Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Le Declin de l'empire americain?

Netanyahu as Prime Minister seems to me to be the worst thing that has happened to Israel and I follow the Jerusalem Post (JP) as a fairly reliable guide to the growth under his watch of paranoia and ethno-cultural chauvinism within that country. 

This JP article, guest written by a history academic based outside Israel, is unusually outward focused in its views of the EU, (a grouping not on Mr. Netanhayu's friendship list these days): The European Union now does sometimes resemble a replay of Weimar’s combination of institutional perfection with violent and nationalist forces aimed at tearing down the "system." 

The slowly mounting civil disorder in Europe he refers to, created by open borders facing the breakdown of what passed for social order in the Arab world, does have some worrisome aspects that begin to resemble in some ways the breakdown of the social consensus on law and order that occurred a century ago. Although the Iraq War and other Western and now Russian armed interference in the Arab polity cannot yet be said to be as profoundly dislocating to world order as the dismemberment of Empires after WWI, the huge harvest of distraught and often dysfunctional incomers that advanced societies are reaping is becoming highly disturbing in is implications.

It is worth reminding ourselves that the Roman Empire fell not because of enmity from without, but because those tribesmen just beyond its borders, impoverished and hard pressed from the East by hostile invaders, wanting the benefits of being inside the Empire’s borders surged in at a time when Roman social order was breaking down!

P.S. Le Déclin de l'empire américain was a 1986 Canadian comedy-drama film directed by Denys Arcand. Ominously it was followed by two sequels called The Barbarian Invasions in 2003 and Days of Darkness in 2007!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Russia - The Enemy Of a Lifetime

I was born after the Second German War ended in 1945, a few months before the Japanese Empire was eliminated by an atomic attack. Early in my childhood Churchill's prediction that Stalin's Soviet Union had the potential to be an even worse enemy was proving correct. Soviet espionage, aided by the fascination with Marxism that possessed some Western intellectuals, gifted Russia an atomic bomb after only a few years. My parents joined the Civil Defence, which was charged in Britain with preparing us for Soviet nuclear attack. As they had experience in the Blitz, Mum and Dad were made officers and our family was awarded a space in the underground bunker under our County Hall.

Even at breakneck speed this was a ten minute drive away, yet Soviet ICBMs were calculated to be over London in only four minutes. There was a certain amount of public education about how to survive the initial blast at home, but from the experience at Hiroshima and Nagasaki everyone knew it was basically hopeless. MAD (mutually assured destruction) was the political solution and the nuclear powers, soon joined by a virulently communist China, built up their arsenals, with the West, China and Soviet Union all trying to keep pace.