We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

For whom the bell tolls…

Ask not for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
– John Donne (1573-1631)

When one embarks upon a war, nothing is ever certain. However if I was a betting man, I would anticipate the mother-of-all-surrenders, at least initially, followed by some nasty but sporadic and isolated fighting in a few key centres… in the end there is only so much that can be done from 20,000 feet and it is the squaddies with bayonets who will end this matter once and for all.

But just as the article Silver Linings earlier today suggests, I have an inkling that it is not just Saddam Hussain and Ba’athist Socialism which will rue the day Al Qaeda changed the world on September 11th. The aftermath of the Cold War ended today in the United Nations and I suspect when we look back in ten years we will realise that a great many things were never quite the same again. I think that NATO, the UN and (to a lesser extent) the EU have all been fatally weakened and thanks to Jacques Chirac, a great many people who matter have finally noticed that the zeitgeist has shifted and we are entering terra incognita: uncharted territory.

We have been hearing about the end of the bi-polar world and the ‘New World Order’ but in reality I do not think people really believed that the old institutions, assumptions and mindsets were really as obsolete as they actually are. It remains to be seen how long the UN and NATO continue to twitch but when the British and American tanks stash across the border of Iraq, they will be cutting the veins of more than just Ba’athism.

Britain too has just had an object lesson in the fact you cannot have your cake and eat it too. We are either an Atlantic nation trading with the world as we always have, or we are within Festung Europe. I do not think he realizes the enormity of what he is doing but Tony Blair is never going to be a ‘Good EUropean’ again… and if he tries to be, the contradictions are going to be impossible to reconcile.

Stay tuned. We live in interesting times.

15 comments to For whom the bell tolls…

  • Johan

    I like the sentence “when the British and American tanks stash across the border of Iraq, they will be cutting the veins of more than just Ba’athism”, which is a probable prophecy of the future of this world. Well, UN that is. What’s the probability that UN will last the year?

  • Jacob

    The UN never was a thing of substance. Just good intentions (and bad ones), wishful thinking, illusions, a lot of hollow retoric, mixed with waste, corruption, depravity and the absurd. The demise of the UN (which won’t happen) isn’t an epochal event – becuse it never had any importance.
    But the UN won’t die, people love beautiful lies and illusions more than the truth.
    Bush has enough trouble in matters of substance such as killing Kyoto, which had potential for real harm. He won’t pick a fight with the whole world over an inconsequential matter like formally closing down the UN. He isn’t that dumb or principled.

  • ernest young

    League of Natons – 26 years. United Nations – 52 years, Maybe their successor will last a bit longer, and I think there will be a successor, – got to have somewhere for all the old deadbeats to go.

    Joking aside, there is a need for such a forum, as long as it stays just that.

    This present mal-formed, misbegotten organisation has been disfigured by the attentions of too many time-serving bureaucrats, and has too often been the stepping stone to higher unelected office.

    Jacob, I think your little ‘crack’ about the Presidents lack of principle to be uncalled for. He is, far and away, the best we have had for more than a few years. I feel that he is a very genuine man.

    Those ‘end-of-sentence’ throwaways say so much about the writer.

  • Dale Amon

    Perry, if you haven’t read den Beste’s article go do it. I think he’s right, and it explains why the British Ambassador publicly ripped France a new arsehole at his UN press conference today.

    Ernest. Hmmm. 26,52… 104?

  • Sandy P.

    Jacob, W did not kill Kyoto, Congress did in 1997. UNANIMOUSLY.

    Read the Constitution as to how treaties become law.

  • John Fembup

    It’s not “Have your cake and eat it too”. That makes no sense, because anyone can do that. It’s “Eat your cake and have it, too”. Think about it.

    By thwarting the Americans as “unilateralists” (with 20 nations behind them) and simultaneously asserting unilateral ascendency over the EU, the French want to eat their cake and have it, too. To which I say, q’uils mange gateau.

    I doubt they will enjoy the aftertaste.

  • Steven Den Beste

    I heard reports about the UK ambassador but haven’t been able to find any news reports about it. If anyone knows of a link, could they mail it to me? I’d appreciate it.

  • John Fembup: ‘Have your cake and eat it too’ is a well known and well worn expression which far pre-dates me… and that is indeed the order in which it is phrased.

    Steven Den Beste: Try here here for the generality of what the ambassador said

  • Jacob

    “He is, far and away, the best we have had for more than a few years. I feel that he is a very genuine man.”
    I fully agree with this, and if you think my crack was in bad taste I retract it.

    Nevertheless, Bush is no libertarian. He can impose steel tariffs when he thinks it’s politically expedient, he can increase spending far above what is essential, he isn’t as sensitive to liberties as he could be (patriot act 1,2, anti research cloning legislation).
    Bush is a great President, but he too has some flaws.

  • Getting back to the subject at hand…

    The UN has never really been a formidable body. It borders on farcical nowadays (I still love thatLibya chairs the Human Rights commission). What has happened, here, is that the UN has finally been shown to the world as being useless.

    And that stings alot of people.

  • Will Allen

    Indeed, Perry. Any who confidently predict what the shape of a new status quo will look like, after the current, rotting, one has completely collapsed, are simply deceiving themselves. History is NOT pre-determined, and if outcomes are to be favorable, which for most people in this forum means a increase in liberty and prosperity, people of wisdom who hold these outcomes dear need to win allies (sometimes of a temporary nature), and defeat enemies. Buckle your seat belts, for the ride may indeed be “interesting”, but endeavor to maintain a realistic optimism.

  • As I say on Junius today, I think the real risk is that BOTH Bush and Chirac will push for trade restrictions in the postwar world. As I say there, Perry, why do you “libertarians” have such a touching faith in the free market instincts of the US Republican party?

  • Chris… you seem to have mistaken me for someone else! I have often and loudly castigated Bush and the Elephant Party for preaching free trade on one hand whilst creating new trade barriers on the other (and tolerating old ones they find expedient).

    Of course if it comes to a choice between the Reps and Dems on who is less toxic to free trade and the liberty it engenders, then yes, I will generally hold my nose and give a faint cheer for the Elephant Party as the lesser of two weevils evils.

  • Tom Grey

    Argentina’s econ collapse, after following so many (but not all) IMF/ WB (all US Treasury influenced) advisories, is a huge wake up call against “free trade” — just as the CA energy crisis is against “deregulation”. Done wrongly/ incompletely, free trade (esp in capital) or (semi) deregulation can result in worse problems.
    NOW is a good time for true free traders to try to infiltrate the money orgs.

    The current UN impotence has clearly been shown, but it is CERTAIN to generate more calls for “fixing” it in some way. Though the creation of an alternate: “Council of Democracies for Peace” or something may add to pressure.

    The world, and its democracies, need a way to allow good guys (like us — US and UK) to go after bad guys, like the Axis of Evil. It could be pretty cool, in the short-mid term especially, to have some competition to the UN. Non-democracies not invited (no China, no Zimbabwe; maybe no France at first).
    Peace requires the willingness to use force.