Saturday, November 21, 2020

Quarantine, Week 36: When the Media Loses It

 As a scholar of irredentism, I was delighted by this Fox oopsie:

Sure, the dueling irredentisms of Armenia and Azerbaijan caused a spike in the sales of For Kin or Country, but now we have the upper part of Michigan being given to Canada by Fox.  Which will inevitably lead to the US seeking to gain this lost territory inhabited by Americans that will yearn to be joined back with their people.  The pull of national health care will not crush the spirit of those seeking to rejoin their homeland, where u's are not wasted, where the sportschannel is not obsessed with hockey, while there is not a confusing melange of both metric and imperial systems, and, yes, where there are few damned bags of milk.  

Of course, irredentism requires not just a territory and a people seeking to be redeemed, but also a motherland that seeks to unify with that lost territory.  While the GOP may want to play this up, the Dems can play with this kind of nationalism as well.  Biden can start his administration promising to reverse all of his predecessor's misbegotten policies including the ceding of Upper Michigan to Canada.  After all, does not Biden claim to be the unifier?  And what unifies more than territorial expansion?  Michigan'ers will jump on this as they hope to replace Texas as the Irredentist Americans.  

Ok, I did promise that these quarantine reports would chart my descent into madness, so ... yeah.  

Of course, the Fox map mistake is dwarfed by the genius legal teams Trump has sent out, confusing Minnesota and Michigan, sweating hair dye, and other shenanigans. 

What have I spent the past week doing?  Mostly arguing that these attempts were not a coup.  Some folks found this consensus of the civ-mil folks (see here and here) to be overly pedantic.  Given that a coup usually refers to the security forces of a state removing the incumbent, it is a meaningful distinction:

  1. the US military is not involved, so talking about a coup is looking in the wrong place
  2. the US military has never couped, but talking about a coup helps to degrade the long-standing norms about coups.  Why?  Because coups happen mostly where coups have happened before.  In the US, it has long been unimaginable for the US military to seize power.  Now people are imagining it, which undermines the norms.  Not great.
  3. there is the pesky thing about it being Trump, the President, who may be seeking to stick around longer, a very different process than someone else coming in and taking power. 

 These are different dynamics, so we need to take these differences seriously so that we can focus our attention and our activism where it belongs--the US Congress, state legislators, and media outlets (ok, the last one is the same for a coup--let's seize the radio stations).  As I write this, the Wall Street Journal has pushed out an op-ed against this effort.  Other right of center media outlets are pushing back.  If Trump has to rely only on OAN and maybe Sinclair, he will not just lose power (well, he is losing power anyway) but also the narrative of this season.  

Besides that, it has been a very busy week.  I met with different students thinking about grad school (tis the season), I "went" to a couple of web-based workshops/panels that were chock full of smart people doing interesting stuff.  One presented the CDSN survey to a large crowd--I was most proud of JC Boucher, Nik Nanos, and Colleen Bell for doing a great job of presenting the survey and thinking about its implications.  

The RAS-NSA network, the bilingual network that is a partner of the CDSN, had another webinar on capacity building (training other militaries).  This one was focused on NATO, so I got to see Stef von Hlatky talk about her work on NATO implementing gender training/policy, Carla Machain Martinez (one of the hotshots of the next gen of civ-mil folks) talk about the US case, and then the commander of the Canadian mission in Latvia talk about adjusting to COVID.  I was most interested to learn, in response to my question about whether the restrictions of past missions and differences among contingents made it hard to cooperate mid-pandemic, that Canada benefited from working along side Spain and Italy.  Since those two countries experienced the pandemic intensely earlier than everyone else, they developed policies for their troops abroad that were then adopted by the rest of the NATO troops in Latvia.  I wanted to ask whether being with the lamest countries (Canada picked last, got mostly troops from countries with highly restricted, less experienced troops), but instead, I got an answer that suggested that past performance has different implications in a pandemic.

I also met with different folks to figure out a grant application in the winter and the next directions of the CDSN.  Thanks to the generosity of these folks--they gave me their time and expertise--I feel like we are in good shape.

The highlight of the week was playing poker online with my IR friends.  Not just because I was the big winner, but because I had fallen out of the habit of zooming with friends.  I need to get back in the habit, because those kinds of zooms provide much solace even as work zooms are, um, anti-solace?

The big waves in the US and Canada are disturbing, that people need to be cajoled to stay apart.  US Thanksgiving is next week, and too many folks will organize their own super-spreader events.  Yes, we have had bad leadership in both countries--Doug Ford has the wrong priorities but he is not alone--but it is up to every individual and family to do what is right.  I am lucky in that my family and friends are smart and reasonable and patient about this thing.  The vaccine news is great, but we have to live long enough to get there. So, please, don't travel to see friends/family for this set of holidays or the next.   There will be other Thanskgivings and Winterfests ... as long as we do the right stuff now.

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