Saturday, April 7, 2018

Cognitive dissonance.

Gen. McMaster’s speech to the Atlantic Council on April 6, 2018 had this stark point on respect for sovereignty in the international order:
As President Trump said earlier today, the United States has never ceased to recognize the independence of the Baltic republics. In 1940, when the Soviet Union invaded your nations, U.S. Acting Secretary of State Sumner Welles issued the famous Welles Declaration. In that declaration, Welles confidently wrote that the American people opposed any form of intervention on the part of one state, however powerful, in the domestic concerns of any other sovereign state, however weak. In the absence of respect for sovereignty, Welles continued, the basis of modern civilization itself cannot be preserved.[1]
How the general thinks this might apply to our war against Syria is an interesting question. That he doesn’t think it does is clear, so we have cognitive dissonance. Holy sovereignty in the Baltics and “if we feel like it” in Syria. And it really is "if we feel like it" in Syria.

Gen. McMaster’s speech is just strange and the problems with it extend beyond cognitive dissonance. To speak of “Russia’s increased aggression around the world” as he does is disturbing in view of this bit of perspective provided by Andrew Bacevich.

The rest of McMaster’s speech is a caricature of serious thinking about international relations. What isn’t tendentious and distorted is fake hysteria about activities that are anything but the sole province of (((“The Kremlin”))).[2] To be quite frank, the existence of “sustained [Russian] campaigns to undermine our confidence in ourselves” is not going to make me lose any sleep at night. One hour of listening to some of the leftist liars, dissemblers, and subversives that Tucker Carlson interviews tells me who the real people “undermining our confidence in ourselves” are. Yet McMaster thinks Russians are the major threat on that score. Really! But for the Russians we’d have all kinds of confidence in ourselves.

This was thinking operating at the highest levels of our national security establishment. That McMaster is now history is an unalloyed blessing. John Bolton is said to be an uber-hawk but I think he’s a man who first and foremost resorts to facts, history, and logic. When he has appeared on Fox he invariably sounded rational and informed. I think we just made a step up. Just how big a step can be learned from reading the whole McMaster speech. With luck, Bolton is not coming with an agenda for war with Iran and endless war in Syria. Given that we live in an America that is an unconstitutional joke, those, and worse, are distinct possibilities, John Bolton or no.

[1] "In Parting Speech, McMaster Warns 'We Have Failed To Impose Sufficient Costs On Russia.'" By Tyler Durden, ZeroHedge, 4/4/18 (emphasis added).
[2] Sound effect only.

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