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Israel-Gaza Megathread #3

This is a refreshed megathread for any posts on the conflict between (so far, and so far as I know) Hamas and the Israeli government, as well as related geopolitics. Culture War thread rules apply.

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On the topic of Zionism and Jewish influence in American media, I came across a twitter long post that scrutinises the notion that Zionists effectively decide American foreign policy. There are three main highlights of this post.

  • The State Department and the Pentagon are far more powerful lobbies, and their support for Israel is given only begrudgingly.

  • The increasingly high volume public statements that Israel is the only liberal democracy in the Middle East and therefore deserves American support actually signal the weakness of the Israeli lobby.

  • Israel receives atrociously large aid packages because it allows Congress more latitude to manipulate through the budget process, and much of the aid actually ends up in the pockets of defence contractors or are credits to purchase American arms.

I can't verify all of these statements since I'm writing this before heading to bed, but I think this is the first time I've heard someone who isn't implicitly pro-Israel take the issue of lobbying and scrutinise the claims of actual Israeli heft in the American elite. One of the replies to the post brings up an article about Pentagon backed groups in Syria fighting CIA armed militias. It's very interesting to me how intra-American rivalry between various lobbies spill over in warzones, particularly the Middle East.

Related tangent.

Your typical globalist-hater doesn't understand that America's wealth comes from being the only global superpower. While the US is more benevolent that previous aspiring claimants to that crown, they are the only ones to have actually achieved it. Now, benevolent as they may be, American supremacy is maintained through the threat of economic and physical violence.

A world where America is not the sole superpower, is a world that is unquestionably worse for Americans and the nations America protects. Now yes, some American protectorates have been coasting off the US, but that comes with them resigning their agency on matters of national determination. A world where every nation has competing alignments from its neighbors is world where the threat of war looms on every corner.

The $1.5T military spending of the US Govt, is a 'world peace spending' and in return the US gets to be the reserve currency of the world (and essential wage unilateral economic war on any nation of its choosing). Yes, that's a lot of money, but look at America's superior covid recovery vs all the other Pax-American nations. That difference is entirely owed to being able to print as many $$$$ as it likes.

From that perspective, America's military spending a total win-win. American allies get to save money on military and enjoy guaranteed peace. America gets to stay as wealthy as it likes and be the only nation that can truly impose its will on the world.

Now, the so-called global-south consists of countries that are finding their identity in a world where China is throwing its weight around. They don't value global peace, because they don't know a world before it. They don't value local peace, because they haven't enjoyed much local peace or stability during this Pax-American century. Many global south nations haven't been brainwashed (convinced) into favoring American values as baseline. They don't understand Chinese debt traps. They don't see the value in putting the nation state over the wider global religious identity. They don't value democracy in their bones, because they can't imagine majorities having favorable moderate views in their low-trust societies. Point is, they don't see the amazing win-win that Pax-Americana is. They might play along with it, they will change masters at the drop of a hat. They will dump any values they claim to hold, because it is all performative to them anyway.

That's where American global south allies come into the picture. Israel & India are the only 2 proper liberal western democracies in the region, and that matters. India is more independent and still ridding itself of its soviet scars, but Israel understands the value of Pax-Americana in its bones. And you cannot buy that kind of loyalty. It's the kind of loyalty that comes with a strong belief that any alternative than your current master is a worse one. And for that Israel gets rewarded. It is the only unconditional-American ally in the global south.
It is also why I think the America-India alliance will continue flourishing, even if India occasionally plays both sides. India (now) accepts Pax-Americana & liberal-democracy as the best overlords in their bones. Being a natural adversary to China guarantees India's 'loyalty'. Maybe not as a subject, but at least as a willing partner.
Lastly, to me, MBS (and allied Emirati Sheikhs) are the last peace of this puzzle. They might be the only practicing Muslims who have truly abandoned their global-religious identity in favor of Americanism.

The winds of change are here. The US cannot be the sole-superpower on its own. It needs allies and subjects that stay with it out of both convenience, belief and natural alignment. The EU-Korea-Japan-Canada-US nexus ensured that Global-North and its waters remained 'Peaceful' (by encircling Russia). The South exposes 2 new battle fields. Israel-Saudi-India-Australia-Japan are the 2nd front for encircling China, Oil resource & the Indian Ocean. The final front is around the South Atlantic + Southern Indian Ocean. But, Africa and South America aren't as important, so we haven't seen lines be drawn as strongly just yet. Maybe that'll emerge as the final front in 30-ish years.

So yeah, within that context, American favoritism towards Israel makes a lot of sense.

They don't value global peace, because they don't know a world before it.

Maybe I'm a bit tired right now but I have no idea what this is supposed to mean. I guess the 'global peace' means the post-1945 world (or maybe the post-1989 one, I don't know), but surely the countries of the Global South all existed before 1945 and have a long history (and memory) in general.

Most countries in the global south did not exist as independant nation states pre ww2. Most were coming out of a colonial era of subjugation.

Most of these countries don't think about global peace. Their concerns have always been local to their geographic neighborhood.

  • Our ability to carelessly navigate across international waters
  • Banning the kind of explicit colonialism that marked the 19th century
  • Being able to trade your resources with the highest bidder, instead of one that has an army on your shores
  • ...and many more

Having global peace enforced on us by a global superpower with a certain value system has led to the deliberate creation of this modern world. The Global South does not appreciate just how anomalous this peace is and how fickle it can be if nations start pushing too many buttons and pitting competing interests against each other to a maximum extent.

Your typical globalist-hater doesn't understand that America's wealth comes from being the only global superpower.

It is simply not true that being a global superpower has made America wealthy. Walterodim points out the obvious historical evidence that invalidates this. But also being a global superpower is a wealth sink not a wealth faucet.

Being wealthy is about having more stuff, and having services. It is strange to think that diverting wealth towards making items that destroy things (less stuff), and kill people (fewer services) would somehow make us wealthier.

The American economic engine operates well despite being hitched to the responsibilities of a global superpower, not because of it.

It’s more of an investment in security. You can get much farther in a world where everyone knows that messing with you is a death sentence than one in which that isn’t true. If we want a good trade deal for minerals in South America, the ability to say “do it or we coup you and put in someone who will” means you get a better deal than you would if your can’t do that.

Likewise having a military strong enough to invade or bomb the crap out of most countries on earth means that you can assure yourself of reasonably safe shipping lanes. No country on earth is going to mess with the US Navy, and they’re much more likely to use their resources to curb pirates attacking US or Atlantic aligned merchant shipping. It means that aligning with the Atlantic powers provides safety and defying them is dangerous.

All of those things allow global trade to flourish and benefits us in better trade and more open markets and so on. It even benefits us insofar as it deters others from trying to start wars where we’d have to use our military might. That’s also why nukes ultimately are such a boon for peace. Nobody wants the weapon used on their country so any country under the nuclear umbrella of either the USA or Russia can be sure they won’t have to fight wars.

It is strange to think that diverting wealth towards making items that destroy things (less stuff), and kill people (fewer services) would somehow make us wealthier.

Contra @me, I think purchasing collective security measures does increase aggregate wealth due to the ability of those engaged in commerce to do so with lower transaction costs than each of them covering security individually. Whether the United States does this well enough to be worth it and whether it collects appropriate rents for doing so are questions to be answered, but markets function better when they're difficult to rob.

It's possible to spend too much on security and to spend too little. I think the US is massively over spending.

Being wealthy is about having more stuff, and having services. It is strange to think that diverting wealth towards making items that destroy things (less stuff), and kill people (fewer services) would somehow make us wealthier.

Turns out that having that sort of stuff prevents other people from fucking with your other stuff.

The US goes far beyond the point of securing property.

Loss of American hegemony would cause a near term recession and probably high inflation for a while, assuming it didn’t just collapse the government into balkanizing. But the USA was the richest country in the world in 1950(in a global duopoly), it was the richest country in the world in 1920, and it had only Britain as a rival for richest country in the world for the 19th century.

The US has been ‘the’ preeminent power since at least 1880. The US overtook the UK in median income by 1894 at the latest. Australia was actually the richest per capita country in the world for a long stretch at the end of the 19th century.

The US has been ‘the’ preeminent power since at least 1880

economically, perhaps. but our armed forces (and hence ability to project power) was comically bad until rearmament in the late 30s

That's overstating the matter; the US gained the ability to enforce the Monroe doctrine sometime in the later 19th century and opened Japan, conquered the Philippines, and participated in the boxer insurrection with enough distinction to get the peace terms it wanted. The US simply wasn't the overarching superpower until 1990 even if it's been a major power since 1870 or so.

if it's an overstatement, it's certainly less of an overstatement than the original comment stating we were the preeminent power. Britain and France were superpowers, we were not. We were economically very powerful and a regional power in the Americas and Pacific islands, yes.

Your typical globalist-hater doesn't understand that America's wealth comes from being the only global superpower.

Many caveats apply, but this table and other similar sources suggest that the United States was plausibly the richest country in the world by 1913 when it wasn't remotely hegemonic. I don't doubt that Americans reap benefits from worldwide hegemonic status, but the Monroe Doctrine seemed to suffice for generating quite a lot of wealth. The combination of land, resources, culture, and institutions was paying off while Americans were highly skeptical of foreign adventurism.

As Voxel says, the US was already globally the most powerful nation, had dominion in practice over the entire western hemisphere, had embarked on a colonial adventure in Asia and had participated in the Boxer rebellion conflict in China by 1913. It was obviously already an internationalist power. One of the great tragedies of the Mearsheimer-Walt-Buchanan matrix of bullshit is that a lot of people actually believe that the US was ‘isolationist’ before 1941 or something. In reality, the US was always a participant in the general European colonial project and was always an imperial, internationalist nation, it just manifested in a moderately different way.

By 1913, there was a certain degree of obvious US hegemony, even if other powers (the British) still looked preeminent: American ships had forcibly opened Japanese markets to the West, the US had recently defeated Spain and claimed the Philippines, Guam, and Puerto Rico (and for a brief time, occupied Cuba). The Great White Fleet had circumnavigated the globe making its presence known.

Certainly not the height of American power (which we don't even know if we've seen yet, I suppose), but anyone watching would not have written them off at the time either.

My personal intuition is that any inferences from an 'agricultural and manufacturing' era of the world are moot in the present. PPP is hard enough to quantify in 2023. PPP becomes completely irrelevant when you're comparing across centuries. It is the most vibes-based number you can possibly find.

More directly, Every SNP 500 company relies on having a global consumer base. In every mental simulation, if the US stops being the global superpower, it will get a lot poorer, even if other nations become similarly poor alongside it.

That being said, in a fully isolationist world, the USA would easily be the richest big country by virtue of having a large consumer base and being self-sufficient in practically every resource known to man. However, I expect it to be a much poorer and more miserable world to live in on average than what we have today.

Yeah, I would agree with all of that.