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Norman Bernstein
07-06-2016, 07:44 AM
I sometimes wonder who our heroes are :(


Donald Trump, the presumptive nominee for the Republican presidential nomination, once again lauded deposed Iraq dictator Saddam Hussein during a campaign stop.

Speaking at a rally in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Tuesday evening, Trump praised what he said was Hussein’s innate ability to kill terrorists “so good.” While it’s notthe first time (http://www.mediaite.com/online/trump-saddam-hussein-was-terrible-but-he-killed-terrorists/) he’s mentioned the former leader, this time Trump elaborated that he appreciated Hussein’s authoritarian take on civil liberties.

“You know what he did well? He killed terrorists. He did that so good,” Trump said. “They didn’t read them the rights, they didn’t talk. They were a terrorist, it was over.”
Trump went on to call Iraq the “Harvard for terrorism,” to scattered laughter.

Trump has never been one to shy away from a fist bump for authoritarian rulers. In January he said North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un should be given “credit” (http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/gop-primaries/265353-trump-kim-jong-un-deserves-credit-for-taking-out-rivals) for taking over and killing his rivals (http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2016/02/10/north-korea-executions/80173970/).

Trump first heaped such praise on Hussein (http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/02/16/donald-trump-s-insane-praise-of-saddam-hussein.html?via=mobile&source=twitter) during a press conference in February. During both mentions, Trump began by labeling him “a bad guy” before using the ruler’s actions to explain his own bold campaign claims to “fight fire with fire (http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2016-election/donald-trump-terror-you-have-fight-fire-fire-n600771).”

Shortly after Hussein’s death, The New York Times called him a “defiant dictator (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/30/world/middleeast/30saddam.html)who ruled Iraq with violence and fear,” citing his oppression of the country for more than three decades. He was known for violent retribution against his own citizens he suspected of disloyalty, including the 1988 massacre of 5,000 people in a Kurdish village (http://www.ibtimes.com/25-years-after-worst-chemical-weapon-massacre-history-saddam-husseins-attack-halabja-iraq-city) using poison gas.

Norman Bernstein
07-06-2016, 07:56 AM
I never thought that the United States would find any appeal in authoritarianism... maybe it's a world-wide trend.

A frightening one, at that.

PeterSibley
07-06-2016, 07:56 AM
What could possibly go wrong ?

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jul/01/philippines-president-rodrigo-duterte-urges-people-to-kill-drug-addicts

Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte urges people to kill drug addicts

Duterte, 71, won power in a landslide after a campaign dominated by threats to kill tens of thousands in a war on crime

(https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jul/01/philippines-president-rodrigo-duterte-urges-people-to-kill-drug-addicts#img-1) President Rodrigo Duterte has urged urged Filipinos to kill drug addicts. Photograph: Ezra Acayan/ReutersGuardian staff and agencies
Friday 1 July 2016 12.16 AESTLast modified on Friday 1 July 201623.30 AEST

Authoritarian firebrand Rodrigo Duterte was sworn in as the Philippines’ president on Thursday (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/30/rodrigo-duterte-sworn-in-as-philippines-president-extends-olive-branch-to-elites), extending an olive branch to the country’s elites in his official speech, only to later vow to wipe out drug traffickers and urge the population to kill addicts.

Duterte, 71, won last month’s election in a landslide after a campaign dominated by threats to kill tens of thousands of criminals in a relentless war on crime (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/05/kill-drug-dealers-medal-philippines-president-rodrigo-duterte), and tirades against the nation’s elite that cast him as an incendiary, anti-establishment hero.

Read more

Following a measured speech after taking his oath before a small audience inside the presidential palace, the outspoken leader paid an evening visit to a Manila slum and unleashed profanity-laden threats against drug traffickers in front of a crowd of about 500 people
“These sons of whores are destroying our children. I warn you, don’t go into that, even if you’re a policeman, because I will really kill you,” the head of state told the audience.
“If you know of any addicts, go ahead and kill them yourself as getting their parents to do it would be too painful.”
Duterte has previously alleged some police officers were engaged in drug trafficking.
Repeating a favourite campaign refrain, the new president also said it would make good business sense to set up funeral parlours.
“I assure you you won’t go bankrupt. If your business slows I will tell the police, ‘Do it faster to help the people earn money’.”

skuthorp
07-06-2016, 07:56 AM
Yeah yeah, they all know that………………….. but he's not Hillary, that's what's important.

CK 17
07-06-2016, 08:12 AM
Clearly the region is much better off after we sprinkled democracy here and there and everywhere. I wonder what the world would be like if we confined our retribution to OBL in Afghanistan.

TomF
07-06-2016, 09:14 AM
Clearly the region is much better off after we sprinkled democracy here and there and everywhere. I wonder what the world would be like if we confined our retribution to OBL in Afghanistan.It's what I've argued forever. Should have kept the focus on Afghanistan, in a very limited in/out and non-occupation mission. We had no business, any of us, in fomenting "regime change," and the extended campaign in Afghanistan did nothing to improve anything for anyone in the region - nor to keep anyone safer here.

The expansion of the military activity into Iraq was entirely unjustified even at the time, as the newly released Chilcott report validates. While there's no doubt that Saddam was a horrible and brutal man, the actions in place through the UN were being successful in preventing the expansion of his brutality throughout more of the region. And the utter mayhem in the region now was enabled by the war and its unplanned aftermath.

Keith Wilson
07-06-2016, 09:26 AM
Well, he's going back to an old tradition in the US. We've historically supported a whole herd of very nasty characters over the past century, if intermittently, because they were anti-communist or otherwise friendly to our interests. Trump is just substituting the current boogeyman. In some cases one can make a plausible argument that communists would have been worse, in others not, but we had an unfortunate tendency to imagine communists behind every bush. Particularly egregious examples include the coups that overthrew Mohammad Mossadegh in Iran in 1952, and Jacobo Árbenz in Guatemala in 1955, installing the Shah and some tinpot generals, respectively. The list of bloody-minded thugs we supported is unfortunately pretty long, even though the left tends to exaggerate American influence. The only difference with Trump is that he doesn't disguise it with high-minded rhetoric about freedom and democracy. This is a real difference; hypocrisy is not the worst sin. Paying lip service to high ideals is considerably better than acting for pure power and naked national self-interest.

Dan McCosh
07-06-2016, 09:47 AM
The larger problem is dumping brutal dictators, then replacing them with anarchy after emptying the prisons. When will they ever learn?

CWSmith
07-06-2016, 11:08 AM
The larger problem is dumping brutal dictators, then replacing them with anarchy after emptying the prisons. When will they ever learn?

The anarchy in Iraq arose because an elected President returned to old clan associations, fueling a partisan religious divide. It was stupid and primitive. They weren't ready to be a nation.

Dan McCosh
07-06-2016, 11:46 AM
The anarchy in Iraq arose because an elected President returned to old clan associations, fueling a partisan religious divide. It was stupid and primitive. They weren't ready to be a nation. Dissolving the courts and local police didn't help much either.

gilberj
07-06-2016, 12:30 PM
It's what I've argued forever. Should have kept the focus on Afghanistan, in a very limited in/out and non-occupation mission. We had no business, any of us, in fomenting "regime change," and the extended campaign in Afghanistan did nothing to improve anything for anyone in the region - nor to keep anyone safer here.

The expansion of the military activity into Iraq was entirely unjustified even at the time, as the newly released Chilcott report validates. While there's no doubt that Saddam was a horrible and brutal man, the actions in place through the UN were being successful in preventing the expansion of his brutality throughout more of the region. And the utter mayhem in the region now was enabled by the war and its unplanned aftermath.

Maybe I am not taking enough time to think about it. I cannot recall time when there was a military adventure in a foreign country (read invasion or occupation or police action) that successfully brought about real democratic change. I am not convinced a real democracy would work in most, perhaps all of the various countries we have tried this in. Democracy seems to require a delicate balance in the relationship between the people and the government, and both sides respecting the rule of law. So where is this working in any of the nations we have brought democracy to? Or more importantly make a convincing argument they are better off for our efforts.

Gerarddm
07-06-2016, 12:41 PM
^ Germany and Japan post WWII.



We've historically supported a whole herd of very nasty characters over the past century, if intermittently, because they were anti-communist or otherwise friendly to our interests

So true. In WWII FDR was talking with aides about how to counter Nazi influence in South America and one aide mentioned that Somoza was a real SOB to his people. Yes, FDR replied, but he is our SOB.

Osborne Russell
07-06-2016, 12:52 PM
I never thought that the United States would find any appeal in authoritarianism... maybe it's a world-wide trend.

A frightening one, at that.

It's universally human. The United States was originally designed to thwart it but people had more important things to do. Discussing politics always seems to generate so much unpleasantness.

Reynard38
07-06-2016, 12:56 PM
Duerte is 71. Trump and Clinton are in the same neighborhood.
I'm detecting a trend.

Osborne Russell
07-06-2016, 12:57 PM
In some cases one can make a plausible argument that communists would have been worse . . .

An argument, but not a policy. Particularly in international relations: what would be the costs? Don't know, but beyond our control and potentially catastrophic? Then don't do it.

Chip-skiff
07-06-2016, 01:04 PM
. . .a partisan religious divide. It was stupid and primitive.


https://howthehelldidienduphere.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/conan-on-trump-and-christians.jpg

PhaseLockedLoop
07-06-2016, 01:25 PM
Has everyone forgotten that the US supported Saddam through the '70s and '80s while he was killing off opponents and attacking Iran? Those of us who were incredulous at the time were derided as milksops. Now, though, it's down the memory hole, and Norman can't believe that we'd "find any appeal in authoritarianism."

Look at Egypt. After the Arab Spring they actually did hold elections, and the Muslim Brotherhood party won. The Muslim Brotherhood was, at the time, an anti-militant organization. The Military promptly "ousted" them, took control of the country, and (get this) declared the Brotherhood a terrorist organization, killing or arresting its proponents. Egypt, by the way, gets either the most or second-most military "assistance" from the US.

BrianY
07-06-2016, 03:15 PM
In international relations, there is only one truth: The enemy of my enemy is my friend

Vince Brennan
07-06-2016, 04:20 PM
I cannot recall (a) time when there was a military adventure in a foreign country (read invasion or occupation or police action) that successfully brought about real democratic change. I am not convinced a real democracy would work in most, perhaps all of the various countries we have tried this in. Democracy seems to require a delicate balance in the relationship between the people and the government, and both sides respecting the rule of law. So where is this working in any of the nations we have brought democracy to?

Japan? Seems to be perking along fairly Democratically....

gilberj
07-06-2016, 04:46 PM
Japan? Seems to be perking along fairly Democratically....

WW2 was a different scale of event, does not qualify as occupation, police action, etc. though I'll grant Japan has done OK. FWIW Germany is OK as well. The real difference is we did not start the conflict for the stated purpose of bringing democracy to the oppressed.

Dan McCosh
07-06-2016, 05:37 PM
WW2 was a different scale of event, does not qualify as occupation, police action, etc. though I'll grant Japan has done OK. FWIW Germany is OK as well. The real difference is we did not start the conflict for the stated purpose of bringing democracy to the oppressed. We did enter WWII with the purpose of bringing democracy to Europe and Japan. We also planned for it quite well, and executed the plans. South Korea was another success story.

gilberj
07-06-2016, 06:09 PM
Korea is still divided, and the North is one of the most brutal dictatorships anywhere. We did not actually accomplish to much there.

Dave Hadfield
07-06-2016, 07:25 PM
Not all dictators are bad. Singapore has had a long run of prosperity. Lee observed various democratic forms, but in truth his power was dictatorial.

It's anyone's guess what will happen there now that he is dead. If it reverts to democratic anarchy, then life will get worse there for most people, not better.

Dan McCosh
07-06-2016, 08:17 PM
Korea is still divided, and the North is one of the most brutal dictatorships anywhere. We did not actually accomplish to much there. I doubt any South Koreans would agree with you.

Keith Wilson
07-06-2016, 09:11 PM
One example of a US intervention that turned out OK for the people of the country involved was the 1989 invasion of Panama that removed Manuel Noriega from power. They've done pretty well since.

Another was the 1966 invasion of the Dominican Republic. God knows they have plenty of problems, but the DR is a reasonably well-functioning democracy.

BrianY
07-06-2016, 11:15 PM
I guess the lesson to be learned from our successes in Germany and Japan and our failures on Iraq and Afghanistan is that to ensure sucessful democratization we have to totally destroy a country's leadership, economy and civil society then occupy it and run it under martial law for a while before democratic institutions can take hold. Doing it half way as we did in Iraq and Afghanistan just doesn't work.

ShagRock
07-06-2016, 11:51 PM
One example of a US intervention that turned out OK for the people of the country involved was the 1989 invasion of Panama that removed Manuel Noriega from power. They've done pretty well since. Another was the 1966 invasion of the Dominican Republic. God knows they have plenty of problems, but the DR is a reasonably well-functioning democracy.

Two out of how many adds up to what in the Liberal capitalist theme of moral and cultural world dominance. It started several centuries ago and continues onward. Father Keith and Father Tom love to add 'we' in their sound bites of small sect Church of England and Unitarian secular writings as if they were any more than the common Joe they love to despise, as far as decisions made and where it continues to go. Their tune, sung daily, is as stale as the stink that arises from an unkempt bilge by lazy sailors.

David G
07-07-2016, 01:02 AM
Two out of how many adds up to what in the Liberal capitalist theme of moral and cultural world dominance. It started several centuries ago and continues onward. Father Keith and Father Tom love to add 'we' in their sound bites of small sect Church of England and Unitarian secular writings as if they were any more than the common Joe they love to despise, as far as decisions made and where it continues to go. Their tune, sung daily, is as stale as the stink that arises from an unkempt bilge by lazy sailors.

That's an impressive twofer --

Ugly AND pointless. Kudos.

ShagRock
07-07-2016, 01:05 AM
That's an impressive twofer. Kudos.

Thank you. Nice to see you impressed for a change.

PeterSibley
07-07-2016, 01:07 AM
Has everyone forgotten that the US supported Saddam through the '70s and '80s while he was killing off opponents and attacking Iran? Those of us who were incredulous at the time were derided as milksops. Now, though, it's down the memory hole, and Norman can't believe that we'd "find any appeal in authoritarianism."

Look at Egypt. After the Arab Spring they actually did hold elections, and the Muslim Brotherhood party won. The Muslim Brotherhood was, at the time, an anti-militant organization. The Military promptly "ousted" them, took control of the country, and (get this) declared the Brotherhood a terrorist organization, killing or arresting its proponents. Egypt, by the way, gets either the most or second-most military "assistance" from the US.

I've been mentioning this for ages and getting no response at all.

Democracy is welcome when the results are "acceptable " to POWER !

WX
07-07-2016, 01:09 AM
Clearly the region is much better off after we sprinkled democracy here and there and everywhere. I wonder what the world would be like if we confined our retribution to OBL in Afghanistan.

We wouldn't have quite the massive refugee problem we have now.

TomF
07-07-2016, 09:24 AM
There have been a number of attempts at "democratization" of not democratic states over the decades - analysing where it appeared to work and where it didn't has been a fairly active branch of "comparative politics."

In general, the academic position (mostly former American diplomats and foreign policy wonks, btw) boiled down to this: democracies depend on the quality of civil society. If there are no well rooted institutions of civil society already, which provide some history in the place of people taking collective and cooperative/compromise oriented actions together, then a democratic Constitution won't be worth the paper it's written on. The institutions in civil society (and the commitment to compromise) need to be there first, if government isn't going to simply swing from strongman to strongman. Social cohesion has to be there across a sense of "the nation," not just within particular competing groups.

The way to build those institutions varies, depending on the local cultures. Often it depends first on whichever strongman is in power at the moment making effective judicial reforms - so that everyone is in fact equal under the law, rather than the law being used as a tool to strengthen political control. The more effective way that outside countries have been effective in promoting democratization has often been to link economic aid and trade arrangements to that kind of judicial reform - planting the seeds for the positive growth of civil society. Once the rule of law is established firmly enough, democratic reforms can follow ... because the newly elected governments are constrained by civil society against using justice systems as political tools.

That's exactly what didn't happen in Afghanistan and Iraq.

To be honest, I'm not as convinced as I used to be that all cultures can presently support democratic governments, or if they're even desirable everywhere. I believe more strongly than ever, though, in the need for consistent standards of the rule of law, and of a baseline for human rights.

BTW Shaggy, nice to see you too.

Dan McCosh
07-07-2016, 09:44 AM
I guess the lesson to be learned from our successes in Germany and Japan and our failures on Iraq and Afghanistan is that to ensure sucessful democratization we have to totally destroy a country's leadership, economy and civil society then occupy it and run it under martial law for a while before democratic institutions can take hold. Doing it half way as we did in Iraq and Afghanistan just doesn't work.That is pretty much the exact opposite of how the Allies handled the end of WWII, save for running Germany, Italy, Austria and Japan under martial law.

BrianY
07-07-2016, 12:32 PM
That is pretty much the exact opposite of how the Allies handled the end of WWII, save for running Germany, Italy, Austria and Japan under martial law.

Really? We didn't destroy Germany's and Japan's economic and social structures during the war? We didn't eliminate their government leaders - not just the guys at the top but pretty much the entire governing organizations ?

Osborne Russell
07-07-2016, 12:34 PM
I've been mentioning this for ages and getting no response at all.

Democracy is welcome when the results are "acceptable " to POWER !

When a head of state says that policy X is undertaken to "bring democracy" to anyone, you have to assume it's a lie. When wasn't it?

Every year there's a new crop of 19 year old males. They don't really "believe" it -- they don't examine it -- but they feel they need to prove themselves and it seems a good way. They have faith in the rewards implied by the leaders. They come back considerably less naive, if they come back. Those that don't go at all tend to remain naive. Very old story.

Dan McCosh
07-07-2016, 02:10 PM
Really? We didn't destroy Germany's and Japan's economic and social structures during the war? We didn't eliminate their government leaders - not just the guys at the top but pretty much the entire governing organizations ? No, we did not. There was a broad-based effort in Germany to eliminate Nazis from the new government, but that was turned over to the Germans quite quickly. In Japan, there was a short-lived effort to break up the military-financial cabals that ran the country, which continued to meet informally. The economic reconstruction under the direction of Joseph Dodge in both Germany and Japan, which evolved into the Marshall Plan, could be seen as propping up the economy of the enemy at the expense of the allies. The loss of a functioning civil government was seen as a route to chaos--something apparently not learned in Iraq.

BrianY
07-07-2016, 02:36 PM
No, we did not. There was a broad-based effort in Germany to eliminate Nazis from the new government, but that was turned over to the Germans quite quickly. In Japan, there was a short-lived effort to break up the military-financial cabals that ran the country, which continued to meet informally. The economic reconstruction under the direction of Joseph Dodge in both Germany and Japan, which evolved into the Marshall Plan, could be seen as propping up the economy of the enemy at the expense of the allies. The loss of a functioning civil government was seen as a route to chaos--something apparently not learned in Iraq.

Ok. Thanks for the enlightenment.

How about this? One lesson to be learned from the successful democratization efforts is that they don't work in countries where there is a long-standing conflict between religious or ethnic populations.

mmd
07-07-2016, 02:56 PM
You can lead a horse to water, but if the horse don't want to drink, well...

PhaseLockedLoop
07-07-2016, 03:11 PM
I've been mentioning this for ages and getting no response at all. !

Not much now, either. Sorry I didn't chime in on your posts. If I'd seen them I would have.

Osborne Russell
07-07-2016, 08:12 PM
Ok. Thanks for the enlightenment.

How about this? One lesson to be learned from the successful democratization efforts is that they don't work in countries where there is a long-standing conflict between religious or ethnic populations.

That's because any nation not founded on the consent of the governed is illegitimate. Undemocratic by definition. The only way out is to renounce the will to power of one group in order to oppress another.

It doesn't matter who's on top at a given point in time. To hell with them all.

BrianY
07-07-2016, 08:59 PM
That's because any nation not founded on the consent of the governed is illegitimate. Undemocratic by definition. The only way out is to renounce the will to power of one group in order to oppress another.

It doesn't matter who's on top at a given point in time. To hell with them all.

Right...and if we're smart enough to understand that, don't you think that the experts in our government should also understand it and stop getting us involved in situations that are doomed to failure such as Iraq and Afghanistan ?

Keith Wilson
07-07-2016, 09:27 PM
Two out of how many adds up to what in the Liberal capitalist theme of moral and cultural world dominance. You misunderstand completely, possibly confused by an excess of bile. Gilberj said he couldn't recall any instances when US military intervention was successful in establishing democracy. I pointed out two examples. I was not defending the idea of military intervention, which we agree does not have a very good record, with pretty awful results in some cases. I sure do seem to have a talent for irritating you; not quite sure why.

OTOH, of all the political/economic systems yet invented, can you think of a one that does a better job than liberal capitalism? One which screws things up less, and does less damage? I can't.

Osborne Russell
07-07-2016, 10:25 PM
Right...and if we're smart enough to understand that, don't you think that the experts in our government should also understand it and stop getting us involved in situations that are doomed to failure such as Iraq and Afghanistan ?

These things are not necessarily failures from the perspective of those that promote them. They are adept at avoiding the costs while scarfing the goodies.

It's the voters who have to have higher standards, and make them stick.