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Game of Thrones and IR Theory

 

Here you go. My second long essays in a day. This one’s more fun, of course.

Yours truly, for Acculturated.

Excerpt:

” Daenerys Targaryen’s journey which turned her from humanitarian interventionist to overstretched hegemon who ultimately failed to keep peace is similarly instructive. You can invade a region and try to establish a rule of law, but you cannot win wars, establish long lasting peace, and transform an alien society in a matter of days with only kindness and norms. If any established order is overthrown, there will inevitably be insurgency, and counterinsurgency is rarely achieved by winning hearts and minds (or merely breaking chains). Modern Realist research on Counterinsurgency corroborates what ancient Romans understood, and what Dany, as well as our current policy makers refuse to believe: Carthago Delenda est.

This is a Machiavellian paradox. Fear didn’t help Robert keep the throne, but honor didn’t help Ned (or his son Robb) survive either; benevolent rule of law didn’t help Dany to secure order. A sovereign cannot rule only through norms; he or she needs to balance it with fear—or at least the threat of severe repercussions. A society that is too liberal and free turns degenerate, just as a society that is too repressed eventually rebels. In the first scenario, it is invaded and destroyed by external, disciplined, cohesive, martial forces; in the latter case a Leviathan rises to bring back order amidst chaos. 

Let me know what you think?

The defining culture war of our times is just starting

The debate about Transgenders in military is complicated unlike any others. 

My essay in The Federalist.

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Kulturkampf’s inevitable endgame: Berkeley Erupts in Violence

While Houston and large parts of Texas are under water, there was another rally in Berkeley. The rally was billed as a “No Marxism” rally, mainly attended by Trump supporters despite the official cancellation following the horror at Charlottesville. There were meant to be police there to keep the peace. You can guess what happened. That’s correct, the police disappeared, and so did the peace. Once again, street conflict stemming from political polarisation and identity politics reared its ugly, violent head.

Once again, those wishing to practice their First Amendment Rights in a non-violent manner were prevented from doing so by a black-bloc mob of Antifa thugs. They are almost the exact mirror image of the alt-right thugs we witnessed turn Charlottesville into a vehicular war zone. The only difference between the two groups is that Antifa hasn’t killed anyone yet. Having seen how far they’ve gone in the last couple of months, it won’t be long before they do.

As usual, the apologists for the black-clad anti-fascist fascists called them counter-protestors. They are apparently engaged in noble work holding back the ravening hordes of neo-Nazis unleashed by Donald Trump’s election, rather than being the main cause of America’s further descent into violence, and responsible for feeding the hatred and violence that lurks just beneath the surface of the extreme alt-right.

The Guardian made the counter-protestors out to be peace loving, love-conquers-all happy liberals. And it is true, there were many non-violent protesters there. Still, they were specifically there to prevent others exercising their constitutional rights. The polarisation displayed by these protests is now so bad that it is almost laughable to picture each side regarding the other as fellow citizens of a democratic republic.

The Guardian and other more left-wing news outlets, of course, whitewashed the Antifa violence. There were gangs of Antifa roaming the streets of Berkeley, beating any Trump supporters to hand or that they could reach with their pipes and sticks. One man was chased down by a pack of Antifa and surrounded, while another was beaten to the ground and then set upon far maybe being alt-right with sticks. Meanwhile, a father and son were chased by Antifa members and set upon, narrowly escaping an ugly fate.

A journalist in a red shirt was also attacked as Antifa members attempted to take his phone and his camera, an incident recorded by Lizzie Johnson of the San Francisco Chronicle. She also recorded hundreds of Antifa members marching in formation through the park chanting “Our Park”, and stated that the police were stood down, retreating to” the station and the northern streets at Civic Center Park,” which was not meant to happen.

We have seen this before.

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Antifa and Alt-Right: bellum omnium contra omnes – Part 2

Read the first part here

We all saw the descent into violence at Charlottesville, with the far-Left protestors and Antifa met with deliberate force from the white identity politics of the alt-Right for the first time. It turned fatal for an anti-racism campaigner attending the counter-protest, and trends suggest that this escalation will continue.

One thing that was noticeable about the alt-Right march and the examples we’ve seen of who makes up the alt-Right was that it was majority young, angry, disillusioned, white men. Sure, there were some older white supremacists and KKK members, but they’re a shrinking component of the far-Right. The white nationalist alt-Right with its younger demographics is now in the ascendant. This is a new wave of white identity politics, that now sees/identifies white college age males as its spear-tip. Many of those who marched the night before the protest that ended in tragedy appeared to be college age. This points to a troubling trend among those in the late-teen/early 20’s age bracket.

As George Hawlor states, many of the alt-right are not only college age, but are in some ways even more right-wing and radical than their Boomer and older Gen-X parents, and far more so than the older millennials. Indeed, one poll showed that white high school students would have voted for Trump by 48%, Hillary by 11%, and that overall Trump would have won 34% of the vote, Hillary 20%. Democrats, if this is your future, you’re virtually dead.

Far from being less racist and castigating their parents for failing to curtail their racist attitudes, increasing numbers of young whites are now castigating their parents for not being racist enough. Indeed, it appears that many are being radicalised while in college, so the old fall back of education as the salve to society’s ills seems, in this case, to somewhat exacerbate rather than mitigate the problem.

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Not the bloody trade war talk again

As the talks of trade war heat up from across the pond again, it is time to highlight some home truths. A beleaguered US Presidency, completely sabotaged by opposing domestic interests between several differing factions, found a rare bipartisan point of solidarity, as hawkish Democrats urged on Trump to be stern in face of a possible trade war. The argument lies like this. Chinese economic prowess has coerced several American companies, to start joint ventures or lose Chinese markets. That led to diffusion of technology, and sharing of intellectual property. Technology and Intellectual property is now proving to be new battleground, as Bob Lighthizer, the United States trade representative, is apparently now preparing a trade case against extensive misuse of IP.

That’s, however, easier said than done.

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Antifa and Alt-Right: bellum omnium contra omnes

There was another free speech rally in Boston on Saturday, August 20, 2017. This followed the horrific events Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend, when a car rammed into counter-protestors at an alt-Right, UniteTheRight rally that descended into a riot with the white nationalists and neo-Nazis on the offensive. The car ramming killed one and injured many others.

So, the rally at Boston was always going to go ahead under a cloud of opprobrium. The media portrayed it as being majority neo-Nazi/white nationalist in character when this was not the case. They made much of the fact, both in American and British news media, that the rally saw thousands of peaceful protesters against a few hundred far-right extremists. Except it wasn’t. One of the main speakers is black. I don’t know if you’re over-familiar with the finer points of white-nationalism and neo-Nazism, but they don’t tend to like black people very much. Also, as John Podhoretz said, given the disparity in crowd size, it doesn’t exactly reinforce the idea that America’s about to be overrun by Nazis.

Nor did it stay peaceful.

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Add Barcelona to the ever growing list of Euro cities facing insurgency

The tide of ISIS’s terrorism in Europe broke on January 7, 2015 at Charlie Hebdo and the kosher supermarket. That attack heralded the start of waves of ISIS directed or inspired attacks that have washed over Europe in the years since. On Thursday, August 17, 2017, terror came to Barcelona. We’ve seen this before. A van rammed into crowds on the busiest street in the city, Las Ramblas at 5 pm. It drove through the crowds, apparently swerving and weaving for maximum impact. The driver of the van is responsible for the deaths of 14 people, and of wounding over 100, 14 of whom are in a critical condition. The driver fled the scene on foot and is, at the time of writing, still at large.

Five suspects were then shot dead in Cambrils, a coastal town 75 miles from Barcelona. The working assumption is that they’re part of the same network as the driver. Meanwhile, early on Thursday morning, there was an explosion at a house in Alcanar Platja, where another member of the network blew himself up with his own bomb.

Islamic State has claimed the attack, saying “Terror is filling the crusaders’ hearts in the Land of Andalusia.” Whether they’re really responsible for this, whether they had some sort of control or role as a guiding hand is not yet known. Time will tell, but the effect is the same even if the attackers were only inspired; another vehicular missile driven by a jihadist mowing down innocent bystanders, guilty of heresy in the eyes of those who murdered them.

We can expect many more of these. Britain has 23,000 suspected jihadists. Belgium has 18,884. France has between 1517,000. Germany has 24,400. Spain has 1000. This totals around 82-84,677 potential jihadists in 5 European countries. While we must not give in to fear-mongering and the temptation to paint with too broad a brush when describing diverse communities, we cannot pretend that these numbers represent anything other than a jihadist insurgency in the heart of Europe. This has destroyed the state’s monopoly over the use of military force, which as Max Weber argued, is the crucial element that gives the state legitimacy.

These vehicle attacks are now a trend in Europe that have become worryingly frequent. Instead of the tragedy of the commons, we now have the tragedy of the common place. ISIS is not the first to call for trucks and other forms of vehicular terrorism; Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsular, in their magazine Inspire, gave detailed instructions on how to carry out a vehicular attack. Dabiq, ISIS’s now defunct English language magazine, also gave instructions on vehicular terrorism. Advice included attaching spikes or shards of glass to the front of trucks that were of a certain height and weight in order that they would have maximum physical and psychological impact. From 2010 to 2014, there were attempted car and truck attacks that were either small scale or foiled in the attempt. Nice 2016 saw the first mass casualty attack with over 80 dead. There was then the Berlin Christmas market attack in 2016, and then there have been 6 Islamist attacks using vehicles and one far-right attack so far this year in Europe.

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Mr. President, George Washington was no treasonous Confederate

I never thought I’d hear this argument from the President of the United States, much less from a Republican whose fans fancy themselves hardcore patriots, but Donald Trump compared George Washington and Thomas Jefferson to Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson yesterday.

The moment came during his off-the-rails press conference in which he doubled down on his “many sides” take on the violence in Charlottesville.

TRUMP: Those people — all of those people –excuse me, I’ve condemned neo-Nazis. I’ve condemned many different groups. But not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch. Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue of Robert E. Lee.

Q Should that statue be taken down?

TRUMP: Excuse me. If you take a look at some of the groups, and you see — and you’d know it if you were honest reporters, which in many cases you’re not — but many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee.

So this week it’s Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?

There are only two groups of people who compare Washington to Lee: those who want to take Washington’s statue down by attaching to it the baggage of Lee, and those who want to keep Lee’s statue up by painting on the varnish of Washington. Trump either thinks Washington is just as bad as Lee or Lee is just as great as Washington.

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Takedown of Post-Modernism by Shermer

An article in the esteemed Scientific American, quotes me and my Quillette piece and ties it to the original sin, the capture of the academy by the Post-modernists and the causation of race based arguments.

Everything that we see around us, including the cyclical tit-for-tat violence, is a direct result of our academics teaching students to see everything from the lens of race, and nothing else.

The original piece was written after the Berkeley riots.

Read them both, and let me know what you think!

 

 

Q+A with John Allen Gay, Executive director of John Q Adams Society

John Allen Gay is the Executive Director of John Quincy Adams Society, and an alumni of The National Interest. Today he talks to us, in our Q+A series, about American interests, U.S. foreign policy and grand strategy, the Trump administration’s agenda and the future of world order.

You can follow him on Twitter @JohnAllenGay.

You can also find other Q+As here.

 

  1. What are the major challenges facing U.S. foreign policy and grand strategy? In light of those challenges, who or what is the biggest threat to U.S.?

We’re currently in a very extended geopolitical position. We guarantee the security of states that border one great power (Russia) and of states engaged in active territorial disputes with another (China), and in a confrontation, those states would likely be unable to secure themselves without significant American aid. We’re also deeply involved in the Middle East, including a growing entanglement in competition between Saudi Arabia and Iran. And this comes after fifteen years of war and deficits have combined to erode our military capabilities. The stability and cohesion of our government has also faded a bit.

All that combines to create a situation ripe for confrontation: a rival power, believing America is outdriving its headlights, might confront a U.S. treaty ally or strategic partner, in the hope that we’ll back down. But will we?

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