Friday, October 11, 2002
A flat-rate income tax, school vouchers, expanding the role of private healthcare - this would be a radical political programme anywhere in Canada. In the predominantly French-speaking province of Quebec, it is tantamount to heresy.
Since the 1960s, successive Quebec governments have built a centralised government that wields enormous influence over the economy and society, under the so-called Quebec model. For many Quebec separatists, strong government has long been not only a symbol of Francophone empowerment but also a tool to shape the province before achieving the ultimate goal of independence from Canada.
But Mario Dumont and his upstart Action Démocratique du Québec (ADQ) are shaking up the province by urging that the Quebec model be abandoned. The telegenic 32-year-old and his colleagues are demanding big job cuts in the civil service and wholesale deregulation of the economy.
Quebec's industry and its citizens "are pestered by a state that is oversized, overbearing, outmoded and arrogantly overseen by a clique that is obsessed by a paradigm that is obsolete", the ADQ manifesto says.
Elections for the provincial government, due within a year, are likely to be called in May or June. As the vote approaches, ADQ has not only soared to the top of the opinion polls, it has also made the size and role of government the focus of debate. To the dismay of separatists, the issue of Quebec's relationship with the rest of Canada has faded from the headlines.
Thursday, October 10, 2002
State Sen. Ken Toole, D-Helena, and program director for the Montana Human Rights Network, said Thursday morning the ad "is an overt and obvious appeal to the homophobic (voter) that is playing to that stereotypic imagery."As a result, Taylor is going to parachute out of the campaign, and Republicans are pondering running Racicot. Shades of New Jersey. Hypocrisy? Well, like I said at the time: if the Dems got away with it, then it would open it up to others doing it as well. One of the bad consequences of engaging in that sort of tactic. And that has, as I predicted, come to pass. The only hypocrisy would be if the Democrats got outraged that this Brave New Political World wasn't just for them. Sure, the Republicans could run Racicot as a write-in, but why should they have to? I believe in general principles that apply to all, equally. Not in selectivity where one side gets special treatment (put Dem names on ballots after a last minute swap, but not Republicans). This crap should have been nixed right from the get go. Now either it will run rampant, or we'll reform the law - not that doing that will do any good, because the problem that caused this was the willingness of one party to demand that the law be ignored for it's particular benefit and the willingness of judges to throw away the law. So we find ourselves where we are now.
Toole, who has fought for homosexual rights for years in the Montana Legislature, said he had complained to the state Democratic Party.
Toole said the Democratic response was that the image was not intended to imply that Taylor was gay.
"It is hard to believe their advertising firm did not see it," Toole said. "Bottom line is it is obvious and it ought to be pulled.
"Once you play these cards, inject this crap into a campaign - race, gay - nobody controls it," Toole said.
Dan DuBray, a former Montana television journalist who did campaign ads for former U.S. Rep. Ron Marlenee, R-Mont., said Thursday the ad was as subtle as "a 2x4 across the forehead. The video was clearly designed to send a subliminal message about Mike Taylor's sexuality."
"It is bizarre," DuBray said. "I can't believe the senator would embrace this type of ad. The process is out of control. This is far below the floor of any TV ads in the past."
Update: Probably the only way to get the antics of replacing candidates late in an election is for the Republicans to try it, too. As long as it was a "Democrats Only" game, there was no chance whatsoever that anything would be done to prevent the same thing from happening in the future. Now there stands a good chance that'll be fixed. As for the shameful campaign tactics the Democrats are deploying, in Montana this time, well, I say that's par for the course, but despicable. I guess that's repeating myself: par for the course with respect to their campaign tactics is the same as despicable.
Additional: Andrew Sullivan has the same story and similar reaction.
A man has been convicted of "hate speech" and may face jail time because he got into an argument with some Muslims in which he said things he probably shouldn't have. Notice that the Muslims, who opined, in the argument, that September 11's victims "deserved to die" face no such state-enforced sanctions. After all, they weren't insulting anyone's religion! Britain is now a country where free speech doesn't really exist. With no First Amendment, the anti-hate do-gooders have complete license to intimidate and jail people whose views they find objectionable. The same characters are doing all they can to achieve the same result here. In Provincetown, for example, people are being encouraged by the cops to report not just hate crimes, but "hate incidents" in which politically incorrect speech can be monitored by the authorities. Chilling - especially in a place where free speech has traditionally been upheld.Can't say it better than that, so I won't bother to try.
Briefing western journalists, Sergei Yastrzhembsky, President Vladimir Putin's official spokesman, said: "The devil will be in the details of these [United Nations] resolutions but our position is essentially pragmatic. What is interesting for us is our economic and financial interests."
France also moved closer to accepting the inevitability of war in Iraq yesterday, while continuing to criticise America for its hawkish stance.
Following a parliamentary debate on Iraq on Tuesday evening, the French foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin, said France would not use its Security Council veto because that would deprive it of its influence.
:"The situation in secondary schools is absolutely dire.
"The modules only teach pupils Hitler and the Henrys with nothing in between.
"Students cannot make the connections in between with these gobbets of knowledge."
Wednesday, October 09, 2002
I think I know what I feel about this antiwar movement, or at least many of the flock who showed up in the Sheep Meadow.If a guy who self-confesses to have been enamored of murderous sociopaths like the Weather Underground and has good things to say about Pete Seeger making himself the tool of Stalinism can understand this, why do so many others fail to see these distinctions?
A movement of Marxist fringe groups and people who are unable to make moral distinctions. . .
. . .the entire post-9/11 idiocy of one wing of the Left. That’s what Sept. 11 has come to mean to much of the Left: a wake-up call for American self-hatred.
—"but maybe it’s a wake-up call for us to recognize how bad we are, Why They Hate Us." The implication was evident: We deserved it. It would be a salutary lesson. It was the Pat Robertson wing of the Left in full flower: Sinful America deserved this Judgment from the sky.Thus Ron fingers a connection that has been recognized in the Weblogging community at least since the invention of the term "idiotarian", if not before. He understands the nexus of underlaying consensus between the idiotarians of the right and of the Left. He is sickened by one of the most revolting rhetorical tricks the Left resorts to:
I felt myself already beginning to say goodbye to the culture that produced this kind of cruel, lockstep thinking. Until finally, the coup de grâce—the Big Idiocy, the idiocy di tutti idiocies. It came from the very well-respected and influential academic, who said that there was at least one thing that was to be welcomed about 9/11: It might give Americans the impetus to do "what the Germans had done in the 60’s"—make an honest reassessment of their past and its origins, as a way to renewal.My only quibble with him here is: what took him so long to get disgusted with this kind of rhetoric? In the same article, Ron favorably mentions those, like the Weather Underground, that indulged in the same sickening, intellectually and morally bankrupt rhetoric.
Reassessment of our past: Clearly he was speaking admiringly of the 60’s generation in Germany coming to terms with its Nazi past, with Germany’s embrace of Hitler.
At that point, having sat silently through an accumulation of self-hating anti-Americanism, I couldn’t take it any more.
Here’s the analogy: Heidegger’s peculiar neutrality-slash-denial about Nazism and the Holocaust after the facts had come out, and the contemporary Left’s curious neutrality-slash-denial after the facts had come out about Marxist genocides—in Russia, in China, in Cambodia, after 20 million, 50 million, who knows how many millions had been slaughtered. Not all of the Left; many were honorable opponents. But for many others, it just hasn’t registered, it just hasn’t been incorporated into their "analysis" of history and human nature; it just hasn’t been factored in. America is still the one and only evil empire. The silence of the Left, or the exclusive focus of the Left, on America’s alleged crimes over the past half-century, the disdainful sneering at America’s deplorable "Cold War mentality"—none of this has to be reassessed in light of the evidence of genocides that surpassed Hitler’s, all in the name of a Marxist ideology. An ideology that doesn’t need to be reassessed. As if it was maybe just an accident that Marxist-Leninist regimes turned totalitarian and genocidal. No connection there. The judgment that McCarthyism was the chief crime of the Cold War era doesn’t need a bit of a rethink, even when put up against the mass murder of dissidents by Marxist states.Here, figures like Chomsky (though he is not alone in this!) are the Left's Heideggers. The crimes of Marxist and State Socialistic regimes are of no interest to them, historically. In their speeches and writings, indeed, those facts are often slipped down the memory hole (or, perversely, blamed on the Great Satan, America).
The point is, all empires commit crimes; in the past century, ours were by far the lesser of evils. But this sedulous denial of even the possibility of misjudgment in the hierarchy of evils protects and insulates this wing of the Left from an inconvenient reconsideration of whether America actually is the worst force on the planet. This blind spot, this stunning lack of historical perspective, robs much of the American Left of intellectual credibility. And makes it easy for idiocies large and small to be uttered reflexively.
extremely fashionable postmodern Marxist academic will concede the tens of millions murdered by Stalin, etc., but it’s "different" from the millions murdered by Hitler, because the Soviet project was built on good intentions, on utopian aspirations; the tens of millions dead were an unfortunate side effect, a kind of unfortunate, accidental departure from the noble Leninist path that still must be pursued.Or, as New Leftists in good standing uttered assessing Cuba: Socialist lobotomies are different from Capitalist lobotomies. Socialist executions are different from Capitalist executions. Etc.
So, for my part, goodbye to all that. Goodbye to a culture of blindness that tolerates, as part of "peace marches," women wearing suicide-bomber belts as bikinis. (See the accompanying photo of the "peace" march in Madrid. "Peace" somehow doesn’t exclude blowing up Jewish children.)1Some - perhaps many - things are best done at the level of National, not local, government. But it's a matter of judgement. I'm certainly not ant-government. I think that the Federal government should be strong in the sense of being able to do those things it is legitimately empowered to do and do them well. But many, many things are done Federally that I think should be done at State or Local level or non-governmentally. One of the disturbing things about modern American political debate is that if one says that one does not think Midnight Basketball programs (or whatever) should be done by the Federal government, people then assume that - or accuse - you're against them all together. But that's a debate for another time.
Goodbye to the brilliant thinkers of the Left who believe it’s the very height of wit to make fun of George W. Bush’s intelligence—thereby establishing, of course, how very, very smart they are. Mr. Bush may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer (I think he’s more ill-informed and lazy than dumb). But they are guilty of a historical stupidity on a far greater scale, in their blind spot about Marxist genocides. It’s a failure of self-knowledge and intellectual responsibility that far outweighs Bush’s, because they’re supposed to be so very smart.
Goodbye to paralysis by moral equivalence: Remind me again, was it John Ashcroft or Fidel Castro who put H.I.V. sufferers in concentration camps?
Goodbye to the deluded and pathetic sophistry of postmodernists of the Left, who believe their unreadable, jargon-clotted theory-sophistry somehow helps liberate the wretched of the earth. If they really believe in serving the cause of liberation, why don’t they quit their evil-capitalist-subsidized jobs and go teach literacy in a Third World starved for the insights of Foucault?
Goodbye to people who have demonstrated that what terror means to them is the terror of ever having to admit they were wrong, the terror of allowing the hideous facts of history to impinge upon their insulated ideology.
Tomorrow's elections bring to an end three years of military rule. The supreme court had ordered that they should take place by October. But, like all of Pakistan's three previous military rulers, Gen Musharraf is interested only in regime preservation, rather than moving the country towards genuine democracy. On April 30, he held a heavily rigged referendum, which made him president for the next five years.Problems don't go away.
The controversy that has raged over the referendum and the dramatic slide in his own popularity have not diverted Gen Musharraf from consolidating his powers. He has changed the 1973 constitution to give the army a permanent political role, create a military-dominated National Security Council that will override any future parliament or prime minister, and give himself powers to sack any future government.
For the past few months, the army, the intelligence services and Gen Musharraf's senior aides have been browbeating politicians to support the army-sponsored candidates for the elections. Numerous new laws have ensured that hundreds of candidates not to the army's liking can be debarred from standing.
Of the 51 people who have been given economic Nobel prizes, 34 have come from the United States.Meanwhile, what is one of the reasons some places remain poor? Not "exploitation", but a tendency to consider guys like this seriously and indulge in import-substitution economics:
What the critics tend to recommend are policies that, if suggested for domestic consumption in the United States or Europe, would generally be decried -- and with reason. Close off Brazil's markets, they say, so that local jobs can be protected against the might of foreign competition. But it's been done before, for decades, has never worked and helps more than anything else to explain why Latin America is where it is now.Good luck with that. It's worked sooo well so far:
The poverty of the region reflects protectionism, which was a by-product late in the 19th century of government tariffs on imports and, since World War II, a conscious policy tool. Protected markets, state monopolies, government industries: This was the way to develop, Latin America decided. What it led to was inefficiency, lack of competitiveness, small, weak economies, and, ugliest of all, corruption that enabled a small number to prosper from what wealth there was while the majority remained low-paid, uneducated, without opportunity: poor.Oh, yah, and good reason to keep Pat Buchanan's hands off our economy, while we're at it.
The "big" British contribution would involve heavy armoured forces to fight alongside US divisions currently gathering in Kuwait.
Tuesday, October 08, 2002
Pew and Kaiser plan to release the full results of their survey in December. But this initial release of political questions suggest that it will be a tricky business for either party to achieve its goals among Latino voters–and a tricky business for those of us in the predicting business to predict which way they'll go. One thing is clear. The "people of color" model, so beloved of leftist academics, is wrong. According to that model, Latinos being "nonwhite" will inevitably suffer great discrimination and poverty in this racist country and should support nearly unanimously ever-bigger government and racial entitlements: Browns should behave like blacks.
But they don't. Relatively few Latinos say they have experienced discrimination, Suro reports, and most are in the process of experiencing upward economic mobility. Their attitudes toward economic and cultural issues have been shaped by experiences in their home countries that are unfamiliar to most American political analysts and by experiences in America which do not fit well into the "people of color" model. And their attitudes on major issues tend to be in tension with the attitudes of major constituencies in both political parties.
R Lee Ermey, who made his name as the fearsome drill sergeant in the film Full Metal Jacket, told The Telegraph that Streisand's views were far from representative of Hollywood as a whole.The money quote:
"Once again, Barbra Streisand has opened her alligator-sized mouth wide before her humming-bird brain has had a chance to catch up," said Ermey. "Of course, she has the right to her opinion, but what she does is use the 'bully pulpit', helped by her fame, and people think she's talking for Hollywood."
The evidence of a more hawkish Hollywood has not come as a surprise to Tim Smith, who has set up a "support group" for Republicans working in the film industry.
He said: "For years in this place, you could only be covertly conservative if you wanted to keep in with the right people. But the effect of 9/11 has been to give more actors, producers and directors the courage to say what they think about issues like the war on terror and Iraq."
Monday, October 07, 2002
It is, in short, the Dianification of Toryism.Low, man, low.
Way to go, Torch!
(Yah, it's cruel and injust to say this. Sort of. But the Torch played dirty, underhanded, vicious politics. No one deserves such a commemorative more than he does. Live by slash-and-burn politics, die by slash-and-burn politics, you scumbag). I don't feel sorry for him at all.
(Falwell, btw, to those few who aren't aware of it, is one of the original "idiotarians" described by that term. Do the Moslems complaining about Falwell have a similar term they use to describe the prelates of their faith that preach hate and Jihad? You tell me).
If and when it happens, I'll be sure to post the move and the new URL. Until then, anyone who happens to wander through this blog can keep themselves busy reading the below tirade if they're interested or shuffle off if they're not.
(There might be a post or two; as I keep noting, anytime I think that posting will be light, something comes up that grabs my attention). End conceted self-referential blather.
The Virtues of Unilateralism Compared to the Vices of the Multilateral Concete: My long response to Eric Tam's post has been responded to.
Readers will note that Eric's reply to my challenge was such that it deserved, and got, a cordial response. Eric's latest does not deserve the same sort of tone.
"the internal governance of regimes has become open to multilateral scrutiny, with the UN Security Council supposedly acting as the ultimate arbiter."but when disavows any intent to draw a connection with the UN, he renders his statement meaningless. How is it supposed to work itself out? Someone reading that sentence who comes to the conclusion that Eric meant for it to be worked out in the Security Council would, according to Eric, be coming to the wrong conclusion. But then, since in his new post Eric thrice forsakes the UN, Eric didn't explain how it should work itself out. Similarly, Eric takes me to task for taking the Treaty of Westphalia argument seriously in my response. Like the UN, I never once mentioned the Treaty of Westphalia in my initial post. In his new post, Eric says that's not his argument. Excuse me for believing that, when I was responding to the post, I was responding to Eric's arguments. Perhaps he'll join O.J. in searching from golf course to golf course in an effort to find the real culprit: who was that who posted that post under Eric's name, infusing it with arguments that are not Eric's? According to Eric's recent post, I am to blame for the way he couched his arguments in that post. In his new post, Eric abandons them. He didn't really mean it, and I was wrong to focus on the arguments that were made, are his excuses. So I'm afraid Eric distorting the gist of his own essay. Hate to be so blunt, but that's the truth and I'm not happy at all with his attempt to accuse me of taking him out of context simply so he can hand-wave away my arguments on that score. If you're not able to counter them, fine, but underhanded debate tactics will not get you very far with me. Leftists reading this are mentally congradulating Eric for getting under my skin, as if that were the point of discussions. I have no doubt of that reaction taking place since I've seen that reaction before, it is inevitable and unalterable.
"I'm afraid I'm going to have to pass over the large part of P.'s post"By adopting the tactic of voiding the arguments he made in his initial post, Eric feels he can then void out the counter-arguments that I made: even the ones that would apply in contexts not involving the UN. He thus does not have to face them. Instead, he substitutes straw-men arguments that he calls mine. Note that he doesn't do this completely - he picks and chooses a few statements, that he has divorced of context, and then misrepresents them so that he can better attack them. I will get to the most egregious ones below.
In his original reply, as he quotes in his latest response, Eric wrote the following
In doing so, the internal governance of regimes has become open to multilateral scrutiny, with the UN Security Council supposedly acting as the ultimate arbiter.Within the context of his original post, it was clear to me that Eric was invoking this as a key support to his argument. Now he says otherwise, and that it was a mistake on my part. But after thrice forsaking the UN, he addresses the point of UN Resolutions, many if not most of which are very bad (for reasons I extensively explained in my post), but actually on that score he doesn't commit himself anymore than he committed himself on the UNSC in his earlier post. He talks about what others and American Administrations supposedly believe about them (Let it be noted that they act far different about all of them than they sometimes speak about them. What one has to say on the basis of diplomacy and politics is far different on this score from how one actually behaves, and I think action and behavior give a far better indication of what people in all sorts of Administrations think about the vast majority of UN Resolutions and how selective the UN is in passing them). Since Eric doesn't commit himself one way or another on the UN in his latest post, either, speaking of:
"reason people like to refer to the UN"one can be forgiven for finding it hard to know what Eric thinks based on Eric's posts. Here I am thinking I'm having an exchange of views on a subject with Eric (I'm certainly putting forth my arguments, not those of unknown "people"), when I really should be looking for these masked "people" Eric is talking about (I guess I'll be joining him and O.J. on the links. I'll have to take up golf, get myself some clubs, and perhaps someday I'll run into the person who's making these arguments, too).
Presumably, if you're sincerely anti-war, you wouldn't change your mind and become pro-war just because we collected group of nations. . .Point being, "unilateral!" is a diversion, not an argument on point, and those holding the anti- position now aren't going to change their mind if and when that happens, just as those who were anti- in the first Gulf War didn't change there mind simply because the UN authorized it and the "important" NATO powers as well as regional powers were in the coalition. Their reasons for opposing are something else, having little or nothing to do with unilateralism, just as no one supports action just because we have collected a certain threshold of allies into a "posse", offering to either help (Britain) or hold our coat and stop complaining for a day - maybe two.
"roughly the same liberal democratic values that the U.S. purports to be defending through this intervention"But that's not the primary reason for our interest in toppling Iraq. This is a typical method of the anti-side: to focus on only one aspect of the argument in favor of action, as if it were the sole or main reason, if it helps them make their argument, while ignoring the other aspects. And they're the side that so often accuses Bush of "simplicity." Of course, in other debates, Eric might make absolutely no mention of this rationale and instead focus on something else if he feels that will provide tactical advantage. But of course, such a method of argument should convince no one and only affects those who already agree.
Sure, on many, many occasions multilateralism is the way to go. But that isn't a rationale for saying it's the way to go. Lets put it this way: you have a friend (you lucky dog!), you share some interests with that friend, so you do those things together. But neither of you are bad friends if there are things you're interested in doing and that isn't interested in doing (or vice versa), and you do those things without him or her while the friend likewise does things that aren't your cup of tea.I tried not to be a prick about it in my reply to Eric's post; I noted it, but then dealt in a serious way with the arguments he made. In any case, back to the case of multilateralism with respect to Iraq (again, doing him a courtesy that he refuses to reciprocate on - taking his arguments as he made them, regardless of the fact that they have nothing to do with the challenge he claims to be addressing). We are acting based on a assessment of the threat Saddam poses to us, especially if he achieves his ambitions, along with the reasonable conclusion that we must prevent him from achieving some of those goals before it is too late. one can disagree with this assessment, but arguments based on that disagreement have nothing to do with "unilateralism" or "multilateralism". Likewise, when Britain - sometimes alone - was insistent upon getting rid of Napoleon, that wasn't on the basis of getting rid of all autocrats (it didn't require them to go after the Mughabe's of their era). His was a special case, a threat to the entire international system that Britain found in its interest to preserve. What if we're the only country really "like us" in the world? Or what if there are a few "like us" but a good portion of those are onboard (the "Anglosphere" countries of Britain & Australia that we do share a lot of the same principles with)? Why does that matter, anyhow?
But I'm even inaccurate in saying that we're going because "Iraq is a threat to the international system". It is, but in certain odd ways. Iraq is a threat to us and a few of our friends (who are onboard, though some - for reasons related to the area they exist in and domestic politics - are more quiet about it than others). As I said in my original post, and as Eric entirely ignores, not only are the burdens and costs not born by everyone, but importantly, the risks aren't, either.
Further Aside on the UN, in his new post Eric makes this unsupported assertion:
We should also note that the U.S. is the dominant force in the system and has been in large part responsible for both its virtues and pathologies.The last part of that sentence is only true to the degree to which, when negotiating the Charter, we agreed to allow ruthless totalitarian dictatorships and kleptocratic dictatorships to be members and be treated as any other member, and furthermore agreed to let this body pass all sorts of noble-sounding measures that were often insincerely supported and violated by those who piously insisted upon them. Furthermore, the U.S. has been waging a lonely battle - opposed by most of the Left - to try and rid the UN of the various pathologies it has. To little if no avail. Because these are pathologies of unaccountable international institutions generally. Institutions of the sort that Eric wants to have make our decisions for us. Also, no small portion of the procedures of the UN that the generally Left dislikes (when, that is, they don't find them useful, as now) were things that the Soviet Union, not the U.S., wanted. When George Kennan noticed this his response was that we should "stop wandering about with our heads in the clouds of Wilsonian idealism and universalistic conceptions of world collaboration", which is apt now as it was then, for the same reasons. Pretending that other countries are not going to pursue their interests but will instead play nice (doing such things as evaluating our case on its merits rather than on what will benefit them most) is either folly or a device deployed selectively to whip us. I'll let the reader decide which one Eric is engaging in.
"Aside: P. suggests that the U.S. may be justified in ignoring the opinions of such countries by invoking the metaphor of "battered wife syndrome."It was Eric, not I, who created the initial analogy of individuals in a household setting. I guess this is his way of saying that didn't work out so well for him. He then accuses me of an imperialist mindset for taking seriously an aspect of his initial reply that I had noted my problems with but, in the interest of a good debate, took seriously. He "notes it is slightly unfair" but then smears me with it anyhow. Again, he includes an "out" for himself (Eric is again saying "hey, don't hold me responsible, I did say it was slightly unfair, so you can't call me on it", just invoking one of the dirty tricks of debate so often used by the anti- side. "Porphy took me out of context by saying I ripped him over the battered wife thing, I even said it was unfair to rip him for it, but he does so anyhow! How mean Porphy is for holding me, again, to something I said". Frankly, no wonder so many of us find these debates not only pointless, but irritating, and find so many on the anti-side to be obnoxious). It's funny, though; on the one hand Eric's argument boils down to saying we're not mature enough to make decisions without our minders' approval, but he then accuses me of Imperialist impositions upon the sovereign decision-making abilities of other countries. He states that "abrogating the right of its citizens to self-government as a result of mental incompetence" is reflective or an imperialist mindset, but then his entire attitude towards whether America can or cannot make decisions on the basis of our interests is based on abrogating the right of its citizens to self-government. We need curbs on our behavior, people to make decisions for us, presumably because we cannot be trusted to make them for ourselves (Eric gives no other reason). And Eric accuses me of projecting. One could cut the irony with a knife. In any case, it is fairer for me to say that this disconnect is revealing of the attitudes of the anti-war side's suspicion and loathing of the U.S. than it was for him to claim to have found the imperialist hidden within me. The considerations of self-determination are invoked by the anti-side with respect to countries where the concept of citizenship is still foreign (the people of these nations have no say in how they're governed, invoking their ability to self-government is a farce when we're talking about hereditary dictatorships, Ayatollah theocracies, and monarchies that hold power by force of arms and the secret police), but are not invoked with respect to the abilities of the citizens and elected representatives of the U.S. to self-government and ability to make decisions in our interest. We need guardians. Useful idiots and fellow travelers used to pull this trick with respect to the Soviet's and Communist control over Poland, too. The sovereign rights of the Soviet Union to determine it's interests in conjunction with the People's Governments of Eastern Europe was inviolate, how dare we meddle (by discussing "our version of freedom" where they had "their own version"), but we needed to listen to and accord ourselves to their needs.
"reluctant to speak out against him, not because they want him around, but because they fear what will happen to them if they speak up but he survives, again."Which is more or less what will happen if the anti-side gets its way, by the by. I figured that someone who is as well read as Eric would understand the analogy here. That it is not that these people have not made up their mind that they would like to see Saddam go, but they cannot speak openly of it - more because the West has proven so feckless, time and time again (in '98 speaking of "regime change" but then dithering and letting Saddam even expel the inspectors, and doing nothing beyond lobbing a few cruise missiles in. But they have been left, again, to still deal with him as their neighbor, because we don't remove him). The governments of the region make this point, quietly, virtually every week. Such as the one in this recent article that points out that:
Jordan has adopted its own version of diplomatic duplicity. It has issued appeals to Washington not to attack Iraq but is playing host to American troops in the context of military exercises clearly related to any future action against Saddam Hussein. Prince Hassan, King Abdallah's uncle, has emerged as an active supporter of the Iraqi exile opposition groups, and even attended their conference in London last July.When it suits them, the anti-side wants us to pretend that surface statements and platitudes are all there is (of course, in other contexts they are more than willing to look below the surface, but not here). But clearly what Jordan is saying for public consumption and what Jordan wants to see happen (since Amman is one of those capitals threatened by Saddam) are two different things. This is the obvious meaning of their hosting of such exercises (of which it is an open secret that from such exercises, Special Ops forces are infiltrating into Iraq) even while saying something different for international consumption. And it is the rather obvious meaning of the analogy I made, within the context of the full explanation. But Eric would rather score cheep points distorting it. However, by doing things like that he has unfortunately destroyed the cordial tone of the discussion, for I find that contemptible.
"Many observers of the U.S. Congress of whatever partisan affiliation would describe the House and the Senate exactly this way."This is exactly the same sort of argument that the useful idiots and fellow travelers, anti-anti-Communists, used to make when people criticized the Soviet Union's system. They would concede that "Sure, the Supreme Soviet is an imperfect deliberative body. But so is the U.S> Congress". The logic here being:
- The Supreme Soviet is a flawed deliberative body.
- The U.S. Congress is a flawed deliberative body.
- There is no real, substantive distinction between them and we should have no preference for one over the other.
So now we have:
- The UN and other multilateral decision-making bodies are flawed deliberative bodies.
- The U.S. Congress is a flawed deliberative body.
- There is no real, substantive distinction between them and we should have no preference for one over the other.
Sure, on many, many occasions multilateralism is the way to go. But that isn't a rationale for saying it's the only way to go. . . It would be interesting to see if someone would be able to make an argument as to why "unilateralism" is always wrong. They would have to make the strong argument against unilateralism, not a weak one ("unilateralism is sometimes wrong"), if they were to sustain the commonly made point in the current debate, which is founded upon simply assuming it to be wrong and arguing from that assumption.So that when Eric allows that the three possible options he mentions are not mutually exclusive, he is agreeing that #3 (acting alone) is sometimes warranted. This means he does not meet the challenge.
there is, under the terms of the anti-side's own argument, a sense in which Bush's speech and appeals to the threat to the world's collective security is even more apt for them than it is for my case. This is unrecognized in the quickness so many have to criticize Bush. But, ironically, for those who think that disputes should be handled in a forum like the UN and that it will decide matters meritoriously rather than meretriciously, how it responds to this crisis will determine, in large part, whether its structure is a basis for "collective security" or not.Emphasis added to like the UN. In his haste to dismiss my arguments rather than respond to them, Eric did not notice that I was speaking of the UN as an instance, but in addition of similar bodies generally.
The amazing contradiction in this statement is revealed by the fact that P. and I are attempting to talk to one another. We couldn't do this if we didn't at least partially understand one another's worldviews.There's no contradiction whatsoever in that statement. Indeed, coming to that conclusion only exposes one of the long-lasting fallacies of "progressive" thought: "if only we can educate people to understand each other, then conflict will pass". In the past this expressed itself in the platitudinous fallacy that if only people in America could come to understand the people and institutions of the Soviet Union, then the Arms Race would come to an end, and with it the Cold War, and we could live in brotherhood. Thus the impetus for so many "cultural exchange" and "confidence building" programs. The obvious problem here is that one can understand something quite well and not like it (thus, for example, well-known rivalries include Germany vs France, France vs. Brazil or Germany vs. Mexico, and Britain vs France, not - well, you get the point). People who understand each other quite well are the ones who know where the disagreements lay. Likewise, I can understand Eric's position and he can understand mine. We can talk past each other quite well on that basis. But it's not going to end with me saying "oh, now that I understand Eric's position, yes, I think that the accountability of institutions aren't that important and I'm quite willing to have our nation submit to some unagreed upon, "evolving" standard" of multilateral decision-making".
As I've noted elsewhere, there are two parties nowadays: the US party, and the UN party. The former includes Republicans and Democrat who have an inordinate, romantic, and almost quaint attachment to the Constitution and the notion of national sovereignty. The latter regard nation-states as subsets of a global construct that values unanimous impotence over individual effort, and values procedure over results.Now, the "UN Party" does not have a specific attachment to the UN (especially since that body, noble though it may be, has some pathologies do to the influence the U.S. has over it), any multilateral institution will do. But the pattern plays out regardless of the forum. The only sphere where results are valued more than procedure and impotence is to be avoided is when acting to constrain the Great Satan,. Yes, that may be an over-harsh statement. But look at reality: those involved want the UN - or any multilateral institution - to do the minimal necessary with respect to Iraq because their real goal is to force the U.S. to give up it's mad scheme of deposing the Ba'ath Socialist Regime in Iraq. They would, did, and still want really to get rid of sanctions and normalize Iraq (that's been clear for several years). But the UN Party cannot do that at the moment. So they will adopt Fabian tactics (as they have on economics and in national politics. They're familiar with the strategy, and used it before with respect to Iraq and in other areas).
1As someone who just got done admonishing me against taking concepts that apply to individuals and extending them to entire nations, I know that Eric will not try to make such a inappropriate argument here.