Thursday, January 01, 2009

Protesting: the Family Affair

With the current conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, I was quite sure it would bring out the Bay Area protesters. Well oh boy, they sure didn’t disappoint.


Stay classy protesters.

11 comments:

Daniel Stark said...

You know, it is really nerve wrecking seeing children at these protests. It just really pisses me off. What kind of parent allows this? What kind of organization (Answer Coalition) gives them such signs?

young_activist said...

How can you be a liberal supporter of neocon policies? The premise of neoconservatism is ethnocentrism: advance western interests while disregarding the rest of humanity, make everyone be like us, and destroy those who don't comply. This is a mindset that contradicts the central tennet of liberalism.

TNC said...

YA writes:

"The premise of neoconservatism is ethnocentrism."

Leftists who assume democracy, the rule of law, and an independent civil-society are the exclusive provenance of the West are the ethnocentrists.

and asks:

"How can you be a liberal supporter of neocon policies?"

Take a look at this:

http://www.socialaffairsunit.org.uk/blog/archives/000649.php

Oliver Kamm's Anti-Totalitarianism: The Left-Wing Case for a Neoconservative Foreign Policy...argues that Blair's foreign policy - and the Iraq War - follows an authentic and honourable tradition on the British Left of militant anti-totalitarianism. Kamm defends regime change in Afghanistan and Iraq as part of an anti-totalitarian struggle with recognisable antecedents in twentieth-century Europe. It is a continuation of the anti-totalitarian struggle waged by the social democratic Left against Hitler and against Soviet expansionism.

TNC said...

Daniel, the sign carried by the child was likely not produced by ANSWER. Their signs are professionally printed. This looks like something she (or her parents) created.

YA writes:

"The premise of neoconservatism is ethnocentrism..."

No. Leftists who argue democracy, the rule of law and an independent civil-society are the unique provenance of the West are the ethnocentrists.

and asks:

"How can you be a liberal supporter of neocon policies?"

http://www.socialaffairsunit.org.uk/blog/archives/000649.php

Oliver Kamm's Anti-Totalitarianism: The Left-Wing Case for a Neoconservative Foreign Policy...argues that Blair's foreign policy - and the Iraq War - follows an authentic and honourable tradition on the British Left of militant anti-totalitarianism. Kamm defends regime change in Afghanistan and Iraq as part of an anti-totalitarian struggle with recognisable antecedents in twentieth-century Europe. It is a continuation of the anti-totalitarian struggle waged by the social democratic Left against Hitler and against Soviet expansionism.

Steve Nizer said...

The central tenet of neocon philosophy is the spread of freedom in the Persian Gulf. Does this promote American interests? Yes. Are we actively trying to degrade the rest of the world? No. I'll assume that you're a hopeless liberal with no intellectual grounding in reality. You'd rather light a bong and blame Bush for your problems. Real Americans don't have time to sit around and bitch about the government. They work jobs and support families. I know that sounds like hell to you, but not all of us live in your West Coast sin dens, Young Activist.

danielstark said...

"Daniel, the sign carried by the child was likely not produced by ANSWER. Their signs are professionally printed. This looks like something she (or her parents) created."

In the link provided by Roland, there are children holding up signs made by ANSWER Coalition. Sorry for the confusion. It just feels so Maoish and gives me the creeps.

As for the Young_activist. The real kicker of your description (of whoever it was directed towards) is "while disregarding the rest of humanity." Disregarding the rest of humanity? Most of those who are neoconservative (though the term itself can be dissected to mean many things) in terms of foreign policy believe in the advancement of human rights and democracy. It's not disregarding humanity, it is taking humanity to mean something, that everyone should have a chance to be free.

You're obviously confused. The description you were giving out seems to fall more in line with some type of aggressive Realism mixed with imperialism. Whether or not you believe this is occurring is up to you, just get your definitions straight.

TNC said...

Sorry for the duplicate comment, Roland. I did not receive the "your comment is awaiting moderation" notice after I posted it the first time.

Pierre said...

"The central tenet of neocon philosophy is the spread of freedom in the Persian Gulf. Does this promote American interests? Yes."

I believe you have this backwards. The "yes" answer to the question whether American interests promote freedom in the Persian Gulf is dubious at best.

American Patriot said...

The U.S is one of the world's most powerful forces for good in the world, it been that way since 1776. Go hate on America somewhere else. Real Americans don't have time for your bullshit.

Roland Dodds said...

I think Daniel and TNC covered it pretty well ‘Young Activist.” All I will add is that the term ‘Neocon’ has been applied to so many different ideas and individuals, its usage in the public vernacular is pretty worthless at this point.

But no, liberalism and neo-conservatism are not at odds. As I liberal, I respect the rights of an individual to choose the life they wish to live. Unlike many weak kneed liberal types, I do not accept totalitarian regimes as legitimate outgrowths of a culture, and are systems imposed on many by a few, a few who sadly get a pass from many westerners and are made out to be defenders of their culture. Liberal democracy is something worth standing up for, and is superior to totalitarianism, and as a liberal I make no apologies for that statement.

As for whether American interests promote democracy in the Middle East, it is too early to say if the change in American foreign policy under the Bush administration is going to leave lasting positive or negative affects on democracy in the ME. Like most policies, there will be positive outcomes to it, and negative ones that will need to be amended in the future. But looking at the new democratic regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan (even if weak and fragile), makes it hard for me to accept the argument that American interests in the ME have not furthered democracy in the region in recent years.

young_activist said...

Hmm. . . if your case is as strong as you say then why could you not respond to or even publish this?


The rank and file neocon has a genuine concern for the rest of humanity and they sincerely believe that the policies of their government are benefiting humanity. These are not the people I am referring to. I am focused on the neocons who are running the government. Consider this: every colonialist/imperialist project was sold to the people of the aggressive nation as a moral campaign. This is how the Spaniards exterminated the native Americans and looted the continent, under the guise of spreading Christianity. The Chinese claim to be spreading civilization to the poor backward Tibetans while exterminating a culture as well as those ungrateful members of the "Dalia Separatist Clique", the British claimed to be spreading enlightenment to India while their soldiers were exploiting and repressing the people of that nation, the Athenian aristocrats claimed to be spreading democracy when they were installing puppet regimes to control neighboring cities, and it is now what America is doing in the Muslim world. Americans are good people, it is natural that if told they are spreading democracy and human rights many will gleefully accept this assessment and not ask any questions.

However, a more complete look at the foreign policies of the neocons reveal that they are, as you said "some type of aggressive Realism mixed with imperialism".

Consider one of the neocons "success stories": Afghanistan. The nation's "democratic government" is a clique of warlords presided over by a man who has called himself and American puppet that controls, according to the U.S government's own estimates, at most 30% of the country. Even the neocon orginisation Freedom House conceedes that Afghanistan is no more free than Ethiopia, which is another less talked about neocon "sucess".

In Iraq where western politicians talk about the Arab world's only democracy the people laugh. Did you see how they celebrated when that journalist threw his shoes at President Bush? That is a good indicator of the Iraqi people's view of their new "democracy". Freedom House telles us that the "Arab World's only democracy" is "not free" and that it lags behind almost every country in the region in terms of democracy. Oman, Yemen, Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, the U.A.E, Lebanon, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, and the Palestinian Autonomous Regions all received higher ratings. The politicians never mention the estimated hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who have persihed, they never tell us about the companies they have connections to that have reaped immense profits both from supplying the war effort and from Iraqi oil. They never tell you about their past dealings with Saddam either. When did Saddam become evil? Did he become evil when he murdered politicial opponents in his rise to power? Did he become evil when he abused the Shia and Kurdish majorities? Not if you look at the history of the leading neocons. Many of today's leading neocons have been in government for a long time. During the Iran-Iraq war, which the U.S helped instigate, they offered Saddam uncritical support. Donald Rumsfeld even flew to Baghdad to meet Saddam and sell him weapons on two occasions. Saddam only became evil in the eyes of the leading right wingers who went on to become the vanguaurd of neoconservatism when he invaded Kuwait and threatend the West's oil supplies. After that the Clinton administration imposed sanctions on Iraq. As a result a half million children under the age of five reported. Responding to a U.N report detailing this Madeleine Albright said "I think that this is a very hard choice, but the price - we think the price is worth it," she was not a neocon, but the neocons were not critical of these sanctions. Where were the neocons concern for human rights when they could have made this an issue and saved the lives of half a million children?

Looking to the other countries of the region also gives a valabule gauge of neocon comittment to democracy. The neocons called for the PA to hold democratic elections and it complied. It was the only election in the region to be certified by credible international observers. But there was a probelm. The wrong party won the election. The U.S imposed a boycott of the democratically elected government and supported a self-coup of the PA's President against its democratic government. Calling Iraq the "Arab world's only democracy" is of course a tacit admission that the rest of the Arab governments are not democratic. But with exception Syria the strongest allies of the Bush administration internationally are the represive Arab dictators. Bush has even called Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia "Bandar Bush" the Saud family and the Bush family have close relations, both personal and economic. But the King of Saudi Arabia is a completly illegitimate kleptocracy that presides over a society so restrictive that women cannot whistle, drive, or even look up. It a government that is so repressive that you are not even allowed to elect the secretary of a fishing club. The rest of the kleptocratic governments are not quite as oppresive, but they are equally dictatorial, illegitimate, and friendly with the neocons. So are dictators across Africa and Asia.



Looking to our hemisphere the Bush administration, in collusion with France, removed Haiti's democratically elected President. They tried to remove Venezuala's elected leader but that coup failed. I know you will disagree with the policies of those Presidents, but the fact is they were democratically elected, and after all, isn't part of beleiving in democracy accepting the will of the people of a country even if you don't agree with it? If the people of Venezuala want to be ruled by a socialist isn't that their sovreign perogative?



I could go on but I think you get the point. Neoconservatism is a new face to an old idea. It is no different from the "aggressive Realism mixed with imperialism" that dominated Americna foreign policy when the U.S overthrew democratic governments from Iran to Chile and propped up every right wing dictatorship in the world while American companies looted the nataraul resources of the third world. Promoting democracy and human rights is a noble goal and it is something the U.S could do if it really wanted to, but it would require subordinating our national interests to moral principles. In the long term this would probably pay off. It would make the U.S most popular country in the world, it would transform us into history's first great benevolent power, but it would require us to abandon and work against our short to medium term interests. Like I said in the long run this would pay off, but politicians are too impulsive and such a move would fail if it was motivated by self interest.



And actually SN,

I do not live on the West coast, I don't do drugs, my beleifs are grounded in a painfully obvious reality, and I'm not blaming Bush for my problems, I have benefited from his foreign policies, they have helped my portfolio greatly, but I happen to be more concerned about the rest of humanity than petty things like my bank account balance. You say that I have no intellectual grounding in reality, but based on your trio of (inaccurate) assumptions about me it looks as if you are projecting your own deficincies onto me.