Monday, June 27, 2005

Democracy in Iraq Won't Work

It is truly amazing to me that the people we elect to guide our foreign policy have little or no knowledge of history. I would not expect our President to have read any history. Even the most ardent supporters of George Bush are coming to the realization that the man is an uneducated simpleton. He certainly has not read any Iraqi history. About the time he emerged from his years of substance abuse, someone in his father’s administration probably had to point to Iraq’s location on the map. But what is truly strange is the fact that none of the people who surround him (the real policy makers) have read history either. If any of them had read any Iraqi history or any regional history, they would have never come to the conclusion that it is possible to establish a democracy in Iraq. Let’s take a quick look at some of the historical roadblocks that should have raised large red flags in the minds of Bush’s policy makers. This attempt at establishing a (shake and bake) democracy in Iraq ignores the fact that Iraq has for thousands of years resisted the primary ingredient required for the establishment of any democracy. Political fragmentation and a resistance to a centralized government has been part of Iraqi history for thousands of years. From the beginning, (6000 B.C.) there have been three major factors that have inhibited political centralization:

  1. Iraq is an extremely threatening environment, driving its people to seek security from the extremes of nature. Throughout Iraqi history, various groups have formed autonomous, self-contained social units. Allegiance to ancient religious deities like the Shiat Ali (of party of Ali) or membership to one of a multitude of tribes was an effort to build autonomous security-providing structures. These structures have exerted a powerful influence on the direction of Iraqi culture.
  2. Iraq has a lack of stone, which historically severely hindered its ability to construct roads. As a result, many parts of the country remained beyond any government control for the majority of recorded history. Only within the last fifty years have modern roads been build to areas in Iraq that have spent thousands of years in relative isolation from the rest of the country and any type of centralized governmental control.
  3. Iraq’s geographic location is on the eastern flank of the Arab world. Iraq shares borders both nonArab Turkey and Iran. Because of Iraq’s great agricultural potential in its river valley, it has always attracted waves of ethnically diverse migrations. These migrations have repeatedly disrupted the countries internal balance and lead to deep-seated ethnic and tribal divisions.

Considering just these three historical realities, one would think that any policy maker would believe that the odds on successfully establishing a democracy would be extremely low. If you add the British colonialism beginning in 1918 and ending in 1958 to this mix, you can come to only one conclusion. Not only will a democracy not work, but any centralized government in Iraq will be difficult establish. We all thought that only one village was missing their idiot. Apparently there are a few more villages who are also missing their idiots. Unfortunately these idiots are the ones who make the policy decisions for our country.

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Friday, June 24, 2005

Rights and Revolution: The Past Meets The Future

Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen

Approved by the National Assembly of France, August 26, 1789

The representatives of the French people, organized as a National Assembly, believing that the ignorance, neglect, or contempt of the rights of man are the sole cause of public calamities and of the corruption of governments, have determined to set forth in a solemn declaration the natural, unalienable, and sacred rights of man, in order that this declaration, being constantly before all the members of the Social body, shall remind them continually of their rights and duties; in order that the acts of the legislative power, as well as those of the executive power, may be compared at any moment with the objects and purposes of all political institutions and may thus be more respected, and, lastly, in order that the grievances of the citizens, based hereafter upon simple and incontestable principles, shall tend to the maintenance of the constitution and redound to the happiness of all.

Therefore the National Assembly recognizes and proclaims, in the presence and under the auspices of the Supreme Being, the following rights of man and of the citizen:


Articles:
  1. Men are born and remain free and equal in rights. Social distinctions may be founded only upon the general good.
  2. The aim of all political association is the preservation of the natural and imprescriptible rights of man. These rights are liberty, property, security, and resistance to oppression.
  3. The principle of all sovereignty resides essentially in the nation. No body nor individual may exercise any authority which does not proceed directly from the nation.
  4. Liberty consists in the freedom to do everything which injures no one else; hence the exercise of the natural rights of each man has no limits except those which assure to the other members of the society the enjoyment of the same rights. These limits can only be determined by law.
  5. Law can only prohibit such actions as are hurtful to society. Nothing may be prevented which is not forbidden by law, and no one may be forced to do anything not provided for by law.
  6. Law is the expression of the general will. Every citizen has a right to participate personally, or through his representative, in its foundation. It must be the same for all, whether it protects or punishes. All citizens, being equal in the eyes of the law, are equally eligible to all dignities and to all public positions and occupations, according to their abilities, and without distinction except that of their virtues and talents.
  7. No person shall be accused, arrested, or imprisoned except in the cases and according to the forms prescribed by law. Any one soliciting, transmitting, executing, or causing to be executed, any arbitrary order, shall be punished. But any citizen summoned or arrested in virtue of the law shall submit without delay, as resistance constitutes an offense.
  8. The law shall provide for such punishments only as are strictly and obviously necessary, and no one shall suffer punishment except it be legally inflicted in virtue of a law passed and promulgated before the commission of the offense.
  9. As all persons are held innocent until they shall have been declared guilty, if arrest shall be deemed indispensable, all harshness not essential to the securing of the prisoner's person shall be severely repressed by law.
  10. No one shall be disquieted on account of his opinions, including his religious views, provided their manifestation does not disturb the public order established by law.
  11. The free communication of ideas and opinions is one of the most precious of the rights of man. Every citizen may, accordingly, speak, write, and print with freedom, but shall be responsible for such abuses of this freedom as shall be defined by law.
  12. The security of the rights of man and of the citizen requires public military forces. These forces are, therefore, established for the good of all and not for the personal advantage of those to whom they shall be intrusted.
  13. A common contribution is essential for the maintenance of the public forces and for the cost of administration. This should be equitably distributed among all the citizens in proportion to their means.
  14. All the citizens have a right to decide, either personally or by their representatives, as to the necessity of the public contribution; to grant this freely; to know to what uses it is put; and to fix the proportion, the mode of assessment and of collection and the duration of the taxes.
  15. Society has the right to require of every public agent an account of his administration.
  16. A society in which the observance of the law is not assured, nor the separation of powers defined, has no constitution at all.
  17. Since property is an inviolable and sacred right, no one shall be deprived thereof except where public necessity, legally determined, shall clearly demand it, and then only on condition that the owner shall have been previously and equitably indemnified.

The above document was written by The Marquis de Lafayette, with help from his friend and neighbor, American envoy to France, Thomas Jefferson. Lafayette, you may recall, had come to the Colonies at age 19, been commissioned a Major General, and was instrumental in the defeat of the British during the American Revolutionary War. He considered one special man his 'father': George Washington. French King Louis XVI signed this document, under duress, but never intended to support it. Indeed, the Revolution in France soon followed, leading to the tyrannical rule of Napolean Bonaparte.

Prepared by Gerald Murphy (The Cleveland Free-Net - aa300) Distributed by the Cybercasting Services Division of the National Public Telecomputing Network (NPTN). Permission is hereby granted to download, reprint, and/or otherwise redistribute this file, provided appropriate point of origin credit is given to the preparer(s) and the National Public Telecomputing Network.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Propaganda Machine Tools: Plain Folks

Plain-folks is a propaganda tool that is designed to build trust by identifying with a specific class, subculture, or religious sect. The plain-folks propaganda tool seeks to bridge the enormous differences that exist between the rulers and the ruled. All propaganda attempts to send messages that rely on emotional triggers that move minds from logical perceptions toward non-logical, non-intuitive evaluations. Plain-folks is a perfect vehicle to launch any variety of propaganda attacks. Even if the facts clearly tell us that a large percentage of our national elected officials are wealthy, we somehow feel better when we watch them clear some brush or chop some wood. Even if the facts clearly tell us that our national leaders engage in very unchristian like behavior, we somehow feel better when we watch them pray in a Christian church. So the vehicle of plain-folks is platform from which the propagandist can project an image that people can relate to. He is just like me! He understands me! Once the identification and the pseudo-relationship is established, it is nearly impossible to shake the true believers back into the real world. Much of President Bush’s popular appeal can be traced back to the skillful use of plain-folks tools. Karl Rove was able to construct an appealing, folksy, straight talking President from a spoiled rich simpleton. George Bush was the perfect piece of clay and Karl Rove was the perfect potter.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Guilt

Mein Furer

In the course of all 1945, with the war virtually lost (27 January the Red Army it had freed Auschwitz), the Nazis, full of hatred and resentment, eliminated the 550 persons interned in the Berliner prison of Moabit. Albrecht Hanshofer was man who resisted the government of Nazi Germany. For doing so he was executed. His name is Albrecht Hanshofer, and he wrote this poem as he awaited execution.

GUILT

The burden of my guilt before the law
weighs light upon my shoulders; to plot
and to conspire was my duty to the people;
I would have been a criminal had I not.
I am guilty, though not the way you think,
I should have done my duty sooner, I was wrong,
I should have called evil more clearly by its name
I hesitated to condemn it for far too long.
I now accuse myself within my heart:
I have betrayed my conscience far too long
I have deceived myself and fellow man.
I knew the course of evil from the start
My warning was not loud nor clear enough!
Today I know what I was guilty of...
To those who are still quiet, to those who continue to betray their
conscience, to those who are not calling evil more clearly by its name,
to those of us who are still not doing enough to refuse and resist, I
say "come forward." I say "free your minds."
Let us, collectively, free our minds, soften our hearts, comfort the
wounded, put down our weapons, and reassert ourselves as human beings by
putting an end to war.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Will Bush’s House Nigger ever speak the truth?

The recent media event over the long awaited discovery of the identity of Deep Throat has caused many a dreaming liberal to dream. As the so called controversy about the morality and legality of Deep Throat’s actions churned it’s way to a predictable ending, we all began to wonder the, what ifs, of the current situation. What if, someone who is or was in the current administration would talk about the real events leading up Bush’s decision to attack Iraq? The first name that comes to mind is Colin Powell. I recently got to talk to a good friend of mine, who happens to be black, about Collin Powell. I asked him if he thought Colin Powell would ever do the right thing and speak the truth? Everyone knows he disagreed with the policies that lead us to war with Iraq. He told me that Powell was known in the Black Community as a house nigger. I really didn’t know the meaning of house nigger, so he explained. A house nigger always keeps his mouth shut because he gets to stay in the master’s house. He gets to wear nice clothes and eat in the master’s kitchen. A house nigger doesn’t have to work in the fields and he gets treated with respect. No smart house nigger would ever risk losing his good life by opening his mouth! And finally, my friend looked at me and said, “Whether you are in the house or in the field, if you don’t stand up the to master and speak the truth, you will always be just his nigger”.

Note: I have no intent in this article to offend anyone with the use of the N word. It is an offensive word that I do not normally use. It was necessary to use it in this context. I apologize to anyone I may have offended.

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