Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 09, 2020

This Argument Is 'Weak And Dangerous'

Imperial propaganda often depicts a perceived enemy as 'weak and dangerous'.  Supposedly the enemy is simultaneously strong (we must be wary of it) and weak (we can beat it).

It does not make sense.

A similar dysfunctional logic is often used with regards to sanctions. Iran is weak and will implode any minute now. We need to sanction it more to foster that process. Iran is dangerous and will lash out any minute now. We need to sanction it more to preempt that.

The nonsense is used again and again:

Iraq:

Russia:

Iranl:

China:

It is somewhat funny that the same stupid stereotype is used internally:

Obama:

Trump:

Impeachment:

Biden:

Is such propaganda really having an effect? Who is the audience?

h/t Mark Ames

Posted by b on December 9, 2020 at 9:55 UTC | Permalink

Comments

who is the audience ?

umm, none

Posted by: adnan | Dec 9 2020 9:59 utc | 1

I recall it well when Wolfowitz claimed he could take Iraq with something like 10000 soldiers and how it conflicted with the sense of imminent threat which was conveyed in general.
The contradiction is simple to explain:
High threat: we need to act aggressively. The motivation to act.
Low threat: to suppress the need for restraint, the reasons for holding back: it'll be easy. They'll love us when we do it.
So you convince people by focusing on the high threat when motivating them and on the low threat when they worry about the consequences.

Posted by: Tuyzentfloot | Dec 9 2020 10:08 utc | 2

I have seen this before. Viktor Suvorov (the pseudonym of a Soviet defector named Rezun) published The Liberators in the early 1980s depicting the Soviet Army as quite ramshackle. A painting on the front cover of a paperback edition reinforced the message, showing a Soviet armoured vehicle with Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck next to the commander. Yet simultaneously the Warsaw Pact was depicted as a dangerous enemy.

Posted by: Waldorf | Dec 9 2020 10:08 utc | 3

Tuyzentfloot - Does it take some sort of stellar intellect to note that something cannot be a high threat and a low threat at the same time?

Posted by: Waldorf | Dec 9 2020 10:13 utc | 4

The audience is a promise to break the back of the investor.. who would from the west invest in the east (meaning the Arab oil wealth). The fear that the big bad knee breaker will visit you and personally inflict a knee disfunction operation on your bank account (Al Capone type stuff) the knee breaker is war and when he (it) comes, which is virtually certain, your investment in the East will be lost. Its a last ditch effort to save Wall Street. as is the following.

see also this investors beware"

Posted by: snake | Dec 9 2020 10:13 utc | 5

Waldorf, real life is not math. There are no strict contradictions. You look at things one way and they make sense. Then you look at things another way and they again make sense. Then you try to join them into a bigger picture and find there are some internal tensions you didn't realize.
Logically it is quite possible that something which can cause a lot of troubles can also be easy to prevent.
The US has a long history of perceiving external threats. The most common way to combine low and high threat is talking about the future as if it is happening now: a threat is a future problem. Countering the threat is current action. It's always preventive war.

Posted by: Tuyzentfloot | Dec 9 2020 10:50 utc | 6

It reminds me of this article I read while looking something up. The context of Putin’s comments were quite clear.

Threaten decisive nuclear retaliation

Posted by: Down South | Dec 9 2020 11:03 utc | 7

The effect is to cause cognitive confusion, it's propaganda/gaslighting 101. Since most of our "media" is full of advertising, i.e. propaganda and gaslighting, watching it makes it so after a while you can't think at all. Hence the modern USA and its many, many problems.

Posted by: Bemildred | Dec 9 2020 11:48 utc | 8

I couldn't tell you their names, but I can tell you that all the members of that audience reside in an echo chamber.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Dec 9 2020 11:51 utc | 9

Posted by: Down South | Dec 9 2020 11:03 utc | 7

Re "Threaten Decisive Nuclear Retaliation", wow that's hilarious:

"The danger of nuclear war in Europe is greater than it has been since the Cold War—and growing. A sputtering economy dragged down by low energy prices impedes Russia from competing with the West in advanced technology and conventional military capabilities. Yet, under Vladimir Putin, Russia is menacing its neighbors, including NATO’s Baltic members, diverting attention from its domestic woes. As a result, Russia is increasing its reliance on nuclear weapons and the threat to use them first, and it is pursuing an advantage in nuclear forces in Europe. In the face of this challenge, NATO’s stated nuclear strategy is too stale, vague, and timid to ensure deterrence. This essay offers an alternative strategy to reduce the danger of nuclear war in Europe."

It goes on like that. Notice the massive projection, notice it's Russia not China. I would hazard they have settled on the Baltic states as the next bone of contention.


Posted by: Bemildred | Dec 9 2020 11:56 utc | 10

Speaking of propaganda:

UK Health Watchdog Issues Warning After Two People Suffer Allergic Reaction to Pfizer Vaccine

4 volunteers develop FACIAL PARALYSIS after taking Pfizer Covid-19 jab, prompting FDA to recommend ‘surveillance for cases’

Where were the Pfizer studies warning us of these collateral effects? I remember none.

And let's put this mRNA bullshit to rest. It is a very experimental technology that's nowhere near perfection yet. If it worked as the theory claimed, we would already be able to cure cancer and have a definitive vaccine for even the cold right now.

Posted by: vk | Dec 9 2020 12:27 utc | 11

The hey day of this stuff was the Cold War, where they pounded on endlessly about how the USSR was both poised for world domination and on the brink of imploding because of its "dysfunctional" command economy.

Nothing like having it both ways. At least they will have a somewhat harder time selling the second half of the formula with China.

Posted by: Expat | Dec 9 2020 12:50 utc | 12

Weak and Dangerous are not necessarily mutually exclusive concepts: remember when the government of Argentina felt domestically weak in the early 1980's and tried to rally support by starting a war to retake the Falkland Islands.

Posted by: Malchik Ralf | Dec 9 2020 12:57 utc | 13

You can see the same dualism in reverse in the nuclear arms race. One way to keep the first-strikers at bay was to inflate the Russian capability to strike back, but this encouraged building up capacity and thus the arms race.
I recall Gareth Porter went into that when discussing the relation between president and deep state(or political subculture if you want the equivalent with flat organization ). Eisenhower and Dulles inflated the Russian threat for that reason.

Posted by: Tuyzentfloot | Dec 9 2020 13:00 utc | 14

To deal with this topic ——-
Think counter intuitive !
For instance——-
First define— strength and weakness.
The US would like us to believe strength equals armaments & troops. That’s how they make money from the tax payer.
Their weakness ? Their lying.

Posted by: Mark2 | Dec 9 2020 13:34 utc | 15

1. The hacks have to appease their paymasters to justify their paycheck.

2. Their peers and the U.S. public.
a) It feeds our collective narcissism - 'We are the champions - WE ARE THE CHAAAAMPIONS'
b) It gives meaning to our lives, to crush the evildoers.

BTW I have searched Evangelical prophetic youtube videos to see if any of them see anything wrong with what we are doing and one Prophet had a dream that he did not understand. He saw a wolf sitting in a tree branch above a turtle and the wolf jumped down and devoured the turtle. The vision gave him a sense of dread.

I posted that 'the turtle represented someone who was unaware of the world around him but because of his shell still felt secure when disaster struck'. This describes the United States. We are unaware of the harm we are causing other countries and the wrath we are stirring up against ourselves and we feel immune because we believe we can continue to torment countries that are weaker than ourselves with impunity. Our Day of Judgment will come.

Posted by: Christian J. Chuba | Dec 9 2020 14:04 utc | 16

On the one hand, American imperial propaganda is extremely stupid.
On the other hand, it is widespread and insidious. The increasing number of "National Security Porn" movies is one example - to offset the increasingly not-believable backdrops of American prosperity in most non-comic book movies.
But on the gripping hand - the propaganda has a purpose: US economic hegemony.
This article speaks to the present state of de-dollarization in Russia: Russia and the dollar
It notes that despite Russian government active de-dollarisation, corporate and consumer use of it is still very strong. Among other reasons: the economic harms caused by sanctions - and now the oil price war - have caused the ruble exchange rate vs. the dollar to fall dramatically. If you recall - at the height of the oil price bubble in 2007, USD/RUB was in the low 20s. It is 73 today.
So despite the 40% market share of the dollar in SWIFT transactions (which is notably far lower than the 60% in world trade), the dollar's role as foreigners protection against their own currency devaluation is a very difficult situation to change.
This is a significant part of what underlies credible economist's analysis that the dollar's reserve status requires a comparably large economy to take over the dollar's role.
China's economy is large enough now, but China cannot allow the RMB to be freely movable or else it will see a multiplicative reprise of the $1T that fled the nation in 2015 after that year's experiment in loosening controls.
It is in this situation that the e-RMB or crypto-RMB is more interesting. In theory, China's control over e-RMB/crypto-RMB could allow them to have their cake and eat it too. Note that China doesn't care if foreigners buy and hold RMB - what they don't want is capital flight out of China by its own oligarchs, something they learned from watching Russia's "open economy" in the 1990s.
It is the dollar reserve status that allows the US to maintain such an outsize military - the problem being that this subsidy is increasingly needed domestically.

Posted by: c1ue | Dec 9 2020 14:40 utc | 17

And on a similar note to the above:
I've noted before that the NSA is a credible candidate for Satoshi Nakamoto - because bitcoin's primary purpose continues to be crime, specifically a way to evade capital controls.
Amusingly, it now appears that China's largely electronic funds ecosystem is now being used against American money laundering laws: Japan Times on drug lords and Chinese money laundering gangs
Note the mechanism: non-bank electronic transfers combined with the large scale of Chinese trade with the US (and Mexico) allows drug money in the US to be shifted from aggregators (dealers) to suppliers (cartels) with China-related trade companies using Chinese payment systems as the intermediary. No more worries about KYC/AML, no more SARs.

Posted by: c1ue | Dec 9 2020 14:45 utc | 18

Apart from the bit where the enemy has also to be depicted as a dictatorial monster, what you say is pretty much par for the course, and has existed for centuries, nay millennia. Herodotus' Persian War represents the Persians under Xerxes that way.

The Brits under the Tories do the same with the EU. The EU is 'EUSSR' according to the propaganda, but Britain stands up to the Hitlerian Nazi EU as Britain stood alone in the 2WW. You'd better watch out, b, you might get another raid on Hamburg (if the RAF had any planes left)

I'm quite surprised the EU even bothers talking to them. But at the same time "we" (Britain) hold all the cards and we'll get a any deal we want deal with no trouble.

Posted by: Laguerre | Dec 9 2020 14:52 utc | 19

First you begin with a commonly accepted truth, they are weak. Then you slip in a lie that you want to reinforce, they are dangerous.

Introduction to social engineering

Posted by: les7 | Dec 9 2020 15:43 utc | 20

b describes the neocon self-licking ice-cream cone aka protection racket.

The counter-intuitive thinking is:

Autocratic rulers that are targeted by the Empire are weak because they don't have the love and support of their people.

These rulers are dangerous because they they may crackdown on their people or lash out against the magnanimous and peace-loving Empire.

The Empire must remain strong (spending trillions of dollars) and vigilant (maintain a police state) against all such threats. TINA!

!!

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Dec 9 2020 16:22 utc | 21

Well, the "enemy" has to be dangerous in order to justify a no-holds-barred, overwhelming response, including (1) ever more sophisticated and expensive military capabilities, (2) expensive deployments and/or payments to local mercenaries, (3) ever more expensive and intrusive intelligence (sic) communities and capabilities, and (4) ever more intrusion on US citizen civil liberties and operations to mold public opinion to support (1)-(3). If you've noticed the dollar signs (and profits, for the right people) attached to most of these factors, you're starting to get it.

As for the "but they're weak" stuff, that's just required to fit with the endless "We're No. 1!!" tripe. No-one else in the world, enemy or ally, can ever be depicted as doing anything right or better than the US, because that could provide an opening for challenging the way things are done in the US, the status quo, and of course that just isn't done.

Posted by: J Swift | Dec 9 2020 16:30 utc | 22

"The effect is to cause cognitive confusion" "in an echo chamber." "We're No. 1!!" is also a part of said echo chamber...

bemildrid, yeah, right and j swifts comments go well together lol..

Posted by: james | Dec 9 2020 16:59 utc | 23

And on a similar note to the above:
clue @ 18 notes NSA is a credible candidate for Satoshi Nakamoto - because bitcoin's primary purpose continues to do an act made criminal by rule of law, specifically those seeking to do business outside of capital controls. <=the crime is capital control, avoiding it is necessary to remain competitive. ... monopoly powers are not effective against those trying to make a profit. but they are highly effective against those who must pay the owner of the monopoly power.


China's largely electronic funds ecosystem is now being used against American (<=America does not make laws; it is governed by the USA) money laundering laws: Japan Times on drug lords and Chinese money laundering gangs
Note the mechanism: non-bank electronic transfers combined with the large scale of Chinese trade with the US (and Mexico) allows drug money in the US to be shifted from aggregators (dealers) to suppliers (cartels) with China-related trade companies using Chinese payment systems as the intermediary. No more worries about KYC/AML, no more SARs.

bit coin is a very good and excellent justification for solving the the drug problem and its associated crime in the same way the 18th amendment caused when it prohibited the unlicensed manufacture and sale of alcohol became the rule (1919). That law made some crime lords very, very rich, and caused a lot of the crime lord customers much misery and grief. The problem the 18th amendment caused was solved by repealing it and all laws(1939) that prohibited alcohol.. do the same with drug laws including pharmaceutical licensing <=rely solely on tort law to police bad actor drug purveyors Tort law be much better at controlling incompetent or criminal pharmaceutical manufacturers than criminal law. Repeal of the criminal law will increase the numbers of persons making the needed drugs by many fold.. if also the patent and copyright monopolies related to the design, manufacturing and marketing of these drugs is made non enforceable it will reduce the price of pharmaceuticals to just over actual cost. Those damaged by corrupt drug makers will feel the sharp edge of Tort law. Americans would be free of the FDA, it would reduce the numbers of Americans the USA holds in its jails by a lot, and it would be step in returning America to a personal choice nation state<= A first step toward human independence from the nation state rule of law prison is repeal of drug laws.

It is not necessary for the state to mandate laws that protect citizens from manufacturers (as the Boeing case proves; corruption or incompetence can only be discovered after the fact) such laws are not effective, they just create massive in place monopoly powers and make a very few very rich at the expense of everyone else. Tort law removed Tobacco from the market place, cleaned up the massive incompetent medical field.. and it can keep the drug and pharmaceutical people honest and help to educate the public to stop taking unnecessary drugs.

Posted by: snake | Dec 9 2020 17:00 utc | 24

Sorry for straying off the theme but this is the 'they are sinister, evil, and must be destroyed by the virtuous' category of propaganda.
"Iran Is Moving Key Facility at Nuclear Site Underground, Satellite Images Show"
https://dnyuz.com/2020/12/09/iran-is-moving-key-facility-at-nuclear-site-underground-satellite-images-show/

What pisses me off about this is the moronic, 'satellite images' as if this is some great 'thank God we have SIGINT' moment. The IAEA, the inspectors from the UN already know about this because they were notified by Iran and they are there looking at it.

This is just on of a thousand stories that unnecessarily throws shade on Iran and imprints 'they are evile' in the U.S. psyche. I wish I could say that I was sympathetic to the turtle in my earlier story but I would be lying. The wolf is not Iran, it's all the evil we have done coming back onto our heads.

Posted by: Christian J. Chuba | Dec 9 2020 17:02 utc | 25

Posted by: Laguerre | Dec 9 2020 14:52 utc | 19

Herodotus depicts the Persians as people who are taught to be truthful,brave and good hunters (particularly the nobility. In no way are they represented as horrid monsters. The good name of King Cyrus, for example, owes much to the positive depiction by Herodotus.

King Xerxes is represented as an absolute monarch which, you know, he was. His arrogance and hubris, only to be expected from a fantastically powerful absolute monarch who, as it happens, inherited this position and did not win it through his abilities (limited as proven by his abysmal failure)doesn't appear to be an exaggeration. In short, it would be good not to conflate modern mentality or sensibilities with those of another era, especially when you are ignorant of the latter.

Posted by: Constantine | Dec 9 2020 17:16 utc | 26

It’s projection by a weakening empire entering its most dangerous phase.

Posted by: Lex | Dec 9 2020 17:25 utc | 27

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Dec 9 2020 16:22 utc | 21

Methinks it sounds more like Orwellian-style expounding of mutually incompatible views, because it serves the criminal policies of the Anglo-American empire. The line of "reasoning" is this:

Said countries are dangerous (they threaten the "rules-based order"amd other ethno-supremacist claptrap) and therefore need to be confronted, which requires vast expenditures that enrich the corporate oligarchy along with the curtailing of civil liberties.

However, to avoid doubts about the wisdom of escalating conflicts truly dangerous opponents (as opposed to acting rationally and engaging in meaningful diplomacy), the neocons and the lickspittle media insist that said opponents are actually weak and therefore there are limited dangers of going into collision with them.

There is also a plus when the populace accepts such ludicrous narratives and mutually incompatible assertions: it becomes increasingly more docile, more "zombified" so to speak. Eventually, any and all absurdities become perfectly acceptable, while critical thinking is penalized and leads to ostracism (what sort of taitor/coward would refuse to confront such foul enemies, especially when they are at the same time so weak and there is little danger of things go out of hand).

Posted by: Constantine | Dec 9 2020 17:43 utc | 28

Insightful post by MoA.
It reflects the cognitive dissonance that most live in.

Posted by: AriusArmenian | Dec 9 2020 17:51 utc | 29

Dances with Bears is always worth following. This is John Helmer on the way that the "Intelligence" operatives think.

http://johnhelmer.net/the-enrichment-of-british-intelligence-officers-how-they-think-they-always-get-it-right-about-the-russians-never-do-but-grow-rich-trying/#more-45631

Posted by: bevin | Dec 9 2020 17:53 utc | 30

Expat @ #12

I can't count the number of articles I have seen over the years about China being ready to fall apart economically. They are still showing up periodically.

Posted by: arby | Dec 9 2020 17:59 utc | 31

This sort of propaganda has been running so deep and for so long now in big-money news media that it is becoming a sort of gospel. One must be be a fervent believer in logical fallacy to have any increment of power and influence in the circles that publish such news.

I imagine the whole apparatus functions much the way a cult does. Only the very top of the food chain knows that the cult is a scam for the benefit of those at the top, while all of the cult members are forced to believe impossibilities as a requirement for being a part of the cult. You then find as many true believers as possible to fill the ranks of middle management and create a series of firewalls between the masses and the leader. In the above examples, you can see the true believers I refer to become editors of news outlets.

This is a very clever way to run a criminal enterprise, or at least it seems as such. If your entire organization believes they are motivated by one set of beliefs which have been constructed for them by propaganda, the leader may then use the group for any number of different nefarious activities with strong plausible deniability, as long as the group remains in the dark.

And the further you build the cult, the further you can compartmentalize nefarious activities while still maintaining a facade of righteousness.

The thing with lies, though, is that they never stop growing until the truth ultimately comes out, so expect the lies to increase in proportionality to the conflicts they are covering up.

Posted by: Rutherford82 | Dec 9 2020 18:01 utc | 32

What about Venezuela. Obama said they were an existential threat. But they are weak so we sanction them. Just one more example.

Posted by: Musburger | Dec 9 2020 18:16 utc | 33

Constantine @Dec9 17:43 #28

Yes the doublethink aspect is as important as the logic of permanent war.

Doublethink is a self-induced psychosis.

!!

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Dec 9 2020 18:40 utc | 34

Pepe Escobar's latest is still behind its paywall, but will eventually make it to the usual sources. In it he takes his first shot at the Biden/Harris Team and those behind it, what he calls "the paranoid volcano." Pepe again cites this essay by Xue Li, director of the Department of International Strategy at the Institute of World Economics and Politics of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, which I've also linked to here previously. I wrote the following comment to him at his FB:

Good Day, Pepe!! From your article: "Thus the 21st century Chinese emphasis on pragmatic policy instead of ideology." Except that "pragmatic policy" is indeed ideology aimed at avoiding " luan ('chaos'). " The problem of course is the Outlaw US Empire has only one tool in its box and that's the ability to sow chaos. The result is China's pragmatic policy ends up promoting the very thing it seeks to avoid--Chaos. It's a Cache-22. However, you hint at but don't explicitly say that China has one unshakable alliance with a very important actor--Time. And it is the current window in Time that will provide many nations with the opportunity to make a more equitable world.

The only real defense the Outlaw US Empire has against the rising Eurasian Bloc is to destroy its Neoliberalism and its Parasites that are making the USA into a Developing Nation further behind in many areas than China is now, then totally refocus on what makes any nation great--uplifting its primary asset, its human capital, rather than expropriating and exploiting that vast asset. In other words, close the window of Time before it falls too far behind. Trump voiced the correct idea; he just failed miserably to implement anything to upend a system he is a part of. Trump's irony and profound lesson is that for him to drain the Swamp, he would've had to drain away himself, for he's emblematic of what's wrong with the USA, just as Biden, Harris and company are as well.

The reason the "argument is weak and dangerous" is because it's the wrong argument. The correct argument is what I wrote above about Neoliberalism and its benefactors being THE ENEMY. For obvious reasons, the enemy won't make the argument for its own ouster. However, the obvious answer to last night's discussion is to get the Blues and Reds to understand who is their enemy so they can become Purple and fight it together.

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 9 2020 18:43 utc | 35

So this kind of thinking / propaganda is aimed at the American public, plus the US vassal states.
Whilst considering the above comments and b’s post.
Two points fit into place.
1 how suggestible the US etc public are.
2 computer war gaming !! After a couple of decades of computer screen zombies, growing up, stumbling into what they perceive to be reality, result perfect mind controlled suggestibility.
The enemy are strong, weak. All neatly impersonalised,
know messy sympathy or empathy.
Perfect complient public.
they did the same with cowboy & war films.

Posted by: Mark2 | Dec 9 2020 20:07 utc | 36

Posted by: Constantine | Dec 9 2020 17:16 utc | 26

King Xerxes is represented as an absolute monarch which, you know, he was.

Perhaps. but its more complicated than that. Iran had a tradition of regional rulers, of whom the Achaemenids came to the fore, in Fars. Darius before him had to fight to retain power. He succeeded; his successor Xerxes profited from that, and invaded Greece. His successors weren't so free. Invading Greece was farther than anyone could go, not surprising the Greeks won.

Posted by: Laguerre | Dec 9 2020 20:47 utc | 37

But...but...but, the RT-PCR test is infallible, isn't it?

BREAKING: 100% PCR false positives found at Cambridge University last week using their own gold standard lighthouse laboratory, when results were double checked with second test.

Posted by: j. casey | Dec 9 2020 21:36 utc | 38

Let me guess what is really behind the theme.

USAi paranoid projection and little to no thinking.
Racism may be lurking behind this "hate China" headline and
Flournoy vs Austin is just a cover for the perpetuation of white christian privilege.
The terrifying realisation for USAi policy 'thinkers' that they are overtaken by the east.

bevin #30 thank you the link to John Helmer. That was a fine read.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Dec 9 2020 21:57 utc | 39

Speaking of big lies, misleading headlines and frauds - report by Eric Zuesse had this to say:

On 23 October 2019, Luke Darby at GQ magazine, headlined “How Biden Helped Strip Bankruptcy Protection From Millions Just Before a Recession”. Joe Biden was the leading Democrat in Congress backing and pushing for the George W. Bush and Republican-backed ‘bankruptcy reform’ bill which passed, in the Senate, with 18 Senate Democrats for the ‘bankruptcy reform’ bill, while 25 Democrats were against it. All 55 Republicans were for it.

In the U.S. House, the Independent Bernie Sanders voted against. All 229 Republicans were for. 73 Democrats there were for, 125 were against.

A lot of Biden supporters say that Biden is “a real Democrat” and that Sanders is no Democrat at all (since he’s an Independent who merely caucuses with the Senate’s Democrats). But Sanders voted like most Democrats did, and Biden voted like all Republicans did.

The difference between Biden and Trump is manners and very little else.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Dec 9 2020 22:06 utc | 40


Posted by: Constantine | Dec 9 2020 17:16 utc | 26

It would be stupid to believe a historian like Herodotus, with what Persians with what the Persians had achieved repeatedly call them barbarians . Iranians believe he is the origin of the orientalists mentality in the western academia, and where movie 300 mentality comes from. Obviously a lot of what he says is correct, nevertheless he was Greek and and such didn’t particularly like the Persians.

Posted by: Kooshy | Dec 9 2020 22:57 utc | 41

Perhaps the adventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan by James Morier is another of those good western Orientalist books characterizing the Iranians? time to demonize Iranian no more .

Posted by: Kooshy | Dec 9 2020 23:08 utc | 42

Perhaps the adventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan by James Morier is another of those good western Orientalist books characterizing the Iranians? time to demonize Iranian no more

Posted by: Kooshy | Dec 9 2020 23:08 utc | 43

Weak and strong. I think I just said that the other day. Happy to see it’s being picked up. Sorry for the repost.


‘War with Iran’ prediction (for some, there is no distinction between prediction and advocation) is a cottage industry. It’s an exercise in fantasy. An exercise in futility. It is bandied about with or without logic. It’s practitioners seem to have a dual mentality of Iran. On the one hand, Iran is weak and can’t respond to certain acts. On the other hand, Iran is strong and should be feared. They hold these contradiction openly and without regard to facts, or logic.

Posted by: Sakineh Bagoom | Dec 9 2020 23:12 utc | 44

The UK used the same tone in the rubbish Russia Report, "Russia is simultaneously both very strong and very weak. The strengths which Russia retains are largely its inheritances from the USSR and its status as a victor of the
Second World War: nuclear weapons, a space presence and a permanent seat on the UN
Security Council. By contrast, it has a small population compared with the West; a lack of both reliable partners and cultural influence outside the countries of the former USSR; a lack of strong public and democratic institutions, including the rule of law; and, of course, a weak economy."

Posted by: boon | Dec 9 2020 23:41 utc | 45

Kooshy @41--

In Herodotus's time, the Greek word for Barbarian merely meant the people referred to didn't speak Greek. Also, there's a strong possibility that Herodotus and Socrates were Africans who were Hellenized

Posted by: karlof1 | Dec 10 2020 0:08 utc | 46


Thanks karlof1, yes I have seen that argument, but I also have read the argument which believes a "barbarian" is a non-Greek meaning not civilized same way as it was used by Romans for Germans etc. Herodotus was from anatolia and a subject of persian empire at the time and later moved to Athens, if memory is still good,

Posted by: kooshy | Dec 10 2020 1:00 utc | 47

I'm told that Oz has a bigger variety of poisonous snakes than any other country, including the most lethal snake on Earth.
They're all "weak and dangerous" which means that if a snake sees you coming, it'll slither into the bushes. But if you threaten or attack it it'll bite you. And if you're lucky, you won't die.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Dec 10 2020 3:18 utc | 48

I always felt uncomfortable with doublethink in 1984.
What stands out with doublethink is the arrogance of the conviction and the lack of interest in exploring the apparent contradictions.
But our naive interpretation of contradiction overshoots as well.
Real contradiction is rare and we are often too eager to declare things as contradictory. In reality a thing can be weak in one respect and strong in another and it is possible to resolve the conflict between them. using a patchwork of little models to understand reality also offers better 'fit' with reality than a model which attemps to unify as much as possible and which emphasizes internal consistency over fit.

Posted by: Tuyzentfloot | Dec 10 2020 10:21 utc | 49

@45 Boon quotes from a British Parliamentary report on Russia: ....."and, of course, a weak economy."

One country has a strong enough economy to build military and commercial jet aircraft. The other does not.
One country can launch and operate its own satellite navigation system. The other can not.
One country can make nuclear icebreakers. The other wouldn't know where to start.
One country is still designing and building main battle tanks. The other is not.

I could go on, but if you were to make a list that had on the left all the things that the Russians make that the British do not, and on the right a corresponding list of British-made stuff that eludes Russian industrialists, well, it'd be chalk and cheese.

Still, I'm sure there were plenty of Harrumphs!! and Here!!Here!! from the government backbench Hurray Henry's when that report was tabled. Maybe even a few table-thumps thrown in for good measure.

Oh yeah, and this astonishing lack of self-awareness: ..."and its status as a victor of the Second World War: nuclear weapons, a space presence and a permanent seat on the UN Security Council"...

Man, coming from the *British* that is very, very ironic indeed.


Posted by: Yeah, Right | Dec 10 2020 11:49 utc | 50

@snake #24
I can't say I agree with hardly anything you wrote.
In more detail:
You said:

bitcoin's primary purpose continues to do an act made criminal by rule of law, specifically those seeking to do business outside of capital controls. <=the crime is capital control, avoiding it is necessary to remain competitive. ...

Besides the fundamental error of assuming "capital" is in any way altruistic or beneficial to civil society, what you wrote is literally the bankster's dream: the ability to move and remove money, anytime and anywhere, for whatever reason. In practice this means gaming tax and all manner of other laws.

The far more egregious error you make is assuming that "competitiveness" can arise even with capricious capital. The US is the epicenter of capricious capital - how is that working out?

You said:

monopoly powers are not effective against those trying to make a profit. but they are highly effective against those who must pay the owner of the monopoly power.

This is 100% wrong. You don't seem to understand the difference between mercantile and monopoly: the US has a virtual monopoly on the currency of world trade but China dominates actual world goods trade via competitiveness despite its "monopoly" (your term) capital and industrial policies.

You said:

(<=America does not make laws; it is governed by the USA) money laundering laws

This is both wrong and nonsensical. 99.9% of worldwide anti-money laundering legislation is due to the US forcing other nations to comply with its desires. Read up on the squeeze put on Uruguay, for example, to comply with said laws.

You said:

bit coin is a very good and excellent justification for solving the the drug problem and its associated crime in the same way the 18th amendment caused when it prohibited the unlicensed manufacture and sale of alcohol became the rule (1919).

Yet again wrong. The ability to pay has nothing to do with the ability to sell/distribute.
Nor am I the least bit sympathetic to the idea of decriminalizing hard drugs like Heroin; even marijuana decriminalization is far more driven by state sales tax greed than any sober analysis of long term effects.

You said:

rely solely on tort law to police bad actor drug purveyors Tort law be much better at controlling incompetent or criminal pharmaceutical manufacturers than criminal law.

This is naive and stupid to an amazing degree. How do you "tort law sue" a drug lord in Bolivia for bad product sold in West Virginia?
Nor am I particularly impressed by the reliance on trial lawyers.

You said:

if also the patent and copyright monopolies related to the design, manufacturing and marketing of these drugs is made non enforceable it will reduce the price of pharmaceuticals to just over actual cost.

While I am sympathetic about high drug prices in the US - the issue with pharma costs in the US isn't because of copyright/patent - it is the US health care system. Pharma in other nations is largely a non-issue. Furthermore, a far more telling argument is that most new pharma is developed using government research grant money. That's a real reason to prevent patent/copyright for drugs found via said government grants.

You said:

It is not necessary for the state to mandate laws that protect citizens from manufacturers (as the Boeing case proves; corruption or incompetence can only be discovered after the fact) such laws are not effective, they just create massive in place monopoly powers and make a very few very rich at the expense of everyone else.

You confuse abuse of government power with the fact that government power both works and can be effective.

Net net - you clearly ascribe to that uniquely American idiocy: Libertarianism.

Posted by: c1ue | Dec 10 2020 15:06 utc | 51

@karlof1 #46
Perhaps you can define "African": North African/Egyptian is very different than Bantu/Xhosa, for example.

Posted by: c1ue | Dec 10 2020 15:08 utc | 52

@Yeah, right #50
Russia is also almost 2.5x larger population than the UK; it has 70x the land area, thus far more mineral/natural resources.
And most importantly: Russia isn't handicapped by American military practices and policies.
Note also that Russians do make cheese: John Helmer on Russia cheese industry

Posted by: c1ue | Dec 10 2020 15:11 utc | 53

Many (if not all) things are both weak and strong at the same time and it usually simply means that whatever is the topic has more than one single characteristic.

The US itself is both incredibly weak and quite strong depending on which characteristic one chooses to focus on, the same can even be said of the US armed forces (of which are four main ones).

Yes it is propaganda when it is simplified and endlessly repeated for manipulative narrative control without enough or crucial context but all of that is separate from being simultaneously weak and strong.

Posted by: Sunny Runny Burger | Dec 10 2020 15:16 utc | 54

Yeah,right @ 50 & c1ue @ 53
You may be interested in this ‘on the ground view’ of Britain / Brixit.
They said it would make us stronger, you decide.

https://mobile.twitter.com/chunkymark

We were going to jump into bed with trump, now we’m cought between two stools.
Weak or strong ?
This guy is worth catching every day for the vid.

Posted by: Mark2 | Dec 10 2020 15:43 utc | 55

Who is the audience?

I did not read all of the comments, but what I did scan seemed to miss the point.

Putting aside the question of audience, the operation is narrative control and the purpose is to provide cover for the political class to accede to the wishes of the militarists. Since the next prez played a prominent role in the seminal event of this century - namely the passage of the AUMF which facilitated the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq (and a minimum of a half-century of continued military adventurism) - this is extremely pertinent.

The US Congress could have availed itself of a myriad of experts who correctly predicted the disaster(s) that would ensue from that action. Biden helped ensure those voices would not be heard and twisted many D arms to get the votes to proceed.

Fast forward to 2020. So now, "it was all a mistake." and "Who knew?" and all and assembled are exonerated from their purposeful lack responsibility to examine truth and consequences.

In an e-mail message I sent to every god-damned sitting Senator on October 29, 2002 I closed with the following remarks:

"Now is not the time to remain silent for the purpose of political expediency. While representative democracy still exists between these shores it is time to rein in a chief executive and his cabal who are apparently in the throes of a consuming blood-lust. I have considered myself and have voted Democrat all of my life (I'm 50 years old), and I must say that I am disgusted that most of the elected Democrats in Washington have been struck mute on this issue. No reasonable person who is fully contemplating the consequences of what is about to happen could come to the conclusion that any good is going to come from this. I believe, despite the gaudy and superficial manifestations of popular American culture, that this country is populated by reasonable people, and our elected representatives should consider the consequences of remaining mute and cowardly as George II leads us into a national disgrace and disaster"

It seems I was too optimistic about the power of the electorate, or the functioning of "democracy."

Posted by: vinnieoh | Dec 10 2020 16:56 utc | 56

Tuyzendfleet - real life is not math, sure, but split personality is usually regarded as a mental illness. Propaganda does seem to count on its targets switching their brains off.

Posted by: Waldorf | Dec 10 2020 17:41 utc | 57

Posted by: Waldorf | Dec 10 2020 17:41 utc | 57

It's been my observation that people are very good at keeping contradictions compartmentalized when their interests are affected. I consider "doublethink" to be pretty normal, as long as it works in peoples interests. Where it gets interesting is when people are led to believe contradictory things that affect their interests adversely. "Stockholm syndrome" for example. Or US citizens voting for cretins who fear and hate them. Then I feel there has been some sort of abuse going on.

Posted by: Bemildred | Dec 10 2020 18:00 utc | 58

@Waldorf, propaganda is reputation management. People who claim not to be fooled by propaganda are simply people who claim not to trust sources of bad reputation. People are critical , but only towards what they do not trust. That is the whole point of trustworthiness, that you need to be less cautious. It has little to do with switching off your brain.

Posted by: Tuyzentfloot | Dec 10 2020 18:24 utc | 59

Taxi driver laughing at daily newspaper headlines? Astonishing to think Black cab and licence purchase price is a dream for most working class.

Posted by: cadaver | Dec 10 2020 18:47 utc | 60

Cognitive dissonance is a powerful beast.

Here in Australia most people think the relationship with China is anything but extraordinarily generous. We are constantly giving shit to a 1393 million person country with thousands of years history...

Posted by: Rae | Dec 10 2020 19:56 utc | 61

@50 Yeah, Right As for what we might sell to Russia? How about some "controlled equipment"? These could be military, dual use items(both civil & military), firearms or items that can be used for torture or capital punishment. http://markcurtis.info/2020/07/23/uk-has-approved-over-200-million-worth-of-exports-with-potential-military-use-to-russia-since-the-salisbury-poisoning/

Posted by: boon | Dec 10 2020 20:09 utc | 62

That's the UK gov definition of what controlled items means, I don't believe Russia bought anything to torture anybody.

Posted by: boon | Dec 10 2020 20:12 utc | 63

@Mark2 #55
I don't watch vids, doubly so for Twitter.
As for Brexit making the UK stronger: depends on who you are and what you care about.
Yes, being part of the EU means being inside the EU's powerful trade barriers. But that isn't a benefit for British farmers or consumers since the UK isn't self sufficient in food - something like 80% of the UK's food is imported. Trade barriers around the EU make food more expensive for Europeans as well as directly propping up specific EU farmer segments.

Financially: the UK has historically made its bones by being a close off-shore financial center. Are the EU's financial barriers sufficiently strong to replicate the agriculture situation? not at all clear.

Travel: the anti-Brexiteers talk about how Brexit hurts British traveling to the EU - to Spain for cheap vacations and what not. This is true, but the converse is that Polish and other Eastern European plumbers, construction workers, etc can't come into the UK freely either. Is a cheaper vacation better than having tens of millions of cheaper competitors for your job?

Sovereign power: the UK's isolation was great when the Continent was wracked by continuous wars. From the Hundred Years' war onwards to the end of World War 2 - there was at least one war involving at least 2 of the EU's present members, pretty much continuously.
Being largely apart from this was a benefit to the UK. Is there likely to be an EU war any time soon? If not, then being isolated is a net detriment.
The sad fact is that the UK would be 4th behind Germany, France and the Netherland should it completely integrate into the EU. The British oligarchy wants to think they're on par with Germany and France, but it just isn't so - especially since the UK cannot both be a "special partner" to the US and a full member of the EU.

So from my view: Brexit actually makes sense unless you're of the oligarch class - which loses easy travel, EU Parliament retirement seats and being a top shrub in the EU walled garden.

Posted by: c1ue | Dec 10 2020 20:26 utc | 64

So the Russian Federation has had 39 radio equipment units stolen from the special airplane that can serve as a flying commando post in case of war or nuclear attack.Does this mean that they will have to change some communication wavelengths?
I hope the russian government considers the possibility that the perpetrators did put in some material as well and that it will fully scrutinize the airplane.

Posted by: willie | Dec 10 2020 20:37 utc | 65

Doesn't it become easier to distinguish false speech meant to persuade when the gap between the would-be persuaders and the 'persuadees' has become great enough that they move in different worlds completely? I am noticing this in the book I have almost finished reading, Solzhenitsyn's "The First Circle." There the zheks, prisoners, have been so long imprisoned, out of what passed for normal society in Moscow, that the encouragements and enticements of the persuaders no longer find common ground. Persons in each group have become residents of different worlds unable to use a common language since their experiences are so very different. And increasingly, it is the ones who have power who lose sight of the needs and desires of the ones who do not.

And that is when the argument being broached by the powerful does become both weak and dangerous...for them.

Posted by: juliania | Dec 10 2020 20:51 utc | 66

juliania @ 66

"it is the ones who have power who lose sight of the needs and desires of the ones who do not."

I have seen that very thing at a place I used to work many years ago. Power and/or money, especially family money.

Posted by: arby | Dec 10 2020 23:27 utc | 67

I would say Russia was genuinely weak in the Yeltsin years, and the West was fine with this. Yeltsin may even have been controlled in some way.
Putin's Russia is a different matter.

Posted by: Waldorf | Dec 11 2020 8:38 utc | 68

Christian J. Chuba | Dec 9 2020 14:04 utc | 16

Yeah, either that, or the wolf is just into dogging and is waiting for the turtles' date to turn up so he can watch some sweet, sweet, turtle action.

You shall all pay homage to the kinky wolf.

I just love self-proclaimed you-tube prophets. Lol.

Posted by: Jon_in_AU | Dec 11 2020 9:22 utc | 69

Weakness and dangerousness can coexist in one scenario: a slowly declining empire.

I don't think this is China's case, because:

1) it isn't an empire;

2) it is not declining.

Ironically, I think this condition describes the USA, as it is both an empire and in slow decline. This may be your classic case of projection.

Posted by: vk | Dec 11 2020 11:54 utc | 70

Speaking of "dangerousness in weakness"...

Finding Strength in Decline: The U.S. Military Needs a Plan to Compete Without the Advantages of the Past

Posted by: vk | Dec 11 2020 14:41 utc | 71

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