Election Declared Invalid

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In Ukraine, that is. The country's parliament has pronounced the presidential election discredited. That doesn't end the turmoil in Kiev, but it does indicate which way things are tipping.

To me, the most interesting aspect of the past week's events is the possibility that "people power" revolutions are becoming an instrument of U.S. foreign policy. For one take on the topic—not necessarily mine—go here. I've been working on a story on the subject myself, hopefully to appear next week. (So the next time one of you asks, "Why hasn't Reason written anything about Ukraine yet?"—now you know the answer. It's because we're still working on it.)

In the meantime: For a blogger's dispatches from the frontlines, go here.

NEXT: Without Strickland Propane, It's Just Not Barbecue

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  1. “The operation – engineering democracy through the ballot box and civil disobedience – is now so slick that the methods have matured into a template for winning other people’s elections.”

    Why hasn’t a non-violent, pro-Democracy, protest movement taken root in the Muslim world? I suspect success requires a marginally free press and some semblance of Democracy to already be in place; that describes Egypt, Lebanon and others, does it not? Is there a non-violent, pro-Democracy, civil disobedience movement in the Muslim world somewhere that I don’t know about?

    P.S. Please note that I’ve already dismissed the idea that Muslim countries are culturally defective and, hence, incapable of supporting such a movement.

  2. I can’t say I didn’t suspect this at some level, though I wasn’t going out of my way to try and prove myself right. Now, not that people underwritten for some broader cause can’t be honest and good – I trust that those that wrote for the CIA-underwritten Encounter really did have intentions I could agree with (in parts), I understand that the people published at TechCentralStation honestly believe what they say even if it is essentially a branch of a lobbying firm.

    But still, the next time I read some young blogger writing from under the weight of some unfortunate regime telling me what I want to hear w/r/t his noble intentions, facts on the ground, etc, etc, that voice in the back of my head is going to be louder.

  3. Ken: One thesis is that in Muslim philosophy, all worldly authority is fundamentally illegitimate; true authority comes only from God. This has the unfortunate effect of erasing divisions between different kinds of worldly authority. Sure, the strongman despot is illegitimate…but so was the democratic government he overthrew (after all, man cannot presume to the authority held only by God, so public popularity is no imprimatur), and if another clique overthrows him…well, more of the same, eh? Obviously, this worldview does not encourage the growth of democratic or civic institutions, or anything but religious authority.

    This is obviously just one viewpoint; I think Hamid Dabashi has described it, but I could be wrong about that. It’s not that Islamic countries are “culturally defective”, it’s just that they have a history and philosophy which doesn’t (at the moment) provide a fertile ground for such movements. All the same, there are some bright points out there: didn’t Reason write about Egypt’s Hizb al Ghad party a while ago?

  4. JD:
    “One thesis is that in Muslim philosophy, all worldly authority is fundamentally illegitimate; true authority comes only from God.”

    This was very much the Catholic attitude in Europe during the middle ages. I would recommend:
    “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism” which describes how Christianity went from supporting feudalism to capitalism.
    I would argue that democracy is not possible without a thriving free market, and that a feudal economic system will always support a dictatorship.

  5. I’m not aware of any religion that, if taken to an extreme by too many people and vested with too much power, is compatible with a healthy democracy. Which is not to say that religion itself is incompatible with democracy, just that vesting power with religious extremists is a bad idea.

    And I agree that feudal economic arrangements are not likely to promote a healthy democracy. For that matter, I doubt that a healthy democracy will take root in any economy in which most activity centers around a single resource, especially if that single resource is controlled by a handful of people. Even if that economy is ostensibly based on a market, and transactions are unregulated, the handful of people who hold that economic power will find a way to control the political process.

    That last sentiment might not be so popular here, since we like to believe that as long as the gov’t isn’t calling the shots on the economy things will go fine. That may very well be a necessary condition for a healthy society, but it is not a sufficient condition.

    Ultimately, democracy works best in a society where the economy is diversified and religion is a private matter. Until those conditions are achieved in the Persian Gulf I don’t have high hopes for establishing healthy democracies there. I’d love to be proved wrong on that point, so please provide counter examples if you have them.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that Arabs themselves are incapable of voting responsibly. I’m just suggesting that power resides in other places besides the ballot box, and letting the people vote will not be enough to sustain a free society as long as too much power resides with oilgarchs and religious extremists.

    To sum up, I guess I would say that free elections and free markets are necessary but not sufficient conditions for a free society. Economic diversity and religious moderation are also necessary. Sadly, those last 2 conditions can’t be imposed by armies or governments.

  6. JD,

    I take it from your comments that the only logically ‘acceptable’ system of goverment for Muslims is none(anarchy) or is pure and absolute theocracy acceptable?

  7. “Is there a non-violent, pro-Democracy, civil disobedience movement in the Muslim world somewhere that I don’t know about?”

    Yes, in Indonesia, 1997.

  8. Iran too, though analysts differ radically as to how close it is to succeeding.

  9. “Why hasn’t Reason written anything about Ukraine yet?” — now you know the answer. It’s because we’re still working on it.)”

    While news outlets and even bloggers are telling a remarakable story. Ah, international affairs–an Achilles heel for libertarianism.

  10. Thoreau:
    Well said, and I agree with 99 % of your post.
    The only part i would disagree with would be the role of religion. I do believe that religion adjusts to (and then supports) the prevailing economic system.
    “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism” makes that argument much better than me.
    In my humble opinion, the rise of the religious right has been a reaction to (not a cause) of the increased economic stratification of the US.

  11. This bit stuck out at me from the Guardian article: “Irony and street comedy mocking the regime have been hugely successful in puncturing public fear and enraging the powerful.”

    What an age, where Irony topples regimes.

    Last seen parachuting into Pyongyang: the valiant casts and crews of Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

  12. Ron wrote: “‘Why hasn’t Reason written anything about Ukraine yet?’ — now you know the answer. It’s because we’re still working on it.)’

    While news outlets and even bloggers are telling a remarakable [sic] story. Ah, international affairs–an Achilles heel for libertarianism.”

    Or it’s a function of Reason being a monthly magazine, where the writing staff primarily devote themselves to long-term projects…

  13. Is foreign policy supposed to be the strong suit of Republicanism?

    …’cause I’m not impressed. Maybe he’s a Democrat; are you a Democrat Ron?

  14. “People power” should be a feature of American Foreign Policy, shouldn’t it? If we aren’t exporting democracy and trumpeting the benefits of freedom and open markets, what are we doing? As to the link, no surprise that the Guardian managed to interpret something sinister into America’s support of democracy-building organizations like NDI and IRI; perhaps we should instead just take a hands-off approach and encourage people like Milosevic and Kuchma to stifle the press and steal from their people?

  15. I’m looking forward to your article. For an interesting alt. view on Ukraine (and other E. European people revolts/coups) check http://www.bhhrg.org

  16. Speaking of revolutions for democracy check this out, I just read it from a link on another H&R piece

    http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/

    It is a very uplifting piece. Once again I am filled with hope that these guys might make it after all.

  17. You guys need to put up more weekend posts for losers like me who have no lives.

  18. Marc: As I said, the Guardian‘s take is not necessarily mine. More precisely: I know I don’t agree with their analysis in toto, but I’m not sure whether they’re right about some of the specifics. Stay tuned!

    Wazoo: Thanks for the link.

    JonAnon: I know what you mean. It’s almost as though the State Department were funding the yippies…

  19. I don’t see anything sinister about our support for people power revolutions. However, I don’t blame those who do look for a sinister feature. Given our, um, mixed track record with respect to human rights in foreign countries, it’s no surprise to me that some might look at even the noblest deeds with suspicion.

    The sad fact about credibility is that it’s much easier to lose it than it is to gain it.

  20. JonAnon says, “Last seen parachuting into Pyongyang: the valiant casts and crews of Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm.”

    And when they hit the ground, they’ll find the “situation” already well in hand, and all the bad guys in hand cuffs, thanks to Team America F— Yeah!

  21. Wazoo: What do you know about this British Helsinki Human Rights Group? They don’t have any connection to the well-known Helsinki human rights group, they don’t have the tone or approach of other human rights organizations, and they seem invariably to take the Russian side of every dispute.

  22. Jesse Walker

    I’m thumbin’ this from my phone; if the link below doesn’t work, I’ll fix it later. The link is to a piece that makes the case that BHHRG is a fraud.

    http://www.ukar.org/barcla/barcla01.html

  23. The Great Ape: Well, I think the idea that theocracy is a logically consistent fit for Muslim societies is borne out (to at least some degree) by looking at their actual leadership. Some are explicitly religious (Iran); many are religious in nature even if not theological authorities (Saudi Arabia); some are secular but still refer to religion to validate their authority (Libya, pre-war Iraq). Furthermore, when reform or resistance movements do arise in Muslim societies, they often seem to be religiously based – for example, the ayatollahs during the reign of the Shah of Iran, or the religious leaders in today’s Iraq.

    Chris M: Yeah, the Europe/Catholicism analogy had occurred to me as well, but I don’t know enough about it to really address it. One thing that’s been suggested is that the Muslim world needs its own Reformation – but then, it’s also been suggested that that’s not going to happen, for a variety of reasons. I think Pipes’ Property and Freedom addressed some of why power devolved to democratic institutions in Europe, althought not from a particularly religious point of view.

  24. JD-

    Indonesia seems to have an imperfect but functioning democracy. By the standards of developing countries one could do far worse than Indonesia, and by the standards of Muslim-majority nations Indonesia is definitely in the top tier in regards to social and political freedom. I don’t know much about the extent of economic freedom in Indonesia, except to observe that they are probably no worse than Persian Gulf states, where the most valuable resource and centerpiece of economic activity is controlled by the government.

    Anyway, I think that the problems in the Middle East are more about the way they practice Islam rather than about Islam itself. That may sound like a semantic difference, but consider religion in the US: Most Americans describe themselves as Christians, but only a handful can be described as religious conservatives who mix politics with religion. Nonetheless, that small group wields significant power because it is a valuable part of a major party’s coalition and makes up a large portion of the electorate in that party’s primary elections.

    Likewise, I wouldn’t be surprised if a majority of Iraqis are actually much more secular and liberal than we sometims give them credit for. Nonetheless, the religious extremist minority is is significant. And a healthy democratic society needs more than just 51% support for liberal values. It needs much broader support for liberal values, separation of church and politics (a condition more stringent than separation of church and state, and something that can only be achieved by the people themselves, not by laws), and a diversified economy.

  25. thoreau,

    If by “separation of church and politics” you mean that no one allows religion to influence their politics, you’re saying that the US has not been a healthy democracy for very long (if it even is now). You’re also implying that the abolitionist movement, the women’s rights movement, the civil rights movement, and many other (originally) religion-based movements which increased liberty, have actually made our democracy less healthy.

  26. crimethink-

    Good point. I should elaborate on “separation of church and politics”, although it is admittedly a fuzzy point.

    First, although there’s nothing wrong with having political opinions based on religion (I certainly do, believe it or not), people who propose a policy should come up with something better than “Jesus said so”, “Mohammed said so”, or “Zoroaster said so” (certain parts of Iran). In the US, even on issues like abortion people at least try to come up with a secular basis for their stance. And all of the causes that you mentioned have perfectly good secular rationales, and those rationales were prominent in political discourse when those issues were debated.

    Second, religious leaders shouldn’t be able to sway large numbers of voters with an endorsement. Sure, we have people who vote based on a religious leader’s endorsement, but they aren’t a large group. Even on the religious right I suspect that there are limits to the influence of pastors. If a Baptist minister in Alabama endorsed a Democrat and explained that the Democrat is anti-war and (allegedly) committed to helping the poor, I wonder how many people would be won over. And while some Catholic bishops refused to give Communion to John Kerry, their action didn’t change the minds of all that many Catholics. Most of the Catholics who voted against Kerry would have done so even without the urging of their bishops, and many Catholics (including some who voted against Kerry, e.g. me) were outraged by the bishops’ efforts to meddle in the election.

    I could go on, but I think those are the 2 most important elements of “separation of church and politics.”

  27. Has your front page been hacked? All I get is an ad.

  28. Thanks for the link, Ken. It tracks with everything else I’ve dug up about the group: It’s clear that (a) they’ve got a deliberately deceptive name, and (b) they’re more interested in pushing their pro-Russian agenda than in uncovering truth. That doesn’t mean they’re never right about anything, of course, but they clearly don’t deserve our trust.

  29. Mea culpa. From what I’ve read in their bhhrg reports they do deal with facts that aren’t commonly reported elsewhere but this other link indicates it really is a bit of shady organization. Thanks for knocking some sense in my head. Great things, these blog commentary sections.

  30. The Apollinarian heresy caused the downfall of old Rome. The Turks used their axes to shatter the doors of all churches of the Second Rome, the city of Constantinople. In Moscow, the new Third Rome, the Holy Ecumenical Apostolic Church of Russia shines brighter than the sun …

    Listen and remember that all Christian kingdoms have now merged into one. Two Romes have fallen. The third stands firm. And there will not be a fourth. No one will replace our Christian tsardom …

    The Union of Brest-Litovsk shall not stand!

  31. JD:
    Thanks for the recommendation, Pipes’ Property and Freedom, I’ll check it out.
    As for a Muslim Reformation, the Muslim world now, is a lot like the Christian world *after* the Christian reformation, although without the vast amount of bloodshed (that happened between Protestants and Catholics).
    Remember a liberal, secular tolerant Christianity didn’t happen until the twentieth century.

  32. The country’s parliament has pronounced the presidential election discredited.

    Which is not binding.

    Chris M.,

    Weber’s work was debunked long ago. Also note that the “Protestant work ethic” argument is not really complete without mentioning the work of Tawney.

    To quote Diarmand McCulloch:

    Any simple link between religion and capitalism founders on both objections and counterexamples. One could point out that rather than taking its roots from religion, this new wealth and power represents a shit from Mediterranean to North Sea that has political roots: particularly the disruptions caused by the Italian wars from the 1490s, and the long-term rise of the Ottoman Empire… Striking counterexamples would be the economic backwardness of Reformed Scotland and Transylvania. That suggests that the prosperity of England and the Netherlands arose precisely because they were not well-regulated Calvinist societies, but from the midseventeenth century had reluctantly entrenched religious pluralism alongside a privileged Church. …

    One powerful objection to the whole notion of a structural or causal link between Reformed Protestantism and capitalism comes from the very dubious link linkage that is made between Protestantism generally and individualism. … It is frequently suggested that medieval Catholicism was somehow more communitarian and collective than the Protestantism that replaced it… . Yet the evidence I have drawn together here goes against such assertions. Calvinism is a Eucharist-centered and therefore community-mind faith. Its discipline at its most developed was to designed to protect the Eucharist from devilish corruption, and the resulting societies formed one of the most powerful and integrated expressions of community ever seen in Europe. Certainly Protestants disrupted some forms of community, the structures created by medeival Catholicism, but they did so precisely because they considered them harmful to the community, just like witches and images. …

    The Reformation, p. 584-585 (2003).

    Also note that the feudal economic system in Western Europe was long dead before the Reformation (I’ve always found that one of the basic misconceptions of the historically ignorant is that they assume that feudalism as a major economic, etc. force survived in Western Europe after the 14th century).

  33. Jason Bourne:
    Unfortunately, I think you have “the “Protestant work ethic” argument exactly backwards. Weber was arguing that the rise of the Protestant religions (i.e. not Catholic) were *caused* by the rise of Capitalism.
    So when you say “the feudal economic system in Western Europe was long dead before the Reformation”, I would agree with you.
    Weber *also* agued that Protestant thinking supported Capitalism, as it encouraged the Protestant work ethic, etc.
    My point on the question of the Muslim world, was
    that instead of calling for a Muslim Reformation which would somehow bring about a more capitalistic and liberal society, we *instead* should be calling for more support of free enterprise in the Muslim world, which would then bring about a more liberal Muslim society.

  34. JD,

    I don’t assume that you’re a Muslim scholar (maybe you are), but for the sake of posing the question, it would seem to me that any central governing authority, even theocracy, is anathema to Islam. There should be a self-imposed order, no? Mullahs and Imams would serve in a role of advice and consent to their parishoners since no legal means of authority exist.

  35. Chris M.,

    Unfortunately, I think you have “the “Protestant work ethic” argument exactly backwards. Weber was arguing that the rise of the Protestant religions (i.e. not Catholic) were *caused* by the rise of Capitalism.

    Ahh, no, you have it exactly backwards. However, one of the basic criticisms of Weber’s work is that fails to account the rise of capitalist economies in Europe (and elsewhere) prior to the advent of Protestantism.

    In The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Weber puts forward the thesis that the Puritan ethic and ideas influenced the development of capitalism.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Max_Weber

  36. It’s also good to see that after using the same raised-fist logo in Serbia-Montenegro and Georgia, someone designed a new logo this time around.

  37. Jason Bourne:
    Perhaps you are right, it’s been a number of years since I read “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism”. If anyone out there has a copy, and can post a quote (supporting one side or the other), that would be great.
    But I should note that “influenced” and “caused” are two *very* different concepts.

  38. Chris M.,

    Ok:

    (1) I am right.

    (2) Neither “influenced” nor “caused” supports your erroneous interpretation.

    (3) Furthermore, its rather strange that you would try to bring up this distinction, first because it helps your cause in no way, and second because I never used the term “cause” or “caused” in the manner you describe.

    (4) Finally, and this may be uncharitable, I doubt whether you have bent the spine of a copy of Weber’s work, much less read it.

    Max Weber was one of the founding fathers of sociology. In his most famous book, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, he found the seeds of capitalism in the Protestant work ethic.

    http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/bios/Weber.html

    When asceticism was carried out of monastic cells into everyday life, and began to dominate worldly morality, it did its part in building the tremendous cosmos of the modern economic order [note here that is not the “economic order” which is building “worldly morality,” but vice versa]… – Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism
    p. 181.

  39. The same tired old argument on whether is was protestantism, or not that was the wind beneath the sails of individual freedom, capitalism and constitutional goverment.

    Matt Damon as usual is eager to prove wrong everyone that claims it was so.

    So if it wasn’t protestantism what was it? It seems to me that protestant countries have had much more of a lead than catholic countries in that area. And both Protestant and Catholic countries seem to be doing better than Islamic ones in that regard.

    What is it?

    I have long wondered about that. I wonder if the protestant religion is so vague and lacking that it encourages people more to look at elswhere as a guage for what is right or wrong.

    Maybe Islam is a very well designed religion. Maybe that illiterate sheperd was a talented individual. So that when people think to have a revolution and base it on humanitarian non religious causes, it is less likely to take hold.

    Maybe the combination of strength/fear and religion in the case of Islam don’t leave much of a vacuum basic human urges, that would allow for a secular revolution of sortes.

    As with the link that I posted earlier (and I think was a very cool essay) I am optimistic about Iraq.

    But maybe I am only optimistic about Iraq because I am ignorant of why there has not been more success of representative governments in Islamic countries.

  40. Jason Bourne:
    Temper, temper, no need to get so angry over a subject that most people (you and me excepted) would find extremely tedious.
    As for the book in question, it could be that it is vague in it’s arguments, and thus open to interpretation (it seemed pretty clear to me, but then again, it has been a number of years since I read it, and I may be imposing my own interpretation after the fact).
    But here is a quote from Max Weber himself
    from this website (last paragraph)
    http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/weber/WeberCH3.html
    “On the other hand, however, we have no intention whatever of maintaining such a foolish and doctrinaire thesis as that the spirit of capitalism (in the provisional sense of the term explained above) could only have arisen as the result of certain effects of the Reformation, or even that capitalism as an economic system is a creation of the Reformation. In itself, the fact that certain important forms of capitalistic business organization are known to be considerably older than the Reformation is a sufficient refutation of such a claim On the contrary, we only wish to ascertain whether and to what extent religious forces have taken part in qualitative formation and the quantitative expansion of that spirit over the world. Furthermore, what concrete aspects of our capitalistic culture can be traced to them, In view of the tremendous confusion of interdependent influences between the material basis, the forms of social and political organization, and the ideas current in the time of the Reformation, we can only proceed by investigating whether and at what points certain correlations between forms of religious belief and practical ethics can be worked out. At the same time we shall as far as possible clarify the manner and the general direction in which, by virtue of those relationships, the religious movements have influenced the development of material culture. Only when this has been determined with reasonable accuracy can the attempt be made to estimate to what extent the historical development of modern culture can be attributed to those religious forces and to what extent to others.”

  41. Earth to Jesse Walker and Ken Schulz:

    The weird attack on the British Helsinki group you give credence is written by the same geek and posted on the same site as this garbage:

    http://www.ukar.org/tax.html

    In manufacturing a reason to jump on the “orange revolution” bandwagon, and carefully edit out anything that doesn’t fit your preconceptions, be careful who you get in bed with. Of course, the loony anti-BHHRG piece is self-evidently absurd: “no founding date” indeed! Not to mention the weirdo pictures at the top, with this priceless caption: “The Spectator editor, Boris Johnson, displaying his notorious indiscipline.” (Johnson is just sitting there…)

  42. kwais,

    Asked and answered.

    You’ll find that I have repeatedly answered your questions in the past and that they are in large measure answered again in my comments above.

    Matt Damon as usual is eager to prove wrong everyone that claims it was so.

    Oh no! I’m eager to prove someone wrong! The horror! The infamy! 🙂

    Chris M.,

    I tire of people who claim to have read things that they clearly have not read.

    As for the book in question, it could be that it is vague in it’s arguments, and thus open to interpretation (it seemed pretty clear to me, but then again, it has been a number of years since I read it, and I may be imposing my own interpretation after the fact).

    The standard “intepretation” is exactly as I stated it, and of course what I cite merely backs this up.

    …we only wish to ascertain whether and to what extent religious forces have taken part in qualitative formation and the quantitative expansion of that spirit over the world.

    Again, its religion working on the “spirit” and not vice versa.

    …the religious movements have influenced the development of material culture.

    Again, its religion doing the influencing here, not vice versa.

    Only when this has been determined with reasonable accuracy can the attempt be made to estimate to what extent the historical development of modern culture can be attributed to those religious forces and to what extent to others.

    And again its “religious forces” which the influences can be “attributed” to. Its fairly clear which way Weber is arguing. You fisked your ownself.

    I have to ask, did you even read what you pasted?

  43. Mr. Walker didn’t conclude that we shouldn’t blindly trust the BHHRG based on my link; he merely stated that the link was consistent with his other research. I posted the link because it stated, succinctly, that there are those who openly question the validity of the group, and, by the way, I still think the questions about why the group gave itself such a confusing name, who is in the group, who is behind the group and who finances the group are entirely valid. The piece I linked isn’t the only one out there that openly questions the validity of the group either. A Roma activist pointed out that the BHHRG wrote a report on Roma that a group devoted to the Helsinki accords just wouldn’t write. Indeed, did you perchance happen across the Wikipedia piece in the article I linked?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Helsinki_Human_Rights_Group

    …You should be careful of whom you’re defending, you never know who you might end up in bed with.

    Anyway, the suggestion that my critical reading of the BHHRG report is in some way indicative of a willingness to accept loopy articles as fact if only they support my presupposed conclusions isn’t only unfair; in this case it’s inaccurate. I’m no Socrates, but it seems to me that evidence of critical thinking isn’t good evidence of its opposite.

  44. …P.S. Justin Raimondo,

    The BHHRG doesn’t deserve our trust.

  45. thoreau,

    …except to observe that they are probably no worse than Persian Gulf states, where the most valuable resource and centerpiece of economic activity is controlled by the government.

    You’ll find that Dubai’s (and you should visit if you ever get the chance) economic prosperity is based on trade (and I don’t mean trading oil), that is its role as a port. Its now trying to become – if it hasn’t already – one of the world’s premiere vacation spots. Things are little more varied in that area of the world than is generally appreciated.

    Why not try Dubai’s new international film festival? Sarah Michelle Gehlar will be in attendance. 🙂

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/0,2106,3112059a12,00.html

  46. Justin: Find me a good reason why a human rights group should adopt a deliberately misleading name and bend every conclusion to fit the interests of Russian foreign policy — not to mention writing with a rhetorical tone more appropriate for a Usenet forum than a human rights report — and I’ll give the “Helsinki” bunch a second shot. Just because someone’s interests have momentarily set them opposed to the neoconservatives doesn’t mean they’re on the side of the angels.

  47. There is nothing misleading about the name as far as I’m concerned: why does only the British government-affiliated group have the right to the Helsinki moniker? They’ve simply privatized it.

    Aside from that side-issue, I was merely pointing out that the link provided to you by Mr. Schulz comes from a virulently anti-Semitics website. Go to their front page, scroll down, and look on the right….

    As for BHHRG meeting (or failing to meet) a certain foreign policy litmus test: why don’t we get over the crude anti-Russian sentiment (a holdover from the cold war?) and subject, say, “Freedom House” to the same test, substituting the U.S. for Russia. Then let us ask ourselves why “Freedom House” never ever seems to deviate from its assigned role as cheerleader for U.S. interventions worldwide.

    Russia, at least, is not trying to conquer the world in the name of “human rights anymore — our own government has apparently have taken up that cause — with the invaluable assistance of “Freedom House” and (in Kosovo, during the 90s) Human Rights Watch.

    I personally know some of the major people at BHHRG, and none are apologists for any government. What they do, however, that sets them apart from the generally internationalist-minded “human rights community,” however, is take the idea of national sovereignty seriously enough to include it among those much-vaunted human rights.

  48. Why does “antiwar.com” only (aggressively) oppose neocon wars then? Did you forget about those wars entered (at least in regard to US involvement) by liberals? – World War 1 being the most egregious.

  49. It’s official, Jason Bourne is Jean Bart. And neither one of them would be able to krav maga their way out of a paper bag in real life.

  50. How is the election in Ukraine any more corrupt or unfair than those in Ohio or Chicago? Why are only Slavic people are ever accused of crimes against humanity or of not measuring up to “European Standards” by the West? To date only the leaders of Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, and lately even the leaders of Russia have been accused of such crimes.

    The reasons for that are clear. The West claims to represent all the peoples of Europe, but Slavic peoples are almost entirely absent. There might be some members of the Council of Europe who have at one time or another lived in a Slavic country, but as a rule they are NOT ethnic Slavic people, and they don’t understand the Slavic cultures and religions. A minority of Europeans is trying to rule the Slavic majority, through their so-called democracy.

    Slavs are nobody’s “niggers”. We have rights and we demand recognition of those rights. While the West pretends to be the center of justice, it is in fact the center of a European Apartheid by which a non-Slavic minority decides and judges the Slavic majority. The West has to learn to respect the cultures and religions of all of Europe, including the Slavic peoples. We will no longer tolerate antislavicism and the anti-slavic apartheid of the West!

  51. Jason B,
    “Asked and answered”?
    The question is: Why does it seem that protestant cultures have had an easier time with the whole representative democracy thing? And why does it seem like Islamic countries have the hardest time? Two parts to one general question I guess.

    Anyhow, I read your posts and didn’t come back with an answer. If I missed it, can you give it again and with simpler terms?

  52. Jimbo,
    I think it was claimed a while back that Jason Bourne was the same as Jean Bart, and some other JB name as well. From what I gather the dude is from the northwest, he loves the French from having been in the French military, and knows a whole lot more about European history (which I derived from details of he gave about how much Calvin was a bad person) than anybody I have ever met.

    What is it particularly about this thread that solidifies two of the JB’s as being the same? And what makes you say that he can’t fight (except for the allegation that he served in the French military)?

  53. Isuldur’s Bane,

    Antiwar.com was founded to oppose Clinton and Albright’s war in Kosovo.

    They didn’t oppose World War One because the didn’t freaking exist during World War One. The “.com” part might have tipped you off.

  54. Kwais (aka Mrs. JB),

    Because he’s of a type.

  55. Filofei,
    We are mostly Americans here on this site I think. We have; black people, brown people, yellow people, and white people, and mixes thereof. And we don’t subdivide very well.

    I can’t tell the difference between an chineese, japanees, and korean. I can’t tell the difference between Arabs, Kurds, and there is a few Mexicans that if they dressed the same, I couldn’t tell either.

    I swear, I don’t know the difference between a Slav and whatever the hell other races (Celts, & Anglo Saxons?) there are in Europe. And I don’t think most other Americans can either.

    So if you think that there is any American racism going on there, I think that your concerns are misplaced.

    As Chris Rock once said “Hate the Jews? White people is white people, we don’t have time to subdivide, you all is white people” (paraphrasing)

  56. Jason-

    Thanks for the clarification on Dubai. I have higher hopes for the eventual emergence of democracy in Dubai than in most other Gulf states, then.

  57. Jimbo, man, Mrs JB?
    Is that meant to be an insult to me? What? Are you high? Did you write that post because you percieve my post to be flattering to him?

    My backhanded comment of the French miltary wasn’t enough?

    What’s wrong with you dude?

    I have been posting for a while on this site, almost always under this name (exept when I post a joke). I amost always disagree with JB. Like a thoreau who enters libertarianism from a liberal perspective, I enter from a conservative perspective.

    Jimbo, I wouldn’t judge you without reading more than one of your posts. You can do whatever the hell you want man.

    I wonder maybe if you said that because you agree with him, and you try to get me to say something outragous to validate his points. How about that “thats what you are, but what am I” for you?

  58. I have long pondered the question “Who is Jean Bart?” However, Gary Gunnels became quite angry with me and to restore some pretense of civility to this board I dropped that exercise. Of course, Gary Gunnels is no longer here. Some have suggested that he remains under a new name, but I would be shocked, *shocked!* if that were true.

    Anyway, here’s the best answer ever offered to the question “Who is Jean Bart?”

    Who is Jean Bart?

    Long have the rumors flown of the man who’s founded a Francophile utopia, where, powered only by their self-reliance and some subsidies from the French government, they live in a secluded valley, producing wine, cheese, Citroens, and body odor.

    “I weel stop ze motor of ze world – for lunch!”

    Comment by: CTD at September 10, 2004 07:38 AM

  59. It’s in every sLOVEnian.

    So much for anti-Slav apartheid.

  60. “There is nothing misleading about the name as far as I’m concerned: why does only the British government-affiliated group have the right to the Helsinki moniker? They’ve simply privatized it.”

    As far as you’re concerned? How can an organization that apparently takes the opposite position of the British Helsinki Subcommittee of the Parliamentary Human Rights Group call itself the British Helsinki Human Rights Group in good faith? How could the name not be confusing?

    “Aside from that side-issue, I was merely pointing out that the link provided to you by Mr. Schulz comes from a virulently anti-Semitics website. Go to their front page, scroll down, and look on the right…”

    I didn’t bother going to the front page of the site (I was looking at the site from my phone.), but I have to admit that if I’d seen this article, I might not have posted the link.

    Still, a broken clock tells perfect time twice a day. There’s an anti-immigration advocate who shows up regularly on this site; I’ve long suspected that he harbors extreme right wing sympathies, and I denounce him regularly. Sometimes he posts comments suggesting that lax enforcement of immigration issues makes us vulnerable to terrorism; I don’t bug him when he does that because, well, he’s probably right.

    …So back to the charges then. Given that the organization in question appears to have deliberately named itself in a confusing manner and given that its support and funding were obscure, why would we take what this organization tells us at face value?

    “I personally know some of the major people at BHHRG, and none are apologists for any government. What they do, however, that sets them apart from the generally internationalist-minded “human rights community,” however, is take the idea of national sovereignty seriously enough to include it among those much-vaunted human rights.”

    You know some of the people responsible for BHHRG personally? That’s great! Maybe you can ask them, better yet, maybe you already know the answers to some of the questions I have. For instance, who funds the BHHRG? Do BHHRG personnel have any affiliation with or affinity for the John Birch Society? According to the link provided by way of Wikipedia, there are a lot of references to the “New World Order” on BHHRG’s website, why so many?

    …Oh, and when they include national sovereignty among the other “much-vaunted” human rights, what does that mean exactly? What if national sovereignty and human rights are in opposition?

  61. Thoreau,

    Do they smoke Galtoises in that valley?

    Kwais,

    Sorry to belittle your manhood. You never seem to be arguing with JB, just trying to remain far enough away to avoid becoming a brown-noser without stopping your ass kissing. Maybe your arguments are too subtle for me. Please phrase them in simple terms, I’m not very educated.

  62. Ken Shultz,
    Quit bringing up the original subject of this thread.

    This thread has been hijacked the the recurring “who is JB/Gary Gunnels/JB” question.

    Accept it and run with it.

  63. Jimbo,
    Thats cool.

    I was just trying to see if JB had an alternate explanation for why certain groups of countries seem to have an easier time with democracy. If he has a good one, I’ll shift my paradigms.

    If this helps deflect any perception of ass kissing, I will say that in my time in the USMC, I have taveled to many a European country, and I liked most. The only one I disliked was France (the weather was wonderful though). Hopefully that wasn’t too insulting to make JB not anwer my question.

    Also, for the not educated part. I had to get a semester of college, because the military wasn’t accepting GED’s.

  64. “In Moscow, the new Third Rome, the Holy Ecumenical Apostolic Church of Russia shines brighter than the sun …”

    “Listen and remember that all Christian kingdoms have now merged into one. Two Romes have fallen. The third stands firm. And there will not be a fourth. No one will replace our Christian tsardom …”

    “The Union of Brest-Litovsk shall not stand!

    I’m an outsider on this, full-blooded Protestant actually, so I’m not making any claim on authority here, but I’ve read that the Vatican was quite amenable recently to encouraging Ukrainian Catholics to reintegrate with Orthodoxy. Even if this is not the case, why stoke the fires?

    …In what way does proclaiming the doom of the foundation of your rival’s religious convictions help your cause?

    “How is the election in Ukraine any more corrupt or unfair than those in Ohio or Chicago?”

    Is John Kerry contending that Ohio and Illinois are still in play? Has John Kerry proclaimed himself the legitimate President of the United States?

    “Why are only Slavic people are ever accused of crimes against humanity or of not measuring up to “European Standards” by the West? To date only the leaders of Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, and lately even the leaders of Russia have been accused of such crimes.”

    Does the name Osama bin Laden mean anything to you? Is Saddam Hussein Slavic? Are the leaders of Sudan Slavic?

    Russia, accused of crimes? How could that be? Why their behavior in Chechnya, well, those people were terrorists.

    …every one!

    “A minority of Europeans is trying to rule the Slavic majority, through their so-called democracy.”

    You used the word “Democracy”, but I don’t think you understand the word.

    “Slavs are nobody’s “niggers”.

    Your use of this word in this statement is indefensible.

    “We have rights and we demand recognition of those rights. While the West pretends to be the center of justice, it is in fact the center of a European Apartheid by which a non-Slavic minority decides and judges the Slavic majority. The West has to learn to respect the cultures and religions of all of Europe, including the Slavic peoples. We will no longer tolerate antislavicism and the anti-slavic apartheid of the West!”

    Don’t these statements assume that Ukrainian Catholics, among others, aren’t Slavic?

  65. Why does it matter if they’re all the same person or what he calls himself?

    He’s is or they are a true defender(s) of freedom. I’ve been on the pointy end of his/their sharp keystrokes, and I know it hurts. He/They can be exasperating to argue with too; but he’s/they’re also brilliant and the forum is much better off for his/their being here.

    Let him/them call himself/themselves whatever he/they want(s).

  66. …I also have to confess to being a bit jealous of jb/gary gunnels/jb collective and joe too, quite frankly. Both the collective and joe have anti-fans. I’ve seen not-joes, anti-joes, anti-Gunnels, not Gunnels, not Jason Bournes, etc.

    …I’ve always hoped to get an anti-fan of my own, but, alas, all I get is right wing extremists and Dan.

  67. You know, I didn’t get the not-joe thing until just now.

    I was there, thinking “why is there a dude that signs off telling me what his name isn’t?”

  68. That is the second time you mention right wing extremists. Who are you talking about?

    You know what would be funny would be if Joe and Dan were the same person.

  69. Ken, if it will make you feel any better I could always take a cue from GNU and change my screen name to GNK, which stands for “GNK’s Not Ken”.

  70. I’m convinced you are ALL the same guy: Herbie, a 38-year-old, out of work, punch card operator posting from his mom’s basement. Unfortunately, it’s hard to convince myself that I’m also not Herbie’s creation.

  71. Jimbo,

    *yawn* *burp*

    All the comments on my identity,

    *yawn* *burp*

    kwais,

    The question is: Why does it seem that protestant cultures have had an easier time with the whole representative democracy thing?

    Because they haven’t. If you compare say France to Britain you’ll quickly find that they mirror one another with regard to expansion of the franchise and that each has their own periods of popular tumult. The road to modernity was not easy for either nation, yet one is/was predominantly Catholic, and the other predominantly Protestant.

    And why does it seem like Islamic countries have the hardest time? Two parts to one general question I guess.

    Of course the same could be said for sub-Saharan African countries which are largely Christian (and many of which are largely Protestant Christian). If indeed Protestantism were so key to economic development, why haven’t the Protestant Christian sub-Saharan African states blossomed like the largely non-Christian nations of China, Japan, etc.?

  72. JB,

    If you want to take care of that gas problem, try Beano.

  73. I know of three Jean Barts.

    Jean Bart was a French corsair who annoyed the English Navy. The Jean Bart was a warship that annoyed the American Navy. The Hit and Run Jean Bart was a poster who annoyed the “Angloshpere”.

    Jason Bourne is a character from spy novels. Jason Bourne is no Jean Bart.

  74. No one has a copyright on the word “Helsinki.” Nor should they. Nor does anyone own the concept of “human rights” — although I’m told George Soros has made a bid….

    The “New World Order” is a phrase often used by the advocates of global interventionism as their goal. Bush the Better used it: policy wonks had coined the term long before that (1991). So if your implication is that anyone who opposes this “New World Order” is a member of the John Birch Society — you are completely full of it. Ron Paul, the libertarian Congressman from Texas, has used this oh-so-awful phraseology — does that make him suspect in your eyes?

    I’m not sure what’s so bad about “anonymous” PRIVATE funding — is public funding better? Can only governments monitor human rights — when they are the primary violators of human rights? In a free society, all funding is “anonymous” because it is private. Should the government have a list of everyone who subscribes to a certain point of view? You’d better rethink that one….

    Millions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer dollars are going to effect “peaceful” regime change in Ukraine — to what purpose? If you oppose the war in Iraq, then surely you don’t want the same thing in the Caucasus. Yet that is precisely what the invasion of Ukraine by U.S. government agencies — NED, the subsidized “Freedom House,” and others — is a prelude to. And you are doing a good job of cheerleading this effort.

    Plus, you evade the three big issues that separate the two candidates: NATO, the EU, and the language question. Should Russian be included along with Ukrainian as an official language of the country? Yushie the “democrat” say absolutely not. Yakunovich says yes.

    From a libertarian point of view, that’s one for Yakunovich.

    Should Ukraine join NATO? Yushie says yes. Yakunovich says no. Since libertarians want NATO abolished, that’s another plus for Yakunovich (hereafter, “Yakie”).

    Should Ukraine join the EU. Again, Yushie says yes, and Yakie says no. Libertarians, on this issue, say NO NO a thousand times NO! Chalk up another one for the “bad guy.”

    Aside from all the hosannas for the “orange revolution,” check out an alternative view by UPI’s Russia correspondent:

    http://www.untimely-thoughts.com/index.html?art=1082

  75. Jason-

    You gotta admit that the theory of Jean Bart starting a valley retreat where francophones can make subsidized cheese was pretty funny.

  76. Don’t feel bad Thoreau. I said he was brilliant and that we’re all better off for having him here, but I just got a yawn and a burp like the rest of you heathens.

  77. Thanks for the link Justin.

  78. Jason B,
    So you are saying that if some countries do have a harder time getting a decent representative govt, it has nothing to do with the religion. Fair enough. I will withold judgment until I learn a little more about sub saharan protestant countries. (not that it matters, but I am not a protestant)

    Oh and apparently you are not Gary Gunnels.

  79. I wrote a lot of crap, I hope someone reads some of it before it gets relegated to the off the page of yesteryear stuff.

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