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Thread: American Power

  1. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oliver Craner
    Genocide: the deliberate extermination of a people or a nation. On the basis of who they are.
    Kissinger, passing on orders to the military to bomb Cambodia: "Anything that flies on anything that moves."

    Hard to interpret this as anything other than an attempt at the deliberate extermination of a nation.

  2. #32

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    Yep, and I abhor Kissinger, his policies, his legacy, all he stands for. I look forward to the day he stands trial for his crimes.

    Next.
    Last edited by craner; 14-12-2004 at 01:12 AM. Reason: I wrote stand rather than stands which ruined the whole effect, like this stupid edit note. Matt, ditch these! Go on!

  3. #33

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    I'm still open on Darfur. I don't think I know enough about that yet.

    On Bosnia and Kosovo, I'm not however. I suspect any equivolance on this. This one seems simple to me.

    I'm not about to play with the defintion of genocide in any way.

    I think the Convention is absolutely crucial to how we move forward. How we avoid the past.

    To dismiss it as a tool for bullies just seems perverse. That's a gut instinct, on my part, plus more.

    Both the arguments of bipedaldave and hombre are flawed because they seem (I'm careful now, because people come out with these reprehensible statements and then, when challenged, come over all reasonable, as if to say, "ha! I'm reasonable, suddenly! Gutted! Your point was wrong!" Uh, why? You didn't answer the actual point, you just said, I can qualify, dilute, and compromise my own point...) to ignore the conext of

    1. 9/11.

    2. The Balkan Wars.

    Let's get some context, and continue.

    Both Pearsall and I are talking in context. Not preconceived ideas.

  4. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pearsall
    So, American interventions:
    Bosnia: Worked out reasonably well. Could have been better, but could have been a lot worse.
    Kosovo: Worked out reasonably well. Could have been better, but could have been a lot worse.
    Somalia: A pretty much unavoidable failure.
    Afghanistan: Moving in the right direction, could be a lot worse.
    Iraq: A total mess, hard to divine the future. Could get better, could stay the same, could get worse, could go really Hieronymous Bosch.
    If we want to deal with specific examples, I think it makes sense to deal with more just a handlful of military interventions in the 90s. After all, talking about American Power here, in all its forms.

    Let us not forget things like:

    --the bombing of a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan in the mid 90s--, destroying roughly half the drugs for the population of Sudan, and something like 90% of the vetrinarian drugs, devestating the farming industry.

    --support for the coup of Aristede just this year. Though Aristede was not a good leader, according to the International Coalition of Independent Observers, he was democratically elected. And I would challenge anyone to argue that the former death-squad members that have replaced him are a change for the better.

    --and while we're talking Haiti, let's not forget US support of good ole Pappa Doc and Baby Doc Duvalier

    --and then there's support for pretty much every despicable dictator in central america (except castro) for the last 50-60 years at least, not to mention Pinochet in Chile

    --support for Turkey in their persecution and oppresion of the Kurds

    --massive one-sided support for Isreal (this is a BIG one folks, though I'm not sure if I really want to start a full on discussion of it)

    --and economic policies implemented through the WTO and World Bank that have caused places like Argentina to default.

    --and Iraq, which, let's not mince words here, was the first war of aggression by a major power since the Russians invaded Afghanistan

    --Wars against Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos

    well yeah, I could go on for a quite a while, the list is REALLY LONG. and I think almost all of these could be considered "giant cock-ups"

    Though I should mention the case of Indonesia, where soon after as the US stopped supported Suharto and his genocides in East Timor, he was overthrown by an internally created rebellion, and soon after there was Democracy. This is precisely the reverse case of how US intervention is supposed to go.

    Oliver, I hope you don't just blame all these on a few "bad apples," eventually you have to start generalizing from this rather abysmal list. I see that I haven't managed to convince you that not everything has changed since 9/11, will have to try harder...


    So...I'm actually kind of at a lost of how to stop this from turning into a list-making exercise/in-depth analysis of a billion and one American historical events (which I've just more or less done). Each one of the events that have come up so far could easily have their own thread, if enough people were knowledgable about them. But, if we're really trying to have a debate about whether American Power in general is a good or bad thing...we'll we could get lost forever on the details of individual events. Maybe that's really the only way to get to the bigger picutre, but I think giving an argument more along structural lines (as Catherine was alluding to) would be a useful different tack.

    So then, what structural factors either ensure that American Power is not abused or will inevitably be abused? Is it entirely dependant on who is in office? Hopefully some of the more philosophical bent (or those knowlegeable in economics) might be able to give opinions on this. I'll try to give my shot at it soon, but I'm sure others could do it better.

  5. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by oliver craner
    The Americans were edgy about Milosevic anyway. Wes Clarke had a pretty disturbing on-the-record conversation with him. Serbs know how to handle Albanian nationalists, said Milosevic. They'd had some experience, after all. When? "Drenica, in 1946." How do you do it, asked Clark. "We kill all of them. It took several years, but we kill them all."
    even if true (which given the record of lying connected to that war i have no reason to believe), this quote proves what? that milosevic wouldn't mind killing albanian nationalists? i'm sure he wouldn't mind that. he was a criminal thug. still, the question is not what politicians say, but what they really do. in 1998/99 milosevic was politically weak and had no chance of leading his people into another war. in fact, he did his best to avoid it.

    you are right though, we should put things in context. the context you talk about is flawed however, even though broadly accepted in the west. if you want to discuss anything that has happened in the balkans in the 90's you have to put it in the context of the break-up of the yugoslav federation, which was a complex matter. the role of some western states (especially germany and the us) was far from great in that conflict. it seems to me that again it is you who wants to see things divorced from their proper context, not me.

    without going into details, because this is not really the topic of this thread, i will say that the united states intervened in a civil war here and helped nationalists from one side win over nationalists from the other. the "success" of the intervention is largely based on the completed processes of ethnic cleansing in kosovo, croatia and bosnia (completed under the us supervision more or less). this is hardly an intervention to prevent genocide, even if we accept that ethnic cleansing and genocide are entirely the same thing. this is especially true in the case of kosovo.

    it is also worth asking that if bodycounts are really irrelevant, then why were nato officials lying about the number of albanians killed during the bombing?

    i understand that this may be shocking to you, but i am simply not very fond of just talking about human rights without putting things in broader context. amnesty international and human rights watch regualry condemn the us for not intervening hard enough on behalf of the oppressed people, but that sounds to me like asking lions to be nice to anthelopes. i am convinced the us policies are motivated by entirely different considerations and all the talk about spreading democracy and defending human rights (and preventing genocide) is just a charade. i would accept that some kind of intervention is necessary in many cases, but in nearly every case there are better options than american military interventions, especially if we take into account their consequences.

  6. #36
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    perhaps i should elaborate a bit on this because i think we are drifting away from the topic. i don't think it is really that important if we agree if there was a genocide in kosovo or not. i think there wasn't, you think there was (at least if you put things in a certain context, as you say). we both agree that there was a genocide in rwanda though, and we both can agree that the clinton administration reacted differently. worse still, the number of people killed in kosovo in the year prior to the bombings equaled the number of people killed in rwanda daily within a period of several months. in both cases the clinton administration lied - diminishing the scale of killings in rwanda while exaggerating it in kosovo. can we then conclude that the motivation behind both reactions had nothing to do with humantiarian concerns?

    which brings me to the next point - you apparently believe that countries of the "free world" can act as defenders of human rights and international law while i see them just as states that need to be kept in check. they are not neutral and therefore not a part of the solution, but a part of the problem. consequences of their actions are more often than not quite horrible and quite often they are politically responsible for conflicts they supposedly want to solve. they follow international law when it suits their interests, otherwise they ignore it (do you seriously think that any international treaty including the genocide convention is being strengthened that way). i think that supporting their interventions the way you apparently do is politically irresponsible.

  7. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by bipedaldave
    So then, what structural factors either ensure that American Power is not abused or will inevitably be abused? Is it entirely dependant on who is in office? Hopefully some of the more philosophical bent (or those knowlegeable in economics) might be able to give opinions on this. I'll try to give my shot at it soon, but I'm sure others could do it better.
    Well, speaking from a realistic point of view, perhaps if America in its current state evaporated mysteriously one night from the face of the earth, then we might see the disappearance of the structural factors that currently lead to the rather brutal consequences of American intervention. The 'structures' are that ingrained. It's certainly not dependent on who's in office - interventions tend to 'go bad' because both 'sides' rely on technocrats with one-eyed strategies for assessing foreign policy and military planning. It is a struggle, for example, to name a recent instance of American intervention which was commenced with a realistic conception in the American government's mind of what a 'winning scenario' would look like. Regardless of whether or not interventions have been justified, they tend to be bungled because military planning and diplomacy are unable to take account of what's 'actually going on' on the ground.

    Take Kosovo as an example. Faced with a situation in which there were apparently government-supported massacres taking place in an area with a history of ethnic violence from both sides (Albanians against Serbs, Serbs against Albanians), NATO intervenes by doing what? By bombing a bunch of abstractly-chosen military targets throughout the country. The result? Milosevic used this as cover to increase the killing. So how did the chief military strategist respond? By bombing these already-bombed targets once again, and when this failed (unsurprisingly), by bombing civillian targets - including Belgrade, a built-up European city, with cluster bombs.

    Now tell me - does this seem a logical or sensible course of action? Of course it doesn't. But this is the best that so-called 'experts' were able to offer up. And it is just one example of the way in which Western (it's not limited to America, obviously, but with their giant military it tends to be a bit more obvious) governments are unable to get their acts together when they deem to intervene in the affairs of of other nations. Relate this to notions of the 'abuse' of American power as you will. (I suggest that the main 'abuse' is that such a superpower has not sat down and thought things through before stumbling about the world like a bull in a china shop. But then, this implies that there is a motive other than narrow-minded, short-sighted national interest by which America might act - which, given the evidence to hand, seems a highly unlikely proposition )

  8. #38
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    i was just lying in bed thinking about this thread. everyone knows craner is talking out his arse (lovely bloke, very clever but ridiculous politics) but his background knowledge means we'll all too intimidated to engage him in debate. even anti-imperialist truth reality activists like sufi and rewch stayed well away.
    BUT, if you actually look what he's saying, in between all the names of obscure bush administration figures and governement papers, he hasn't got an argument. I mean, what exactl;y is he saying? it's hard to tell isn't it?
    should we admire american foreign poicy because of the way it ruthlessly pursues its own interests, or because its a force for good confronting evil wherever it finds it.
    the truth is craner is a blairite through and through. he believes american self-interest is in our own interest and we should support whatever harebrained scheme they cook up.
    'we're not europeans, we're anglo-saxons, its time we realised what side our bread is buttered on'
    oliver craner

  9. #39
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    [QUOTE=jaybob]ok, however far off it may be, wouldn't a better idea (than american intervention) be a functioning European army, or more realistically some kind of revived Nato that had and was prepared to use force?

    Another thread I'm coming late to , sorry .
    I find it interesting to rd through though and then ask well, which is it going to be -
    an America that intervenes too much or an America that intervenes not enough ?

    As Jaybob asks , where's the functioning Euro Army or useful NATO when you need them ...

    Of course , Re: America's 'foreign policy' , the US' self interests come first - is it any other way in any other country ?.
    As a somewhat 'centerist' (seeing many sides to the many debates) citizen I'd like see those big $ spent towards universal health care for us (yeah, I'd like to have insurance !) , best possible edu ,
    overhauling shoddy institutions and stripping out the crap we have built up here in our own house in the 200 plus years of existence.

    Over the wkend The Times (NY Times that is) ran the editorial (sorry no link, you'd have to join their site)
    headlined 'Modest Proposal : Israel joining NATO'
    It's one of the quote 'new ideas' afloat in the 'surge of optimism' after Arafat's death.
    To wit, closer ties with NATO - and possibly eventual membership -would embed Israel in the West and by providing security assurances , give Israel more confidence to to make a comprehensive peace .
    One Uzi Arad , a former Israeli intel officer and head of the Inst. For Policy and Strategy says
    it's time to drop the 'Groucho attitude' towards NATO and work on relationships w/ Europe and US .
    Arad has been joined by other American and European officals who helped manage the two expansions of NATO since Soviet collapse and draft NATO's Partnership For Peace which has Georgia and Azerbaijan prettying themselves up for possible membership.
    Why Georgia and not Israel ?

    Of course, it's up to Israel to go for it , but with NATO reinventing itself to deal more with terrorism
    it has to deal with issues that Israel has been dealing with for years ,
    (I'm more then ambiv on those efforts, mind you) both sides could benefit from going through the pros and cons .
    Together or alone both parties could be facing not only the Middle East issues they know now -
    the Israeli - Palestine ongoing back and forth battling and a nuclear Iran ,
    but possibly an Islamicized Saudi Arabia or a collaping Egypt.
    For the Euopeans then , a benefit would be that they can't let Israel divide Europe from the America , possibly NATO could help Israel get out of their occupation mess.
    At NATO's summit in June , the possibility of relationships with each Middle East country was opened.
    Arad would like to see Israel seize the chance and start an arrangement like Sweden's (no full membership , but compatibility of forces and consultation.Membership could come later , if at all.

    American power has some limit.
    Others have to step up .
    Watching the first Tower fall from my bedroom window on 9/11 ,
    the thought ' is this the beginning of the end of America ? ' raced unbidden through my brain.
    And this is from a freelance New Yorker born of German /Ukrainian parents
    whose father worked in the Pentagon (in communications , worked on the early Monet, left during Viet Nam) and whose younger brother is in the Air Force .
    It's a *ucked up game out there in the RW .

  10. #40

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    Luka, you shit-stirrer, after my Christmas indulgence, you're dead meat!

  11. #41
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    ha! as we were exchanging emails i was thinking, has craner read that yet?! i think the invented quote is the highlight.

    you are inseperable from blair when it comes to america though, as you are well aware. thats not an argument against the argument, its a slur, but a true one!

  12. #42

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    It's worse than you think: I believe him.

  13. #43
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    it just occured to me that this thread is too narrowly focussed. it only really addresses the 'war on terror'
    what about spraying children with the pink brain fungus in peru becasue theres a bit of coco growing in the area? or fucking with new zealand and australian sheep farmers or european steel manufacturers, or making aid conditional on politcal support or blocking any number of treaties and ripping others up and all that global warming buisness
    bring all those other things into the equation as well

  14. #44

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    oh boy
    Last edited by craner; 15-03-2005 at 11:58 AM. Reason: a bestial hangover

  15. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by oliver craner
    It's worse than you think: I believe him.
    lol, i think you are on your own with that one oliver.

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