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Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

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Sunday, April 16, 2006

common sense in foreign policy: a manifesto

Inspired by the ravings of the Euston pub crowd, LI has made up a manifesto our own selves. It isn’t a manifesto for the left, whatever the fuck that is. This manifesto is, modestly, a Common sense in Foreign Policy manifesto – named after old Tom Paine’s pamphlet, and taking as our motto his phrase: “a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it the superficial appearance of being right…”

So, here it is, ladies and gents. Pass it around, print it out, and please, don’t handle it with greasy fingers: that is sooo gross.

1. Democracy. A democracy cannot be divided into a monarchy with regard to foreign policy and a democracy with regard to domestic policy. It must be one thing all the way through. Thus, foreign policy that is contrived in a tricky, low, or fraudulent matter by the executive, and pulled off like a trick on the body politic, is immoral to begin with, and will not result in any good thing. Instead, foreign policy options, especially when they involves extreme violations of the sovereignty of another nation, must be presented straightforwardly. There must be no skewing of or hiding of intelligence. There must be no unjustified threatmongering. A democratic foreign policy cannot be run like a crooked casino. There is no excuse in running it in this way to a good end, any more than there would be in cheating at cards to donate the winnings to an orphanage.
2. Transparency of options. If an “intervention” is contemplated by any democratic power, we must have good faith projections as to the cost of it, the human resources required, the need for it, and the timeline by which we can judge whether it is a success or not.
3. Transparency of human means. No intervention can be considered moral that seeks to foist fraudulent proxies for the intervening power on the conquered state. Any alliance of multinational democracies that seek to enforce norms of human rights or governance upon another state by violence cannot, rightfully, double that violence by elevating pawns whose loyalty is to the intervening state(s) to positions of power.
4. Transparency of interests. All states have interests. Not all interests are the same. States may have widely varying economic, political, and ideological interests. A coalition of states that intervenes in the affairs of another state must take care not to merely bend the subjugated state to the interests of the occupiers.
5. Occupational forces – checks and balances. Multinational coalitions call for multinational governance. Unchecked executive power cannot reside in the most powerful state in the alliance.
6. Occupational means. No occupying force is justified in making sweeping changes to the occupied state’s infrastructure that are not a direct result of the state’s previous inhumane behavior. A state, for instance, that has an interest in free trade cannot use the opportunity of occupying another state to enforce economic codes to its liking. Nor can it denude a state of its entire defense structure, or destroy its social welfare system.
7. Transparency of occupational means. Occupying powers cannot seize the funds of the occupied state to do with what they will. Elementary rules of transparency must apply.
8. Timeliness. Occupation should occur with a clear timeline and conditions for exit from the very beginning. Sincere efforts to enroll the occupied in self-government should be enacted from the very beginning. No occupied state should become the scene of mere opportunism by the occupied powers military forces in terms of siting military headquarters, using the territory of the occupied state to attack other, neighboring states, and so on. All of this is, again, to bend the occupied state exclusively to the partial interests of the occupier, which violates the spirit and letter of humanistic intervention.

There you go. Much shorter, for one thing, than the gasbagging of the Euston pubcrawlers.

To top it off, a little grandiose language. If these conditions are not met, we, the undersigned,. will try with might and main to sabotage those efforts that are undemocratic or fraudulent by peaceful means, such as working to deny the military the manpower it needs to continue, working to cut off funding for the occupation, and propagandizing against it to the best of our abilities.

6 comments:

Amerigo Sciurofascista said...

I don't think there can be any such thing as a legitimate intervention, even if it is truly based on some sense of decency or has democratic input. It's bound to be either the fuzzy paternalism of the cruise missile liberals, hammered out on the pages of The Nation and the NY Times, or the angry BDSM adventurism of the wingnuts, hammered out wherever wingnuts go to do their hammering. Mightn't it be better to forego supporting evildoers in the first place, and insist on restricitive accords with those who might wish to advance their interests that way?

I think LI's ideals with regards to foreign policy are noble, but misplaced. The people who want to intervene offer a choice of cooperation, for which they will wear a condom, or resistance, for which they will bareback rape your children as well as you. Rules and laws are made to be broken, as any Yalie who dropped out to puruse a cheneyesque or luskinite dream will tell you. They'll have none of your liberal tyranny, Roger, you rule of law/ democracy for the people elitist!

roger said...

Mr. Scruggs, I think the manifesto gives rules that would rule out most interventions period. Simply honest costing would make a huge difference. Imagine 2002 if Bush had said, it may cost 500 to 700 billion dollars and require ten years or more, but I want to bring LIBERTY to Iraq.

I think there would have been a different argument all together. Add then true multi-nationalism and you have already given the neocons a boner deflator.

Amerigo Sciurofascista said...

I did argue once that a war tax would have a sobering effect on adventurism, but I now suspect that the desire to bring good things to bad brown people, even if it kills them, is more powerful than the angst caused by paying for it. If Bush did put an honest price tag on his program of "better brown people through bombing them", his supporters would denounce the crabbed conservatism of people like you, Roger. I can see it now: Jonah Goldberg tearfully and publicly puts off the purchase of a new home. Then he chides the lucky duckies moaning over their three hundred dollar tax increase. Can't they understand how much worse his pain is than theirs? Before there's any hope of LI's great good sense even being considered, it must become socially unacceptable to be a wingnut.

Brian Miller said...

Is intervention ALWAYS wrong? Our history would suggest yes, but...

What about Darfur? Or Rwanda? Do the purists at antiwar.com suggest that even in such cases nothing should be done by outsiders? Even though the outsiders, through colonialism and the Cold War games have at least partly created the conditions that lead to such horrors?

is it that the negative side effects will simply be worse in interventions? Could they be worse in a Darfur or Rwanda? Do we as an individual nation have the obligation to lead the international community in intervening in such places?

I don;t claim to know the answer, but Mr. Scruggs does pose a question.

roger said...

Brian, I understand what you are saying. But concentrating on those conditions that initiate intervention strikes me as continuing in the same egghead path. That is, think tank cabals and corporate interests divvy up the levers of power in foreign policy. I'm saying, no mas!

For instance -- the most lifesaving intervention in Africa in the last twenty years would certainly have been the G-7 nations simply taking the property right to anti-AIDS drugs, making it on a large scale, and inundating African countries and India with the meds. The taking could have been for a fair price, but surely that was, and is, the most urgent thing that should be done.

But it won't be done. It doesn't involve shooting people.

I should point out, too, that the Rachel Carson rule applies here -- the introduction of any chemical in the organic environment will ensure that natural selection will occur, with unpredictable results. Which means that private enterprise, in the face of diseases like AIDS, is particularly pernicious. Why? Because it is structurally partial -- it relies on the demand side being able to afford the supply side. But this reliance on a price structure is peculiarly injurious in an environment in which resistance is sure to follow the cure. Thus, the cure must be massive, sudden and homogenous. There is only a small window during which anti-AIDs meds will be efficient.

Which might seem like a tangent, but it isn't. To break the strangle hold of the executive branch on foreign policy would mean that we would have a f.p. much more responsive to circs.

So, although I am more open to discussing intervention than Mr. Scruggs, I'm sympathetic to his argument that, in practical fact, intervention just disguises colonialism.

roger said...

Brian, I understand what you are saying. But concentrating on those conditions that initiate intervention strikes me as continuing in the same egghead path. That is, think tank cabals and corporate interests divvy up the levers of power in foreign policy. I'm saying, no mas!

For instance -- the most lifesaving intervention in Africa in the last twenty years would certainly have been the G-7 nations simply taking the property right to anti-AIDS drugs, making it on a large scale, and inundating African countries and India with the meds. The taking could have been for a fair price, but surely that was, and is, the most urgent thing that should be done.

But it won't be done. It doesn't involve shooting people.

I should point out, too, that the Rachel Carson rule applies here -- the introduction of any chemical in the organic environment will ensure that natural selection will occur, with unpredictable results. Which means that private enterprise, in the face of diseases like AIDS, is particularly pernicious. Why? Because it is structurally partial -- it relies on the demand side being able to afford the supply side. But this reliance on a price structure is peculiarly injurious in an environment in which resistance is sure to follow the cure. Thus, the cure must be massive, sudden and homogenous. There is only a small window during which anti-AIDs meds will be efficient.

Which might seem like a tangent, but it isn't. To break the strangle hold of the executive branch on foreign policy would mean that we would have a f.p. much more responsive to circs.

So, although I am more open to discussing intervention than Mr. Scruggs, I'm sympathetic to his argument that, in practical fact, intervention just disguises colonialism.