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Why do they hate America?

November 18th, 2005

In the leadup to the Iraq war, we were repeatedly told that anyone who disagreed with the rush to war, or criticised the Bush Administration, was “anti-American”. It now appears that the majority of Americans are anti-American. A string of polls has shown that most Americans now realise that Bush and his Administration lied to get them into the war and that it was a mistake to go to war. The latest, reported in the NYT is this one from the Pew Research Centre.

It has a lot of interesting statistics on the views of Americans in general, and various elite groups. The truly striking figure is Bush’s approval ranking among leading scientists and engineers, drawn from the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering. In Aug 2001, it was 30 per cent – not strong but not negligible either. In Oct 2005, it’s fallen to 6 per cent, with 87 per cent disapproving. I’d guess that the scientists in the sample are more hostile than the engineers (though, obviously, the engineers must be pretty hostile). Looking around science-oriented blogs and websites, I’d say that the attitude of Academy members is pretty representative of scientists in general. Anytime you find a favourable remark about Bush you can count on it that the site is an astroturf operation like Flack Central Station or the aptly-named Junk Science.

Scientists and engineers are not generally seen as a highly political group, but they can recognise enemies when they see them, and no government in US history has been more anti-science than this one.

Update: In the comments thread at CT and elsewhere, it’s been denied that anyone ever asserted that opposition to the war was anti-American. This post from Media Matters gives a number of instances, and there are more in the CT comments thread. Others, like Instapundit, preferred objectively pro-Saddam

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  1. Ian Gould
    November 22nd, 2005 at 15:49 | #1

    “The only country that may have some is Russia due to the collapse in its economy over the last 10 years – but even that is now looking unlikely. If everyone is in a debit position the trading of credits is not just difficult.”

    Actually I believe there aree expected to be a number of countries with permits to trade. For that matter, the EU as a whole is much closer to meeting its overall target than most people realise because of the incorporation of the foremer East Germany.

    Additionally there’s another soruce of credits you haven’t considered – the Clean Development Mechanism.

  2. Seeker
    November 22nd, 2005 at 17:09 | #2

    Wow. Abusive right wing trolls popping up all over a thread about America’s standing in the world. Gee, what a suprise.

  3. Tinkerbell1952
    November 22nd, 2005 at 18:35 | #3

    Corwin and to others:
    I heard the comments, I watched their lips move. I was not and am not making the comments up. My reference to Oprah was the fall out that occurred just because she asked a hard question – “Why do they Hate us”.
    Actually your response to someone saying that they heard these comments, fits well with the right wing method of spouting vitriol and insults, but take no responsibility if others do not agree or like the comments.
    Many many times I sat with my jaw dropping at what I heard coming out of seemingly intelligent people. I no longer reside in the USA,(returned home a year ago) so cannot comment on television current affairs currently screening, and the only news show I see from the States is Jim Lehrer live.

    By the way, I am not being personal, merely making comments on my observations, so prefer that I was not called Marxist, etc.

  4. Andrew Reynolds
    November 22nd, 2005 at 20:52 | #4

    Ian Gould,

    Would you care to post some links?

  5. Ian Gould
    November 22nd, 2005 at 21:36 | #5

    Andrew certainly. It may take me a day or so. I’ll be off the net for most of the day tomorrow.

    In the meantime here’s the CDM homepage:

    http://cdm.unfccc.int/

    Quote:

    First emission credits issued under the Kyoto Protocol

    The Executive Board of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) today issued the first ever certified emission reductions (CERs) under the Kyoto Protocol. These credits were issued for two hydroelectric projects in Honduras. ‘La Esperanza Hydroelectric Project’ is expected to initially generate annually 37,000 CERs and is registered in partnership with Italy, while the ‘Rio Blanco Small Hydroelectric Project’, in which Finland has a stake, produces 17,800 CERs per year.

    You might also like to take a look at the International Emissions Trading Association website:

    http://www.ieta.org/ieta/www/pages/index.php?IdSitePage=954

    From that site you mgiht want to note this story:

    http://www.ieta.org/ieta/www/pages/index.php?IdSitePage=954

    Anatoly Chubais certainly seems to think Russia will have substantial credits to sell.

  6. dave
    November 23rd, 2005 at 00:26 | #6

    Ian Gould responded to a request for proof that the Bush team or Republicans in general were calling anyone against the war “unpatriotic” or “anti-American”, and the three links he smugly posted in response led me to:

    Ann Coulter (pundit)

    Warner Todd Huston (columnist I never heard of)

    Somebody named Longenecker (blogger I never heard of)

    Ann Coulter is neither a politician (too bad, I’d vote for her) nor a member of the Bush administration in any context whatsoever. The other two people are simply unknown.

    Mr. Gould, you do well with smug, but you strike out in 3 whiffs when you try to provide proof that calling people “anti-American” was in any way Bush policy. He never did it, nobody in the administration ever did it, no politician ever did it so far as I know. And I reckon if someone had done it, you’d have had a link for us.

  7. Jeff Harvey
    November 23rd, 2005 at 00:38 | #7

    Its amazing how those who swallow the myth of US/UK “basic benevolence” populate this thread. These people are among the pundits who have put aside the reams of lies about Iraq WMD, links with terrorist groups etc and have now retreated to the usual refrain for US intervention: ‘bringers of democracy’. Last year, when Bush said he wanted to “bring democracy to the Middle east” (and, by association, suppose he meant South America, Asia, Africa, Mars, Pluto etc), his rhetoric was met with reverential awe amongst most US commentators. A few were critical of the means he had used, but the basic idea was beyond critique. Its all part of the “American creed” that several US bloggers are promulgating here. And its all an illusion.

    If you want to truly find out about a person’s intentions, you don’t ask the guy with the stick, but the guy getting hit with the stick. In a patriarchal family, you don’t ask the patriarch but the matriarch or the children. Well, several polls were held in Iraq last year that coinicided (by accident) with Bush’s great democracy pronouncement. And there were Iraq’s who believed that the US had invaded Iraq to bring democracy: 1%. More than 60% thought the Americans had invaded to control Iraqs resources (especially oil) and to privatize the economy to benefit foreign corporations. But only 1% thought they were there to spread democracy, in contrast with 100% of US pundits. This should have been news, but wasn’t. Moreover, most Iraqis were sure that, even if they were allowed to vote, that the US old only allow a democracy that they could “control”. In other words, you can have any democracy you like as long as you do what we tell you to. This should be hardly controversial, because its exactly the kinds of democracies the US have supported since the end of the second world war: top down regimes run by local elites closely tied to powerful US elites. Latin America is littered with these kinds of governments, in which there is effectively little difference between the candidates ad parties, and where most of ther countires wealth is expatriated by US interests.

    The thing the western establishment fears, and always has done, is independent development; in other words, that other countries whose resources we covet will embrace nationalistic non-aligned governments who wish to redirect the wealth of their own resources internally to benefit all sectors of society. If anyone here bothered to read declassified planning documents (I have done), they’d see that its virtually impossible to find concern for human rights in any of them. Instead, US/UK planners have continually exressed concern that they will ‘lose control’ or ‘influence’ of other countries resources, and that these lands might embrace nationalist governments which redirect their own wealth internally but which negatively affect western business interests. Our planers thus don’t support independent development, they are instead worried about it! Again, the corporate media in the US/UK says nothing about this issue, but its all there in black and white.

    I know that this sharply contradicts the myth of ‘basic benevolence’ that has become an important part of the non-existent “American creed”. The fact is that terrorism and barbarism are standard paracticies on ‘our’ side: only the technology is different. The attack on Iraq was purely and simply godfatherly aggression. Iraq was another defenceless punching bag that was worth the trouble. The US waged an illegal terrorist war for several years against Nicragua during the 1980′s, and was found guilty at the World Court for “illegal use of aggression” which left several tens f thousands dead and the country ruined, perhaps never to recover. The US vetoed a UN security council resolution condeming the aggression and lost a vote on the issue by 153-3 at the general Assembly of the UN. Their response? Increase the terrorist war against the Nicaragua. The country, which had the fastest growing economy in Latin America by 1984 (5 years after the US client, Anastasio Somosza, was overthrown in a popular revolution), and was called by the Inter American Development Bank as a “model economy for the region” at the time, was soon to become the second poorest in the western hemisphere, thanks to the US-backed war. Nicraragua now has the second highest rate of infant mortality in the world. This shows you exactly what happens when a country takes an economic path that is independent of the US corporate establishment. The fear was that other countries in Latin America would see the success of the Nicaraguan model, and follow suit. This terrified the political elites in the US under Reagan, whose Secretary of State (George Schultz) said “We have to cut out the cancer” (meaning Nicaragua).

  8. November 23rd, 2005 at 04:57 | #8

    No, if you want to know the intentions, you ask the guy doing it. If you ask the guy getting it, that tells you what those intentions are worth – in this case, sod all.

    There’s a huge assumption among the doers that democracy is actually good, and that that is actually what they are working towards. Both are dubious at the least. As George Bernard Shaw put it in the materials with “Man and Superman”, “do not do unto others as you would have them do unto you; your tastes may be different”.

  9. Katz
    November 23rd, 2005 at 08:54 | #9

    I’m trying to imagine how a United States with thoroughly malign intentions for the rest of the world might like to see the world ordered.

    I distinguish “malign” from “enlightened self-interest” because every nation has legitimate interests which may impact upon the interests of others. But I don’t have any ready criteria for determining the boundary between these two orientations in the ralationship between one country and the rest of the world. So I may stray either side of that line in the following discussion without meaning to.

    1. There are enormous contradictions between the interests of multinational corporations and corporations whose orientation is overwhelmingly domestic. The Bush administration seems more wedded to the interests of national capitalism, especially the middle-sized oil cormporations, whose ambitions seem to be to provide privileged access of American consumers to ever-dwindling supplies of oil. The oil majors, on the other hand, care only about a free market in oil. They don’t care who buys the oil.

    2. A narrowly chauvinist trade policy might involve a mercantilist approach to maximising exports and minimising imports. It might also demand unequal trade treaties akin to that imposed on Japan in the 1850s. But the Bush administration doesn’t seem to be interested in such an approach, despite fitful fretting about the magnitude of US trade deficits. Foreign access to US markets is very free, much more so than to other major economic players.

    3. The Bush admininstration is fixated on the rhetoric of democracy and freedom. I believe this has several overlapping and contradictory motivations.

    a. The Israel lobby, led by the neocons, used this as a justification for a robust US support of Israeli territorial maximalism. But resent events suggest that this impulse has weakened. However, not before much damage was done.

    b. Again, the neocons persuaded nationalist oil interests that the Iraq adventure would be good for them. This needed rhetorical cover. Democracy and freedom are tried and true cover stories.

    c. The Republican Party needed a cause to fortify their base and to delegitimise their political opponents. 9/11 added enormous weight to this political attack. This is old-fashioned smear politics and as such does not add to the notion that the Bush administration is particularly malign in the world.

    So my tentative conclusion about the malignity of US influence in the world is that the US is malign in patches for some of the time. However, the complex of interests swirling through the decision-making centres of the US are so dynamic and so contradictory, it is not wise to make any hard-and-fast statement on this subject.

    Overarching all of this is the fact the the US is a democracy. And the marginal US voter is now conscious of and irritated by the consequences (if not the motivation) of the more malign aspects of Bush’s foreign policy.

  10. Ian Gould
    November 23rd, 2005 at 09:11 | #10

    Some dude: “1-no one ever said those who disagree with Iraq are un-Patriotic.”

    Dave: “Ian Gould responded to a request for proof that the Bush team or Republicans in general were calling anyone against the war “unpatrioticâ€? or “anti-Americanâ€?,”

    Good job shifting the goal-posts.

  11. Ian Gould
    November 23rd, 2005 at 09:13 | #11

    “And I reckon if someone had done it, you’d have had a link for us.”

    A google seach on “Unamerican” produces 517,000 hits.

    If you want to search more than the first 30 or 40 of them (which is what I did) feel free to do so.

  12. Jeff Harvey
    November 23rd, 2005 at 19:35 | #12

    PM,

    I don’t quite agree with you. Its no use asking the ‘guy doing it’ (meaning the person dishing out the punishment) as you say because it is quite likely that they will lie to hide their real agenda. They certainly are not going to admit that they are spending billions of dollars and killing tens of thousands of people to support the interests of a narrow, privileged elite. They’ll always camouflage the real agenda, whereas the ‘victims’ have no real reason to say anything other tha the truth. The Iraqi people know full well why the US is there. They know the historical precedents, and they can see the utter hypocrisy of US-UK foreign policy. They know full well that the US supports vile regimes that traditonally support its business interests (e.g. Colombia, Nigeria, Indonesia under Suharto, Iran under the Shah, Iraq until Saddam ‘slipped the leash’). The list is endless.

  13. Andrew Reynolds
    November 23rd, 2005 at 21:13 | #13

    PML,
    You say their tastes may be different. Possibly; but how do you tell what their tastes are if there is not real way for them to express them. On the purely theoretical level if there is no way to freely and regularly choose between the possible options then there is no real way to work out what their tastes are.
    As soon as you do that – whoops, you have a democracy. For anyone to stand on the sidelines and say that they have a dictator because that is what they want is an absurdity.
    .
    Ian,
    Thanks for the links – it looks like the trading idea might work. Strange how market based solutions tend to. I will look with interest at the development of the market, and I will be very interested to see how big the demand side gets compared to the supply. It will have to come down to enforcement – something I do not trust certain, particularly European, contries to do much of.
    I will await your promise further links.

  14. melonhead
    November 23rd, 2005 at 21:25 | #14

    In the leadup to the Iraq war, we were repeatedly told that anyone who disagreed with the rush to war, or criticised the Bush Administration, was “anti-American�

    Wow, has any sentence ever been more closely analysed than that one? I certainly remember the Murdoch press pushing the line that anti-war sentiment was based on kneejerk anti-Americanism, but I’m not going to hunt down links to satisfy a few wingnuts in denial. Why are they so touchy? Oh yeah, that’s right…

  15. Jeff Harvey
    November 23rd, 2005 at 21:32 | #15

    Andrew,

    I am sure that ‘their’ tastes aren’t any different from ‘ours’, but what exactly is the ‘flavor’ of the alleged democracy the US intends to create in Iraq? It should be patently obvious that any elected government will be mostly impotent and will be subservient to political and corporate elites in Washington. If Iraq makes overtures towards with Shia in Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia, as it inevitably will if left to its own devices, then wishes to re-arm and confront the old enemy of the region (Israel), do you think the US will allow any of this? Any more than it supports non-aligned development in the America’s? The tragic examples of Guatemala (1954), Nicaragua (1984-89), Cuba (post 1959) Chile (1973) Haiti (ongoing) as well as support for Iraq’s regime (1980-90). the overthrow of Mossadegh (Iran, 1953), and Sukarno (Indonesia, 1965-66) as well as long standing support for iron-fisted regimes around the world (e.g. Colombia, Nigeria, South Africa under apartheid, Mbutu in Zaire) should make it clear that America supports democracy as long as the countires do as they’re told and don’t even think about following an independent path. The vilification of populist Hugo Chavez in Venezuela should make this point even more crystal clear. Its a myth that the US supports democracy; in reality, it supports plutocratic regimes run from the top down with close ties to US elites.

  16. Terje Petersen
    November 24th, 2005 at 00:00 | #16

    If Iraq was at some future date threatening to invade Israel are you saying that the worlds last super power should not intervene?

    For a moment lets imagine that Saddam was still running things. Now if Iraq wished to re-arm and confront the old enemy of the region (Israel), do you think the US will allow any of this?

    Your point about Israel is irrelevant to the question of Iraqi democracy. Under the old Iraqi regime or the new Iraqi regime the USA would not allow Iraq to attack Israel without a US response. In that particular regard Iraq is no more at the mercy of the USA than it ever was.

  17. November 24th, 2005 at 00:44 | #17

    It is quite possible to be anti-American without hating Americans, on the same principle as hating the sin but loving the sinner. It’s quite realistic to describe Americans as the first victims of this particular abstract yet incarnate “America”. Of course, for certain cultures that doesn’t pose an ethical dilemma; they are quite willing to attack Americans as part of attacking America, and they can do it quite dispassionately. This is why there is little point looking for hatred – it might be as absent as it was between many participants in the Irish troubles in the 1920s.

    Panther in message no. 35 might be interested in looking at http://www.lewrockwell.com/reese/reese238.html to see some US observations on whether or not “all” intelligence supported the US official position on Iraq before the invasion.

    Roberto, your reasoning at the end of message 39 is spurious. People immigrating into the USA are partly leaving poor home environments (sometimes made that way by the USA). It also leaves out the other places people go to – the survivor bias I see so often. For instance that observational data leaves me out; my options on emigrating from the UK were basically the USA, Canada, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand – and I left out the USA and South Africa on my first cut.

    Somebody with references and links might be able to substantiate for Avaroo something I can’t back up at the moment, i.e. that Saddam Hussein did not stop UN inspections but only those that he had reason to suspect (as it happened, correctly) contained US intelligence agents. However he later opened the door for further inspections, but no inspections were made.

    JH, I incline (as I state above) more to the view that Americans are the first and self deluding victims of their particular idolatry. That is, they are more likely to be sincerely wrong than lying. But even if they are lying, you are more likely to get their particular state of mind from them than from outside inference, if you want fine detail. For what it’s worth, the outside observations suggest that they sincerely expected to find weapons of mass destruction and were not cynical liars on that point; if they had been, they would have brought some to plant.

    AR, I am not disputing that people are unlikely to want a dictator. But it is a false dichotomy to infer that they actually want democracy, let alone any specific Procrustean bed form that actually fits someone else. They might not even know what they do want, or they might not want to play together at all – the spectrum is rather large. With dilemmas, you are not guaranteed to get an answer. Perhaps sometime I will post something about my own analysis of three major incompletenesses of democracy – it does not define “we, the people”, it is susceptible to capture and agenda control via editing and repeated retries until it comes right (sorry, “until the people are ready”), and it is not a source of values and ethics but at best a transmitter of them (means, not ends – that way idolatry lies).

  18. Jeff Harvey
    November 24th, 2005 at 00:59 | #18

    Terje,

    I am just saying that the real concern of US elites is that Iraq, an economic prize they wanted so dearly since Saudi Arabia is highly unstable, will never be allowed to follow an independent path. Most of the economy (except for the oil, as this would be too obvious) has already been carved up for privatization as part of the neoliberal plan; the oil will inevitably follow. I have provided some examples of many countries that tried to embrace nationalist forces but where this was crushed, either directly or through the use of proxies.

    What you also appear to saying is that the grand imperial strategy of the Bush regime (the Natonal Security Document of 2002), whereby (a) the US can wage offensive preventive wars against countries it deems to be a threat, and (b)attack those that harbor terrorists will be considered to be terrorist states must be unilateral. In oter words, if this doctrine were to be considered universal, almost any country could attack its neighbour, and since the US habitually harbors many known terrorists and other human rights violaters (e.g. Orlando Bosch, Emmanuel Constant, Prosper Avril and many others who live in comfortable retirement homes in Florida, California etc) the US wold also be considered a ‘terrorist state’.

    This document actually therefore collapses under the weight of its own protocol. Thus, the US can support terrorist states (e.g. Turkey, Algeria etc.), and can unilaterally wage wars of aggression, as well as harbor terrorists and human rights violaters, but nobody else can unless they have the approval of The Bush cabal. Haiti has been trying for years to get Emmanuel Constant extradicted for mass killings attributed to him, but the state department in Washington doesn’t even respond to the requests. It seems that Constant carried out much of his butchery with US approval, and thus it is feared he would ‘spill the beans’ if tried before a Haitian court, so he lives comfortably in New York City.

    The unilateral doctrine is hardly new, but other administrations kept it in their back pocket and used it where necessary. The current DC regime has brought it out into the open.

  19. avaroo
    November 24th, 2005 at 03:33 | #19

    “Avaroo do you understand the difference between “aâ€? and “theâ€??”

    Ian, do you understand that just because you don’t care for the Iraqi government that existed before January 2005 does not mean they didn’t have one?

  20. avaroo
    November 24th, 2005 at 03:35 | #20

    PMLawrence,

    “Somebody with references and links might be able to substantiate for Avaroo something I can’t back up at the moment, i.e. that Saddam Hussein did not stop UN inspections but only those that he had reason to suspect (as it happened, correctly) contained US intelligence agents.”

    Not according to UN inspectors. See Hans Blix early 2003 report.

  21. avaroo
    November 24th, 2005 at 03:40 | #21

    Terje,

    “RESPONSE: With great difficulty. But they could have let Iraq do it and support them with arms and funds.”

    You are suggesting that in 2003 the US should have supplied arms and money to Saddam Hussein to take on Iraq? After having thrown Saddam out of Kuwait, would this not have been somewhat hypocritical?

    I’d still like to know what justification you would have used for military action against Iran in 2003.

  22. avaroo
    November 24th, 2005 at 03:41 | #22

    The above post should have read

    “You are suggesting that in 2003 the US should have supplied arms and money to Saddam Hussein to take on IRAN?”

  23. Terje Petersen
    November 24th, 2005 at 06:35 | #23

    QUOTE: What you also appear to saying is that the grand imperial strategy of the Bush regime (the Natonal Security Document of 2002), whereby (a) the US can wage offensive preventive wars against countries it deems to be a threat, and (b)attack those that harbor terrorists will be considered to be terrorist states must be unilateral.

    RESPONSE: No I did not infer any of that. I simply stated that even if Iraq was not invaded in 2003 it would not have been allowed to take up arms against Israel without a US (and probably a UN) response.

    However it is true that the US can wage offensive wars against almost anybody it feels like. For the moment it remains the worlds sole super power. I would rather there were no super powers but we have to deal with reality.

    And the “war on terror” creates an ideological cover for all sorts of errant policy. Just as the “war on drugs” and the “war on poverty” does.

    Don’t mistake me for somebody that supports the Iraq invasion of 2003. I was against it for a whole host of reasons. Mostly to do with it being a massive waste of US blood and treasure.

  24. Paul Arrighi
    November 24th, 2005 at 08:23 | #24

    The “War of terror” was a godsend to Bush and pennies from heaven for the arms manufacturers. The military arms manufacturing lobby is one of the most powerful in Washington. With a war, that is not likely to end anytime in the forseeable future, billions of dollars are going to be poured towards the arms manufacturers, it also allows current stockpiles to be used up to make way for the latest cutting edge technological weapons. Think back to Reagan and his Star Wars initiative, which pretty much everyone knew wouldn’t work but he still invested trillions in it.

    Bush has already advocated that the USA increase its nuclear weapons stocks. Considering that the US already has enough nuclear weapons to destroy the world, there can be no sane reason to want more apart from wanting to appease a powerful lobby.

    Rumsfield’s policy of using less troops and more of the weaponry, also plays into this scenario.

  25. Terje
    November 24th, 2005 at 09:03 | #25

    QUOTE: Think back to Reagan and his Star Wars initiative, which pretty much everyone knew wouldn’t work but he still invested trillions in it.

    RESPONSE: It forced the soviets to compete, sent them bankrupt and ended the cold war. It was not all bad even if it was mostly rhetoric.

  26. Andrew Reynolds
    November 24th, 2005 at 10:31 | #26

    PML,
    You have failed to say how people can express their will except through a democratic process. “I am not disputing that people are unlikely to want a dictator. But it is a false dichotomy to infer that they actually want democracy…” means, to me, that you believe a people can have a choice of leadership, or style, without a democratic choice. Of course the particular style and the other issues you identified are problems.
    How do the people express their will except through a universal, free secret and regular democratic expression?
    .
    Yes the US has a peculiar, to say the least, way of doing this. Yes, there are problems, and yes, it could have been executed better: but do you seriously believe that the Iraqi people had more choice in their own destiny under Saddam than under the (however deficient) democratic process they now are putting into place?
    .
    PML, please answer my first question first – do not jump straight to the second.

  27. Terje
    November 24th, 2005 at 10:45 | #27

    There are lots of public decisions that I don’t think should be done democratically.

    The US was founded as a “constitutional republic”. In theory this should mean that its leaders are choosen democratically but lots of things are not done democratically. The rule of law for instance demands a level of consistency independent of “majority will” in a specific instance.

    I would also prefer more small democracies than a single big democracy.

  28. Katz
    November 24th, 2005 at 10:58 | #28

    “America is a republic, not a democracy”, Chief Justice William Rehnquist, 2001.

    Yet American judges are often elected by popular vote.

    So the relationship between “democracy” and “rule of law” in the United States is a complex one.

  29. Ian Gould
    November 24th, 2005 at 11:31 | #29

    “Avaroo do you understand the difference between “a� and “the�?�

    “Ian, do you understand that just because you don’t care for the Iraqi government that existed before January 2005 does not mean they didn’t have one?”

    Go back and reread the original post in which it was asserted that the fact that the Iraqi government had lasted for two years was one of the signs of progress.

    In fact, for much of those two years, Iraq was directly administered by Paul Bremer.

    Forget the propaganda for a second and read the actual reprots coming form Iraq – the government is riddled with in-fighting and corruption and survives in large part because of American pressure.

  30. Ian Gould
    November 24th, 2005 at 11:34 | #30

    “Thanks for the links – it looks like the trading idea might work. Strange how market based solutions tend to. I will look with interest at the development of the market, and I will be very interested to see how big the demand side gets compared to the supply.”

    There’s around two hundred years of evidence that commodity prices – apart from occasional spikes like the current oil price – tend to fall due to technological advancement and continous improvement in competitive markets.

    My opinion, as an economist, is that if you make GHG reductions a commodity, the same trend will apply.

  31. Seeker
    November 24th, 2005 at 11:44 | #31

    Terje (November 24th, 2005 at 9:03 am)

    That is not strictly true. The Soviet empire was already in deep, deep economic shit before Reagan became President, he just dealt a final blow.

  32. Ian Gould
    November 24th, 2005 at 12:05 | #32

    Arguably, the high oil prices of the 70′s and early ’80s had kept the Soviets (barely) afloat and the fall in oil prices in the mid-80′s was what finished them off.

  33. Ernestine Gross
    November 24th, 2005 at 12:32 | #33

    Question to Ian Gould:

    Are you using the term ‘commodity’ as defined in theoretical models of competitive private ownership economies (eg Arrow-Debreu, Radner, etc) or as understood in empirical classification systems such as ‘labour markets’, ‘commodity markets’ and made precise in national accounting data?

  34. Ian Gould
    November 24th, 2005 at 16:02 | #34

    The latter.

  35. Ernestine Gross
    November 24th, 2005 at 20:39 | #35

    Ian Gould,

    Thanks for the clarification of your usage of the term ‘commodity’ in your post of 24 November 2005, 11:34 am.

    While I have not looked at the time series of commodity prices (as quoted on the markets called commodity markets) for a few years, your point regarding their decline during the past 200 years is one that is widely acknowledged in Development Economics. The point of interest is the decline in relative prices. That is, industrially produced commodities (a type of Arrow-Debreu ‘commodities’) have become more expensive relative to natural produce and commodities (ie other types of Arrow-Debreu ‘commodities’). This explains to some extent why countries like New Zealand and Argentina have lost their relatively high rank in national income per capita lists during the past 60 years. This decline in prices for natural produce and marketable natural commodities relative to marketable produced commodities is also one of the difficulties in reducing ‘uneven development’ (a term coined by Hymer in the 1960s) in the global economy (‘world poverty’ is a term currently used by some to refer to the phenomena). Over time, the less industrialized countries have to sell greater quantities of natural produce or marketable natural commodities to buy say, one Boeing of any type or one Airbus of any type or one Mercedes of any type or one desalination plant of any type. So, there is a point (survival) where access to markets is no longer a sufficient condition for improving the material welfare of people in some countries. But this is not the argument you put forward.

    You argue: �If you make GHG reductions a commodity, the same trend [declining relative prices] will apply�. [Term in brackets added to convey the meaning]
    I can’t follow your argument because:
    1. GHGs (green house gases?) are commodities in the sense of Arrow-Debreu (‘described by their physical properties, time of availability, location of availability). But they are not marketable commodities (lack of exclusiveness in consumption) which enter the time series data you have used.
    2. A ‘competitive private ownership market’ solution to the production of GHG would require negative prices. To the best of my knowledge no theoretical solution exists for this problem and there is no empirical data either.
    3. Tradable pollution rights for say GHG do not constitute a ‘competitive market’ solution because a non-market agent is required to first determine the total amount of allowable GHG in the ‘global economy’. Only pollution rights are tradable during the time of their validity.
    4. The idea of having a market for pollution rights can be traced to what is known as a “Lindahl equilibrium�.
    5. The idea of the Lindahl equilibrium is to find prices for ‘externalities’ (by products for which there is no market). Pollution (unwanted externality) would require negative prices. The ‘prices’ for pollution are costs which do not enter the commercial calculus (market failure; absence of negative prices) unless imposed by a non-market agent (pollution tax).
    6. How do you achieve making ‘GHG reductions’ a commodity? The only way I know is via step 5, which requires a non-market agent. Furthermore, in the case of GHG, it requires agreement among governments (I don’t believe in miracles – nothing less would seem to be required to achieve voluntary agreement on ‘a number’ by ‘everybody’ in the world on a particular day.)
    7. Suppose we would have a ‘polluter pays’ legislation and it would be enforceable at negligible costs. Which prices would decline over time?
    Regards
    Ernestine

  36. Andrew Reynolds
    November 24th, 2005 at 22:34 | #36

    I think what Ernestine is saying is that enforcement will encourage cheating, by both the polluter (to reduce costs) and government (to increase national income). If I am wrong, Ernestine, please correct. If I am right, Ian, could you please explain the enforcement provisions of Kyoto that will work to mitigate both corporate and government cheating?

  37. November 25th, 2005 at 00:48 | #37

    AR, what “the people”? Whatever “democracy” you provide gets circular on that point. As I pointed out, sometimes you don’t get an answer. I didn’t fail to state how you could get an answer, I pointed out that you simply couldn’t jump to any conclusion on the point. It is certain that the Iraqi regime as now set up will only get an answer supporting the idea that “the people” want it. Space does not permit a full demonstration.

    When you think about it, you will see that that shows that your second question is also meaningless.

    However it is certainly true that individual Iraqis and the things with which they identify – clans, sects, or even the whole of Iraq no matter that they do not agree on what that might be – are definitely less well served by being under a puppet regime than under whatever might have emerged under (and more importantly after) Saddam Hussein. Right now they experience oppression, repression, and no hope of an independent destiny. Of course, what goes on today may well create a sort of Dr. Moreau reworking of them which might then be satisfied with itself – but it would most definitely not be something that could emerge from any sort of self identification that any of them have now. That’s how this thing works.

    Avaroo, UN reports of what they did earlier do not show whether or not Iraq later offered further inspections – the reports won’t show anything about inspections not undertaken.

  38. Terje Petersen
    November 25th, 2005 at 06:42 | #38

    QUOTE: or even the whole of Iraq no matter that they do not agree on what that might be

    RESPONSE: This is the fickle thing about national pride. Even though aussies all love Australia they are all talking about something subtly different when they say “Australia”. For some Australia means our culture of mateship, for others it is our liberal traditions, yet others might love it for our socialist traditions and lots of us just like the beaches. We are unified in our love for an abstract concept that we don’t even entirely agree on.

  39. avaroo
    November 25th, 2005 at 10:18 | #39

    IanGould, nothing will change the fact that Iraq has had a provisional government for more than 2 years. I know it’s inconvenient but it’s true nevertheless. Try to get past knee jerk reactions when confronted with evidence that disproves your point. btw, the “progress” began when Saddam was booted out of power, well over 2 years ago.

  40. avaroo
    November 25th, 2005 at 10:21 | #40

    PMLawrence, read Mr Blix’ March 2003 report.

  41. Andrew Reynolds
    November 25th, 2005 at 10:36 | #41

    PML,
    So there is no way for the people, however defined, to express their will. You appear determined to say that, because you cannot find a comprehensive definition of “The People” that democracy is meaningless – at least as far as I can follow your argument. Please feel free to correct me if I am wrong.
    If my interpretation is correct, does that mean that democracy is impossible?

  42. Katz
    November 25th, 2005 at 10:55 | #42

    Avaroo, if the Bush administration is happy with the result of the installation of the present Iraqi government, such as it is, for its investment of 250 billion dollars, then so be it.

    I guess Bush’s Republican loyalists are praying that the American people will be as easily satisfied come the November 2006 mid-term elections.

  43. avaroo
    November 25th, 2005 at 12:05 | #43

    Katz, the Iraqi election is up to the Iraqi people.

    As an independent, I like having a choice during elections.

  44. avaroo
    November 25th, 2005 at 12:21 | #44

    PML, here’s a link to Blix’ March 7, 2003 report

    http://www.cnn.com/2003/US/03/07/sprj.irq.un.transcript.blix/

    and here is his Feb 14 2003 report

    http://www.un.org/Depts/unmovic/blix14Febasdel.htm

  45. Ian Gould
    November 25th, 2005 at 14:18 | #45

    “IanGould, nothing will change the fact that Iraq has had a provisional government for more than 2 years. I know it’s inconvenient but it’s true nevertheless.’

    no, in fact, as I’ve pointed out it has had three distinct governments in that period. Their primary point of continuity is, as you point out, that they are provisional (i.e. temporary, ad hoc and lacking in substance and legitimacy.)

    Or perhaps you feel that the fact that insurgents haven’t actually managed to capture Baghdad is a major cause for celebration.

  46. Ian Gould
    November 25th, 2005 at 14:23 | #46

    Ernestine,

    Thank you fror cosnidered and detailed response. It will require some time for me to respond to it appropriately – probably some time this weekend.

    I will point out that the Kyoto markets are quite complex, we are in effect dealing with three commodities which should in theory be fungible but may not be in practice.

    These are permits to issue a specificied quantitiy of greenhouse gases; credits for reductions in emissions from certain sources and credits for sequestration (i.e. for afforestation).

    Andrew: I will address your comments at the same time I respond to Ernestine.

  47. November 25th, 2005 at 20:33 | #47

    AR, you are wrong. You are mixing up some rather deep generalities with the specifics of the Iraqi situation. The generalities should show the limits and incompletenesses of democracy as a system, not that it is meaningless but that extreme claims for it don’t stand up. The specifics of Iraq should show that Iraq is not a candidate for meaningful democracy – not that democracy is always meaningless.

    Avaroo, you cannot go from genuine UN reports about earlier events to evidence about whether or not Saddam Hussein later invited inspectors in (and was not taken up on his offer). Your response is as bad as the factually accurate comments on Monty Python’s Norwegian Blue parrot – “look at the plumage”. Your facts are accurate but not to the point.

  48. Ernestine Gross
    November 25th, 2005 at 21:04 | #48

    Andrew (24/11/05, 10:34pm),

    No, I wasn’t thinking of enforcement and incentive issues. But these are interesting, too.

  49. corwin
    November 26th, 2005 at 09:24 | #49

    I don’t want to become pedantic,but do want to challenge some blatant imprecisions.terje talks of “trillions” spent for “Star Wars”.Presumably,he knows what a “trillion” is.Being off by a factor of 1000 doesn’t make me feel what he says in anything is reliable.that’s larger than the entire defense budget(stuff like subs,salaries,tanks,bribes oil)during the second Reagan administration.Don’t be that far wrong if you want to be taken seriously.
    Secondly,to Tbell/1952.I’m not questioning your truthfulness,just your
    sorces.Because you believe something happened doesn’t make it so.Two vignettes to illustrate.Piaget spent decads of his life stating he recalled an episode when his nurse battled a kidnapper attempt to take him,while he was in his stroller.he was very detailed in his recollections.In the last few years of her life the nurse confessed it a story to swell her self importance.
    And when I was young,I tried to convince a woman she wasn’t pregnant.Despite a negative urine,blood and an ultrasound showing an empty non gravid uterus,she remained convinced she could feel the baby moving.So knowing something to be true ,isn’t really a powerful argument for me.(In Zelazny’s “Last Defender of Camelot”,Lancelot tells Merlin,”The burden of proof is upon one who professes to be a moralist..”Wise words.

  50. Andrew Reynolds
    November 26th, 2005 at 09:31 | #50

    corwin,
    I think Terje was referring to a US trillion (1,000,000,000,000), not the British trillion / former Australian Trillion (1,000,000,000,000,000) dollars. I do not know if spending on StarWars would have been trillions plural, but it was certainly in the high hundreds of (U.S) billion. At most, he is out by a factor of two or so – not 1,000.

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