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The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad by Fareed Zakaria
Polyarchy by Robert Dahl
The Nazi Seizure of Power by William Sheridan Allen
Terror and Liberalism by Paul Berman
The Moon Is Down by John Steinbeck
Have We Totally Forgotten History?
From a anti-war protest in London:
Calls for appeasement like this are simply unacceptable. "Don't Bomb Iraq" or "Make Love Not War" are fine and dandy, but this is either ignorance of that phrase's significance or a blind obsession with peace-at-all-costs that prefers tyranny to justice. Ignorance is changeable, appeasement is not. Neville Chamberlain would be proud. We shouldn't be.
After the political science department-sponsored panel discussion about Iraq this evening, I was discussing the annoying qualities of the French with a friend of mine. I pointed towards the apt characterization presented by Thomas Friedman the other day, on which I posted, that the world is again basically divided into two parts: a "World of Order" and a "World of Disorder."
The world of order is made up of the U.S. and Britain and the silent majority of European nations including Spain, Italy, Portugal, Denmark and Poland. The world of disorder is headed by Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and the like. This system has come to dominate the international balance, or imbalance as the case may be, of power. Between these two blocs is the wimp brigade, headed by France and Germany. They choose this middle ground because they aspire to be unique. They don't really care what the two alternatives are; all that matters to them is that they retain the middle ground. From this position they can obstruct, confront, tie-up and generally frustrate which ever side they feel is the bigger threat to their position of centrism. Right now, that has made France an evil dictator's best friend.
Through our discussion then, we came up with the perfect analogy for the French. They are the centre d'un eclair. The cream puff at the center of the world. The only difference being that every time you bite into this eclair, you chip a tooth. The French are indeed in the middle of the world eclair, but are so soft and creamy that their filling has turned to mush, making the institutions that protect their undeserved power increasingly stale. The French should stick to what they're good at: tiny portions of really expensive good food, namely pastries. Cream fillings don't belong in the halls of power.
Eclair? No thanks. I'll pass on the food poisoning.
He says that Iraq's leaders "lost their credibility long ago." He also referred to Saddam's ruling Ba'ath party as "socialists," and ironically used the same term for his supposed Baghdad buddies that he uses to deride Americans by saying that "socialists are infidels wherever they are."
Iraq's leaders are infidels too? Well. That must be rough on the conscience when you're supposedly fighting together, huh?
Let's face it. Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein don't want anything to do with each other. They're like two little kids, albeit evil little kids, who crave attention. As soon as Saddam moved up to number one on the Bush administration hit list, bin Laden got jealous. Why did he release another tape today? Because he saw his cause being thrown in with the Iraq mess and wanted to make sure the world recognized his evil accomplishments. He's not about to have his resume stolen by a secular dictator. That, would just be too much.
Andrew Sullivan has a great piece about Colin Powell and his quest to keep the U.N. legitimate. A sample:
"Powell's fury and determination is not because he has doubts about the United Nations, but because he believes in it. He wants the body to work. He's not naive enough to believe that a body that can place Libya as the chair of a human rights commission has a moral center. And he's not stupid enough to hold that power-politics don't play a critical role in making the U.N. effective. But he does believe that the U.N. is the worst way of organizing international relations - except for all the others. He sees a real value in having world affairs channeled through a genuinely international prism. And he sees universal values - peace, human rights, disarmament, the prevention of genocide - as best enforced through collective rather than unilateral endeavors."
Sullivan goes on to explain that Powell's desire for collective decision has put him in a tough corner in his administration, and among is fellow world statesmen.
"Powell's passion - and Blair's - is as much about rescuing the U.N. as it is about protecting Western citizens from Saddam's nerve gas, anthrax and botulism. If a U.N. unanimously-mandated war is prosecuted against the opposition of a majority of Security Council members, the institution will effectively be an oxymoron. It will be demanding that its own resolutions not be enforced. It will be a joke."
Sullivan then counters the claim that Powell's recent pro-war stance is a dramatic shift in his thinking. Instead, he suggests that Powell has simply become embarrassed by the wishy-washy diplomacy of European allies.
"The reason Powell is now so adamantly pro-war is therefore no mystery and no surprise. He is not a former dove who has become a hawk. He is a multilateralist who is actually being consistent. His position is now what it has always been. He naively believed that the U.N. wouldn't actually pass a resolution it would subsequently revoke under pressure."
This, I think, is the crucial reason to support Powell. He can see that if Europe won't even back up its own compromised position, it won't stand for anything other than reckless appeasement. Europe was never serious about disarming Iraq. But when the time came to enforce the resolutions of the institution that Europe clings to, the U.N., the peaceniks backed down and showed themselves to be the empty pacifiers that they are.
Read the whole column. It explains why Powell is right, but more importantly, explains why haggling with the channels of the U.N. will never produce anything more than a headache and fatigue.
This is possibly the most stubborn and selfish decision ever made by our supposed allies. The French, Germans and Belgians have struck down a proposal to enact Article 4 of the North Atlantic Treaty for the protection of Turkey against possible aggression from Iraq.
Such a move amounts to nothing more than a stubborn refusal to acknowledge the inevitability of war in Iraq. While those three European nations may not agree with the war, and are certainly free to express their opinions, they should not leave their N.A.T.O. ally defenseless. Equipping Turkey with the air defense machinery necessary to defend the N.A.T.O. ally is not a straight indication of war. It is merely a precaution should such action become necessary. To veto such a measure is an intractable violation of the nature of alliances.
France and Germany are on their way to destroying the legitimacy of the U.N. Now, it seems, they are determined to break up N.A.T.O. as well. If Europe wants to destroy its established alliances, the U.S. will not shed a tear. Such a move would only be to the detriment of European power. The weaker Europe wants to make itself, the more able the U.S. will become. Contrary to the goals of European opposition to American power, a move to disband an alliance would only hurt the esteem of Europe, and will not harm the prestige and power of the U.S.
In Saudi Arabia, plans are being made for kicking the American military presence out of the country. This is, though, just one step in the House of Saud's attempt to democratize Arabia and begin a campaign of gradual change. Such a revelation should not be a slap in the face to the U.S., but rather should have been a voluntary move by American forces long ago. What makes the announcement all the better is that any plans for expelling the U.S. will not go into effect until after any war with Iraq.
"Crown Prince Abdullah will ask President Bush to withdraw all American armed forces from the kingdom as soon as the campaign to disarm Iraq has concluded."
Why do they think we would want to stay anyway? If we had a solid ally in a newly democratic Iraq, we would have no need for a Saudi base of operations. And, once we free ourselves of our dependence on Saudi affection, we can initated a hardline policy on the nation that spawned 15 of the 19 September 11 hijackers. In all truth, Saudi Arabia is probably a bigger threat to America than Iraq. The only difference is that we're friends with its leaders, while its people hate us. In Iraq, the opposite is true, beneath the veil of oppression and censored opinions that is the current Iraqi state.
If the Saudis want us out, all the better. We should get out as fast as we can.
Yesterday Thomas Friedman had a great column about the need for change within the U.N. if it is to remain an institution of value in international relations. He suggests that the time has come for a reevalution of the power dynamics in the world today. Friedman proposes that France, and all the shenanigans that accompany its feign of power, should be replaced on the U.N. Security Council by India, the world's largest democracy, and the home to one of the world's largests faiths.
"India is just so much more serious than France these days. France is so caught up with its need to differentiate itself from America to feel important, it's become silly. India has grown out of that game. India may be ambivalent about war in Iraq, but it comes to its ambivalence honestly. Also, France can't see how the world has changed since the end of the cold war. India can."
France has been allowed to think itself important for far too long. Why did we even give them veto power when the U.N. was created? Because we felt sorry for them, and plus, they had the bomb. Of the five permanent members of the Security Council, only France was a loser of World War II. France was then able, during the Cold War, to be the tie breaker between superpowers, and was able to inflate its self-image by being able to cater to both blocs and without doing much harm. Friedman argues that while the world was fundamentally divided for nearly 40 years, it was divided based on an acknowledged system of order. In hindsight the Cold War was extremely stable, for both sides knew the consequences of disorder.
Today's world, Friedman argues, is not a world of rival blocs of order, but rather a "World of Order" against a "World of Disorder."
"How the World of Order deals with the World of Disorder is the key question of the day. There is room for disagreement. There is no room for a lack of seriousness. And the whole French game on Iraq, spearheaded by its diplomacy-lite foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin, lacks seriousness. Most of France's energy is devoted to holding America back from acting alone, not holding Saddam Hussein's feet to the fire to comply with the U.N."
First of all, Dominique? This name is possibly reason number one to dismiss France. But in all seriousness, France's attempts to play "powers" against each other will ultimately be futile, for while the "World of Order" is a true power, the "World of Disorder" is not, and never will be. France today relies on a foreign policy that would lead the world to collapse if it were the dominant policy.
"If America didn't exist and Europe had to rely on France, most Europeans today would be speaking either German or Russian."
So true. The French rely on outdated principles of their intellectual superiority that lead them to take whatever position will make them stand out and be a leader in a world in which there are no leadership post vacancies. France relies on an Iraq policy that is so extreme in its need to be an alternative to America that it loses all credibility and makes France stand out as the joker in the king's (America's) court.
"The only possible way to coerce Saddam into compliance — without a war — is for the whole world to line up shoulder-to-shoulder against his misbehavior, without any gaps. But France, as they say in kindergarten, does not play well with others. If you line up against Saddam you're just one of the gang. If you hold out against America, you're unique."
This strive for exclusivity has made France a stubbornly irrational nation with an undeserved hold on the reigns of international power. This sheer obstinacy was seen moments after Powell's U.N. presentation in which dear Dominique underscored the French proposal of a tripling of U.N. inspectors in Iraq. Seemingly oblivious to Powell's clear assertion that inspections were not working, and would never effectively work in a nation as cunning in its evil intentions as Iraq, the French foreign minister had ignored the bedrock of the discussion. If inspections are futile, why would you add more?
And so follows that as the French remain obstinate to the needs of today's world, the truth of French policy will emerge in which, given the options of a peaceful world operated under the supervision of America and a world centered around opposing American influence by any means necessary, France will show itself to be in the latter category and will define its uniqueness as the leader of the "World of Disorder."
I'm sure India is more than willing to be serious.