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Archive for the ‘Niall Ferguson’ Category

Prof. Niall Ferguson on Obama: A colossal failure of American foreign policy.

Posted by iusbvision on May 11, 2011

Niall Ferguson


WANTED: A Grand Strategy for America

By Niall Ferguson

“The statesman can only wait and listen until he hears the footsteps of God resounding through events; then he must jump up and grasp the hem of His coat, that is all.” Thus Otto von Bismarck, the great Prussian statesman who united Germany and thereby reshaped Europe’s balance of power nearly a century and a half ago.

Last week, for the second time in his presidency, Barack Obama heard those footsteps, jumped up to grasp a historic opportunity . . . and missed it completely.

In Bismarck’s case it was not so much God’s coattails he caught as the revolutionary wave of mid-19th-century German nationalism. And he did more than catch it; he managed to surf it in a direction of his own choosing. The wave Obama just missed—again—is the revolutionary wave of Middle Eastern democracy. It has surged through the region twice since he was elected: once in Iran in the summer of 2009, the second time right across North Africa, from Tunisia all the way down the Red Sea toYemen. But the swell has been biggest in Egypt, the Middle East’s most populous country.

In each case, the president faced stark alternatives. He could try to catch the wave, Bismarck style, by lending his support to the youthful revolutionaries and trying to ride it in a direction advantageous to American interests. Or he could do nothing and let the forces of reaction prevail. In the case of Iran, he did nothing, and the thugs of the Islamic Republic ruthlessly crushed the demonstrations. This time around,

in Egypt, it was worse. He did both—some days exhorting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to leave, other days drawing back and recommending an “orderly transition.”

The result has been a foreign-policy debacle. The president has alienated everybody: not only Mubarak’s cronies in the military, but also the youthful crowds in the streets of Cairo. Whoever ultimately wins, Obama loses. And the alienation doesn’t end there. America’s two closest friends in the region—Israel and Saudi Arabia—are both disgusted.  The Saudis, who dread all manifestations of revolution, are appalled at Washington’s failure to resolutely prop up Mubarak. The Israelis, meanwhile, are dismayed by the administration’s apparent cluelessness.

Last week, while other commentators ran around Cairo’s Tahrir Square, hyperventilating about what they saw as an Arab 1989, I flew to Tel Aviv for the annual Herzliya security conference. The consensus among the assembled experts on the Middle East? A colossal failure of American foreign policy.

This failure was not the result of bad luck. It was the predictable consequence of the Obama administration’s lack of any kind of coherent grand strategy, a deficit about which more than a few veterans of U.S. foreign policy making have long worried. The president himself is not wholly to blame. Although cosmopolitan by both birth and upbringing, Obama was an unusually parochial politician prior to his election, judging by his scant public pronouncements on foreign-policy issues.

Yet no president can be expected to be omniscient. That is what advisers are for. The real responsibility for the current strategic vacuum lies not with Obama himself, but with the National Security Council, and in particular with the man who ran it until last October: retired Gen. James L. Jones. I suspected at the time of his appointment that General Jones was a poor choice. A big, bluff Marine, he once astonished me by recommending that Turkish troops might lend the United States support in Iraq. He seemed mildly surprised when I suggested the Iraqis might resent such a reminder of centuries of Ottoman Turkish rule.

The best national-security advisers have combined deep knowledge of international relations with an ability to play the Machiavellian Beltway game, which means competing for the president’s ear against the other would-be players in the policymaking process: not only the defense secretary but also the secretary of state and the head of the Central Intelligence Agency. No one has ever done this better than Henry Kissinger. But the crucial thing about Kissinger as national-security adviser was not the speed with which he learned the dark arts of interdepartmental turf warfare. It was the skill with which he, in partnership with Richard Nixon, forged a grand strategy for the United States at a time of alarming geopolitical instability.

The essence of that strategy was, first, to prioritize (for example, détente with the Soviets before human-rights issues within the U.S.S.R.) and then to exert pressure by deliberately linking key issues. In their hardest task—salvaging peace with honor in Indochina by preserving the independence of South Vietnam—Nixon and Kissinger ultimately could not succeed. But in the Middle East they were able to eject the Soviets from a position of influence and turn Egypt from a threat into a malleable ally. And their overtures to China exploited the divisions within the Communist bloc, helping to set Beijing on an epoch-making new course of economic openness.

The contrast between the foreign policy of the Nixon-Ford years and that of President Jimmy Carter is a stark reminder of how easily foreign policy can founder when there is a failure of strategic thinking.  The Iranian Revolution of 1979, which took the Carter administration wholly by surprise, was a catastrophe far greater than the loss of South Vietnam.

Remind you of anything? “This is what happens when you get caught by surprise,” an anonymous American official told The New York Times last week.

“We’ve had endless strategy sessions for the past two years on Mideast peace, on

containing Iran. And how many of them factored in the possibility that Egypt

moves from stability to turmoil? None.”

I can think of no more damning indictment of the administration’s strategic thinking than this: it never once considered a scenario in which Mubarak faced a popular revolt. Yet the very essence of rigorous strategic thinking is to devise such a scenario and to think through the best responses to them, preferably two or three moves ahead of actual or potential adversaries. It is only by doing these things—ranking priorities and gaming scenarios—that a coherent foreign policy can be made. The Israelis have been hard at work doing this. All the president and his NSC team seem to have done is to draft touchy-feely speeches like the one he delivered in Cairo early in his presidency.

These were his words back in June 2009: America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles—principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.

Those lines will come back to haunt Obama if, as cannot be ruled out, the ultimate beneficiary of his bungling in Egypt is the Muslim Brotherhood, which remains by far the best organized opposition force in the country—and wholly committed to the restoration of the caliphate and the strict application of Sharia. Would such an outcome advance “tolerance and the dignity of all human beings” in Egypt? Somehow, I don’t think so.

Grand strategy is all about the necessity of choice.  Today, it means choosing between a daunting list of objectives: to resist the spread of radical Islam, to limit Iran’s ambition to become dominant in the Middle East, to contain the rise of China as an economic rival, to guard against a Russian “reconquista” of Eastern Europe—and so on. The defining characteristic of Obama’s foreign policy has been not just a failure to prioritize, but also a failure to recognize the need to do so.  A succession of speeches saying, in essence, “I am not George W. Bush” is no substitute for a strategy.

Bismarck knew how to choose. He understood that riding the nationalist wave would enable Prussia to become the dominant force in Germany, but that thereafter the No. 1 objective must be to keep France and Russia from uniting against his new Reich. When asked for his opinion about colonizing Africa, Bismarck famously replied: “My map of Africa lies in Europe. Here lies Russia and here lies France, and we are in the middle. That is my map of Africa.”

Tragically, no one knows where Barack Obama’s map of the Middle East is. At best, it is in the heartland states of America, where the fate of his presidency will be decided next year, just as Jimmy Carter’s was back in 1980.

At worst, he has no map at all.

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Posted in Chuck Norton, Click & Learn, Niall Ferguson, Stuck on Stupid | Leave a Comment »

The Ascent of Money by Niall Ferguson

Posted by iusbvision on May 8, 2011

This five hour series is not only very informative, it is also very entertaining. Ferguson really “gets it” and I would argue with very little of what he has to say.

This is the history of money and the ascent of man and the West. This is invaluable and everyone should watch it.

Posted in Chuck Norton, Click & Learn, Niall Ferguson | Leave a Comment »

Niall Ferguson: Civilization. Is the West History?

Posted by iusbvision on May 8, 2011

This six part series that explains the rise of the West, why it rose and why other civilizations did not. After looking into why our civilization became great, you will realize we are now struggling because we are abandoning those things that made us great. Get ready to learn and understand history better in a few hours than years of college would bring you. This series is entertaining and mega-informative. Every person alive should watch them as they are invaluable.

Competition

Science

Property

Medicine

Consumerism

The Protestant Work Ethic

Posted in Chuck Norton, Click & Learn, Culture War, Niall Ferguson | Leave a Comment »

Prof. Niall Ferguson: school history lessons ‘lack all cohesion’

Posted by iusbvision on May 7, 2011

Niall Ferguson is one of my very favorite academics. He creates narratives based on verifiable evidence and will not hesitate to rhetorically unravel anyone who skews history or what is obvious due to ideology or partisanship. Niall Ferguson is a site to see in a debate. Former professors of mine who thought I was too rough on people for displaying inexcusable ignorance, wait till you get a load of this man :)

Here is an example:

Interesting that Niall takes the same position that several on talk radio have (Limbaugh, Beck), as well as this web site has, that the Muslim Brotherhood is not a pro-democracy movement at all as the “establishment” insists and that is merely the organizations smiley front face. This video was from early last February. The Muslim Brotherhood is taking power, this is tantamount to 1979 in Iran and they want to break the peace treaty with Israel and impose Sharia, which will devastate their economy even more and create more instability. Notice what he says at the end, “This is a high probability scenario and the President is not even considering it.” He called it.

The Guardian:

Historian says too few pupils are spending too little time studying history, particularly in state schools.

The Harvard academic Niall Ferguson has warned that too few pupils are spending too little time studying history – and what they do study lacks a sweeping narrative.

He offers his own lesson plan to remedy what he says is a lack of cohesion, in which pupils place six “building block” events, including the Reformation and the French revolution, into the right order.

His plan aims to give pupils an overview of the years 1400 to 1914, and encourage them “to understand and offer answers to the most important question of that period: why did the west dominate the rest?”

Ferguson, who has been invited by the education secretary, Michael Gove, to play a role in overhauling the history curriculum, directs the teacher to show their class a map of the world circa 1913 “showing the extent of the western empires”.

The class then divides into groups to defend the merits of six ingredients of western success, ranging from “competition” to – perhaps more controversially — “the work ethic”.

Ferguson, who works as a consultant for a software developer that creates history-based games, encourages the class to play five rounds of the multi-player game Commerce, Conquest and Colonisation, as a supplementary activity. The plan is aimed at a mixed-ability class in year 10, the first year of a history GCSE course.

In an article for the Guardian’s education supplement, Ferguson disagrees with a recent Ofsted survey that praised history teaching in secondary schools. While Ofsted criticised “disconnected topics” in the primary history curriculum, it said that provision was good or outstanding in most secondaries they visited.

Ferguson says: “Clearly, all last year’s talk by Michael Gove, Simon Schama, myself and others about the urgent need for reform was mere alarmism, doubtless actuated by some sinister political motive.”

Ofsted’s report said it was a “popular and inaccurate myth” that students at GCSE and A-level only studied Hitler. Students were required to study a range of topics, including a substantial amount of British history, the school inspectors said.

Ferguson’s fellow celebrity historian Simon Schama has agreed to advise ministers on an overhaul of the national curriculum intended to restore a narrative “island story” of Britain.

Ferguson writes: “History is emphatically not being made available to all in English schools. Too few pupils, especially in the state sector, spend too little time doing it. And what they study lacks all cohesion.”

The academic criticises “an unholy alliance between well-meaning politicians and educationalists” for reshaping history teaching to focus more on skills such as analysing sources while neglecting facts.

“The challenge for the education secretary, Michael Gove, is to make sure that he is not the latest in a succession of politicians to see his plans for reform subverted by an educational establishment – here exemplified by Ofsted – that is still in deep denial about the damage its beloved new history has done.”

Ferguson laments the fact that England is the only country in Europe where history is not compulsory after the age of 14, and expresses concern that design and technology is a more popular subject at GCSE.

He quotes a survey of first-year undergraduates that found that around two-thirds did not know who was monarch at the time of the Armada, while 69% did not know the location of the Boer war. The survey was a quiz set by an economics lecturer at Cardiff University, which tested first years’ historical knowledge over a three-year intake.

Ferguson writes: “Such evidence should make us very sceptical indeed about Ofsted’s claim that history is ‘a successful subject in schools'”.

The historian approves of a passage in Ofsted’s report, which highlights a lack of narrative in primary school history teaching.

“The only thing wrong with this observation is that Ofsted seems to think it applies only to primary school pupils, whereas it could equally well be applied to those in secondary school – and students at a good few universities, too.”

The “long arc of time” has been replaced by “odds and sods”, Ferguson says.

Niall Ferguson’s history lesson plan is available to download from the Guardian Teacher Network.

Posted in Campus Freedom, Indoctrination & Censorship, Chuck Norton, Click & Learn, Niall Ferguson | Leave a Comment »

World’s greatest historian speaks out on Paul Ryan and America’s debt

Posted by iusbvision on April 17, 2011

Prof. Niall Ferguson

Posted in Chuck Norton, Click & Learn, Economics 101, Niall Ferguson | Leave a Comment »

Prof Niall Ferguson: Paul Krugman is a joke, Keynesianism is dead, China is more capitalist than we are, get the debt under control or Western Civilization is done for…

Posted by iusbvision on April 4, 2011

Have you ever heard one of those sports guys on the radio who can tell you the stats of every football and baseball game since 1940 right off the top of their head? Prof. Niall Ferguson is like that, but with history and the history of economics. Prof Niall Ferguson is accepted by a great many academics as the most brilliant historian alive and judging by all I have seen in recent years, I have seen no one who can match his ability and have only seen one man in my lifetime who is in the same ballpark as far as ability is concerned. Take a look at his bio HERE. Ferguson said in another interview that only one time in history has a major power emerged from this kind of debt and survived and that was England after the wars of the 1800’s. It doesn’t look good unless we change course now.

The volume is low on some of the videos so on a couple you will have to crank up the speakers, but it is no miss stuff.

Posted in Chuck Norton, Economics 101, Niall Ferguson, True Talking Points | Leave a Comment »

Prof. Niall Ferguson Blasts Obama and MSNBC on Egypt

Posted by iusbvision on February 22, 2011

Niall Ferguson is the kind of academic that one ideally thinks of when it comes to a first rate academic. He is a Senior Fellow at Harvard, Oxford and Stanford.

Niall Ferguson is brilliant and his credentials are second to none. He has no regard for sacred cows or political correctness. This makes sense because an academic should first be a truth teller who makes every effort to avoid putting on rose colored glasses.

Ferguson plays no favorites. He is happy to write for Newsweek, be a regular on MSNBC, and then feels perfectly comfortable telling accurate history and making analysis for Glenn Beck. No matter who Prof. Furguson is in front of he pulls no punches and tells things as they are to the best of his ability. This is exactly the kind of ethical courage and fortitude that every academic should strive for.

One quality that many good academics have is that they go out of their way to correct ignorance no matter who is spewing it. I understand Ferguson’s frustration with the Obama Administration and the State Department who sit back and get their analysis on Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood completely wrong.  Prof. Ferguson cops a bit of an attitude when it comes to this because anyone who just does a few hours of history homework could tell Mika (or Obama) what Ferguson explains here.

The State Department is on the campus of George Washington University. If one studies far left academia and its myopic culture, one soon understands the State Department.

Prof. Ferguson took Mika to school when she challenged Ferguson saying that she thought Egypt was a success for the President. This is a great example of how far removed the elite media is from reality.

This is a must see video.

Ironically, what Prof. Ferguson says about what the Middle East thinks about the naivety of this administration mirrors what Donald Trump says that hid Chinese government contacts are telling him.

UPDATE – Walid Shoebat agrees with Prof Ferguson – LINK.

Prof. Ferguson has little tolerance for spin and nonsense. I am going to start reading his books.

Posted in 2012, Campus Freedom, Indoctrination & Censorship, Chuck Norton, Click & Learn, Egypt, Niall Ferguson, Obama and Congress Post Inaugration | Leave a Comment »