Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Buffalo Who Cried Wolf

A friendly picture. German Federal Government/Jesco Denzel via Associated Press. Not clear what Trump meant by saying it was "put out by us."

David Brooks, "Donald Trump Is Not Playing By Your Rules", praises Trump's approach to international politics:
The core issue in our politics is over how we establish relationship. You can either organize relationship at a high level — based on friendship, shared values, loyalty and affection — or you can organize relationship at a low level, based on mutual selfish interest and a brutal, ends-justify-the-means mentality.
Unlike beastly Nixon and Kissinger, who visited a monstrously murderous, nuclear-armed Asian dictator in a crassly selfish bazaar-haggling spirit, an army of experts at their sides facing off suspiciously over every detail, Trump is open, fresh, ready for anything, "We'll see what happens," and above all trusting, as he told Stephanopoulos:

Starting From a Very High Plane
Well, you know, over my lifetime
I've done a lot of deals
with a lot of people, and sometimes
the people that you most distrust
turn out to be the most honorable ones,
and the people that you do trust
they are not the honorable ones,
so we are starting from a very high plane,
we’re starting from a very good relationship.
This has been a very big day in terms of the world.
I think it’s been, maybe I --
a lot of people have been saying it’s historic.
Haha, just kidding. Brooks thinks Nixon and Kissinger are among the good guys of the happy past, who organized relationship on a high level in creating the postwar order:

The postwar order was a great historic achievement. The founding generation built a series of organizations and alliances to fight communism, create a stable trading system, combat global poverty and promote democracy.
The bad guys were the European elites and conservatives and progressives across the West who built international organizations out of fear of nationalism and created a stable trading system, like Nixon and Kissinger:
European elites were so afraid of nationalism that they fell for the illusory dream of convergence — the dream that nations could effortlessly merge into a cosmopolitan Pan-European community. Conservatives across the Western world became so besotted with the power of the market that they forgot what capitalism is like when it’s not balanced by strong communities.
Progressives were so besotted with their own educated-class expertise that they concentrated power upward and away from the people at the same time that technology was pushing power downward and toward the people. Elites of all stripes were so detached they didn’t see how untrammeled meritocracy divides societies between the “fittest” and the rest.
(I know of some people who would not use the word "effortless" to describe the transition from the 1951 Paris Treaty to the 1999 Monetary Union, but let that pass. The development of "meritocracy", to the extent it really existed, was meant to take power away, not from "the people', who didn't have any, but from the stupid and culturally rigid elites of birth and money. They didn't get rid of the elite, alas, but they did diversify it to include members who actually knew some of "the people", which was an improvement for a while.)

As represented, obviously, by those bastard elitists who crashed the G7 summit in Charlevoix, when the suffering people as represented by Donald Trump realized how Prime Minister Trudeau had ruthlessly betrayed the trust Trump had reposed in him:

Everybody Was Happy
I just do want to say, though,
that picture was supposed
to be a friendly picture.
That was put out by us.
And we were waiting for the document
to come back so we could read it.
I left, everybody was happy, everybody shook.
You should ask Prime Minister Abe.
Everybody was happy.
And then he gave out a little bit
of an obnoxious thing.
I actually like Justin, you know,
I think he’s good, I like him,
but he shouldn't have done that.
That was a mistake.
That’s going to cost him a lot of money.
No, wait, those are the good guys, because Donald Trump is a wolf....
Wolves perceive the world as a war of all against all and seek to create the world in which wolves thrive, which is a world without agreed-upon rules, without restraining institutions, norms and etiquette.
What you see then is not merely a disagreement about trade or this or that, but two radically different modes of politics, which you might call high-trust politics versus low-trust politics.
(Restraining institutions, norms, and etiquette continue to exist in part because people don't trust one another's spontaneous generosity and love. It's not trust that persuades us to agree to the restraint, it's fear, which is OK. Trump doesn't trust everybody, just people who flatter him, but the reason he doesn't see any need for rules is that he's a psychopath; it has nothing to do with modes of politics. He thinks he's obeying the rules rigorously, for that matter, while those who don't flatter him are wicked scofflaws who ought to be jailed for their crimes. A similar but collective kind of legal narcissism characterizes the views of tribal Republicans; what we call IOKIYAR.)

"Grandma, what big ideas you have!"

"The better to buffalo you with, my dear!"

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