FM newswire for 28 November, hot articles for your morning reading

Today’s broadsheet from the FM website pressroom with three sections of hot news.

  1. Links to interesting news and analysis
  2. Quote of the day: Louis Napoleon is an example for us
  3. Feature article:  “Circular reasoning Afghanistan” by Yglesias
  4. Plus, an Afterword

Also — you can now subscribe, receiving posts by email — see the box on the upper right.

(1)  Today’s links

  1. “Girl Crazy: Women Who Suffer from Gender Disappointment”, Ruth Shalit Barrett, Elle, 9 October 2009 — More evidence that girls are the preferred gender in 21st America.  See the text here.
  2. An example of American justice at its best:  “Hero of the Day: Jeffrey Spinner“, blog of the Financial Times, 25 November 2009 — Also see the subscription-only Newsday article.
  3. How some retired military officers became well-paid consultants“, USA Today, 17 November 2009 — Paid by us (twice) and the defense industry; how sweet life is!
  4. Extreme Risks“, Watson Wyatt (global consultancy on HR and financial matters), 23 November 2009 — “we identify and rank 15 extreme risks that would have a high impact on global economic growth and asset returns if they occurred.”

Today’s power graphic:  Federal Tax Dollars, Visual Economics, 12 November 2009 – A colorful look at federal tax payments versus allotments by State.

(2)  Quote of the day:  Louis Napoleon is an example for us

Feckless foreign policy is a commonplace in history, adopted by incompetents at many times and places.  Like that player at the game of Empires, Louis Napoleon.  History repeats itself, differently every time.

Louis Napoleon’s Roman policy, throughout his reign, showed his methods at their worst — a revolutionary aim, in this case, the satisfying of Italian feeling over Rome, without the use of revolutionary means, that is without a breach with the pope.

When one state is completely dependent on another, it is the weaker which can call the tune: it can threaten to collapse unless supported, and its protector has no answering threat in return.

— A. J. P. Taylor, Chapter II – The Diplomacy of reaction in The Struggle for Mastery in Europe: 1848-1918 (1954)

This obvious fact surprises America’s geopolitical experts again and again, as our client states flout our will.

(3)  Feature article: “Circular reasoning Afghanistan” by Yglesias

As America’s foreign policy experts devise increasingly bizarre justifications for the Af-Pak War, their efforts resemble little more than auditions for Rodeo Clown School.  Note:  these are professionals at work; do not try these things at home!

In the center ring, our courtiers warm the audience up for Obama’s expansion of the war — an event as predictable and ritualistic a King’s coronation.   None do this better than the New York Times:  “Afghan Strategy Will Contain Messages to Several Audiences“, 24 November 2009 — Excerpt:

But for years, throughout the Bush administration and into the Obama administration, American officials have been making trips to Pakistan to reassure its government that the United States has no intention of pulling out of Afghanistan as it did 20 years ago, after the Soviets retreated from the country. Inside the Pakistani Army and the intelligence service, which is known as the ISI, it is an article of faith among some officers that the United States is deceiving them, and that it will replay 1989.

If that happens, some Pakistanis argue, India will fill the void in southern Afghanistan, leaving Pakistan surrounded by its longtime enemy. So any talk of exit strategies is bound to reaffirm the belief of some Pakistani officials that they have to maintain their contacts with the Taliban — their hedge against Indian encroachment.

Today’s exegesis of the Palace news is by Matthew Yglesias of Think Progress:  “Circular Reasoning in Afghanistan“, 25 November 2009 — Excerpt:

This was definitely a popular line of thought inside the Bush administration and seems to have some continuing sway in the Obama administration (especially because a lot of the personnel — Gates, Luti, Petraeus — is the same) but it seems in tension with the other popular theory that we need to stay in Afghanistan because a Taliban takeover would destabilize Pakistan.

Or perhaps it’s better to say that the reasoning is circular. To win in Afghanistan we need to convince the Pakistanis that we’re staying forever, since otherwise they’ll back the Taliban and we won’t be able to beat the Taliban which we need to do as a favor to the Pakistanis.

There are other perspectives, of course. Such as in this comment by Omega Centauri:

Some very circular optics needed here:  To win in Afghanistan we need to convince the Pakistanis that we will never leave. But also to win in Afghanistan we need to convince the Afghanistan is that we are going to leave, otherwise they will feel they have to fight us as an occupying power. There is no win-win, here, only win-lose or lose-win. But, I am confident that we are talented enough to convert it into a lose-lose.


Please share your comments by posting below. Per the FM site’s Comment Policy, please make them brief (250 word max), civil and relevant to this post. Or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).

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6 thoughts on “FM newswire for 28 November, hot articles for your morning reading”

  1. Fabius: the article on gender disappointment was quite disturbing. Only in the U.S.A. We are truly getting soft (in the head).
    FM reply: Yes, that’s the point to most of the content of the FM newswires.

  2. Re, Louis Napoleon:

    Does that mean we can tell China to piss off with impunity? Who is the weaker state in this case?

    “…but when you owe the bank $100 million, the bank has the problem.”
    FM note: No. The relationship between China and the US is a conflict between great powers, and nothing to do with this historical analogy.

    The saying about banks is gibberish. Like most such sayings about finance, it’s a half-truth.

  3. Several things creep me out about this ‘trend’ (which, dubious-in-scale given the internet’s tendency to unite micro-cultures): the relationship some of these humans have with shopping as an emotional salve, and the theme of absolute control of ones life.

    Utterly creepy are the control issues some of these humans have. I cite the Lewis character:

    And indeed, Lewis is not ready to call it a day. “I still try every once in a while. I say, ‘Let’s have a princess party.’ They say, ‘Mom, you know we don’t like princesses.’ ”
    Lewis laughs ruefully. “I don’t give up easily,” she says. “I’m pretty tenacious.”

    Am I alone in seeing this ‘trend’ as a combination of the totally safe and controlled life (marriage at 26, house and kids shortly thereafter, 401k &c.)? I also view helicopter parenting as an outgrowth of the idea that life can be completely controlled – unto one’s children.

    I can’t really take any of these embryo-factories too seriously, given how shopping and consumerism rule their lives. Further ruination brought upon mindless Americans sold on the myth that a human can buy happiness.

    I know a few not-too-bright girls my age who believe that having a child will make their lives perfect. *shudder*

  4. All nuttiness aside, I endorse this madness as it will make finding and keeping mistresses dramatically easier when I own everything.
    FM reply: More generally, a surplus of women will increase the mating opportunities for men — and reduce the effort men need contribute to child-rearing. We’ll all be just like dudes in ghettos!

  5. Heck . That was me . I wanted to take my old greying pony to the gymkhanas again , my still-redhot event horse to the young riders again .. not space invadors and motorbike accidents.
    If only I’d known about the egg white .

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