Arab Democracies; Arab Democrats

There have been misgivings regarding the net results of the Arab Spring. They have arisen even among observers such as myself who consider intolerable the idea that Arabs must remain forever under despotic regimes.

It’s difficult to avoid observing that the vacuum created by the destruction of a tyrant opens the path for terrorists as happened recently in Benghazi, Libya. (And, by the way, my orthodox libertarian friends are interestingly silent about the seeming fact that the destruction of a state brings forward the converse of the free society to which they aspire.)

In Egypt, for example, reactionary, illiberal political forces did not even begin to begin the uprising against the military dictatorship. They just joined it late and reluctantly. Nevertheless, they won control handily in the aftermath. The freedom lovers who started the whole thing ended up with a regime that may be even worse from their standpoint than the regime they overthrew. This kind of observation generates skepticism about the Arab Spring in general, of course. (See my own “The Arab Spring: Confession“)

So, it’s important to not let recent events in Egypt go unnoticed and unheralded: When the elected Islamist President Morsi suddenly appointed himself dictator, there were massive protests in Cairo and in other Egyptian cities. This simple fact undermines the widespread idea among conservatives and pro-Israel Americans that Arabs are fundamentally incapable of implementing democracy . This is a belief about mentalities, by and large, not about structural societal conditions. The protests in Egypt are enough to show the viewpoint is wrong.

There is not much by way of Arab democracies but there are clearly Arab democrats. Those people are America’s natural allies whether they like us or not.

In other news, the Pakistan Taliban announced that they were going to attack India. I hope they do! The large and well-trained Indian Army is the most underused force for progress in that part of the world.

About Jacques Delacroix

I write short stories, current events comments, and sociopolitical essays, mostly in English, some in French. There are other people with the same first name and same last name on the Internet. I am the one who put up on Amazon in 2014: "I Used to Be French: an Immature Autobiography" and also: "Les pumas de grande-banlieue." To my knowledge, I am the only Jacques Delacroix with American and English scholarly publications. In a previous life, I was a teacher and a scholar in Organizational Theory and in the Sociology of Economic Development. (Go ahead, Google me!) I live in the People’s Green Socialist Republic of Santa Cruz, California.
This entry was posted in Current Events. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Arab Democracies; Arab Democrats

  1. (And, by the way, my orthodox libertarian friends are interestingly silent about the seeming fact that the destruction of a state brings forward the converse of the free society to which they aspire.)

    There is a good debate going on over at the Bleeding Heart Libertarians consortium on just this topic. Economist Steve Horwitz has the best argument I’ve read so far concerning your accusation.

    My own reply can be found here.

    By the way, I can think of nothing better for peace, prosperity and individual liberty for the world than a war between the Indian army and Pakistan’s northern regions!

    For what it’s worth, the Pakistani state, which doesn’t really govern Pakistan’s tribal areas, is one of the world’s biggest problems, not the tribal regions. The conflation of Islamabad with the tribal regions of Pakistan is one of the West’s biggest mistakes today. Instead of turning up the pressure on Islamabad, which harbored bin Laden near its version of West Point, the Obama administration continues to bomb regions of Pakistan that have virtually nothing to do with Islamabad? Sounds like a good plan. Foolproof really. Where do I sign up?

    • Brandon:

      1 I hope I stand corrected. I hope it’s true that my “orthodox libertarian friends” are a little concerned with the fact that the weakening of the state, the partial dissolution of government, everywhere tends to produce Somalia rather than the US of 1800. (I mean, still a model for minimal government.) I dislike this observation as much as anyone but it’s inescapable.

      2 As usual, Brandon, you are not completely wrong but you are still far from right on Pakistan. Or your right is not the only right possible. You must be a quick reader, a practitioner of the technique that allows one to “read” two pages in thirty seconds: You know the melody well enough but your grasp of the lyrics is tenuous.

      The central government of Pakistan exercises limited control over the area where the Pak. Taliban is centered. That’s not the same as no control. I and many other commentators with more established credibility than I possess fear that the Pak. Taliban will conquer the whole country and control its nuclear arsenal. Obviously, if the said Taliban did the necessary to incite the Indian Army, if the latter came to occupy Pakistan, that particular threat would cease to exist.

      Terry: If I needed an example to illustrate the idea that pithiness does not always produce clarity, I would go to you! Most of the world would be better off and, I think, most Pakistani as well, if the Indian Army occupied Pakistan. It’s a dramatically failed society that does not do anyone any good except several varieties of medieval jihadists. Hence, saving Pakistan does not stand high in my list of priorities. Your
      offhand comment seems to imply the idea that any peace is better than any war. Of course, I think that’s a repugnant notion.

      And by the way, I keep marveling at your silence about the crisis around Gaza given where you are currently located. This space is open to you.

      • Terry Amburgey says:

        “Most of the world would be better off and, I think, most Pakistani as well, if the Indian Army occupied Pakistan.”

        Well, a nuclear war in the region would certainly take care of any problems stemming from overpopulation.

        “And by the way, I keep marveling at your silence about the crisis around Gaza given where you are currently located. This space is open to you.”

        My only excuse is being really busy. I did a talk at Bar Ilan University last week, I’m doing another tomorrow at Tel Aviv University and a yet another at the Institute day after tomorrow. I have a post in mind although not about Gaza per se. I think you’ll like it and I promise no snarkiness.

        BTW, I wasn’t worried personally last week. The maximum range of a Fajr-5 rocket is 75 kilometers and the minimum distance between Gaza and Jerusalem is 78 kilometers. Math was on my side🙂 If the sh1t hits the fan with Hezbollah it’s a different story, Iran has given them much better munitions.

      • I hope it’s true that my “orthodox libertarian friends” are a little concerned with the fact that the weakening of the state, the partial dissolution of government, everywhere tends to produce Somalia rather than the US of 1800. (I mean, still a model for minimal government.) I dislike this observation as much as anyone but it’s inescapable.

        More sophistry. I’ve written about this before, as have scholars with far more credentials than I, but bringing up Somalia in a debate with libertarians is so childish, so cliche, and sooo utterly Leftist (or closet Leftist). To shorten Dr. J’s argument, nay to burn it in effigy for him: bad government is not the same thing as no government, or even minimal government.

        You must be a quick reader, a practitioner of the technique that allows one to “read” two pages in thirty seconds: You know the melody well enough but your grasp of the lyrics is tenuous.

        Ah yes, of course…

        The central government of Pakistan exercises limited control over the area where the Pak. Taliban is centered. That’s not the same as no control. I and many other commentators with more established credibility than I possess fear that the Pak. Taliban will conquer the whole country and control its nuclear arsenal.

        People with better credentials than you (you?!) think that the tribal areas (dominated by the Taliban, of course) are going to take over Pakistan?! Yikes, but please provide a source. I hadn’t heard of this until today, on your blog.

        Most of the world would be better off and, I think, most Pakistani as well, if the Indian Army occupied Pakistan […] Your offhand comment seems to imply the idea that any peace is better than any war.

        Well, of course the world would be better off if India invaded Pakistan. How could any sane, rational person believe otherwise? I mean, the “Pakistani Taliban” would be eliminated, for crying out loud!

      • Brandon: The fact that you place the words “Pakistani Taliban” in quote marks perplexes me. It makes me wonder whether our informational worlds overlap at all. Yes, there is a Pakistani Taliban. It’s distinct from the Afghan Taliban. Periodically, it wages war on the government of Pakistan. No, I did not say that the semi-administered tribal areas would conquer the rest of Pakistan but that the Taliban lodged there might take over the whole country the way Jihadists did and are doing in Afghanistan next door. I think this is possible because Pakistan is a failed society laden with religious extremism where atrocities against religious minorities are common currency. A take-over by a determined and fierce armed minority is a distinct possibility there. By the way, did I dream it or is it the case that a couple of years ago, the same Pakistani Taliban inflicted military defeats on the Pakistani army?

        I don’t feel like doing the hard work necessary to give the specific references you require. The viewpoint I present is common enough. I get my information from the following, each pretty much daily: Wall Street Journal. Le Figaro, Fo (afternoon driving), Rush Limbaugh. Occasionally, I also watch French television news on TV5 and I listen to Univision news in Spanish. I consult with Al Jazeera (English) occasionally, as the topic requires.
        I read carefully the libertarian monthly Liberty Unbound on-line (to which I contributed several times).
        I used to take in info from the libertarian In- dependent Institute. I stopped paying attention because it’s too dogmatic and too parochial, as well as a pacifist organ.

        Occasionally, I steal the New York Times at the gym, and read some of it. I don’t like it. I make myself do it.

        My single most important source of info is the Wall Street Journal. It possesses impeccable intellectual credentials and a stellar record of honesty. After thirty years, I don’t even see how anyone can be well informed without a big dose of the WSJ.

        And no, I don’t read the radical blog of (what its name ?) by a teenager with pimples named Moe who lives with his parents.

      • Brandon: I sent a previous response to this pea soup. I don’t know where it went.

        Of course, one has to use whatever examples are available. If the dissolution of Somalia carries no lesson for the libertarian idea, just provide a better example, and say why it’s a better example (I mean “instance”). Or you may just live with the notion that the pure idea should not be sullied by being brought into proximity to parts of the real world you don’t like.

      • No, I did not say that the semi-administered tribal areas would conquer the rest of Pakistan but that the Taliban lodged there might take over the whole country the way Jihadists did and are doing in Afghanistan next door. I think this is possible because Pakistan is a failed society laden with religious extremism where atrocities against religious minorities are common currency. A take-over by a determined and fierce armed minority is a distinct possibility there.

        Whenever I read stuff like this I smirk to myself and think back to your argument that there were no US troops in Saudi Arabia at the time of the Sept. 11 attacks. You are trying too hard Dr. J.

        Of course, one has to use whatever examples are available. If the dissolution of Somalia carries no lesson for the libertarian idea, just provide a better example, and say why it’s a better example (I mean “instance”). Or you may just live with the notion that the pure idea should not be sullied by being brought into proximity to parts of the real world you don’t like.

        The Somali straw man is used by a wide variety of Leftists whenever they inadvertently get tangled up with libertarians. Speaking of Leftists, did you read Bill Kristol’s latest op-ed about the necessity of raising taxes to avert a fiscal cliff?

        I am digressing. Forgive me.

        There is plenty of government in Somalia. As I’ve already stated: bad government is not the same thing as no government, or even minimal government. Figure it out Mr Smartypants!

      • Brandon: Smirking can only constitute a reply for a short time. After a while, you actually have to answer. I stand by my speculation about the Taliban danger in Pakistan.

        Going back to pre-history: Please, tell us how many US military personnel there were in Saudi Arabia at the time of the 9/11 terrorist attack. Of course, I only expect a rough order of magnitude. Here again, smirking is not enough.

        I am curious. You have not observed any evidence in the past year or so to the effect that violent jihadists will attack the US wherever and whenever? One way to avoid seeing any such thing is to dub any place where any attack takes place “sacred to Muslims.” You have done that in the past, I think. How about eastern Libya? And, do we miss Mr Gaddhafi yet?

        The dissolution of the Somali state – such as it was – gives us one scenario of a possible result of a weakened state. It’s not the only scenario. Give us others, please. There is a powerful historical argument against the simple version of the withering of the state. I think libertarians have not addressed it. I would be delighted if you corrected me and readers on this issue. You could produce a short essay entitled, for for example: “In response to Delacroix.s Pathetic Notion that….” The argument is briefly described in a short essay I posted on the blog you so ably edit, Notes on Liberty Homicide and the State”. (It alludes to Stephen Pinker’s massive and masterful exploitation of scholarly research in “The Better Angels of Our Nature….”)

        I have not read Kristol’s statement on taxes. Am I shocked at the thought of a major conservative agreeing to the strategic raising of taxes after decisively losing an election (with the help of some confused libertarians)? Yes, I am as shocked as an old nurse catching a brief glimpse of male nudity in a hospital.

        Now, you have a good reason to smirk!

      • Brandon: Smirking can only constitute a reply for a short time. After a while, you actually have to answer. I stand by my speculation about the Taliban danger in Pakistan.

        The tribal regions want less to do with Islamabad, not more. I still haven’t found anybody who thinks that the tribal regions are scheming to take over Pakistan…

        Going back to pre-history: Please, tell us how many US military personnel there were in Saudi Arabia at the time of the 9/11 terrorist attack. Of course, I only expect a rough order of magnitude. Here again, smirking is not enough.

        I don’t know how many personnel were there. Many of them were probably removed after the barracks attack, but I do know there were still bases in Saudi Arabia and that one of the main reasons for invading Iraq was to move troops out of Saudi Arabia.

        I am curious. You have not observed any evidence in the past year or so to the effect that violent jihadists will attack the US wherever and whenever?

        Dude, of course they are. Violent jihadism is an anti-imperialist movement. Why does the US have troops all over the globe?

        How about eastern Libya? And, do we miss Mr Gaddhafi yet?

        I don’t, but the State Dept sure does. Gaddhafi was one of Washington’s main men. He helped imprison, torture, and make disappear Islamists wherever and whenever he could, and he got US support to do it.

        The dissolution of the Somali state – such as it was – gives us one scenario of a possible result of a weakened state.

        The problem with Somalia is that it was never a state to begin with. I’ve written about it here. The worst possible thing the international community could do is attempt to keep it together, and whattya know? That’s exactly what we have tried to do.

        I answered your “Homicide and the State” post here. Among the gems:

        Delacroix, like many other conservative ex-Marxists, confuses Leviathan with consent to be governed.

        One of the reasons neoconservatives like to attack the idea of the minimal state is not because of its utopian flavor, but rather because it chains down Leviathan’s ability to reach beyond its borders and impose itself on other lands.

        Anything else?

  2. Terry Amburgey says:

    “By the way, I can think of nothing better for peace, prosperity and individual liberty for the world than a war between the Indian army and Pakistan’s northern regions!”

    Jacques is just refurbishing that Vietnam era saying: we had to destroy the village to save it.

  3. Terry: No connection, no overlap between Pakistan and Vietnam of then . I don’t want to save Pakistan. It’s a failed nuclear state that is very dangerous to everyone else. I would like it neutralized. I would like the Indians to do it for everybody’s benefit.

    • Terry Amburgey says:

      In what world does a full blown invasion of a ‘failed nuclear state’ sound like a good idea? Tactically, how does India deal with the nuclear weapons? Do they preemptively strike all the nuclear sites and hope they don’t miss any? Do they cross their fingers and hope the Pakistanis just don’t use them?

      • Terry: Why “full-blown”? (The use of superfluous modifiers clouds thinking, it seems to me.)

        WHat should the western countries or India do about the powerful power vacuum that is Pakistan?

        How many historical lessons do we need to realize that doing nothing is seldom as virtuous solution to an impending big military problem?

        If the then-powerful French army had been sent into the Rhineland when Hitler’s then very small military force was sent there in violation of treaties, it’s unlikely there would have been a World War II. That non-event took place in 1936. (German generals said after the wart that Hitler was bluffing then that he knew he did not have the military resources to resist a French intervention to protect the treaties.).

        The new power elite in Egypt is significantly more hostile to Israel than the old one. At the same time, the military might of Egypt may not have degraded at all. (There is no obvious reason to believe that it has.) In this increasingly threatening context, Israel should…..?

        PS I don’t discount the possibility hat there will be a second revolution in Egypt, a democratic revolution. Would I count on it if I were in the Israeli establishment?

      • Terry Amburgey says:

        “Most of the world would be better off and, I think, most Pakistani as well, if the Indian Army occupied Pakistan.”

        What part of that is not ‘full blown’? Are you suggesting that the Indian army can occupy part of Pakistan and neutralize the threat you see? Divide the country into occupied Pakistan and Vichy Pakistan?

        Is this a ‘symbolic’ occupation where the Indian army parachutes in mimes and performance artists? I repeat my question: In what world does a full blown invasion of a ‘failed nuclear state’ sound like a good idea?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s