Rise of the Autocrats? -- Francis Fukuyama: The world's bullies are throwing their weight around. But history isn't on their side.

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    Aug 24, 2008 12:31 PM GMT
    good essay...

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/22/AR2008082202395.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

    I hope I am still alive to see this...when the people get wealthy enough to want a say in the government: "And Beijing will have its hands full maintaining domestic stability when the inevitable economic slowdown occurs."
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    Aug 24, 2008 3:10 PM GMT
    Fukuyama was dead wrong about "the End of History" and is dead wrong now.

    Without the USA, Liberalism is sunk and world peace and freedom along with it.

    What Fukuyama didn't count on is the inherent weakness the success of Liberalism bestows, weak constituents. In 1992 this weakness was apparent when the American electorate chose Bill Clinton to be president, twice.

    President Bush has been trying to play catch-up after eight years of Clinton's neglect and miscalculation, and the electorate is proving to be
    even more prone to weakness in the face of the challenges to consolidating liberalism.

    The world's bullys have a trump card that if allowed to play, negates the power of liberalism, no matter who employs it, that is military force.

    During the Coldwar, the USA was compared to the city state of Athens (Liberal) and the Soviet Union was compared to Sparta (Despotic). It was a fair analogy. Athens forced Sparta to back down and for a time their power waned, but 50 years later, Sparta was resurgent and the Athenians grew weak in their false sense of security. Sparta attacked, defeated and sacked Athens.

    That's why I support Senator McCain so fervently. We must never let our guard down. Electing Obama sends the signal that we're weak and so, vulnerable to an emerging Soviet Union. Liberalism around the world would end if the new Soviets were allowed to grow and consolidate, and attack.

    Gay rights, the economy, education, you name the issue, they're nothing without security.









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    Aug 24, 2008 3:25 PM GMT
    John43620 saidPresident Bush has been trying to play catch-up after eight years of Clinton's neglect and miscalculation,

    What fucked up alternative universe are you living in????

    Bush and the Debt-and-Spend Republicans have us damn near bankrupted us and at the mercy of China!!!!!

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    Aug 24, 2008 5:19 PM GMT
    John43620Gay rights, the economy, education, you name the issue, they're nothing without security.


    Do you realize how frighteningly similar that phrase is with the ones uttered by men who went on to become totalitarian monsters, the remnants of which your government is still fighting?

    Hitler, Mussolini, Hirohito, Kim Il Sung/Kim Jong Il, Islam Karimov, Pol Pot, Franco, Peron, Stalin, Lenin, Mao Tse-Tung, Hu Jintao, Chiang Kai Shek, Saddam Hussein, Lon Nol, Slobodan Milosevic, Omar al-Bashir, Than Shwe, Robert Mugabe, Hugo Chavez, and of course, the US-backed Ferdinand Marcos who made people disappear in the 70's - 80's Philippines.

    I wonder if you have read George Orwell...

    200px-1984first.jpg


    But of course, you won't care, since you'd be at the inner party, at worst the outer party. We gays merely belong to the Proles, and Big Brother is watching.

    613px-1984_Social_Classes_alt.svg.png


    Caslon6000I hope I am still alive to see this...when the people get wealthy enough to want a say in the government: "And Beijing will have its hands full maintaining domestic stability when the inevitable economic slowdown occurs."


    A recurring theme in Cyberpunk (near future science fiction) is corporate wars. When governments no longer matter and are mere formalities and the real power lies in mercantile/organized crime groups that constantly war with each other covertly to achieve the greatest share of the market. Monopolies. Capitalism at its worst.

    300px-Gibson_sprawl.jpg

    William Gibson's books deals with this stuff. In fact, he also wrote the original story of the movie Johnny Mnemonic, which was also about a courier for megacorporations.

    Not so much autocrats as oligarchs.
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    Aug 24, 2008 8:34 PM GMT
    John43620 said
    The world's bullys have a trump card that if allowed to play, negates the power of liberalism, no matter who employs it, that is military force.


    America is not only one of those bullies you mention, but also the biggest one and the most powerful.
    If every world leader had that paranoid frame of mind, we'd live in a world in which fear and terror run rampant, in which peace would be only the space between two wars.
    Oh wait....duh...
  • GQjock

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    Aug 24, 2008 8:56 PM GMT
    Caslon6000 said
    John43620 saidPresident Bush has been trying to play catch-up after eight years of Clinton's neglect and miscalculation,

    What fucked up alternative universe are you living in????

    Bush and the Debt-and-Spend Republicans have us damn near bankrupt and at the mercy of China!!!!!




    Caslon it isn't worth it

    People like John can have a Republican Elephant finger paint in the middle of their living room and still say nothing unusual happened today

    They see what they want to see
    which is JUST what this man is talking about
    How do you think Autocrats get hold of a society?
    History is replete with hundreds of examples
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    Aug 24, 2008 8:59 PM GMT
    GQjock said
    Caslon6000 said
    John43620 saidPresident Bush has been trying to play catch-up after eight years of Clinton's neglect and miscalculation,

    What fucked up alternative universe are you living in????

    Bush and the Debt-and-Spend Republicans have us damn near bankrupt and at the mercy of China!!!!!




    Caslon it isn't worth it

    People like John can have a Republican Elephant finger paint in the middle of their living room and still say nothing unusual happened today

    They see what they want to see
    which is JUST what this man is talking about
    How do you think Autocrats get hold of a society?
    History is replete with hundreds of examples


    We must fight the ENEMY! We must have stronger MILITARY! We must all OBEY!
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    Aug 24, 2008 9:01 PM GMT
    John43620 said

    Gay rights, the economy, education, you name the issue, they're nothing without security.



    This seems rather backwards, especially since we have some rights that are self evident, something about our country being founded on them or some such. Without the rights, their wouldn't be any need for security, as we'd be on the same par as China and Russia. We'd be giving up the very ideas this country was founded on by trading away our civil liberties and hiding behind the alledged security of a paranoid state. You are not so much a bastion of liberty as a poster child for fascism.
  • GQjock

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    Aug 24, 2008 9:16 PM GMT
    John43620 said


    Gay rights, the economy, education, you name the issue, they're nothing without security.











    There's a little quote by a man named Ben Franklin?
    Ever hear of him John?

    The quote goes...

    Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.

    ... but who the hell was he to talk... right?

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    Aug 24, 2008 9:46 PM GMT
    Ben Franklin was a Communist Peasant!!!


    (Probably a Soviet sleeper!)icon_lol.gif
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    Aug 24, 2008 10:36 PM GMT
    Oh lord, John is not the enemy.

    Of course, I don't agree with what he says, but I don't understand why everyone gets so worked up about it. I see John as fairly powerless to bring about his Fourth Reich fantasies in Amerikkka, and this sort of vigorous debate just eggs him on. Whenever I see John I think 60's airline stewardess. Harmless, blond, and.....

    This debate reminds me of Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Wonder what he would think of this theory? Of course we won't ever know because he won't ever see it, because he will rot and die in the Siberian gulag where Vladimir Putin put him (Putin being too much a sadist to merely kill him).

    Oligarch's derive their power from the governments that they corrupt, who look the other way while corrupt business practices are underway. However, as Khodorkovsky learned, forty-odd billion dollars is nothing against someone who has a police apparatus, they just marched into those swanky offices of his and carted him away, never to be seen or heard from again.

    As for Beijing, the "inevitable economic slowdown" is occurring now. Inflation is on its way to out of control and growth has slowed to a standstill.

    Frankly, I don't see how China is any more or less of a threat to the U.S.A. today than she was under Mao.

    Does anyone remember when President George W. Bush said of Vladimir Putin "I looked the man in the eye. I was able to get a sense of his soul. I knew that President Putin was a man with whom I could work"?

    Neither China nor Russia are our friends. They never have been. Furthermore, they remain nuclear powers with very clear motives for projecting their interests on the world stage (as the Chinese have so callously done in Africa - the Chinese government will do anything to insure that its access to resources remains uninterrupted).

    Does anyone remember when the Rockefeller Group (October 31, 1989) sold 51% of Rockefeller center to Mitsubishi Estate Company for (then) $846 million? Mitsbishi went on to invest $2 billion in acquiring an 80% stake. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth that the Japanese were buying America. Instead, they lost their shirt and those buildings are still Rockefeller Center.

    Does anyone wonder what Jeffrey Skilling thinks (and Kenneth Lay must have thought), about Mikhail Khodorkovsky?

    The truth is that Enron didn't do anything that its competitors (The El Paso Corporation, for example) isn't still doing today.

    Enron got too big for its britches and pissed off the wrong people (i.e. President Bush 41 - ex director of the CIA - Ambassador to China) or they would still be doing business today.

    The next thing you know there is a change of power in Washington and Kenneth Lay went from being the first citizen of Houston Texas (after President Bush 41, of course) to public enemy number one.

    "They'll split your pretty cranium and fill it full of air, but brother you won't care. Beware the savage law, of 1984" David Bowie

    Markets work best when they are free. The more regulation that there is, the more those regulations are manipulated. In places where there are too many laws (Italy being the prime example that I can think of) the rule of law loses all meaning and there is rampant corruption and collusion between dirty business and corrupt politicians. The situation becomes so pervasive that corruption and collusion become the norm and markets stop working. Instead you have "clientelismo".

    Do we think that legislation like Sarbanes Oxley has made American business more or less transparent?

    We are a long way from William Gibson's dystopia, but we are rather closer to George Orwell's nightmare. (way too close for my comfort)

    I will finish by saying this. I went to a very nice luncheon party today to watch the spectacular closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics. Simultaneously there were celebrations going on in front of Buckingham Palace and in Trafalgar Square. In the afternoon there was a flyover by the RAF. It was all very festive.

    What amazed me is that no one, for a second, imagined that London would achieve anything like Beijing 2008. The whole idea was simply written off as out of the question.

    By now, the London papers are making a fuss over what Boris Johnson wore, Jimmy Page looking too old, some sly artist slipping in an image of a murderer in the animations, and so forth.

    Lest we forget it, the Beijing papers aren't dissecting the games, there is no public debate, and there isn't even iTunes.

    Mikhail Khodorkovsky sits in a Soviet-built gulag in Siberia because he pissed of his political sponsors in Moscow, Jeffrey Skilling sits in maximum security because his enemies in Houston became the government in Washington, and two little old ladies (whose houses were demolished and wished to peacefully protest) will be sent to a "re-education" camp for a year in Beijing.

    The world goes on spinning, and John is still blond.

    Terry

  • GQjock

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    Aug 24, 2008 11:02 PM GMT
    I like your "Fly Me" analogy about John Ursa
    But I don't take him or others like him so benignly
    The John's of this world are willing and eager to take all the lies and misinformation that these war criminals are dishing out

    As far as Orwell's treatise we are living in a Laurasian world right now
    Take a look
    Orwell's autocratic society had......

    **PERMANENT WAR

    In "1984," the state remained perpetually at war against a vague and ever- changing enemy. The war took place largely in the abstract, but it served as a convenient vehicle to fuel hatred, nurture fear and justify the regime's autocratic practices.

    **The MINISTRY OF TRUTH

    Serving as the propaganda arm of the ruling party in "1984," the Ministry of Truth not only spread lies to suit its strategic goals, but constantly rewrote and falsified history. It is a practice that has become increasingly commonplace in the Bush White House, where presidential transcripts are routinely sanitized to remove the president's gaffes, accounts of intelligence warnings prior to Sept. 11 get spottier with each retelling, and the facts surrounding Bush's past financial dealings are subject to continual revision

    **INFALLIBLE LEADER

    President Bush may not be as menacing a figure, but he has hardly concealed his desire for greater powers. Never mind that he has mentioned -- on no fewer than three occasions -- how much easier things would be if he were dictator. By abandoning many of the checks and balances established in the Constitution to keep any one branch of government from becoming too powerful, Bush has already achieved the greatest expansion of executive powers since Nixon.

    **BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING

    And thanks to the hastily passed USA Patriot Act, the Justice Department has sweeping new powers to monitor phone conversations, Internet usage, business transactions and library reading records. Best of all, law enforcement need not be burdened any longer with such inconveniences as probable cause.

    **THOUGHT POLICE

    The Bush administration is not prosecuting thought crime yet, but members have been quick to question the patriotism of anyone who dares criticize their handling of the war on terrorism or homeland defense. They are using easily led people like our friend John here that everyone who questions them is Anti-American and are aiding our enemies
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    Aug 24, 2008 11:15 PM GMT
    ursamajor said
    The truth is that Enron didn't do anything that its competitors (The El Paso Corporation, for example) isn't still doing today.

    Enron got too big for its britches and pissed off the wrong people (i.e. President Bush 41 - ex director of the CIA - Ambassador to China) or they would still be doing business today.


    Um, no, the Bushes were friends of the Lays. The sheer scale of the manipulations of the Enron traders have outstripped anything we yet know about. Is your point that greed is nothing new? Okay, greed is nothing new. But that isn't only what they went to jail for.

    Markets work best when they are free. The more regulation that there is, the more those regulations are manipulated.

    This has been disproven time and again. Repeated crashes of the stock markets have come from letting down the Glass-Steagall wall. Yes, and Glass-Steagall was a regulatory act, and a good one whose merit we now recognize AGAIN, since that was what would have prevented much of the mortgage repackaging fiasco we've seen lately.

    Do we think that legislation like Sarbannes Oxley has made American business more or less transparent?

    This is a sucker question, because Sarbanes-Oxley was a watered-down pile of crap. And who watered it down? Why, let's see if we can guess.

    But I agree, let us have no illusions about the Russkies, up to their old tricks again. This territory grab was foreseeable the minute Yeltsin helped Putin take over the Kremlin. He made no bones about his revanchism. But, kind of like the way Hitler never hid his plans--indeed, published them in book form a decade earlier--Putin and his thugs didn't really trouble to hide his ambitions either, starting with the takeover of Gazprom, the jailing of Khodorkovsky, and now moving into Georgia.

    This puts Bush into the category either of Neville Chamberlain or Charles Lindbergh.

    I go with Lindbergh.


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    Aug 24, 2008 11:45 PM GMT
    I warned you all back in early May the Russians were up to no good.

    Senator Obama isn't up to dealing with Vlad the Impaler, Senator McCain is a man Putin wouldn't dare mess with.

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    Aug 25, 2008 12:08 AM GMT
    John43620 saidI warned you all back in early May the Russians were up to no good.
    Senator Obama isn't up to dealing with Vlad the Impaler, Senator McCain is a man Putin wouldn't dare mess with.


    Well John, we half agree. The Russians ARE up to no good, but the idea that they will be deterred by McCain is just silly. They will not be deterred by anything except a program of massive disinvestment from the West. Like that's going to happen.

    Look out, Ukraine, Papa Vlad is coming.
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    Aug 25, 2008 12:40 AM GMT
    GQjock saidI like your "Fly Me" analogy about John Ursa
    But I don't take him or others like him so benignly
    The John's of this world are willing and eager to take all the lies and misinformation that these war criminals are dishing out

    As far as Orwell's treatise we are living in a Laurasian world right now
    Take a look
    Orwell's autocratic society had......


    I just think that is all a little stretched. My problem with stretching this sort of analogy is that the real danger tends to get covered up in so doing.

    We really are living in a dangerous moment but President George W. Bush isn't Caligula.

    George Orwell, least of all, wished to be a prophet. He offered a warning.

    Terry
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    Aug 25, 2008 2:30 AM GMT
    Ikaros, I must agree with you, the US under the Bush administration is a huge bully, to despotic regimes.

    So, you have a problem with that?

  • GQjock

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    Aug 25, 2008 10:04 AM GMT
    Ursa...

    try telling that to people who had family and/or friends who were killed on 9/11

    or maybe some of the over 100,000 people killed in Iraq
    or the over a million who are still refugees living in Jordan and Syria

    When talking about intended malice inflicted on a society ... are we now going to debate a hierarchy of evil?
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    Aug 25, 2008 4:54 PM GMT
    Dear GQ,

    You seem like a decent enough guy. That said, I do wonder why you go out of your way with the hyperbole.

    My partner is a DVD addict. He used to like to have breakfast on the West side, take the subway down to WTC, walk over to J&R, and see what was new. He did that rather often.

    On September 11, 2001 I was having lunch in Treviso Italy. I came back to my office to witness, in horror, what we all saw. Immediately I started trying to telephone. It was 4 a.m. when I finally got through.

    Yes, I actually do remember that day, quite vividly.

    I did not have family or friends who were killed on 9/11 but your suggestion that my failure to equate the President of the United States with the most heinous characters in the history of the world is simply asinine and insulting.

    More than insulting me (unimportant and I don't mind - it can even be fun), that sort of hyperbole actually is insulting to the people who where unfortunate enough to have been at ground zero (or any of the various ground zeros that there were on that day).

    What is the difference between your accusing me of indifference to suffering because I don't share your opinion, and some fucktard demonizing the Dixie Chicks because of their views against the war?

    I happened to see the "Where the Hell is Matt" thread last night and watched the great video that goes with it. After I went to his website and read his journal. One thing that struck me to the ground was this letter that he received.

    "On September 11th I was fortunate enough to be 7 1/2 months pregnant with my first daughter and at home for a doctor's appointment, had I not been, I would have been on the 101st floor of the first tower that was hit that morning sitting at my desk.

    In the almost 8 years since that day I have lost a lot of my faith in humanity. I never returned to any job, fearing that I would make new friends only to loose them, yet again, in some horrific way, nor have I made any attempts in general everyday life to make new friends for the same reason.

    After going from having too many friends to count to being able to count them on one hand in the span of a few hours, it doesn't give you a lot of hope or ambition to start over. In a nutshell, I have just been plain scared to get involved again in caring for someone for fear that they won’t be there the next day when I wake up.

    Then I saw your video, Matt, and the feeling that came over me is indescribable. I wish I could put it into words, but I can't. For those 4 brief minutes I can feel myself believing that people are actually "good". it made me feel hopeful again. I thank you for giving me a shred of the innocence that I had on September 10th back, I have been needing it."


    You see, I believe that comparing President Bush (whom I dislike with the urgency of dhiarrhea filled bowels riding pillion on an old Harley on a bumpy dirt road.) to "Infallible Leader" not only fails to be constructive but also tends to oversimplify the plight of people like the woman who wrote above.

    Personally, I find the world too complex for your simple moral superiority to adequately explain it.

    I failed to oppose the war in Iraq at the time it was started. Probably you were wiser.

    The war is an immense tragedy that has destabilized the world in ways that we are yet to begin to understand. This war has and will continue to destroy countless lives.

    I have my own theory as to why we are there (and it isn't germane to this discussion). However, why we are there doesn't matter any more. We are there. That is a fact.

    Looking at history no one has ever successfully fought a war on that particular piece of land (I have often used the example of Trajan and Hadrian to try to illustrate this point). With that premise in mind my concerns are these:

    a.) Since it is obvious that we must leave, how can we do so without further destabilizing the region, ceding the territory to Iran and chaos (as we similarly did when we left Vietnam),

    b.) How do we give some kind of honor to the men & women (American and Iraqi) who served and are serving. What do we tell the families who lost their sons and daughters? (There are a number of servicemen on this site - some of them are posting from Iraq, many have returned dislocated and disoriented. At least one of us, Dancerjack (whom I adore) is considering enlisting. Sorry, I know that there are many more people who have suffered from this catastrophe, but I do care a lot about those particular men and women.)

    "When talking about intended malice inflicted on a society" That is a big statement (and not a very specific one). I am going to guess that you mean that President Bush intended malice on the society of Iraq and/or on our own society.

    This is where I think it is worth considering not stretching it. Yes I do (somewhat as Dante described) believe that there is a hierarchy of evil.

    Evil may be (and very often is) the unintended consequence of action taken in ignorance for the perceived benefit of the nation, or the world, etc. Just as the old addage says, "the road to hell is paved with good intentions".

    I don't really know what President Bush and his Administration thought they were doing. Neither do I believe it really matters any longer.

    What I would like to see is President Bush out of office (something that is inevitable in any case) and some action taken to bring our troops home. Frankly, I haven't got a clue how that can happen (and I strongly suspect that it will not happen no matter who next occupies the Oval Office).

    It is possible that people acting in good conscience can disagree and make colossal mistakes in judgement. Equally, it is possible that passion can trump temperance when shielded behind a keyboard and the abstraction of a network.

    What I don't like about our little forum nook is that dissenters who are in good faith (some people I reckon are on here just to cause trouble and I leave them out) like John (who gets off on this kind of interaction, and that is different than bad faith) or Stonecoldfoxboy (who I reckon is well able to defend himself) are routinely pounced upon. Why is that necessary?

    If your argument is so logical and water tight that it will float, why does it need so vociferous & hyperbolic hystrionics in order to be heard?

    Sincerely yours,
    Terry





    GQjock saidUrsa...

    try telling that to people who had family and/or friends who were killed on 9/11

    or maybe some of the over 100,000 people killed in Iraq
    or the over a million who are still refugees living in Jordan and Syria

    When talking about intended malice inflicted on a society ... are we now going to debate a hierarchy of evil?
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    Aug 25, 2008 5:11 PM GMT
    I just watched The Good Shepherd on DVD, last night. Very interesting insider look into the Skull and (Cross)Bones and their ties to the CIA. There were a couple of particularly apropos quotes to the topic at hand:

    [Bill Sullivan visits Ed at home to let him know that they're forming the CIA as a peacetime OSS]
    Bill Sullivan: I have to tell you, I have some real problems with this whole thing despite how much we need it. I'm concerned that too much power will end up in the hands of too few. It's always in somebody's best interest to promote enemies real or imagined. I see this as America's eyes and ears; I don't want it to become its heart and soul. So I told the president for this to work there is going to have to be some kind of civilian oversight.
    Edward Wilson: Oversight? How can you have a covert organization if you have people looking over your shoulder?
    Bill Sullivan: You know who gave Hitler his power? The clerks and the bookkeepers, the civil servants. I have this one weakness: I believe in a just God. I always seem to err on the side of democracy.
    [Bill Sullivan is getting into his car to leave]
    Bill Sullivan: No matter what anyone tells you there'll be no one you can really trust.
    [pause, looks away]
    Bill Sullivan: I'm afraid when all is said and done we're all just clerks too.

    Valentin Mironov #2: Soviet power is a myth. Great show. There are no spare parts. Nothing is working, nothing, it's nothing but painted rust. But you, you need to keep the Russian myth alive to maintain your military industrial complex. Your system depends on Russian being perceived as a mortal threat. It's not a threat. It was never a threat. It will never be a threat. It's a rotted, bloated cow.

    Philip Allen: You are going to have to learn, and as quickly and thoroughly as possible, the English system of intelligence, the black arts, particularly counterintelligence - the uses of information, disinformation, and how their use is ultimately... power. They have agreed to open up their operations to us - they can't win the war without us - but they don't really want us here... Intelligence is their mother's milk, and they don't like sharing the royal tit with people that don't have titles.
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0343737/quotes

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    Aug 25, 2008 5:13 PM GMT
    Well, there's lots of bullshit in Fukuyama's piece The Washington Post but I'll limit myself to the opening paragraph:

    Are we entering the age of the autocrat? It's certainly tempting to think so after watching Russia's recent clobbering of Georgia. That invasion clearly marks a new phase in world politics, but it's a mistake to think that the future belongs to Russian strongman Vladimir Putin and his fellow despots...

    Actually, Russia's so-called "clobbering" of Georgia was neither immense nor necessarily an "invasion": the scale of the Russian force was miniscule compared to the US invasion in Iraq (an event which only followed Georgia's own US-condoned invasion of Ossetia); the invasion of Iraq which truly did mark a new turn in world politics in that it marked the first time since WWII that a nation dared invade another for its own geopolitical reasons rather than paying lip service to "defense" or "liberation" (as the US did ostensibly in Vietnam), effectively calling the UN a joke (much as Germany did before WWII). If anyone's a strongman in the world wouldn't it be Bush & Co., who have destroyed a society (Iraq) and waged war in two simultaneously while destroying domestic laws and operating a concentration camp or gulag (Guantanemo)?

    Anyway, Fukuyama is a man who's clearly out of his mind for History neither ended and has barely, if we are honest, been accounted for.