The Iraqi elections appear to have gone well, with a high Sunni turnout. Hopefully, the post-election haggling won’t take months like last time, now that there is no longer a requirement for a two-thirds majority.
The big question now is whether this will lead to a US withdrawal, either because the new government demands it or because the Bush Administration decides to declare victory.
Among the possible victory conditions, the holding of elections is the only one likely to happen any time soon. There’s no reason to think that the insurgency will end as long as the occupation continues – similar insurgencies have lasted for decades in many countries.
As for training Iraqi troops, it’s clear that the problems here are not going to be resolved simply by the passing of time. Basic training for US marines takes 13 weeks, and (IIRC) the Iraqis get less, so obviously there has been plenty of time to train troops. The real problem is that any serious armed force is bound to be under the control of one or other of the militias, which might turn against the US.
A staged withdrawal would probably lead to an intensification of the insurgency in the short run. But the end of occupation would reduce support for the insurgents in the long run. It’s not a great option, but it’s hard to see a better one.
96 thoughts on “Iraqi elections”
I strongly disagree with your claim that the insurgency would end if the Coalition pulled out. Indeed, I think it would intensify if the Coalition withdraws before the insurgency is disabled.
Insurgent chief Zarqawi has made it clear that he regards the majority Shi’ites as infidels. He has no time for the Kurds either. I think the insurgency would be emboldened by a Coalition pullout and would encourage all out war against both groups, especially the Shi’ites. In such a situation the Kurds might unilaterally declare independence, which would be violently opposed by Turkey. I can also see Iran and Syria sticking their beaks into the conflagration.
The insurgency has to be smashed before the Coalition pulls out if Iraq is to have any chance of building a stable democracy. Nevertheless, if the new Iraqi Government demands that the Coalition withdraws by a specified time then it will have to withdraw. To do otherwise would be both strategically and morally wrong. Having said that I think the new Government will want the Coalition to hang around until it feels confident the back of the insurgency is broken.
As it happens Steve I agree with your conclusion – that a full-scale withdrawal at this time would be unwise.
Howaver I have to disagree with this statement:
“Insurgent chief Zarqawi has made it clear that he regards the majority Shiâ€™ites as infidels.”
Zarqawi is the leader of only one of several factions within the insurgency and probably not the largest one.
Ian Gould says: “Zarqawi is the leader of only one of several factions within the insurgency and probably not the largest one.”
I must admit I simplified matters to some extent, for the purposes of brevity. I realise the insurgency isn’t one dimensional. The pro-Saddamists, for example, are also significant players. The Shi’ite al-Sadr and his followers appear to no longer be part of the insurgency. That bloke still worries me though.
Sigh. Gone “well”? There is a self enforcing dynamic in these things, because those who don’t participate get marginalised even if they don’t endorse the result. It’s clearly at work among the Sunni now. All that remains is for them to discover the tactics the Irish used – join and sabotage, all the while asserting that their participation does not imply endorsement until people get the message and they can divert from the lines laid down by these internal dynamics.
I can quote chapter and verse on all this, and I will if people ask, but I warn you that it is copious. For now, note that one cannot infer endorsement from particpation – it’s actually a stitch up effect inherent in representative democracy that manufactures apparent consent. It sometimes feeds back into participants so that they eventually settle for small tactical victories by working the system that they originally wanted to abstain from in entirety; they lose themselves in the process.
As, when and if that happens, one may call the democracy a “success” – but only in its own terms, not in terms of the people subjected to it. Do please read some anarchist thinking on the subject.
PM Lawrence- If you possess a formula for the governance of a community that it superior to representative democracy, please share it with us. If not, stop wasting everybody’s time.
Steve, I didn’t find PML was wasting my time. What percentage of countries with major categorically distiguishable groups (that quite possibly really dislike each other) where people vote based almost purely on ethnic or religious lines have representative democracies that work over the long term without great loss to one of the groups ?
Much of this thread seems to be being conducted by folk whose knowledge of the subject is entirely gleaned from US propaganda. This is understandable, given most journalists in Iraq never venture outside their fortified hotels other than to go to Green Zone press conferences whose connection to reality echoes the old Baghdad Bob’s during the invasion.
“Insurgent chief Zarqawi” … is not even Iraqi, and is responsible for a tiny fraction of the daily death toll. He is a convenient bogeyman for the US, which has been running the line that ‘foreign terrorists’ are responsible for the insurgency. If you believe that, I’ve got a relative in Nigeria who needs to move some cash and you look to be the person for the job. It is true that most of the death toll is caused by foreigners, but the ones responsible fly planes, speak a mongrel version of English and hunger for MacDonald’s hamburgers.
All, repeat all, of the parties participating in the election other than the Kurds have as their number one policy the withdrawal of foreign troops. The Kurds just want their own country and if they get it (and they are well advanced in that direction) Turkey is likely to join the fray.
Iraq today combines the unattractive features of Iraq under Hussein and a warlord state like Somalia or Afghanistan. Death squads, disappearances, torture, kidnapping, chaos and private armies. To imagine Jeffersonian democracy springing from this toxic sludge is to enter a fantasy world. What a glorious success the invasion has been.
There must be something wrong with me in that at this moment, while it is of interest to us as well as the Iraqis what will be the possible program now of Coalition presence and involvement, I donâ€™t wish to analyse and dismember this event, or hear again the determined voices decrying the honesty and hard work of these people seeking to build for themselves an honourable and decent democracy. And, as always for some, denying that they will achieve it.
Rather I marvel at the courage and determination of this much put upon people and enjoy words such as these from a friend of ITMâ€?S., and I would suspect a Sunni.
â€œFrom 59 to 64 to 70%…in one year our people have proven that the future belongs to them and not those whose claws scarred Iraqâ€™s neck.
A few bombs and some bullets, thatâ€™s all what the terrorists could do to interrupt the carnival in Baghdad. The people heard the explosions but those werenâ€™t loud enough to distract the marching hearts from their destination. I saw our policemen yesterday showing their hearts too when they refused to wear their armors, maybe because they didnâ€™t want to let anything stand between our hearts from theirs.â€?
Go and read and enjoy. And maybe what Iraqis have to say about themselves and their country deserves some acknowledgement. If they think that participation infers endorsement of their fledgling democracy and itâ€™s goals, well good luck to them and I respect their ability to make it so, despite the hard road and the inevitable glitches.
â€œIt is a day we will await to come again for four long yearsâ€¦to do the right thing again or to correct the mistake if we did one yesterday.â€?
Seems to me like this chap has a view of democracy that I can relate to.
And to smile at photos of Iraqis such as Muhaisin Bidairy Abdullah â€œwho was born in 1900 and I think he is the oldest amongst the voters came leaning on his grandsons and could hardly breathe with tears visible in his eyes â€œ
Or a middle Aged Iraqi women proudly and joyfully clutching with her purple finger her Iraqi flag emblazoned with â€œVote for Iraqâ€?
Some of the pictures that have come to us from Iraq I think deserve to be amongst those that stand as historical pictorial records of ordinary humanity at itâ€™s best.
The sum is greater than the parts and with so many citizens of Iraq being such great and determined parts who knows what Iraq may achieve. There is a freshness and excitement about them, much ignored by many of those who claim to be credible spokespersons for (and against) the west which can, I have concluded, only see a world that matches their own sad tired miserable souls.
To predict doom gloom and failure is not only nothing better than guesswork predicated on the failures of our past, it is plain mean.
Along with PM they ran a sort of online election room following the election from 8 centres in Iraq.
Steve, PML is simply enunciating the truth that most of the civilised world made when Bush announced his ridiculous frolic in Iraq.
But Bush was so dazzled by Neocons’ absurd dreams and the prospect of cheap oil to fuel America’s “non-negotiable” way of life, he ignored both moral and practical arguments against invasion.
Then Bush made matters worse by listening to the military fantasies of Donald Rumsfeld. Bush ignored the warnings of actual grown-up military experts in preference to Rumsfeld. Remember Rumsfeld’s serial redisignations of the insurgency? Here is a man who believes that reality can be made to conform to words.
Because Bush listened to Rumsfeld, he could not increase US military commitments without admitting that his administration had miscalculated. Instead, Bush proclaimed “Mission Accomplished”!
Thus Bush found himself in the position of a gambler who thinks he has bet on a sure thing, and lost. He knows that to win he must double-up, but he doesn’t have the guts. Nor can he walk away from the table. He sits there, playing with his remaining chips and seething about his own stupidity. Thus, Bush doesn’t have the stomach to “smash the insurgency”.
This Iraqi electoral process — three votes! — represents the ultimate defeat of Bush’s hopes for postwar Iraq. I won’t call these hope “plans”, because as the Downing Street Memos reveal, no real planning happened. The present Iraqi government is essentially the front for Shiite militia. Iraq is now thoroughly islamicised. The US invasion of Iraq is a victory for the Ayatollahs. The recent enormous political victory for fundamentalism in Iran must have sent a chill down Bush’s spine. Remember how the American adventure in Iraq was supposed to serve as an example for the entire Middle East?
The Bush Clique now knows that they must withdraw, but they cannot admit defeat. Thus, the Iraqi elections will be spun as a victory for American plans. The American withrawal will be timetabled according to the US domestic political cycle, notably the half-term congressional elections where Republicans are facing a holocaust.
But American withdrawal will have little to do with the stability of Iraq. Not long after American Iraq veterans get their “victory parade”, Iraqis will be preparing to ramp up their civil war. Bush, in Dead Duck mode, will threaten and moralise.
But the Americans won’t be going back to Iraq.
So Steve, you ought to be asking the Bush Clique about its formula for governance if Iraq.
The Bush Clique broke Iraq and now they discover they can’t afford to buy Iraq.
Katz, JQ started the post with: “The Iraqi elections appear to have gone well, with a high Sunni turnout. ”
The elections (3 in 12 months) show that the “Bush clique” never intended to “buy” Iraq.
If Iraq was all about oil, all about naked imperialism, why go through all the nonsense of nation building and elections. Might have been much easier just to have locked down the whole country, and run the place from Washington.
Why also run the risk of a (democratically elected) Shia run Iraq?
How can according to your words: “This Iraqi electoral process â€” three votes! â€” represents the ultimate defeat of Bushâ€™s hopes for postwar Iraq.”
The election is being contested, of course by religious parties, but also by secular lists. If the elections were then just a ‘US conspiracy’, why allow the presence of the Islamists on the ballots?
Steve Munn, there are no magic bullet answers, and what is more your counter-criticism is like saying nobody is allowed to criticise unless they have answers. It’s like saying you can’t tell a taxi driver he’s going the wrong way.
If you do read the anarchist criticisms, you will see that you are requiring that insight to reverse itself and somehow come up with ways of governing, when its great achievement is to recognise our own fallibility!
On the other hand if you feel that it is wasting your time to tell you that you are wasting your time on a vain search for something that isn’t there, why, I’ll leave you to waste your own time.
I remember once that I saw an ice cream van about to drive off with a power connection still screwed into a permanent socket, so I tried to get the driver’s attention. He thought he had better things to do than wind down his window and react to my frantic waving, so he kept manoeuvring until it seemed convenient to him to condescend to address me.
“What do you want?”, he asked grumpily. “Well”, I replied, “I was going to tell you that your power fitting was still permanently connected. But it isn’t any more.” And sure enough, he had some dangling torn wires and no means of reconnecting when he got to his next site.
There’s a moral here somewhere.
Oh, Ros, I have no problem with people building democracy for themselves, but it is sheer hypocrisy to set up a nominal system that rules permanent minorities and pretend that (a) democracy justifies it, and (b) their attempts to mitigate the damage done to them by particpating amount to their endorsing part (a). Point (b) gives the spurious appearance of “their own democracy” applying to all participants, even those who just don’t want to be marginalised.
I told you that the Irish found this the hard way. Would you criticise the Parnellites for frustrating parliamentary procedure at Westminster, on the grounds that they were sabotaging the efforts of the people of all the British Isles at getting a workable democracy?
In the same way, there is no single Iraqi people, to the extent needed for meaningful democracy. Democracy works like tying a knot and standing back saying that you aren’t holding the ropes on. With time, the captive may grow to fit his bonds, as in Hawaii, so that undoing it would be even worse after that – but that does not make the original exercise ethical.
You become guilty of the (metaphorical) idolatry of setting ends above means when you elevate “democracy” to the status of an ideal objective rather than an occasionally useful technique for implementing and expressing something else that needs to be justified on its own separate grounds.
I meant, setting means above ends. Oops.
W by W,
Everything you say is logical, until you learn a few facts. Then you discover that the real world is a much untidier place than the neat little model you have of it in your mind.
1. The Bush Clique didn’t want these elections. Ali Sistani intimidated the Bush Clique into holding the first in the series. Since then, the Bush Clique has been trying to play catch-up and to spin this process of US domestic political purposes.
2. Even the Bush Clique is too smart to induslge in “naked imperialism”. But oil is precisely what was on the mind of the Bush Clique when it seemed to them that the Iraq frolic was going well for them. I invite you to Google Executive Order 13303, You will notice that the Bush clique were fixated on Iraqi oil. If the Bush Clique had really been interested in the welfare of ordinary Iraqis, EO 13303 would have protected the trade in dates, and not oil. Of course, this little plan sent up in smoke when the Iraq frolic turned pear-shaped. No one mentions it any more.
Thouroughly confused now as to what democracy is, I would still argue that the understanding of the Iraqi hopeful that
â€œIt is a day we will await to come again for four long yearsâ€¦to do the right thing again or to correct the mistake if we did one yesterday.â€?
Is confirmation of his grasp of democracy and falls within
â€œan occasionally useful technique for implementing and expressing something else that needs to be justified on its own separate grounds.â€?
And what if he had the same language as you PM and considered himself an observer rather than a participant in the challenge of reaching for democracy as a process and as an objective.
Apart from that I cheerfully confess that I am struggling to understand much of what you say. Knots, ropes and Hawaiians really passes me by. Or like if I am setting means above ends, how is it that I am, it would seem, setting democracy, the ideal thing, above, democracy, one of the ways for implementing and expressing, say, the Rule of Law? You make me feel that it may be that I am in fact living in a matrix and that democracy is in the main either fraud or conceit.
I do ask you about this if I may,
â€œIn the same way, there is no single Iraqi people, to the extent needed for meaningful democracy.â€?
Though I am left with the sense that meaningful democracy is for you the most rare of beasts, when would a nation such as ours move past the point at which we would no longer constitute a single people to the extent needed for meaningful democracy. Maybe of course that is very much a matter of personal judgement. As the Iraqis at this point declare that is what they are and wish to be, is their judgement not enough, and doesnâ€™t that sense of one nation grow as a result of calling it thus. And it is hard to see Shia Muslims as being more different to Sunni Muslims than Australiaâ€™s first people are to the many and varied immigrants. Or should I understand that we are not a meaningful democracy.
As to what happened with the Irish, well, the place that Iraq is in now is unique as are all moments in history, similarities with other unique moments does not change the fact that the differences mean that Iraqâ€™s outcome will be something else. Maybe even a meaningful democracy, they might show us all.
It is not unintelligent or time wasting to consider that in a chaotic situation what may emerge might just as well be good for Iraqis as bad, and that they have the wherewithal to push events that way. And that what emerges will be both democratic in form and function, and that it is possible for those outside to try and influence the wave to that better end. And to suggest that to see Iraqis as incapable of achieving this because of their particular circumstances (if superior beings such as Europeans couldnâ€™t get there from such a start!) is to correspondingly serve to influence to that dark end for Iraq so beloved by many.
And Oh, PM, it may be something about the way you give advice that inspires others like ice-cream vans drivers, to wish that you wouldnâ€™t.
Katz Says: December 17th, 2005 at 2:10 pm “W by W, Everything you say is logical”
Thank you – I thought so too.
But re: your points 1 & 2.
1. “The Bush Clique didnâ€™t want these elections. ”
Have you a source or two for this claim, that you could point me to
Even if true, this was probably a timing issue, rather than one of principal.
2. “Even the Bush Clique is too smart to induslge in â€œnaked imperialismâ€?. But oil is precisely what was on the mind of the Bush Clique”
Of course oil was important. Via increased exports, the oil revenues would be immeidately used to rebuild Iraq’s economy brought to its knees by Saddam’s kleptomania and the sanctions. Iraq has nothing else it can use to generate international finance quickly and so readily, so of course oil would be a priority in nation building. Petrodollars would have been used to rebuild Iraq, rather than reliance on US government funds.
I agree with Week by Week. If the US was only interested in oil then they would have patched up relations with Saddam. It was also pragmatic for the US to secure oil installations immediately after the occupation since oil is central to the Iraqi economy and hence the post war recovery. Katz is making wild claims without any evidence. Feel good conspiracy theories are no substitute for thoughtful analysis.
Steve and W by W,
Perhaps you could read EO 13303, summarise for yourself what you understand it to mean, and then critique my, and many other similar, interpretations of it.
i’d be happy to discuss your interpretations. With all due respect, I’m much lest interested in discussion your a priori understanding of the world.
Here’s a place to start: what precisely is meant by, and what are the consequences, of the President of the United States declaring a “national emergency” *after* most of Iraq had already been invaded and occupied?
Feel free to go on from there.
…and the prospect of cheap oil…
The do want to control oil, but they don’t want cheap oil necessarily.
Oil was cheap during the Clinton administration, so cheap, in fact, that Texas (where it costs about $20 to extract a barrel) had to get out of the game almost completely. Texas oil-men have no reason to complain now.
WbyW, Bremer wanted a system of caucuses with selected participants and Sistani rejected it. Search for Sistani on this blog and you’ll find plenty of discussion at the time, for exaple this post
Katz re: EO 13303
I found the official transcript here (of all places at a NASA .gov domained site) http://nodis3.gsfc.nasa.gov/displayEO.cfm?id=EO_13303_
EO 13303 was amended in 2004 http://www.treas.gov/offices/enforcement/ofac/actions/20041130.shtml which “extend to the Central Bank of Iraq the same immunity from attachment and other judicial process granted to the Development Fund for Iraq (DFI) and to Iraqi petroleum and petroleum products.”
The EO is fairly dense legalese.
I think you using EO 13303 is pushing the conspiracy thing too far.
It extends immunity to the Iraqi Development Fund and all petroleum related products etc. The reason why the Development Fund was immune as they needed to be free from any legal liability inherited from the Saddam regime. The reason why petroleum products etc were ‘immune’ again owed to corrupt contracts and arrangements for oil struck by Saddam.
Are you therefore saying that the Iraqis (post Saddam) should continue to be bound to Saddam initiated contracts and arrangements? That is what the French and the Russians argued pre-and immediately post-liberation.
W by W,
EO 13303 isn’t a conspiracy. Unlike many EOs, it was promulgated openly and in the first flush of apparent victory in May 2003.
Indeed EO13303 is dense legalese.
Your analysis of EO 13303 is correct, as far as it goes.
EO 13303 offered blanket immunity to anyone dealing in Iraqi oil from any legal proceedings whatsoever. Such a provision goes far beyond protection from immunity from inherited liabilities to the Saddam regime. In fact, it is difficult to imagine how parties involved in Iraqi oil could be liable for anything. As you say, the EO is dense legalese. Persons skilled in legalese could draft an order that encompasses your reading, and nothing more.
I note that you haven’t addressed the question as to why the matters dealt with in this Executive Order might occasion the declaration of a “National Emergency”.
Katz you raise two points.
1.”EO 13303 isnâ€™t a conspiracy. Unlike many EOs, it was promulgated openly and in the first flush of apparent victory in May 2003.”
If the promulgation was so open and apparently transparent what’s the fuss all about? If it wasn’t “open and apparently transparent” then there may be a problem.
2. Re: this Executive Order might occasion the declaration of a â€œNational Emergencyâ€?.
My guess is that the promulgation needed legal authority, and as the top link in my earlier post shows, that the legal authority was vested in the “…the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, as amended (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.) (IEEPA), the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.)”
Perhaps this explains the “national emergency” thing, as both statutes reference ’emergency’ in the titles!!!
Katz- Why not demonstrate some solidarity with the Iraqi people, who have just turned out in huge numbers to vote for their representatives? Even in Sunni areas, turnouts of 70% and more have been estimated. About 48 different parties were listed on the ballot papers, which seems like a good range of choices to me. Such a successful exercise in democracy is surely more worthy of comment than finding excuses for churlish grievance mongering.
In any case, presumably the Iraqi parliament can pass any law it wishes in relation to oil, thus making EO 13303 obsolete. I also note that you have failed to provide any evidence that any significant scandal arose out of the Executive Order.
Ros, I couldn’t make it any simpler and short enough to fit here, because it just isn’t that simple. I can give you a few slogans if you like, like the anarchist one about “don’t vote, it only validates the farce”, but that would be begging the question of which votes are farces and which ones aren’t.
Out and out anarchists think that all votes are farces. Me, I accept democracy as means but not as ends, and I truly see the Iraq nonsense as a stitch up of the usual sort when you rig things. It’s nothing but a recap of the Athenians (and later the Macedonians and the Romans) using “democracy” as an excuse for empire building and a technique for client state rule at the victims’ expense.
Now, I can mention “Hawaii” so you can read up the history of US imperialism there via dummy democracy, but the one thing I can’t do is tell it short and simple. It works by misdirection, and it takes a lot of work to unpick it. The existence of dupes and hypocrites in Iraq in no sense validates the farce. Some have been conned, and others hope to use the techniques to advance their own particular agendas. But there is no “Iraqi nation”, for the simple reason that the USA undercut British efforts in that direction after Suez, efforts that had been working since the ’30s.
I can’t fight that misdirection without either making simplifying assumptions that accord with your preconceptions (which would build in your answers), or by making correct assumptions that you would immediately spot meant that I hadn’t proved the point – that I myself was begging the question.
So, despite history not repeating precisely, go and look up some of the episodes I mentioned like Irish constitutional history, then try to draw out more general lessons from that. You may find it more widely valuable, but it will illustrate that the forms of democracy and the sincerity of some of its advocates just don’t get you to the point where it is a good thing in and of itself.
Winston Churchill’s comments about it being least worst do not make it good in either the moral or the efficiency sense, and they don’t mean you can stop asking once you have satisfied yourself that you have got democracy; if anything, a working democracy only means that doing the right thing is now down to you and there is nobody else on the spot. But Iraq isn’t even that, it’s just an excuse to declare mission accomplished all over again. From the US point of view a successful stitch up is good enough, because it would mean that the interests in place in Iraq would lock in an ararngement convenient for the USA.
Now remember, that was a short response to your criticisms. You need to look up the anarchist strand of thought to see more of the gaps in all this conventional wisdom. (And don’t get the idea that they have answers either, or that people aren’t allowed to point out problems unless they come to you with overwhelmingly persuasive answers of their own.)
Not to mention that a bit of sovereignty would seem like a vital ingredient and prerequisite for any ‘democracy’ to qualify as being ‘least worst’. Without sovereignty it’s just a charade, sophistry.
Second bit shouldn’t have been quoted. That was me.
I agree with PML that democracy has next to nothing to do with consent. Democratic government is a beast that we submit to merely because we must. Like all forms of government a democratic one forces us to do things that we would not otherwise do.
Government is a brutal beast and democracy merely offers a way to make the beast a little less volatile in its temperament.
Might does not make right, even if the might stems from having the majority on your side.
Jesus. This anarchist crap is tiresome. Are you so niave that you think that eliminating elected governments will eliminate “might is right”? Perhaps you think that “money is right”, and that there’s some benevolent defference between “might” and “money”. FFS.
No I’m not.
However neither am I so naive as to think that creating elected governments will eliminate “might is right”. It just changes the nature of “might” without addressing the question of “right”.
PML made the point that participation is not consent. I agree with this basic point. Do you refute it?
P.S. I am not an anarchist any more than I am a pacifist. However both ideals have something useful to say about the way we construct our world.
I do not.
The statement I take issue with is this one:
I know that you don’t claim to be an anarchist, you claim to be some kind of small government libertarian.
What, in your opinion, is the proper way of taming the “brutal beast”? Why is government a “brutal beast”?
“Katz- Why not demonstrate some solidarity with the Iraqi people, who have just turned out in huge numbers to vote for their representatives? Even in Sunni areas, turnouts of 70% and more have been estimated. About 48 different parties were listed on the ballot papers, which seems like a good range of choices to me. Such a successful exercise in democracy is surely more worthy of comment than finding excuses for churlish grievance mongering.”
Steve, I wish the Iraqi people every happiness. I doubt that the coming civil war in Iraq will last as long as the Saddam regime. It may be as bloody. Did the Bush Clique expect to create a Shiite theocracy that controls a large proportion of the world’s oil? I think not. It’s up to the American voters, who have only two viable parties to vote for, to decide whether the got their money’s worth. (I wish the American people every happiness too.)
“In any case, presumably the Iraqi parliament can pass any law it wishes in relation to oil, thus making EO 13303 obsolete. I also note that you have failed to provide any evidence that any significant scandal arose out of the Executive Order.”
My original point about EO13303 (go back and read it) is that the whole project was a ludicrous failure. Events have overtaken the Bush clique’s May 2003 rosy scenario of US hegemony in Iraq that would have made EO 13303 relevant. Despite Bush Administration brags to the contrary at the time, he US isn’t going to get its oil from Iraq, except on the world market. The American voters might like to consider that as well next time they go to the hustings.
Right now, the American people have to decide whether it would be a good idea to impeach Bush for breaking federal law with his past recourse of warrantless surveillance and for his promise to go on breaking the law.
This seemingly well informed article might be relevant to the discussion:
Crude Designs: The Rip-Off of Iraqâ€™s Oil Wealth.
A short version in the Villagevoice: http://villagevoice.com/news/0548,ridgeway,70401,2.html
Katz Says: December 18th, 2005 at 10:21 pm “My original point about EO13303 (go back and read it) is that the whole project was a ludicrous failure. Events have overtaken the Bush cliqueâ€™s May 2003 rosy scenario of US hegemony in Iraq that would have made EO 13303 relevant. Despite Bush Administration brags to the contrary at the time, he US isnâ€™t going to get its oil from Iraq, except on the world market. The American voters might like to consider that as well next time they go to the hustings.”
Katz, apart from be condescending, you are wrong.
You have the talent of typically being both.
Weâ€™ve disproved your claim in an earlier post. Why are you holding onto EO13303 as being some sort of holy grail confirming your conspiracy theory.
What next: finding some regulation concerning parking infringements in Bagdad which can be linked and weaved seamlessly into the whole conspiracy?
Itâ€™s getting tiresome.
â€?EO 13303 isnâ€™t a conspiracy.”
“[Katz w]hy are you holding onto EO13303 as being some sort of holy grail confirming your conspiracy theory. ”
Because it governs without consent. Because its modus operandi is force. Because it is funded through theft. Because its clutches are inescapable.
A couple of options. Start by have as little as is possible (without leading to instability that might lead to anarchy and hence warlords and hence big government). Institutionalise small government using a consitution, decentralisation or any other institutionalisation or structural means possible.
You can separate the functions of government (executive, judiciary, legislative branch etc).
Ensure a vibrant media and free speech.
You can vest powers in regional governments ensuring that power is distributed and there are easy options to flee abuse of power.
A democratic selection process may be part of the equation to assist in keeping the actions of those in government accountable.
Democracy may be necessary however it is certainly not sufficient.
Add a dose of eternal vigalence.
I see. US Libertarian Party talking points.
In my view it would have to be better than “social democracy”.
No, quite simply, it isn’t better.
The stuff you’ve listed, which the Libertarian Party has taken from various places (the US Constitution, a misquotation of Wendell Phillips, etc), is all well and good on the surface.
But the Libertarian Party’s philosophy, at its heart, is that property rights are paramount, human rights be damned. And there is simply no way that this position doesn’t devolve into either anarchy, or armed feudalism.
You can dream on about this stuff, Terje, but it gets tiresome for those of us who went through the same phase in our teens/twenties, and then worked out that it’s ultimately just ****.
Edited for coarse language. Please refrain
Where did I say that we should damn human rights? I think human rights (ie free speech, freedom of religion, freedom of association, freedom of movement) are of central importance. In fact I think rights based ethics worldview is the appropriate starting point for formulating any just political system. I would support a constitutional bill of rights that elevates such human rights to central prominence in our political system. Whilst not infallible such documents do historically provide some restrain against government excess.
I think you are talking ****. You can’t deal with the things I said so you introduce other stuff and then attack it. And then you complain that its is tiresome to deal with people who disagree with you.
I was a socialist dreamer in my teens but these days I have grown up. Its a pity I still have to put up with other peoples socialist ****.
Now shall we pepper **** all over this discussion or can you say something meaningful.
Edited for coarse language. Please refrain
Some of us believe that all power corrupts. Most social democratic systems entrust (IMHO) too much power to the government, creating too much corruption.
I was a libertarian long before I heard of the US Libertarian Party. I gave up on enforced wealth redistribution systems once I realised that they all had two faults by their very nature – a) the power to forcibly redistribute was always abused by those doing the redistribution, not through any fault of theirs necessarily, but because of the corruption that will accompany power and b) the very act of forcible redistribution reduces the ability of the community to generate the wealth that is the solution of the problem.
Government will remain a brutal beast because, as a strong centre of power, it cannot be other than a source of corruption. We need a government to do certain things in the community, but, as Terje says, it needs to be limited, constrained and controlled. Any system that trusts its government too much is condemned to failure.
Maybe one day you will truly reflect on the nature of government and its history. Until then, enjoy your ambitions of social democracy â€“ if not your use of language.
In other words:-
a) The agent/principal problem.
b) The laffer curve. *
* Actually the laffer curve is focused on how public sector revenue is effected by high taxation rather than how the summation of private and public goods is effected. The summation of both quantities shows a more pronounced case against high levels of taxation, so in fact Andrew was wise to use the word “community”.
I don’t want to say too much about the right-libertarianism espoused by Andrew and Terje. This is because I think it is bunk, untested and its proponents are ideological zealots. In other words, it is a bit like Marxism (although Marxism has been tested).
However I’ll make the following criticisms.
-right-libertarianism is a fundamentally selfish, individual orientated philosophy. In practice, it would impoverish community life.
– right-libertarianism places far too much faith in the “market” for wealth distribution. The market (which never actually exists in a pure form- check your economics 101 text books boys) has no in-built fairness mechanism.
– the right-libertarian idea of democratic Government as a “brutal beast” doesn’t match the reality. You will note that in the race riots, it was the police arm of Government that constrained the vicious mob and rescued the “Lebs” from harm. This a good example of good Government protecting us from our own base instincts.
– In many jurisdictions democratic Government has been ahead of public opinion in granting individual rights. For example the abolition of anti-homosexual laws in most Australian states preceded a softening of public opinion.
– universal access to quality education, basic social welfare and health care increase the wealth of everyone, even if they require a significant redistribution from the rich to the poor
– poverty, which would rise enormously under right-libertarianism, would reduce the liberty we all have, for instance by increasing crime rates. I would prefer not to have gated communities in this country, thank you very much.
One last point- Isn’t there a right-libertarian site somewhere were you guys get all warm and fuzzy? Too many threads on PrQs site seem to get railroaded by discussion of right-libertarian ideas.
Steve, I think though the problem is always about finding the right balance. Particularly when we see how poorly centralised economies work.
I think it is a question of which problems do we want to market to solve, and which ones do we decide to keep under our (read government) control?
While I may not agree with the right-libertarian point of view as described by Terje and friends, I do think they make a valuable contribution and would rather they posted here than got “warm and fuzzy” on some right-libertarian site elsewhere.
Last point first. I prefer discussing things with people I disagree with. If you don’t, fair enough. I normally find the debate here interesting and stimulating. If I wanted to discuss it with people I agreed with I may as well talk to myself. I also value PrQ’s intellectual honesty in allowing debate on most topics. Too many blogs (daily flute for example) delete comments they do not agree with.
OK, item by item:
– Community life, as you call it, is generally stronger in the communities where the government is weaker. Give it some thought and look around the world. The freer the society, the more the community works together. In any case, it is socialism, with its emphasis on forced redistribution, that assumes that people will not give willingly. Is it socialism that assumes that people are fundamentally selfish. You may think that people are fundamentally selfish – I do not.
– See the point above. I believe people are naturally fair and capable of recognising what is just and what is not. You may disagree – that is your right. Personally, I can think of several examples of ‘pure’ or nearly pure markets, but the strength of the position is that it does not rely on market purity. Read your Hayek and get back to us. The economics 100 I took was taught by unreconstructed Keynesians and I found it of little value, as the 70’s stagflation had proved – to my satisfaction at least.
– I have never claimed we do not need a government to enforce a monopoly of force and I am not aware of any libertarians who have claimed otherwise.
– granted, but libertarians would have been in the forefront of the movement to grant individual rights against conservatism on both sides of the political debate. It is what we do.
– a large State is not needed to ensure this. For example, if the ideal is to ensure access to schooling for all, why does the State have to own the schools?
– individual freedom is strongly positively correlated with the overall wealth of the society, blowing your last point out of the water. As for gated communities, with the sole exception of the US, they only really exist in countries who have not got a properly functioning system of law and order.
I’m getting the impression that you have strong feelings on the topic.
An interesting assertion. I will wait patiently for the rationalisation.
I have no faith that the market will redistribute wealth. However as I am not in favour of redistribution this is hardly a criticism.
My instincts don’t tell me to bash “Lebs”, do yours? I support the actions of the police in Cronulla. I think they were heroic individuals who put themselves in harms way to protect members of the public. I have never argued that government abstain from law and order.
Law and order is way down the list in terms of government expenditure. Its a small ticked item.
Anarchists may argue that we don’t need police however very few libertarians take that position.
I don’t know if your assertion is true. However in any case I think that this would be an example of government being undemocratic. I support the abolition of anti-homosexual laws.
Have you given much consideration as to who made these laws in the first place? Oh thats right it was a democractic government.
Mostly they don’t involve a redistribution. Most people pay taxes roughly equivalent for the services they get in terms of education, social welfare and health care. Its still a wasteful activity.
Real acts of charity (ie redistribution to the very poor) only involve a very small percentage of the population.
You overstate your case.
Poverty has become a useless word. The socail value of this word has been totally debased by the left. Do you mean poverty or equality?
I disagree with you on this point but I suggest that any discussion will be mostly semantics.
If PrQ asked me to stop contributing to his website then I would.
“Mostly they donâ€™t involve a redistribution. Most people pay taxes roughly equivalent for the services they get in terms of education, social welfare and health care. Its still a wasteful activity.”
I’d like to see something backing that up Terje.
Do you dispute that “universal access to quality education, basic social welfare and health care increase the wealth of everyone”?
I feel much better living in a society where access to these basics at least is assured for anyone regardless of how fortunate they have been in life (financially or otherwise). Leaving it up to “the market” leaves a lot of people behind.
A minor point related to some experience I have – after 13 weeks basic, you can march, iron, and polish, possibly have a good handle on the rank system, and can shoot under supervision on a range.
Comments are closed.