Tag Archives: international affairs

Global Trends 2030 sneak peek

On 19 November, 2012, I attended a briefing at the Princeton University conducted by the National Intelligence Council (NIC) titled ‘Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds’. The Global Trends report is to be released on or about 10 December 2012 and the purpose of the presentation was to discuss the methodology of the report as well as discuss the implications of the findings in the report for the United States over the next 17 years.


The purpose of the Global Trends project is to identify ‘key drivers and developments likely to shape world events a couple of decades into the future.’ They do that by canvassing non-governmental experts on issues the Intelligence Community (IC) doesn’t track and/or doesn’t have sufficient expertise with.

Methodology/Production Issues:

From its beginnings, the NIC was determined to make Global Trends documents unclassified and accessible to the public. The intent of the document is to provide government and others with what the IC considers ‘key drivers’ in future trends in order to facilitate policy planning.

Global Trends 2030 is the first time the NIC has devoted so much time to looking at the role of the US in the global system. In previous reports they were hesitant of crossing the line between analysis and policy advocacy but criticism from past editions led them to include a greater US focus.

Also present was Anne-Marie Slaughter (former Director of Policy Planning for the US State Department and who I might just have a crush on) who said that while Global Trends isn’t a perfect product it was essential for the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review as policy analysis needs some starting point and mutually agreed assumptions.

In addition to the report, the NIC created a executive summary titled ‘Le Menu’ with a novel format for presenting key points of the report.  It was a nice example of an organization towards the top end of the IC pyramid demonstrating that not all products need alternate between dry, weighty tomes that few will read or superficial powerpoint slides that try to reduce all problems to three or four bullets.  Unfortunately, I suspect many agencies (particularly at the sub-federal level but by no means exclusive to them) lack the self awareness to even be aware that this is a question so I won’t be holding my breath waiting for agencies to expend any effort thinking about how to present or disseminate their information.

On to the report!


  1.  The NIC believes that in 2030, the US will remain preeminent because of its legacy position and leadership across hard and soft elements but unipolar world will cease to exist. There is limited potential for China to replace the US as the international leader by 2030.
  2. Alternate scenarios considered included a United States that became more isolationist or was unable to rebound economically but both were considered unlikely.
  3. Economic power would shift definitively to the East and South and the world’s economic prospects would be increasingly dependent on emerging powers.
    1. This is likely to expand the concept of US interests overseas as economic globalization increases. ‘Emerging powers’ are often unstable powers.
  4. China will not be a ‘peer competitor’ for decades. While it will continue to experience growth across the range of factors of power, it also faces a number of challenges and does not appear to want to be a global leader over this time frame. It does, however, want to be a regional power.
    1. So, could we please chill the hell out about China?
  5. Traditional US allies (Europe and Japan) are in a much steeper decline of relative power than the US is. This may be offset by a reinvigorated European Union (which there seemed to be a great deal of confidence in) which could be virtually as powerful as China in 2030.
  6. A recent report by the International Energy Agency asserts that exploitation of new tight light oil (TLO) reserves will make the United States energy independent and even a net exporter of oil by 2030. (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/13/business/energy-environment/report-sees-us-as-top-oil-producer-in-5-years.html?_r=0)
    1. Impacts on price could begin within a year but effects will become more pronounced as time goes on.
    2. Depending on the specific predictions, while this is likely to lead to a much improved domestic economic outlook, it might be destabilizing to those countries that rely on high energy prices (Saudi Arabia, Russia, numerous African states, etc.)
  7. The NIC identified four ‘megatrends’ that will have a significant impact on the international system.
    1. Individual empowerment: Middle classes will expand and the majority of the world’s population will not be impoverished.
    2. Demography: There will be a rapid extension of life expectancy. Migration will flow to emerging powers and urbanization will grow almost 60%.
    3. Diffusion of Power: A host of new, emerging powers will rise and have greater regional influence.
    4. Growing competition for resources: Demand for resources will increase significantly by 2030. Demand for food will increase 50% and energy by 45%. Nations will be under increasing pressure to manage resources or govern more effectively in response. There will be significant possibilities of instability and forced migration.
  8. While living standards may be higher, economic security will remain elusive. While terrorism is often believed to be a result of poverty and oppression, data indicates that the ranks of terrorists frequently come from the educated middle classes. Therefore, improved economic outlooks, and a healthier population coupled with resource scarcity, weaker governments, rising expectations and general insecurity could lead to an increase in ideologically motivated violence.
  9. Some subjects were not considered in the report, notably the role of non-state actors (terrorists, criminals, non-governmental organizations, multinational corporations, etc.)

So, there you go….

Romney’s wtf comments about Iran

One hardly knows where to begin…

“If I were Iran, if I were Iran—a crazed fanatic, I’d say let’s get a little fissile material to Hezbollah, have them carry it to Chicago or some other place, and then if anything goes wrong, or America starts acting up, we’ll just say, “Guess what? Unless you stand down, why, we’re going to let off a dirty bomb.” I mean this is where we have—where America could be held up and blackmailed by Iran, by the mullahs, by crazy people. So we really don’t have any option but to keep Iran from having a nuclear weapon.”

Notice, his description of Iran 1  describes them as ‘crazed fanatics’.  Well, if that’s how you view them, then I suppose there’s no need bothering to treat them like rational actors.

And that, my friends, is just the sort of thinking that can lead us to war.  After all, if the commander in chief thinks that the Iranians aren’t motivated by things like security (Iranian generally or the ruling party’s more specifically) then I guess there’s no need to try to ease those concerns in order to reach an agreement.  It is a view that equates the Iranians (and let’s face it, probably most of the rest of the world) as creatures that respond to only one thing:  pain.

Like the gay kid whose existence offends you, the only thing to do is to throw them down, have some of your buddies restrain him, terrify him and cut his hair.  Or, just keep implying that if Iran doesn’t unconditionally surrender we’ll be the ones wiping someone off the map.  Don’t bother thinking that such talk might actually cause the Iranian government to hurry up and build a bomb lest they join Iraq and Afghanistan as nations that have hosted large numbers of U.S. troops.

It also (I think) fundamentally misunderstands Americans.  Does anyone really believe that if Iran said ‘We’ve got a dirty bomb in Chicago..Do what we say or else.’ we’d cower and cave?  If other countries actually believed that why wouldn’t they say it now?  There’s no need to actually have a dirty bomb (you could hide one in a huge city).

Why?  Because pretty clearly any nation that made a threat like that would receive a counter threat that said, if a dirty bomb goes off here, be prepared for a nuclear storm to rain down on all your cities.

But again, that requires you to think that the Iranians are rational actors.  And when you’ve got Romney who wrote a book called ‘No Apologies’ and refused to compromise on a theoretical deal in which he could get a budget deal which gave him a spending reduction to tax increase ration of 10 to 1 you really have to wonder who is the crazed fanatic.

  1. and who knows if that’s shorthand for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad(who doesn’t have supreme power), Ali Khamenei (who does have most of the power but hasn’t said the more inflammatory things that Ahmadinejad has), or just a general statement about Iranians in general.

What the MeK?

Well, I’m sure this is going to end well.

An Iranian group called the Mujahedin-e Khalq is fighting to get its name off the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations.

Wait…what?  Terrorist organizations get to lobby the U.S. Government for redress of their grievances?

Yeah, apparently they do.  Well, so long as they don’t like the same people we don’t like.  See, the MeK don’t like the current Iranian government and would like to rule the country instead of them. So, some people in the US Government are thinking that this is a great opportunity to join forces.  We throw the current Iranian government out of power, the MeK take over…everyone’s happy, right?

Am I the only one who remembers what happened the last time we supported a ragtag bunch of insurgents against a nations state in the belief that it was in the long term interests of the US?

Voice of America has a nice set of articles and videos about the MeK.  As you watch this, think about what other terrorist group that was involved with the targeting and killing of Americans (even 30 years ago) would get not only a chance to be exonerated but be set up to receive American support.

More shocking is the support (in many times compensated) the MeK gets from politicians and policy makers.  Now, if you’re a brown person sending $100 to Uzbekistan to support jihad you’ll be looking at some serious jail time.  If you’re a former Bush appointee or Governor you’ll get…a boatload of money from a terrorist organization* and plenty of time on 24 cable news shows to spin your way to the bank.

Glen Greenwald is correct.  This is ‘material support to terrorism’ and against the law.

I wonder how much al-Qaeda would have to pay to get an ‘all is forgiven’ pass from these guys?  Rudy Guiliani…what’s your price?

This is where a clear statement that America will not support terrorism would be appropriate.  Unfortunately, just as in the the administration’s decision not to investigate war crimes for the torture of prisoners, this is another black mark on the idea of the US being a nation of laws

*Hey, what a coincidence these people are getting paid the same amount of money that suicide bombers were paid for blowing themselves up in Israel.

Kvick Tänkare

Photographer Jon Tonks has a project in which he travels to the few remaining British overseas territories and (as you’ve probably guessed) takes pictures.

A history of body snatchers.

For nearly a week in early December, black smoke billowed from the French Embassy in Iran. Years of diplomatic archives were being burned in the swimming pool of the embassy, initiated by French officials. The measure was intended as preventive, two days after the raiding of British diplomatic sites in Tehran.

I’ve always thought that my experience in the military (particularly the early years when I just got out of high school) were invaluable in making me a mature, responsible adult (*ahem*. eds). Some researchers wanted to see what, if any, effect military service has on young men and maturity and so compared German conscripts and those who didn’t serve.  Their findings are a bit disappointing.

The groups differed in one way only: the effect of increasing agreeableness was one third larger for the civilian than the military group.* This suggests that military training attenuates the upward trajectory of agreeableness seen in early adulthood.

Now, I’m not sure how applicable this study is across the board.  Conscripts are different from an all volunteer force.  Different armies treat their soldiers differently both in terms of care but also in terms of responsibility and development.  I still think my military service did more to make me a well rounded individual than if I only went to university.

The definition of a bad day.  A dinosaur catches a fish and then a fish catches the dinosaur.  The latter fish chokes on the dinosaur and everyone dies.  It’s like a Jurassic Shakespearean tragedy.

For Mrs. TwShiloh:

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The complicated world of royal names

The Swedish royal family has a recent addition with the birth of a daughter to Crown Princess Victoria.  The child is now second in line of succession which means that Sweden can expect to go quite some time before seeing a king (after the reign of the existing kind, that is).

The child was just named and after the announcement was made eyebrows were raised.  She was named Estelle Silvia Ewa Mary which broke with tradition as none of those names were ever held by a Swedish princess and royalty is supposed to be nothing if not traditional.  There was (at least according to Mrs. TwShiloh’s description of the Swedish press) a bit of disappointment with this apparent lack of tradition.

The reason behind the name is now being speculated on and, if true, provides some interesting insight into international relations.

Estelle Bernadotte (Bernadotte is the surname of the Swedish royal family) was the wife of Folke Bernadotte, the godfather of the previous king of Sweden.  Folke was a UN mediator in Palestine after WWII and was assassinated by Jewish terrorists (the Stern Gang) in 1948.  Never satisfied with the Israeli investigation (especially when former group members eventually admitted to the killing, avoided all prosecution and became senior members of the Israeli government).  The Swedish royal family, in an apparent statement of displeasure about the whole thing has never visited Israel.

So, if this is the source of the new princesses’ name, one wonders what sort of message (if any) it’s intending to send. One Swedish biographer speculates:

When Israel’s President Herzog visited Sweden the royals wanted say something pointed about Folke Bernadotte, but the foreign ministry wouldn’t allow it.

It is not unreasonable to interpret the Royal Family’s choice of name for Sweden’s new princess is an attempt to contribute to the restoration of the Folke Bernadotte’s legacy.

It is important to note that the Swedish royal family has no direct (and probably little indirect) influence on Swedish foreign policy.  Still, one could see how this could complicate matters.  The two have had a rocky relationship with past Swedish governments supporting Palestinian causes, and Israel complaining over unfavorable press coverage in Sweden. Given Israel’s current state of tension (what with Iran and everyone freaking out that the U.S. is waffling between unquestioned support for Israel and unquestioned support for Israel) perhaps they’ll see this as another poke in the eye that ratchets up the paranoia meter another (little) notch.

So, perhaps we’ll see a tempest in a teapot or maybe this will all go unnoticed.  Still, it’s interesting to see how naming a baby might have serious policy implications…

*And just for the record, I had a lot of angst about publishing this post.  In part because I’m afraid some anti-Semetic nutjobs will link to it and start spewing their racist filth and in part because I’m afraid some hyper-nationalist Israelis will start calling me a nazi.  (You really don’t need to worry about either of those possibilities…no one reads this stuff anyway.  eds.) And yet I publish it anyway and all for you, dear reader.  I selflessly do it all for you. (um…yeah)

Empty calorie activism

This is my second attempt to unpack the hot mess that is the Kony 2012 project.  If you haven’t heard of it (and I really can’t believe you haven’t) you can get caught up here.

I’m not going to go through all of my problems with the video or the campaign since others have (thankfully) done a wonderful job of doing so already.  In particular, please check out the Kings of War posts on the subject (here and here).

There are a couple of issues I think are worthy of discussion.  First is that the video which garnered 40 million hits is an emotional plea and not based on facts or logic.  In 30 minutes you get about 10 of Kony (yes, a very bad guy) and 20 of the filmmaker, his 5 year old son and video of young, pretty (and mostly white) people all looking like they’re having the MOST AMAZING (it’s so much fun!) time in voting for the next American Idol fighting an insurgency in Central Africa via clicking Facebook and emailing Oprah.

This bothers me for three reasons:

  1. I’m an INTP and has a visceral aversion to arguments that abandon all pretense of fact or logic and attempt to win solely by appeals to emotion
  2. We’re now more than a decade into a series of very costly (in human and material terms) wars and apparently the only thing it takes for many people to give the old wheel another spin is a snazzy YouTube video.  That gives me a great deal of pause.  Of course, for most there hasn’t been a war over the past decade.  At least, not one that had any meaningful impact on their lives.
  3. My last reason is, I suspect, the reason why we have #2.  So many people have internalized the idea that we can have costless activism.  We’ve gotten so enraptured with the internet that we actually think it can do more than we really can with it.  The fact is you aren’t going to depose a dictator via the internet (you need people willing to actually go in the streets for that), you aren’t going to feed the poor with the internet (you need someone to gather and distribute the food for that) and you aren’t going to win wars with the internet (you need people willing to kill and die for that).

It’s not easy…it’s not pretty…but saving the world rarely is.

As JM says at KoW:

It is immoral to try and sell a sanitised vision of foreign intervention that neglects the fact that people will die as a result. That goes for politicians as much as for Jason Russell.

And if you think about it…this is sort of a replay of Iraq.  Easy military action promised? Check! People told this won’t cost much in terms of casualties or money? Check! Told the world will be full of unicorns and ponies once we get ‘the worst war criminal in the world’ out of circulation? Check

It really gets me mad that I consider myself a ‘liberal interventionist’ (well, less than I was in 2001 but I haven’t abandoned the idea completely.  Yet, this is just stupid.  Of course, the organizers don’t explicitly say ‘we want to launch a military intervention’ but there’s no other way to accomplish what they want and they clearly hint at it.

So here I am.  Normally a booster of crowdsourcing, engaging with people normally not involved in international affairs, activism and approaching problems from new directions, now I am poo-pooing the lot.

I guess networking everyone was the easy part.  Now we’ve got to educate them.

Everything is changing

The National has an insightful review of ‘Why it’s Kicking off Everywhere‘ by Paul Mason. The book discusses the rise of ‘frustration’ movements (a term I just made up…add that to TwShiloh lexicon) that includes such diverse movements as the Arab Spring, Occupy movements, the London riots, and demonstrations in Greece and Russia.

Now I haven’t read the book and I’m a little leery of attempting to weave very recent events into a grand historical narrative (after all, I can imagine that the invention of the Number 2 pencil was heralded as a civilization changing event – at least by the inventor’s mom).  In fact I’m not even sure we can say these events will be more than a footnote a decade from now.  After all, it’s not like any of these movements has really achieved anything yet.  They may get smothered by the power of the Westphalian nation state.

But Jamie Kenny’s review of Mason’s work does attempt to link all these disparate movements together and provide a framework for considering them.

Specifically, I’d like to draw your attention to this paragraph:

…where earlier generations of revolutionaries exemplified the enlightenment project of general emancipation, their successors have been trained to work in the info-capitalist context of zero loyalty, self-reliance and flexibility. They value skills over knowledge, fluidity over permanence, networks over hierarchy. Once, they were supposed to be the job-hopping consultants, freelancers and executives of the future. “The revolts of 2010-11,” writes Mason, “have shown, quite simply, what this workforce looks like when it becomes collectively disillusioned, when it realises that the whole offer of betterment has been withdrawn.”

And that is what connects the various movements we’ve seen over the past couple of years.


Yep…that’s what terrorism looks like

So, two (admittedly anonymous) ‘U.S. officials’ have now come out and said that Israel is behind the campaign to assassinate Iranian scientists.  I recently got in a minor flame war on a Linkedin forum (how that happened, I can’t explain…HUGE waste of time) when I suggested that said campaign was terrorism.

Everyone else argued that it clearly wasn’t.  Reasons why were varied in detail but could all be placed in the ‘The U.S. and Israel say they don’t conduct terrorism so if either was behind it, it can’t be terrorism.’

And that, ladies and gentlemen is the cracker-jack logic that brought you the invasion of Iraq.

Well, you’d think this might settle the argument (such as it is) but it probably won’t.  Still, let’s give it the old college try:

Deadly attacks on Iranian nuclear scientists are being carried out by an Iranian dissident group that is financed, trained and armed by Israel’s secret service, U.S. officials tell NBC News, confirming charges leveled by Iran’s leaders.

The group, the People’s Mujahedin of Iran [MEK], has long been designated as a terrorist group by the United States…

Well, that’s something Iran and the U.S. can agree on.  The MEK has been declared by both counties (along with Iraq) as a terrorist organization.

Wait…wait…it gets better!

The group’s leaders had a cozy relationship with (drumroll, please)…this guy.

Saddam recruited the MEK in much the same way the Israelis allegedly have, using them to fight Iranian forces during the Iran-Iraq War, a role they took on proudly.  So proudly, they invited NBC News to one of their military camps outside Baghdad in 1991.

Really, you can’t make this stuff up.  Certainly, there can’t be any more, right? A history of killing Americans and getting on the list of terrorist organizations. Hiring themselves out to be proxies in Iraq’s war with Iran in the 1980s. Other than that, I’m sure they’re clean.

Ooops…how about a side order of genocide.

The [MEK]s last major offensive reportedly was conducted against Iraqi Kurds in 1991, when it joined Saddam Hussein’s brutal repression of the Kurdish rebellion.

That would be this rebellion.

And we can link the MEK to the first attack on the World Trade Center and even 9/11!

The U.S. suspicion of the MEK doesn’t end there. Law enforcement officials have told NBC News that in 1994, the MEK made a pact with terrorist Ramzi Yousef a year after he masterminded the first attack on the World Trade Center in New York City.

That connection between Yousef, nephew of 9-11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, and the MEK was first reported in a book, “The New Jackals,” by Simon Reeve. NBC News confirmed that Yousef told U.S. law enforcement that he had worked with the MEK on the bombing.

So, an organization which has been hostile to American interests (both directly and indirectly) has been hired and trained by a country which has uber-ally status with the U.S. Anyone want to bet this inconvenient corner of the War on Terror will be brushed under the carpet?

As usual, Paul Pillar does a great job in cutting to the chase.

Amid all the reasons for dismay and outrage over this, there is also an irony. One of the oft-repeated rationales for the conventional wisdom that an Iranian nuclear weapon would be unacceptable is that it would somehow turn Iran into a regional marauder that would recklessly throw its weight around the Middle East in damaging ways. Well, there is an example of a Middle Eastern state that behaves in such a way, but it isn’t Iran. This state invades neighboring countries, ruthlessly inflicting destruction on civilian populations, and seizes and colonizes territory through military force. It also uses terrorist group proxies as well as its own agents to conduct assassinations in other countries in the region.

But instead of any real examination of our policy, we can expect continued declarations that there will be ‘no daylight’ between Israel and the United States.

The next time a terrorist tries to attack us we won’t have to ask ‘Why do they hate us?’ We can just look at our unquestioned support of a state sponsor of terrorism and know that it’s because of what we do.

Northern News

Ever hear of the “Nordic-Baltic 8”?  Me neither but it’s sort of a chilly G20 for nations around the nations around the Baltic.  Don’t bother googling it, there isn’t much there and even the NATO page that references it gives you a 404 error (perhaps that’s a hint?)


The Atlantic Council, however, makes an argument that we should be very interested in the NB-8 and it’s recent meeting in Lithuania for three reasons:

  1. The rising importance of Germany in European affairs and a shift from an East-West European axis to a North-South one.
  2. Energy politics and competition with Russia over the exploitation of oil and gas reserves
  3. The melting of the ice cap which will allow year round transportation of goods and services (as well as more energy exploitation) which will be “nothing less than a revolution in strategic affairs and will turn the world on its head.”

In making their pitch for maintaining (nay, strengthening!) cross Atlantic cooperation, they state:

…the world will not just ‘pivot’ on Asia, it will also ‘pivot’ on the two High Norths of Continental North America and Europe; the new Super-Highways for the ‘Global Commons’.

Lunghu provides some interesting news from Finland.

First, Finland is going to go through some defense cuts and finds itself with an extra 100,000 ‘mint condition’ assault rifles.

Much more intriguing, however, is this story about the Arctic Sea (You haven’t forgotten so soon, have you?).

Investigators in the northern Russian port of Arkhangelsk have charged in absentia Estonia’s former spy chief, Eerik-Niiles Kross, with organizing the hijacking of the cargo ship Arctic Sea in 2009, a spokesman for the regional Investigative Committee, Yury Shperling said on Friday. [emphasis added]

The Social Democrats were the dominate party in Sweden for decades.  Over the past few years we’ve seen a spectacular decline and collapse.  Just recently the head of the party resigned meaning the party will have four leaders in five years, hardly a sign of stability.  After decades of being the party that received the largest share of votes in the country it now is languishing with support of less than a quarter of Swedes.

Finally, while Mrs. TwShiloh is normally the even tempered embodiment of lagom, there was much gnashing of teeth at TwS HQ when it was announced that Ikea would no longer carry many beloved brands of Swedish food.  Well, expat Swedes around the world are rising in revolt and demanding blood (well, they’ve got a Facebook page).  All I know is that I better be able to get some crayfish for next year’s party…

Crayfish Party!

Image by iago18335 via Flickr

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I blew my ‘I told you so’ opportunity (Revolutionary edition, comrades)

Really, I’ve got a blog and I actually didn’t express a thought I had?  Well, now it’s too late.

Paul Pillar talks about how things might go terribly wrong in Egypt.  I’m kicking myself for not blogging about this months ago as it occurred to me (yeah, sure it did) but replacing Mubarak with people who just were his assorted underlings doesn’t seem much like opening the door of opportunity for real change.

Now, you’ve got a whole bunch of people who expect big improvements but you’ve still got the same entrenched layer at the top that’s concerned with keeping what they’ve managed to steal over the past few decades.  Something’s gotta give…

Kings of War, on the other hand, has a nice riff I should have thought of hadn’t.  Is there a possibility of a ‘European Spring’?

You’ve got the key ingredient of any revolution–massive dissatisfaction with the status quo. The question is the ideology which might mobilise general pissed-offedness into real physical action. There are a number of possible candidates for this–my bet is that a politicised ecology movement combining some elements of anti-capitalism is the most likely to possess the most effective and coherent combination of ‘sacred cause’ and convincing alternative programme–but none has emerged yet.

David can’t find an ideology in this (but does see ripe conditions for one) but I’m not so sure.  He quotes Matthew Reinbold, Creative Principal of Vox Pop Design. (And I’ll use the same video he did to make a point).

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David comes away with this interpretation of the subtext:

In other words, the existing authority, the government, is unable or uninterested in changing the status quo because it is enslaved to corporate interests which are the real enemy. The grievance  which resonates with youth, particularly urban, educated and middle class youth whose life prospects have been hit hard by the global economic crisis is their ‘victimization by boom and bust’. There is an ‘in-group’ (the change-makers) and an ‘out-group’ (the ‘change-resisters’) and the former needs to organise itself, get out there and make the world the way that they want it to be. There is no call to violence—nor is any implied; however, a world of do-it-yourself revolution is one which would possess multiple variants amongst the disparate social movement organisations (‘tribes’) of the broader social movement embracing different ways and means to similar ends.

I can’t help but see the similarities in message to Robert Newman’s History of Oil (which will get more attention in a later post) that was done several years ago.

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The ideology Newman explicitly advocates is anarchy and while Reinbold may not explicitly agree he hits all the points that Newman makes about taking action and relying on these small, self organized ‘tribes’.

And who knows…maybe there’s something to this self organization.  Check out this story in the Washingoton Post:

When outlaw loggers with automatic weapons invaded the mountains and cut down the ancient woods — and once again the government failed to stop them — this town said enough.

Now every stranger entering Cheran is stopped at barricades made of logs, guarded by locals who cover their faces in masks. In the surrounding forest, a homegrown militia toting rifles creeps through the underbrush, signaling the way forward with birdcalls, on daily patrols to protect the timber.

In June, the people of Cheran sent the state and municipal police packing, shuttered city hall, and replaced the mayor with a communal council that authorized a local militia, which now carries out armed patrols.

Now Cheran looks like the headquarters of a resistance movement, complete with banners painted with clenched fists, slogans demanding peace and justice, and pickup trucks filled with campesinos wearing camouflage jackets and carrying clubs.

Alright, my libertarian friends, that’s a big check mark in your column.

And the benefit about not posting as soon as you read an article?*  Well, it’s waiting for the feedback.  In response to that first Kings of War article is this response which pours some cold water on the idea of a Western revolutionary season.

Part of the reason why the West is not up for revolution is that we no longer practice politics.  We have become so embedded in the framework of liberal capitalism that we, as Žižek claims, no longer “think about political alternatives, or ideals for which a person might live and be willing to die.”  Žižek believes that our current system is maintained by the ‘liberal blackmail’, whereby “as soon as people criticize the existing status quo, they become ‘terrorists’ or ‘totalitarians’ or ‘fascists’.”  In this way, we, in the West, have moved beyond politics.

I don’t know whether to be relieved or not about this.  It’s certainly good that things like the Norway bombing or the Oklahoma City bombing are remarkable in that they only attract the fringe of the fringe and the overwhelming majority of people (even the kooks) don’t actually embrace violence as an acceptable way to bring about change.

Still, it means that the powers of the status quo pretty much have things locked up.  Sure you can fiddle around the edges and make a mountain over a molehill about this or that specific policy but real change?  Probably not…

*I was pretty drunk when I wrote this part of the post so forgive me if this part of the post does not adhere to the usual high standards you’ve come to expect from the TwShiloh staff.  Oh…and I love you, man.