Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The End of the Anglo-American World Order

In what will count as this weekend’s big think magazine article Bard College professor Ian Buruma bemoans the advent of Donald Trump and Nigel Farage. He sees them as an omen that presages the end of the Anglo-American world order.

Had he been slightly more astute he might have noted that eight years of President Barack Obama has seen America retreat from many of the values that made it great, powerful and it prosperous. Why blame Trump for something that has already happened?

Buruma argues that Barack Obama was trying to save America by producing a giant wave of equality. That goal was so important that Obama did not bother to concern himself with the production of wealth. Buruma does not seem to recognize that producing wealth and redistributing wealth are contradictory policies.

In what must surely count as one of the most misguided opinions offered by a serious thinker Buruma closes his article with a hope and a prayer that Western civilization, that is Judeo-Christian civilization will be saved by… you guessed it… Angela Merkel.

By pretending that all cultures are the same and that true liberal principles require you to submit to the kind of social chaos produced when unassimilable immigrants are allowed to overrun your nation Merkel has damaged her own country severely and has contributed mightily to the current rise of nationalism and populism.

As for Barack Obama, if I may repeat points that I have made previously, our president has failed to unite the country, refused to exercise American influence around the world, submitted to the ayatollahs and was cowed by Vladmir Putin and Xi Jinping. Rather than engage in the struggle against radical Islam—struggle that would have united the nation against a common enemy—Obama divided the country by going to war against Islamophobia and other forms of what he considered racism.

Purifying the American soul of sin was more important to him than asserting American greatness. If the Anglo-American world order is at an end, one primary reason is that Barack Obama put an end to it. He, and of course, those who voted for him and who still believe that he did a great job.

Obama thinks that America was founded on a racist past and thus that he cannot take pride in its greatest achievements… the ones that culminated in victory in World War II.

Buruma understands that the current world order derives from the last war in which America was victorious:

When Trump and Farage stood on that stage together in Mississippi, they spoke as though they were patriots reclaiming their great countries from foreign interests. No doubt they regard Britain and the United States as exceptional nations. But their success is dismaying precisely because it goes against a particular idea of Anglo-American exceptionalism. Not the traditional self-image of certain American and British jingoists who like to think of the United States as the City on the Hill or Britain as the sceptered isle splendidly aloof from the wicked Continent, but another kind of Anglo-American exception: the one shaped by World War II. The defeat of Germany and Japan resulted in a grand alliance, led by the United States, in the West and Asia. Pax Americana, along with a unified Europe, would keep the democratic world safe. If Trump and Farage get their way, much of that dream will be in tatters.

Buruma notwithstanding, the dream is now in tatters. It is interesting to see him blame someone who has not served a day in office while ignoring the influence of the current president.

Buruma does not draw the obvious lesson from World War II, and from British inventions like the Industrial Revolution and free enterprise. We won the war because we practiced martial values, not because we led the world in free love and peace marches. And he ignores cultural habits like the British stiff upper lip, the British tendency to queue up, and the value of patriotism and loyalty.

Instead, Buruma argues that the Anglo-American world order was produced by a wistful dream for equality. Of course, Jefferson did have something to say about equality in the Declaration of Independence, but the armies and the industries that produced the Anglo-American order were based on liberty more than equality.

One recalls that, well before Jefferson stepped foot in France, one Jean-Jacques Rousseau produced a “Discourse on Inequality” that set the minds of idealists abuzz but that helped produce the bloodbath called the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror.

The martial values that won World War II were dismissed by the baby boomer generation in favor of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. Their children value transgendered restrooms, trigger warnings and legalized weed.

Even before Barack Obama, America had been declining. It had suffered a series of failed military incursions and lost wars. Obama upped the ante by refusing to fight at all.

You can drool all you want about social justice but if your nation keeps losing wars, it will no longer set a standard that anyone will want to emulate.

About that Buruma has nothing to say.

In part, Buruma understands clearly the importance of capitalism:

Anglo-American capitalism can be harsh in many ways, but because free markets are receptive to new talent and cheap labor, they have spawned the kind of societies, pragmatic and relatively open, where immigrants can thrive, the very kind that rulers of more closed, communitarian, autocratic societies tend to despise.

To his mind the Cold War as a battle between ideas. It was our dream of equality versus their despotism.

Buruma argues:

The West, its freedoms protected by the United States, needed a plausible counternarrative to Soviet ideology. This included a promise of greater social and economic equality. 

Thus, Buruma claims that what made America great was the civil rights movement, culminating in the election of a president who had no real qualifications for the job. He ignores the fact that the election of Barack Obama defined the notion of qualification downwards. If Obama was so great and if he made America so great why have he and his political party been so roundly repudiated at the polls?

If Barack Obama set such a shining example why have more and more Americans lost faith in democracy? And, why have other countries around the world decided that liberal democracy is not for them?

If you want to know where Barack Obama’s loyalty lies, consider the fact that not a single member of his administration represented America at the funeral of Margaret Thatcher. On the contrary, two White House officials will be attending the funeral of Fidel Castro. It’s not just that Obama is the master of the cheap shot; his sympathies lie with the oppressed not with the victors.

How much more do you need to understand?

In Buruma’s words:

America’s prestige was greatly bolstered not just by the soldiers who helped liberate Europe but also by the men and women back home who fought to make their society more equal and their democracy more inclusive. By struggling against the injustices in their own country, figures like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. or the Freedom Riders or indeed President Obama kept the hope of American exceptionalism alive. As did the youth culture of the 1960s. 

He does not mention, even in passing, that Anglo-American principles and achievements are constantly attacked in the school system and the media. The American academy, such as it is, is chockablock with professors who believe that America is an organized criminal conspiracy that needs to be brought down. They teach their students to despise the martial values that won World War II and to disparage the free enterprise system that produced prosperity after the war. They oppose Anglo-American hegemony as an article of faith. About this Buruma has nothing to say.

And Buruma does not appreciate the fact that the assault on America, coupled with the assault on Western Civilization has come to us from the same fever swamps that produced European fascism, Nazism and Communism.

He does not see that Middle Europeans who could not defeat America or Britain on the battlefield or in the marketplace, were taking out their frustration on local exemplars of the values they abhorred. That is, on their own local Jewish population. Within Nazi Europe Jews became surrogates for the forces of Anglo-American culture and values. It is certainly not an accident that today’s social justice warriors, led by Jeremiah Wright’s protégé, a man supported by Louis Farrakhan, reserve a special hatred for the state of Israel.

Buruma makes this point:

Wilhelm II, kaiser of Germany until 1918, when his country was defeated in the First World War, which he had done his best to unleash, was such a figure. Half English himself, he called England a nation of shopkeepers and described it as “Juda-England,” a country corrupted by sinister alien elites, where money counted more than the virtues of blood and soil. In later decades, this kind of anti-Semitic rhetoric was more often aimed at the United States. The Nazis were convinced that Jewish capitalists ruled America, not just in Hollywood but in Washington and, naturally, New York. This notion is still commonly held, though less in Europe than in the Middle East and some parts of Asia. But talk about “citizens of nowhere,” sinister cosmopolitan elites and conspiratorial bankers fits precisely in the same tradition. A terrifying irony of contemporary Anglo-American populism is the common use of phrases that were traditionally used by enemies of the English-speaking countries.

Note how brilliantly twisted Buruma is. Who declared himself a citizen of the world… in Germany, no less? It was Barack Obama, don’t you recall. The guardian class of elites-- idealists all-- has chosen to fight a culture war against the values that prevailed during World War II and the years that followed. These modern Platonists oppose the empirical culture of Great Britain. They have no use for science and they care less for American pragmatism. They do not judge ideas by whether they work in practice. And, let us be very clear, these same cultural elites, these citizens of the world have happily joined Fidel Castro and Jeremy Corbyn in waging war against Israel, the country that represents the values they despise.

Why do they do so? They abhor the notion that some cultures are superior to others, and that a band of Jews could build a free and prosperous nation in a place where Arabs had only known failure.

For his part Buruma resents the fact that Britons and Americans have taken pride in their victories and their successes. He would prefer that they become guilt-ridden slugs, spending their time doing penance for their sins.

Of course, he does not see pride as pride, but demeans and slanders it.

The self-flattering notion that the Western victors in World War II are special, braver and freer than any other people, that the United States is the greatest nation in the history of man, that Great Britain — the country that stood alone against Hitler — is superior to any European let alone non-European country has not only led to some ill-conceived wars but also helped to paper over the inequalities built into Anglo-American capitalism. The notion of natural superiority, of the sheer luck of being born an American or a Briton, gave a sense of entitlement to people who, in terms of education or prosperity, were stuck in the lower ranks of society.

As I said, Buruma closes his piece by declaring that the embattled and beleaguered Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, represents the true values of the West. In truth Merkel does represent the values of the guardian class, but she certainly does not represent the values that won two great wars. Could it be that she represents the values that lost two wars, that so totally resented Anglo-American hegemony that they turned their nation and the world into Hell:

The last hope of the West might be Germany, the country that Michael Howard fought against and that I hated as a child. Angela Merkel’s message to Trump on the day after his victory was a perfect expression of Western values that are still worth defending. She would welcome a close cooperation with the United States, she said, but only on the basis of “democracy, freedom and respect for the law and the dignity of man, independent of origin, skin color, religion, gender, sexual orientation or political views.” Merkel spoke as the true heiress of the Atlantic Charter.

Speaking of great ironies, the philosophers who have resented the Anglo-American values that prevailed over the great idealistic enterprises called Nazism and Communism want to hand leadership of the Atlantic alliance to Germany. 


Sam L. said...

Why blame Trump? Barack, the Light Bringer, has the Gardol Shield to protect him from blame.

Buruma reminds me of some commenters I've seen on the web, whom I shall not name, nor where they comment.

Ares Olympus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ares Olympus said...

Stuart: If you want to know where Barack Obama’s loyalty lies, consider the fact that not a single member of his administration represented America at the funeral of Margaret Thatcher.

Partisan contempt is so amazingly strong on the right, always manufacturing evidence of disrespect to prove their martyr status, apparently to reinforce their base goals of obstructionism, disarm their conscience, so anything Obama does instantly becomes what Republicans are against, at least this week. It's like a 2 year old mentality who says a firm 'no' to the toilet and then cries after he poops in his diaper.

Okay, with that little mockery, let's see about Thatcher's funeral:
April 15, 2013

President Barack Obama today announced the designation of a Presidential Delegation to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to attend the Funeral of Baroness Margaret Thatcher.

The Honorable George Shultz, former Secretary of State, and The Honorable James A. Baker, III, former Secretary of State, will lead the delegation.

Members of the Presidential Delegation:
* The Honorable Barbara Stephenson, Charge d"Affaires to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Department of State
* The Honorable Louis Susman, former Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

So once again partisan spin replaces objective facts with strawman nonsense. So we learn all we have to do is add a few strategic qualifiers for faux outrage.

No wonder fake internet news now has such an easy time. Trump supporters have been primed with nonsense for decades now.

Ares Olympus said...

And on the other half:

Stuart: ...On the contrary, two White House officials will be attending the funeral of Fidel Castro.
WASHINGTON — President Obama will not send an official delegation to the funeral of Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, but two Obama administration officials will attend and represent the United States, the White House said Tuesday.

Attending the funeral will be Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes and Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis, the chief U.S. diplomat in Havana.

The unusual arrangement represents an attempt by Obama to maintain a policy of strengthening diplomatic ties between the two countries, while not honoring Castro with a more formal show of support from the United States.

Apparently President Obama understand the complications of sending an "official delegation". What's that saying, "Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer?" Besides, if Cuba falls further into economic distress we'll have more of our own hemisphere's boat people braving the Gulf of Mexico rough seas in their quest for economic freedom. Clearly 55+ years of economic sanctions hasn't worked.

Trigger Warning said...

"The US is to send distinctly low-key official representation to Lady Thatcher's funeral on Wednesday, with a delegation led by George Shultz and James Baker, who both served as US secretary of state while Thatcher was in power."
--- The Guardian

No one of any consequence in the administration attended. A former Ambassador and the second-in-command Charge d'Affaires (who drove across town) are hardly appropriate for the funeral of the most consequential postwar Prime Minister of the UK. Schultz and Baker were personal friends of Thatcher from the Reagan/Bush era. There was no one there from the White House or the US-based Administration, as Schneiderman noted.

Your ignorance is, apparently, bottomless, limited to what few decontextualized snippets you can dig up on a Google search.

And it is no secret that the Orientalist Barack Obama despises the UK. But that's OK... He is, as they say, "history". And there will be, thankfully, little of that left when Trump gets finished with his Ozymandesque decrees.

Trigger Warning said...

No, the saying is...

Punish our enemies and reward our friends - Barack Obama

Ares Olympus said...

Trigger Warning, thanks for proving my point.

Blind hatred and contempt is a partisan curse, and I pity your version of success.

Its curious that Hillary lost the election in part by calling out deplorable behavior and attitudes, while Celebrity Trump can tweet out any false claim or unconstitional but feel-good idea he likes and expect cheers from his ignorant followers.

Congratulations on your victory. Trump's electoral success still a shock to me, but I suppose its proper punishment for the party of Lincoln that helped kill a half a million American, just to keep an unwilling union alive. Clearly that was a big mistake we're all still paying for. Next time, we'll let them go.

Michael Moore said Trump would be the last president of the United States, and I'm not convinced that is merely hyperbole.

Trigger Warning said...

If you had a coherent point to prove, Ares, I would have been delighted to help you sift out your inevitable logical fallacies and simple-minded misunderstandings to help you in any way I could.

Dennis said...


The sad part is that Ares thinks he is actually convincing anyone. I have often wondered if this is a frail attempt to convince himself. If one has to use Michael Moore then their world has really gone mad.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

It would seem the Anglo-Americans are caring about British and American citizens. Might not be great for world order, but you've gotta get your own house in order first. As for Anglo-American values, British and American people have always been known for their independence, restlessness and suspicion of authority. Trump and Brexit are the continuation of a long tradition, not something new.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

"Partisan contempt is so amazingly strong on the right"

At least we're not calling for a recount after conceding, led by a Greenie lunatic who got 1.05% of the vote, howling that there are Ruskies living in our voting machines... while all the while encouraging non-citizens to vote. That's klassi.

"Blind hatred and contempt is a partisan curse, and I pity your version of success."

Looking in the mirror, Ares?

You pranced and prattled around this blog for MONTHS on end, telling all of us we were ranting idiots and that it was pointless because Trump was going to be trounced in a landslide. You repeatedly wrote these things confidently, snidely and with great aplomb. Yet your side lost. Three weeks go by and you're telling everyone here to cool it and look to the better angels of our nature. By my measure, you've had it easy here. No one has spiked the football, and no one is doing excessive celebration dances around you. Yet you persist, and are thus bringing it on yourself. It's so silly. If you're doing so purposely, you are the walking embodiment of a troll. Your ankle-deep analyses are pathetic. Quit cutting-and-pasting and do some real thought... you might get some benefit.

Go back to your own blog. Make yourself great again.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

By the way, news media elites seem flummoxed by the election results. Could it be that they are in a bubble?

Washington, D.C. voted 93% Clinton, 4% Trump

Manhattan voted 90% Clinton, 10% Trump

America voted 48.1% Clinton, 46.4% Trump

That's a huge disparity.

Who doesn't understand who?

Sam L. said...

"Partisan contempt is so amazingly strong on the right" That's because the left has taught us so well!

Ares Olympus said...

On partisan contempt, having a friend in California thinking about secession, I looked into their state numbers, pretty astounding slide from Republican in the 70s and 80s into a 2-1 ratio democrat-republican now.

Here's some of the numbers. So Clinton's 2.4 million lead in the popular vote was covered easily by her 4 million lead in California. And similarly Gore's 500 thousand vote lead in 2000 was easily covered by his 1.3 million California lead.

And as-is, extreme-democratic states now would seem to be making a regular future of Democrat popular vote wins, and electoral losses.

2016: Clinton-2: 8,305,411, Trump: 4,283,500
2012: Obama 7,854,285, Romney 4,839,958
2008: Obama 8,274,473, McCain 5,011,781
2004: Kerry 6,745,485, Bush-2 5,509,826
2000: Gore 5,861,203, Bush-2 4,567,429
1996: Clinton-1 5,119,835, Dole 3,828,380, Perot 697,847
1992: Clinton-1: 5,121,325, Bush-1 3,630,574, Perot 2,296,006
1988: Dukakis 4,702,233, Bush-1 5,054,917
1984: Mondale 3,922,519, Reagan 5,467,009
1980: Carter 3,083,661, Reagan 4,524,858, Anderson 739,833

So if California, being now the 6th largest economy in the world, if they decided to secede from the union, it would push the popular vote balance to the republicans. And then Democrats would have to work much harder to rediscover an electoral path to the presidency. BUT when it did occur, there's be a good chance the republicans would win the popular vote, but lose the electoral college.

I admit I don't know if I want to support the end of the Electoral college. I'm still waiting to find out if faithless electors can make a difference when we elect a madman. Sometimes these things need to be tested.

So perhaps Republican Electors will reject Trump on December 19th, even if it merely pushes it to a House Vote. There are plenty of Republicans who still dislike Trump, and if they had a "safe" path to rejecting him, and installing a more stable republican alternative, I'm sure many would jump at it. But cowardice is a political virtue, and perhaps Representatives would be terrified by voter revenge, so probably we're still best letting Trump blow up the country, than wait until an even crazier candidate rises in 2020.

Whatever happens all the balls are now in the Republican court, except for Senate Filibuster I suppose. And its still an open question how much should be fought seriously, and how much should just be reserved for "I told you so rights".

And there will be surprises. And what I most hate about politics is partisan loyalty, so it would be great to see Trump reaching across the aisle for a dozen Democrats to support him over some obstructive republicans who don't just see the democrats as enemies, but the republican leadership as well. So you never know what'll happen.

And I'll be looking for signs that the republican party will break up, since they've lost the loyal opposition to keep them united. Why not break off 20% as the "Tea Party" official, or even the "Trump party" isn't impossible, and that'll force Republicans to decide which devil is worse - the Tea Party or the Democrats.

Dennis said...


One cannot take sense to a closed mind.

Trigger Warning said...

"I told you so rights" are currently being exercised.


Sam L. said...

"Its curious that Hillary lost the election in part by calling out deplorable behavior and attitudes,..." No, Ares, she called out all those considering to vote for Trump "deplorables", and we all stood up and spit in her eye. She was, is, and shall remain deplorable in our eyes and thoughts.