Emily Dickinson’s poem 657 – famous, loved, enigmatic, openly arcane – begins:
I dwell in Possibility
A fairer House than Prose
And it ends:
For Occupation – This –
The spreading wide of my narrow hands
To gather Paradise
This is the cure – This is the hope – This is the dwelling in human mystery and not living in the narrow lie.
In my arms I cannot hold even fragments of Paradise; yet I cannot gather flowers of my mind
“Only by creating a better life can a better system be developed.”Vaclav Havel, The Power of the Powerless
Unusually I read a book on military matters – Andrei Martyanov, The (real) Revolution in Military Affairs. Long-range and well-targeted missiles, including hyper-sonic missiles devised by Russia, have changed the calculus of defence – shield beats sword.
The revolution in military affairs – partly these weapon systems, partly doctrine – has changed geopolitics. Mackinder’s Heartland is of less relevance. But the Americans are trapped in their insular, imperial fantasies. In a world where the command centres of the empire can be struck by conventional weapons with speed and without known capacity to defend, the insular, impregnable Atlantic becomes an illusion, and an over-sized worldwide network of US bases becomes a trap.
America’s military posture is an imperial one and in modern circumstances that increasingly makes the US military vulnerable.Andrei Martyanov, The (real) Revolution in Military Affairs.
Martyanov makes three conclusions – they are open hypotheses to explore against world events.
- The unipolar world is over. Indisputable but still not recognised sufficiently at least in Australian diplomacy.
- American liberalism has run its course and no longer can defend its own country against internal social conflict, including ethnic conflict. Uncertain yet with some truth. More investigation of how ideas can house, contain or incite social fragmentation is needed.
- America (and its empire?) has an unsustainable culture – “defined only by consumerism and by the ‘values’ of fringe elites which attack the moral fabric of the overwhelming majority in the society.” Decaying culture, maybe?
These issues are explored more in my podcast.
Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States of America announced a new “forever alliance.” The announcement serves tactical objectives, maybe. Nuclear submarines for Australia, and diplomatic success for two failing courts. But before long AUKUS is revealed as bad diplomacy, bad strategy, and largely an illusion. It is diagnosed brilliantly by Alexander Mercouris at The Duran. To me, it is the last hurrah of the Anglo-American imperial ascendancy. It announces the end of a 300 year broken arc of history, the beginning of the looting of the collapsing hegemon, and the hope of littoral Eurasia freed from the shadow of America’s sword.
Angelo Codevilla dies.
He spoke with courage. Not my views. But frank, formed by reality and reading, fearless.
In November 2019 Codevilla wrote this polemic against the failed generals, spies and Potemkin masters of diplomacy who still dominate the American polity.
It is time for the American people to realize that these, like their counterparts in the intelligence agencies, are no heroes.Angelo Codevilla, “Who the Hell Do THey Think They Are” American Greatness
If we ask what they have done for us that we should have confidence in them, we realize that these people have lost every war they have waged since 1945. Accommodating themselves to our corrupt ruling class, they have been happy enough to wage endless no-win wars which have killed as many Americans as did World War I. The current military dictionary has no entry for “victory.”
Most recently, thousands of Americans have been killed and maimed in Iraq and Afghanistan because senior officers did not object to the ruling class’s desire to use U.S. forces to settle foreign quarrels by operating in constantly replenished minefields. Living in minefields violates basic military common sense and ethics. But senior officers have prospered. Intertwined with the ruling class, they end their careers on defense contractors’ corporate boards and in villas on the golf course. Now, as part of the ruling class, they join in claiming a right to rule us deplorables regardless of elections. We can thank McRaven for making that clear.
This ex-draftee is inclined to salute them with the middle finger.
When Boris Pasternak died in 1960 the authorities did not promote the details of his funeral. Still, people came, in a spontaneous demonstration, reflecting a changing society, presented in the fascinating Russian television series, The Optimists. At the funeral the mourners read from Pasternak’s poem, “Hamlet”, which he had written in 1946, and was later included in Dr Zhivago.
The acts cannot be rearrangedBoris Pasternak, Hamlet (1946)
and there’s no turning from the road.
Alone, a sea of cant all round me:
Life is not a walk across a field.