Thursday, September 30, 2010

More on Nation-Building

Paul Miller has an good piece challenging the argument that based on Afghanistan and Somalia, nation-building is an impossible endeavor. He writes:
"Most armed interventions deployed to improve a failed state's government capabilities -- whether you call it nation building or something else -- do not have to contend with Somalian levels of anarchy. The United States and the United Nations have learned by watching the big failures (in Angola and Liberia as much as Somalia), and operate with a measure of greater sophistication. The track record has actually improved since the early 1990s. The failures have been big, public, and humiliating, but the United States and the United Nations have also racked up better outcomes in Namibia, Mozambique, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, East Timor, Liberia (the second time around), Sierra Leone (which came back from the brink of failure), and possibly Burundi.

Few of those countries are fully rebuilt, modern, stable, liberal democracies. Most are not particularly nice places to live. But the international interventions changed their trajectories. They are better off now than they were at the nadir of their respective wars and failures. That makes a real difference in human lives and is usually good enough to secure whatever interests led us to intervene in the first place."

Check it out.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Outside the Whitman/Brown Debate at UC Davis

The protesters outside the gubernatorial debate speak volumes about the level of enthusiasm party activists have for the two major candidates. The cheers and jeers were uninspired and tired. A few union personnel showed up, as well as a handful of students and Tea Party activists, but the crowd remained diminutive and subdued.

We did have this spirited yelling match between a Democratic activist and a Tea Party counterpart, complete with the always classic “go back to Russia” rejoinder.

Angry Democrat with Tea Party at Whitman/Brown debate from rolanddodds on Vimeo.

There were a handful of tea party activists supporting anti-immigration, American Independent Party candidate for governor, Chelene Nightingale. Loren Hanks, a Tea Party Republican, was also at the debate although he did not have a vocal contingency.

(Nightingale with Hanks)

I saw this flyer supporting Calros Alvarez, a Socialist candidate running for Governor behind one of the major media booths. Unfortunately for Carlos, this act of self-promotion didn't turn into more media coverage for his doomed campaign.

Then there was this guy, who mumbled incoherently about this and that.

Other than that, the protest was exactly what I anticipated and was trailed by the depressing debate that characterizes what’s wrong with California politics.

Over at Propagandist Magazine

My first article for the Propagandist Magazine is up. I address the unfortunate turn towards the legitimization of feelings in the public debate, and its conspiratorial repercussions. Here is a snippet:
“The acceptance of conspiratorial reasoning in our public debate represents a larger problem that has regrettably become undeniable and inescapable. Conspiracies are nothing new; the first men sitting around their fire, terrified of the formidable world around them, devised explanations for this struggle not founded in empirically verifiable specifics. We may no longer be a society crouched around burning embers, praying for the ability to fend off the demons we have created, but we continue to accept and justify soft-headed answers based on unverifiable revelations or pious justifications for action.”

Some of your may know of Propagandist magazine from the debate over right/left alliances at Bob from Brockley’s place. While I haven’t commented publicly on this issue yet, I will likely address it in a future post here at this blog.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Tomorrow’s Debate

I can’t tell you how little I care about the gubernatorial election between Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown. We have one woman who bought her way into the Republican nomination, and a ghost from the Democrat’s past. The fact that this is the best we as Californians can come up says more about us as a state than it does about these candidates and their supporters.

With that in mind, their first debate is tomorrow at my current university home, UC Davis. The school had a raffle for seats to the debate, and while I wasn’t chosen, I will be present to see the protesters the event brings out of the woodwork.