In response to an FT article by Ed Luce on 13th March 2016, entitled 'Troubling warnings for the US from the 1930s'
Very good Mr. Luce. Your previous article on this topic was excellent, and this is very good too.
You are streets ahead of your senior colleagues, who seem to display a sense of outrage at the rise of the 'populist usurpers' and a sense of patrician dismay at the ingratitude of the plebs. They do a grand job of illustrating some of the attitudes that people are sick and tired of - the overwhelming sense of entitlement and hubris. Fortunately you seem to have dodged the irony bypass operation.
Many people are sick to the back teeth with the established political compact in the west. Personally, and though I wouldn't vote for the bombast of Mr. Trump or the big government of Mr. Sanders, there is a large part of me that would love to see them get the nominations just to witness the apoplexy on Wall Street, the bum kissing on K Street, and the mouth frothing on Fleet Street.
Moving on to President Obama, in some ways his interview was 'par for the course' for a President intent on their 'legacy'. However - this is often a very enlightening time in the life of the presidential cycle because it lets us into the mind of the President in a way that has not happened before and probably won't ever again. Anyone familiar with President Eisenhower's final speech will recall the quite extraordinary passage warning Americans to be constantly vigilant to the power of 'the military-industrial' complex. That was about as close as you'll get to hearing a President warning his people of dangerous elements within his own government - people who not even a President has the power to control or even rein in.
In my view, President Obama is offering us a similar warning, albeit more subtle:
'He also expressed disdain for the US establishment’s obsession with “credibility” as the measure of American power, and force as their perennial solution'
He is talking about the neocons - the people behind every little 'adventure' in US foreign policy for the past three decades. Clearly he has had to fight them all the way. Under some Presidents they take a higher profile in the public gaze, as in the case of Dick Cheney in the Bush II administration, who steered an essentially vain and clueless President every step of the way. Mr. Obama is not so vain, and is certainly not clueless, however he may be painted by the interventionists...but...they are still there, wheedling and scheming in the background. The Wolfowitz doctrine is alive and well and residing with people like Victoria Nuland, who has done her level best to undermine her boss John Kerry, and has not been fired because she 'can't' be fired.
In short, I believe Mr. Obama is warning us. I would like to echo his warning with a very politically incorrect description that no president could ever enunciate - those people are no better than Capone.
On the other hand his complaint about “free riders” from America’s allies is disingenuous - here's why:
The main US export since the seventies has been the petro-dollar. A 'must have' currency backed by oil, which could not be bought in any other currency. The supply of the oil, and the dollar itself, was guaranteed by military might. Might that has been bolstered by intervention whenever US hegemony has been threatened - as evidenced by the curtailed shelf life of two middle eastern dictators, Sadam and Gaddafi, when they threatened to sell oil in currencies other than the dollar. Neither is it a coincidence that the west's sense of moral outrage at Assad rose several notches on the hypocrisy scale when he refused to allow the Qatari pipeline through Syria, thus curtailing Sunni allies from competing with Russia in the European gas market.
So nice try Mr. President but no cigar. The US has not been on some altruistic kick for the past forty years, and, like all empires past, present and future - has lit more fires than they have ever put out...which leads back to the neocons.
Anyway, thanks again Mr. Luce - good job. As you say:
'Western democracy is on trial. Autocrats in Russia and China will be watching keenly'
So will free minded people everywhere.