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Grand Strategy for a Divided America

Oldgateboatdriver

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So this is going to be a Presidential quotes thread now? Alright then:

"We begin bombing in five minutes" - Ronald Reagan
 

tomahawk6

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Reagan has a number of good quotes. But maybe you would prefer a Canadian ?

I don't read the newspapers, I don't watch the news. I figure, if something important happens, someone will tell me. Justin Trudeau  ;D
 

AbdullahD

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tomahawk6 said:
Reagan has a number of good quotes. But maybe you would prefer a Canadian ?

I don't read the newspapers, I don't watch the news. I figure, if something important happens, someone will tell me. Justin Trudeau  ;D

Ah Uh um - Justin Trudeau

^^ i deserve to have this post deleted lol
 

RocketRichard

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tomahawk6 said:
Reagan has a number of good quotes. But maybe you would prefer a Canadian ?

I don't read the newspapers, I don't watch the news. I figure, if something important happens, someone will tell me. Justin Trudeau  ;D
He was 29 yo when he said that in 2001. Very typical comment of someone from that generation at that time. Probably even more so now.


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Journeyman

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For anyone interested, it may be worth going back to page 1 of this thread and reading the article that started this discussion a dozen years ago:  Charles A. Kupchan and Peter L. Trubowitz, "Grand Strategy for a Divided America," Foreign Affairs,  July/August 2007.

I would argue that our discussion here has devolved just as much as America's "Grand Strategy" in the intervening years  -- old Presidential quotes (regardless of relevance... or even making reference to America) seem fitting in a time of 'strategy' reduced to 140 characters, and a long-range vision that barely reaches out to the next news cycle or Op Ed article.


An interesting view included in that post, however:
E.R. Campbell said:
….as Prof Pan Wei of Peking University wrote (Harvard International Review), Under this poor leadership  [provided by President Bush], a previously “benign hegemon” is becoming an oppressive tyrant that suffers opposition almost everywhere in the world.  Prof. Pan worried that vis à vis China President Bush’s foreign policy ” will ultimately cause the decline of US power, and it may not succeed in precluding China’s emergence from a new decade of political reform. Instead, belligerent confrontation will only lead to an escalation of tensions.”  It is, in my view, likely to do the same with India, Europe and much of the rest of the world, too.
..... suggests that President Bush's tenure, circa 2007, were 'the good old days.'
 

Oldgateboatdriver

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I, for one, did not mean to quote president Reagan with a negative purpose. To my generation, he will always be the president who finished off the Soviets. And contrary to a certain current president who shall remain nameless, Reagan was NOT "all speech (140 characters of it at a time ;D) - no action".

Reagan backed up his rhetoric against the "evil empire" with deeds: From actually funding "Star Wars", rebuilding the USAF, calling for and actually financing and building the "600 ship Navy", together with the Secretary of the Navy "I cannot envisage a situation with the Soviets where we would not put at least two carrier battle groups in the North Sea".

Today's People may not remember this but the US, by the end of the Reagan mandates, had fifteen active aircraft carrier battle groups.

The current president is all puffery on twitter and claims to have solved all sorts of problems (North Korea nukes, Iran, etc.) but in practice, flusters, then forgets about doing anything as soon as the news cycle is over, while in reality nothing has changed and the threats are still fully there.
 

tomahawk6

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America is divided because on the one hand we have progressives/socialists, then we have older more conservative folks. There is very little middle ground. The Democrats use a playbook that could have been used by either the communist party or communists. They are not the same party as JFK or LBJ. I could support that.
 

Underway

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America is divided because like in the 30's the electorate is re-aligning itself. Happens every so often 70-90 years or so.  Before that was the civil war.

For example Republican's are not normally the party against trade or pro union, but they captured the anti-trade and pro-union vote last time.  Also apparently Hispanics that are legally in the US are just as pro wall as others.  Many pro trade Republicans voted Democrat last election.  Its exacerbated by the new media.  I give it about 15 years and then the new alignments will be stabilized.  Might take a major issue to crystalize the alignments though.
 

RocketRichard

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tomahawk6 said:
America is divided because on the one hand we have progressives/socialists, then we have older more conservative folks. There is very little middle ground. The Democrats use a playbook that could have been used by either the communist party or communists. They are not the same party as JFK or LBJ. I could support that.
So it’s the Democrats fault? It takes two sides to tango...


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Underway

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tomahawk6 said:
America is divided because on the one hand we have progressives/socialists, then we have older more conservative folks. There is very little middle ground. The Democrats use a playbook that could have been used by either the communist party or communists.

No true to both comments given the data at hand.  Perhaps you could point out the exact communist playbook you are talking about?
 

mariomike

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Oldgateboatdriver said:
To my generation, he will always be the president who finished off the Soviets. And contrary to a certain current president who shall remain nameless, Reagan was NOT "all speech (140 characters of it at a time ;D) - no action".

To me, and I am sure many others of our generation, President Reagan appealed to our best hopes. Not our worst fears.

tomahawk6 said:
The Democrats use a playbook that could have been used by either the communist party or communists.

Underway said:
Perhaps you could point out the exact communist playbook you are talking about?

Yes. Please do.
 

Edward Campbell

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Oldgateboatdriver said:
I, for one, did not mean to quote president Reagan with a negative purpose. To my generation, he will always be the president who finished off the Soviets. And contrary to a certain current president who shall remain nameless, Reagan was NOT "all speech (140 characters of it at a time ;D) - no action".

Reagan backed up his rhetoric against the "evil empire" with deeds: From actually funding "Star Wars", rebuilding the USAF, calling for and actually financing and building the "600 ship Navy", together with the Secretary of the Navy "I cannot envisage a situation with the Soviets where we would not put at least two carrier battle groups in the North Sea".

Today's People may not remember this but the US, by the end of the Reagan mandates, had fifteen active aircraft carrier battle groups.

The current president is all puffery on twitter and claims to have solved all sorts of problems (North Korea nukes, Iran, etc.) but in practice, flusters, then forgets about doing anything as soon as the news cycle is over, while in reality nothing has changed and the threats are still fully there.


Interesting ... in my mind it was President Harry S Truman, acting on George Kennan's "long telegram" who put the Soviet Union on the path to failure. He saw, quite clearly, that the US-led West would "win" by not fighting but, rather, by containing the USSR. The resulting Cold War was long but, again in my idiosyncratic opinion, it was "won" in 1959 ... at a trade fair in Moscow when then Vice-President Nixon confronted Nikita Kruschov at a display featuring a fairly typical middle-class US kitchen ... thousands of Russians saw that and they told millions that Eisenhower's adaptation of the Truman doctrine which said butter, not guns, was working for the American working class. The rest was just ~ in my opinion ~ the icing on the cake.
 

Jarnhamar

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[quote author=Oldgateboatdriver]

The current president is all puffery on twitter and claims to have solved all sorts of problems (North Korea nukes, Iran, etc.) but in practice, flusters, then forgets about doing anything as soon as the news cycle is over, while in reality nothing has changed and the threats are still fully there.
[/quote]

Is this not a reflection of the American society at large?
 

mariomike

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E.R. Campbell said:
Interesting ... in my mind it was President Harry S Truman, acting on George Kennan's "long telegram" who put the Soviet Union on the path to failure. He saw, quite clearly, that the US-led West would "win" by not fighting but, rather, by containing the USSR. The resulting Cold War was long but, again in my idiosyncratic opinion, it was "won" in 1959 ... at a trade fair in Moscow when then Vice-President Nixon confronted Nikita Kruschov at a display featuring a fairly typical middle-class US kitchen ... thousands of Russians saw that and they told millions that Eisenhower's adaptation of the Truman doctrine which said butter, not guns, was working for the American working class. The rest was just ~ in my opinion ~ the icing on the cake.

True. But, the thing with Reagan, in my opinion, was his likability. I believe the "likability factor" can not be overestimated.

 

Blackadder1916

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E.R. Campbell said:
Interesting ... in my mind it was President Harry S Truman, acting on George Kennan's "long telegram" who put the Soviet Union on the path to failure. He saw, quite clearly, that the US-led West would "win" by not fighting but, rather, by containing the USSR. The resulting Cold War was long but, again in my idiosyncratic opinion, it was "won" in 1959 ... at a trade fair in Moscow when then Vice-President Nixon confronted Nikita Kruschov at a display featuring a fairly typical middle-class US kitchen ... thousands of Russians saw that and they told millions that Eisenhower's adaptation of the Truman doctrine which said butter, not guns, was working for the American working class. The rest was just ~ in my opinion ~ the icing on the cake.

An interesting premise.  Granted, President Truman is probably given less credit than he is due for the long fight against the Soviet Union, but if we are assigning arbitrary dates to when the Cold War was "won", let's try February 1963 (think about it for a few minutes and see if you can guess the chain of events that I'm thinking about).

I had never thought of the "Kitchen Debates" as having that effect on the Soviet people, probably because I began with the notion that very little of the American exhibition was presented by the Soviet media and while Voice of America (and similar Western radio networks) boomed loud into the Eastern Bloc, TV images of everyday luxuries were not quite that available.  But the Kitchen Debates did provide a demonstration of Nixon's foreign relations expertise and may have cemented his nominations in his failed 1960 presidential run and his subsequent 1968 successful bid for the office.  Without Nixon and the aftermath of his time in office there might not have been a Reagan presidency.  So maybe there is a connection between the Kitchen Debates and the end of the Cold War.

February 1963.  What happened that eventually resonated back in the USSR?  The Beatles.  More specifically it was the start of their first US tour and appearance on the Ed Sullivan Shoe that moved them from a very successful UK group to world wide pop icon status.  And that icon status combined with an official Soviet effort to deny Russian youth the same access to fun as western youth was probably a factor in the disaffection of the population that led to the fall of the system in the 1990s.  The parents of the 1950s/60s may have longed for a nicer kitchen (or even an apartment that had a kitchen) but their memory of the Great Patriotic War was personal and they knew firsthand that their lives were paid for with privation and so there was acceptance of a long difficult struggle.  Their children, just like the children in the West, wanted more and wanted it quicker.
 

tomahawk6

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The end was when the Berlin Wall came down and one by one the Warsaw Pact collapsed.
 

Journeyman

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E.R. Campbell said:
Interesting ... in my mind it was President Harry S Truman, acting on George Kennan's "long telegram" who put the Soviet Union on the path to failure. He saw, quite clearly, that the US-led West would "win" by not fighting but, rather, by containing the USSR. The resulting Cold War was long but, again in my idiosyncratic opinion, it was "won" in 1959 ... at a trade fair in Moscow when then Vice-President Nixon confronted Nikita Kruschov at a display featuring a fairly typical middle-class US kitchen ... thousands of Russians saw that and they told millions that Eisenhower's adaptation of the Truman doctrine which said butter, not guns, was working for the American working class. The rest was just ~ in my opinion ~ the icing on the cake.
I've been mulling this over.  Where the Soviet Union was brought down through externally imposed containment, it appears increasingly that the US is self-containing... possibly with similar results.

The equivalent of the 'US kitchen' as a desirable role model is the world now looking at current US behaviour and turning away -- there are a growing number of trade and security arrangements being developed that actively exclude the US.  While the American economy remains sufficiently strong that they can't be simply ignored, fewer people want to have to deal with the current administration;  the cover story of The Economist  (June 8-14) is "Weapons of Mass Disruption: tariffs, tech blacklists, financial isolation, sanctions,"  with a picture of Trump as a bomb.  Unfortunately, the country is now so divided that the polarization and mindless finger-pointing (by both extremes) is unlikely to be fixable in the near to intermediate term.


An excerpt from Fareed Zakaria, "The Self-Destruction of American Power:  Washington Squandered the Unipolar Moment,"
Foreign Affairs ,  July/August 2019.
The Trump administration has hollowed out U.S. foreign policy even further.  Trump’s instincts are Jacksonian, in that he is largely uninterested in the world except insofar as he believes that most countries are screwing the United States.  He is a nationalist, a protectionist, and a populist, determined to put “America first.”  But truthfully, more than anything else, he has abandoned the field.  Under Trump, the United States has withdrawn from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and from engaging with Asia more generally.  It is uncoupling itself from its 70-year partnership with Europe.  It has dealt with Latin America through the prism of either keeping immigrants out or winning votes in Florida.  It has even managed to alienate Canadians (no mean feat).  And it has subcontracted Middle East policy to Israel and Saudi Arabia.  With a few impulsive exceptions—such as the narcissistic desire to win a Nobel Prize by trying to make peace with North Korea—what is most notable about Trump’s foreign policy is its absence.
 

Brad Sallows

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In the free market of foreign relationships, the US was a good deal - relatively open and wealthy markets others could readily access; relatively little reaction to protectionist policies running back the other way; willingness to bear a substantial chunk of the cost of various mutual and other defence arrangements.  The Trump administration has increased the prices, which effectively makes other nations more competitive.

For those who believe increasing trade entanglements and increasing regional foreign affairs arrangements tend to decrease the likelihood of wars breaking out, this should be a huge net positive.

For Latin America, the US is a safety valve as long as talk of border enforcement remains only talk; the Democrats and associated activists have successfully out-manoeuvred the administration.  The status quo is a huge contribution to political stabilization and peace, and US taxpayers are the ones paying for it, not Europeans or Asians or South Americans.
 

tomahawk6

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Yet the economy is the best in many years with full employment. Historically people vote their pocketbook. If the economy remains strong into 2020 Trump should be re-elected.
 

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tomahawk6 said:
Yet the economy is the best in many years with full employment. Historically people vote their pocketbook. If the economy remains strong into 2020 Trump should be re-elected.

Is the economy strong?  Growth has basically plateaued since the beginning of 2018.  The market has hit three successive walls that it has been unable to break through.

I would say if trade wars and tariffs continue to be in play, the US economy will be in a recession within a year or two.
 
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