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Weakened West or Triumph of Democracy?

In a triumph of Western democracy, the interventionist impulses of US and UK are cut down to size.

September 22, 2013

Barack Obama and David Cameron. (Credit: Featureflash -

It’s highly ironic to see formerly war-mongering magazines like The Economist with its ill-fated promotion of invading Iraq now bemoaning a weakening of the West.

For starters, when U.S. and British newspapers, magazines and think tanks reference “the West,” they almost always resort to that particular phrase only for one of two reasons. It is either to detract responsibility from their own doings — or to corral other countries into supporting their preferred course of action. Just don’t expect them to be much concerned about Western democracy.

In the aftermath of the latest spat (over Syria), it’s not that the West is weakened. It is the long-overdue reassertion of the democratic will of the peoples of the United States and the United Kingdom. They are finally making the popular will known to their elected representatives in no uncertain terms.

The latter have long lived on an elitist moon, where the will of the people was regularly neglected, declared misguided and/or heavily manipulated.

Well over a decade after 9/1, the American people are now awakening from their slumber to discover two real stunners: First, next to nothing has been done on their real needs (i.e., fixing the economy — not the stock market, the latter being an elitist pursuit benefiting solely the upper 10%).

And second, whatever has been done in the domestic war on terror has ended up in a gigantic mountain of rigged contracts, fraudulent and/or incompetent engagement, all yielding massive forms of enrichment of the beltway bandits (not that the firms around Washington, D.C. were poor to begin with).

Elite pursuits

Meanwhile, the British people finally had enough of their nation’s leaders, who in rare bipartisan fashion, contended themselves  to relive past glory — by being a poodle vis-a-vis America.

The rest of the civilized world — less given to warmongering and jumping the gun — welcome that self-respect and self-interest which have finally kicked in. Britons see what Americans see: Despite all the hype and constant soothsaying, their national economies only work well for the upper crust.

With that in mind, it becomes entirely clear why The Economist magazine and so many editorial writers in Washington and London are so dismayed with what’s going on. The role of the people, after all, was meant to be nothing but to shut up while their nation pursues grander (and supposedly much more vital) tasks on the global scale than engaging in meek little things (such as improving their population’s material circumstances).

What is becoming abundantly clear at this stage is that all the marauding around the globe — in Iraq, Afghanistan and so on — was an elitist pursuit of a set of materially well-endowed gentlemen for whom playing golf just wasn’t enough fun.

And so they played empire. That they did especially shamelessly, especially in the U.S. case since a “professional” army mostly means that the war-fighting has been outsourced to a social and economic underclass. That may not be the most politic thing to say, but is the overwhelming truth nevertheless.

Outclassed by Russia and Syria

But it gets worse. All those grand strategists and diplomats of American, British (and French) provenance got outclassed by the Syrians and the Russians.

The latter two, very calmly and very professionally, waited until American diplomacy, in its prototypical fashion, had become fully committed to boiling down the entire issue of Syria in a monomaniacal fashion. Aka, it’s all about the chemical weapons, stupid!

No sooner had President Obama — unwisely and ill-guided by his not-so-strategic Samantha and Susan tag team — thrown all eggs into the chemical weapons basket did the Russian-Syrian team perform a masterful pivot. It offered a grand “concession” to shift on the weapons issue. In one fell swoop, they got all the other political and humanitarian issues raging in Syria either off the table or frozen in ice for the foreseeable future.

Unlike what The Economist, forever backward-looking and empire-polishing, writes, Iraq, Afghanistan and now Syria are not the West’s “paralyzing legacy” and “great problem.” That problem only arose — and is with us today — because U.S. and British foreign policy and defense elites also like to act on the basis of showing they know better than the rest of us.

As the world now knows, they didn’t know any better. Quite the opposite. All they knew was to rush the clock — and get into deep doodoo.

Rather than wisely wait for the will of the global community to form — yes, that a tricky maneuver, but gel it will — Washington and London always broke the diplomatic China wherever they could.

Ending gunboat diplomacy

It is as if, in the grander scheme of things, the two countries have not yet exited from the age of gunboat diplomacy. It is not the West that must hope for a decisive step toward enlightenment in the benighted corridors of power in Washington and London, but the entire rest of civilization.

But trying to “sell” this as a weakness of the West is too clear by half. The first step London and Washington must take in tandem is to end their eternal inclination to blame others for one’s own faults. And the second step would be to end the sell-we-must doctrine.

In U.S. and British “democracy,” as they are presently constituted, it is evidently not acceptable to ever acknowledge a weakness or an error, no matter how profound and/or clear for the rest of the world to see. And that continued conviction to distrust or disregard the will of the people, tragically, is what united Reagan with Clinton and Bush II with Obama.

It is high time for democracy to reign in the U.S. and British capitals again. For when it does, and the elitist brigades breathlessly promoting an intervention here and a bombing there (can you spell M-C-C-A-I-N?) are finally kept in check, then “the West” will rise again. Just don’t wait for The Economist or any other tableaus of ill-considered elitism to ever “get” that.


When democracy reigns in the US and UK capitals once more, “the West” will rise again.

The military interventions around the globe were the pursuit of rich guys for whom playing golf wasn’t enough.

All the grand strategists and diplomats of US/UK/French provenance got outclassed by the Syrians and Russians.

As soon as Obama put all his eggs on Syria into the chemical weapons basket, the Russians outmaneuvered him.

US and British foreign policy and defense elites like to show how they know better than the rest of us.

It is as if the US and UK have not yet exited from the age of gunboat diplomacy.

In the US and UK, the will of the people was regularly neglected, declared misguided and/or heavily manipulated.