Bernhard's meticulous and steady digging through the pile of media sources provides for a truly great news aggregator, and I may feel today somewhat vindicated and have my rah-rah and ego, which is larger than cathedral, pleasantly tickled. MoA provides a weekly review of notable sources and in one of them I ran into this conclusions by Esteemed Ambassador Chas Freeman--a former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and deputy assistant Secretary of the State for African affairs, among many other important diplomatic posts he held in the times when the United States actually did have a competent diplomacy. Just take a look at his skills: he speaks Chinese fluently, Spanish and French at the professional
level, and Arabic conversationally, in addition to several other
languages. Ambassador Freeman studied at the Universidad Nacional
Autónoma de México, and he earned a JD from the Harvard Law School and
an AB magna cum laude from Yale University.
Here is what attracted me in Freeman's excellent interview:
But there’s not much evidence of China wanting to replace us. They are displacing us in some spheres because they’re big and growing and successful. Do they want to take on our global dominion and hegemony role? No, but we assert that they do. We posit that China thinks and behaves like us: “We had Manifest Destiny and it took us across the Pacific to the Philippines. Therefore, China must have a Monroe Doctrine and Manifest Destiny in mind.” This is wrong. Things don’t work like that. So I would argue that we have inhaled our own propaganda, and we are living in the appropriately stoned state that that produces. If we have sound policies, we can out-compete anyone. But we’re not looking at sound policies; we’re looking at pulling down our competitor.
Boom! I, of course, would argue that at this time the United States lost its competitive edge in a number of crucial fields in which it can not "out-compete" China or Russia, but the message about propaganda is ultimately correct and this "inhaling" is precisely what I warn about non-stop for the last 7-8 years. Just read my Sand Castle Geopolitics series of posts from 2014 in this blog. Recall introduction to my first book:
It is doubtful that such a miscarriage of a historical justice will be challenged successfully in the combined West, let alone in the US itself, where many media figures, politicians and “scholars” are in overdrive, doing their utmost to falsify the actual truth about the birthplace of American, real and perceived, superpowerdom—World War II. The real danger from such manipulations arises not when those manipulations are done out of knowledge of reality which is distorted accordingly for propaganda purposes, but when those who manipulate information begin to sincerely believe in their own falsifications, when they buy into their own narrative. They stop being manipulators, and they become believers in a narrative. They become manipulated themselves.
In other words, US "elites'" "inhaling" own propaganda is a clear and present danger to the world because acting upon what in proper societies is called a historical and geopolitical bullshit is not the way to conduct oneself in the world where we all are merely 30 minutes away from a complete mutual annihilation--an idea many in D.C. simply cannot grasp. In general, Freeman's interview is excellent, including his superb definition of good diplomacy. Freeman's justification of his dropping out of law school is also instructive and explains my concern about huge swaths of America's foreign policy (or lack thereof) big honchos being lawyers primarily.
Law school is not irrelevant, but it isn’t as interesting as dealing on behalf of the United States with foreign governments and cultures. The French have a phrase, “déformation professionnelle,” which means that you take on the mindset and reasoning skills of a particular profession and you become narrow-minded because you don’t see the whole picture. The first year of law school is a sort of ideological bootcamp in which you are taught to reason in terms of rights, duties, privileges, and immunities, and various other categories relevant to legal reasoning. That training is all very injurious to diplomacy because if you approach an international relationship in terms of who’s right and who’s wrong, you’re wasting your time. There is no superior authority, no court system, and no legal system to sort out many diplomatic questions. If you insist that the other party’s wrong, the other party may decide to go to war with you.
So, enjoy Freeman's interview, while I express my appreciation to Bernhard for pointing out a very important view by a real professional American diplomat of what today could be termed as an "old school" of American diplomacy, because a new one, frankly, is a bunch of ignorant ideologues pretending to be diplomats. I am very happy to have correctness of very many of the key points of my writing being corroborated by an important figure in the ever-shrinking field of the American genuine international relations professionals.
In related news: my sincere congratulations for Westerners celebrating Easter today. Christ is risen and all the best to all of us. Most importantly--peace on Earth.