Author Archives: Robert Morris

About Robert Morris

Robert Morris Tweets @TheFederalGovt, posts video as the More Freedom Foundation, and has written a quick pamphlet on the drug war that can be found here.

Harvard Really Is Trying to Kill Us…

Last week Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs released some disturbing news. In a video and report entitled “Destined For War: Can China and the United States Escape the Thucydides Trap”, a Harvard professor claims that war between the United States and China is likely within the next 10 years. They also put some of these claims in an article in the Atlantic that has been very popular.

That’s terrifying.

Thankfully there’s almost nothing to it. As this video explains, their own data fails to support their argument.

TRANSCRIPT:

Wow… That’s terrifying. That’s a Harvard professor saying we’re going to war with China within the next ten years, Because history says so. Is this really true? Not at all, and today we’ll look at why that is.

Over the past few months, I’ve been documenting how the Military Industrial Complex is constantly pushing the United States to fight more, and fight dumber. I’ve talked about how universities and think tanks are very much a part of this process, but I haven’t been too specific. Thankfully, last week the Belfer Center at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government was kind enough to provide a perfect example.

They published a research project on their website. They launched it with an article in the Atlantic by Graham Allison, the Harvard professor we saw at the beginning of this video. It talks about his concept of the “Thucydides Trap”. It’s named after the Ancient Greek historian who told the story of the war between a rising Athens and the more established Sparta. THIS IS SPARTA! Sorry I couldn’t resist. The general idea of the “Thucydides Trap” is that when one country is powerful, and another accumulates power quickly, war is likely to result. China’s rising economy has rightly gotten people thinking about this challenge.

The last paragraphs of Professor Allison’s article in the Atlantic are actually excellent on this. He calls for serious thinking by Chinese and US policy makers, and for careful engagement between the two governments to avoid this trap. It’s exactly the kind of seriousness we’d want from a Harvard Professor. The stakes are incredibly high, seriousness is required.

Unfortunately those paragraphs are the only serious thing about this project. There is nothing in the report or the article to justify the professor’s extraordinary claim that war is likely within the next 10 years. What the project does do is present a list of Thucydides Trap type situations from the past 500 years, and draw some simplistic and frankly foolish lessons from it. In 12 out of 16 situations war was the result, therefore war with China is more likely than not.

If we were talking about coin tosses then maybe this conclusion would make sense. But we’re not we’re talking about history. We’ve grown a lot over the past 2700 years, and especially over the past 500 years. This famous scene from the Movie 300 actually has a historical basis. The Spartans and Athenians really were the kinds of people who kicked ambassadors down wells. Modern diplomacy is a little more sophisticated than that.

Most of the data from the Harvard report comes from the silly hat era of European politics, where millions died because of the ambitions of single individuals who ruled as kings and emperors. We really only grew out of the era of dynastic politics in the 20th century, and it has made a massive difference. Harvard’s data shows this. Over the past 500 years, 75% of these situations have ended in War. Over the past 100 years 50% have ended peacefully, and over the past 50 years, we’ve got a perfect no-war record among great powers. The data demonstrates that we’re getting better at this.

But that’s not the message Harvard is selling here. This is PR, not history. The goal here is to be scary, and it has been very effective. What’s with the military drum soundtrack? The article is currently the most read on the Atlantic website, as it has been for the past week. The first half of the article talks about how modern times are just like the run-up to World War I, a ridiculous assertion I’ve dealt with elsewhere. The headline itself is pretty scary. Why is Harvard doing this?

The answer comes down to money. Harvard’s Belfer Center, and thousands of other institutions across the country, owe their existence to the Cold War. If there isn’t a big enemy to talk about fighting, there isn’t much of a reason for these think tanks to exist. So they create Fear. As Thucydides could tell us, the only way we will end up in a war with China is if we are ruled by exactly the kind of fear the Belfer Center is spreading. Harvard may just be trying to pay the bills, but when they publish stuff like this, they really are trying to kill us.

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Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi may win the prize for biggest failure ever. His historic role as the first elected leader of Egypt in thousands of years of history was a disaster. He was kicked out after around a year by a popular coup, as oxymoronic as that may sound. He’s a clown, but that doesn’t mean he should die. Unfortunately that seems very possible. He was sentenced to death on May 16th and his appeal comes up on June 16th. Killing him would be a mistake. This video delves into Turkish and Russian History to show why… see more…

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What Really Would Have Happened If The Allies Had Lost World War I?

Back when Americans would not half ass anything. David Frum just published a fascinating article in the Atlantic. When I first saw “What If the Allies Had Lost World War I” I was really excited.

The choice to undertake a counter-factual exercise like this demonstrates exactly the kind of imagination that we need in talking about geopolitics.

So much of what we say and think about foreign policy operates from the assumption that the world has to be the way it is, and opinion only varies between the poles of “The US should be more cautious about exercising its great power” and “The US should be using its great power more strenuously”.

100 years later we are still living out the ramifications of Woodrow Wilson’s decision to take the United States into World War I.

So I was very excited to read this article. I was deeply disappointed. see more…

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FIFA, FATCA and the New World Order

There are hundreds of thousands of people working for the Federal government in many different capacities.

Some work for the military, some work for the IRS, some work for the Department of Justice. There are thousands of departments, programs, and offices. They are all doing very different things, but they are all, wittingly or unwittingly, working towards the same goal: More power for Washington, DC.

If you look at individual agencies, the big picture can be obscured, but if you look at what’s happening in parallel a disturbing picture emerges.

This video does exactly that… see more…

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Sri Lanka and the Power of Elections

We should celebrate Democracy’s successes as well as its failures. Too few people are aware of what happened in Sri Lanka in January. This video attempts to make up for that. see more…

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What the New Economy Has Cost Us

The internet economy offers a lot, but it has also taken some things away. This video takes a look at the pros and cons. see more…

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Ramadi falls, Shocking Washington, DC, and Nobody Else

When the Islamic State took Mosul in June of last year, shock was the appropriate response.

If you hadn’t been following the situation they really did seem to come out of nowhere.

Unfortunately, the people who were supposed to be following the situation were just as shocked. The United States government, having spent 11 years as the most powerful force in the region, and having spent billions of dollars of our money to gather intelligence, missed this development just as completely as the general public did. see more…

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What the Killing in Europe No One Cares About Says About American Empire…

The small city of Kumanovo, Macedonia was the site of a running battle between police and Albanian nationalists last weekend.

The US media can’t find a recognizable enemy so no one cares. They should. It tells us a lot about what happens when Empires fall. This video attempts to address that gap… see more…

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Who Rules? Networks…

Or rather one network.

Our federal government is built to share power across different networks across the country.

That’s beginning to break down. This video tells the story… see more…

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The “Black on Black Crime” Myth Must be Stopped!

It’s like clockwork.

Every time some government approved thug kills another unarmed black man, some media figure, abetted by a horde of twitter morons, starts talking about “Black on Black Crime”.

The problem with this is that it is an utter fantasy. No matter how many times you explain this to people, it keeps cropping up.

This video is an attempt to shut that down. see more…

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Why Washington Won’t Do Anything About Income Inequality

We spend a lot of time looking at the section of national income that goes to the top 1%.

That’s interesting, but the fact that the 1% pays a much larger share of tax is a lot more significant.

Washington, DC doesn’t want to attack “Too big to fail” banks because their taxes pay bureaucrats’ salaries… see more…

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What Reason and Vox are missing about Holder’s Civil Asset Forfeiture Reforms

The Drug War is complicated stuff, and Civil Asset Forfeiture (CAF) is one of the more convoluted bits of it.

It is therefore understandable that some journalists, at Reason and Vox specifically, are missing the forest for some admittedly distracting trees.

CAF is a license for theft by government. All levels of government want to take advantage.

The federal government does a lot of it, and individual states do a lot of it.

Up until last Friday, the federal government made it even easier for local police forces to do it — encouraging them to make all sorts of unnecessary stops and seizures, even if their state laws were against CAF or limited its use.

So even if a state wanted to shut down CAF in their jurisdiction, the police could ignore their legislators and continue regardless. This program, known as “Equitable Sharing” was limited by Eric Holder last Friday. It doesn’t end CAF of course, but it does allow state reform to go forward, which is a big fricking deal, and it has made the worst abuses less likely.

I think cautious excitement about the progress made is the right response, as I make clear in my video on the topic: see more…

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Why We Need to Stop Making Murderers Famous…

Everyone has a pet explanation for the mass shootings that keep happening. Some say video games, progressives say gun control. I think it’s all much simpler than that. We need to stop turning killers into celebrities…

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Hells Yeah Cuba! Cuba Policy and the New American Century

Obama’s choice to reopen diplomatic relations with Cuba may be the best thing he has ever done. It rights a very old wrong, and it gives us some great new opportunities. Watch this vid to find out more…

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Arrested While White, How The Other 77% lives.

We hear a lot about how brutal the police are to black people. But how do they treat white people? I used to get arrested a lot, so I can tell the tale.

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US justice system is what’s racist

Everybody knows that the US criminal justice system is racist. But people don’t know just how racist. Today we are kicking off three weeks of videos on this topic. Please do check them out.

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The War On Terror Is a Joke…

It is something we all know, but it is worth repeating. Saudia Arabia’s position as the main funder of Islamic radicalism worldwide makes the US wars against that radicalism a sad sad joke. It seems like the folks in Washington, DC are the only people who don’t know this. This video outlines one of the central realities of the world we live in.

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Stop Paying Attention to Iraq and Ukraine!

You can’t open your laptop nowadays without hearing about Iraq or Ukraine. These countries are having a terrible time. There isn’t really much we can do about them though. We should be more focused on problems that Washington, DC hasn’t quite managed to turn into a photogenic disaster yet…

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5 Facts You Must Accept to Write About Foreign Policy in 2014

We need to set some ground rules. People write a lot of historically ignorant and ridiculous stuff, but Robert Kagan’s article in the Wall Street Journal a few weeks back was a new low. With this video we attempt to set out five facts you need to acknowledge to avoid getting laughed out of town while writing about Foreign Policy.

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How Federalism Saved Us From Wall Street

Wall Street’s dominance of our economy is frightening. Too big to fail banks are tremendously powerful, but it could be worse. In the UK, the banks are the only industry they have left. What saved us from that result? A lot of the economics and the players are very similar. The answer is our federal system that divides powers between the state governments and Washington, DC…

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Who is the Worst President Ever?

People like to argue over who the worst president ever was. Some say Bush, Some say Obama. This neglects some basic facts about where we are today, and how we got here. To find the roots you have to go 100 years back… to Woodrow Wilson…

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Jesus, Rome and the Founding Fathers

Some people spend a lot of time arguing for the “Christian” nature of our nation’s founding. They are missing the point. The Founders may have been “Christian” but their outlook was very, very Pagan…

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Why Hillary Clinton Should Not Be the Next US President

We must not let the Clintons take power again. Here is why…

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