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Post On Poetry Translation, and a Snapshot of Geopolitics Today
Created by John Eipper on 09/12/21 3:16 AM

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On Poetry Translation, and a Snapshot of Geopolitics Today (Hall Gardner, -France, 09/12/21 3:16 am)

Thanks for posting my article and poem!

Just a correction: the translation of my poem "Vincent's Room" into French is by Anne Gayet-Turner. My poem, written in English, and its translation were selected by National Translation Month for September 2021, which is a yearly poetry event. Please read the website; the quality of the work is excellent!

In reading over Anne's initial draft translation of Vincent's Room, I did correct some mistranslations of a couple of words such a "jail bird," but the majority of the translation is hers. So I can't take credit for the French!

As for the heavy geopolitics of my National Interest article, I think John E captured the key points accurately in a short description. In response, I do not see my approach as "capitulation" or "appeasement," but mutual compromise.

To paraphrase Hegel, tragedy is not right vs wrong, but right vs. right. As my article states toward the end: The deep dilemma we face is to prevent the clash between the values of "democracy," "human rights," and "responsibility to protect" versus the defense of state "sovereignty" and the "non-interference in the internal affairs of States."

Contrary to End of History theosophy, which argued that liberal democracy will eventually triumph over authoritarianism without major power war, the risks of major power war are real.

Yes, it will take real leadership to engage in mutual compromise to prevent war in which the conflicting sides sacrifice some of their presumed values... but it is possible to act tough, but then make real compromises.

One example is that of Kennedy during the Cuban missile crisis as he withdrew missiles deployed in Turkey (angering the Turks and NATO) in order to get the Soviets to withdraw their missiles from Cuba.

And it is not impossible for former rivals to become Allies, as was the case when Great Britain reached out for deep compromises with its rivals Tsarist Russia, as well as with the US and France, and transformed all three into Allies before World War I. A fact that unfortunately did not prevent the Great War versus Imperial Germany as London had hoped.

We are entering into rough times, and in many ways the challenges and choices ahead will be as tough, if not tougher, than the Cold War in a world that is now entering a period that can be considered a mix of the pre-World War I and pre-World War II periods.

The Fall of Kabul illustrates only one of the dangers that lie before us.

JE comments:  Sheesh, I got that one wrong!  Hall's poem and the French translation can be accessed via this WAIS post.  Just disregard my musings on translation:


"Act tough and make real compromises":  Hall, you've put your finger on the recipe for balancing domestic "image" and geopolitics.  What frightens us all is your comparison of our times with the "pre" periods of both World Wars.  Could anyone survive a full-blown (not proxy) war among the major powers?

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  • What is the Risk of War among the Major Powers? (Tor Guimaraes, USA 09/13/21 2:44 AM)
    I think Hall Gardner (September 12th) made some truthful statements which I wish to echo and expand on.

    Hall wrote, "The deep dilemma we face is to prevent the clash between the values of 'democracy,' 'human rights,' and 'responsibility to protect' versus the defense of state 'sovereignty' and the 'non-interference in the internal affairs of States.'"

    There is significant risk of accidental war between the major powers, but we all know that nuclear war is the end for all mankind. Not even someone like Trump would be allowed to do it. I think in practice the dilemma is how to balance "democracy" where a minority is really in charge (a form of authoritarianism) against some form of theocracy (another form of authoritarianism), against some form of real democracy (democratic capitalism with strong social safety nets), against the concept of socialism/capitalism with Chinese characteristics.

    Obviously "it is not impossible for former rivals to become Allies," as Hall wrote. The EU, despite its many warts, is still ongoing and an impressive example of such a unification. Also, lately China and Russia are well on their way to a deepening partnership. To me the interesting experiment is how the Chinese BRI initiative will play out socially, politically, and economically in the next few decades, despite the numerous attempts by the US government to sabotage the experiment by any covert means possible. While superficial on the surface (primarily a trading partnership), the BRI's impressive infrastructure development component has great social political implications. If the Initiative fully works, it will make the EU experiment look like child's play into the next century.

    I agree that "we are entering into rough times," with many difficult choices, because the old paradigms are falling apart and are being replaced by new ones. We are clearly in uncharted territory: the US government imposing world hegemony by military means is clearly bankrupt by now; the amazing American social political economic experiment with rampant Capitalism is now quickly falling apart socially and politically, hanging on economically by the financial thread of the US Dollar as a reserve currency; Socialism with Chinese characteristics is the new kid to be contained and envied; world government by US/Western rules is not widely acceptable anymore. Finally, there will be a period of major conflict between the forces of Nationalism and Globalism, International laws (institutions) versus American/Western rules, the force of military power versus the force of the laws, etc.

    JE comments:  I concur that a major war would be "accidental," but look at what happened in 1914.  Our advantage of course is what we (hopefully) learned after the Sarajevo assassination.  My question for the WAISitudes is whether these times are particularly dangerous for war, or whether everyone is too busy healing from the pandemic and licking their myriad wounds--nursing black eyes, or however you prefer to phrase it.  Ever the optimist, I'm leaning towards the latter.

    Hall Gardner, who initiated this conversation, has already sent an opening statement on why the present looks rather like 1913 or 1938.  Give me a few hours to publish it--my day job beckons.

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    • Today's Risks of Accidental War...or Intentional War (Tor Guimaraes, USA 09/15/21 10:29 AM)
      When commenting on my most recent WAIS post, John E asked "whether these times are particularly dangerous for war, or whether everyone is too busy healing from the pandemic and licking their myriad wounds."

      I think the probability of accidental war is higher for the near term for two reasons: too many regional conflicts potentially ready to explode or already going on, and the two global teams are feeling each other out much more intensively than during the US/USSR Cold War.

      However, the probability of global war which could escalate to nuclear and humanity's destruction is quickly being reduced for three reasons: everyone knows about assured mutual nuclear destruction; I hope that increasingly humans realize that we are already fighting for our lives and losing global wars against viruses, bacteria, the destruction of our planet's biosphere, famine, ignorance, etc.; and increasingly the world is bipolar with the China/Russia bloc potentially increasingly more powerful unless the US galvanizes Western nations into a more effective team socially, politically and economically. Such bi-polarization will result in a globally more stable geopolitical framework akin to the US/USSR detente.

      Needless to say, for the first time in ages, I am hopeful that to counter the Chinese BRI, the US will have to straighten its social politics out to compete successfully, otherwise in a few decades we will turn into a very large banana republic or will be destroyed by civil war. I hope it is not too late, but the jury is still out because it will be extremely difficult to shake off our plutocratic form of government.

      JE comments:  We're in geopolitical times more intense than the Cold War?  For 40 years both NATO and the Warsaw Pact organized nearly all their military thinking around a war with the opposite camp.  At present, nobody agrees on who the enemy is.  China?  A Russo-China axis?  Non-state actors with rogue-state sponsors?

      Tor Guimaraes places a lot of stock in Mutually Assured Destruction as a deterrent for war.  It's been a long time since we've discussed "MADness" on WAIS.   Is anything different now from, say, 1989?  My biggest fear:  a non-stater getting the Bomb.  MAD doesn't cut it when you don't even offer a territory for retaliation.

      And finally, a very abstract question:  is there such a thing as "accidental" war?  Unforeseen wars, perhaps, and skirmishes can certainly "happen" in stress zones.  But mobilization doesn't occur by accident.


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      • Are the Present Times More Dangerous than the Cold War Era? (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 09/17/21 2:21 AM)
        Excellent, as usual, the post of Tor Guimaraes and the comments of our esteemed moderator (15 September).

        However, I believe the political situation of the world is presently more "intense" than during the Cold War: The feud between the US and the Soviet empires was, after all, a feud between two powers derived from European civilization which, at least theoretically after the Stalin era, were following the same rules and International Conventions.

        Now the situation is completely different. The Empire is no no longer ruled by wise leaders; its Deep State is out of control. The European countries are tired of the incompetence of said leaders and of their policies that have antagonized Russia, which could have become a very good partner.

        Now Europe is in a liquid-gas crisis. In Italy, starting in October, a 40% rise in price is expected due to short supply.

        Some years ago I wrote in favor of the South Stream Gasduct, built by Italians and connecting Russia with Italy, but it was banned by the Empire. I was told by a WAIS colleague that it was economically useless (sic). In face of the present crisis and of the completion of North Stream 2, I believe instead that I was correct.

        China historically has not been a warmonger country, but it has its interests and priorities. It cannot renounce Taiwan or the China Sea. Here a war by accident could easily flare up. Just suppose a US (or NATO) Navy ship in the region enters into what she (female for ship) believes to be international waters, close to a newly built Chinese island. She receives from a Chinese Navy ship the order to get out. The US/NATO ship does not obey, and the guns start firing.

        We also have the extremist Islamists who do not follow any civilized conventions. Their terrorism can explode in a chain of incidents involving also the great powers.

        Finally, we have the Israel (and Saudi Arabia)-Iran feud. Lately, Israel has been ruled by warmongers who would like to involve the Empire in a proxy war for Israel against Iran. Remember the speech of Netanyahu at the UN, almost another Colin Powell. So far, Israel has bombed and killed in many places without consequences, but suppose that the next shot ends up on someone who finally retaliates for good?

        The situation is bleak, and becoming bleaker and bleaker.

        From this point of view of World Peace, the Empire has made many mistakes. The first was Carter's decision of 3 July 1979 in favor of the Taliban. Perhaps the greatest was after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact on 1 July 1991. Instead of being expanded, NATO should have been dissolved at that time and transformed into an alliance without any military bases outside of the national borders of the US. (With the money saved the US could have probably repaired all its crumbling bridges...in gold.).

        The Empire should have also permitted its "allies" some freedom of action within the limit of the said alliance.

        For instance, let's have a look at Italy.

        On a few occasions, Italy attempted autonomous actions to create the peaceful cooperation of all countries of the Mediterranean area.

        The first one in the 1950s and early '60s, with its leaders as Fanfani, La Pira, and moreover with Enrico Mattei, founder of ENI.

        The first two were politically eliminated. while the third was "assassinated" in an air accident on 27 October 1962. Again Bettino Craxi in the 1980 tried the same plan but ended up dying in Tunisia in 2000.

        The third case with Berlusconi ended with a plot from the judiciary. Berlusconi had transformed Gaddafi into a very good friend of Italy and we all know how that ended--with Hillary Clinton's exclamation: "We came, we saw, he died." Libya is now a den of terrorists, half under a hostile Putin and the other half under a very unreliable Erdogan.

        Furthermore, the Gladio, which was founded as a means of resistance in case of a Soviet invasion, under the direction of the CIA became a tool, even with terrorist means, to carry out the policies of Italy.

        JE comments:  To channel the late Donald Rumsfeld, the Cold War was a period of "known" unknowns.  Now, we don't even know what our unknowns are.  Case in point:  we (meaning, just about everyone, including WAISers) had stopped paying attention to Afghanistan.  We now have no shortage of Monday-morning quarterbacks, but even the most prescient specialists did not envision a Taliban takeover in, what, eleven days?

        By all accounts, we also screwed up in Libya.  While never exactly "our" bastard, Gaddafi had mellowed markedly in the present millennium.  But what could have been done differently during the Arab Spring?  Send military aid to prop up Gaddafi?

        Eugenio, please tell us more about the Gladio, Italy's "stay-behind" paramilitary force in case of Soviet occupation.  Most nations in Europe had similar organizations.  This is one facet of the Cold War few of us know about.

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        • NATO's Stay-Behind Armies: The Gladio (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 09/20/21 2:33 AM)
          Our esteemed moderator asked for more information on the Gladio, the "stay-behind" force organized in Italy to combat a potential Soviet occupation.

          Immediately after the surrender of the forces of the RSI and of the Third Reich, Northern Italy for a short time was left in the hands of the partisans, mostly communists, with the massacre of thousands of real or supposed Fascists. Then the Allied Military Government of Occupied Territories (note Occupied and not Liberated) was in charge until 31 December 1945.

          Theoretically, all the partisans were supposed to turn in their weapons. But not all weapons were delivered by the Communists.  Many were hidden for the "second ondata" (second wave), when Communism would take over and Italy would become one more Soviet republic under Father Stalin. I still remember very well my Red neighbors talking (menacingly) about such a radiant future.  Of course this would involve the gallows for priests, the bourgeoisie, as well as fascists and their supporters.

          Catholic groups and survivors of the RSI organized to fight back, especially for the election of 1948 when the Reds were convinced of victory one way or another. But by that time the Americans had entered the camp, supplying money to the Christian Democrats as well as to the anti-communist groups. With the founding of NATO in 1949, the stay-behind structure was put in place.

          Unfortunately, the CIA maintained its old connections with the Mafia, going back to the preparation for the landing in Sicily and practically dictated to the Italian Gladio what to do, including dirty business even when not in the interests of Italy.

          For a long period in Italy, we had a small-scale civil war between the Italian state and extremist red groups.  Also some right-wing groups emerged, but for a long time the lay-democratic-antifascist media and judiciary system tried to pin all terrorist acts on the latter.

          The Red Brigades were founded by old WWII partisans, but their members were mostly young people. During that period Italy was almost a no-man's land where many foreign secret services were committing crimes, from Mossad (one small airplane exploded in retaliation for a favor to the Palestinians), Palestinian extremists, various services from the Soviet empire, and of course the dominant CIA, which for sure succeeded in infiltrating the Red Brigades. The following is taken as proof of it by many:The new leader of the DC, the catto-communist Aldo Moro wanted to form a government in coalition with the Communist party. He had already been warned in 1974 by Henry Kissinger. "If you do not change your line, you will dearly pay for it."  In March 1978 on the day that he was supposed to announce his new alliance with the Reds, he was kidnapped by the Red Brigades and then killed. His project was by then dead. See the books Lei la pagherà cara (You will dearly pay) and Friendly Fire: The Moro Kidnapping as False Flag Arranged by the US.

          The Italian state succeeded in eliminating most of the extremist Left as well as any fascist revival, but the interference of the CIA left a nation destroyed, more spiritually than materially, as the interests of the CIA quite often were against the sound interests of the Italian nation.

          On 22 November 1990, the European Parliament approved a resolution condemning the existence of the stay-behind Gladio organization and requested an investigation. This action followed the speech of Italian PM Giulio Andreotti on 2 August 1990, in which he acknowledged the existence of such a secret paramilitary force in Europe. Practically only Italy and Belgium investigated Gladio.

          The most detailed book on Gladio is by the Swiss scholar Daniele Ganser: NATO's Secret Armies: Operation Gladio and Terrorism in Western Europe.

          Personally, I found the book rather biased, as he does not place the birth of Gladio and all its actions in the appropriate historical context. Personally, I do not appreciate his appraisal of Italian Prince Valerio Borghese. Borghese was a great hero both in the kingdom of Italy and then in the RSI. Even if he was only a military man and not a fascist, he refused the surrender and betrayal of 9 September 1943 and organized his autonomous powerful force as an ally of the Third Reich.  He never was at the service of the latter but stayed within the RSI. Ganser even seems to regret that Borghese was saved from the partisans' gallows by his former enemy and admirer (what is wrong with admiring an enemy if he deserves it?) Admiral Ellery Stone with the help of the great OSS man James Angleton.

          JE comments:  The Wikipedia entry on Gladio states that similar organizations existed in almost all the NATO states, but Italy's Gladio came into use as the generic for them all.  The biggest problem with paramilitary forces is having armed and trained operatives with nothing to do.  The vacuum tends to get filled with all kinds of mischief.

          What is the current state of scholarship on the Moro kidnapping-murder?  I have heard versions that the Italian government (with NATO and CIA complicity) resolved to "sacrifice" Moro (i.e., allow the Red Brigades to kill him), but it's a stretch to call the whole thing a false-flag conspiracy.  Nonetheless, few in Italy believe the official accounts.  Will we ever know the full story?  Probably not.

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  • Does Today Look Like the Eves of World Wars I and II? (Hall Gardner, -France 09/13/21 7:46 AM)
    On the Pre-War comparison I brought up in my post of September 12th:

    The Pre-World War II period: The collapse of the Soviet Union parallels the collapse of Imperial Germany after Word War I, while Russian efforts to reach out to China parallel the efforts of Weimar, and then Nazi, Germany to reach out to Soviet Russia in the Rapallo Pact and then the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact.

    Nothing parallels the latter yet, so a full-fledged Sino-Russian alliance has not yet been forged. Nevertheless, as argued in my National Interest article, Moscow's support for the China's missile defense comes close to such an alliance.

    The Pre-World War I period: US support for NATO and the EU, plus the Quad of Japan, India and Australia vs Russia and China comes close to playing the role of the Triple Entente vs Imperial Germany and its Triple alliance, with a few nuances.

    If history repeats itself, only cockroaches will survive a major power war.  Yet even if major power war is not in the cards, contemporary proxy and cyber wars are generally escalating.  The time is now for re-thinking global politics and for ameliorating disputes and conflicts through engaged diplomacy!

    JE comments:  It's never the wrong time to avert war.  A question about alliances now and alliances pre-1914.  If we look at the example of NATO and the Warsaw Pact, the competing alliance structure actually prevented a major war.  (I know, there's the sticky issue of correlation vs causality, but something worked for 40+ years.) 

    How reliable is the Pacific "Quad"--Japan and Australia of course, but what about India?  The fourth member I presume is the United States.  But don't overlook North and South Korea, with the world's fourth and seventh-largest armed forces, respectively.

    Is today's Powder Keg the Far East?  The Middle East just seems so much more volatile.

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