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job
Jul 20, 2003, 01:44 PM
After reading a highly interesting and moderate article in the WSJ over the current state of the E.U., I wanted to know what other forum members think the main purpose of the E.U. is.

Even former members of the European Commission (the E.U.'s executive agency) don't really know. To quote Jacques Delors, the former president of the Commission:

What do we want to do together? We keep skirting the issue.

What is the purpose of the E.U.?

Economic stability and/or cohesion? I was living in Germany when the Euro became a public currency. Prices for normal goods increased twofold. A loaf of bread cost me twice as much as it normally would have in Deutsche Marks.

Defense? Against what? Several E.U. countries refuse to take part in any type of defense force on the basis of neutrality, whereas four countries who opposed the war in Iraq (France, Germany, Belgium, and Luxembourg) announced plans to begin to combine parts of their defense establishment into a 'European Security and Defense Union.' Others, such as Spain and Poland refuse any such defense union citing conflicts of interest with NATO.

mcrain
Jul 20, 2003, 01:47 PM
The EU exists for one reason only. World domination.

job
Jul 20, 2003, 01:50 PM
Originally posted by mcrain
The EU exists for one reason only. World domination.

Whahahahahahahahaha...

zimv20
Jul 20, 2003, 02:02 PM
my understanding is the EU is to, in order:

1. keep its member nations from warring w/ each other
2. provide economic security for its members

a german friend told me once that the real impetus was to keep france and germany from fighting.

job
Jul 20, 2003, 02:13 PM
Originally posted by zimv20
1. keep its member nations from warring w/ each other

But is that realistic considering the current relations between the European nations? I can't see anyone of them wanting to go to war with each other.

2. provide economic security for its members

And that's where I disagree. Countries with strong currencies (United Kingdom) have everything to lose by switching to the Euro. Open borders, although desireable for trade, certainly represent a security risk, albeit not a major one.

a german friend told me once that the real impetus was to keep france and germany from fighting.

Over what?

zimv20
Jul 20, 2003, 02:17 PM
Originally posted by job

Over what?

anything. they* have had three major wars in the past 133 years.

* in the 1870s it was prussia

IJ Reilly
Jul 20, 2003, 02:17 PM
I thought the main purpose of the EU was to create a large free-trade zone in Europe, which it has. Or did I miss something?

pivo6
Jul 20, 2003, 02:23 PM
Originally posted by mcrain
The EU exists for one reason only. World domination.

Here's a better one.

zimv20
Jul 20, 2003, 02:24 PM
i own a comfy chair.

pivo6
Jul 20, 2003, 02:29 PM
Sorry for bringing up the inquisition again. :D

If I remember right, the EU was thought up after WWII for mainly economic reasons -- i.e. free trade. I may be wrong. I'm just going from memory from a class I took in college.

job
Jul 20, 2003, 02:35 PM
Originally posted by zimv20
anything. they* have had three major wars in the past 133 years.

* in the 1870s it was prussia

But do you honestly believe that there is/was any possibility of another European war, especially between France and Germany?

job
Jul 20, 2003, 02:36 PM
Originally posted by pivo6
Here's a better one.

hehehehe...

:D

thats good.

zimv20
Jul 20, 2003, 02:38 PM
Originally posted by job
But do you honestly believe that there is/was any possibility of another European war, especially between France and Germany?

of course. it follows the laws of entropy.

macfan
Jul 20, 2003, 03:06 PM
Another Western European war is unlikely at this time, thanks to American military domination of Western Europe and political development in countries like Germany over the Cold War period, but times do change, and demographics change. Therefore, that might not be the case in 50 years, so an EU is useful to keep the peace between European powers. By having a free market and open borders, there's no benefit to going to war, and with governments based on democratic values, there is no motivation.

One purpose of the EU is to keep African farmers from having a fair shot at European markets. Another, according to France, is to provide a counter balance to US power (a sentiment that Tony Blair characterizes as dangerous). The purpose of the EU should be to spread liberty and free market economies throughout the world, IMO.

Sayhey
Jul 20, 2003, 03:29 PM
Originally posted by zimv20
i own a comfy chair.
You are a cruel, cruel man!

Really the EU is many things for many different countries. It is a step in the dream of a United States of Europe for some and a way to lower trade barriers for others. If your interested in what's going on in the EU lately, try the BBC's website. They have lots of information on the upcoming inclusion of 10 new members, the vote on the Euro in Sweden, and of course the British discussions about when or if to join the Euro Zone. There is also a EU website that has lots of resources at http://europa.eu.int/ (http://)

IJ Reilly
Jul 20, 2003, 04:18 PM
Originally posted by macfan
Another Western European war is unlikely at this time, thanks to American military domination of Western Europe and political development in countries like Germany over the Cold War period, but times do change, and demographics change. Therefore, that might not be the case in 50 years, so an EU is useful to keep the peace between European powers. By having a free market and open borders, there's no benefit to going to war, and with governments based on democratic values, there is no motivation.

This is essentially a repetition of the belief commonly held before World War I that the nations of Europe were too economically (and politically) entwined to see any good come from fighting each other. Yet even as they convinced themselves that war was an impossibility, they all planned for war -- and stumbled inexorably towards it. And, even after the war started, most of the military planners and politicians remained convinced it would last only weeks or months at worst. World War I was the product of the theory that countries should plan for war, but that peace could be allowed to take care of itself.

pseudobrit
Jul 20, 2003, 05:08 PM
Originally posted by macfan
The purpose of the EU should be to spread liberty and free market economies throughout the world, IMO.

I agree. The current state of things, with the warmongering, conquering and threatening other nations with their military and economic power is unacceptable.

groovebuster
Jul 22, 2003, 04:09 AM
Originally posted by pseudobrit
I agree. The current state of things, with the warmongering, conquering and threatening other nations with their military and economic power is unacceptable.

That was a good one!!! :D

groovebuster

Pinto
Jul 22, 2003, 05:51 AM
Hopefully the EU will act as a counterbalance against US imperialism.

They aren't doing a very good job of it at the moment, though.

macfan
Jul 22, 2003, 02:26 PM
"There is no more dangerous theory in international politics than that we need to balance the power of America with other competitive powers; different poles around which nations gather.

Such a theory may have made sense in 19th-century Europe. It was perforce the position in the Cold War.

Today, it is an anachronism to be discarded like traditional theories of security. And it is dangerous because it is not rivalry but partnership we need; a common will and a shared purpose in the face of a common threat." --Tony Blair.

I am inclined to agree with him.

pseudobrit
Jul 22, 2003, 05:54 PM
Originally posted by macfan
"There is no more dangerous theory in international politics than that we need to balance the power of America with other competitive powers; different poles around which nations gather.

Such a theory may have made sense in 19th-century Europe. It was perforce the position in the Cold War.

Today, it is an anachronism to be discarded like traditional theories of security. And it is dangerous because it is not rivalry but partnership we need; a common will and a shared purpose in the face of a common threat." --Tony Blair.

I am inclined to agree with him.

But you also said the Cold War was the right thing to do.

Which is it?

macfan
Jul 22, 2003, 06:10 PM
Originally posted by pseudobrit
But you also said the Cold War was the right thing to do.

Which is it?

It's both, pseudobrit. Standing up to the Soviet Union was the right thing to do. It could have been done better, IMO, but it was done fairly well.

Have you any comment on the views of the prime minister?

pseudobrit
Jul 22, 2003, 06:16 PM
Originally posted by macfan
It's both, pseudobrit. Standing up to the Soviet Union was the right thing to do. It could have been done better, IMO, but it was done fairly well.

Have you any comment on the views of the prime minister?

Then I'd ask who's to say standing up to the USA isn't the right thing to do?

You have to admit we as Americans will be a little biased on such an idea.

macfan
Jul 22, 2003, 06:22 PM
Originally posted by pseudobrit
Then I'd ask who's to say standing up to the USA isn't the right thing to do?

You have to admit we as Americans will be a little biased on such an idea.

Tony Blair, for one.

zimv20
Jul 22, 2003, 06:28 PM
Originally posted by macfan
Tony Blair, for one.

sigh. is the answer to _every_ rhetorical question "tony blair"?

:-)

macfan
Jul 22, 2003, 06:37 PM
Originally posted by zimv20
sigh. is the answer to _every_ rhetorical question "tony blair"?

:-)

He asked a question. It deserves an answer. More to the point, the answer is that the values promoted by American power are not the kind of values against which one should seek to stand up, and that was a point in Blair's speech, which is why I mentioned him.

pseudobrit
Jul 22, 2003, 06:47 PM
Originally posted by macfan
He asked a question. It deserves an answer. More to the point, the answer is that the values promoted by American power are not the kind of values against which one should seek to stand up, and that was a point in Blair's speech, which is why I mentioned him.

And the Soviet Union would have said the same thing during the Cold War: that the values of communism should be promoted worldwide. It's balance. If the EU provides an economic balance against the force of the US, then it will be good for the world.

To say that "because we are right, everyone else of a dissenting opinion must be wrong, and therefore they must support us anyway (and how do we know we're right? Becase we are, and because of that we must be right!)" will allow a nation to go unchecked far too much.

macfan
Jul 22, 2003, 06:59 PM
Originally posted by pseudobrit
And the Soviet Union would have said the same thing during the Cold War: that the values of communism should be promoted worldwide. It's balance. If the EU provides an economic balance against the force of the US, then it will be good for the world.

To say that "because we are right, everyone else of a dissenting opinion must be wrong, and therefore they must support us anyway (and how do we know we're right? Becase we are, and because of that we must be right!)" will allow a nation to go unchecked far too much.

The Soviet Union did say this, and the Soviet Union was wrong. The values of the Soviet Union were not positive vaules. They were values worth destroying.

We are right because the principles of human rights, free speech, democracy, free markets etc. are right. They are not right because we say they are right, we say they are right because they are right.

pseudobrit
Jul 22, 2003, 07:12 PM
Originally posted by macfan
We are right because the principles of human rights, free speech, democracy, free markets etc. are right. They are not right because we say they are right, we say they are right because they are right.

Spoken just like a proud Soviet would have in the 60's (sans the free market bit).

Sayhey
Jul 22, 2003, 09:07 PM
Originally posted by macfan
The Soviet Union did say this, and the Soviet Union was wrong. The values of the Soviet Union were not positive vaules. They were values worth destroying.

We are right because the principles of human rights, free speech, democracy, free markets etc. are right. They are not right because we say they are right, we say they are right because they are right.

last time I read ol' Charlie Marx there where a lot of slogans in there that sounded pretty good. Right of nations to self-determination, freedom from exploitation, etc. Of course Stalin, etal weren't very good at living up to those slogans. Maybe there are a few people this side of the Atlantic that aren't so good at living up to all our slogans, too?

Sun Baked
Jul 22, 2003, 09:24 PM
It should have made it easier for international companies to build produts tha have components coming from different countries.

Car manufacturing would be a good example.

Components coming from multiple areas would no longer be phased by the countries currency fluctuations in the world market.

Or was it oil and those US $'s that needed replacement with a single european currency.

---

But if you guys are going to toss up those smilies, use the right ones. :rolleyes:

MacRumor's Inquisition (http://forums.macrumors.com/attachment.php?postid=169270)

macfan
Jul 23, 2003, 12:17 AM
Originally posted by pseudobrit
Spoken just like a proud Soviet would have in the 60's (sans the free market bit).

pseudobrit,
You appear to be making a moral equivalency argument between the Soviet Union and the West. I've heard that argument before, but I don't buy it for a second.

zimv20
Jul 23, 2003, 12:20 AM
The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts. - Bertrand Russell

macfan
Jul 23, 2003, 12:30 AM
It takes only a little wisdom to recognize that the rights embodied in the Declaration in Independence are, in fact, universal rights worth defending.

Often, there are those who see doubts as a sign of wisdom. Sometimes, however, doubts are just a sign of being wrong. There are times when fools are full of doubt, and wiser people are certain of themselves.

groovebuster
Jul 23, 2003, 07:04 AM
Originally posted by macfan
Often, there are those who see doubts as a sign of wisdom. Sometimes, however, doubts are just a sign of being wrong. There are times when fools are full of doubt, and wiser people are certain of themselves.

I never met a wise person that was not full of doubts. Being full of doubts is not about being wrong, it is about being afraid of being wrong. A wise person always tries to see the big picture and is always searching for something that was overseen and would change the outcome. To be absolutely certain about something is contradicting itself because as a wise person you know that there isn't anything absolutely certain in this world. Having doubts doesn't necessarily imply to be wise, but being wise includes having doubts.

Maybe you misunderstand the meaning of the word doubt in the quote you were replying to? So please explain how a doubt can be a sign of being wrong. A doubt means just that the person includes other possibilities and is not sure about which is the right one.

Besides that, values are alyways in context with a culture. There are only few values you could claim as (almost) universal and even then you still can't claim that they are right for every given cultural context. It is the arrogance of the western world to believe that their values are the reference for everything. There are a lot of cultures that don't agree with the values we are promoting in the world. It's a nice way to get back to the initial thing I said. It takes wisdom to see that. Your claim that the values of the USA are the cure for the problems of the world and are better than anything else is not wise, it is ignorant. But from my experience it's always the ignorant people who claim to be wise, since really wise people are very modest in general... no offense intended though.

groovebuster

caveman_uk
Jul 23, 2003, 07:34 AM
Originally posted by macfan
It takes only a little wisdom to recognize that the rights embodied in the Declaration in Independence are, in fact, universal rights worth defending.

Indeed they are. It's a shame the US government doesn't seem to agree with you as it slowly but surely erodes your rights. It's worth remembering that rights once removed are very hard to win back. The people at Guantanamo may or may not be terrorists but just because they may be does that give the government to treat them any different? Don't they deserve a fair trial as well? We would be wise to bear in mind the words of Martin Niemoller. For him it started with the communists....for us is it the terrorists?


First they came for the Communists,
and I didnít speak up,
because I wasnít a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didnít speak up,
because I wasnít a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didnít speak up,
because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me,
and by that time there was no one
left to speak up for me

pseudobrit
Jul 23, 2003, 11:14 AM
Originally posted by macfan
It takes only a little wisdom to recognize that the rights embodied in the Declaration in Independence are, in fact, universal rights worth defending.

As someone pointed out earlier, the Communist Manifesto was full of Declaration of Independencey slogans. I guess that means the application of the document (the government borne of it) was always worth defending. That's what would follow based on your logic.

pseudobrit
Jul 23, 2003, 11:15 AM
Originally posted by macfan
Often, there are those who see doubts as a sign of wisdom. Sometimes, however, doubts are just a sign of being wrong. There are times when fools are full of doubt, and wiser people are certain of themselves.

People without doubts are without a doubt simpletons.

Sayhey
Jul 23, 2003, 11:22 AM
Originally posted by macfan
It takes only a little wisdom to recognize that the rights embodied in the Declaration in Independence are, in fact, universal rights worth defending.

Often, there are those who see doubts as a sign of wisdom. Sometimes, however, doubts are just a sign of being wrong. There are times when fools are full of doubt, and wiser people are certain of themselves.

Speaking of the crimes of King George -
"He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws, giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us..."

I won't continue the list of George's crimes, but the question is: which George are the authors talking about, and from the Iraqi point of view does he currently reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.?

macfan
Jul 23, 2003, 01:01 PM
Originally posted by groovebuster
I never met a wise person that was not full of doubts. Being full of doubts is not about being wrong, it is about being afraid of being wrong. A wise person always tries to see the big picture and is always searching for something that was overseen and would change the outcome. To be absolutely certain about something is contradicting itself because as a wise person you know that there isn't anything absolutely certain in this world. Having doubts doesn't necessarily imply to be wise, but being wise includes having doubts.

Maybe you misunderstand the meaning of the word doubt in the quote you were replying to? So please explain how a doubt can be a sign of being wrong. A doubt means just that the person includes other possibilities and is not sure about which is the right one.

Besides that, values are alyways in context with a culture. There are only few values you could claim as (almost) universal and even then you still can't claim that they are right for every given cultural context. It is the arrogance of the western world to believe that their values are the reference for everything. There are a lot of cultures that don't agree with the values we are promoting in the world. It's a nice way to get back to the initial thing I said. It takes wisdom to see that. Your claim that the values of the USA are the cure for the problems of the world and are better than anything else is not wise, it is ignorant. But from my experience it's always the ignorant people who claim to be wise, since really wise people are very modest in general... no offense intended though.

groovebuster

I never met a wise person who doubted the universal value of human liberty. When you doubt the value of human liberty, when you doubt the worth of human freedom, it is not because you are wise, but because you are foolish, and likely a coward. (You in the generic sense, not the particular).

It is the arrogance of Western culture to believe that values of human liberty are the exclusive right of Western culture and do not apply to other people in other places. Of course, the values of human liberty will manifest themselves in different ways in different cultures, but those values are universal in the human spirit, they ought not be limited to those fortunate enough to be born with a particular skin color or cultural background.

Sometimes the unwise claim to be doubtful, thinking it makes them wise, when it merely makes them cowards.

No offense taken.

If you think that doubting is a sign of wisdom, doubt that you should doubt the value of liberty, and then it will be a sign of wisdom.

Sayhey
Jul 23, 2003, 01:27 PM
Originally posted by macfan
I never met a wise person who doubted the universal value of human liberty. When you doubt the value of human liberty, when you doubt the worth of human freedom, it is not because you are wise, but because you are foolish, and likely a coward. (You in the generic sense, not the particular).

It is the arrogance of Western culture to believe that values of human liberty are the exclusive right of Western culture and do not apply to other people in other places. Of course, the values of human liberty will manifest themselves in different ways in different cultures, but those values are universal in the human spirit, they ought not be limited to those fortunate enough to be born with a particular skin color or cultural background.

I can see you really liked Blair's speech. His and your sentiments are much to be admired - as far as they go. Problem is that part of those "values of human liberty" includes the right of nations - like Iraq - to determine the course of their society without foreign troops telling them how to do it.

macfan
Jul 23, 2003, 01:39 PM
Originally posted by Sayhey
I can see you really liked Blair's speech. His and your sentiments are much to be admired - as far as they go. Problem is the part of those "values of human liberty" includes the right of nations - like Iraq - to determine the course of their society without foreign troops telling them how to do it.

Yeah, I really like Blair's speech. It summed up many of my own sentiments, including the parts about cooperation between the United States and Europe in promoting liberty.

I do think you have hit on the fatal flaw of the United Nations Charter! The UN does not distinguish between a country like Iraq under Saddam or a country like Iceland. In the UN structure, it is the nation state that has rights. However, I believe that the right to govern comes not from the consent of the United Nations, but from the consent of the governed. In other words, unless a government is of the people by the people and for the people, it is not a legitimate government.

In any event, Iraq was not free to determined the course of their society. Their society was hijacked by a fascist party with a tyrant at its head who ignored human liberty and instead brought only human misery. The presence of foreign troops in Iraq, like the presence of foreign troops in Germany and Japan after WWII and the presence of foreign troops in Uganda in the late 1970s is justified becuase they removed serious impediments to human liberty and sought to establish the rule of law rather than men.

zimv20
Jul 23, 2003, 01:42 PM
Originally posted by macfan

In any event, Iraq was not free to determined the course of their society. Their society was hijacked by a facist party with a tyrant at its head who ignored human liberty and instead brought only human misery.

a fill in the blank puzzle!

In any event, ____ was not free to determine the course of their society. Their society was hijacked by a fascist party with a tyrant at its head who ignored human liberty and instead brought only human misery.

macfan
Jul 23, 2003, 01:46 PM
Originally posted by zimv20
a fill in the blank puzzle!

In any event, ____ was not free to determine the course of their society. Their society was hijacked by a fascist party with a tyrant at its head who ignored human liberty and instead brought only human misery.

Iraq

Iran

Cuba

North Korea

Zimbabwe.

We could go on, making sure to substitute the appropriate party as needed.

Sayhey
Jul 23, 2003, 02:08 PM
Originally posted by macfan
Yeah, I really like Blair's speech. It summed up many of my own sentiments, including the parts about cooperation between the United States and Europe in promoting liberty.

I do think you have hit on the fatal flaw of the United Nations Charter! The UN does not distinguish between a country like Iraq under Saddam or a country like Iceland. In the UN structure, it is the nation state that has rights. However, I believe that the right to govern comes not from the consent of the United Nations, but from the consent of the governed. In other words, unless a government is of the people by the people and for the people, it is not a legitimate government.

In any event, Iraq was not free to determined the course of their society. Their society was hijacked by a fascist party with a tyrant at its head who ignored human liberty and instead brought only human misery. The presence of foreign troops in Iraq, like the presence of foreign troops in Germany and Japan after WWII and the presence of foreign troops in Uganda in the late 1970s is justified becuase they removed serious impediments to human liberty and sought to establish the rule of law rather than men.

Your comments get to the tension between individual rights and the rights of people as historically defined nations, cultures, etc. Both sets of rights are addressed in the UN Charter, the Helsinki accords and many other international agreements to which the US is a signator. Finding the right balance between these two sets of complimentary rights is, of course the key to making sure all such rights are secure.

It seems to me for the rights of people to govern themselves without interferance to be overridden that there must be no other way to secure the rights of people as individuals and of other nations rights from being trampled. The example of Germany, Italy, and Japan after the Second World War is just such an extreme example of when those nations rights had to be overridden. Clearly other nations had been attacked (including our own) by Axis power troops and the rights of individuals througout the areas of Axis control were non-existent.

Iraq seems to be a much less clear example. I agree with the use of the term "fascist" in discribing Saddam's regime, but much could have been done and should have been done to help those democratic forces within Iraq who wanted to change things.

You write of the "rule of law not of men" and that is clearly something to be supported, but what of bringing about "regime change" through the ignoring of international law? Could not the expressed goals of disarming Iraq and support of democratic change take place without breaking our committments to International law?

I know that such a course would run counter to the "other goal" of the policy makers who brought us this war - that of projecting US power into the region and changing the balance of power there. Unless the last goal is the real interest that is being promoted, then it would seem to me that another course to bring about the first two (disarming Iraq and human rights for Iraqis) was in order.

Sayhey
Jul 23, 2003, 02:20 PM
Originally posted by zimv20
a fill in the blank puzzle!

In any event, ____ was not free to determine the course of their society. Their society was hijacked by a fascist party with a tyrant at its head who ignored human liberty and instead brought only human misery.

From his comments yesterday it would seem that Bush will fill in the blank with the name of Syria or Iran very shortly.

macfan
Jul 23, 2003, 02:28 PM
The tension between the rights of nations and the rights of individuals is very real. International law generally ignores the rights of individuals, and in this way is itself illegitimate. The UN was the best we could do in after 1945. However, it is time for reform of the UN or a new international body or association made of countries that respect and promote the rule of law. It is time for a body of nations that will stand up to countries like Iraq and North Korea and Zimbabwe and say that they will not be full members of the family of nations unless and until they establish and promote human liberty within their own borders.

I would argue that the US and UK had a pretty good case under international law for removing Saddam, but I would also argue that Saddam's treatment of the Iraqi people was its own best case for his removal, and would have trumped the rights of Iraq as a nation state even if there was no cause under the UN resolutions or security more generally. I don't see any other way that would have worked to get rid of the Baathist Party in Iraq (Saddam & Sons) etc. short of removing them by force. They were too ingrained and too powerful. They had access to enought resources to maintain their power for a very long time.

Sayhey
Jul 23, 2003, 02:52 PM
Originally posted by macfan
The tension between the rights of nations and the rights of individuals is very real. International law generally ignores the rights of individuals, and in this way is itself illegitimate. The UN was the best we could do in after 1945. However, it is time for reform of the UN or a new international body or association made of countries that respect and promote the rule of law. It is time for a body of nations that will stand up to countries like Iraq and North Korea and Zimbabwe and say that they will not be full members of the family of nations unless and until they establish and promote human liberty within their own borders.

I would argue that the US and UK had a pretty good case under international law for removing Saddam, but I would also argue that Saddam's treatment of the Iraqi people was its own best case for his removal, and would have trumped the rights of Iraq as a nation state even if there was no cause under the UN resolutions or security more generally. I don't see any other way that would have worked to get rid of the Baathist Party in Iraq (Saddam & Sons) etc. short of removing them by force. They were too ingrained and too powerful. They had access to enought resources to maintain their power for a very long time.

So your proposal is to divide the nations of the world into those who deserve the protections of International law and those who don't? And just who is going to make the decision on which country belongs to which group? Clearly, its not the UN, but George Bush who made that decision around the invasion of Iraq. Is that who you think should divide up the nations of the world into the "good guys" and the "bad guys"? Either International law applies to all nations or it is just "the rule of men" writ large.

The case for removing Saddam is not in question, rather it was who should do the removing. I can think of many different policies that if changed would have done wonders for the promotion of democracy in Iraq and many other countries. Not supporting thugs like Saddam with arms and technology during the Iran/Iraq war is just one the springs to mind. Supporting the rights of the Kurdish miniority long before it became convenient in the first Gulf war is another. How about the decades of exploitation of the natural resources of most of the countries of the Middle East -- could a different policy helped promote democracy? For almost a century, through Republican and Democratic administrations, different policies could have been followed if the "liberty" of Iraqis was of real concern.

macfan
Jul 23, 2003, 03:21 PM
Originally posted by Sayhey
So your proposal is to divide the nations of the world into those who deserve the protections of International law and those who don't?

I'm waiting for IJ Reilly to come along and accuse you of attributing to me an opinion that I do not hold. ;)

No, my proposal is to change international law so that the rights of the people become as important as the rights of the nation state. It's a very complicated task, but wasn't required in Iraq to justify that intervention. Rights belong to the people. Nations must earn them.

You're exactly right about supporting thugs like Saddam with weapons etc. not being promoting liberty. It's a matter of changing those policies and placing greater emphasis on the promotion of liberty.

Sayhey
Jul 23, 2003, 03:52 PM
Originally posted by macfan
... However, it is time for reform of the UN or a new international body or association made of countries that respect and promote the rule of law.

Forgive my confusion. I read the above quote and it seemed to me that you advocated a new international body or a reformed UN in which the rights of nationhood would not be conferred on all nations. It would be permissable to override those national rights if some standard of individual rights was not met.
If I have misunderstood you I'm sorry, but your new statement that, "Rights belong to people. Nations earn them" sounds like someone must decide who deserves these rights and who doesn't.

I think your emphasis on individual liberty is commendable, but I would get back to the propostion that such rights depend on the rights of nations. It is impossible to have individual liberty in a colonial situation. They go hand in hand.

Perhaps, the Bush administration could go a long way to show the world its recognition of international law and the rights of individuals if it recognized the International Court in the Hague. Just a thought. Oh, didn't you like my quote a few post back from the Declaration of Independance? Seemed Jefferson etal thought national rights were pretty important. If you missed it here it is again:

Speaking of the crimes of King George -
"He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws, giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us..."

macfan
Jul 23, 2003, 05:01 PM
Sayhey,
In the same way that the Taliban was never recognized as the legitimate government of Afghanistan, a reformed UN, or, more likely, an entirely new international body certain "governments" need not be recognized as legitimate, even though the nation they rule is recognized as legitimate. In other words, the right of a nation isn't at question, but the right of a government in that nation is. I'm not saying it's easy, I'm saying it's worthwhile.

In the same way that the Commonwealth nations imposed restrictions on Zimbabwe (thus removing some of the government's rights as a nation), the freedom-loving nations of the world should make it their policy to promote liberty.

It is, in fact, possible to have significant individual liberty in a colonial situation, but I am not talking about colonial situations here.

The United States does not need an international court. Nor does the UK, France, Germany, etc.

Sayhey
Jul 23, 2003, 05:26 PM
We are not just talking about not recognizing certain governments. That is indeed an important tool that the UN and individual nations can use for governments that do not allow for basic freedoms. Sanctions and boycotts are also important methods. I worked hard, along with many others, in the divestment movement and the boycotts of South African goods during the 1980s and I know such methods are very important.

In this situation we are talking about the taking away the most basic of national rights -- the right to exist as an independant nation. Let's be clear what we're talking about when we speak of a "colonial" situtation. Iraq and the Iraqi people will never be free as long as foreign troops occupy their land. That doesn't mean we can just walk away, but we have a responsibilty to get out as soon as it is possible. That is unless our goal is to make sure that the new Iraqi regime does whatever we tell it to do.

macfan
Jul 23, 2003, 05:54 PM
Sayhey,

There are foreign (US) troops in Germany and South Korea, but I think they are free. Iraq and the Iraqi people are more free now than they have been for more than a generation, and their freedom is going to increase. I do think we have a responsibility to turn over control to a legitimate Iraqi government as soon as possible, although there may be some basing of US troops in Iraq depending on the circumstances in the region. (Much like there are US forces in Germany today). The presence of American troops in a country has generally tended to make that country more free rather than less free, historically speaking.

On South Africa, I would have liked to have seen more investment rather than less, particularly given that South Africa was capable of withstanding and getting around whatever boycotts were thrown their way (gold, diamonds, seaports, and an industrial base will do that for you), was engaged in significant trade with the "frontline" states, as they were called, (trade that was needed in those countries to sustain their own economies), and South Africa was relatively easily reformed. (They had established democratic institutions, and even though they were horribly flawed, they were established and respected). It wasn't the economic sanctions that brought the apartheid government down, although they may have played a role. It was the collapse of the Soviet Union that made the government of South Africa willing to institute real democratic reforms. In any event, sanctions or not, South Africa turned out much better than I ever imagined it would.

Sayhey
Jul 23, 2003, 06:26 PM
In Germany and So. Korea the reason given for troop deployment was to protect those countries from foreign invasion. I won't comment on the validity of both cases, but would rather ask who are we protecting Iraq from? I think the military planners and the neoconservatives have been itching to get bases in Iraq as a way to maintain a threat to nations of the region without the baggage of "occuping the land of the holy cities of Islam" (aka Saudi Arabian bases). This has nothing to do with the liberty of Iraqis. We shall see what the real reasons of this war are in the outcome of questions around bases and control of oil.

On South Africa - I have to say the idea of linking the fall of apartheid to the collapse of the Soviet Union is perhaps the most bizarre theory I heard in a long time. Just how did that work? South Africa was one of the most anti-communist nations to have ever existed.

I've heard the argument around "constructive engagement" for many years -- all of them before the fall of apartheid. Mandela and the new government are very clear on what they thought of such a policy. They thought it supported apartheid. I'm suprised that after all your posts about liberty and basic human rights you seem to view the subjugation of the overwhelming majority of the people of South Africa as just a "horrible flaw" in a "democratic system."

macfan
Jul 23, 2003, 06:55 PM
Sayhey,
You are right that the apartheid government was very anti communist. It is also true that the Soviet Union funded and trained what were basically terrorist types in southern Africa for many years, and then there was the presence of Cuban troops in Angola for a number of years as well (not to mention the war South Africa fought in Angola in an effort to prevent an insurgency war). The real presence of and fear of the Soviet Union's influence in the region on the part of the racist government of South Africa prevented reformers from gaining the upper hand. Did you ever visit South Africa during this period? They really were scared of the "communists." Once this threat was removed, the excuse for maintaining what they knew to be an immoral system collapsed.

I know what Mandela thought of the policy, and he might have been wrong. He's a great man, but he isn't infallible. I don't think apartheid would have lasted even if there had been a policy of engagement, and it would have left South Africa better off economically.

I don't know why you are surprised that I would say that South Africa had extant democratic institutions that were easily reformed. They did. There were elections, political parties, and a relatively free press even under Apartheid. There were also horrendous crimes on the part of the government, and the system itself was horrible (but the democratic institutions were not horrible. They were on the right track, they were just incomplete). Those institutions existed independently of the Apartheid laws, as evidenced by the fact that they continue to exist today under a democratic government.

"Who are we protecting Iraq from?"
Saddam. We've been protecting them with limited effectiveness for years via the no fly zones, and now we are doing so on the ground.

pseudobrit
Jul 23, 2003, 09:19 PM
Originally posted by macfan
Iraq

Iran

Cuba

North Korea

Zimbabwe.

We could go on, making sure to substitute the appropriate party as needed.

Let's see,

Afghanistan,

Iraq,

Liber... oops, ran out of military! This war stuff is really expensive and for some reason soldiers don't like dying... hmm... :confused:

Sayhey
Jul 24, 2003, 02:27 AM
macfan,

This is going way off topic, but I've got to respond about South Africa. Let's start with the "terrorists" the Soviets trained. We are talking about MPLA in Angola, FRELIMO in Mozambique, SWAPO in Namibia, ZANU and ZAPU in Zimbabwe, and of course Mandela's own ANC. These organizations fought for freedom in each of these countries and won in each case not because of some Soviet or Cuban plot but because, though you may not like their politics, they represented the aspirations of the people of their countries. For many decades they fought and died for the liberty of their people. Even in the case of Zimbabwe, which I agree with you has not turn out as well as many would hope, the old rule of a tiny group of white settlers was infinitely worse than what goes on now. Each of these organizations have histories that go very far back in the struggle for freedom and to label them "terrorists" is absurd.

In answer to your question, no I did not go to South Africa during this period. I did not go for a very simple reason - the South Africans who led the resistance movement asked people to not go. The spending of money in South Africa helped the apartheid regime to last much longer than it should have otherwise. I did meet with many South Africans - Black, white, Indian, and "colored" - during that time. Somehow, I thought that if I wanted to be supportive of the people struggling for their liberty, I should listen to them. Maybe something to do with trying not to fall into that trap of "Western arrogance" Mr. Blair was talking about.

About South Africa, you seem to miss a very important and basic point. It was not the fear of communists that kept the apartheid system in power (though they surely used that as well) it was the fear of their own people that held the support of the minority white population. It was a system based on the restriction of power from anyone who did not fit the racists view of who was worthy. It was one of the most brutal and exploitative systems ever devised and it had nothing to do with democracy. The electoral college is a "horrible flaw" in democracy; the apartheid system was the antithesis of democracy. No facade of democratic institutions can hide that. Remember Saddam had those same institutions, but like South Africa there was no reality behind the false front.

Yes, Mandela is not perfect. The current leaders are not perfect either. But if you believe liberty is not just for westerners then perhaps you should listen to a few non-westerners who have actually brought about liberty in their nation when formerly there was none. I was happy to call some of these brave people my friends and I know no one handed them their freedom because they no longer feared the Soviet Union. It does a dishonor to the thousands and thousands who died to say so. The people of South Africa, of all races, who stood against apartheid won their freedom with their own blood. Sorry, to sound so strident, but this is something I know about not just from some book I read, but having participated in it, even if to some minor extent.

As to defending Iraq from Saddam. I think the problem is what about after Saddam is gone and his forces routed? What about when a new government, complete with a new army, is set up? Should we continue to have bases in Iraq? If our goal is to keep a military presence there as somekind of geopolitical objective then the answer is yes. This is what I believe the "Bush doctrine" is really about. If our goal is to free the Iraqi people and allow them their right to choose there own path then the answer is no. We shall see what the Bush administration will do and that will answer many people's questions about the nature of this war.

maradong
Jul 24, 2003, 04:45 AM
Originally posted by zimv20
my understanding is the EU is to, in order:

1. keep its member nations from warring w/ each other
2. provide economic security for its members


true

a german friend told me once that the real impetus was to keep france and germany from fighting.
bs

and sayhay, on a rate of 0(bad) to 10( good ) for your posts you get some 100 ;-)
just WOW

wwworry
Jul 24, 2003, 07:07 AM
Originally posted by macfan
Sayhey,
You are right that the apartheid government was very anti communist. It is also true that the Soviet Union funded and trained what were basically terrorist types in southern Africa for many years, and then there was the presence of Cuban troops in Angola for a number of years as well (not to mention the war South Africa fought in Angola in an effort to prevent an insurgency war). The real presence of and fear of the Soviet Union's influence in the region on the part of the racist government of South Africa prevented reformers from gaining the upper hand. Did you ever visit South Africa during this period? They really were scared of the "communists." Once this threat was removed, the excuse for maintaining what they knew to be an immoral system collapsed.

One of the other flaws in this arguement is that it assumes apartheid was made in response to communism. It was not.

Also if the oppressed in South Africa were getting no support from Western democracies where else were they going to go for support? How else were they going to overthrow a system in which they had no voice except by "terrorism".

Sayhey
Jul 24, 2003, 07:47 AM
Originally posted by wwworry
One of the other flaws in this arguement is that it assumes apartheid was made in response to communism. It was not.

Also if the oppressed in South Africa were getting no support from Western democracies where else were they going to go for support? How else were they going to overthrow a system in which they had no voice except by "terrorism".

Thank you wwworry, well said and in a much shorter fashion than I seem to be able to manage.

maradong, thanks for the kind words. May I ask you, around the topic of the thread, what you think of the new EU constitution, the expansion with 10 new members, and the new EU president from Italy, Mr. Berlusconi (sp?).

zimv20
Jul 24, 2003, 10:16 AM
Originally posted by maradong


a german friend told me once that the real impetus was to keep france and germany from fightin


bs


but it _is_ true. british intelligence, errrrrr, my german friend _did_ tell me that!

;-)

IJ Reilly
Jul 24, 2003, 01:51 PM
Sayhey: It's a pleasure reading your articulate and knowledgeable posts. Not to worry about being too wordy.

Incidentally, am I right in thinking that your screen name is a tribute to "the great Number 24?"

wwworry
Jul 24, 2003, 05:31 PM
Originally posted by Sayhey
Thank you wwworry, well said and in a much shorter fashion than I seem to be able to manage.

just chiming in on your elegant and enlightening word

macfan
Jul 24, 2003, 06:46 PM
sayhey,

I appreciate you passion on this subject, and do not think that by any stretch that I would defend the Apartheid system. However, democratic institutions did exist there, just like they existed in the United States when there was segregation and laws banning interracial marriage and denial of voting rights and property rights etc. There were multiple political parties, a non government press, and things of this nature. The presence of these democratic institutions does not by any means excuse the evil that was the Aparthied system, but their presence did make the transition to a true democratic system easier. (Saddam, BTW, did not have the same democratic institutions. His was as government of one man, one party, and many bullets in the head. They are as different as night and day).

I do think that Apartheid could have been brought down in the same time frame without sanctions on South Africa, although we will never know for certain.

Let me explain a little more on what I called "basically terrorists types" in Southern Africa. My point isn't whether they had any other means of resistance or whether they should be called "freedom fighters." My point is that they were seen by the white South African electorate as terrorists and communists (with the exception of UNITA). The Soviet influence in the region was very real, and its removal kicked a big leg out from under the stool on which Apartheid stood. Then there was the whole UNITA/Angola/Namibia/Cuba situation. The South African government would likely not have been in talks with the ANC in 1990 had there not been a decline in the perception of threat from the Soviet Union.

Here's an interview (http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/coldwar/interviews/episode-17/botha1.html) with Pik Botha that includes a good bit of the perspective of white South Africans. It's a bit long, but worth reading. Please read it in the context of understanding the perceptions of the white South Africans at the time and the role of the Cold War in Southern Africa generally.

Again, I greatly appreciate your passion on this subject, and I do not denegrate the struggle for freedom in South Africa when I say that the fall of the Soviet Union (i.e. the decline of the Soviet threat) was an integral part in ending that system in the way it ended: without the feared bloodbath and with a constitution based on the rights embodied in our own Constitution. None of that detracts from the courage of all those South Africans, black, white, "coloured" Indian or otherwise who stood for freedom in the dark days of Apartheid.

Originally posted by wwworry
One of the other flaws in this arguement is that it assumes apartheid was made in response to communism. It was not.

Also if the oppressed in South Africa were getting no support from Western democracies where else were they going to go for support? How else were they going to overthrow a system in which they had no voice except by "terrorism".

It's not a flaw in the argument at all, because the argument isn't that Communism caused Apartheid, the argument is that it was used as a justification for continuing Apartheid and that, furthermore, the decline of the Soviet Union was a necessary precondition for the end of Apartheid. There is no reason that the cause of starting an evil system must be the same as an excuse or cause for maintaining it.

the old rule of a tiny group of white settlers was infinitely worse than what goes on now.

Go to Zimbabwe and see for yourself. Then come back and we'll talk. I think you will be stunned, as I was. Under the white rebel government in Rhodesia, the people had bread, but no freedom. Today, they have neither bread nor freedom. One wonders whether it is better to eat under tyranny or starve under it.

zimv20
Jul 24, 2003, 07:19 PM
Originally posted by macfan

Go to Zimbabwe and see for yourself. Then come back and we'll talk. I think you will be stunned, as I was.

am i reading this right that you were there? if so, why did you go?

Sayhey
Jul 24, 2003, 09:42 PM
macfan,

First sorry for taking so long to respond. Life outside of Mac Forums sometimes must come first. Last points first. I have no intention of going to Zimbabwe. Not that I would object, but budgetary priorities must go to children, rent, etc. I share some of your concerns about the present situation. Mugabe played a positive role in ousting Smith and the rest of his gang, but his grip on power holds the country back in many ways. But whatever his many mistakes and abuses, the 97% of the population that was prevented from any possible participation in the decisions of their country based on race are at least no longer prevented by that barrier. I think if you asked most of the opposition to Mugabe they would agree.

Second, I did look at the link you included. The interview with "Pik" Botha is very interesting. My overall impression is one of a man trying to justify his life in service to apartheid. This Botha, as opposed to his namesake the former Prime Minister, never was in the position to call the shots and his interview leaves many "blank" spots in the reasoning of those leaders. All one has to do is read the statements of of every Prime Minister up to and including FW DeKlerk to see the primary role racism played in their thinking. DeKlerk, at least, was smart enough to see the handwritting on the wall, but he didn't get to be Prime Minister because of any history of oppostion to apartheid. I've no doubt that Pik would like us to draw the conclusion that he really wasn't a racist, but only an anti-communist. It won't wash.

macfan, you have made it clear you do not and have never agreed with the goals of apartheid, and I have no reason to doubt your word. But I do see one similarity in yours and Botha's viewpoints. You both seem to view the world through anti-communist blinders. In Botha's case, as I said this seems to be a rationalization of his past. For whatever reason, you start your analysis from the point of view of what the Soviet Union must have been up to, not from the aims of the people involved. I would respectfully say that this is the same view that got our country in bed with some of the worst dictators of the last century. Botha's interview is a great case in point. He quotes his Prime Minister in telling him that the US had worked with the South Africans to invade Angola and support UNITA. The Congress certainly objected, but the foreign policy makers only saw Soviet influence not freedom for Angolans or Namibians. We could speak also of the Shah, Marcos, Pinochet, etc. You seem to be legitimately concerned about the spreading of liberty. I would submit to you that we can't follow such a policy and promote its cause.

Lastly, macfan, let me say if Jim Crow segregation laws existed today in all of the US, then we would not be a democracy either. I don't mean to be ahistorical about this. I think it is valid to describe the American revolution as one of the great democratic accomplishments in history. Even though that accomplishment was marred and severely limited by the existence of slavery, exclusion of women from the franchise, etc. At least an argument can be made about the times in which the founders lived and the lack of much of any type of democracy when they fought English tyranny. By the time apartheid was instituted in the beginning of the last century that historical argument was no longer valid. We have learned in the last 200+ years that such exclusions of people from democracy undermines its very existance.

wwworry and IJReilly,

thanks. I appreciate the encouragment. And yes the "Sayhey" is a tribute to the great Willie Mays. Grew up watching him play and now I'm enjoying watching his godson chase his records.

macfan
Jul 24, 2003, 10:26 PM
zimv20,
Here's why, (http://www.exploratorium.edu/eclipse/zambia/images/victoria-falls-photo.jpg) and the picture doesn't do it justice.

Sayhey,

I didn't intend for Pik Botha's interview to be for the purpose of an analysis of his moral failings in supporting a racist government (and the atrocities of that government). Rather, I wanted to show the role of the Cold War in the thought process for those people. It was there and it was quite important both as a practical matter, and, more importantly for my point, as a rhetorical justification for maintaining the Apartheid system (a system, BTW, which wasn't firmly established until the late 1940s or early 1950s if I recall. The interview was about the Cold War, so it comes as no great surprise that none of the racist attitudes were discussed. He might well have tried to make us think he wasn't a racist by pointing to external (read: Soviet) threats; he might well be trying to rationalize, but that's kind of my point.

zimv20
Jul 24, 2003, 10:43 PM
Originally posted by macfan
zimv20,
Here's why, (http://www.exploratorium.edu/eclipse/zambia/images/victoria-falls-photo.jpg) and the picture doesn't do it justice.


SWEET!

haven't been to africa yet (it's a goal), but my sleeping bag's been to kilimanjaro!

Sayhey
Jul 24, 2003, 10:59 PM
My point is that race not anti-communism was the central organizing principle of everything the South African supporters of apartheid did. That is not to say that the weren't anti-communist. Certainly they were. It just doesn't make sense to start an analysis of the situation without taking this into account.

As to the start of the Apartheid system you are right that the election of 1948 or 1950, I believe, marked the institutionization of many things that we call apartheid, but every analysis of it that I've every read starts with the Botha-Smuts regime and its racial policies during the WWI period.

About Victoria Falls, I'm sure the picture doesn't do it justice. Every account I've heard says it's breathtaking. You're a lucky man to have made the trip.

macfan
Jul 25, 2003, 01:25 AM
Originally posted by Sayhey
My point is that race not anti-communism was the central organizing principle of everything the South African supporters of apartheid did. That is not to say that the weren't anti-communist. Certainly they were. It just doesn't make sense to start an analysis of the situation without taking this into account.

As to the start of the Apartheid system you are right that the election of 1948 or 1950, I believe, marked the institutionization of many things that we call apartheid, but every analysis of it that I've every read starts with the Botha-Smuts regime and its racial policies during the WWI period.

About Victoria Falls, I'm sure the picture doesn't do it justice. Every account I've heard says it's breathtaking. You're a lucky man to have made the trip.

Yes, race was the organizing principle in Apartheid, but the decline of the Soviet Union played a critical role in the end of that system. I can promise you that if the US was staring down the Soviet Union across the Berlin Wall, if Cuban troops were still massed in Angola, and if the Soviet Union was still training insurgents, Mandela would have died in prison (you know, they tried to kill him once by setting a trap to tempt him to escape from a medical office in Cape Town, but it was sniffed out and he didn't try to escape).

One thing that is not often mentioned about Apartheid was just how much it damaged the development of other African economies. Imagine a vigourous trade between an industrial South Africa and other countries in the region. We are seeing that develop now with South African investment leading the way in other countries in the region. However, it is 40 years behind the schedule it may have had were it not for Apartheid.

zimv20,
You should go if you ever get the chance. It's on par with the Grand Canyon in terms of beauty (the Grand Canyon is much bigger). It's probably better to fly into Zambia (the falls is on the border). Beware of malaria (medicated nets for sleeping, and an antimalarial are a good idea).

zimv20
Jul 25, 2003, 01:28 AM
Originally posted by macfan

zimv20,
You should go if you ever get the chance. It's on par with the Grand Canyon in terms of beauty (the Grand Canyon is much bigger). It's probably better to fly into Zambia (the falls is on the border). Beware of malaria (medicated nets for sleeping, and an antimalarial are a good idea).

africa is on the list. but so are a lot of places :-) i did the anti-malaria regimen when i went to vietnam. but i think it's probably more necessary in parts of africa.

Sayhey
Jul 25, 2003, 03:26 AM
Originally posted by macfan
Yes, race was the organizing principle in Apartheid, but the decline of the Soviet Union played a critical role in the end of that system. I can promise you that if the US was staring down the Soviet Union across the Berlin Wall, if Cuban troops were still massed in Angola, and if the Soviet Union was still training insurgents, Mandela would have died in prison (you know, they tried to kill him once by setting a trap to tempt him to escape from a medical office in Cape Town, but it was sniffed out and he didn't try to escape).

One thing that is not often mentioned about Apartheid was just how much it damaged the development of other African economies. Imagine a vigourous trade between an industrial South Africa and other countries in the region. We are seeing that develop now with South African investment leading the way in other countries in the region. However, it is 40 years behind the schedule it may have had were it not for Apartheid.

macfan,

why is it that I get the feeling we are never going to agree on the role of the Soviet Union in the fall of apartheid?

As to your words around economic development of Africa and the role of Apartheid in holding that back, I agree wholeheartedly. Unfortunately, the AIDS crisis looks to be the next great barrier to progress in the region.

Now do we have to mention the EU every once in a while or should we just change the name of the thread?;)