Frogs Slow-Boiling in Their Pans, by Alastair Crooke

Talking loudly while unwilling to wield anything but rhetorical sticks is not a winning foreign policy strategy. From Alastair Crooke at strategic-culture.org:

The rules-based liberal order was always, in part, an illusion – albeit one that gripped much of the world, for a period of time.

George Kennan’s famous 1946 ‘long telegram’ from Moscow was primarily a piercing analysis of the inherent structural contradictions within the Soviet model, leading to its analytical conclusion that the USSR would ultimately collapse under the weight of its own flaws. That was written just over seventy years ago.

Others have tried their hand: Just four weeks after the Biden inauguration, ‘The Longer Telegram’ – an essay written by an anonymous former senior government official, advocating for a new American China strategy – was published to great accolade. Kennan’s original, however, was a profound appraisal of how the Soviet Union functioned (or didn’t), and from which had flowed Kennan’s prediction that ultimately the Soviet system would implode. It was enough to have patience.

This contemporary Longer Telegram however, is an imposter posing as a profound appraisal – in the Kennan mode – whereas in reality, it is a stale repetition of the mainstream U.S. interventionist playbook, albeit one targeting China (as opposed to Iran, though its methodology is the same). It misleadingly has been sold under a ‘Kennan’ label. It makes the case how to engineer implosion: Action, in lieu of patience. It is unlikely that history will treat this recent telegram kindly.

Nevertheless, profound structural contradictions threatening systemic dissolution abound – and are a cause of severe anxiety to many today, who wonder how the future all will unfold, and query whether they will somehow survive as structural dynamics grind noisily away, generating overheated politics.

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