Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Future US Role in the Middle East

The measured US response that leaned increasingly towards the pro-democracy demonstrators combined with the stark contrast between the government responses to similar demonstrations in US ally, Bahrain and former Soviet client and pan-arabist dictatorship, Libya may be setting up a new role for the US in the Middle East.

We may be seeing a new US role in the middle east emerge in which our allies are more likely to democratize relatively smoothly if slowly and gradually (with a small number of exceptions like Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen). While Bahrain is showing promising signs of opening up another round of liberalizing reforms, Libya's Gaddafi seems to be intent on killing as many of the protestors as he needs to. He may even be using foreign mercenaries (from other non-US allies like the Sudan) to do it.

For once, the US is not the outside power backing the ruthless dictator. Finally there are signs that the US can be a constructive influence on policies that really matter to Arabs. In the end, for the US to be the moderating restraining influence on dictators under pressure to reform may be more important than if the US were to suddenly abandon Israel. Call me crazy but I am of the opinion that if Israel were surrounded by reasonable, relatively peaceful governments that nevertheless kept the pressure on them it would do more to shift Israeli policy than all the bellicosity and threats of war and extermination that have been the mainstay of Islamist strategies. One possible consequence of this is that if Israel can no longer credibly claim that only unwavering US support prevents the genocide of Levantine Jews, it would allow the US to finally put real pressure on Israel. It would also empower the growing segment of Israeli society that genuinely wants a peaceful solution to the problem.


Anonymous said...

To correct a delusion.

The United States does not support democracy even in the US.

It supports oligarchies and plutocrats, democrats never.

Never has, never will be a democracy.

Raised By Republicans said...


USWest said...

Perhaps not. Don't write such comments off as "nutty". Stop and think a moment. Perhaps Anonymous might come back to explain in more detail what he/she means. I think I will take a stab at it.

Basic Definitions:

Plutocracy: a government or state in which the wealthy class rules.

Oligarchy: a form of government in which all power is vested in a few persons or in a dominant class or clique; government by the few.

How is this untrue in this country now? Our democracy contains strong elements of both even if they are not the totality of our system. I am not convinced this hasn't always been true. These elements have waxed and waned throughout our history. Right now, they are blatantly evident.

Why shy away from using more extreme words to describe the dark side of our Democracy? The fact that we don't call things what they are because it makes us uncomfortable, or because we think it's "nutty", is part of the problem- it's why our government gets away with most of its more egregious actions and policies- such as handing GW Bush an election and disenfranchising many minority voters in Florida, allowing media conglomeration, lifting environmental regulations to protect the public, launching false wars,attempting to defund health care reform, trying to end collective bargaining rights, pushing tax cuts for large corporations, refusing to turn back Bush-era tax cuts for the top 1% of Americans while the gap between them and the rest grows, appointing top Wall Street affiliates to top spots on Treasury, and as White House councilors, etc.

Considering how much power the banks and big industry have over the government, I don't think it unfair to use the word "oligarchy" as a characteristic of our government. What part of "too big to fail" do we not understand? How many cable companies can you purchase service from in your local area? Who really owns your local news paper? New Corp perhaps? Check it out for yourself.

I invite you to take a look at the net worth of some top Congresspeople in the 112th Congress. Of the top ten, only 3 are Republican!
The average wealth of members of the House is $3.4 mil and of the Senate is $13.6 mil. That is before you look at the PACs these people are affiliated with. Of the top 10 PACs, 5 are affiliated with Democrats and 5 with Republicans. Contributions of the 384 PACs totaled nearly $39 mil.

Then you have lobbying groups and 527s. The money train is never ending.

So tell me again why someone claiming we are governed by plutocrats and Oligarchs is so nuts?

The Law Talking Guy said...

The claim that the USA never has been and never will be a democracy is pretty nutty. As many problems as I see with democracy here, I wish that the whole world were as lucky as we are. And that's good enough.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Israel has not been forced to solve its Palestinian/West Bank problem for a variety of reasons. The USA is one, terrorism another, internal politics a third. Bottom line is that Israel has managed to get by for more than a generation placating the right with settlements, the left with occasional negotiation, and otherwise postponed figuring out how to extricate themselves from a difficult situation. Israel cannot permanently keep millions of human beings occupied without political rights (the rights to vote and participate as equal citizens of their state). But it cannot give them political rights in Israel without jeopardizing the Jewish matjority. The only long-term solution is to let Palestinians participate in their own state. Everyone seems to know this, but it never gets off the ground. Palestinians are divided and Israel wants to put restrictions on the new state that are incompatible with independence. I do believe that the revolutions sweeping the Arab lands are a wakeup call for Israel. Slumber time is over. It is time to settle the Palestinian situation for good because the US is losing its ability to maintain a fragile peace through support of dictators, kings, and emirs while the long occupation goes on.

We have seen roadmaps aplenty and they are all the same: a two-state solution with no right of return for Palestinian refugees but some Israeli settlement givebacks and a capital in a portion of Jersualem. Time to get off the pot.

Raised By Republicans said...

"The claim that the USA never has been and never will be a democracy is pretty nutty. As many problems as I see with democracy here, I wish that the whole world were as lucky as we are. And that's good enough."


Raised By Republicans said...


RE: Israel, nice summarized.

USwest said...

When the money has been drained from the system and concentrated in only a few places, then I don't care how many elected officials you have in the state and local governments.

When the governor of a state like Wisconsin can use the budget situation as an excuse to end collective bargaining in the face of protests and demonstrations, then I wonder how relevant the local governments really are.

I repeat we have elements of Oligarchy and plutocracy in the country that are dangerous.

Listen to Sen. Sanders

Raised By Republicans said...

US West, I just reconsidered and deleted them. Let me digest a bit more and get back into this alternate (trolled) thread.

Raised By Republicans said...

US West,

The fact is that the governor of the state of Wisconsin won an election that was freely contested. It's also the case the in election after election majorities have opted for the conflicting preferences of big spending and low taxes which is why our governments are running deficits. That's not oligarchy though.

If you want to convince me that the US is an oligarchy, you'd have to show that election outcomes were rigged by this special class or that elections don't determine who makes decisions at all. Neither of those things is observed in the US. Instead we have freely (often hotly) contested elections at the local, state and federal levels. One can't just dismiss the significance of that because one doesn't like the results.

It's also not sufficient to point to high income inequality in the economy and declare that plutocracy or oligarchy exists. There are mechanisms in place for less than wealthy people to influence policy (unions are one example, elections are a bigger one).

I'll conclude by pointing out that anonymous was behaving like a classic "troll" - hijacking a blog thread to discuss an unrelated issue. This was a post about the Middle East and anonymous successfully hijacked it into a debate about the absurd assertion that the US "Never has, never will be a democracy."

USWest said...

The discussion is worth it to me because I think it's an important one even it it should have been on a seperate thread.

If you notice in my comments, I didn't say the US WAS an oligarchy or a Plutocracy.

Perhaps I am not a sophisticated enough this blogging stuff to identify a "troll", but threads go where they go. And now I feel like a prat.

If the person is a "troll", then don't take the bait by calling this person a nut. Ignore it or remove it. I was really more objecting to the "nut" name calling and the dismissal of an alternertaive point of view than the cotent of the message.

Raised By Republicans said...

Fair enough.

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