Thursday, January 31, 2019

"The Politics of Diplomacy" James Baker III. West. Civ. Series.

To rehash what I've been doing here lately,  I've presented 4 books of certain pedigree (meaning they belong to a list of books I have read)  in order to establish a framework of the political world, as I see it  through these books.

I wanted to establish the structures of the western dominated world, the world that the United States created and has done a fair amount of winning in, and I did that by suggesting "Present at the Creation" by Dean Acheson.  Truman's Secretary of State who shaped the world after World War II.

As a score card I submitted a highly detailed work by Steven Pinker, "The Better Angels of Our Nature."  Winning is what 70 years were all about.  A terrific source for all the good going on in the world that can be charted.   Generally speaking, this is a title I'm squeezing, like a square peg in a round hole, because it wasn't written for the purposes I'm using it for.  In fact, its takes on a much broader time period.  Like the whole of humanity time period.

My old interest, David Stockman appeared next to remind us all,  that there are some serious flaws in our country.  In our capitalism and winning.   An absolutely essential modern educational need to read.

Pat Buchanan's "Death of the West" has a high slot in the list because his arguments and maladaptive views have climaxed with Trump.  It one of the books in the cannon of Trump world.

If I could just step back a little bit with my next selection.   James Baker III wrote his memoir as Secretary of State under George H.W. Bush in the mid 1990's and it is important as a testament to what really happened at the end of the cold war (winning again) and what promises were made by us to them(Russia).

Everything that is wrong with our relationship with Putin's Russia has to do with what happened after Bush and Baker left office.   Understanding Putin's expressed motivation to restore to greatness, or rather undo the humiliation of Mother Russia, at the hands of the West after the cold war period starts with our side of the story.  Start it here.

This is one of the oldest memoirs I have read, and the my understanding of what is covered colors much of how I view international politics to this day --  Putin hasn't forgotten.  Look it, he's trying to win over on us,  we aren't his ally we are his adversary.   

This memoir is a terrific mile marker in the West's 70 year run on top of the world. 

Taken all together, my selections should be relating how I am much a pro Western world structures kinda guy.

More than believing, I know that the world had been a blank slate after the big War and that thanks to patriots like Acheson and Baker, and so many more forgotten names and faces, the world was designed in our liking, and our dominance.

The world that Truman envisioned, and that Acheson started working on was the side that won the cold war, won the 20th century, and won the world.    For seventy years a battle raged that we had been winning all along anyways,  but now it seems the structures that gave us our strength are being undermined.  I encourage the thought that before we go on destroying, that we might pause and appreciate where these structures came from.

That's what I'm trying to get across.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

"Panzer Leader" General Heinz Guderian

"Looking back, one can only deeply regret that ... Regardless of whether the Russians had signed the Hague Agreement or not....German soldiers must accept their international obligations and must behave according to the dictates of a Christian conscience...."

General Heinz Guderian
from the book, "Panzer Leader"

His memoir of WWII.

But what I went away wondering, could he possibly have more Christian concern for the welfare of people than Donald Trump?


Monday, January 21, 2019

"Death of the West" Patrick. J. Buchanan. West. Civ. Series.

It is with reluctance that I present the next book on my list because it really should not be on any reputable list at all. Its a book that conspires not inspires, a book that itself was years too late when published, and as its even more invidious and influential now over a decade later I'm going to acknowledge it, and that I have already read it...17 years ago.

Patrick J. Buchanan, now 80, wrote the "Death of the West" in 2002, subtitled "How Dying Populations and Immigrant Invasions Imperil Our Country and Civilization" but its certainly reads like it has fully come home to roost in our present time.

I suppose it wasn't that long ago in the grand scheme of things, it was written after 9/11 after all, but 17 years is enough time though to gather dust, not adherents.

Look it, I read it because I thought the man had something to say about the direction of this country, and you will find a lot of, now dated facts, trends, policies and villains. However in the intervening 17 years I came to realize that its not so bad, as my earlier submission of readings prove.

But this is the book behind much of the anxieties and angst fueling the Trump Train. When I reflect on it all I challenge and rebuke the whole sentiment on grounds that a strong culture, a culture that is worth saving would persevere by its own strength and does not need to fear outsiders.

If the West is strong, we the people will expect them, the new people, to be strong like us. Its a little self defeating to expect that government you don't want to interfere to interfere where it may be least effective -- changing hearts and minds, or at least that's a thought I have.

I think that sometimes people have warnings that aren't necessarily as portent as they make them out to be, and that still being motivated, in the face of dissuasive arguments to the contrary, that the message of the book is a rallying cry still today is a disappointing use of one's life.

Its the false sense of insecurities of an 80 year old man, who is still rallying crowds, that underlies the false sense of insecurities of far too many young people.

Trump, himself, saw through it way back then. Think about that for a moment, Trump saw through it, He didn't buy it. Are you following me?

But if the sentiments of Trump today, and Buchanan today, and this 17 year old book today is what animates, what sells, what pays the bill for them, they will continue to push the old ways, while the world moves on without them.

Except Trump is President, and its why this book has grown in relevance, but ultimately the movement that Buchanan was pushing back against 20 years ago, even 30 years ago, won over in a real sense, and the only thing killing the west substantively is Trump.

Be careful of not only what you wish for, but who you trust.

Dean Acheson's "Present at the Creation" recounts the beginning of the West's dominance, but Pat Buchanan, despite the title, is inspiring the forces against the West with "Death of the West."

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

"The Great Deformation" David Stockman. West. Civ. Series.

The third book in this series of books that I have read, and that I can connect to one another in a interesting way is "The Great Deformation.  The Corruption of Capitalism in America" by David A. Stockman.

This book is the definitive modern polemic on corruption in capitalism in America.  A polemic is a category, a genre, that merely means the book is all about the writer's opinion on the subject.

When reading a polemic, the regard of the author of that screech is of great importance.  After all,  why read about someone's opinion who you don't think much of?

David Stockman brings an honesty that I have placed some trust in, he was the budget director of the Reagan Administration but wrote a very very brutal book, a memoir, of his time in the White House, and how the tragic run of deficits came about.  That was in the 1980's, this later book, on the corruption of capitalism in America came after the Great Recession of 2008.

In this book you will come to understand the workings of finance, financial markets, the way money attracts money, and how you might of been played if you bought a mortgage back then.

I like to think I wasn't, by the way.

I started with Dean Acheson's book "Present at the Creation" a memoir about the Secretary State's years shaping the world order as we still know it today, written 60 years ago.

My second book was Steven Pinker's "Better Angels of Our Nature" because it is our scorecard on the progress that mankind has accomplished not only over the passed 60 years, but over the past entirely.  Things are always getting better, and yes the world order is not that bad...

...except in the "Corruption of Capitalism in America" the subtitle of my third book.

Let's not be naive,  things aren't perfect, and if you think fixing America first is the right priority,  I'd recommend this book,  it's not about politics, but you can't escape it either.

You will be informed when your are done with it,  and may rest easier knowing some one wrote exactly how the way things are after all.  --  The Great Deformation -- Better Angels of Our Nature -- Present at the Creation

Thursday, January 10, 2019

"The Better Angels of Our Nature" Steven Pinker. West. Civ. Series.

Last time I wrote, I offered "Present at the Creation:  My Years in the State Department" by Dean Acheson as the starting point for a little narrative that I intend to continue with the help of the books of my life.

The next stop on this journey is Steven Pinker's "The Better Angels of Our Nature" from 2011.

At the risk of sounding cliche, or repeating myself,  what Pinker does in this history is altogether beyond imagination.

If the first book I shared is egotistically taking credit for the modern world order, this book is the unsolicited amalgamation of so many stats, information, history, and anecdotes across many human conditions that validate that world order as both remarkable and benevolent.

The book doesn't set out to validate anyone,  this is my rationalization.   In fact the book  begins centuries before the 20th century, its starts with prehistory in fact, through the bible era, and so on.   But why its the second book in my narrative is that this book will shake you of any false insecurities you may be holding,  insecurities that are often agitated by malevolent actors who pedal in anger and misconceptions.

Yet mankind is historically a violent animal.  Very violent,  horrifically violent, and if you are into that sort of thing this is also the right book for you, the tales of torture were not my thing, but they are prevalent .

But the culmination of this book is the evidence that despite what we were, we are not that bad anymore.

The state of the nature between ourselves is almost angelic, relatively speaking,  and if I had my druthers this book,  "The Better Angels of Our Nature" would be the first book every single person ought to read.

Read this book,  and most of the politics that passes for common sense behind certain sectors falls right away.  Its a read that the smart policy makers have read because it dispels the notion that things are only getting worse.  They focus on real problems therefore, armed with the understanding of the trends and realities you'd want a smart policy maker to understand.

Chances are, if you can quantify a particular brooding topic someone claims, this book will have the evidence that the numbers are going in a good direction, not the wrong direction.  Relax and move on.

But there is so much more here too.  Plain advice, insightful wisdom,  clinical study findings.  It probably is the most influential book of the 21st century, and if it isn't, its right near the top.   I won't get too far elsewhere before Steven Pinker is quoted about something.
Oh, and he has a sequel out. 

Do yourself a favor, and appreciate the world around you a little more,  the facts are it hasn't ever been better and the U.S. world order is not only a worthy progeny of what came before, but has undoubtedly been a major impetus of declining violence and an improved nature between states.  --  Better Angels of Our Nature --  Present at the Creation

Friday, January 4, 2019

"Present at the Creation" Dean Acheson. West. Civ. Series.

I'm going to go down a different path this year on this blog,  but its something I've been thinking of doing for a while...if I weren't such a shy guy.

The book below would be a appropriate start on this new path because it's title is appropriate,   Dean's  last name begins with an 'A",  its his 'creation' that is being scrutinized in the world as I write this, and it genre is basically the genre of my intellectually curiosity that's gotten the most time and efforts out of me -- foreign policy.

What I wish to accomplish is a sort of thread of my readings that has gotten me to my thinking today.  By no means will it be a linear journey from WWII to present, and I can't promise to be coherent in my logic, but I'll give it a try.   What I can promise is, it won't be constrained by any time period, it won't be limited to politics, and it won't be comprehensive of why I think the way I do.

But I hope to make it worthwhile for reading.

So, what do we have here?

"Present at the Creation, My Years in the State Department."

Dean Acheson was Secretary of State under Harry Truman back in the day.   Right after WWII.

This is large memoir, about 780 pages,  and it covers Mr. Acheson's entire career, and most importantly to note, they are his own words.

There are 76 chapters in this book, covering the beginning of the modern U.S.-dominated world order since WWII.  Up til the early 1950's when Eisenhower won the Presidency and brought in his own man.

You will read about the origins of organizations like NATO, the E.U., and the World Bank.

Its full of candid comments with his contemporaries --  his opponents both foreign and domestic.  Its full of decisions that shaped the world as we know it still today.

If you ever thought about the structure of the world, or how it all began,  and I'm sure its not a common curiosity, but if it were a curiosity this is the place to start.

When talk is mentioned about making America great again, and its from a crowd that wants to honor Confederate Generals more than some of our most recent patriots, I think Acheson and a slew of others from his era should have statues to protect, but most of us don't even know who they were.

Next time I'll have another book that I read that I can connect to this book.