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John Simkin

Removing Dictators From Power

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In the absence of the forum this week my students came up with the following questions they would like members to consider:

"Should governments use military action to remove unpleasant political leaders from power?"

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In the absence of the forum this week my students came up with the following questions they would like members to consider:

"Should governments use military action to remove unpleasant political leaders from power?"

There is an argument for doing that. Would it have been better to remove Hitler before he caused the death of so many? The problem is that it would be hard to trust individual states to do it as they might have other reasons for doing it. The UN has to represent both the good and bad states, democracies and dictatorships so they would never be able to agree to do it.

Maybe we need an organization of democratic states to decide. I would love to hear that we are going to throw out the generals in Burma. I could add to that list and probably Saddan would have been on it, but I suspect that wasn't Bush or Blair's ideas when they went in. If they really wanted to remove unpleasant leaders they would have started somewhere easier with even more evil leaders;-)

Rather than rushing troops in though maybe it would be better to give support to democratic organizations in those un-democratic countries. The West seems to be able to do it when there is something for them such as easing out old communist dictatorships in Eastern Europe, but where they already have strong commercial interests, such as Saudi, they don't.

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On the surface it does seem a good idea to remove the worst dictators from power. However, there are a lot of them. What order are you going to take them out? Probably the most serious abuser of human rights in the world today is China. We all know that there is no way that the United States is going to organize a coalition of the willing to remove the communist government in China. It seems that if you are powerful enough, you are safe to kill off your dissents. As Tony Blair showed a couple of years ago, governments are even willing to arrest demonstrators who point out the terrible human rights record of the Chinese government.

In reality, powerful nations are only going to remove military dictators in countries where they appear on the surface to be “soft” targets. If that is the case, why doesn’t Bush argue for taking out the military dictators in Zimbabwe, Burma or Uzbekistan? The reason is that Bush has only limited military resources. He also has other more important objectives. As everyone knows, the invasion of Iraq had more to do with oil than democracy.

There is a good argument for the United Nations to use troops to remove military dictatorships. However, the argument that the most powerful country in the world should go marching into countries that have dictators they don’t like has to be resisted by all those who want democracy to flourish in the world. This illegal invasion was about power politics and had nothing to do with democracy.

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Or … to use an argument current at the time of the first Gulf War, if Kuwait's main export had been Turkish Delight instead of oil, the Western armies wouldn't have gone anywhere near the region.

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What constitutes "unpleasant"?

The first and foremost purpose of any form of government is control of the populace.

Without which, there is anarchy.

Enlightened theory on control of the human species is an excellent concept. However, it is merely that!

A theory and a concept.

The human species continues to demonstrate it's lack of self control in virtually all aspects of behavior, therefore: GOVERNMENT.

In the event that various entities of the populace insist on killing each other over "ethnic" differences, then it should be obvious that a liberal government will not, and can not control such ideas.

To a large degree, this is one of those items which continued to drain the Soviet economy. Their own tax revenues were expended in having to "hold guns" to the heads of their own citizens in order to prevent anarchy and mass genocide.

Those of us who reside in countries where we have ceased to kill each other merely because of our ethnic; religious; and various differences, often have little understanding of those other world societies which have not evolved to this level of social order.

Therefore, we tend to criticize what we consider to be an "oppressive" form of government which has come about to keep control of this type populace.

Another example is of course China.

Due to the famine years ago, China did not require lawyers; doctors; etc; etc; etc.

They required FOOD. Therefore, you were either a producer of food or else you were a libablity/drain against those who were engaged in some associated function of food production.

Irrelevant as to whether or not we like the specific concept, the Cuban government has, since the assumption of power of Fidel Castro, been without revolution and/or anarchy.

To the extent possible, this government is attempting to stabilize; educate; and care for the mass of the population of Cuba.

And, the US Corporations are certainly no longer utilizing the Cuban people as "slave-type" labor, with virtually all profits from these labors going into the pockets of the wealthy.

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Sure they shouldn't. But history learning has made me aware that there is little room for this, both inside the coountry and outisde. WIth so many learned minds in this forum, an explanation of the fall of Churchill in the UK after the war, the Kennedy assassination and other examples should be analysed or contrasted with The Iraq invasion.

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"Should governments use military action to remove unpleasant political leaders from power?"

Answer: Unpleasant to whom? The answer to whether military force or violence is appropriate is largely dependent on whether that force or violence is defensive or offensive in nature. Defensive violence is much more justifiable. This is not an easy criterion, but at least it is a starting point.

The first problem with the word "defensive," particularly when considering this issue at the level of governments, is whether the government claiming defensive interests is representative of the people it governs. If it's an elite cabal within the government that is making noises about defending its honor, and the vast majority of the people have few real (as opposed to perceived) interests in the situation, or do not feel threatened, then the answer is clearly "no."

The justification claimed by the U.S. for the war in Vietnam, as well as the war in Iraq, fail under this standard. The North Vietnamese did not pose a threat to the U.S., and Saddam Hussein was not responsible for 9/11. Those claiming otherwise were an elite group within the U.S. administration who played fast and loose with the evidence. In both cases, the extent to which the majority of Americans supported this cabal was the precise extent to which they were deceived by them.

The sort of violence undertaken, even when it is defensive, should be appropriate to the situation. You don't carpet-bomb civilians and call it "collateral damage," and you don't torture prisoners to get information.

An interesting situation is when the "unpleasant" political leader is unpleasant to his own people, but not unpleasant to the government, or the people under the government, that is contemplating military force. In this case, there should be international consensus through the United Nations, which should try nonviolent means such as an arms embargo or trade sanctions. Even here, it is important to make sure that innocent civilians, who may have no choice but to live under unpleasant political leaders, are not severely punished. Depriving innocent civilians of basic necessities, for example, is not appropriate.

There are many pressures that can be brought to bear on unpleasant leaders before force is considered. If these fail, then force should only be considered within an open international discussion and majority consensus. Covert activities and unilateral military action may sometimes prove successful in the short run, but in the long run they impede progress because they become part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

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It is up to the people of a nation to resolve their own issues, not wait for some powerful militaristic 'benefactor' to come along and decide their affairs for them.

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John wrote:

As everyone knows, the invasion of Iraq had more to do with oil than democracy.

John, if I have told you once, I have told you a million times, don't exaggerate!

I, for one, don't know that the invasion of Iraq had more to do with oil than democracy. (I had expected John to write: "As everyone but Tim knows . . ."

On October 13th the "New York Times" editorialized as follows:

It has been hard to make sense of America's involvement in Iraq for a long time now. Arguments that our soldiers are risking their lives to protect the United States from terrorism, or deadly weapons of mass destruction, have come to nothing. The only logical basis for staying the course has been the hope that in the end, Iraqis can be put on the road to a stable, inclusive government. That hope has come close to extinction many times. But today it seems a little more substantial.

Just days ahead of Saturday's vital constitutional referendum, representatives of rival religious and ethnic communities in Iraq hammered out their most significant political compromise. With American diplomatic prodding, the dominant Shiite and Kurdish parties agreed with a section of the Sunni Arab leadership on changes that should make it easier for Sunni voters to accept a badly flawed draft constitution because they offer assurances that it can be drastically amended a few months later.

Plainly, this isn't textbook democratic procedure. Voters are being asked to approve the constitution - which many have had no chance to read - with the assumption that it may soon be radically rewritten. But compared with the mess Iraq seemed headed for this weekend, it is a big improvement.

The most important part of the changed situation is the newly constructive attitude of Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish political leaders. Sunnis are still smarting over their loss of power, but at least some now appear ready to channel their grievances into constitutional and electoral processes. And an encouraging number of Shiites and Kurds appear at last to recognize that they have been endangering their own dreams of peace and national recovery by stoking the alienation and rage that have been consuming much of the Sunni community.

The absence of even this minimal basis for consensus before now had made it difficult to take the whole American-orchestrated constitutional exercise seriously. Now there is at least some groundwork, however shaky, for working toward a peaceful future. If the emerging political system can prove itself truly responsive to legitimate Sunni concerns, there will be much greater hope of draining support from the murderous insurgency.

Hope is not the same thing as optimism. Without changes, the constitution that Iraqis are voting on this weekend still threatens to marginalize the Sunni professional classes, politically and economically, and create a federal government that offers excessive powers to the future autonomous regions that the Kurds and Shiites expect to establish.

That combination is a blueprint for national fragmentation and prolonged civil war. This week's agreement could allow some of the worst parts of the constitution to be fixed after the fact. But that can happen only through a difficult procedure that will require the Kurds and Shiites to relinquish some of their own political goals to accommodate the Sunnis. And that will still leave the fundamental legal rights of Iraqi women insufficiently protected.

Clearly, it will take a great deal of political maturity on all sides to negotiate the hurdles ahead successfully, beginning with Saturday's referendum. And it will all have to be done in the midst of a brutal and relentless insurgency, pitifully inadequate Iraqi security forces and an overstretched and increasingly unpopular American military presence. But if the tentative political trends that produced this week's deal can be sustained and extended, those who have sacrificed so much to give Iraq the opportunity for freedom will have some reason to believe their efforts may not be in vain. [Emphasis supplied/]

* * * * * * * * * * *

The fat lady has not yet sung on Iraq. I believe I shall live to see the day that John will be man enought to post the thought: "I was wrong."

Surely creating a democracy in a country where there have not been democratic cultures and institutions is not an easy task. How long did it take General MacArthur to install a democracy in Japan? But if democracy and tolerance can be effectuated in Iraq, it will result not only in a far better life for the Iraquis but also a far safer world.

Edited by Tim Gratz

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In the absence of the forum this week my students came up with the following questions they would like members to consider:

"Should governments use military action to remove unpleasant political leaders from power?"

War should always be the last resort. Unfortunately, we have not arrived at a moment in history where we can do away with the option of war. Keep in mind that there is also the option of removing an "unpleasant political leader" without the use of military action, which in America has resulted in the CIA stepping in covertly to even kill a political leader. Certainly the standard for such things should be higher than merely "unpleasant." If a political leader is responsible for acts of genocide, breaking international law, or using his or her own military action to these ends, then the type of war that involves occupying another country and removing its leader is appropriate. Then again, one country does not have the means to police the world and attack every time an atrocity is committed.

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I think that shouldn't and some of my colleagues already mentioned that it is up to people to make any changes even if they need some decades for that.

I was involved into Afagnistan war and you can see that motivation at least on the words had been nice to help Afganistan to build just and new society like in the former USSR, the same now in Irag but only leaders changed now USA is saying about democracy around the world and doing things the same as former totalitarian Soviet Union Nazist Germany. No one democracy can't not be built at the people's blood and suffering. Our history (I mean USSR) show it very clear to build communism after killing of millions of our own people it was way to nothing. If people in Iraq or Iran or somewhere else do not want any riots or revolutions or invasions let them to live as they are ready to live and when they will be ready for social changes they will change their societies by themselves.

So USA got an image as world police men at the moment when USSR lost in this battle because before it was a world evil.

Vlad:

The US, not unlike many other governments, has always required a "boogey-man" upon which to scare it's populace.

I do believe that the "boogey-man" for the Soviet Union was the US, was it not?

After WWII, the Soviet Union had to take complete military control of those satelite countries along it's border. Not necessarily because it wanted to, but in order to stop the "ethnic cleansing" which the populace of these countries was inflicting upon itself.

Naturally, the general american public has not bothered to search for themselves to see the problems which these "little wars" in these countries was creating to the Soviet Union.

Thereafter, to cease the problems created, the Soviet Union took control of these populations/governments, and thereafter held guns to the heads of the perpetrators of this civil unrest.

All of which assisted in a financial drain of the Soviet economy.

Tax revenues expended on holding guns against the heads of it's citizens, is hardly conducive to economic growth.

Of course, the US (& others) pointed the finger at the Soviet Union as the evil government which was "controlling" these persons/governments.

Finally, the economic strain, as well as political necessity, dictated that the Soviet Union had to relenquish this military control over these governments.

What happened then???

I do seem to recall something in regards to the UN having to step in to the game in order to cease the genocide.

I do not seem to recall the US ever having stated that it just may have been slightly incorrect in it's claims that the Soviet Union was the "bad guy" in having held guns to the heads of these various ethnic groups, for the years since WWII, in order to prevent this mass slaughter.

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The acceptance of the concept that nations that happen to as a result of historical circumstances have a lot of resources to kill people have a right to use those resources in order to stamps its particular concepts of such things as 'freedom' on other nations perpetuates a methodology of relation that ultimately sows the seeds of its own destruction. Older more mature nations that in the past have behaved in such ways can, and in some instances have, learn a higher value than 'greed'. And that is 'love'. By that I mean the kind of love that a strong person can show to a weaker person, for example a parent to a child. This involves a measure of trust or faith in simple laws of nature. Patience and example may ultimately turn less mature greed principled nations into true members of the family of man. This strength that is derived from ideas rather than weapon hardware or numbers of units of monetary exchange can be seen to, over time (centuries or even milinnea as opposed to years), have a far greater impact on the direction of human evolution. Of course in the short term the number of these units of exchange one happens to have in ones pocket and the number of muzzles capable of projecting fatal items in ones direction as opposed to in the direction of ones neighbours do influence a great number of people. However these are short term concerns that if one studies reality can be dealt with by a long term perspective.

Of course this demands a healthy and educated citizenry. Possibly the best vehicle for delivery of same today is the UN.

Edited by John Dolva

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John wrote:

As everyone knows, the invasion of Iraq had more to do with oil than democracy.

John, if I have told you once, I have told you a million times, don't exaggerate!

The fat lady has not yet sung on Iraq. I believe I shall live to see the day that John will be man enought to post the thought: "I was wrong."

I should of course said: “As every rational human being knows, the invasion of Iraq had more to do with oil than democracy.”

My argument will not be undermined by Bush imposing his idea of democracy on the Iraq people. He might well force the people to accept “democratic” elections. America does indeed have that sort of power. What he can’t do is to install “democracy” and also withdraw his troops. If he did that the “puppet” government would be removed by force.

As I have said before, why has Bush given aid to some military dictators who persecute those fighting for democracy. For example, the despicable, so-called communist government in Uzbekistan. The same reason that he overthrew Saddam Hussein – oil.

http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=3847

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I think that shouldn't and some of my colleagues already mentioned that it is up to people to make any changes even if they need some decades for that.

I was involved into Afagnistan war and you can see that motivation at least on the words had been nice to help Afganistan to build just and new society like in the former USSR, the same now in Irag but only leaders changed now USA is saying about democracy around the world and doing things the same as former totalitarian Soviet Union Nazist Germany. No one democracy can't not be built at the people's blood and suffering. Our history (I mean USSR) show it very clear to build communism after killing of millions of our own people it was way to nothing. If people in Iraq or Iran or somewhere else do not want any riots or revolutions or invasions let them to live as they are ready to live and when they will be ready for social changes they will change their societies by themselves.

So USA got an image as world police men at the moment when USSR lost in this battle because before it was a world evil.

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I was involved into Afagnistan war and you can see that motivation at least on the words had been nice to help Afganistan to build just and new society like in the former USSR, the same now in Irag but only leaders changed now USA is saying about democracy around the world and doing things the same as former totalitarian Soviet Union Nazist Germany. No one democracy can't not be built at the people's blood and suffering. Our history (I mean USSR) show it very clear to build communism after killing of millions of our own people it was way to nothing. If people in Iraq or Iran or somewhere else do not want any riots or revolutions or invasions let them to live as they are ready to live and when they will be ready for social changes they will change their societies by themselves.

I am interested in what your political views when you were a soldier in Afghanistan. Did you think you were bringing freedom, socialism and democracy to the country? Or did you think it was more to do with power politics? Stalin argued that it was in the Soviet Union’s interest to liberate countries in Eastern Europe after the war (it created a defensive buffer zone against an enemy he was convinced would one day invade the Soviet Union).

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