadly manifestations of the competition between the new superpowers that emerged after the world wars occurred in the contested spaces left behind by the former empires. What was once the greatest prize among these spoils has become the largest player among them and the character of its resulting challenge to world order represents the axis of contemporary geopolitics. A civilizational struggle of the “rest” versus the West articulated by Mao and embraced by Xi is at the very core of the ideological foundations of the grand strategy of the Chinese Communist Party.

The titles of the successive parts of this essay are illustrative of Mr. Jefferies ‘methodology’. I will select from the essay what captures the reader’s attention. I will treat this essay as propaganda. 

Mao’s Revolution and the Rise of the Third World:

This section is devoted to a made to measure history of China, in the International System. And its participation in the colonial and post colonial eras.


The paradoxical interplay between China’s superiority complex as a former empire and victim mentality as post-colonial framed a set of ambitions and grievances for Mao that would set him at odds with the superpowers. The first task at hand for Mao, as the leader of this emerging colossus caught between the superpowers, would be to secure freedom of action in a bipolar system. The second task would be to leverage China’s sovereignty and status to claim a position as leader and champion of the post-colonial spaces over which the superpowers were competing for influence. This, in turn, would lay the ground for the third task of world revolution, in which colonialism, as much as class struggle, would be a theme. China would regain a central place in international affairs through this process. In other words, world revolution would be the vehicle for world domination.


The Rise of Xi and the “Rest” versus the West:

The relationship between the United States and China that emerged after the Sino-Soviet split has similarly encountered tensions and contradictions following the end of the Cold War. Mao’s vision of geopolitics has seen its greatest comeback under the highly personalized rule of Xi Jinping. A civilizational-scale challenge from the CCP has now emerged that goes beyond simply competing with U.S. strategic and commercial interests.

China under Xi is emulating Mao’s call for Chinese leadership of the ‘rest’ against the West while simultaneously working to undermine the societies and institutions of Western countries. The former has been articulated by Xi Jinping’s argument that the Chinese model of government and development is a better example for developing countries than the West because it will “speed up their development while preserving their independence” from Western influence. The latter is manifested by the use of corruption, espionage, and disinformation by agents of the CCP, including Chinese academic researchers and business ventures, in what FBI Director Christopher Wray described as “a whole-of-society threat” posed by Beijing.

The Geopolitical Axis of the Clash of Civilizations: 

Since the original thesis for a ‘clash of civilizations’ was popularized by Bernard Lewis and Samuel Huntington as a prediction for the international system after the end of the Cold War, it has become deeply controversial and unfashionable to suggest that ideas and perceptions about culture and identity might play a role in future tensions and conflicts. U.S. diplomat and scholar Kiron Skinner drew intense criticism for suggesting in 2019 that the wider civilizational gulf that exists between China and the United States than between the United States and the USSR would require a vastly different understanding and approach than what was applied to the Soviet threat.

The purpose for this focus is not “othering” the CCP or the billion and a half people subject to its rule. It is to reveal the “center of gravity” through which China under the rule of Xi seeks to displace the West and thus point to where and how U.S. strategy must change.

Mr. Huntington’s ‘Clash’ was a political document predicated upon an hysterical xenophobia, of World Historical proportions. This followed by his ‘Who Are We? The Challenges to America’s National Identity’   It is an attack on the Mestizo Hordes that are threatening Anglo-Protestant Virtue. Call Mr. Huntington a white supremacist with an impressive set of academic credentials. 

The ‘Clash’ available on the internet: The version printed in Foreign Affairs ; New York; Summer 1993; Huntington, Samuel P; (9 pages)

Click to access foreign_aff_huntington.pdf

I read this essay, thanks to one of the Librarians , at the Angelo M. Iacoboni Library in Lakewood California. She printed out a copy of the  essay, whose link is above. This essay seemed bloated when I first read, in this form, and the book remains on my shelf ,unread. Fukuyama’s ‘End of History’ essay suffered from the same rhetorical malady! The ‘critics’ swooned over the mention of Hegel. 

The ‘Reverse Kissinger’ is the high point of Mr. Jefferies remaining ‘history made to measure’

.For similar reasons, the United States must also consider the urgent necessity for exploring options for a modus vivendi with the Russian Federation. The “reverse Kissinger”  proposed by some astute writers and commentators should be considered more seriously by policymakers. Washington should see the opportunity in the risks the CCP’s ambitions in Central Asia and the Middle East pose to a Russia facing demographic decline and long vulnerable borders. What the United States has been doing instead has been adopting a punitive approach to the only country in Europe that could still conceivably balance against China. If a “grand bargain” can be reached with the Russian Federation regarding its deep-seated insecurities about its territorial integrity and historically precarious borders in Eastern Europe, as well as lingering concerns in the Kremlin over U.S. attempts to promote regime change in Russia, there will be fewer grounds for Russian leaders to convince a domestic audience that the real threat lies to the West.  

 Surprising this reader, Mr. Jefferies advocates an alliance with Modi : 

The United States should also be working for a closer partnership with India. It is the only country with a population that may exceed China’s, as well as untapped economic potential that could rival what has been achieved in China since the reforms of Deng Xiaoping. For this to work, Washington must be willing to fully support the reform agenda of Narendra Modi to overcome the myriad obstacles India faces in exploiting its domestic talent and demographic advantages. A closer alignment between India and the United States would also strike at the heart of the “rest versus the West” dynamic that lies at the ideological core of the CCP’s grand strategy.

Mr. Jefferies shares this idea with Janan Ganesh of The Financial Times of March 30.  2021. Although Ganesh looks upon it as a hypothetical. 

‘As for the largest potential friendship of all, that with India, is there anything Prime Minister Narendra Modi could do there to make the US spurn so grand a prize?


Those Anti-Muslim programs don’t figure when assuming the role of Pundit?

Headline: Fear, silent migration: A year after anti-Muslim riots in Delhi

Sub-headline: Muslim victims of last year’s Delhi violence say they have been forced to sell their properties due to a lack of security.


Nor does the Farmers Strike? 


Political Skeptic 











Click to access clash.pdf


Click to access clash.pdf


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janan.ganesh@ft.com on ‘The US cannot be choosy’. Political Realist comments.

Headline: The US cannot be choosy about its allies

Sub-headline: The network of countries that worry about China are not all liberal paragons

America began losing its ‘moral authority’, an inheritance of Wilsonian Idealism, when it’s ascendant manufactures of electronics moved their operations ‘offshore’ , in order to increase their profits and avoid taxation by holding those profits off shore. The Greed of  Steve Jobs and his fellows had a toxic political/moral facet?  The ‘Supply Chains’ are an utter failure in terms of The Pandemic, and the care and maintenance of a vital working and middle class ,as the sine qua non of a thriving Social Democracy:  a victim of an utterly pervasive and toxic Neo-Liberalism.  Mr. Ganesh’s political cynicism about the character of  ‘allies’, or the lack of that prerequisite, is about the collapse of that Wilsonian Idealism as a guiding principle . No matter its own toxicity, an unapologetic white supremacy. All the above unnecessary history would interfere with Ganesh’s propose, if that be readily apparent to the reader?   

This diplomatic work is harder, and the resulting strength in numbers more formidable, than direct confrontation with Beijing. To that extent, Republican slurs about Democratic softness on China are as asinine as ever. Once more, though, liberal values have perverse consequences. The US can be morally scrupulous. It can string together a mighty web of friends. But it cannot achieve both feats at the same time.

Is the US going to refrain from courting, say, Thailand, on the basis of its lapses into junta rule or its lèse majesté laws? As the Philippines blows hot and cold, will Biden stop bidding for its loyalty if its populist government breaks a liberal norm too many? As for the largest potential friendship of all, that with India, is there anything Prime Minister Narendra Modi could do there to make the US spurn so grand a prize?


Mr. Ganesh’s defense of a relaxation of that Wilsonian Standard, in the name of political expediency is unsurprising. Or have I misread him?

In this way, the administration will hit its head from time to time against the moral bar it has set itself. The more rigorously Biden applies US values, the narrower his strategic options will be. The more he observes them in the breach, the higher the cost in US trustworthiness and credibility. For a 78-year-old man, the predicament is only softened by its eerie familiarity. His country struggled with it for much of his life.

The Biden/Blinken alliance, in its full dull-witted flower, represents the power of the Mass Media’s propaganda: that Trump was, in sum, ‘soft’ on both Russia and China.  Both the President and the Secretary of State look like what they are bungling amateurs. The appointments of Blinken, Powers and Nuland, and a host of Obama veterans is predicative of what is to come? 

Mr. Ganesh’s  essay is marked by ‘history made to measure’ and by lapsing into a muddled   prescriptiveness at its end.

If anything, the temptation of moral compromise is far stronger now. The frontline of the cold war was Europe, which had democratic governments in place from Dublin to Bonn. There are prominent examples of those in Asia, the new zone of competition, but there are also military rulers, technocratic city states, one-party systems, vulnerable democracies and established ones trending the wrong way.

If Antony Blinken’s commitment to “support democracy around the world” while abjuring force is to mean anything, the secretary of state must be willing to pass up convenient relationships out of liberal principle. The regional winner, if he does, hardly needs naming. And so he probably won’t. There is no disgrace at all in such pragmatism. But there is disillusion and acrimony stored up in pretensions to the opposite.

Political Realist

P.S. Consider Mr. Ganesh’s essay the companion piece to Gideon Rachman’s essay of March 29, 2021:

Headline: A second cold war is tracking the first

Sub-headline: US-led western alliance is once again squaring up to Russia and China


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gideon.rachman@ft.com on ‘the second cold war’: American Writer comments

Living in The United States of Amnesia I recognise all of Mr. Rachman’s arguments/talking points, so carefully collected, to make the greatest impact on the reader. In Mr. Rachman’s telling leads to the thought of how close to striking is the Dooms-Day Clock?
With due regard for the Old Cold War, inspired in part by Kennan’s ‘Long Telegram’ and its publication as the work of Mr. X – Lippmann replied to this essay. But Kennan changed his mind, he ‘evolved’.

Mr. Rachman ignores the hysterical Hillary Clinton about the 2016 election, ‘Russian Interference’  with the aid of Brennan and Clapper’s connivance, The Mueller Report that inspired yawns, Schiff and the Star Witnesses Vindman and Fiona Hill. The New Cold War was fueled by the Corporate Media, at full cry warning about those Russians, with out end until this House of Cards collapsed!

Mr. Rachman comments doesn’t even qualify as hand-wringing , its the nervous tic of a pundit, aided by some potted history, and the not quite prick of conscience.

American Writer


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The self-congratulatory arrogance of @EdwardGLuce is never a surprise! Old Socialist comments.

Headline: America’s growing fixation on race

Sub-headline: Conservatives and liberals increasingly view the world through the lens of group identity


The reader has to wonder about how long Mr. Luce has been ‘the US national editor and columnist at the Financial Times‘ such is his political myopia on the American ‘fixation on race’ as he frames it. The comments section of this essay have ‘not been enabled’ ,in Financial Times jargon!

The beginning of the American Story: the treatment of Native Peoples, by the settler colonialists and ‘The Peculiar Institution’ a respectable bourgeois history of slavery by Kenneth M. Stampp of 1956, might be starting points for the inquirer? If an actual historical inquiry was what Luce’s latest column was about. Such is Mr. Luce’s arrogance, wedded to a cultivated ignorance of American history.

What Mr. Luce writes is propaganda, which in this case uses, Martin Luther King as its starting point. Which is perfectly legitimate, if it were not an opportunity for an Oxbridger, to set right the errors of America, in the very narrowest, most advantageous, not to ignore its unctious moralizing tone. This is Mr. Luce’s maladroit commentary on,‘ killing of 10 people in Boulder, Colorado‘…

What might the reader consider when constructing a reply to Luce’s hectoring essay? Should the reader look to the long history of the British Empire’s looting of the natural resources and human labor of its Colonies? The case of of India is paradigmatic:

Headline: The Great Loot: How Britain stole $45 trillion from India

The Great Loot: How Britain stole $45 trillion from India

Or the notion ‘The White Man’s Burden’ as articulated by Rudyard Kipling’s 1899 poem, urging America to colonize the Philippines:


Take up the White Man’s burden–
Send forth the best ye breed–
Go bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives’ need;
To wait in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild–
Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half-devil and half-child.

Take up the White Man’s burden–
In patience to abide,
To veil the threat of terror
And check the show of pride;
By open speech and simple,
An hundred times made plain
To seek another’s profit,
And work another’s gain.

Take up the White Man’s burden–
The savage wars of peace–
Fill full the mouth of Famine
And bid the sickness cease;
And when your goal is nearest
The end for others sought,
Watch sloth and heathen Folly
Bring all your hopes to nought.

Take up the White Man’s burden–
No tawdry rule of kings,
But toil of serf and sweeper–
The tale of common things.
The ports ye shall not enter,
The roads ye shall not tread,
Go mark them with your living,
And mark them with your dead.

Take up the White Man’s burden–
And reap his old reward:
The blame of those ye better,
The hate of those ye guard–
The cry of hosts ye humour
(Ah, slowly!) toward the light:–
“Why brought he us from bondage,
Our loved Egyptian night?”

Take up the White Man’s burden–
Ye dare not stoop to less–
Nor call too loud on Freedom
To cloke your weariness;
By all ye cry or whisper,
By all ye leave or do,
The silent, sullen peoples
Shall weigh your gods and you.

Take up the White Man’s burden–
Have done with childish days–
The lightly proferred laurel,
The easy, ungrudged praise.
Comes now, to search your manhood
Through all the thankless years
Cold, edged with dear-bought wisdom,
The judgment of your peers!

Mr. Luce’s shames the fixation on race of Americans, but he saves the final weak salvo for the Left, the perennial enemy of the self-proclaimed Political Center:

At the same time, the US left needs to recognise that whites will be the majority for decades to come — not least as many Hispanics define themselves as white. No side ever wins in an endless feud. The only beneficiaries are the elites directing events, far away from most people’s reality.

This was predictable as Luce is of the Political Center: that can be defined in Atlantacist terms, as the alliance between the Neo-Cons,The New Democrats and New Labour.

The reader of Mr. Luce’s essay would be wise to read Identity And Violence: The Illusion Of Destiny’ by Amartya Sen that argues that ‘identity’ is not an expression of ‘singularity’, but of ‘multiplicity’ of adopting various identities, as a response to the life situations: e.g. one adopts the identity of mother,daughter,wife, husband, father,son within the shifting parameters of a life lived, with and through other significant persons: as the unfolding of life in the ever renewing present!

Old Socialist

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Philosophical Apprentice confronts the question of ‘ensoulment’ .

Reading Judith Wolfe’s essay, in the TLS March 19,2021, titled ‘Soul-searching; A philosophical attempt to make sense of the self’ Professor Wolfe begins her essay with a paraphrase of Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold:

‘hearing the long, withdrawing roar of the Sea of Faith, promises to be true to his love amid the confused and ignorant battles sweeping the naked world left behind by the ebbing of religion.’

Judging from the biography of Arnold by Ian Hamilton titled ‘A Gift Imprisoned: the poetic life of Matthew Arnold’ Arnold spent his life sunk in regret and self-disappointment: a portion of Blake Morrison’s insightful review of Ian Hamilton’s book:

The answers go back to childhood, and his father, Dr Thomas Arnold, controversialist, disciplinarian and headmaster of Rugby school, from out of whose shadow even the toughest boy would have found it hard to escape. Young Matt, nicknamed “Crabby”, coped with his father’s domineering manner and strict regimes by cultivating a cool, languid, at times facetious manner. He was thought to be idle – and not especially bright. No one was more surprised than Dr Arnold when he won a scholarship to Balliol College.

The Doctor, needless to say, had been at Oxford, too, and was back there hard on his son’s heels to give a series of lectures. As Matthew developed a taste for wine, cards and fancy clothes, contrasts were drawn between the earnest father and his feckless offspring. Matthew protested, knowing there was a serious side to him waiting to be expressed, perhaps in poetry. When his father died of a heart attack shortly afterwards, the poetry and seriousness, the “sad lucidity of soul”, did slowly begin to emerge. But there was also some deeper malaise (the malaise of the child of an energetic father), which he never succeeded in defeating.


Could the reader look to ‘Dover Beach’ as a kind of sign that Arnold was in fact as described by Morrison: (the malaise of the child of an energetic father), which he never succeeded in defeating.‘ The Age of The Father had been eclipsed, yet Matthew could not exercise a self-emancipation? This question cannot be answered, but it does offer possibilities for consideration.

The question that concerns this reader is the idea of ‘ensoulment’ as presented by Prof Wolfe:

Although talk of the soul is complicated, John Cottingham is convinced that it is not only legitimate but ultimately unavoidable. His own contribution is to affirm the trustworthiness of the basic human experience of ensoulment, and to probe the metaphysical horizons within which it thrives.

Cottingham does not treat “soul” as a simple notion, but as a placeholder for that by virtue of which we are each a self: a subject rather than merely an object. The first chapter chronicles facets of this experience of selfhood or ensoulment: the presence of the world and other people as realities we encounter emotionally, rationally and actively; our ineradicable sense of the demands of truth, goodness and love; our lifelong striving for a “better” or “truer” self. Many scientists and philosophers, seeking to pare away unnecessary entities, analyse these experiences as by-products of processes more basic than consciousness, aimed at survival and self-propagation. Cottingham, like Raymond Tallis, regards this analysis as self-referentially incoherent: it denies the fundamental significance of the difference between illusion (even advantageous illusion) and truth which motivates and enables scientific work in the first place.


According to th OED ‘ensoulment’ is defined as, to put or take into the soul; to unite with the soul; to infuse a soul into, to fill with soul, to dwell in animate, as a soul,become part of the (Divine soul) .

In sum, the question of ‘ensoulment’ is purely theological. On the question of ‘Consciousness’ Alva Noe provides the reader with this:

The synergy between Brain,Body and World, as presented by Noe isn’t freighted with Theological/Philosophical baggage, The second quoted paragraph of Prof. Wolfe’s essay is awash in that very particular baggage.

This union of Theology, Philosophy, and the Metaphysics common to both these ways of viewing the world, and the place of humans in it, was a challenge to this reader. As was Christopher J. Insole’s ‘The Intolerable God : Kant’s Theological Journey’ another Professor of Philosophical Theology.

As rewarding and challenging to my philosophical world view as Prof. Wolfe’s essay was, the final paragraph using Wittgenstein’s ‘therapeutic release into life’ hitched to the peculiarly human itch to flay our skin with Occam’s razor is

Ultimately, this would come as no surprise to Cottingham. His book (in the words of its subtitle) is a “philosophical essay”, not in the analytic sense of a demonstration but in Wittgenstein’s of a therapeutic release into life. Only for Cottingham, the question of God is not a distraction, but part of a therapy capable of releasing us from the peculiarly human itch to flay our skin with Occam’s razor.

The Austinian temperament of Wittgenstein, and his venerated musings… He was a misfit, like Kierkegaard, though not an actual rebel, but a particular kind of egoist. I am a misfit, who came late to the self-acceptance of that status. Perhaps my insights can be useful , or just an expression of my own egotism?

Philosophical Apprentice


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Janan Ganesh on the Biden’s ‘bolder stratagem of unavailability’. Political Cynic comments.

The ‘radically unavailable president’ of the headline writers, Mr. Ganesh celebrates in the more sedate ‘the bolder stratagem of unavailability‘. Biden apologetics, in his telling looks away from the Blinken faux pas with the Chinese, meant to demonstrate ‘toughness’ ? Blinken is not a diplomat, but a New Cold War Ideologue. And Joe’s being goaded/manipulated  by New Democratic Loyalist Stephanopoulos into calling Putin a ‘killer’! Putin recalled the Russian Ambassador for consultations. Putin’s response, as reported in The New York Times is telling!

“When I was a child, when we argued in the courtyard, we said the following: ‘If you call someone names, that’s really your name,’” Mr. Putin said, quoting a Russian schoolyard rhyme. “When we characterize other people, or even when we characterize other states, other people, it is always as though we are looking in the mirror.”

The Ganesh View of Biden doesn’t confront the fact that the president can’t even climb the stairs to his jet, but he meets Mr. Ganesh’s ‘the bolder stratagem of unavailability‘. Mr. Ganesh needs to sharpen his skills as Biden Apologist. Perhaps a re-read of that Edward L. Bernays classic of 1928? 

Political Cynic 



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The unexpected Pikettyism of Edward Luce? Old Socialist …

The reader just has to wonder at Mr. Luce’s tincture of Pikettyism! Not the real article but a clever pastiche? For a devotee of Neo-Liberalism to ‘think’ in a counterintuitive key? The questions ramify!

Two paragraphs stand out: 

This was a cop out. Since the 1970s, Washington has done plenty to weaken the power of trade unions, cut social insurance and allow educational costs to increase beyond the reach of ordinary Americans. Instead of cushioning such trends, successive US administrations, including Democratic ones, leaned in further. 

That the Neo-Liberal Swindle collapsed in 2008 eludes Mr. Luce’s grasp, although he articulates the shadow of the real thing.

Not forgetting the the next paragraph quoting New Labours’ ‘Golden Boy’ Tony Blair:

Tony Blair, the former British prime minister, once said: “I hear people say we have to stop and debate globalisation. You might as well debate whether autumn should follow summer.”

Mr. Luce can’t quite let go of this enchanting Political Princeling, who like Bill Clinton were the architects of catastrophe.

Mr. Luce ends his essay with more Biden Melodrama: ‘take the sting out of US populism’ of both the Right and Left iterations? The Republicans have what? Mitch McConnell, Neo-Confederate/Originalist, the tattered remains of the Lincoln Project, or Mr. 47% Mitt Romney?What of Josh Hawley, of the raised fist? That historic opening’s chance is pregnant with possibility, that could, might be thwarted? Mr. Luce’s prognostications, indeed prescience, leaves the reader where?

Biden, in other words, has a chance to take the sting out of US populism with a game-changing economic agenda. It is a historic opening that is unlikely to come again soon. He must weigh that against the cost of preserving the Senate veto for a party that increasingly talks only about culture. As time goes on, it will seem like no choice at all.


Old Socialist

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The Argentine Political Melodrama, episode DCCXXIII : The Financial Times, and its reporter Benedict Mander, declare the dominance of de Kirchner! Skeptical Reporter comments.

The headline and sub-headline only hint that The Financial Times and its reporter Benedict Mander ‘report’ on ‘midterm elections after VIP vaccines scandal’ , yet the opening paragraph features Alberto Fernández ‘speeding away to safety from stone-throwing protesters during a visit to Patagonia.’ A bit of political melodrama is never out of place, especially since the Fernández/de Kirchner ticket succeeded the failed Neo-Liberal Macri, and his J.P. Morgan wonder boy Prat-Gay, who was fired: https://www.ft.com/content/2d82da08-cb8c-11e6-864f-20dcb35cede2

Headline: Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s dominance in Argentina becomes apparent

Sub-headline: VP is leading the administration’s campaign ahead of midterm elections after VIP vaccines scandal hits President Alberto Fernández


The ‘report’ from Mr. Mander’s recitation of the concatenating troubles of de Kirchner, while not reaching ‘we told you so’, but veers into something like it?

“We no longer have any doubt as to who is in control; it is Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. Uncertainty is never good for investors, but neither is this realisation,” said Jimena Blanco, an analyst at Verisk Maplecroft, a risk consultancy, of the Peronist politician who clashed with investors during her two-term presidency in 2007-2015.

And who better to bring the bad news than ‘Jimena Blanco, an analyst at Verisk Maplecroft’? Their pitch to possible customers: ‘We help multinational organisations understand where, how and why their global operations, investments and supply chains are at risk, and provide the solutions and advice they need to build resilience and sustainability.’ https://www.maplecroft.com/


Three days later, Fernández de Kirchner lashed out at Argentina’s justice system and “lawfare”, or the use of the courts to attack political enemies, when she gave testimony in one of the nine corruption cases she faces. She accused judges of persecuting her, being “rotten and perverse”, and of systematic political interference, as she angrily jabbed her index finger at the camera.

Just reading de Kirchner’s Wikipedia page, this reader wonders why she should not be serving a life sentence, such is her list of crimes!


Roberto Saba, an Argentine lawyer, said that Fernández de Kirchner is using the weaker cases against her, the so-called “future dollars” case that accuses her government of defrauding the central bank, to attack the courts and elites. But the notion of lawfare “erodes the legitimacy of courts, which is extremely dangerous”, he warned.

Note Roberto Saba’s impeccable credentials:



Fernández de Kirchner’s crusade against the judiciary intensified after Lázaro Báez, a close associate of the Kirchner family, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for laundering $55m of dirty money. This has direct implications for Fernández de Kirchner, as the money is alleged to have originated from corrupt schemes with the Kirchner family, claims that are being determined in a parallel case in which she is the main defendant. She denies all charges.

A bit of guilt by association ?


The president insists nothing has changed in his relationship with his deputy. “I may have differences with Cristina . . . But I arrived with Cristina, and I will leave with Cristina [too],” he said in a recent interview.


But Graciela Römer, a political analyst, said that the importance of winning the approaching midterm legislative elections in October has put the government “in a very delicate situation”.

An attempt to keep supporters onside also explains why the government looks likely to postpone the renegotiation of a $44bn loan from the IMF granted in 2018, she said, as a deal with the Washington institution could anger the “kirchneristas”.

“It’s increasingly clear that the person who is leading the campaign right now — if not the government itself — is Cristina Fernández de Kirchner,” said Römer.

Here are Graciela Römer’s qualifications, translated from the Spanish:

Graciela Römer has a degree in Sociology from the University of Buenos Aires, director from 1988 to the present of Graciela Römer & Asoc., A study dedicated to social research, public opinion and political consulting in Argentina and different Latin American countries. She has more than twenty years of professional experience in the institutional and corporate image field in both the private and public sectors.


Graciela Römer, like so many others has something to sell , her ‘expertise’. Walter Lippmann’s faith in ‘experts’ as a hedge against too much Democracy, is toxic in the political present!

Sceptical Reporter

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@mcgregorrichard enunciates the Lowry Institute hard line, on China, in the Financial Times. Political Cynic comments.

Anti-Chinese propaganda has become ubiquitous in the Corporate Media:

Headline; Australia can teach the UK a lesson in Chinese wrath

Sub-headline: London may have to learn the hard way that it cannot have its cake and eat it with Beijing

The author is a senior fellow at the Lowy Institute 

An internet search on the Lowy Institute yields this revelatory essay of October 2013 essay by Antony Loewenstein:

The Lowy Institute sees itself as Australia’s leading foreign affairs thinktank. Its fellows and staff routinely appear in the media pontificating about global affairs, including a push for greater defence spending that would allow countless contractors to earn billions of dollars. Its head Michael Fullilove, who’s also a non-resident senior fellow in foreign affairs at the Brookings Institution, writes longingly about former US national security advisor Henry Kissinger as a “realist”, despite there being questions over Kissinger’s record of foreign policy. Kissinger endorsed Fullilove’s recent book, a love letter to Franklin D Roosevelt. Fullilove has also been an outspoken critic of the release of the Wikileaks cables.

I asked the Lowy Institute a range of questions about Campbell’s possible conflicts of interest. They sent me a statement that ignored these issues:

Dr Campbell has long been one of the United States’ foremost policymakers on Asia. As assistant secretary of state for east Asian and Pacific affairs, he played a leading role on issues such at the US “rebalance” towards Asia, US-China relations, and efforts to promote democratic change in Burma. This fellowship will provide the international policy community in Australia with an opportunity to draw upon Dr Campbell’s experience and insights on the defining political, economic and strategic issues in Asia at a time of great change in the region. It will also be an opportunity to expose Dr Campbell to Australian perspectives on these issues.

Business and politics rarely mix without controversy; the media needs to be careful not to be seduced by smooth thinktank talkers.


The reader just might ask Mr. McGregor about the sanctions that America has placed on Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela and an embargo on Cuba. As America’s staunch ally, Britain follows the policy that America sets. In sum, Britain lives in the long shadow of the American Imperium. But on the question of China and America there is a vexing question: should America take any precipitous action against a country that hold so much of its debt? 

Here is Mr. McGregor on Britain’s defense review, yet he elides the fact that Britain is now just America’s political lap dog. With the Tory buffoon Boris in charge  

Britain’s defence review was remarkably blunt, calling China “a systemic challenge” to British values and prosperity and “the biggest state-based threat” to the country’s economic security. But the UK may be about to find out what Australia already knows, that it is no easy thing to change China policy, and, given Beijing’s sensitivities, there is a steep price to be paid in doing so. 

Mr. McGregor follows with a long potted history of how China conducted itself ,within the parameters of Trade. Yet the closing two paragraphs are demonstrative of the Lowy Institute’s hardline on the not just emerging World Power , but a Power that has supplanted a Hegemon, in an advanced state of political collapse. Given this World Historical frame Boris and Britain look to be what?

The next, harder step is economic co-operation among democracies such as the US, the UK and Australia to help nations singled out by Beijing for punishment. Kurt Campbell, who heads Indo-Pacific policy in the US National Security Council, said this month that Washington had told Beijing there would no improvement in ties while an ally is under “economic coercion”.

Beijing rails at such co-ordination. A party paper lashed out at the Five Eyes intelligence partnership, calling it an “axis of white supremacy”. But China’s behaviour is pushing friends and allies together, as the US made clear in a diplomatic confrontation in Alaska on Friday. Australia values their support. So too, soon, might the UK.  


Political Cynic

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Edward Luce’s faint praise of Joe Biden. American Writer comments.

Headline: Joe Biden’s quietly revolutionary first 100 days

Sub-headline: US president’s opening spell has been the most productive and ego-free in recent memory

The headline writers looked to Mr. Luce’s ‘opening spell’ comedy, for the sub-headline. Nothing said by Luce about Biden’s ‘quietly revolutionary first 100 days’. Luce’s opening paragraph renders the ‘quietly revolutionary’ in it’s proper category of headline hyperbole.

It took about 50 days for US president Joe Biden to fulfil his 100-day vow of 100m vaccinations. The trick is as simple as it is old: under-promise and over-deliver. Yet after four years of Donald Trump doing the opposite, it feels strangely novel. The same applies to Biden’s $1.9tn recovery package. In one bill, he has provided the financial relief that Trump kept telling middle-class Americans they already had. Might America dare to hope that its days of politics as a branch of the entertainment industry are over? 

Mr. Luce can’t resist proving that he can focus on one of the most vexing problem that Biden faces, that echoes Trump’s toxic xenophobia. In which Napoleon plays the leading role:

All kinds of things can and will go wrong — starting with the growing migrant surge on America’s southern border. But Biden has three key advantages. His most important is what Napoleon Bonaparte sought in his generals: luck. The best recipe for success in a new job is to follow an underperformer. Biden also inherited a pandemic that was ripe for fixing. 

Next in Luce’s positive evaluation of Trump’s ‘Operation Warp Speed’. Biden is the political beneficiary of Trump’s one expression of his prescience?

The most effective thing Trump did as president was to fund Operation Warp Speed. Biden took office just as America’s vaccines were coming online and infections were peaking. This offered him a once-in-a-century chance to demonstrate the power of public service. If the virus peters out in the US by the summer, the resulting economic boom will give Biden a springboard to do all kinds of things that would previously have been unthinkable.

Then, Luce emphasises Bidens ‘experience’ and presents Biden’s choices as indicative of the value of that ‘experience’ . Note the reliance on ‘knowing the key players’ : Janet Yellen and Ron Klain. Neera Tanden’s nomination for the Office of Management and Budget didn’t qualify as a ‘key player’? This Luce sentence should garner a laugh:’Biden thus said little in the campaign about his storied history.’!

History is now featured with walk-ons by Carter and Obama as not quite connected, or lack that ‘key player’ status, that put them in a deficit position, to advance their political agendas.

US history is littered with new presidents sweeping in with out-of-town teams and then tripping up. Think of Jimmy Carter’s Georgians, Clinton’s Arkansans and Barack Obama’s Chicagoans. It takes at least two years for them to gain a footing, if they ever do. Biden has so far bypassed that hurdle. Having taken almost every position on every issue during his long career, Biden is seen by the left as devoid of principle. But that can also be an asset. Republicans cannot paint Biden as a radical. The left has nowhere else to go.

What Mr. Luce misses is that the ‘Left’ seems to be growing within the New Democratic Party. Nina Turner is just the latest ‘Leftist’ to run for congress.What follows, in the last two paragraphs of Luce’s essay, is a not very convincing argument in defense of mediocrity: Biden was and is the apotheosis of mediocrity, his political opportunism, that mediocrity, not forgetting his Corporate Media advocates, help to explain his narrow win in 2020. Not to speak of Trump’s advancing self-delusion.

But good oratory can be overrated — ask Germany’s Angela Merkel. Biden delegates a lot of his White House communication and day-to-day decisions to others. Here is his third attribute. By the standards of most US presidents, Biden’s ego is modest. That is an admittedly low bar. But at 78, it is hard to claim you personify the wave of the future. The best kind of politics is to govern, rather than fret about your brand. This sets Biden apart from Obama as well as Trump. Not everything needs to be about him.

Through a mix of luck and experience, Biden’s opening spell has been the most accident-free of any US president in recent memory. At some point Biden will get into difficulty and may well mess up. In the meantime, he is proving that you do not need to be a superstar to govern America. Indeed, it helps to be free of any obligation to play that role.


American Writer

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