Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Democracy Caveat

Posted by Jabawacefti

In attempting to resolve the Middle East conflict, one of my bigger theories was (and is) that democratically elected governments do not fight each other. And therefore, Democratic government and electoral accountability is the long term solution to this conflict. The present conflict challenges that assumption in several ways.

The bigger problem being that after the Palestinians had their first election, they voted Hamas in as their elected government. Hezbollah maintains seats on the Lebanese parliament. Democracy doesn't work, obviously, if you elect terrorists as your representatives.

That being said, the Lebanon situation poses a more concrete problem. The Lebanese did not overwhelmingly vote Hezbollah into government. At least not as a majority. And yet Hezbollah sits on the Southern border of Lebanon and can attack another sovereign nation with impunity.

Imagine, if you will, that North Dakota got sick of Canada and declared war on Canada, while the United States government say by and watched. What would Canada do? To retaliate against North Dakota would be an attack on the United States. Or wonder if Quebec attacked the United States...what do you do?

Which is why our Constitutional government does not allow for each state to maintain its own foreign policy. Such is the problem with Lebanon today. It's a country with two-three foreign policies.

Which brings me to my caveat. You cannot make peace with a Democratically elected government that does not have sovereign control over its borders. Most of the Lebanese do not want to fight with Israel. And most Israelis do not want to fight the Lebanese. But a rogue group of people amongst the two nations can change everything. This is a problem we will likely see for years to come. How do you prevent a country like Lebanon from harboring terrorists when a majority of the people do not agree with the terrorists?

Meanwhile, this incident also highlights what we knew to be true, that the lack of occupation (i.e., Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon and Gaza) does not automatically lead to peace with those neighbors. In fact, some would say it simply emboldens the terrorists.

21 Comments:

At 5:51 PM, Blogger codemorse said...

Which brings me to my caveat. You cannot make peace with a Democratically elected government that does not have sovereign control over its borders. Most of the Lebanese do not want to fight with Israel. And most Israelis do not want to fight the Lebanese. But a rogue group of people amongst the two nations can change everything. This is a problem we will likely see for years to come. How do you prevent a country like Lebanon from harboring terrorists when a majority of the people do not agree with the terrorists?

Isn't this the terrorist problem in a nutshell? No matter how democratic you make a region, and no matter how much or how little you occupy it, the ability for radical ideology to flourish remains constant. Because you'll always have malcontents in a society.

Crazies, radicals, poor people who need "suicide money" for their families - they don't require a dictatorial environment to exist. You just need plain old social unrest and the unpredictability of human nature.

To my near-sighted eyes the question remains the same: "How do you fight an idea?"

Changing the government doesn't kill an ideology. Nor does occupying a country. on a large-scale, global level, what I think we're witnessing is the equivalent of societal growing pains. As we shift to a global economy, where borders cease to matter more and more in both literal and figurative senses, and where culture clashes and bleeds and assimilates and mixes, there's bound to be massive psychological, religious and political resistance.

All that choice and diversity and culture harms the fabric of radical belief. It questions it. It insults it. And the response is violence.

So how do we deal with it? Do we allow them areas to live in which their beliefs are tolerated? Or do we attempt a mass cultural conversion?

And is there a point at which we admit to being unable to completely destroy this sort of thing?

 
At 6:36 PM, Blogger Jabawacefti said...

To answer this as briefly as possible, I'd say that it's really all relative. You'll never be able to remove terrorism entirely. Which is why there is such a focus on the "States that sponsor terrorism." Without a State to harbor them, terrorists have a much more difficult time flourishing.

And in addition, while certainly not a panacea, self-governance does (in time) decrease these greater social psychopathology that otherwise festers under tyrannies that foster them in order to maintain power.

You are very right, however, in this regard. This is, more than anything else, a battle of ideas.

But here's the problem. And here is where we likely differ the most. I do not think these suicidal nihilists will ever be content to merely live in areas in which their "beliefs are tolerated."

Aside from the sheer barbarity of the purported system (i.e., Afghanistan), this strain of nihilism recognizes itself as an anathema to Western society generally, and cannot imagine itself living alongside peacefully.

To imagine such a world is, as they say, a pleasant fiction. This hate will not rest. It is spreading in Czechnia, Pakistan, England, Spain, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Indonesia (Bali), Somalia, and the Sudan. Do not think for a minute, my friend, that they will rest. Nor should you be laboring under the misimpression that they will merely be content to bomb Australians in Bali, or schoolchildren in Beslan. They are coming, whether we like it or not.

You asked: [I]s there a point at which we admit to being unable to completely destroy this sort of thing?

Or asked another way:
What can men do against such reckless hate?

To paraphrase ... you ride out and meet them. With everything. And not just bombs, but ideas. The strength of our convictions. Because if we do not believe our convictions are worth standing up for, I guaranty that they won't.

 
At 8:35 AM, Blogger codemorse said...

But here's the problem. And here is where we likely differ the most. I do not think these suicidal nihilists will ever be content to merely live in areas in which their "beliefs are tolerated."

Again, I'm not trying to be a jerk or over-argumentative, but where do you get the idea that I think terrorists would be content with their own 'promised land'?

I'm simply offering up potential scenarios to consider, and wondering if any are feasible or desirable. I don't have the answers to the questions I'm posiing - if I did, I'd be working for the government.

 
At 9:21 AM, Blogger Jabawacefti said...

This is what you said:

So how do we deal with it? Do we allow them areas to live in which their beliefs are tolerated? Or do we attempt a mass cultural conversion?

That's where I got the idea.

Maybe you could explain, because I guess I'm missing the point.

 
At 12:22 PM, Blogger codemorse said...

Yes. Those are questions, not suggestions.

Given that, i'm not sure how we're differing, since I've not advocated for "separate terrorist territory," simply acknowledged its possibility.

My point is to provoke discussion, not to provide Ultimate Answers (though it'd be nice if I could muster some of those up from time to time).

 
At 1:21 PM, Blogger Jabawacefti said...

Fair enough. Then I guess I would just follow up by saying that, no, I do not think we should allow them to live in areas in which their beliefs are tolerated. I hope that answers your probably rhetorical question.

 
At 6:57 PM, Blogger codemorse said...

That's basically what I wanted to know. I agree with you that you can't have a functioning democracy that doesn't have soveriegn control over its borders.

What's your opinion on Israel's response? Do you feel (like some) that it's overkill? Do you feel (like others) that it's deserved?

 
At 6:42 AM, Blogger Jabawacefti said...

In other words, do I think it's "disproportionate"? Probably not.

And here's why:

There is a group of people committed to your destruction camped on your doorstep. They lob rockets at you from time to time, and then run into the hills.

Imagine once again, if you will, that there was a Mexican seperatist movement lobbing rockets at Dallas every day or so. Few people are killed, but still, they're lobbing rockets at your country, your cities, and there's nothing you can do about it. You can't go in and get them, because the UN would claim a violation of sovereignty. And proportionate reprisal attacks do nothing to stop them. What do you do? How do you stop it?

One way is to respond so aggressively that the Lebanese populuation won't simply turn a blind eye to the fact that a terrorist organization has created a terrorist State within a State at its Southern Border.

The only response that will have a deterrent effect is that which forces Lebanon to make it more costly for Lebanon to allow Hezbollah to operate within its borders than than to reign it in.

The fact is this, Lebanon has essentially said, until this point, that its prohibitively costly to remove Hezbollah from its Southern Border. They chose not to try. It doesn't hurt the Lebanese that they lauch rockets and attacks at Israel from time to time.

Well, if that's the case, then the United Nations essentially has to de facto turn Lebanon into two countries, since sovereignty is a relative concept here. But until such time, I think I would do exactly what the Israelis are doing, forcing the Lebanese to remove Hezbollah, because its now more costly to turn a blind eye to them.

Although it's probably easy to tell them not to worry about a couple of rocket attacks here and there, and a couple of military incursions here and there.

 
At 6:54 AM, Blogger Jabawacefti said...

Here is some commentary on the subject from Mark Steyn:

HH: Let's turn to Kofi Annan's statement of today. Here it is:

KA: While Hezbollah's actions are deplorable, and as I've said, Israel has a right to defend herself, the excessive use of force is to be condemned.

HH: Mark Steyn?

MS: Well, that's complete rubbish. I mean, basically, when you talk about...proportionality has a kind of legal meaning in international law, if you happen to recognize it. It doesn't relate to whether they kill ten of yours, whether you're allowed to only kill ten of them. That's not what it's about. Proportionality in law means whether what you're doing disproportionately affects civilians, compared to the merits of the military target. Now that's very hard when you're fighting a terrorist group, because they deliberately hide their men and their arms in people's houses and villages in civilian areas. But the reality of the situation is that even if we accept that the U.N. has an obligation to mediate between two warring, sovereign states, it's a huge leap for Kofi Annan then to suddenly feel that it's his job to mediate between a sovereign state and a terrorist organization. That's a vile aspect of what the U.N. does. The right of hot pursuit, which even the British have actually exercised against the United States in the 19th Century, they sent British troops over the border from Canada into the United States. Every...historically, the right of hot pursuit is recognized in international law, and he should just...Kofi Annan, if that's his contribution, he should just keep his mouth shut.

 
At 12:20 PM, Blogger codemorse said...

Because my side-gig these days is as Advocato de el diablo, I'll ask this:

Isn't this moral equivocation of a high caliber?

Proportionality in law means whether what you're doing disproportionately affects civilians, compared to the merits of the military target. Now that's very hard when you're fighting a terrorist group, because they deliberately hide their men and their arms in people's houses and villages in civilian areas. But the reality of the situation is that even if we accept that the U.N. has an obligation to mediate between two warring, sovereign states, it's a huge leap for Kofi Annan then to suddenly feel that it's his job to mediate between a sovereign state and a terrorist organization.

Personally speaking, I think your reasoning is a lot more understanding/convincing than Steyn's. Tell that SOB that you're going to be running things from now on. :)

 
At 4:22 PM, Blogger Wesley said...

My friends on the right like to sometime paint me as a politically correct ,uber-left winger because on my stance against the Iraq War. Which I find funny considering the number one reason I don't buy the whole "spreading democracy" schtick is very much un p.c, the Iraqi people don't want freedom. Well, its something like that. Rather freedom to them, as Bill Maher put it, is putting their women in burkas and beheading adulterers. That sounds harsh, I know, but I feel that's the truth. And its not a slam against anyone's faith or beliefs but rather it's aknowleding the obvious insanity that is so prevelent in that region.(Similiar to ,I might add, to the Crusades and Iquisition in Christian Europe in the Middle Ages.) And it puzzles me that three thousand of our troops have died for an ideal to which to me more like a naive drewam than a realasitc goal.

 
At 4:24 PM, Blogger Wesley said...

pardon the misspeling I suck at rapid compisitions.

 
At 6:18 PM, Blogger Jabawacefti said...

Codemorse, what Steyn is taking on is Kofi Annan's misinterpretation of international law (for whatever it is worth). If you pay attention to Mr. Annan, he rarely speaks in rights or wrongs (although what he chooses to speak about implies it), instead he speaks of "international law."

Steyn is essentially saying, if you are going to chastise about international law, at least get it right.

And to Wesley (and I like the name, if mainly because I just finished the entire first season of Angel), I think your frank statement (which is rare and therefore to be admired) is unfortunately one of the greatest casualties of this war. Which is to say, liberals in the traditional sense, from my understand, believe that every individual seeks liberty, freedom and the pursuit of happiness, to paraphrase the Honorable Mr. Thomas Jefferson.

The fact that it no longer appears to be a hard core liberal view is the biggest disappointment with regard to the Iraq War.

I promise to post, before the weekend is over, a general guideline regarding our difficulties in the World today.

Please stand by.

 
At 1:01 PM, Blogger codemorse said...

Nice comments, Wesley.

I agree. Entirely. "Freedom" means different things to different people, depending on their beliefs.

How do we bring freedom to the middle-east if that word equates to oppression in our Western lingo?

And Jabs, you're on Angel now? Keep a brother informed!

 
At 1:29 PM, Blogger Jabawacefti said...

We're addicted. How many seasons are out on DVD? We only have 1 and 2.

Meanwhile, will answer the other questions later. Gotta run to meet with the Rabbi.

 
At 12:26 AM, Blogger Wesley said...

"I think your frank statement (which is rare and therefore to be admired) is unfortunately one of the greatest casualties of this war. Which is to say, liberals in the traditional sense, from my understand, believe that every individual seeks liberty, freedom and the pursuit of happiness, to paraphrase the Honorable Mr. Thomas Jefferson." I apperciate the kind words and it may be human nature to want to be free but there are two things to consider 1. What one considers freedom as I said and
2. We're dealing with a fanatisim that tries to supress human nature and urges. Let me put it this way; its human nature to pro-create and yet you have the Shakers, people so into their dogma that they supress their natural desires. And that it was we have in the middle east, a large group of people who have learned to hate their natural sexual desires, creative impulses, and independent spirit(i.e burkas, music being banned,etc.) And the sad thing is as many people who want this status quo changed, there are even more who want things the way they are.(It should be noted that during the Islamic Revolution a overwhelming majority of muslim women embraced the head dress) In time this will change, as it has with every other oppressive form of society, but the thinking that we can bring about this change by force or intervention is wrongheaded. For example Europe was brought out of the Middle Age era of superstition and persecution by the enlighted thinking of the Renessiance. And there are many young people in places like Iran and Ubekistan who yearn for change, they my dear friend are the key to the this whole mess. However even they will take issue with what they see as an aggressive action on their land by a foreign occupier. In other words if the United States was taken over by, oh lets say Jerry Fawell, you me and Matt would be more than a little distressed at this. Yet would we be non to pleased if France, Spain or whoever came in started bombing the T total hell of our country, letting chaos reign in the streets, tortuing our citezens, and genreally acting like they are the cock of the walk. And that is what we have, even the moderate Muslim population(as well as the rest of the world) see us as overbearing, self interested pricks. Unfair to be sure but not completly without merit. But before I make thisw long ass post even longer I'll cut to the chase. We seriously need to pick our battles a lot better, finding a balance between the hardass well meaning people-not-to-fuck-with as we aspire to be and the arrogant jackasses we're seen as. thats all I have and sentance structure is almost none existant
p.s Show me some love at my blog leave a comment sometime :-P

 
At 3:22 PM, Blogger codemorse said...

Five seasons in total. With season five being the best (you'll love it, especially given your current job).

On to Firefly next!

 
At 3:25 PM, Blogger codemorse said...

Wesley-

We love your comments, and rest assured, all of us visit the blogs of the people who bother to voice themselves here.

But we're also busy/lazy. I've been by your site a few times, personally, but haven't read anything I've felt moved to comment on. That doesn't mean it wasn't good reading, but see: "busy/lazy"

Thanks again for contributing your thoughts, and keep your postings on your blog coming! You'll see us popping up there soon enough.

 
At 4:03 PM, Blogger Wesley said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 4:08 PM, Blogger Wesley said...

Also I need some advice. I posted a new post yet I type in my blog url and it remains unchanged its done this before and the only thing i can do is changed the whole address before it registers change
. Any suggestions?

 
At 9:31 AM, Blogger codemorse said...

My only real suggestion, unfortunately, is to try reloading your site via blogger dashboard. Not simply the site index, the whole site.

If that doesn't work for you, try contacting blogger. They're pretty good about getting back to you quickly.

 

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