I wanted to respond to Sobek’s post on the recent troubles in North Africa and elsewhere. But I didn’t want to post such a long screed at Michael’s place and abuse his hospitality, so I’ll do it here.
Sobek hit on some very important things for us to keep in mind, things we should watch. >
I see America as strong – perhaps stronger than most nations. But the people seem to be changing, and not for the good. We need to entrench within ourselves and our children and associates those values that helped us become great. We’re either going uphill or going downhill – there is no resting, no plateau, no station to rest. Our government didn’t bring us where we are today, we did. Our government won’t lead us to future success, we will.
One of most pernicious ideologies that hinders a nation’s progress and development is statism. The state is not the answer. That’s why we fought a war with the British. That’s why the establishment of a government was such a contentious affair in the beginning of our history. There were plenty of models to choose from, but few which didn’t include statism as its foundation. The Founding Fathers erected a system of government that not only didn’t enshrine statism but, in fact, tried to prevent it. By going against their mechanisms, we are now turning into a statist nation.
I had lived in Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates for so long that when I returned to The United States, I was a statist. I’d wonder why the government isn’t doing this thing or that thing, why it wasn’t solving such-and-such problem or issue. Or I posited that the government is the solution to our ails and woes. After all, in Pakistan, the first question that’s asked when an issue arises is: “What’s the government doing about it?” But I realized that this statism causes more problems than it solves. Rather than relying on the industry and ingeniousness of the people, we were relying on burdensome, cumbersome, inefficient bureaucracy. Each involvement of the government, furthermore, eroded the people’s freedoms, their area of movement and activity, and, indeed, even their will to work, solve, and prevail.
Mark my words – every statist nation is full of dullards, lazy people, unrealistic ideologues, and far from industrious.
I don’t care about communism or socialism. Russia, China, or Iran won’t do us in. If things don’t change, statism will be end of America as a world power.
Wherein lies the strength of a nation?
Not in its planes or tanks or missiles. Not in its economic prowess. Not in how low people bow to its diplomats and leaders. Quite often, though, these are taken as signs of the strength of a nation – it’s prestige.
But the true strength of a nation lies with its people – their willingness to move the nation forward, their willingness to work together, their courage and determination, their cherishing of their past and their optimistiz gaze to the future, their industriousness and valuing of honest, hard work. With such a people, no government or military can frustrate them. Without such a people, no government or military can lead the nation forward.
So, look to a nation’s people to judge its true strength.
My friends, I now make a personal appeal to you. A history-making time has arrived, and your help is needed.
After three decades of virtual tyranny, the people of Iran have had enough and want to overthrow the regime and replace it with a new one. This isn’t a revolt of sore losers. The issue is no longer Moussavi not winning the presidency. It’s about the system. It’s about the old guard that has kept Iran suppressed and oppressed for so long. It’s about Khamene’i and Ahmadi-nezhad. More importantly, it’s about replacing the old guard with a new guard.
Granted, the system will still be theocratic. Granted, Rafsanjani (who is rumored will be the new Supreme Leader) isn’t all buddy-buddy with the West. Granted, Iran will not become fully democratic or transparent. But this is a crucial step in the right direction.
Moussavi promises sweeping changes, changes that will make Iran more democratic and transparent. He wants to curtail the authority and interference of the Supreme Leader. He wants to diminish if not eliminate the volunteer Basij (the feared extralegal enforcement forces). He wants to end political suppression. Moussavi wants a new Iran.
But more importantly, the people of Iran want a new Iran.
And they need our help. They don’t need our government’s help; they don’t want our government’s help. They need our help, the help of individuals.
So, what can you do?
1. Blog about the situation. Give them moral support. Encourage them. Embolden them to continue the Green Revolution until it meets its objectives.
2a. Put pressure on CNN, Fox News, Sky News, Google, Yahoo!, Facebook, and Twitter to do all that it can do to help the Green Revolution. They have already done a lot thanks to intense demand from individuals. If we keep up the pressure, there might be more they can do. The people of Iran need, absolutely need, these media to operate efficiently and reliably in order to orchestrate the Green Revolution. This is truly a revolution via new social media.
2b. Forget pressuring the government. It’s useless. Instead, focus on actions and venues that can make a real difference now. Twitter, Facebook, and Google have more clout and can do more than the US government at this point.
3. Put aside political differences. Focus away from Ubaama’, from the government’s shenanigans, from Democrats’ idiocy. Kossacks, HuffPosters, and even St. Andy of the Sacred Heart Ache have been doing a lot to help the Green Revolution. Let us set aside our differences to tip the balance in favor of the people of Iran. If you blog, blog more about the Green Revolution than anything else. If you’re a Twit (h/t S. Weasel), Tweet about the Green Revolution (use the hashtags #iranelection and #gr88). Mention it in your Facebook postings. Cooperate with all people who support the Green Revolution or who are helping it.
4. Wear green, and be open about why. Change your icons to green. It is such a wonderful sight to open up Twitter and see, as the phrase has been used a number of times in last few days, a Sea of Green. People from all over the world, people from all political thoughts, people from all ethnicities and cultures and religions, are green to support the Green Revolution. If you’re on Twitter, change your timezone and location to Iran. (This is not only to support the Irani revolutionaries but also to confuse Irani government censors who are trying to find Irani Twitterers and arrest them.)
5. Also extremely important is cyber-revolutionary activity. Can you set up a Tor relay? Do it. Can you set up a proxy server that Irani revolutionaries can use? Do it. (E-mail me at muslihoon (at) yahoo (dot) com for how to contact certain people who are central information sources for proxies that Irani revolutionaries can use. Do not publicly post available proxies, as the fascist government is monitoring such announcements to track down revolutionaries and arrest them..) Do you have any other ideas that can help the Irani revolutionaries or hinder the fascist government’s efforts? Share them. (Tip: no DDoS as that affects the Irani revolutionaries as well.)
Thomas Jefferson said: “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.” This may be the unhappy case with Iran today. But change is needed. And we should do our part.
Every little thing you can do will help the people of Iran. They know the world is watching them. They need to hear our constant voices of support.
This is not only in the national security interests of The United States — the new regime, who is cognizant of all that the American people, along with people around the world, have done to help them succeed, will be less likely to want to blow all of us to Kingdom Come — but is essential as Americans who support democracy and freedom. The people of Iran are yearning to be free. They need our help. Let us, without any hesitation, extend our hand and help them in any way we can.
You can help make the world a better place. You can help be part of a grand effort to make an entire people more free. You can help put the axe to the root of tyranny in Iran. The question is: will you? If you will, let this be your burning passion until the Green Revolution succeeds. We’ve harped on about regime change in Iran for a very long time now. That time has come. Let us not miss this opportunity.
There is one aspect to the whole Pakistan-Afghanistan-Taliban issue that some seem to not see, yet it is a critical aspect.
It answers the important question: why doesn’t Pakistan do more to defeat militancy in Pakistan and originating from Pakistan? The West is worried about the proliferation of militancy in Pakistan, turning Pakistan into a haven and training-ground for terrorists, not to mention a conduit for personnel, materiel, money, and so on. Afghanistan is annoyed that Pakistan isn’t doing more to staunch the Taliban flourishing in the area bordering Afghanistan, from where they launch attacks into Afghanistan, and where Afghani Taliban retreat to recuperate, regroup, or restock. And Pakistanis and Indians are wondering why the Pakistani military and government are not doing more to secure stability and security in Pakistan.
The reason is, actually, quite simple. Money.
If NATO found Usama bin Ladin (y’makh sh’mo), many people will believe there is no more reason to fund Pakistani’s military and its efforts to get rid of the Taliban. Bin Ladin’s dead, game over. And the Pakistani military loses one of its major sources of funding, not to mention relevance.
Similarly, if the Pakistani military were to wipe out the Taliban, why would America (and other Western allies) give huge sums of money to Pakistan (unconditional at times even)? If thr Taliban were swept away, the influx of money would stop. And this isn’t just money going into the public coffers, which the politicians would be worried about. It’s even more dire: it’s money going into the military’s coffers. An unhappy military does not mean good news for Pakistan’s civilians or government.
And so the Taliban will remain. The Pakistani military and government will conduct operations every now and then so as to assuage its Western allies that it is making some use of the funds given to Pakistan for that purpose. But they will not eliminate the Taliban. Indeed, the stronger the Taliban get, the more Pakistan can beg from other states. They can say that because the Taliban is so strong, they need more money and sooner in order to prevent the Taliban from conquering all of Pakistan. Obviously, they would say, they don’t want that to happen, for then they would have nuclear weapons.
May sound somewhat cynical, but it makes sense. Without this money, how would the Pakistani military feed its soldiers?
More factors will be discussed in the upcoming days.
People may begin to think: what rebellious people those Texans are, trashing international law!
In one sense, there is no such thing as international law. I say this because states that are signatories to international law bodies apply the law (or ignore it) according to their whims, wishes, and interests. Rather than viewing international law bodies as neutral international regimes, they are viewed as bodies through which to further their own agendas against states they don’t like. If State A doesn’t like State B, it State A will do everything to get an international law body to issue a ruling against State B. However, if the ruling goes against State B’s opinions or whims, it will simply ignore or refute such rulings. So, in effect, there is no international law body that has actual power. Consider the fervent efforts of Pakistan and India against each other through international regimes, and the result of both countries essentially ignoring these international regimes.
What makes American law a little more complicated is the sovereignty of states. Each individual state has great leeway in establishing its own laws and policies. This remains in place despite the fact that federal law has been expanding exponentially recently. States, and their people, don’t want to concede sovereignty, especially to foreign parties.
Americans are notorious for being open about their repudiation of international regimes. We simply ignore things we don’t like. Of course, we’re also very resilient to sign onto any international regime. While the President can attend a summit and think America should join a treaty or body or policy or law, he has to think, more importantly, whether the American people, through the Senate, will accept his opinion. As Woodrow Wilson demonstrated, it is a grave mistake the ignore this. Despite the fact he was instrumental in the founding of the League of Nations, and wanted America in it, the American people rejected his opinion and, to his great embarrassment, refused to ratify America’s joining the organization.
Now, from one viewpoint, this was a major embarrassment. Americans rejected such a good idea. But then, as now for the most part, we don’t care what the world thinks about us. At the very least, we don’t use international opinion to form our policies and laws. We do what is in our best interests, and other states and international regimes can protest all they want.
Now, treaty-wise, one can argue back and forth whether America is bound to the World Court. But in practice, we have ignored the World Court. Of course, this is nothing new or different as many states ignore the World Court and other international regimes.
One thing Americans complain about, and legitimately so, is the burden placed on America to comply with every dinky body’s rulings while other players and states get away with brazen noncompliance. A recent example, which troubled me, was Hezbollah. Israel mandated that a condition for it to agree to an end to the recent Israel-Lebanon war was that Hezbollah would have to disarm below a certain point. The Lebanese government had to guarantee it. In order to end the war, Hezbollah and the Lebanese government conceded. The ink had not dried on the agreement when Hezbollah announced it would not disarm, and the Lebanese government announced it had no intention to make Hezbollah disarm. And yet no one said anything.
And so those that charge America for intransigence should really drop their arguments unless they will just as actively protest other intransigent parties.
However, what this demonstrates, more than anything, is the true standing of these international regimes. They don’t exist to usher in a better world: they exist for states to use them as tools in their foreign policy to further their own national interests. It is naive to suppose otherwise.
One of the dangers of A Certain Past Republican Contender for the Nomination of Presidential Candidate, which to me was the worst of his offenses, was isolationism.
“Isolationism” means that a state refrains from involving itself in the affairs of other states. The opposite is called “interventionism”, which means that a state gets involved in the affairs of other states. Often, isolationism involves a foreign policy which distances the state from other states, while an interventionist foreign policy means coming close to other states (which means interacting with them, not necessarily making them do our will or controlling them or invading them). Read the rest of this entry »
So, Ahmadinezhad has said he wants to get rid of Israel. And many preoccupy themselves with how, practically, Iran could accomplish it. Launching a nuke at Israel is considered so impossible that it is dismissed. (Then again, hijacking civilian passenger airplanes and crashing them into buildings was similarly dismissed.)
But Iran doesn’t have to launch a missile. All it has to do is give a nuke to Hezbollah, who is across the border from Israel.
Ever heard of a dirty bomb? Iran could be the first one to use it, through Hezbollah.
What is the purpose of a state? I believe this is an important question, and one which many in the West, sadly, seem to be unaware of.
States came into existence to help protect and further the interests of the people over which it presided. The leaders of states, or whatever polity may exist, were usually skilled in warfare in order to protect the resources of the state and its people and to be able to appropriate the resources of other states (and their people) for the leader’s state and its people. States also existed to preserve internal harmony and stability by dictating the people’s duties and dealing with internal issues (crime, creation of law, executing and enforcing law, punishment, deterrence, etc.).
The point is that the state came into existence to serve the interests of the state and its people for the advancement and maintenance of the people thereof. Read the rest of this entry »
I have always been mystified by people who seem to want to equalize the West and the Third World.
I’ve lived in the Third World. I know what it’s like. I know what Third World people are like. I know the utter despair and hopelessness that abounds simply because the hurdles to move forward are so immense. And so I truly wonder how anyone can rationally or while thinking clearly ever even come up with the notion that somehow or somewhere or somewhen the West and the Third World are equal. They most certainly are not.
Sure, plenty of people will accuse us of saying that the West is superior. But that is not a value judgment as much as it is a statement of fact. And facts are facts, whether they are unpleasant or not, and whether they fit a person’s ideology of the world or not.
And this equality does not do the Third World any favors. Every time we repeat the canard that we’re equal, the Third World loses incentives to improve. Or, rather, the will and drive within the Third World diminishes because what’s the use putting in all that effort if they’re equal to us? No, they will only pick up if they feel they need to catch up.
I mean, just look at the facts of the situation. If these countries improved themselves, there’d be greater prosperity and stability within each such country, provided and perpetuated by each country, without the people having the emigrate elsewhere. This will do nothing but spread prosperity and success to more people to more areas of the world.
Of course, one group of people that simply demands the Third World’s equality with the West are the Third World’s leaders, who go out of their way to blame all of their problems, regardless what it may be, on the West. Since it’s all the West’s fault, the West ought to pay up and flush these suffering pools of darkness with cash and more cash. If these people keep getting money without having to do anything, why should they put in the effort to build themselves up? Why give up on this free ride? They, thus, have little incentive to move forward. And all because of Western guilt (or the Third World’s success in guilt-tripping the West) for imaginary wrongs and imaginary responsibility.
The best thing we can do is affirm, strongly, that we, the First World, are better and superior, and that others ought to work up to our standard of living. Acknowledge the reality, and let the consequences follow. We should help, but not by throwing money at them.
The United Nations served one major purpose so far in history. By providing an outlet for states to lash out at each other, it assisted in preventing a direct clash between The United States and the Soviet Union. A de facto balance of power could be maintained because The United Nations permitted national grievances to be aired without taking actual actions. Additionally, it provided both superpowers (or, rather, the superpower and contender thereof) an additional arena within which to wage their Cold War, thereby not restricting the Cold War to more military arenas.
Then and now, the United Nations dealt with another issue that other states have been unable or unwilling to deal with, and that issue is refugees (although admittedly the United Nations could do a far better job).
As long as we understand the actual rôle and clout of the United Nations, and correspondingly prevent any state from effectively using the United Nations in the real world, we can and even should permit it to exist. But once we permit the United Nations to have influence over us, the United Nations becomes an organization that is exceedingly dangerous to our national interests at home and abroad.
Every state that is a member of the United Nations is so for its national interests, not out of a desire to create a worldwide utopia. And so we should not be ashamed if we also use our membership in the United Nations for our national interests.
(I apologize for such a vulgar title.)
The King of Spain, Juan Carlos I, became involved in a very public and unprecedented spat with Venezuelan loose cannon and tyrant, Hugo Chávez. At the Ibero-American Summit, Chávez called (José María) Aznar, the former president of Spain, a fascist, and said that a fascist is less than human. The current president of Spain, José Luís Rodríguez Zapatero, intervened in Aznar’s support, saying Aznar was legitimately elected by the Spanish people and was a legitimate leader of Spain. But Chávez would not stop interrupting Zapatero. After the King said something to Chávez, gesturing in his direction and visibly agitated, the King leaned towards the microphone in front of him and said, “Why don’t you just shut up?” (“¿Por qué no te callas?”; note the second person familiar, which in this case is an indication of rudeness). A short while later, the King got up and left the room. He returned, but then left before the Chilean national anthem that closed the summit.
Bravo, Don Juan Carlos!
Soon: URLs to videos of the spat.
As people may have been aware, Benazir Bhutto recently returned to Pakistan after years in self-imposed exile.
People who may have been following events in Pakistan may be asking themselves: considering that Bhutto has not been whisked away by Pakistani governmental forces nor has been imprisoned nor threatened to be imprisoned, why was Nawaz Sharif, who also eventlt returned from exile, expelled from the country. I’m glad you asked (even though you didn’t).
Nawaz Sharif was exiled by the Pakistani government and so may not return until that sentence has been served. Nawaz’s exile was imposed on him; he had no choice. On the other hand, Benazir went on her own accord and so could come back whenever she wanted. Technically. She left because the government threatened to imprison her and charge her with various charges. She would most likely be found guilty, and then have to serve a sentence. (If she is lucky: her father, who was guilty of much less, was hanged.) Successive governments either renewed that threat or did not rescind it, making her return dangerous for her. But Benazir and President General Pervaiz Musharraf made a deal by which he (and, thus, the rest of the government) would let her return and not put her up for trial. Unfair, yes, but there are reasons behind this madness. Read the rest of this entry »
In recent elections, the government of Poland was ousted. The opposition, characterized as pro-business and pro-EU, said it would pull out of Iraq.
Now, if I were the Iraqi parliament, I would pass legislation condemning the Polish government and mandating that no deals may be made between Iraq and Poland as punishment for Poland for abandoning Iraq, for not seeing the project through, for cutting and running. But, of course, that was just be spiteful; and it will never happen.
I am very disappointed in Poland.
I wonder if our anti-war rhetoricians here realize that with the fewer countries contributing, the more The United States will have to contribute.
I wonder if we are the only ones with the integrity and dependability to see this through. Abandoning such a vital cause is so…European. With this sort of allies, let Europe go to the immigrants. I don’t care. We don’t need such un-dependable friends.
fa innaa naHnu-l-maghribu-l-Haqeeqee
The following facts are very important to understand the Iraq War, as it is called, and the effects thereof. These facts are also important to understand the greater strategery of The United States with regard to the Middle East, Arab states, and various opponents and opposing entities.
As I do not want to give away sources and/or methods, all I will say is that the following facts have been more or less provided by a man who is currently a very powerful crown prince of an Arab statelet (not Saudi Arabia), set to soon succeed his aging and ill father. (Please remember that as seen through the eyes of Arabs and their governments, The United States unilaterally invaded Iraq and overthrew Saddam Hussein and his regime.) Read the rest of this entry »
Now, in discussions regarding Israel and its borders, people will have no choice but to bring up a thorny issue: the Territories. This refers to what Israel calls “Judea and Samaria”, what is known more commonly as “The West Bank” (that is, area on and around the west bank of the River Jordan), and what many Muslims and others sympathetic to the Arab claimants thereof call the “Occupied Territories” (that is, the (Arab) territories occupied by Israel as a consequence of the Six Day War in 1967). Some mistakenly may call it “Palestine”. (See note 1 below.) Others use “the Territories” to include the Golan Heights in the north and the Gaza Strip on the west; hereinafter “The Territory” will refer solely to the Territories of Judea and Samaria. Although theories and ideas have been floated to the effect that The State of Israel should or would withdraw from The Territory, in effect an uneasy division has taken place wherein The State of Israel maintains control and hold over Israeli settlements, upon key resources, and upon roads and the like, while the Palestinian National Authority maintains control and hold over Palestinian enclaves, which are necessarily separate from Israeli enclaves (in some cases, physically so). Often, the Israeli enclaves (called “settlements”) are considered a major obstacle in any peace process by which Palestinians are granted exclusive control over The Territory. The existence and spread of these enclaves necessitate The State of Israel to maintain a large amount of oversight and control and influence over the entire Territory. The only solution — so it is said — whereby The State of Israel would be able to fully withdraw and grant sovereignty to the Palestinians over the entire Territory is the dismantling of these enclaves and the total withdrawal of all Israeli entities or interests from The Territory. But this oversimplifies the actual reality of the situation: Israeli enclaves do not constitute the sole reason The State of Israel retains a vested interest in The Territory. There are two other reasons why The State of Israel ought to retain control and influence over The Territory: resources and the anti-Israeli plank of the Palestinian platform. Read the rest of this entry »
Many people believe that membership in and involvement with international regimes — such as The United Nations or, for European states, the European Union — involves an abdication of sovereignty. Whereas this is technically true, in actuality states do not actually give up their sovereignty as they theoretically should.
A state’s sovereignty is jealously guarded by the state’s government and people. There is a fear, some of it not unjustified, that giving up sovereignty, especially giving it up to someone or something, will open the doors of exploitation and slavery. Read the rest of this entry »
Strange is it not that it seems that according to Leftists and other countries, every country is sovereign except for The United States. Leftists and other countries are constantly demanding that we not exercise exclusive control over issues pertaining to our sovereignty (examples of which are controling our borders, laws and policies concerning non-citizens, laws and policies concerning immigration, laws and policies concerning domestic threats to national security).
When it comes to American policy regarding other countries, national sovereignty is touted as a fundamental and even sacred right unto each country, the violation of which, to any degree, would be an abomination (and this extends to any criticism America may have concerning other countries and their policies); when it comes to American policies regarding its own issues, our national sovereignty becomes a hiss and a byword.
When America wants to comment or act regarding another state’s actions or policies, the world demands that America mind its own business. But then America’s business is held to be everyone’s business except America’s.