But why aren't people in other countries listening?
From the fawning profile of Jake Sullivan in the New Yorker: "But, when it came to the subject of the war itself, and why Biden has staked so much on helping Ukraine fight it, Sullivan struck an unusually impassioned note. “As a child of the eighties and ‘Rocky’ and ‘Red Dawn,’ I believe in freedom fighters and I believe in righteous causes, and I believe the Ukrainians have one,” he said. “There are very few conflicts that I have seen—maybe none—in the post-Cold War era . . . where there’s such a clear good guy and bad guy. And we’re on the side of the good guy, and we have to do a lot for that person.”"
And, this is a man, to support your arguments about the incompetence of the PMC, "During his senior year, [at Yale] he scored a rare trifecta—“the academic equivalent of horse racing’s Triple Crown,” as the Yale Bulletin put it—winning all three of the most prestigious fellowships available to American undergraduates: the Rhodes, the Marshall, and the Truman. Sullivan opted for the Rhodes, earned a master’s in international relations at Oxford, and took time out to compete in the world collegiate debate championships in Sydney, finishing second. He then went to Yale Law School and, after graduating, secured a Supreme Court clerkship with Justice Stephen Breyer."
There you go. One of our Best and Brightest using Rocky and Red Dawn as moral lessons. At least he didn't mention a Marvel character or two, but one wonders what his action figure collection consists of.
A man named "Machiavelli" caused much outrage at the time when he described how rulers come up with hilariously elaborate justifications for all manner of war, conquest, plunder and rapine, all glibly aided by their fawning courtiers, when the real goal is conquest, plunder, rapine and power.
Machiavelli caused such outrage because, of course, he was correct, in the sense that he accurately described observable reality without all the happy horseshit.
The problem is not that we are governed by muddle-headed sappy idealists, but by cynical full-bore sociopaths.
At least as far as Palestine is concerned, the MSM knows that it is disseminating spin (e.g. Israelis are "killed" while Palestinians "die") and bullshit so ridiculous that a six-week old kitten would see through it, even if accompanied by a liver treat.
They know we know it's bullshit and they don't care. The "journalists" and talking heads know what will advance one's career and what will not.
Inconceivable why anyone would watch/read "mainstream media" other than to mock or ridicule them. They are weapons to harm the masses, like missiles and bombs. Nuremberg II candidates.
The West made the rules so the rest of the world had every right to ask that they're at least followed. Otherwise the West's words are not worth the paper they're written on. And this isn't just rules of war and peace, but trade and exchange, intellectual property and real property. If you want to take it down to everything comes out of the barrel of the gun, then note that the gun may soon be used to dispossess the West of its various property claims and claims of moral authority (including in West Africa and Near East).
The Third Reich hardly innovated the demonization and mass murder of millions for land and slaves. They merely industrialized it and brought it into the heart of Europe. Working the enslaved natives to death and stealing their land and treasure, at the scale of tens and hundreds of millions, while decrying their savagery has been a European tradition for 530 years (longer of we want to mine the crusades). Meanwhile, very few westerners even realize that the vast majority of WWII deaths happened in the USSR and China.
My other complaint is that history and scale does matter. When one side has planes, bunkerbuster bombs, tanks, and American /EU sugardaddies writing blank checks and doing your PR interference, and the other side has homemade rockets and lightly armed young men eager to avenge their friends and family, equating the two in the same conversation is obfuscating to the point of justifying Western settler colonialism as the natural state of things. Plenty of large historic and modern polities haver managed without ever having to systematically oppress and dispossess the native inhabitants to the extent of Europeans and their heirs. Saying now, after 500 years, that the Western rules don't matter after all, well, reap the whirlwind.
I think it was AJP Taylor who opined that the Nazis were tried at Nuremberg not because they were war criminals but because they lost.
My uncle fought through Operation Overlord in 1944-5: he always used to say that snipers were shot out of hand and never taken prisoner. The modern west also seems to think bombing is ok (especially when we do it) but that more direct killing of civilians is less acceptable. In similar vein, I think it was Nimitz who pointed out that prosecuting Raeder and Donitz for waging unrestricted submarine warfare might be ill advised because the US had done precisely that in the Pacific and the British Admiralty realised that they had used blockade as a tool to starve civilians. So the charges against these admirals ended up being contorted.
War is itself an immoral act. To try to draw lines on so called “war crimes” versus “legitimate war making” feels artificial.
Nice skewing of higher angels!
One challenge for any "universalist" morality is that they almost invariably produce exceptions that apply to "unbelievers" of all kinds (and various attempts to depict the other as some sort of "unbelievers" to whom alleged universal morality does not apply).
So, the Catholic Church banned, among others, crossbows in the Middle Ages. But it didn't apply to unbelievers (Muslims, pagans), heretics (Albigensians, etc), or schismatics (Greeks, Russians, etc) and fed all manner of attempts to paint the adversaries as somehow unchristian and undeserving of the "Christian morality" (so that you can use crossbows against them) something that very much continues to this day in a not very dramatically different form. In some sense, this was the "rules-based order" instead of "rule of law" centuries before the term became fashionable (we can't define what the tenets of our morality really are, but the bottom line is that they prove that we are better than "them" and "they" don't deserve its benefits although they must be bound by its obligations.).
One underlying problem, of course, is that except in the most minimalist sense, "morality" is not universal, but a projection of a particular society's norms. Only the rise of a dominant society (and at least superficial adherence to its norms by "other tribes" for sake of dealing with them can even give an appearance of something approaching "universal" morality, and within that dominant society (and its adjacents), the allegedly universal morality reflects the norms of the dominant segment (and its adjutants) anyways, being adhered to by others on insofar as they want to "fit in," so to speak. When that social dominance is being undermined, the norms will be violated, especially by the more "barbarian" tribes farther from the dominant society/segment, and the formerly dominant group (that still imagines itself to be arbiter of the universal) can only be shocked by the "immorality" of those who dare challenge them....
For those (non-sci-fi fans) wondering about the source of the title of Aurélien's post:
As always, I deeply appreciate how much you make me think. It’s utopian to argue that cooperation for mutual benefit is the path out of fear of the Other. It probably is at the level of psychiatry but I’m not sure how it could take root culturally and politically.
Norms are dependent on the people with the power to either adhere to them or ignore them. A Russian commentator had a TG post where he pointed out that the people in Russia who wanted (and want) a much more forceful military solution in Ukraine actually want Russia to behave like Israel has. His point being a thankfulness for Putin’s adherence to norms. It’s an important point, evidenced by the difference in recorded civilian casualties in the two conflicts to date.
A deep and intractable problem we face now is hypocrisy when it comes to those norms, because that hypocrisy undermines them. That’s what the US (though not just the US) has done over the last 30 years. Everybody has always bent the norms, selectively applied them, etc. but the backlash is against preaching them incessantly and ignoring them completely. That dichotomy is another task for psychiatry.
Superb commentary with which I am in full and violent agreement although could never relay it with the eloquence and honesty that Aurelien displays.
My biggest concern is that these new Liberal elites and their sycophants are dragging us into continuous war and purposely setting people within nations against each other. They seem to be in control of governments, many modern businesses, schools, universities and major media outlets. Feel like they only way to address their constant moralizing exaggerations and lies will be via pitchforks and torches.
‘Probably the battle of Waterloo was won on the playing-fields of Eton, but the opening battles of all subsequent wars have been lost there.’
George Orwell misquoting the Duke of Wellington
I tend to think that the Western Liberal elite are still locked into this fatuous idea. To them, war is a game where the rules are defined by the worldview of games and rules.
I suppose that being an ex-enlisted infantryman, I arrive with a different set of understandings of the nature of conflict. All the rules promulgated by the Etonians and the Yalies don't matter when "Cry 'Havoc!', and let slip the dogs of war."
The Peace and Truce of God (Latin: Pax et treuga Dei) was a movement in the Middle Ages led by the Catholic Church and was one of the most influential mass peace movements in history. The goal of both the Pax Dei and the Treuga Dei was to limit the violence of feuding in the western half of the former Carolingian Empire – following its collapse in the middle of the 9th century – using the threat of spiritual sanctions. The eastern half of the former Carolingian Empire did not experience the same collapse of central authority, and neither did England. This movement was also marked by popular participation, with many commoners supporting the movement as a solution to the famines, violence, and collapse of the social order around them.
The Peace of God was first proclaimed in 989, at the Council of Charroux. It sought to protect ecclesiastical property, agricultural resources and unarmed clerics. The Truce of God, first proclaimed in 1027 at the Council of Toulouges, attempted to limit the days of the week and times of year that the nobility engaged in violence. The movement survived in some form until the thirteenth century. Other strategies to deal with the problem of violence in the western half of the former Carolingian Empire included the code of chivalry. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peace_and_Truce_of_God
Thank you Aurelien🙏
The problem with this pessimistic approach is that if you substitute war with slavery it's easy to see the limits of it. Regardless of all its problems (lots of problems, yes), the changes in the way we envisage war could be a progress, no? And, by the way, are you telling us that the countries aren't listening (in the so called Global South, I think) because they still remain in barbaric times? Well, one could argue that your clever approach is also kind of racist, no?
In some sense, Rwanda (proverbial rather than literal) did need "peacekeepers" (in a more abstract sense), didn't they? That is, if the role of the peacekeepers, as they should be in theory, is to provide equitable and credible security for all. One reason Koreans (at least in the South) liked the Americans was that they were foreigners from far away so that they didn't have any connection to the myriad factions in Korea so they were expected to behave more or less "fairly." And I'd suggest that this is one of the reasons why Americans used to be admired as much everywhere--at least while US remained more or less isolationist and had little contact with (or knowledge of) the outside world. Your morality might be still biased towards your own experience, but, at least, all foreigners are equally foreign and you have no interest in favoring one over the other.
In some sense, Americans trying to get "culturally sensitive" and more "respectful" of foreign tribes has subverted this "fairness of the ignorant." You don't know about all factions and cultural mores equally and, if you are trying to respectful to the foreign tribes, foreign tribes that you deal with more (and the tribes that make stronger appeal to you) invariably wind up being favored and the fairness (even the perception thereof) is destroyed. Thus the very partial treatment of the Israelis over the Palestinians (that goes far beyond the relationship between US/West and Israel in the strategic-political dimension.)