February 16, 2005

What happens in America stays in America..

Posted by Mary Madigan

According to David Brooks, when some American politicians go to Europe, they leave the Left/Right bickering at home..

There were Democrats and Republicans in this delegation, but you couldn't tell who was who by listening to their speeches.

Instead, what you heard were pretty specific, productive suggestions on winning the war against Islamist extremism. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham lobbied for ways to use NATO troops to protect a larger U.N. presence in Iraq. Democratic Representative Jane Harman was pushing the Europeans to classify Hezbollah as a terrorist group. Hillary Clinton suggested ways to strengthen the U.N., while also blasting its absurdities. Clinton affirmed that the U.S. preferred to work within the U.N., but she toughened her speech with ad-libs, warning, "Sometimes we have to act with few or no allies."

.. McCain sat on a panel with officials from Russia, Egypt and Iran. He began his talk with suggestions on how to use NATO troops in the Middle East. Then it was time for a little straight talk. He ripped the Egyptians for arresting opposition leaders. (The Egyptian foreign minister held his brow, as if in grief.) He condemned the Iranians for supporting terror. (The Iranian hunched over like someone in a hailstorm.) He criticized Russia for embracing electoral fraud in Ukraine. In the land of the summiteers, this was in-your-face behavior…

I heard the German foreign minister, Joschka Fischer, in his soaring, stratospheric mode, declaring that we need the "creation of a grand design, a strategic consensus across the Atlantic." We need a "social Magna Carta" to bind the globe. His chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, proposed a vague commission to rebuild or replace NATO. His president, Horst Köhler, insisted, "Unless we tackle global poverty, long-term security will remain elusive."

Global poverty is mostly the result of tyranny; it's hard to tackle one without confronting the other.

Brooks believes that our representatives’ close contact with (or experience as?) combat veterans is responsible for their more confrontational style.

[Link thanks to Solomonia and Roger L. Simon]

Posted by Mary Madigan at February 16, 2005 11:58 AM

Comments

Its good to see that in some ways politics still ends at the border.

Posted by: FH at February 16, 2005 12:34 PM

"Global poverty is mostly the result of tyranny..."

Don't agree. India's been a democracy since 1948, but has only recently started to develop a middle class. On the other hand, China, South Korea, Taiwan, Chile and other rapidly developing totalitarian or authoritarian states come to mind.

"it's hard to tackle one without confronting the other."

Strongly, strongly agree. Wish Europe and America could get together on this.

Posted by: markus rose at February 16, 2005 12:51 PM

Actually, the US Representatives and Senators are required to think realistically about the world, because they are aware of the hard costs of securing the conditions that enable others in the civilized world to dream of multilateral talk shops, endlessly finessing the troubles of the world while never acting.

Europe has lost the will to protect its civilization, lost the means to project force in a just cause, and lost the desire to establish the conditions that enable others in the world to achieve freedom and justice.

The US politicians, for all their faults, through their own experience (mostly meeting constituents who serve in the military, and families of those service members who suffer the casualties) are reminded that progress and security requires painful decisions to resist the forces of tyranny and oppression at times, in order to secure something that may not be peace, but is better than surrender to the most craven, corrupt, and cruel forces in the world.

Europeans cannot any longer project military power, and have a culture that de-legitimizes its use, even in the service of their own security and ideals. Americans, derided as mad cowboys or juvenile idealists, are in fact grounded in the real world that Europe's thinkers have abandoned.

Posted by: Seppo at February 16, 2005 12:52 PM

I really do think that the majority of our political bickering is due to two things:

1. Political Posturing - If you want people to vote for your side, you have to make the other side look bad.

2. Media Marketshare - I think that the majority of political clashes are exaserbated by the medias need for ratings. The media, it seems to me, reports with the slant that is most likely to generate contraversy, thus garnering more viewers/readers/listeners, thus being able to charge more for their advertisements.

Sure there are some loudmouth political porkchops cough*Kennedy*cough. Yes, there are some issues where the country is split... but, for the most part, the big "decisive" issues that we hear about... are the ones that get good 'play'.

If the media and the far-right/far-left hadn't tried to score political points with the Gay Marriage issue, we'd probably have civil unions in most states and there would be no contraversy. Instead, the Far-Left decided that the Far-Right were descriminating against gays... so they used more political posturing to get a few idiot judges and mayors to make lots of contraversy, which the media of course, covered like there was no tomorrow. In turn, the Far-Right saw men kissing and saying "I Do", so they had to score political points with their sheep and railed against it.

Politics isn't a friendly world by any means, but, for the most part, every elected official wants America to succeed. Indeed, despite the partisan shit that gets thrown here and elsewhere in the blogsphere, most Americans want America to succeed (even if they don't support the current activity in Iraq).

I suppose that we could accomplish much, if we focused on the areas of politics that were common to most Americans... but then I imagine that a large percentage of the folks here, are here to pick fights, not to discuss anything like sane people.

Not that I would ever try to stir contraversy.....

Ratatosk, Squirrel of Discord

Posted by: Ratatosk at February 16, 2005 01:10 PM

Global poverty is mostly the result of tyranny; it's hard to tackle one without confronting the other

I agree with Markus on both points. Didn't much of the CW in 2nd half of the 20th century get this backwards?

I think there is a domestic parallel.

1. Does poverty breed lawlessness? Doubtful
2. Does lawlessness create the poverty? Somewhat
3. Does lawlessness lock in poverty by stifling growth? Most likely.

We have seen stats in our domestic journey that bear this out. Can it be extended to the (coff) Global Village?

Posted by: jdwill at February 16, 2005 02:03 PM

Poverty and lawlessness may also have another common denominator... lack of a good Education.

I don't even necessarily mean that we need to see everyone go to college or get a doctorates degree. But, teaching people to think, reason, never assume and always question... then I think we will go a long way toward combating lawlessness and poverty. There are of course, other factors as well. Depression, environment, law enforcement standards, the intelligence of the Laws themselves (like when you have a large number of poor people in jail because they had an 1/8 oz of pot).

On top of that, you have Bad Programming. A lot of people discount Dr. Tim Leary as a crackpot... but his early prison experiments at Stanford, showed a reduced recidivism rate by quite high numbers. Those prisoners in the test that did return to prison after parole, were, for the most part brought in for parole violation... not for new crimes. Most of the individuals involved, did not return to the prison system.

Leary based his tests around the theory that humans, like computers, have 'programs' that run most of their interactions with everything outside of their brain. He felt that recidivism was due to bad programming (Garbage In, Garbage Out). So in his tests he used Psilocybin (magic Mushrooms) and psychology to help the individuals 're-program' themselves.

His methods may be suspect ;-), but I like his theory. So many people seem to continue doing self-damaging actions, long after they have begun to reap the consequences of those actions.

There are many things, I think that contribute to lawlessness and poverty. Most, I think occur in the minds of the individuals involved.

But, what do I know?

Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at February 16, 2005 02:35 PM

"Don't agree. India's been a democracy since 1948, but has only recently started to develop a middle class. On the other hand, China, South Korea, Taiwan, Chile and other rapidly developing totalitarian or authoritarian states come to mind."<?i>

Markus Rose, initially, India picked socialism instead of capitalism. Now, after 50 years of poverty, they're finally inching toward capitalism. Reality finally bonked them on the head. China, South Korea, Taiwan and Chile all embraced capitalism. And the final three are all now democratic. I believe that without political liberalism China will find its growth capped and at some point, an emerging middle class will demand more freedom. Let's hope anyway. Whether China is a military threat to us in the 21st century is probably dependent on whether they remain fascist/communist or become democratic.

Posted by: lindenen at February 16, 2005 03:08 PM

I'm writing to respond to a post from nine days ago on this blog, about the author's meeting with Christopher Hitchens. I don't know anything about Michael or his blog, and am just shooting this onto a random comments thread in the interest of starting a discussion--about glib triumphalism.

I'm interested in the picture in this post of the woman in the chador (pardon me if I get the locution wrong, I'm referring to the full-lenth veil that covers everything but the eyes) with her purple finger extended and a tear of joy in her eyes.

I suppose this picture is supposed to transparently signify: "yay, for Democracy, and yay for America's role in Iraq."

But the picture is offered utterly without context. Isn't it just as plausible that her tear of joy signifies: "I just voted to help along a theocracy"? The point being we don't know what that picture means. Remember that Clifford Geertz wrote a classic paper of hermeneutic theory, "Thick Description," on the nigh-intractable problem of decoding the meaning of a single wink.

We might start by asking what the text in Arabic around her finger signifies.

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at February 16, 2005 03:36 PM

Markus – global poverty is mostly the result of tyranny, but there are other factors like conflict, incompetent government, weak infrastructure…

It is hard for Americans get together with the European concept of a ‘grand design’ and a social Magna Carta. I still wonder if the American concept of pragmatism ever made it across the Atlantic,

Posted by: mary at February 16, 2005 04:06 PM

Rick, you're asking :

"is it plausible that her tear of joy signifies: "I just voted to help along a theocracy"".

Do you know who she voted for, and why?

I suspect a big part of the answer to your question will be found in the answer to my question. Fact is, nobody knows. Eight million people voted that day, many of them women. I would say that more than a few of them voted for the party LEAST likely to install a theocracy.

Posted by: MisterPundit at February 16, 2005 04:13 PM

Earlier in this thread China was equated with South Korea, Taiwan, and Chile, and lumped together as "totalitarian or authoritarian" states that were progressing nicely economically.

Well, leaving aside that one of these is most definitely not like the others, the original point was that poverty and tyranny go hand in hand. (I certainly hope this isn't going to devolve into another discussion about whether "judeo-christian = newspeak fascism", but this time I think the semantics really count.)

No one would argue that Singapore isn't authoritarian as all hell, but you wouldn't call it tyranical.

No one would argue that Bahrain isn't authoritarian, but again, no one is arguing the masses are huddled in terror either.

And for that matter, China's economy turned around after liberalization; and of course the economy is best where the policies are most liberal.

The obvious flip-side to this coin is Venezuela, which through perfectly democratic methods elected a real prick of a gonna-be despot, and things there aren't looking too good, proletariat-wise. (Or for the petite bourgouis, or any class other than the Great Leader's cronies.) But hey, it took France four republics to get to the Fifth, so who am I to pick on Venezuela?

I'll take the track record of Democracy over any other form, when it comes to protecting against tyranny. Even in India, with the ancient caste system and all the ethnic rivalries, who's to say that any other system could have done any better? If the lady in the chador with the blue finger really wants to vote in the Taliban then hey, being stupid should hurt. But if I feel pride in anything at all, it's that the United States is actually giving her the right to make her own mistakes. Don't sneer at that.

Posted by: Mark Poling at February 16, 2005 07:34 PM

Global poverty is mostly the result of tyranny; it's hard to tackle one without confronting the other.

Well, that explains Germany, India, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, Chile, Venezuela, Russia, Cuba, Japan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Ireland.

Every single country which I just mentioned is a direct counterexample -- either by massively increasing its wealth while under an authoritarian (or colonial, or tyrannical) government or by remaining quite poor (or becoming poorer) under representative forms of government for a fairly large swathe of its history.

If you honestly believe that the linkage is that direct -- and if this belief is motivating your policy choices -- I sincerely recommend you massively reevaluate your opinions in this regard.

Posted by: Kimmitt at February 16, 2005 08:20 PM

Exactly, Mr. Pundit. That's why it's a mistake to presume the photograph means either thing. The point is we don't know--and that without further investigation, the photograph is evidence of nothing, except perhaps of conservatives' overeagerness to project their own presuppositions on whatever they see.

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at February 16, 2005 08:28 PM

Horst Köhler... insisted, "Unless we tackle global poverty, long-term security will remain elusive." It's funny to see a German be this clueless. Presumably he believes Hitler would have stayed home if we'd thrown a few subsidies his way.

Sorry Herr Köhler, I don't think I'll bet my kids' lives on that sort of analysis.

Posted by: ZF at February 16, 2005 08:30 PM

Poverty is the natural, inertial state -- wealth creation occurs when property rights are clearly defined and contractual agreements over those rights are enforced by law. Those agreements are made in what is called the market.

When tyranny OR democracy stops the market, wealth creation does not happen, so the society stays where it is.

Most tyrannies, and every African tyranny, has had the top guys stealing, violating the property rights. Most "aid" programs end up in supporting the current corrupt gov't -- the Germans should be publicizing just where their own foreign aid money went these last 40 years.

Benign dictatorship is "best" form of gov't -- except for knowing benign, and the inevitable succession problem. See Togo's dead president's son succession / military coup.

The Rep focus since WW II on supporting markets and property rights is the key need for reducing poverty. India was terrible, now it's only lousy. China is mostly good (on property rights).

The World Bank should be supporting micro-loans for small businesses, and mortgage loans for poor people's (poor) housing.

Posted by: Tom Grey at February 16, 2005 08:46 PM

"it's hard to tackle one without confronting the other."

I'm on the left (in my opinion at least), but I always cringe when lefties oversell our agenda.

It's not a virtue to lie and pretend that whatever program your for will solve unrelated problems. Yet the drone of such lies is never ending.

Terrorism is NOT the result of poverty... The studies show that terrorism is the result of belief, not desperation. Terrorists are better off than their peers.

We don't need to bribe terrorists, we don't need to understand their needs, we need to destroy the idology that creates them.

Posted by: Joshua Scholar at February 16, 2005 09:01 PM

"the photograph is evidence of nothing, except perhaps of conservatives' overeagerness to project their own presuppositions on whatever they see."

Thousands of pictures were taken that day, including many of tearful voters who WERE interviewed and who expressed joy at the chance of voting. Whether or not this particular woman was one of the voters shedding tears of joy is unknown, but I would say it is more likely than not that she was. Be that as it may, I think we can at conclude that it was a picture of an Iraqi woman, she did vote, and she was tearful (one way or the other).

To be honest, I'm far more interested in the overall story of that day, not just one particular snap-shot of it.

Posted by: MisterPundit at February 16, 2005 09:15 PM

Terrorism is NOT the result of poverty... The studies show that terrorism is the result of belief, not desperation. Terrorists are better off than their peers.

I agree. Not all poor countries are havens for terrorists, that much is obvious. I'm not discounting poverty as a motivator in some cases of terrorism (eg. suicide-bomber blows himself up so his family can collect payola) nor am I discounting poverty as a source of general crime, but I don't see poverty as the main source of modern-day terrorism. Today's terrorists are mainly motivated by religious decree or political ambition.

Posted by: MisterPundit at February 16, 2005 09:38 PM

Global poverty is mostly the result of tyranny; it's hard to tackle one without confronting the other.

Agreed. Tackling global poverty generally requires confronting the tyranny of the richer nations - like the US - who exploit and benefit from global poverty.

But I'm surprised to see you say that so clearly.

Posted by: Jesurgislac at February 17, 2005 04:09 AM

Jesurgislac: Do you mean the US government should better support free trade and end subsidaries and other other forms of state-regulation which lead to less than free markets?

I'm surprised to see you say that so clearly.

Posted by: Bill at February 17, 2005 05:02 AM

Terrorism is also based on the use of violence, to rectify injustice. Since most of the poverty is based on unjust/ corrupt rulers, usually supported by gov'ts, aid agencies, and NGOs (the West), the terrorists DO use the existence of poverty to justify their use of violence to stop the injustice.

Much like the Left wants gov't (force) to redistribute wealth, for "social justice" reasons.

Posted by: Tom Grey at February 17, 2005 05:13 AM

Markus,

I'd rather be free and poor than rich and subjugated.

Posted by: Mike T. at February 17, 2005 06:33 AM

the terrorists DO use the existence of poverty to justify their use of violence to stop the injustice.

That's a good point, Tom. I wonder though, if we removed their current excuse (perhaps poverty, american influence, etc) wouldn't they just find another? It doesn't seem to me that Bin Laden "really" cares about the poor, it seems that he cares about his ideology.

"I'd rather be free and poor than rich and subjugated." - Mike T.

Hear Hear!

Ratatosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at February 17, 2005 07:33 AM

I'm going to throw this out there because I would like some perspective on a few thoughts I've been having.

I'm a registered Republican, if only because I've got to choose a side in order to vote in the primaries, and in '00 McCain was my man. I feel even more solid in that opinion these days. If Lieberman had run in '04 I'd have had a tough choice, but ultimately think he would have had my vote instead of it going to Bush again. Now having said that, despite the past shadyness, despite the nationalized healthcare debacle, despite the fact that her very voice grates against my nerves, and despite my best efforts against it, Hillary is growing on me.

I realize this makes me sound like a sucker and gullable because she is most likely posturing for '08, but I'm liking a lot of what she's had to say lately. I also think she's tough as nails and wouldn't back down in a fight or appease our enemies, however I also don't see the history of support for our military that they so desparately need. In other words, I'm very confused!

Posted by: Mike T. at February 17, 2005 08:02 AM

"Well, that explains Germany, India, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, Chile, Venezuela, Russia, Cuba, Japan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Ireland.

Every single country which I just mentioned is a direct counterexample -- either by massively increasing its wealth while under an authoritarian (or colonial, or tyrannical) government or by remaining quite poor (or becoming poorer) under representative forms of government for a fairly large swathe of its history."

Let's take this list apart one country at a time.

Germany - Germany did not become instantly wealthy under Hitler. It built on an industrial base built up under an earlier paternalistic regime, but the Kaiser's regime was not authoritariana in the same way the term is applied these days. West Germany was significantly more prosperous in the 70's, 80's and 90's than it was in the first decades of the century.

India by any measure has been better off since independence and now that the bureaucracy is losing its chokehold on the economy, things are finally beginning to happen.

Counterexample - Saudi Arabia. Well, what is our criterion for calling a country propsperous. Generating wealth? Reasonable enough? SA society generates nothing of material value; their geology does that.

Then there are the examples of Singapore and the other Asian nations. They truly did begin their climb under authoritarian or croney capitalist set-ups.

What a paradox this is. No, it isn't at all. The arbitrary binary opposition between "free" and "authoritarian" manufactures a false problem. Markets need a degree of freedom to function, but they also need a lot odf security. Their need someone to enforce their property rights, to move the financial system beyond croney capaitalist Mafia book-keeping, to built and police infrastructure, and so on. Name one developed country that didn't pass through a period of oligarchy. Our own Gilded Age was a pit of oligarchic control. California was a wholy owned subsidiary of the Union Pacific railroad. Weak government made this possible. In the end it was the dueling egos of coroprate titans that brought the regime down.

It is not as simple as either/or

Posted by: Jim at February 17, 2005 08:16 AM

Actually, poverty doesn't play much into Al Q.'s recruitment pitch, as I've seen it reported. Been Laden (heh) seemed much more interested in portraying his targets as Great Satans, not Great Rockefellers. (His bankrollers haven't got anything against money, after all.) Modern borderless terrorism seems to have a lot more to do with That Real Old-Time Religion than how many chickens are in any given pot.

How the terrorists justify their existence to western audiences doesn't make much difference to me. Yes, I'd like to see poverty ended world-wide. Yes, I want to see tyranny end. And yes, I do think doing something about the second will help a lot with the first. But the idea that poverty has anything to do with Islamofascism is a red herring, and those flogging that fish do no one but the terrorists any favors.

Posted by: Mark Poling at February 17, 2005 08:26 AM

but the Kaiser's regime was not authoritariana in the same way the term is applied these days.

I'm sorry, but that doesn't make sense to me. You also left out the economic collapse under the Weimar Republic.

India by any measure has been better off since independence

This is very true, but so have most postcolonial states that aren't in sub-Saharan Africa. Nevertheless, India is among the poorest countries in the world while remaining a democracy for a long time.

SA society generates nothing of material value; their geology does that.

True, but we're getting into an awful lot of exceptions here . . .

Markets need a degree of freedom to function, but they also need a lot odf security.

And here we have a pretty strong contender. I agree that the functioning of an economic system is largely a function of two things -- a reasonably equitable distribution of wealth and the rule of law to allow that wealth to be invested. But that isn't nearly as simplistic as "tyranny causes poverty."

Posted by: Kimmitt at February 17, 2005 10:06 AM

Kimmitt - I said "Global poverty is mostly the result of tyranny"

Posted by: mary at February 17, 2005 10:17 AM

Joshua -- poverty doesn't create terrorism, but it does create an environment in which people are inclined to tacitly support terrorists, or at least not condemm them vigorously. At the very least it reduces support for the primary global opponent of terrorism -- the United States -- since we are associated so strongly with policies that perpetuate poverty and reduce national sovereignty, like IMF and World Bank debt repayment policies (see Stiglitz' Globalization and its Discontents), and with a penny pinching approach to non-military foreign aid (see Jeffrey Sach's latest book).

Posted by: markus rose at February 17, 2005 10:25 AM

And yes, I know that many other factors perpetuate poverty as well -- sclerotic bureaucracies, war, corruption, etc.. And tyranny. My point is that the US should be leading the fight against ALL causes, not just the ones that also happen to benefit the bottom line of our corporate CEO's.

And why the hell are the nationalized Iraqi oil fields being returned to the private sector? Just who in the new democratic Iraq wants this?

Posted by: markus rose at February 17, 2005 10:33 AM

We don't need to bribe terrorists, we don't need to understand their needs, we need to destroy the idology that creates them.

Are you sure you're a lefty, Joshua? ;>

Mike T., while I'm intrigued by her too, I wouldn't start sweating it till '07. Too much can happen in four years for me to invest a lot of interest or research into someone who may be gone or irrelevant come the day. And if McCain gets the Republican nod, it'll all be moot (at least as far as my vote is concerned). Totally with you on Lieberman, btw.

Posted by: Achillea at February 17, 2005 10:42 AM

Tyranny and ignorannce truly create the environment in which poverty can sustain it's stranglehold upon a society. However in order to subvert the power of groups like Al Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah, we need to revert to the doctrines of men like JFK.

Provide for the people of those regions what they need; food, medicine, water, clothes, and housing. Do this for them and you will give them hope; hope for happinesss and prosperity. Once achieved, those who oppose you will be forced to compromise or risk becoming the deprivers instead of the providers as they are now.

Hamas, Hezbollah, FARC, and many others know that to fight their wars they cannot win with guns and bullets, but they must carry the biggest stick of all, the "hearts and minds" of the people. Take this away from them and they will fall apart like a house of cards on a windy day.

Posted by: Mike T. at February 17, 2005 11:31 AM

Global poverty is mostly the result of tyranny

Fair enough, but I disagree strongly with that, too. So there we go.

Posted by: Kimmitt at February 17, 2005 11:47 AM

Mary: Global poverty is mostly the result of tyranny

Tyranny of one form or another. For the above to be true you have to have a pretty broad definition of tyranny however. It would be more accurate to say that ignorance, pestilance, drought, famine, flood and the like pave the road to tyranny which perpetuates itself in poverty.

Posted by: Mike T. at February 17, 2005 12:07 PM

"but the Kaiser's regime was not authoritariana in the same way the term is applied these days.

I'm sorry, but that doesn't make sense to me. You also left out the economic collapse under the Weimar Republic."

I agree with you - it doesn't make sense. I take it back. Germany had a feudal system with industrial development. Plenty authoritarian. Bismark was an aristocrat for instance, as was the entire officer corps. By the way, Germany now has a very similar system - at least that's how I experienced it - except that the managerial class is now bureaucratic rather than aristocratic. Still pretty similar; it is a fairly closed class. The paradox is that it works well for them by and large.

The economic collapse in the Weimar period occurred during what is remembered as a period of chaos rather than under an authoritarian government.

The key is that German authoritarianism was generally not tyrannical. In fact it was pretty pastoral in the strict sense of the word. There is a theory that a lot of Hitler's success at establishing the kind of control he did was that German society had never had any occasion to develop an immune response to that kind of tyranny.

Posted by: Jim at February 17, 2005 12:33 PM

Provide for the people of those regions what they need; food, medicine, water, clothes, and housing.

Which is wonderful, and I agree is far superior to constantly having to employ an Abrams weed-whacker on the region's 'negative outgrowths,' but how do you propose going about this? Channeling it through the oppressive and corrupt local governments simply adds a carrot (sometimes literally) to the stick currently being employed. Attempting to circumvent the local governments will result in violent opposition from those governments. Ditto the response from local terrorist groups -- witness the large number of employees of charitable NGOs (religious or non-) murdered in the region.

Posted by: Achillea at February 17, 2005 12:43 PM

how do you propose going about this?

Well, I would have supplies and plans for immediate rebuilding of necessary services all lined up BEFORE I invaded the country in question.

Personally, I would have paved the road from the border to Baghdad with towns full of food, water, emergency generators, the works.

But, I'm a crazy moonbat ;-)

Posted by: Ratatosk at February 17, 2005 01:33 PM

Poverty's injustice is prolly secondary to the Islamofascists themselves, but these injustice aspects may be primary to many of the terrorist supporters and enablers.

Remember, too, that even those "intimidated" by the fear of terrorists, don't want to think of themselves as chickens. I'm sure many do as they're told first because of fear, but soon rationalize their own actions into something more neutral: the terrorists do have a point, the others ARE quite imperfect, the poverty IS unjust and therefore so are the current rulers, Allah does want cooperation, etc.

Like in an argument, where one is really trying to win over the audience, NOT the person one is arguing against.

(thus some agreement with what Marcus said)

Achillea had such a true comment -- when the local rulers are corrupt and unjust, there's no way to allow them to remain in power AND have poverty reduction. Lack of regime change is why foreign aid has been so lousy, so long.

Posted by: Tom Grey at February 17, 2005 01:35 PM

Achillea: Which is wonderful, and I agree is far superior to constantly having to employ an Abrams weed-whacker on the region's 'negative outgrowths,' but how do you propose going about this?

In that you point out the naivety and fallacy of idealism. My answer to you is "I don't know". You might say through a sort of modern day "Peace Corps." of sorts. Once they realize the threat to their survival terrorists will then turn their tactics towards that threat and they will kill anyone; man, woman, child, christian, jew or muslim. However that in and of itself is progress because the family who resides in a home built by the hands of an American aid worker who was killed by Hezbollah is not likely to support Hezbollah. They effectively become the depriver.

In truth all approaches to these problems have to be multi-faceted. We have to exercise political, economic, military, and humanitarian methods in our attempts to counter tyranny, evil and human suffering. Unfortunately right now only a few of these methods are preferred and over-emphasized. While the more passive methods are in turn not re-enforced by their aggressive counter-parts. I'm not just citing the American Gov't either.

France and Germany are blinded with the obsession of countering the U.S. and furthering their ambitions, Russia seeks to re-establish it's former power, China's veracious appetite and surging growth overpower any sense of balance, and the U.S. desperately grasps to hold on to its dominant economic, cultural and military position in the world. It is the "Great Game" renewed, and with more players now. All this takes place at the expense of the little people.

Posted by: Mike T. at February 17, 2005 02:05 PM

I realize this makes me sound like a sucker and gullable because she is most likely posturing for '08, but I'm liking a lot of what she's had to say lately.

That's the problem with Hillary. She seems too calculated, to smooth, too good at "the game".

McCain would be my pick if I could vote in the US elections. He wears his heart on his sleeve and he seems "real", not manufactured by some political think-tank or by Karl Rove. I pretty much favour the anti-politician types these days.

Posted by: MisterPundit at February 17, 2005 02:07 PM

Mike T.

It's nice to have a sane person posting ;-)

Posted by: Ratatosk at February 17, 2005 02:46 PM

MisterPundit: McCain would be my pick if I could vote in the US elections. He wears his heart on his sleeve and he seems "real", not manufactured by some political think-tank or by Karl Rove. I pretty much favour the anti-politician types these days.

Yeah I have no second thoughts about McCain. He has courage and integrity. He's not much for grandstanding and engineered politics (i.e. 2005 SOTU speech), and I like that. I think he's very Truman-esque. My problem with the Republicans is their values. They are willing to let a John McCain or Arlen Spector hang out to dry, but circle the wagons and re-write laws for the likes of Tom Delay. It speaks volumes.

I see in Hillary, Bill's same achilles heel. She is totally consumed with her own legacy. She is calculated and untrustworthy, but if she goes up against a Newt Gingrisch, Jeb Bush or Rick Santorum or some other right-wing conservative, I'll be voting Dem for the first time in my young life (God I never thought I'd say that, my mom better not find out). I think she'd push the Dem agenda, which is not always so bad, but wouldn't hesitate to shove a JDAM right up Kim Jong Il's ass should the need arise.

Posted by: Mike T. at February 17, 2005 02:55 PM

She is calculated and untrustworthy, but if she goes up against a Newt Gingrisch, Jeb Bush or Rick Santorum or some other right-wing conservative, I'll be voting Dem for the first time in my young life

If that was the slate Hillary would almost certainly win, so I would seriously consider voting for Michael Badnarik, despite my big disagreement with the Libertarian Party on the Iraq war. Besides, by 2008 the Iraq war should be somewhat off the political radar screen.

Posted by: MisterPundit at February 17, 2005 04:07 PM

Mark Poling: “If the lady in the chador with the blue finger really wants to vote in the Taliban then hey, being stupid should hurt. But if I feel pride in anything at all, it's that the United States is actually giving her the right to make her own mistakes”

I agree Mark – with the caveat that she must be allowed the right to reconsider that decision in say 4 years or so.

Joshua Scholar: “We don't need to bribe terrorists, we don't need to understand their needs, we need to destroy the idology that creates them.”

Unfortunately the ideology that creates them is Islam - an ideology that roughly 1.7 billion people on the planet adhere to - more or less. Of course that “more or less” is critical to the problem.

Jesurgislac “Tackling global poverty generally requires confronting the tyranny of the richer nations - like the US - who exploit and benefit from global poverty.”

Don’t the richer nations actually benefit more from international global trade with other rich nations than from exploiting the poverty of poor nations – just wondering on that one.

Mike T: “Hillary is growing on me.”.

At least Hillary has no taint of “anti-Americanism” about her. As far as I can tell she stayed well above the “Michael Moore fray”. In fact, she has moved to the right of Bush on a number of fronts re the WOT at various times. The lady comes across pretty hard at times but I’m not going to hold that against her. I for one (as a Democrat!) will be keeping my eye on her.

Re the overall issue of whether tyranny causes global poverty:

I am somewhat tempted to think that ignorance causes both tyranny AND poverty and if there’s one thing that tyranny specializes in and in fact DEPENDS on – its information control. Regimes like Saddam Hussein’s and Kim Jong Il rely on a complete control of information. It is somewhat interesting that India is starting to surge – but India is also at the forefront of IT. I wonder if there is a correlation. Bottom line – we are at the beginning of a new age in fighting tyranny – namely the internet. Look at what the Iraqi bloggers are doing, the Muslim apostates, even the Democrats during the last election cycle. Look at how the Iranians are trying to arrest and shut down the Iranian bloggers. It’s hard to know precisely where its heading since we’re smack in the middle of it but maybe we should all buckle in for a very interesting ride!

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Posted by: Robert Hood at February 17, 2005 07:14 PM
Marcus Rose said:
On the other hand, China, South Korea, Taiwan, Chile and other rapidly developing totalitarian or authoritarian states come to mind.

This is a symptom of the problem. There are many states which are not, shall we say, on their best behavior. But all of them are so in different ways. Each has to be treated differently.

And it is interesting, and telling, that Marcus Rose didn't include Iran and North Korea in his list. Countries whom by anyone's reasonable standards are not very nice.

We may say that Country X and Country Y are not willing participants in the quest for global justice. But I've never seen the rule that requires us to treat them exactly the same. Nor would such a policy be fair or effective.

QM

Posted by: Quilly at February 17, 2005 07:29 PM

So, Kimmet, step up to the plate and tell us: What are the real causes of poverty? Naysaying is cheap, and drinking beer in the grandstand makes for lots of opinions about what the real players should do. But can you give us any right answers rather then just hiding behind your counterexamples and disagrements?

Posted by: rb at February 17, 2005 07:33 PM

In re: "Global Poverty is the result of tyranny"... is almost on the money. Throw in a bit of Socialism and Communism and any other isms
that purport to try to even out incomes, and the end result is almost inevitably a low standard of living. The only "ism" that works is capitalism, which is what's waking up India (previously controled by the Nehru socialists)today. China has its own unique brand of wide-open capitalism- especially as it refers to Hong Kong which was and remains a rip-roaring example for the rest of China. It should be noted that both Hong Kong and India had legal institutions
handed down by the British colonialists, which provided honest government as bedrock for the construction of economies that provide the best for the most.

Posted by: Angelo Rombola at February 17, 2005 07:42 PM

"Global poverty is mostly the result of tyranny"

Actually, you are both wrong. The problem is that you've failed to properly list you're causes and effects. That's the reason that both sides are suffering from the need to make lots of exceptions and quid pro quos.

Poverty and tyranny are both the results of the same thing. One can (and usually does) reinforce the other, but neither is the direct cause of the other. Likewise, its impossible to be truly free while being destitute, and its impossible for a society to become truly wealthy while suffering from tyranny. That's because poverty and tyranny are the manifestations of the same underlying cause, so if you have one, its sufficient proof that the underlying cause remains and that underlying cause will hinder the growth of the other.

It's also important to note that both poverty and tyranny are relative concepts. The wealthiest portions of Europe in the 12th century were poorer than the poorest portions of Europe today. A the wealth or freedoms of a stone age tribe cannot be compared usefully with a modern Urban dweller. You have to compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges.

IMO, the underlying cause of both relative poverty and relative tyranny is a lack of social and moral integrity. The fundamental reason that socialism collapses is that it encourages a decline in integrity. The people giving the counterexamples above have placed to little emphasis on whether the authoritarian government in question was more capitalist or more socialist in outlook. It wasn't socialism per se that killed the Soviet Union, it was the rampant corruption, cronism, sloth, melancholia, dishonesty, etc. That's why when the communism went away, the society didn't magically recover. All the various evils of the society were still there ready to manifest themselves in new ways.

But, make no mistake, embarrasing freedom is part of the path out of that quagmire. Democracy does not equal instant reformation, but if you're suffering under a corrupt tyranny, it takes a miracle to cure the social ills any other way. Because of the corrupting influence of power, it's just about impossible to fight tyranny with tyranny.

This explanation is sufficient to explain all the above situations. For example, German society may have been literally going mad in the run up to WWII, but noone denies that for the common man the fundamentally German/Protestant ideas about integrity, hard work, duty, and loyalty remained intact. What made the madness so fearsome was that for the most part the public remained sane. Guided by irrational faith in its leaders who played on the worst in German culture (pride, racism, etc.), but still fundamentally sane. Yet, there was no way to disguise the increasing disease infecting the society, and so fundamental freedoms were lost, wealth was squandered on ruinious wars, etc.

My basic point is this. You can't fight a war on poverty with money. The root causes of poverty and its contributing factors aren't merely a lack of resources. At its heart, a war on poverty is always a war on evil in its various manifestations (ignorance, poverty, injustice, etc.) Take a sufficiently motivated group of mutually minded individuals and no matter how they express thier mutuallism - via a fair and honest capitalist system or a communal system or some mixture of both - and very quickly they will create a wealthy society with freedom and oppurtunity for all. Give the same land and oppurtunities to a bunch of selfish, dishonest, self-centered individuals, and they will break up into tribes, start killing and robbing each other, and destroy wealth as fast as it can be created or faster. Give me the capitalist leaning society over the socialist leaning society only because history shows that the freer society tends to hold onto its integrity the longest (though this is probably not perfectly true, merely usually true).

And the really scary thing is this. There is no such thing as a 'good society' or a 'bad society'. Every society is made up of some mixture and spectrum of good and bad individuals who make good and bad choices. The difference between a productive society and a failed one is probably only a few percentage points, because its alot easier to destroy things than create them and just a few malefactors can prevent a large number of people from enjoying wealth and freedom. So basically, we are all in every country just a generation away from collapse and always will be.

Posted by: celebrim at February 17, 2005 08:21 PM

"Global poverty is mostly the result of tyranny..."
I tend to agree with this, but like many of the posters above I do not buy into the equation that tyranny equals poverty. You can have a successful economic system even under a tyranny. The problem with absolutist type governments is that when they impose economic conditions that result in poverty there is no way for the people to effect any kind of change in the system that makes them poor.

India is a good example. After independence they pursued very socialistic policies, and the result was economic stagnation. But because it was not a tyranny, the people were able to elect leaders who wanted to steer away from this course and this led to greater prosperity for the population as a whole. Contrast this with Cuba, where the reigning egomaniac who is incapable of believing in the mere possibility that he might be wrong about how things should be run has managed to reduce what was once the richest country in the Carribean to one of the poorest.

Tyranny doesn't cause poverty, but its a great mechanism for locking into place economic systems that do.

Posted by: tcobb at February 17, 2005 08:23 PM

The statement about tyrants was taken from a speech at the UN given by Dr. Norman Borlaug, father of the Green Revolution.

Borlaug believes that tyrants, government mismanagement, political conflict, poor income distribution and luddite environmentalists are the biggest problems that contribute to world hunger. Since he’s saved about a billion lives, I think his statement is pretty reliable.

I haven’t commented much because I hated to harsh everyone’s anti-poverty buzz by mentioning the real incentive to join terrorist groups; Terrorist groups usually find that tapes of beheadings and massacres like Beslan are their best recruitment tools. Reducing poverty would do very little to slow this. Reducing terrorist attacks (and the terrorist population) is the best way of slowing down terror-cell production.

Terrorism wins no hearts and minds. The Iraqi people showed us that in the last election. In one polling station, they walked past the body of an insurgent suicide bomber who’d only managed to blow himself up. They spat on his body. Afghans treated dead Taliban with the same respect. They let them rot in the sun.

Most secular or moderates who sympathize with terror groups do so for the same reasons that ordinary Germans supported Hitler – it was their only chance to gain political power. Since these supporters tend to be middle class, reducing poverty would have very little effect. For the most part, the poor are too busy working to pay attention to any of this.

Reducing poverty wouldn't have much of an effect on terrorism, but it should still be our first priority. At least,that's what Dr. Borlaug believes.

Posted by: mary at February 17, 2005 08:35 PM

It ain't this that hard, folks. As there is no correlation between poverty and terrorism, as it relates to the problem of terrorism, who cares whether tyranny causes poverty or not?

As it relates to the problem of poverty, sure, it's an interesting question, even an important one on its own merits, but for Herr Köhler's purposes, it's just a facile dodge of a weak power engaged in moral preening for an audience looking to doge any responsibility for attacking the problem.

Terrorism is nothing more nor less than a military tactic of a combatant facing asymmetrical forces, e.g., the IRA against the British, the PLO against the Israelis, the "insurgents" against the U.S., among the more obvious examples. And, as Clauswitz realized so many years ago, war is just an extension of politics. Ergo, because terrorism is a tactic of war (i.e., war causes terrorism); politics causes terrorism.

You can throw in economics if it makes you feel better or comports with your veltanschaung, but the Marxist determination theory really fails here – almost all wars (esp. modern wars) are fought for political (or ideological or its sectarian predecessor, religious reasons). Fix (or kill) the political/ideological problem; you fix (or kill) the war problem. Unless you’re dealing with ethnic or civil wars, but those are generally a political problem of a different kind.

Posted by: Tim at February 17, 2005 08:47 PM

I too was a big John McCain fan.

His flirtation with John Kerry this year has turned me off a great deal.

In particular his attempts to snuff out the SBVT in order to kiss up to Kerry and protect his all important Campaign Finance Reform.

In my opinion, he proved himself an egotistical bureaucrat, almost obsessed with saving his creation at the expense of free speech.

Then there's the identity of his targets. McCain knew John Kerry's history, Kerry's testimony had been read to him in the Hanoi Hilton for their propganda value. And yet McCain was willing to sell out 200 veterans in favor of Kerry for TV time.

McCain's as political as the rest. The media likes him, and he knows how to play to them for air time.

Depending on the opposition, I might still vote for him, but he's out for himself and perfectly willing to play a politician's game of duplicity and double-dealing.

Posted by: Cutler at February 17, 2005 09:23 PM

We can't do away with poverty. Someone has to sew the sneakers.

Posted by: Nedrick at February 17, 2005 10:08 PM

Poverty and terrorism
The causes for terrorism are seldom one-dimensional. Jessica Stern ( "Terror in the Name of God") e.g. sets out five categories of grievances that move people to embrace terrorism: alienation, humiliation, demographics, history, and territory. I see poverty as the environment that accompanies and acerbates many of these grievances. I agree that 9/11 terrorists don’t seem to fit in but the majority of the foot AQ foot soldiers are still poor bastards. Terror organizations like e.g. Hamas use poverty as a recruiting tool by providing free education to the poor and instilling hatred and glorifying suicide attacks. In Pakistan thousands of madrassas supported and run by the fundamentalist extremist parties of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) even provide food and shelter to low income students. The MMA fiercely opposes any move against the madrassas. "It is a conspiracy by the Jews and Americans to weaken Islamic institutions as they fear that madrassa students are capable of launching an international Islamic movement against the west," said Mufti Mohammad Jameel Khan, Rabita Secretary Ulema Council.

Posted by: Hans Wall at February 18, 2005 01:16 AM

Abroad, members of both parties may sound the same but at home members of one of the parties acts totally opposite. I think I'll vote for the members of the party who act the same both at home and abroad with regard to foreign policy and national security issues and who put the interests of the US (vice those of foreign nations) first.

Posted by: A.B. at February 18, 2005 04:28 AM

Nedrick - do you believe someone is better off earning a living wage in a 3rd world Nike factory or starving as a subsistence farmer?

Posted by: PJ at February 18, 2005 04:35 AM

Nedrick: We can't do away with poverty. Someone has to sew the sneakers

I don't know what this says about me, or maybe I don't want to know, but that is goddamn funny.

Cutler,

McCain didn't flirt with Kerry this year, they are friends. Not political allies like he is with GWB either; honest to goodness friends. I didn't like his relationship with Kerry either, but I think it is a testament to his character that even while he was risking virtual political suicide to appear supporting Kerry, the man wouldn't walk out on his friend.

I'm just speculating but I really do think that at some point in in 2004 one friend said to another, "You go do what you have to do, and when this is all over we'll have a drink". The next day McCain was standing next to GWB at the White House.

I'd lay down my life for my friends, I expect nothing short of the same of the man I entrust with the fate of my country.

Posted by: Mike T. at February 18, 2005 05:32 AM

Celebrim, that was a very thought-provoking comment. Thank you.

Posted by: Mark Poling at February 18, 2005 06:38 AM

What are the real causes of poverty?

I have two responses to this:

1) Poverty was the default through human history until 1850, and it is still the default for most of the world. So the real question is, "What is the cause of wealth?"

2) If I could encapsulate the entirety of Developmental Economics* into a blog post, I'd deserve a fricking Nobel Prize. Just because I note that a hard problem doesn't have a facile solution doesn't mean that there exists another facile solution.

*...not to mention the fact that Developmental Economics has been monumentally ineffective; no one appears to know what the answers to these questions are.

Posted by: Kimmitt at February 18, 2005 09:38 AM

no shocking revelation, republicans and dems are princes of privatization and the advancement the interests of the super dupersuper wealthy among us...so much for 'left-right'...

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