Monday, June 16, 2014

Robert Kagan, Brookings et al: Do The Word "Effete" Come To Mind

Mr. Kagan Tells Us How The World Ought to Be
The New York Times tells us  Robert Kagan has spoken. And we should listen, because, well, Mr. Kagan's father was a professor of ancient Greece at Cornell, and his brother was a professor at West Point and his wife is a career diplomat, and Robert himself holds degrees from Harvard and Yale and has briefed a congressional delegation at Davos and he is at the Brookings Institution and he writes articles with snappy titles like, "Superpowers Don't Get to Retire."  
And his father, Donald, calling President Obama's remarks at West Point, "pathetic" also said of the President:  "We should not underestimate the possibility of extraordinary ignorance."

So there you have it: a family anointed by the New York Times as "cerebral" and ultimate sophisticates,  is compromised of sons and relations who are superior in understanding, depth and breadth of knowledge to mere presidents and soldiers.

It might be noted all the Kagans urged a "muscular" American military response to the problem of Iraq and now urge us to again use our military muscle there to...well, it's not exactly clear to do what, but surely to get some boots on the ground and to flex some muscles.  We should get in the fight and show those Islamic fundamentalists,  who want to draw new map of the Middle East down lines with Sunnis on one side and Shiites on the other,  just who exactly is in charge over there.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the Times is an article by the former Private Bradley Manning, now Chelsea Manning (having decided he is now a woman), which outlines in some detail exactly how the Army censored and created the war news it thought was fit to print, and how most of it was a lie. Ms. Manning may have her problems, but clarity of expression is not one of them.

All this, Mr. Kagan's know it all pose and Pvt. Manning's reality check,  reminds anyone who has seen "Full Metal Jacket" of the meeting of the "Stars and Stripes" newspaper meeting in Vietnam, where the captain in charge of managing the news lays down the law about what can and cannot be said, and how the world ought to be seen, how it ought to be, how it damn well would be if only we believed in the power and the glory of the United States and its military.  The general idea is "When we have them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow," but of course, you can never say that.

Editorial Session: How the War Ought to Be, Most Rickie Tick 
So there we have it, once again, a country where we have freedom of speech and open access to information, but in this land where all animals are equal some animals are more equal than others because they have access to microphones, widely distributed newspapers, institutions which fly them to Davos and give them offices on Massachusetts Avenue in Washington, DC,  because they come from such good families and because they went to Harvard and express themselves forcefully in nifty, quotable phrases. 

And you think back on the gulf between what we saw in the room filled with word people in Full Metal Jacket and what we saw in the field, and  you realize, there is actually a real world out there which operates by rules of its own and it does not care what the smart boys from the good schools say, or how the Brookings people want the world to be. The guys with the guns who are living on a little rice and rat meat have a logic of their own. And the real power in the world flows from the barrels of their guns. 

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