Thursday, October 20, 2022

Jan 26, 2003. William Arkin, LA Times, The Nuclear Option in Iraq
WASHINGTON — One year after President Bush labeled Iraq, Iran and North Korea the “axis of evil,” the United States is thinking about the unthinkable: It is preparing for the possible use of nuclear weapons against Iraq. At the U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) in Omaha and inside planning cells of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, target lists are being scrutinized, options are being pondered and procedures are being tested to give nuclear armaments a role in the new U.S. doctrine of “preemption.” 

from Mark Ames. I was surprised I didn't remember it, but going through the archives, I found Blair from Jan 21st.

Tony Blair today refused to rule out using nuclear weapons in a conflict against Iraq, as MPs grilled the prime minister for two and a half hours on the subject of Saddam Hussein.

The prime minister said Britain and the US would deal with the threat from Iraq by "any way necessary". 

British defense secretary Geoffrey Hoon in Spring 2002

Normally, British ministers are reticent about their nuclear weapons. The standard formula is to say, if asked, that we don't rule anything out if anyone attacks us. All this has now changed. The first person who says nuclear use is worth discussing happens to be Straw's colleague, Geoff Hoon, the defence secretary. In March, Hoon said, in the context of Iraq: "I am absolutely confident, in the right conditions, we would be willing to use our nuclear weapons."

Those who heard him say this, including some expert advisers, were startled. Such explicitness broke a norm that even Washington has usually observed. But they thought it was an accidental one-off occurring, as it did, at the end of a select committee session and without obvious premeditation. However, a few days later Hoon gave more particulars to Jonathan Dimbleby, insisting that the nuclear option would be taken pre-emptively, if we thought British forces were about to be attacked by Iraqi chemical or biological weapons. My colleague Richard Norton-Taylor reported and commented on this at the time, but there was little political fall-out.

Then, to make sure we understood, Hoon said it for a third time, telling the full House of Commons: "A British government must be able to express their view that, ultimately and in conditions of extreme self-defence, nuclear weapons would have to be used." This triple whammy, insisting on Britain's right to use nukes, pre-emptively if necessary, against states of concern that aren't themselves nuclear powers, has made the quietest of impacts. Yet it has no precedent in the policy of any government, Labour or Conservative.



 Chief of Ukrainian military intelligence talks about near future:
- Big Ukrainian advances by year’s end
- End of war next summer
- Changes in Russia, some regions peeling off
- Russia’s “economic centre” shifts to Ukraine

The latter point is consistent with Azovian ideas of Muscovy being the wrong Russia. Switch the capital to Kiev and things gonna be all right.


On Dylan Riley. A pedant's take on Trump and fascism. Jäger et al. (Moyn) are happy. In a recent podcast interview Jäger referred to the "fascistic" European right. I guess he just slipped.

Gavin Jacobson and Riley in The New Statesman 

The issue for the left, as Riley sees it, is that it has become far too focused on redressing past wrongs at the expense of proposing solutions to the problems of humanity. “I don’t want to be dismissive of either Black Lives Matter or other mobilisations for redistribution, but there is no alternative for what a new kind of society as a whole would look like. What rushes into the vacuum is the concern over justice, and the problem is that justice is firmly backward-looking in its orientation. It’s not that justice is unimportant but it cannot be the lodestar of a project of a new society. As a strategy, it makes the left seem like a group of moralisers, which is not a political winner. Leftists would do well to remember that point, and more generally Marx’s profound scepticism about the very idea of justice.”

A confused mess. Marx was a philosopher and an orator, a moralizer and an observer from afar. He enjoyed playing both sides: determinism and free will. 

The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win.

Chains, winning, and losing: righteous moralism, irrelevant to science. Freedom? Humbug to a materialist.

"Truth and Politics"  repeats and repeats. Truth is private; politics is public. Philosophers' need for truth is authoritarian and anti-political. Riley's claim to oppose moralism is hilarious. His is the moralism of moral and intellectual superiority.

Riley in the NLR in 2016 "What is Trump?"

He says interwar fascism united the petty bourgeois and the industrial capitalists against the working class. Later he says this:  

Analysis of Trump’s supporters before the November 2016 election suggested they were likely to lack a college degree and have slightly higher-than-median incomes; he did well among skilled blue-collar workers.

That used to called the "bourgeoisification of the working class." And poor workers didn't vote for Trump. I've posted this before.

Trump has the support of regional capitalists, in Putin's case, national, and nationalist, who make and keep their money close to home. With Putin it's only the richest, with money and real estate in Zurich and London, where he had to resort to coercion.

At this point I can imagine a college professor—Moyn!—telling self-described fascists, the Israeli and the Croat I used to drink with, both combat veterans, that they're not really fascist.
I stand by my definition.
I'm still adding to this.

Riley on Fukuyama, from his new book of musings. At the Verso blog. 
It must be said, however, that neither of the two responses to the Fukuyama moment has really adequately dealt with the democracy problem. To pose the issue correctly requires a break with the metaphysics of sovereignty. It is important to recognize how right Weber was when he said that “the people” do not rule in modern states, regardless of whatever theory of sovereignty predominates in them. (Mosca, who is often wrongly dismissed as failing to understand democracy, of course made a similar point.) It’s also never sufficiently emphasized that Weber’s types of legitimate authority make no mention of democracy. They speak instead of legal-rational authority. The Althusserians would say, I suppose, that this is a “symptomatic” silence.

What perhaps should be recognized here is Weber’s total, if implicit, convergence with Lenin on precisely this point: both of them saw the terms “democracy” and “state” as antithetical, and quite rightly so. (It is true that Weber expressed himself somewhat differently than Lenin, but he was quite clear that the “people” never rule in the modern state.) How does one abolish an antithesis? By rendering it impossible. To imagine a postcapitalist political order is to imagine an order without sovereignty—and therefore without the metaphysics of sovereignty and its terminology, such as “democracy”—but with coordination and rationality. Surprising as it may seem, the Hayekian phrase, from The Fatal Conceit, “the extended order of human cooperation” somehow gets at the idea much more effectively than the limp and trite expression “socialist democracy,” which carries with it both a legacy of defeat and the faint odor of metaphysical decay.

The "Fukuyama moment" exists only in the minds of people who've spent their lives equating the processes of the world with the teloi of European, Christian, philosophy: Augustine, Luther, Hegel, Weber, Lenin, Hayek, and the hippies; the problem of politics for those who desire truth in the world, “the extended order of human cooperation”; one way or another, back to the garden.

And I'd forgotten that along with the end of history comes the end of art—meaning again, art as truth.  The same shit. It says nothing about Aristophanes, Chaucer, limericks, fart jokes, groundlings and fiction, the art of orators and liars. But all artists are charlatans, especially the ones who work for popes. 

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