Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Hope for a Suffering World

I'm going to quote quite a bit of a piece from Normblog. Go to his place to read the original without italics. It is very good and Norm deserves the traffic.

Norm quotes some reports about Iran:

Millions of Iranians expressed their satisfaction on the outcome of the US Presidential elections and George W. Bush's victory by calling and congratulating each other. Many were seen walking in the streets and shaking each others hands or showing a discre[e]t V sign.
Then he goes on to ask the question of the century:

One of the questions, then, that might usefully be asked on the liberal-left is why people struggling for democracy in their country, and others who were the victims of a genocidal assault in theirs, should hope for and be happy about the victory of a man who is so reviled by all 'right-thinking' - i.e. most left-thinking - folk. Just ponder this a little. Try and digest it fully. The victims of a terrible, murderous oppression in the Kurdish area of Iraq, and those now yearning for a democratic breakthrough against theocratic tyranny in Iran, do not look for solidarity and support to the massed ranks of the marching left, the 'peace' movement, as it flatters itself to be; no, they look to a right-wing Republican president.

By your own lights, friends and comrades, is that not a truly extraordinary state of affairs? If it doesn't cause you some troubling doubts, will anything ever?


And that my friends on the left is the values question. Who will bring hope to a suffering world.

6 comments:

Scott Spiegelberg said...

I came here from reading your comments at Matt Yglesias. I am interested in discussing solutions to despots and other injustice in the world. Philosophically, I am a pacificist: I believe that violence is a last resort, only used for self-defence and for the defence of others. Realistically, I acknowledge that we cannot solve all problems without some strong-arm tactics, but also that we cannot wage war against every despot at once.

So, the first issue to decide is where to get involved. We have limited resources, even if we have much more than any other country. What criteria should be used to prioritize our interventions, whether diplomatic or military in nature? I suggest that priorities should be based on the number of people affected and the probability of successful intervention. Based on my own beliefs, I would emphasize successful diplomatic and economic interventions over military interventions in determining priorities, but I could accept a compromise on that issue.

What say you?

M. Simon said...

Before 9/11 I would have agreed with all your points.

Post 9/11 I believe agressive action is in order.

The problem at its core is the alpha male problem. Who gets power? How is the transfer of power decided? So I'm in the war mode on this.

I think the old way is exemplified by Alexander the Great on his deatth bed. When asked who would inherit the kingdom he said "The strongest". We can no longer afford that way of doing business.

--==--

Second - we must protect our access to oil supplies. The transportation that oil provides raises the economic level of the poor. Not to mention the advantages of plastic. So the second criteria is access to resources at market prices.

--==--

Third is humanitarian. Attack the worst despots first. Iraq falls into that category.

--==--

Fourth (maybe it should be higer on the list) military position. Countries chosen for reform (what a cute euphemism) should have strategic value for the next target of reformation.

--==--

I think the difference between the left and right on these issues is that the right sees this as 1937 and the left as 1968.

One should consider the aftermath of 1968. Boat people. Cambodia. Despots in charge of Vietnam.

So even if you think it's 1968 I don't think it helps your case.

Now in America police keep the peace. On the world stage there is no policeman. For good or ill America has volunteered itself for the job. I think it is for good because American peace keepers are universally prefered when the people involved have a choice.

--==--

Any way it is nice to have some one who believes in peace who is rational and understands that in some cases violence is necessary to keep the peace.

Looking forward to your reply.

Scott Spiegelberg said...

Before 9/11 I would have agreed with all your points.
Post 9/11 I believe agressive action is in order.
9/11 was horrible. But should we let a single event dictate our future foreign policy, particularly with the effect of waging war against people that were not involved in that event?

The problem at its core is the alpha male problem. Who gets power? How is the transfer of power decided? So I'm in the war mode on this.
I think the old way is exemplified by Alexander the Great on his deatth bed. When asked who would inherit the kingdom he said "The strongest". We can no longer afford that way of doing business.
--==--
If I am interpreting you correctly, your first criterion is based on whether the country has some sort of legitimate government structure, whether or not the leader actually gained power legitimately. Those that have no such structure would be targetted first. I don’t believe that this necessitates war, but that is a separate issue.

Second - we must protect our access to oil supplies. The transportation that oil provides raises the economic level of the poor. Not to mention the advantages of plastic. So the second criteria is access to resources at market prices.
--==--
I would put this lower on the list. For idealist reasons, it is hard to justify the loss of lives for material goods. For practical reasons, war disrupts commerce and access to material goods. Iraq is certainly a good example, oil production still isn’t up to pre-invasion levels.

Third is humanitarian. Attack the worst despots first. Iraq falls into that category.
--==--
This was my first priority, I could place it second behind government structure, or perhaps equal footing. I do not place Saddam Hussein first on the list of abusers. There is the Sudan, Cote d’Ivoire (government-sponsored militias committing genocide or attacking civilians indescriminately), the Democratic Republic of Congo, North Korea, Uzbekistan, Uganda, Nigeria, Sri Lanka (though the problems there are caused by rebels, not the powerless government, what do do about that?), Nepal, Somalia, and others that are and were at least equal to if not worse than 2002 Iraq for human rights abuses. This is one of my problems with the argument that the Iraq war was necessary at that moment. There were plenty of other areas of the world that require attention, with North Korea much higher than Iraq in terms of abuses and WMD dangers.

Fourth (maybe it should be higer on the list) military position. Countries chosen for reform (what a cute euphemism) should have strategic value for the next target of reformation.
--==--
This makes some sense, but given the uncertainties of how long it will take to create regime changes and to stabilize the government of any one country, it would be very difficult to predict what the global situation will be like once that one task is complete. Plus it has a suggestion of colonization, that we can use the countries that were just ‘reformed’ as bases for future military adventures. I do not like this idea. It weakens the ability to truly reform a country if we are building permanent military bases. The people of that country will not regard us as honest brokers for peace and independence if we treat their country as a mass of landing strips and army barracks.

I think the difference between the left and right on these issues is that the right sees this as 1937 and the left as 1968.
One should consider the aftermath of 1968. Boat people. Cambodia. Despots in charge of Vietnam.
So even if you think it's 1968 I don't think it helps your case.
I admit to being ignorant of all that happened in either 1937 or 1968. I do know that the US kept out of WWII until Germany and Japan declared war on us. Do you believe that Cambodia and Vietnam could have been made into free societies by US military action in the 60s and 70s, if we had stayed longer?

Now in America police keep the peace. On the world stage there is no policeman. For good or ill America has volunteered itself for the job. I think it is for good because American peace keepers are universally prefered when the people involved have a choice.To continue that analogy, American police officers rarely draw their weapons. Instead, a lot of talking and negotiating is involved in efforts to re-establish peace.

--==--
Any way it is nice to have some one who believes in peace who is rational and understands that in some cases violence is necessary to keep the peace.
Looking forward to your reply.
Thank you.

Here’s to finding common ground.

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