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Posts Tagged ‘amnesty’

US Losing Middle East Coalition

Friday, October 25th, 2013

Ever since the seventies, the world has become accustomed to the split in the Middle East, between those countries that support the West – Saudi Arabia, the Gulf Emirates, Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Morocco and Israel, and we might add Turkey to this list as well, and those countries that were members of the opposing, Soviet, coalition: Syria, Libya, Iraq and South Yemen. Lebanon was then between the democratic hammer and the Syrian anvil.

Despite the dissolution of the Soviet Union at the end of the eighties, there were no big shifts in political orientation, and the countries that were faithful to the Western bloc led by the United States remained faithful to it until recently, mainly because a new hostile bloc was formed, led by Iran and supported by Russia and China. The stronger the Iranian threat became, the more the pro-Western countries depended on America for support.

Lately, however, the pro-Western coalition has begun to crumble, and two key countries – Saudi Arabia and Egypt – are searching for a new political crutch, ever since it became clear to them that the American crutch is nothing but “a broken reed” (Isaiah, 36:6). A few more countries can be added to this list, mainly Turkey and the Gulf Emirates.

Saudi Arabia

In an unprecedented move, the Saudi kingdom has refused to become a member of the most powerful body in the world, the Security Council of the UN, a body authorized to deal with the world’s security problems and, with the power of the authority vested in it, can even declare war as a world body on a country that violates its resolutions. The question that immediately arises is: why did Saudi Arabia refuse to become a member of the body that is perhaps the only one capable of dealing with Iran’s military nuclear project? Why did Saudi Arabia reject the opportunity to influence events in Syria from within the Security Council? Why doesn’t Saudi Arabia take advantage of the most important stage in international policy in order to take action against Israel?

The superficial reason is that which the Saudi foreign office published, expressing an ethical position: the kingdom will not agree to enter the Security Council until the Council undergoes reforms that will enable it to fulfill its role, which is to maintain world peace. The obsolete apparatus, the wasteful practices, and double standards used by the Security Council all prevent it from fulfilling its role. There are many examples of this: the Palestinian problem has not been solved despite it having been created 65 years ago, and despite the fact that the wars stemming from it have threatened the peace of the entire region and the world several times. The Council allows the Syrian dictator continue slaughtering his citizens for almost three years without imposing effective sanctions, and the Council has failed to achieve the goal of turning the Middle East into an area free of weapons of mass destruction because it has not managed to create an effective method of oversight for military nuclear projects.

Despite the fact that the Saudis do not speak specifically about Iran in their official announcement, it is clear that their reference is not to Israel, from whom they fear no danger, but to Iran, whose nuclear plans do keep them awake at night. However, it is specifically the Iranian nuclear issue which should have pushed Saudi Arabia to become a member the Council; membership could have granted them an active role in making decisions against Iran, so why not join?

In part, the reasons relate to the way that the Saudis see the international alignment of countries recently but is also connected to the customary culture of honor in the Middle East, without which it would be impossible to understand the behavior of the Saudis, proud sons of the desert.

First of all, a person of honor does not join a club where he is considered a class ‘B’ member. In the Security Council there are class ‘A’ members – the five permanent members (the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China) who have nuclear weapons and veto power, and there are class ‘B’ members – the ten countries with temporary membership, who are not allowed to attain nuclear weapons and do not have veto power. Saudi Arabia would in no way agree to be a class ‘B’ member of any organization, and would prefer not to join because honor is more important to it than anything else.

Coming to America

Monday, June 17th, 2013

Originally published at Sultan Knish.

How does one define a nation? That is truly the fundamental question of amnesty.The libertarian argument in favor of amnesty comes down to the question of whether nations even necessary at all. If the only characteristic that matters is freedom then borders and the other vestiges of nationhood only interfere with the flow of the free market.

America then becomes a set of ideas and its only usefulness is as a space for harboring those ideas. This ideological definition of a nation demands that it sacrifice its survival to its ideas.

This notion is found most strongly among liberals for whom the actual physical survival of the country ranks a distant second to its duty to live up to its ideals. That is why liberals can argue that torture is wrong even in a ticking nuclear bomb scenario.

In the real world countries don’t do well as vehicles for ideology. A country is a practical entity that encompasses the real life needs and challenges of people, while an ideology tends toward rigid self-righteous fantasies. Countries need ideologies to define them, but becoming prisoners to rigid ideological ideals can destroy them.

Any ideology whose logic is followed to its final conclusion leads to a horrifying and unlivable society.

The logic of libertarian amnesty would fill the voting rolls full of supporters of big government and the welfare state in the name of economic freedom. It’s not the worst illustration of how ideologies commit suicide through following the siren song of their logic to the farthest north. It’s not even the worst such example involving immigration. That honor belongs to the European left whose immigration policies have doomed the survival of every value it claims to care for. But it is typical of the destruction wrought by dismissing people and their nations as interchangeable cogs in a machine of ideas.

The multicultural left is not entirely wrong about cultural relativism; it is only wrong in assuming that its existence demonstrates the lack of any absolute values or truths.

To a tribal society, America is a land forever in contention and American leaders are mere tyrants who represent no one. In a tribal society where legitimacy stems from family, the President of the United States is no more than a bandit with a large army and a heap of weapons. Not only does he have no tribe, but he boasts of his confusing tribelessness in his books, at times pretending to be a member of different tribes.

America is a power to tribals, not a tribe. An empire that fills its land with tribes and imagines that it can rule over them. A land in which their tribe may rise supreme.

What happens when an identity based on economic regulation or deregulation meets one based on family? The expansion of the welfare state is only one of the minor consequences of this collision. Democrats and Republicans have come to think of themselves as regulators and deregulators, but for all the flowery prose that gets trotted out at conventions, this is less an identity than an engineering philosophy of government that has little meaning to tribals who view government as either “mine” or “yours”, as a source of patronage, money and power to their tribe or to their rivals.

Family is largely immune to the clash of ideas. Ideas are for introverted societies exploring their own depths while families are for extroverted societies bound on missions of conquest. While the introverted society explores inner space, the extroverted society explores the outer space at its borders.

While the ideologues study to see how the tribals will fit into their plans, the tribals are checking out the real estate. That is how it happened in the Roman Empire. That is how it happening in the clumsy new Rome of the EU.

Amnesty: The Road to Nowhere

Wednesday, May 8th, 2013

The Heritage Institute report estimates that under amnesty the average legalized illegal household will take in $43,900 in benefits while paying a little over a third of that in taxes. Those numbers are grim from the standpoint of a tottering economy being asked to take on an even bigger pile of debt and they reveal an even grimmer view of the future.

Set aside the political debates, the tensions over multiculturalism, entitlements and the great political divide and those numbers reek of a country whose only future is poverty.

Subsidized poverty, even if we had the ability to continue subsidizing it forever, is still poverty. A Food Stamp Nation made up of slums full of bodegas and check cashing places does not offer any kind of future. Its only growth industries are in expensive government jobs or cheap service jobs leading to an economy of two tiers; one for workers and another for political workers.

“A report came out recently which showed what most Mexicans had long suspected – there is almost no social mobility in the country whatsoever. If you are born into poverty the chances are very high that you will die poor too,” a BBC report from Mexico concludes.

Now substitute America for Mexico. Imagine a society sharply divided between the working class and the government class where political connections mean more than any single other factor.

The report begins with the daughter of the Federal Attorney General for Consumer Protection shutting down a restaurant because they wouldn’t give her a seat and ends with two wealthy women abusing a police officer by calling him “asalariado” or “wage earner.”

Asalariado is becoming an insult in the United States. And the irony is that amnesty for illegal aliens may complete the process through which the people who came here looking to find opportunities that didn’t exist in Mexico will turn America into Mexico.

America hardly had any class issues because both the rich and the poor worked. A Carnegie or a Rockefeller might be able to buy and sell a thousand ordinary men, but still started out at the bottom of the ladder and never stopped working. To have proper class issues, you need a permanent leisure class to create that gap between those who work and those who do nothing.

In a dynamic economy, a leisure class is largely unsustainable. Inheriting a pile of money and then doing nothing is not likely to end well. But a dynamic economy depends on social mobility. An oligarchy regulates the economy into an impoverished predictability in which there is hardly any social mobility and a permanent leisure class. Its permanence depends not on the economy, but on its control.

Or to put it another way, suppose you have X millions of dollars to invest. Do you look for undervalued companies with a future or companies with political connections? In a dynamic economy, you invest based on merit. In an oligarchy, you invest based on political connections because the idea or the model are mostly worthless. The economy is divided up into spheres of influence carved out by interests and guilds.

In the age of Obama, a smart strategy is to invest in politically connected companies with bad business models and then get out before they go down. Nothing of worth or value will be created. Instead the wealth will circulate within the oligarchy and pay out profits with money harvested from the Asalariados, the suckers still trying to claw their way up instead of phlegmatically accepting their plight and cashing their government checks.

Eventually either the checks will get smaller or the price of milk will get higher. The Asalariados may look like suckers in the short term, but they’re still getting ahead in the long term. The grasshopper may shop for groceries without checking prices while the ant grits his teeth at the cash register, but when the economic freeze comes, it’s the ant who has the skills to survive.

But the oligarchy is designed to keep the ant from climbing too high. The last time the ants climbed too high, feudalism collapsed and gave way to the free enterprise economy, and most of the thinkers of Europe spent centuries trying to figure out how to put everything back into a neatly controllable natural order with lots of farms and lots of cheerful people working on them without complaint.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/daniel-greenfield/amnesty-the-road-to-nowhere/2013/05/08/

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