Tuesday, February 03, 2015

The Fog of Peace

"The trouble began at the end of the Cold War, when the collapse of a bankrupt  Communist ideology was complacently interpreted as the triumph of the market. As communism was discarded, so was the concept of the state as an agent around which our collective interests and ambitions could be organized.The individual became the ultimate agent of change – an individual conceived as the type of rational actor that populates economists’ models. Such an individual’s identity is not derived from class interests or other sociological characteristics, but from the logic of the market, which dictates maximization of self-interest, whether as a producer, a consumer, or a voter."

A friend from the other side of the world sent me a post at Project Syndicate   by
Jean-Marie Guéhenno, former Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping at the United Nations, is President and CEO of the International Crisis Group and the author of the forthcoming book The Fog of Peace: A Memoir of International Peacekeeping in the 21st Century.

The quote above is just an excerpt from the post, and, presumably, from the book The Fog of Peace.

I didn't know what the International Crisis Group was either, so I googled.  Here's part of a post by Tom Hazeldine at the New Left Review who doesn't think much of them:

On the face of it, the ICG represents a particularly successful NGO incursion into geopolitical affairs. A mid-nineties spin-off from US establishment think-tank the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Crisis Group purports to offer ‘new strategic thinking’ on conflict situations, aided by a global monitoring network it runs across sixty countries, with links to lobbying operations in Washington, New York, Brussels and London. Half of its annual budget of $16m comes from governments—mainly NATO members, including the US and Britain—while corporate donors include RBS, Chevron and BHP Billiton; billionaire financier George Soros is a leading patron. [3]The organization styles itself as independent and non-partisan, but has consistently championed NATO’s wars to fulsome transatlantic praise. Kofi Annan spoke for the entire House when he lauded the ICG as ‘a global voice of conscience, and a genuine force for peace’. The credulous Western media also has moments of sycophancy. The FT praises the group’s ‘hard-nosed realism’, the BBCits ‘masterful’ and ‘essential’ research. The Washington Post likens its ‘excellent reports’ to investor credit ratings for conflict-prone states. Noting with admiration that ‘there is nothing cut-and-paste about the research’, the Guardian enthuses: ‘Long may it continue to thrive.’ [4]
Such commendation would seem no mean feat, especially given the dubious makeup of the Crisis Group board—a rogue’s gallery even by the standards of international politics. Outgoing president Gareth Evans was the West’s principal apologist for Suharto in East Timor while Australian foreign minister. Co-chair Thomas Pickering was a Reagan point man in Central America’s dirty wars, asUS ambassador to El Salvador and one-time intermediary for Contra gunrunners. (This would become a habit: in retirement Pickering sold arms overseas for Boeing.) The Executive Committee includes among its number Mort Abramowitz, self-confessed ‘aggressive interventionist’ and former State Department fire-starter who obtained Stinger missiles for the Afghan Mujahidin; earlier on, while ambassador in Thailand, he had been instrumental in the US policy of backing Pol Pot against the Vietnamese-installed regime.  .   .
Despite the critique of predatory capitalism in the original quote above, Landdestroyer argues that ICG is after helping their corporate sponsors expand around the world.
"To explain why they are so eager to pry their way into sovereign nations, despoil, topple, and rebuild them, one only has to look at ICG's corporate supporters. They include such ignoble organizations as Chevron, Morgan Stanley, and Deutsche Bank Group with equally ignoble intentions that are confidently expressed through ICG's nefarious agenda."
Sourcewatch's report lists lots of people connected with ICG and they all seem to be alumni of high governmental office or international agencies.

This all goes to show what I repeat now and again here - everything is far more complicated than it first appears.  But it's also true that many things are much simpler than people make them appear.  Precisely so they can say, "But, you don't understand.  It's all very complicated."  The Fog of Peace could just as easily refer to all of this rhetoric aimed at confusing everyone.

[For those of you who saw this already, sorry.  Feed burner didn't send it to blogrolls.  I've gotten rid of a lot of junk html that came over with some of the quotes to see if that was the problem.]

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