Friday, October 24, 2008
Cold War II?
"Are we in another cold war with Russia? I don't think so. It's more a case, perhaps, of history appearing to repeat itself--the first time as tragedy, the second as farce. ... In Germany in 1945 the victorious allies were in a position to impose, very thoroughly, their policy of denazification. Members of the Nazi elite were hanged or suffered long periods of imprisonment and were banned from ever holding political office. The eradication of Nazi ideas was enforced with success, and the new Germany emerged as a democracy down to the grass roots. ... Russia, in contrast, was never occupied and reeducated. No one was punished for Stalin's or his successors' crimes. ... Russia has no ideology, other than the ruthless retention and exploitation of power. It is not burdened by the rule of law, which does not exist there. It has no moral principles of any kind. It is, however, nationalisitic and can and does exploit popular xenophobia to win support for its adventures beyond its borders", my emphasis, Paul Johnson (PJ) at Forbes, 13 October 2008.
I am in large agreement with PJ, except with respect to Russian xenophobia. I am intrigued by using denazification techniques on Wall Street. With many street lights, all we need are a few dozen stout ropes. What are say Goldman Sachs (GSG): ideology, respect for the rule of law, or moral principles? GSG lists 14 "Business Principles" at its website. I select these: "2. Our assets are our people, capital and reputation. If any of these is ever diminished, the last is the most difficult to restore. We are dedicated to complying with the letter and the spirit of the laws, rules and ethical principles that govern us. Our continued success depends upon unswerving adherence to this standard. ... 9. The dedication of our people to the firm and the intense effort they give their jobs are greater than one finds in most other organizations. We think that this is an important part of our success. ... 14. Integrity and honesty are the heart of our business. We expect our people to maintain high ethical standards in everything they do, both in their work for the firm and in their personal lives", my emphasis. There is some truth here. I do not doubt GSG's people are dedicated to GSG, even after they "leave". I suspect part of the GSG "initiation rite" is memorizing Rothschild's maxim, see my 30 March 2008 post, http://skepticaltexascpa.blogspot.com/2008/03/yves-smith-on-paulson.html.