September 01, 2017

Restating the Obvious, Briefly

Certain themes of critical importance have been constants in my writing here, in some cases for more than a decade. (See the two collections of Alice Miller essays discussed in this post, for many examples.) One of those themes is captured very accurately in the title of an essay from five years ago that I once again draw to your attention: "The Infinite Human Capacity to Deny the Obvious."

I was reminded of that article because I recently read still another piece by a well-known "antiwar" writer bemoaning the fact that U.S. policy in Afghanistan has been a miserable failure. Not only that: it's been a miserable failure for 16 years! (The particular article and the specific writer are of no consequence, but I'll probably address a few aspects of this category of analysis in the next few weeks, using that and other examples.)

To call U.S. policy in Afghanistan a failure is, of course, unutterably wrong. Whenever you hear someone peddling this line, you can quickly and safely move along to find an analyst who actually knows what he's talking about. In my article from five years ago linked above, I discuss Robert Higgs and what I call The Higgs Principle. Here is that Principle, direct from Mr. Higgs himself:
As a general rule for understanding public policies, I insist that there are no persistent "failed" policies. Policies that do not achieve their desired outcomes for the actual powers-that-be are quickly changed. If you want to know why the U.S. policies have been what they have been for the past sixty years, you need only comply with that invaluable rule of inquiry in politics: follow the money.
There is more Higgs in the earlier post. There is also some analysis of my own which is, dare I say it, excellent. Hell, it's fabulous. Seriously: I hadn't read that post in several years. I was impressed. Haha.

If U.S. policy in Afghanistan were truly a failure -- a failure, that is, to the actual powers-that-be -- it would have been changed in five years at the outside, and probably sooner. The fact that it has not changed, certainly not in terms of essentials, means that the powers-that-be are achieving precisely what they want. In addition to the benefits identified by Higgs, there is one additional over-arching goal that the damnable powers-that-be share, and believe in to the core of their putrid, twisted little hearts: that the United States is entitled to and must have geopolitical dominance.

If you have a few spare minutes, look at Afghanistan on a map. It's right smack in the middle of everything. Consequently, it's of enormous strategic importance. As a very nice additional benefit, one especially appreciated by the endlessly greedy, grasping powers-that-be, it happens to be sitting on very valuable natural resources. So what if lots of innocent people die? So what if the country is a wreck in terms of an independent, functioning government? What makes you think the powers-that-be actually want an independent, functioning government? They didn't want one in Iraq, and they don't want one in Afghanistan. (And they have never wanted independent, functioning governments in all the other countries in which the U.S. has intervened over many decades, openly or covertly.) More troops for Afghanistan? That doesn't mean that U.S policy is a failure. It signifies that the U.S. is more than ever committed to its policy of dominance and control over as much of the world as possible. We will not be leaving Afghanistan, or the Middle East (or Africa, or Asia, or or or...) anytime soon.

I don't consider this a subtle point. If one examines and judges all the available evidence, the truth of The Higgs Principle is overwhelming. I think one of the more interesting questions is why so many "antiwar" and "dissenting" writers -- many of whom are unusually smart and entirely capable of grasping this argument -- continue to offer the "failure" line. That's one of the questions I've wanted to address for some time, and I plan to get to it soon -- not in terms of offering pointless conjecture above the psychology of any particular individual, but with regard to the broader cultural forces in play.

The importance of The Higgs Principle cannot be overstated. It's one of those identifications that sweeps away reams of incomplete, frustratingly wrongly-focused analysis, and allows one to see what's transpiring with far greater clarity. So, to be continued ...


We're broiling in Los Angeles. It was over 100 yesterday and will be over 100 again today. Then it will be in the 90s and high 80s through all of next week. I'm having an awful time.

In response to my donation post yesterday, I've received seven donations, totaling about one-third of what I need. Most of those donations are from old friends and supporters -- thank you, folks! Bless you all. Because of the holiday weekend, I need to gather $300-$400 more today, if I'm going to be able to pay the rent next Tuesday. (Monday is a bank holiday, and it takes a couple of days to process donations through the accounts involved.) If I can't pay the rent Tuesday, it won't be the end of the world, but it won't be exactly helpful, either. Also, there's that electric bill sitting out there still ... and food would be nice.

Please help if you can! I put together the post above because that issue was annoying me, and I wanted to point people to that past article of mine. Good stuff there! And I wanted to reassure potential donors that I can still put words together and make actual sentences.

It's just past 7 AM, and I'm already sweating. So now I think I'll go back to bed. Sasha is keeping me constant company through our ordeal. I can't express what a relief it is that she's better. Sasha is getting better, and I can still write. Maybe we're not doomed! Hell, there are still far too many goddamned bastards to deal with. No time for quitting now.

And pray for cool weather! Christ...