The issue of American power elite's steady loss of competence is not new. It was raised by many American intellectuals and pundits as early as 1990s. George F. Kennan wrote about the host of misconceptions about the world at large, and Russia/USSR in particular, which monopolized the views of this elite, in his memoirs, venerable Robert Bork warned about "erosion of cognitive process"(c). The last salvo against frightening decline of competence was Pat Buchanan's The Collapse Of The American Competence in The American Conservative.
The collapse of the competence in the US foreign policy "elite" is more than frightening--it is menacing and threatens with the consequences which, unlike, however bad, some screw-up in economic field could be, have a potential to end it all for everybody. The reason for that is a loss (was it ever there--is a matter for a debate) of the sense of measure and proportion, in the foundation of which is a complete lack of understanding the war and what it brings. Make no mistake, facts are out there, they are available but the list of the facts is just an information sheet, it is still not a knowledge. The knowledge, as was pointed out in earlier posts, is way more complex. Juxtaposition of the facts matters a great deal, as do cause and effect connections. As Bernard Pares wrote: "And knowledge alone is not enough without understanding, which is much more hardly won. To no country does this apply more than to Russia....This gap has to be filled, or will it cost us dear."(c)
Obviously, no "gap was filled", in fact Russia's 20th (and 21st) Century history was Solzhenitsified to the point of being unrecognizable. Russia's history, for the most part, was and is written in the US by the whole coterie of the dissidents and people who are into this business merely for settling whatever scores they have with Russia. Be it Anne Applebaum or Julia Ioffe (a self-professed russophobe), or some "military experts" (in reality a biology major) such as Pavel Falgenhauer--these are the people who form the public opinion on modern Russia. These are the people who occupy the media (and even top political) space in the US whenever it comes down to Russia. There are still many powerful people in US who still think that GULAG Archipelago or Pasternak's Doctor Zhivago, as well as the whole Samizdat business, played a major role in the collapse of the USSR. Revealing the simple fact, that the Soviet youth or 1970s didn't give a rat's ass about Solzhenitsyn, but knew very well the lineup of Deep Purple or Led Zeppelin, let alone, instead of listening to Galich, listened to British Glam Rock represented by Sweet or Slade, creates a sense of cultural shock amongst many "Russian scholars" in the US. The whole notion that Vladimir Vysotsky was a cultural phenomenon on the order of the magnitude larger than Solzhenitsyn, or that the whole Soviet history was not just GULAG self-loathing, but a very complex tapestry of cultural phenomena is completely lost on people who define US foreign policy. In fact, many of them cannot grasp the fact of why Russian Orthodox Church is unhappy with Solzhenitsyn being included into the school program. The same as they cannot grasp why Russians do gravitate, generally, toward Bulgakov and worship 12 Chairs, both book and the film, and I don't mean Mel Brooks. But then again, they, most likely, didn't see Bondarchuk's War And Peace, Naumov's and Alov's Beg (yes, Bulgakov again) nor do they have any idea what 17 Moments Of Spring is.
Against the background of recent Ukraine crisis precipitated by the openly anti-Russian, and, in many respects, Nazi coup--courtesy of the great neocon "specialists" in the State Department, recent revelations of George Friedman of the famed STRATFOR (unexpectedly) give some really good insights into what we all are dealing with.
"Our host met us and we quickly went to work getting a sense of each other and talking about the events of the day. He had spent a great deal of time in the United States and was far more familiar with the nuances of American life than I was with Russian."(c)
This is not the case with people who help define Russia policy in the US today. I stated many times before and I repeat it again--American field of "Russian studies" is dead. It was for some time. With some exceptions of an immense scale, such as Ambassador Matlock or late George F. Kennan, the whole field is dominated by the hacks, who have no idea about Russia's history and the role warfare played in it. And here comes this famous stroke of American genius, Colonel Boyd's OODA (Observe-Orient-Decide-Act) loop, which defines the success of pretty much any operation. It matters that both "Os" are completely absent today from the US Russia policy. "Observe" is done merely from the positions of the American exceptionalism and foundation of the completely false assumptions of the American involvement in the Continental Warfare. The truth, however, is in the fact, that Western Civilization was saved in 1945 by the hordes of Russian Ivans--this will give Dinesh D'Souza an aneurism, as well as to the fans of Solzhenitsyn, but this is the truth which Russians are keenly aware of and the truth (or knowledge) which is completely absent (or suppressed) by those in US who think that they are qualified to formulate policies (or the lack thereof) against the fact that Russian history is the history of a Continental Warfare. Colonel Boyd concluded that the more loops the opposing side makes in the unit of time (frequency)--the higher is the probability of the success. The question is, thus, what do geopolitical players Observe and how do they Orient themselves before Deciding........
To be finished.........
P.S. Merry Christmas.
"The truth, however, is in the fact, that Western Civilization was saved in 1945 by the hordes of Russian Ivans"ReplyDelete
You mean the European Civilization.
US-America was never in danger.
There is no Western Civilization without Europe.Delete
I think you are simultaneously too hard on us and too easy on us. Everyone who's thought about WWII at all understands the weight of the Soviet contribution and loss. I'm not sure who you're talking about when you say we aren't.ReplyDelete
On the competence side, though, I think you let us off too easy. For purely domestic political reasons, our policy making apparatus went completely insane for a couple of decades. A blind man could see by 1970 (I'm being generous with so late a date) that there was no chance at all of an unprovoked Soviet invasion of Europe. None. And yet, from then into the late 80s, no one who didn't believe in a possible Soviet attack as not just a remote possibility (like a Canadian attack) but a reasonable likelihood against which serious measures needed to be taken could advance in the security complex. So we get a national assemblage of credulous morons. Because anyone with any sense at all went into other things.