"The clubbishness and groupthink that critics deplore as flaws are features to those that are members in good standing. Holding all the same main assumptions about the U.S. role in the world is the way to gain entry and it serves as a marker of status for those that belong."

It ain't just the foreign policy establishment. Noam Chomsky famously chided an MSM journalist who insisted that she was never told what she had to write. "Because you don't have to be told, otherwise you wouldn't have the job you do."

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What a great quote from Chomsky!

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Technically, it is a paraphrase, but thank anyway.

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This quote struck out to me: "I remember one of my peers raising his hand to ask how we could convince the American public that it was worth going to war to defend Montenegro, as we are obliged to under Article 5 of the NATO treaty."

Another consensus point of the Blob is that Article 5 obligates the US to go to war against in defense of other NATO states. This isn't a normative policy position, it's supposedly just a statement about what the US is obligated to do under the terms of the NATO treaty.

It is incorrect and it is not supported by the actual language of the treaty. Here is what it says:

"The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.

Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall immediately be reported to the Security Council. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security."

Look at the operative language of the text above. It does not obligate any NATO member to do anything concrete. It says a member state "shall take such action as it deems necessary" in response to an attack. This, in other words, leaves what measured to take totally at the discretion of each individual member state. It does *not* require a member-state to go to war on behalf of other member-states in the event that they are attacked.

You do not need to be a genius or gone to a highly ranked law school to see this. You just need to actually read the document that everyone references. This is not a case of obscure or ambiguous language. Article 5 simply doesn't say what everyone in the Blob thinks it says.

This is a reminder that the term "Blob" is truly apt, because the Blob is a group of people who truly cannot think for themselves. They just adopt the consensus of the group, even on an issue is that is as straightforward as actually reading the text of Article 5 and seeing that it doesn't say what they think it says.

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"Speak up too loudly against a consensus position, and you are liable to be attacked as a “regime apologist” or possibly even an agent of another government." The only edit I would make to that statement is to change "are liable to be attacked" to "can count on being attacked." Aaron Maté (as one example) learned just how vitriolic "The Young Turks" (and plenty of others) can be for his bird-dogging the Russia-gate narrative and the OPCW Syria chemical weapons report. He is labeled as "on Putin's payroll" and "an Assad apologist." Integrity comes at a price which I can only guess has something to do with TAC's dismissal of Daniel.

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The Russia-gate thing was always strange to me. Anyone on the foreign-policy dovish center-left to left during the 80’s was always susceptible to the charge of being a Soviet toadie or a Bolshevik, so when Trump went to Hillary Clinton’s left on Russia in the 2016 debates (and brought the center-of-mass of the Republican party with him) there was a kind of delicious irony for Democrats and sympathizers in the media to using those old taunts against the GOP.

Somehow however, and I guess its partially inter-generational amnesia, they forgot the irony part and just pressed-on with the taunts as if there were real substance there. Then it became a media-narrative that just sustained itself. I suspect a lot of the foreign-policy groupthink follows similar trajectories.

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If Putin had half the intelligence that russiagate conspiracy theorists routinely ascribe to him, he'd have enough sense to pick a patsy other than Trump, a patsy with less obvious baggage. Putin certainly wouldn't let said patsy do bonehead things like pay porn stars out of campaign funds or give the foreign policy establishment the vapors by calling for rapprochement with Russia while on the campaign trail.

Instead, he'd pick a flunky that looks and talks too good to be true, charming and devoted wife and 2.43 well-scrubbed and seemingly well-adjusted kids. He'd pick a flunky that says all the right things on the stump, one that doesn't set a million internet Russia experts and amateur spy hunters and volunteer FBI agents and MSM talking heads frothing at the mouth with crackpot conspiracy theories.

Putin would also pick a candidate who reserves his true passions for ten-year old Polynesians of either sex. Not some shameless doofus who couldn't even be blackmailed by pu$$ygate, because everyone already knows, that's how Trump rolls.

Of course, if Putin had as much sense as God gave my youngest kitten, he'd make sure that his puppet was well prepared and had a whole list of appointees, all carefully vetted and prepared and compromised in advance. Not the clownshow that was the Trump transition. Not the Keystone Kops omnishambles that has been a hallmark of Trump administration staffing from Day One.

And lastly, once Putin carefully slipped his stooge into power, he'd quietly make sure that his stooge undertook policies that favor Russia. Not policies identical to those of a meaner, more reckless, more dysfunctional version of a Dubya administration.


Again, to believe the russiagate conspiracy theory, you have to believe that Putin has superpowers bordering on the occult. At the same time, you also have to believe that Putin has no idea how to use these superpowers.

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I agree.

Personally, I think Russian intelligence is among the most sophisticated and ruthless in the world—right up there with the CIA—like, for example, having capability to hack into launch systems on nuclear subs kind of sophistication. So the notion that some laughably-silly public politically-themed Facebook posts—the kind of low-level stuff that all governments do to each other all the time—was treated with the seriousness as if represented some grave threat to US security and was a major escalation of hostilities by Vladimir Putin was a major indictment against the political class in the US and the media that serve and cater to them.

Similarly, hearing about the Donald Trump pee-tapes for the first time gave me a good five-minute belly-laugh before the skepticism set in—the Universe is too cruel and indifferent to allow something so gut-bustingly hilarious and right out of a South Park script to actually be true. I view the fact that so many took it so seriously as a national embarrassment and evidence that our republic is ruled and overseen by simpletons and we are all doomed.

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Well, there is that too. Trump wasn't expected to win in 2016. His victory was basically a fluke, the electoral equivalent of rolling snake eyes three times in a row.

If we take the russiagate conspiracy theory at face value, either we have to believe that Russian intelligence is so effective, they can change the course of an election with over $2,300,000,000 in ad spend for less than it costs to run a contested city council election in Fargo, North Dakota - or - we are supposed to believe that Russia wanted to do something pretty much guarantied to increase the level hostilities in the highly likely event that HRC did win in 2016. For, you know, pranks.

I mean seriously, the writers of Marvel Comics come up with plots that require less suspension of disbelief.

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I don't think it's accurate to say that Putin "went to Clinton's left" on Russia. I think Trump's view would actually be pretty similar to John Mearsheimer's view of Russia: that Russia has a strong interest in stunting the rise of China, given that they share a giant land border. This isn't "left" or "right" per se, it's just the position that Russia and the US share interests vis-a-vis China and are therefore natural partners.

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Yes, I agree.

In the sole context of US domestic politics, I meant left = less hawkish on Russia, right = more hawkish on Russia. However I agree that's not the most useful framing in understanding international relations.

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Another point I must make: the phrase "rules-based international order" is misleading, because the international order we have is not based on "rules," it is based on a *ruler*: the United States.

In the international order that we have had since the end of the Cold War (and arguably before), the United States determines what the rules are, determines who has breached the rules, and determines how the deviant will be punished. The rules, of course, do not apply to the United States, and they usually do not apply to countries with whom the US has a close relationship like the UK, France, Israel, or Saudi Arabia. For these countries, every facial violation of "the rules" is automatically excused based on any defenses or justifications that these countries offer.

This is not how the rule of law works. This is how politics works. Let's just call it what it is: a political order where the United States is firmly and exclusively on top, where examples are made of America's opponents and excuses are made for America's supposed-allies.

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Short version: The system that delivers our foreign policy is un-reformable. That makes for a very/very limited set of alternatives.

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