One of the subtexts to the current war in the Ukraine is the fact that the West has been wrong about every aspect of the conflict. None of the predictions about the actual fighting have been correct. Even the propaganda has been hilariously wrong, often making the West look foolish. The economic response, which was supposed to be a fatal blow to Russia, has gone horribly wrong. Europe now faces an unprecedented energy shortage this fall and winter.
The bulk of the blame lies at the feet of the neoconservatives running foreign policy for the Global American Empire. The same cast of characters who were horrifically wrong about Iraq and Afghanistan in the Bush years have managed to turn a regional issue into a global disaster. London and Brussels, along with the provincials occupying legacy positions in national government share blame as well. They enthusiastically went along with a war plan that had no chance to succeed.
The degree of wrongness is a thing of beauty, when you can look at it from a purely objective point of view. Rolling dice, flipping coins or pulling policy ideas out of a hat would have had a better result. One could be forgiven for thinking that maybe this series of errors is somehow deliberate. Maybe that ridiculous bald guy from the World Economic Forum really is a super villain. The masters of the universe are setting the West ablaze so they can build back better.
The question that should be pondered is why has everything gone so terribly long for the collective West? One reason is competence. The Global American Empire is led by a man who barely knows where he is most of the time. In his prime, Joe Biden was known as an affable moron. In his dotage, he is a confused and incompetent old man unable to perform his duties. His handlers give him stage instructions for basic things like where and when to sit.
Biden is the bit of the iceberg we see. There is a whole apparatus around him that was instrumental in getting him into office. The Washington political community thought a dementia patient was better than Trump. That says nothing about Trump and everything about the people who engineered Biden’s ascension. People forget that the Democratic Party had to rig its own primary to get Biden the nomination. They never stopped to think what this would mean after the election.
Of course, this degree of incompetence is made possible by a political culture that is defensive, isolated and insulated. They picked Biden because he was the safest option to get rid of Trump. Biden’s primary appeal to the political class was that he was a vegetable they could move around however they pleased. Biden and his family were simply happy to fill the role and play their part. He also provided the best chance of liberating the city from the scourge of Trump people.
That decision gets to the insularity of the political class, not just in Washington, but across the collective West. These are people without any understanding of the societies over which they rule. When you look at the resumes of these people, the common feature is no experience in the dreaded private sector. Politics has been their life since they were adults. In fact, we have reached a point where private sector experience raises suspicion in the political class.
These are people who simply have no idea how things work. They just take for granted that things work. Like the heirs of a family business, the political class has spent their life in a system without ever having to think about how it came into being. The system of power they command is a permanent feature of life. The only variable is who will have control of the institutions of power. That is politics, the game of verbal chess which picks the winners and losers in the system.
Therein lies the other cause of this unfolding disaster. The West is a collection of people who deal in words exclusively. They have never done anything, other than talk about making other people do things. Nancy Pelosi has been in Washington for eighty years and there is no single physical thing she can point to, other than her ten-thousand-dollar freezer, as a product of her political career. When she is dead, the next wave will wash away her footprints in the sand and she will be forgotten.
On the other side of this fight is a different system, one that is the result of people doing things and rising in the ranks as a consequence. Putin is a man who had to navigate a world where failure meant prison or death. When that world collapsed, he had to navigate a world of chaos. When he gained power, he then had to impose order, often taking on powerful oligarchs backed by Western interests. Putin and his ruling circle are a collection of men who do things, not just talk about things.
Six months ago, the West was prepared to give the Russians a good tongue lashing, cancel her from the internet and de-platform her from the financial system. On the other side, the Russians prepared to fight a war against a well-armed and prepared enemy in Ukraine and a well-armed and prepared West on the world stage. One side was ready for a battle of words while the other side was ready for a battle of actions. It turns out that words count for a lot less than actions.
All civilizations have periods of incompetence. The Russians suffered through the Gorbachev and Yeltsin periods. The difference for the West is that the system has been selecting for bourgeois obsequiousness for a long time. The reason Washington is run by fossils is the next in line is much worse than the geezers. Mitch McConnell knows something about running the party. Kevin McCarthy was selected because no one in power worried that he would be a challenge.
The crisis of the West is that it is now run by a managerial class that was selected for being the teacher’s pet, ticking the right box on a form and making sure to never utter a discouraging word around the boss. It is why presidents have been increasingly ridiculous since the Cold War. Clinton, Bush, Obama, Trump and now Biden are all mileposts in the decline of competence. Next up is Kamala Harris, an absurd manifestation of a system that selects against competence.
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