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Post 40

Tuesday, January 11, 2005 - 7:37pmSanction this postReply
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"Killing the person who holds an idea does not destroy the idea. It may very well simply make him a martyr in the eyes of someone else who also holds that idea."

It also shows someone that that particular idea may get you killed.



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Post 41

Tuesday, January 11, 2005 - 7:41pmSanction this postReply
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Jason Pappas writes:
What’s lacking from the war is a propaganda war. We use military force while praising the enemy’s ideology! We expect them to change without any criticism – for fear of being insensitive. We’d like them to adopt our ways – but it’s just an alternative culture/lifestyle. We want to liberate them – but we won’t tell them what liberty is and why it is better than Islamic servitude. We aren't using our most potent weapon. We are fighting with one hand tied behind our backs. Or perhaps I should say without our minds!
Bingo!

You can't force someone to be moral, to think. You can retaliate against specific persons for specific acts but unless you convince them to change their ideas you will not stop them and others from acting similarly in the future.

Defeating political correctness may very well be more important than building a better bomb.



Post 42

Tuesday, January 11, 2005 - 7:45pmSanction this postReply
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Jason:

>The honest criticism that I can respectfully disagree with is too rare but still deserves to be addressed.
I hope you count mine therein. I surely count many honest arguments among the hawks.

>In the vast hate-American barrage, your voice won’t be notice[d] or worse, it will be distorted.
Exactly. See, e.g., my supposed giving Saddam the benefit of the doubt some posts back.

>Jonathan, my man, you’re tearing down a straw man.
And here I thought I was the one dutifully addressing straw men -- which BTW is the title of my column in the school newspaper :)

Anyway, while I hope people will still comment on my thesis -- not on the war itself but my specific arguments, in the pertinent forums (not this one on Christopher Hitchens's book) -- I agree with Matt: "Like it or not, western troops are now in Iraq fighting insurgents, and the first priority has to be defining and advocating the best possible 'exit strategy' (which will almost certainly involve the ruthless elimination of aforementioned insurgents), and then formulating strategies for winnign [sic] the wider war against terrorism and the 'cultural war' against Islamic fundamentalism."

Matt: Thanks so much for your praise. I genuinely appreciate it.

It's been fun (somewhat).

Best,
Jon Rick




Post 43

Tuesday, January 11, 2005 - 8:51pmSanction this postReply
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Rick Pasotto,

After seeing the quote you selected from Jason, I better understand what you are saying. We can agree on much on this issue. Do you agree with this: You fight, with a professor, or a man on the street, the idea that rape is cool ONLY with better ideas while you fight someone engaged in raping you with MORE THAN only better ideas.

I would have loved being in the room when you told Churchill:
“Killing the person who holds an idea does not destroy the idea. It may very well simply make him a martyr in the eyes of someone else who also holds that idea.”

Fascism will never be dead as an idea. And it arose to threaten the world despite having been previously thoroughly refuted. More refutations will not necessarily keep it down. Correct as you are about the need for better ideas, that is no escape from the requirement to destroy the people and apparatuses that give existential power to an evil idea.

Jon




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Post 44

Tuesday, January 11, 2005 - 10:15pmSanction this postReply
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Hi all,

It always amazes me how much activity can go on on a thread in just a couple of days. I'm not able to get regular access to the internet at the moment, so although I "started it" I'm afraid the best I can do--at this stage--is the odd post when I get the chance.

One thing I do want to say is that the nasty situation we're now seeing in Iraq--the tribal rivalries, the theocrats, the power struggles--would have been consequences of *any* post-Saddam Iraq, no matter how it happened. To blame all these on *intervention* is ahistorical. The choice is: when Saddam fell, would there be an Anglo-American military presence to counter the reactionary forces who would seek to take advantage of this situation or would the western world just stand back and watch?

Another point--I believe that there are honest people on *both* sides of this debate (in fact, I *know* it, since I have been on both and introspected my mental processes throughout). I hope it's in that spirit that this debate continues. Matt asks of the whole debate, "what's the point?" I know there's a frustration on many people's parts that the debate keeps going and going and doesn't achieve much (Jon and myself are the only ones to change our minds as far as I know). But I think that's the stuff of politics. I also agree with Matt that whatever one's position on the Iraq war was or is--a hugely important question is "what needs to be done now?" On that issue, honest critics of the war will desperately seek success in establishing the rule of law and some democratic institutions--however imperfect--in Iraq. A dishonest critic will stand back and watch with glee at every victory of the reactionary forces against "American hubris". There *are* such people out there. I don't believe SOLOists are among them. 

Alec--you get to meet and talk to all the interesting people! It's not fair!




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Post 45

Wednesday, January 12, 2005 - 12:42amSanction this postReply
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A remark such as "I'm amazed at just who needs lessons in basics" isn't a substantive contribution but a dig. But, never mind.
      If we are going to be careful about rights, let's notice right off that the consent of the governed criterion of delegating the right to embark upon any kind of forcible (military) action is simply missing in the case of the US or any other government. Even if one is very generous in rendering this idea of consent, given the confiscatory nature of taxation and myriad of other coercive policies, the US government has lost all legitimacy. In terms of the principles of free government--"deriving its just powers from the consent of the governed"--a government has no authority to proceed with an aggressive war against Iraq or any other dictatorship (as it didn't against North Vietnam, Grenada, or countries of the Balkans). There is simply no justification for taking the military off its post and sending it to fight a war that isn't defending citizens of the USA against aggressors, the only justification for embarking on war.
      BTW, if we are going to throw about bits like "I'm amazed...etc.," it may be appropriate to note that a principled approach to foreign and military policy resists even the very great temptation to take the military off posts because of the tyrannical nature of some other society. Just now, for example, there is the much greater and understandable temptation of taking the US military off post to the Sudan, even Russia, or half a dozen other countries the governments of which are murdering and oppressing those who live under their thumbs. (Just how much I have tried to adhere to this principled stance may be appreciated from the fact that I opposed Eisenhower's contemplated entry into Hungary in 1956, when I was by 17 years of age, on grounds very close to those above!)  





Post 46

Wednesday, January 12, 2005 - 3:06amSanction this postReply
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Alec asked:
"Why would so many Al Qaedas and surrounding fundamentalist trash -- who, even if not officially on the the AQ payroll, are certainly enemies -- be fighting for their lives in Iraq if a stable, democratic future didn't threaten them severely?"
and
"Re the war, not having much time I will say only this. I have yet to see, from the antiwar crowd, a single reasonably convincing explanation as to why the current situation in Iraq -- with all these terrorists and Qaeda operatives flooding in -- does not prove that Iraq was a vital front in the War on Terror, and why it does not prove that we are fighting this war on the enemy's streets rather than our own... When the antiwar crowd argues that there wouldn't have been such a flood-in if the was no war, they don't seem to realize that they're only proving my point"


I think Alec is missing something here about the nature of Al Qaeda, and of the Iraqi insurgency. Al Qaeda is a radical, revolutionary organisation. Currently they are allied with no actual Islamic state. They thrive on anarchy - that's why they based themselves in Afghanistan, and before that Sudan, both failed states, They rejected existing Islamic regimes like Iraq and Iran. They were enemies of Saddam, although Saddam may have wanted links with them for his own reasons.
But more importantly, they currently want to turn Iraq into the new Afghanistan. In any Islamic failed state, a strict order will develop from the ground up based on local Sharia courts and centred on the mosques - this occurred in Afghanistan, Fallujah between last April and November and in Somalia. That's how Al Qaeda is trying to set up new Islamic regimes - by destabilising and collapsing existing states. Such areas, with no strong central government, can then become terrorist havens, if only of temporary importance.
Rightly or wrongly, Iraq has become a "vital front in the War on Terror" through the actions of the US. Before the invasion it was of minor importance. Deposing Saddam opened a power vacuum that Islamists would love to fill, but it has only temporary importance to them - any other failed state would serve the same purpose
As for the Baathists, yes, a democratic Iraq is a major threat to them, because Shi'ites will win the election. So they are trying to sieze power by force. The Islamist terrorists are using that effort for their own ends, not so much because a democratic Iraq threatens them but because they have much to gain from a collapsed Iraqi state.


Cameron:
One thing I do want to say is that the nasty situation we're now seeing in Iraq--the tribal rivalries, the theocrats, the power struggles--would have been consequences of *any* post-Saddam Iraq, no matter how it happened. To blame all these on *intervention* is ahistorical. The choice is: when Saddam fell, would there be an Anglo-American military presence to counter the reactionary forces who would seek to take advantage of this situation or would the western world just stand back and watch?


I guess that depends on the dangers inherent in doing so versus the dangers of a destabilised Iraq. Probably the best option would be to try to stabilise the country, given the dangers of the terrorists taking over. What remains to be seen is whether the policies of the current occupation are actually destabilising Iraq and contributing to more terrorist activity than would have occurred otherwise.




Post 47

Wednesday, January 12, 2005 - 5:33amSanction this postReply
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Rick and Jon, I’m glad you both singled out my last paragraph on the need for a propaganda war. That’s maybe the only thing I wrote worth focusing on – everything else is a rehash. The situation is truly bizarre. Any attempt to refer to the enemy’s religion and beliefs is met with cries of: “You can’t generalize! Don’t be bigoted!” Apparently our enemy has no identity! Notice we start out with a prohibition on conceptualization. Yet somehow we want them to change even though we won’t acknowledge who they are and what they believe.


One fellow, a libertarian with whom I was arguing on another list put it this way: You can’t fault Islam (or Islamism) because not everyone who has such beliefs acts on them (some might be cowards). On the other hand, not all terrorists are Islamic. Thus, the only thing you can say is that terrorism is caused by terrorist committing agents. Wow! Feel the explanatory power in that one!


On the other hand, notice the embrace and encouragement of the most loathsome forms of anti-American vilification committed by those on the Left. As soon as you yell foul you’ll be told that all dissent is honorable and we should be appreciative – after all, it is protected by the 1st amendment. Apparently, the 1st amendment has become the last refuge of a scoundrel.


Thus, we are left with the outrageous slander and vilification of America and a prohibition of almost any criticism of the people we fight. I believe George is right when he notes that we will be left with nothing but uncertainty and demoralization. We may not always agree on the best battle plan – but the enemy should be faced. And this starts with a conceptual attack. Each and every military plan will be undermined without a propaganda war.




(Edited by Jason Pappas on 1/12, 7:06am)




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Post 48

Wednesday, January 12, 2005 - 6:03amSanction this postReply
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I think this discussion is winding down---at least for me.  Matthew H is right:  We beat this horse to death, we then beat it after death, we even grind its ashes into the ground, and somehow, someway, we resurrect it from the ashes and start the whole process over again.  What's the point? 

That said, I appreciate recent points made by Tibor, Philip and others. 

The final (?) comment I'd like to make in reply to Cameron (whose more explanatory article I await) is this.  He writes:

One thing I do want to say is that the nasty situation we're now seeing in Iraq--the tribal rivalries, the theocrats, the power struggles--would have been consequences of *any* post-Saddam Iraq, no matter how it happened. To blame all these on *intervention* is ahistorical. The choice is: when Saddam fell, would there be an Anglo-American military presence to counter the reactionary forces who would seek to take advantage of this situation or would the western world just stand back and watch?




The same could be said for many regions in the post-Communist Soviet Union---and your implicit logic would have required a US invasion and occupation of that post-Communist Soviet Union for fear of just "stand[ing] back and watch[ing]" while reactionary chaos ensued.  There are inherently reactionary forces at work in most conditions and contexts that follow dictatorship.  In many ways, dictatorship is the glue that keeps together an unstable and chaotic situation---at the point of a gun.  When the dictatorship collapses, all the old rivalries and conflicts that were always present---that were bubbling under the surface---are reawakened by what Philip calls a "power vacuum."

The difference is that when the government of the Soviet Union collapsed---a government that was, by the way, fully contained by the United States, and that still had a plethora of thermonuclear devices with intercontinental range within its territories---it was not the responsibility of the US to try to "fix" the situation.  That situation, in fact, has a long way to go before it is fixed (witness Putin's turn toward a more hard-line stance in Russia, for example).  Sure, the US has offered assistance in securing ICBMs, and, unfortunately, many of those weapons and weapons-grade materials might yet become the source of lethal nuclear proliferation.  But it is still not the US's responsibility---being paid for with American taxpayer dollars and American lives---to "fix" the former Soviet Union.

I, for one, am not blaming the US for the ethnic and tribal conflicts that have come to the surface in Iraq.  They existed and would have come to fruition regardless of US intervention, once Hussein's regime fell.  The problem, however, is that the US has now made these conflicts, which had relatively nothing to do with the central war on Al Qaeda and fundamentalist Islamic terrorism, to become its conflict, something for which it must seek a resolution.  Because of that ol' "Pottery Barn" rule that Colin Powell mentioned---the US now virtually owns the situation in Iraq. 

But the resolution it seeks---the imposition of "liberal" values on a culture that is profoundly hostile to those values---is patently ahistorical.  It is the classic case of the attempted external imposition of values from an Archimedean standpoint, something that cannot work in the absence of a genuine cultural transformation from within Iraq.  At this rate, tens of thousands of US troops are going to be bogged down in that country for generations trying to facilitate an institutional shift by the kind of geopolitical central planning that is fully in keeping with the Trotskyite roots of today's neoconservative policymakers. 

Whatever this is, it has nothing to do with liberalism---at least not the kind of "liberalism" that most of us celebrate.

(Edited by sciabarra on 1/12, 6:07am)




Post 49

Wednesday, January 12, 2005 - 8:27amSanction this postReply
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Rick Posotto writes:

Michael Dickey writes:

...the enemy is not merely Al Qaida, but it is all of fundamentalist statist ideology.

Bad and/or false ideas can be fought only with better/true ideas, not force

 

Certainly good ideas make a huge difference, but in countries that suppress ideas as brutally as outright revolt, what good are ideas against a dictatorial tyrant?  How long would the influx of ideas take to persuade the Taliban to give up their horrifically oppressive rule over Afghanistan, they had outlawed music!  5 years?  10 years?  100?  And how many years will pass before a biochemist engineers a virus in his lab with funding from a wealthy fundamentalist statist?  How many years of 'good ideas' seeping into Baghdad will it take before Usay would have decided he no longer thinks it is right to break dissidents arms, cut off tongues, and pave over protestors. 

 

Additionally, relying only on good ideas and the exporting of our freedom orientated culture draws its own ominous response.  Consider that in the traditional biblical sense (Islam shares the old testament with Judaism and Christianity) Satan is a tempter.  What is western culture to the poor, oppressed people of the Arab countries but the greatest temptation ever?  So what it is to those oppressors?  Satan.  The fact that we exist, and that they are aware of our existence, is enough to make us a threat to them.  They know what power good ideas have and that is why they are so brutally opposed.   

 

Sciabarra quoted Peter Scwartz saying

“Our government is not the world’s policeman. It is, however, America’s policeman”

 

Yet the world, just like America, is full of people.  Last I checked objectivists held freedom and the right to our own existence as the highest principle, why is it than that allegedly universal rights stop at the dotted lines on maps?

 

Sciabarra said:

“Precisely because this is a war against "radical fundamentalist Islam," as Michael Dickey says above, I didn't see the prudence in going into Iraq, with very questionable intelligence, to topple a dictator who was a Pan-Arabist thorn in the side of fundamentalists within Iraq and theocrats within a hostile Iran. “

 

And

 

“why should the US have targeted the relatively secular Iraq, with its lethal Sunni-Shi'ite-Kurdish inter-squabbles, as a way of testing this "magnet" theory?  It could just as well have put 150,000 troops into one of the fundamentalist heartlands of Al Qaeda:  right in Afghanistan.”

 

Because the root cause of radical fundamentalist Islam is not Iran in particular or Iraq or Syria in particular, it is all majority arab / Islamic states, nearly all of which are brutal oppressive hell holes which breed terrorists by the thousands.  Kill off Al Qaida, and as long as these oppressive states continue to churn out poor and bitter people by the millions some percentage of them will still strap bombs to their bodies, learn to fly airliners into skyscrapers, and mow down schoolchildren with AK47s.  If the problem is these types of countries, the solution is to do something about them, and the best thing to do would be to create a progressive western style democracy in the middle east.  Please lay out a plan to defeat radical Islam that doesn’t involve, eventually, necessitating a regime change in nearly ever majority Arab Islamic country that is a murderous tyranny or theocracy, I would be interested to hear it.  But remember the longer we wait, the more people any given individual will be able to kill.  Set up one successful democracy in the middle east and the rest will fall like the dominos of eastern bloc.  

 

Iran was probably avoided specifically *because* it is a fundamentalist state, and plays a large influential role in the politics of the middle east.  Attacking Iran outright would have been seen as vindication by the entire Arab world that this was indeed a war between Christianity and Islam.  Attacking Saddam, who was Secular, made that charge much harder to stick.  Additionally, a much stronger case could be made to the average American against Iraq then against Iran, and Iraq has a much stronger sense of nationalism, making rebuilding the nation after regime change a little easier.  Iraq also sits on top of one of the worlds largest oil supplies, which would certainly help the entire nation to become a wealthy democracy.  Afghanistan sits on top of a lot of poppy fields.  The situation is obviously more complicated than just who is secular and who is fundamentalist, and it is disingenuous to present it as such.

 

Sciabarra said:

“Just as the US was able to exploit the differences between Communist China and Communist Russia because Communism was never a monolith, so too can the US exploit the differences within the Islamic world, because Islam is not a monolith either.”

 

Like, for instance, getting the more moderate Shias in Iraq a much larger role in the middle east by being part of a successful democracy, thus undermining the predominant role that the cleric in Iran play in the middle east. 


Iraq Shia Could Be Moderating Force - http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4280211

 

Sciabarra said:

“that US presence would simply attract the fundamentalists like, if you'll pardon the mixed metaphor, moths to a flame.”

 

If the US presence would, then wouldn’t the US’s existence in general? The point being, Iraq or not, fundamentalist Islamic extremists will still be attacking and killing Americans.

 

And it is still not the dominant insurgency in Iraq, which is most likely Ba'athist in nature, since it is their central concern to fight the establishment of a majoritarian Shi'ite government. “

 

What evidence do you have to suggest that the majority is Ba’athist in nature?  The Iraqi rescued in Faluja stated that the thought he was in Syria because everybody was Syrian.  He thought the Americans had come into Syria when they had rescued him.  Is it in the best interest of every theocratic and dictatorial tyrant in the Middle East to see Iraq Fail?  Clearly a successful western democracy in Iraq will be as much of a threat to Iran and Syria as the majority Shi’ite will be to the Ba’athists.  Why are people flocking in from Shia Iran to help the insurgency if the insurgency is Ba’athist in nature?

 

Precisely why I believe that Al Qaeda, the agency responsible for the 9/11 attack should be targeted, marginalized, and obliterated.  This is a nonstate criminal fundamentalist insurgency with global reach that needs to be attacked in ways that upset its financial networks, expose its terrorist cells, destroy its terrorist camps and root out its state-sponsored supporters everywhere (including especially the supporters that can be found among US "allies" in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia). “

 

And presuming that is accomplished what should we do about the next west hating fundamentalist Islamic group that comes out of Egypt, or Iran, or Syria, or Saudi Arabia?  How many decades will this fight go on while these murderous tyrannies and theocracies continue to brutally oppress their people while blaming all their problems on the west, churning out brainwashed terrorists by the thousands.  Thousands who can kill thousands now, but who can kill millions a decade from now.  Something must be done about the countries that produce the terrorists because of their oppressive policies.  The best thing that can be done is to start the representative democracy ball rolling in the middle east, and the best country to start it was Iraq, and the best time to do it was ten years ago, failing that, as soon as possible. 

 

Machan said:

“There is simply no justification for taking the military off its post and sending it to fight a war that isn't defending citizens of the USA against aggressors, the only justification for embarking on war.”

 

Where others who support this war clearly disagree with you is that this IS an act of defense, an act of long term defense of the lives and freedoms of individuals in America and consequently in the entire western world, and hopefully, eventually, those even in the middle east living under brutal majority Arab / Islam rule

Regards,

 

Michael Dickey

 

Claim - 

 

Nearly All majority Arab / Islam nations are brutal oppresive theocracies or dictatorships

 

Information from www.freedomhouse.org 2003 reports

 

http://www.freedomhouse.org/research/freeworld/2004/countries.htm

 

1 - highest ranking
7 - lowest ranking
F = Free
PF = Partly Free
NF = Not Free

 

Iraq

 

Political Rights: 7
Civil Liberties: 5*
Status:   Not Free

 

Religious Groups: Muslim (97 percent), Christian orother (3 percent)
Ethnic Groups: Arab (75-80 percent), Kurd (15-20 percent),other [including Turkmen and Assyrian] (5 percent) 

 

Population 24.2 million

 

Following the April 2003 ouster of Saddam Hussein's tyrannical government by a U.S. and British military coalition,

the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) presided over a sweeping expansion of civil liberties and began

implementing an ambitious plan to establish a democratic government by the end of 2005. However, an escalating

insurgency, supported by much of the country's once-dominant Sunni Arab minority, perpetuated a climate of

instability and hampered reconstruction efforts.

 

Iran

 

Political Rights: 6
Civil Liberties: 6
Status:   Not Free

 

Religious Groups: Shi'a Muslim 89%, Sunni Muslim 10%, other 1%

 

Population 66.6 million

 

Efforts by reformist politicians who control the presidency and parliament to further expand social and political

freedoms remained stymied in 2003 as a result of opposition from appointive bodies controlled by hardline clerics.

The authorities significantly increased restrictions on press freedom and began systematic censoring of Internet

content during the year. Thousands of participants in antigovernment protests were detained by security forces, and

scores of political activists and journalists were indicted for peaceful activities.

 

Egypt

 

Political Rights: 6
Civil Liberties: 6
Status:   Not Free

 

Religious 94% Sunni Muslim 6% other

 

Population 72.1 million

 

In the face of mounting economic problems, the war in Iraq, and American calls for democratization in the Arab

world, Egypt witnessed a growing chorus of demands for political change by academics, journalists, and political

opposition leaders in 2003. Although the government cracked down on unauthorized demonstrations during the year, it

introduced a number of limited reforms and tolerated more open public discussion of the country's political future

 

Saudi Arabia

 

Political Rights: 7
Civil Liberties: 7
Status:   Not Free

 

Religious Groups: Muslim (100 percent)
Ethnic Groups: Arab (90 percent), Afro-Asian (10 percent) 

 

Population 24 million

 

Saudi Arabia continued to place severe restrictions on its citizens' political rights and civil liberties in 2003,

even as hints of possible political reforms emerged in an eventful year for the kingdom. Throughout the year, the

country faced threats to its internal stability from terrorist groups and calls for political reform from dissidents

and regime opponents. The government of Saudi Arabia responded by offering several signs of possible limited

political reforms: the approval of the formation of the first Saudi human rights organization, the first official

sanction of a human rights conference in the kingdom, the establishment of a center for dialogue on reform, and

announcements of local elections to be held next year.

 

Libya

 

Political Rights: 7
Civil Liberties: 7
Status:   Not Free

 

Religious Groups: Sunni Muslim (97 percent),other (3 percent)
Ethnic Groups: Arab-Berber (97 percent), 

 

Population 5.5 million

 

Libya made significant progress in its bid to break out from international isolation with the lifting of UN

sanctions in September 2003. Despite limited cooperation from Libya on the war against terrorism, the U.S.

government opted to maintain its unilateral sanctions against Libya, citing concerns with Libya's possible

development of weapons of mass destruction, its lingering ties to terrorism, and its abysmal human rights record. In

June, Libyan leader Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi appointed a new prime minister and announced broad economic reforms.

 

Pakistan

 

Political Rights: 6
Civil Liberties: 5
Status:   Not Free

 

Religious Groups: Muslim (97 percent) [Sunni(77 percent), Shia (20 percent)], Christian, Hindu,and other [including

Christian and Hindu] (3 percent)

 

Having consolidated his hold on power through a dubious referendum that extended his term as president, as well as a

series of constitutional amendments that cemented the future role of the military in governance, General Pervez

Musharraf held flawed elections in October 2002, and a new parliament and prime minister were in place by the end of

the year. Nevertheless, despite the return to nominal civilian rule, the military continued to wield control over

Pakistan's government. The new parliament did not effectively function for much of 2003 because of a protracted

standoff between the general and the political opposition over the legality of his amendments, and the judiciary

remained subservient to the executive. Facing continued pressure from Islamist groups as well as the secular

political opposition, the regime appeared to grow less tolerant of criticism from journalists and human rights

activists as the year progressed. The increased influence of Islamist parties in government, coupled with their

stated aim of "Islamizing" society, remains a concern and will prevent meaningful progress on human rights issues,

particularly legalized discrimination against women and religious minorities.


Afghanistan

 

Political Rights: 6
Civil Liberties: 6
Status:   Not Free

 

Religious Groups: Sunni Muslim (84 percent),Shia Muslim (15 percent), other (1 percent)

 

Population 28.7 million

 

With halting progress on several fronts, Afghanistan continued to struggle toward normalcy in 2003. President Hamid

Karzai's Transitional Administration (TA) worked to extend the writ of the central government and curb the power of

regional warlords, while preparations for national elections and the drafting of a new constitution began during the

year. However, the war-ravaged country remained wracked by pervasive insecurity and some armed conflict. In

addition, the slow disbursement of foreign aid hampered efforts to provide humanitarian assistance as well as to

rebuild Afghanistan's shattered infrastructure and institutions. Although the level of personal autonomy has

substantially increased since the fall of the ultraconservative Taliban regime in 2001, numerous human rights

violations, including threats to women's rights and to freedom of expression, were reported during the year.

 

Jordan

 

Political Rights: 5*
Civil Liberties: 5
Status:   Partly Free 

 

Religious Groups: Sunni Muslim (92 percent),Christian (6 percent), other (2 percent)
Ethnic Groups: Arab (98 percent), other [includingArmenian] (2 percent)

 

Population 5.5 million

 

Following King Abdullah's rule by decree for more than two years, reasonably free and transparent, though not fair,

parliamentary and municipal elections were held in 2003. In addition, some restrictions on freedom of expression

were lifted during the year, and women assumed a higher profile in the government. Nevertheless, it remains to be

seen whether King Abdullah's promise of a "new era" of political and civil liberties will come to fruition. With

substantial assistance from the United States and other outside donors, Jordan's economy remained strong in spite of

the war in neighboring Iraq.

 

Kuwait

 

Political Rights: 4
Civil Liberties: 5
Status:   Partly Free 

 

Population 2.4 million

 

Religious Groups: Muslim (85 percent) [Sunni70 percent, Shi'a 30 percent], other (15 percent)

 

The 2003 legislative elections did not meet minimal international standards, tainted by the exclusion of women from

voting and allegations of widespread government-subsidized vote buying. Pro-government candidates with strong tribal

backing did well in the elections, and candidates aligned with Islamists realized some slight gains. Out of 16

liberal candidates, only 3 managed to win seats, a decline of 4 seats from the previous National Assembly. Several

analysts contend that the coalition of Islamists and pro-government members with conservative tribal ties may oppose

measures to promote women's rights and full political participation, privatize the economy, and update investment

laws.


Lebanon

 

Political Rights: 6
Civil Liberties: 5 
Status:   Not Free

 

Religious Groups: Muslim [Mostly Shi'a] (70 percent),Christian (30 percent)
Ethnic Groups: Arab (95 percent), Armenian (4 percent),other (1 percent) 

 

Population 4.2 million

 

During 2003, Syria carried out two major troop redeployments, reducing its occupation force in Lebanon to fewer than

20,000 soldiers. However, its firm control of Lebanon's government continued to be the greatest impediment to

freedom in Lebanon. The state's reaction to several major corruption scandals and security incidents during the year

highlighted its continuing inability to investigate alleged wrongdoing by allies of Syria.


Algeria

 

Political Rights: 6
Civil Liberties: 5
Status:   Not Free

 

Religious Groups: Sunni Muslim (99 percent), Christianand Jewish (1 percent)
Ethnic Groups: Arab-Berber (99 percent), other (1 percent) 

 

Population 31.7 million

 

Violence in Algeria continued to diminish in 2003, yet the root causes of the 11-year conflict remain. The

government's lackluster response to a massive earthquake reinforced staunch popular disaffection with the government

that derives from long-standing socioeconomic ills and a lack of public accountability and transparency. Mounting

political disarray, stirred by upcoming presidential elections, further clouded the scene. However, the government

has made some important steps in the human rights arena.

 

Bahrain

 

Political Rights: 5
Civil Liberties: 5
Status:   Partly Free 

 

Religious Groups: Shi'a Muslim (70 percent), SunniMuslim (30 percent)

 

Population .7 million

 

After taking significant steps to reform its political system in 2001 and 2002, Bahrain pursued the reform process

more slowly during 2003, effecting few significant developments on political rights and civil liberties

 

OTHERS NOT LISTED...

 

   -----------------------------------
Promising exceptions are Turkey and Indonesia
   -----------------------------------

 

Turkey

 

Political Rights: 3
Civil Liberties: 4
Status:   Partly Free

 

Religious Groups: Muslim [mostly Sunni] (99.8 percent),other (0.2 percent)
Ethnic Groups: Turkish (80 percent), Kurdish (20 percent)

 

Population 71.2 million

 

In 2003, the ruling Justice and Development (AK) party sought to reform some of Turkey's harsher laws, in hopes of

eventually being invited to negotiate with the European Union (EU) for membership. These reforms included the easing

of laws restricting the use of the Kurdish language, the curbing of the power of the military in political affairs,

and an offer of an amnesty to Kurdish militant separatists who were not involved in violence. While the government

has made a great deal of progress on the legal aspects of these reforms, actual practices have changed far more

slowly.


  -------------
And for comparison, Israel
  -------------

 

Israel

 

Political Rights: 1
Civil Liberties: 3 
Status:   Free 

 

Religious Groups: Jewish (80.1 percent), Muslim [mostly Sunni] (14.6 percent), Chris-tian (2.1 percent), other (3.2

percent)
Ethnic Groups: Jewish (80 percent), non-Jewish [mostly Arab] (20 percent)

 

Population 6.7 million

 

Israelis suffered greatly from Palestinian terrorism in 2003, even with a nearly two-month ceasefire. Several

suicide bombings killed over 200 Israelis, eroding public security. The attacks elicited powerful Israeli reprisals

against targets in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and, for the first time in 30 years, Syria. Notwithstanding the crisis

atmosphere, Israelis strived in 2003 to lead normal lives; they enjoyed and exercised substantial political freedom,

and most Israelis--with the exception of the country's 20 percent Arab minority--enjoyed full civil rights. The

government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ...

 

 

 


 




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Post 50

Wednesday, January 12, 2005 - 2:01pmSanction this postReply
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Michael, thanks for your reply.  I hesitate to go into a line-by-line response because it will only reiterate virtually everything I've said before.  An October 2004 SOLO post serves as a bit of an index of my foreign policy writings; you might also want to consult my Not a Blog.

I'll try to keep this brief:

1.  You are correct:  Universal rights do not stop at the dotted lines on maps, but it is not the responsibility of the US to enforce those rights across the globe. 

2. I don't subscribe to the view that the US is being attacked strictly for its values; that is an ahistorical claim and obscures any understanding of the actual relationship of the US to the Middle East and to the role it has played in consolidating oppressive states in that region of the world. This is something that even George W. Bush admits.

3.  I agree that oppressive states are not good things, but I don't subscribe to the view that terrorists are all "poor," and that their poverty motivates them to fly airlines into skyscrapers.  This is an ideological war  in addition to being a military conflict, and it is through the Western export of rational and individualist values that the Muslim world will begin its long overdue movement toward modernity.  I don't believe that the US can institute "democracies" in the Middle East without any cultural foundations upon which to build.  Its primary concern should be to marginalize the terrorists and to destroy those who threaten US security. 

4.  As for the insurgency in Iraq:  The most unstable region of the country is the so-called Sunni triangle, and every commentator I've read emphasizes that the predominant make-up of that insurgency is Ba'athist or Sunni.  From 2003, let me quote from a conservative commentator at National Review:


The Pentagon has identified the overwhelming majority of insurgents as former Baath-party officials and other Saddam loyalists. Most of these people come from the Sunni Arab minority (about 20 percent of Iraq's population). During Saddam's regime, the Sunni Arabs oppressed the majority Shia Arabs in the south (65 percent) and Kurds in the north (15 percent). As a consequence, guerrilla activity in the north and south is almost nonexistent, and cooperation with the occupation forces is high. Even in Baghdad and the Baathist/Sunni triangle, American generals frequently state that their best intelligence source is tip-offs from Iraqis.

A more up-to-date assessment can be found here, by Anthony Cordesman for the Center for Strategic and International Studies (working draft:  Dec. 22, 2004).    Cordesman argues:


The insurgency seems to remain largely Iraqi and Sunni dominated. Some 35 Sunni Arab groups have made some kind of public announcement or claimed responsibility for terrorist or insurgent attacks  although many may be little more than cells and some may be efforts to shift the blame for attacks or make the insurgent movement seem larger than it is. An overwhelming majority of those captured or killed have been Iraqi Sunnis, as well as something like 90-95% of those detained. ... Other key insurgent elements include Arab and Islamist groups with significant numbers of foreign volunteers like the one led [by] Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (Qaeda Organization for Holy War in Iraq). It is unlikely that such foreign volunteers make up more 10% of the insurgent force, and probably only make up around 5%. They are not [an] organized force, they come from a wide range of countries and often with little or no training and the overwhelming majority have only a limited history of affiliation with any organized Islamist or extremist group.


Yes, Michael, you are right:  There are Shia who are coming in from Iran.  But that's because they have dreams of linking up with Shi'ite theocrats who are the majority in Iraq; they think they will be able to affect a fundamentalist-friendly regime on their Western border.   It would be the height of tragedy if the toppling of a Baathist, Pan-Arabist secular dictator in Iraq leads to the establishment of an Iran-friendly Islamic fundamentalist dictatorship instead. 




Post 51

Wednesday, January 12, 2005 - 10:59pmSanction this postReply
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Chris,

At your request, I will not respond to your response to my post. I will only make a brief comment about the nature of the argument.

The problem is that, when (and if) the next attack on US soil happens, you can always blame it on Iraq, this that or the other. You can always blame the present policy. Now I realize that this can kinda work the other way around. An attack can always be manipulated by the hawks to show that we are not doing enough, etc.

There must be some form of objective measurement, and I think numbers will have to do.

In that light -- did anyone predict on 9/12 that three years later there would not have been a single additional attack in the US? The Bush Administration deserves major credit for this. Another measurement of numbers is the amount of AQs that have been destroyed, which is to the tune of 70-75% of the organization. Yet another measurement has to do with the sheer amount of AQs in Iraq right now. AQ may fit whatever categorical definition you ascribe to it, but the fact is that every AQ operative fighting in Iraq is an AQ operative not plotting and carrying out an attack on US soil.

But you're discounting the fact that there has not been another attack by saying that it's inevitable, and by implying that somehow AQ hasn't tried yet. Sure they might aim for the dramatic blow, but they also go for whatever they can get, and attacks are thwarted almost daily. Yes, the attack on Spain was symbolic. But what about the attacks in Turkey and a disco (a freakin disco!) in Bali? They had no dramatic impact. They were orchestrated because they could be orchestrated, because those were soft targets that were penetrable, unlike the US under Bush. 

I'm hoping not to rehash but to address certains forms of your argumentation concerning the war. If any of this does seem like rehashing, it's because I was not around SOLO when the original debates aired. This is the first time I've commented on the war on this forum, so forgive me.

Alec




Post 52

Thursday, January 13, 2005 - 1:40amSanction this postReply
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Alec - you're not getting it. According to the Saddamites, Bush deserves credit for nothing - he's no longer pursuing bin Laden, & nothing at all has been/is being done about AQ. Worse, he's pissed AQ off. And he's lifted the lid off the lunatic internecine cauldron in Iraq (& the flood of Syrians, AQ et al into Iraq is a mere coincidental trifle). Damn! Bring back Tito! Bring back Stalin! Bring back Saddam! Bring back any murdering, torturing genocidal bastard who kept the lid on things. Peace at any price, is, after all, the Saddamites' credo.

Bollocks!

Linz



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Post 53

Thursday, January 13, 2005 - 10:53amSanction this postReply
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Alec writes:  "At your request, I will not respond to your response to my post. I will only make a brief comment about the nature of the argument."

Oh Alec:  I'm not telling you or anybody else to shut up!  LOL  I'm just suggesting that we all keep arguing in circles. 

But let me at least attempt an answer to you that breaks out of the circle:

When Bush came to NYC and stood on the rubble that was the World Trade Center---and, excuse my repetition, but this is personal... because I had friends and colleagues who were murdered there, and I have relatives who escaped it, miraculously---and he told this city that soon enough, the people who had done that would hear from "all of us":  THIS New Yorker applauded him.

And when Bush sent the US military into Afghanistan---despite my criticisms of past US policy, even despite my criticisms of current US policy---THIS New Yorker applauded him.

And I've given him and his administration credit for taking down significant portions of the Al Qaeda network, in spite of their Iraq policy.

I've been critical of this administration---or the neoconservatives within this administration---because of the Iraq policy.  I think that the war against Al Qaeda has been effective, as far as it goes---but not nearly enough, and it does not take into account the number of new recruits they may be getting in sleeper cells even within the United States.  Not to mention everywhere from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to Indonesia.  All the more reason to be vigilant.

But why pick Iraq---when the evidence for WMDs was being questioned prior to invasion, when inspectors were still on the ground, when no appreciable connections were in evidence between Hussein's regime and AQ---why pick Iraq when the US could just as effectively have embroiled AQ in Afghanistan?  In fact, it would have been primarily, predominantly, AQ, and not Baathists or Shi'ites.  Why open up the Iraqi can of worms, wherein the current insurgency is largely unrelated to AQ, involving the US in a long-term conflict that drains resources and lives on a daily basis?

As for future attacks:  I'm not suggesting that these are inevitable in some Marxist-"inexorable" way.  The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.  I give Bush credit for going after AQ... but there is much more to be done.

As for Linz... he writes: 

Alec - you're not getting it. According to the Saddamites, Bush deserves credit for nothing - he's no longer pursuing bin Laden, & nothing at all has been/is being done about AQ. Worse, he's pissed AQ off. And he's lifted the lid off the lunatic internecine cauldron in Iraq (& the flood of Syrians, AQ et al into Iraq is a mere coincidental trifle). Damn! Bring back Tito! Bring back Stalin! Bring back Saddam! Bring back any murdering, torturing genocidal bastard who kept the lid on things. Peace at any price, is, after all, the Saddamites' credo. Bollocks! Linz


Aside from the fact that Tito, Stalin, et. al., fell without a US invasion or occupation, this writer has not argued that dictatorship is better than a "lunatic internecine cauldron."  What I did was answer Cameron's claim that that cauldron was inevitable, regardless of US intervention.  If it was so inevitable, just as the collapse of the Soviet Union was inevitable (Mises anyone?), it should not have required a direct US intervention or occupation---at a considerable cost in money, resources, and lives.  Who were bigger murdering, torturing, genocidal bastards than Stalin and Mao?  Can you even imagine for one minute what it would have been like for a US invasion force to police and occupy the entire Soviet and Sino geographic territory?  Or how many millions would have been slaughtered?  And these were countries that actually had WMDs!

Yes, the conflict with Communism was enormously costly in other ways---when cold war turned hot, and in terms of the expense of extending weapons systems to contain Red threats.  But it never required a US invasion or occupation.

So, the issue here is not:  Peace at any price.  It is peace at the right price, and war when such is necessary to defend the rights and security of Americans.

Cheers,
Chris




Post 54

Thursday, January 13, 2005 - 1:40pmSanction this postReply
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Chris's post above repeats an error I remonstrated with the Saddamites about a long time ago. They impute to pro-liberationists the view that because the US takes out one dictator it must take down all of them, or some other dictator more deserving. No one in the liberationist camp, to my knowledge, holds that view. If a free country has the right to liberate a slave-pen - which recent posts from the anti-war crowd have finally shown, palpably, they do *not* accept - then which slave pen, when, if & why are entirely over to that free country.

Normally, a free country wouldn't charge in willy-nilly - it *might* take pre-emptive action against a dictatorship that it deemed to be posing a threat. Exactly what happened in Iraq. So it *didn't* pose a threat, as it turned out? For the zillionth time, Saddam's behaviour suggested very strongly he *did* have those weapons, & he was not entitled to the benefit of any doubt.

Moreover, there's a sense in which *any* dictatorship, just by its existence, poses a threat. The Saddamites wouldn't accept this for a second, but it's not in the nature of a dictatorship that you can trust it to be left alone.

It's noteworthy that in defending the liberation of *Afghanistan*, Chris falls foul of a significant portion of the Saddamite movement, particularly the pseudo-libertarian wing of it. These creatures are out-&-out America-haters, & knee-jerk Bush-bashers. Advocates of freedom? Anarcho-fascists, more like it.

Shortly, there's to be an election in Iraq. I wish I could observe the same fervour among the Saddamites against the filthy swine trying to prevent it as they muster against their own government for making such an election possible. I see zero effort on their part to put forward ideas to help make the peace work, & *total* effort on their part to diss the liberation. Funny that.

Linz





Post 55

Thursday, January 13, 2005 - 2:24pmSanction this postReply
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I find that I agree with much of what Chris has to say. I too wanted to see Afganistan and Bin Laden as the priamry focus of our efforts, and still do want to see him taken down. I find the over-stretching of our forces and the poor handling of the Iraq war to be worrisome. That has been my take all along. I felt that Saddam was a legitimate target and felt that we had the right, though not duty, to wage war in Iraq, it just seemed ill timed to me.

To be honest I've avoided reading these war threads for the constant circling of arguments and occasional vitirol. Now I read this from Linz: "For the zillionth time, Saddam's behaviour suggested very strongly he *did* have those weapons, & he was not entitled to the benefit of any doubt." Well, zillionth time did the trick for me (I didn't read most of those zillion posts to my defense.) I too beleived fully he had those weapons and obviously that made the risk of allowing him to use or sell them too great to wait on. So I guess I have to come clean now and state my honest support for the reasons behind the war in Iraq. I have been convinved. Its still a sucky situation for our troops, and I hope their leadership starts to organize a bit better.

Finally, I don't think Chris is a Saddamite. I doubt he gleefully supported Saddam or any other dictator. I respect his view, even though I have to finnaly revise and clarify my own stance on this situation.

Ethan




Post 56

Thursday, January 13, 2005 - 2:40pmSanction this postReply
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Ethan - you wrote:

'Now I read this from Linz: "For the zillionth time, Saddam's behaviour suggested very strongly he *did* have those weapons, & he was not entitled to the benefit of any doubt." Well, zillionth time did the trick for me (I didn't read most of those zillion posts to my defense.) I too beleived fully he had those weapons and obviously that made the risk of allowing him to use or sell them too great to wait on. So I guess I have to come clean now and state my honest support for the reasons behind the war in Iraq. I have been convinved. Its still a sucky situation for our troops, and I hope their leadership starts to organize a bit better.'

I salute you, Sir! You've made my day!

*Of course* it's a sucky situation for the troops. That's why the Saddamites make my blood boil, spouting forth their stuff undermining the men & women of your armed forces who are dying for their *right* to spout forth their stuff. If I seem angry, it's because I'm *effing* angry & I ain't in the mood for genteel diplomacy on the matter.

Linz



Post 57

Thursday, January 13, 2005 - 5:37pmSanction this postReply
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Linz says: I wish I could observe the same fervour among the Saddamites against the filthy swine trying to prevent it as they muster against their own government for making such an election possible.

And this is exactly what makes my blood boil about the appeasement faction as well. This lot tends to be the weakest and most spineless in the Western world, but they have the courage of a lion when it comes to denouncing Western nations; especially America.

George





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Post 58

Friday, January 14, 2005 - 7:01amSanction this postReply
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Okay, so the discussion is winding down for the "zillionth" time.  :)  Fat chance.  :)

1.  If we are to go strictly by "Saddam's behavior"---and I agree he didn't deserve the benefit of the doubt---it tells us little.   After all, he was denying that he had weapons.  The Iraqi leadership was denying it had weapons:   "We are a country devoid of weapons of mass destruction," they said, famously.  The inspectors on the ground were coming up empty.  And now, it turns out, lo and behold, Iraq didn't have WMDs.  To my knowledge, the only thing that suggested that he had weapons was faulty intelligence---intelligence that was, in fact, being questioned quite seriously, even prior to US invasion.  It's not as if Hussein had thrown the inspectors out at that point, or that he was boasting---like Iran or Korea---about nuclear, chemical, or biological capabilities.  (To the extent that he wasn't "coming clean" about, for example, how the weapons were disposed of, he was most likely playing a stupid game of brinkmanship due to fear of his nuclear neighbors... like Israel and Iran.  As the newest report indicates:  "Saddam hoped to restart his weapons programs primarily for defense against Iran.  ... At the same time, the report said that 'the former regime had no formal written strategy or plan for the revival of WMD after the sanctions.'  The report found that Iraq's 'ability to reconstitute a nuclear weapons program progressively decayed' after 1991 -- and a nuclear weapon would have been years away.")

Yet, as Reagan was fond of repeating to Gorbachev: "Trust but verify."  Well, the US didn't trust Hussein, and should not have trusted Hussein.  That's why the inspectors were on the ground---to verify the existence (or nonexistence) of WMDs and they were coming up empty before the war.  And now, the post-invasion weapons inspections are done, and the conclusion is:  No WMDs.

Take a look here concerning a National Intelligence Council forecast about the consequences of all this.  That this might have hurt US credibility for future strikes of a preemptive nature that are actually necessary has, seemingly, not occurred to those who have supported this military action.

2.  I am not arguing "that because the US takes out one dictator it must take down all of them, or some other dictator more deserving."  What I'm saying is that Cameron cannot make this statement:


One thing I do want to say is that the nasty situation we're now seeing in Iraq--the tribal rivalries, the theocrats, the power struggles--would have been consequences of *any* post-Saddam Iraq, no matter how it happened. To blame all these on *intervention* is ahistorical. The choice is: when Saddam fell, would there be an Anglo-American military presence to counter the reactionary forces who would seek to take advantage of this situation or would the western world just stand back and watch?



... without engendering a similar logic that, since internecine conflict is inevitable in Iraq (and elsewhere), with or without US intervention, it was incumbent upon the US to step in and "counter the reactionary forces who would seek to take advantage of this situation," rather than "just stand back and watch."  That logic requires similar US action elsewhere, because it lacks a criterion for distinguishing among similar cases. 

I'm not saying that Cameron or Linz or anyone else in the pro-Iraq war camp is advocating global invasion; I'm just saying that the moment we disconnect US action from its central role (that of protecting its citizens' individual rights and security), substituting instead a "liberationist" role to counter "reactionary forces"---we are giving license to actions that have nothing to do with either American rights or security, actions that might demonstrably undermine American rights and security.

My advocacy of a US invasion of Afghanistan, for example, had nothing to do with the liberation of that country from reactionary forces; that was a nice, secondary consequence for sure---but it was not the reason that I advocated invasion.  I advocated it because I saw Afghanistan as an Al Qaeda hotbed, and it was Al Qaeda that I believed---and believe---must be obliterated.  If Iraq had been a hotbed of AQ activity, and had harbored WMDs, I would have advocated US military action there as well.  The liberation of Iraqis would have been a nice secondary consequence of US military action, but it would not have motivated my advocacy.

3.  The reason I quoted Peter Schwartz above is that I do believe he puts his finger on an important principle:  That what matters most is the protection of American rights and security.  So, given that this (rather than "liberation" per se) is what I believe to be the central criterion for determining US foreign policy, I have a hypothetical question I'd like to ask.  Tibor Machan raises some very interesting issues in this thread about the moral right of free societies to liberate slave pens.  A friend of mine posed a question to me that I pass on to my SOLO colleagues:

If Queen Victoria had authorized the British Empire to invade the United States in 1840 for the purpose of overthrowing the U.S. government and re-establishing a British colonial protectorate that would outlaw slavery, would the British have been morally right?  After all, Britain had outlawed slavery at the time and America was allowing it.  In fact, it was constitutionally protected by the United States; by 1856, the Supreme Court had fully acknowledged that slaves were not citizens, but "Property, to be Used in Subserviency to the Interests, the Convenience, or the Will, of His Owner"; they were completely "Without Social, Civil, or Political Rights."

If one were to go by those "freedom indices" (which I know have irritated Linz in the past), one could say that both England and the U.S. were pretty similar around 1840 or 1856.  However, the U.S. was a constitutionally protected slave state with 10% of its population in violent bondage. The U.S. government aided and abetted slavery at all levels; it took a civil war in the 1860s to bring this moral travesty to an end.

But if the British government could have rightly claimed a huge moral advantage over the U.S., did it have a right to invade the US in 1840 or 1850 or after the Dred Scott decision in 1856, for the purpose of "liberating" it?  Mind you, we know that the Brits had their dealings with the South, and we know that the Brits played a huge part in establishing and perpetuating the system of slavery in colonial America---but since past policy should not be an obstacle to present and future action, the question remains:  Did the British Empire have a right to invade the US to end slavery?

I'm not playing a game here---I'm honestly and sincerely interested in reading some discussion of this.  It seems to be one implication of the "liberationist" criterion for military action by "free societies."

Cheers,
Chris

(Edited by sciabarra on 1/14, 7:12am)




Post 59

Friday, January 14, 2005 - 7:43amSanction this postReply
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OK, I thought I was done but quoting Paccino: “just when you think you're out they pull you back in.”
My advocacy of a US invasion of Afghanistan, for example, had nothing to do with the liberation of that country from reactionary forces; that was a nice, secondary consequence for sure---but it was not the reason that I advocated invasion. I advocated it because I saw Afghanistan as an Al Qaeda hotbed, and it was Al Qaeda that I believed---and believe---must be obliterated. If Iraq had been a hotbed of AQ activity, and had harbored WMDs, I would have advocated US military action there as well. The liberation of Iraqis would have been a nice secondary consequence of US military action, but it would not have motivated my advocacy.

Something keeps worrying me – it’s your trivialization of the identity of our enemy in your exposition and analysis. We can see that even with the case of Afghanistan. You seem to marginalize the fact that they were an Islamic tyranny whereas I see it as central (not sufficient) to our need to respond and important in how we responded. Your analysis is top-heavy in terms of action and reaction. They hit us and they are hiding in Afghanistan; we must hit back so that they can’t do this again. It’s sounds more like they’re the Gambino crime family. That’s an analysis that obliterates the identity of the players - little mention of culture figures in the core of such an analysis of what is essentially a supremacist religious movement. It is purely formal and appropriate to domestic criminal procedures within a civilized society. May be it’s your rhetorical style that’s throwing me off. I’m sure you're sympathetic to my concerns.

However, notice this again in your rhetorical question of antebellum America. You ask a static question about a particular point in time concerning an important rights-violating practice (slavery) and a proposed invasion to eliminate it. Let’s avoid being ahistorical (I’m learning from you!). Slavery was a worldwide practice and the West took the lead to eliminate this practice on principle. The British were momentarily ahead of us but an examination of our culture shows a vibrant abolitionist movement and a firm grasp of the principles of liberty. Now, it did take an invasion to end slavery: the North invading the South! The British, if I remember correctly, were disposed to helping the South! In any case, we were not a totalitarian society with an illiberal irrationalist savage culture like Afghanistan. We were a liberal democracy stuck at the moment on one very important issue.

Do you see what I’m talking about?

(Edited by Jason Pappas on 1/14, 7:44am)

(Edited by Jason Pappas on 1/14, 8:08am)

(Edited by Jason Pappas on 1/14, 8:11am)




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