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Mar 7, 2023Liked by Ed West

Great piece, Ed. Funnily enough I was just reading this rather poignant essay by Theodore Dalrymple about state failure in Africa, which touches on many similar themes: https://www.city-journal.org/html/after-empire-12420.html

Dalrymple was a junior doctor in Zambia, paid the same salary as his Zambian colleagues, yet while the white doctors lived in considerable comfort with servants etc., all of the local doctors were continually hard up (the reason being that the moment they qualified their entire clan group would insist on living with them). He argues convincingly that these sorts of dynamics lead inevitably to kleptocracy, as people secure power to enrich their tribes and so on.

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I supported the war and in retrospect it was mostly because of negative partisanship. Lesson learned. The Democrats might be wrong about lots of things and Hollywood may be full of self-regarding morons proselytizing me with their insufferable opinions, but that is not a good enough reason to support a war. When you ask your fellow citizens to fight and die, you at least owe them an evaluation of the situation that was done on the merits.

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Mar 7, 2023Liked by Ed West

Hey Ed,

Pitchfork Pat is alive and kicking!

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" Steve Sailer is even more of a fringe figure and one not mentioned in polite society (although any conservative worth reading, reads him.)"

Really funny way I've heard these sentiments expressed comes from Curtis Yarvin: "If you don't know who Steve Sailer is, you're not going to like Steve Sailer."

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There was good and bad in the Iraq strategy.

Bush was smart frame Islam as "a religious of peace" despite that being a big lie, because that deterred Muslims from uniting against us. There was also wisdom in wanting to stop Saddam Hussein, who had retained chemical weapons and was hiding them from UN inspectors. Was he close to a nuke? No, but we had no good way of knowing that his own officials were wrong about that. They believed; it just turned out that scientists were lying about progress to avoid execution. The UN had promised to remove Hussein for doing what he was doing; is UN credibility not important?

"Shock and awe" was the big mistake. It created a power vacuum that we were ill-prepared to manage, and that led to substantially more cost and turmoil than we bargained for.

Still, the strategy changes around 2008 resulted in vast improvement, and we were well on our way to peaceful maintenance with a small policing presence before Barack Obama kneecapped the whole thing out of partisan spite, creating ISIS. It's much like how America had a whopping 2,500 peacekeeping troops in Afghanistan in 2020 (far less money and manpower than is in Germany or South Korea), but Biden decided he needed to turn the country over to the Taliban in the most embarrassing way possible.

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Hey Ed, pretty sure Pat Buchanan is still alive.

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Sorry for being slightly off-topic but in the rather splendid map of Ottoman provinces in the linked wiki article, I couldn't help noticing that there was no Palestine Vilayet, not even a sanjak. Surely, some mistake?

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I'm surprised you didn't mention that we made the same mistake in Afghanistan. Why did the Afghan army evaporate so quickly? They had greater loyalty to their clan and family than to the state we had propped up.

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Mar 7, 2023·edited Mar 7, 2023

'In these societies, Weiner wrote, ‘the nuclear family, with its revolutionary, individuating power, has yet to replace the extended lineage group as the principle framework for kinship or household organisation’.'

The use of 'yet' suggests that it is practically inevitable that the nuclear family will one day replace the extended lineage group in these societies, as though it were a step higher on the evolutionary ladder. I suppose it might be, but the modern world we have built around the nuclear family no longer has the same appeal for me as it did, say, 30 years ago.

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I am one of the few who was in favour of intervening in Iraq. I was a politcal innocent then and had just started reading David Aaronovich and Johann Hari, both writing in the Independent. After reading about the atrocities perpetrated by Saddam, especially against the best Iraqis, the ones with a conscience, I felt we should intervene. My students brought in magazines showing me the destruction caused by American bombing. I told them that there were no photos in glossy magazines of those tortured to death in Saddam's prisons. The bombing will cease one day. Saddam's torturers will never stop.

Later, I begrudgingly admitted that the whole thing had been a disaster and was probably doomed from the start. The inhabitants of Iraq and Afghanistan now hated us, as did the political left in our own countries. These saw any kind of western intervention as exploitation dressed up as something else. That was the moment I performed a 180 degree turn and became an advocate of leaving the whole lot of them to their own devices.

One curious thing. I love Douglas Murray but I have never heard him recant his 'Why the world needs Neo-conservatism' theory. He used to argue that it was pure arrogance on the part of some westerners to argue that democracies are good for us but not for those who live in less enlightened parts of the world. Yet it seems that that is indeed the case. You need a population with an average IQ of at least 90 and one that has given up cousin marriage.

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Mar 10, 2023·edited Mar 10, 2023

I am a bit skeptical about Sailer's theory on Iraq. After all, look at another example. India's population is split into hundreds of small endogamous castes. If Steve Sailer had been alive in 1947, he may have foretold that independent India would be unable to have stable democratic institutions, because it's a casteist/inbred/clannish society. I know India is not the most succesful society in the world, but it definitely has stable political institutions. Pakistan is quite similar genetically (also casteist according to Razib Khan), but it is unstable. On the other hand, look at the political history of Latin American countries, with military coups and revolutions every decade... I can tell you cousin marriage is very rare in most of Latin America, yet may of our countries rival Iraq in terms of instability and civil strife.. Just saying we need to be more skeptical about this sort of theory.

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Ed as always, hits the nail on the head. That said, I find English attitudes to family rather distant and cold, and see the profound joy of being part of an extended family (yes, even cousin marriage) as an understandable alternative, even if I myself wouldn't go for it. British people act as if their own brothers/sisters/parents(!)/children(!!)/grandchildren(!!!) are some sort of horrendous plague that needs to be endured. I love that in many cultures you can just show up at your auntie's house, and she'll offer dinner gladly and you can catch up with your cousins. In Britain, show up at your aunt's house and she may ask "and who are you exactly? Oh it's you Aaron, why didn't you call ahead? We soooo busy at the moment". Sorry, it's weird and inhuman.

And could it be that actually British, and other European nations in general, could do with a bit more clannishness, just a little? Maybe not 40% cousin marriage - inbreeding is a real thing after all - but certainly valuing and encouraging extended families so that we actually meet our relatives more than once every four years, typically at a funeral.

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The key statistic, for me, was that AQI spent hundreds of dollars per suicide bomb whereas the US probably spent about a million dollars per enemy casualty. That's the real value of a kinship society in warfare, is the higher willingess to die.

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There is no such as thing as "Western foreign policy", only American foreign policy that Britain (as a minion) must follow. Iraq was a disaster but conducting a colour revolution in Ukraine in 2014 might turn out to be a far bigger one.

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Based on the title, I kept expecting a pivot to the other blood aspect of the Iraq disaster: part of W's rationale for the invasion (assuming Cheney allowed him any input) was that Saddam had tried to kill his beloved pappy, Bush pere.

W wasn't qualified to be the chief executive officer of a Foot Locker, never mind prez of the USA. He was/is a small-minded thin-skinned vindictive frat boy who owed every bit of success (and his massive fortune) to his father and his grandfather, Senator Prescott Bush of Connecticut.

Nepotism seems to be a basic human characteristic, we want to pass on our wealth and status to the children we pass our genes onto, but as history shows it's usually a bad way to govern: for every Augustus you get many more Neros.

W campaigned in 2000 as a "compassionate conservative" who would pursue a humble foreign policy, but the moment he had power he couldn't resist trying to settle an old family score.

Blood for blood is just about the strongest human urge, even more than blood for oil.

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I was very much in favor of the war, and like so many of beliefs in my 20s and 30s, I very much regret it.

My first concern about the possible folly of the whole endeavor came was when I read a line from Wolfowitz where he asserted that democracy was the default status of all societies. That was a sign that the people running the show were delusional. Still, I thought the status quo was unacceptable.

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