Last Updated: 02.11.2005 – 2:35 AM – THIS ARTICLE IS A WORK IN PROGRESS!!!
First off, for me everything comes down to one question: “what will minimize suffering in the short/mid/long term?”
Consequently, while the answer to the above question seems to me to align with the political right, my interest lies SOLELY with the desire to understand: I am open to changing my position as, quite possibly, my present understanding may be incorrect. This issue is too important for egos to play any role in the formation of one’s opinion.
Also, I do know that much of what is here may sound like right-wing rhetoric, but please, if there is something that is obviously wrong, point it out to me, and I will change my view to take your comments into account.
Having said that, the following is how I perceive our world:
All countries are somewhere between Western and non-Western.
- The Western countries have decentralized capitalist democratic governments
- The non-Western countries are ruled by centralized elites having totalitarian control
Most are somewhere inbetween, but it’s safe to say that most are significantly closer to one of the above.
- TA. have a centralized elite governing with totalitarian control.
- TB. have low economic performance and high volatility
- TC. TA + TB mean that the optimal ways to remain in power are:
- TC1. Formation of an enemy (outside or inside)
- TC2. Fear and repressions to dissuade change in power balance
- TD. TC1 results in such countries posing a constant threat to its neighbors (Western and Non-Western alike)
- TE. TC2 results in violation of human rights on a regular basis
- WA. usually have a capitalist system
- WB. have decentralized governements
- WC. WB results in higher accountability to the populace
- WD. WC results in higher freedom and a more human society
There are voluntary and involuntary interactions between countries:
- acceleration/deceleration of involuntary interaction
- explicit aggression
- hidden aggression
The reasons for interaction between countries:
- West against Non-West:
- economic (expanding capitalism – ex: China)
- moral (abuse of human rights – ex: Bosnia)
- survival (containment of aggression – ex: Cold-war Russia)
- Non-West on West:
- survival – minimization of Western influence that undermines the elite’s control consequently jeopardizing its position
The problem: discussion
For now, the two systems could co-exist (however immoral this may be). The west practiced containment and gradual attempts at reformation and the non-West was too weak to prevent it. However, now a new form of warfare for non-Western governments emerges: terrorism coupled with weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
This warfare means that as soon as WMDs become accessible and untraceable:
1) it will be in the interest of the non-Western governments to have WMD delivered in the West with the purpose being to undermine the Western economy thereby reducing the Western influence on the non-Western world. This would make it easier for power-elites to retain power while engaging in aggressive expansion (as Russia would have if it was not contained).
2) allows the Non-Western world to engage in blackmail – resources in exchange for non-delivery of WMD (ex: North Korea)
Imagine the game kids play – one kid gets punched in the back, turns around, and has to guess who did the punching. Right now, if a nuke goes off in NY, there are only a handful of kids who could sponsor such an act. Should such happen, the West would engage those countries and destroy their leadership. However, what would happen when the number of countries/kids that could sponsor WMD delivery is not 5 but 50?
The only solution I can see is elimination of those in whose interests it is to use the WMD against the West. That means decentralization of governments from elite-based to democratic and integration of those countries into the West. This can be done abruptly through force (Iraq) or it can be done gradually (China).
Why Iraq: the problem with the Middle East is that it not moving fast enough (and, in the case of Iraq, was not moving at all) towards decentralization. To make the matters worse, US has had an increidbly weak policy in the Middle East thereby significantly reducing their influence in the region. This process has to be accelerated. Would invasion have been necessary if Iraq was not seen in context of Syria, Saudi Arabia, and other countries? Perhaps not. But in this case, the West had to gain teeth, leverage with the governments of places like Saudi Arabia – a fundamental shift for those countries is dangerous given the strong extremist population that could be used against the present government again creating an opportunity for a different totalitarian elite to gain control.
So US, the primary Western player due to its economic and political state, has an incredibly tough job of changing and accelerating democratization for the simple reason that if such does not take place, our world will decend into totalitarian madness.
Q: Why US?
A: US is the strongest economic and military entity. There is on one else.
Q: What about UN?
A: UN has very little credibility and even less clout. And for good reason – it’s largely made of those countries that need to undergo reform.
Q: What about France?
A: France is in a very difficult situation. They had a large Arab immigration wave, which, if France supported US, could cause major problems. Notice how France actually, really, gave US the ability to act unilaterally by giving an unreasonable veto when they said that they would not support any resolution that involved military action (if I remember correctly) with the resolution 1441.
Q: Where are the WMD?
A: They may have very well been an excuse. Though, even though I looked around, I still am not convinced that there was conclusive evidence either way, which means that force was arguably justified (someone points a gun at you – are you justified in shooting even though you might find out post-facto that there was no bullet inside?)
Q: What about the rest of Europe? People hate US!!!
A: The sad thing is that media and interests rule both here in the US and in Europe. Very few individuals actually have a good reason as to why they are pro or anti-Bush both here in the states and in Europe. The fact that Bush won, from where I sit, I see as a very fortunate event, but in no way indicative of how right he is in his actions. After all, US didn’t enter WWII because such an action would have been unpopular, although now, with 20/20 hindsight we know that it was a grave mistake.
Q: Bush and his cronies have a lot to gain – they are doing it for oil!
A: A closer look shows that things are not that simple. With Cheney, for instance, the accusations with regard to Halliburton are false. Moreover, this is a man who could make insane money in the private sector, but nevertheless chose politics. My guess is that to these people money is control over resources and, consequently, I feel there is good reason to believe that they are indeed ideologically driven (for better or for worse) rather than to get an extra buck. And even if someone does have something to profit, if this solves the problem the West is facing, do we care? Do you care why the doctor is operating on you so long as he does a good job?
Q: Why Iraq? Why not Saudi Arabia, Sudan, or Rwanda, or all those other places where things are worse?
A: Context of the Middle East, convenience, politics. If you demonstrate to me that invasion of Saudi Arabia would have led to less suffering, then I would stop supporting Bush. Keep in mind – Iraq is more educated than many countries and has oil that makes revival of its economy far easier. Don’t get me wrong, I feel that we should get involved in other areas as well, but because of the way things are (i.e. things are rarely done for moral reasons), that does not seem like a real possibility right now (unless people in democratic societies get their acts together). But this is a topic for another discussion.
Q: Who does US think they are to impose their lifestyle on other countries?
A: First off, it’s not US, but the West (the fact that a large portion of Europe doesn’t support US I think only speaks ill of politics – they are driven by short-term political gain where there is anti-US momentum in the society). Not getting involved results in abuse of human rights – try saying “well, we didn’t want to get involved” to the victims. And you need not go far – look at Sudan. Why aren’t we in there? Because the world politicians are corrupt and are abusing and perpetuating that specific hands-off position in their populace.
Please feel free to respond. Please keep in mind that to be constructive, my mind can be changed if I am persuaded of one of the following:
1) my understanding of the problem is wrong (disprove the initial conditions)
2) there is an alternative solution
perhaps there are other things, but I can’t quite see what they would be.
And so, at present, the answer to the question “What minimizes the suffering of all people?” is, so far, a very aggressive democraticazion of the world, and that is what Bush’s foreign policy seems to be about.