Unilateralism vs Multilateralism, Part Duh
: Continuing the exchange with Mooraq
Porphyrogenitus is asking me where I found his argument on America unilateralism. What can I say? His whole blog is a single big quote on the subject.
Actually, that's not what I asked. Mooraq wrote this
but CANNOT accept a rant about how the US is "right" to unilaterally decide who to attack, how, when and on which pretest and this is based on "principles" and in line with the idea of a free world.
To which I inquired
He shouldn't, since I made no such argument. I don't know where he encountered such an argument. It certainly wasn't in that post. I'll ask Mooraq to provide quote where I said that - not just in the posts he's replying to, but anywhere in my archives. It's a crude distortion of my position.
The way he puts it in his response is another crude distortion. Readers will have to watch out when he characterizes what I say, especially when he doesn't directly quote me, but often even when he does (and ellipses things so as to divorce them of context and impose an unrecognizable interpretation on them to create a straw man to argue against).
Besides when he says
It's based on pretending that the other countries demanding input will make decisions based on principle, for one thing. But they are obviously not - they're acting to advance themselvesI read it as meaning that 1) Other countries pretend to act on principles but are not
Since Mooraq was the one to scoff at the idea that countries act on principle, it's hard to tell what he's getting at here. Or perhaps he only meant to scoff at the idea that America acts on principle, while believing the countries of the EU opposing the U.S. are a font of virtue. He seems to go back and forth on this and has no consistency, so it's hard to tell which it is.
2)Unless they act on principle (which I suppose means agreeing with President Bush) they should shut up and let America do what it wants to do. Maybe I am misunderstanding here, but then again maybe not. I am just drawing the natural conclusions of the whole point of view that America has the right to act on its own in invading Iraq and if the other countries have a problem, stuff them.
No; other countries can raise their objections, but there's no reason for the U.S. to follow whatever course they prefer unless it's based on, something that we find convincing, or a sound principle ("words of wisdom" to use your own phrasing from later in this post, or "good reasons") - there's absolutely no reason for America to let their pursuit of self-interest trump ours. Since Mooraq had already (apparently) conceded that the countries involved were pursuing what they saw as their own interest, not principle (where later in this very post he says " It seems that the only thing on which P. and I agree is that no country acts on principle but all act mainly for their self-serving interests
") I don't see any reason for America to drop its interests so as to give way to, for example, French and German interests, on an issue we consider of critical importance (note that we do this all the time, and we're not alone in doing this all the time, on matters that are of lesser importance, and accommodate the interests of other countries "go along to get along", as it were, compromise and the like. One example of that was for several years in the handling of the situation in former Yugoslavia, though the Clinton Administration believed that stronger methods needed to be pursued, Our European Partners wanted to try a less aggressive response. Their way was tried for a number of years, worked as well as it usually does - which is about as well as their way worked in handling Iraq throughout the same period and would work if tried again in this century - so, having taken that course and seen it's effectiveness, eventually the U.S. and U.K. prevailed upon the continental European members of NATO to try it our way, with quite different results. But we gave way first to them, and followed their preferred policy initially and saw how things went. Another, more recent, example of the U.S. accommodating the interests of our "friends" is with Gengeneered food; the EU has already taken America's trade practices to the WTC on several occasions, we were going to bring suit before the WTC on the EU's exclusion of GM foods, but we decided to be less confrontational than the EU has been, not bring suit, but attempt to persuade them through other channels. More on Gengeneered foods later). But on issues we believe to be matters of life and death, where the stakes are grave for us and our interests critical, it's not open to "pluralistic decision making" where we'll submerge our interests so that others can get their way in a manner that we think is harmful to us or has too high a risk of being harmful to us. (In that, Sept. 11th changed our calculation of what the risks are, not just on terrorism but in other areas, too. Thus, while Bush didn't push the matter of Iraq before Sept. 11th, but let it lay where the Europeans and previous Administration had left it - we no longer consider that situation acceptable to us, even while France obviously doesn't have as much concern over Saddam, except in respect to how best to remove the sanctions and resume dealing openly with him).
The invocation of arguments based on principle here simply means that - yes, they can say whatever they want. But America will only be persuaded if we consider their position compelling. Since what underpins all of this is an effort by France and others to salvage Saddam's regime because they have long-term contracts with them that the French consider important, it's hard to see them as behaving as a friend proffering "words of wisdom" for our own good. Also, it's one thing to say "well, we have a different view, and here's our reasons", offer them, have them considered, and then agree to disagree if neither is convinced by the other. France and Germany have been so obnoxious about it (to the point that at one point even Chirac, who doesn't notice such things readily, realized that his rhetoric was in danger of damaging the relationship with the U.S. - he understood the harm that could result from being too insistent and confrontational about it - and decided to pull back and shift emphasis to areas of French and American agreement. Of course, when the issue got to the UNSC, France had a relapse) that it's hurting relations. But the point is when even the French understand that something can be pushed too far and become counterproductive in the long run, I'm surprised Mooraq can't. Apparently, the French just can't help themselves, though; neither can a large segment of the EU, which refuses to recognize the seriousness of the matter for us and that we are going to neutralize Saddam, either by insuring he thoroughly and completely complies with all the provisions of the UN Resolutions Iraq agreed to obey as terms of their surrender at the end of the Gulf War - and those terms aren't limited to "letting inspectors back in to play three card monty with Saddam" - or, preferably, depose his regime, which after all is the source of the problem, much as Slobodan Milosovic's regime was the source of the problem in former Yugoslavia. Perhaps the Ba'ath National Socialist regime will fall without war, but if not then war is inevitable.
The problem I have with a lot of P. arguments is that he seems to confuse what "unilaterally" means in this context. Phrases like:
First, in case it wasn't obvious in my post (it should have been; I made it clear several times, and it was also clearly stated in the posts I made that I referred Mooraq to via links) - I have no problem with Germany deciding not to go to war (as should have been clear when I placed emphasis on "willing" in the invocation of the phrase "coalition of the willing" that will participate in war against Iraq).
It's ok, apparently, for Schroeder to have "unilaterally" made a decision" (not to attack Iraq),
do not make any sense. Deciding NOT to invade a country is a decision that obviously can be made unilaterally (the USA DECIDES unilaterally that is not invading Canada every single day, for instance). It's decisions that have an impact on OTHER countries that should not be taken unilaterally but should be justified by some reason and sanctioned by the international community.
I do have a major problem, however, with countries deciding a priori that they will not give assent to America pursuing its policy, prior to "consultations", and then, though they made up their own mind, demand that we not make any decision until after we have convinced them (and then they tell their people not to worry, that nothing will change their mind, but they demand that "pluralistic decision making" processes be imposed on the U.S. and the U.S. not act until they have given their agreement to policies they have already ruled out). That's a farce, and exposes this entire charade for what it is. There's nothing "pluralistic" about this process when decisions taken by some countries, "unilaterally", are "privileged" (to use pomo academic jargon) and considered justifiable prior to the deliberations, but others must wait until approval is given by a Regency Council that has already made up its mind not to give their assent - for their own self-interested reasons, regardless of the interest at stake for those that feel the matter to be more critical to them and in need of resolution. That turns the process Mooraq asserts to be preferable into a form lacking substance - but, then, form without substance is often preferred in Europe (lets pass a resolution, but then blanch at enforcing it; fine sounding superficiality trumping the gritty, difficulty of substance; more on that, below, and how military related issues are illustrative of this).
Note also that there's a glaring hole in Mooraq's argument here: and that is the assumption that other policies beside war don't have an impact on other countries (and that, if the parts of Europe that want to prevent the U.S. from liberating Iraq from the Ba'athist regime get their way, this won't have an impact on other countries - the U.S., etc). At the risk of making an argumentum ad Hitlerum, this is obviously a flawed premise. Decisions by countries to stop short of war, especially some democratic countries facing dictatorships with ambitions towards their neighbors, have had major effects on other countries - including the democracies in question, within Europe, within living memory. By not acting strongly at a time and in a manner of their choosing, the western European democracies have not infrequently simply given initiative to dictatorships to act in a time and manner of theirs - with vast ramifications for other countries. Perhaps it is for this reason that the new democracies of Eastern Europe are considerably more favorable for America's policy with respect to Iraq. They know that the absence of strong action, when that is required, can have very long-term consequences. Consequences sometimes more dire than going to war now (lets use Slobo as an example instead of the obvious one - if the policy America would have preferred was taken sooner, rather than years later, how many Bosnians would still be alive? Hell, how many Serbs, who also suffered death and displacement in the interceding years, might still be alive? Don't tell me they weren't affected by a decision to stop short of the use of force to put an end to that). Meanwhile, the EU's motto continues to be "has learned nothing from history and forgotten nothing either".
Note here that this isn't an argument for acting everywhere on a whim; it's simply a disproof of the assumption that not-war has no impact on other countries. In this particular case, the U.S. has considered the various options (in, in spite of what you may have heard, a rather spirited debate, that did take into consideration the arguments made by other countries), and concluded that if it comes down to it, war is the least bad option in this case, in the end, if other methods of compelling Saddam to comply don't work (and I don't think they will, and frankly neither does France or the others who are "working to prevent war" - thus their efforts to define away possible materiel breaches. They know Saddam won't, in the end, comply. Their response is to attempt to obstruct the U.S.
That, of course, if we accept the idea that international relations are ruled by more than the simple military power.Of course they are ruled by more than that. But that doesn't lead inevitably to the conclusion that Mooraq is trying to assert. Contrary to what Mooraq will have you believe, for example, the relations between the U.K. and the countries of Scandanavia are not based on military power. But sometimes, in some cases, they are (otherwise why does Mooraq think it is important for Europe, if Europe is to be taken seriously as a world power, to increase its military capabilities?) Saddam will not comply with a kind word. He might not even comply with a kind word and the threat of force. He might have to be forced to comply, with the application of military power. This is just one example.
However, it does not follow that in relationships that aren't governed by "simple military power", that it then follows that they're governed by mutual consensus where EU countries get a veto on how the U.S. uses its resources and determines its policies. More on that follows.
Then P. says that
It's pretty simple, really. What I meant by that is that one thing that the US understood a long time ago is that with power (political, economic or in whatever other guise) comes responsibility. And if Europe is serious about taking a leading role in the affairs of the world it has to be prepared to stand by its commitment, even when this means being prepared to make war and not love.
Now Europe is upset that they're left with the consequences of their own decision (not to have a strong military)
I am an advocate for a stronger European defense force but I do not understand what the "consequences" of these decisions are. Schroeder is not asking the US to fight Iraq on Germany's behalf so I do not understand what P. means by that.
Oh, wait. Actually, I didn't write most of that paragraph. Someone named Mooraq wrote it. So I thought when I made that point, Mooraq would understand it. But perhaps there are two Mooraqs (it's the web, it's hard to tell). But here's one of his problems in a nutshell: if there are no drawbacks to not having a strong military, then why bother advocating one? The money can (continue) to be used for welfare programs that terrorist cells rely upon for their livelihood when infiltrating Europe, etc (giving them plenty of free time to use to plan their operations). Money better spent on Social Worker Full Employment Acts won't be diverted to wasteful, useless military spending.
But, actually, the Mooraq that wrote that section on the utility of investing in a strong military was right. Though the other Mooraq, the one I'm responding to in this post, scoffs at the idea, this is one thing the U.S. understood a long time ago. Europe demonstrates its lack of seriousness by failing to take the steps needed to build up a military commensurate with their ambitions of playing a "leading role in the affairs of the world". They, likewise, demonstrate a lack of responsibility when they don't put their money where their mouth is (that is the context in which I made my remark in the first post, more on that later); in simply using bureaucratic fiat to declare EU Rapid Response forces operational "in spite of any real capability", they show a complete lack of responsible behavior (As one wag responded to that assertion "apparently this works in Europe" We're supposed to take you seriously?) Europe's de-militarization over the last decade and a half is significant in its own sake, but it also is demonstrative of their behavior on a wide range of other matters, not directly tied to the number of armored divisions one has. The Mooraq that wrote that paragraph would understand that. The Mooraq talking about pluralistic decision-making and scoffing at these considerations apparently does not.
The fact that the continental countries of the EU have failed on this score makes it entirely understandable, from their point of view, why they would be so adamantly opposed to war in Iraq. They can't participate in any meaningful way (even assuming they wanted to). Their influence is limited to negotiating tables. Thus they realize that if it comes down to war, then the course of events are completely out of their ability to influence. They only have influence via international talking shops. No wonder they want to keep matters in those forums, and are so strongly opposed to war. The only country in Europe that has the ability to influence the course of events in war is Britain (which goes a long way towards explaining why they have quite different decisions from, say, Germany, on this subject). Understanding their situation does not mean agreeing with it, however, or following along. Or even sympathizing with their plight - they made their bed, let them lay in it. Germany wasn't forcibly disarmed since the '50s. France has always insisted that they - not anyone else - will determine French military policy (to the point of pulling out of military cooperation with NATO in the '60s, while keeping their seat at the table). So, yes, there are consequences to the fact that European countries made the decision to decrease their military spending greatly throughout the '90s, and find themselves unable to influence events on that level, and thus want to keep war off the table.
Even P.'s take on the relationships within Nato is a bit confused, he quotes Blair saying
Note that by failing to have at hand a military capability commensurate with their ambitions, they demonstrate a lack of willingness to do that, regardless of agreement on what needs to be done or not. Lets say they agreed. They wouldn't be able to - they have denuded themselves of the capability. That's a source of friction when they start making claims to be included on decisions when they lack the means to participate in action compatible with the amount of say they feel they deserve. In Mooraq's (the other one's) terminology, they show themselves unserious and irresponsible. It thus creates a source of mutual resentment that goes well beyond issues directly related to war and peace, or military matters. And what slots us off is this was entirely foreseeable that this would happen (and are the among the "consequences" I mentioned), were pointed out, and yet though Americans mentioned all this Europe persists in viewing itself as the source of wisdom and America as simply too backwards to understand sophisticated nuances of international affairs.
Tony Blair said a few months ago, being an ally means being willing to pay a "blood price" for the alliance
Of course this is what allies do when they agree on what needs to be done or to protect each other.
But not when one of the allies is doing something the others do not approve, for instance I am sure that if Britain decided to invade Scandinavia the USA would try to convince the ally to desist from such enterprise, and would not rush ahead to bomb Stockholm.Yes, the impending Rape of Scandanavia. That's what this is all about. That's why Norway is building up it's coastal defenses, because Britain clearly wants to invade Scandanavia in order to get timber, which the English will use to construct pirate ships and then rake the coasts of France, putting French cities and towns to the sack and hauling the booty back in the heavily-laden hulls of their galleons. Only Schroeder and Chirac can talk Blair down from the brink of such a misadventure.
Implicit in this is the attitude that we've come to our conclusions lightly and frivolously, are some sort of deranged loose canon in the world, so demented that we need our French minders to keep us on a leash as we drool and stumble around in an insensate manner. This is the cartoon "cowboy" image in Europe, where America is run by a moron and needs a legal guardian to prevent him from putting Canada to the sack.
There's another sickening equivalency made here, too: Scandanavia, Saddam Hussein, no difference. War against Saddam, War against Norway, flip a coin. No wonder the enlightened in Europe were so aghast at "axis of evil" and "evil empire" rhetoric. They've lost the ability to make basic distinctions between types (and we're told they're more philosophically inclined than the Americans).
This is what friends are for, not just to fight alongside each other but also to lend a word of wisdom where wisdom is needed.Words of wisdom are one thing, when they're offered. But I don't see that as what is being proffered (even Mooraq says "Go get him. The world's a better place without him" - I assume he was talking about Saddam, not Bush, here. But I can't tell which Mooraq wrote that), so he must find the case for removing Saddam to be compelling. Mooraq also (apparently) believes that what is being offered by other countries isn't so much "words of wisdom", but attempts to advance their own interest, masked as "words of wisdom". Or perhaps not - again, Mooraq is unclear as to whether he thinks it is only the U.S. that is not motivated by principle, but EU countries are simply offering wisdom and guided by good reasons (as in his invocation of "make a good case" and then they will agree, from his earlier response). He seems to have it two ways, here - scoffing at the idea that principle guides countries in international behavior (actually, to be accurate, he only really ridiculed the idea that the U.S. acts on principle. He didn't do any of the kind with respect to whether, say, France or any other EU country - exempting, I suppose, the UK - does), then making assertions founded on the assumption that they are a council of Solons looking out for us. In any case, appeals to friendship and pretences to just trying to help with wisdom while really trying to advance one's own self-interest at your expense are hardly what I'd define as "what friends are for". This, ultimately, is why the Americans that Mooraq is critical of (such as myself) are unhappy with Europe and looking at them as not being the allies they claim to be.
I will leave the comment on the "special relationship between Britain and the U.S., and the level of influence that Britain has as a result" for another day, just let me say here that I believe all this "special relationship" story to be a big joke.There's that envy and distaste I was talking about, coming out.
The US is more than happy to have Britain at its side, like one does with a cuddly poodle, but has never got out of its way when Britain asked for something (like stopping the IRA terrorists to raise funds in the US) in return for this "special relationship".I suppose this is Mooraq's way of dismissing the U.Ks ability to decide what's in its best interest, so that they can be made Wards of the EU. They need legal guardians because they don't know what's good for them (interesting the "poodle" cliché; there are a lot of cliches in Mooraq's posts). In any event, I don't feel the need to credentialize myself on the issue of the IRA terrorists and Americans who help finance it. If anyone's curious I'll give them the e-mail address of a (very patriotic and un-"poodle"ish) British friend of mine, with whom I've corresponded via ICQ over the years on these things (not just since Sept 11th, either). He knows my opinion of both the IRA and the scummers who help fund it. In any event, it's funny having this come from a continent that romanticizes Jose Bove.
Another moot point is
So then the EU is going to let Brazil and China into their loop on the weighty foreign policy issues of the day (he says "no" later)?
Mooraq's assertions really are a Free Rider argument; he doesn't say on what basis the EU countries ought to be given a role in making decisions.
What do you mean by on what basis one should be given a role? What basis the US has to make decisions? The same as any other country, the role of each country is usually based around the economic/political weight of that country.
In any case, whether Mooraq (and the countries of Europe in general) like it or not, one of the factors that goes into calculations of "political weight" is the commitment to upholding the international structure as demonstrated by the capabilities of their armed forces (yes, Virginia, one of the ways one demonstrates responsibility and seriousness is by making such investments commensurate with the influence one presumes to have).
The US happens to be the most influential country in the world as it is the richest and politically powerful, other countries fulfill their role according to their political weight, it's not you and me making decision about how gets the badge of "important country that can make decision", it's a fact.Somehow I don't think this means we'll stop hearing whining about "American bullying" from Europeans, much less the gang at International Sentinel.
P. also tends to forget that Europe is not (yet?) a single state when he says:I didn't forget. I was waiting for you to make that claim. The EU is a big shell game - they want to have it both ways. To be treated as a single entity when it's to their benefit ("see here. We represent a region with an economy as large as yours, so you must listen to us on that basis") and want to be treated as separate countries when that benefits us ("see here. We are fifteen separate states. Therefore, we get fifteen seats to your one in deciding the contents of the ICC and determining its composition, fifteen voices to your one in negotiating the terms of Kyoto, two Permanent members of the Security Council to your one, any decision we take is by definition multilateral, while any decision the American Union takes is by definition unilateral if it doesn't have our joint approval, and by the way unilateralism is a sin now.") I can see why they do that - it's in their selfish interest to do that. But it's a con that isn't going over well in America, and we're getting tired of, and is why people like myself look at these claims that decisions should be "pluralistic" as simply a way for Europe to advance its self interest at America's expense, with no principled reason why we (or anyone else) should give such claims any credence whatsoever.
The ultimate goal of these claims is that the EU will formulate a common position on foreign policy matters
Mooraq might not understand what the word "goal" means, and that could be why he misrepresents the meaning of my statement there.
The EU is an association of member countries that might be evolving in a federal state but, at the moment, is not. A common foreign policy is a dream of the Commission in Bruxelles but is not going to happen in the next ten years at least.
In any case, if I'm so wrong, then why did Britain come in for so much criticism for not going along with the "EU" (really, France and Germany) on Iraq (assertions were made that they should have waited till a common policy on the issue was decided)? Why did the EU insist not only of its current members but of its prospective members that they wait until the EU came up with a common policy on handling America's position on the ICC before the individual countries could negotiate side agreements with America?
I think that a lot of misunderstanding in the US comes from not having clear ideas of how the EU exactly works.I think the same could be said of many (most?) Europeans.
Let me make it clear here that we are NOT a single country; we are someway more integrated than NAFTA but way less than the USA.
You took that quote completely out of its context (see above for my comments on what Europe needs to do to demonstrate responsibility so as to be taken seriously - that was the context in which I made that statement). It's interesting that Mooraq takes these statements so that he can argue against them, but completely ignores my statements directly on the subject of "pluralistic decision making".
Then P. goes on, on the concept that:
no clear argument for why a wealthy (we're not talking a region that is too poor) region should have the say over what another country does, beyond, essentially, that they want it, while being unwilling to "put their money where their mouth is"
I wonder if P. ever stops one second to consider what he is saying.
Let me spell it out for him: NOBODY wants to dictate the US how to run its affairsThis is simply belied by reality; but rather than argue with it I'll simply go with it, for now. But it's empirically untrue.
BUT when this affairs consist in MAKING WAR to another sovereign country I think that the international community is right to say a word,These statements about "right to say a word" and "words of wisdom" and the like represent a major step-back from assertions that decisions be made "pluralistically". I nowhere argued that they can't say what they want, argue their case and try and convince (indeed, quite the opposite). However, this does not mean that the U.S. is somehow bound to not go ahead if it is unconvinced, cannot act, even unilaterally, she does not agree with what other countries say on the issue (and what they say will be guided by their interests - not ours).
EXACTLY as the US is entitled to tell India and Pakistan to avoid blasting each other in a nuclear holocaust.Yes, we sent envoys to negotiate with them; so did Britain. So did the EU (though for some strange reason, American and British envoys were taken more seriously than envoys representing the received wisdom of continental Europe). But note that none of the people Mooraq praises insisted that their dispute be taken to the UN for "pluralistic decision making", or indeed into any other such forum. Mooraq's remarks here are based on a misapprehension of my position (which I've already pointed out elsewhere in this response, so I won't repeat myself here). If Mooraq is equating the cases, he's simply invoking an inapt example.
I do not understand how P. can say in the same phrase that no country can interfere in the decision making process of another AND AT THE SAME TIME that the US can make war to another country (which from my point of view is BIG interference with the affair of that country).There was a Gulf War (90-91). You might have heard of it. It might be a good idea to familiarize yourself with it. Iraq invaded Kuwait and was driven from it by force. As a result, Iraq requested a cease-fire. They received it on conditions. Those conditions were embodied in UN Resolutions (among other things). Iraq has failed to comply with the terms by which the war they started was ceased. They are in, as it is termed "materiel breach" of the terms. The responsibility for that is the regime of Saddam Hussein (hey, I didn't think I'd have to argue any of that - Mooraq, one of them anyhow, said that he agreed with getting rid of Saddam. My disagreement, and thus the focus of my posts, were on the assertions of "pluralistic decision making". They were not an argument for the rationales for war against Iraq, where I though we agreed. But this other Mooraq apparently does not. I have posted some of my arguments for that elsewhere in my Blog, and since Mooraq writes that my "entire blog" is thus and such, then it's clear he's read my entire blog and should be familiar with those arguments. I can also point him to some additional ones if he desires).
Plus, I think that Germany is entitled to say (as Schroeder has said) that it will not participate to a war on Iraq.I never said otherwise; indeed, I said quite the opposite. Mooraq's putting things into my mouth that are quite the opposite of my position. The German government can make decisions for Germany - I haven't disputed that. What is at dispute is whether the American government can make decisions for America - I say America has the same right to make its own decisions as Germany has to make its. Mooraq is turning things on its head, because it is he who disagrees. I'm not the one arguing in favor of "pluralistic decision-making": Mooraq is. It is Mooraq's position that these things should be decided on the basis of mutual consensus, not mine. For him to say that Germany is entitled to set its own policy irrespective of others (such as the U.S.) arguments on the issue, but America cannot, is and remains quite revealing. . . .That was, indeed, what I was ferriting out in my remarks on the subject of Germany's (and France's, etc) "unilateral" decisions - exposing this "process" for what it is. It isn't pluralistic at all; it's a process whereby some make up their own minds, then tell others (the U.S.) that we must submit to groupthink.
What the hell does P. mean by "putting their money where their mouth is"??? Does he think that they have to declare war on the US to say they do not approve of the war on Iraq?Dealt with that above.
It seems that the only thing on which P. and I agree is that no country acts on principle but all act mainly for their self-serving interests. OK, at least it's one point!Although Mooraq seems to have some doublethink on this score.
Another rant is
Since Mooraq has familiarized himself with my entire blog so as to be able to tell people what it consists of, he knows what my opinion of the agriculture bill that Congress passed and Bush signed is (hint for those coming in late: No sir, I didn't like it). But coming from the Land of the Unreformed CAP, Mooraq shouldn't get on a high horse (one of the differences between the EU and Bush on this score is that Bush would readily negotiate away our subsidies - and the Administration has stated, as recently as the Development conference in South Africa, our desire to do so - while the EU is much more reluctant).
Perhaps he (I) means when the EU's policy on importation of genegeneered food affects the lives of millions of hungry people in Africa, but somehow I don't think so (anyhow, that's probably America's fault, too, in Europe's eyes). Or perhaps he's proposing that South Africa, India, and Brazil be given input in how the EU's foreign policy is designed, just like France and Italy do
Let me state here that I am in favour of GM food, especially to help starving countries, but I do not think that the US are exactly the best guys to teach the world about agricultural policy and not hurting the third world farmers (read aboout Bush recent farm subsidies here ).
But the point is, 1) I think countries are entitled their own foreign policy 2) other countries are entitled to criticize this policy when relevant. This critique does not infringe the right of any country.Mooraq hereby destroys the basis for his argument on behalf of pluralistic decision-making, which he founded on the concept that decisions that affect other countries need to be taken pluralistically. The reason I brought up the GM food ban is that countries in Africa have, as a result of that ban, determined not to accept Gengeneered food aid, while their people go hungry. Why? Because Europe has told them that if they accept GM food aid, some of it might get planted, and then spread among their crops, at which point the EU would not accept imports from those countries. So, to preserve their ability to export agricultural produce to the EU in the future, they are letting their people face starvation. It's possible that more people could die as a result of this policy than will be killed in war with Iraq.
Brazil is not part of the EU so does not have any input on the making of EU foreign policy but is entitled to say that it sucks if it thinks so.And France is not a part of the American Union and so does not have any input on the making of American foreign policy. They can say whatever they want, if they want to, but this is not the same as being entitled to participating in making the decision in some sort of "pluralistic" process.
Note again that, just as I suspected, this "pluralistic" mechanism is a one-way street: it is invoked when it suits Europe, but when it does not then it vanishes as a mirage. It's as insubstantial as fog, with nothing anyone can grasp onto and clearly no consistent principles for its application. At one point, Mooraq argues one thing (decisions that affect others should be taken by everyone affected), at a different point, quite a different thing (countries can say what they want, but the EU's policies are set only by the EU's members). The later is, I assert, the reality. The former, the claims to "pluralism", simply a device invoked in an entirely self-serving manner.
This really made me laugh:
No; what Mooraq excludes from this reply in order to create a straw man is what this was in response to. It was a reply to Mooraq's assertion that . . .President Bush alone cannot unilaterally decide these good reasons. He didn't do it alone. But Mooraq's intemperate tirade here is ironic considering he just got done saying that Brazil has no role in deciding the EU's foreign policy because Brazil is not a member of the European Union. France has no role in deciding America's foreign policy because France is not Vermont - France is not a member of the American Union. France can talk all France wants to (I never said otherwise), but that's a far cry from "pluralistic decision making".
Mooraq is right. Bush can't (order the US to war). America has a Constitutional process. Congress and the Senate were also in on the decision. We have 50 States (a bit more than 15), each of which sends representatives (known as "Senators" and "Congressmen") and consult with the Executive in a pluralistic decision-making process.
I do not understand if this was a joke or I P. really believes that a Congressional vote is what makes a war "right".
Apparently "right" for P. is what is best for America (a world version of the GM say that "what's good for GM is good for the America") based on the President decision and ratified by Congress.Another distorted assertion. Mooraq finds it easy to understand that Germany is best able to decide what is in its best interests (apparently we can agree that far). My position is that America is best able to determine what is in its interest in the same way that Germany is best able to decide what is in its own interest. Mooraq sees this when it comes to Germany, but turns it into a cartoon when it comes to America.
If this is the only standard that measures actions then I am not surprised that other countries are not happy at this definition.
Mooraq was the one who brought it up in the first place. This is also an odd thing for someone who's first response starts off with a (however mistaken) discourse on history. But I'll take it as an admission that he realizes he's out of his depth here.
I will not enter the discussion about who armed Saddam or who is the main supporter of the Saudis because there is no point in going through basic geo-political and historical facts.
In any case; yah, it might very well be that in a dynamic world where conditions have obviously changed a lot since the 80s, where there was a Cold War, policies that were "right" at one time no longer apply and a different policy is "right" now. For example, I doubt that Mooraq is all upset because America's policy towards Russia is not the same as America's policy towards the Soviet Union. Likewise, decisions are generally taken with incomplete information (which is why it's fine for both internal debate on a topic and also hearing advice from other countries, to see if they come up with something that hadn't been considered and changes one's mind - note that this is still a far cry from subscribing to the idea that the decision then be made by these others); if France knew before that the weapons they gave to Iraq would be used to invade Kuwait, would they still have sold them to Saddam? (well, in France's case, the answer is "probably yes"). The difference between the U.S. and France on this is that, once we see new information and perceive that the world situation is different, and see that something is more of a problem than we previously thought it to be (a realization that could be applied to terrorism generally, not just Iraq), we don't keep doing the same thing as before, stubbornly insisting upon the same policy for fear that if we changed it we would appear to be admitting a mistake (the French, they never make a mistake, so perhaps that's why they have such trouble in understanding the possibility of others making a mistake, and have convinced most of the EU to have the same attitude. Thus they continue their views of Saddam rather unchanged from what they were prior to Saddam's invasion of Kuwait, hoping to soon remove the sanctions so that they can openly engage in the same deals as before, as if nothing has changed and they made no miscalculation in evaluating him).
In the end it all boils down to one issue: is any country in the world entitled to do as it pleases (including invading another country) based solely on the fact that it CAN (in the sense that it has the military might)? I think not but probably P. thinks that if that country is the US then the answer is yesActually, this again twists things around on its head. I'm consistent on this: each country is best able to know what's in its own interest. It is Mooraq who invokes pluralistic decision making but then, when it comes to the EU, Moorak thinks that yes, its members are entitled to do as they please based solely on the fact that they can (in any sense you'd like to take it).
and nobody is entitled to think differently least they be accused of wanting to "reign" over the US. P. seems to think that the world is like the Far West: bad guys and a sheriff (self-elected) who is entitled to be judge, jury and executioner at the same time. I hope that the world is a bit better then that. I think that the actions of democratic states are not subject only to internal executive decisions-making process but also but some form of international scrutiny by peer-democratic states.Well, this is quite a drawback from the idea that countries that are affected by a decision participate in creating it. First it was because they are affected (and some dictatorships around the world are quite concerned about the specific example of Iraq, because of what they fear will be its affect on them), then it was qualified by in proportion to their economic and political weight (which would mean China should play a big role in determining this, when obviously China has completely different interests with regards to Iraq; and, indeed, China should have a big role in shaping the EU's policies that affect other countries), but then we got Ptolmaic Elispes about how this didn't apply to the EU. Now it only involves "peer-democratic states". This is a further qualification that cuts some out of the loop (why does Mooraq - or Europe - get to determine on what basis countries will be included and excluded from this "pluralistic" process? Actually, it's sounding a lot less "pluralistic" all the time, with the full range of diversity of regimes excluded. What about the world's great dictatorships? You know, the ones the EU think deserve to be on the UN's Human Rights Commission instead of the U.S?)
In any event, this last qualification essentially excludes the EU and its members. The EU is not a democratic state (it's an Impersonal Bureaucracy; the Supreme Sovie. . .er, European Parliament, performs a purely ceremonial function in the Union of European Social Democratic Republics). The member-states of the EU have submerged their authority to that of the EU's officials (instruments such as the European Court and the European Finance guy take precedence over the authority of national governments when it comes to setting laws, regulations, and policies), so they are no longer substantively democratic. The free expression of ideas is no longer permitted in the states of the EU, and such debate is a foundational requirement for democratic deliberations (which is why America's founders decided to make that the First amendment). However, while I say it "could be argued" that this latest qualification excludes the members of the EU from participating in such scrutiny, I don't think Mooraq would be happy with such an argument.
But still, the entire matter remains insubstantial. Perhaps it's time for a little Socratic method.
I don't expect that Mooraq will provide any clear, concrete, consistent answers that will set forth a practice that will apply generally rather than simply be invoked when it pleases some (the members of the EU) and not apply when they don't want it to. This is just one reason why I must conclude that invoking the principle of "pluralistic decision-making" is not an effort at creating a more benign system of international relations, but simply a mask for the unserious and irresponsible to impose their will on others and cry "Unilateralism!" when they don't get their way. Europe's track record on its warnings and "words of wisdom" is pretty bad after all.
- What form will this "scrutiny" take?
- What level of "support" is deemed enough? For example, with Britain and a number of other countries on board or at any rate in agreement, it cannot truly be argued that the U.S. is pursuing its policy towards Iraq "unilaterally" - but for some reason the accusation is still made. So the implication must be that the threshold of "sufficient" agreement has not been reached. What level of support would be deemed sufficient? (Does it rest on whether France and Germany give the nod? If so, why? Why those two countries? What makes them so significant when they've had such a poor track-record in the past?)
- Now that you've said what level of support and agreement is deemed acceptable, why is it that amount and not some other level of support? How do you determine this, and why is it that you (Europe) gets to decide?
- Beyond that, on what basis do you get to be the one that sets the terms in the first place - who is in, who is out, when the principle of "pluralistic decision making" applies (you've mentioned war so far, but also invoked "when a policy affects other countries" as the foundational principle) and when it doesn't (which has led to you applying it inconsistently. The only consistent factor is it applies when the U.S. is involved - for example, on Kyoto - which is not war - and the ICC et al, but it doesn't apply when it's the EU). But why do you get to set the terms and then point fingers at others and get all outraged and intemperate when they do not agree to comply with Europe's version of how things ought to be done?
- Why, then is it "bullying" when the U.S. advocates its position and tries to assert its views on these matters, but perfectly fine when others do the same? Why is it sinful "unilateralism" when the U.S. decides a policy (not just on war and peace, but on whether to ratify a treaty or not), but ok for another country or region to set its own policies without being accused of sin?
- Since you believe, apparently, that countries pursue their own interest and aren't looking out for the best interest of their neighbors, how do you respond to cases where it's clear that one group are trying to impose their interest at the expense of another, even at cross purposes with that other? Why then should the later put the interest of the former ahead of their own, and not pursue policies commensurate with their own interest? What if, indeed, some are not only working at cross purposes, but actually against the interest of another, and using the principle of "pluralistic decision making and international scrutiny" as a means of achieving that goal? Say, for example, they have concluded that they think some country has undeserved prominence (it's governed by moronic cowboys, unsophisticated, and clearly that country cannot be entrusted with too much influence) and thus would actually like them to be knocked down a peg (so that a entity of their own creation, where the deserving enlightened have far more influence, can displace the undeserving giant at the center of the world stage)?
- When a nation or group of nations use "international scrutiny" in order to try to compel that a policy be followed that a country thinks would likely harm its interest, is that country bound to submit to such "scrutiny" and not go forward with a policy it believes would avert the harm it believes could result from following the course recommended by others, when believes that by following their own policy they can avoid or at least minimize such an outcome?
- They may not even be deliberately advocating a policy so as to screw over the other guy, but be advocating a policy that they feels serves their interest, but the other nation believes is one that is too risky for its interest to accept. Why should it then accept the critics position at the expense of its own?
But if Mooraq's point is, as he sometimes seems to say, that other countries can offer their advice and say what they want, then we have no disagreement. If he goes beyond that and asserts they get to decide - then that's where we disagree. Germany (and France) can make up their minds for themselves (despite what Mooraq tries to put in my mouth, I don't dispute that) - they cannot make up their minds for America (this is where we disagree).
Mooraq has now made a further post on the subject:
In answer to Porph:. I appreciate the fact that you answer NO to my question (see posting ), even if your answer if full of buts and ifs. I like the fact that you paint me as a supporter of Saddam, Mugabe and co.Actually, no; it's just that logically, by invoking as a principle the concept that those affected should be involved in making the decision, then Saddam, Mugabe, Jim Jong Il, et all - well, as dictators they're going to feel very affected by the decision. Your initial formulation left the door open that they would have input in the decision (you eventually tacked on a qualifier that only "peer-democracies" need to be involved. But it's not clear what your rationale for that is since it does not follow from your "First Principle", that because of the impact on the world as a whole, due to the fact that the decision will affect others, they then have a right to be included on deciding the policy).
while that is soooo not the case. You see, my basic point is that I agree that getting rid of Saddam (and Mugabe) is a good idea but sometimes bad decision methods can lead to right conclusions.
Yes, process over results is a big issue in Europe. However, I don't consider these things insignificant - why then would I be investing so much time in this discussion? What procedure will be formulated and when and how it will be invoked, what the rules are, are of great importance. However, Mooraq, though he says he values rules and procedures, defines them only vaguely and rather arbitrarily modifies and tosses out the precepts on which he claims are the basis, the rationale, for the process of "pluralistic decision making" with no apparent consistency (see all of the above post.
Maybe I am the usual European obsessed by procedures but I believe that the way a decision is reached is as important as the end result itself. This is why, for instance, in any tribunal there are rules and procedures and not just a guy with a rope that decides who gets hanged, even if his decisions might be often correct we have decided to put some safeguards against mistakes. I think the same should apply at international level.
However, what Mooraq fails to take into account is that rules and procedures matter as much in the U.S. as in Europe. Probably, actually, moreso. That's why we're not so ready to simply cast aside some of our basic rules (on, say, speech) as the Europeans are (thus we refused to join them in censoring speech on the net). This is also why when someone (say, Saddam) violate the "rules" of an agreement that we consider important (and which he submitted to as the terms of ending the Gulf War), we are more apt to actually enforce them than the Europeans are. Likewise, it is precisely because we find the rules and procedures outlined in a treaty, say, important that we cannot just ratify the ICC and ignore it's numerous flaws (such as how it violates several aspects of the rules we live by - double-jeopardy, for example. And vagueness/arbitrariness: there is an entire section in the ICC treaty Europe tried to get us to ratify, If I recall correctly it's VII, that was left blank, to be filled in later). It's because we find procedures and rules important that we look askance at re-assurances that the concerns we have about such a treaty will not come to pass, even though actual safeguards in the text are lacking. We're not satisfied that if we ratify the treaty, it won't be misused and/or processes that are similar to how the membership of the UN Human Rights Commission are determined won't end up resulting in the same kind of thing, where one year Syria is the Chair and the next year Libya is, and we can get kicked off because we're making too much of a fuss and highlighting abuses that others would rather avert their eyes from so that business as usual can go on without any of these world leaders being embarrassed. We also note that the ICC is constructed on the basis of European concepts of jurisdiction, which are fine for them but which we do not share (and which also violate several of the Rights we have enshrined in our Constitution - those Rights being, for us, among the most important rules there are governing the conduct of human interaction). So when Europe waves off these problems as not that big a deal and, indeed, gets pretty huffy when they find that our "cowboy" President actually thinks that the nature of the rules and procedures are important enough to warrant not submitting Americans to it's authority, yah, we get bent out of shape. When we pointed out the provisions in the ICC that we could not accept because of how they violate rules that we find important, Europe in particular refused to negotiate to modify them so that we could find it possible to join (so much for "pluralistic decision making"), but instead just tried all the harder to impose them on America without its consent.
It's not at all clear that Europe really values rules and procedures in any substantive way (which might be why the "pluralistic" process that is being invoked remains so vague, indistinct, and arbitrary). One of the central "rules" governing international relations has long been that a country isn't subject to processes without its consent. As I wrote in my first reply to Mooraq, the countries of Europe have agreed among themselves to try to work out, in a "pluralistic decision making process", common foreign policies on weighty issues. But not only has America not consented to be bound by their mechanism, their institutions were deliberately designed to exclude us. The attempt to impose this process on America without its consent is a violation of the rules of international conduct between nations, not an expression of such rules (see the above, also, wherein I explain how the EU has designed things to get the best of both worlds for themselves and how this principle is applied selectively). Charges of "American Bullying" counterpoised with the charges of "American Unilateralism" embody this inconsistency and illustrate how "rules" are not involved here at all. Simply efforts to play fuck-your-buddy. We'll see how consistently the ICC's provisions are applied (as I wrote in the earlier response, in sections Mooraq ignored, I have my doubts); if not applied equitably, then they aren't "rules" at all.
If Mooraq had read the two posts I had linked to in my other response, he would have seen that one of the rules I value is consent. The United States has not consented to these "rules" that Mooraq is attempting to impose on it. By the way, these "rules" he speaks of, where can I go look them up? Anywhere? If they are rules, then they should be clearly spelled out so that people can see what they say (another difference between America and Europe is on what we consider rules; bureaucratic fiat imposes - often ex-post facto - rules in much of continental Europe; that's part of their tradition. America, and the U.K., have different traditions when it comes to rulemaking).