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[P]
US wants UN tribunals closed.

By valeko in Op-Ed
Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 09:37:19 PM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

According to an article from the Washington Times (also see article from BBC), the Bush administration has expressed its opposition to the pace with which the UN war-crimes tribunals for Rwanda and former Yugoslavia are proceeding with the work outlined in their stated purpose.

Furthermore, the US policymaking apparatus appears to have re-iterated its opposition to a permanent and international UN war-crimes tribunal.


Thus, the US has taken an [implicit] position against the existing UN war crimes tribunals, including that which is handling the case of former premier of Serbia, Slobodan Milosevic.

The official post-Cold War position of the United States in respect to the establishment of an international war crimes tribunal has never been stated in particularly uncertain terms or been ambiguous. The position is one that opposes such an institution entirely, except in a situation where it can receive strict guidance from the American leadership.

In 1998, delegates from most countries of the world voted in Rome on whether to create an international criminal court to prosecute solciders and political leaders charged with war crimes, crimes against humanity/genocide, and et cetera. This is different from the existing UN war crimes tribunals in that it would have jurisdiction over individual offendors and that the new entity would be consolidated and permanent, meaning that special tribunals would not have to be convened for any one express purpose (such as the Yugoslavia tribunal is). It seemed only ostensible that the US would support such an initiative; after all, nobody has publicised the virtues of human rights more than the United States. Furthermore, the US had a grand role in the Nuremberg Trials in pioneering the very idea that governments and political leaders are subject to some form of international justice for human rights abuses. The vote came out in favour of such a court by an overwhelming margin - 120 for, to 7 opposed. Notably in support of the international criminal court treaty were the leading western democracies, including Canada, Britain, the Netherlands, France, Germany, and Japan. The seven who opposed the initiative were Algeria, China, Israel, Libya, Qatar, Yemen, and ... the United States.

The US position was as follows: such a court would only be supported by the US if the cases which it would handle were to be received from the UN Security Council, a body where the United States can veto any action that the council seeks to undertake with a single vote. The justification for this position was that American officials must protect their permanently deployed soldiers from "politically motivated charges" due to the "special global responsibilities" of the US. Thus, no judicial proceedings can be initiated against American soldiers or agents unless the US itself would permit them. Therefore, the US asserts that it is above the jurisdiction of such "international law", a concept which it has upheld at other times with great pep and vigour when it has been convenient to do so. In fact, this by itself was not enough. The American representative to the convention, Bill Richardson, managed to underscore extensions of this logic that run along the lines of (paraphrase): "[because the US is] the world's greatest military and economic power" and frequently intervenes in various humanitarian catastrophes, such a "unique position" leaves American personnel vulnerable to an international criminal court capable of arresting and trying individuals.

Clinton's Secretary of Defense William Cohen bullied the delegates to this convention further by making the threat to remove American forces from the territories of those allies who did not support the American proposal for curbing the jurisdiction of the international court. The US also began to wage a substantial financial campaign to compel other allies. Clearly the prospect of American forces being subject to the jurisdiction of an entity with the purpose of administering justice upon those guilty of war crimes ... was not in the American interest.

Since then (according to the BBC article above), 52 countries have actually ratified this international court treaty, which is referred to therein as the Rome Statute. Once 60 countries ratify it, the court comes into existence. The US has actually signed it, but not ratified, and there is substantial Republican pressure inside the US to withdraw the American signature.

So back to the question of these recent events. Let the people of K5 discuss - why does the US, a champion of 'human rights' and democracy, express an apparently hostile position to the current tribunal trying Slobodan Milosevic. This news seems to have come seemingly out of the blue. What is the underlying motivation?

One possible theory I can offer is that since Milosevic is able to defend himself in this court, he is also able to subpoena defense witnesses himself. This greatly increases the chances of information about American involvement in Yugoslavia (and elsewhere) being revealed, and perhaps the American leadership finds this undesirable? On the other hand, this appears to strike a hard blow at the claim that the Hague tribunal is an entirely US-controlled entity seeking to indict Milosevic out of unilateral political motivations.

What do you think, K5 reader?

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Poll
Do you support a UN international court of this nature?
o Absolutely! It would be a great milestone for the cause of international justice global accountability. 36%
o Yes, provided that it has some kind of safeguard to prevent it from overstepping its jurisdiction and that its proceedings are open to public critique. 34%
o I support the American proposal for limiting its jurisdiction through the Security Council. 0%
o No. The potential for the abuse of such an institution is frightening. 13%
o This court idea, like the rest of the UN, is a joke. Only the US really rules (through the Security Council it controls). 5%
o I don't believe in "international law"; everyone is sovereign and justice should be Darwinian. If you're big and bad enough to prosecute others, than you can, otherwise, sucks for you. 7%
o The US should furnish and host all aspects of "international law" because the US is the biggest and the most powerful. 0%
o I'm really quite indifferent to the whole thing. 2%

Votes: 108
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o an article
o Washington Times
o BBC
o Also by valeko


Display: Sort:
US wants UN tribunals closed. | 332 comments (330 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
Going to get me a gambling woman (4.53 / 13) (#1)
by medham on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 05:24:12 PM EST

There's a lot of amusing history about the U.S. and its relationship with international convention. To summarize: the U.S. has thoroughly and consistently ignored all international jurisdiction except in the few cases where it was politically convenient not to.

Does anyone know how many UN resolutions have had voting totals such as 167 for, 2 against (U.S./Israel) with Uruguay abstaining?

We can't suffer the political embarrassment and precedent of having Kissinger tried at the Hague, for example

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.

Kissenger opposed Nixons a-bomb lust (2.44 / 9) (#19)
by imrdkl on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 06:14:09 PM EST

As is now to be seen on most of the major news outlets. Put him in the Hague, and I bet he'd talk their wigs right off their heads. I'm damn glad and proud we still have the gall to vote with the Jews, too. Even if you prefer the other option.

[ Parent ]
Are you kidding? This somehow absolves Kissinger? (4.00 / 4) (#22)
by valeko on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 06:20:09 PM EST

And you think this little tidbit of conversation somehow absolves Kissinger of the responsibility for the criminal and atrocious policies he enacted?

You've got be joking.

From this page, a few choice quotes that are more representative of Kissinger's true character:

Incredibly, Henry Kissinger the man who rivals Pol Pot for the dubious honor of being the person responsible for the death of the largest number of innocent people in South East Asia (and far surpasses Pol Pot in criminality when one factors in Kissinger's various levels of responsibility for wholesale slaughter and repression in other parts of the world) [...]

You should do your research! Kissinger is guilty of war crimes of dimensions that cannot begin to be conceived, and ones which certainly make irrelevant his opposition to dubious "Nixon's a-bomb lust" on some White House tapes.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

So then... (4.14 / 7) (#26)
by trhurler on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 06:25:29 PM EST

Why is it that so many people bluster about Kissinger's "war crimes," while none are willing to give specifics? Did he order the massacres of civilians? Where and when? Did he order rape, or torture? Where? When? Did he order the deliberate destruction of civilian infrastructure(he is on record at the time as having opposed bombing of dikes that would have killed civilians, even though it would have been a GREAT military move to win the war?) Where and when?

Basically, I think the whole thing is rather overblown, as primarily evidenced by the lack of concrete claims and the incredible level of noise and bluster.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Just a few things (4.25 / 4) (#40)
by medham on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 06:41:00 PM EST

He ordered indiscriminate bombing (pardon the pleonasm) of at least two neutral countries. He helped orchestrate the assassination of Allende, a democratically-elected leader of a sovereign state.

Your example about his munificence regarding the bombing of the dikes should be tempered by the realization that this would have drowned more than a million people and very possibly have resulted in nuclear war.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

ok (4.00 / 6) (#46)
by trhurler on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 07:03:26 PM EST

First off, I doubt the bombing was all that "indiscriminate." It probably had targets, but that doesn't mean the targets were appropriate ones. Some details would be in order, I'd think.

Second, I doubt that orchestrating the assassination of a political leader is a war crime. The general agreement of the legal community on this issue is that while unpleasant to contemplate, leaders of countries do in fact constitute a part of their own militaries by virtue of being in command of them, and are legal targets.

Finally, neither the bombing mentioned nor the assassination are anywhere near the scale of the activities we typically classify as war crimes.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
He's got bigger tits than Cher. [nt] (1.00 / 6) (#47)
by beergut on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 07:07:48 PM EST


i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

Victors classify war crimes (4.00 / 4) (#49)
by medham on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 07:12:23 PM EST

And I'm not sure that the survivors of Pinochet (or those in Laos or Cambodia) would agree about these actions' lack of criminality.

Though the subject line is true, it plainly should not be. Trying Kissinger would be one step along that path.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

Err. (2.50 / 4) (#69)
by valeko on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 08:00:41 PM EST

But surely propping up someone like Augusto Pinochet Ugarte constitutes a war crime? This was directly presided over by Mr. Kissinger.

Maybe you don't think it's a war crime, in your cozy little existence. But I'm sure those that lived to tell about his regime might think differently.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

war crime != anything bad (5.00 / 3) (#161)
by Guy Ginn on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 12:13:37 PM EST

But surely propping up someone like Augusto Pinochet Ugarte constitutes a war crime?

Huh? I'm not debating the issue of the goodness of proping up Pinochet, but your opinion that this is a war crime. First, how is supporting the leadership of a country a crime? Certain actions may be crimes, but the supporint of a regime cannot be. Should Bush look for a lawyer because he supports the Turkish or Egyptian leadership?

Second, how in the hell is this a war crime? You may consider it a crime against humanity, a crime in the War on the Masses, or whatever rhetorical term you'd like to use, but a "war crime" is not just a term of rhetoric, it is a term of law. These are useful terms of speech, but you should not demean someone ( in your cozy little existence ) when they point out, correctly and factually, that the action does not meet the definition of the term.

You may use terms liberally when debating, but to denigrate someone for using the true meaning of words is just rude.

By the way, the propping up of Pinochet could never be considered a war crime, unless you think I should be jailed for murder for downloading an mp3 from Morpheus. Even the ordering/allowing of Allende's murder would not be considered a war crime. A crime, perphaps, but not a war crime.

Misuing powerful words make them lose their meaning. I've personally heard the term rape used recently and found it offensively out of place.

[ Parent ]

Do you even know what neutral means? (4.75 / 4) (#104)
by sonovel on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 12:11:54 AM EST

If you don't or can't prevent another country from using your country as a military supply route, your country is not neutral.

From:

http://www.switzerland.taskforce.ch/W/W2/W2a/a1_e.htm

comes this about neutrality:

In particular, the neutral state must not support a warring party with its own armed forces, nor allow its territory to be used for military purposes by foreign armies.

This requirement for neutrality is based on the Hague Convention of 1907.

So, if Cambodia was used _even against its will_ to the benefit of North Vietnam, then it can't claim to be neutral!

[ Parent ]
Neutral (3.50 / 2) (#142)
by A Trickster Imp on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 08:49:05 AM EST

It's that "one hand tied behind your back" crap from Vietnam that the US government learned the hard way the US population would not put up with.

We won't bomb here, we won't bomb there, we won't bomb over there, it might upset foreign professional hand wringers. Oh, my.


It is not illegal or immoral to bomb places in a "neutral" country that have supply paths going through them. Hell, there were places in NV they didn't want to bomb, and that was the damned antagonist, no less.






[ Parent ]
Kissenger had cast iron gonads (3.50 / 4) (#43)
by imrdkl on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 06:56:04 PM EST

HK brought us out of our dreamworld where we thought we could deliver the American way anywhere we wanted, Johnsons folly, if you will. A painful lesson, that.

And he did it by looking across the table at the rulers and powers of the most densely populated and subjugated countries in the world, and made them deal. With Nixons backing (usually), a war was ended that I somehow doubt you were alive to see. At least not the nightly body counts, anyways. (closer track was kept of bodies back then)

Mind the CT, tr

[ Parent ]

What a bunch of horseshit (3.50 / 4) (#50)
by medham on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 07:18:04 PM EST

Kissinger is a megalomaniac with whose vaunted Metternichean realism very nearly got all of us killed (that pretty much goes for any of you reading, however antipodian you might be).

And I hope you're not talking about the North Vietnamese that Kissinger "made deal," because that's not quite how it turned out, remember.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

So, you're saying (3.66 / 3) (#53)
by imrdkl on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 07:21:32 PM EST

that the powers that were, in China and Vietnam would have gladly gone on sacrificing their people and resources forever, right? I think Kissenger knew that. And he got the deal done, anyways.

[ Parent ]
Maybe I misread again... (2.80 / 5) (#81)
by valeko on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 08:50:18 PM EST

that the powers that were, in China and Vietnam would have gladly gone on sacrificing their people and resources forever, right? I think Kissenger knew that. And he got the deal done, anyways.

Well, that's one I haven't heard before - Kissinger was doing it to satisfy China and Vietnam, who were quite sick of the drain on their people and resources?

How nice. I thought it was more that dissatisfaction with the war in the US had reached such a proportion that failing to take steps that "end" it would've cost Nixon a re-election. Judging by Watergate, he was quite concerned with re-election indeed...


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Again, you misinterpret me (3.33 / 3) (#87)
by imrdkl on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 09:46:22 PM EST

Kissenger's mandate was not to satisfy, but to end the killing. The dissatisfaction at home I have already acknowledged. Kissenger got the deal done.

[ Parent ]
A diffficult task indeed (3.50 / 4) (#152)
by yanisa on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 11:03:44 AM EST

1. Get all american soldiers from Vietnam back to USA
2. Erm.......

Yan

I think this line's mostly filler
[ Parent ]

This is a lie. (4.00 / 4) (#67)
by valeko on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 07:56:30 PM EST

Johnson for the most part inherited the tragedies created by the criminals Truman, Eisenhower, and to some extent perpetuated by Kennedy. While undoubtably much of the responsibility for Vietnam rests with him, his role in singlehandedly initiating the Vietnam conflict is undoubtably overrated. Many of the brutalities that took place during his administration were perpetrated by an independent apparatus that functioned peripherally to the Constitution and international standards of decency, such as the CIA. Not to absolve Johnson of the failure to put an end to this effectively, of course.

Regardless, Nixon never had any intention of putting an end to any conflict except where failure to do so would undermine his re-election. Nixon is one of the biggest criminals of the Cold War.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Not a lie, a misreading on your part (3.00 / 2) (#70)
by imrdkl on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 08:03:55 PM EST

I never blamed Johnson for anything, except perhaps a badly overblown sense of invincibility. I know he didn't make the mess, but he didn't help clean it up much, either. Nixon did, and Kissenger made it so.

[ Parent ]
What is wrong with you? (1.00 / 2) (#75)
by valeko on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 08:18:51 PM EST

So, killing more SE Asians than Pol Pot constitutes "cleaning up the mess"? Oh boy. What's next from you, an endorsement of a bombing holocaust against Arabs to clean up that whole terrorism mess..?

"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

We've gone offtopic (3.50 / 2) (#79)
by imrdkl on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 08:40:02 PM EST

to your original assertions, which stated that the US (yes, thats me too) doesn't support justice. If you want to talk about the action against terrorism, we can take that up elsewhere.

[ Parent ]
Oops. (2.66 / 3) (#80)
by valeko on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 08:44:38 PM EST

I didn't really mean to steer the discussion in the direction of "fighting terrorism". I was trying to provide an example that adequately conveys the absurdity that I find in your suggestion that Kissinger/Nixon "cleaned up the mess" or "fixed" anything.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Looking good internationally (none / 0) (#212)
by Banjonardo on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 08:05:12 PM EST

I'm damn glad and proud we still have the gall to vote with the Jews

Dude, it's many times the OTHER WAY AROUND. I am proud of Brazil sometimes voting against Israel sometimes, even though we invariably become "Nazi anti-semites."

Jeez. Some people have to get real and realize others will disagree with them.
I like Muffins. MOLDY muffins.
[ Parent ]

World court: ignored only when condemned (5.00 / 5) (#145)
by I am Jack's username on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 10:08:12 AM EST

> the U.S. has thoroughly and consistently ignored all international jurisdiction except in the few cases where it was politically convenient not to. -- medham

1989-12-07 U.N. Press release GA/7603, a UN resolution to condemn terrorism: yes=153 countries, no=2 (USA and Israel, and supported by apartheid South Africa), abstain=1 (Honduras)
--
Inoshiro for president!
"War does not determine who is right - only who is left." - Bertrand Russell
[ Parent ]

Several things (2.96 / 32) (#2)
by trhurler on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 05:25:00 PM EST

First, the US Constitution prohibits our government from participating in any such activity, and requires it to protect our citizens from such a thing.

Second, given the rabid anti-American sentiment throughout the world, I do not believe we could maintain our international presence were such a court instituted. Cheer now, but then all you foriegn bastards have to foot the bill for your own defense, which will mean gutting all those free healthcare programs and whatnot, because frankly you don't have the money to pay for all this stuff, even if you paid 100% in taxes.

Third, I am personally opposed to the idea of giving a court such as this any real power; the "trials" conducted so far by these bodies have been kangaroo courts with standards of evidence and so on so loose that basically they're just formalities conducted before the inevitable sentencing. You might as well just line them all up, scream "you're guilty" and then shoot them. It'd be cheaper and faster, and you'd get precisely the same results.

I do not believe most of the world even really understands what a proper court system is, much less could participate in one without political bias and show trials. Therefore, I'm opposed to giving courts run by those people jurisdiction over US citizens.

This may be the only thing Clinton did that I can agree with him on.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

I agree somewhat, but not entirely. (3.33 / 9) (#6)
by valeko on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 05:35:34 PM EST

Cheer now, but then all you foriegn bastards have to foot the bill for your own defense, which will mean gutting all those free healthcare programs and whatnot, because frankly you don't have the money to pay for all this stuff, even if you paid 100% in taxes.

I really don't think that you can say such a thing empirically. There are many countries that have managed to have perfectly good socialised healthcare (and maybe even education!) while spending plenty on defense. I suppose you might regard the defense:GDP ratio as the most telling indicator, even though I really don't... but according to the CIA World Factbook, France spends 2.5% of its GDP on military expenditures, the UK 2.7%, and the US 3.2%.

True, Europe does not have a substantial defense force, although its meagreness is exaggerated. But the factor of the US constantly interfering with the possibility of further unification between Russia (which still has a substantial, if neglected, military) and Europe (with its economic power) should not be neglected. This would pose a formidable strategic counterweight to the US.

But your generalisation is poor. The rest of the world does not rest on America's mighty shoulders with its socialised medicine while the US does its "grunt work" - that's just not how it works. You need to re-evaluate your perception of the strategic [im]balance in the world.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

% GDP is crap... (3.50 / 2) (#102)
by physicsgod on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 11:54:04 PM EST

Here's why. If Bill Gates and Joe Sixpack both go to Vegas to bet 10% of their net worth who's going to get tapped out first?

The US spent $277 Billion in 1999, The UK: $37 Billion, France: $40 Billion, and Germany: $33 Billion. In other words France, Britian, and Germany combined would have to double their military spending to even approach the US. That might not necessatate a 100% tax rate, but it would hurt.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]

You can't compare military might in dollars (4.00 / 1) (#108)
by autonomous on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 01:01:27 AM EST

You can't compare military might based on dollars. It just doesn't make sense, sure the US spends a zillion trillion dollars every day, wow. but when you stop to think that 50B dollars have gone to a missile defense plan that HAS NEVER WORKED, and the military is funding research into high tech composite toilet seats that cost $9000 each. Where as the european military often spends on guns, planes, tanks and men (and using COTS toilet paper). The US HAS to dispose of funds into military, even if that money actually just goes in a big trough for the future just to fuel the we're being attacked on all sides propaganda. You can't scream about the sky falling and expect people to re-elect you if you don't spend money like it really is.
-- Always remember you are nothing more than a collection of complementary chemicals worth not more than $5.00
[ Parent ]
You're a moron. (3.00 / 1) (#115)
by physicsgod on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 01:24:02 AM EST

I'm tempted to leave my response at that, but there might be some hope of educating you.

You can't compare military might based on dollars.
Tell that to the Soviets.

...a missile defense plan that HAS NEVER WORKED
See, here's where I suspect you're not the glossiest page in the magazine...The NMD is 3/5 in its test runs, which is better than half. Note the emphasis on the word "test", they call it a test because they want to find out what doesn't work. This is what is known as the "development cycle".

nd the military is funding research into high tech composite toilet seats that cost $9000 each. Where as the european military often spends on guns, planes, tanks and men
Care to back up the toilet seat reference? And perhaps you haven't heard of the M16A2, the B-52 and F-117, or the M1A1?

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
Crusaders, C-130s and other skullduggery (5.00 / 2) (#154)
by RandomPeon on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 11:42:57 AM EST

I hate to break it to you, but the US military does a pretty good job of wasting money at times. (I speak from various degrees of direct experience). We're going to spend several billion dollars/yr on an heavy arty system in the 21st century. *smacks forehead repeatedly* During the Gingrich era, Congress regularly forced the Air Force to purchase additional C-130s it didn't want or need.

You've obviously never had a conversation that goes like this, "Why are the people working on [closely related subsystem] located on the other side of the country? Wouldn't it make more sense if we did that too along with the software?" "Because their Congressman is more connected than our Congressman".

Meanwhile, we can't buy POL and ammo for training. It doesn't pay off campaign contributors.

Do we have an amazing military machine? Yes. Is it an efficient, well-oiled machine? *Laughs hysterically*.

IMHO, the European defense establishment is more efficient by quite a bit. Buying a lot of major end-items from the US helps. When the interests of the Defense Ministry (any of 'em) and Lockheed-Martin are in direct opposition, the Ministry almost always wins. This is not the case when the Defense Department and Lockheed-Martin have different goals or outlooks - Lockheed's strategically placed facilities will cause a lot of Congresscritters to view Project Y as critical to national defense. (Lockheed is the worst offender, although I have more intimate knowledge of the workings of another corp that plays this game. Names withheld to protect the guilty and the nice reference I got when I left.)

[ Parent ]
Hmmm (none / 0) (#167)
by autonomous on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 01:00:27 PM EST

Perhaps you haven't read about the scientist who have lost his job because he called into question the methods that the missile "Defense" program runs its tests. A scientist who tried to blow the whistle on the way the program was run, but found all the documents they had as proof suddenly reclassified and his access to any information gone. The sad fact is the 3/5 success rate has more to do with the method used to "test" than it does with technical ability to actually intercept missiles. This link might convince you. If you stop to think for a second about the nature of ballistics, you can plainly see it is very hard to make one high speed object impact another very high speed object. Normally this is fixed by adding several thousand rounds per second to the equation, or by getting closer to the target. The missile defense is trying to hit a single missile in the entire big blue yonder with a single projectile. Normally, the military is pragmatic enough to not believe that is an intelligent idea, but after 50Billion dollars you can't just walk away.
-- Always remember you are nothing more than a collection of complementary chemicals worth not more than $5.00
[ Parent ]
This must be embarrasing. (none / 0) (#231)
by physicsgod on Sun Mar 03, 2002 at 12:28:09 PM EST

Perhaps you and Prof. Postol should realize that decoys are only available to countries with MRV technology (at least assuming the attackers want to have a chance of actually hitting North America), and that any country that actually has MRV technology already has enough missiles to defeat NMD. By implementing the current NMD the US buys time in which it can develop and deploy decoy-proof systems, such as boost-phase and terminal phase intercept.

Do you even know what ballistics mean? Obviously not, so pay attention class. Ballistic flight means that there are only two forces acting on the object: gravity and atmospheric effects. The nice thing about mid-phase intercept is that it's exoatmospheric, meaning that only gravity is important. Calculating the position of an object in free-fall (another way of saying ballistic flight without atmospheric effects) as a function of time is something any high school physics student can do, and you would know this if you'd ever opened a physics textbook.

In conclusion hitting a bullet with a bullet is easy if you don't have to worry about aerdynamics, have micro-second reflexes and positional discrimination smaller than the bullet size. Thanks to modern computers and radar systems we have the latter two, the location of intercept provides the first. (In fact due to the raw speed of a bullet (or RV) you can rather safely neglect aerodynamics)

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]

Um, yeah. (none / 0) (#332)
by autonomous on Mon Mar 18, 2002 at 12:01:06 PM EST

It would be easy for a high school student to do if he had the right information.

You would need a good idea of where the missile started, where it was headed, how fast it was going and good information about where you were and the atmospheric effects between you and the target. Given that we don't even have a 100% launch rate on our missiles yet, it seems really silly to be betting the lives of millions of people on an interceptor instead of avoiding conflict.
-- Always remember you are nothing more than a collection of complementary chemicals worth not more than $5.00
[ Parent ]
boo (none / 0) (#129)
by sety on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 03:24:04 AM EST

but when you stop to think that 50B dollars have gone to a missile defense plan that HAS NEVER WORKED

Whether you agree with him or not he is at least half right. It puts things in persepective.

[ Parent ]

Poland's case (5.00 / 2) (#117)
by garlic on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 01:59:57 AM EST

A minor example to show the state of things: Poland recently joined NATO. Because of this they are required to update their airforce. They will have to buy 48-60 multi purpose fighters (Lockhead Martin's F-16 is an option, as well as a Swedish plane and a French plane). The cost of these planes will by equal to the entire current budget (I forget the amount) of Poland's military. My source is NPR.

HUSI challenge: post 4 troll diaries on husi without being outed as a Kuron, or having the diaries deleted or moved by admins.
[ Parent ]

Lots of claims, very little evidence. (3.40 / 5) (#7)
by Electric Angst on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 05:36:10 PM EST

Let's see, are you going to support any of the claims you just made in that statement. Hell, why not the first. The text of the constitution is avalible online almost anywhere. If you knew what you were talking about, you could very easily reference the part that disallows things like this.

You claims about foreign nation's military spending and the like would take much more work to prove, but I'm certainly not expecting you to. After all, it fits into trhurler's world-view, it must be correct!


--
"He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster." - Nietzsche
The Parent ]
Well, ok... (3.66 / 6) (#17)
by trhurler on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 06:13:51 PM EST

Article III is excerpted below. Emphasis is mine.
The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.

. . .

The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority; --to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls;--to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;--to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;--to Controversies between two or more States;--between a State and Citizens of another State; (See Note 10)--between Citizens of different States, --between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.

. . .
You can argue that this should be amended if you like, but as it stands, very clearly no offense committed within the US can be tried by any court except the Supreme Court of the United States and the courts inferior to it, and the text explicitly states that no mere treaty can change that.

Would you like help wiping that egg off your face, dumbass?

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Wipe the egg off YOUR face. (2.00 / 9) (#24)
by valeko on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 06:21:58 PM EST

You can argue that this should be amended if you like, but as it stands, very clearly no offense committed within the US can be tried by any court except the Supreme Court of the United States and the courts inferior to it, and the text explicitly states that no mere treaty can change that.

And you think that this discussion pertains to offenses committed within the US? I think not!


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Hey dipshit, two things: (3.33 / 6) (#29)
by trhurler on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 06:27:51 PM EST

First, quit modding everything I post to 1 unless you want me to respond in kind. The fact that you disagree with me does not mean that either your or my comments aren't worth reading.

Second, Kissinger most certainly carried out his war related duties while in the US. Get a fucking clue.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Okay, dipshit. (1.00 / 11) (#33)
by valeko on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 06:31:27 PM EST

I moderate your comments to 1 because they have no real substance ... neither does your tripe above, which scarcely contains any substance save vulgarity.

As for Kissinger, he himself does not need to be located outside the territory of the US when carrying out his atrocities in order to be guilty of atrocities outside the US. More importantly, the Rome proposal would possibly bring his subordinates, who may be located outside the US, under the judicial proceedings of such an international court.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Obviously you do not understand English (3.80 / 5) (#41)
by trhurler on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 06:44:30 PM EST

I moderate your comments to 1 because they have no real substance
Hey fool, "no real substance" does not mean "I disagree with you." I clearly set out an opinion and some amount of reasoning for that opinion, and in the case of the quote from the Constitution, I'm illustrating legal fact, which is more than anyone else has managed in this discussion so far.
As for Kissinger, he himself does not need to be located outside the territory of the US when carrying out his atrocities in order to be guilty of atrocities outside the US.
I think you're missing the point. According to the US Constitution, if he was on US soil, then no court except the US Supreme Court or one of its inferior courts can possibly have jurisdiction. This is a matter of presently existing legal fact. How's that for substance?

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
That's not quite fair (none / 0) (#229)
by NoBeardPete on Sun Mar 03, 2002 at 04:16:34 AM EST

I don't think it's really fair to just go on his physical location. I mean, say I set up a remote-controlled robot dohickey, send the robot over to some other country, and start having it chainsaw everyone. Should this action not fall under their jurisdiction?

Now, say instead of a mechanical, deterministic robot, I send other human beings over, with explicit instructions on how to kill everyone? Is this really fundamentally different?
Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!
[ Parent ]

um, within the united states? (4.00 / 2) (#28)
by swifty on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 06:27:23 PM EST

you're ignoring what can happen to americans who commit crimes outside the united states, for example on the battlefield of another country. an american abroad is subject to the laws of whatever country he is in, and that applies to servicemen as well I believe. that kid wasn't protected by our constitution when he vandalized all those cars in singapore a few years ago, remember? there is a description of an international judicial body set up by the UN here, for your edification.

Freiheit ist immer auch die freiheit des anderen.
[ Parent ]
Actually not true (3.66 / 3) (#51)
by trhurler on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 07:20:59 PM EST

People serving in armed forces are subject to the Geneva Convention, which somewhat protects them in many cases from local law, but subjects them to a different set of laws. As it happens, Article III of the US Constitution also makes our participation in the Geneva Convention illegal, because that Convention can apply to people acting within the US, and subject them to foriegn tribunals:)
that kid wasn't protected by our constitution when he vandalized all those cars in singapore a few years ago, remember?
Yeah, but Kissinger did his deeds on US soil. There's no way the US government would hand him over, either; are UN troops going to invade the US to seize him?

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Emphasis mine. (3.75 / 4) (#42)
by valeko on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 06:47:31 PM EST

You can argue that this should be amended if you like, but as it stands, very clearly no offense committed within the US can be tried by any court except the Supreme Court of the United States and the courts inferior to it, and the text explicitly states that no mere treaty can change that.

Yes, and very little of American foreign policy is committed inside the territory of the United States. That's mostly where the focus of this discussion is - atrocities committed by the US outside of its borders.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Kissinger was the example. (4.50 / 2) (#52)
by trhurler on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 07:21:21 PM EST

And he did his deeds INSIDE the US.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
bin Laden did his deeds INSIDE Afghanistan (4.50 / 2) (#126)
by eLuddite on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 03:05:07 AM EST

You are promulgating a purely imaginary legal doctrine called INSIDE. It doesnt exist. There isnt any justification for INSIDE. None of the Taliban currently awaiting trial have ever seen the INSIDE of the USA although it remains a perfectly legal option to try every last one of them in a civil instead of military court. I only mention that because you prefer to think of yourself as a man of principle instead of an advocate for American Statism (ha! Get it? I made a libertarian joke.)

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

Apparently, eLuddite is a moron. (none / 0) (#257)
by trhurler on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 12:59:08 PM EST

Look, idiot, I'm not arguing about international norms. I'm not arguing about the way things are done elsewhere. I am talking about the US Constitution and the limits it places on the US government. If what you mean to say is that we should just ignore that document in favor of what some UN turds have to say, then slurp my pucker.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
you are talking about the trhurler constitution (5.00 / 1) (#258)
by eLuddite on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 01:18:11 PM EST

I am talking about the US Constitution and the limits it places on the US government.

No, you are not. Your fabulous legal doctrine of 'inside' exists in the same place as your constitutional reading: your constantly incorrect self.

End of story.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

IANAL but (4.50 / 2) (#86)
by greenrd on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 09:42:40 PM EST

It is nonsense to argue from this that the US Constitution prohibits an international criminal court. By definition a UN criminal court would not have "the judicial power of the US", so this excerpt simply does not apply. The Founding Fathers simply did not conceive of the possibility of an international court, so they didn't specifically exclude participation in it - which sucks for your argument, but there you go.


"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]

trhurler is wrong (5.00 / 5) (#114)
by eLuddite on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 01:19:30 AM EST

The US is a UN member state. Two thirds of the American senate have concurred with America's treaty obligation to honor the requirements imposed on it by Security Council resolutions governing the activities of Tribunals. If the security council sets up a tribunal, America has obviously not exercised its veto and it becomes constitutional to surrender or transfer an American accused.

We refer to this legal process as "extradition". It is thoroughly Constitutional to extradite Kissinger to a hypothetical international court.

Here's something else Americans dont realize: Throughout US history, Presidents have entered into many more international executive agreements which dont require the advice and consent of the Senate than treaties. In the period 1980-1992, executive agreements outnumbered treaties 4,510 than 218. Trhurler simply misunderstands the characteristics and attributes of "judicial power" in Article III. The US constitution makes no reference to either international extradition or executive agreements and legal scholars have hotly debated the propriety of the latter, NOT the former.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

Treaties (none / 0) (#250)
by Ken Arromdee on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 11:07:26 AM EST

The US government only has the authority to do things that don't violate the Constitution. If it signs a treaty that demands violating the Constitution, that treaty was never legitimately signed in the first place. It's as if I were to sign a treaty--would that obligate America? Of course not; I don't have the authority to sign away things for the country. And nobody has the authority to sign away the Constitution.

[ Parent ]
What about state courts, then? (5.00 / 3) (#119)
by Neil Rubin on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 02:12:43 AM EST

You cite the appropriate parts of the U.S. Constitution, but I'm afraid that your interpretation is sorely lacking.

First, the sections of Article III you quote refer to the judicial power of the U.S., as vested in "one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress..." While they lay out the judicial power of the U.S., they do not claim that the U.S. has exclusive judicial power over acts committed within the U.S. Nor do they limit such power to acts committed within the U.S. (Note the references to maritime jurisdiction.)

If you want to read a claim of exclusive judicial power into Article III, then you will have a hard time explaining the existence of state courts, which handle far more cases than do the federal courts. The problem, for your reading, is that these courts were not established by Congress. They were established by state legislatures or constitutions (or royal charter for all I know). In several cases, they were established before there even was a Congress. Now if you are willing, under Article III, to grant states, counties, Native American groups, etc., judicial power over actions on U.S. territory, why should supranational judicial power be forbidden?

The world is full of overlapping judicial powers. In a great many cases in the U.S., both state and federal laws apply. Article III states that the federal courts have power over cases of federal or constitutional law, etc. Elsewhere, in Article VI, the Constitution states:

This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.
Thus, in cases where U.S. and state laws both apply, federal law and federal courts are supreme. In cases where none of the powers listed in Article III apply, federal courts may not overrule state courts.

Nowhere does the U.S. Constitution claim that its courts have or must have the authority to overrule other national or international courts. That sort of claim strikes me as arrogant and absurd. Rather, the Constitution implicitly envisions the powers of the United States as being constrained by what we would now call International Law. In the above-cited part of Article VI, it lists treaties alongside the Constitution and U.S. laws as the supreme law of the land. It even explicitly refers to the "law of nations" in Article I, Section 8, giving Congress the power

To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations;
The Constitution, in Article II, Section 2, gives the President blanket authority to make treaties, with the advice and consent of the Senate:
He shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur
At times in the past, this power has been used to establish courts with supranational power to which the United States is subject. Most international agreements contain provisions for judicial resolution of disputes and state who is to hear such cases. I am aware of no treaty which grants this honor to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Currently, the most important international court is the International Court of Justice(ICJ) at the Hague. As the Statue of the International Court of Justice, Chapter II, Article 34, states, "Only states may be parties in cases before the Court." It is thus a very different animal than the proposed International Criminal Court.

The ICJ is an organ of the United Nations, and its Statute forms an integral part of the United Nations Charter. The U.N. charter was ratified by the U.S. Senate on December 20, 1945. At that point, the Statute of the ICJ joined the U.S. Constitution as a part of the "supreme law of the land." The U.S. generally, though not always, recognizes the Court's jurisdiction. It seems clear to me that the Constitution gave the President and the Senate the power to accept such jurisdiction, and I don't see how the International Criminal Court would be any different.

Now, let me turn to a couple of other things you say:

You can argue that this should be amended if you like, but as it stands, very clearly no offense committed within the US can be tried by any court except the Supreme Court of the United States and the courts inferior to it, and the text explicitly states that no mere treaty can change that.
If by "within the US" you mean "on U.S. territory", Article III does not include the issue of territory in its formulation of U.S. judicial power. (with the exception of the issue of state land grants) State citizenship and personal office are relevant, but not geographic location. In general, the reach of U.S. judicial power is the same as the reach of U.S. law. It is not limited solely to U.S. territory. Neither is it absolute there. (See the tenth amendment, for example.)

You say that the "text explicitly states that no mere treaty can change" the power of the U.S. judiciary. I see no such explicit statement. It does state the U.S. courts have jurisdiction over cases involving treaties. Nowhere does it state that this jurisdiction is exclusive.

State courts rule on matters raising questions of federal and Constitutional law all the time, deciding, for example, whether evidence obtained without a warrant may be admitted at trial. In the same way, the U.S. Constitution gives federal courts the power to rule on matters of International Law and treaties, but it does not deny this same power to any other court, aside from the Article VI language binding "the judges in each state."

I've gotten very long-winded and should stop writing. To summarize: trhurler, you are absolutely wrong.



[ Parent ]
What's wrong with a kangaroo court? (2.83 / 6) (#9)
by medham on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 05:43:20 PM EST

For Kissinger, for example? No one except a few Arizona Birchers, the inner sanctum of the CFR, and Kissinger himself believes that he isn't a war criminal in every sense of the term, so it's not as if we need much in the way of "legal frameworks" to try such spectacular criminals.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

Your eggheadedness is showing (3.30 / 10) (#10)
by trhurler on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 05:52:11 PM EST

All the world is not that extremely far left university campus you live on. I'd guess that almost all Americans probably disagree with the statement "Henry Kissinger is a war criminal." This doesn't mean he is or is not one(the truth is, almost no Americans know what he is accused of having done, much less have the background to figure out whether he did it,) but the point is, the first time such a tribunal convicts someone like Kissinger while blithely ignoring things like civilized standards of evidence and hearsay testimony rules, the US is quite likely to go to war against the UN just to keep the president from losing the next election. Think about it. That's not an acceptable outcome.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
I'd disagree (2.50 / 4) (#13)
by medham on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 05:58:21 PM EST

I'd suggest that the average American who knows who Kissinger was either a) already believes he is a war criminal or b) would believe so after reading a presentation of the evidence (such as that presented in the mass-market, middlebrow Harper's a while back).

Figures who commit crimes in the services of a state shouldn't have the same expectations of presumption of evidence that we have to secure citizens' rights against the state. These are public figures, and their crimes are public. Sure, the Wyoming militias would talk about "star-chambers" and such, but we'd best leave them to their whisky and cornholing.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

Ah, yes (3.14 / 7) (#21)
by trhurler on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 06:16:25 PM EST

The "Wyoming militias" defense for liberty: some people who believe in it are crazy, so it isn't worth having. You are a true scholar and a gentleman, if I do say so while lying outright.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Now (2.66 / 3) (#35)
by medham on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 06:31:54 PM EST

I didn't say it wasn't worth having; I just said their opinions are insufficiently shared to affect our putative trial for Kissinger.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

what a gem! (none / 0) (#222)
by Ender Ryan on Sun Mar 03, 2002 at 12:03:54 AM EST

You are a true scholar and a gentleman, if I do say so while lying outright.

Now that, trhurler, is a real gem of a quote!


-
Exposing vast conspiracies! Experts at everything even outside our expertise! Liberators of the world from the oppression of the evil USian Empire!

We are Kuro5hin!


[ Parent ]

ummm, no (4.57 / 7) (#27)
by wiredog on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 06:25:58 PM EST

Public figures should have exactly the same rights as everyone else. Not less, and no more.

Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"
[ Parent ]
Not everybody (3.40 / 5) (#31)
by medham on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 06:28:52 PM EST

Can order the carpet-bombing of Laos. It's rather comical to think that all citizens of the U.S. have equal rights to begin with.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

In theory they do (4.33 / 3) (#36)
by wiredog on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 06:33:08 PM EST

And any law which said that elected or appointed officials explicitly had fewer rights than ordinary citizens whould end up being counterbalanced by laws that gave them more rights. In effect that happens anyway. I am far more protected by libel laws than the President is.

Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"
[ Parent ]
And (3.00 / 3) (#38)
by medham on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 06:37:14 PM EST

You think that's a fair trade-off? You are more protected by libel laws through your relentless obscurity.

The U.S. should unilaterally surrender most of its military force, so that it has the capacity to defend itself from any direct attack but no longer has the ability to force other nations to do its bidding. Then, international pressure would mean something; and people like Kissinger could be tried for the war criminals that they are.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

International pressure (2.50 / 2) (#44)
by wiredog on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 06:56:20 PM EST

wouldn't mean a damned thing, to the US, in that situation. If the US lost the European trade, it would do nicely with the North American and Caribbean trade.

Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"
[ Parent ]
You'd like to think that wouldn't you? (3.66 / 3) (#48)
by autonomous on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 07:08:11 PM EST

I would just like to point out that Canada still has the queen on its money. It still values its ties with Europe, and I have a hard time with swallowing that the US would be a'ok without Europe and Canada.

Which is really an interesting thing to consider, every foodstuff I have in my house was made in my own country. All the packaging everything. I have some hard candy that came from china, but other than that. All the lumber in my house came from my country, all the oil in my car came from my country. And most important the toilet paper in my bathroom is made in my country. I wonder how many americans can say the same. The sad fact is without imports from Canada and Mexico and the rest of the world, the Us would have a country full of factories with no materials and workers with no jobs, and consumers with no money. The United states consumes items assembled elsewhere from foriegn components.

And, for those of you who want to name a product that has an american company stamped on the side, I would like to point out that almost none of those products are produced in america, and I find it hard to believe that the asians at intel.tw would stop selling processors because intel.com was under sanctions.


-- Always remember you are nothing more than a collection of complementary chemicals worth not more than $5.00
[ Parent ]
Um... (4.00 / 1) (#55)
by trhurler on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 07:26:20 PM EST

Look man, without the US to trade with, most foriegn countries would be bankrupt by now. In particular, even the rulers of the middle east, let alone their actual ordinary citizens, would have to find a way to metabolize sand if they chose to quit selling us oil.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
The facts of life (3.50 / 2) (#57)
by autonomous on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 07:33:09 PM EST

The facts of life are that the US only has 1% of the worlds population. Granted, they are the most obnoixous, but they are only 1%. You cannot possibly think that those 1% form the basis of the world economy can you? A quick look here will show you just how few people you have. (it works out to somewhere less than .073% of the world population) Granted you have one of the highest per capita incomes, but I'm afraid the world would work quite nicely without you.
-- Always remember you are nothing more than a collection of complementary chemicals worth not more than $5.00
[ Parent ]
Yeah, that's it... (4.00 / 2) (#59)
by trhurler on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 07:37:32 PM EST

Look, population has little to do with economies. The US economy makes up a significant part of the whole world economy - a lot more than 1%. (Similarly, though it has enormous potential, the economy of China is relatively tiny considering its population.) That means what we do and don't do is significant. The Arabs in the middle east simply do not have enough customers to stay afloat without the US - that's not a question, but a fact. Europe exports the vast majority of its wine production to US snobs. Do you really think its already heavily subsidized production could be sustained with less than half the present customers? Of course not. That's a silly idea.

And so on.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
without US trade the money would pool elsewhere (3.50 / 2) (#62)
by autonomous on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 07:42:19 PM EST

Without US trade a new group of snobs would crop up to fill the void. You assume that just because the market currently revolves around you it always must. I think there are several great falls that came from this attitude.. can you name one?
-- Always remember you are nothing more than a collection of complementary chemicals worth not more than $5.00
[ Parent ]
Um... (3.00 / 1) (#68)
by trhurler on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 07:59:54 PM EST

Perhaps you haven't noticed, but being the world's largest oil consumer and being wine snobs and so on costs a lot of money. That money has to come from somewhere. It doesn't just "pool" wherever military power happens to be. It is, as we say, "made."

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Vacuums. (3.50 / 4) (#73)
by valeko on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 08:09:28 PM EST

When vacuums appear in the strategic/economic/political balance of the world, they usually don't hold very long. This is substantiated by thousands of years of human history.

The rise of the US as a world imperial power correlated somewhat with the process of the decline of the British Empire, for example.

The US is not indispensable, even for the maintenance of the existing status quo in Europe. If it disappeared, things would at most have to be somewhat re-arranged.

Oh yes, and maybe civilisation would actually move forward in Europe then...


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Progress (3.00 / 1) (#110)
by ariux on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 01:04:37 AM EST

Oh yes, and maybe civilisation would actually move forward in Europe then...

You're going to have to explain what you mean by that.

[ Parent ]

Well.. (2.00 / 1) (#113)
by valeko on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 01:11:19 AM EST

Primarily I mean the obstacles that the US sets down in front of European initiatives- in some ways perpetuating Cold War apparatus. As I mentioned in various other comments, one of the main tendencies that the US vigilantly fights is the attraction between economically bankrupt and militarily endowed Russia and economically endowed but militarily bankrupt Europe. I would certainly regard that as progress - Europe has much to offer Russia, Russia has much to offer Europe.

That's just an example, of course. But that's one of the key things I had in mind.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

I've seen that in three posts now (4.00 / 1) (#133)
by ariux on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 03:43:55 AM EST

It clearly is an idea you find very interesting. Would you offer a sheaf of references, please?

What are the other key things?

[ Parent ]

The idea is... (1.75 / 4) (#165)
by beergut on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 12:47:10 PM EST

He and his brethren want a military which can be used, and has already been used, to quash dissent to oppressive governmental policies.

Europe currently has no organized military, but inducting Russa would get them one quickly. They could then use those troops to quell uprisings among member states when they get weary of carrying the weight of a fat, bloated, lazy European socialist experiment.

Never think the intentions of such people do not have ulterior motives. "Parity" with the US sounds all well and good. "Achieving balance", "checking US imperialism", and "making Europe safe" sound like laudable goals. But, just wait until they actually get an organized military. I will guarantee you that the first openly imperialist use of a military will be by the Europeans. Even if only to bring more nations into their own bloc.

Europe is the shithole of civilization, except when compared to China. "Freedoms" lorded over everyone else by the "useful idiot" variety of Europeon, while possible extant now, will evaporate like a rare morning dew in August in Missouri.

If Europeons think the American government is a shitpot (and I will strongly, wholeheartedly, and without reservation, agree,) then "they ain't seen nothin' yet." As trhurler points out, Europeons have a tendency to totalitarianism that won't be stomped out of them until they've had a taste of freedom (a taste we Americans haven't had in our mouths for about 90 years or so, as it happens, but we still kind of remember what it was like - maybe not for long.) It's funny how, once Europeans have lived here for a while and have been able to determine their own futures absent the pecking order present in Europe, they don't want to go back. Yes, I know a few.

I, for one, will be shaking my head and chuckling sadly while Europe spirals into a fascist/socialist/totalitarian shithole, not only because I will feel bad for the Europeans, but because I know that there are some in this country who still believe in the myth of Europe as the center of civilization in the world, and they will want to implement the same oppressive types of policies here.

Then, I'll ready myself or my children for civil war. Hopefully.

i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

Wow (5.00 / 2) (#255)
by spiralx on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 12:34:14 PM EST

Not since when trhurler started posting here have I seen such a baseless and prejudiced rant. All I could get out that entire screed was "I hate those fascist Euro commies".

You're doomed, I'm doomed, we're all doomed for ice cream. - Bob Aboey
[ Parent ]

Well, (3.00 / 1) (#264)
by trhurler on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 02:37:54 PM EST

There is a LOT of hypocrisy in Europe. "We're free. But we don't really believe in property rights, and we don't really believe in freedom of speech, and we don't really believe in freedom of association, and if someone does something we disagree with, we'll just vandalize his property. But we're free, and we're oh so much more enlightened than those Americans!"

I really do believe, based on all the currently existing European governments, that Europe has never really rid itself of the tendency towards autocratic centralized power that has dogged it throughout history - and that this tendency directly produces military conflicts.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Newsflash! (3.00 / 1) (#270)
by valeko on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 05:37:44 PM EST

"Freedom" doesn't necessarily = pious worship of property rights, and certainly isn't by definition inhibited by central government/centralised bureaucracy. Perhaps you could substantiate the "autocratic" part of "autocratic centralised power" ... oh, wait, you can't...


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Actually, I can, dumbshit (1.00 / 1) (#272)
by trhurler on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 05:51:12 PM EST

Read beergut's recent comments about EU antitrust. Read about European countries' laws on things like free speech, which has nothing to do with property.

In any case, "freedom" that doesn't involve property means freedom to do anything that doesn't matter, and only a tiny subset of things that do matter, except as specially allowed by law, regulation, or whim of some bureaucrat. That's not much freedom at all. Love may be free on occasion, but few other good things in life ever are.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Well... (4.50 / 2) (#281)
by spiralx on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 08:16:18 PM EST

I really do believe, based on all the currently existing European governments, that Europe has never really rid itself of the tendency towards autocratic centralized power that has dogged it throughout history - and that this tendency directly produces military conflicts.

If he'd of said that I might be more generous, because it's a point of view I don't necessarily agree with but is valid. However his post was on the level of "Europe sUX0r5"... nothing there of any worth.

As for the rest it's relative; the US and Europe have a different view of rights and so on. Only history will be the judge of which is more effective, but I would like to remind you of the numerous ways in which the freedoms the US prides itself on have been eroded and subverted over time. Asset forfiture being the first example that springs to mind. Mandatory minimums being the second.

You're doomed, I'm doomed, we're all doomed for ice cream. - Bob Aboey
[ Parent ]

Rome (4.00 / 1) (#148)
by wiredog on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 10:39:33 AM EST

The collapse of the Roman Empire resulted in a power vacuum that lasted hundreds of years.

Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"
[ Parent ]
Wrong (none / 0) (#242)
by linca on Sun Mar 03, 2002 at 06:03:43 PM EST

The Western Roman Empire fell in the fifth century. The Eastern one lasted one other thousand years. In those times, the powers, resources and wealth lied in the Eastern Mediterranea ; There was no power vacuum there - indeed there was quickly another powermonger there, with the appearance of Islam.

[ Parent ]
Actual U.S. fraction of the world population (4.50 / 2) (#93)
by Neil Rubin on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 10:57:59 PM EST

U.S. Population = 286 million
World Population = 6157 million
286/6157 = 4.6%
[These figures are for 2001, according to The New York Times Almanac (2002)]

There is a big difference between 1% and 4.6%.



[ Parent ]
When did... (2.00 / 1) (#149)
by wiredog on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 10:40:42 AM EST

Canada stop being part of North America?

Peoples Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: "Stop the Laurasian Separatist Movement!"
[ Parent ]
Hey (2.50 / 4) (#54)
by trhurler on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 07:24:58 PM EST

The U.S. should unilaterally surrender most of its military force, so that it has the capacity to defend itself from any direct attack but no longer has the ability to force other nations to do its bidding.
First of all, other nations would be very upset if we did this; we would, after all, be incapable of paying their bills for them!

Second, why would the US do this? What's in it for us?

Third, who do we "surrender" our military to? Do you really believe our military would just accept being handed over to the UN? If so, then you're a moron, and if not, then what are you talking about?

The truth is, our military isn't even that large; what makes us powerful is our technology. We're not going to just "surrender" that, because it would make every two bit bin Laden wannabe into a real threat.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Sparse reply (1.00 / 1) (#97)
by medham on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 11:24:49 PM EST

Most of the military's power is in what they call "force projection" not mainland defense. If the military only had to funded enough to keep our borders secure, there wouldn't be any more social problems, unless you think some type of Swedish "soul of man under socialism" suicide plague would take over because of the total wonder and absolute BLISS it would entail.

The technology is mostly offensive technology.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.
[ Parent ]

Read the Constitution!! (none / 0) (#186)
by heatherj on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 06:00:21 PM EST

It is NOT the government's job to attempt to cure social problems. If we kept our military to its constitutionally defined duties, and did the same in the social problems area, a LOT less would be going to Washington in the way of taxes, and what the bumblefucks up there do would have much less effect on what we do in our daily lives.

[ Parent ]
If I may... (4.25 / 8) (#45)
by Doktor Merkwuerdigliebe on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 07:00:34 PM EST

but then all you foriegn bastards have to foot the bill for your own defense, which will mean gutting all those free healthcare programs and whatnot, because frankly you don't have the money to pay for all this stuff, even if you paid 100% in taxes.

I don't think this is the case. There is no direct relationship between how much countries spend on defense and how much they spend on other important policies. As was said already, the European countries already spend quite a bit on defense, just not as much as the US does (which is a lot). Take the examples of France, which for a long time had a military allied with, but mostly independent of NATO (e.g. its nuclear arsenal) and Sweden, which has always had an independent military. Both countries still spend about as much on "free healthcare and whatnot" as other European countries.

Should the US withdraw their military support in Europe, there's no reason to assume much would change in terms of budgets. There is no military threat to Europe and while it's certainly true that Europe's militaries are quite inefficient compared to the US's, this would more likely be amended by continuing and intensifying the common European defense initiative, rather than trying to improve each members individual military. In short, Europe's social policies would survive an American withdrawal (they are far more susceptible to economic factors), but it could perhaps strengthen Europe's defensive capabilities.

Since you classify America's allies as "foriegn bastards" (sic), I'm not sure you would be aware of such things, I hope I've been of some assistance.

Also Sprach Doktor Merkwürdigliebe...
[ Parent ]
Yeah (3.16 / 12) (#56)
by trhurler on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 07:32:19 PM EST

Should the US withdraw their military support in Europe, there's no reason to assume much would change in terms of budgets. There is no military threat to Europe and while it's certainly true that Europe's militaries are quite inefficient compared to the US's, this would more likely be amended by continuing and intensifying the common European defense initiative, rather than trying to improve each members individual military.
I guess you've never heard of "China." You do realize that China's leadership wants nothing more than to supplant the US as the world's superpower, and probably thinks little of anyone else's "soveriegnty" and so on when it comes to achieving that goal, right? And of course, though they're on the rocks at the moment, Russia will be back too, and has had imperial tendencies since the dawn of time. Honestly though, the greatest threat to Europe comes from its own peoples' tendency to totalitarianism.

As for making Europe's militaries modern and efficient, NATO was supposed to do that. However, European countries' leaders found adding military spending to be less valuable than adding social spending as a strategy for buying voters. I doubt that'll change now.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
The commies are coming (2.66 / 3) (#58)
by autonomous on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 07:35:36 PM EST

I think you've been conditioned.
-- Always remember you are nothing more than a collection of complementary chemicals worth not more than $5.00
[ Parent ]
And I think you have been, also. (4.00 / 3) (#60)
by trhurler on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 07:39:02 PM EST

The commies are all gone, but the imperialists are not, and probably never will be. Empire is an age-old idea, and there are always new disguises for it.

In any case, Europeans are conditioned to think of themselves as the invulnerable cultural center of the universe. Trust me: it just ain't so.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
hah! (3.00 / 3) (#61)
by valeko on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 07:42:10 PM EST

The commies are all gone, but the imperialists are not, and probably never will be

... you're right, with the immortal US there, imperialism isn't ever going to go away...


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Um, where do you get off... (4.00 / 3) (#63)
by autonomous on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 07:44:27 PM EST

Europe got stomped in the second world war, there were bootheels in places that there should never be bootheels. I think most of europe learned something from that. I wish the americans did.
-- Always remember you are nothing more than a collection of complementary chemicals worth not more than $5.00
[ Parent ]
I think you have it reversed (2.07 / 13) (#71)
by trhurler on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 08:04:49 PM EST

The US learned the lesson: security through vigilance. Europe learned a different lesson: fuck around however you want, and those Americans will come and save your ass for you.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
*blinks* (3.33 / 9) (#74)
by valeko on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 08:15:03 PM EST

And when has Europe learnt such an intriguing lesson? Surely even someone as stupid as you wouldn't buy into the "US won World War II for the world!" thesis, would you?

Also, it does not coincide with American strategic interest to "save your [European] ass" after you've "fucked around however you want". For example, the US did not assist the French in Vietnam, nor with Algeria. Why should they? The US would much rather "fuck around" in Vietnam itself, so it's better to wait until the French die out and withdraw. This is but a mere subset of a mountain of such examples. Please substantiate your claim that whenever Europe "fucks around" [presumably with someone else], the US vigilantly comes in and "saves its ass". No, World War II does not count as admissable evidence; if you try to claim that the US singlehandedly "saved Europe's ass" in WWII, you're going to drive the last nail into the coffin of your credibility.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Hmm... (2.46 / 13) (#76)
by trhurler on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 08:21:13 PM EST

Well, let's put it this way: the US did not singlehandedly save anything in WWII, but if it hadn't supplied both material(the most important contribution, really,) and men(half a million dead, several times that injured(many several times), several times that present and fighting, then Europe would presently be a German speaking nation, and utterly free of gypsies, jews, and other people who aren't blond, blue eyed, and white.

Go fuck yourself. You're some whiny kid who probably hasn't even finished an undergrad degree, and you're calling me stupid. I've got that degree, I've got that good job, I still study(in my own time, no less,) and your lame ass doesn't even understand history:

Of course we didn't help the French in Vietnam - they were in no danger at home! Believe me you, the next time France is invaded, we'll be back there to save them again, if anyone is stupid enough to invade France again at all. (I think most invaders would be put off by the whining and general snobbery of the average Frenchman enough that they could find someplace better to occupy, really.)

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Tripe alert! (3.00 / 9) (#77)
by valeko on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 08:35:06 PM EST

Well, let's put it this way: the US did not singlehandedly save anything in WWII, but if it hadn't supplied both material(the most important contribution, really,) and men(half a million dead, several times that injured(many several times),

Well, if you want to consider numerical figures, consider that the Soviet Union lost around 24 million people (although in the West the figures typically hover somewhere around 20) in WWII. You can imagine how many were injured, etc.

but if it hadn't supplied [...] then Europe would presently be a German speaking nation, and utterly free of gypsies, jews, and other people who aren't blond, blue eyed, and white.

While the American material contribution to the war was essential to the outcome and in many ways even indispensable, I think you have a serious flaw in your grasp of reality if you actually believe in entirety that which you say.

Go fuck yourself. You're some whiny kid who probably hasn't even finished an undergrad degree, and you're calling me stupid. I've got that degree, I've got that good job, I still study(in my own time, no less,) and your lame ass doesn't even understand history:

I won't bother responding to your incendiary provocations, except to say that (A) who I am ("whiny kid"?) is irrelevant entirely to this discussion, and (B) your demeanour is demonstrative of the fact that degrees in such subjects do not necessarily enlighten one. In your case, you seem to have been thoroughly indoctrinated with lies; perhaps this was part of your curriculum?

France is invaded, we'll be back there to save them again

Of course, for the US maintains a very profitable trade relationship with France, and France is an essential market for American exports and an extension of its political influence.

What if, say, Cyprus was invaded by the Turks? Or East Timor by Suharto's Indonesia in 1975 (largely with American arms). Hell, what if Milosevic wasn't a noteworthy obstacle to the extension of American hegemony into [south]eastern Europe? Doesn't really matter then, does it?

I think most invaders would be put off by the whining and general snobbery of the average Frenchman enough that they could find someplace better to occupy, really

Such statements as this demonstrate your utter ignorance about others, and thoroughly undermine your credibility.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Europe and its foibles. (2.33 / 3) (#162)
by beergut on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 12:19:51 PM EST

    I think most invaders would be put off by the whining and general snobbery of the average Frenchman enough that they could find someplace better to occupy, really
Such statements as this demonstrate your utter ignorance about others, and thoroughly undermine your credibility.

You've never met any French people, have you?

Quite frankly, I think Europe is headed straight for the toilet with their EU. They want to be a "balance" in the world for the US, but they don't know how to go about it. It'll be a huge, crushing, socialist boondoggle that will oppress, repress, suppress its people and member nations. Look to Mr. Monti to see where this new fascist state is headed. Yes, I mixed fascism and socialism - if you think that's not possible, just wait. Europe will see it first hand.

Mark my words, in fifty years, it will either be gone because member nations can no longer withstand the crushing weight of the jackboot, or they will be at war with the US, with the outcome indeterminate at this time. The European superstate envisioned by these people is no different from that envisioned by Hitler, except that the capital is in Brussels.

War is peace.
Slavery is freedom.
Ignorance is strength.

Are you ready?

i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

While being blindly uncritical is foolish... (none / 0) (#184)
by ariux on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 05:39:26 PM EST

...I do think you need to support some of those dramatic assertions. If Europe is a neo-fascist nightmare, where are its domineering jackbooted thugs? In any case, why do you think Europe and the US would ever have a war?

[ Parent ]

Support... (5.00 / 1) (#188)
by beergut on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 06:04:26 PM EST

Friday's edition of the Wall Street Journal detailed "Dawn Raids" by the EU's "Antitrust Commission", including some rather frightening comments by the head of the commission, one Mr. Monti (forget his first name.)

I'd provide a link, but I'm not a subscriber to the online WSJ. Suffice it to say, these dawn raids see armed EU officials entering business premises, confiscating (sometimes just copying) documents and evidence from the files of the business, and not honoring internal lawyer-client communications as private. This has the effect of making it unwise for a company's own counsel to say, "It would be unwise to embark upon a course of price-fixing, as that would not be right, and would certainly draw the ire of the EU's Antitrust Commission." This very statement (paraphrased) was used as evidence against VW and Audi when allegations (unfounded, I believe is how it turned out) of price-fixing were brought.

Standards of evidence for these raids are not very high, either. Basically, "does the commissioner think there might be hay to be made here?" No independent review by a judge, who may then issue a search warrant, nothing. Just, "do the whims of this bureucrat include raiding and confiscating materials from businesses against whom there is not even probable cause to investigate?" In addition, the commission wants the power to raid the homes of corporate executives to sieze evidence. Mr. Monti, while successful in busting up a non-competition ring between airlines in Scandinavia, has his own set of jackboots on order. Imagine a future when the price for not paying the proper bribe to the commissioner results in your being raided, your assets siezed, and your executives jailed, but paying the proper bribe means you get carte blanche to do whatever you want, and then tell me that there's no need to worry about corruption.

I'm no fan of corporatism, and the problems that go with it, but I also think standards of evidence for raiding corporate offices should be higher.

That's one example. Another is the coercive tax structure being sought by EU administrators, sanctions against member nations who do not want to implement said tax policies (Ireland, for instance, whose economy has seen more growth than any in Europe, so much that it is referred to as the "Celtic Tiger", has lower taxes than the rest of Europe -- any surprise?)

The subjugation of national laws and policies to those of Europe that is now beginning, such as standards of evidence in the aforementioned dawn raids, are another indicator.

I would caution prospective EU member states to not go down this path, as madness and more bureaucracy lie at its end.

The only reason that I can see for an American/European conflict is if we pulled our troops out of Europe (a move I support wholeheartedly,) and they decided, with their own "defense forces", to increase their "mindshare" in the world by invading neighboring countries - especially those with whom we might have alliances in the future. Or, if they decided that we weren't kowtowing to their obvious cultural superiority and determined that the way to get our attention was to nuke Hawaii (yes, that was flamebait.)

The first scenario I outlined would be the one that worried me. The second wouldn't happen simply because Eurape is well aware that Joe American doesn't give a shit what Europe thinks, anyway, just like he didn't give a shit what the Russians thought.

i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

Hmm. (5.00 / 2) (#193)
by ariux on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 06:45:26 PM EST

Well, law enforcement action without judicial review, even for the highest of motives, is a bit disturbing.

You could say, "but it's for antitrust enforcement against big, rich, evil companies," but the way checks against tyranny are always destroyed is in the supposed pursuit of photogenic goals.

Any Europeans care to comment?

Otoh, your implication that a united Europe must be a tyrannical or violent Europe is something I can't agree with, even though I share a country with you. (I'd agree that this outcome is possible, particularly if Europeans let their politicians have a blank check.)

[ Parent ]

A small addition. (2.00 / 1) (#195)
by valeko on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 06:50:58 PM EST

While I am quite attentative and interested in what beergut has to say on this subject, I can't help but notice that his apparent moral indignation seems to stem from a pious adherence to the doctrine of private property [rights]. It's as if the most sacred, infallable thing on this Earth are corporate assets, records, capital, private offices, etc.

Maybe so. But keep in mind that such things are culturally and politically subjective. In the US, obviously private property is above all other national dieties (to paraphrase Jello Biafra, heh) ... look at everything from the psychology behind the DMCA (you're depriving corporations of revenue! you should be ashamed!) to Enron to the pitiful weakness of contemporary "trust-busters". But this may not be so given the political climate in some places in Europe these days.

I'm not saying I'm right .. it's just a thought.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Property Rights == Human Rights. (3.75 / 4) (#199)
by beergut on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 07:07:54 PM EST

Protestations of leftists and rightists aside, a case might be made that the level of respect for property rights translates directly into the level of respect for human rights.

The premises for this must include an assumption that "I am my own property."

Frankly, I cannot imagine human rights without that fundamental assertion, as ignoring that tenet leads directly to slavery, and the oppression of the weak by the strong.

i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

Enron, corporations, and property (4.50 / 2) (#232)
by Rahaan on Sun Mar 03, 2002 at 01:56:15 PM EST

while I agree with you that beergut's perspective seems to be .. a little too blindly indignant, I think to compare it with the DMCA and the misadventures of corporations is baseless. I don't know anyone that approves of the DMCA (if they even know about it) outside of corporate executive types, and no one really approves of the unaccountability of large corporations such as Enron other than those who are benefiting from it. Believing in the importance of private property has nothing to do with corporations and money, although those two couldn't really exist without property rights.

I own my house. It is my home. I am safe here. There's something inherently good about having somewhere to live, to be safe in, to know that it can't be violated (well.. obviously that's not completely true, it can be broken into and whatnot, but there are safeguards for that. Search warrants and the like also can intrude, but there's a huge checking system.. and I don't even want to think about FEMA or NIMBY laws. but that's another story.) But also, disruption of the status quo is not necessarily a good thing.. it would be better to fix what's wrong with the current way of doing it than require everyone to so completely change the way they live.


you know, jake.. i've noticed that, since the tacos started coming, the mail doesn't so much come as often, or even at all
[ Parent ]

Currently, in the United States... (5.00 / 1) (#236)
by beergut on Sun Mar 03, 2002 at 04:58:46 PM EST

Your property rights aren't that well-protected, unfortunately.

If you're suspected of, say, possessing a bit of weed, or maybe a shotgun whose barrel is somewhat less than 18 inches, your home can be raided and your possessions taken, and you'd have to sue the government to get them back.

They don't have to press charges, just have a "reasonable cause," and your property is forfeit. Good luck trying to sue the government to get your stuff back, too.

A developer wants to expand his operations (and this includes the state department of transportation,) but the house you've lived in for twenty years happens to be in the way. And you don't want to move - you've bought and paid for the house, it's done up the way you like it, and you have a wealth of fond memories that you treasure. You want to keep your house, paid for by your own labor, for which you've toiled and saved and worked for for a long time.

Oops. Your house has just been condemned. You've lost 95% of your property value, and you'll be forced to take as a buyout whatever the government is willing to give. Oh, and once your perfectly good house is gone, they'll just give the property to this developer. What? You had a house there that you wanted to keep? Too bad. We're from the government, and we're here to help. Now, run along and don't make trouble... there, that's a good lad.

While in a perfect world, your scenario would be fine and dandy (and this is the way it used to be, before the socialists and fascists got more of a strangle-hold on our government at all levels, and inflated their powers to the point of being able to do this kind of stuff at a whim, for which they can then be paid by some connected developer for them to exercise these powers,) this isn't the world of 21st Century America, where your possessions and rights are on sale to the highest bidder.

Welcome to Hell. Hope you enjoy your stay. And don't try to leave, because it's worse everywhere else.

If it were still a system of checks and balances, your property rights would still be worth something. As it is, and as it has always been, and as it will always be, the bureaucracy is the enemy of a free people.

i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

yeah, yeah (5.00 / 1) (#237)
by Rahaan on Sun Mar 03, 2002 at 05:24:43 PM EST

I'm well aware of most of the things you speak of - I'm in the middle of a fight with developers as we speak, actually. I didn't really want to get into a NIMBY (Not In My BackYard, if you didn't know that already) because it is so much more complicated and off-topic that it's not really worth debating here. The balance of development, property rights, and environmental issues is an intricate one and hugely open to debate. One good thing is that you *can* sue to get your stuff back, or fight to raise the value of your land. You need good lawyers, which sucks, but that's the way it is. Some of it is dependent on your local and state laws, also - but whatever. Valeko seemed to be implying that your strong belief in property rights stemmed from mindless following of what you've been taught (and also that misdeeds such as corporate crimes and the DMCA are directly the result of private property) when it seems, to me, that owning property is an essential part of modern life


you know, jake.. i've noticed that, since the tacos started coming, the mail doesn't so much come as often, or even at all
[ Parent ]
Direct? (3.00 / 1) (#241)
by valeko on Sun Mar 03, 2002 at 05:46:16 PM EST

Valeko seemed to be implying that your strong belief in property rights stemmed from mindless following of what you've been taught (and also that misdeeds such as corporate crimes and the DMCA are directly the result of private property) when it seems, to me, that owning property is an essential part of modern life

These are separate things.

No, I do not believe that the DMCA or corporate crimes (I prefer not to use euphemisms such as "misdeeds") are the direct result of property rights. Such things, however, are permitted to exist by the virtue of the psychology that private property and private wealth are of paramount importance to anything else, including the overall public welfare. At all costs, the right of everyone to retain their wealth and material assets must be preserved. That's the root of it.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

direct? (5.00 / 1) (#244)
by Rahaan on Sun Mar 03, 2002 at 07:41:03 PM EST

No, I do not believe that the DMCA or corporate crimes (I prefer not to use euphemisms such as "misdeeds") are the direct result of property rights. Such things, however, are permitted to exist by the virtue of the psychology that private property and private wealth are of paramount importance to anything else, including the overall public welfare. At all costs, the right of everyone to retain their wealth and material assets must be preserved. That's the root of it.

I never thought they were direct, I thought you were implying they were - sorry. Anyway. Yeah, those things are bad. Yeah, they couldn't really exist outside of an American capitalist system. But they can be eliminated. To cite examples such as the DMCA and Enron as the faults of private property is like saying that I have to pay taxes because of our system of currency. There are faults in every system.

I said I didn't want to get into a debate of public welfare vs. private proprety since it's so complicated (and somewhat offtopic) and pretty much depends on where you live - I think it's best suited for local government to sort out (such as zoning and environmental laws, although national parks and preservations seem to be a not so bad idea.) I was trying to say that you seem to believe that private property is inherently worse than it is good, and that people like beergut and other Americans only think otherwise because they were brainwashed by a capitalist empire. You just reiterated your previous post and seemed to validate my thoughts about you.

One thing you fail to realize (or at least, fail to comment on) is what you propose to do; you think people like beergut only strongly believe in personal property because of the way they've been raised, but when both he and I brought up thoughts to the contrary, that personal property is and can be a GoodThing(tm), you failed to even respond on the subject. I'd like to know what you're thinking.

And, again, you haven't said anything constructive - if personal property causes so many evils, what do you suggest in its place? State ownership of everything? Ownership of nothing? What do you want to do about it? Of course it's flawed, but nothing is perfect, and nothing else seems significantly better.


you know, jake.. i've noticed that, since the tacos started coming, the mail doesn't so much come as often, or even at all
[ Parent ]

United Europe == Violent Europe (3.33 / 3) (#197)
by beergut on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 07:03:38 PM EST

It is not necessarily so, but I have a gut feeling that it will be so, and have yet to see any evidence that would disuade me from that viewpoint.

Besides, it is the case that "war is the business of the state." Just look at the history of the United States in the last ninety or so years, and how much warfare has expanded the State. Europe will start with a bigger state, and one that starts with fewer freedoms, checks, and balances than we in the United States still enjoy, despite the best efforts of socialists and leftists of various colors, and nazis and right-wingers of various flavors.

Frankly, I don't see much hope. Neither for Europe nor the United States. Problem being, there's nowhere else to go.

:-(

i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

Yeah... (2.33 / 3) (#256)
by trhurler on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 12:52:56 PM EST

Well, if you want to consider numerical figures, consider that the Soviet Union lost around 24 million people (although in the West the figures typically hover somewhere around 20) in WWII.
Yes, but most of those were civilians who either froze or starved; their military losses were more like 7 million, and would have been much lower had they had the money to properly arm and equip their men. That's the point I was making about material contribution: it makes a huge difference in the effectiveness of each individual soldier.
While the American material contribution to the war was essential to the outcome and in many ways even indispensable, I think you have a serious flaw in your grasp of reality if you actually believe in entirety that which you say.
But of course, being a 16 year old who is utterly convinced that everything that comes from his mouth is Truth[tm], you won't bother to mention which part you think is wrong and why.
I won't bother responding to your incendiary provocations, except to say that (A) who I am ("whiny kid"?) is irrelevant entirely to this discussion, and (B) your demeanour is demonstrative of the fact that degrees in such subjects do not necessarily enlighten one
I hate to break this to you, but (A) who you are is quite relevant to what you're saying, which is quite relevant to the discussion at hand, and (B) despite what your teachers tell you, being an asshole does not make a person wrong.
In your case, you seem to have been thoroughly indoctrinated with lies
How many actual texts on the history of WWII has your high school history class read? I've read a couple dozen. I'd be surprised if your teacher even assigned ONE, since the trend these days is towards abominably oversimplified, rose tinted, and leftist-biased overview-style "history books" rather than real histories. If you want to see the real impact of the American contribution, read Churchill's books, instead of that Addisen-Wesley children's history primer.
Of course, for the US maintains a very profitable trade relationship with France, and France is an essential market for American exports and an extension of its political influence.

What if, say, Cyprus was invaded by the Turks? Or East Timor by Suharto's Indonesia in 1975 (largely with American arms). Hell, what if Milosevic wasn't a noteworthy obstacle to the extension of American hegemony into [south]eastern Europe? Doesn't really matter then, does it?
You do a very poor imitation of Chomsky. I'm pretty well convinced that we'd probably get involved in more of these little conflicts than you imagine, either directly or through the UN, because the driving force behind US policy these days is influence generation - building a "shadow empire" as it were. I disagree with this policy, but it is the policy regardless of what I think. Chomsky-esque "where's the oil" diatribes miss the point entirely.
Such statements as this demonstrate your utter ignorance about others, and thoroughly undermine your credibility.
Your attempt to use complex sentence structure and big words in order to sound convincing fails on the ground that you are not good at it. Rewrite as follows:

"Such statements merely demonstrate your utter ignorance of others and thereby undermine your credibility."

In any case, having actually met real live French people and talked to them at length, and having many friends and coworkers who have actually been in France, I'll take my empirical judgement over your politically correct wankfest. Did you lube those kid gloves first?

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Bzzt! (3.50 / 2) (#268)
by valeko on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 05:29:06 PM EST

Yes, but most of those were civilians who either froze or starved; their military losses were more like 7 million, and would have been much lower had they had the money to properly arm and equip their men. That's the point I was making about material contribution: it makes a huge difference in the effectiveness of each individual soldier.

You're an ignorant twit. The ability of the Soviet Union to properly arm and equip their men was not a function of how much 'money' they had to spend for this purpose. It is a testiment to your close-mindedness that you stubbornly transplant your concept of money to socialist societies with different determinants that guide their means of production, as if nothing else exists.

I'd be surprised if your teacher even assigned ONE, since the trend these days is towards abominably oversimplified, rose tinted, and leftist-biased overview-style "history books" rather than real histories. If you want to see the real impact of the American contribution, read Churchill's books, instead of that Addisen-Wesley children's history primer.

My knowledge of the Second World War does not come from "school", where it is "taught" on a level that makes it for practical purposes only slightly better than simply staying ignorant of the subject. That said, I disagree with your assessment of the history texts as "left-biased", although they're a joke anyhow.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Addendum. (4.00 / 2) (#271)
by valeko on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 05:42:18 PM EST

And before you go unload garbage upon me for stating that "the ability of the Soviet Union to properly arm and equip its men was not a function of how much 'money' they had to spend on this purpose", I should take care to point out that the context is World War II. I did not mean that the 'arms race' of the Cold War on the Soviet side did not involve 'money', naturally ...


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

I see the fundamental problem now (2.00 / 2) (#273)
by trhurler on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 05:53:06 PM EST

You don't know what money is. You think it is "pieces of paper with numbers printed on them."

No matter how you structure an economy, unless it is a completely barter system, it has money. The USSR substituted free exchange for allotment, but that allotment still constituted money in the sense which is important - which is to say, it was the abstract representation of stored value. The fact that this is a really bad way to store value and the fact that it is a really bad way to allocate value are causes of their lack of ability to properly equip their people, and also causes of their losing the Cold War.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Nope, you're blind as a flea. (4.50 / 2) (#274)
by valeko on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 06:03:51 PM EST

No matter how you structure an economy, unless it is a completely barter system, it has money. The USSR substituted free exchange for allotment, but that allotment still constituted money in the sense which is important - which is to say, it was the abstract representation of stored value. The fact that this is a really bad way to store value and the fact that it is a really bad way to allocate value are causes of their lack of ability to properly equip their people, and also causes of their losing the Cold War.

I did not mean that the USSR has no internal means of representing value. However, the desperation of the situation in the context of World War II required the conscription of labourers for producing munitions and equipment in a way that made their wages largely irrelevant. So, it would be incorrect to say that 'money' was the determinant of the ability of the Soviet Union to arm itself - in the same sense as in a market society. The government had transcended the need (and/or ability) to 'spend' money on the war. To help win the Great Patriotic War, all labourers up from those who excavated the iron ore through those who manufactured shells, guns, tanks, and planes, etc, worked - period. The "financing" behind such things wasn't really an issue at this time, in contrast to western countries.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Apparently you can't read (1.00 / 2) (#275)
by trhurler on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 06:23:05 PM EST

Look, even if you literally enslave people(which is what you're glorifying here, in case you failed to notice,) you still have production allotment, manpower allotment, and so on, and these allotments take the place of cash. It is notable that slave labor was apparently not very efficient, whereas the US relatively free market met demand and then some.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Erm, no. (4.50 / 2) (#278)
by valeko on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 06:53:18 PM EST

literally enslave people(which is what you're glorifying here, in case you failed to notice,)

I'm not glorifying anything of the sort. What I'm doing is pointing out that this is what the circumstances required, assuming we use your definition of 'slave' (a worker that is not paid a wage).

Yes, of course the government still has to allocate resources instead of simply appropriating money, but I'd say that's a far cry from the abstraction of value taking place under a monetary system. But I'll concede that this is argueable.

Whereas the official ruble:dollar exchange rate was 1:1 (from Khruschev's time onward, perhaps earlier?), obviously the dollar had much more actual purchasing power inside the socialist bloc. Because the Soviet bloc did not maintain an open trade relationship outside of the socialist countries, naturally their native currencies had no real value in the "real international market". For this reason, the Soviet government needed real hard currency of other countries ("valyuta") to buy needed goods from western countries, and even other Eastern bloc countries. Thus, the exchange of hard currency into certificates was encouraged, so that the government would have the physical cash.

Anyway, I'm sure you already know all that. What I really was going to say is that currency has an entirely different meaning in socialist society, so the theory goes. The wage of a worker was more of an afterthought in Soviet society than a real determinant of living standard, for in a society where you have free, state-guaranteed employment, education, healthcare, housing, vacations, etc, your wage means a totally different thing. That's the theory. In practise, we know that most of these facilities didn't really begin to take shape until well into Khruschev's time. They certainly didn't exist under Stalin, much less during the the war. That's the "practise". However, we also know that in practise, at the turn of the century, a great deal of the industrial working class in America was virtually "enslaved" (by your definition) at the hands of their tycoons too. Anyway, given the manpower shortage and the inability of the government to pay their wages, the labour force of the Soviet Union worked anyway. The fact that they were forced to do so doesn't necessarily make it "slave" labour - many of them already worked in the factories, now they just were deprived of a wage... they had a greater cause to fulfill anyway.

About effeciency, there is no question that in market terms, and indeed in the sense in which the word "effeciency" is known in the West, Soviet labour was horribly ineffecient. That's a given. However, during the Second World War, the labour force had two excellent "stimuli" to work: (a) winning the Great Patriotic War, the alternative being occupation by Germany, and (b) many were, indeed, as you said, forced to work under the threat of death. I would say that greatly increased their "effeciency" to the extent that it was possible given the "ineffeciency" of the factories, etc themselves.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Nice (2.33 / 3) (#279)
by trhurler on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 07:58:27 PM EST

What I'm doing is pointing out that this is what the circumstances required, assuming we use your definition of 'slave' (a worker that is not paid a wage).
That is not my definition of "slave." Compensation is only partly relevant; there is also the fact that "conscription" is not voluntary. These people WERE slaves in every sense that we use the term to apply to any other slaves, and trying to pretend otherwise is the worst sort of whitewashing. That they were not bought and sold merely reflects the fact that there was a monopoly owner.
Whereas the official ruble:dollar exchange rate was 1:1
If by "official" you mean "decreed but having no basis in reality," then yes. I can similarly decree that the sun is purple.
The wage of a worker was more of an afterthought in Soviet society than a real determinant of living standard, for in a society where you have free, state-guaranteed employment, education, healthcare, housing, vacations, etc, your wage means a totally different thing.
You should look into the state of the USSR's arrangements for these things, even at their absolute height of power and wealth. Doctors and engineers lived in hovels that homeless people would avoid in the US, received medical care that was often substandard at best(the USSR had state of the art medicine, but it was NOT available to most citizens,) got educations that would mainly count as indoctrination more than anything else, worked as ordered with no say in the matter, received vacations that make the employers during our industrial revolution in the US look generous, and couldn't even complain about this for fear of being turned in to the authorities by their neighbors. This was not an accident; it was by design!
However, we also know that in practise, at the turn of the century, a great deal of the industrial working class in America was virtually "enslaved" (by your definition) at the hands of their tycoons too.
Not true. That they were able to use organization and protest to better their circumstances, that they would not be imprisoned or shot for refusing to work, and that they could move elsewhere and find other employment - and that they were paid - puts them head and shoulders above the slaves who were 99.9% of Soviet society. Slavery is more about liberty than it is about money; hardship cannot make you a slave, but a gun to your head can.
The fact that they were forced to do so doesn't necessarily make it "slave" labour - many of them already worked in the factories, now they just were deprived of a wage... they had a greater cause to fulfill anyway.
Greater in whose eyes? And what if they didn't want to work in those factories? You are stating as objective facts things which are matters of opinion and circumstance.
However, during the Second World War, the labour force had two excellent "stimuli" to work:
Which matters not at all to my argument.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
And *I* am spouting one-sided propaganda?! (4.42 / 7) (#287)
by valeko on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 09:44:58 PM EST

That is not my definition of "slave." Compensation is only partly relevant; there is also the fact that "conscription" is not voluntary. These people WERE slaves in every sense that we use the term to apply to any other slaves, and trying to pretend otherwise is the worst sort of whitewashing. That they were not bought and sold merely reflects the fact that there was a monopoly owner.

There was already a substantial industrial labour force in the Soviet Union that existed then; the only fact of the matter is that, like in most other countries, these were primarily men, many of whom were conscripted and as a result were replaced by women, etc. That they were compelled by force to work to resist the invading Germans, who were mercilessly axing all Slavs and virtually all other Soviet ethnicities in their path, does not necessarily make them "slaves". By this same argument, American draftees in the Second World War were "slaves" too. True, they didn't have a gun to their head, but the US was not faced with an invasion on its territory and an imminent holocaust/enslavement of its entire nation.

You should look into the state of the USSR's arrangements for these things, even at their absolute height of power and wealth. Doctors and engineers lived in hovels that homeless people would avoid in the US, received medical care that was often substandard at best(the USSR had state of the art medicine, but it was NOT available to most citizens,) got educations that would mainly count as indoctrination more than anything else, worked as ordered with no say in the matter, received vacations that make the employers during our industrial revolution in the US look generous, and couldn't even complain about this for fear of being turned in to the authorities by their neighbors. This was not an accident; it was by design!

You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. It is self-evident that you have not investigated the subject of Soviet social services to even the most minimal degree, but have simply eaten up what is taught here about it.

The peak of good life in the USSR was probably during Khruschev's time. This will be my reference point for assessing the health of the "USSR's arrangements for these".

William Mandel wrote a very interesting book called "Russia Re-Examined" in 1964, later revised in 1967, which details the broad situation. I admit that at times it seems a bit idealistic even for me, but it makes a very adequate portrayal of the situation that is very disconnected with the reality that you have been indoctrined with. Oh, no question, many examples of what you describe exist, and certainly the elite received better medical care, but you needlessly exaggerate and inflate the abysmality of the situation such that you come out looking like a wanking, ignorant parrot (and then accuse me of the same!). I find this book to tell that which can be reconciled with what many of my acquaintances who lived during this time period (and after) tell me:

A series of selected quotations from Mr. Mandel's book will follow, concerning the time of Khruschev and the beginning of Brezhnev. Take them how you shall, but recognise that this is not a man who traveled to Russia, came back, and invented complete lies. Suffice to say, it provides sufficient evidence that you have absolutely no basis for your perfunctory lies, derived from some of the most extreme of American propaganda:

On vacations:

All wage and salary earners get a minimum of two weeks' paid vacation per. A very large percentage gets three weeks, a month, or even more as a special inducement for work in the Far North, eastern Siberia, desert or high mountain areas.

I'd like to add from personal acquaintances that most academic people who lived during this time tell me that their allotted vacation time ranged from 2 to 6 weeks, with the average being around 3 or 4.

On education (I suspect this was in the late 50s or early 60s; by the mid 70s it had improved far, far beyond this):

At present, Soviet schools--day or boarding--educate well. When Ivan gets out of eight-year school at the age of fifteen, he has had 249 hours of physics, 142 hours of chemistry, 465 hours of a foreign language, 286 hours o geography, 71 hours of drafting, and 1663 hours of mathematics, plus Russian, literature, history, civics, nature study, physical education, music and singing, freehand drawing, shop, and 180 hours of practice on a real job.

In another place, concerning education:

All things considered, the Soviet student has, after eight years, an education equivalent to that of an average American high school graduate twelve. However, a Soviet educator who made a firsthand study of American schools concluded that classes in this country for intellectually gifted children were approximately on a par with Soviet schools in the demands made upon the students, seriousness of approach, and educational methods.

The two years of noncompulsory education which follow the eight-year school provide an education rather like the first two years of an American polytechnical institute or technology institute. Students who get straight As in the graduation exam are awarded gold medals and enjoy priority in college admission, but no exemption from entrance exams.

I would add to the last bit that virtually everyone I know who went to school in the 60s and 70s had to do the standard 10-year compulsory fare. It seems that 8-year compulsory schooling that this author describes is somewhat antiquated, perhaps late 50s.

There is a very similar appraisal of the diversity and sound curriculum of universities.

This is a small bit about housing, although this is also antiquated in that I've never heard of post-70s people who have not owned a television set anywhere in Russia:

On medicine:

When a person gets sick, even for a fwe days, everything in his life--job, study, recreation--is upset. What happens then?

The Soviet citizen goes to see a doctor without hesitation. There are two reasons: it costs him nothing and it assures continuation of income. He does not have to budget for health insurance, doctor bills, hospital bills, fees for surgery, tests, or X-rays. If he wants to pay for what he can get free, there is a handful of doctors who practice privately--quiet legally--after their salaried hours, and a few clinics in the largest cities charge a fee. [...]

The Soviet citizen regards medical care in exactly the same way as he regards education. It is something that he does not have to think of in terms of his budget. It is there when he needs it. New York City's Commissioner of Health, Dr. Leona Baumgartner, reporing on a visit to a Soviet polyclinic, wrote: "There he [the patient] sees his own physician . . . . Some families I talked with . . . had obviously had the same physician for years."

A doctor's certificate of illness is needed to draw sick leave pay. That is a further incentive to seeing the doctor as quickly as possible. There is no waiting period: sick time is paid from the first day one can't work. This covers every wage and salary earner in the country. It is a matter of law, and does not depend upon a labor union and the nature of its contract, or upon management practises.

And some more:

This system has helped to bring about: (1) a lower death rate than in the United States or Europe; (2) a doubling of the life span since the Revolution, so that today it is almost equal to that in America; (3) the most rapid population increase (births minus deaths, as per cent of population) in any modern country, not counting immigration. Weaknesses include an infant mortality rate (from birth to first birthday) still higher than the American, and substantial tubercular and intestinal disease rates, reflecting crowded housing and a background of poverty.

Also:

If the average Soviet doctor has poorer training than his American counterpart, and hospital and examining facilities are generally less satisfactory, how has a lower death rate and a nearly equal longetivity been achieved? The answer lies in the Soviet approach, which is preventive. Vaccination law is uniform throughout the USSR, so it is impossible for a controllable disease to hang on somewhere because of unsatisfactory local legislation.

Next to sanitation, vaccination, and unhesitating application for treatment because it is free of cost, the most important factor is preventative examination. Because of frequent and inclusive examination of the adult population, Soviet medical statistics report cancer death rates to be several percentage points--several thousand human lives--lower among women than in the US, probably because of earlier discovery and treatment. They make no claim to any more effective treatment.

On the other hand, a vital factor to the broad situation is emphasised here. However, this is characteristic of virtually everything in the Soviet system - all the good stuff is in the cities.

A very weak spot in the Soviet [medical] system is the rural situation, where only 11 per cent of the physicians serve half the population of the country. Despite the government inducement of higher pay for rural service, a vacation twice as long, and preference in post-graduate training, plus attractions often offered by village authorities such as free rent, a cow and chuckens t provide milk and meat for their families, Soviet dotors tend to stay in the cities, where cultural and professional facilities and opportunities for their children are greater. Yet the 44000 country doctors, and twice that number of trained midwives and "doctor's assistants" (practitioners with diagnostic training above that of a trained nurse), are able to keep rural health at a level not significantly different from urban.

And the likes.

I certainly would understand if you were to say that this is idealistic, even propaganda of sorts, and doesn't necessarily reflect reality broadly. What I like about this sort of literature is that it focuses on the daily life of the average Soviet citizen rather than on aggregate statistics. I'm sure you wouldn't want people from other countries evaluating the quality of the average person's life in the US based on your statistics, now would you? Death (and murder) rates here are quite high, much of the population doesn't have access to adequate healthcare due to insurance, etc.

Idealistic or not, the preceding quotations reflect an [urban?] Soviet existence that is far closer to reality than the mindless crap you are spouting.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Addition. (4.00 / 2) (#288)
by valeko on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 09:55:19 PM EST

About vacations: The period for paid vacations does not include the several months of the summer when people would often head out of the city to relax on their dacha, sometimes with some income, sometimes not ... it depended on the situation. But don't confuse that for, "they had to work all year except for 2-3 weeks" - in total, most people spent several months out of the year off the job at some point. Depends on what kind of job, obviously.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

propaganda (3.50 / 2) (#292)
by heatherj on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 11:35:55 AM EST

A series of selected quotations from Mr. Mandel's book will follow, concerning the time of Khruschev and the beginning of Brezhnev. Take them how you shall, but recognise that this is not a man who traveled to Russia, came back, and invented complete lies. Suffice to say, it provides sufficient evidence that you have absolutely no basis for your perfunctory lies, derived from some of the most extreme of American propaganda:

So Soviet propaganda is to be believed? Prove this be citing research that was NOT vetted by the Soviet gov't before it was released. Thus far, the only (possibly) independent proof you have is the statement of your "Soviet acquaintence", who would have to be old enough to have experienced such things first hand to be credible. To me, any society that has bread lines for normal people (not just a few), worthless money, no freedom of expression, and imprisons its people for their beliefs has major problems. Perhaps you are not old enough to remember how the Soviets tried to cover up the Cernobyl disaster and the severity of its aftereffects? I know that Soviet Communism has gotten to be long enough ago and far enough away that it is stylish in leftist circles to try to rationalize it, but give me a break!

[ Parent ]

Well. (5.00 / 2) (#298)
by valeko on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 04:38:55 PM EST

I think you may be confusing my statements for an implication that life in the Soviet Union was better in terms of overall quality than it is in the West. That's really not at all what I'm saying.

I'm just trying to show the other side of the picture; that it was not a 1984-like society, that there were normal people there that lived normal professional lives, wokr up in the morning, ate, went to work, read, and traveled just as you do, etc. This seems to be unthinkable to people like trhurler, who is hellbent on asserting that it was the embodiment of an Orwellian vision, nothing less than verbatim. This is just not true.

I'm not trying to paint it as a utopia - it had problems, serious problems, and overall, life wasn't great for most people. However, I have several things I want to get across, particularly into trhurler's thick skull (impossible, I know):

  • Some people in America have a very hard life too.
  • Many people in the Soviet Union had perfectly ordinary lives, choosing their profession, never being tortured by the KGB or NKVD, etc.
  • A lot of this "freedom in life" and "happiness in life" rhetoric is very, very culturally and personally subjective. What trhurler regards as "freedom" may not be assigned much value in other societies by the people themselves, or vice versa.
  • The realities of any such questions are extremely complex. There's no way to chalk it up to one general metamessage in the space of a little paragraph. Unless you are acquainted with people in a plausible spectrum of personal experiences in the Soviet Union, you really aren't fit to talk. With some things, you don't have to actually "be on the front line" to say how they are, but in this case, all that trhurler doing is ingesting what various right-wing bigots have explained to him in the process of receiving his indoctrionation ("degree").


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

reply (4.00 / 2) (#306)
by heatherj on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 08:18:38 PM EST

"I think you may be confusing my statements for an implication that life in the Soviet Union was better in terms of overall quality than it is in the West. That's really not at all what I'm saying."

That is certainly how you come across "I'm just trying to show the other side of the picture; that it was not a 1984-like society, that there were normal people there that lived normal professional lives, wokr up in the morning, ate, went to work, read, and traveled just as you do, etc. This seems to be unthinkable to people like trhurler, who is hellbent on asserting that it was the embodiment of an Orwellian vision, nothing less than verbatim. This is just not true."

Nobody, including trhurler, said that wasn't true. However, it is still an unbiased fact that Soviet society was a failure economically, environmentally, and from a freedom and liberty perspective. You could be a normal Soviet citizen such as you describe, just so long as you were a good little sheeple where anybody in authority could see or hear you. This is what Orwell was trying to describe, although, to drive his point home, he exaggerated somewhat. This is not freedom. It is evil, particularly so to someone like myself, who firmly believes in freedom and liberty as envisioned by the founders of this country (whose works I would commend to you-they are far more wholesome than Marx, which I have read also.) Communism/Socialism, as envisioned by Marx or Lenin, is not viable on any level higher than an extended family, without seriously eroding the freedom of the people involved. "Some people in America have a very hard life too."

Your grasp of the obvious is frightening. They are still free to do pretty much as they can afford to do. They don't have to worry about saying the wrong thing. They don't have to obtain permission to change careers or move across the country. They also still (in spite of the Socialist institutions that help to perpetuate poverty) have the best chance in the world to better their situations. Here's a news flash from someone who has lived below the official poverty line for a fair portion of her life: A lot of "rich" people have "hard lives", too. The definition of "hard" is even more subjective than the concept of freedom. Personally, I'd rather be flat broke and strong and healthy and intelligent than filthy rch and unable to do for myself due to some variety of chronic ill health. "The realities of any such questions are extremely complex. There's no way to chalk it up to one general metamessage in the space of a little paragraph. Unless you are acquainted with people in a plausible spectrum of personal experiences in the Soviet Union, you really aren't fit to talk. With some things, you don't have to actually "be on the front line" to say how they are, but in this case, all that trhurler doing is ingesting what various right-wing bigots have explained to him in the process of receiving his indoctrionation ("degree"). "

Right-wing bigots on college campuses are rare birds, indeed, as something on the order of 80% of college professors either are members of the Democrat party or regularly vote that way. If you're going to insult people, you'll have to get your facts straight. Haven't you been told such things enough for one article, YET? It is not necessary to be caught in a glue trap to know that all they do is kill the mouse slowly through starving him to death, which is much what Socialism does to the people caught therein, literally and spiritually. A person who has not experienced freedom does not realize how different it is from the lack thereof, nor does he realize how important it can be to spiritual health. Similarly, a child who has always lived with abuse very frequently rationalizes what is going on internally to the point where he honestly does not realize anything is wrong at home till he is out of the situation. I have worked with such children and seen it happen many times. If you think the Russians have it so good, by all means, go live there. Personally, I'll stay here and keep working to build in the US the truly free society the founders had in mind.

[ Parent ]

Economical Failure? (5.00 / 3) (#315)
by linca on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 08:55:55 AM EST

Saying that the USSR was an economical failure /is/ wrong. People weren't as wealthy as in the US, but they weren't "living in hovels" as trhurler describes. My source is not "book", but rather the fact that I have been there in 1992, living in one of their families. I also know other people who grew up there. It is broadly true that they had acceptable health care (though in the 90's its quality was going down), good albeit small housing, TV, very good means of public transportation, schooling of the highest quality (they were perhaps two years ahead of France in the "hard sciences").

So yes, it was an political and environmental failure. But no, it wasn't an economical failure, considering that it started from way behind the US, was totally destroyed by war twice during the century, and was submitted to one of the harshest totalitarian regimes until '53.

Indeed, in the 60's the USSR was able to produce the works of Tarkovsky, or Parajanov, which aren't the marks of a society without any freedom. Compare to Welles, who wasn't able to work in the USA.


[ Parent ]
value on "freedom" (5.00 / 2) (#309)
by Rahaan on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 01:25:36 AM EST

Everything is relative. One could argue that slaves were actually being rewarded when they were only whipped 20 times, or only raped once in one day - after all, they were slaves. All they knew was slavery. All they knew was 50 lashes and sexual abuse. Everything is relative.

However, all of our societies are based on certain premises that must exist in order for everything else to. One of the most basic ideas that most 'enlightened' people believe are those of human rights and liberty. Without these, nothing else in our society - or yours, wherever you're from - can hold true. Your life can be violated, manipulated, and dissimilated as seen fit by other people. The fact of the matter is the Soviet Union could - and did - violate basic freedoms every single day of its existence. Just because some of the people you've talked to or know were ignored by government (most likely because of their inconspicuousness - the government had more important people to kill and torture than all of the doctors living in mid-size cities) doesn't make it all right. If they had ever voiced a disdain for their system of government, if they had been told they had to do another job, if they had been told they had to move, if they had been told to fight in Afghanistan and didn't - they could have and probably would have been killed. Period.

Once you willingly give up your freedoms to choose, live, and think, you deserve whatever it is you get. There is no room for subjectivity.


you know, jake.. i've noticed that, since the tacos started coming, the mail doesn't so much come as often, or even at all
[ Parent ]

Compare to the US (5.00 / 2) (#316)
by linca on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 09:07:04 AM EST

Yes, the USSR lacked freedom and was a failure on that aspect. But spouting propaganda in your post, you mistake What happened during Stalin, which is not defensible, and what happened later. No, not everyone who disobeyed government was killed. Compare what happened for draft dodgers in the US in the 60's ; the draft dodgers in the USSR were sent in jail too.

So yes, the particular form of government in the USSR was reppressive, but not as ugly as you like to paint it (I repeat, after Khruchev). And that does not imply that any form of communism is necessiraly reppressive. Or show the implication.


[ Parent ]
I'm not trying to compare to the US.. (3.33 / 3) (#317)
by Rahaan on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 11:25:18 AM EST

I'm trying to show you basics of human rights, and I am most certainly not spouting propaganda. You do not even know my beliefs on politics for I have never stated them here. I was trying to show the irrelevance of relativity in a debate since there must be some common basis on which we can live and act. If you do not have this, then living as a subject in Zululand as a possession of the king is inherently just as "good" as having free will and habeus corpus. If you do not have that, the whole discussion is moot - human rights are not an issue.

Throughout my travels, I've learned that the most basic assumption agreed upon by the most widely knowledgeable people has been that of freedom and liberty. Everything else stems from that.

On the USSR.. a country founded by brutality and oppression will generally stay that way and is not in any way defensible. The fact of the matter is that what happened post-Stalin could have been just as ugly as during Stalin, and often was, and that is unacceptable. Once you give away your right to free will, placing your life in another's hands, you are screwed - that person can do anything they wish to you. No matter how many times the politicos say they'll play nicely. Power tends to corrupt, and the leaders of the USSR had absolute power.

Don't mistake me for believing America is perfect, for I am one of its biggest critics, although I do believe you should criticize it for the right reason (and with real logic, as opposed to most of the pseudo-arguments I see on places like K5.) The draft was a shameless act and should never have occurred.. but that is a completely different discussion.


you know, jake.. i've noticed that, since the tacos started coming, the mail doesn't so much come as often, or even at all
[ Parent ]

Valeko: (5.00 / 1) (#327)
by Rahaan on Fri Mar 08, 2002 at 01:37:23 AM EST

I'd love it if you answered one of the many questions I asked of you, or had any kind of suggestion whatsoever as to what *should* be.


you know, jake.. i've noticed that, since the tacos started coming, the mail doesn't so much come as often, or even at all
[ Parent ]
Yes (3.50 / 4) (#295)
by trhurler on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 01:18:17 PM EST

That they were compelled by force to work to resist the invading Germans, who were mercilessly axing all Slavs and virtually all other Soviet ethnicities in their path, does not necessarily make them "slaves".
Given the definition (both mine and the common usage) of "slave," this is like saying "that it is red does not mean it has a color."
By this same argument, American draftees in the Second World War were "slaves" too.
And I never suggested otherwise.
William Mandel wrote a very interesting book called "Russia Re-Examined" in 1964, later revised in 1967, which details the broad situation.
Which book used "facts" and "examples" approved by the USSR in order to facilitate the author's investigations. Its contents are pure propaganda. Do you intend next to compare the Hitler Youth to the Boy Scouts?
I'd like to add from personal acquaintances that most academic people who lived during this time tell me that their allotted vacation time ranged from 2 to 6 weeks, with the average being around 3 or 4.
There were no academics in the USSR. Only ideologue puppets. Academia requires academic freedom, and the USSR did not allow that; if you wanted a job as a professor, you agreed to toe the party line, period.
All wage and salary earners get a minimum of two weeks' paid vacation per. A very large percentage gets three weeks, a month, or even more as a special inducement for work in the Far North, eastern Siberia, desert or high mountain areas.
Provided of course that they're not needed for "special work" or "emergency services" or whatever. Which those not politically connected often and/or usually were.
At present, Soviet schools--day or boarding--educate well. When Ivan gets out of eight-year school at the age of fifteen, he has had 249 hours of physics, 142 hours of chemistry, 465 hours of a foreign language, 286 hours o geography, 71 hours of drafting, and 1663 hours of mathematics, plus Russian, literature, history, civics, nature study, physical education, music and singing, freehand drawing, shop, and 180 hours of practice on a real job.
And has a world view so distorted from reality that he has no idea Stalin murdered 50 million people or that the US and the USSR were once allies.
The Soviet citizen regards medical care in exactly the same way as he regards education. It is something that he does not have to think of in terms of his budget. It is there when he needs it.
And of course the doctors are doctors because that's what they have been made into. If you don't mind living a life directed by someone else, the Soviet system might work for you. However, being a person rather than a dog, I do not find this acceptable.
the preceding quotations reflect an [urban?] Soviet existence that is far closer to reality than the mindless crap you are spouting.
My ass. As I said, "propaganda." Complete and utter bunk. Look for something written without any approval from any communist party.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
These are all lies. (3.66 / 3) (#296)
by valeko on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 04:14:42 PM EST

There were no academics in the USSR. Only ideologue puppets. Academia requires academic freedom, and the USSR did not allow that; if you wanted a job as a professor, you agreed to toe the party line, period.

This may have been true for academics in the field of "politics", but you seem to be implying that no other academia exists. This is not true. The vast majority of professionals in the USSR that did not venture into the murkyness of political philosophy had all the "academic freedom" they needed. Your inability to recognise this stems from your own victimisation by your filthy propaganda - i.e. Soviet Union == barbarians, all academics == "Communist puppets", etc. You do not know shit.

Provided of course that they're not needed for "special work" or "emergency services" or whatever. Which those not politically connected often and/or usually were.

This is no more true than it is here in the US.

And has a world view so distorted from reality that he has no idea Stalin murdered 50 million people or that the US and the USSR were once allies.

And you honestly think that Americans in their schooling have an undistorted view? You yourself ranted elaborately on the subject of such distortions in another comment.

Stalin, BTW, did not murder 50 million people. The numbers really are not an issue when they exist in such dimensions as tens of millions, but the 50 million quantity is widely exaggerated in great magnitude for propaganda purposes. The worst of these lies is the implicit conclusion that Soviet society during Stalin is the same thing as Soviet society after Stalin. Anybody who doesn't have their head stuck in the sand of your vile ignorance can you tell that this is not true.

And of course the doctors are doctors because that's what they have been made into. If you don't mind living a life directed by someone else, the Soviet system might work for you. However, being a person rather than a dog, I do not find this acceptable.

Another case example of your mere eating up everything you're taught here by your ideologues. Contrary to such lies, most Soviet children had perfectly good options to self-determination in their profession. Like anywhere else, including in the US, there are practical obstacles, but they were no more constraining than, say, the role in career guidance that GCSEs play in the UK.

I have never met one Soviet citizen (and I know many, many) who can honestly say that his or her was occupation and professional direction was chosen for them.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Great strategy (1.80 / 5) (#299)
by trhurler on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 04:47:06 PM EST

Use the title "these are all lies" and then only respond to less than half of what I had to say, providing no real evidence that there were ANY lies at all, and not even answering most of what you refer to as falsehoods.

Typical 16 year old idiot. Do explain how being forced to work under threat of death is not slavery sometime. I'd love to hear it.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Fine. (4.00 / 2) (#300)
by valeko on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 04:56:11 PM EST

Do explain how being forced to work under threat of death is not slavery sometime. I'd love to hear it.

Do explain where this occured in mainstream Soviet society. World War II is an example, but "slaves" were conscripted to fight in the US as well.

The reason I say "mainstream" society is because there were certainly many outlying places where you could argue that this is true, for example the cotton industries of Uzbekistan. While the people who picked cotton there seldom were forced to do so at gunpoint, there was little practical prospect in moving outside of their situation to advance further in life.

... which is a concept transplantable to a substantial portion of the working class in the US too, as we know ...


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Soviet society means post-Stalin, BTW. (nt) (2.33 / 3) (#301)
by valeko on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 04:56:49 PM EST


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Then "US society" means post-noon today. (1.33 / 3) (#302)
by trhurler on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 05:08:18 PM EST

After all, I'm pretty sure we haven't slaughtered any innocents or anything like that in the last couple of hours, so if you get to be arbitrary in what you call "Soviet society" in order to eliminate much of the bad from the discussion, why shouldn't I be arbitrary in what I call "US society?"

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
I'm not being arbitrary. (4.00 / 2) (#303)
by valeko on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 05:18:28 PM EST

However, the horrors of Stalinism are thoroughly acknowledged. That is not regarded as a good period in the Soviet epoch by virtually universal consensus. My desire is to discuss the reasonable society which evolved onward from the onset of Khruschev, so for this reason I clarify.

It would be just as logical to discuss "German society" while stipulating that we're talking post-Kaiser and post-World War II.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Pretty sure ain't good enough (5.00 / 4) (#304)
by M0dUluS on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 05:43:44 PM EST

After all, I'm pretty sure we haven't slaughtered any innocents or anything like that in the last couple of hours,

Ahh..so the Pentagon checks in with you before it flys bombing sorties in Afghanistan does it? And the CIA always makes sure that trhurler's opinion is canvassed before it supports some scumbag in Latin America.



"[...]no American spin is involved at all. Is that such a stretch?" -On Lawn
[ Parent ]
Atrocities (5.00 / 3) (#318)
by Eloquence on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 01:24:44 PM EST

As a current forced laborer for the German government (we still have ca. one-year conscription, which can be substituted with social services), I would not necessarily disagree with the term "slavery", although it implies total ownership, often extending into private life (take African sex slaves as an example). But to label all forced labor as "atrocities", if that is your intention, seems a bit extreme. Human rights violations, yes. But atrocities, as you call them in your current signature? That depends on the conditions and reasons.
--
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy · Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!
[ Parent ]
STPT. (5.00 / 1) (#334)
by infinitera on Thu Apr 11, 2002 at 10:51:37 PM EST

Fuck off, eh? My [jewish, amongst the antisemitism] grandmother was a pediatrician in moscow's most prestigous hospitial. She went into this career of her own choice. She was not well compensated. She did not lack for housing or food, however.

[ Parent ]
Brutality. (4.50 / 2) (#289)
by valeko on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 10:03:24 PM EST

Your portrayal of Soviet society as a barbarous totalitarian state where 99.9% of the population are "slaves" stems from your inability to distinguish between the genuine horrors of Stalinism and the progress subsequently made.

This is a problem from which many Americans who are victims of their own propaganda suffer. They simply have a gap in their heads concerning the period 1953-1985, with occasional bits about some kind of Cold War, commie == bad, die die die!, and Cuban Missile Crisis maybe.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Yeah... (1.00 / 1) (#293)
by trhurler on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 01:01:51 PM EST

Look, why don't you tell that story about "genuine progress" to someone living in one of those hovels. They're still there, and if they pine for the days of the communists, it is not for "progress," but simply because the communists were able to temporarily prevent the total collapse of their society, at the cost of ensuring that it WOULD eventually collapse, and the people, not understanding the cause and effect, choose to view the communists as a source of stability.

There was no progress, except by stealing technology from others and forcing people to live their lives as some bureaucrat saw fit. Slavery is not an acceptable mode of life, regardless of the practical benefits.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
More lies from the trhurler dream world. (3.00 / 1) (#297)
by valeko on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 04:21:50 PM EST

There was no progress, except by stealing technology from others

This is a lie in which some conservative teachers dabble in the American school system, but it can be effectively debunked by anyone who lived in the Soviet Union (and can even find it on a physical map of the world). Although doubtless you can find examples of "industrial espionage" with almost anyone, there was much technological progress within the Soviet Union itself that could seldom be characterised as "stealing everyone else's technology". I propose that you should provide me credible evidence that technological progress in the USSR, broadly speaking, came from "stealing". Otherwise, I propose that you're once again flaunting spectacularly your astronomical ignorance of virtually everything outside your borders.

Have you ever lived in the Soviet Union, trhurler? Or known anybody who has, and who did not come here with an ulterior ideological motive to tell you how bad it was?

Like I said, you would not want people examining your country in terms of statistics. You would want others to see how ordinary people live. Likewise, I suggest that you consider how ordinary Soviet citizens lived. You will find that the reality is very disconnected from the lies and exaggerations that you spout.

Slavery is not an acceptable mode of life, regardless of the practical benefits.

Do not confuse Soviet life for conscripted labour, as per Orwell. And if you happen to think Soviet life == 1984, you've either got serious problems in your head, or are simply as ignorant as the average doodle...


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Hmm... (1.00 / 2) (#276)
by beergut on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 06:23:07 PM EST

I wonder what would have happened had some of these "labourers" decided not to "work".

It's my guess that what arms the Soviets had would have been turned against these "labourers".

This means that these "labourers" were, in fact, "slaves" to those who had weapons.

Sorry, but I cannot see that the government can "transcend the need to spend money" on labor, munitions, and whatnot, and conscript people to work to produce these things, for no return, without these people becoming "slaves". Do not try to tell me that the government forced these people into slavery in order to preserve their freedoms, because if they were "slaves", then they didn't have "freedom", anyway!

Now, if you're trying to tell me that slavery is all well and good, when it's a socialist/communist government that is enslaving people, your views are at least consistent with those that I believe that you hold, deep down.

i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

draft? (5.00 / 2) (#283)
by linca on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 08:31:38 PM EST

There was a draft in the USA during WW2, right? as in, if you tried to dodge it, you'd get in jail and etc.?

By your definition, America fought WW2 with "slaves"

What valeko is pointing out is that the laborers in ww2 worked in the same kind of patriotic frenzy that was felt by those soldiers fighting in the Pacific. They were no more slaves. Or, the US government of the times was socialist and enslaving its people.

[ Parent ]
Yes. (3.00 / 1) (#285)
by beergut on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 09:12:20 PM EST

Conscription, whether to work or to fight, is slavery.

The day after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, there was an enormous surge of volunteers to join the army. In fact, I doubt that conscription would have been necessary at all. Korea and Vietnam, on the other hand, required conscription. Wonder why?

In general, if a war is unpopular enough that you do not have enough volunteers to fight it, that's probably a good indicator that the war isn't worth while to fight.

Imagine what would have happened had the Soviets had an armed citizenry, however. Hitler would not have made it nearly as far as he did. Of course, then, neither would Stalin have been able to kill twenty million of his own people to scare the rest into subservience.

Have a nice day.

i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

There was one (5.00 / 1) (#286)
by linca on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 09:25:04 PM EST

draft in USA during WWII

[ Parent ]
Losing the cold war. (4.50 / 2) (#284)
by linca on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 08:38:07 PM EST

The USSR did not "loose" the cold war. Gorbatchev, as the (unelected) leader of the Soviet Union, tried to reform it and it backfired. To the surprise of most. If the conservative side of the PolitBuro had won the fight for direction of the Union, we would probably still be in that Cold War.

The end of the Cold War came about because of political choice of the leaders of the USSR, not because of economic failure (which was much exagerrated by Western media. Health care was high quality for most people, for example, and such were lodging conditions, despite what you pretend.)

[ Parent ]
Really now... (2.00 / 2) (#269)
by valeko on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 05:31:37 PM EST

In any case, having actually met real live French people and talked to them at length, and having many friends and coworkers who have actually been in France, I'll take my empirical judgement over your politically correct wankfest.

Interesting, this whole process of learning about Frenchmen through osmosis! I suppose next you're going to proclaim that all Russians are vodka-swilling heathen because you've met real, live Russians?

You're a load of utter shit from beginning to end.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Hurler on the ditch (3.66 / 3) (#305)
by M0dUluS on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 07:06:03 PM EST

You do a very poor imitation of Chomsky[...]Chomsky-esque "where's the oil" diatribes miss the point entirely.

Time for trhurler to read what Chomsky has to say about the "Mafia Boss" hypothesis. You really should read him instead of reading what other people say about him.



"[...]no American spin is involved at all. Is that such a stretch?" -On Lawn
[ Parent ]
Influence generation vs. what? (4.00 / 1) (#307)
by ariux on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 08:23:42 PM EST

the driving force behind US policy these days is influence generation - building a "shadow empire" as it were. I disagree with this policy, but it is the policy regardless of what I think.

This is how I instinctively feel, too; but I haven't yet been able to come up with a thorough idea of what the US ought to be doing instead. What are your thoughts on this subject?

[ Parent ]

Are you honestly that foolish? (4.00 / 9) (#82)
by autonomous on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 09:07:14 PM EST

I can't tell what scares me more, the fact your wrong, or the conviction you have that you are right. War can not serve anyones interest, in war we are all losers. Europe caught a glimpse of this, they were on the winning side but they did much losing.
-- Always remember you are nothing more than a collection of complementary chemicals worth not more than $5.00
[ Parent ]
Yeah... (4.00 / 1) (#254)
by trhurler on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 12:33:10 PM EST

Look, the fact that war is always bad does not mean that a war does not have better and worse outcomes. Had Hitler conquered all of Europe, that would be "worse," in case you're actually too stupid to figure that out for yourself.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
american losses in wwii (4.83 / 6) (#118)
by eLuddite on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 02:07:40 AM EST

300,000 or 0.2% of the population. In absolute numbers only Canada, Belgium, Holland and Finland lost fewer men. In percent figures, the US lost less than any country by far, despite fighting in Europe and the Pacific.

Ukraine lost 8,000,000 (19.1%), Russia (not including ByeloRussia or some of the 'stans) lost 5,781,000 (9.1%), Poland lost 5,000,000 (2.9%), Yugoslavia lost 1,700,000 (10.6%), Japan lost 2,350,000 (3.4%) etc, etc.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

Small tiny little nitpick. (4.33 / 3) (#121)
by valeko on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 02:33:50 AM EST

Russia (not including ByeloRussia or some of the 'stans) lost 5,781,000

Ultimately, almost 30 million deaths in the USSR have been attributed to World War II. The figures are scaled down to 20-25 million in most western assessments, but once you get into such quantities, you lose that dexterity to grasp these quantities anyway.

About 7 million deaths were of fighting men. The rest were civilians.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

He is (1.71 / 7) (#144)
by mofospork on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 09:31:14 AM EST

Go fuck yourself. You're some whiny kid who probably hasn't even finished an undergrad degree, and you're calling me stupid. I've got that degree, I've got that good job, I still study(in my own time, no less,) and your lame ass doesn't even understand history:

Valeko is a sixteen year old kid who doesn't want to get his driver's license because he'd rather ride the bus. He has exactly as much of a clue as all of the other high school kids who have strong political opinons: not much.

[ Parent ]

You guys are looking silly (5.00 / 6) (#112)
by ariux on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 01:09:05 AM EST

Stooping to personal attacks and argument by assertion undermines your credibility.

[ Parent ]

About Russia and Europe you are dead wrong. (3.37 / 8) (#65)
by valeko on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 07:49:11 PM EST

Russia will be back too, and has had imperial tendencies since the dawn of time. Honestly though, the greatest threat to Europe comes from its own peoples' tendency to totalitarianism.

The Russian tendency now is to greater unification and economic (as well as military) symbiosis with western Europe. This, however, would create a formidable obstacle to the American displacement of world strategic balance, and consequently, is undesirable for the US. For this reason, the US continually inhibits such attraction through the dissemination of lies which spawn self-fulfilling prophecies that keep Russia relatively isolated to its present clientele. Hopefully there will be a change for the better in this respect, and perhaps Europe's economic might and what's left of Russia's military will combine to check American imperialistic ambitions.

As for military spending vs. social spending, the reason that small European countries have a greater tendency to spend "socially" is not because this brings more voters in and of itself, but because its voters are somewhat more evolved. They have greater visions of progress, less obscured by ineptitude, ignorance, and commercial mass-culture than those of the complacent American obedient majority. Europeans weren't also conditioned to believe that perpetual war (Orwell style) is the norm, and were not raised with the mentality that something somewhere irrevocably justifies a $300bil+ defense budget and an enourmous military and industrial apparatus. Therefore, this would naturally cause more of an uproar.

With China, and, curiously enough, the "tendency" of Europeans "toward totalitarianism", you merely spout the perfunctory retarded garbage.

In conclusion, you sir, are a victim of your own propaganda.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Very true (4.00 / 4) (#66)
by autonomous on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 07:55:08 PM EST

The surgeon general reports that propaganda has been shown to cause weak minds in americans.
-- Always remember you are nothing more than a collection of complementary chemicals worth not more than $5.00
[ Parent ]
Heh (3.12 / 8) (#72)
by trhurler on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 08:05:30 PM EST

When Russia says "unity" it means "under Russian rule."

As for vote buying, you are hopelessly naive because you want to believe that Europeans are better people than US citizens. It just ain't so. The truth is, Europeans are just as driven by fear and demagoguery if not MORESO than US citizens(see the GMO "debate," which in Europe is mostly a violent frenzy of property destruction, and in the US is a civilized conversation.)

Finally, as for the European tendency towards totalitarianism, I point you at a history book. Any period of European history will do.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
What on earth?? (4.33 / 6) (#122)
by ariux on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 02:34:07 AM EST

For this reason, the US continually inhibits such attraction through the dissemination of lies which spawn self-fulfilling prophecies that keep Russia relatively isolated to its present clientele.

You say things like this, and then talk about propaganda?

It's in the interest of the United States for there to be a thriving, prosperous, stable, comfortable Europe and a thriving, prosperous, stable, comfortable Russia (to say nothing of a thriving, prosperous, stable, comfortable China).

Europeans talk about "unilateralism" all the time, but when's the last time an American president returned any of the vicious rhetorical broadsides continually issued by crabby French ministers and Russian generals?

America likes the European project and the recovery of Russia (even as Europe, through environmental treaties, tries to pay Russia money to get it to avoid rebuilding its industrial infrastructure). We think a united Europe would be safer for everybody. We want a prosperous Russia, because we think a prosperous Russia, being more like us, will be friendly to us. To hear the hostile rhetoric emanating from places we've sent billions of dollars to make wealthy and risked our soldiers' lives to help stabilize fills us with disbelief.

What do you think we prefer to have available for import, fine wines and cool electronics or wooden spoons and pickled mushrooms? Stability and prosperity always, always, always benefit the powerful.

Do you think this country likes wars? The memory of Vietnam won't be dead until nobody's alive who saw it. I'll give it another 50 years.

[ Parent ]

Explanation. (3.33 / 3) (#124)
by valeko on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 02:42:17 AM EST

It's in the interest of the United States for there to be a thriving, prosperous, stable, comfortable Europe and a thriving, prosperous, stable, comfortable Russia (to say nothing of a thriving, prosperous, stable, comfortable China).

Yes, indeed. It is in the interest of the US to have a stable, thriving, prosperous, comfortable, and separate [from Europe] Russia. I assure you that it is entirely against American interests to have Russia and Europe unite in some kind of covalent economic exchange, and doubleplus bad for Russia to assist in some of Europe's defense needs substantially. Together, Russia and Europe constitute a very large adversary that is a great obstacle to American political goals. The goal of the American leadership is to keep the post-Cold War strategic balance displaced, not create an entity which is at parity with the US!

Russia would certainly be a nice market for American capital, goods, and/or investments - but only provided that it is kept globally prostrated as it is now. It is undesirable to have Russia "rise" again. It's difficult to cite specific sources or empirical research on this subject for you, but I assure you that it can be seen with great clarity upon close examination of the diplomacy taking place between the vertices of the Europe-Russia-USA triangle. Usually, one always gets upset when the other two show signs of getting closer (in their own relative degrees), but there's one that particularly stands out - Russia+Europe is not a combination that satisfies the American foreign policymakers.

That said, don't burden yourself with illusions that the American leadership just wants everyone to be happy and prosperous and free and democratic. That just isn't consistent with post-Cold War reality, and if you think so, you're deceiving yourself...


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Adversary? (3.66 / 3) (#127)
by ariux on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 03:10:33 AM EST

Together, Russia and Europe constitute a very large adversary that is a great obstacle to American political goals.

Excuse me, but what makes them an adversary? Except in the view of aging Cold War generals trying with increasing desperation to justify their positions in the ongoing absence of a powerful enemy. (I understand Russia has a similar problem with its own generals.)

That said, don't burden yourself with illusions that the American leadership just wants everyone to be happy and prosperous and free and democratic.

I didn't say, "the (current) American leadership." I said, "America."

[ Parent ]

I hope you're not really that naive. (4.00 / 5) (#151)
by valeko on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 11:02:58 AM EST

[Together, Russia and Europe constitute a very large adversary that is a great obstacle to American political goals.]

Excuse me, but what makes them an adversary? Except in the view of aging Cold War generals trying with increasing desperation to justify their positions in the ongoing absence of a powerful enemy. (I understand Russia has a similar problem with its own generals.)

Are you really so naive as to think that a drift to unity between Russia and Europe does not pose an obstacle to the very fundamental tenets of American global policy today? If so, I don't see how we could possibly continue this discussion - this is a very important recognition.

But just in case you're genuinely oblivious to this and want the dots connected for you .. A to B, B to C, etc:

The US functions today using what a policy of "unilateralism" - that is, it imposes its will on others because it is the "sole remaining superpower". During the Cold War, imperialist policies on both sides were checked by the ability of their victims to complain to the "other" camp, even if the possibility of resolving the situation was fairly low. The USSR does not exist now, and the US regards itself as being able to act however it wants. This is known as a strategic imbalance - there's nobody sufficiently powerful as to contain American imperialist ambitions. The prospect of Russian and European merging is one that entails in the long term a formation of a counterweight that to an extent puts the strategic balance back in place. This is NOT desirable to the American leadership.

As for the question of who is perpetuating these structures within the US, it's obviously not going to be just the aging Cold Warriors of the Pentagon. The entire ruling class perpetuates the mechanics and structures of the Cold War; the $270-300 billion defense budget, for example, is entirely unnecessary given the current global scheme of things - even taking into account "terrorism" or whatever. The ruling class perpetuates the mentality that always there is some foreign conflict, and for this reason the military is the most important apparatus to pour money into, and the aggressively obedient majority appears to swallow this without any problem. Ever read Orwell? 1984 specifically? There always needs to be a war.

The decade of the 1990s has not been used by the American leadership to dismantle the legacies and structures of the Cold War, but rather to maintain their integrity and even strengthen it. The defense budgets, the number of troops deployed, the bureaucracies overseeing all of this, etc, are all basically at the same Cold War level in the same Cold War apparatus. Unfortunately, this apparatus, having to justify its perpetual existence you said, has turned to less-than-stealthy imperialist wars in the last decade.

In short, I do not understand how it is not possible to see that the formation of a European/Russian strategic conglomerate would threaten American military and economic monopoly that has existed since the late 1980s.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Oh, please (4.00 / 4) (#189)
by ariux on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 06:19:57 PM EST

I hope you're not really that naive.

Spare me. For the third time, and for the record, I am talking about the interests of "America," not about those of "American military and economic monopoly" or "current American policy objectives" or "the current American leadership," unless you think all those things are identical. The goal of this is to evaluate such policy objectives and leadership in a way that is not self-referential.

You know, the kind of democracy-driving political thinking that you foolishly claim Americans can't do because they're all sitting on their couches watching football.

That said, I agree with most of the parent post, except:

The right answer to this problem - a set of aging cold war institutions blindly flailing away against a non-cold-war world - is not to create a giant, competing imperial bloc, effectively changing the world to match the institutions!! On the contrary: the answer is to fix the institutions to properly reflect the state of the world.

This means a bout of painful soul-searching and rearchitecting of our government and institutions to meet the new and different challenges of the present. Most pointedly, such an enterprise would include retiring the old as well as engineering the new. This is never easy, but the alternative is too foul for failure to be an option. Sooner or later we will be forced to review our stance - the only question is how many Americans will die meanwhile for every day of our cowardly procrastination.

In fact, Russia is visibly facing the same exact problem. For us both to fail to answer it, unleashing a new age of international savagery, would be a tragedy and a travesty without parallel. That said, I have little say in Russia, so I prefer to focus on getting my own house in order.

The other thing in your post that I disagree with is your description of a "ruling class." The United States does not have a Soviet-style ruling class - its political system is designed to be permeable to populists in a time of need.

[ Parent ]

This is blind idealism. (5.00 / 2) (#190)
by valeko on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 06:29:57 PM EST

The right answer to this problem - a set of aging cold war institutions blindly flailing away against a non-cold-war world - is not to create a giant, competing imperial bloc, effectively changing the world to match the institutions!! On the contrary: the answer is to fix the institutions to properly reflect the state of the world.

I think that's where we fundamentally differ.

You may think it possible to "change the world" so that the habitat for such institutions becomes unsuitable, but I believe it is self-evident from human history that this is a utopian proposition.

I take JCB's stance on it. This utopian idea of abolishing the institutions of imperialism and tyrrany is daft. The best we can do is preserve the strategic balance and hope that it creates a reasonable degree of equilibrium. Checks, balances, you know ... don't confuse this position with "valeko wants to revive the Cold War" - no no. Different climate.

The other thing in your post that I disagree with is your description of a "ruling class." The United States does not have a Soviet-style ruling class - its political system is designed to be permeable to populists in a time of need.

In theory. And in history, there have been a few times when populists managed to permeate it. But as far as the modern structure of it is concerned, it's an entirely self-perpetuating nomenclature of Republicrats in my eyes.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Quite, quite cynical (3.00 / 1) (#198)
by ariux on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 07:06:18 PM EST

The view I take is - the United States was created by people reforming their institutions. In the following century, all of Europe did it. China and Russia are doing it today. Further, the United States has made such changes at several points in its history, not the least of which was the beginning of the cold war itself. In light of recent historical events, it's now time for another round.

This is what the people were talking about who spoke of "a new common international order grounded on fair play" and really meant it, or who said the military needs to be lighter and have its mission reset. Such reformers have failed to take a comprehensive and systematic enough approach, though - "in light of recent huge changes in the world, how can we rebuild our institutions to meet the different challenges of today?" Some calls obviously missing are for the ground-up restructuring of the CIA and for a much needed shake-up of the NSC's traditional approach (who's the evil empire du jour?).

The best we can do is preserve the strategic balance and hope that it creates a reasonable degree of equilibrium. Checks, balances, you know ... don't confuse this position with "valeko wants to revive the Cold War" - no no. Different climate.

But the cold war was just a big check and balance! Do you think you can unleash the forces of giant, armed empires facing off and not have another cold war, another Great War, or worse?

This utopian idea of abolishing the institutions of imperialism and tyrrany is daft.

This is thrown into more relief if you realize that the United States lacked its cold war institutions before 1940, and got on perfectly well without them.

[ Parent ]

Quite. (3.00 / 1) (#202)
by valeko on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 07:19:45 PM EST

The view I take is - the United States was created by people reforming their institutions. In the following century, all of Europe did it. China and Russia are doing it today. Further, the United States has made such changes at several points in its history, not the least of which was the beginning of the cold war itself. In light of recent historical events, it's now time for another round.

Hmm? China is continuing with market reforms - ooh, "progress". Russia has sunken into a degenerate and decomposing land. Perhaps you don't have an idea of the extent to which the self-reinvented mafia has penetrated every aspect of Russian society (especially Moscow, where 80% of the capital is parked), but it's real. No less real is the fact that save for the new young who find work in western firms, the system has completely abandoned everyone else - pension does not exist, social services do not exist, nothing exists, everything is prohitively expensive, and wages are microscopic to nonexistant for the majority of the working class outside of the New Russian atmosphere of Moscow. Even there, it's quite bad. The vast majority of former Soviet citizens were far better off under Soviet rule in terms of their humanitarian condition, sustinence, and day-to-day quality of life. It looks very bad for Russia - there's not much to say for "reform".

Some calls obviously missing are for the ground-up restructuring of the CIA

Sounds like calls from the ground-up for restructuring of the Gestapo. It's not going to happen. The CIA is an institution that has built a niche for itself well outside its charter (as per the National Security Act of 1947 which created it), and it's not going away. No "calls from the ground up" are going to make it go away, because the CIA, like the rest of the apparatus, is largely insular. Trends of "liberalisation" or "openness" within the CIA are merely intended for domestic consumption to quell occasional lobbying. The CIA and the military aren't going anywhere. If there's any direction for them to go, it's expansion, not deflation.

But the cold war was just a big check and balance! Do you think you can unleash the forces of giant, armed empires facing off and not have another cold war, another Great War, or worse?

I envision a slightly less "hot" war than the Cold War was. One that doesn't have to involve killing so many people. A sound strategic balance is essential, but what I regard as sound would incorporate the "mutual containment" components of the Cold War relationship but less of the senseless slaughter of third-world peoples. Like it or not, balance is the only way to contain the ambitions of overly powerful nations.

This is thrown into more relief if you realize that the United States lacked its cold war institutions before 1940, and got on perfectly well without them.

Yes, but don't try to tell me the US lacked imperialistic institutions before 1940. The Cold War was certainly of a character all by itself, no question, but the imperial paradigm had by that time sunk in quite nicely.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Russia's problems... (2.75 / 4) (#205)
by beergut on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 07:31:44 PM EST

... as far as I can see are not market related, but rather problems caused by not having the rule of law.

Proper laws, properly enforced, would help. Proper contract laws, properly mediated and properly enforced, would help. Arming the citizenry would help immensely.

Russia is currently a land almost completely without the property rights at which you so jovially sneer, and look at where it's gotten them.

i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

... mooo... (1.66 / 3) (#207)
by valeko on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 07:41:10 PM EST

.. as far as I can see are not market related, but rather problems caused by not having the rule of law.

Tell the provincial people that, outside of the West-invaded major cities. I think you will not find a more anti-market group of people. Regardless of where you think the problem really is, it's clear where they think the problem is.

Russia is currently a land almost completely without the property rights at which you so jovially sneer, andl ook at where it's gotten them.

Oh, if they just had properly written and legitimate property rights and the associated legal infrastructure to enforce them, they would be soaring by now, wouldn't they?

Heh. The essence of Russia was not built on private property.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Joe Six Pack Average, Igor Vodka Averageovik (2.80 / 5) (#210)
by beergut on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 07:50:02 PM EST

Could it be that Igor V. Averageovik, Russian citizen, is just as uninformed as you claim Joe S.P. Average, US citizen to be?

Sure, he might perceive that "things were better under the Communists," but is that actually so? Could it be that, due to the lack of a proper legal infrastructure, and proper law enforcement, that the Russian crime syndicates have an upper hand, and that open criminality has adversely affected Russia's economy, which necessarily adversely affects Igor Averageovik?

You're right, though. The essence of Russia was not built on private property. It was built on imperialism, bolshevism, and brutality. Frankly, I don't see this as a big win for Russia.

i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

i don't see a major difference (5.00 / 1) (#333)
by infinitera on Thu Apr 11, 2002 at 07:15:44 PM EST

Every large nation was built by the blood and sweat of its working class. In most cases, brutally maintained. Russia is different how?

[ Parent ]
Yes, I can rate things to 1, too. Wanker. (2.66 / 3) (#213)
by beergut on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 08:06:29 PM EST

You know, rating things with which you disagree to 1 is not all that useful a rhetorical skill.

The fact that you cannot refute my assertion that the core of Russia's problems has to do with a poor legal infrastructure means that you should strengthen your argument, rather than trying to silence your critics.

But, a socialist knows no other form of debate other than to try to quash the opinion of those who disagree, so I am unsurprised at this tactic. It stands to reason, then, that a Europe comprised of dimwitted half-baked idiots like yourself can only be a land of brutal repression, where freedom of expression is curtailed "for the good of the State."

i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

No... (2.33 / 3) (#215)
by valeko on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 08:08:00 PM EST

I rated your comment 1 because it is incendiary, inflammatory, abusive, and contains very little substance apart from that.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Funny (2.33 / 3) (#265)
by trhurler on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 02:41:54 PM EST

As far as I can tell, prosperity always depends on private property. Russia's citizens have suffered under crushing poverty since time immemorial, BECAUSE they have no strong property rights, no well enforced contract laws, BECAUSE their governments are corrupt and organized criminals run businesses, and so on.

You are precisely correct. Russia has never been "built on" these ideas - and that's why it is the world's only major nuclear third world power.

(If you don't believe Russia is third world, travel there, and veer off the usual tourist path.)

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Interesting (5.00 / 2) (#280)
by spiralx on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 08:07:54 PM EST

Russia's citizens have suffered under crushing poverty since time immemorial, BECAUSE they have no strong property rights, no well enforced contract laws, BECAUSE their governments are corrupt and organized criminals run businesses, and so on.

I'm prepared to accept the third point there as a matter of historical "fact" but your other assertions remain that; assertions with no facts to back them up. In fact considering the fact of corrupt governments, flawed social systems that combined the worst aspects of capitalism and socialism and the huge losses suffered in WW2 it's quite amazing that the USSR acheived as much as it did. Sure it wasn't sustainable, but to suggest it was because of a lack of respect for property rights is nothing more than self-serving propaganda on your behalf.

Unless you have facts. Go on; surprise me.

You're doomed, I'm doomed, we're all doomed for ice cream. - Bob Aboey
[ Parent ]

Think about it (3.00 / 1) (#294)
by trhurler on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 01:04:11 PM EST

What causes the kind of economic power the US has? Literally, it is caused by people trading. They each think, or at least hope, that they can get more out of their dealings than they put in, and quite often they're right because of the relative nature of value to productive ability(this is first semester microecon.) When you have millions of people doing this, moving up and down the economic spectrum according to aptitude, hard work, and, to be fair, a great deal of luck and circumstance, the bias is for money to move where competence reigns. It doesn't always happen, and fortunes inherited or gained by fools or frauds and then lost are a modern day morality tale, but it can and does happen, and this drives the whole thing.

The only things it really depends on are property rights and contract law(which law is really just a codification of the principle of informed decision and freedom of association.) Without those two, property can be seized or scammed away from honest, talented, hardworking people by any two bit huckster or bureaucrat, rendering private enterprise an ineffective way to get ahead in the world, and thereby destroying the engine that has powered the world's greatest and most rapid rise in standards of living and economic power.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
But (5.00 / 2) (#324)
by spiralx on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 10:00:11 AM EST

Even if your point is true, it doesn't necessarily follow that it implies that Russia suffered because of a lack of property rights or contract laws.

You're doomed, I'm doomed, we're all doomed for ice cream. - Bob Aboey
[ Parent ]

Playing with fire there (5.00 / 1) (#211)
by ariux on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 07:58:13 PM EST

I envision a slightly less "hot" war than the Cold War was. One that doesn't have to involve killing so many people. A sound strategic balance is essential, but what I regard as sound would incorporate the "mutual containment" components of the Cold War relationship but less of the senseless slaughter of third-world peoples. Like it or not, balance is the only way to contain the ambitions of overly powerful nations.

Really, really dangerous. Bismarck tried this, didn't he?

Not to mention that weapons technology, like any technology, is only going to get better and better.

How are you going to have "mutual containment" without turning countries that are too weak to resist into battlegrounds?

Yes, but don't try to tell me the US lacked imperialistic institutions before 1940. The Cold War was certainly of a character all by itself, no question, but the imperial paradigm had by that time sunk in quite nicely.

Hmm - name some.

[ Parent ]

Yeah, it's dangerous, but what else is there? (3.66 / 3) (#214)
by valeko on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 08:06:58 PM EST

How are you going to have "mutual containment" without turning countries that are too weak to resist into battlegrounds?

I'm not sure, but it seems that in a state of strategic equilibrium, both of the adversaries should not feel at liberty to occasionally invade weak countries and see what happens.

I didn't say this is the optimum situation we should all be striving for with humanity. Of course your vision is better, but I feel that abolishing the existing institutions and the existing order is impossible at present time. Strategic balance is the next best thing, in my eyes, and can provide some hope for those crushed under the weight of sweeping unilateral actions.

As for imperialistic institutions in the US prior to the Cold War, they existed ever since the dawn of the US as a world power. The military, as well as the precursors towards various consolidated intelligence agencies, had pretty much the same niche they do now. What changed with the Cold War was the level of intrigue and the ideological bipolarisation.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

I don't know, but we need something (5.00 / 1) (#216)
by ariux on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 08:13:20 PM EST

Do you want to see World War I refought with modern weapons?

[ Parent ]

No. (5.00 / 1) (#217)
by valeko on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 08:15:47 PM EST

But I also don't desire to see the entire world fall subservient to the market order and slave for it at enourmous human cost.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Sure, but a giant, homicidal war? (5.00 / 1) (#218)
by ariux on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 09:03:02 PM EST

Is that really your tool of choice?

If you're talking about the randroids who are pushing policies here and there while completely ignoring how well they work (if at all), wouldn't publicizing a simple series of results-oriented reality checks serve to discredit them? Or do you just reach instinctively for the gun because it's intellectually easier than doing some detailed research and then presenting the results?

By the way, do you think the entire market movement reduces to randroids and con men?

[ Parent ]

Good question. (3.50 / 2) (#219)
by valeko on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 09:25:03 PM EST

Is that really your tool of choice?

No.

If you're talking about the randroids who are pushing policies here and there while completely ignoring how well they work (if at all), wouldn't publicizing a simple series of results-oriented reality checks serve to discredit them?

There are plenty of results-oriented reality checks published that, upon close inspection, discredit these randroids. Nobody cares, though ... doesn't affect me, just those weird third world folk ...

By the way, do you think the entire market movement reduces to randroids and con men?

No, not by definition. But yes, in practise I'm quite inclined to think that.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

I have in my hand a list of 50 names... (3.00 / 2) (#220)
by ariux on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 09:58:26 PM EST

There are plenty of results-oriented reality checks published that, upon close inspection, discredit these randroids.

Then link me some (with some of the results of your close inspection, if possible).

No, not by definition. But yes, in practise I'm quite inclined to think that.

Hmm. I think you'll have to admit that as an unreasonably cynical inclination.

Markets and private property, seasoned with an appropriate amount of public services, work fine here and in Europe. While that doesn't mean just any old thing will work as long as it has the word "market" on it, it does present some positive examples to set beside the negative ones - and it's downright foolish to look at a positive example and not try to take lessons from it.

There is a strong movement in politics here that legitimately, actually says, "let's help other people in other countries build the kind of life for themselves that we, here, have." If it bumbles, or is hijacked by ideologues and con men (with the implicit help of people who see the trouble happening but don't try to explain what they have seen, in detail, to the uninitiated), that does not change its intent.

From a philosophical point of view, it's hard to see how treating private property as the root of all possible evil is any better than being a blank-eyed randroid. How do you separate state control of all property from state control of everything about life (which depends in so many ways on property)?

[ Parent ]

Debunking randroids (5.00 / 2) (#245)
by ariux on Sun Mar 03, 2002 at 09:23:56 PM EST

Then link me some (with some of the results of your close inspection, if possible).

By the way, the reason I ask this is because I often look around for this kind of thing, with little result. I find plenty of rants about, of all things, Starbucks Coffee (!), but barely any attempts at a clear-eyed, comprehensive assessment of the changes, good and bad, caused by newly applied market policies around the world.

This is a shame, because it abandons the analytic field to an increasingly strident contingent of randroids, as well as more moderate people who push markets because they think markets will work. Large parts of this subject appear ripe for debunking, but any debunkers with even the faintest grip on rational analysis seem to be asleep at the wheel.

[ Parent ]

Actually... (5.00 / 1) (#246)
by ariux on Sun Mar 03, 2002 at 11:52:49 PM EST

"Free markets, five years on" or "free markets, ten years on" (depending on which countries you're talking about) would be a great topic for an article, if you have a good range of sources.

[ Parent ]

This is blind idealism. (none / 0) (#191)
by valeko on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 06:31:41 PM EST

The right answer to this problem - a set of aging cold war institutions blindly flailing away against a non-cold-war world - is not to create a giant, competing imperial bloc, effectively changing the world to match the institutions!! On the contrary: the answer is to fix the institutions to properly reflect the state of the world.

I think that's where we fundamentally differ.

You may think it possible to "change the world" so that the habitat for such institutions becomes unsuitable, but I believe it is self-evident from human history that this is a utopian proposition.

I take JCB's stance on it. This utopian idea of abolishing the institutions of imperialism and tyrrany is daft. The best we can do is preserve the strategic balance and hope that it creates a reasonable degree of equilibrium. Checks, balances, you know ... don't confuse this position with "valeko wants to revive the Cold War" - no no. Different climate.

The other thing in your post that I disagree with is your description of a "ruling class." The United States does not have a Soviet-style ruling class - its political system is designed to be permeable to populists in a time of need.

In theory. And in history, there have been a few times when populists managed to permeate it. But as far as the modern structure of it is concerned, it's an entirely self-perpetuating nomenclature of Republicrats in my eyes.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Now why did that get posted twice.. (nt) (none / 0) (#192)
by valeko on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 06:32:11 PM EST


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

P.S. (4.33 / 3) (#194)
by valeko on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 06:46:24 PM EST

You know, the kind of democracy-driving political thinking that you foolishly claim Americans can't do because they're all sitting on their couches watching football.

I think you misunderstand (as do the others that get inflamed at my such suggestions).

I don't mean that the American people are in and of themselves inept or somehow mentally defective and hence unable to think about these things. I mean that the leadership effectively suppresses the conditions which could lead to a collective consciousness of the injustices that exist, on a massive scale. You'll always have academic individuals, university students, and even ordinary citizens that know the score. But in the aggregate, there is very little potential for drastic reform of the aforementioned injustices through popular means.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

No, I didn't misunderstand (4.66 / 3) (#208)
by ariux on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 07:42:40 PM EST

I think you underestimate the capacity of this country's citizens, and overestimate the power of their leadership over them.

[ Parent ]

Perhaps not as much as you think... (5.00 / 2) (#331)
by kcbrown on Tue Mar 12, 2002 at 02:42:46 AM EST

I think you underestimate the capacity of this country's citizens, and overestimate the power of their leadership over them.
I don't think he does.

First, let's get something straight: the leadership of this country isn't the elected. Those guys take orders not from those who elected them, but from those who contributed to their campaign fund. If you don't believe me, then explain to us how the DMCA got passed (and with a voice vote, at that).

Now, with that definition out of the way, let's look at the power of this leadership. These are the people who own large multinational corporations. Corporations like AT&T, AOL/TW, GE, Microsoft, etc. Notice that some of those corporations own the vast majority of the media outlets in this country. Those corporations that don't actually control the media directly will of course have deals made with those that do, and you're incredibly naive if you believe otherwise. While some of these multinational corporations may be in competition with one another, they also cooperate with one another, particularly when it comes to governmental policies that shape the world they operate in.

Now, an individual can only act on what he knows. If that individual isn't aware of some key information about what's happening in the world, he won't know to act on it. If he doesn't know of the existence of a candidate, he cannot vote for him. If he cannot get any information about a candidate without exerting a great deal of effort, he won't. The relationship between the media and the "true" leadership relies on the fact that the reason people elect representatives instead of voting on issues directly is that they have their own lives to lead, and thus limited time in which to make these decisions. Also consider the fact that the ever increasing amount of time Americans spend at work means less time (and thus effort) spent researching the political arena works very much in the favor of the "true" leadership.

In short, it doesn't matter how good or smart the people are. There's simply too much working against them to cause them to effectively band together against the status quo. And that is why valeko's cynicism is not unfounded.

[ Parent ]

Combinations (3.66 / 3) (#132)
by ariux on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 03:42:03 AM EST

Russia+Europe is not a combination that satisfies the American foreign policymakers.

I'd say the only potential combinations that really worry me are "everybody unite to defeat our evil enemy the US, with its detestable privatized health care system" and "everybody align into two giant, mutually hostile blocs."

While I know you take a dim view of many things about the US, I hope you harbor no illusions about the nature of those, in this country or in others, who might try to stoke the flames of such hatreds.

Alliances by and of friends, however constituted, are quite a different story.

[ Parent ]

Speaking of propaganda (1.00 / 1) (#263)
by trhurler on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 02:31:43 PM EST

Are you by chance a Russian nationalist in disguise? I've never seen such ridiculous tripe from anyone else; Europe and Russia are mostly irrelevant to broad US strategic ambitions, because Europe doesn't really disagree with us(they just want to be the ones doing the stuff, rather than us doing it,) and Russia wants nothing more than to cozy up to EVERYONE with money, including the US. China is the only real threat the US faces, and the standard solution is and will remain "point lots of nukes at them to keep them from doing anything really stupid, and hope for the best."

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Nope (4.80 / 5) (#158)
by Doktor Merkwuerdigliebe on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 12:01:16 PM EST

I guess you've never heard of "China."

China, at present, is not a military threat to Europe. Irrespective of its supposed global ambitions, China's military is simply not capable of posing a threat to Europe. It is thought that China wouldn't even be able to take and occupy Taiwan, let alone an entire continent on the other side of the globe. The only possible way China could damage Europe is with its nuclear arsenal and that is clearly not an option for China.

And of course, though they're on the rocks at the moment, Russia will be back too.

Russia, at present, is not a military threat either. As you point out, the Russian economy is not in the best of shapes and its military has suffered greatly from this. As pointed out elsewhere, Russia is benefiting far more from a peaceful, cooperative relationship with Europe than a confrontational one.

Naturally, this is at present, but any potentially dangerous changes in the current situation would be spotted well in advance and coupled with a supposed American withdrawal would simply lend urgency to a common European defense policy. There is no reason for Europe to be suspicious or perhaps rather paranoid of potential credible military threats at this time.

As for making Europe's militaries modern and efficient, NATO was supposed to do that. However, European countries' leaders found adding military spending to be less valuable than adding social spending as a strategy for buying voters. I doubt that'll change now.

NATO has in fact done that. The problem here is that you compare the various militaries of a collection of individual nation states to the military might of the much larger US and think that the discrepancy between them is indicative of some sort of neglect or fault on the part of "Europe". This is not the case IMHO. The two simply choose to spend the available budget differently, in accordance with what is felt is in the best interest of the country. Europe spends less on its militaries compared to the US because it feels it's not necessary, not because they have to spend a lot on social issues and have no money left.

Honestly though, the greatest threat to Europe comes from its own peoples' tendency to totalitarianism.

Well, if you're being "honest" with that ridiculous statement, than I would conclude that my comments probably won't help you much.

Also Sprach Doktor Merkwürdigliebe...
[ Parent ]
NATO (3.00 / 1) (#183)
by heatherj on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 05:34:23 PM EST

What would a US military withdrawal (boy, it would be nice if we would just "secure our borders", as it says in the Constitution, and not run everytime someone hollers for help) do to NATO? If I remember correctly, we foot a large part of the bill for that, too.

[ Parent ]
NATO is obsolete and irrelevant. (3.00 / 1) (#187)
by valeko on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 06:00:57 PM EST

Its charter, which provides for the collective defense of the "western democracies" from the Eastern bloc, is no longer relevant. Instead, NATO has been misused as an instrument of offense in order to further the goals of American imperialism (Kosovo is the most glaring example).

NATO's reaching a critical mass with its absorbtion of a substantial portion of the Soviet bloc, i.e. Bulgaria, Poland, the Baltic Republics, and all those other small countries eager to join it. Soon enough, it is liable to disintegrate due to its conflicting identity - something I'm sure the more "progressive" countries of Europe (Germany for instance) are well aware of.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Say what you like about the Balkans... (4.00 / 1) (#200)
by ariux on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 07:09:34 PM EST

...but NATO brought the shooting war there to an end.

[ Parent ]

Re:NATO (4.00 / 2) (#223)
by Doktor Merkwuerdigliebe on Sun Mar 03, 2002 at 12:21:14 AM EST

What would a US military withdrawal do to NATO?

It would mean the end of NATO as we know it today, but it wouldn't mean the end of European military cooperation, let alone some sort of collapse. NATO was of course founded in 1949, but what most people don't realise is that the WEU, the West European Union, in which several European nations established a mutual protection pact (the Brussels Pact), actually predates NATO by a year and thus the European part of NATO would likely continue as it did before. It wouldn't change much short-term for Europe, but in the long-term it would lead to a more intensive European defensive unity.

Also Sprach Doktor Merkwürdigliebe...
[ Parent ]
I just wonder (3.00 / 2) (#235)
by mami on Sun Mar 03, 2002 at 04:26:37 PM EST

how large the percentage of the U.S. population is, who thinks pretty much like trhurler.. My wild guess is around 35 percent, and may be more after 9/11.

[ Parent ]
Hmm... (none / 0) (#262)
by trhurler on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 02:27:39 PM EST

Apparently you haven't been paying attention. China now has the world's largest military, and it is well equipped. Lately they've been testing night vision gear and other niceties of the US method of fighting. They'll soon surpass all of Europe's militaries technologically, and they're building nukes and ICBMs that can reach Europe. They're also getting bigtime into the spy satellite business and preparing their own version of GPS. Just about the only thing that could stop them is the threat of the US or Russia using nukes on their homeland. Sure, they aren't quite ready yet, but give them a decade or so, and they'll be by far the strongest military power on the planet, excepting nuclear capabilities.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Huh? (none / 0) (#266)
by Doktor Merkwuerdigliebe on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 03:27:28 PM EST

I don't know why you're trying to suggest I'm uninformed, when one should really reserve that qualification for you. For instance, China's ICBMs can already reach Europe. China has the largest military in terms of ground forces (which is logical), but that's about it. In some areas (e.g. tanks) China's military is actually decreasing in numbers at the moment.

I'm not sure what your agenda is in trying to suggest China is a credible global threat (are you perhaps Chinese?), but it's simply not the case at the moment. Sure, China is developing new technology and upgrading old hardware (which military isn't?), but each and every thing you mention has already been incorporated into Europe's militaries or is under active development, unlike China which suffers from a relatively out-dated military it has to develop on its own or buy abroad, e.g from Russia (whose hardware is often not as modern as that which China's Western supplied neighbours have available) or recently Israel. Some of these things may be on the wish-list, but they won't be easy to achieve and the modernisation of the rest is progressing at only a slow pace.

I'll guarantee you, in a decade or so China still won't be a threat to Europe, nor will they "surpass all of Europe's militaries technologically" by then. Let alone be a threat or an equal to the US's vastly superior military might as you suggest.

So why the paranoia? You still haven't considered the distance between Europe and China, nor the American or Russian factor, nor the basic reason of just why this would be in China's direct interest (apart from the highly dubious and unconvincing "they will because they are imperialists").

Also Sprach Doktor Merkwürdigliebe...
[ Parent ]
Er, yeah. (none / 0) (#267)
by trhurler on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 03:53:18 PM EST

For instance, China's ICBMs can already reach Europe.
With light payloads and for certain values of "Europe," yes. They can reach large parts of the US too, but my point is, soon they'll be able to hit anywhere with large payloads.
In some areas (e.g. tanks) China's military is actually decreasing in numbers at the moment.
So is the US. Tanks are an outmoded way of fighting wars.
are you perhaps Chinese?
I'm a white guy from the Midwestern US.
Sure, China is developing new technology and upgrading old hardware (which military isn't?), but each and every thing you mention has already been incorporated into Europe's militaries or is under active development,
China is building aircraft carriers. Big ones. Europe still hasn't really figured out how to fully utilize night vision gear, especially in fields like aviation. China also is developing cruise missiles likely to exceed any European capability. Basically, China is emulating the US military in every way it can figure, except for command structure, and probably will retool its command structure eventually also. And it is doing so on a huge scale.

Also remember that China has access to almost the same level of computer technology the US has, and has the vast piles of cash to develop equivalents to the Aegis destroyer and so on. Europe has nothing comparable. A significant fact that people are missing is that Hong Kong still has relative independence and freedom largely because this produces a steady supply of high technology available to the Chinese.

China is actively developing compact nuclear power sources for things like submarines and satellites. Europe has these, but not in the numbers China can afford to build.

China will be the third nation to field a manned space program.

Basically, rather than spend its money on social programs, China is spending money on military and space programs, and over time, the result is going to be a very large, very effective Chinese military. Oh, and my "motive" is accurate representation of the facts, since you asked. I could go on all day with examples, but in essence, they're scrapping all their outmoded junk(like tanks) and building ever better, bigger, and newer stuff - and they're avid readers of US integrated force/combined arms theory, too, which Europe has never really mastered.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
taking the example of France (3.00 / 1) (#64)
by Delirium on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 07:49:07 PM EST

I recall reading a BBC article recently in which the French military essentially admitted that its equipment is so aging and poorly organized that the country would have difficulty repelling any serious assault without NATO assistance, much less conduct a significant foreign war. Unfortunately I can't seem to find the link at the moment (my search terms are apparently poorly chosen, so I end up with 200 pages of results that I don't want to wade through).

[ Parent ]
French millitary equipment is the world standard. (4.50 / 2) (#131)
by Weezul on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 03:39:19 AM EST

Millitary hardware is one of France *big* exports. No one who ends up fighting French equipment, (the U.S. and U.K) really object as far as I know. :)

Actually, the British have objected to French millitary equipment being sold all over the world. Specifically, they objected to having a ship sunk when a French manufactured missle was mistakenly classified as friendly. I think the ultimate resolution was that Britin reprogrammedthe computers to classify French wepons as hostile.

"Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power." - Benito Mussolini
[ Parent ]
True (none / 0) (#160)
by Doktor Merkwuerdigliebe on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 12:13:19 PM EST

I have read a similar article ;)

France's military certainly isn't what it used to be, but this is a fairly recent phenomenon, the result of post-Cold War budget cuts, which were seen world-wide. It isn't so much a question of spending, but rather of organisation and finding a new vision. Point was, France doesn't depend completely on the US for defense (as its nuclear arsenal demonstrates). There is of course no US military presence in France at all, so even if it were attacked it would have to defend itself for a significant part.

Also Sprach Doktor Merkwürdigliebe...
[ Parent ]
But who would attack France? (5.00 / 1) (#175)
by Rk on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 03:33:21 PM EST

Unlike America, in Europe, Western European countries do not regard each other as a military threat. Not even Switzerland, which isn't part of the EU. Going of the border is quite simple, much of the time you aren't checked.

Out of my personal experience - on a train from Zurich to Milan, nobody even checked our IDs. On a train from Zurich to Paris, customs officers only briefly glanced over the IDs and asked if we had anything to declare. The trains do not stop at the border. Most cars and buses are waved though checkpoints, and people on foot are practically never checked. Arriving at Zurich-Kloten (ZRH) airport, the immigration and customs were cleared quickly (unfortunately, our luggage decided to stay in America, the ground staff at JFK sent it on the wrong plane) as opposed to Los Angeles/Tom Bradley (LAX) airport, where there was apparently an endless line of people waiting to clear immigration. Also, Swiss citizens do not have special counters or any other form of preferential treatment here, unlike the US, where they can clear immigration quickly while the foreigners wait. Note that we are not a Schengen country - other European countries do not require any kind of identification at all when you go over the border.

Why doesn't America enter some kind of customs and border union with Canada? It isn't like Canada is some dangerous third world rogue state... even some more arrogant Americans believe it to be so...

[ Parent ]
Canada (none / 0) (#180)
by heatherj on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 05:29:58 PM EST

Going back & forth from the US to Canada is, to all accounts I've ever heard from friends and family, no more of a pain than going back and forth between European countries. Going back and forth to Mexico is slightly harder, due to the illegal immigration problem, but it is still not unusual for those who live in Southern California or Texas to make day trips into Mexico. When my brother was stationed at in San Diego, he used to party in Tijuana, going there and coming back on his motorcycle, with no problem.

[ Parent ]
It seems to vary, though. (none / 0) (#330)
by aphrael on Fri Mar 08, 2002 at 06:31:55 PM EST

When I took a train from Muenchen to Innsbruck, the train passed briefly through Switzerland; while i was not subjected to any sort of search or immigration routine going in to Austria, I was questioned by the Swiss border police (?!) who stamped my passport as I passed through. *puzzled look*

[ Parent ]
US rules the court systems? (5.00 / 1) (#248)
by sangdrax on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 05:48:58 AM EST

Maybe this is too much ranting for in the morning... Well the US of A seems not to have a totally proper court system either (politics intermixed with court decisions); several examples of that are available. So it can't just claim there will be an inferior court watching over. I think America is just afraid that someday the ICC might convict an American citizen and by then it's too late to whine about their superiority and how /they/ should rule the world instead of a coalition of countries. Just because they yell they're 'Good' (as in opposed to Evil), doesn't give them the right to judge. I mean, even people like Osama yell they're Good and doing stuff for their people; and we wouldn't want Afghanistan (or worse: Saudi-Arabia) enforcing the very same thing America is trying to do, would we :) Is it really that weird some countries object against American intervention, because even though America holds only a small percentage of the world population, they try and hold their military grip on the world, ignoring or bypassing UN and International Law? Yelling 'we are right' and silencing everyone who dares to yell the same? The situation Americans want to create now is just what they fought against in the cold war: a form of 'communism' in which everyone is supposed to have their say but in reality only one person rules. Most countries are relatively small ones and learned to cooperate because it is the only way to really solve things. Seems for some things, big countries are stubborn and tend to stick to medieval ideas. Also, to strip stuff like UN and ICC of power creates the same situation as before WW2: The League of Nations. What happened? Nazi-Germany left the League and since the League had no power it couldn't keep Germany from gaining "breathing room". So having powerless bodies judge world-scale issues won't work. And yes, it should have the power to judge America too.

[ Parent ]
Have you been watching the Milosevich trial? (4.00 / 7) (#4)
by imrdkl on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 05:29:06 PM EST

It's turning into a joke. Even the judges are considering limiting his right to cross-examine and bluster endlessly for hours. A trial should not be a filibuster. Perhaps this is one of the the things that the US objects to. How can a world court make justice expedient?

I doubt it. (3.25 / 4) (#8)
by valeko on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 05:38:32 PM EST

I sincerely doubt that the US actually objects to the unjust practises in the courtroom of the Hague tribunal against Mr. Milosevic. However, the US may certainly be concerned given that such injustice is often associated with the image of the Hague tribunal being a western/US-dominated entity.

But yeah, it's certainly a joke, although Milosevic is accused of turning the courtroom into his private pedestal for political diatribe. I personally think that every person reserves that right - it's obviously a political trial, and there's no reason why "politics" should be kept out of the proceedings. That's like keeping the bloody weapon out of a murder trial.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Unjust? (4.33 / 3) (#12)
by imrdkl on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 05:58:04 PM EST

Good grief, unjust? He's practically mooning the judges every time he stands up. He drones on for hours about how the whole thing is a conspiracy, and then badgers the witnesses to tears of frustration and hatred with no intervention. If this much justice were given to Hitler, he'd have converted the rest of the oppressed world to naziism just with the coverage in the media.

No. I'm not talking about unjust treatment, I'm talking about two year trials (estimated for Milosevic) for every criminal, with no jury, no ability to object from the prosecution or defense, and no sense of formality or dignity (unlike the Nuremberg examples). I'm talking about a world gone soft and flabby for real justice. I'm talking about about a judgement of the people, by the people, and for the people. Not for propoganda's sake. And I'm talking about the same kind of justice that was dispensed at Nuremberg, for an equivalent crime. That's what the US wants, I reckon.

[ Parent ]

I disagree. (4.00 / 6) (#16)
by valeko on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 06:09:49 PM EST

Good grief, unjust? He's practically mooning the judges every time he stands up. He drones on for hours about how the whole thing is a conspiracy, and then badgers the witnesses to tears of frustration and hatred with no intervention.

He is entitled to intensive cross-examination tactics, as any defense attourney worth his salt.

Not for propoganda's sake. And I'm talking about the same kind of justice that was dispensed at Nuremberg, for an equivalent crime.

Well, what can I say ... there are two legitimate counterpoints to this in my eyes. One is that while significant progress was achieved at Nuremberg in establishing the principle of "international justice", it was still just an effective masquerade for the "revenge of the victors". I'm not saying that the Allies were excessive in dispensing their vengeance, although I am opposed to capital punishment, obviously, even for war criminals. But it's not like Nuremberg is the Mecca of "real justice"; I'm sure you can find many legitimate sources more versed in the details that can tell you about the same kind of intimidation and misapplication of judicial power that existed in Nuremberg too (speaking within the objective framework of western judicial practise).

The second is that Milosevic's crime is not equivalent; I don't mean in terms of numerical figures. But as I've pointed out many times before, if you knew anything about Yugoslavia and its affairs, you'd quickly realise that the 'atrocious' actions of Serbia were seldom unilateral. Sure, Milosevic is guilty of "war crimes" I guess, but so are Croats, Bosnians, and yes, the good old KLA ... therefore, I find the phraseology of "equivalent crime" a little haunting.

You seem to be implicitly regurgitating the classic association between Milosevic and the Next Incarnation of Hitler. This association was propogated largely by American media, just as it always has when there was a new obstacle to American foreign policy. As always, the matter of Milosevic, Serb atrocities, and Yugoslavia in general is infinitely more complex than is fit to simply chalk up to "war crimes of Nazi dimensions" and walk away. Remember when Noriega, Allende, Hussein, Khomeini, Sukarno, etc, were all the Next Hitler? It's very convenient to simply label everyone a mass-murderer that should be shot and leave it there.

That's not how the world works.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Yes, very good points (5.00 / 5) (#32)
by imrdkl on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 06:29:24 PM EST

But your perception of the American justice system may be as much or more naive than mine of the "truth" in Yugoslavia. When you talk about cross-examination of sworn eyewitnesses, then we believe that the same witnesses should be afforded the protection of a procedure we call "objection", and when the lawyer is found to be badgering, or just plain being offtopic, the examination typically ends there, at least for that particular line of questioning. (This also reverts back to the expediency issue which I addressed). In any case, this protection is not being afforded to the witnesses in this particular trial, which allows for a leeway which we don't typically believe is appropriate, when there are mass graves involved.

[ Parent ]
The bigger they are the harder their heads. (3.25 / 8) (#11)
by autonomous on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 05:54:13 PM EST

I have to wonder about any country that seems completely driven to make the rest of the world an enemy. If you're not with us you're against us, if you're not selling your commodities the same way we are you're against us, if you don't wipe your ass with the same motion, you're against us. Its really gotten quite silly. I wonder how many friends being above the law will make the US... I'll be that builds alot of good will.
-- Always remember you are nothing more than a collection of complementary chemicals worth not more than $5.00
Er (4.00 / 2) (#139)
by ariux on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 08:14:04 AM EST

...let me direct you to this comment.

That said, criticism is not enriched by invective.

[ Parent ]

Can anyone tell me what exactly Milosovic did? (1.75 / 12) (#14)
by Ken Pompadour on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 06:02:19 PM EST

It just seems like he's being made a scapegoat for someone else's crimes.

...The target is countrymen, friends and family... they have to die too. - candid trhurler
excellent write-up, but huge factual error (3.75 / 12) (#15)
by swifty on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 06:09:11 PM EST

you seem puzzled that although the concept of international tribunals for war crimes was pioneered by the U.S. after WWII etc., that they could oppose them so vehemently now.

[on a side note: ever since dubya was appointed president, I've cringed every time somebody has talked about 'US policy' on something, because I tend to identify myself as an american while strongy distancing myself from the shrub administration. not that this is relevant in any way right now, I just wanted to let everyone in on my general nausea]

I fail to see how opposal to a permanent criminal court like the one voted on in rome has anything at all to do with the current trial concerning milosevic. in fact, even before rome 'america' (this time the clinton administration) was strongly supportive of the international indictment of milosevic (and remember the bastard would never have stood trial in the first place if not for NATO going cowboy). furthermore, the ICTY was in fact created by security council resolution 827. so, the 'US' is not opposed to the trial against milosevic at all, rather, it is opposed to exactly what it says it is opposed to for exactly the reasons that it has given.

I believe the concerns that the US has about the possible indictment of its own troops are very valid, given its enormously disproportional military responsibility (this is different than just military might, I'm speaking of the responsibility that the US has to use its power where and when it is needed, and especially when others can't). yugoslavia was an enormous embarassment to the governments of many western european nations because it demonstrated just how ill-equipped they are to handle military conflicts. I was in berlin while the defense minister of DE pleaded for funding to restructure the antiquated german army. kosovo (in part) helped hurry along plans to develop a european satellite system that would be responsible for, among other things, gps (one of the things europe has relied upon america for for so long). kosovo demonstrated how inrcedibly dependent the rest of nato was on america for basic military needs like intelligence (i.e., where to throw bombs).

and now, before half of k5 descends down on my hapless war-mongering ass, let me state that while I think that it may seem unfair to washington that the US should have to shoulder both the responsibility of vast military might and the inherent accountability for what happens when something goes wrong (yes, I am very familiar with the atrocities comitted by the american military in various places in the world), it is unacceptable to accept one without the other. if the US is willing to stick its neck out militarily all the time, then it had damn well better be able to account for what its military does.

unfortunately, the "special global responsibilities" of the US are very real (as are the special global fuckups of the US, yes yes I know) and I don't see this slightly juvenile attitude of dismissing accountability changing anytime soon. at least not when it's always america putting more of its people in harm's way than any other nation.

Freiheit ist immer auch die freiheit des anderen.
Um, EU GPS is being blocked by guess who (4.00 / 3) (#20)
by autonomous on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 06:15:10 PM EST

The US is blocking EU efforts to bring a european GPS system online. I have a hard time with the assertion that the US would stand by and let the EU militarize, that would weaken the US's position.
-- Always remember you are nothing more than a collection of complementary chemicals worth not more than $5.00
[ Parent ]
Belief in US 'responsibilities' seems ignorant.... (3.62 / 8) (#78)
by concept on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 08:38:36 PM EST

...at least to me. Since when did the US do anything at all that wasn't in their controlling-minority's corporate interest?

East Timor? No. Serbia? No. Latin America? Heh! Afghanistan? No.

Quite frankly, I am a little bit disconcerted to see this kind of 'of course we're in the right, and have the world's interests at heart', just-run-along-and-play-now rhetoric being both consumed and espoused by k5'ers.

[ Parent ]

troll. (3.66 / 6) (#89)
by swifty on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 10:12:01 PM EST

for the record, let me restate: yes, I am very familiar with the atrocities comitted by the american military in various places in the world...

I am reminded, for some reason, of macintosh journalism. there's a phenomenon in tech news where any article (even a thoroughly positive one) ever written about any apple product is replied to with a torrent of macheads furious that anyone should dare to even introduce the possibility that there is anything but the One True Platform, namely the mac. similarly, at k5 there seems to be a vocal group of people who, no matter how many disclaimers you tack on to whatever statement about the US you want to make, will take up arms and denounce you for even the possibility that you could of been thinking of straying from the oh-so-fashionable anti-american path...

...was acknowledging 'atrocities' not enough? shall I, next time I post anything at all related to the US and its foreign policy, disclaim it with "yes, I understand that the US is the great satan, is driven by three angry, greedy, white men with guns in a tobacco filled room while watching porn, raping minorities, ignoring foreigners, exploiting children..." did I leave out anything? perhaps it might be useful for some enterprising k5er to come up with a blanket disclaimer that those of us who haven't yet been conditioned to jump at the chance of lambasting America can attach to the beginning of every comment we make.

it reminds me of those little warning labels for products, like "drinking this lighter fluid could be harmful to your health." the reasons those labels are on products are because someone, somewhere got angry and sued because they drank some lighter fluid one day. I can only wonder if the same people read posts like mine above and feel shocked that I have not explained thoroughly beforehand that "indeed, the contents of the US are morally reprehensible and should be flushed out of the eyes with plenty of water." some (ok, more than some) apparently feel the need to file the k5 equivalent of a lawsuit (read: troll). mayhaps a disclaimer like the one described above would lend some immunity from such idiotic (usually TOTALLY OFF TOPIC) attacks?

Freiheit ist immer auch die freiheit des anderen.
[ Parent ]
East Timor? (none / 0) (#239)
by Robert S Gormley on Sun Mar 03, 2002 at 05:34:30 PM EST

How much more than the most minor token amount of forces do you have in East Timor. IIRC it's under 100 troops. I think at last count Australia has some 6,000 of around 10,000 of the UN troops in East Timor.

[ Parent ]
Very interesting; tell me more. (4.50 / 2) (#83)
by valeko on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 09:11:23 PM EST

you seem puzzled that although the concept of international tribunals for war crimes was pioneered by the U.S. after WWII etc., that they could oppose them so vehemently now.

I'm not really puzzled by this. The article was not completely devoid of sarcasm, you know. ;-)

I'm also less than certain that the US "pioneered" such a concept. However, I included the phraseology that makes this proposition work in my article because it's commonly recognised. I guess maybe even to subconsciously mock it somehow. I wasn't really trying to abusively denounce the US, though, so, I'm sorry if the article reads as though I am.

I fail to see how opposal to a permanent criminal court like the one voted on in rome has anything at all to do with the current trial concerning milosevic. in fact, even before rome 'america' (this time the clinton administration) was strongly supportive of the international indictment of milosevic (and remember the bastard would never have stood trial in the first place if not for NATO going cowboy). furthermore, the ICTY was in fact created by security council resolution 827. so, the 'US' is not opposed to the trial against milosevic at all, rather, it is opposed to exactly what it says it is opposed to for exactly the reasons that it has given.

I do know that the Yugoslav tribunal was created by the Security Council, and never approved by the General Assembly. I think this formed the basis of Milosevic's initial argument that such a tribunal is therefore illegal.

I was writing on the assumption that the US wasn't initially opposed to the extradition (to use a euphemism!) and trial of Milosevic, but that it maybe began to backtrack after the character of the court and Milosevic as a defendant became evident. Perhaps they did not assume that he would be under such liberty to speak or subpoena witnesses for his defense?


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Just a tactical move (5.00 / 1) (#91)
by blamario on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 10:53:19 PM EST

I was writing on the assumption that the US wasn't initially opposed to the extradition (to use a euphemism!) and trial of Milosevic, but that it maybe began to backtrack after the character of the court and Milosevic as a defendant became evident. Perhaps they did not assume that he would be under such liberty to speak or subpoena witnesses for his defense?

Come on, do you seriously believe that US is afraid that the trial might go against them? It's simply just the right moment for the U.S. to express their "opposition" against the court. As far as they are concerned, its job is finished once Miloshevich is indicted. After that the only guys the court could prosecute would be allies like KLA, so it's better to disband the court than to answer unpleasant questions about its one-sidedness.

By the end of the year, the tribunal prosecution will probably declare it would stop bringing any new cases because the court must finish by 2004 or so. Then it has another year to finish with Miloshevich. That way, whatever inconvenient facts show up during the trial, the tribunal will have a good excuse for not prosecuting NATO and KLA.

[ Parent ]

Certainly - but let me clarify. (none / 0) (#94)
by valeko on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 11:01:46 PM EST

Come on, do you seriously believe that US is afraid that the trial might go against them?

It really depends on what you mean there.

If you're asking whether I think the trial will go in favour of Milosevic and he will be "acquitted" or something, then no, that's bloody unlikely.

However, Milosevic has (so far) reasonable liberty to subpoena all kinds of witnesses from all walks of life for his defense. Milosevic himself knows lots of things that he can tactfully make evident (although he's tactically blundered by giving everyone the image of a raving conspiracy nationalist or whatever). This means that "classified" information about the real nature of American involvement in 1999 or before may be revealed, as well as general information of which the public release is undesirable. In this sense, I certainly think the possibility that the trial could go "against" the US should be entertainable.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

another misconception. (5.00 / 1) (#95)
by swifty on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 11:03:43 PM EST

the ICTY was in fact created by the security council, which means that it would not require approval by the GA. this is not to say that the SC is doing something over and above the GA's heads, rather the judges that serve four year tems on the ICTY are elected by the GA. the ICTY is a good thing.

it is highly doubtful that any credibility will ever be lent to anything milosevic can drudge up on america (be it true or false), or that any focus will be placed on those things that turn up randomly during the investigation. in fact, there are already so many examples of US mistakes and wrong choices (not that I'm excusing them or saying that the US has ever tried to make good on them) in the conflict like using uranium bullets, widely publicized errant bombs that killed schoolbuses, embassies, and the like, that anything new would doubtfully even make a blip on the international radar.

also, if the US wanted to cut the trial short in order to cover up something evil wouldn't they want to cut it off now rather than in 2008?! really, I can see nothing to merit your hypothesis beyond the automatic assumption that evil intent lies behind every decision the US makes. the ICTY costs a hair short of a million US dollars a year to operate. the US is a greedy, corporate-driven country, right? don't you think a hundred million reasons are probably more important to it than the one you've come up with?

Freiheit ist immer auch die freiheit des anderen.
[ Parent ]
I see. (none / 0) (#98)
by valeko on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 11:25:16 PM EST

Sincerely, these are all very good points.

the ICTY was in fact created by the security council, which means that it would not require approval by the GA.

Yeah, I know. However, Milosevic's argument was that since it was created by a body monopolised by five leading world powers (some of which can also be complacent to certain others when it comes to the veto), it is not representative of international opinion and convention. I never meant to actually comment on whether I think the ICTY is a good thing or a bad thing - that remains to be seen.

also, if the US wanted to cut the trial short in order to cover up something evil wouldn't they want to cut it off now rather than in 2008?!

Probably. I didn't really mean that they were trying to cover up some specific, massive atrocity, but that in general undesirable information would come out and maybe the trial would turn into an embarassment of sorts, or undermine some political goal which arose recently and did not exist at the start of the trial?

It's certainly possible that they understimated Milosevic's prose, capacity to defend himself, and his philosophical inclinations. Perhaps his credibility in the eyes of the world is low, but he has his share of people to whom he greatly appeals. There may be nothing to add about stray bombs or depleted uranium bullets, but surely he can come up with something. Therefore, I'm not inclined to believe that the American position on the tribunal and his trial was constant from the very beginning. It changes, as the times do.

And yeah, ultimately I think you're right in that there are a hundred million more reasons to do this. It could be as simple as a fundamental shift in some internal UN politics that we haven't heard about, but that may be simplistic speculation.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Simpler than that, I'll wager (none / 0) (#138)
by ariux on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 07:43:15 AM EST

The current US policymaking team, which opposes an ICC, wants the current tribunal to evolve in the direction of being a one-shot deal rather than in the direction of becoming a permanent fixture.

The idea almost certainly is, it'll punish all the evil enemies by 2008, then painlessly pass out of existence before it can leak out of control.

If one is a European speechwriter looking to do a cheap hatchet job, this course of action indeed makes a nice target. However, here in the land of rational debate, where politicians aren't always taken at their word, even if they live east of the Atlantic ;), I think we'd need to start with a good rousing discussion of the proposed ICC in order to evaluate the anti-ICC policy.

[ Parent ]

well, maybe the US should not be everywhere (2.66 / 3) (#84)
by turmeric on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 09:12:18 PM EST

if it cant account for what it is doing, then it should get out.

[ Parent ]
omg. jesse helms posts at k5?! [nt] (3.00 / 1) (#88)
by swifty on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 09:49:12 PM EST



Freiheit ist immer auch die freiheit des anderen.
[ Parent ]
hmm.. (4.00 / 1) (#90)
by Rahaan on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 10:25:50 PM EST

from the poster:
well, maybe the US should not be everywhere if it cant account for what it is doing, then it should get out.
from the article:
Clinton's Secretary of Defense William Cohen bullied the delegates to this convention further by making the threat to remove American forces from the territories of those allies who did not support the American proposal for curbing the jurisdiction of the international court.
what is it that you people want, exactly?


you know, jake.. i've noticed that, since the tacos started coming, the mail doesn't so much come as often, or even at all
[ Parent ]
Response. (1.75 / 4) (#92)
by valeko on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 10:54:03 PM EST

what is it that you people want, exactly?

Don't ever confuse what the leadership wants for what the people want. Of course, this question is largely irrelevant in the US, where K5 would stand out as an extremist fringe group. Most are an ("I don't care!") aggressively obedient majority that soak things up and just don't know that Mexico is south and Canada is north.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

SAY SOMETHING, don't just insult a whole country. (4.60 / 5) (#96)
by Rahaan on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 11:22:04 PM EST

You sound like you're confusing what the American leadership wants with what the American people want.

I'm seriously wondering here - what does everyone want? Obviously, some poeple like American intervention around the world, some don't. Some Americans like it, some don't. You can't please everyone.

Most Americans are certainly *not* "aggressively obedient majority" (whatever that is.) There are a lot of morons, yes, but that's the same everywhere. The actions of a few are not representative of everyone, and the actions of groups are vastly different than that of individuals.

You also have to understand why many Americans are skeptical of foreign beliefs - everything is going along fine and dandy *where they are* and someone comes out saying "You are all so dumb! You are killing people all over the world, and for what? So you can sit in your homes and count your money! You Americans are all so dumb!" People have been criticizing the USA for years based on little factual information (ie, the Soviets) for propaganda purposes. Combine that with the fact that some of the people being criticized (Americans, in this case) are vehemently opposed to their leader's actions. It doesn't sound very truthful, regardless of whether it is or not. It makes the critiquers (non-Americans) look like mindless idiots.

So, again, I seriously ask - what does everyone want? Can I get some *real* opinions, instead of pointless anti-American insults?


you know, jake.. i've noticed that, since the tacos started coming, the mail doesn't so much come as often, or even at all
[ Parent ]

I didn't really mean to insult..... (3.00 / 3) (#99)
by valeko on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 11:34:02 PM EST

I'm seriously wondering here - what does everyone want? Obviously, some poeple like American intervention around the world, some don't. Some Americans like it, some don't. You can't please everyone.

I think it depends on your perspective, in all honesty.

We know, in theory, that one of the key tenets of a democratic society is an informed populace that is endowed with the necessary knowledge and perspective in most cases to make a reasonable judgement on matters in which they have the opportunity for referendum, broadly speaking. Depending on how optimistically you view mainstream society in US, in particular the emerging, young generations, you're entitled to a far different conclusion than my own. I personally think that with the amount of infotainment, commercialism, brainwashing, etc that is going on by the existing order, the vast majority of the population aren't just apathetic, but they're actually aggressively obedient. To raise a generation to the extent that it has been raised entirely on watered-down distortions and failure to present adequately various dichotomies, and also the failure to adequately educate the masses about various basics of "the rest of the world", in my eyes makes most of the population unfit to make an intelligent choice about American foreign policy. That's not really intended as an insult, it's just what I see from direct observation. This could easily turn into a broad discussion about virtually all aspects of the American lifestyle and culture, I know, and that's not really where I wanted to go with this. But yes, I do believe that if the population were less ignorant of the rest of the world and more educated in the political sphere, there would be much more conscious opposition to the current status quo policy than there is currently unconscious "support" of it. It's hard to call, but you've got a legitimate point.

Similarly, I don't think "what everyone wants" can be gauged as though the population were some kind of monolithic constituency. It's quite obvious (to me!) what most happy and economically endowed middle-class people don't want: change from the status quo. That's conservatism, basically, and translates into support for the existing regime.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

P.S./B.T.W. and clarification for ALL. (2.00 / 3) (#103)
by valeko on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 12:00:21 AM EST

There are a lot of morons, yes, but that's the same everywhere. The actions of a few are not representative of everyone, and the actions of groups are vastly different than that of individuals.

I agree with that. There are most certainly morons everywhere, and political ignoramuses are virtually universal across the world. No question.

I think where we differ is whether we regard most people we see around us as being in this state. I wouldn't necessarily call them "morons"; people are products of their environment, it's not really their fault they don't consciously apply (IMO) their thought to their circumstances. This is in part because they're not aware of their political circumstances -- "who cares, it doesn't affect me!" You may regard such apathetic individuals as being in a vocal minority, while I regard them as being in an overwhelming majority. You don't have to agree with me, and I think such a perception depends on the people you see every day in your life and the people with which you are acquainted. Depending on where you live and whom you live with and what social situation you're in, these perceptions can be diametrically opposite. They've certainly changed over a few times for me as I've grown up and moved around.

But for anyone else offended by my rather wordy comment, I'm sorry. I didn't really mean it as an abusive indictment of the American population, but more an indictment of the brainwashing from mass-media/culture etc that the young generations in particular undergo in order to cultivate apathy to the democratic process. And I don't mean voting apathy.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Stupid Americans, nanny nanny na na (4.00 / 2) (#116)
by ariux on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 01:50:22 AM EST

I didn't really mean it as an abusive indictment of the American population, but more an indictment of the brainwashing from mass-media/culture etc that the young generations in particular undergo in order to cultivate apathy to the democratic process.

I find it hard to take this seriously. The difference between "mass-media brainwashing" and actual "re-education" is that the mass-media are optional.

Nobody forces you to sit in a room and stare at the TV.

In fact, the difference between American society and a totalitarian society (the connection you're trying to subtly draw) is that in America, it's all there for you to find, research, try, check - you just have to want to do it. Nobody will throw you in jail or hurl your wife from an airplane to punish you for doing research or thinking critically - there's nothing to stop you but (possibly) laziness.

And the quality of most (not all) posts to this forum and others like it, by Americans, bears out that people here do find things out.

As for the apathy you speak of, I strongly suspect it was bred by a false sense of invulnerability that was rudely and permanently ruptured last September - and that this apathy (may it now rest in peace) was the cause, and cultural tripe the effect, rather than vice versa.

[ Parent ]

I agree and also disagree. (3.33 / 3) (#120)
by valeko on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 02:30:10 AM EST

In fact, the difference between American society and a totalitarian society (the connection you're trying to subtly draw) is that in America, it's all there for you to find, research, try, check - you just have to want to do it. Nobody will throw you in jail or hurl your wife from an airplane to punish you for doing research or thinking critically - there's nothing to stop you but (possibly) laziness.

Yes! I think you've touched on the essence of what a "free society" really is. In this respect, the US is most certainly a free and open society. You see the lies on CNN? You can go to your university library and research it. In fact, most academics generally publish sufficiently empirical information that it's readily satisfactory as the truth. In this respect, the US differs from totalitarian societies; in totalitarian societies, the official figures, the official statistics, the official version is the truth - the information is airtight, there is no source of contradictory data.

This is great. And the percentage of the American population that actually has any stimulus to use these resources to further themselves and their country is...?

You're right, nobody forces you to stare at the TV. (Although Channel One comes close. Sorry, couldn't resist.) But I find this argument difficult to swallow as the end-all. So what if you aren't forced to eat up mass-media, and so what if there's nothing preventing you from going to the library and getting the facts? If a stimulus or even knowledge of how to do (or not do) these things has not been cultivated in you by your society (and ultimately your ruling class), you aren't going to do it, now are you? That's the whole point of the existing order. I think Chomsky said it best with his quote about how people are kept down by being given the illusion that there's a wide range of heated debate - when it's all actually within a microscopically narrow spectrum.

No, technically nothing stops you from being Free. People who manage to rise above that (usually through the circumstance of descending from academic families, but also many, many other factors) and think critically utilise the freedom that America has to offer. This is not, apparently, a significant constituency. And if it, it's certainly not influential. The democratic process has been subverted in favour of shopping, watered-down "news", big houses, cars, and superficial fun. Nobody cares.

The only thing worse than the apathy of which I speak is actually believing the distortions you see on MSNBC or CNN or Fox News. Certainly, more people have tuned into those distortions after September 11th. A small minority has actually applied thought to the situation. If it were greater than a small minority, don't you think this would manifest itself in obvious ways? Is this "awakening" to "why do they hate us? let Fox News tell you why! [or, let Bush tell you why: they hate our freedom!]" a good thing or a bad thing, ariux?


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Freedom and thought (3.00 / 1) (#125)
by ariux on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 03:03:21 AM EST

Is this "awakening" to "why do they hate us? let Fox News tell you why! [or, let Bush tell you why: they hate our freedom!]" a good thing or a bad thing, ariux?

A quick perusal of k5 debates, not to mention even the editorial spread in non-tabloid US media, should handily refute the rather naive idea that Fox news or Bush's posturing speak for all of America.

If a stimulus or even knowledge of how to do (or not do) these things has not been cultivated in you by your society (and ultimately your ruling class), you aren't going to do it, now are you?

How can you indoctrinate people into thinking for themselves?

The spirits of free inquiry and rational debate don't exist because they're "cultivated" in a passive population by some kind of mythical "ruling class" uber-humans, from whose minds they initially sprang like Athena from the skull of Zeus - or by the state or the church, which always basically want to keep their people in line.

Those spirits are so great because they don't need "cultivation" - if protected by simple ground rules (like don't kill people for engaging in them), they're continually re-developed by people who see the need and want to use them. They have staying power because they're so totally useful. It was that way in Greece and in Classical Arabia, and it's that way here and now.

[ Parent ]

Freedom and Thought (4.00 / 1) (#150)
by valeko on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 10:50:19 AM EST

A quick perusal of k5 debates, not to mention even the editorial spread in non-tabloid US media, should handily refute the rather naive idea that Fox news or Bush's posturing speak for all of America.

A quick perusal of K5 debates will also handily refute the rather naive idea that K5 in any way represents the American status quo. The enlightened folks on K5 congregate at places like K5 for a reason. ;-)


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

enlightening debate (none / 0) (#291)
by minra on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 11:17:40 AM EST

Although k5 represents a thoughtful cross section of opinions, a majority of users are US-americans. Everyone is in some way representative of the attitudes and opinions of your country of origin. Hence it is natural that US-Centricism is present on k5 as well. The greatest complement I can give to k5ers is that US-Centricism is a frequent topic of debate.

Am I the only one to notice a decline in the quality of k5 debate in the past week or so? I'm seeing shorter knee-jerk responses, sloppier spelling and thinking... I can't claim my comments belong to the best of what's been written here, but I hope they've been provocative and insightful.

I've been trying to think of structural reform that would help preserve the quality of k5. But any automated rating solutions I can imagine carry associated problems of censorship and groupthink.

Seems that the quality of a community is simply an 'emergent property' of historical accident. I apprehend that the k5 I loved is headed for a trainwreck of Slashdottian proportions.

Perhaps a two-tier system? A subscription tier? I'm both unemployed and broke, but would find a way to pay for an 'elite' k5.

[ Parent ]
freedom and thought (none / 0) (#308)
by Rahaan on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 12:36:09 AM EST

"A quick perusal of K5 debates will also handily refute the rather naive idea that K5 in any way represents the American status quo."

K5 debates (participated in mostly by American-K5ers, representing American thoughts and American ideas) handily refute the idea that K5ers represent, in any way, the American status quo. Whatever.


you know, jake.. i've noticed that, since the tacos started coming, the mail doesn't so much come as often, or even at all
[ Parent ]

... is a pretty cool concept. (none / 0) (#313)
by valeko on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 07:38:08 AM EST

K5 debates (participated in mostly by American-K5ers, representing American thoughts and American ideas)

... and the ability to articulate or even contemplate these ideologies is quite a few giant steps above the status quo... a good thing, I suppose.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

..i still don't see what you want (4.00 / 1) (#136)
by Rahaan on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 04:51:10 AM EST

So tell me, man, what do you want?

You keep saying how Americans have been brainwashed by CNN and FNC, but you seem to be believing the hype more than they do. I see it like this: if you want world peace, happiness, and the disappearance of all suffering, ok, I'm with you. But then you shouldn't write insulting articles criticizing the US for the actions of some greedy and power-hungry men. If you keep telling Americans that they're stupid, they're going to tell you to fuck off. Ok?

Now, to me, after reading some more of your posts, it seems like you just wish the USA would stop meddling in European affairs so Europe can once again be the center of the universe, despite your claims to the contrary. If that's what you want, you should fuck off - America is very, very good at its imperialism, for right or for wrong. If you wish that whatever European country you're originally from was in America's position, then you deserve everything you get. The world got played by a bunch of "aggressively obedient, mass-media brainwashed apathetic idiots" and their President with the IQ half of yours.

Anyway. To sum up my thoughts: unless you have a plan, unless you have an idea for something you want, something that'd better our lives here on Earth, shut up. If you're just going to criticize the US for its imperialism, yeahyeah, we know, we know. We see it everyday. That's how the world works. Unless you're going to change it, quit your bitching.

ps: You keep saying things like "we're all products of our environments" like we're robots or something. Everyone is different. No, we are not all cool and unique snowflakes. No, we are not all beautiful and smart and have lots of potential. However, we are hardly the same - if you and I could have somehow grown up raised by the same family, experiencing the same experiences, and learning the same shit, we would still be different people. Remember: We all have to take responsibility for our actions. You always have a choice.


you know, jake.. i've noticed that, since the tacos started coming, the mail doesn't so much come as often, or even at all
[ Parent ]

Alright. (3.00 / 2) (#155)
by valeko on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 11:47:34 AM EST

But then you shouldn't write insulting articles criticizing the US for the actions of some greedy and power-hungry men. If you keep telling Americans that they're stupid, they're going to tell you to fuck off. Ok?

I'm sorry if you perceive it that way. My article is intended to criticise the actions of these greedy and power-hungry men, as you put it. However, ultimately the masses have a share of the responsibility for the perpetuation of this power structure of greedy and power-hungry men. Sure, they're being manipulated into ignorance and complacence through an elaborate system of indoctrination, but as ariux pointed out, in this country you have the liberty to not submit to it. Therefore, I see it as justified to point to the masses when asking why the Republicrat leadership exists as it does in the manner in which it does. It's a democracy, after all, right? I don't know if that amounts to calling people "stupid", as I really didn't intend to make it sound that way. But yes, people are responsible, and I'm afraid that they do need to be reminded of this.

As for your claim about European imperialism, no, I have no desire to see the center of the world shift back to Europe or anywhere else. What I want to see is the evolution of the world beyond such paradigms. (i.e. peace, happiness, and no suffering, as you said)

In regard to constructive solutions, I can't offer much in the way of that. What do you want me to say, that I think the solution is the dismantling of the American imperialist apparatus? I only know what I see, and I know that what I see is wrong. That doesn't mean I have the knowledge or capacity to develop an effective and plausible E-Z FixIt! plan; very few people do.

P.S. I recognise the distinction of an individual. But I also recognise that his social and political consciousness (or more aptly, UNconsciousness) is cultivated by his surroundings.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

You're absolutely right ... (none / 0) (#164)
by valeko on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 12:26:50 PM EST

... but he asked me what I stood for, if not for the return of Europe to its position as the epicenter of world imperialism. I certainly don't stand for that, so I felt compelled to respond and identify myself as such a "utopianist" for purposes of contrast.

But, I agree with you. No sarcasm. Really. That's exactly how it is.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

well then.. (5.00 / 1) (#168)
by Rahaan on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 01:07:08 PM EST

My last post was one big if/else statement.

Ok then - if you're going to talk about responsibility, everyone has a share of the blame. Why do Europeans elect leaders who like US aid and intervention? Why not elect someone who would tell the Americans to take their dirty money elsewhere? Don't even bother replying - I know why.

Lemme tell you a secret: everyone in America is not this brainwashed fool thinking that there are only Republicans and Democrats in the world and that their actions have no effect. People are still reeling from Vietnam; about 50,000 (official) US fatalities and countless more injured and traumatized, with every one of them and all their acquaintances knowing that the Vietnamese were suffering threefold.

You talk about this democracy where all the votes really count and that the only reason shit like this happens is because they don't care. That's not true. Some people don't care about what's going on in the world unless it immediately affects them (as is everywhere else.) Most people just can't do anything. (As is everywhere else.) America is a country designed to have elections to elect representatives - these representatives then handle the governmental work while everyone else lives their lives. Of course, there's no complete separation, nor should there be. However, it leaves the rest of the population constrained in their actions - the politicos always have much more power and say. One reason for the complacence and apathy you so disdain is that most people can't do anything about politicians - politicians (on a national scale) tend to be greedy, power-hungry, arrogant, and ambitious, which leads to corruption, which leaves a sense of distaste in the mouths of anyone who becomes involved.

But you know what? This happens everywhere. You talk about responsibility and place most of the blame on the American public, which is a mistake. Every person's actions here on Earth affect everyone else, in one way or another, including yours. Unless you're going to change the system (including, but not exclusively, your "manipulation into complacence and ignorance by an elaborate system of indoctrination" conspiracy theory) your words are worthless. If you're going to criticize, do something constructive - not just "America is bullying everyone else, and it's not fair," because what you're criticizing has been going on in civilization for thousands of years and is not likely to change soon, especially with meek attempts at insulting whoever's on top.


you know, jake.. i've noticed that, since the tacos started coming, the mail doesn't so much come as often, or even at all
[ Parent ]

Unfortunately, that's not how it works. (3.50 / 2) (#176)
by valeko on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 04:09:48 PM EST

My intention isn't to make broad conclusions about tendencies in human civilisation. Capital punishment has existed in civilisation for thousands of years too - that doesn't mean it's humane or that it should be preserved. Although, as JCB correctly pointed out, it's not possible, we should all strive to abolish imperialism instead of shrugging and saying, "ah, nyah, well, it's always been that way, that's how things work with whoever's 'on top', so, like, eh, who cares.."

Now more to the point:

Why do Europeans elect leaders who like US aid and intervention? Why not elect someone who would tell the Americans to take their dirty money elsewhere? Don't even bother replying - I know why.

I never said the democratic process was perfect in Europe.

Furthermore, the way your question is phrased, the reality is completely ignored that the US worked very hard during the Cold War (and still does) to preserve a satisfactory status quo in Western Europe. This ranged from deep funding for conservative, pro-western parties to outright sabotage of any group that sought to be elected on an .. err.. progressive.. platform. In the Cold War this typically means "US get out", "we don't want your dirty money", and "we'll be neutral in the Cold War". For domestic consumption (as well as for American officials who actually believe their own propaganda), groups with such aspirations were simply and aptly named "Communists", even if they had absolutely no hint of interest in Marxism. Furthermore, propaganda rendered it inconceivable to the American populace (as well as the rest of the world that is subject to American propaganda) that maybe such "leftist" parties were elected freeily and openly. No; you see, it had to be the work of Soviet intelligence, trickery of the tentacles of the International Communist Conspiracy! The same applied to various centre-left Latin American regimes, such as the one in Guatemala that was deposed in the 1950s simply because they permitted "Communist" officials to take low cabinet posts in the government.

You're right that singling out America as though this is the only place where things are the way they are is wrong, however. I'm not trying to do that. But the fact remains, the US is the "remaining superpower", and this gives it unlimited discretion in acting on its own unilateral designs. The world should be concerned about this.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Abolish imperialism, eh? (5.00 / 1) (#179)
by ariux on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 05:19:33 PM EST

Sounds like a no-brainer, but bear with me here.

History contains basically four kinds of large-scale organizations of people: clans locked in tribal feuding, city-states or fiefdoms fighting wars over and over, big empires imposing peace (if somewhat oppressively) over large chunks of land, and homicidal raiders fighting massive wars of extermination.

Note, for example, that a lot of the current trouble in the Middle East stems from the way a pitiless Europe carved it up from an internally peaceful empire into a bunch of little enemy states. A lot of the Islamic language and institutions glorified by the current wave of theo-fascists date back to the Middle East's imperial "golden age."

So while "abolishing empires" sounds great, you do need to convincingly establish that there's a lesser evil before you can blithely take it for granted.

All that said, I'm with you - I just am (unlike some) maintaining an understanding that the road to hell can easily be paved with a mixture of good intentions and insufficient analysis of outcomes.

In particular, do you differentiate between the view that US hegemony is categorically evil and the milder view that US hegemony would be great if it were just more benign about things and actually vigorously supported human rights, peace, and fair play as a matter of policy, instead of just giving them meaningless lip service?

By the way, please respond to all of these questions, even the harder ones, not just the subset you can come up with pat answers to.

[ Parent ]

Very well. (5.00 / 1) (#185)
by valeko on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 05:52:22 PM EST

In particular, do you differentiate between the view that US hegemony is categorically evil and the milder view that US hegemony would be great if it were just more benign about things and actually vigorously supported human rights, peace, and fair play as a matter of policy, instead of just giving them meaningless lip service?

Well, that's certainly not an easy question to answer for me, because that seems to rest on a deep-rooted conviction on your part that there's a different flavour of western hegemony that is more desirable. In some ways, I feel that this question is too broad to address in the scope of a comment.

The way I see it, American imperialism has one fundamental character, many aspects of which overlap with the history of European and in particular British imperialism. It is a capitalist character. From the onset of mercantilist pursuits among European powers to the intrigues of the Cold War, the character of such empire-building has retained the same essential economically-driven qualities. The numerous extensions of this apparatus manifest themselves in many different spheres - social, political, ideological, etc - but it all ties back into economic pursuits. As I understand the metamessage of American imperial ambitions throughout the 20th century, they are:

  • #1: We will turn your society into a market society at all costs. Ideologies which attempt to trascend mercantile relationships will not be tolerated.
  • #2: We will turn your market society into one that is ultimately subservient to our economic interests. It may radiate some benefits for your own society as well, but the prime directive is our interests. [i.e. economic neo-colonialism through IMF, where austerity measures require restructuring to emulate American model of free-market capitalism].
  • #3: At all costs, the existing stratification among economic classes and class relationships must be preserved. Any precedent for shedding this (i.e. a small country that implements a proper socialist society and exists sans American sabotage) will not be tolerated, as it threatens the order and class structure which we have established and we will perpetuate for our own purposes.
  • #4: Any attempt to subvert the mechanisms of "finance capitalism" or failure to maximise economic usefulness to us will result in your replacement with a regime that can do these things.

Now, obviously it's not nearly that simple. It's much easier to look at imperialism in Theodore Roosevelt's time and extrapolate a theme of "economic colonialism" (Cuba, Hawaii, Phillipines, etc) than to plow through the extremely complex framework that defines American empire today. It's an extremely diverse one, and obviously formulating a list of ultimate goals as I have above is indicative of a grossly oversimplified perception of the issue. American goals these days have extended far beyond simply preserving the economic status quo and perpetual economic growth - these goals are still fulfilled, but the different elements which carry out these policies aren't usually conscious of these broad goals. Some see themselves as ideological warriors for the cause of "freedom", others as political warriors against ideologies they regard as tyrranical.

It is notable that these same self-perpetuating mechanisms exist in all of the classic literary alarms on the subject of totalitarianism, For example, neither in Orwell's 1984 nor in Ayn Rand's Anthem are even the upper henchmen of the government aware of their broad ideological goals. They just do what the folks before them did. Long, long, time ago, in a galaxy far away, the revolutionaries which Orwell describes had ideological goals, but these folks don't. They just perpetuate the existing order. Anyway, by this I'm not trying to assert that everyone is oblivious entirely to the ideological goals of American imperialism, but I'm making a generalisation that seems to be consistent with reality.

So, if you were to ask, would I prefer American imperialism in a setting where it is more benign, respectful of human rights/freedom/democracy, etc, I don't really know what to tell you. I know only one character to American (and in general European) imperialism, and I can't really imagine it having any other permutations worth pondering. Sure, American imperialism would be more preferable if it were less tyrranical to other parts of the world - of course it would be better, relatively speaking.

But inshort, I find it difficult to oppose American hegemony to a degree less than a categorical one. Perhaps if you could set up the hypothetical scenario which you are envisioning.....otherwise, I fail to assign any legitimacy to this "oh, if the imperialism were only benign imperialism" viewpoint. It seems dillusional and detached from reality, which has long held that American imperialism in the modern world only comes in one basic flavour.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

whatever (2.00 / 1) (#196)
by Rahaan on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 06:58:02 PM EST

umm, Ariux did present that situation - where America would use its influence and power ("hegemony") to vigorously support human rights, peace, and fair play (which would be "benign") to form a benign hegemony. Benign imperialism, even. You missed his whole point - Empires, throughout history, have actually brought freedom and prosperity (in general, albeit "if somewhat oppressively") to the lands they conquer. You said it yourself: it seems delusional and detached from reality to think that imperialism only comes in one basic flavor, and you're only seeing the evils. Stop playa hating.

All that being said, you seem hell-bent on proving to everyone that America is an evil entity bent on world domination for no other reason than so all its citizens can become massively rich. That's a joke. It also dismissies almost all of your arguments as horribly biased, especially considering the hypocrisy of the situation - you talk about perspectives but can't see it from viewpoints other than your own.

ps - too broad for the scope of a comment? whatever. write a paper. email it. post it as a comment anyway. it's only text. I think we can handle the download.


you know, jake.. i've noticed that, since the tacos started coming, the mail doesn't so much come as often, or even at all
[ Parent ]

I think valeko's point... (5.00 / 1) (#206)
by ariux on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 07:36:02 PM EST

...was that he feels talking about "benevolent Western hegemony" is like talking about pink elephants or massless matter - you could imagine it, but it can't actually exist, so there's no point.

Actually, it remains to be established to what degree empires bring peace and prosperity to lands they conquer. It seems to run the gamut from helpful on balance (Rome, Classical Arabia?) to oppressive (Napoleon, Britain in Africa) to loot-and-burn devastating (Spain in South America, Mongols in Asia, Nazis in Russia).

[ Parent ]

Yup. (3.00 / 1) (#230)
by Rahaan on Sun Mar 03, 2002 at 04:53:30 AM EST

Yeah, you're right. But one of my (earlier) points was that unless he was going to do something constructive he might as well stop wasting his breath and use the current 'system' to his advantage. But since his only real constructive idea is the elimination of the evils of imperialism, which he also believes to be impossible (and may also not necessarily be a good thing, since empires might be the lesser of many evils) he doesn't really seem to have a point. He sounds like he's just criticizing the US for whatever reason - some sort of jealousy, scapegoating, or whatever.

My last post meant merely to show that imperialism can have it's advantages in some situations (I think Rome is the best example, even if it is fairly outdated.) Also try to keep in mind I was just trying to question (and figure out) his beliefs, and why he believes what he does, not state my own.


you know, jake.. i've noticed that, since the tacos started coming, the mail doesn't so much come as often, or even at all
[ Parent ]

Fair enough (none / 0) (#201)
by ariux on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 07:18:27 PM EST

...as an answer to just the last question. But I repeat: please answer them all, not just the ones that suit your fancy - or else, where you have no answer, admit it.

[ Parent ]

Oh? (none / 0) (#203)
by valeko on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 07:22:59 PM EST

I did not perceive any other component of your comment as being phrased in the form of a question. The rest seemed like a narrative describing you viewpoint. Sorry if I was incorrect ... what else do you want me to answer?


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

True - the question was implied: (none / 0) (#209)
by ariux on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 07:46:26 PM EST

So while "abolishing empires" sounds great, you do need to convincingly establish that there's a lesser evil before you can blithely take it for granted.

[ Parent ]

By the way... (none / 0) (#204)
by ariux on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 07:25:20 PM EST

...you segued there from "abolish all empires" to "abolish Western empires, which are specially bad" (presumably unlike some other kinds of empires yet to be named). Which is it?

[ Parent ]

but still.. (4.00 / 1) (#182)
by Rahaan on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 05:31:38 PM EST

I'm not saying that we, as people, should sit back and let it happen, I'm saying that unless you do something constructive, as opposed to just insulting, your words are meaningless and a waste of our time. If you do not believe that it's possible to abolish imperialism (or at least limit it effectively) then, again, it's a waste of time. We need to make conclusions about tendencies in human behavior and civilization throughout history in order to get rid of the 'bad' ones. If we want to rid ourselves of capital punishment then you have to understand why it happens and then get rid of the cause. Same with imperialism. Obviously, it's not that simple - but it's the same principle.

Again, in regards to your second paragraph - you seem to be the one believing American propaganda the most. What makes you think that it's completely inconceivable to the American populace that leftist parties are/were elected freely and openly? American propaganda was, basically, that Communism was evil and that no one could, should, or did think otherwise (see Joe McCarthy.) Secondly, do you have any info to back up your claims? Unless you have facts to back up your case, you are merely spouting propaganda when you talk about American attempts to deter 'progressive' Cold War-era political parties in Europe.

One more thing: the rampant paranoia about Communism by American officials was there for a reason. The people ruling Soviet Russia were evil. They *were* trying to spread their influence around the world, be it Latin America Western Europe, or SE Asia. Of course, there were many mistakes made in American attempts to prevent this, commonly in the form of grouping all left-wingers together with Soviet communism. However - if you have a very large and powerful enemy with a well-known and potent Intelligence Agency trying to spread its influence in the countries around you (or your friends, such as in Europe) and, suddenly, people proclaiming to be Communists are 'elected' in those countries, what are you going to presume happened? Elections can be rigged. Strings can be pulled. If there hadn't been a 'satisfactory preservation of the status quo' in Western Europe, then you might be living in the Soviet Socialist Republics of France. (sidenote: try reading The Sword and the Shield. It's actually quite boring in the style it's written, but it is loaded with factual information about many KGB activities.)

Anyway. Now we're back to America's 'unilateral designs' while you still haven't really told me what you want - obviously, someone likes US forces acting around the world. You're kidding yourself if you think the US can do whatever it wants, whenever it wants, without fear of any backlash. If the leaders of countries who supposedly represent their people keep telling Bush that they want his help, what do you think he's going to believe?


you know, jake.. i've noticed that, since the tacos started coming, the mail doesn't so much come as often, or even at all
[ Parent ]

The "masses," eh? (none / 0) (#181)
by ariux on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 05:30:14 PM EST

It's amazing what you can learn about a person's thinking by looking at the words he or she uses.

A commodity trader talks about "consumers," because he or she is thinking about people inasmuch as they consume commodities.

A king or amoral force talks about "subjects," because the unlucky weak have got to do what they are told to do.

A human rights advocate says "people," because their humanity is all that's needed.

A social engineer talks about "masses": passive floods of people, all alike, to be shaped by a discerning elite.

A democrat speaks of "citizens": those who are part of a system or society, and yet themselves have a say in shaping it.

[ Parent ]

You are a fucking idiot. (2.66 / 6) (#100)
by rebelcool on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 11:48:27 PM EST

I don't often call people that. Consider it an honor.

Most are an ("I don't care!") aggressively obedient majority that soak things up and just don't know that Mexico is south and Canada is north.

How long have lived in America, Valeko? Do you even live in America? If you honestly believe that, you are in for quite a shock when you decide to leave your little desk and computer and join the real world.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

Thanks! (3.00 / 3) (#101)
by valeko on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 11:53:29 PM EST

I don't often call people that. Consider it an honor.

Thanks, I will.

How long have lived in America, Valeko? Do you even live in America? If you honestly believe that, you are in for quite a shock when you decide to leave your little desk and computer and join the real world.

Believe it or not, a substantial portion of the people I deal with in real life (in America, I might add) really don't know that Canada is north and Mexico is south. No, seriously. But that was meant metaphorically in my parent comment, not to be taken literally. Sorry if you're overly sensitive to not-so-obvious metaphors.

See a sibling comment to understand what I really meant...


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

I saw a statistic... (5.00 / 2) (#240)
by Robert S Gormley on Sun Mar 03, 2002 at 05:38:13 PM EST

That something like 35% of 15 year olds in America couldn't point to the US on a physical map of the world. This - if true - would be a slightly damning indictment on either the education system, levels of ignorance or a combination of both.

[ Parent ]
International Criminal Court... (3.75 / 4) (#18)
by vefoxus on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 06:14:01 PM EST

This link is useful to understand the issues here (I had already posted it a few weeks ago but...): Coalition for an ICC Home Page on the International Criminal Court

And as for the issue discussed here, it is clear that there is no justice if the Powerful have a way to escape from it. An equal justice is the only way our world can really be a better place.

As for the independence and objectivity of the judges, there is nothing different in international justice than in national justice: judges will be as neutral as possible, otherwise they would discredit themselves, and they know it.

Ah yes (3.80 / 5) (#23)
by trhurler on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 06:20:41 PM EST

As for the independence and objectivity of the judges, there is nothing different in international justice than in national justice: judges will be as neutral as possible, otherwise they would discredit themselves, and they know it.
Yeah, that works really well in Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, North Korea, Cuba, most African nations, and so on.

Oh wait, no it doesn't. Nevermind, you're talking out your ass.

Remember, a "court" that draws from all over the world has to draw from a pool of countries that mostly are not particularly civilized by modern western standards.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Wow (3.00 / 5) (#30)
by autonomous on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 06:28:24 PM EST

You had to use all those words to say "Everyone else is a savage and can't be trusted to rule themselves".
-- Always remember you are nothing more than a collection of complementary chemicals worth not more than $5.00
[ Parent ]
s/themselves/us (n/t) (4.00 / 4) (#34)
by trhurler on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 06:31:28 PM EST



--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Ugh (1.50 / 6) (#85)
by autonomous on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 09:23:16 PM EST

There is a very good possibility you are one of the best examples of what is wrong with the world I have ever seen.
-- Always remember you are nothing more than a collection of complementary chemicals worth not more than $5.00
[ Parent ]
Independence of U.S. judges ? (none / 0) (#234)
by mami on Sun Mar 03, 2002 at 04:04:57 PM EST

As for the independence and objectivity of the judges, there is nothing different in international justice than in national justice: judges will be as neutral as possible, otherwise they would discredit themselves, and they know it.

A bit off-topic, but can you tell me what exactly in the U.S. constitution guarantees the independence of judges? I think there are a lot of judges and justices, who don't mind at all to discredit themselves by partisanship in their legal interpretations, they know it and they can get away with it. Considering how much law is written by them within the U.S. legal system, I wonder about your optimism, that justices will be as independent as they can be 'deliberately'.

Explain to me the check and balance system of the U.S. judiciary under the U.S. constitution. please, and in how far it guarantees their independence from the political party system.

[ Parent ]

Brief explanation from a neophyte (none / 0) (#260)
by KilljoyAZ on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 01:42:17 PM EST

Explain to me the check and balance system of the U.S. judiciary under the U.S. constitution.

Any federal judicial officer can be impeached by the US House of Representatives and tried in the US Senate. This extends all the way to the Supreme Court.

Guaranteeing their independence from the party system is another thing entirely. A position on the federal bench is a lifetime appointment, so theoretically not having to campaign to keep your job allows you a measure of independence. There are laws on the books regulating actual or appearance of judicial conflict of interest. But like all laws, they can, have been, and will be broken.

Realistically, there's no way to legislate a non-partisan judiciary. What you refer to as "partisanship" can also legitimately be described as a "legal school of thought." If he was still alive, you could ask Chief Justice Earl Warren all about that.

===
Creativitiy cannot be SPELT by over 98% of all American troops. - psychologist
[ Parent ]
A corrupt system leaves us all in a tight position (4.11 / 9) (#25)
by autonomous on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 06:24:29 PM EST

I wonder if anybody has considered that once a system is created where the police are above the law, what recourse do the citizens have against abuse by the police? All you have to do is look around to see abuses by the US, even against its own citizens. I wonder what options people might have to correct this system other than terrorist acts or assassination? I doubt those in power would legislate themselves out of it, I also doubt the world could mount a military campaign to match the US.
-- Always remember you are nothing more than a collection of complementary chemicals worth not more than $5.00
Sig.. [O/T] (1.00 / 1) (#171)
by etherdeath on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 01:30:25 PM EST

Nice sig...
...but also remember that someone who was nothing more than a collection of complementary chemicals worth not more than $5.00 came up with the idea of $1 and the idea that chemicals are equivalent to such a notion.

[ Parent ]
above the law (5.00 / 1) (#174)
by fourseven on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 01:50:09 PM EST

Once the police are above the law, it really invalidates the law (in a pristine academic world.) But in the real world, the citizens acknowledge that things have gone too far, and take matters in their own hands. The cease to support the government, cease cooperating with the police, in extreme cases they revolt. There are countless ways for the citizens to show their power. They may refuse to continue production and consumption. They may sabotage, form guerilla groups, become a solidarity. Take a look at the histories of all the -other- countries for more hints and examples.
The military may be one measure of strength, but it is not necessary the sole expression of power. Since we have this scenario of usa-against-the-world, imagine all countries introducing an economic embargo on the usa. Simply refusing to trade with the giant. Asking the american companies to "leave this party" and go home. The world doesn't necessarily have to attack the usa, it can choke it down to manageable size. Hell, canada alone could put you in a bad shape, cutting off the hydro. Oops, there goes california.. Of course if the usa would respond with military attacks, rules of the game would change. Sooner or later someone would threaten someone else with a nuclear weapon. Shortly thereafter everyone who had nuclear weapons would pull them out, and we'd have the world's last game of chicken.
Increasing control is not the way to go.. letting go is the way to go.


[ Parent ]
Permenance (3.66 / 3) (#37)
by bobpence on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 06:35:16 PM EST

Censors were yet another addition to the plethora of Roman officials. Their job was to take a census of the people. But like most Roman institutions, the Republic didn't bother getting rid of them once they did the job they were chosen to do. They had to find something to do, so they did.

A permenant war-crimes tribunal would have plenty of war crimes to prosecute. Then what?
"Interesting. No wait, the other thing: tedious." - Bender

Um Skiing in the alps? (2.66 / 3) (#39)
by autonomous on Fri Mar 01, 2002 at 06:40:26 PM EST

Yes, they're all just going to hang around and find some keep busy work. I have a feeling the men who prosecute these crimes would also have national judicial and prosecutorial positions.
-- Always remember you are nothing more than a collection of complementary chemicals worth not more than $5.00
[ Parent ]
Good link (4.40 / 5) (#105)
by HarmoniousFist on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 12:33:40 AM EST

I like this nice summary.

Especially this part:

Over the past six years, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has indicted some 84 individuals for war crimes. But because the Tribunal is dependent on others to provide it with evidence, not all those who have committed serious atrocities have been indicted. In particular, the Croatian military leaders responsible for Operation Storm, in which two hundred thousand Serbs in the Krajina region of Croatia were ethnically cleansed -- driven out, with many attendant killings -- have not been indicted, in large part because the United States, which aided the operation, has refused to provide the necessary evidence.

That shows us a glimpse of the fact that Milosevic isn't the only one guilty of ethnic cleansing in the whole thing...


--
IN GOD WE TRUST, UNITED WE STAND! GOD BLESS AMERICA!

Positions (3.00 / 3) (#106)
by ariux on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 12:49:45 AM EST

why does the US, a champion of 'human rights' and democracy, express an apparently hostile position to the current tribunal trying Slobodan Milosevic.

I think it's necessary, at this point, to draw a distinction between "the US" and "the Bush administration."

This isn't a subject that's seen a lot of public debate.

Democracy (3.50 / 2) (#123)
by marx on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 02:38:23 AM EST

draw a distinction between "the US" and "the Bush administration."

What is the distinction? Bush won the democractic election. Therefore he represents the US population. This is why he holds the executive power of the US.

Or are you going to tell me that the US is not a democracy?

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

Representative republic (3.00 / 1) (#128)
by Sunir on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 03:15:50 AM EST

The US is a representative republic, not a democracy. Hence, the Bush administration's opinions may differ from the people's and even the general bureaucracy.

"Look! You're free! Go, and be free!" and everyone hated it for that. --r
[ Parent ]

Shut up (3.00 / 2) (#146)
by marx on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 10:22:17 AM EST

The US is a representative republic, not a democracy.
Bah, shut up. Here is "democracy" from Webster's:
a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections

So the US is clearly a democracy.

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

Democratic Republic, AFAIK (none / 0) (#157)
by Jel on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 12:00:41 PM EST



[ Parent ]
OOPs =) (none / 0) (#159)
by Jel on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 12:06:05 PM EST

Or Federal Republic, even ;)

[ Parent ]
Are you serious? (2.00 / 1) (#130)
by ariux on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 03:25:34 AM EST

You really perceive no difference at all between the current government of a republic and that country as a whole?

Where do you live? You must have very responsive leaders.

[ Parent ]

Responsibility (5.00 / 1) (#153)
by marx on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 11:20:42 AM EST

You really perceive no difference at all between the current government of a republic and that country as a whole?

Of course there are differences, but they are not meaningful in the context of your post. You're trying to say that the population of the US should not be blamed for the official statements of Bush, because they may disagree with him. Why? They elected him, and then they must be responsible for what he does.

I think there are only two possible cases where you can say that you are not responsible for what your elected leader does. The first is if the leader breaks the law, by making a coup for dictatorship for example. The second is if he deceives the public during the election campaign, implementing a policy completely different from what he promised.

I think it's safe to say that none of these two apply to Bush. These statements are not very surprising coming from a person such as Bush, or a party such as the "Grand Old Party".

Where do you live? You must have very responsive leaders.

I live in Sweden. The leaders don't really have to be responsive, elections are enough. I can vote for ~7 different parties, and my vote will be as meaningful regardless of which party I vote for. This means that if a party goes against a large part of the public in an important issue, then they won't receive those votes in the future. Most parties have learned this lesson.

I can take responsibility for every official action of my government. Why can't you?

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

When was the last time... (5.00 / 1) (#224)
by Lenny on Sun Mar 03, 2002 at 12:22:27 AM EST

Sweden did anything? controversial or otherwise? I can take responsibility for every official action of my government. Why can't you?

Do you take responsibility for allowing Hitler to use your country's resources and transportation system to roll through to conquer your neighbors? Do you take responsibility for not catching the killer of your nation's leader?(some security you have...heh). If Sweden did anything newsworthy or took a side in a conflict, then you'd have something to boast about...but they don't...therefore, you don't.


"Hate the USA? Boycott everything American. Particularly its websites..."
-Me
[ Parent ]
Lenny: "lead, follow or get out of the way!&q (none / 0) (#233)
by minra on Sun Mar 03, 2002 at 02:27:30 PM EST

title says it all lenny. you in the armed forces boah?

[ Parent ]
Actually (3.00 / 1) (#134)
by ender81b on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 04:23:10 AM EST

Pres. Bush did *not* when the popular vote, he was short by something like 100,000 votes.

At any rate, the attitudes of a country's leader, or it's current administration, should never be infered as the attitudes of the majority, or even a small part, of the country. As a matter of fact, you can virtually gaurentee yourself that 50% minus-one person don't agree with any of his positions.

Also, Pres. Bush actions in some specific things might go against the will of the country as a whole - just not enough for the U.S. citizens to care about or specifically change their opinion of the man. As an example, I will point out the oil drilling in the Artic Wildlife Refugee. 65% of US doesn't want this to happen - but, apparently, doesn't believe this is enough to change their basic opinon on the president, so onward they drill.





[ Parent ]
The mythical, 180-degree different large minority (4.00 / 1) (#141)
by A Trickster Imp on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 08:20:04 AM EST

> Pres. Bush did *not* when the popular vote, he was short by something like 100,000 vote

What does winning the popular vote have anything to do with it? If Gore had won the election but Bush won the popular vote, would you be running around saying "Gore isn't MY president!"?


> As a matter of fact, you can virtually gaurentee yourself that 50% minus-one
> person don't agree with any of his positions.

Yes, there must be at least 49.999% of the people who disagree with his position that 9-11 was bad.




[ Parent ]
So? (3.00 / 1) (#147)
by marx on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 10:37:30 AM EST

At any rate, the attitudes of a country's leader, or it's current administration, should never be infered as the attitudes of the majority, or even a small part, of the country.

If you elect a representative then you're accountable for his actions, unless he breaks the law. You can't magic away responsibility by having a proxy.

If this were not true, you could just recruit criminals to commit the crimes for you, and you would still be innocent (see Milosevic or Hitler for example).

I'm sick of people trying to dodge responsibility. If a democracy kills a person, then the people of that country are responsible for that. Otherwise they have no right to claim that their country is a democracy. You can't have power without responsibility.

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

Mmm... yes... (4.00 / 2) (#173)
by beergut on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 01:44:39 PM EST

So, by that token, since the Russian revolution was ostensibly a "popular" movement (i.e., had the support of the people,) then the murder of 20 million or so dissidents by Stalin's thugs was their responsibility, too.

And, since Hitler was actually elected, all Germans were responsible for the atrocities committed by the Nazis.

And since Pol Pot was a "man of the people", all Cambodians are responsible for the killing fields.

Obviously, then, since the Iraqis haven't ousted Saddam Hussein, they are responsible for the murder of the Kurds in Northern Iraq.

And, since there have been no uprisings against the butchers in places like Rwanda, the people there are all responsible for the butchery that happened. (Or does that only apply to "non-oppressed" racial subgroups of humanity?)

Get real.

Bush isn't like any of these people (though I have to look askance at John Ashcroft, a former governor of my home state, whose positions on some things I support, but now feel dirty for doing so, because the man spends much of his time polishing his very own pair of jackboots.)

i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

Re : Democracy (1.00 / 1) (#166)
by bob6 on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 12:49:04 PM EST

What is the distinction?
I am not an american citizen and I see a clear distinction. Pdt. Bush and his administration is dangerous for the whole world including americans. I just can't believe the other 300.000.000 americans are all the same. At least there's the genius one that invented the delicious american BBQ sauce.

Bush won the democractic election.
The impression given to outside US was that Mr. Bush bought that election in a rather undemocratic fashion.

Therefore he represents the US population.
Like I said before, I hope not.

This is why he holds the executive power of the US.
The world noticed.

Or are you going to tell me that the US is not a democracy?
I am going to and also am sorry if it will hurt someone's feelings. Every postal parcel is opened by government officials and US requires an absurdly powerful military equipement to ensure its security while 15% of americans live below poverty threshod. That is enough to make a country not democratic and I'm leaving apart more questionable signs like death penalty and a poor health system.

Cheers.
[ Parent ]
Your last point of contact with reality was when? (4.50 / 2) (#178)
by heatherj on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 05:14:48 PM EST

"Or are you going to tell me that the US is not a democracy? I am going to and also am sorry if it will hurt someone's feelings. Every postal parcel is opened by government officials"

Not true, with the exception of international packages, some of which are opened by Customs. Where do you get this information?

"and US requires an absurdly powerful military equipement to ensure its security"

Not so much to ensure its security as to come arunning whenever anyone else in the world hollers. Check out the sheer numbers of US troops stationed in some kind of foreign aid position, as well as the proportion of UN troops that are US soldiers. Basic US securtiy would not require much of a military at all, for reasons that should be obvious. Even 9/11 would not have happened, had idiots in our government not insisted on abrogating our constitutional right to bear arms for self-defense. The ONLY thing that could reasonably have averted the 9/11 attacks were armed pilots. NONE of the security measures now being instituted could have then averted the attacks, nor will they avert future attacks.

"while 15% of americans live below poverty threshod. That is enough to make a country not democratic and I'm leaving apart more questionable signs like death penalty and a poor health system."

All of these are measures of how SOCIALIST an economy is, not how democratic. That said, the US is not, nor has ever been supposed to be a democracy. The founders wrote a constitution for a constitutional republic. Everyone sobs about the US's "poor health care system", but we hear and see story after story about how someone could not get needed health care in a timely fashion from the socialist health care system in their own country, so comes to the US to get what they need. Socialism breeds mediocrity because insisting upon equality of outcome instead of equality of opportunity always means that the outcome must be that of the lowest common denominator. As far as the poverty rate goes, this is artificial. Firstly, the US has enjoyed the highest standard of living in the world for many years, so the poverty level is just the lowest 15% of the richest people in the world. Secondly, I heard on the news last year at one point that the official poverty level point was being adjusted upward because NOT ENOUGH people were falling below the official line then in use. You need to become much better informed.

[ Parent ]

Yes, it used to. (1.50 / 2) (#156)
by Jel on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 11:52:13 AM EST

Yes, the US might once have represented the pinnacle of human rights, at least symbolically. Not, however, since Bush took over. It's been downhill ever since. The guy is one scary individual, and I consider the day he took power a very black one indeed.

[ Parent ]
isn't Bush popular? (none / 0) (#238)
by andrewm on Sun Mar 03, 2002 at 05:30:18 PM EST

Last I heard, he had quite a high popularity rating (however they measure that). This would seem to imply that a large portion of US citizens actually agree with most or all of what he has said and done. (In other words, Americans in general don't think Bush is doing anything wrong at all.)

The US and the Bush administration may be different - but if US citizens approve of the Bush administration, how significant is that difference?

[ Parent ]

They measure that... (none / 0) (#243)
by ariux on Sun Mar 03, 2002 at 06:08:12 PM EST

...by calling people up and asking them "do you support our upstanding president in our war against terrorism?"

Most people say, "yes," but the reality is rather more complex.

[ Parent ]

What's wrong with Americans? (none / 0) (#277)
by andrewm on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 06:51:52 PM EST

They can't say 'no' because they're afraid of being labelled 'unpatriotic'? That sounds very brave of them. (Of course, given reports on the FBI & secret service investigating any and all reports of insufficient patriotism, maybe they have a point.)

Of course, opinion polls probably aren't phrashed to get an accurate response, esp. if it's conducted by a government. (Bush would hardly want to be told he's not doing well.) But still, I'ld like to think Americans are capable of independant thought and can work out for themselves if they support Bush or not. And there must be someone vaguely interested in an accurate poll, right? Or don't americans care about the truth?

Anecdotal evidence (the small and non-representative sample of Americans I've actually talked to) suggests there actually is support, too - in the sense that they approve of the entire war, and don't see any problems. In short, roughly half of all Americans either voted for him or did not vote against him, and currently it still seems like a significant portion still support him as president. I still don't see any reason to believe that Bush is widely hated by the people.

(Yes, I believe there are problems with the American election system - but if you can't be bothered to vote because you think it doesn't matter, you can't then start crying about it when you find out that it really did matter. Even Bush agrees that if you aren't against him you must be for him :)

[ Parent ]

umm.. (none / 0) (#282)
by Rahaan on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 08:28:48 PM EST

Those are some pretty harsh assumptions - his point was that the questions are fairly simple and way too broad to be any accurate at all. Most people say 'yes' because they feel that something needs to be done about terrorism, not because they're scared to disagree. Just because someone supports the president (in general) doesn't mean they agree with all of his decisions in any matter, even (or especially) terrorism.

As far as I know, the government itself doesn't conduct any polls - the ones I've seen are done by the media, and tend to be published in a way to favorably present their own 'agenda'. To say this means Americans don't want to know the truth is idiotic at best. But, regardless, I'd expect a gov't conducted poll to be much more credible than almost anything else - why would Bush want his advisors to lie to him? I don't see any reason for him to not want to know what people really think, even if he then later completely disregards it. Freedom of speech is guaranteed by the Constitution, and though I dare not say that it always has been upheld, it certainly has for most cases and is exercised daily and vigorously by the citizens. Every politician in America knows they will be criticized, sometimes harshly, by about half of the people, generally along Democrat/Republican lines.

On the personal level - I have a t-shirt with Bush's image that says "Not My President" on it, which I've worn and do wear in public. I laugh at his speeches and absolute slaughter of the English language. I scoff at (some of) his policies and criticize politics in America in general in hopes of making a change for the better. I've never heard any reports of the FBI and/or secret service investigating "insufficient patriotism", which seems kinda ludicrous to me, although it wouldn't surprise me if a high percentage of people they're investigating have displayed little patriotism and exhibited "subversive behavior", or whatever. While it's a scary thought, how else should it be? Should they be checking out the 60 year old ladies who overpay their taxes every year?


you know, jake.. i've noticed that, since the tacos started coming, the mail doesn't so much come as often, or even at all
[ Parent ]

obsessive compulsive (4.80 / 10) (#107)
by fourseven on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 12:56:00 AM EST

It's the weirdest thing, but the lecture of these articles and the train of thought caused by it led me to think of fractals.

Here's what i mean..
In the most powerful countries (as compared w/r/t some criteria with other countries) the people usually experienced the most severe degree of zamordyzm (lit. "holding one down by the face").. Examples could be the former ussr, china, the usa. In such countries the government tends to be as strict and paranoid in dealing with other countries as it is with its own citizens. And such governments certainly exhibit the malicious (and sometimes perceived as such) vague promise of some time, some day, when "they" will be finally "taken care of." In practice it seems that when "they" means "the people outside the borders," it simultaneously means "the people inside the borders," too. (Reasons being that the borders are purely imaginary and people the same everywhere, but nobody wants to believe that.)
Now we have a situation of the usa wanting to be the policeman of the world. Its growing agression towards more and more former allies is only mirrored by increased strictness and ruthlesness, or even caprice, of its internal law enforcement. At the same time we observe that the usa follows the rules of international law only where convenient, while requiring others to follow the rules all the time. The same mentality flows in the american police, who choose to obey some rules and some not, while punishing all other citizens for the most minor of misdemeanors.
The amount of effort expended on spying on all the other countries is well matched by the toil and ingenuity of the internal surveillance. And what is is that the usa is so blindly defending? The right to do less and less every day? The right to less and less free choice, by way of eliminating more and more options? The usa is defending the same thing the taliban was fighting for: the ability to tell others what to do. A self-usurped ability at that, excercised on the weaker on the single merit of them being weaker.
A trend consistently appears to me, exhibiting itself in daily life on scales small and large. It seems that to sustain the amount of international pressure that the usa is creating, it must exert a similar amount of pressure on its citizens. You know, to get them to accept the irrational scheduling of resources towards death-creating and away from life-sustaining, in all departments. To divert their attention. To maintain their production rate. To maintain their addictions that drive the consumption that creates an excuse for the production. To eliminate the possibility of the citizens wanting otherwise. It may seem like i'm drawing some kind of an ultra conspiracy, but this is not my conclusion. I merely trace a route among things observed, hoping the resulting path of thought to be less pessimistic than it appears to be.

And why fractals? Well, because of the same self-defeating pattern which forms whether we make the picture bigger or smaller, but it never quite gets to the point, not unlike this post.


Right with ya! (3.00 / 8) (#140)
by A Trickster Imp on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 08:17:03 AM EST

I was right with ya 100%, all the way, up until your first real sentence:

> In the most powerful countries (as compared w/r/t some criteria with other
> countries) the people usually experienced the most severe degree of
> zamordyzm (lit. "holding one down by the face").. Examples could be the
> former ussr, china, the usa.

I'm sorry, but any argument that starts out likening the US with the former USSR and China in "holding one down by the face" is laughable.




[ Parent ]
trick (5.00 / 1) (#169)
by fourseven on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 01:18:30 PM EST

Having your will held is often like this: you don't know the hold is there until its gone.
So, aside that one sentence that made you fall over and laugh, did you get any further? Or did you give up, coz the flaps on your eyes didn't let you read? Maybe if you read the rest, you'd see how pointless it was for you to call this post "an argument."

[ Parent ]
Held down by the face. (2.60 / 5) (#172)
by beergut on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 01:33:19 PM EST

I'm sorry, but any argument that starts out likening the US with the former USSR and China in "holding one down by the face" is laughable.

Keep believing. Don't open your eyes. Just keep paying your taxes, and shut the hell up. Everything will be alright. Just keep working, and paying. That guy who doesn't work, but drives a car because you're paying for it? Don't bother with him -- its ... ah ... oh, yes ... "racist" for you to question the government in this matter.

Don't delve into the means by which the Sixteenth Amendment was ratified, nor the usurpations of the First, Second, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, and Tenth Amendments undertaken by your government in the last ninety or so years. To do so would only bring you grief. Besides, the government only does these things because it loves you, and wants you to be happy.

i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

Heavens! Removing our troops?? Anything but that (4.50 / 2) (#109)
by ariux on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 01:01:29 AM EST

That this threat carries any weight at all, instead of being eagerly welcomed, should serve to at least slightly blunt the usual k5 perception of the nature and purpose of US foreign military deployment.

I think it was eagerly welcomed. (2.50 / 2) (#111)
by valeko on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 01:08:44 AM EST

At least, it certainly gave Japan the idea that if it just ratified that poor treaty, maybe the US would finally get out ... ;-) But that's AFAIK.


"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Does the Japanese Govt actually want us out? (none / 0) (#252)
by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 11:11:34 AM EST

I'm not sure they do - They'd have to up their defense spending to unconstitutional(?) levels.

(IIRC, Japan's constitution limits their defense spending to 1% of GDP and that clause is revered in Japan in a way that USians rever the freedom of speech)


--
Knock Knock.


[ Parent ]
Some ideas about an ICC (4.75 / 4) (#135)
by ariux on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 04:24:07 AM EST

Some of these are going to raise eyebrows, but I'm not afraid to air unpopular ideas.

One issue is that a court with a single jurisdiction over China, the US, Russia, Sudan, and Switzerland is going to have some trouble looking legitimate to everybody, regardless of what laws it's enforcing. In today's world, at least, one people's meat is another people's poison. Sure, everybody signed the various conventions, but that was back in the dark days when it looked like they weren't ever going to be enforced.

Who appoints the judges? Who, basically, has power over what the court does? That's always an issue, right? Control of the law and its enforcement are a form of power. What checks and balances are in place to prevent that power from being abused? Indeed, with such a broad jurisdiction, who defines what "abused" means? Do they do so democratically?

How is its jurisdiction enforced? Say France refuses to extradite some specially repellant general, wanted for the torture of teenagers in Algeria, or Russia some general wanted for the destruction of Afghan food trees and mining of farmland. How can they be forced to cough up the offender? Or will the court truly mete out "victor's justice" against only the weak?

Who are the "international police" who will enforce international law? NATO? UN blue-helmets? A yet-to-be-assembled force? Who gets to control it? What about war crimes it might commit - how will they be prosecuted?

This one's going to get me really reamed: amnesty. People here in the US have a feeling that certain people who are being targeted (usually by Europeans) for prosecution acted, at the time, in a darker world where huge slaughter was the immediate past, "international law" was lip service, and the actual rule was savagery or death. Some Europeans who withdrew from Africa and Southeast Asia, and Russians from Central Asia and Eastern Europe, within the last 50 years, might taste the same feeling. Amnesty for murderers of millions (defined at the time as "war") would leave a foul taste, but without it, building a world where international law is really law might face much tougher resistance. Might the sacrifice of justice for yesterday's victims help to create a system that can really deter tomorrow's crimes?

How are the ICC's charter and rules maintained? Who gets to adapt them to new conditions as time passes? How will frivolous or harmful changes be prevented? How will necessary changes be ensured? How can a sense of legitimacy, if initially achieved, be maintained across such changes, which may well be highly politicized? If the court mutates into a widely recognized monster, who will have the power to kill it?

An entire system of courts without any appeals is an interesting concept. How is it legitimate?

clue-by-four (5.00 / 2) (#221)
by samth on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 11:27:58 PM EST

First, many of your questions are answered here where the statute is available for all to read. I reccommend doing so before posting more.

Second, the tribunal does not have authority over past crimes.

Third, it does have an appeals process.

Given a choice between Libertarianism and ravenous martian spores, I ask you, do I look good in this Bernaise sauce? -- eLuddite
[ Parent ]

Very interesting; analysis (5.00 / 2) (#225)
by ariux on Sun Mar 03, 2002 at 02:42:42 AM EST

Thank you for the useful link. It appears several (but not all) of the things I thought I knew were in fact wrong.

For one thing, amnesty is built into the Rome statute; it could prosecute only crimes committed after its adoption. The ICC would not try Henry Kissinger or Paul Aussaresses.

It does have appeals. Whatever I saw that claimed that it didn't was FUD.

The power-holders behind the court would be a new "Assembly of States Parties," in which each state would have exactly one vote - not the General Assembly or the Security Council.

The one-vote policy would give a decisive advantage to blocs of small states over single, large states like Russia, China, India, and the US. Not surprisingly, lots of small states have ratified, but Russia, China, India, and the US have not (China and India didn't even sign).

(Europe would get to have it both ways by getting N votes even as it begins to act in practice as one federal entity - this would be like giving individual votes to all the states of the US.)

This assembly would appoint judges and prosecutors by secret ballot, so big states couldn't identify their smaller tormentors to pressure them through other means.

The procedural rules and standards of evidence would need to be interpreted by some lawyers to judge them against, say, their equivalents in US and European courts.

The crimes covered are mostly typical war crimes. Interestingly, it includes "aggression" (pending its later definition), taking hostages, hiding behind civilians, and committing broadly defined "outrages upon personal dignity"; and lists drunkenness as grounds for excluding criminal responsibility - quite an invitation to moral hazard (I can just see armies starting to issue canteens of gin).

So what do I think of all this?

What would happen if some big states ratified, and stuck to an intent to avoid prosecution?

Well, the court would immediately turn into a weapon used by small states to counterbalance the power of big ones (except for Europe, which - as noted above - would get to have it both ways.)

The crimes are defined broadly enough that plenty of them get committed in even the cleanest war, war being the dirty thing it is. Big states like the United States (except for Europe, with its N votes) would therefore have to evacuate all foreign military bases and stop fighting foreign wars.

This would strip the United States of the ability to retaliate against or effectively combat small states that send trained commandos into the US mainland for the explicit purpose of killing civilians and destroying civilian infrastructure. Such attacks, now sheltered against retaliation, escalate. Eventually, to save its remaining cities and citizens, the US is left with no choice but to take the desperate and inhumane step of expelling many foreigners to their countries of origin and sealing off its borders. Families are torn apart, the countries of origin reel under the flood of returning expatriates, and world economies and markets tank.

The military withdrawal of big signatories leaves behind a giant power vacuum. Massive wars immediately begin in the Middle East, the Balkans, and Southeast Asia, just in time for many of those unhappy returning expatriates to die in. Europe (with its pumped-up voting power) or better yet, a non-signatory big country, one which (unlike the courageous signatories) feels no obligation to uphold international law, steps in to fill the vacuum. A massive war for control of most of the world ensues, one decisively and bloodily won by Europe or a big non-signatory. Meanwhile, big signatories lurk behind their newly militarized borders, holding off invasion by the new superpower with the renewed threat of a massive nuclear launch.

Uneasy stability returns, with untold millions of dead, thousands of nuclear missiles primed for quick launch, and most of the world under a far worse thumb than that of the United States, with most of the damage ironically concentrated in small signatories.

Conclusion? This court is a great idea, but it's not workable in its current form. Any big country ratifying it would be either suicidal or planning to ignore it despite ratifying, while there would be an irresistible incentive for any big country to avoid ratifying and watch its rivals be the ones who are crippled.

The big-state / small-state problem had to be addressed even by the framers of the US constitution, and the problem there was much smaller than this proposed insane voting parity between China and Luxembourg. It's hard to take seriously an ICC proposal that makes so little effort to address such a massive problem.

Further, even if that were addressed by some careful balancing of powers, the proposal is still worthless because it imposes and enforces no obligations on non-ratifiers! This provides an irresistibly strong incentive for powerful states (not just the US) to avoid ratifying, then fill the power vacuum left by those that did; it basically guarantees that as a universal international institution the proposed court in its current form will never see the light of day.

To function in a reasonable and credible way and end up reducing the crimes of the powerful as well as those of the weak, the proposal would not only need to make a more serious attempt to address the small state / big state problem, but would also need to include some kind of multilateral enforcement against even non-ratifiers, so that even non-ratifiers could be held to account.

After reading this and seeing its severe structural problems, I'm forced to conclude that Clinton signed this thing only because he thought it would look good in the papers and leave behind an unratifiable public relations mess for the Republican (at the time) Senate.

I would really, really like to see an international court capable of deterring war crimes and other inhumane behavior, and there's a lot of good language in the parts of the convention that aren't broken, but in its current form this proposal should not pass.

[ Parent ]

Nice dystopian view of things... (none / 0) (#247)
by mirleid on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 04:35:44 AM EST

...but I think that the real issues here are much more prosaic.
One of your issues seems to be parity between small and large countries. Why is that a bad thing, I wonder...Is justice for and by the large better than justice for and by the small? Or would it make the large actually having to have a good case (and convincing people that they do), before they start shooting everything that moves (and some stuff that doesnt)? Yes, it would mean that bully tactics would no longer work: is that a bad thing?
I think that the parity issue is not really an issue unless you want to make your points prevail regardless of whether you are right (and able to convince a majority of the rest that you are indeed right)...
One of your other arguments is the "non-signatories" issue... Well, look at what happened to Pinochet, what is happening to Milosevic, and what would happen to Sharon, would he ever risk visiting the UK: regardless of whether their homes countries have signed anything, if they travel to a country that is a signatory, they get nabbed and brought to trial...simple as that!
What would eventually happen would be that the rulers of "paria" states (like the ones part of the "axis of evil" :-)) would not be able to travel/relate to countries that are signatories, eventually forcing them to sign the treaty to prevent being isolated and left in the dark ages.


Chickens don't give milk
[ Parent ]
It's not parity at all (none / 0) (#259)
by KilljoyAZ on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 01:23:56 PM EST

It's disparity, except now it's skewed towards states with a small population. It's the same problem we have in the US where Bush can lose the popular vote and still win the presidential election (Floridian shenanigans not withstanding). You give a disproportionately louder "voice" to an individual citizen of a nation with a smaller population than you do a citizen of a nation with a huge population. At least the US Electoral College attempts to address this with some sort of representation proportional to the states population, however imperfectly. This Assembly of State Parties is "one nation, one vote." What a recipe for disaster.

Why should 67,000 Andorrans have the same say as to how law as a billion Indians? Think of it this way - you've just given one Andorran citizens as much weight as to how the international justice system works as 15,000 Indian citizens. Doesn't that strike you as inherently unfair?

And all this assumes that states that sign on even have a representative government. Why should countries with unelected leaders like Iraq, China, Cuba, Libya, Syria, North Korea, Qatar, or Saudi Arabia have ant say as to how to run a judicial system? I know it's fashionable to rant and rave about the US judicial system here, but let me put it this way: does anybody really think somebody like John Walker would still be alive if he was a citizen of any of the above countries, took up arms against them and was captured by their armed forces? No, he would have been either summarily executed or executed after a 1 week trial with the verdict and sentence predetermined. I approve of the creation of war crime tribunals for specific events so clear in their cruelty. But giving despots some sort of sovereignty over me (or any more people in the world, for that matter)? No thanks, the founders fought a war to escape that prospect a little more than 200 years ago. I hope the US withdraws its signature from this mess as soon as is humanly possible.

===
Creativitiy cannot be SPELT by over 98% of all American troops. - psychologist
[ Parent ]
Parity (or the lack thereof) (3.00 / 1) (#261)
by mirleid on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 01:58:28 PM EST

Like I stated before, I dont think that parity is really an issue. Why would Andorrans be more or less right than anybody else in justice-related issues just because there are less of them around? Taking your example, there were less colonists than Britons at the time of the Independence War, and that did not make them less right in what they were doing.
Why would the governments of Iraq, China, etc be allowed to have the same power as the US in running this particular judicial system? Well, for one, because there would be *no* parity, and that would mean that the "free" nations would have the higher hand (there are more of them, and the smaller nations that might otherwise be bullied by the bad guys would be protected from abuse by this very property).Another reason would be that stuff that falls under the jurisdiction of this court is much more likely to be done by such nations and not by the members of the "free" world (one would hope), so, "free" world members would not have anything to fear, whereas the other ones would be in a constant fix.

Chickens don't give milk
[ Parent ]
So easily we forget (none / 0) (#310)
by ariux on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 01:31:18 AM EST

I dont think that parity is really an issue.

What you're saying is that a governmental organ, with the power to prosecute and punish people, can be trusted to behave fairly "just because."

History gives you the lie.

[ Parent ]

Nope... (none / 0) (#311)
by mirleid on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 04:30:38 AM EST

What I am saying is that if the US, the EU countries and others really are as law-abiding and well-wishing as they claim to be, they have nothing to fear from the parity issue. On the other hand, I agree that having people locked up in cages and being interrogated withough protection from abuse might be difficult to justify to such an institution...

Chickens don't give milk
[ Parent ]
Perhaps I am not getting through here (none / 0) (#312)
by ariux on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 05:27:34 AM EST

Perhaps you believe in democratic governance, where those who are governed have a fair say about how.

If some countries have disproportionate voting power in choosing the composition of a court, what's to stop them from appointing officers who will politicize it in their favor?

[ Parent ]

You are getting through... (none / 0) (#314)
by mirleid on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 08:42:58 AM EST

..the thing is, to do such a thing in a forum where the rule is "one nation, one vote", you'd need to really have an "axis of evil" coalition with sufficient critical mass (number of participants) to basically outnumber the "axis of good" coalition. Basically the bad guys would not be exception, but the rule. I dont think that that is the case in the real world...
Having a number of votes based on something like population (China would be really happy with this idea), GDP (the US would be really happy with this one) or square mileage of territory (the Russians would love this one) is totally arbitrary and produces no significant improvement on being able to ensure that the results are not slanted towards someone.


Chickens don't give milk
[ Parent ]
I don't agree (none / 0) (#320)
by ariux on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 01:49:11 AM EST

I think that without some attempt at "fair" representation, those with more votes would use the court as political leverage to embarrass those with less. The court's powers, or offers of immunity to them, could be misused as a bargaining chip in trade wars, or in any other kind of disagreement.

(Study up on parliamentary rules of order and tactics commonly used to pass legislation, and you'll see what I mean. Churchill was right - representative government really is the worst kind, except for all the others.)

While none of the alternate approaches you name would, by itself, produce a fairer result, some compromise between them would provide not only a "best shot" at one, but also a "best shot" at achieving a shared sense of legitimacy and buy-in, the most crucial property of any court, by the very fact of its being a compromise.

The authors of the current proposal, who undoubtedly know this and chose what they did anyway, appear in light of this to be rather more cynical than their high words would imply.

If you really think otherwise, would you support giving 20 votes to the United States and 1 vote to Europe? After all, the change "won't affect anything."

[ Parent ]

The problem is... (none / 0) (#325)
by mirleid on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 10:12:54 AM EST

If you really think otherwise, would you support giving 20 votes to the United States and 1 vote to Europe? After all, the change "won't affect anything."

...after Guantanamo, I'm not so sure anymore that I want the US to have such power...

Chickens don't give milk
[ Parent ]
Nor would I... (none / 0) (#326)
by ariux on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 09:03:56 PM EST

...because my country, given such disproportionate power, would undoubtedly abuse it.

However, history tends to show that the US differs from other countries, not in moral nature, but only in reach and influence. If others (even your own Europe) had similar power, they would undoubtedly commit the same abuse.

Thus, to limit the possibility of abuse, I argue for a court that aims for fair representation, as nearly as it can be achieved, as opposed to one that doesn't even try. Would you really argue otherwise?

[ Parent ]

No, I wouldnt (none / 0) (#328)
by mirleid on Fri Mar 08, 2002 at 04:19:14 AM EST

...its just that my idea of fair representation is "one nation, one vote". If you want something done, you need to convince a shitload of other people (very much like a democratic election process).

Chickens don't give milk
[ Parent ]
No, you wouldn't. (none / 0) (#329)
by ariux on Fri Mar 08, 2002 at 07:49:30 AM EST

You'd just need to convince a majority of national governments - very different from a majority of people, considering how wildly nations differ in size.

With the court structured as proposed, by starting with tiny states like Sealand, Luxembourg, and Christmas Island, you could probably win or at least exert significant control over a decision with a bloc representative of only a tiny minority of the world's population, against the explicit wishes of a vast majority.

...and that's even assuming that national governments would act on the wishes of their people, a problem not included in the two I address above...

[ Parent ]

A note (none / 0) (#322)
by ariux on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 02:38:25 AM EST

On the other hand, I agree that having people locked up in cages and being interrogated withough protection from abuse might be difficult to justify to such an institution...

Please find my argument against the proposed court on the grounds that it might prosecute Americans. (You'll be looking for a long time.)

Unlike my (current) government, I'd love to have an international court, provided that its jurisdiction would be limited to real war crimes, it would offer fair and equal justice, and it would be capable of enforcing its judgments, not only against Americans, but also against those who attack them.

In fact, if such a court existed, I would have argued for its use in place of an Afghan war to bring the perpetrators and supporters of September's attack to justice, and hopefully there would be no prison in Guantanamo Bay because there would not need to be.

But such a court is not just any court, and getting it right in the tense and hostile environment of international politics will probably be harder than you seem to think.

[ Parent ]

Sanctions against countries ratifying the ICC (4.25 / 4) (#137)
by karjala on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 06:52:57 AM EST

What both links in the story (Wash. post & BBC) "forgot" (?) to mention are the sanctions that the US promises to impose on countries that ratify the Internation Criminal Court. I've heard that those exist already, but a plan of a law for sanctions had also been posted here not too long ago:

http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2001/10/15/14542/384

I wonder if it passed.

Not yet (none / 0) (#249)
by AndrewH on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 08:39:41 AM EST

Only a ban on financing the court — but it’s still on the agenda.
John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr — where are you now that we need you?
[ Parent ]
financing (none / 0) (#290)
by heatherj on Tue Mar 05, 2002 at 11:11:58 AM EST

Why should the US, which finances something like 30% of the UN as it is, pay for something in which we are not (and should not be!) participating?

[ Parent ]
Starcraft (3.20 / 5) (#170)
by Nater on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 01:18:57 PM EST

My brother was playing a game of Starcraft on Battlenet some time ago. It was 2 players vs. 2 computers. The other player offered to take care of defense at both his own base and my brother's base, so that my brother could focus on developing an offensive against the computer players. The other player proceeded to plaster my brother's base with defensive structures and secretly develop his own offensive. The other player, having enough resources to take the computers himself, deallied with my brother and the copious defenses in my brother's base all started firing against him.

It's quite an ingenuous plan, actually. Ally with them, make them believe you are their friend. Infiltrate their territory with your own forces "for defense against others". Then, turn on them when you have sufficient control of their defense. "They" could be just about anyone, from a true ideological enemy to a political adversary, to a large territory with desired natural resources.

Hundreds of thousands of American troops and billions of dollars of American hardware are widely deployed around the world. The threat of the turning or even just removal U.S. defense forces from a defenseless land is a powerful political tool. The war crimes tribunal undermines that and erodes U.S. hegemony.


i heard someone suggest that we should help the US, just like they helped us in WWII. By waiting three years, then going over there, flashing our money around, shagging all the women and acting like we owned the place. --Seen in #tron


Starcraft... (5.00 / 3) (#177)
by ariux on Sat Mar 02, 2002 at 04:57:22 PM EST

...is one big war of extermination, where the rules of the game categorically forbid not fighting to the death. Do you really think real live human relations work like that?

[ Parent ]

No. (none / 0) (#226)
by Nater on Sun Mar 03, 2002 at 02:45:01 AM EST

Extermination is only one option that this strategy affords. As I hinted, deploying troops (ostensibly for defensive purposes) in a foreign land provides a strong potical tool to accomplish other things. For instance, it aids in gaining access to a local resource, or influencing the local government (think: Middle East, Nicaragua). However, don't think that the extermination option hasn't been tried (Afghanistan, Vietnam).


i heard someone suggest that we should help the US, just like they helped us in WWII. By waiting three years, then going over there, flashing our money around, shagging all the women and acting like we owned the place. --Seen in #tron


[ Parent ]
I guess my point... (none / 0) (#227)
by ariux on Sun Mar 03, 2002 at 02:58:04 AM EST

...which you seem to have missed completely, is that it's absurd to judge life by the standards of Starcraft.

[ Parent ]

Funny (none / 0) (#228)
by Nater on Sun Mar 03, 2002 at 03:39:25 AM EST

At the very least, U.S. military strategy bears a resemblance to what happened in the Starcraft game, but I sincerely doubt that the U.S. is cognizantly and deliberately using that strategy. I only offer the comparison as an observation and a possibility.

These things are worth pointing out, you know. If you thought I was making a statement about the actual intentions of the United States, then know that 1) I made allusions because I know that these are not facts, but only possibilities and 2) I am not privy to the internal politics of the current or any former U.S. administration, and therefore unable to offer it as anything other than a possibility. I suggest you turn your "squelch" knob clockwise until the buzzing stops; You're picking up too much noise. HTH. HAND.


i heard someone suggest that we should help the US, just like they helped us in WWII. By waiting three years, then going over there, flashing our money around, shagging all the women and acting like we owned the place. --Seen in #tron


[ Parent ]
Life Vs Starcraft (none / 0) (#251)
by porkchop_d_clown on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 11:07:39 AM EST

I guess the big problem (in real life) is that none of the countries that we have bases in are willing to spend as much as we do on defense. I mean, Europe regularly embarasses itself with it's inability to actually send troops someplace - even in it's own backyard - without US help.

On the flip side, this does offer a big political advantage to both the US and the Europeans. The US gets to ensure "compliance" with it's defense goals and strategy, and Europe gets a sugar daddy/bogie man who they can alternately blame and suck up to depending on their needs.

I'm willing to bet, however, that if someone really beat a drum about how much we (in the USA) spend to support all those bases you would see some changes right damn quick.


--
Knock Knock.


[ Parent ]
George W. Bush (1.00 / 2) (#253)
by KPU on Mon Mar 04, 2002 at 11:56:24 AM EST

We all know GWB's strategy. He just doesn't want to be tried himself. He was elected undemocratically, he has commited numerous crimes against intelligence (humanity), and I'm sure Camp X-Ray also applies. I'm still waiting for the trains to run on time. Maybe that's why he's so secretive about everything.

US opposition (5.00 / 1) (#319)
by kpeerless on Wed Mar 06, 2002 at 08:32:07 PM EST

The heart of the matter is that the US government does not have friends, only interests. I can think of no endeavour in the past 60 years in which the US government acted out of friendship. They like others to be friendly, but reciprocate only when it is in their own best interests.

Start from there and everything comes clear.

And regarding interests... (none / 0) (#321)
by ariux on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 01:51:49 AM EST

...lately, increasingly short-term ones, which is rather alarming to watch. Long-term interests rarely involve racking up a world full of enemies.

[ Parent ]

It's a bit scary... (none / 0) (#323)
by ariux on Thu Mar 07, 2002 at 02:46:19 AM EST

...that a 36% plurality of the poll respondents feel not only that an international court would need no safeguards to prevent it from overstepping its jurisdiction, but also that its proceedings should be shielded from public critique.

Anyone who voted that way, would you feel the same way about your own national courts?

US wants UN tribunals closed. | 332 comments (330 topical, 2 editorial, 0 hidden)
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