More perils of democracy

In democracies, politicians are often lauded for harmful policies and derided for sound ones.

Joe Biden does a good thing

I don’t know whether it came from him or his minders, but the decision to withdraw US forces from Afghanistan was a sound one. It was long overdue and everybody knew it.

Nevertheless, Joe got panned more for this move than anything else he or his minders have done because of the the clumsy way it was carried out.

Once again, we cannot know whether this was his fault, his minders’ fault, deep state chaos-sowing to punish him, or deep state incompetence. All are plausible.

Let us not forget that the underlying judgement was correct. Three presidents before him should have done it and did not.

I note with interest that the boldest and most sensible decision from this administration did them far more harm than much worse decisions which remain popular.

Sometimes it goes the other way.

Former Australian prime minster John Howard is often remembered for bringing peace to the former Indonesian province of East Timor after the violence following the independence vote. The military intervention was effective and efficient.

However, John was cleaning up after one of his worst decisions.

He wrote a letter to the new, democratic president of Indonesia suggesting a fresh approach to the restive East Timor situation – perhaps increased autonomy or an eventual independence vote. The Australian prime minister should have consulted with Indonesia experts before sending it because the way they think and talk is totally different to how we do. The assumed Australia was threatening to intervene.

The then Indonesian president overreacted, deciding that if Australia was going to cause trouble then there was no point trying to develop or pacify the province any longer. He rushed through an independence vote before East Timor was ready, which the Indonesian military opposed. The latter punished the province and used it as an example to any future independence movements by raping and murdering as many people as they could on their way out, and by burning everything down.

By the time Australian-led international forces arrived, the damage had largely been done. That’s why there was little fighting.

Yet Johnnie is considered a hero for being a day late and a dollar short in fixing the disaster he’d created through ignorance and haste.

Richard Nixon’s greatest crime

When the world remembers Dick, we mostly think of the burglary, tape recorder and all of that.

What few recall is his catastrophic decision to regulate oil prices (plus other interventions in the economy) which caused massive shortages across the country.

It wasn’t primarily OPEC that did the harm. It was the policy blunder.

This was much worse for ordinary Americans than the Watergate affair.

For that matter, who remembers that it was Dick who withdrew forces from the Vietnam War? If that’s mentioned, it’s to attack him for doing it too slowly – but no one else did it at all.

Conclusion

The average member of the public, including myself, does not have the time and expertise to weigh up the legacy of every leader. These are just a few incidents I happen to have read about, and I might still be wrong.

Instead we adopt a simplistic, friend-or-foe attitude to each caricature we are presented with by the media.

The result is that the mediocre politicians we elect know that they’ll gain votes for silly, counterproductive policies so long as they are popular, and will be attacked for far-sighted policies that get people’s hackles up in the short term.

There are countless examples. To take just two: Australian Covid policies have been way over the top due to public terror. Rhodes was able to push his anti-Afrikaner wars because he succeeded in riling up the British public about it.

Of course, the media plays a major role in drumming up the irrational emotions that push such bad policies.

It’s a tricky subject as to who is actually in control given this dynamic relationship between players, and one that I’ll discuss in a future post.

For now though, that’s the situation and I don’t know how to fix it or whether it can be fixed.

13 comments

  1. luisman · January 18

    No word about the Novak Djokovic drama around the Australian not-so-Open-anymore? They didn’t kick him out because he may have lied about having had COVID, or because he placed a dot wrongly on the immigration form, but because he represents a danger to the government narrative, being openly anti-vax. The few other non-vaxxed players they let in and let play didn’t make a fuss about their vax-status.

    Like

    • Nikolai Vladivostok · January 18

      I can’t bear to talk about all that nonsense anymore.

      Liked by 1 person

      • luisman · January 19

        I think it’s entertaining, when a country goes full 1984 in a public court, ruling against someone for a thought crime. And the majority of Australians seem to love it.

        Liked by 1 person

        • lemmiwinks · January 20

          Viewed from inside clown world’s largest prison, it’s depressing.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. TechieDude · January 19

    You’re a little off here and there.

    The decision to leave Afghanistan was made by Trump, and a plan was in place to leave, I think in May. What Biden did is welsh on the plan that was hashed out with the Taliban and move the date out like 6 months, angering the hajis. Then when we cut and ran from Bagram, they smelled the stink of weakness, it all went tits up. That was 100% a Biden or his puppetmasters doing. Anyone that’s read anything about the region knows that his delay put them right into ‘Fighting Season’, where weather and conditions (I think farming, they have time on their hands) are good for war. It’s happened every damn year since we’ve been there.

    Until Obama, Afghanistan was an outpost where we had special forces here and there. He cut and ran from Irag (you didn’t mention that full retard moment), and declared the fight was in Afghanistan where he boosted things up. We should have never been there to the extent we were, so it wasn’t the previous presidents to Trump that couldn’t do it. They didn’t want to do it.

    In Vietnam, until Nixon the tall foreheads in the Johnson administration were diddling around. They did some horrifically stupid shit. It wasn’t until Nixon was elected and they put Abrams in charge that they started curb stomping the north, bringing them to the negotiating table. It was the democrat congress that welshed on the agreement and ignited gobsmacking misery across the region. Just like with the coof these days, the Johnson admin screwed things up so bad, and lied so much, that the appetite for dealing with the VC was nil. People weren’t as stupid back then. I remember by old man, when I spouted something I heard on TV, asked me if I cared that my bananas were communist.

    The usual suspects were behind each and every disaster the Americans have foisted on the world. There are some great books around on Vietnam, at least. But they sure didn’t tell us any of this while it was going on or the years after.

    So you’re right in that resect. They do things in their own interests, usually for money, and lie to us. The scribes in the press spin things like squealer the pig in ‘Animal Farm’. You really have to dig around to find out what they are doing. It’s a lot easier today with the interwebs.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. stefan6004 · January 19

    A litte bit off-topic from the concept of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde politician living in the same body. The broad question seems to me who holds ultimate power in a society despite of who gets elected and in my opinion is never absolutely clear, because it is a mix of:

    1) Big business (few thousand CEOs) – those sometimes seek regulations in their favor, sometimes want publicity to feed their ego

    2) Top government aparatchicks (few hundred people) mixed with anonymous bureaucrats (few thousand) – this group emits most of the braindead ideas. The issue is most of them rise to power from being secretaries arranging meetings and writing papers. Most of them are not smart – and we are where we are today because of their mediocrity

    3) Media. Almost anyone can be a journo so what matters is the few people who control it.

    The concentration of power is obvious – not in the thousands of CEOs or hundreds of politicians that matter, it is in the tiny numbers of media controllers.

    But which group is the most powerful one? I reckon it is the media, due to conentration. In In this line of thining, it seems any internal attempt to change the cultural landscape of the West can only happen in the US, as their top politicians can try to power grab the kill switch for big media through satellite communicatons control. Funny that no president there has attempted that yet, for “national security reasons”.

    Like

  4. overgrownhobbit · January 19

    [A constitutional, democratic republic is] made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. John Adams with an update by me.

    Like

  5. freemattpodcast · January 19

    The real crime is that the US didnt leave earlier. I dont believe in nation building. We punished who needed to be punished.

    Like

  6. Dinothedoxie · January 19

    Another example is Poppa Bush calling off Desert Storm once Iraq was evicted from Kuwait, instead of driving on Baghdad and overthrowing Hussein in 91. The wimpiness and “pulling defeat from the jaws of victory” were a factor in his losing reelection in 92. Thing though is it was the right call. Cheney a year or to later did an excellent job explaining why they stopped. Chaos in Iraq leading to a religious civil war, strengthening Iran. Destabilizing the entire region. Basically everything that happens with Ws invasion of Iraq.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Liz · January 19

    20 years and a couple trillions dollars to replace the primitive Taliban with a much better armed Taliban.
    There are better and worse ways to leave. This wasn’t the brilliant way that speaks of fine leadership. Or any leadership at all for that matter.

    Liked by 1 person

    • luisman · January 20

      The military industrial complex had to take care that billions of dollars worth of gear was left there, so that they can sell new gear to the military for the next wars. And now they drum up a Ukraine-Russia war in order to sell more. It’s kind of obvious but imo worth repeating.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Kentucky Gent · January 21

    Should have left Afghanistan shortly after OBL was killed. Nation-building in the graveyard of empires won’t work.

    Liked by 1 person

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