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Discussion Board




politics

I have noticed that certain groups, or people in certain occupations, are more likely to have certain types of political ideas. I have been observing this over the years. It also seems to correlate with how people dress. I think the underlying causes can be very complicated and I try to figure out what they might be.
I was wondering if there are any typical political views connected with software developers. I thought that, maybe, working at a job where you have to solve complex problems and keep a lot of things in your mind could lead to more sophisticated ways of looking at complex problems in general.
I have noticed that certain groups are more likely to have very simple answers to the current international problems, for example, and to be very self-righteous and opinionated. Anyone who disagrees with them must be unintelligent, ignorant or brain-washed by the media.
I have always read a lot and thought about politics and I can't see any simple answers to the current problems. I wondered if any others here have a similar feeling.
I realize that each individual, in any field, has their own unique opinions. I'm just looking for statistical probabilities, and possible causes.


The Real PC
Saturday, March 15, 2003

Of course many groups (professions/races/cultures) have general trends in their viewpoints. However in any group there are individuals who are different. Assuming any individual is like the group is the essence of prejudice. So I don't think anything good comes from focussing on the associations between group membership and political views, cultural practices, job performance or anything else.

sgf
Saturday, March 15, 2003

I understand your point. On the other hand, it's impossible to understand human nature without acknowledging that prototypes exist. I know I'm not being politically correct when I talk about stereotypes, but I am motivated by curiosity, and if that conflicts with political correctness I don't care.

The Real PC
Saturday, March 15, 2003

There's been a few political dust-ups on the forum recently.  What conclusions do you draw from those?

anon
Saturday, March 15, 2003

I must have missed them. I don't have time to read everything here, but I probably would have if I had seen titles related to politics or war.
I would expect some people here to have strong simple opinions for or against the war. But I would also expect (hope) to see some thoughtful opinions.
I also have a hypothesis that women, in general, are more likely to be against any war than men. So that would cause this forum, which seems mostly male, to be less strongly anti-war. On the other hand, men who dislike authority and powerful governments are likely to be against this potential war.
These generalizations are based on my informal observations and are not backed up by any statistics. I'm not claiming my observations are "true;" they are just observations. Since I'm interested in analyzing human nature, I can't help observing.
As for political correctness, I completely disregard it in my quest for understanding.

The Real PC
Saturday, March 15, 2003

I think in a large part the generalizations come from which part of a problem you dwell on more, which is based on your location, job, politics, race, media etc. A lot is how personally threatened you and your group feels I think.

I doubt most reasonable people would disagree with any of these very simplified facts:

- GWB is an awful diplomat. A large part of the mess is because of this.

- Saddam has plenty of chemical weapons hidden, and would use them given a chance.

- The United Nations can not guarantee the security of anyone. They have a hard time doing anything concrete.

So now, if you live in New York, or Kuwait for that matter, you are probably dwell on the chemical weapons. If you are a political person you probably dwell on liking/disliking Bush (or Chirac, whatever). If you think of yourself as an 'internationalist' you probably are willing to ignore the obvious shortcomings of the UN.

Of course almost everyone is ignoring the real problem, which is nukes are easy these days, and what are we going to do about it. Those in the 'peace' camp dismiss it, those in the 'war' camp don't explain how this war will solve it, and those in the UN camp have their heads so far up their asses you can't tell what they are saying.

So from an 'analytic programmer' point of view ; ), it seems the world has gotten bogged down on some trivial detail of the design spec, forgetting there is a looming deadline to meet - at our peril (happens a lot). The real problem to solve is:

1) Can the world prevent someone from letting off something big and nasty in a major city in the next 5, 10 or 50 years? (I really don't think so, but its worth a try). What has to happen to prevent this?

if not:

2) When this does happen, say for the fourth time, and everyone gets on the same page, what will happen then? The problem will still be there, probably worse, right? Can we mentally treat that kind of thing like an earthquake or something? If the whole world was agreeing this had to be stopped, would it still be impossible? What does the recovery scenario look like? Hiroshima recovered in a few years, are wmd overrated?

Robin Debreuil
Saturday, March 15, 2003

Any software development which depends on the agreement of a large number of disparate groups will not get off the ground. The only successful developments I have witnessed  have been created by a small team with a determined leader.

Now we have got rid of the Euro backbiters GWB has such a team.

Winston
Saturday, March 15, 2003

[Of course almost everyone is ignoring the real problem, which is nukes are easy these days, and what are we going to do about it.]

Yes you're right, and have provided data in favor of my hypothesis -- software developers have experience in analyzing complex systems, and might be better at seeing through to the essence of the problem. Which you have done here, in my opinion.
Nuclear weapons are the problem and no one on either side seems to be acknowledging it these days.
The creativity and inventiveness of our species causes more trouble than outright evil. Every great discovery and insight can lead to more effective weapons. And there is nothing we can do about it because we are a creative animal, and we wouldn't give up our creativity even if that were possible.
There will always be crazy people and there will always be anger and hate, so eventually whatever weapons exist will be used.
I don't have an answer. I'm just tired of seeing everyone miss the main points.

The Real PC
Saturday, March 15, 2003

I think the political stereotype of software developers is that they are either weepy Democrats or laissez-faire anarcho-libertarians.  :-)

runtime
Saturday, March 15, 2003

"software developers have experience in analyzing complex systems, and might be better at seeing through to the essence of the problem. "

My experience is that software developers are also notorious for producing profoundly complex solutions to the problems they solve.  I often hear about how other folks cannot see complexity, but maybe the ability to see it makes simplicity invisible to you.

Based on some of the discussions I've seen on here and elsewhere it is also clear to me that many developers have very different goals that motivate their problem solving approaches.  For instance, I hear frequent complaints about certain approaches being elegant, efficient, scalable, and what have you.  This is fine as long as these things support product goals like make lots of money, or win a certain market segment, or achieve a certain level of product differentiation.  That's what we get paid to do. The problem is that a lot of time the connection is tenuous and the developers complain when management tries to bring them in line.

Perhaps the political views are similarly skewed by failure to perceive the true goals (which admittedly may themselves be counterproductive).  Where do you even get good information to help you formulate your views on these things?

I know I'm going to get flamed anyway, but please don't take any of this as an indictment of developers in general.  I am one and I know it's a tough job, but I have seen enough of this kind of thing to make me want to take an opposing viewpoint a lot of the time.

flamebait jr.
Saturday, March 15, 2003

I don't see any particular political characteristics of software developers.

There are a range of sometimes conflicting views typical of educated people, of business people, of independent people, of employees, and so on.

.
Saturday, March 15, 2003

I think that part of our problem is perspective, we fear nukes because we used them ourselves.
Maybe we are projecting our own ability for evil onto other races and cultures.

Only one country in the world has ever used nuclear weapons with spite, at a time when the 2nd world war was well and truly over. And guess who that was - us.

Would other cultures fear nukes as much as we do? Maybe thats why the Euros are less sabre rattling than us, they find nukes more abhorrent and believe the use of them to be more unlikely because of this. Also they live in a culture that has experienced much more war, with the ever present danger of enemies that live close by.

All these things change your viewpoint.

Alberto
Saturday, March 15, 2003

I have found in my 20+ year career in engineering and software development that MOST (not all) career programmers -  especially the classical "lazy genius" type that is capable of great mental quickness and great productivity w/o breaking a sweat - are almost monotonously alike:

- Libertarian and laissez-faire in general social outlook.
- Very much into a Darwinist viewpoint that favors the gifted and quick.
-Methodically unaware of even close by office politics.
- Generally atheistic or agnostic.

I've also found that the "little boy king of the hill" intellectual bully/prima donna attitude is closely correlated with lack of experience of personal setbacks. So generally, you find more compassion and life wisdom in the ones that stay in the industry past,say, age 40.

I think a lot of this stuff explains the general lack of interest  by programmers in things like H1-B. The general attitude of the younger ones who havn't been bent over and raped by an employer (yet) appears to be that anyone seeking an equitable approach to offshoring or guest worker visas is a rascist, loser, or xenophobe. The attitude kind of goes with the cult of mental firepower that "serious programmers" take up as their world view, that their brainpower makes them 'invincible'.

Bored Bystander
Saturday, March 15, 2003

Bored,

Your portrait of the stereotypical programmer is the kind of thing I have been noticing, about people in general. I keep seeing this kind of pattern. It's almost as if people don't have individual minds, as if we are somehow programmed to think in certain ways. It seems eerie sometimes.
Your portrayal is actually not what I was thinking about when I posted the question. I haven't known all that many programmers, but your description does seem reasonable.
I spent 4 years in an academic department, in a social science. All the professors in the department were atheists, every single one. And they all seemed to like affirmative action. But why? It almost seems like types of people are stamped out on an assembly line.
I find it fascinating, and also a little weird.
I often wonder if I myself fit into one of the patterns, hard as I try not to. Switching careers several times has helped. And I try to dress in ways that will confuse people.
I'm definitely not the type you describe. I have questioned everything all my life, and then have questioned the questioning, so that now I almost seem conventional.

The Real PC
Saturday, March 15, 2003

Hi Real PC,

>> I keep seeing this kind of pattern. It's almost as if people don't have individual minds, as if we are somehow programmed to think in certain ways. It seems eerie sometimes.

Unfortunately, I think 95% of the human race acts in a manner that is unconsciously intended to mimic the prevailing expectations of their peers. I think it's a behavior that is intended to reduce risk of rejection and increase chances of acceptance.

Other examples: with (genuine) blue collar people, you get the "lazy college boy that don't know nuthin'"  working class hero diatribes, and the anti-management union mentalities. With agency technical recruiters you have the "my Volvo/Inifiniti/BMW is better than your Lexus/Acura" money cult crap. And so forth.

What I'm saying is that most people seem to be human "state machines" simply out of a desire to conform to existing stereotypes so that they can be accepted. If anything, it's 10x worse today than it was 10 years ago. I think that in the current economic and political climate, *extreme* conformity is a perceived survival advantage.

To reinforce what you're saying, I'd like to refer you to a terrific book, "Class", by Paul Fussell, that is a humorous and yet serious examination of American social classes, their behavior, characteristics, attitudes, and mannerism. Fussell basically found out that most Americans are walking state machines back in the 80's and wrote about it.

>> I spent 4 years in an academic department, in a social science. All the professors in the department were atheists, every single one. And they all seemed to like affirmative action. But why? It almost seems like types of people are stamped out on an assembly line.

Given the reputation of college campuses, I'm not surprised.  I think that what is really disappointing about the "human state machine" premise, especially in the context of professors or preternaturally bright programmer types,  is that really gifted people are as much walking carbon copies as are so called "unthinking" blue collar types.

>> I find it fascinating, and also a little weird.
>> I'm definitely not the type you describe. I have questioned everything all my life, and then have questioned the questioning, so that now I almost seem conventional.

Same here. Now, does that make you and I a new form of stereotype: "ha ha, look at the introspective mature programmer types, they're so CUTE the way they try to be independent minded and contrarian... ' LOL.

Bored Bystander
Saturday, March 15, 2003

Real PC said: "All the social science professors in the department were atheists, every single one. ", adding that they were also all for affirmative action.

That has a lot more to do with the person in charge of HR in social science, and the culture of the department than social science.  For instance, the university I went to was fairly anti-affirmative action.  As a result, the vast majority of the social science professors were also anti-affirmative action.  I can't speak to the religious background of most of the professors, but one was a devout Hindu.  There's nothing magic about social science afaik that makes a social scientist more likely to be an atheist.  They are probably more likely to have a deep interest in people and society, and as a result more likely to have the background to draw conclusions about that topic, but that's about as far as you can safely go.

Anyway, all that to say that I am not a big fan of drawing general "truisms" based on one's own personal experience.  For instance, I could say that most people restrict the circles in which they move to a very narrow chunk of society - and this is especially true for programmers :)  This is certainly true in my experience, but to make assumptions about how other people see the world is very dangerous.  Expanding this kind of assumption to someone you don't know opens the door to all kinds of potential problems and conflicts.  It also gives you a false sense of security - when really, if your assumption turns out to be true, it's just a coincidence.

Speaking of generalizations, the politics of the programmers I know tends to depend more on their background, education level and the sector in which they work.  Since the group that I work with and the group I know are a fairly diversified group - it follows that their political beliefs should also be diversified (as in fact, they are).  The beliefs range from the "keep the status quo" to "drop a nuke on Saddam". 

Personally, I believe that a war with Iraq is not only a bad idea, it would be a morally corrupt venture with serious long-term repercussions for the US. 

It's likely to be ineffective:
After all, the US bombed Afghanistan "to get Bin Laden" with little success.  They've also already (and illegally) done the anti-Iraq thing. 

It's not the main problem:
Iraq and its potential cache of weapons is not nearly as dangerous as some of the other lunatics out there.  And while nukes, biological and chemical weapons are very scary - terrorists are inventive (witness how they brought down the WTC).  Historically, eliminating random threats as they occur hasn't exactly had a good track record. And we all know where arms races lead.

Even if you accept the problem as being Saddam Hussein, it's not the logical solution:
The main reason being given to support a war is that Saddam Hussein needs to be removed from power.  The US has removed leaders they don't like before, without starting a war and without dropping bombs on civilians.

So I really question the US motivation.

MaisOui
Sunday, March 16, 2003

The US bombed Afghanistan with little success? Could you clarify what you mean there?

Robin Debreuil
Sunday, March 16, 2003

-----"The US bombed Afghanistan with little success? Could you clarify what you mean there? "------

Quite right to attack his sloppy thinking Robin. America dropped a lot of bombs in Afghanistan and many of them went off, made a lot of rubble, and killed lots of turdworlders, which is what bombs are supposed to do.

Also the TV ratings went up, and so did the government’s.

This is called total success by any reasonable yardstick.

Now maybe Mais Oui is one of these "Eurowhiners" who actually thinks a "successful" outcome might have marginally improved the lot of people in Afghanistan outside heavily subsidized, and still pisspoor, Kabul, or that "liberating the Afghani people" involved something more than simply liberating a few thousand of them from their body parts with TNT therapy.

Indeed he may even be under the impression that that was what the US government and allies were saying before the invasion - that and something about catching a guy called Bin Laden. This shows just how low down the evolutionary scale these cheese-eating surrender monkeys are. It was just guff; does anybody seriously believe that smoking Marlboro will make you look like a cool cowboy, or that MacDonald’s produces food, or Microsoft trusty computing? It's the same with the government - unlike the commy  old-world governments the US has always embraced commercial values, particularly with regard to PR.

The strike on Iraq will also be stunningly successful. Indeed the whole history of British involvement in Iraq shows the virtue of pre-emptive strikes. Iraq has never invaded the UK in 3,500 years of history, but in the last hundred years whenever a British PM has turned his gaze to the Middle East he has invaded Iraq  (except in 1956 when they decided to invade Egypt instead).

Britain 3 Iraq 0 QED

Indeed the history of the US clearly proves the virtue of pre-emptive strikes. The US has bombed or invaded, or threatened to invade, pretty well every country in the UN (serves 'em right for joining such a pinko body) with the exception of Britain and Canada, who just happened to have got in first and been the only two countries ever to have actually invaded the USA. A double-whammy if ever there was one.

There is only one thing that worries me; nearly all of Bush and Cheney's friends - Noriega in Panama, Saddam in Iraq, and Bin Laden in Afghanistan - have ended up having their countries. Considering how close Tony Blair is to Dubya, should us Brits be worried?

Stephen Jones
Sunday, March 16, 2003

When did Canada invade the US?

anon
Sunday, March 16, 2003

Bored,

[really gifted people are as much walking carbon copies as are so called "unthinking" blue collar types.]

That is exactly what I've been noticing, and have been observing this for many years.
I grew up in a "liberal" family and all of us are above average in intelligence. I suspect my parents unconsciously contrasted themselves with lower class uneducated people. At the same time we supposedly believed that everyone is equal and racism is evil. We looked down on organized religion, because we associated it with lack of scientific education.
When I became an adult I analyzed my parents' brand of "liberalism" and eventually rejected most of it (although of course it contains some valuable idealism which I did not reject).
But I think you're right -- my parents were looking for a sense of belonging and status that results from contrasting yourself with "rednecks." They didn't get their ideas from books -- they are not intellectuals and don't read a lot of non-fiction, aside from their central interests (my father is an engineer and I only remember him reading either engineering journals or novels).
I have to say, out of guilt, that I love and respect my parents. I'm just describing a stereotype that I know well.

In summary: I agree with you that fear of rejection and the need to belong to an "in" group motivate a lot of this automatic thinking. I think there are other factors, though. A major factor is ignorance -- most people stop studying when they leave school, unless they have to learn something for their jobs. And even those of us who love to read and never want to stop learning have limited time, and therefore we are all relatively ignorant. And therefore a large part of all of our thinking is automatic.

I'm going to read "Class."

The Real PC
Sunday, March 16, 2003

Stephen,

Do you read a lot of Chomsky, by any chance?

The Real PC
Sunday, March 16, 2003

1812 give or take a year or two. Stilll under Britain at the time. Burned down the White House.

Don't they give it star billing in the history books over there?  :)

The war was the Napoleonic wars. Britain was at war with France, the US's oldest ally who had saved US independence in the War of Independence by moving troops in to attack Cornwallis and save Washington, who was holed up somewhere around the Potomac at the time.

A bit embarassing those facts now (particulary owing your independence to part of the Axis of Weasel); still I'm sure Dubya's new allies form behind the old Iron Curtain can lend him a few unemployed experts in rewriting history. They're probably already polishing the Powerpoint Presentation that shows the Statue of Liberty was donated by EuroDisney.

Stephen Jones
Sunday, March 16, 2003

---"Stephen,

Do you read a lot of Chomsky, by any chance? "-----

The linguistics - none of the political stuff.

Stephen Jones
Sunday, March 16, 2003

Hey Stephen,

Sorry to cause you such huffing and puffing. I think if you look at the requirements document for the afgan thing, they've all pretty much been met. Perhaps you should submit your blueprint for bringing Afganistan into this century, I'm sure all that is lacking is a plan.

Robin Debreuil
Sunday, March 16, 2003

Sure the requirements have been met.

Lots of dead Afghans. Lots of news footage. Everbody in the US has forgotten about it.

The Taliban are still controlling large swathes of the country. Hektmayer makes the Taliban sound like Mother Teresa. American troops are "strategically withdrawing" from many areas of the country. Opium production is way up again (mixed news that). Bin Laden is still around. Al Quaeeda is still around.

Each foreign intervention, whether British, Russian, American or Pakistani, has managed to leave the Afghanis worse off. Simply leaving them alone might be a good start.

Stephen Jones
Sunday, March 16, 2003

Stephen,
I more or less agree we (the US) should leave people alone. No one has elected us the police force of the planet.
However leaving people alone is not the answer either, because we have no system of global law enforcement. That is the dilemma right now.
Only the US is powerful enough to take on that role, but no one elected us. Even when our motivations are at least partially humane and compassionate, we look like a big bully.
So the US should leave people alone, but then we need some other plan for global law enforcement, or the world will continue its collapse into chaos. The UN has not proven effective.
Another problem that I see:
When the US tries to help undeveloped nations we naturally impose our own definitions of "success." By "helping" we destroy peoples' traditional social and economic structures, possibly resulting in resentment instead of gratitude. Maybe they want to herd goats and live in tents. We assume everyone wants Western education and technology, and equality for women. Those things are ok, but they aren't for everyone, and besides they bring along new problems.
To summarize: The US can't win by intervening, but staying out of things won't work either.
People should start looking at this tremendous problem more objectively. All I see everyone doing is blaming others and throwing around the word "evil."

The Real PC
Sunday, March 16, 2003

Why is global law enforcement a good thing?

Ajax
Sunday, March 16, 2003

The main reason that the UN doesn't work is that none of the five permanent members of the Security Council want it to.

As to not all people wanting " Western education and technology" but prefering to "herd goats and live in tents" they are rarely offered the alternative. The American alternative to herding goats and living in tents is normally to have to abandon the goats and the houses to live in refugee camps.

It is also well worth remembering that the US gives one of the smallest proportions of GNP in the world as foreign aid and that most of that goes to Israel (hardly an impoverished courntry) or Egypt, as military aid in both cases.

The Americans have bombed or invaded something like 40 countries since the end of the Second World War, excluding those courntries where they intervened by proxy such as Chile where they arranged the murder of the head of the Armed forces for being loyal to the constitiion and then paid the lorry owners to go on strike to cripple the economy and the democratically elected government. In few of these cases has the American intervention been beneficial for the inhabitants of the courtries invaded, or indeed anybody else. I would say the only two examples that spring to mind are Bosnia and the first Gulf War and that has been marred by America's preference for a weakened Saddam Hussain and a crippled Iraq rather than self-determination for the different parts of Iraq.

Exporting democracy, which has suddenly become the markieting formula for the Iraqui conquest is rather a joke. In general the Americans have been miuch better at undermining democracy whenever it produced a government they viewed as unfriendly, than in doiing anything to support it. Among its favoured allies have been the Shah of Iran, Ferdinand Marcos, and countless Latin American butchers (many of them trained at the School of the Americas).

Do you seriously believe that the Americans have any interest in having democratic governments in the Middle East when the first thing all of them would do would be to break off all military co-operation with America?

I don't doubt that the American public who applaud interventions and the troops that carry them out believe they are acting for the common good. I might even accept that the politicians who send them believe that on the odd occasion, but what is clear is that the intervention rarely achieives it; and when it fails it is not because "people don't want our help" as so many Americans appear to delude themselves, but because the Americans have fouled up. Take Somalia where they come in to help and end up killing a few hundred Somalis and doing little else. Then they make a film of  it and cast the Americans as the heros and the locals who suffered them as the villains. The Canadians and Italians didn't come out of it much better either.

The average American does seem sometimes to be thiinking he is still living the the Second World War and its aftermath of the Marshall Plan. IPerhaps the best answer to that was given in the vice-presidential debate in 1988, when Dan Qayle compared himself to Truman and Kennedy: "Son, I knew both Harry Truman and Jack Kennedy and you don't come anywhere near either of them."

Stephen Jones
Sunday, March 16, 2003

Ajax, PC is right that global law enforcement is the answer. We need to give some organization ultimate unquestioned power over our lives. I am sure that they will use their power only for good and never evil because people are all basically good people it's society that's to blame when they go bad.

Chuck
Sunday, March 16, 2003

"It is also well worth remembering that the US gives one of the smallest proportions of GNP in the world as foreign aid and that most of that goes to Israel (hardly an impoverished courntry) or Egypt, as military aid in both cases." -- S. Jones

That's funny - I thought we gave more foreign aid than any other country by a wide margin. Do you have sources you can direct me to shouwing otherwise?

You mention Israel. How much foreign aid did Sri Lanka supply to Israel last year?

Dennis Atkins
Sunday, March 16, 2003

[We need to give some organization ultimate unquestioned power over our lives.]

That's ridiculous. We need a democratic world government that has the power to enforce it's laws. What we have now is international anarchy -- maybe that was ok before nuclear weapons.

The Real PC
Sunday, March 16, 2003

He said in proportion to the GNP. We could give the largest sum and it could still be the smallest relative to our GNP.

The Real PC
Sunday, March 16, 2003

Stephen,

Speaking of stereotypes, you are right in line with the politics of typical high school teachers nowdays. You can't give the US a bit of credit for any of its accomplishments or good deeds.
Of course our government was crazed in its effort to hold back communism. It could not distinguish between the twisted brand of communism practiced in the Soviet Union and democratic socialism. As a result we often supported cruel dictators just because they were opposed to communism. It was a semantic error, a result of the kind of extreme and simplistic thinking I see going on now, in a different context.

The Real PC
Sunday, March 16, 2003

Chuck was being sarcastic.

Nat Ersoz
Sunday, March 16, 2003

I know he was being sarcastic. I meant his being sarcastic was ridiculous, since there is no reason to think a world government would be a dictatorship.

The Real PC
Sunday, March 16, 2003

Why would you think a world government -wouldn't- be a dictatorship? Hasn't world government been the goal of every dictator and totalitarian regime?

Dennis
Sunday, March 16, 2003

The democratic western countries obviously don't want a world dictatorship. That's exactly what we're trying to prevent.

The Real PC
Sunday, March 16, 2003

yeah, we favor oligarchy!

anon
Sunday, March 16, 2003

It's interesting how many Americans falsely think that the US is a philanthropic nation.

It is 'national interest' that dictates US foreign policy. Were talking about business, not security, or lives, or justice, or helping the more unfortunate, we're talking cash baby, pure hard currency.

It's also national interest that drives all foreign aid donations, America only gives when it receives in return, no philanthropy there I'm afraid.

Realist
Sunday, March 16, 2003

We haven't had hard currency in years.  The US went off a metal standard in 1971 (I think).  I don't think any currency circulating today is backed by anything but a promise.  What we have is nice, soft fiat money.

anon
Sunday, March 16, 2003

Your ignorance is amusing, 'hard' currency has nothing to do with metal.

Realist
Sunday, March 16, 2003

The term 'hard currency' is used to describe a currency that is widely accepted throughout the world, mostly highly industrialized countries.

The U.S. Dollar and the British Pound are good examples of a hard currency. 

(from investopedia.com)

Realist
Monday, March 17, 2003

Sorry, just being a PITA ;)

anon
Monday, March 17, 2003

Dear Dennis,
                      Here are three reputable URL's. You will find a table for ODA for all 22 countries in the OECD in the third link. As you can see the US gives the lowest proportion of foreign aid of the lot, though it's cash figure is the second highest because it has by far the largest population.

ttp://www.usaid.gov/environment/foriegn_aid.html

http://www.usaid.gov/fani/Chapter%206--%20Foreign%20Aid%20in%20the%20National%20Interest.pdf

http://www.globalissues.org/TradeRelated/Debt/USAid.asp

America does give a much larger proportion when private charitable giving is factored in, but other countries do not appear to keep statisitics on the figures for their countries (I suspect the figure in the UK for example is also fairly high), and it is hard to tell how much of that money is disinterestedly spent and how much simple religious proselytism.

I totally fail to understand your question about how much money does Sri Lanka give to Israel. Are you seriously suggesting that a country with a per capita annual income of $860 per head should be donating money to a first world country which already receives $1000 a head in US aid alone?

Dear Real PC,
                      This discussion is not about US achievments; it is about US foreign policy. If I fail to give credit for the good it is because I simply don't see it. People in the UK and elsewhere who opposed Hitler in the 1930's didn't do it because they failed to appreciate German scientific acheivments or out of distaste for Beethoven's symphonies.

                        I will tell you of one area where US foreign policy has my whole hearted support and that is in the pressure they are putting on the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka to  disarm and come to a negotiated agreement with the government. They do have to go and spoil the good impression though by bullying the Sri Lankan government into threatening the Iraqui embassy whom they improbably accuse of being behind the anti-war demonstrations.

Stephen Jones
Monday, March 17, 2003

The first URL should be
http://www.usaid.gov/environment/foriegn_aid.html

and yes, it is true that the official US government agency can't spell "foreign"!

Stephen Jones
Monday, March 17, 2003

So the US will ask you which rebel group or gov't it is allowed to take out, and which to leave alone - lol! I'm sure you would be loved around the world for your wise choices.

PS Its trade, not aid, that poorer nations need - even Che knew that. US leads it that category by miles, but others have respectable and growing contributions too. Just because it is mutually beneficial doesn't mean its wrong either (oh I can just imaging how that will set you off!).

PPS I don't know why I'm curious, but how would you insure a country like Afganistan would be left alone in this world? It is the base of your argument, so no simplistic answers please...

Robin Debreuil
Monday, March 17, 2003

Stephen,

You are a perfect example of the craziness I have been observing. You compared our government to Hitler as if anyone can see there's no difference.

[the official US government agency can't spell "foreign"!]

The mispelling was probably not the fault of the directors of the agency. More likely one of the typists. Are the typists in your country all perfect spellers?

I see people like you focusing in on every little detail, anything they can rant about that isn't perfect about the US. A spelling error, the president's grades in elementary school, anything.

The Real PC
Monday, March 17, 2003

Real PC .... how does this compare to the rhetoric coming out of the Whitehouse, and Whitehall??


It is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.
-- Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering

For those of you whose history is a bit rusty, Goering was Hitler's Minister for the Interior (in charge of the Brown Shirts etc). A bit later, he became head of the Luftwaffe, the German Air Force.

tapiwa
Monday, March 17, 2003

"Its trade, not aid, that poorer nations need - even Che knew that. US leads it that category by miles"

Like with Cuba you mean?


Monday, March 17, 2003

You don't think Cuba would like/needs trade with the US? Countries pay a lot more attention when another country fiddles with access to market than with aid, rest assured.

What works for Goering doesn't seem to work as well for Tony Blair : )

Robin Debreuil
Monday, March 17, 2003

Disproving the "we're all controlled by our governements" theory.

The Real PC
Monday, March 17, 2003

my point was that Hitler's Nazis and Bush's Patriots are all spewing the same rhetoric.

whether you buy into it as an individual is another story altogether.

tapiwa
Monday, March 17, 2003

Its probably a teensy bit easier to 'drag people along' once you've eliminated the opposition and locked down the press. Or maybe Goering was just a better orator, I don't know.

In either case, it hasn't been that easy to drag the public along, even in the still jittery US, which was the original point no..?

Robin Debreuil
Monday, March 17, 2003

"The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed, and hence clamorous to be led to safety, by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."

- H.L. Mencken

Sounds like this fella had the right of it to me.

rhetoric
Monday, March 17, 2003

So we should probably have a global police force. After all, when there is a murder in our town we don't want someone who thinks they have found the murderer just going down to their house and shooting them, even if they are the richest person in town. But we don't want to hand over total power to that police force - we want to make them accountable to the people. Hmm, democracy might work - lets set up an organisation where the countries, or elected representitives of them, get to vote on military action. Hey, that might work - we have checks and balences, and its completely democratic! Excellent. Oh wait, we've got it. It's called the United Nations.

David Clayworth
Monday, March 17, 2003

[my point was that Hitler's Nazis and Bush's Patriots are all spewing the same rhetoric. ]

There are lots of other similarities between the Nazis and the Bush administration. For example, the members all belong to the same primate species.

An easy way to insult someone is to point out how they're similar to a Nazi. Well we're all similar to some Nazi in some way. These arguments are 100% emotional and 0% logical.

The Real PC
Monday, March 17, 2003

No flame war is complete without an association with Nazis. Come on, very shitty trolling going on here. Novice level at best.

trollbooth
Monday, March 17, 2003

Completely democratic? I don't remember voting for any of those people, sorry. And even though they vote once in a while (1 vote per gov't, regardless of size or path to power, which umm, usually isn't by ballot if you do a quick head count), it isn't very democratic - 9 votes out of 15 for a quick example. And the vetos? They go to those who won the last war, losers and abstainers can't be trusted I guess. And the winners also get a permenant one third of security council votes. Sounds fair to me.

If you can't imagine a threat to your own safety, perhaps you wouldn't consider the 250,000 in Kuwait "hobgoblins, all of them imaginary". To disagree with war is certainly a noble minded idea, but to dismiss all threats as imaginary is just silly...

Robin Debreuil
Monday, March 17, 2003

Stephen Jones, you sir are my hero. A real troll. I am proud to serve in the same ranks as you.

Your wordly advice and informative arguments are the best I have seen to date. So basically I am saying you are my new hero.

trollbooth
Monday, March 17, 2003

okay, how about "imaginary or manufactured?"  250,000 what in Kuwait?

rhetoric
Monday, March 17, 2003

..250,000 soldiers. Is that a manufactured threat?

People attack each other all the time, it is awful. Some people think the best option is to 'enforce' peace, others prefer to not stir up the pot and hope it doesn't get worse. No one has put forward a plan that would turn these things into empty threats though, regardless of the side you picked. Including me of course.

If there were such a thing as a sure plan to get there though, you would see the world come together pretty quickly on it. Very few people on either side of the issue are wishing for innocent people to die - not even 'guilty' ones really. Everyone sees peace and stability is a good thing all around. How do we get there though. Is it more dangerous to wish war away than to hold it down? Someone even suggested that world peace will only happen once every country has nukes. Maybe. But we better be sure...

Robin Debreuil
Monday, March 17, 2003

The UN as an international police force?  That's funny.  Imagine your local police force acting as the UN:  armed assailants have taken people in a mall as hostages.  The police pass a resolution saying "We'd like you to let those people go".  When this doesn't happen, they pass another one saying "Please let those people go".  Eventually, they pass the 17th resolution saying "let them go or else".  When the hostages still aren't freed, they'll keep on passing resolutions until either (a) someone leads a bunch of armed men in to take out the assailants, or (b) the hostages die of old age.

GML
Monday, March 17, 2003

Dear Trollbooth,
                        Until Joel allows grahphics my advice will always  be "wordly" , even if those words are on occasion short and  not suited to polite society.

Dear Real PC,
                    Nice to see you're being true to form and haven't given up the personal insults you always crown your arguments with. Neither myslelf nor the other gentlemen suggested George Bush was Hitler, though to someone who vaunts illiteracy in three languages that is not apposite.

                    I can fully understand your irritation however. You go to the trouble of introducing politics to a forum where it has normally been absent and then have to put up with people who think differently from you. The brazen effrontery of it all.
                       

Stephen Jones
Monday, March 17, 2003

Dear GML,
                One proviso; if the hostage takers were Israelis the USA would veto every one of the seventeen resolutions anyway.

Stephen Jones
Monday, March 17, 2003

Here's my little prediction for you all.  When it comes time to balance the books, the Bush administration will be doing it with Iraqi oil money.  You've heard the coded language "trust fund"?  Well, this time we're the executor of the trust, and lacking the responsibility of a democracy in Iraq, we'll help you manage your money.

Nat Ersoz
Monday, March 17, 2003

Dear Nat,
              Spot on. What has amamzed me is the American government trying to bribe India to support the war by offering it $12.5 billion of reconstruction contracts in Iraq. The money of course will come from Iraqui oil money.

              That is to say the Americans are saying help us reduce Iraq to rubble and we'll enable you to make a killing on the rebuilding work which the Iraquis will have to pay through the nose for. And they call this "liberating" Iraq.

                The Indians, give them their due, refused to have anything to do with it.

Stephen Jones
Monday, March 17, 2003

The math doesn't add up though, even at high oil prices. Iraq will only produce around $15 billion in oil money in year one, a bit more in year two, if all goes well. As a nod to the original point of this thread, maybe we should keep our programmer hats on and do the math.

Robin Debreuil
Monday, March 17, 2003

Stephen, I know you're a green horn still in college. Yes you have an opinion. I know because you never pass up a chance to spout your pundit bullshit from your obviously upper class mouth.

I say you are a child. Tell me I am wrong (Like I need to say that, lol).

trollbooth
Monday, March 17, 2003

Stephen,

That's fine if people don't agree with my opinion (especially siince I don't have an opinion re war with Iraq).
I just have this thing about logic.

The Real PC
Monday, March 17, 2003

Hi Robin,

By manufactured, above, I mean that 250,000 soliders did not all of a sudden get p*ssed at 250,000 soldiers on the other side - the conflict was manufactured.  I'm sure those folks over there on both sides would all much rather be someplace else, so it stands to reason that something convinced them to be there.  From what I understand of the situation it stems mostly from leaders on both sides stirring up fears in the people, making these things a self fulfilling prophecy.  Here's a simplified illustration:

Country A and country B are both at peace.  The citizens are happily pursuing their lives in a dreamy bliss.

Leader of A says "country B could be gathering an army, we better do something..."  People hear this from their leader and decide that he's right, so A starts to build a "defense force."  Now over in B, they see these things going on and decide they need a force of their own to counter A.  What we have here is the roots of an arms race of sorts.  Sooner or later A and B are going to clash.  And the whole thing was manufactured from an imaginary threat that Leader A used to menace his people.  Why?  Who knows, but I'll bet there was a nice pile of cash somewhere in the mix.

The point is that two countries full of people don't magically focus on each other's destruction.  Something stirs them into the snowball effect.  Who's in a position with enough leverage to get the ball rolling?  See what I mean?

rhetoric
Monday, March 17, 2003

It's hard to imagine leaders going to all that trouble just for money. Let's say pres. Bush is starting a war with Iraq in order to make a profit for himself and his friends. He's risking his popularity in the US and especially in the world for money, even though he's already rich. He would rather have more money than go into the history books as a decent president. No, that doesn't sound right somehow.
That idea also disregards the fact that most people have a conscience in addition to an ego. It's hard to imagine the president thinking to himself "What fun, I'm getting all these innocent people killed and getting paid for it!"
I think you are overly cynical, and in a weird sense naiive, if you seriously believe that.

The Real PC
Monday, March 17, 2003

I was not making a value judgment, just an observation.  I have mixed thoughts on the entire war.  I have one primary concern: minimization of US casualties.  Second concern: that we don't tear ourselves apart similar to Vietnam.  Other than that, UN, international law, France's opine du jour - I don't give a rat's ass.

Nat Ersoz
Monday, March 17, 2003

PC,

I don't claim to know why any of these kinds of things happen.  I also didn't claim that the war was for money.  It does seem possible, though, that some of the small things that get this kinda of crap started might involve a little cash, no?  A little "exaggeration" to generate some business for a few defense contractor buddies that help me get elected?  You don't think that our noble officials would sully their hands on such things?

The main point, though, isn't about the money.  It's about how we get into these messes.  Do you believe the official version of things?  All of these people just decided one day to hate each other, sight unseen? If so, then I'm not the only one that's naive.  If not, then what's your take?

rhetoric
Monday, March 17, 2003

Money is a part of everything, and so is ego. You can't find a situation where they aren't involved, and that includes all of us.
On the other hand, our society has certain ideals which have evolved over centuries, and especially in recent decades. These ideals include compassion and humanitarianism, and they are also a factor in most of our leaders' decisions, and in most of our personal decisions.
I think a person like Saddam Hussein really belongs to an earlier age when ruthless conquerors were admired. Now, and especially since Hitler, we consider people like him sociopathic criminals. Times change.

Do I believe the official version? No, of course not. It's what they want us to think they think, not what they really think. On the other hand, I have a gut feeling that Bush is idealistic (mixed of course with greed and ego just like the rest of us). I do not think he's trying to ruin this country and I think he cares about his reputation more than making a few more millions.
That is not to say I agree with the policy of interfering with other countries. On the other hand, why does the UN even bother making resolutions if they're meaningless?
None of us can guess what would happen if Iraq were left alone, or what will happen if it isn't.

The Real PC
Monday, March 17, 2003

I don't disagree that threats are manufactured to mask aggression (you can spot them on all sides, look for things like comparisons to Nazis). Its just once one side is doing this, what is the other side supposed to do? Now they know they face a real threat, but they haven't been threatened specifically. Is it more honest to say, 'those people are saying bad things about us', or 'those people are plotting to take us out'? If you choose the second one, which is actually true, you become a 'purveyor of lies' as well. Its like how the death penalty = murder, or arrest = kidnapping.

Hemingway once said 'wars are caused by undefended wealth'. I think its more like that. If you build it, and don't defend it, they will come. Not saying that's fair or anything, just its the way it seems to work.

At one point you just have to come up with a reasonable system of laws and live with the idea that those who break them forfeit a lot of rights. The problem with the UN is the laws - anyone who takes over a country by force, suspends elections, disposes of the opposition gets a voice. If that is the law, then I'm a rebel. It is also dangerous for the US to take that role without broad support, but that is hard to get with just a few dumb hawks, a lousy diplomat and one Colin Powell.

I honestly think the logic here is from the sept 12th meeting. The question of the day was 'why do people drive planes into buildings, really?'. The easy answers came up short. Poverty? They were all rich. Education? They were mostly smart and mostly had degrees. America screwed them over? Actually it helped them against Russia, and Serbia for that matter (yes they were there). Political frustration? Bing! There are a lot of things they feel strongly about, but they have no hope of changing things politically in their countries. Very frustrating. If the abortion issue didn't have a political outlet you might see bombs here too. So the only way out is to give them a political voice, and Iraq is a strategically (Shiite, Sunni), politically (no one really likes Saddam), and militarily a logical target. If democracy comes to Iraq, you will see huge pressure on Saudi Arabia and Iran to become more democratic, Syria will become isolated etc. If they don't put a democratic system in place, then I have no idea why they are there - not for money, not for oil, not to stop the Muslim world from disliking them, not to rid the world of the last of its nasty weapons, not to cement NATO alliances... If that whole area becomes democratic, it could really do well, and the US would be more secure for it.

I know the UN is against 'nation building', but it worked in Europe, and it worked in east Asia. OPeople don't like living under a dictator's thumb, surprisingly. Getting to that point is hard though, usually requires at least some form of civil strife. Police hate domestic disputes, they are dangerous and the police always look like the bad guy. But walking away and then inviting the survivor to the table isn't the moral high road either, but its the norm.

Robin Debreuil
Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Dear Robin,
                    Any democratic governement elected in the Middle East would immediately demand the end of all military ties with the United States, and this would continue for as long as the United States supported Israel.

                    If you seriously think the USA wants to replace its client governments in the region with others that represent the true will of the people you will believe anything. The US only supports democracy as long as it can guarantee the results of the election beforehand. Otherwise friendly dictators are a much safer pair of hands.

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, March 18, 2003

----"I have one primary concern: minimization of US casualties. "----

Strange Nat. My primary concern is maximization of US and UK casualties so its leaders will think twice before going on these kind of jaunts again.

Nice to know we agree on the analysis though.

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Hmm, Turkey isn't in the middle east? I don't know, you say things, but then they just don't add up. I'm trying to think of one instance (I'm sure there's one) where a non democratic country (US satellite even) had elections, and then cut ties with the US. Not Taiwan, not Korea, not the East Bloc or Russia, not Argentina, not even Guatemala... Ok, Phillipines sort of, they voted to close Subic Bay, and it closed. And the point is?

Don't confuse rhetoric with policy. Sometimes gov'ts are willing to screw up the big picture over something remote and far away (like France and the US have), but it tends to be shortlived and easily repaired if people are given a chance to change their minds.

As far as me beleiving anything, I don't beleive you are being honest about many things you know, just passionate. I don't see that alone as admirable, though probably you do. Maybe we can just disagree on that and I'll go back to work.

Robin Debreuil
Tuesday, March 18, 2003

If the USA was really interested in international law and order they would support the international court.

John Ridout
Tuesday, March 18, 2003

I am not sure that a democratic country will give Al Quwhatever a voice.

Muslim fundamentalists are not generally democratic.

a stephan supporter
Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Dear Robin et al,
                          Firstly it is not a question of Muslim findamentalists versus supporters of the US. There AREN'T ANY supporters of the US in the Middle East. And as long as the US continues to back continued Israeli expansion there won't be. Most of my Saudi students are pleasant, polite, with a definite desire to learn English, with parents that work for Aramco and often were educated by Americans or British. They wear western dress and will talk to you about pop music and films. Not one of them supports Blair or Bush; in fact even among the hunderd or so Americans and British I know here  only one  does.

                          The Turkish government decided to support the American invasion because it reckoned they were going to invade anyway, so they might as well get some compensation for the lost trade and be able to send in their army to control the Iraqui Kurds. Despite being offered $21 billion they couldn't muster a majority even among theiir own supporters in Parliament. And there is a massive 95-98% of the people opposed to a war.

                          The Kuwaitis, who you would think would be the first to be worried about Saddam since they are about the only country any hypothetical weapons of mass destruction might reach, are so in favour that the British government has ordered all its nationals to leave for fear of reprisals from the populace.

                        It is true that most people are not instinctively in favour of Al-Quaeda, and their tactics horrify most Muslims, but on the principle of my enemy's enemy is my friend he has attained mythical proportions even among people he would normally be engaged in a fight to the death with.

                        The truth is that even outside the Middle East there are only four governments, the Israeli, British, Australian and Spanish (the Italians seem to have slipped out of the picture) who support the US on this. There is also a rag-tag collection of minor governments, such as Bulgaria, Romania, Estonia, Latvia and one or two others not even the geographers have heard of who support the US because they've been pressurized into doing so and hope to get brownie points; the rest of the world either knows nothing, is too poor to have any time left to worry about it, or is violently against, including the population of Britain and Spain.

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, March 18, 2003

---"I'm trying to think of one instance (I'm sure there's one) where a non democratic country (US satellite even) had elections, and then cut ties with the US"------

How about Iran for a start?

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, March 18, 2003

What is there to say about US politics?  We don't hire presidents because of morality.  We try to optimize for good economies.  Unemployment up?  Boom, he'll be out.  Allies running over Americans with bulldozers?  Well... we shouldn't interfere with other countries.

Free speech is an illusion.  Really, if you say something "unpatriotic" which angers your neighbors and someone attacks your house, what if the police look the other way?  The state doesn't need to do a thing.  If your son is thrown in jail for nonviolent civil disobedience, it won't be the government brutalizing him.  The other prisoners will.  Selectively enforcing the law is enough to take away free speech, you don't need a dictator with a gun.

Tj
Tuesday, March 18, 2003

The Tin Hat Brigade is alive and well.

Go Linux Go!
Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Global gov't?  Sounds like Armageddon to me :)

apw
Tuesday, March 18, 2003

The main reason Muslims hate the US is that we support Israel.

The main reason the US supports Israel is to make up for centuries of European anti-semitism, culminating in Hitler.

The Muslims have been opposed to the Jews in Israel for centuries.

The Israelis have been guilty of aggression, but their primary motive is survival and self-defense, not expansion.

The US, like any nation, is always partly motivated by self-interest. But our support of Israel doesn't seem to have much to do with self-interest or greed. How do we profit by supporting Israel?

People who hate the US overlook the fact that our current dilemma resulted more from compassion, idealism and loyalty to Israel than from self-interest.

The US is just as imperfect as any human society or organization. But people like Stephen Jones (and there are many) are too full of rage to look at things objectively.

A. The US is primarily motivated by greed and imperialism, and
B. the Muslims hate us primarily because we support Israel.

How do you make the logical connection between A and B?

The Real PC
Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Stephen, when you said "My primary concern is maximization of US and UK casualties so its leaders will think twice before going on these kind of jaunts again.", i was surprised to see your hatred of America runs so deep. What has happened to you? Aren't you the same Stephen Jones I knew in Texas?

Jim
Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Stephen,

Your comment of "My primary concern is maximization of US and UK casualties so its leaders will think twice before going on these kind of jaunts again."

pretty much eliminates you from the domain of rational, intelligent discussion.  The mere fact that you seem to wish harm on troops who are obeying the orders of a democratically elected government is sickening. Don't like Bush or Blair? Fine. But to suggest that you hope that some 19 year old kid gets his head blown off so you can prove some point is just nuts.

Mark Hoffman
Tuesday, March 18, 2003

I find the comparisons of Bush to Hitler show just how ignorant and naive many people are.

We can argue all day long about whether the US should invade or not. We can argue whether or not the US should overthrow a dictatorship just because it's a brutal regime.

But if you suggest that Bush is like Hitler then you are clearly demonstrating how little you know about either one.

Why is there no such anger towards Hussein for murdering thousands of his own people? Where is the anger for the Kurds he gassed? The Iranians he gassed? The women he had gang-raped? The children of political opponents he murdered in front of their parents? Where is the outrage for the people who had their tongues cut from the mouths because they criticized the government? What about the countless Kuwaitis who were murdered by his police during the Gulf War? Where are the comparisons to Hitler there?

Once again, we can debate whether or not the US should attack Iraq, but to compare Bush and Blair to Hitler and then turn around and ignore the atrocities of Hussein is the epitome of hypocrisy.

Mark Hoffman
Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Tin hat?  I've met black men who've experienced rape in prison, and personally know activists who are afraid of protesting openly, so they quietly work on ecovillages and alternate economies. 

If you don't know that world, well, you're luckier than I am.

That actually doesn't answer the matter of Bush vs. Saddam.  I have no opinion there, except that Bush has conflicts of interest, and is unconvincing.  That doesn't mean he's wrong (or right).  We'll see soon enough.

Tj
Tuesday, March 18, 2003

"National Socialism as a matter of principle, must lay claim to the right to force its principles on the whole German nation without consideration of previous federated state boundaries, and to educate in its ideas and conceptions. Just as the churches do not feel bound and limited by political boundaries, no more does the National Socialist idea feel limited by the individual state territories of our fatherland. The National Socialist doctrine is not the servant of individual federated states, but shall some day become the master of the German nation. It must determine and reorder the life of a people, and must, therefore, imperiously claim the right to pass over [state] boundaries ...."

"Democracy as a matter of principle, must lay claim to the right to force its principles on the whole Human race without consideration of previous international boundaries, and to educate in its ideas and conceptions. Just as the churches do not feel bound and limited by political boundaries, no more does the Democratic idea feel limited by the individual state territories of our planet. The Democratic doctrine is not the servant of individual states, but shall some day become the master of the Human race. It must determine and reorder the life of a people, and must, therefore, imperiously claim the right to pass over [international] boundaries .... "

The first is by Adolf Hitler. In the second, I have replaced National Socialism with Democracy etc. I would say that it kinda sums up the rhetoric coming out of the west on EXPORTING Democracy.

How do we know we are right?

tapiwa
Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Dear Mark,
                  The fact that you are quite prepared to countenance thousands of nineteen year old Iraquis having their heads blown off because they happen to be a different nationality to you but are horrified when someone wishes it one your side just even though they are the invaders shows Dr. Johnson was right "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel".

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Mark, more for you ...
"The leader of genius must have the ability to make different opponents appear as if they belonged to one category.
-- Adolf Hitler "

Anyone figure out how the war against terrorism became the fight against weapons of mass destruction?? The two are totally different. The one uses conventional weapons in conventional warfare... the other hits you and runs.

Before you answer, why did Britain, now 'fighting' against terrorism, not bomb the Republic of Ireland, which until a couple of year ago, was officially at war with Britain over Northern Ireland, and supported the IRA, harbouring them, and allowing them to be funded by Irish folk in the USA.

tapiwa
Tuesday, March 18, 2003

tapiwa,

Regardless of how you fill in the blank (Nazi, Capitalism, Democracy) that is basically the premise of war, period: 

To have peaceful end which conforms to your "way" instead of the other guy's way. 

The purpose of war is not to prmote war.  Its to promote a peaceful outcome which favors your view.  Such has it been, and it will always be.

I do not have a problem using all means to 'persuade' others to conform to US politcal will.  If you don't manipualte them, they will manipulate you.  Need evidence of this?  What do you think the whole German/France/Russia thing is about?  Its about obtaining and maintaining dominance.  That was their ploy to obtain a more dominant position over, or obtain parity with, the US. And for now, it sputtered - though nothing is certain.

I take issue with Bush, because I think he could have manipulated the situation successfully and fully to the US's advantage through diplomacy and without directly risking of American lives.  Also, the world will be a more risky place (risking trade w/Europe for example) by chosing war. Now that he has commited Americans to the conflict, so be it.  My differences are now moot.

Imperialism?  of course.  Exporting a muslim state world view is no different.  The only difference is that we are more likely to succeed.

Nat Ersoz
Tuesday, March 18, 2003

----"The main reason the US supports Israel is to make up for centuries of European anti-semitism, culminating in Hitler."----

When the American secretary of State tried to explain to King Abdul Aziz of Saudi American support for the creation of the state of Israel after the Second World War the Saudi King replied "Sir, in my society we reward our friends and punish our enemies. Why therefore are you dispossessing your friends and allies, the Arabs, instead of taking part of Germany and creatiing the State of Israel there".

Incidentally it is the latest sport among the American right to attack Europe as anti-semitic, but the largest pro-Nazi rally outside Germany was held in Madison Square Gardens, and pro-German sentiment in the country prevented Roosevelt from declaring war on Germany until Hitler foolishly declared war on the States.


----"The Muslims have been opposed to the Jews in Israel for centuries"-----

In fact there have not been Jews in Israel for centuries.The Romans expelled them in 79AD and they didn't really return until the twentieth century. In 1897 the World Zionist Council sent a delegation to Palestine to explore the possiibility of setting up a Jewish state there. They reported back "The bride is beautiful but she is already taken". The fact that Israel was conceived of from the first as being a colonial enterprise by European Jews can be judged from the fact that for many years the Biritish government was seriously considering setting up the State of Israel in Uganda, presumably because the Ugandans' complaints about being evicted from part of their land would attract less attention than the Palestinians.

The Jews lived peacefully throughout the Ottoman Empire for centuries, even after they were expelled from Europe. There were certainly humiliations on occasion but there can be no comparison with the pogroms of medieval western europe or 19th century eastern europe.

---" How do we profit by supporting Israel?"---

This has been one of the great mysteries of the last thirty years, since US Middle Eastern policy palpably does not serve the interests of the United States as a nation nor that of the majority of US citizens. However if you get rid of the illusion that your rulers are interested in anybody but themselves it becomes fairly clear; campaign contrbutions, swing votes (and most importantly stopping those contributions and votes going to your political opponents). The increase in the influence of the Christian Zionists who believe that the Second Coming will happen when the Jews regain the promised land (from the Nile to the Euphrates?) also must be mentioned.

Do remember that the plans for regime change in Iraq were drawn up by Richard Perle in a policy document well before Bush became President; in fact the policy document wasn't written for Bush at all but for Benjamin Netanyhu. Perle at present is serving on the board of a company which is vying for multi-billion dollar contracts for rebuliding Iraq. Obviously the profits won't be helped much if there is no war. Remember these are the same type of guys that bought you Enron and World Com.

You are also making the mistake of presuming that there is one single motive behind the invasion. I feel there is more likely to be a mixture of motives of which a desire to be seen to be doing something, a wish to divert public attention from previous embarrassments, the machinations of the pro-Israeli lobby and the Christian Right, post September 11th hysteria, and the opportunity to make a killing by taking over Iraq's oil all had a part. The guff about weapons of mass destruction and, when that proved to be a damp fizz, about freeing the Kurds (an on-and-off reason since when they thought the Turks were coming in they were quite prepared to countenance a Turkish occupation of Iraqui Kurdistan precisely to ensure that the Kurds weren't freed) and lately about bringing democracy to Iraq by replacing an Iraqui military dictarorship with  American military administration is just PR.

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Dear Mark,
                  If you read the posts carefully you will find that nobody is saying Bush is like Hitler.

                    As for why we don't go on about Saddam's atrocities it is because I don't believe there is anybody on this forum who disputes them. However when he was committing many of them Dick Cheney was flying to Baghdad to offer the US's support, and Jack Straw was refusing to support a motion in Westminster censuring the gassing you refer to. (By the way the first people to gas the Kurds in Iraq where the British).

                The main reason though is that opponents of the war do not believe you liberate people by bombing and shooting large numbers of them. It merely sieems a variant on the "better dead than red" mantra that so many Americans have professed - normally for other people they didn't bother to consutl on the matter.

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, March 18, 2003

A few points...

Tapiwa,

Your analogy to National Socaliam and Democracy is flawed for a number of reasons. Democracy, at it's core, symbolizes the human beings should be free and should have a voice in their leadership. It's more than just the latest political ideal. It goes to the core of being a human being and desiring to be free. National Socialism was just another political manifesto brewed up by a collection of crackpots.

Or did you honestly mean to put the ideals of the Nazi's on the same footing as democracy?


Stephen, how did you arrive at the conclusion that:

1. I wanted to see Iraqis die?
2. That if they are to do, that it's just because they are a different nationality?

I never said that I wished anyone to die, and I certainly didn't say that I wanted people of other nationalities to die.

If you're an Iraqi soldier and you want to kill as many Americans or Brits as possible, well hey, that's the normal course of war. I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume that you are not an Iraqi soldier defending his country. Therefore, your desire to see the "maximimaztion of US and UK casualties" is clearly politically motivated, and not motivated by a defense of your country.

Oh, and thank you for clearly defining "the real reasons" for the war in your most recent post. Whew! Close one! We almost went to war without knowing it's really the Jewish lobby, those pesky right-wing Christian fundamentalist and a few of Kenneth Lay's friends that are really the reason. Does CNN know this?

Mark Hoffman
Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Dear Jim,
                I've never been to Texas., or to the United States, though I'm sure both places have as many charming people (and vile) as elsewhere.

                  My "hatred of the United States" runs as deep as the hatred of Iraq that the other posters are showing. They seem to think there is nothing wrong with killing tens or hundreds of thousands of young Iraqui men who do not offer the least threat to the United States, nor even to their immediate neighbours.

                  I would much prefer if all the British and US and Australian troops went home to Texas, Tyneside or Melbourne rather than suffered any casualities, but that no longer appears to be an option.

                    Why is it that every time the US takes it into its head to bomb or invade some other country the young men of that country are "collateral damage" but the American troops are people with lives and families.

                      If I said that half a million dead American children under five was (note "was" not "would be") a cheap price to pay for regime change in Washington I would rightly be considered a dangerous lunatic, yet when  Madeleine Albright said the same thing about Iraq there was scarcely a whisper of protest.

                      Of coiurse, if I've got it wrong, and what Bush really wishes to do in Iraq is challenge the Iraquis to a video arcade shootout, then please change "dead US and UK troops" to "lost games of Quake".

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Yeah, those American and British bastards!

I mean, why are they even in the Gulf anyway? It's not like Saddam has committed atrocities against his own people or invaded his neighbors or anything!

Yup, Saddam hasn't done anything to deserve the worlds attention. He has just been sitting in Baghdad trying to help his own people and these damn Americans and British just came over there for no good reason and start giving him crap. Saddam hasn't done anything wrong. Why won't people leave him alone?

I'm just stupid.
Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Dear Mark,
                    How do you think you are going to win the war against Iraq without killing any Iraquis?

                    If you want the war with Iraq then you are saying you want to kill Iraqiis. Or do you think you just play them gospel music and they all throw away theiir guns and boogie with you?

                      And seeing that Bush seems to consider invading another cournty is an annual event and that Blair likes to turn up for the ride like some impoverished distant relative freeloading at a country house bash, then I would prefer to see enough British and American troops killed to stop them going off and killing a lot of other people next year and so on.

                      If you disagree with my reasons for the war, then give me some other ones (and please don't give me weapons of mass destruction that if they could be put on mssile and those missiles could be carried by camel to Niagara Fals or EL Paso could provide a threat to the US equivalent to that of a weeks consumption of big Macs, an Iraqui once caught a subway train with Osama bin Laden's cleaner's mother, Iraquis are under an  oppressive rule and are just begging us to bomb them back into the Stone age, or  todays daily special of "democracy wrapped up in direct US military rule for the next few years and no way Shiites are Kurds can have their own independence like the Yanks do").

              Incidentally, if you believe CNN is a reliable source of information you do have a problem. Someone once summed up Tony Blair's credibility gap by saying that if Blair said it was raining she would look out of the window to make sure; if CNN tells me its raining I immediately ring up everybody to arrange a beach party.

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Mark, you're very uneducated on this topic.  Democracy is anti-American.  James Madison in the Federalist Papers explained that democracies are disasters.  A polisci 101 teacher would rap your knuckles.
http://www.trimonline.org/website/deceived.htm

The hope that massive casualties will avert war, has its roots in the debate against using technology to fight wars.  I don't agree with it, but the theory is that losing your own populace deters countries from war.  (Bullshit, says I.)

The Jewish swing factor is well-documented by... intelligent, respected Jewish people.  The theory is that unlike say abortion, it's an effective way to swing a vote.
http://www.jcpa.org/jl/vp446.htm

This is my last post on this topic.  It's just on my mind too much, and I keep reading debates everywhere on this.  The US is sliding to Empire, and I haven't studied enough history to know what this means.

Tj
Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Dear "I'm just stupid",
                                You are. Do you really think that the American and British troops are just going to get rid of Saddam and family and not touch any of his long-suffering people.

                                And that when they go away the Iraqui's problems will go with them. The present policy is to get rid of Saddam and his family and pass power on to the second echelons of the Baa'thist party, which is rather like liberating Germany by getting rid of Hitler and Goebbels and forming a new government from the ranks of the Waffen SS and the Hitler youth.

                                  American troops have been going in and invading countries to get rid of evil rulers (those that are no longer in favour of course) for ages. They went into Panama to get rid of Noriega, and bombarded and completely destroyed the homes of 50,000 of the poorest people in Panama City, who to the best of my knowledge still  have received no compensation. Then they put Arnulfo in power who became a byword for greed and corruption even by Central European standards.

                                In Afghanistan they decided they had to get rid of the Russians, and came to an agreement with the Saudis that the Saudis  would fund the freedom fighters (including later Bin Laden and his troops) and the CIA would train them. When they managed to take Kabul in 1992 they fell out among themselves AFTER A WEEK and then varying factions, including the US's ciurrent ally Hektmayer, proceeded to completely destroy the city in four years of war. The Americans did not see this as what they wanted so they helped their chief ally in the region, the Pakistani military inteligence, train a large body of displaced refugees, the Taliban who then took over the country with surprisisng ease. The Taliban didn't prove to be the solution the US wanted either so they went in and put the old warlords back in power, and put a puppet governementi in Kabul that only has the authority that American dollars give it. The resiult is that after twenty-four years of interverniton and permanent war even in the best place, Kabul, Afhgnasn have less freedom and more misery than they did under the Russian backed government before it started.

                  In Somalia they went in with the best of intentions. However they ended up deciding to free part of Mogadishu from another "evil leader" in this case Aideed, whiom they didn't succeed in catching (mainly because the Marine in charge of radio communications was Aideed's own son) but still managed to kill scores of Somalis whom they had come to protect.

                    There is nothing more dangerous than good intentions

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Stephen,

If you aren't going to read what I said, and if you keep on putting words in my mouth, then this isn't going to be any more fun.

I haven't actually stated here that I was in favor of the war. You are assuming that just because I took you to task for a comment that I must be in favor of the war. And you know what they say about assuming..

My comments to you have been directed at the fact you while you are not defending your country, nor are you under orders to enter into combat but yet you are hoping that people are harmed for the sheer sake of achieving some political ends.

You are positioning yourself to achieve some sort of moral victory if the maximum amount of death is inflicted on people. The governments involved are positioning themselves so that the fewer casualties on both sides will bring victory sooner. 

I'm not going to argue the merits of this war with you. It's rather pointless. My comments have not been in defense of the war, but rather pointing out that hoping and wishing for the maximum number of deaths, blood and suffering is hardly the hallmark of a peace loving person.

I think CNN is reliable, but not very complete in it's coverage. But have no fear, I come to Joel on Software to get the "real scoop" of what's going on in the world. Just today, I learned all about the conspiracy theories that CNN doesn't have the guts to report on.

Mark Hoffman
Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Tj,

So if I don't agree with you, that makes me uneducated? Interesting..Some might say it makes you intolerant of other opinions, but I digress....

Democracies are not disasters. Now, lets not nitpick over the term democracy. Spare me the "But America is a Republic" speech. I know. If you believe that a tyrannical form of government is preferable to a democratically elected government, then hey...more power to ya.

There is little doubt that any major group of people will wield some degree of political power. Hello lobbyist.  But to say that the reason for the war is to appease Israel is just nuts. Jews make a convenient scapegoat for virtually anything that happens in this country. This war is no different.

Mark Hoffman
Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Stephen,

Can you provide a link that shows that a US Marine involved in the attempt to capture Aideed was one of his sons? I've never heard that. In fact, I wasn't aware that Marines were involved. I was under the impression it was a US Army operation, not Marines.

Anyway, I did a quick search and couldn't find anything on that. I'd like to see some info on that if you can provide it.

Thanks,

Mark

Mark Hoffman
Tuesday, March 18, 2003

-----" think CNN is reliable, but not very complete in it's coverage."----

Well yes, if only covering facts that support its own points of view is incomplete coverage. Iraqui television has the same fault (I get both of them and they're equally irritating - in fact if instead of blanket propaganda on CNN and Fox News the Bush administation had continously broadcast Iraqui television on a widescreen oppoiste the UN building it would probably have got its resolution weeks ago).

I have no desire to see people die for the fun of it. But with the Bush Administation talking about invading Iran next year and North Korea the year after and who knows where the year after that, it seems that there would be less loss of life if there were some siginificant allied casualties this time instead of the real-life video arcade shootout we were presented with in the last Gulf War (which incidentally was a war I believe both necessary and justified).

Anyway it is midnight in Saudi now, and I have to be in work at seven. Wouldn't want to miss the missiles flying.

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, March 18, 2003

(Sorry, I meant to say your terminology is very uneducated, but made a stupid slip.  Bad mood.  My polisci prof, on the first day, made it very clear that in the old days, people knew the diff between democracy and republic.  Democracies suffer from majority rule and lead to mobocracy.  This is not just nitpicking, your analysis leads straight to mobocracy.  Republics are much more inefficient.  The wheels are hard to turn.)

Tj
Tuesday, March 18, 2003

(In fact, I'm also too uneducated to have a clear position, and I just mailed Stephen for any useful sources/books he might know.  Perhaps he can share them with us?  I'm already starting on Rome.)

Tj
Tuesday, March 18, 2003

[There is nothing more dangerous than good intentions]

Good intentions plus ignorance have caused a lot of damage. But I think you must agree that evil resulting from egomania, plus ignorance, wins the contest for the most dangerous combination.
The US sees itself as the great superhero fighting evil, but the world sees us as a threat because we have no competition and there's nothing to balance our power. The world is rushing in to fill the vacuum left by the Soviet Union.

The Real PC
Tuesday, March 18, 2003

"Democracy, at it's core, symbolizes the human beings should be free and should have a voice in their leadership. It's more than just the latest political ideal. It goes to the core of being a human being and desiring to be free. "

Democracy has no more or less "freedom" build in than any other system. All it is is rule that says a popularity contest decides who gets to put the flag on the henhouse. Outside of Utopia this means those that appeal most to the lowest common insticts of the masses with "bread and games" get to do the sorded deals. Spare me the utopian freedom speech. "Democracy" is just as flawed as "Socialism" was in a real world scenario. Sad thing is, so is everything else, so it's not that big a deal. It is not worse, just don't pretend its better.

Just me (Sir to you)
Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Just Me,

In the US the government does not decide our college major. I think that's nice, don't you?
We can start a business, any kind as long as it's legal, and live anywhere we can afford.
We can protest if we want and can write or say whatever we think.
You're crazy of you think that isn't a better system.
I have never in my entire life had my freedom restricted unfairly by my government. The only thing that sucks is the graduated income tax -- but that's a socialist idea intended to make us all equal.

The Real PC
Wednesday, March 19, 2003

I better add that I'm not against socialism and I think we need social programs and that capitalism should not be unrestricted. There has to be a balance.

The Real PC
Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Real PC

Who decides the balance??

You have one opinion. I have another. Democracy as we know it imposes the will of the majority on the rest.

What do I want? Complete freedom to do as I please, as long as it does not hurt anyone else. Yes, that means the right to determine solely on my criteria who to employ. Or who to go out drinking with. Whether to carry a gun, or whether to take drugs, or sell drugs. If I am competent enough to vote on a government for the people, then I think I am competent enough to decide my own life.

"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the Public Treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits from the Public Treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy always followed by
dictatorship."
-- Alexander Fraser Tyler  in The Decline and Fall of the Athenian Republic

"Democracy, n.:
A government of the masses. Authority derived through mass meeting or any other form of direct expression. Results in mobocracy. Attitude toward property is communistic... negating property rights. Attitude toward law is that the will of the majority shall regulate, whether it is based upon deliberation or governed by passion, prejudice, and impulse, without restraint or regard to consequences. Result is demagogism, license, agitation, discontent, anarchy."
-- U. S. Army Training Manual No. 2000-25 (1928-1932), since withdrawn

tapiwa
Wednesday, March 19, 2003

My point really, is that Lenin et cie were convinced enough in their ideals. So was Hitler. So it seems is Bush.

Problems arose when they felt the need to impose these said ideals on the rest of the world.

That democracy is better than socialism, or islam is not the point.

All I say is let the people of xyz country determine the future of that country.

tapiwa
Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Mark, why are you arguing with children? These kids are still in college for god's sake. They are still trying to get over the fact that the world really isn't fair.

All I see is over educated rich kid pundit bullshit. Having never been to the US and calling us "vile". Now that is some bullshit!

trollbooth
Wednesday, March 19, 2003

And another thing - this is not new! The US has had Presidents that have had the same mind set, where the might of the US was used to change the world. Reagan and his hawks were probably the most influential on the current administration.

trollbooth
Wednesday, March 19, 2003

PC, from your reference to socialism, I'm assuming by "social programs" above, you mean government managed programs.  If so, then my question is, why can't the private sector see to this need using private charities?

Look at the logic of your approach.  You claim we need these programs, I assume to help those in "need."  So, living in a democracy, as you observe in your earlier post, such a program would have to be voted into place by a majority of voters.  This means a majority of people are saying that they are willing to spend money to see these needs met.  In that case, why wouldn't they just donate directly to a charity dedicated to the cause?  This approach is much more efficient in practice, isn't it?

Either that or you think that people will be stingy and not do it of their own free will, so government compulsion is required.  In this case, how could a majority ever develop so that the program could be voted into place?

This is obviously not what happens in real life, so tell me how it really works.  Let's see which basic assumption is flawed and then let's decide whether this really is a good thing or not.

guess who
Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Dear Mark,
                  I think the Aideed story was in "Time" or "Newsweek"; they are the only print magazines that I used to get. The only trouble is that they have different versions for each region and I don't know if it was the Middle East or the South Asia one.

                  Here are a couple of links about Mohammad Aideed's son.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/1747697.stm

"Based in Mogadishu, Hussein Aideed leads the United Somali Congress/Somali National Alliance (USC/SNA).

Hussein Aideed controls parts of Mogadishu

He is a former US marine and son of the late General Mohamed Farah Aideed - the warlord who helped to remove President Siad Barre from power, and then fought US forces in Mogadishu in 1993.

His son - Hussein Aideed - arrived in Somalia with the Americans but then left the US military and became a local militia leader.

He now controls southern areas of Mogadishu."

http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2002/07/24/1027497355639.html

"Hussein Aideed, who grew up in the US, is an American citizen and served in the US military, including as a member of the US peacekeeping force in Somalia, now controls his father's powerful militias..................................

Hussein Aideed was educated in America and worked as a city engineer in California and as a reservist in the US Marines.

Hussein had been estranged from his father, the warlord Mohammed Aideed, but re-established a relationship when he returned to Somalia in 1996."

The fact that he was involved in the radio contacts pf the marines becaise of his engineering background, does not come out in either of these interviews.

On his father's death he took over his rule and at one stage declared himlelf President of Somailia and claimed to control 855 of its territory.

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Varying tnings are been joined together here wihich should not be.

fFirstly democracy in the sense of each person being able to vote for their leaders on a periodic basis. The main genarally accepted advantage of this is not some nebulous, it allows the people to rule, but that it theoretically provides a mechanism for the peaceful transition of power (though the people that postulated the idea had evidently never seen Indian or Sri Lankan elections)..

Secondly the separation of powers, between the military, the executive and the judiciary. Generally considered to be necessary to ensure that democracy does not become a farce, but can in fact exist entirely independently of a democratic way of choosing the leaders.

Both of the above (a way of ensuring a peaceful transition of power and the separation of powers necessary to safeguard the former) can exist but basic freedoms still be denied in a pseudo-democacy. The black in the Deep South  up to the 1960's would have been in that situation since registering to vote or engaging in ciivic activiry was forcibly denied to him; this still ocurs in India or the Philipines, for example.

Freedom of Information is also necessary to allow the people to effectivel exercise their choice and enable it to monitor the three branches of government.

Economic power must not be too concentrated  as this will allow the democracy to be subverted, either at the level of people having to vote for the local building contractor or they would be out of a job, to huge multi-nationals blackmailing whole governments into giving them tax breaks. A universal system of state ownership would also have this effect.

So democracy can be subverted by too much state power - communism - or too little - cowboy capitalism. Democracy cannot theirefore be opposed to or indentified with either socialism or captialism.

And a parting shot. Churchill was confusing different concepts when he said that democracy meant that when you got a knock on the door at the crack of dawn you knew it was the milkman, but any policy that changes that to protect your freedoms or way of life should be viewed with the gravest suspicion.

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Dear Trollbooth,
                          I never said people in the US were "viler" than anywhere else.

                          Your mother really should have taught you to read, though I suppose she was still upset she hadn't thrown you away and kept the stork.

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, March 19, 2003

All this flamewars; and the war hasnt even started yet :-)

Patrik
Wednesday, March 19, 2003

I don't have a mother Stephen. I was grown in a cabbage patch. Keep biting and I will keep writing. I see you wont comment on the fact that I said you are a child. Am I wrong?

I see your hate runs deep. I also see your knowledge of how to use a thesaurus is unmatched. Bravo my child friend. I am going to be your new best buddy!

I do have one serious question for you though - when are you ever going to offer something constructive and not destructive. You can pick apart an argument pretty well but you offer no alternatives. Do you have something to offer to the world besides long rants that make my eyes tire? Say something constructive you boob. I dare you.

trollbooth
Wednesday, March 19, 2003

---"to offer something constructive and not destructive"----

Like you do you mean? Have a nice day.

Stephen Jones
Wednesday, March 19, 2003

[Democracy cannot theirefore be opposed to or indentified with either socialism or captialism.]

I didn't think anyone said it could.
But to maximize individual liberty you need some form of capitalism. To prevent the streets being paved with homeless sick people you need some degree of social welfare.
Balance is everything, and for balance you need wisdom, not extremism or hate.

The Real PC
Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Real PC,

If you follow the thread down you see that everybody starts off conforming to the accepted norms, but once the debate begins a greater diversity of opinion becomes apparant.

I think we all hide behind stereotypes.  They provide us with masks that makes interaction so much easier. 

If everybody utters acceptable ambiguities from an established school of thought then everything goes more smoothly.

If people didn't do this, then you'd get this type of row all the time.

Ged Byrne
Wednesday, March 19, 2003

>Like you do you mean? Have a nice day.

Ok, wtf is the first part of that sentance supposed to mean?

-j
Wednesday, March 19, 2003

>My point really, is that Lenin et cie were convinced enough in their ideals. So was Hitler. So it seems is Bush.

Following this idealistic logic, since my left foot itches I must be able to hit home runs like Babe Ruth too, but only if I scratch my balls first.

codito
Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Interesting read....Stephen I agree with much you have said. Some other good contrary opinions too.

It was good to see that the conversation didn't end up being an abuse session (or is that Joel at work?)

Lets just hope the whole bloody mess is over soon.
Poor old Iraqis have been getting it up the rear for over a decade now, and now the most powerful nation on earth is going to blow the living beejesus out of them again.

I hope the tents they live in are made of lead!

Realist
Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Looks like we are now at war.

tapiwa
Thursday, March 20, 2003

"Following this idealistic logic, since my left foot itches I must be able to hit home runs like Babe Ruth too, but only if I scratch my balls first. "

Codito, this is my point exactly. The fact that your left foot itches does not make you a great baseball player.

Bush's conviction of his ideals, and the fact that he is right, is possibly no greater than that of the Hitlers and Lenins of this world.

I have no problem with personal ideals and convictions. I do however have a problem with people using force to impose these said convictions on another nation. Whether they are right or wrong, history will judge.

tapiwa
Thursday, March 20, 2003

TJ,

I think you've made the point there:  America is slipping into Empire.

The current actions of Bush and Blair are not capitalistic, they are Imperial.

I'm saddened to have to agree with Stephen.  If Iraq turns out to be as easy as Afganistan was then its going to leave them hungary for more.  The alternative, however, is the loss of soldiers lives.

Perhaps political damage will be good enough, and loss of life will not be necessary.  I hope this is true, because it will prove the effectiveness of democracy.

Ged Byrne
Thursday, March 20, 2003

So losing "massive amounts" of soldiers will make them stop fighting wars? If anything history has proven otherwise.

Ian Stallings
Thursday, March 20, 2003

History gives conflicting lessons on this one. Losing soldiers is unpopular, so in democracies, where the guiding principle behind all policy decisions is getting enough votes to win the next election, it can prove effective.

Two million Vietnamese died in the Vietnam war, not counting the casualites, both direct and indirect in Cambodia and Laos. However i the 55,000 American dead were almost certainly a more compelling factor in causing the American pullout.

Empires are not normally stopped in their expansion by feelings of invinciblity.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, March 20, 2003

I did not mean one particular war. I meant war as a whole. War will not stop in my life time, regardless of who is waging it.

To wish death on soldiers just to whip their political masters is crazy thinking. You might as well be one of the leaders spouting the same rhetoric. I personally hope that casualties on BOTH sides are avoided. There are other ways to defeat a US administration without using violence, the US system was set up that way.

BTW Stephen, you've revealed your true colors and it isn't pretty. I hope you can work out your hate one day and see past the rhetoric that is strong on both sides of this argument.

Ian Stallings
Thursday, March 20, 2003

"To wish death on soldiers just to whip their political masters is crazy thinking."

Surely that's exactly what the political leaders are doing? Sending soldiers to kill opposition soldiers so one side or other wins the war. Crazy thinking it may be, but it seems to be the way wars work. Or does it depend what side you're rooting for?

Hmm
Thursday, March 20, 2003

Question is what else will stop this and the wars to follow. 1)  A 'messy' war discourages the UK and US leaders from starting another war.  2)  The UK and US continue there current policy until every country on the so-called axis of evil has been defeated. Which option has the least loss of life? As I say, I'm hoping that this isn't our scenario.  Hopefully the safety mechanisms of democracy will serve there purpose and save us from this nightmare scenario.

Ged Byrne
Thursday, March 20, 2003

What am I missing.  I don't see where Stephen says anything that hateful or unpleasent.  Mostly he quotes history and other sources.

Ged Byrne
Thursday, March 20, 2003

[ Crazy thinking it may be, but it seems to be the way wars work. Or does it depend what side you're rooting for? ]

If you read further you'll see I said:. You might as well be one of the leaders spouting the same rhetoric.

as to Stephen's hate:
[My "hatred of the United States" runs as deep as the hatred of Iraq that the other posters are showing. They seem to think there is nothing wrong with killing tens or hundreds of thousands of young Iraqui men who do not offer the least threat to the United States, nor even to their immediate neighbours. ]

[Strange Nat. My primary concern is maximization of US and UK casualties so its leaders will think twice before going on these kind of jaunts again.]

Is that not hate? I mean what qualifies as hate these days?

Besides, I've seen all of his posts and watched him over the past few months and his anti-US rhetoric makes me uneasy. Every time the US is mentioned he will come out of the wood work to bash, regardles of the fact that he has never actually been to the US. He knows a few US and British citizens overseas, is well read, and obviously well educated,  so he feels qualified to condem us all as bunch of lemmings being led by the evil empire. If only life was that simple.


And for the record I am still on the fence on this war. I think both sides of the argument have legit concerns. But you know what, my opinion only counts at the polls and that's where I will excercise it.

Ian Stallings
Thursday, March 20, 2003

Well it's all happening now, there's nothing we can say that'll stop the war.

So lets hope they've got the strategy right. If they have, we should soon be reaping the benefits - among them, lower insurance premiums, cheap fuel, healthy investments and all round fantastic economic and social conditions the likes of which we haven't seen since before the bad times.

Fingers crossed.

optimistic coder
Thursday, March 20, 2003

Dear Ian,
              You are under the strange delusion that coming from the USA gives you the right to expect preferential treatment. You have already stated in a previous thread that you feel it is quite all right for you to protect your job in the USA working for an industry which specializes in exporting a product designed to automate human jobs world wide.

              You are now stating that  it is hateful to wish for the death of US troops but quite reasonable to wish for US success. The fact that you are sweeping under the carpet the fact that US success will lead to the killing of Iraquis doesn't mean it's not going to happen. We are not going to have the minimum of casualites on both sides (and considering the discrepancy in fire power that minimum is likely to be 1000 to 1 in favour of the Americans) for the simple reason that if this war is a push-over, Bush and the rest of the gang will start getting ready for the next one.

                If carloads of the  Mafia came round to your neighborhood from somewhere in the Bronx, to get rid of some local don, after fire-bombing the whole suburb, would you consider it fair if to say as Nat does that you don't care about the law or the Minnesota opinion du jour, but only that casuialties among the bambinos are kept to the minimum, and that it doesn't cause a rift in the family?

              And why is it wrong for me to criticize the US, without having been there, while quite all right for Americans to decide the fate of nations they couldn't even find on a map.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, March 20, 2003

Ian, there's one interesting rule I heard, if for some reason I decide to pop a baby out of someone.  "The younger you are, the louder you can shout."

I'm very comfortable being an American.  A Ukranian once mentioned that I could get multiple women in Ukraine, just for being American.  If you think life sucks, imagine if your country was so poor that your daughter dreamt of being a vapid whore.  So I think we can take a little bit of "bashing."  In the end, if it's well-researched, it's information.  Maybe it's biased, but so is Halliburton; and still bias is not quite enough to say anyone's wrong.

Now that the US is acting like an empire, I hope we do it well.  We're now committed to the strategy of controlling governments.  Hopefully, we will be put under extreme scrutiny.  And the peace activists can flock to Iraq and oversee those controlling the oil wells.

It's GOOD that the US is starting to burn its diplomatic bridges.  Change is happening.  People will stop looking up at the US, and take care of their own damn problems without toadying to us.  In Germany, I met many people who wished they were American; now they've likely grown up and can start being Germans.  We are now in decline, and that gives us a rest.

Tj
Thursday, March 20, 2003

So the US want's to play prefect and grand protector of the world heh?

"Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated, but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
- C. S. Lewis

tapiwa
Friday, March 21, 2003

[you feel it is quite all right for you to protect your job in the USA working for an industry which specializes in exporting a product designed to automate human jobs world wide.]

Stephen,
Haven't you noticed that technology has been automating human jobs for the past century?
Maybe where you live they still herd goats but in most places civilization is evolving.
One option is to stop technology by killing all children with an IQ over 100.

The Real PC
Friday, March 21, 2003

"One option is to stop technology by killing all children with an IQ over 100. "

Another option is to create a society that sets up a scholing system that tries to nip intelligence in the bud, and with relentlessly promotes mindless airheads as perfect rolemodels, with "winning the lottery" or "getting on a game show" as the exemplary strategy to gett the loot you need to satisfy all the ridicules needs and cravings that have been bombarded into the tiny skulls from day one by the all powerfull marketing brainwash machine.

Welcome to the free world. You better have fries with that.

Just me (Sir to you)
Friday, March 21, 2003

Dear Real PC,
                      Nobody has yet producied the technology that will make you able to understand the point.

                      I never suggested we should reverse the technological advances of the last hundred years. I was attacking Ian's double standards in seeing nothing wrong with US companies exporting job-destroying technology all over the globe but everything wrong in their moving some of the jobs that make this technology out of his own backyard.

Stephen Jones
Friday, March 21, 2003

Stephen,
You seem to be a young man(?) filled with ideals and opinionated. No matter what I say you will simply twist my words to fit your preconceived notions and your arguments. If you look close you'll see I never said such things.

For instance, when did I say that I deserve special treatment? I merely said that my representative in Congress represents me, not those in foreign countries. Is that not true? You even accused me of being a Jingoist if I do remember correctly. Kind of unfair to call me a Jingoist because I want my local congress member to hear my opinion on local jobs being outsourced for no reason besides the bottom line of a corporation.

[You are now stating that  it is hateful to wish for the death of US troops but quite reasonable to wish for US success]

Another example of you putting words in my mouth. Can you point to where I stated this?  Or even implied it? I bet you cannot because I did not say or imply this. I said you were hateful because you voice hostility and animosity toward the US. That is the definition of hate by the way. Maybe it is a strong word to use. But I only used it because you stated that you have "hatred" for Americans.


[And why is it wrong for me to criticize the US, without having been there, while quite all right for Americans to decide the fate of nations they couldn't even find on a map. ]

Once again you show your bias against Americans. My point was that you don't even know any Americans. Am I wrong? Do you really know any Americans? We are not the lemmings you imply above. We are people with families and friends just like you. We bleed red just like you. We voice concern just like you. And we fight for what we think is right, just like you. So stop trying to fit us into your little box. And of course _again_, you twist my words. I never even said that it was ok for Americans to decide the fate of anyone.

Again, I am neither for or against this war. So please do not say or imply otherwise. All I want is for it to end with a minimum of casualties on both sides. The only people that get hurt in war are the common men and women.

Ian Stallings
Friday, March 21, 2003

"I am neither for or against this war" ... The problem with sitting on the fence is that you are bound to get your arse shredded by the barbed wire :)

How can you be indifferent. Deep down, I would hope you have some opinion,

tapiwa
Friday, March 21, 2003

[How can you be indifferent. Deep down, I would hope you have some opinion, ]

We might as well argue about religion or any another heated topic which serves no purpose other than to grand stand my own ideals onto others.

And I can sit on the fence as long as I like thank you very much.

Ian Stallings
Friday, March 21, 2003

You do not have to be either for or against war. It does not have to be black or white, there's a whole lot of shades of grey in between.
A nuanced opinion does not mean indifference.
Current media seems to have this tendency to polarize everything. It is easy, clear and simple. Everybody can "get it" straight away. You do not have to think too hard and it delivers great soundbites.
Polarization is what gives you extremism. On both sides of the chasm. "You are either wit us or against us", "If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem" "Bush or Saddam" "Israel or Palestine" "Linux or Windows" "Kill or be killed"
Leave the simplifications for the simpletons.
I'm running the danger of being overly optimistic here, but the fact that you are here already shows you at least can pretend to be more enlightened than your average E-poppin, beer-belching nuckledragging MTV24x7 "kewl" dude. 
There is not much semantics at the lowest binary layer. Climb that protocol stack.

Just me (Sir to you)
Friday, March 21, 2003

Listening to Runsfeldd...

"Goal is to destroy weapons of mass destruction...", etc.

When the shock & awe is over, and everyone goes looking for chemical weapons, Rumsfeld will say "well, we destroyed them in the bombing campaign".

Once again, don't construe my skepticism with objection to the war.

As for mafioso analogies, Stephen, you've been surrounded by people who think that Sept 11, 2001 was a conspiracy of Branch Davidians and Israelis.

Here's a clue for the Arab world:  abandon your conspiracy theory infected workd view and you'll have hope of advancing past the year 1500.  See you then.

Nat Ersoz
Friday, March 21, 2003

Dear Ian,
                Here we go again. I'm not putting words into your mouth. You are simply not prepared to see through the consequences of your opinions. You want your jobs protected but the very existence of many of those jobs is the result of other countries buying American instead of looking after their own. No, that attitude is not restricted to Americans, I can read about it every day from Indians, Sri Lankans or Saudis, just to give you three examples. But that doesn't make the idea any more correct, or any less hypocritical. Sure you can say you only care about Americans, but why should you expect support, or even sympathy from others on the forum, whose co-nationals, friends or colleagues may be directly deprived of work by your policy.

            And incidentally I do hope you have found a job by now.

              You can sit on the fence over the war, whatever that may mean, but to wish for the minimum of casualties on both sides is spouting pious platitudes. And even if the war is over quickly, as seems to be possible at the moment, that does not mean that the confilcit is over. In 1917 the British got to Baghdad in three days. They then stayed for decades, during which time they gassed the Kurds and put down an insurrection by the Shiites in Southern Iraq with thousands of deaths.

              And you do not seem to have got the point as to why I wished for significant allied casualties. It is because I, maybe mistakenly, believe that it is the only way to stop the USA from continuing on what seems like becoming an annual run of invasions. Last year we were told it was necessary to invade Afghniastan to save us from terrorism. The invasion of Afghanistan goes off with thousands of casualties, leaves the country as impoveriished as before except for the payments to the various warlords to maintain their power, doesn't prevent the Taleban and Al Quaeda's continued presence in large swathes of the country, enables the writ of the central government to run no further than Kabul (and not always there as the assasination of various ministers shows) and at the end of it  we're supposed to believe it's a success.

Then suddenly we have to invade Iraq. Your government, backed up by the British government, proceeds to find various reasons for this, produces fabricated or contentiousl evidence, tells a load of lies to the media and the UN, changes tack half-a-dozen times about the reason for war and we're being anti-American or anti-British to criticize it.

No Ian, I am not anti-American, just against most of America's foreign policy at present. I do not think nor have said that Americans are lemmings, and certainly do not think they all have the same ideas. I do however believe that your government lies just as much as Saddam's and that I've as much chance of getting an objective view of the situation from CNN or Fox as I am of getting the low-down on Linux from a Microsoft salesman.

Before you keep dismissing criticism with the "oh, it's the usual anti-American rant" you might want to ask yourself why its always America people are ranting against.

Oh, by the way, the phrase about hoping for enough casualties to make the American government think twice before embarking on such a venture again, was first expressed to me by my office mate. It was in a moment of irritation, and he felt himself ashamed to say it because he just happened to be an American.

Stephen Jones
Friday, March 21, 2003

Dear Nat,
              I've come across the theory that 11/09/2001 was the work of Israelis, and no I don't believe it for one minute. Just as I am sure you never believed for one minute that the anthrax scare was the work of foreign agents as opposed to someone involved in US military research.

              The Arab world is full of conspiracy theories. The USA hasn't always lagged far behind either :)

              The old saying is that "if it walks like a duck, looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck" appear to hold true in this case.

                Two of the reasons given for the war  (weapons of mass destruction and links to Al-Quaeda) are palpably ridiculous and appear to have been dropped. The third, bringing democracy to the region, will prove to be a joke since the last thing the US wants are popularly elected regimes that are violently opposed to it.

                I think Nat you've misunderstood the point to the Mafia analogy. The troops, whose lives you are so worred about, have been shipped five thousand miles out of their country to beat the hell out of some people a couple of hundred miles up the road from me. Your concern for them is no doubt touching, but many will find it rather inappropriate.

Stephen Jones
Friday, March 21, 2003

[And incidentally I do hope you have found a job by now.]

I'm sure you do. You know one day we will meet and I'll bet good money your mouth will not be so active.

You should run for office, you and your IFilibuster interface.

Ian Stallings
Friday, March 21, 2003

It was meant sincerely. Though reading your reply I wonder why

Stephen Jones
Friday, March 21, 2003

One important thing is that someone can criticize you without necessarily wanting you to change your opinions.  Stephen criticized you for not acknowledging the fact that us computer professionals are sort of being hypocrites by complaining about being replaced.  However, that does not mean you should suddenly become irrational and stop complaining.

anon
Friday, March 21, 2003

Stephen,

I'm glad to see you've continued to defend your opinions in the face of so much opposition.

I don't accept that Stephen has said that he hates Americans.  The term 'deep filled hatred' was in quotations, quoting what somebody else had said above.

He also qualified it by saying it was the same hatred as is being expressed for the people of Iraq.

Of course, we are all supposed to love the people of Iraq.  After all, we are fighting the war on their behalf. 

I think the hatred is of the type when you stop viewing fellow humans as people like yourself (with families and all the rest of it.)  When you start think of people as being merely statistics, an acceptable level of 'colleteral damage.' Then you are demonstrating a frightening cold hatred that is of the worse type.

Ged Byrne
Sunday, March 23, 2003

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