Where do you think?

Everyone loves a healthy debate. Post an idea or comment about a current event or issue. Let others post their ideas also. This area is for those who love to explore other points of view.

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Re: Where do you think?

Postby bignaf » Wed Dec 17, 2003 7:42 pm

Haggis, interestongly enough, while pursuing my baseball interests on the web I bumped into the web site you got that from (or where your qoute originated from). Jack Bog's Blog.
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Re: Where do you think?

Postby haggis » Thu Dec 18, 2003 10:05 am

Bignaf,
Yeah, I didn't quote it all since the whole quote would offend some people here.

Besides, I wanted to make the point that there appears to be a conscious “neo-paternalistic” prejudice that holds at its core the belief that some people are, because of their race, ethnicity, etc. are incapable of governing their own destinies.

I’ve heard the same prattle all my life and interestingly enough the belief is almost always raised to a nationalized status in former colonizing countries.


Selma,
I agree that Iraq has slid further down the path towards “fourth World” status (ala Somalia) than SA. But I believe my central hypothesis is still valid. The Iraqis are capable of dealing with this situation.

Will he get a “fair trial?” It’s doubtful, would Hitler have had a fair trial? Did Eichmann? I think this will be more of a “truthful confrontation” between the Iraqi people and Saddam.

I, personally, think that an unblinking confrontation with the truth of what has happened over the past 35 years will be a good thing. While I’m not much of a believer in the philosophy of obtaining closure, in this instance I think it’s called for.

I think much of the “civilized” world is about to have its nose rubbed into something very unpleasant.
Haggis

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Re: Where do you think?

Postby EJA » Thu Dec 18, 2003 4:29 pm

One thing that worries me greatly is whether the Iraqis, and even more so the Afghanis, will be able to handle self-government. Not because they are Afghani's or Iraqis, and not even necessarily because they are Muslim (though based on what I've read in Q'uran, it can't help), but because, as Paul Harvey says, "self-government won't work with out self-discipline." I've had personal interaction with not just one, but several Afghans, and some "Persians," too, and they are nice people, but crazy. I wouldn't trust them with a pointed knife (there's a story behind this one, having to do with haggis, oddly enough), let alone a democracy. There are lots of loose screws in those heads, and its not just a genotypical personality problem; it's a cultural problem. Their background is hundreds if not thousands of years of tribalism and feuding. They view life entirely differently than we of Western culture. Getting killed is just one of the risks you take to them, and does not necessarily take precedence over one's temper. Once they flip out, rationally is given to the wind. Frankly, I think that handing such a people a democracy is like handing a madman a heavy machine gun and a few million rounds of ammunition in the middle of a crowded football stadium. The only possible result can be mayhem and death.

I believe this was demonstrated by the futile, yes even counterproductive, efforts of Lawrence of Arabia. He tried to bring democracy to a similar people, and it was utterly hopeless. These people are accustomed, at a cultural level, to doing whatever they can get away with until someone vicious forces them to do otherwise or crushes them.

I'm not saying that these people can't eventually have a healthy functioning democracy. I'm saying that we can't just set it up and leave. It will have to be a democracy with help for a long time, and that help may unfortunately amount to hot lead for many years to come. The domestication of a culture is a time-consuming thing, and, paradoxically, there has to be a stable environment in order for a stable environment to develop.

What I am saying is that, self-evident as it may seem, the success of a democracy—rule by the people—depends on the nature of the people. I don't believe these people are presently up to it, and if we just hand them the reins and step off the wagon, we are going to be doing this again in a few years. I think we've come to far and spent too much—American blood, not money—to let that happen just because we are trying to be non-discriminatory, or some such nonsense. That wouldn't be fair to the Iraqi and Afghani people, and it certainly wouldn't be fair to our boys who have sacrificed their lives.
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Re: Where do you think?

Postby EJA » Thu Dec 18, 2003 4:33 pm

Oh, but I still think the Iraqis can do a fine job of dealing with Saddam. Probably too good, in fact.

And the more I think about the plastic shredder, the more I think that we shouldn't descent to Saddam's level, even when dealing with Saddam. Just shoot the SOB.
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Re: Where do you think?

Postby Nicole Marie » Thu Dec 18, 2003 5:12 pm

"I've had personal interaction with not just one, but several Afghans, and some "Persians," too, and they are nice people, but crazy. I wouldn't trust them with a pointed knife..."

Ethan - Be careful with general statements. You can't make a judgment on a few people you've met. As for Afganistan (sp), this week they are working on their new "consitiution" (not sure what they are calling it) and setting up new rules and government for the country. Give them time. A country and government can not be built in a year. The US is still a work in progress and we've been around for a couple of hundred years. Let's see what they can do before we are ready to cast them off. They are also dealing with the Taliban which is popping back up, it's not going to be an easy road for them.
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Re: Where do you think?

Postby jmfryar » Fri Dec 19, 2003 11:38 am

They're going to try him in Iraq for crimes against the country, then at the Hague for war crimes and crimes against humanity...

That is, of course, if he is not killed during a prison break attempt...damn, can't we go back to the 70's when the CIA was more effective?

oh...wait...that's where these guys all got their training and financing from in the first place...never mind...
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Re: Where do you think?

Postby haggis » Fri Dec 19, 2003 1:56 pm

Ethan,
"I believe this was demonstrated by the futile, yes even counterproductive, efforts of Lawrence of Arabia. He tried to bring democracy to a similar people, and it was utterly hopeless"


In a word, huh?

Where the heck did you get that notion?

Lawrence was engaged in a classic “special operations” effort to move the Turks back from the Suez Canal during the 1st World War.

Until the end of World War I, Ottoman Turks ruled the area from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf, as well as the entire Saudi peninsula. Allied with Germany, the Ottomans struggled to hold on to an empire that had been in retreat for centuries.

The British badly wanted to defeat the Ottomans. Having built the Suez Canal, which gave them rapid access to India and China, they had to protect it. They needed to secure the sea-lanes of the eastern Mediterranean and drive the Turks away from the Canal and its approaches.

The British conducted a series of campaigns to break the Turks, including the disastrous Gallipoli landings and the more successful invasion of the province of Syria by General Allenby, who was supported by a Bedouin army recruited from the Arabian Peninsula.

Controlled by British intelligence and special operations teams, including that of Lawrence of Arabia, they first loosened Turkish control over Arabia and then supported Allenby’s attack on Jerusalem and Damascus.

The British were allied with the French, which meant they had to share the spoils of war. The British kept Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula for themselves and divided the Ottoman province of Syria, which contained today’s Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

The division, codified in the then secret Sykes-Picot agreement, was extraordinarily arbitrary. A line was drawn through the province.

Everything to the north would be French. Everything to the south would be British.

There was never any attempt by Lawrence, the British or the French to encourage a democratic state anywhere in the middle east, far from it. It was raw colonialism at its worst.
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Re: Where do you think?

Postby EJA » Fri Dec 19, 2003 10:10 pm

Haggis, for the time being, I must defer to your superior knowledge on the subject of Lawrence of Arabia. In the movie of that same name, I recollect a scene dpicting an attempt at parliament by the bedouins. In this scene, Lawrence desperately tried, without success, to keep some semblance of order. The outcome was complete failure, with the electricity failing, and the government more or less coming to a standstill. From what you have said, it sounds as if this was a fabrication. I should know better than to expect Hollywood to get anything right.

In any case, there are abundant examples of democratic forms of government failing in insufficiently civilized cultures. John Zogby, the famous Lebanese pollster, has described his fellow Arabs as "ungovernable" and noted that the only regimes that have retained power in the Arab world are totalitarian.

I maintain that democracy is not a magic formula that, placed in the hands of any people of any culture, will in and of itself invariably yield peace and freedom. Many persons, much more erudite than I, have remarked on the unique character of the American people, which has enabled democracy—not pure democracy, but a decreasingly republican form of government—to thrive. Let me be clear: the secret to America is not democracy. The secret to America is our culture - Western Civilization. As you know, I believe that the glories of Western Civilization are the product of Christianity, but regardless of what you consider to be the roots of Western Civilization, you must recognize its distinctiveness, many would argue superiority, among other cultures. John Adams put it very well:
"Our Constitution was made for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other."
I think it is very likely that attempts to democratize Iraq and Afghanistan will not succeed until the people become moral and religious. I think it will take an iron hand—but it must be a just one—to bring these civilizations upward to a moral and religious level that is capable of democracy. Moreover, I expect that such an endeavor would take decades, if not centuries. My fear is that we will take the training wheels off too soon.
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Re: Where do you think?

Postby EJA » Fri Dec 19, 2003 10:13 pm

<img src="http://imgfarm.com/images/ap/BRITAIN_LIBYA_WEAPONS.sff_MEU102_20031219174145.jpg" alt=" - " />
Look who's wetting his pants (even if I can't spell his name).
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Re: Where do you think?

Postby Selma in Sandy Eggo » Sat Dec 20, 2003 4:32 am

Ethan, a clarification. The moral and religious element is already present, and is a major part of the problem. Oh, my word, are they religious! It's just that the several versious of Islam practiced in the area do not much resemble Protestant Christianity. (Heck, the Palestinian Lutherans are pretty sure that we American Lutherans are confused on some points.) And the set of morals they use are not the same as yours.
Their definition of "virtue", "sin", and "obligation" differ from yours. Much of the Iraqi, Irani, and Arab countries are rooted in cultural traditions which are millenia old and based on tribal affiliations (the Iranian engineer down the hall at work can tell me Rustam stories. Hours of them. Her mother used them for bedtime stories.)

What we are doing is attempting to impose our own, looser, cultural mores on a population that has no experience with the acceptance of not-us groups with diffent-but-benign traditions. This decision has been made because it is apparent that, given modern transportation and technology, their moral and religious imperatives are hazardous to our well-being. We tend to mentally view a stranger as a person-not-previously-met. Or even friend-not-yet-met. They view a stranger as an enemy-come-to-kill-me-can-I-kill-him-first.

It's not an accident that the Iraqi engineer down the hall is living and working in America. She'd be dead in Iraq. She does not fit the mullahs' definition of "virtuous", and they feel a moral obligation to enforce virtue. (There's a Indian professor at UCSD who's presented the view that our refusal to enforce "virtue" is the worst evil that the mideast moslems see in us)

I agree with the view that American-style representative democracy is a non-starter for the middle east, at least for this generation. Too many of the essential values for our society are abhorrent to too many of their tribal survival traditions. This is not going to be easy, it's not going to be quick, but it's less work and less dangerous than cleaning up after the bombs and crashed airplanes.
>^..^<
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