August 29, 2012

Israel: America = Serbia: Czarist Russia?

XX Committee tosses out a historical analogy that's new to me:
Beyond the issue of who’s the tail and who’s the dog in the increasingly messy U.S.-Israel relationship – a question which has taken on more-than-customary urgency given the current Israeli government’s recent public move towards sky-is-falling rhetoric about Iran – there’s the intriguing matter of what historical analogies apply in this knotty case. ...The best analogy, says this historian, for the U.S.-Israeli relationship and the mounting crisis with Iran, goes back a century, to just before Europe went crazy and destroyed itself. 
In the years leading to the First World War, Russia developed a cancerous relationship with Serbia, with the latter becoming a troublesome client which occupied Russian attention out of any proportion to Serbia’s actual size, importance, and influence.  While there were genuine ethnic and religious ties between the two countries, they were neither traditional nor natural allies, beyond a mutual loathing for Islam. Russia aided Serbia for decades in its wars – some open, some covert – against the declining Ottoman Empire in the Balkans. By 1913 Serbia had defeated the forces of Islam in its neighborhood, taking over lands which Serbs held to be sacredly theirs (even if inconveniently occupied mostly by non-Serbs who did not want to ruled by Serbs), and it wanted to take the fight to Austria-Hungary, which it viewed as the last obstacle to Serbia’s quasi-religious ”place in the sun.” 
... The dangerously loopy head of Serbian intelligence convinced himself and his retinue that Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Habsburg throne, was the head of the “war party” in Vienna and had to be killed. So they did. This was the origin of the plot which culminated in the assassination of Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914. It was the most consquential act of state terrorism in modern history, yet was based on a complete and total misread of Austrian intentions – the ill-fated archduke in fact was the most peace-oriented leader in the empire – which may be instructive about the value of intelligence analysis.

Or, were the Serbian conspirators worried that Franz Ferdinand would, upon his ascent to the throne, succeed in placating Slavs within the Austro-Hungarian Empire by converting it into the Austro-Hungarian-Slavic Empire, thus depriving Serbia of its role as leader of disgruntled Slavs in southeastern Europe?

In any case, it's a totally ridiculous analogy because we all know that conspiracies only happen in the fevered imaginations of conspiracy theorists, so, obviously, WWI couldn't possibly have happened.

By the way, on a completely different subject, did you know that Mitt Romney and Bibi Netanyahu were colleagues on the job long ago, and Mitt sometimes calls Bibi to get his perspective on things? Isn't that cool?

47 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey,

Wasn't cool that Obama went to a hostile foreign country when he was a student and did God knows what?

Isn't fantastic that Bill Clinton went to the fucking Soviet Union at the height of the cold war and never explained what he was doing there?

Sometimes people can just know people.

Pournelle knows a metric ass-load politicians some of them foreign types. I don't think that means any of them (other than Gingrich) are going to be writing books soon.

Anonymous said...

"Isn't fantastic that Bill Clinton went to the fucking Soviet Union at the height of the cold war and never explained what he was doing there? "

That's not that weird. My aunt visited the Soviet Union during the Cold War era (early 80s). She won a bunch of money in a pageant then chose to visit Russia of all places.

Anonymous said...

It's funny how they always say it's Israel that is pushing for war with Iran and not some other Middle Eastern country who hates and is afraid of Iran and also spends huge amounts of money on buying US politicians.

Right now, there is a "coalition" (as they call it) that works hard on overthrowing a Iran-friendly regime in Syria. They train and house the Syrian "opposition", supply them with weapons, and lobby the US government to intervene. Israel has no role in this coalition and doesn't seem to want them to succeed. And yet, if the US will go to war with Syria, the usual suspects will declare it yet another war on Israel's behalf.

medvedev said...

That can easily qualify for The Most Insane Analogy Ever prize. Jews in 1913 Moscow were more influential than all of the Serbs residing in all of the Russia combined. And it's not Israel Jews that make the difference in America. Okay, just file it into: "Just plain stupid".

Russia's infatuation with Serbia had very prosaic grounds: Russia felt alone and surrounded by enemies, looking to built the ever-lasting union with their Slav Orthodox brothers. That feeling did go overboard in beginning of 20th century - yes, sure. But that was corrected in the end of 20th century when Russia sold Serbia and got very little in return.

Anonymous said...

Assad is protecting Christians, for me this make him the good guy.

Anonymous said...

"And it's not Israel Jews that make the difference in America."

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/159248

Anonymous said...


Speaking of intelligence failures, Shelby Foote in his Civil War books says that Pinkerton (the boss of the Pinkerton Detective Agency) was so wildly wrong about his assessments of Confederate army size that George McClellan thought his Union Army of the Potomac was outnumbered at times.

I like to think that intelligence agents are like James Bond or some other cool guy who goes behind enemy lines, sneaks into bases and takes pictures. But it seems like all they do is sit around and talk to locals to get them to do all the cool stuff. It is very disappointing.


Anonymous said...

How could a conflict between tiny Serbia and the Austro-Hungarian Empire draw every single world power into a huge war? I've seen the following theory of the deeper causes:

When adequate firearms were developed in Europe, feudalism began to be replaced by centralized states. Technological change led to a political change. Castles, the independence and importance of petty nobles protected by castle walls, city walls, the independence of cities protected by these walls - all of those things took a hit. If someone was able to amass a lot of artillery, he could destroy any fortification, take any castle or city, reduce any noble to a lackey. He could become an absolute monarch, an autocrat.

So centralized states sprang up on the map: France, England, Spain, Russia. But for whatever reasons several large regions (Germany, Italy, Poland) failed to develop centralized states. The Catholic-Protestant split is sometimes proffered as a reason for Germany's failure to come out of medieval anarchy in time with its neighbors, but this reason is unsatisfactory. If it were valid, wouldn't Germany have formed two strong states - a Protestant one in the north and a Catholic one in the south? This did not happen for a long time. So there's no obvious reason why Germany didn't form a centralized state in the 15th or 16th century. All we know is that it didn't.

While Germany was beset with disunity, its newly-centralized neighbors were grabbing huge parts of the world as colonies. They were creating a system of world governance.

Eventually, after centuries of delay, most Germans did manage to unite into a state in the 1860s and 1870s. But almost all the colonial prizes had already been grabbed by then. Britain had already set itself up as the world's preeminent power.

There was an obvious imbalance. There were more Germans than Brits. Germans were as smart as Brits and probably more hard-working. But they had little power on the international stage and almost no colonies. This imbalance was going to be corrected somehow. Everyone assumed that this would involve a big war between Germany and Britain. Almost every other country had to decide who it was going to side with in the coming conflict.

The Habsburgs couldn't have sided with anyone but Germany. They had a German population of their own which would not have fought other Germans on behalf of the British. If asked to do so, it would have probably revolted. So Austria-Hungary sided with Germany. Russia had been having conflicts with the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires in the Balkans and generally over the Slavic question. It saw itself as a potential patron of the large numbers of Slavs who lives in these two Empires. So if Austria was going to side with Germany, Russia would come out against it, i.e. for Britain. And Turkey would come out against Russia, i.e. for Germany. If the British-led side won, Russia expected parts of the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian Empires as prizes. Finally, France felt victimized by Germany in 1871, so it wanted revenge. So it sided with England. By 1914 everyone had been expecting a war between these two camps for decades. Any excuse would have done. The murder of the archduke Ferdinand became that excuse.

According to this view, the roots of the war were in Germany's failure to centralize early on, and the reason for that failure is not clear.

Anonymous said...

Right now, there is a "coalition" (as they call it) that works hard on overthrowing a Iran-friendly regime in Syria.

Good callout anon @ 9:35.

What many people also don't understand is that Iran used Ahmad Chalabi to get us to attack their #1 enemy: Iraq. They also managed to pin the blame on Israel. The sad truth is, there are so many irrational anti-Semites out there, that no matter how much you try to explain this to the them, they will never understand.

Simon in London said...

My analysis:

The US/Israel relation is similar to Russia/Serbia; if anything I'd say Israel has more influence over the US than Serbia did over Russia. And Israel is certainly just as likely to assassinate enemy leaders, which in the future could include eg a Muslim Brotherhood leader of Egypt, or Syria - Arab leaders are well aware of the risk of assassination though, they're not soft targets.

The main difference is that Israel has no 'Jewish bloc' in the Middle East to lead; as an isolate surrounded by nasty but incompetent enemies, the political situation is different. Israel can militarily defeat all likely enemies, perhaps with some US resupply; no Arab state will try to conquer her in a conventional war, and she is in the happy situation of being able to choose when and where to fight.

The US 2012 also differs from Russia 1914 in that the US is much more powerful relative to all likely enemies; even without nukes the US military can defeat any enemy in conventional war, with the possible (but increasingly likely) exception of China within Chinese heartland territory and parts of the Chinese near-abroad. No one wants to fight the USA. Even with Putin's rebuilding, the US military outweighs the modern Russian one by at least 10:1.

The biggest threat for a recent global conflagration did not concern Israel, but Georgia in the South Ossetia War. A John McCain type US President could have led the US into war with Russia. Russia is aware that she can't beat the US M1 Abrams tank armies with conventional weapons; in the event of confrontation Russia apparently plans to use supposedly-destroyed battlefield nuclear artillery. This has the obvious risk of escalation to all-out nuclear war.

Anonymous said...

And who was it who "believed" Chalabi's lies, fellow anon? Neo-cons, mostly Jewish, in the Bush admin, that's who. Chalabi was telling them what they wanted to hear. They didn't care if it was true; they only cared about destroying Saddam's Iraq, which they achieved. That this also was a goal shared by the Iranians didn't matter; Jews/Israelis are perfectly capable of temporarily sharing goals with some of their enemies.

Some of us "irrational anti-semites" are perfectly capable of grasping the fact that the Jews are not the only actors out there in the world, you know. It is you anti-anti-semites who are completely irrational on this topic; you really don't have a clue.

Anyone for instance who thinks that Israel doesn't want to see the current regime in Syria overthrown is a blithering idiot. Israel may stand aside and let the Sunni regimes supply and support the rebels in Syria, but that does not mean that Israel is not interested in overthrowing Assad. Assad's regime is a vital link between Iran and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Without support from Syria, Hezbollah is weakened, and that is very much in Israel's interest.

Anonymous said...

"Or, were the Serbian conspirators worried that Franz Ferdinand would, upon his ascent to the throne, succeed in placating Slavs within the Austro-Hungarian Empire by converting it into the Austro-Hungarian-Slavic Empire, thus depriving Serbia of its role as leader of disgruntled Slavs in southeastern Europe?"

That, of course, is one of the conspiracy theories that are quite accepted in official historiography.


@ Anonymous 8/29/12 10:06 PM

"According to this view, the roots of the war were in Germany's failure to centralize early on, and the reason for that failure is not clear."

This theory fails, because a) by 1914 Germany had already enough colonies and b) the war was not primarely fought over the colonies.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Israel, its neighborhood is undergoing the most dramatic changes since Lawrence of Arabia played his role in the western dismantling of the Ottoman Empire:

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/NH21Ak02.html




Anonymous said...

Quick comment on the last phrase.

Mitt doesn't call Bibi for perspectives, but rather for directives.

Anonymous said...

Simon in London said...
A John McCain type US President could have led the US into war with Russia. Russia is aware that she can't beat the US M1 Abrams tank armies with conventional weapons; in the event of confrontation Russia apparently plans to use supposedly-destroyed battlefield nuclear artillery. This has the obvious risk of escalation to all-out nuclear war.
--------------------------------

Is that necessary?

Russia going to war with the U.S could simply blow up a few car bombs outside black churches... no amount of evidence to the contrary would clear whitey of blame. Blacks would march and riot... mexicans would get surly... what white person would go fight Russians when his home and family is under direct attack here?
A John McCain president wouldn't stand a chance.

NOTA said...

I suspect history (and thus politics, economics, foreign policy, and war) are complicated and interwoven and random enough that in any big event that did or didn't happen, you can find dozens or hundreds of stories like this. I wonder, if we could rewind the universe back to 1900, how often we'd have anything like WW1. Maybe most of the times, maybe few of them--I don't know enough to say, and I wonder whether anyone else does either. Without the rest of the spring being wound tightly and everyone preparing for a war, would the assassination of Ferdinand have been anything more than a local tragedy and diplomatic falling out?

Whatever happens in the next decade, it will be possible to piece together dozens of stories that seem to presage it, and dozens more (often with more work, since they're harder to notice and remember) that didn't. Think of the 9/11 attack, the most consequential event in the last couple decades. There were probably a dozen points where it might have been stopped or might have failed on its own. Hell, there were a couple times the FBI failed to follow up on leads about a bunch of scary Arabs who wanted to learn to fly planes but didn't care about landing them. If we could rewind the world to 1999, say, I imagine 9/11 or something similar would have managed to happen relatively rarely--there were just too many moving parts in that plan, too many ways they could all be found and arrested.

neil craig said...

I don't think the Serb/Russian relationship is nearly as unbalanced as the US/Israel one. Prior to the outbreak of unpleasantness in 1914, which nobody foresaw, it hadn't involved any significant costs to Russia.

Indeed by 1914 everybody was searching for allies to stack up on their side and Serbia proved to be militarily a significant ally - they initially drove the Austrian forces back, to the surprise of both countries it was only when germany sent reinforcements that the line steadied. The ultimate defeat of Serbia was because Bulgaria marched across their undefended border (more the modern equivalent of the Iraq-Iran war than any sort of slavic unity).

If you want an equivalent I wopuld say the cold war US-German alliance within NATO. Yes if the balloon had gone up it would have been disasterous, moreso than 1914, but the larger power was happy with an ally in a larger conflict (& possibly happy that the worst fighting would be on the ally's territory.

By comparison none of Israel's enemies, or even all of them together, pose any threat to the USA.

If you want to see one country sacrificing itself for another how about how Yugoslavia refused to knuckle under to Hitler, when Britain stood alone & it would have been the sensible, even sane, thing to do. Up till D-Day the Yigoslavs were fighting more enemy troops than Britain & the US combined.

Their gratitude has doubtless been noticed by any other country which might consider becoming our ally in future.

Anonymous said...

Who exactly were those mostly Jewish neocons in the Bush administration? Was it Cheney? Rumsfeld? Powell? Condi Rice? Tenet? Oh yeah, I know, it was Wolfovitz! Who held a very important post of...umm...

Chicago said...

The article just simplifies events leading up to WW I. There were a lot of pressures building up all across Europe prior to the assassination; that act just set it all off at that particular moment rather having it happen at some other point in time. Why did Britain throw itself into the fray? It wasn't being wagged by any tail. The Hapsburgs were greedy for more acquisitions and were expansionist. After all, what was the "liberal" Ferdinand doing in Sarajevo in the first place? The populace wasn't German or Hungarian.
The comparison with Israel has some points of similarity but analogies can only be stretched so far. Each case is different.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

Israel may stand aside and let the Sunni regimes supply and support the rebels in Syria, but that does not mean that Israel is not interested in overthrowing Assad. Assad's regime is a vital link between Iran and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Without support from Syria, Hezbollah is weakened, and that is very much in Israel's interest."

I understand that. Saudi Arabia and Israel's interests don't always diverge. But I don't understand what interest Israel had in overthrowing Saddam Hussein. It would seem to me that it was entirely in Israel's interest (Saudi Arabia's too) to have Hussein remain in power in Iraq. Why then were the neocons so hell-bent on removing him?

Anonymous said...

Mitt sometimes calls Bibi to get his perspective on things? Isn't that cool?


Sure. Maybe Bibi can give Mitt some pointers on the true purpose of a country (it's not to make money) and the utility of borders.

Paul Mendez said...

Speaking of intelligence failures, Shelby Foote in his Civil War books says that Pinkerton (the boss of the Pinkerton Detective Agency) was so wildly wrong about his assessments of Confederate army size that George McClellan thought his Union Army of the Potomac was outnumbered at times.

And in 1941 Nazi intelligence assured Hitler that Russia only possessed about 1/3 of the tanks that it actually had. Hitler later admitted he would never have invaded Russia if he had known the true size of the Red Army.

Anonymous said...

"a) by 1914 Germany had already enough colonies and b) the war was not primarely fought over the colonies."

Germany's colonial empire was many times smaller than Britain's in 1914. And if the Brits lost, the Germans would have taken some colonies away from them. The war was fought for primacy, and colonies were a big part of that.

irishman said...

Franz Ferdinand did want to create a third Croat partner to the empire. This would have taken care of Bosnia(annexed in 1908) Croatia(then part of Hungary) and Slovenia (then part of Austria). Had he lived another two years he would have become emperor.

You're theory about the manipulative Serbs and Anon 8/29/12 10:06 PM theory that it was German empire lust that caused the war is way off.

First Russia. The reason Russia was so interested in South East Europe was economic. The reason Russia was so backward was that it is a nightmare to trade with because of it's transportation problem. By taking Constantinople it would have secured it's main access to the world market. This was the primary motivation for it's pan slavism. It was a vehicle of capitalism, not an expression of nationalism.

Germany never wanted a colonial empire. Bismarck saw them as expensive nuisances(he was correct. There was no economic justification for any European empire in darkistan). Germany did acquire a few, but didn't do much with them and directed it's foreign investment toward the US and South America. Besides, if it did want a colony it could have had one; China. In reality however Germany was a power in relative decline. The reason it decided to fight in 1914 was they thought it was last chance to stop Russia from taking the Balkans and the straits and becoming a superpower. The best chance of WWIII breaking out is America adopting the same mindset and provoking war with China(You'll lose).
As for why Germany united so late. Simple. It was never conquered by anyone. With the exception of Scandinavia all of the nation states in Europe emerged through national reconquest with the warrior caste creating the strong centralised state to maintain it's own power. This happened in England with the Normans, Spain and Potugal against the Moors, France against the English, Russia under Moscovy against the successor states to the Mongols, the Dutch against the Spanish, the Belgians against the Dutch and the Balkans against the Turks. Parts of Germany and Italy were under the rule of foreigners but the core remained under indigineous rule so there was no reason to undertake something like the 100 years war.

agnostic said...

If we're going to use WWI as the frame of reference, then Israel can't be Serbia. It has no larger leadership role in the region, whether potentially political or cultural, and no Romantic draw in the minds of people nearby -- indeed, just the opposite.

If any country thereabouts is like Serbia, it would be Egypt. They could inspire at least some wider movement in the region, whether secular Pan-Arabism or more Islamic-based. And they are cultural and intellectual leaders too.

Also like Serbia circa early 1900s, they've also been experiencing a youthquake, or dramatic change in the age structure of their population, tilting much younger than earlier. Ditto for other countries that are recently being turned upside-down by the Arab Spring.

By contrast, Israel has been getting more gray-haired since their youthful peak in the mid-late 1970s.

The age structure is so important because a shift toward youthfulness tends to result in a rising violent crime rate once that cohort enters their crime-prone years. And assassination, or just plain old stirring shit up, is merely one aspect of that more violent society.

Those guys involved in the assassination of Franz Ferdinand were called Mlada Bosna -- Young Bosnia -- and were in their late teens and early 20s. People that age feel emboldened when their share of the population is rising (as in the West during the 1960s, '70s, and '80s).

The closest country back then to Israel now would therefore be the Ottoman Empire, an alien occupying culture that the locals would rather see go back to where they came from. Of course the Ottomans were sickly by WWI, but just give Israel 50-100 years, and they'll probably be too internally divided to give a strong showing too. The Ottomans also had a youthquake leading up to WWI (the Young Turks), unlike Israel now, so the comparison isn't perfect.

Maybe that makes us more like the decaying multi-ethnic, multi-cultural Austro-Hungarians then, with our triple capitals of New York, Los Angeles, and Dallas? It's our leader who'd be more likely to get shot by some hot-headed youth from Egypt, than some Egyptian leader would be to get shot by such a person from Israel.

The good thing is that Egypt doesn't have a huge imperial power to support it and egg it on, like Serbia had Russia. So in the end, I don't see the WWI analogy as too useful.

Gray Falcon said...

That's John Schindler writing, if I remember correctly - who apparently came under so much fire for daring to disturb the Official Truth about the Balkans Wars by mentioning the inconvenient fact of jihad in Bosnia, that I bet he just couldn't wait to stick it to the Eevil Rooshans and Serbs as their safer-to-kick cousins.

By shooting Ferdinand the Mlada Bosna conspirators indeed got the wrong guy, but there is much to suggest that Apis (the intelligence head mentioned in the article) had lost control of them at that point. Just 2 years later, he was framed by the Serbian regent and shot for alleged (but never proven) treason plot.

Serbia absolutely did not want or need another war in 1914, not after just emerging from a 2-year conflict with the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria. Nor was Russia eager to fight, still recovering from the 1905 defeat by Japan. On the other hand, Germany and Austria were both in a rush to fight, figuring that time worked for the other bloc. Austria in particular sought any pretext at all to invade Serbia. So the analogy fails.

Anonymous said...

" Israel can't be Serbia. It has no larger leadership role in the region, whether potentially political or cultural, and no Romantic draw in the minds of people nearby -- indeed, just the opposite."

Just like Serbia who has no friends in the region, either now or before WWI.

Anonymous said...

"While there were genuine ethnic and religious ties between the two countries, they were neither traditional nor natural allies, beyond a mutual loathing for Islam."

If a common ethnic and religious heritage is not sufficient grounds for a natural alliance then I don't know what is.

medvedev: "Russia's infatuation with Serbia had very prosaic grounds: Russia felt alone and surrounded by enemies, looking to built the ever-lasting union with their Slav Orthodox brothers. That feeling did go overboard in beginning of 20th century - yes, sure. But that was corrected in the end of 20th century when Russia sold Serbia and got very little in return."

Russia sold out Serbia in the 1990s? More than Russia was too impotent and too dependent on the West, economically, to do anything. Yeltsin could barely keep his own Muslim provinces (Chechnya) in line, let alone Serbia's.

Lukashenko was keen to help out, though. During the 1999 Kosovo war, he pushed for the creation of a 'Slavic Union' consisting of Belarus, Serbia and Russia.

Anonymous said...

"Just like Serbia who has no friends in the region, either now or before WWI."

It's interesting how even the Montenegrins i.e. Montenegrin Serbs wanted to split from the Serbs.

Anonymous said...

While the assassination of the Archduke was the precipitant, you would have to be pretty foolish to think that such a thing was the CAUSE of WW1. The war had much, much, deeper causes, most notably Germany's desire for a world role commensurate with her industrial strength and economic power - and who can blame them, really? It really WAS unfair for the Brits and the French to have all the prizes when in every way Germany was, in fact, stronger, richer, with better science. The Brits and the French, had they perception and pyschological delicacy, showed have been willing to cut Germany in on the game in a fair, reasonable way, while it was still possible. They should have recognized that Germany was suffering from an acutely sensitive ego and had a legitimate claim to have its new power and wealth recognized. Instead, the Germans were regarded as uncivilized boors, and widely mocked and disliked.

At the time of WW2, German grievance, sense of humiliation and not being treated fairly had swollen to such proportions that any concession merely emboldened them and was seen as appeasement and not an attempt to at fairness. At this point the Germans KNEW that such concessions were made out of weakness, whereas earlier such concessions would have been made out of strength.

agnostic said...

"Just like Serbia who has no friends in the region, either now or before WWI."

I mentioned political and cultural leadership. Serbia obviously had political leadership in store, as Belgrade became the capital of Yugoslavia, strong enough to break from the Soviet Union and lead the Non-Aligned Movement.

And they also had cultural leadership. Romantic nationalism in the Southern Slavic areas took off thanks to the work of the 19th C. philologist, linguist, and folklorist Vuk Karadzic. He was the Serbian version of the Brothers Grimm.

Aside from the non-Slavic Greek War of Independence, it was the Serbs who carried the banner for throwing the Ottomans out of the Balkans during the 19th and early 20th centuries. That had both political and cultural motivations.

The Croatians produced many arts and humanities figures, and the Bulgarians were the regional powerhouse for science and tech. But overall cultural influence was greatest from the Serbs, from the 19th C. onward.

IHTG said...

Why then were the neocons so hell-bent on removing him?

Because DEMOCRACY.

Whiskey said...

Russia and the Orthodox, including Serbia; the Catholic powers including Hungary and Austria; and the Ottomans in a three-sided struggle in the Balkans were as old as the schism between the Orthodox and the Catholic. Certainly John Hunyadi encapsulates that three-sided struggle.

The Byzantines, later Russian Orthodox and other Slavic Orthodox had their own, Orthodox way of doing things and a vision of an Orthodox, Eastern-oriented Balkans. The Ottomans had one of an Islamic one, and the Western powers like Austria a version of remaking the Balkans into Western, Catholic lands. Replacing Cyrillic with Latin script, Greek with Latin, etc.

There is no wonder that sooner or later war broke out -- war was INEVITABLE given the fundamental no-compromise issue of who would control the Balkans: Islam, Orthodox Slavs, or Catholic Germans/Hungarians.

Whiskey said...

Neo-cons figured that "Democracy" and removing Saddam for a more compliant, US-client state would be good for the Gulf as Saddam was more trouble than he was worth and a troubling figure -- a Muslim leader who outlasted and defeated the US. Prior to 9/11 there was no real appetite other than non-serious but symbolic resolutions passed by Dems and signed by Clinton calling for Saddam's overthrow.

AFTER 9/11 everyone saw the core problem: Jihad was not afraid of the US. The solution was to make Jihad AFRAID of the US. Bush's solution was not bad in and of itself, Iraq with Saddam removed and a dependent client who would PUMP OIL to the point where it would sit at around $17 a barrel (during much of Clinton's term) in 1995 dollars was not unsound. Promoting "democracy" and expecting anything other than an Iranian puppet state was monumentally stupid.

Israel famously advised against removing Saddam, they figured as with Mubarak and with Assad, better a tyrant they know than semi-Jihadists they don't know. Ariel Sharon lobbied Bush to not invade Iraq, but after 9/11 there was a "crusade" for Democracy as the solution to Jihad. It is one of the good/bad points of American society -- a moral crusade that is sometimes effective and sometimes not.

The fundamental politics driving Iran/Saudi Arabia/Israel are ... yes wait for it ... OIL! Specifically what price it will be globally (which is WHY Russia is Iran's closest ally).

Iran and Russia want oil at over $118 a barrel at least, and likely higher. Putin has big spending plans to buy social peace and acceptance of his rule, which requires according to FT analysis oil at around $130 a barrel or more. Iran's costs are higher, so they need likely even higher prices.

To get oil higher they need to force Saudi Arabia to lower oil production. Which Saudi can't do because that's how THEY earn enough cash to buy their way out of their own Arab Spring. American military force protects the Saudis and their oil protection, a feature of US policy since FDR. The US and Russians have fought over the Gulf by proxy since Stalin's forced withdrawal of Iran's northern part in 1946.

Iran aims to "wipe out" Israel in a "one-bomb strike" which will provide A. A demonstration of the uselessness of US military protection: House of Saud submit or you are next; B. provoke a surviving Israeli military counter-response that will allow them to stage attacks on Saudi itself and rally the Eastern Shia who are the majority (and occupy the oil regions) to revolt.

Iran's regime and leaders feel fundamentally that the US is weak, will not meaningfully respond, and have been getting away with acts of war for decades: the 1979-81 hostage crisis, an act of war itself, Khobar Towers in 1996, bombings in the US zone of South America (Monroe Doctrine), killing US soldiers by the boatload in Iraq and Afghanistan without any reprisals. From Carter, to Reagan to Bush to Clinton to Bush to Obama, the Iranian leaders have seen appeasement and weakness which invites attack.

Matra said...

It's interesting how even the Montenegrins i.e. Montenegrin Serbs wanted to split from the Serbs.

I don't think they wanted to split from the Serbs. It probably had more to do with a resigned realism about their ability to stand up to powerful outside interests combined with short term opportunism at the local level.

Russia sold out Serbia in the 1990s? More than Russia was too impotent and too dependent on the West, economically, to do anything.

A number of Kremlin watchers (few of them Americans) believe Russia's impotence during the NATO attack on Yugoslavia (Serbia & Montenegro at that time) was the last straw for elements within the Russian ruling class leading to Putin's rise to power. This is the accepted mainstream view in much of Eastern Europe. Unfortunately, it appears to be impossible to explain this to frothing Russophobic 'conservatives' and liberal hawks. For them negative reactions from Russia, certain Muslim states, and non-state actors to US/Western actions is taken as proof that the targets of the initial action were Evildoers all along therefore the original policy must continue.

Clutch cargo cult said...

Irishman, how do you figure the US would lose to China? How would this war be fought? I would hope the US would not be insane enough to attack the mainland. Would it be fought in Taiwan? Conventional forces? Nuclear exchange? I am not being snarky just want to know why you are so sure.

Anonymous said...

"Who exactly were those mostly Jewish neocons in the Bush administration? Was it Cheney? Rumsfeld? Powell? Condi Rice? Tenet? Oh yeah, I know, it was Wolfovitz! Who held a very important post of...umm..."

http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/the-neocons-world-1.152455

irishman said...

"Clutch cargo cult said...
Irishman, how do you figure the US would lose to China? How would this war be fought? I would hope the US would not be insane enough to attack the mainland. Would it be fought in Taiwan? Conventional forces? Nuclear exchange? I am not being snarky just want to know why you are so sure.

8/30/12 5:23 PM"

I'm not saying I believe there will be a conventional war, I'm just saying that if there is(the odds are very slim) a major war in the next century it will be China v America with America starting it for the same reasons as Germany in 1914. There will almost certainly be a form of cold war though either way, for the same reasons, China will win.

The reason I think China will win is that since the civil war the way America has fought wars has been to mobilise its immense economic strength to overpower any enemy. This worked against the Confederacy, the Germans and the Russians. When this tactic has been neutralised by America's opponents America lost by being unable to win as in Iraq, Vietnam and Afghanistan.

America's global strategy at least since WWII has been to be a universal nation of liberal democracy. This has brought it the loyalty and support of the capitalist nations throughout the world.

China will overcome America's primary war tactic easily. It has 1.3 billion highly functional citizens who are intensely nationalistic. There is no reason why they cannot become at least as wealthy as Europeans are today. If they do they will have an economy perhaps three times the size of America.

Secondly, China has an alternative global appeal to America. It can offer unquestioning support to leaders like Putin in return for economic co-operation. Putin might have his days numbered but there will always be enough rulers in the world who need a powerful friend. People like Chavez and Paul Kagame. This is much less effective than America's strategy of being a global nation but it will give them a way to keep many countries out of America's camp.

As for Taiwan. America has been cold shouldering Taiwan for at least a decade. Unless some hot head gets elected there it will take a Hong Kong type deal and revert to China peacefully.

Mil-Tech Bard said...

>>>The best chance of WWIII
>>>breaking out is America
>>>adopting the same mindset and
>>>provoking war with China(You'll
>>>lose).

Silly man.

The USA isn't provoking a _Sino-American_ War.

It is provoking a _Chinese Civil War_.


See:

Payback Against China
August 5, 2012
http://www.strategypage.com/htmw/htiw/articles/20120805.aspx


... Apparently the U.S. leadership has secretly agreed, after years of requests, to let the Pentagon retaliate via the Internet. Thus China's complaints about being hacked have credence. In fact, this declaration of open season on China could do a lot of untraceable (or at least deniable) damage to China's economy, not to mention the security of their government and military networks. With all the corruption going on in China, especially by senior Chinese officials and their families, selective leaks of some secret documents, or just the gist of what was in them, could do a lot of damage to the Chinese leadership. It looks like round two of the first Cyber War is entering phase two, as the victims strike back.

American intelligence services stealing corruption secrets from various Chinese factions and providing them to other Chinese factions -- through Chinese cyber-cutouts either real or imagined -- is a damned good way to provoke such a conflict.

America loves China so much that it thinks there should be far more than just two of them.

yawn said...

In all of Sailer's monomaniacal musings on this hobbyhorse I've never heard his explanation of why the Zionist brass publicly agreed with him on the administrative disposition of the Iraq fiefdom prior to '03. Let me guess-- it was just routine legerdemain-kabuki-deniability while puppets Bush & Cheney did their bidding? Sometimes I think he actually believes Richard Perle and Charles Krauthammer are major players in Knesset logrolling

Anonymous said...

Matra said: "I don't think they wanted to split from the Serbs. It probably had more to do with a resigned realism about their ability to stand up to powerful outside interests combined with short term opportunism at the local level."

It's certainly understandable why Montenegro went its own way. It seems to be the trend in the region; the Balkans have been fragmenting into smaller statelets ever since Yugoslavia started cracking up in 1991. Got your own distinct regional dialect? Sure, here's a nation-state for you!

The Serbs have a bad rap in Europe. Montenegro is just doing an Austria: distancing itself from its unpopular big brother. The Austrians, it must be remembered, were incredibly quick to forget their German identity in the aftermath of WWII.

Eugenikos said...

XX Committee is really stretching this Israel:US = Serbia:Russia analogy way past its natural point.

The only similarity is that a major power is going somewhat out of its way on behalf of a small country. But the differences are much more numerous:

1. Russian and Serbian languages are reasonably similar, and use the same alphabet. No such relation between English and Hebrew.
2. Russians and Serbs are both Eastern Orthodox. Most Americans aren't Jewish.
3. Russia and Serbia have historical ties going back centuries, fighting common enemies.
4. Jewish influence in the U.S. is many orders of magnitude stronger than Serbian influence in Russia has ever been, for reasons of cultural and media power, financial power, etc.
5. There are almost as many Jews in the U.S. as there are in Israel. The number of Serbs in Russia is presently less than 0.1% of the number of Serbs in Serbia, and I'm not aware that the number of Serbs in Russia was ever significant.

Anonymous said...

There was a israeli plan to kill Saddam in the 90's, a revenge for Scud missile attacks of the first Gulf War... But they found that would be better if America could kill Saddam AND desestabilize Iraq (no military, nuclear reactors,..)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Bramble_Bush

AlexT said...

It should also be pointed out that Franz Ferdinands decision to have a military parade on St. Vitus day in Sarajevo was considered a deliberate provocation by the conspirators. Rebecca West's 'black lamb, grey falcon' is obligatory reading for anyone interested in this region prior to world war II.

Dr Van Nostrand said...

A number of Kremlin watchers (few of them Americans) believe Russia's impotence during the NATO attack on Yugoslavia (Serbia & Montenegro at that time) was the last straw for elements within the Russian ruling class leading to Putin's rise to power. This is the accepted mainstream view in much of Eastern Europe. Unfortunately, it appears to be impossible to explain this to frothing Russophobic 'conservatives' and liberal hawks. "

Well put. How exactly were ANYONEs interests served due to Clintons 2nd assault on Serb in the Balkans in a decade??
If the plan to attack a Christian nation(which had done absolutely nothing to the U.S) to help a Muslim nation was in order to gain international Muslim goodwill ,then that worked liked a charm didnt it?

It also had the effect as you pointed out of needlessly enraging a hapless Russian populace ,adding insult to injury which certainly was a strong catalyst for the rise of Putin.

The seed of the Kosovo war could was planted by Tony Blair who wished to play Thatcher to Clintons Bush 41.To be fair to Clinton, he initially was incredibly reluctant at the idea and in fact flew into a rage openly humiliating Blair and the U.K as a third rate has been nation , and that he should know his place rather dictate to the U.S President.But apparently Blair was patient and Clinton eventually came around.

I am truly amazed at the utter idiocy of these American conservatives, they make common cause with Tony Blair and Christopher Hitchens their uh interesting credentials...Must be the English accent....

Anonymous said...

I used the Serbia-Tsarist Russia to America-Israel comparison many times. Funny how you never heard of it Steve. No rational self-interest can justify America's ties to Israel.

Anonymous said...

"I used the Serbia-Tsarist Russia to America-Israel comparison many times. Funny how you never heard of it Steve. No rational self-interest can justify America's ties to Israel."

The American elite love Israel.