This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com
- Russia’s policies thrown into confusion as US resumes its ‘world policeman’ role
- President Trump reinstates the ‘Truman Doctrine’
- Shock and euphoria follow the missile strike on Syria
Russia’s policies thrown into confusion as US resumes its ‘world policeman’ role
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, ‘This attack by the United States of America is understandable, given the aspect of the war crimes, given the suffering of innocent people and given the logjam in the UN Security Council.’
The events of the past week were not only a major humiliation to Russia, but will also have to trigger a major strategic change in Russia’s foreign policy.
The unexpected US cruise missile strike in response to the horrific Sarin gas attack by Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad on the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province, killing up to 100 people, left Russia scrambling to take face-saving measures. So Russia canceled its “deconfliction agreement” with US designed to prevent accidental clashes between the two air forces in Syria, though this agreement will almost certainly be restored within weeks. War criminal al-Assad did his part by ordering new air strikes on the same town, Khan Sheikhoun, but this with conventional weapons. However, to bring the point home, al-Assad committed a new war crime when his missiles struck a hospital where people are recovering from al-Assad’s Sarin gas attack. Russia, Syria and Iran may take further retaliatory moves.
However, the big picture is that this week’s events will require a strategic change in Russia’s policies.
As I reported in April, 2011, Russia at that time adopted a policy of using the United Nations Security Council to cripple Nato and US foreign policy, a strategy that has been very successful for them for six years.
Early in 2011, Russia had abstained on the UNSC resolution authorizing a “humanitarian” military action in Libya. As the Libyan intervention unfolded, Russia viewed the increasingly complex situation as “mission creep,” and regretted not vetoing the resolution.
After that, Russia demanded that Nato and the US strictly limit their activities, and Russia would back up this demand by vetoing any attempt to go further than Russia desired. This would allow Russia to effectively control many activities of Nato and the US, since only activities approved by the Security Council, and hence by Russia, could ever be permitted.
This set up a “double standard,” because Russia would do what it wanted, without seeking approval from the UNSC. Russia invaded Georgia and took control of two provinces, without asking the UNSC. Russia invaded East Ukraine and took control of two provinces, without asking the UNSC. Russia invaded Crimea and annexed it, without asking the UNSC. At the same time, any military action by the West would have to be approved by the UNSC.
Now President Trump has done the same thing, ordering a military strike without asking the UNSC. This act nullifies the policies adopted by Russia in 2011, and requires a change in direction, though the nature of that change remains to be seen. AP and CNBC and CNN
- Russia seeks to cripple Nato through Libya United Nations politics (22-Apr-2011)
- Putin gives angry, nationalistic speech annexing Crimea to Russia (19-Mar-2014)
- Can Ban Ki-moon prevent Russia from destroying the United Nations? (17-Sep-2013)
President Trump reinstates the ‘Truman Doctrine’
Russia now has to throw out that “double standard” strategy, because the new US administration is willing to do what Russia has been doing all along – take military action when considered necessary, without asking permission from the UN Security Council (nor, by the way, from the US Congress).
President Donald Trump seems willing to reinstate the “Truman Doctrine” that had been repudiated by President Obama. President Harry Truman announced the Truman Doctrine in 1947, essentially making America the “policeman of the world.” Truman’s justification is that it is better to have a small military action to stop an ongoing crime than to let it slide and end up having an enormous conflict like World War II. The Truman Doctrine was reaffirmed in President John Kennedy’s “ask not” speech, and every president since WW II has followed the Truman Doctrine, up to and including George Bush. Barack Obama is the first president to repudiate the Truman Doctrine, essentially leaving the world without a policeman.
The concept of America being the “world’s policeman” was very controversial in 1947 and it is very controversial today. And yet, we have seen what has happened in the last eight years, when the world had no policeman.
There are news reports of a power struggle in the White House, and that power struggle can be interpreted as a disagreement over reinstating the Truman Doctrine. Reportedly, Steve Bannon opposes military actions like the one this week in Syria, while Jared Kushner favors it. The outcome of this power struggle, which goes to the heart of the Truman Doctrine concepts, could have a defining effect on American foreign policy, as well as on Russia’s foreign policy. Guardian (London)
- U.S. foreign policy in chaos as Obama reverses himself on Syria (01-Sep-2013)
- The cost of repudiating the Truman Doctrine (06-Sep-2015)
- President Harry Truman and the Truman Doctrine (19-Sep-2006)
Shock and euphoria follow the missile strike on Syria
America’s missile strike in Syria has received widespread praise as a valid response to Bashar al-Assad’s war crimes, but not with President Trump’s base.
I saw this myself in the stream of comments to the Breitbart version of my April 6 article “President Trump plans military action on Syria after horrific nerve gas attack on civilians.”
Most of the comments appeared from people among Trump’s strongest supporters, but they were shocked by this article, because they believed that Trump would never order a military intervention in the Mideast, something that many of them oppose. A lot of anger was directed at me, accusing me of “fake news,” and accusing me of being a “Libtard” and trying to mislead people.
But all that changed on Thursday evening around 10 PM ET, when reports of the military action started coming out, proving that the article was completely accurate. At that point, the anger that many of the commenters had directed at me began to be directed at President Trump.
Some of the comments were completely delusional, such as describing the Sarin gas attack as a “false flag” operation, sometimes going so far as to accuse Trump of ordering the Sarin attack himself in order to have an excuse to bomb Syria. Probably the angriest comments were some variation of the delusional “false flag” claim.
At the other end of the spectrum were comments that were very thoughtful. Many people posted variations of “I voted for Trump, but I didn’t vote for this.” There were some detailed analyses of why we should never go into the Mideast, saying that we have tried in the past and never accomplished anything, and one person saying that we should let them kill each other so that they won’t try to kill us.
However, in the mainstream media, in the US, Europe and the Mideast, comments by world leaders have been extremely supportive, almost verging on euphoria that the US is showing leadership once more.
From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, both the controversy and the euphoria are to be expected at a military attack that could begin an all-out war. Any military attack is going to be controversial, but the population can also easily become heavily invested and become euphoric.
Here’s how historian Wolfgang Schivelbusch describes how the euphoria at the beginning of a war is itself highly delusional in his 2001 book, The Culture of Defeat: On National Trauma, Mourning, and Recovery:
The passions excited in the national psyche by the onset of war show how deeply invested the masses now were in its potential outcome. Propaganda had reinforced their conviction that “everything was at stake,” and the threat of death and defeat functioned like a tightly coiled spring, further heightening the tension. The almost festive jubilation that accompanied the declarations of war in Charleston in 1861 [American Civil War], Paris in 1870 [Franco-Prussian war], and the capitals of the major European powers in 1914 [World War I] were anticipatory celebrations of victory — since nations are as incapable of imagining their own defeat as individuals are of conceiving their own death. The new desire to humiliate the enemy, noted by Burckhardt, was merely a reaction to the unprecedented posturing in which nations now engaged when declaring war.
The deployment of armies on the battlefield is the classic manifestation of collective self-confidence. If both sides are not convinced of their military superiority, there will be no confrontation; rather, those who lack confidence will simply flee the field. Accordingly, the battle is decided the moment the confidence of one side fails. The will to fight (“morale”) evaporates, the military formation collapses, and the army seeks salvation in flight or, if it is lucky, in organized retreat. The Greek term for this point in space (on the battlefield) and time (the course of the battle) was trope. The victors demarcated the spot with the weapons of the vanquished and later with monuments, yielding the term tropaion, from which we get our word trophy. (p. 6-7)
The euphoria goes on until something goes wrong, usually some kind of military disaster, such as the Battle of Bull Run in 1861 or the Bataan Death March in 1941.
The panicked reaction can be much greater when a military disaster occurs. In his 1832 book, On War, General Carl von Clausewitz describes what happens:
The effect of defeat outside the army — on the people and on the government — is a sudden collapse of the wildest expectations, and total destruction of self-confidence. The destruction of these feelings creates a vacuum, and that vacuum gets filled by a fear that grows corrosively, leading to total paralysis. It’s a blow to the whole nervous system of the losing side, as if caused by an electric charge. This effect may appear to a greater or lesser degree, but it’s never completely missing. Then, instead of rushing to repair the misfortune with a spirit of determination, everyone fears that his efforts will be futile; or he does nothing, leaving everything to Fate.
From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, the events that cause this “sudden collapse” and “total destruction” of self-confidence are called “regeneracy events,” because they regenerate civic unity for the first time since the end of the preceding crisis war.
You do not need any particular methodology to understand that the whole world has become increasingly unstable in the last ten years. Because the political atmosphere is already extremely vitriolic and is likely to worsen further, it is worth repeating what I’ve written many times: Generational Dynamics predicts that the Mideast is headed for a major regional war, pitting Sunnis versus Shias, Jews versus Arabs, and various ethnic groups against each other. This is coming with 100% certainty, irrespective of who is president. Furthermore, the president can neither cause nor prevent this outcome. Maybe Trump’s missile attack will speed up this war, or maybe it will delay it. It could go either way. If Hillary Clinton had won, she might have made the same missile attack for the same reasons that Trump did. It is impossible to tell. The only thing that we can be sure of is that we have no way of knowing what the scenario will be, only that a regional war will be the result, in this generational Crisis era. CNN and philly.com
- President Trump plans military action on Syria after horrific nerve gas attack on civilians (06-Apr-2017)
- Syria crosses a ‘red line’ with chemical weapons (20-Mar-2013)
- U.N. report contains calculations implicating Syria’s regime (19-Sep-2013)
KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Russia, Syria, Bashar al-Assad, Germany, Angela Merkel, UN Security Council, Harry Truman, Truman Doctrine, John F Kennedy, Steve Bannon, Jared Kushner, Battle of Bull Run, Bataan Death March, Wolfgang Schivelbusch, Carl von Clausewitz
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