I am enjoying this new style of calling out folks for bad opinions. Sure, drama is a little crude, but hey it’s the internet, and it seems to succeed at winning views. Over the past couple weeks I have gone after well known YouTuber Kraut, and late night TV host John Oliver. It seems only fair, and very appropriate to the MFF channel, that I also go after “more distinguished” members of the foreign policy community today. Calling people out provides a hook for videos I have always wanted to make. In today’s video, a particularly egregious column by retired admiral and war popularizer Admiral James Stavridis has given me the opportunity to finally talk about the Rwandan Genocide, and Samantha Power’s “A Problem From Hell”, a topic I’ve been meaning to tackle for years. I hope you enjoy the video. What do you think of the whole new “YouTube Drama” approach?
John Oliver is an interesting figure. He’s probably the closest thing we have to an H.L. Mencken, or an Upton Sinclair in our modern digital age. I haven’t watched him consistently since the first or second season of his HBO show, Last Week Tonight, which premiered back in 2014. But whenever he covers something that I’m interested in, I’ll check him out. Usually his take makes me less angry than any other mainstream perspective. The main virtue of his approach is that he gives a single topic 20 minutes to a half hour of his show. Whether the segment is more muck-raking or educational, he’s always able to cover more of the story than any three minute segment. But not even John Oliver is immune to military industrial complex propaganda. Per usual, he does better than most, but even he left some important stuff out in his recent video on Taiwan. So I corrected it for him…
I’ve been avoiding watching videos by the YouTuber Kraut for years now. At the request of a viewer, I finally took the plunge this past weekend, and found it pretty irritating. Having now written and produced a 15 minute video, I think my problem is largely with the style of argument. The blithe assumption that there is no point in even discussing the details of politically useful mayhem is infuriating to me. This style of argument is often used against my attempt to analyze the horror in Syria. Part of Kraut’s anger at Chomsky is that he would even dare to attempt to construct a chronology of deaths in Kosovo. A chronology of death, and the awareness that only a few thousand people died in Syria before the US intelligence community and ally intervention is a key part of my critique of what happened there. If Kraut and folks like him got their way, we wouldn’t be able to establish basic information about catastrophes. That’s not a world I want to deal with. So, to the horror of my 20something self, I’ve managed to make a 15 minute video defending Noam Chomsky.
One of my favorite description’s of journalism is “writing the first draft of history”. I would certainly never presume to call myself a journalist, but I am definitely interested in history drafting. That’s definitely what I’m attempting with today’s video. I have already published a fair amount on Afghanistan, first in short angry bursts, and then in a longer live version. This is my first attempt to reckon with the legacy of Biden’s Afghanistan withdrawal with a full, produced video. Among foreign policy nerds like me, there is a growing consensus that Joe Biden saved both the Afghan and American people from decades of horror by biting the bullet and dragging the US military out of there. The problem is that nobody is publicizing this emerging consensus. What the voters, and the pollsters every president listens to, will remember is the two week media freak out that we all saw in late August and Early September. That’s a very bad thing, if we ever want a US president to end a war again. No matter how disappointed I am in other areas (Yemen!), I think it’s vital to celebrate Joe Biden’s Afghanistan success. So that’s what today’s video does.
Nobody has any idea how history is going to go. But it’s fun to try to predict it. I have a hunch that this AUKUS agreement, deepening military ties between Australia, the UK and the US, is really bad news. But even if it is absolutely the right thing to do, it is a lot more significant than the amount of attention it is getting. It was momentarily a big topic of discussion among geopolitics nerds like myself, but quickly faded. This is weird, because even if everything I said in this video turns out to be wrong, AUKUS is definitely a bigger deal than the withdrawal from Afghanistan we spent weeks agonizing about. An Asian NATO is now a concrete reality, and we know a lot more about what the next few decades will look like in Asia than we did two weeks ago. It’s a big deal. Here’s my very pessimistic take on what it all means.
What a fascinating process. My general curmudgeonly attitude has kept me from doing much collaboration. Today is an exception I think I would like to make a rule. A number of months back I reached out to one of the most successful geopolitics YouTubers for advice. Shirvan of Caspian Report was generous with his time, and you may have noticed how some of his suggestions have worked their way into the MFF vids (stock footage, length). In the spring, Shirvan suggested we collaborate on a project. Caspian Report has about 30x more subscribers, and his videos are typically viewed 200 times more often than mine are. Shirvan is a generous guy. It took a number of months circling to find the right project, but today we’re finally publishing them both! A video on my channel and a video on his… I hope you enjoy them!
Mike Pompeo really pisses me off. He’s probably the worst Secretary of State we have ever had. He owes his meteoric rise to being better at Brown-nosing Trump than anybody else. And to top it all off, he spent four years betraying Donald Trump’s one good idea, to the detriment of the country and the world. Infuriatingly, this guy now seems to believe he’s a serious candidate for US president. Unsurprisingly he’s a favored candidate of the military industrial complex, which is why newspapers continue to take him seriously. He rarely makes it to 1% in polls for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination. Today’s video is an attempt to help keep it that way.
I have been reading a lot about China lately, and the more I read, the more disturbed I get about the way Taiwan is currently discussed in the United States. For half a century this topic has been understood as the mother of all red lines when it comes to US-China relations. That is no longer the case for discussions in the United States. I am pretty sure it’s still a massive red line for China. Uncharacteristically, I now do think there is a chance of war between the US and China. But because of US aggression, not US withdrawal…
Last week my TikTok Account got hacked. It was a profoundly weird experience, and it’s very hard to avoid the suspicion that it was politically motivated. In today’s video I talk about this experience, and I speculate as to why this happened. The internet is a very weird place, and I expect it’s only going to get a lot weirder. Last week I got to personally experience one of its weirder aspects, and I think it’s worth documenting. We hear a lot about on-line disinformation, it was unpleasant, but educational, to involuntarily experience one of its newer forms.
This video also explains why I’m attempting to branch out to TikTok in the first place. Being on one platform is no longer working out for me, so why not two?