The Daily Demarche
The El Salvador Model for Iraq
is running a great piece
by Dr. Nimrod Raphaeli on the upcoming elections in Iraq, citing an editorial in the Iraqi daily Al-Sabah that
"urged the Iraqis to vote despite the dangers of terrorism. It reminded them of the experience in El-Salvador in 1982 when that country, like Iraq today, was subjected to terrorist activities. Under popular pressure, the elections were held on schedule, and the election of a parliament and a new government was a turning point leading to the decline of terrorism. It says the example is applicable to Iraq and "the Iraqis should not be afraid of terrorism but, on the contrary, they should confront it because the terrorists are cowards when confronted with the will of the people."
Dr. Raphaeli also gives a very candid, lucid description of what Iraqi voters can expect to face on what promises to be a dangerous and perhaps confusing
election day, and reminds readers that "the elections are not a magic wand that will solve the country's burning security issues and they will not necessarily lead quickly to democratic and stable government." (Note: Expat Iraqis will be able to vote outside of Iraq as well, including in the U.S.
) He breaks down the risks inherent in the elections as follows:
Attacks on even a few polling stations on polling day may deter many Iraqis from voting.
An abstention of the majority of the Sunni population from voting may create, under the proportional representation system, a lopsided Shi'a majority in the National Assembly which could call into question the legitimacy of the results.
The leading list sponsored by Ayatollah al-Sistani heavily represents Shi'ite parties with strong connections to Iran. It is yet to be determined whether these parties, once they gain the majority in the National Assembly, will follow an independent nationalist course or will fall prey to Iranian ambitions and schemes for Iraq.
It is too soon to discount the possibility that the Kurds may boycott the elections if their demands to declare Kirkuk as a Kurdish city do not materialize.
There are approximately 26 candidates for every seat in the national assembly. One will be elected but 25 will be left out. Likely claims of fraud could undermine the results of the elections.
The vast majority of the Iraqi people have never participated in free and competitive elections. It has yet to be established whether the average Iraqi voter has the political maturity to exercise his/her right to vote in a responsible manner.
These are all very real issues that must be recognized. With the Sunnis withdrawing from the elections, OBL calling for a boycott and assassination attempts on Shia leadership, the probability of a viable electoral process grows smaller every day.
In these crucial days the terrible tragedy that has befallen a huge swath of South Asia has dominated the news, and much of the world's attention has been shifted away from Iraq. While our humanitarian duties cannot be denied, we need to stay focused on Iraq as well. The situation is not helped by the behind the scenes "war of information" that is going on, resulting in often or dated information able to be relayed to the public.
Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage is traveling to Syria this week to discuss infiltrations of terrorists into Iraq, and reportedly visiting Turkey and Jordan (neighbors of Iraq) as well. This visit could be very important as we reach out to the Arab world, which is itself divided over the upcoming elections:
"...the Sunni-dominated governments of Iraq's Arab neighbors have expressed deep unease at elections expected to usher in the first Arab Shiite government. In an editorial Tuesday, the pro-government Egyptian daily Al Ahram echoed concerns Sunni Arab Iraqis would be disenfranchised, which it said would lead to more sectarian violence."
The similarities between the situation in Iraq and those in El Salvador in the early 1980's are many- terrorists control large areas of the country, the electorate is intimidated and the elections will occur to the soundtrack of gun fire and bombs. The outcome of this first free election will ultimately shape the future of Iraq as it did El Salvador, but it can also shape the future of the region in ways the 1982 election could not. For all that many critcs have decried the El Salvador model for Iraq, commonly asking why we do not want a more American model. Of course these are the same critics that accuse the U.S. of imperialism for trying to spread any democracy to the region. I can't imagine that any sane person would not want to see an "American" model in Iraq, by which I mean a stable democracy in which all peoples are represented and contested elections do not lead to sectarian violence. But for this election the people of Iraq need to find the courage to exercise their franchise- and if the spirit of El Salvador in 1982 helps Iraqis to "get out the vote" all I can say is viva la democracia!
The "Tortilla Curtain"
In the pre-dawn hours of the night the small group of people, mostly men in their late teens and early twenties, crouches along the side of a raised road. The "runners", young men hired to sneak as far as they can into an area known to have sensors or patrols, then to scatter like birds when accosted, sneak out into the darkness away from the group. While border patrol agents hunt them down the "coyote" will slip his golden geese away from the patrols. The signal comes down the line and the group heads quietly out into the open desert. It's punishingly cold, especially for those from the far southern regions of the country. Tomorrow will be hot, with no relief from the sun. The risks are huge, the potential payoff enormous. At least half of the group is wishing they had the $100 they plunked down for a visa interview (and maybe more for some fake documents). Added to the $1000 or more they are paying the "coyote" who is leading them this has been an expensive and increasingly dangerous venture...
That is not the opening of a cheesy novel, it is the reality on the border, every night. Immigration issues and immigration reform are one of the foremost challenges facing America in the coming years. We absorb wave after wave of illegal immigrants, estimated at 1,500,000 per year, who we are conditioned to refer to as "undocumented" (just as we refer to UFO sightings) instead of the newly pejorative "illegal alien" and little or nothing is done to stem the flow.
There are calls from within and without to reform our policy (meaning let more people in), assault on the men and women who are charged with stopping illegal immigrants in their own countries, and cries of "Pardon" from all sides of the political spectrum. American immigration issues make headlines as far away as Turkey. Even people in positions of authority who one would expect to know better say amazing things:
"Some of the hardest-working and most productive people in this city are undocumented aliens. If you come here and you work hard and you happen to be in an undocumented status, you're one of the people who we want in this city. You're somebody that we want to protect, and we want you to get out from under what is often a life of being like a fugitive, which is really unfair."- Rudolph W Giuiliani
How many illegals do you suppose answered this siren song? Just talking about reform seems to cause an increase in illegal border crossings from Mexico: in FY05 to date arrests at the border are up 15%, every time an amnesty is alleged to be in the works there is a surge in illegal entries.
Rudy, repeat after me: entering the U.S. without proper documentation is ILLEGAL. From the moment an illegal enters the U.S. he is a fugitive- and that is not unfair, it is a fact. The poor American who robs to feed his children goes to jail when caught. There is no amnesty, no "special status." This madness needs to be confronted head on and stopped. I agree that there are problems with our current system, but amnesty is not the answer.
From President Bush:
"First, we want our border patrol agents chasing crooks and thieves and drug runners and terrorists, not good-hearted people who are coming here to work," he said. He also put illegal immigration in another unusual context, one that in its reference to "values" harked back to the presidential campaign: "Family values do not stop at the Rio Grande River, is what I used to tell the people of my state. People are coming to put food on the table..."
Mr. President, I agree with you 100% on what should be the primary mission of the border patrol, but the "good-hearted" people you are referring to are "crooks" as defined by the current immigration laws of America. Family values may not respect national borders, but individuals must. If 1.5 million armed individuals came across that border there would be no talk of how good-hearted they are.
After 9-11 the student visa program in the U.S. received a lot of attention, but by and large immigration issues are not matters of great public interest. For information on quotas, "chain migration" and the many types of legal immigration check out the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), the section Immigration Basics has a lot of valuable information.
Our Consular officers have one of the most difficult and least understood jobs in the Foreign Service. In some places the wait for a visa interview exceeds 18 months- an interview which might last less than four minutes, and has a better than even chance of ending in a denial. Every day economic refugees throng our embassies and consulates. I can't blame them, and as a young officer doing visa interviews in Mexico on my first tour I tried to see the lies and fraud as a compliment- America still represents the land of opportunity to many people around the world. But this time of year another group passes through our visa offices, those who have been in the US for years and have returned home for the holidays.
These are the repeat offenders of the immigration saga, and no one really knows how many there are. They make their appointments far in advance, often buying fraudulent documents to help convince the Consular officer that they are legitimate, that they have strong ties to their home country. They are willing to risk $100, the cost of booking an interview for a visa that is usually valid for 10 years, to avoid the trek through the desert. Many have lived in America for so long their Spanish is degraded, or they have picked up accents not native to their homeland.
Every day the Consular Officers will speak with 100 or more applicants (that number is much lower than the pre 9-11 interviewing days, when 300 per day was not uncommon) trying to sort out the truth from the half-truths and the lies. They are looking for illegal immigrants, true, but also looking for the next Mohammed Atta. If they are in Latin America they know many of those they reject will simply leave the building and head for el norte. The applicants and the Officers both know that if they manage to get through the "tortilla curtain" the game is basically over. And now our politicians are telling the folks manning the consular lines and the border patrol agents that all of their hard work means nothing: these "undocumented" folks are good people who we want to protect once they reach America. Stop 'em if you can boys, but once they get here we might as well make them legal. This message is devastatingly wrong to send to our FSOs and Border Patrol Agents, and to those who would break the law in anticipation of both reward and pardon.
to be continued...
Foreign Aid for Tsunami Victims
Cheese and Crackers
is running a good piece about the foreign aid the world is sending to the countries devastated by the earthquake spawned tsunamis over the Christmas holiday (he also has a link to some amateur video of the waves coming in- amazing, scary stuff).
As usual America is giving the lion's share, and as usual we're being lionized.
Some of you may recall the series we ran on foreign aid here:
Can't Buy Me Love
Foreign Aid II-... First do no harm.
Foreign Aid III- Good money after bad
I said then that we should always be prepared to give humanitarian aid, and in this case I think we can give more than the $15 million we've pledged. The difference between Jan Egeland
and me is that I'm an American, these are my country's resources, and it is my right to call on my government to spend them. I want to see the U.N. push the E.U., as a body, to match the dollar contributions that we make to the world.
You've reached the end of this rant too, go see Cheese and Crackers
The little things.
This will be a short one. I was talking to a coworker today, who is a native of this EU country, about the holiday. I had some visitors, and we went to a cafe at one point for a €4 cup of no-free-refills coffee. After a 20 minute game of "where is the waiter" the subject of tipping came up, and I explained that the server made more money than most of the folks I know at home, certainly more than our front line troops in Iraq, so you generally just round up or leave €1.
Tipping became the focus of today's conversation. My Euro coworker complained that in the U.S. the servers are always bothering you to pump up their tip. I countered with the fact that you have to really struggle to get help here, and that the lower hourly rate and dependence on tips in the U.S. helps to ensure good service. The reply to this:
"All of the servers should go on strike until the government forces the restaurants to pay them more."
Work for your money? Why bother.
You have reached the end of this rant, ignore the link below.
T-minus 30 and counting...
As the crowds gather later this week in New York, London, Berlin etc to count down the seconds remaining until the New Year (at least according to the Gregorian calendar) tens of thousands of coalition troops and millions of Iraqis will begin their own countdown. The January 30th elections are fast approaching, and only two things are certain. The violence that is ravaging Iraq will only get worse in the days ahead, and the entire world will be watching- some no doubt hoping for failure, but many more praying for success.
Questions still abound at this late date- what will the turnout be overall? Will the Sunnis vote in substantial numbers, or even vote at all? How will absentee votes be handled? Most importantly, how will the results of the election be legitimized? The forces that oppose democracy in Iraq, and by extension the entire Middle East, need not stop the elections, or even drastically reduce the turnout. They need only keep away the international observers who can lend credence to the elections, and the path is cleared for descent into civil war.
The Iraqis have invited the EU, the Arab League, the OSCE and others to observe the elections; but with coalition forces most likely leaving security to the Iraqi military and police to avoid allegations of coercion many groups are reluctant to send observers. According to the Financial Times:
International bodies are only now firming up arrangements to watch the vote. Elections Canada, an independent body, hosted a first meeting of seven national bodies in Ottawa last week to set up a "neutral and impartial mission" for Iraq. Jean-Pierre Kingsley, Canada's chief electoral officer, said a final decision on whether to send international observers, or how many, had yet to be made.
History will ultimately view this election, not the 2000 or 2004 U.S. Presidential election, as one of the most important moments in the development of democracy. The legitimacy of the process in Iraq must be established and attested to in order to prove without a doubt that democracy and the Middle East are not anathema. In order for that to occur security needs to be as tight as possible. While 100% security is a pipe dream, the perception of insecurity can be greatly reduced.
I am no drum-beater for the UN, but this is a golden opportunity for the ladies and gentlemen in New York to shine. Regardless of one's opinion of the President, or pre-emptive war, no peace loving nation can deny the importance of these elections. The time has come to put down the slings and arrows, for at least a few weeks, and focus the might of the world on Iraq. Where are the Peace Keepers this nation so badly needs? Options beyond the U.N. include the deployment of peace keeping forces more acceptable to the "insurgents". The Wall Street Journal ran an editorial last week calling for more Muslim troops in Iraq- from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Indonesia in particular to help provide security during the election. Many of these troops would be Sunnis, thus in theory acceptable in the Sunni Triangle. I have little doubt that these troops would come under attack, and their national leaders must surely know this. Their unwillingness to put troops in harms way solidifies their tacit approval of the "insurgent" goal of disruption of democratic processes, and is empirical proof that other Sunni Muslims realize, and approve of, the "insurgent" goal of Sunni led civil war.
Critics claimed that elections in Afghanistan were not possible, and they were wrong. Claims that a 30 January election in Iraq is impossible may not be so incorrect. The time has come for the world to decide and act on the following- is access to democracy a priority for all, or just for some? Are basic human rights (and by that I mean truly basic: life and liberty) to be sought for all- men and women, Muslim and Christian, Sunni and Shia? Are the throngs that protested the toppling of an evil man and the destruction of his murderous regime prepared to support the establishment of a democracy in this troubled region? Every reformer in the Middle East and the Muslim world beyond is watching Iraq. Either one group or the other will be disappointed after the election: the group that hopes for liberal reform, and the betterment of all mankind or the group that plots for reform via repression, intolerance and terror.
Let's hope it is the latter.
Happy New Year! T-minus thirty, twenty-nine, twenty-eight...
Peace on Earth, Goodwill Toward Men -- My Christmas Manifesto
“Peace on Earth, good will toward men.” This is a common refrain around Christmas time; one hears it often – at least if one lives in a country where Christmas is celebrated. Such an impressive formulation, but what does it mean? I always thought that wanting peace on earth was a good thing, that it is natural to want there to be no conflict anywhere on the planet.
Clearly, I was naive.
Peace, apparently, means a lot of things to a lot of people. For the multitudes that took to the streets in Europe and the US in the run-up to the most recent war in Iraq, “peace” apparently means allowing a cruel, unreconstructed Stalinist to remain in power. Marching for “peace” also means making common cause with retrograde elements of the Muslim community who would like to see women garbed in a Burqa and beaten if they failed to obey, as some radical feminist groups in Britain did immediately prior to the war. Apparently some people love the ephemeral notion of “peace” so much that they would band together with their natural enemy in order to agitate on behalf of a regime which invaded two countries and whose operatives gassed their own countrymen. In doing so, by the way, these “peace lovers” overtly and explicitly equated the leader of the world’s oldest democracy, the country responsible for the liberation of countless millions of individuals from oppression, with Adolf Hitler, the man whose policies and aggression led to the deaths of millions of people.
Political liberalism, a belief system whose tenets I have always held dear, has been dying a slow death within me since 9/11. The values of liberalism that I have always cherished, that I have always regarded as the lodestar of my personal life, included such worthy concepts as respect for individual rights and for freedom of choice. A liberal, in my comprehension, stood for the rights of all people to achieve what they could do. Liberals supported the rights of women, minorities, and homosexuals to live ordinary lives free from oppression by either government or society. Liberals opposed communism because it oppressed the common man under the guise of struggling for his salvation. Liberals believed that, given the freedom and the opportunity, men and women would strive to better themselves.
In short, the kind of liberalism I believe in didn’t induce people to rally on behalf of a status quo that had already resulted in the murder of thousands, while comparing an American President to a Nazi leader. Somewhere along the way, a great many liberals stopped believing in right and wrong and started believing in the Church of the Evil George Bush.
I don’t know when, but at some point, political liberalism in America shifted. Rather than take a stand for things, liberals began to delineate themselves by what they stood against: George Bush. Rather than join a national discussion on the threat posed to America and the West by Islamic fascism, many liberals chose to circumvent meaningful discussion and simply blame America. In kaffeeklatsches around the world, wave after wave of meaningless epithets tumbled from the lips of liberal chatting classes. Chimerical concepts such as “neoconservative,” “imperialism,” and “unilateralism” filled the air. Apparently, for many liberals, it became easier to repeat hackneyed cliches than to actually formulate a coherent opinion. While there was plenty of room for thoughtful, cogent criticism of the Administration and its policies, many liberals decided simply to agree that the President was bad without asking what, if anything they would have done in his shoes. The left finally found, in Michael Moore, its own Rush Limbaugh: a fat, petulant, noxious, partisan blowhard.
While hating George Bush and marching with Islamic radicals in the name of “peace” may be a balm to the troubled leftist’s soul, it does absolutely nothing to help secure peace on earth. Sometimes, peace can only be secured by force of arms. And, in many cases, the only nation possessed of the wherewithal to deliver that force of arms happens to be the United States of America. Certainly America is not the only nation that realizes this, many other nations are willing to join in the cause.
In this holiday period, when the word “peace” is on everybody’s lips, some points bear repeating: wishing for “peace on earth” does not make it so. Many of the people who live free and in peace today do so because someone was willing to lay down their ploughshare, pick up a sword, and fight for it. In many cases, that person was a young American who interrupted his own life to fight for the freedom of others. Many of these individuals gave the ultimate sacrifice: if you’re not sure what I mean, book your next vacation to Normandy and stroll through the cemeteries.
This continues today in Iraq. Once again, much of the left acquits itself not by offering constructive criticism, but by performing an end run around the notion of freedom for Iraqis. Part of it comes from the soft racism of “intellectuals” who believe that Arabs are not suited to democracy. Part of it comes from the fact that much of the left simply has its head up its ass. Rather than offering support for Iraq and Iraqis, much of the left merely asserts that this war was fought for oil and corporate interests. That’s great: now they don’t have to worry about what happens. They don’t have to care what happens in Iraq. By debasing the cause of the war, many on the left have no need to struggle with the old fashioned notion that freedom and democracy can occur in Iraq. It was, after all, fought for oil, and those silly Arabs just aren’t cut out for democracy.
This holiday season, I’m thankful that somewhere, there are men and women who have sacrificed so that I can enjoy the freedoms that I have. We who have freedom owe a debt of thanks to those men and women of all nationalities who are willing to stand in harm’s way so that we can live the lives we do. To those of all nationalities standing up for freedom in Iraq, Afghanistan and anywhere else, I offer my most profound admiration, humble respect, and deepest thanks. The world will be better because brave individuals like you took a stand for freedom and democracy. May you continue to fight the good fight, and may you return safely to your homes and loved ones when your duty is completed. And in the final accounting, when your labors are finally completed, may we finally know the true meaning of the words “peace on earth, good will toward men.”
Hope- part 2.
Not much time to work on my last piece today, but I did find two other similar themes on some of my favorite blogs.
The first, Some Thoughts on Iraq
from The Sundries Shack
offers the following explanation of what we are doing in Iraq today. This is just a small excerpt, check out the whole piece:
We’re not fighting a war. We’re not there as occupiers. We’re there in a far more important, but infinitely more dangerous role: bodyguard.
Think about it for a moment. The Iraqi people are, right now, weak and unable to defend themselves against the enemies who want to take over their country. They’ve been made weak by decades of horrific abuse, conditioning that tells them that only the strongest brute in the crowd should be the leader, and supposedly benign nations who took advantage of them to the tune of billions of dollars. They have no army - it fell apart as soon as we defeated it (since it was made up primarily of conscripts who had to be forced to serve and lackeys of the former regime). They have no idea how to stand up on their own and run their own affairs. They don’t know how to build a democratic government, though they very much want to. In short, even after a couple of years they’re easy meat for the ravening wolves howling around them.
All they have is us and those who have chosen to stand with us. They need us desperately to stand between them and those who want them so badly to fail. They need us to stand there and take the mortar attacks and suicide bombers and roadside IEDs because, quite honestly, they can’t take that load yet. They need us to suck up the damage that would collapse their nation in a heartbeat while they learn how to be strong and proud again.
I welcome any liberal comeback to that passage. Please explain to me how you can opppose an action that meets this description. Once we have helped the Iraqis to build a stable, solid democracy we can send plane loads of malcontents to Fallujah to teach them how to exercise the rights our nation's finest are securing for them today. Until then, I'll keep the image of bodyguard close to hand.
I found the second, "A Little Girl Saved Them", on the Power and Control
blog (they got it from LGF.
who got it from Blackfive.
) The story is credited to "Mark" A USMC GySgt in Iraq. There is, of course, no way to verify this story, but it's Christmas, and I want to believe it. There is also no way to provide a piece of this without ruining it, so here is the whole story (but please visit the linked sources too, worth the read):
Just wanted to write to you and tell you another story about an experience we had over here.
As you know, I asked for toys for the Iraqi children over here and several people (Americans that support us) sent them over by the box. On each patrol we take through the city, we take as many toys as will fit in our pockets and hand them out as we can. The kids take the toys and run to show them off as if they were worth a million bucks. We are as friendly as we can be to everyone we see, but especially so with the kids. Most of them don't have any idea what is going on and are completely innocent in all of this.
On one such patrol, our lead security vehicle stopped in the middle of the street. This is not normal and is very unsafe, so the following vehicles began to inquire over the radio. The lead vehicle reported a little girl sitting in the road and said she just would not budge. The command vehicle told the lead to simply go around her and to be kind as they did. The street was wide enough to allow this maneuver and so they waved to her as they drove around.
As the vehicles went around her, I soon saw her sitting there and in her arms she was clutching a little bear that we had handed her a few patrols back. Feeling an immediate connection to the girl, I radioed that we were going to stop. The rest of the convoy paused and I got out the make sure she was OK. The little girl looked scared and concerned, but there was a warmth in her eyes toward me. As I knelt down to talk to her, she moved over and pointed to a mine in the road.
Immediately a cordon was set as the Marine convoy assumed a defensive posture around the site. The mine was destroyed in place.
It was the heart of an American that sent that toy. It was the heart of an American that gave that toy to that little girl. It was the heart of an American that protected that convoy from that mine. Sure, she was a little Iraqi girl and she had no knowledge of purple mountain's majesty or fruited plains. It was a heart of acceptance, of tolerance, of peace and grace, even through the inconveniences of conflict that saved that convoy from hitting that mine. Those attributes are what keep Americans hearts beating. She may have no affiliation at all with the United States, but she knows what it is to be brave and if we can continue to support her and her new government, she will know what it is to be free. Isn't that what Americans are, the free and the brave?
If you sent over a toy or a Marine (US Service member) you took part in this. You are a reason that Iraq has to believe in a better future. Thank you so much for supporting us and for supporting our cause over here.
GySgt / USMC
More to come on this.
Hope for Reformers Will Come From Iraq- or else.
I am going to work on this piece over the holidays, but for now here is the first draft- watch for updates. For some time the opposition to the war in Iraq has troubled and puzzled me. I've been thinking about it a lot lately.
Search the web for news about Iraq and you will find hundreds, if not thousands of sites advocating withdrawal form Iraq. The Secretary General of the U.N. calls the war illegal. A presidential candidate called it “the wrong war, in the wrong place at the wrong time.” “Viet Nam” metaphors abound. Kidnapping victims facing brutal, agonizing deaths plead for withdrawal to save their lives. Terrorists reached out and killed in Madrid, changing the balance of power in an election and the coalition shrunk. Protestors at home scream “Imperialism” and chant tired slogans.
Lately I’ve been asking myself “Was invading Iraq wrong, and are we doing the right thing in Iraq today?”. We went to Iraq searching for WMD. Saddam had them at one point, no one disputes that- after all he used them on the Kurds in Iraq. He had well known links to terror organizations, and had 12 years to prove to the world that he did not posses WMD. My conclusion is that we had no choice but to go in. If Saddam had no connection to 9-11 then one can rest assured that the dealers of death in the name of God would not have been long in calling on him for the next attack. Anyone who doubts that the Islamo-fascist regimes and entities would use WMD against us is delusional. We must take every action possible to deter an attack with the potential to kill and injure tens of thousands of Americans. Never before have so few had the potential to harm so many. Every jihadist killed in Iraq will not attack Disneyland. Every nation that realizes that we will protect ourselves through pre-emptive strike is less likely to support the Osama bin Ladens of the world.
But when we determined that to all appearances he had no WMD, what should we have done? Recalled the troops and left Iraq alone? I shudder to think of who would have filled that vacuum.
The next few years in Iraq are the anvil on which the future of the Middle East will be forged. Democracy must succeed in Iraq. Not America, not the West, not Liberalism with a capital “L”, but small “l” liberalism. There are voices calling for reform from within the ME, not many, to be sure, and not loudly yet, but they are there. And the owners of those voices are watching intently. The Islamo-fascists who seek 4 million dead Americans and a globe encircled by Islam are watching too. We need to get the message out that America is serious about freedom and democracy around the world, and that Iraq is merely the next step. Afghanistan was the first, and they recently held successful national elections, but may already be slipping from the American psyche. What next? Libya has already got the message. Good news emerged from the Dubai Conference. Egypt and Jordan are coming around- calling on Iraqis to unite as Arabs and set aside factional differences (of course not all Iraqis are Arab, but it is a start). Finally, and most importantly for the future of the region, every reformer in the ME who can look to Iraq and see a democracy take root will be given hope.
The struggle for Iraq, and ultimately the region and quite literally the future of the world as we know it will not be easy. We need to apply perspective. While every life lost in Iraq is a tragedy, America lost 295,000 dead in WWII- a war to save the world too, and one in which we elected to take the fight to an enemy that had not yet attacked us, but who posed a bigger risk over the enemy that. Our options are limited now, much as they were then- fight now, fight later at potentially much greater cost, or surrender. That war started for us in 1941. It ended in 1989. This war started some years ago, it is hard to pinpoint when exactly, but the October 23, 1981 bombing of the Marine Barracks in Lebanon might be a good point to start. For 20 years we pretended there was no war. In 2001 we came to our senses, and realized this is a war. Let’s not lose them now.
More to come on this.
Get your own theme!
The National Review Online
ripped me off! OK, so maybe they didn't rip me off, but I have managed to convince myself that Carlos Ramos-Mrosovsky has been reading this blog! In a NRO piece titled A Fake Country
he opens with
The European Union is held together by nothing more than anti-Americanism.
OK, the rest of the article bears little resemblance to my post, but still! According to the authors blurb at the end:
Carlos Ramos-Mrosovsky, a former NR intern, is a student at Harvard Law School and a graduate of Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.
While I am glad to see a solid Republican at Harvard I believe we are going to have to ask to vet his thesis! Until that time Mr. Ramos-Mrosovsky has an open invitation to blog with us whenever he wants!
While you are reading stuff elsewhere check out this surprising Op-Ed in the NY Times: Make No Mistake
by David Brooks. Good stuff!
(You have reached the end of this post, ignore the link below.)
Turkey- with a side of guilt.
We have had several comments and e-mails asking us to comment on the renewed calls for Turkey to take responsibility for the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians in the World War One era, the age of the "Young Turks" at the end of the Ottoman Empire. I can only say that I do not know enough about the history of the region to make a statement about the veracity of the Armenian claims. I do know that hundreds of thousands died, on all sides (including Churchill's forces at Gallipolli), and that whatever occurred, it was a tragedy for peoples of many nationalities.
I will comment on the calls for acknowledgement of guilt, however. I find it interesting that France
is the rabble rouser here, and can't help but wonder if this is a sublime ploy to keep Turkey out of the E.U. With her well documented problems in dealing with the resident Muslim population, and perennial double digit unemployment, do the French really want 73 million more Muslims to have unfettered access to the Cannes film fest? The French are careful to say that acknowledging guilt is not a deal breaker- but ten years is a long time, a lot can happen across the table, and under it, during ten years of negotiations.
Maybe I am wrong though, giving the French too much credit. Could it be that the member nations of the E.U. are once again projecting their demons onto a scapegoat? Germany is guilt ridden over the Holocaust, the British still flagellate themselves over "the troubles" in Ireland, France continues to fight colonial wars, and the rest of Europe knows removing Saddam was the right thing to do. So what's a group of hand-wringing Eurocrats to do? Point the finger, expose the (purported) guilt of another. Who knows, maybe this is simply the first of twelve steps to joining the E.U. I imagine it would go something like this:
"Hi. My name is Turkey. I have a genocide (insert loaded word here) in my past I need to face."
"Hi, Turkey! Now for Step 2- do you believe that the E.U. is a power greater than yourselves, and can restore you to sanity?"*
This is not to belittle the deaths of the untold number of people who died in the region, Armenians, Turks and others, in the War to End All Wars. I do not believe in collective, inherited guilt and find it hard to pass the blame (if there is any) of a long gone Empire on to a nation that did not exist at the time. I welcome any and all comments or e-mails from readers who are more knowledgeable about the history involved, perhaps some of you can shed some light on the subject. As for me, I'll continue to be skeptical about the Eurocrats, and to watch this very closely.
* Please don't send me any hate-mail about belittling 12 Step Programs. They seem to help many people and I am glad for them. If this offended you, get your own blog and complain about me. Just be sure to blogroll us!
Bashing America- come together, right now!
In my last post, about mainly European anti-Americanism (Hate America...below), I tried to make the point that this is not a new phenomenon, and not directly attributable to the election, and re-election of George W. Bush. The Europeans have long cast aspersions at America for a variety of reasons (by the way, see Expat Yank's "TOCQUEVILLE, AMERICA-HATER?"
for some excellent follow up on one of the quotes I used). It seems that in the process of reinventing the wheel, i.e. cobbling together their "union", they have found a new reason to bash the U.S. It gives them that which they appear to desperately need at times- something to agree on.
The Hoover Digest
has an excellent piece on this matter which describes the current trend in anti-Americanism in Europe as "characterized by an ongoing loss of reality." Those of us serving in the Euro-zone have all had experiences with this. While the current atmosphere here can in no manner be described as one in which Americans are constantly assaulted, there is a definite disconnect. Kyoto is a perfect example of this, as The Diplomad
parodied recently. While the Euros failed
to hit almost every check point in the vaunted plan, all that they care to talk about is the reluctance of the U.S. to buy a berth on a clearly sinking ship. However, they are all on the same page, and that is what matters. From the Hoover piece:
... most Europeans experience the E.U. as a primarily bureaucratic matter, lacking any compelling ideals or deep principles that could stir the hearts of the public. Anti-Americanism has filled that gap; it has become the European ideology of the hour, providing an emotional underpinning for a unified Europe that stands for nothing of its own, except its distance from Washington. The incapacity of the Europeans to act in concert, particularly in foreign policy matters, only adds fuel to the fire. Anti-Americanism is much less about the character of American actions than about the European inability to act at all.
Where else can we find this type of thinking? How about in the mosques and madrasas of the fundementalist Middle East? You read that right. I am indeed comparing the cohesive anti-Americanism of the E.U. to the "death to the Great Satan" wing of Islam. Foreign Affairs magazine ran a piece entitled "The Real Roots of Arab Anti-Americanism" in the November/December 2002 issue. (An excellent article, but you must be a subscriber or purchse it from the archives to read it in full.) Here is what I see as the heart of the matter as it relates to our current theme:
First, whatever the extent of Americans' failure to understand the region, Middle Easterners' inability to understand the United States has been greater. Throughout the region, leaders and movements have always expected Washington to try to conquer them and wipe out its enemies-since, after all, this is what the locals would do if they controlled the world's most powerful country.
Now read that again, but with "the European elites" in place of "Middle Easterners'". Sound about right?
Where do the roots of this "ongoing loss of reality" lie? Put simply: they are in denial. Robert Kagan, in Of Paradise and Power points out that most Europeans:
do not see or do not wish to see the great paradox: that their passage into post-history has depended on the United States not making the same passage. Because Europe has neither the will nor the ability to guard its own paradise and keep it from being overrun, spiritually and well as physically, by a world that has yet to accept the rule of “moral consciousness,” it has become dependent on America’s willingness to use its military might to deter or defeat those around the world who still believe in power politics.
As Europe attempts to come to grips with terrorism at home and the cancer that is brewing in many of it's state supported mosques and schools the powers that be are going to have to face the paradox squarely. President Bush has committed America to defeating the terrorists that seek our destruction. Europe, through the E.U. is poised to either follow suit and take responsibilty for her own security, or become "Eurabia."
I am not saying that every Muslim in Europe is a threat, nor should they be viewed that way. I am saying that America is not the threat. America did not kill Theo van Gogh as he rode his bike down the street. French prisons are not crowded with militant Americans who are recruiting for the Yankee jihad.
I have to ask: Is Europe ready to face the facts and take action to protect the millions of people who live in the "unified" countries? Unfortunately I fear not. Just listen to Franck Frégosi, "a researcher for the European Society, Law and Religion research centre at Strasbourg’s Robert Schuman University... A specialist in contemporary Islam in France and Europe":
The question, indeed the challenge, is not so much one of adapting Islam to our European society but of adapting our society to Islam.
The Euros appear poised to throw in the towel (again). Confronting Islam, or any if the myriad problems facing the E.U. will be serious, difficult work. There are no easy answers. And so better to spout off in the manner French Foreign minister Hubert Vedrine who was quoted* as saying that "America's role in 20th-century European history did not give it the rights of a sixteenth member of the European Union." It apparently only gives the rest of the world to vote in our elections.
[*note- I could not find this quote, only references to it]
My Computer Sucks, But Turkey Could Join the EU
First of all, I’d like to say that my computer sucks. I’ve had to reinstall Windows something like five times since I bought the goddamn thing. It’s enough to make a diplomat cry all over his memos.
In between bouts of hysteria, I’ve been thinking about Turkey a lot. Naturally, our readers will be aware that Turkey recently received a green light to begin accession talks with the EU, starting next year. While Tayyip Erdogan has received some criticism back home for some of the provisions of the accession agreement, notably over Cyprus, generally speaking, he has done well to get an agreement out of the EU.
Ultimately I think both parties stand to gain tremendously from this arrangement, and I have to take my hat off to the EU for stepping to the plate. Various readers, familiar with the tone of this site and, to a greater extent, that of our colleagues at the Diplomad, may well gag at the thought of this, but I have to give credit where credit is due. While Europe is culpable on many fronts for many things, the EU deserves credit for having the spine to take on the Turkish question.
Ultimately, I think both entities are going to grow out of this. Turkey will do well because in the process of meeting accession goals it will have to, as has already begun to do, continue to adapt its legislation and culture to various aspects of Western culture that the West believes are universal. It will need to continue to progress on human rights issues, including with the Kurds, and it will need to begin increasing tolerance of the Orthodox Christian minority that lives within its borders. In all likelihood, it will have to make some kind of accommodation with the EU regarding the massacre of Armenians in Eastern Turkey between 1915-1923. In short, Turkey will continue along the trajectory on which Ataturk put it when he founded the Turkish Republic in 1923.
For the United States, all of this is good news. While it still has room to grow, Turkey is one of two democratic countries in the Middle East (Israel is the other). It is also predominantly Muslim. Countries like Turkey prove that the soft racism implicit in the notion that Muslims can’t handle democracy is simply wrong. The more a nation like Turkey shows that it can be progressive and democratic while still containing a majority of Muslims, the more hope there is for other Islamic countries that there is a way forward.
Europe has a lot to gain from this as well. European countries have for centuries been relatively homogenous. Only recently has Europe begun to show a more multi cultural hue. European civil society has not been as accepting of this new situation; rather than accept the growing reality that Europe is going to be less white as time goes on, much of Europe has decided to ignore the problem. Thus, new immigrants from Africa and the Arab world have had a harder time assimilating into European culture.
This might have worked for a while, particularly when Europeans were able to sneer at America for things like the Jim Crow, segregation, and Rodney King. What many Europeans failed to understand is that such dirty laundry is aired so publicly in the United States as a result of America’s civil society, which openly struggles with such issues, causing debate and moving forward, albeit in a herky-jerky fashion, from the grassroots up.
Europe (I know I’m generalizing here) has no such mechanism - civil society in Europe is still based on elites dictating the agenda to the grass roots, rather than vice versa. This is why, in the UK for instance, rather than tackle the threatening behavior of some Muslims when they perceive an insult to their religion, the government is considering outlawing criticism of religion. Instead of standing up for the human right of free speech, the government limits it. Rather than generate a dialogue at the community level between various aspects of British civil society, including muslims and across a wide range of society, the government wants to take the path of least resistance and embolden the radical element in the Muslim community.
It is in this area where I believe that the gradual integration of Turkey can be of benefit to Europe. Europe’s future is now tied up, to a certain extent, with Turkey. No doubt some, if not all, European polities will want to have a say on Turkey’s EU accession. It is my hope that a strong debate on the nature of an EU with Turkey and, by extension, an acknowledgment of the reality that Europe is no longer just white Christians, will ensue.
Links restored- new post coming soon
Thanks for bearing with us, the technical problem with the links has been solved, and all of the links in the previous post (Hate America...) have been restored. In addition, the closing quote from the Asia Times has been expanded to it's original content
. I think it is even more powerful this way. I'll continue this thread over the weekend, but in the meantime recommend these two pieces at "American Future
", a daily read for me:
US vs. EU: The Use of Force
: Reading "Hate America -- Defeat the UN
?" at The Daily Demarche prompted me to write the following:
I recently started reading Jeremy Rabkin's "The Case for Sovereignty" and think that the following quote is a propos: Since international authority cannot compel the deployment of force, it cannot readily protect nations when force may be needed. And if it cannot protect nations, it cannot readily control what they do to protect themselves . (to read the rest follow the link above to AF).
A Nixonian Moment?
: Recalling that Nixon's impeccable anti-communist credentials enabled him to open the door to Red China (as it used to be called), Legal Fiction argues
that Bush's credentials would allow him to open the Iranian door without incurring a hysterical domestic backlash.
While this is probably true, Legal Fiction ignores crucial differences. Establishing diplomatic relations with China was a central element of Nixon's (and Kissinger's) triangular diplomacy. That diplomacy was, in turn, dedicated to the strategy of detente, which was predicated on the assumption that the Soviet Union would forever be a powerful force in world affairs. It was this assumption -- that since we couldn't beat them, we had to find a way to live with them -- that Reagan rejected. The rest, as they say, is history.
(To read the rest follow the link above to AF).
You have reached the end (or ned, if you prefer) of this piece-ignore the link below.
Hate America- defeat the U.N.?
After September 11th America engaged in a spasm of self-examination. Every pundit, talking head, editorial board and average Joe asked "Why do they hate us?"
A few choice quotes from around the globe tell the tale (at least in the haters eyes):
1. The American “heart is frozen, their society cold, their empire cruel.”
2. It is a country of “32 religions and only one dish … and even that [is] inedible.”
3. “I know of no country in which there is so little independence of mind and real freedom of discussion.”
4. “America is a mistake, a gigantic mistake.”
5. "The United States is “the most dangerous power the world has ever known.”
I am sure it would not surprise you to know the first three quotes are French, the fourth is Austrian and the last British. That we have issues in the Euro-zone is not earthshaking news. Consider this, though. Quote number one is from 1749, by the Comte de Buffon
a renowned French scientist. Number two is by Talleyrand
a famous French politician from the 1790s. Number three is by the French social philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville
(1835) who's book "Democracy in America
" is required reading for history and American Studies students across America. Quote number four is by Sigmund Freud
(1930) an Austrian psychiatrist you may have heard of. Number five is from 2001 by British playwright Harold Pinter
. These quotes come from Hating America: A History
by Barry Rubin, Judith Colp Rubin.
I am sure it would, however, surprise a great many of the home-grown anti-American apologists in America to find out that there is enough material out there to write a book on this subject that covers more than the last four years or so of history. My point? The reason they hate us is not George W. Bush, leader of the free world, and the situation is not likely to change anytime soon.
I'm not going to attempt to explain why they hate us, or the historical roots of anti-Americanism, many have already attempted to do so, and I'll allude to or quote some of those folks as we go along. My question is: "what does all of the ill will in the world towards America mean for us, and for the world, today?
Ambassador Charles J. Swindells, our Ambassador to New Zealand (never been there, so don't bother asking if that is where I am) gave an excellent speech to the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs in August 2004, addressing anti-Americanism. He took pains to clarify that we Americans do not feel "that factual, well-reasoned criticism of a U.S. Government policy or some aspect of American society is anti-American" and goes on to say that "if you have caused us to examine ourselves and re-examine the facts, if you have forced us to avoid complacency, you will have contributed to making the United States a better nation and Americans a better people."
We can take legitimate, reasoned, factual criticism. No cries of interference or violation of sovereignty, no pleas to the U.N. to make it stop. Imagine then, if tomorrow, as an American Diplomat I publicly decry the "honor killings" of women who have been raped which are going on throughout Islamic countries. The hue and cry would be tumultuous, and someone, perhaps a colleague or friend, could die for it. Think about that for a moment.
Farther into the speech the Ambassador goes on to pose a series of scenarios, all follwed by the question: " How should America respond to this?" Most of them are excellent, here is my favorite:
Failure to spend enough on defense to meet security needs will result in increased dependence on someone else and reduced ability to implement an independent foreign policy; How should America respond to this?
This is an especially powerfull theme, which drives the Euros insane. Couple this with the last major point the Ambassador makes, regarding the U.N, and you can see why. He points out that one of the ideals of the U.N. is collective security, and that to provide this security America plays a major role in everything the U.N. does from supplying the lions-share of the budget to peacekeeping, ergo sum filling the void.
He goes on to say:
"In order for collective security to work, it [U.N.]must aim for the security of all the members of the collective. Ignoring the real concerns of any member, including the United States, undermines collective security. Using UN institutions as a means to limit U.S. economic and military power, is not only doomed to failure, it undermines the very concept of collective security. Those who try to use the United Nations in this way... are not just anti-American -- they are anti-United Nations."
If that is indeed the case than anti-Americanism should tend to harm the rest of the world at least to the extent, if not more so, than it harms America. That was certainly the case for one unlucky French woman who is referred to in the New Zealand speech. She was killed four years ago when countrymen of hers, disgusted that people prefer hot fries to snails, blew up a franchise where the woman worked.
The Ambassador closes with a quote he credits to the N.Y. Times, which I have tracked down and quoted at greater length:*:
"Therein lies another exquisite irony: the costs of anti-Americanism will be borne not by Americans, but by others. And their numbers are vast: Cubans, North Koreans, Zimbabweans, and countless others suffer and starve under their respective tyrannies because the democratic world's chattering classes, obsessed with denouncing the United States, can't be bothered with holding their criminal regimes to account. Meanwhile, in Iraq, fascist rabble, with no discernible political program save a pledge to kill more Americans, try desperately to extinguish the slightest hope of democracy, economic growth, and stability for that long-suffering land; but the world, instead of helping to beat back the wolves at the door, basks in anti-American schadenfreude. How countless are the political problems, cultural pathologies, and humanitarian disasters that fester unnoticed, all over the globe, as the anti-American cult, wallowing in ecstatic bigotry, desperately scrutinizes every utterance of the Bush administration for new critical fodder.
Indeed, it is not the slightest exaggeration to say that in 2004, anti-American sentiment has become the biggest single obstacle to human progress. It sustains repressive dictatorships everywhere; excuses corruption, torture, the oppression of women, and mass murder; provides ideological oxygen for vile, stupid "revolutionary movements" like the Maoist insurgents in Nepal; and has even promoted the spread of disease (as when, for example, Europeans haughtily dismissed Bush's AIDS initiative as insincere - God forbid that they should concur with any policy of the wicked Bush, even at the cost of a few million more African lives). By focusing monomaniacally on "why America is wrong", instead of asking "what is right", the global anti-American elite has massively failed to fulfill the most fundamental responsibility of the intellectual class: to provide dispassionate, truthful analysis that can guide society to make proper decisions. And it has contemptuously cast aside the irreplaceable, post-Cold War opportunity to irreversibly consolidate the "liberal revolution" praised by Revel - in which inheres the only true hope of lasting, global peace and development - all in the name of redressing the gaping psychological insecurities of its members."
I firmly beleive that anti-Americanism is endangering the peoples of the world today. Every day regular Americans look at the world and say "let's just disengage, bring the troops home from South Korea and let's see what happens". My own mother has said this to me, watching South Korean students burn Old Glory on the news. Eventually, if enough people think this way, we will withdraw somewhat. Do I think this is a good idea? Not really, but it sure is tempting. I can easily imagine a situation similar in feel, if not in scope, to that which existed in America between the World Wars, returning today. The cop on the beat may need a rest.
I didn't mean to devote so much space to Ambassador Swindells' speech, but it really struck a chord with me. I hope you read the entire speech. In my next post I am going to offer why I think anti-Americanism may have become the E.U.'s raison d'etre, and try to further answer the question I started this post with.
*[Note: I couldn't find this on the Times website, but found it here, as part of a review of a book by a French author calling for support of America- wonders never cease!]
Quick Thank You
We have to say thanks to the blog "ORACULATIONS
". Since we started measuring our hits we have had more referrals from this site than anywhere but the Diplomad
. I have to warn you it is a bit different from this site- if only for some stronger language-but they must have a lot of readers, and I for one am really enjoying reading through it!
(nothing follows, ignore the link below)
There's no Nobel Prize for Logic
My apologies in advance: I'm fired up tonight. So fired up I almost spit my wine spritzer all over my pinstripes earlier today. Why?
I'm glad you asked. Let me explain.
In an earlier post
, I offered a modest proposal that the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, rather than give its pride and joy to the international flavor of the month, should buck up and give a prize to the various Iraqi bloggers who inhabit both sides of the political spectrum. At the time, I pointed out that it was the least they could do after giving the prize to people like Yasser Arafat and Jimmy Carter. I also noted that “some Kenyan woman” got the Nobel Peace Prize for “planting a bunch of trees.” (Actually, I called her “some Nigerian woman” until an astute reader pointed out that she was in fact Kenyan - thanks for that).
It turns out I was wrong.
Our most recent savior of the planet, er, Nobel laureate is more than a mere tree planter. In addition to her yeoman’s work in the field of growing things, she’s also apparently possessed of other helpful ideas as well.
Leaving aside for a moment the relative anonymity of her accomplishments, the likes of which the august Nobel committee has become expert at rewarding these days, one might be tempted to know what other wise saws this newly anointed font of knowledge has blessed us with.
I have one! It turns out that our newest guiding light on the road to world peace believes that AIDS was created in a lab as a biological weapon. Since she also points out that the majority of AIDS victims are Africans, the conclusion is fairly clear: AIDS was created in order to kill black people.
I remember those heady days when I believed that the UN equaled right and the Nobel Peace prize really meant something. People like Ghandi and Martin Luther King took a brave stand and really did affect millions of people. When I compare the accomplishments of people like that to today’s winners, it seems apparent to me that the award has become meaningless. Sadly, however, many people continue to believe that winning the Nobel Peace Prize and making a difference are the same thing. Thus our Kenyan friend will be able to dine out for the rest of her life, her eager audiences lapping up all of her crackpot theories as though they were fact.
There’s always hope, though. Iraq the Model isn’t going anywhere, I think.
Few Are Called
Once again the Diplomad
has struck a nerve. While we gave a few words of thanks for the local guards and Marines who keep us safe in our Consulates and Embassies here
after the Jeddah attack, Diplomad has come through with a piece crediting
them with all they deserve.
To repeat a bit of what we posted before, for those of our readers working in diplomatic missions, please take a moment tomorrow and thank these men and women at your post.
(You have reached the ned of this post, ignore the link below.)
Voices in the Wilderness
While some Muslims like Irshad Manji
and the bloggers at Iraq the Model
literally risk their lives in pursuit of freedom and the struggle to modernize Islam, (see previous posts, below) the French fight the war on terror
by denying children Christmas chocolates shaped like crosses. The Spanish government, elected by terrorist bombs, is meanwhile trying to decide just who to blame for those very bombings (see the always excellent Barcepundit
for coverage of that issue). Disgusted by the news today I went looking for other moderate Arab or Muslim voices, hoping to find some in the ME who reached mass audiences.
I quickly came across 'Arab Regimes Must Understand the U.S. Administration Supports The Freedom and Rights of the Arabs'
by Ahmad Al-Jarallah, editor-in-chief of the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassah Daily, on the outstanding MEMRI
Broken down into sections with titles like:
- "The World Has Changed, But Not the Arabs"
- "We in the Middle East Were Moving Against Development "
- "America Will Not Retreat "
- "The Culture and Way of Thinking of Arabs Became a Source of Danger for the U.S. "
this is one of the most amazing things I have come across.
I realize that certain Kuwaitis still have a warm-fuzzy for the U.S for ejecting Saddam from their country, but rarely do we see such pro-reform sentiment from an Arab in a position of prominence. I highly suggest reading the entire article (it is brief) but I can't resist this quote:
"The world and relations between different countries have changed beyond recognition. In some cases even the countries have changed and a new order is controlling the world. What's more the United Nations is no longer able to control the relations between different countries. All this is happening in the outside world while nothing has changed for the Arab World. We are still living in the past steeped in our age old traditions. Our traditions are the source of our concepts, however old. This has always led us to conflicts with the outside world invariably ending in defeat for us. Such defeats in turn draw us back from the path of development. If there is anything which we have to do urgently it is to correct and remedy this situation."
I'd frankly be stunned to read this in the Euro press, let alone a ME paper. Of course the MSM in the U.S and Europe completely missed (or ignored) this piece. Care to guess who did not miss it? Israel. Haaretz International is the sole Google News hit returned for Ahmad Al-Jarallah. Their article includes this tantalizing bit:
"Kuwait, according to a senior Egyptian source, will be ready to establish relations with Israel within the framework of a sweeping package deal involving all the Gulf states. Libya may precede them all: Its leader, Muammar Qadhafi, has intimated as much and has now invited Israeli representatives to visit."
Meanwhile the Egyptians seem eager to position themselves as the leaders of any future Arab-Israeli pax. Hazem Abd Al-Rahman, in the leading Egyptian Government daily Al-Ahram calls for Egyptian-Israeli relations to provide both the mode and the model for future expansion of peace in the region (MEMRI):
"Objective analysis on this matter cannot lead to any other conclusion. It is time to drop the negative attitudes towards Israel, and relations with it. The basic value of the peace accord between Egypt and Israel lies in the fact that it expunges the term 'prohibition' or 'taboo,' which was created in the past by Arab policies towards Israel, and which turned relations with Israel into an abomination that could not be allowed.
"Relations with Israel are a privilege and a correct [step] which should be developed in a way that will fulfill the achievable interests."
Of course I had to remind myself that a few voices in the wilderness are promising, but the wolves continue to howl. All of this is occurring amidst continued attacks in Gaza and Israeli retribution, not to mention violence in Iraq and the threat of a nuclear Iran.
One last quote from also from MEMRI:
"A November 18-19, 2004 conference in Beirut of the International Association of Muslim Scholars (IAMS), established in London in July 2004, issued a communiqué signed by IAMS leader Sheikh Dr. Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi(1) and Secretary-General Sheikh Dr. Muhammad Salim Al-'Awwa. The communiqué, posted on www.islamonline.net, a website connected to Sheikh Al-Qaradhawi, stated that resistance against coalition forces in Iraq is a personal duty of every Muslim who can carry it out, Iraqi or not."
Our future challenge lies in this very group. They call themselves scholars and preach jihad, all the while taking advantage of the benefits of a liberal, western society. The wolves continue to howl, indeed.
Secretary Powell's Impact - All Carrot, No Stick
Occassionally we receive e-mails that are too good to resist sharing, and we invite the author to do a guest piece, or re-publish something he or she has posted elsewhere. This is one of those e-mails. The text below is un-edited by The Daily Demarche. - Dr. D
To me, It appears that Secretary Powell's approach to management of DoS was all carrot and no stick. Powell seemed to believe that if only he could provide DoS in general and FSOs in particular with all of the funds, positions, promotions, equipment, buildings, security, and Internet access that they requested, then they would be unleashed to do wonderful diplomatic things to promote the national security and other interests of the USA.
What Powell did not recognize was that the believed shortage of people, positions, promotions, equipment, etc., was not the primary problem of DoS. Rather, the greatest problem was the indiscipline of well over 85% of the FSOs of the US Foreign Service, as well as the majority of the rest of the American employees of DoS. Powell should have fired (in a very public manner) several of the very worst offenders during his first few months in office. This would have sent a powerful message that when orders are given, compliance or resignations are expected.
Free of any sense of restraint, many FSOs continue to pursue their own goal of domestic regime change. The result of their rogue conduct is that DoS is viewed more as part of the problem, less as part of the solution. Hence, non DoS agencies and personnel are sought to accomplish more of our diplomatic tasks.
There is a massive difference between the US Foreign Service (the culture of a liberal arts college) and the US Army (the culture of duty, honor, country). This difference was very apparent to me, since I served in both organizations. I started my US Government service as an officer in the US Army, serving for four years. I, and those of my age with like experience both in the US Armed Forces and in the US Foreign Service, have a very different view than the elite intellectual diplomats. We do not share their disdain for the USA, nor their even greater disdain for safeguarding national security information.
The analytical side of the CIA has much the same culture as DoS, except that they seem to be even more overt in their domestic regime change efforts. As with DoS, this causes the CIA to have increasing problems with being viewed as part of the solution.
The organizational culture of DoS continues to be its greatest problem. Failure to correct it will continue to limit the contribution of DoS and tarnish Secretary Powell‘s legacy.
Peter Rice, FS Retiree and an active Republican
(You have reached the end of this post- ignore the link below.)
True Blogging Heroes: A Modest Proposal
Blogs are amazing things. They allow anyone with a computer, internet connection, and an opinion to publish their thoughts to the whole world. Everyone knows that bloggers were on the case when Dan Rather made what turned out to be spurious claims about George Bush’s Texas Air National Guard record. At the time, some parts of the MSM were quite disdainful of the so-called Pajamahideen. To a certain extent, however, they were right. Most bloggers are essentially people who sit behind a computer in the comfort of their own homes and write about things with great self-induced authority. Sometimes, the things we write about from such relative safety are, for people on the ground, matters of life and death.
That’s why I’d like to salute two people who I consider true heroes of the blogoshpere. Omar and Mohammed of Iraq the Model
, one of the many Iraqi blogs, have briefly decamped to the United States. While we here at the Daily Demarche are absolutely thrilled when one of our entries racks up twenty comments, Iraq the Model posts routinely generate 300 or more comments. The bloggers seem to be having a good trip - among other things, they met with President Bush. Those members of our readership who would like to learn more about the two men’s trip and haven’t done so have a number of sources at their disposal, including Winds of Change
and Jeff Jarvis
What’s more, in addition to being bloggers and having a day job, they’ve founded a political party. I don’t know what their chances in the next election are, but that is almost beside the point. I encourage our readers to follow along with them as they make ready for an election that, despite the vehement opposition from many liberals who ought to know better, will be of crucial importance to Iraq and to the Middle East (for more on this, see this post).
There are a number of Iraqi bloggers, and to be sure some of them are anti-Bush, anti American, and so on, just as some of them, like Iraq the Model, are optimistic about the future of Iraq and quite pro-American. I’m going to spare our readers the old platitude about it being a good thing that these voices can now emerge thanks to Operation Iraqi Freedom (if only because I figure you already knew that).
What I’d like to highlight is that while our colleagues at the Diplomad, Dr Demarche and myself, as well as Glenn Reynolds, Andrew Sullivan, Atrios, Daily Kos, et al are sitting on our butts risking nothing more than carpal tunnel syndrome, these guys are right at the sharp end of the most pressing world issue of the day, at considerably greater risk. That they have the time and presence of mind to write down their thoughts and opinions and, in the case of Iraq the Model, take part in the nascent political process in this petri-dish environment is to me proof that courage exists. I don’t think it is an exaggeration to call these men heroes.
The Nobel Peace Prize Committee has given its “prestigious” prize to Yasser Arafat (the father of modern terrorism), Jimmy Carter (for nothing other than opposing the Iraq war), and some Kenyan lady (for planting a bunch of trees). Perhaps the Committee could redeem itself by considering some truly courageous individuals such as those at Iraq the Model. Heck, what about a prize for a whole group of Iraqi bloggers, spanning the entire political spectrum?
It’s the holiday season - I can make a wish, can’t I?
Task Force Report: Powell's State Department
As Secretary Powell closes in on leaving the Cabinet I want to take some time to reflect on what his impact has been in our Consulates and Embassies overseas. I can't really offer any opinion on behalf of the Foreign Service and Civil Service folks working in the Truman building, and so will focus on the FS overseas (where I spent Powell's entire tenure). By and large this series will not address policy, it will focus on Powell as the leader and manager of the FS, and how his role at the top has trickled down and is being implemented at our missions. This will be a multi-part post.
Full disclosure: I believe Colin Powell has been very good for the rank and file of the Foreign Service. That does not preclude a bit of criticism, however.
I will base my comments on Powell's impact on our missions using the Foreign Affairs Council Task Force Report- Secretary Colin Powell's State Department: An Independant Assesment
(November 2004) as both a guide and a measuring stick. This report enemurates the official goals of the Secretary and his team for managing the Department and offers an outside review of how he did in hitting those goals. I will be using my own experience (two posts abroad during this time) as well as that of friends and colleagues to present a point of view from the field. Talk, as they say is cheap. How have Secretary Powell's plans and programs been put to work in reality?
The executive summary of that report reads in part:
Secretary Powell arrived at the State Department determined to fix a broken institution. He launched a two-pronged strategy. First, change the leadership culture so that managers at all levels focus on training, empowering and taking care of their people. Second, remedy critical management deficiencies: (1) restore diplomatic readiness by rebuilding State’s staff; (2) give State modern information technology (IT); (3) focus on security of the nation (visas and passports), of information and of Americans abroad, including U.S. government employees (also involves holding overseas staffs to the minimum necessary – right-sizing); (4) assure safe, healthy and secure facilities, especially overseas buildings; and (5) relate budgets to agreed strategies, policies and priorities. Visa and passport security required reshaping consular affairs to deal with the post-9/11 world. Secretary Powell also had to address two other major management issues: improving State’s congressional relations and overhauling public diplomacy following the 1999 merger of USIA into State.
The first section of the report deals with Powell's call for a "Leadership Culture" at State. Leadership training is now mandatory and promotion depends on taking the training. This is a good thing. To date, however, the actual ability to lead has very little impact on promotion. A great many senior officers pay lip service to leadership while continuing the same practices that got them to the senior positions they hold. It is hard to blame them in all honesty; paradigm shifts are hard to digest.
In “The Leadership Secrets of Colin Powell,” Oren Harari quotes the Secretary as saying "Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off." Well, he certainly pissed off a bunch of people (internally) by delivering bad news that needed to be delivered- i.e "the leadership around here is practically non-existant." Try to find someone who aspires to the Senior Foreign Service willing to do the same. Unpopular news tends to die on the vine- rarely does a leader emerge to tackle a problem. State has a special "channel" for dissent (more on communications within State later), and even gives an award for dissent each year. One award. Once a year. For dissent. Nothing for constructive criticism, which may actually lead to growth. Secretary Powell brought the issue to the light of day. We all need to ensure it does not fade with his departure.
Section two of the report deals with the Diplomatic Readiness Initiative- Powell's answer to the need to put "the right people in the right place at the right time with the right skills to advance American interests." Hiring increased exponentially under Powell, and critical shortfalls were filled. In many cases inexperienced officers were thrust into situations that should have been over their head and served quite well.
The only fault I can find in this program is that we failed to hire above the projected need to allow for some people to wash out. The Report states that "Quality of new hires is outstanding (one Assistant Secretary calls them "scary smart") –52.4% have masters’ degrees, 12.8% have law degrees." Unfortunately the means to pay for and the ability to obtain a masters or J.D. are rarely good measuring sticks for who will succeed in life, let alone who will make a good diplomat and leader. Our personell system makes it very hard to seperate anyone from the service once they have "tenure" (that is, have hit certain goals set for continued employment and promotion to the mid-levels of the career ladder). The practice of "damning by faint praise" in annual reviews and the above mentioned reluctance to make a tough call has yielded a number of officers who take tests well enough to get in, and are now with us for the long haul (this is a small number, to be sure, but in a post with say seven Americans one person like this is a mission killer). Standards for promotion and seperation need to be reviewed and strengthened to help encourage senior officer to make tough human resources decisions.
Part two of this series will cover Information Technology and Consular Affairs as addressed by the Foreign Affairs Council.
Greetings all. I've been away a few days at a conference, no chance to post. Today I finished some changes to the look of the blog, I am trying to make it a little easier to read- any comments or suggestions highly appreciated.
I expect to have a longer piece or two up tomorrow on the Foreign Affairs Council Task Force Report- Secretary Colin Powell's State Department: An Independant Assesment
(November 2004) and some other reports and accountings of the Secretary's tenure. The Task Force Report is about 25 pages long if anyone is interested in perusing it before the posting.
I am also reading The Trouble with Islam : A Muslim's Call for Reform in Her Faith
by Irshad Manji
, if you have a chance it is worth the read. Manji is a Canadian journalist who is a Muslim, and openly gay. That alone caught my attention. She calls for the silent majority of Muslims that we are repeatedly assured are not jihadists to answer the question "why are you still silent?". To quote:
I hear from a Saudi friend that his country's religious police arrest women for wearing red on Valentines Day, and I think, Since when does a merciful God outlaw joy—or fun? I read about victims of rape being stoned for "adultery" and I wonder how a critical mass of us can stay stone silent.
Good question, and that is just the tip of the iceburg.
(You've reached the end of this post, ignore the link below.)
commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.
Purses at Dusk: the Diplomad vs TAGS
I'd been meaning to comment for some time on this
post over at TAGS, but those damn Diplomads
beat me to it. To summarize the discussion, the Diplomads are against affirmative action, while the editor at TAGS is in favor of it.
Both of them make good points, be sure to check them out.
TAGS is an excellent site, and a great advertisement for the Foreign Service, but I tend to agree with the Diplomads - sacrificing quality in the name of advancing any kind of agenda ultimately still results in a loss of quality and sows seeds of resentment. I don't want the best person for the job to be overlooked simply because had testicles. Similarly, the thought that a supervisor got their job because they lacked testicles or were of a certain race -- or even the thought that gender or race was any factor at all in their attaining the job -- doesn't inspire confidence in that person.
That the higher ranks of the State Department are increasingly open to people from all skill fields (cones) is a welcome change (and worth another post in its own right). But broadening the pool from which senior diplomats come is not the same as intentionally factoring in gender or ethincity when it comes to advancement.
I'm not saying that the State Department wouldn't benefit from having more, well-qualified, minorities -- lord knows, there are more than enough honkies to go around. The corporate culture is definitely a dry white one. But that doesn't mean that affirmative action is the only, or even best, answer. Ultimately, I think the Diplomads have it right when they say that advancement by anything other than meritocratic means isn't the American way.
A Global NATO?
The following is re-published from American Future with the author's permission. We highly suggest spending some time perusing this blog, especially the series on terrorism and nuclear second strike as a deterrent.- Dr. Demarche
The Wall Street Journal recently suggested replacing the UN Security Council (which is "now beyond saving") with a larger coalition of democratic nations. No member nation would have a veto and the body would not presume to be the voice of international law.
Unfortunately, the Journal doesn't provide any details. What would be the criteria for membership, what would be the procedure for applying for membership, and who would decide to accept or reject membership applications? While the exclusion of vetoes means that unanimity wouldn't be required for the coalition to act, would a simple majority be sufficient or would a super-majority be required? Would members promise not to act if a sufficient number of member countries opposed acting (if they did, they would be relinguishing their sovereignty)? Would the williingness to act by members that have also given their approval to the International Criminal Court (ICC) be constrained by the threat of prosecution? Which (if any) of the permanent members of the Security Council would be willing to sacrifice their veto power by leaving the Security Council and joining the coalition? I'm sure there are other questions I have not though of. Clearly, the list of questions is long enough to show that creating a coalition of democratic countries wouldn't be a simple matter.
With one exception, I don't pretend to have answers. The exception pertains to membership criteria and procedures. NATO is a coalition which requires aspiring members to meet a set of criteria establishing their democratic credentials. Rather than navigating through a lengthy and undoubtedly heated debate to establish its own criteria, the coalition could simply adopt NATO's (perhaps with minor revisions). Of course, this would mean that all of NATO's members would qualify for coalition membership. Some countries -- for instance, India -- that are not now included on NATO's roster would qualify for membership. In effect, the coalition would be a global NATO, in terms of both its membership and its arena of action.
Simple enough? Not really. I've already suggested three issues that could kill the idea of a coalition of democratic countries before it gets off the ground: (1) the threat of exposure to ICC prosecution, (2) the partial sacrifice of sovereignty, and (3) the total sacrifice of veto power. This is a lot to ask of governments, including that of the United States.
There's another issue. China wouldn't qualify for membership in the coalition, and it's debatable whether Russia would. Perhaps the establishment of the coalition would tilt Putin toward greater democracy. No such hope exists for China, at least in the foreseeable future. So the coalition's creation would split the Great Powers into two camps. There would be a rump Security Council. Would the seats vacated by the democratic permanent members be filled with undesirables?
Then, of course, there's France. It seems highly unlikely that the French would sacrifice their veto, which magnifies its role in world affairs. The French might therefore opt to remain on the rump Security Council. If so, the split between the U.S. and France would become permanent.
Finally, there's the U.K. to consider. Given current attitudes toward America, there's little doubt in my mind that a majority of its citizens would reject opting out of the Security Council in favor of the coalition. Perhaps Prime Minister Blair would like to do so, but his support for Kofi Annan raises questions in my mind. In the short term, electoral politics dictate that Blair reject the notion of a U.K. departure from the Security Council.
It should come as no surprise then, that I doubt the feasibility of establishing a coalition of democratic countries. I wish it were otherwise.
Ever since President Bush snubbed
Canada in favor of Mexico for his first State visits (breaking a long standing tradition) our neighbors to the north have been less than pleased. The President's recent visit was protested
, of course. Toronto Star columnist Thomas Walkom
said that President Bush, "was a perfect candidate for prosecution under Canada's Crimes against Humanity and War Crimes Act." Elizabeth May, the Executive Director of the Sierra Club of Canada, sent out an e-mail reading in part: "Bush represents Death. We call on Canadians to greet him by tying black crepe or cloth ribbon to everything in sight...park benches, our trees, our lampposts, car antennas, Xmas decorations, wear black arm bands...hold vigils, Pray."
Sure they love it when our bleeding-heart liberals "threaten" to move to Canada, if only so the Canadians can say things like "Of course the Americans will have to stand in line like everyone else". To be sure they are also getting a chuckle over the "Go Canadian" package offered by a New Mexico firm to allow American travelers to visit Europe in peace. About the package:
It includes a Canadian flag T-shirt, a Canadian flag lapel pin and a Canadian patch for luggage or a backpack.
There's also a quick reference guide on answering questions about Canada called "How to Speak Canadian, Eh?"
When it comes to sports, the guide suggests: "There is only one real sport in Canada and it is called hockey. Regardless of any trivia question, the answer is Wayne Gretzky.
The Canadian Post loves this idea. The best parts of the story are the reader comments at the end of the article, though. One states, "It makes me cringe to think that these same people are telling everyone else that they're Canadian." Seriously Canada, get over it. The package is a "novelty item"; it is making fun of you, eh? See the language and sport reference.
Canada does want to be taken seriously on the world stage, however. Recent events at the U.N. have given Canada some hope of gaining a bit more international exposure. Embattled Secretary General Kofi Annan accepted a report calling "for countries to intervene sooner in humanitarian catastrophes like the Sudan crisis” and "the creation of a Group of 20 countries, whose leaders would meet regularly to discuss international economic and political issues" according to the Toronto Star. "I think that that's a very important step forward for the United Nations, and I've got to say, I think a very important step forward for Canada in terms of the kind of activist foreign policy that we want to bring forth," the Prime Minister said.
In order to be taken seriously, though, Canada will need to find an identity other than "we're not America lite". Luckily at least one voice of reason rings out in the frosty north. James Bissett, a former Canadian ambassador and former head of the Canadian Immigration Service, recently wrote a piece entitled "Hating Bush is Unhealthy" (source of the Sierra Club quote above). He refers to "a growing anti-American psychosis spreading across the country" and wonders why there was no similar reaction against Bill Clinton, providing a laundry list of events from the two Clinton administrations that should have sparked the same reactions in Canada, such as:
It was president Clinton who in 1998 bombed Iraq for violations of the no-fly zone and did so without United Nations authorization. His secretary of state, Madeline Albright, urged that economic sanctions against Iraq not be lifted until Saddam Hussein was removed. This was the woman who answered, "Yes" when asked if the bombing justified the killing of Iraqi babies.
He concludes with:
This is not a healthy situation and it bodes ill for the future of our country. It is time for these critics to grow up, to get real and to forget the United States. It can look after itself. Canada has a few of its own problems. Let's attend to them for a change.
Canada is a beautiful country, blessed with natural resources and some truly spectacular hockey players. Provided they have a few more minds like Mr. Bisset's willing to look inward and find a way for Canada to make it's own way in the world by defining what Canada is, as opposed to what it is not, they have a chance to be the world power they so desperately want to be.