International worries for 2006 Posted by: McQ
on Monday, January 02, 2006
Lee Hamilton lists some of his worries about the international scene in 2006. Before getting to those, however, he says:
While we should support the spread of democracy, we have cause to worry about the results of democracy serving as a near-term antidote to this instability. Americans must recognize that democracy does not always yield outcomes to our liking. In Latin America, populist discontent has prompted a string of victories for left-wing governments that are ambivalent, if not hostile, toward the United States. In China, where we correctly support political reform, a too-rapid onset of democracy could lead to instability.
Whether by purpose or fiat that's pretty much the official "Bush Doctrine" as it has risen out of the Iraqi venture. Hamilton makes an important point here. If we agree that democracy is a good thing, we have to also understand that not every democracy will be like our democracy. The point of wanting more democracies is they are much less likely to prey on their own people or the rest of the world. However, we are not going to fashion the world's emerging democracies into "little Americas". They have cultures and traditions which preclude that. Instead what the US and UN should concern themselves with is establishing democracies and a means of protecting young democracies from being overtaken by authoritarianism before they can plant their democratic roots deep. Venezuela is an example of the possiblity latter event occurring.
On to the list of Hamilton's worries:
The popularity of "political Islam," fundamentalist Islam as a guiding political movement, poses the most immediate concern. In the Middle East, Islamist movements are the only potent opposition to existing rulers. In Iraq, many Americans are uneasy with the probability that Shiite Islamist parties with close ties to Iran are emerging as victors of recent elections. In Egypt, where we are pressing for reform, the largest opposition party is the Muslim Brotherhood.
Interestingly this goes back to Hamilton's point about emerging democracies not perhaps being in the form we perfer. He cites Iraq and the possiblity that basically parties with ties to Iran may emerge as the winner. I'd point out that it is those parties, or at least their representatives, who've been nominally in charge of the country for almost a year. It has also become fairly clear that while both Iran and Iraq are Shiite, that doesn't at all mean that there's a meeting of the minds or a desire to grant influece to Iran within the government.
That's not to say Iran won't try or that some of those coming to power in Iraq won't be open to such an arrangment. But as the vote shakes out it is becoming more and more clear that the religious slate will not have enough of a percentage of the parliament to form a government without a coalition involving the Kurds or Sunnis or both.
As for Egypt, the emergence of the Muslim brotherhood should not come as a particular surprise given its suppression over the years and the natural inclination of people, given an opportunity to express dissatisfaction with the state of politics in a Muslim country to turn to a religiously based opposition party.
Not mentioned in Hamilton's "worry" are the protests in Jordan after the al Qaeda bombings and Lebanon's forcing out of Syria. Those events demonstrated a distinct move away from the extremists.
Migration is another trend posing mounting difficulties. In many European cities, large, predominantly Muslim immigrant populations are not effectively integrated. This poses multiple risks: civil unrest, as recently took place in France; a foothold in Europe for Islamic radicalism; or an ugly anti-immigrant backlash. Meanwhile, in the U.S., a long-simmering debate about how to reform our immigration policy may reach full boil in 2006.
I think, at least in Europe, you could see "an ugly anti-immigrant backlash". I believe that's already begun in the Neatherlands and will manifest itself even more this year. Europe has a bit of a history there.
It will also be interesting to see what comes out of France in terms of the government finally reacting in a measurable way to the riots which engulfed the country this past year. Will the government cave to the rioters and go overboard in an attempt to appease? That could bring simmering public outrage and resentment to a boil and create a backlash. Or will France take a harder line and a more anti-immigrant stance? How will it effect the upcoming elections in France? I see France as a potential bellweather for "Old Europe's" response (leaving out the UK, of course).
And, as Hamilton notes, we have our own immigration debate looming and I agree that 2006 will see the first real shots fired in the battle over illegal immigration, due to the midterm elections. Watch for Congressional races, especially those which involve potential candidates in '08 for the presidency, to test out their immigration planks for that run.
Immigration is just one of several economic vulnerabilities. U.S. budget and trade deficits are unsustainable, and the day when we will have to reckon with them is drawing nearer. Inequality is disturbingly high, at home and abroad. The seemingly limitless pool of low-wage workers around the world poses risks for American workers who may see more jobs outsourced. Globalization distributes its benefits unevenly, and denies them to countries that lack new technologies.
The outsourcing boogey man is simply a red herring. As many studies have shown, we "insource" more than we "outsource". And do we particularly want "low wage" jobs anyway? According to supporters of open immigration, the estimated 11 million illegals here now are here because American's refuse to do low wage work.
Of course anyone with any sense at all would agree that the deficits we are currently running cannot be sustained indefinitely, they aren't as accute as Hamilton would have us believe at the moment. Obviously, though, measures to rectify the budget deficit should be addressed immediately and forcefully, but the favored method of deficit reduction championed by libertarians is to be found in two words: cut spending.
And yes, Globalization does indeed distribute its benefits unevenly. It's process, not a solution. But pursuing the process at least promises more benefits to the have-nots in the long run. To use the political analogy which is particularly apt, the process of Globalization is like watching sausage being made ... it's ain't pretty, but in the end, tastes pretty darn good.
International institutions are failing to keep pace. The United Nations is falling behind nimble threats like terrorism, failed states and proliferation, and is not demonstrating the ability to reform. The International Atomic Energy Agency lacks the authorities and capabilities to conduct robust inspections of suspected nuclear sites. The World Trade Organization has at times been a forum for finger-pointing rather than constructive action to resolve trade disputes and effectively advance international trade.
Here Hamilton nails one. One that's pretty obvious, but he get's it right nevertheless. The UN has become all but ineffective over the last decade. To this point I'm not sure if that's because of the lack of leadership by Kofi Annan, the fact that it has simply become more bureaucratically moribund or a bit of both. Probably the latter. Annan, in my opinion, has been a disaster for the UN. And essentially, other than to express outrage, or pass meaningless resoltuions, the UN has indeed been totally ineffective against terrorism, failed states and proliferation as Hamilton notes. The IAEA and WTO too are toothless and clawless tigers who have may still roar a bit but in reality have little or no real effect.
One of the reasons the US is in Iraq right now is because the UN didn't have the fortitude to back it's own resolution against Iraq. It's organization and process didn't allow it. Fans of "one world government" can't be encouraged by this at all, which is fine with me.
If we're to have a UN, IAEA and WTO at all, they must be considered tools for use by democratic countries around the world to spread democracy. They shouldn't be governments or sovereign agencies with unilateral powers nor should they be what they are now, third world debating societies. All three agencies need a thorough revamping and reorganization. And we can begin by removing the abominable Kofi Annan from his position as Secretary General of the UN. Frankly I'd prefer, as has been mentioned here a time or two, a total reorganization of the UN into a league of democracies.
As for the WTO, real free trade would solve a lot of the "Globalization" problems Hamilton notes above. That would mean an end to all subsidies by all governments ... both corporate and agricultural. Let the market dictate the winners in such a move. My guess is plenty of those who Hamilton would identify as being on the short end of the "benefits" of Globalization would see a pretty immediate change in that regard.
Not mentioned in Hamilton’s "worry" are the protests in Jordan after the al Qaeda bombings and Lebanon’s forcing out of Syria. Those events demonstrated a distinct move away from the extremists.
More specifically, perhaps, the DESIRE to move away from such people. That, it seems to me is the first step. Rather like George Carlin’s observation regards the concept of Original Sin: "Ya gotta WANNA".
That desire, it seems to me, is what has been lacking until recently... and it’s recent appearence can be taken, I think, as a psitive sign, in an area which has had all too few of them.
The trick now, of course, is going to be arranging for something else , some other movement, to attach themselves to. As Hamilton and you both rightly point out that tendency has been to lean on extremist versions of religion to override the current political power structure. This, as much as anything, is the cultural influence it work.
This, then, is the hope of Iraq; that having been exposed to the fact that there are other ways out there, that the Iraqis will choose one of them, or make their own combination of them. THey’re now aware, perhaps for the first time, that there are other options to follow. Personally, I expect they will coose one of the newer (to them) paths. That may take some time, and some doing, since cultural change generally use less quick than some naysayers will like. But, it will happen.
I’ve been of the opinion for some time that the Bush doctrine’s emphasis on Democracy is misleading and ultimately self-discrediting. Nobody seriously questions that supporting Pervez Musharraf is the least-bad course of action in Pakistan at the moment (to take just one prominent example), but that’s pretty hard to justify within a democracy-centric framework. Republicans seem to have forgotten at some point that freedom is 90% economic, and that market liberalization does more to further the interests of both foreigners and the US public than elections do.
Freedom is about being able to go where you want, buy what you want, sell what you want, say what you want and do what you want. It’s not about ticking a little box every couple of years. Democracy is a means, not an end, and it means a lot more than just voting -- it means building civil institutions with strong roots and the decentralization of power, with the end in mind of building a stable society which promotes maximum freedom for its inhabitants. "Spreading democracy" shouldn’t be a guiding policy objective; it should be one tactic among many to be applied where appropriate. This resolves the contradictions in the Bush doctrine as it’s commonly conscieved, merging idealism with realism.
Freedom is about being able to go where you want, buy what you want, sell what you want, say what you want and do what you want. It’s not about ticking a little box every couple of years. Democracy is a means, not an end, and it means a lot more than just voting -- it means building civil institutions with strong roots and the decentralization of power, with the end in mind of building a stable society which promotes maximum freedom for its inhabitants.
Exactly. But it has to have a place from which to start and grow. We commonly call those places "democracies" because they foster precisely the institutions necessary, at least to a greater degree than does other systems, for freedom.
"Spreading democracy" shouldn’t be a guiding policy objective; it should be one tactic among many to be applied where appropriate. This resolves the contradictions in the Bush doctrine as it’s commonly conscieved, merging idealism with realism.
Sure, fine. But again, there’s still the real world and in some places that’s going to require realpolitik ... like Pakistan, for at least the time being (or said another way, we can’t change the whole word democratically, so we have to prioritize within our capabilites and live with some less that democratic regimes at least temporarily).
But again, there’s still the real world and in some places that’s going to require realpolitik ... like Pakistan, for at least the time being (or said another way, we can’t change the whole word democratically, so we have to prioritize within our capabilites and live with some less that democratic regimes at least temporarily).
I submit to you that all that’s needed to start an avalanche is one good sized pebble.
I’ve been of the opinion for some time that the Bush doctrine’s emphasis on Democracy is misleading and ultimately self-discrediting.
I’m not sure that their emphasis on democracy necessarily implies a failure to account for political realities on the ground — such as in Pakistan.
market liberalization does more to further the interests of both foreigners and the US public than elections do.
I tend to agree. When we discussed the slogan for this blog, I actually suggested "Free Markets Free People" — no comma. It’s my belief that, in general, free markets tend to create a wealthier society and a middle class, which tends to make the proles demand more of their government. They do, after all, have more to protect.
"Spreading democracy" shouldn’t be a guiding policy objective; it should be one tactic among many to be applied where appropriate.
I suspect that’s already true — but not necessarily stated for popular consumption. America has always had a very strong aversion to realpolitik. Idealists, ironically, is not well suited to accomplishing their aims. So, historically, leaders have spread the idealism thick while actually employing ethical realism.
For political reasons, I’m not sure that’s really possible, Matt. Would the incredibly isolationist US electorate have been willing to be pushed into WWI or WWII had the President not put it in the most idealistic possible terms? I suspect Roosevelt would have been flayed had the public known what he was doing prior to the war and why.
I’m not suggesting lying as policy, per se. But one always tailors a message to an audience.
There is a new "ism" in the world. It is Globalism. It no longer matters if you are a Communist, Socialist, Capitalist or whatever since the tool of Globalism is so called Free Trade with the main commodities being workers in a new kind of slave trade based on a wage slave trade where workers are put on a world trading block to compete with one another down the lowest levels of wages including even child labor.
This new "ism" bypasses the politics for the money. International organizations like the WTO control the flow of wealth with governments acting as brokers no matter who they are on the political map. Actually the governing powers are networks involved with the vast trans national corporations who actually run the show. Teddy Roosevelt said it worst fear for America is when government ties up with large corporations. This has happened in our times. Franklin Roosevelt said economic diseases are highly communicable and these diseases are rampant today. Pope John Paul said workers are not tools of Capitalism but today they are.
Free Enterprise is supposed to be a simple process where someone can make or grow something and add a margin where they can make enough to support the enterprise and themselves while having something left over to support those who are left out of the process.
It is obvious that this is no longer the rule and a so called "lost leader" economy has taken over where the entity with the most money outlasts the entities with the least money by selling under costs to capture market shares or they use any means to accomplish the same. There is "dirty" money washed clean in the process.
This is the backdrop for people like the Bush network who find any way to gain and isolate market shares for their own gain.
The people of the world witness this artificial process and those who are left out of it try to make their make it on their own in other ways. Thus wars evolve around the struggle in the survival of the fittest.
View more and the Cross 9/11 Tangle of Terror artwork by Ray Tapajna asking who will now untangle the terror globalism and free trade have bred at Tapart News and Art that Talks at http://tapsearch.com/tapartnews/ http://www.experiencedesignernetwork.com/archives/000636.html http://www.petitionthem.com/?sect=detail&pet=2573 http://www.graphicsforums.com/public/list.asp?id=1247 http://www.aboutglobalization.com http://www.tapsearch.com/globalization/id5.html