My Weekly Reader 21 May 2018.

It can be difficult even for diplomats and foreign policy scholars to know a foreign country.  The Soviet Union long constituted a black box to outsiders.  Censorship, propaganda, and tight police surveillance of foreigners and their Soviet contacts kept Westerners from the fuller understanding that can be achieved of an open society.  If that was true of a great power in a long period of international confrontation, it can also be true of minor states on the outer periphery of world affairs.

Take the case of Libya.  The resources needed to foster an understanding of any foreign society are—in economic terms—“scarce.”  To understand Libya, it would take learning Arabic.  There aren’t a lot of people with the ability and commitment to do this.  It would take living in the country for an extended period to develop a sense of the society.  There aren’t many people with a reason to do so: oil industry people, diplomats, journalists, and the occasional academic.  One could try to develop human contacts in such a way as to not get them killed by the regime.  That last is a matter of personality and training.

Would it even be worth the trouble?  The United States had—and has—little reason to invest scarce resources in what amount to backwaters.[1]  Libya is a geographically large country made up mostly of desert.  Only six million people live there, many of them semi-nomadic tribesmen.  It has abundant oil and natural gas reserves, but so do many other places in the Arab region.  Saudi Arabia and Egypt rank much higher than does Libya.  Then, there’s the whole Israel versus the Palestinians engouement.  Since 2003, Iraq has occupied a central place for many specialists.  All of these soaked up the attention and scarce human resources of the American foreign policy establishment.  Americans largely depended upon the expertise of other countries with a reason to care more deeply about Libya.  Chiefly this means France, whose former colonies and current pawns surround Libya, and Italy, once the colonial ruler and now just a boat-ride away from a place teeming with people who don’t want to stay there.

Occasionally, however, Libya intruded upon American attention.  From 1969 onward, Libya had been ruled by a savage dictator, Muammar Qaddafi.  In the 1980s, his malevolence got the better of his self-control.  He had meddled in a civil war in Chad; he had sponsored murderous international terrorism in the West; and he had tried to acquire nuclear weapons.  All of these initiatives had gotten Libya a series of bloody noses, with the promise of worse to come.  At this point, Qaddafi’s self-control got the better of his—international—malevolence.  He went back to persecuting his own people and left other people alone.  Libya fell off the radar screen.

Then, came the “Arab Spring”[2] of 2011.  In January 2011, anti-government protests began in Tunisia, Egypt, and Syria.  In February 2011 they broke out in the eastern Libyan port-city of Benghazi.  Quaddafi vowed to drown the rebels in their own blood.[3]  “Humanitarian intervention” soon followed.  The governments of Britain and France outraged by the prospect of a massacre of “people everywhere [who] just want to be free,” wanted military intervention to protect Benghazi.  They didn’t want to send troops and they didn’t have the airborne command and control systems, or targeting drones, or air refueling capacity to make air-strikes work too well.  So they dragged on the United States to do its bit.[4]  Next thing you know, not only have the government forces headed for Benghazi been bombed to smithereens, but the Quaddafi government has been bombed out of existence.

This “success” had untoward consequences.[5]  Western experts believed that Libya had a good chance at a peaceful transition to a democratish state.  However, one now-experienced observer of Middle Eastern affairs has remarked that “the terrible men who ruled the countries of the Arab world had destroyed almost everything that might hold their societies together without them.”[6]  That proved about right—in Iraq, in Egypt, in Syria, and in Libya.  Libya came apart like a leper in a hot-tub.[7]  Islamists fought secularists, the long-suppressed regions fought each other, and gangs of criminals seized what they could.  After this failure of yet another Rodney King moment, the French, the British, and the Americans quickly threw up their hands in disgust.  One American official later characterized the change in attitude as “the hell with it.”  “Humanitarian intervention” soon ended.[8]

Other foreign powers did not.  They intervened to pursue their own interests.[9]  The criminals in coastal towns went into the migrant-export business, deluging Italy with desperately poor people who had used the Trans-African highway system[10] to reach Libya.  The flood of unwanted immigrants contributed to, but isn’t the only cause of, the rise of “populist” parties in Europe.

Could any of this have been foreseen?  Probably not, given the relative ignorance of Libyan conditions.  Still, there doesn’t seem to have been any worst-case analysis on the part of proponents of humanitarian intervention, nor any reflection on how far their own countries would be willing to go if conditions went South in a hurry.  But this is an old story.  “In his experience, premonitions of disaster were almost invariably proved false, and the road to Calvary entered on with the very lightest of hearts.”[11]

[1] The same went for Afghanistan and almost anywhere in Africa.

[2] The term alarmed many historians.  It made them think of the “Springtime of the Peoples” in the Revolutions of 1848-1849 in Europe.  These revolutions carried all before them for a time.  Then the revolutionaries, coalitions of people united only by what they were against—the current regime—fell out over what they were for.  The old guard regained control.  Firing squads, cavalry arriving in villages with coils of rope around every saddle horn, dungeons, and clipper ships packed with emigrants to America followed.  However, History is a college major in steep decline.  It offers only entertainment and the vicarious experience subjected to rational analysis that might lead one to not do something spectacularly stupid later in life.  Apparently there is no market for it.  “Viddy well little brother.”

[3] OK, that’s a cliché.

[4] Reportedly, the American military and intelligence chiefs were opposed to this intervention.  They had more wars—in Afghanistan and Iraq—than they could conveniently handle.

[5] See: “The Shores of Tripoli” and “The Hacked Election.”

[6] Dexter Filkins, New York Times Book Review, 20 May 2018, p. 24.

[7] Same as did Syria.

[8] Apparently governmental humanitarianism has a much shorter half-life than does NGO humanitarianism.

[9] Two things here.  First, Qatar supported the Islamists, Egypt and Russia supported the not-so-Islamists.  Same as in Syria.  Second, one aspect of America’s post-Cold War “triumphalism” has been the belief that other countries don’t have a right to their own foreign policy.  It should come as no surprise—although apparently it does in Washington—that other countries disagree.

[10] It’s not the American interstate system.  Still, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trans-African_Highway_network

[11] Pat Barker, Regeneration.  I forget the page number.

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Man of Steel II.

As with Adolf Hitler (and everyone else), the question is whether Joseph Stalin’s mature self already existed in his younger self, waiting to emerge when the time was right, or did some conjuncture of experiences turn him down a particular path?[1]  His most recent biographer, Stephen Kotkin of Princeton University, seems to find for the former.[2]

Between the death of Lenin in 1924 and 1929, Stalin had mastered the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.  More than Lenin or any other Bolshevik, Stalin revolutionized Russia.  The fundamental problem facing Bolshevism lay in the vast peasant population.  In a country theoretically committed to the “dictatorship of the proletariat, there existed virtually no proletariat.  For their part, the peasants were deeply committed to their own private property and traditional, inefficient methods.  They were uninterested in industrial labor or city life.  Yet they controlled the food supply (and thus the survival of city people).  Moreover, agriculture had long provided Russia’s main export and source of foreign exchange.  The solution to Bolshevism’s problem lay in “collectivizing” millions of small farms into gigantic state farms (kolkhoz), tractoring the land to free up millions of peasants to become industrial workers, cream-off a surplus of agricultural goods for sale abroad, purchase Western machinery, and build a huge industrial base.  All this had to be done at high speed in a series of bureaucratic Five Year Plans.

The human costs of this transformation stagger the mind.  Peasants resisted both collectivization and the huge food “surplus” defined by Moscow planners by burning their crops and slaughtering their animals.  Stalin’s minions—often young idealists—both fomented strife within villages and slaughtered opponents.  Millions died in famines[3] that many believe to have been deliberately engineered and others believe to have been unintended in origin, but then responded to with cruel indifference.

While this agonizing social and economic revolution drove ahead, Stalin launched a purge of the people on the “commanding heights” of the Soviet Union.  He first slaughtered his fellow “Old Bolsheviks,” who now filled government and party offices, and the men with guns (the armed forces and the security services) who might actually evict him from power.  Then this limited purge spread outward into every aspect of Soviet society.  Ethnic minorities were hammered, but so were all sorts of ethnic Russians. Perhaps 800,000 died and millions were imprisoned in the Gulag.

Deeply suspicious of opponents within the Soviet Union, Stalin also distrusted the capitalist states.  He saw the Anglo-French policy of appeasement as turning German aggression eastward against the Soviet Union.  In August 1939, the Soviets and the Nazis struck a deal to partition Poland and the Baltic countries.  This alliance might well be regarded as adroit “realpolitik.”  Remarkably though, Stalin came to believe that he could trust Hitler.  Birds of a feather?  As a result, he ignored both the effects of German victories in Western Europe in 1940 and abundant evidence that the Germans intended to attack his country in Summer 1941.  He was, apparently, psychologically shattered by the revelation of his own self-deception.

[1] “And therefore think him as a serpent’s egg, Which, hatch’d, would as his kind grow mischievous, And kill him in the shell.”—Julius Caesar, Act II, Scene 1.

[2] Stephen Kotkin, Stalin: Waiting for Hitler, 1929-1941 (New York: Penguin, 2018).

[3] Most famously, 3.5 million in Ukraine, but also another 1.5 million in the North Caucasus and Kazakhstan.

“Degaev steals the ball!”

“Talk is cheap” and “actions speak louder than words.”  It is an old belief[1] and one that discomfits intellectuals.

From the later 18th through the later 19th Century, European societies faced immense turmoil unleashed by rapid population growth, industrialization, urbanization, and the ideas of popular sovereignty and civil rights.  Terrified by repeated revolutions that might one day finally succeed, conservatives shanghaied[2] the cause of nationalism from the left in a desperate effort to retain control of key aspects of their power by adapting to modern times in other regards.[3]  Subsequently, the nation-states had expanded government responsibilities and powers in a host of new areas.  They also expanded the instruments of social control: soldiers, policemen, civil “servants,” charity officials, and school teachers.  This combined with the power of rising business and industry and an often smug and heartless attitude toward the working classes on the part of the middle classes.

For some critics of the new order, slow progress within the established order appeared a delusion.  Johann Most (1846-1906) figures as one of the most influential alt-left thinkers.  “The existing system will be quickest and most radically overthrown by the annihilation of its exponents.  Therefore, massacres of the enemies of the people must be set in motion,” wrote Most.  This doctrine came to be called the “Propaganda of the Deed.”

Between 1878 and 1932, propagandists of the deed attempted to kill the emperor of Germany, two kings of Italy, the tsar of Russia (twice), the king of Belgium, the king of Spain, the president of France, the Italian dictator Mussolini, an American senator, the attorney-general of the United States, John D. Rockefeller, the chairman of the Carnegie Steel Company, the judge in the Sacco and Vanzetti case, and the mayor of Seattle, Washington.  They actually did kill several tsarist officers of the secret police, Tsar Alexander II of Russia (after two failed attempts), the empress of Austria, the king of Italy, the king of Portugal, the king of Greece, the president of France, three prime ministers of Spain, the president of the United States, the prime minister of Russia, the chief of police of Buenos Aires, about sixty ordinary people killed in a wave of anarchist bombings in the United States between 1916 and 1920, and twenty Catalan Rossini enthusiasts.[4]

Most of the attacks took place in Russia or in Mediterranean Europe.  In these places, neither political liberty nor economic progress had advanced even as Western Europe and the United States had surged ahead.  Most of the attackers were people already unhinged who were driven over the edge by poverty and government brutality.  However, the chief effect of the attacks came in the expansion and intensification of government powers to combat dissidence.

It is worth asking whether this half-century-long wave of terrorism offers lessons for understanding and dealing with contemporary “jihadist” terrorism.  Both waves pose(d) a serious threat to lives, but neither pose(d) a threat to the existence of societies founded on “Western” values.  Of course, the earlier wave targeted societies with the means and the will to respond.

[1] “Let them show their love by the works they do for each other, according as the Apostle says: ‘let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.'”—St. Francis of Assisi.  Also, the Tsarina Catherine the Great instructed the “philosophe” Denis Diderot that “you write in paper while I must write on flesh.”

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGIQgjPklLw

[3] There is a useful analogy in Japan’s Meiji Restoration.

[4] For some serious books on this lurid subject, see Richard Pipes, The Degaev Affair (2005); John Merriman, The Dynamite Club (2009) and Ballad of the Anarchist Bandits (2017); and Beverly Gage, The Day Wall Street Exploded (2010).

Soldiers Become Governors.

Modern war is about destroying the enemy’s army and seizing control of his territory.  Even when it can be achieved, victory still brings problems.  If Army officers wanted to be civilian bureaucrats they wouldn’t have gone into the military.  Yet civilian bureaucrats lack the means to effectively govern conquered territory.  Both civilians and soldiers agree to ignore this reality in what one scholar labels the “denial syndrome.”  Unfortunately, scholars have a lot of evidence with which to work in sorting out good practice from bad.[1]  People can’t help but compare the successful occupations of Germany and Japan after the Second World War with the disastrous aftermath of the 2003 invasion of Iraq.  What went right with the earlier occupations?  What went wrong with the later occupation?

After victory in the Second World War, the American military occupied huge territories of the defeated enemies.  Those countries acknowledged that they were beaten and that the war was ended.  The military had created immense global logistical systems that enabled it to move supplies to the conquered areas.  It had very large military forces available to support and enforce American military government.  The desire to avoid any renewed military danger from Germany or Japan inclined Generals Lucius Clay (Germany) and Douglas MacArthur (Japan) to sort out the conquered people, not just to punish them.  The suddenly developing Cold War with the Soviet Union motivated Americans (and the Germans especially) to not want a break-down of civil affairs.

Very different conditions prevailed in Iraq.  The war plan assigned far too few soldiers to occupation duty, then American forces were further drawn down.  Very quickly, the George W. Bush administration transferred authority in Iraq to what proved to be an inadequate Civilian Provisional Authority.  Iraqis did not acknowledge that they were beaten and that war had ended.  Instead, Sunni-Shi’ite-Kurdish conflicts broke out into the open.  Shi’ites looked to neighboring Iran for support, while Iran sought to undermine the American and Sunni positions.  While Germans had feared the Soviet Union, many Sunni embraced the insurgency that quickly became associated with the radical Islamists of Al Qaeda.

One—depressing—“lesson of History” might be that people fail to learn from History.  The George W. Bush administration failed to study the “good occupations” of Germany and Japan.  The Obama administration continued the same chaotic occupation policies launched by the Bush administration.  One reason for this failure may lie in the clash between any “lessons” History teaches and what people want to believe.  Lost in the adulation of the occupations of Germany and Japan is the reality that Americans raised in an environment of inter-war isolationism were only constrained to embark on internationalism by harsh necessity.

Also lost in recent accounts is the reality that Rome wasn’t built in a day.  By focusing tightly on the brief periods of military administration, then jumping ahead to the long-term outcomes, it is easy to attribute change to military government.  This analysis falls short of a real explanation.  On the one hand, civilian governments by the defeated peoples took decades to create democratic political cultures.  They wanted to avoid repeating the errors of the past.  On the other hand, Germany became a democracy because the victors in the Second World War partitioned the country, then parked 20,000 tanks on top of the place for almost half a century.

[1] Susan L. Carruthers, The Good Occupation: American Soldiers and the Hazards of Peace (2016); Nadia Schadlow, War and the Art of Governance: Consolidating Combat Success into Political Victory (2017).  In a typically American solipsism, the authors ignore the contemporaneous British experience with the government of conquered territories.

To Europe by land and sea.

Lots of people in Sub-Saharan Africa want to go to Europe.  As of late June 2017, 72,000 immigrants have completed the journey this year.  For the most part, they are fleeing poverty above all else.  Population growth dramatically exceeds economic growth in these countries.[1]  The poverty is particularly serious in rural areas.  “We have no machinery to cultivate the land [and] no rain,” one person told a New York Times reporter.[2]  However, “fleeing poverty” has a larger meaning here.  In the absence of any social security system or local pathway to an adequate income, sons are expected to support their parents.  Often this means leaving home in search of work elsewhere.  Many are pulled to the capital city of Dakar, where there is more opportunity and lower poverty levels.  Other go to Gabon or Congo to work in mines.

Best of all is to reach Europe.  Sons who have made it to Europe and found work send home part of their earnings.  Even a share of the meager earnings of those working in Europe pay for “luxuries” in West Africa: concrete block houses instead of mud huts; iPhones and satellite dishes (and the electricity to power them); sometimes a car instead of a bicycle.[3]  Parents or spouses often encourage men with small future prospects to migrate in search of work.

For those living in West Africa, the route generally takes them east along Route 5 of the Trans-Africa Highway system.[4]  That route passes from Dakar (Senegal) through Bamako (Mali), Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso), Niamey (Niger), and Kano (Nigeria), to N’Djamene (Chad).  In its longest extent, this is a journey of about 2,700 miles.  That’s like driving from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Reno, Nevada.  Without the Rockies, but also without much in the way of paved roads.  From there they join Highway 3 as it runs north across the Sahara to Tripoli (Libya).  From Tripoli and other Libyan ports, they “take ship” for Italy.

Almost every leg of the journey is dangerous.  Human traffickers organize much of the migration in order to prey upon the migrants.  Travelers can find themselves extorted for further payments or abandoned en route.  Africa’s transportation infrastructure is in poor condition.  It’s one thing if you’re a rich Westerner (but I repeat myself).  Airlines connect European capitals with important cities endowed with comfortable hotels.  For ordinary people, travel is more difficult.  Some roads are unpaved dirt tracks.  Many paved roads haven’t been maintained for a long time.  The few railroads mostly haul freight, with infrequent or no passenger service.  There aren’t enough vehicles of any kind, so overloading is common-place.  So are vehicle break-downs.  The vast distances pose another challenge.

The sea passage is worst of all.  Most of the deaths come in the crossing from Libya to Italy.  Vessels starting the sea-crossing are over-loaded, under-powered, and badly crewed/captained.  In the first half of 2017, an estimated 2,100 migrants have drowned in ship-wrecks on the Mediterranean.  In April 2015, one terrible disaster killed more than 800 migrants.

Yet people—those who go and those who urge them to go—rarely understand the dangers involved.  “We only heard success stories” said the mother of two sons drowned at sea.  Death lists are sometimes published in Europe, then reported by those who made it to relatives at home.  Yet still the migrants come.

[1] According to the World Bank, almost half (47 percent) of Senegalese live in poverty.

[2] Dionne Searcy and Jaime Yaya Barry, “Leaving Home, One by One, Along “Deadliest Route” to Europe,” NYT, 23 June 2017.

[3] But not more farmland or tractors?  Well, perhaps.  Some of the emigrants sell their land to raise the money for the trip.  So, someone is buying.

[4] See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trans-African_Highway_network

Memoirs of the Addams Administration 22.

It will be difficult for future historians to make sense of the commentary on the second, European, leg of President Trump’s first foreign trip.  The “usual subjects” of Mainstream Media (MSM) decried his hectoring of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members to pay more toward the common defense while refusing to make an explicit commitment to Article 5 of the NATO Treaty.[1]  Europeans themselves seemed aghast at his sharp tongue (and in the case of the prime minister of Montenegro, his sharp elbows).[2]  German Chancellor Angela Merkel affirmed that “we have to fight for ourselves.”  She called for European nations to “shoulder emotionally charged challenges such as a common defense and security policy.”

There is reason to doubt the value of all this talk.  On the one hand, a clear-eyed assessment of American vital interests would show that non-Russian Europe and “off-shore Asia” (Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines) are vital trading partners and allies of the United States.  It doesn’t matter what President Trump says or fails to say.  If Push comes to Shove, the United States will have to defend those areas.  In contrast, neither Russia nor radical Islam poses an existential threat to the United States.[3]  On the other hand, the European Union (EU) lacks the means and probably the will[4] to provide for its own defense against foreign foes.

In May 2017, a second version of the Trump/RyanCare squeaked through the House of Representatives.  Since then Republican Senators have been trying to sort out a better version.  The Congressional Budget Office then issued an evaluation saying that under the House plan 23 million more Americans would be without health insurance and that premiums would rise for those who are old and sick.  The first part of this isn’t troubling: at least two-thirds of the “uninsured” would be people who never wanted the insurance (let alone the premiums) in the first place.  The second part reflects what the plan itself said: older and sicker people consume a lot more health care than do the young and healthy, so they should pay for it.  Republican senators are divided over the plan.  Public opinion leans against the House plan.[5]

The appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller to investigate the “Russia scandal” (including how his friend, protégé, and successor at the FBI James Comey came to be fired by President Trump) means that the investigation could run on for quite some time.  People will know nothing definitive until that investigation is completed.  However, it appears than anything illegal (like collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government hackers who revealed all sorts of inconvenient truths about Hillary Clinton) would have to have taken place before the election of President Trump in November 2016.  Wikileaks published the stolen e-mails on 22 July 2016.  The names of Kellyanne Conway (joined Trump campaign on 1 July 2016) and Steve Bannon (joined Trump campaign in August 2016) have not so far appeared among the list of FBI targets.  Jared Kushner and Michael Flynn—who had a history of legal contacts with the Russians–tried to open a back-channel contact with the Russian government in December 2016.  Maybe, just maybe, this dog won’t hunt.

[1] “Trump in Europe: A frayed alliance,” The Week, 9 June 2017, p. 6.

[2] “How they see us: Europe loses faith in America,” The Week, 9 June 2017, p. 14.  See also: “Russia: Cheering Trump’s NATO policy,” The Week, 9 June 2017, p. 15.

[3] Russia possesses nuclear weapons, but is deterred from using them by American nuclear weapons.  Vladimir Putin has had to make do with “little green men” and cyber-attacks.   Radical Islam doesn’t seem able to conquer anywhere vital to the United States.  Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Turkey all have the means to resist radical Islamists.

[4] See: https://waroftheworldblog.com/2015/06/17/die-for-danzig-marcel-deat-mourir-pour-danzig-loeuvre-4-may-1939/

[5] “Republican health-care plan struggles in the Senate,” The Week, 9 June 2017, p. 5.

My Weekly Reader 3 June 2017.

It is characteristic of the long-running funk into which many Western societies have fallen that there have been many “decline of the West” books published in recent decades.  They offer varying analyses shaded by varying clouds of pessimism.  Some focus on economic issues, some on misguided international policies, and some on cultural factors (with rotten schools in the forefront).  Many are inspired by China’s challenge to societies that otherwise could remain complacent.  Some are compelling, many are not.  One recent example come from the former editor of the Economist, Bill Emmot.[1]

Thirty years ago Mancur Olson investigated the rapid revival of the devastated German and Japanese economies after the Second World War and the slower growth of the Western victors in that war.[2]  He found the answer in the role of intermediate groups–political as well as economic–in the different societies.  By intermediate groups he meant both labor unions and businessmen’s association, but also intrusive government regulators.  These groups entrenched established organizations at the expense of newcomers.  They entrenched established procedures at the expense of innovation.  Dictatorship, war, defeat, and foreign occupation had destroyed these intermediate groups in Germany and Japan.  This left individual entrepreneurs free to do what they wanted in a dynamic fashion.  (“And all that implies.”—“The Iron Giant.”)  Elsewhere, the intermediate groups survived the war and sometimes even tightened their grip.

It’s possible to find many examples of dysfunction in Western societies.  Take both the Republican and Democratic parties in the United States for example.  Or the low labor participation rate in the United States as men have fled to disability programs as an alternative to lost familiar work.  Or Japan’s descent from Olsonian prime example of success into a barnacle-encrusted sampan.  Or the domination of the American—and perhaps “Western”–political economies by the banks.  In Japan that has meant a “lack of entrepreneurship or corporate investment” needed for growth.  In the United States, it has meant exploiting a public safety-net to cover imprudent risk.  This has resulted in “rising inequality, distortion of public policy, and [the] generation of collective economic pain and anger.”  And now the dreaded “populism.”

Much later on, several different countries sought to scrape these “barnacles” off the hull. Sweden “reduc[ed] taxation and deregulat[ed] all manner of industries” in pursuit of “more freedom of choice and creativity.”  Switzerland adopted an openness to immigration and also deregulated its labor market to get the right mix of workers to the right industries.  Britain’s embrace of the “Thatcher Revolution,” joined with membership in the European Union allowed Britain to reap both a “brain gain” and a “brawn gain.”[3]

What does Emmott offer by way of possible solutions?  Refreshingly, he does not glom every unpleasant surprise into one whole.  Thus, Putin’s Russia and Islamist terrorism pose no existential threats to Western civilization.  They can be mastered with a coherent effort.  Similarly, “Brexit” is a bad idea but not a rejection of Western values or most Western institutions.  In contrast, he over-states the real danger posed by the Donald Trump administration.  Trump speaks neither for mainstream Republicans nor for Democrats, and his administration will not last beyond his first term.  Then it will be back to business as usual.

Emmott has less to say about solving the real danger: Olson’s intermediate groups.  Appeals for “openness” in discussion isn’t likely to suffice.  It may take a real crisis, alas.

[1] Bill Emmott, The Fate of the West: The Battle to Save the World’s Most Successful Political Idea (2017).

[2] See: https://waroftheworldblog.com/2016/06/18/the-rise-and-decline-of-nations/

[3] See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polish_Plumber.