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Thread: Western foreign policy, when push comes to shove: Democracy sacrificed for Stability?

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    pardon my klatchian Member al Roumi's Avatar
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    Default Western foreign policy, when push comes to shove: Democracy sacrificed for Stability?

    Given the current self-flagelation elsewhere on the forum and members decrying the dearth of new, fresh discussions, here is something I've not seen discussed here -and from a fresh angle.

    Acknowledging political Islam

    The US has historically supported suppressive secular regimes in the Middle East, a policy with obvious shortcomings.

    Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the Democratic opposition going against incumbent Hosni Mubarak in the upcoming elections, has catalogued the rights violations committed by the Egyptian regime. But when push comes to shove, would Western nations really support him if it meant Islamists in the periphery gaining more power?

    "Regimes that fight, survive."

    The words were those of a senior member of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), the "house" think-tank of AIPAC, the pro-Israel US lobbying organisation. Spoken at a scholarly conference in 1992, they were meant as a reproach to people like me, who argued that an ageing generation of autocratic leaders in the Middle East risked facilitating the rise of a wave of violent, anti-democratic Islamists unless they were willing to accommodate the aspirations of the seemingly more democratically-inclined Islamists in their midst.

    A movement to which we referred in those days as "political Islam" was gaining momentum throughout the region, and there was much disagreement among Western scholars and government practitioners as to how - or indeed whether - to accommodate it. The language of political opposition in the region, then as now, was overwhelmingly Islamic; the question was whether there were any useful distinctions to be made among the various Islamist currents, and whether any would permanently accept a democratic model - or instead adhere, as many feared, to a doctrine of "one man, one vote, one time."

    Choosing suppression over justice

    WINEP, then as now, was generally representative of right-leaning political opinion in Israel, and this case was no exception. One of the more influential voices from that quarter belonged to Binyamin Netanyahu, who argued at the time that there was a clear alignment of interests between Israel and the secular regimes of the surrounding Arab states.

    The Islamist trends beginning to menace the latter were echoed in newly-ascendant Islamic-inspired Palestinian organisations such as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which posed the greatest threat to Israel. The secular Arab regimes, according to this line of thinking, should therefore find it in their interest to make peace with Israel and isolate the Islamists, both in Palestine and elsewhere, rather than allowing Islamic oppositionists to exploit a growing identification between Islam and Arab nationalism, and to use popular anti-Israeli sentiment to engulf both Israel and the Arab regimes alike.

    Therefore, my WINEP friend argued - in suitably coded language - the Arab regimes should employ against the Islamists the repression so successfully employed by Israel in thwarting the Palestinians' popular resistance to occupation during the first Intifada: "Regimes that fight, survive."

    The issues of the day were most starkly represented in Algeria, where a moderate Islamist opposition led by the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) had made rapid democratic inroads, only to be brutally repressed in early 1992 by the Algerian army, just when it was on the verge of winning an overwhelming majority in the Algerian National Assembly. The muted response of the US and other Western powers to this military coup gave testament to their fear of the Islamist wave, and the primacy in their thinking of practical over ideological considerations.

    Whatever their pro-democratic rhetoric, when faced with a choice between the ascension of religiously conservative Arab nationalists overtly opposed to US policy in the region on the one hand, and repression on the other, the West was prepared to support repression. My friend from WINEP, no doubt, approved.

    The elusive promise of stability

    Appalled at the time by what I regarded as a pusillanimous and hypocritical US policy, my dissenting view was based not just on moral, but on practical criteria. I did not believe that support for democracy should only be bestowed on those democrats favourable to us. More pointedly, however, it seemed to me that the Arab masses, if denied the opportunity for political recourse through democratic means, would turn instead to revolutionary forces who embraced a far more radical and violent conception of Islam.

    And indeed, such was the path immediately taken in Algeria. With the moderate, democratic Islamist opposition imprisoned or otherwise neutralised by the regime, its place was assumed by far more radical, Takfiri elements, represented by the GSPC. Algeria descended into a cauldron of almost unimaginable violence, which was ultimately to claim as many as 200,000 lives.

    All this came back to mind recently in response to an op-ed penned in the US press by Mohamed ElBaradei, former Director-General of the IAEA, and now the putative head of Egypt's democratic opposition. In it he catalogues the many abuses perpetrated by the Mubarak regime during the just-concluded Egyptian parliamentary elections, and decries the policies of Mubarak and his cronies in the NDP and the security forces not just on moral grounds, but on practical ones as well. Their tactics, he asserts, carry with them the ultimate threat of revolution, and should therefore draw the active opposition of the West: "The rights of the Egyptian people," he says, "should not be trampled in exchange for an elusive promise of stability."

    I strongly agree with ElBaradei, and am convinced that the ambivalence of US attitudes toward democracy in the region - most clearly seen in the hostile US reaction to Hamas' sweeping electoral victory in 2006 - carries a clear threat of promoting long-term disaster. But one must concede that the course of history between 1992 and now much more clearly favour the old arguments put forward by WINEP than they do my own.

    Shifting power structures

    Consider: The Algerian civil war of the 1990s, rather than ending, as I had initially anticipated, in the defeat of a corrupt, military-dominated elite, has instead led to the thorough marginalisation of a violent Islamist movement which has discredited itself in the eyes of the people. While its face has changed, the old elite survives. And the passing of an elder generation of leaders, rather than hastening the disintegration of repressive and unrepresentative power structures across the region, has led instead to the relatively smooth transfer of power to their sons - in Morocco, in Jordan, in Syria, and in UAE. We can probably expect to see the same shortly in Libya and, most significantly, in Egypt - Mr. ElBaradei and the democratic opposition notwithstanding.

    I believe it is right that ElBaradei should solicit the support of world opinion and warn of the consequences for regional stability of the continued frustration of Egypt's popular aspirations for reform. No doubt his pleas will continue to receive an encouraging echo in the Western press. But if he expects more than that, he is fooling himself. For when push comes to shove, the US and other western governments, to the extent they can influence events at all, will opt, in Mr. ElBaradei's words, for the elusive promise of stability.

    It is easy to criticise an unlovely regime like that of Hosni Mubarak, and both public and private figures in the US rise enthusiastically to the task. But just let them glimpse a realistic prospect for the Egyptian Muslim Brothers to gain a significant share of power, and their enthusiasm will rapidly wane. I and others who believe as I do remain convinced that this is a significant mistake, and that the prominent current of thinking in the US which refuses to make a significant distinction between groups like the Muslim brothers and the violent Islamists who embrace the banner of Al Qaeda is wrong-headed. Our problem is that we simply cannot find compelling evidence to make our case. Absent new facts, which only the people of the region can provide, we are destined to lose the debate.

    Robert Grenier is a retired, 27-year veteran of the CIA’s Clandestine Service. He was Director of the CIA’s Counter-Terrorism Center from 2004 to 2006.

    http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth...810405799.html

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    pardon my klatchian Member al Roumi's Avatar
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    Default Re: Western foreign policy, when push comes to shove: Democracy sacrificed for Stabil

    So, a servant of the great satan (and therefore not just some pinko dhimmi) says the US should not only support the democracies it likes, but allow the ones it's doesn't see eye-to-eye with to continue to exist. The example of Algeria is an interesting one -but not the only one, Somalia and the government of the Islamic courts could also be considered.

    Below are some of my thoughts, not meant to guide the discussion in any way.

    Why does the US and others balk at the idea of even a mildly Islamist government? Would the US be as safe (less or more?) if it relaxed a bit about political Islam, recognising as Mr Grenier does, a difference between AL Qaida type violent jihadis and other Islamist political organisations?

    Those who have studied movements such as Hamas chart a swing in its policy between populist Islamism and pragmatic governing. Pushing such groups back out into the cold has been said to re-enforce their dogmatic Islamism when they could instead be brought into the center of peaceful and rational politics.

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    Member Member Greyblades's Avatar
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    Default Re: Western foreign policy, when push comes to shove: Democracy sacrificed for Stabil

    Cant say I'm surprised, the middle east is and was a mess, even before the iraq war, anyone would be reluctant to get tangled up trying to sort out an islamic state and not peeve off every arab in the region when its just easier to leave them to it and hope it sorts itself out.
    Then again I probably dont know what I'm talking about, All I know of islam/arabia/the middle east in general are small news snippets and horror stories about sharia(sp) law.
    Last edited by Greyblades; 01-06-2011 at 15:11.
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    Senior Member Senior Member Idaho's Avatar
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    Default Re: Western foreign policy, when push comes to shove: Democracy sacrificed for Stabil

    The US has always favoured supporting specific people and personalities and has always distrusted and misunderstood movements and ideologies, even if the latter are more just than the former.
    "The republicans will draft your kids, poison the air and water, take away your social security and burn down black churches if elected." Gawain of Orkney

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    AKA Leif 3000 TURBO Senior Member Leet Eriksson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Western foreign policy, when push comes to shove: Democracy sacrificed for Stabil

    THEM ISLAMS has always been a convenient catchphrase to lump all muslims into some sort of monolithic entity, and it stops there as far as i'm concerned. Also US corporations always want autocratic capitalist regimes, instead of change. Israel also never desired peace in the first place according to wikileaks, hamas and the PLO are convenient pawns to keep pumping money into their military industry.
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    Darkside Medic Senior Member rory_20_uk's Avatar
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    Default Re: Western foreign policy, when push comes to shove: Democracy sacrificed for Stabil

    And many Islamic countries refer to most of the west as "Christian" when a more correct term would be "Secular". In terms of misrepresentation that is more extreme.

    An enemy that wishes to die for their country is the best sort to face - you both have the same aim in mind.
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    AKA Leif 3000 TURBO Senior Member Leet Eriksson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Western foreign policy, when push comes to shove: Democracy sacrificed for Stabil

    Quote Originally Posted by rory_20_uk View Post
    And many Islamic countries refer to most of the west as "Christian" when a more correct term would be "Secular". In terms of misrepresentation that is more extreme.

    an unsupported and completely irrelevant statement. This is about the US governments perception and foreign policy with regards to the middle east, not some cavemen in afghanistan.
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    Member Member Hax's Avatar
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    Default Re: Western foreign policy, when push comes to shove: Democracy sacrificed for Stabil

    And many Islamic countries refer to most of the west as "Christian" when a more correct term would be "Secular".
    Do remember that some people also refer to their own countries as (Judeao)Christian, here in the west. Notable examples? Geert Wilders, for example, or what about Ann Coulter or Bill O'Reilly. They are like the radical imams of the American right wing, if you forgive the simile. Hell, George W. Bush himself said he had been inspired by God and he called the Republican Party "God's party". You know how that would translate to Arabic?

    Hizbollah.

    EDIT: Just for clarification, I'm not really in the position to debate on whether or how "the Islamic countries/regimes/(religious)authorities" view the western states, I just wanted to point out that it is not necessarily something just they do.

    EDIT 2:
    Why does the US and others balk at the idea of even a mildly Islamist government? Would the US be as safe (less or more?) if it relaxed a bit about political Islam, recognising as Mr Grenier does, a difference between AL Qaida type violent jihadis and other Islamist political organisations?
    While it's not really fair to draw a comparison with the Salafiyya-Wahhabi Sunni organisations and the Twelver Shi'a government of Iran, but this reminds me of what went wrong there in '79. The Shah and his SAVAK were probably less horrible than the Supreme Leader and his basiji, but what irked the Iranian people is the fact that the US and the UK (especially those two) went to such great lengths to support that regime. Of course, we know why, but that's not really important right now.

    I think the reason why the US fears an Islamist government in any middle-eastern country is because they'd be afraid that they'd use it as a base to export their Islamism. Of course, Iran was never interested in exporting the revolution, as they don't really think in terms like "dar al-Islam" or "dar al-harb", but al-Qaeda does. Of course, when you look at al-Qaeda, you'll notice that they're basically idiots with western-style education that have been brainwashed by pseudo-imams that cherrypicked verses from the Qur'an or the Hadiths.
    Last edited by Hax; 01-06-2011 at 16:55.
    This space intentionally left blank.

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    AKA Leif 3000 TURBO Senior Member Leet Eriksson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Western foreign policy, when push comes to shove: Democracy sacrificed for Stabil

    Quote Originally Posted by Hax View Post
    While it's not really fair to draw a comparison with the Salafiyya-Wahhabi Sunni organisations and the Twelver Shi'a government of Iran, but this reminds me of what went wrong there in '79. The Shah and his SAVAK were probably less horrible than the Supreme Leader and his basiji, but what irked the Iranian people is the fact that the US and the UK (especially those two) went to such great lengths to support that regime. Of course, we know why, but that's not really important right now.

    I think the reason why the US fears an Islamist government in any middle-eastern country is because they'd be afraid that they'd use it as a base to export their Islamism. Of course, Iran was never interested in exporting the revolution, as they don't really think in terms like "dar al-Islam" or "dar al-harb", but al-Qaeda does. Of course, when you look at al-Qaeda, you'll notice that they're basically idiots with western-style education that have been brainwashed by pseudo-imams that cherrypicked verses from the Qur'an or the Hadiths.
    The iranian revolution was mostly communist and Islamic (the communists were consumed, or their cause hijacked later on), and you're wrong, the west supported the islamic revolutionaries over the shah, who was actually worse, and they do export terror, the shia aligned revolts in the arabian peninsula, and hizbollah in lebanon is apparent, they aim to create an unfavourable environment for a whole lot of folks, and there is little reason to believe the IRI's interest in the welfare of shia minories, let alone the region is well intentioned.

    The US does not really fear an Islamic government, they simply do not want the status quo to change for a whole lot of reasons, but long story short, stability, business, the whole deal and i guess a little bit of nepotism and buddy buddy relationships with countries like saudi, morroco and egypt since the early 1900s.
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    Old Town Road Senior Member Strike For The South's Avatar
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    Default Re: Western foreign policy, when push comes to shove: Democracy sacrificed for Stabil

    I have nothing relevant to add to the thread

    Other than Congratulations Fizzil, the regular channels have provided with some news that is most exciting

    Good show old bean
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    Member Member Hax's Avatar
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    Default Re: Western foreign policy, when push comes to shove: Democracy sacrificed for Stabil

    and you're wrong, the west supported the islamic revolutionaries over the shah
    You're thinking of the Iran-contra affair, aren't you? My point was that initially, the west supported the Shah. Only when the situation became unbearable they decided to retract support.

    and you're wrong, the west supported the islamic revolutionaries over the shah, who was actually worse, and they do export terror, the shia aligned revolts in the arabian peninsula, and hizbollah in lebanon is apparent, they aim to create an unfavourable environment for a whole lot of folks, and there is little reason to believe the IRI's interest in the welfare of shia minories, let alone the region is well intentioned.
    But the Shi'i government isn't interested at all in creating a world-wide Shi'a Islamic empire or anything to that extent.
    This space intentionally left blank.

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    Default Re: Western foreign policy, when push comes to shove: Democracy sacrificed for Stabil

    Quote Originally Posted by Hax View Post
    You're thinking of the Iran-contra affair, aren't you? My point was that initially, the west supported the Shah. Only when the situation became unbearable they decided to retract support.



    But the Shi'i government isn't interested at all in creating a world-wide Shi'a Islamic empire or anything to that extent.
    Its not really hegemony, its simply a buffer to throw the US off whatever it is iranian interests are. My point is to highlight why its such an unhealthy endeavor iran is pursuing already, since these are US aligned countries, they're basically putting minorities in the peninsula in harms way to protect or serve their interests.
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    Old Town Road Senior Member Strike For The South's Avatar
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    Default Re: Western foreign policy, when push comes to shove: Democracy sacrificed for Stabil

    Quote Originally Posted by Leet Eriksson View Post
    Its not really hegemony, its simply a buffer to throw the US off whatever it is iranian interests are. My point is to highlight why its such an unhealthy endeavor iran is pursuing already, since these are US aligned countries, they're basically putting minorities in the peninsula in harms way to protect or serve their interests.
    America would never do that!

    THE KURDS ARE A GOOD PEOPLE, well they weren't when we gave Saddam the weapons to gas them in the 80s but they were in the 90s when we didn't like Saddam

    If people ever stopped and looked at Americas track recored throughout the past 40 years every congressmen would be dead tommorow

    I realize that holding America up to an abtairy perfection standard is stupid and idealisitc but If I could set the over at 3 for "ruthless dictators we give weapons to" per decade would that be to much to ask?
    There, but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford

    My aim, then, was to whip the rebels, to humble their pride, to follow them to their inmost recesses, and make them fear and dread us. Fear is the beginning of wisdom.

    I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation.

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    Darkside Medic Senior Member rory_20_uk's Avatar
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    Default Re: Western foreign policy, when push comes to shove: Democracy sacrificed for Stabil

    Quote Originally Posted by Leet Eriksson View Post
    an unsupported and completely irrelevant statement. This is about the US governments perception and foreign policy with regards to the middle east, not some cavemen in afghanistan.
    Perhaps in future you'll bother to write a cogent post as opposed to the ambiguous one you posted beforehand.

    An enemy that wishes to die for their country is the best sort to face - you both have the same aim in mind.
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    AKA Leif 3000 TURBO Senior Member Leet Eriksson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Western foreign policy, when push comes to shove: Democracy sacrificed for Stabil

    Quote Originally Posted by rory_20_uk View Post
    Perhaps in future you'll bother to write a cogent post as opposed to the ambiguous one you posted beforehand.

    The irony is overwhelming coming from a poster who has yet to contribute something that isn't devoid of content and useful.
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    Darkside Medic Senior Member rory_20_uk's Avatar
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    Default Re: Western foreign policy, when push comes to shove: Democracy sacrificed for Stabil

    Quote Originally Posted by Leet Eriksson View Post
    The irony is overwhelming coming from a poster who has yet to contribute something that isn't devoid of content and useful.
    Apologies oh great overlord for being misled by your badly worded post...

    Are you aware your last statement barely makes sense either? Perhaps replacing the "and" with "or" might help...

    And what do we call a reposte to a post criticising accuracy which itself is inaccurate?

    An enemy that wishes to die for their country is the best sort to face - you both have the same aim in mind.
    Science flies you to the moon, religion flies you into buildings.
    "If you can't trust the local kleptocrat whom you installed by force and prop up with billions of annual dollars, who can you trust?" Lemur
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    AKA Leif 3000 TURBO Senior Member Leet Eriksson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Western foreign policy, when push comes to shove: Democracy sacrificed for Stabil

    Quote Originally Posted by rory_20_uk View Post
    Apologies oh great overlord for being misled by your badly worded post...

    Are you aware your last statement barely makes sense either? Perhaps replacing the "and" with "or" might help...

    And what do we call a reposte to a post criticising accuracy which itself is inaccurate?

    This post says alot about whose cogent, how is my post inaccurate when i'm mirroring the CIA agent in that AJE article? on the other hand you post a baseless and unsupported statement of "islamic" countries that mis characterize the secular european nations as "christian" which is apparently even more "extreme", since when did you become arbiter in this matter?
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    pardon my klatchian Member al Roumi's Avatar
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    Default Re: Western foreign policy, when push comes to shove: Democracy sacrificed for Stabil

    Hand-bags at dawn... Chew some Qat and chill the out ladies.

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    Darkside Medic Senior Member rory_20_uk's Avatar
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    Default Re: Western foreign policy, when push comes to shove: Democracy sacrificed for Stabil



    An enemy that wishes to die for their country is the best sort to face - you both have the same aim in mind.
    Science flies you to the moon, religion flies you into buildings.
    "If you can't trust the local kleptocrat whom you installed by force and prop up with billions of annual dollars, who can you trust?" Lemur
    If you're not a liberal when you're 25, you have no heart. If you're not a conservative by the time you're 35, you have no brain.
    The best argument against democracy is a five minute talk with the average voter. Winston Churchill

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    pardon my klatchian Member al Roumi's Avatar
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    Default Re: Western foreign policy, when push comes to shove: Democracy sacrificed for Stabil

    Quote Originally Posted by Leet Eriksson View Post
    The US does not really fear an Islamic government, they simply do not want the status quo to change for a whole lot of reasons, but long story short, stability, business, the whole deal and i guess a little bit of nepotism and buddy buddy relationships with countries like saudi, morroco and egypt since the early 1900s.
    Yes, but this emphasis on preserving stability at the cost of other people's aspirations is what does for perceptions of the USA's as a force for good. It is a form of exploitation which contrasts horrendously with the US' self perception as a beacon of liberty -which is of course pumped out accross the world in films and TV.

    Yet given the stand point of a state dept policy maker, or even US politician, whose primary focus will (arguably quite rightly) always be the interests of the US and its citizens over any others, it's hard to see any possible change.

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    Senior Member Senior Member Idaho's Avatar
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    Default Re: Western foreign policy, when push comes to shove: Democracy sacrificed for Stabil

    The US supported groups of insurgents operating under warlords in Afghanistan, against the Soviets.

    Once these warlords became a movement - the Taliban - the US distrusted them. And instead supported other groups of insurgents operating under (opium funded) warlords to oust them. It continues to prop up Karzai - a corrupt, incompetant and paranoid fool who no-one outside his paid up clique would touch with a bargepole.

    I brought up Korea on a thread a while back. A similar thing happened then. The US was deeply suspicious of the socialist North Koreans. A group who became odder and more secretive once they had been marginalised by the US, and violently repressed by the South Korean President - Rhee - himself a classic US selection of "our man".

    South and Central America was riven with "our men". Almost all corrupt and desperately unpopular and usually undemocratic despots and tyrants. Some of whom were actually sponsored by the US to overthrow democratic governments.

    The US talks a lot about democracy - but in truth they are absolutely terrified of it. Because, strangely enough, poor and abused populaces in other parts of the world, with other cultures, have the odd habit of electing people who they believe represent their interests, rather than that of the US military or economy.

    The biggest mistake of this century will be seen by historians as the first Bush election. Leaders around the world saw the voting irregularities and rigging as a carte blanche for the legitimization of electoral rigging. If it's ok in the US, then it's ok here.

    The question that this thread has hanging in the breeze is "what is stability?" and does it really differ from acendant western interest?
    Last edited by Idaho; 01-07-2011 at 11:51.
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    master of the pwniverse Member Fragony's Avatar
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    Default Re: Western foreign policy, when push comes to shove: Democracy sacrificed for Stabil

    My best bet would be that it's easier to make deals with nations, political islam has no national borders it's more of a movement. Just a guess, if it would be just Egypt with an islamist government it wouldn't really be a problem, but what if it's neighbours also do

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    Darkside Medic Senior Member rory_20_uk's Avatar
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    Default Re: Western foreign policy, when push comes to shove: Democracy sacrificed for Stabil

    Let's not forget the Gaza strip, where the wrong lot were democratically elected.

    An enemy that wishes to die for their country is the best sort to face - you both have the same aim in mind.
    Science flies you to the moon, religion flies you into buildings.
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    Member Member Hax's Avatar
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    Default Re: Western foreign policy, when push comes to shove: Democracy sacrificed for Stabil

    Quote Originally Posted by Idaho
    snip
    Brilliant post.
    This space intentionally left blank.

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    pardon my klatchian Member al Roumi's Avatar
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    Default Re: Western foreign policy, when push comes to shove: Democracy sacrificed for Stabil

    Quote Originally Posted by Idaho View Post
    The question that this thread has hanging in the breeze is "what is stability?" and does it really differ from acendant western interest?
    Nicely put.

    For the US (and others) to move away from the cronyist policies they would almost certainly have to be a little less risk averse. I think Frag's is right about Islamism and the desire (to whatever extent, it does exist) to create a pan-islamic block. Clearly, such a block would endanger the current "stability" enjoyed by the US (Oil, trade, security etc).

    But, to what extent does political Islam engender -or enable, such a block of nation(s) forming? My impression, as with the author of the article (by inference), is that one does not nessessarily lead to the other. However, it appears that the US is not prepared to take that risk -however marginal it may be.

    ---------------~~~ooooOOOOoooo~~~---------------

    I still find the issue of "US hypocrisy" interesting. When the US remonstrates with authoritarian leaders for their heavy handed "statecraft", does it do so becasue of a genuine will to unilaterly improve the lot of mankind -or a domestic pressure for protest to be lodged, conditioned by a greater domestic preogative for existing domestic conditions to be maintained?

    To my mind, US rhetoric is aspirational enough to lead one to believe the former, but action denotes the later -which is also "pragmatic" and machiavelian enough to reflect the reality of diplomacy.
    Last edited by al Roumi; 01-07-2011 at 12:42. Reason: added replica authentic Louis VI style bling divider

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    Senior Member Senior Member Idaho's Avatar
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    Default Re: Western foreign policy, when push comes to shove: Democracy sacrificed for Stabil

    Quote Originally Posted by Fragony View Post
    My best bet would be that it's easier to make deals with nations, political islam has no national borders it's more of a movement. Just a guess, if it would be just Egypt with an islamist government it wouldn't really be a problem, but what if it's neighbours also do
    That's a very niaive view based on a very sketchy understanding of history.

    Political Islam is the product of the "our men" policy. Go back 80 years and take a look at the creation of the countries of the middle east. Most of which were created in the aftermath of the first or second world wars. All of them were created as client states of the west with propped up leaders in the form of the House of Saud, the Hashemite monarchy, etc. Fast forward 20-40 or so years and you will find the dominant political movement in the middle east was secular and leftist. Often in the form of Ba'athist pan arabism. This was of course suppressed by "our men". The Suez crisis is an excellent case in point. A popular middle east leader who wasn't under direct control and who played off east and west for the most despicable of motives - getting a good deal for his own people.

    The aggressive suppression of all political movements in the Arab and Persian world created a vaccuum of political aspirations. You couldn't stand on a soap box and make political statements. If you did you'd end up in the CIA sponsored torture chambers of the Shah of Iran or the their equivalents in the Gulf. How could political thought and aspiration get round this? How could ordinary people in these places express the natural human desire for change, justice and political expression? The answer is religion. Hence political Islam was born. The house of Saud can cart off a political firebrand never to be seen again - but could the protectors of Islam do the same to a respected cleric?

    Look at the socio-economic make-up of the 9/11 bombers. Poor urchins? No - politically deprived middle classes. The same class that caused such a fuss in the US in the 1770s.
    "The republicans will draft your kids, poison the air and water, take away your social security and burn down black churches if elected." Gawain of Orkney

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    Tuba Son Member Subotan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Western foreign policy, when push comes to shove: Democracy sacrificed for Stabil

    Why does the US and others balk at the idea of even a mildly Islamist government? Would the US be as safe (less or more?) if it relaxed a bit about political Islam, recognising as Mr Grenier does, a difference between AL Qaida type violent jihadis and other Islamist political organisations?
    I wonder if the US would rather have, say in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood in power, an neo-Nasser in power, or the status quo...I'm guessing the latter, since it's the least risky in the short term. At least there's none of Rmsfelds unknown unknowns regarding the current regime.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hax View Post
    Do remember that some people also refer to their own countries as (Judeao)Christian, here in the west. Notable examples? Geert Wilders, for example, or what about Ann Coulter or Bill O'Reilly. They are like the radical imams of the American right wing, if you forgive the simile. Hell, George W. Bush himself said he had been inspired by God and he called the Republican Party "God's party". You know how that would translate to Arabic?

    Hizbollah.
    Zing! Very nice :D

    Quote Originally Posted by Leet Eriksson View Post
    The iranian revolution was mostly communist and Islamic (the communists were consumed, or their cause hijacked later on), and you're wrong, the west supported the islamic revolutionaries over the shah, who was actually worse, and they do export terror, the shia aligned revolts in the arabian peninsula, and hizbollah in lebanon is apparent, they aim to create an unfavourable environment for a whole lot of folks, and there is little reason to believe the IRI's interest in the welfare of shia minories, let alone the region is well intentioned.

    The US does not really fear an Islamic government, they simply do not want the status quo to change for a whole lot of reasons, but long story short, stability, business, the whole deal and i guess a little bit of nepotism and buddy buddy relationships with countries like saudi, morroco and egypt since the early 1900s.
    Maybe the US is too tempted to thing that change is incompatible with stability. Sometimes the move to a more stable system can only come from a revolution (E.g. Velvet Divorce, Meiji Restoration, establishment of the French Fifth Republic etc.) Rather, what appears to be stability in countries in the Middle East is in fact the kind of rule which characterised Latin American pro-USA dictatorships, frozen in time long after the threat of communism receded.

    Quote Originally Posted by Idaho View Post
    The US talks a lot about democracy - but in truth they are absolutely terrified of it. Because, strangely enough, poor and abused populaces in other parts of the world, with other cultures, have the odd habit of electing people who they believe represent their interests, rather than that of the US military or economy.
    So why did the USA allow Latin America to democratise, rather than continuing to support military rule and juntas?

  28. #28
    Senior Member Senior Member Idaho's Avatar
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    Default Re: Western foreign policy, when push comes to shove: Democracy sacrificed for Stabil

    Quote Originally Posted by alh_p View Post
    For the US (and others) to move away from the cronyist policies they would almost certainly have to be a little less risk averse. I think Frag's is right about Islamism and the desire (to whatever extent, it does exist) to create a pan-islamic block. Clearly, such a block would endanger the current "stability" enjoyed by the US (Oil, trade, security etc).

    But, to what extent does political Islam engender -or enable, such a block of nation(s) forming? My impression, as with the author of the article (by inference), is that one does not nessessarily lead to the other. However, it appears that the US is not prepared to take that risk -however marginal it may be.

    ---------------~~~ooooOOOOoooo~~~---------------

    I still find the issue of "US hypocrisy" interesting. When the US remonstrates with authoritarian leaders for their heavy handed "statecraft", does it do so becasue of a genuine will to unilaterly improve the lot of mankind -or a domestic pressure for protest to be lodged, conditioned by a greater domestic preogative for existing domestic conditions to be maintained?

    To my mind, US rhetoric is aspirational enough to lead one to believe the former, but action denotes the later -which is also "pragmatic" and machiavelian enough to reflect the reality of diplomacy.
    Your second section gives the insight that you are missing from the first. The idea of pan-islamic statehood and the world caliphate is a fantasy. Islam is a massively sectarian religion, for one. Islamic nations have shown the same willingness for hypocracy, civil war, national interest and scullduggery that Christian nations have over the centuries.

    Fearing a pan islamic world is like the 17th century protestant fears of an all-powerful pope taking over the world.
    "The republicans will draft your kids, poison the air and water, take away your social security and burn down black churches if elected." Gawain of Orkney

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    Senior Member Senior Member Idaho's Avatar
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    Default Re: Western foreign policy, when push comes to shove: Democracy sacrificed for Stabil

    Quote Originally Posted by Subotan View Post
    So why did the USA allow Latin America to democratise, rather than continuing to support military rule and juntas?
    I don't claim to have all the answers. Off the top of my head I might suggest that the US isn't against democracy providing they control the political hegemony?
    "The republicans will draft your kids, poison the air and water, take away your social security and burn down black churches if elected." Gawain of Orkney

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    Tuba Son Member Subotan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Western foreign policy, when push comes to shove: Democracy sacrificed for Stabil

    OK I admit it was unfair for me to ask you about something specific like that. But I still feel it shows that the USA wants to spread democracy, but doesn't see the support of autocratic regimes a terrible thing in comparison to the alternative (Communism, Radical Islamists etc.), which I would say isn't that bad for the world's only super power.

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