oldschool CxC

Friday, April 11, 2003

MH Popping in univited to Rick and Erik's discussionIf you start with the premise that fascists are bad, then the U.N. is fatally and structurally flawed. Too many members are fascist so why would they knock one of their own? On the security counsel, China holds a veto as does Russia (although I'll concede that Russia has moved away from utter totaliatarianism). Since I prefer democracy to fascism, I rather act through a coalition of the willing like Estonia, Phillipines, Lichenstein then wring your hands over the blessings of China, Morroco, etc. If the U.N. membership required some modicum of compliance with human rights, if it showed uniform obeisance to the idea that democracy good, brutal repression bad and intolerable then it'd have legitimacy. As it is now, the U.N. is only useful when it can be used to our ends.

and we all know that "What about X country? Why Iraq?" is a lame argument (not saying that it was made here), because reality requires a measured approach. Country X will have its day.

last, in an effort to educate Erik's sodden mind:
The Tarquins, meanwhile, had taken refuge at the court of Lars Porsena, the King of Clusium. By every means in their power they tried to win his support, now begging him not to allow fellow Etruscans, men of the same blood as himself, to continue living in penniless exile, now warning him of the dangerous consequences of letting republicanism go unavenged. The expulsion of kings they urged, once it had begun, might well become common practice; liberty was an attractive idea, and unless reigning monarchs defended their thrones as vigorously as states now seemed to be trying to destroy them, all order and subordination would collapse; nothing would be left in any country but flat equality; greatness and eminence would be gone for ever. Monarchy, the noblest thing in heaven or on earth, was nearing its end.

Livy, The History of Rome from its Foundation, Book II.

[Well, once Livy comes into the discussion, the whole thing is just over my wee head. Perhaps I should stick to discussions of things I know about, such as pornography. - RM][MH- How about porn AND tattoos or extremely, extremely disturbing (except to GH[GH yep. seen it. but the ones i usually get are freshly killed]) pictures of Chris Farley's bloated carcass. In case you missed the point about disrurbing, "The shit coming out of his mouth is called Purging which was either caused by the O.D. or the heart attack. It's when the body builds up pressure and the stomach fluids need OUT"

[E: re: "If the U.N. membership required some modicum of compliance with human rights, if it showed uniform obeisance to the idea that democracy good, brutal repression bad and intolerable then it'd have legitimacy." I couldn't have said it better myself, sodden or no. (Sony has been threatening me with a Livy lecture for some time now. Do I smell a baby name?) And to me this gets to Rick's question below, which is why I say I *am* in favor of the US participating in a "rules-based international community" as long as this community does not include dictators and tyrants, and is dedicated to bringing basic human rights to the world instead of, say, admonishing the US for not participating in the Kyoto treaty.]

{A non-existent but laudable ideal. I'll take the imperfect-but-better-than-nothing reality. And if there are going to be brutal despots and such, I'd rather they signed up for the basic rules of international conduct than not. But the Kyoto thing - couldn't agree more. I mean, better to do nothing about greenhouse gasses than to put the bulk of the burden on wealthier countries. That way we're all better off. - RM}

[E: I guess that's where we disagree. I wouldn't even compliment the UN by calling them imperfect, and there's no reason why we can't help create a new international body that does adhere to some of those ideals mentioned before. The UN has only been around for fifty or sixty years, it wasn't handed down by God. It should be allowed to go the way of the League of Nations and a new more ethical body put in its place. As for brutal despots, if the rules are such that they wouldn't mind signing up for them, then I would suggest the rules are not ones we should be endorsing. I agree with those who say that debt incurred by regimes like Saddam's should not be transferred to the new government, and the countries and companies foolish enough and immoral enough to extend him credit deserve to eat every last dinar.]

{M- I like that. The WTO, IMF, WB, etc should serve that role, just like our own MFN used to, before Clinton let China in. Access to our markets can make or break a country and we should save it for countries like us. China doesn't provide anything we couldn't get just as cheaply from India}

[E: also, re: your Kyoto comment, is that sarcasm or just poorly worded? I honestly can't tell.] -

{Sarcasm. Sorry, I've been practicing my technique but still can't get it right. Of course I shouldn't be like that, since I really do admire your ideals even though I apparently disagree with you on just about everything else in the foreign policy realm. Take Iraqi debt relief for example. Say I represent company X, which implemented a major irrigation project on credit so that Iraqis could produce enough food for their populace. The loan was lawful under domestic and international law. My company should be penalized because the U.S. decided after the fact that my loan is lawful but "immoral?" Is it fair that other foreign borrowers, good and bad alike, going forward will face higher interest rates to insure against potential moral condemnation by a greater military power? Even if the effect is to punish particularly morally bad countries with particularly high interest rates (and rewarding more "moral" countries with relatively lower interest rates, which to be fair, it the best argument contra, imho), isn't this essentially the same as economic sanctions insofar as the brutal despot can push the costs down to the oppressed masses? - RM}

[E: were talking ideals here... the moral condemnation should come from a moral international group ideally. And you could separate the good debt from the bad using the criteria of whether it was against the interests of the people. The point is these regimes could not exist in a vacuum, and part of the risk in extending them credit is that you may not ever get your money back. If you want to propose that slightly higher interest rates would result and that this is a greater evil, then we disagree. But we "good" consumers all pay higher interest rates and insurance rates to cover lenders' bad debt, and this is an incentive for those companies to be choosy about who they lend to. You say the loan was lawful... who was the loan to? Iraq as a country? Or the immoral regime? Using your logic I could argue that the arab soldiers who were promised a house by Saddam if they came to fight Americans should still expect to be compensated by the new government.]

[E goes on to say: as for Kyoto, I'm against it because it is a heavy-handed solution to a non-existent problem. The idea that we can somehow control "climate change" by mucking around with one part (human caused) of one small variable (greenhouse gasses) is silly and beside the fact that a degree and a half of warming every century has not been proven to be a bad thing even if true. It was several degrees warmer on average a thousand years ago, and by all accounts the global cooling that followed was way more problematic for civilization. None of this means I am pro-pollution, and in fact my belief that protection of the environment should be a federal concern would get me kicked out of the Libertarian party.]


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