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February 27, 2005

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Some bLogs some of you folks may like.

Lebanese politics for beginners, part 1

Syria's Dead End

Good post. I've been wondering what was going on in Nepal.

Nearly random book rec.

I hate to keep bringing this up...but I hope some of you can appreciate how American Christians could have felt when McKinley brought the White Man's Burden into the "darker nations."

There were incredible stories of tribes and regions converting to Christ (oblivious of the fact that they were primarily Roman Catholic colonies). God's working power was spreading because Christian's were taking responsibility of their inheritance on earth. A generation later would realize how naive they had been.

The blowback would spawn stuff like this:
American Imperialism in Latin America

Imperial America

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the United States pursued an aggressive policy of expansionism

List of US actions since 1945 that have been considered imperialistic

-----------------------------
Political Islam will replace the Marxist nationalism of Latin American poor and isolated.

That should read:

"Political Islam will be to the ME what Socialist Nationalism was to Latin America"

(my word software is corrupted, so I don't do as much editing)

Political Islam will replace the Marxist nationalism of Latin American poor and isolated.

This is well beyond my beat but I don't think it's that straightforward. Marxist nationalism is explicitly areligious -- leaving aside for the moment that in many ways it's implicitly a religion unto itself -- so the journey from Catholic/Muslim/Buddhist to Marxist-nationalist is a fairly short one. [This is especially true in SE Asia where religions have been bashing into each other for centuries.] However, given the extent of Latin America's Catholicism and the thousand-year enmity between Christianity and Islam, I suspect that political Islam (maybe Islamic-nationalism?) will find it much harder to take root.

The time to watch, I'd guess, would be during the election of the new Pope (it's only a matter of time, Giblets!) and the first year of his "reign". If he makes the appropriate conciliatory noises towards poverty and equality, I'd say Islamic nationalism is unlikely to take root in Latin America; if he starts pulling a more hardline, "conservative" stance I'd guess the dispossessed might seek succor elsewhere.

I'm going to stop now and pray Randy Paul comes along to avoid me humiliating myself any further.

...and since we xposted and I missed your clarification, Neodude, yes, I suspect your new formulation is correct.

Liberation Theology was huge in the Third World and bridged some sectarian leftist groups and parishes.

Political Islam, I think, will dominate elections and anti-colonial movements.

I hope the various Leftist groups can offset that, if they survive the political process.

sorry, didn't mean to hi-jack the thread. will mellow.

As to the posts above: you can go further back than that. There is a striking similarity between the Bush Doctrine and Francisco de Vittoria's explanations for why Spain's conquest of Latin America is justified under international law.

But for once I want to NOT look at this through the lens of Iraq and the Bush doctrine. There have been some hopeful things happening lately, and I'm interested in what the U.S. can do to encourage them in countries we don't invade.

Rice's cancelled Egypt trip is one example, and seems to have been at least partly effective. Good for her. (BTW, that's the second time I've said that in 24 hours--the other reason being the treaty with Russia over nuclear materials. It's hard to know who's responsible for what decisions internally, obviously, but maybe she'll be a better Sec. of State than N.S.A.)

Here's an example, via Chez Nadezhda, where the U.S. democracy-promotion efforts may have been much less effective:

for a long time i've been meaning to write-up a comparative analysis of Arabic language Radio Sawa and its Persian language twin Radio Farda, both of which are U.S. backed and U.S funded, and both were created as the cultural arm of U.S. expansionism in West Asia. (The Iran Democracy Act explicitly articulates this role of Radio Farda; and see this story in the Washington Post about the failures of Radio Sawa to promote "pro-American attitudes, according to a draft report prepared by the State Department's inspector general".)....

Anyway, i just heard radio farda announce this week's question which is something like: is the government right in trying to control weblogs?

This question, of course, is alluding to the Iranian regime's crack down on bloggers and comes on the heels of the stunning 14 year sentence that blogger Arash Cigarchi received .

Radio Farda, it would seem, is concerned to bring attention to the plight of this and other embattled bloggers in iran. it is all about the safety and protection of iranians right?

nope, not so fast.....

It was this same radio Farda who, irresponsibly and without accountability, exposed cigarchi's name in what was supposed to be an anonymous interview. Cigarachi himself accused radio farda in a letter he wrote following his summons to court. The letter is posted here and is in Persian. I will cut and paste some relevant portions here as well as a quick translation below it for non-Persian speakers.

here is the original text:
[omitted as I assume none of us can read Persian. --K]

my quick translation:

"in truth the biggest portion of the accusations against me pertained to Radio Farda. You will be interested to know that some of it had to also do with the sounds broadcast during the time of my interview. I was doing the interview with a pen name and then suddenly they would announce that were doing an interview with Arash Cigarchi. Believe me I placed no hope in them [radio farda] and I still dont...I don't expect anything from radio stations but it might not be a bad idea if a movement developed that familiarized them with their responsibilities to those of us who face a thousand dangers in Iran."[emphasis added--K]

It seems that in their haste to bring "freedom and democracy" to Iran, Radio Farda, like their benefactors in the State Department, end up endangering and undermining the very people who are capable of bringing about real change in their own societies.

I can't vouch for the accuracy of that, but I did find some news stories consistent with it.

From the Independent:

Mr Sigarchi is said by authorities to be a paid employee of Farda radio, a US-funded station based in Prague. Hardliners in Iran accuse the network of seeking to incite public unrest and destabilise the ruling Islamic establishment.

From a press release from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, which operates Radio Farda:

Iranian weblogger and journalist Arash Sigarchi, who has been interviewed by Radio Farda, a U.S.-financed radio station broadcasting in Persian to Iran, was sentenced to 14 years in prison on February 22 by a revolutionary tribunal in Gilan, northern Iran. The tribunal falsely accused him of working for Radio Farda.

An Indian newspaper reports that "In the days before his arrest Mr Sigarchi gave interviews to the BBC Persian Service and the US-funded Radio Farda." Other sources, including Agence France Presse, have made similar reports but been less specific about the timing of these interviews.

(Before I continue I should link to the Committee to Protect Bloggers, which is working to call attention to the unjust imprisonment of Sigarchi and another Iranian blogger, Mojtaba Saminejad. This is all over the right-of-center blogosphere right now but leftish blogs seem less aware of it.

(It had better just be lack of awareness that's keeping more left of center weblogs from writing about this--I don't want to invade Iran either, and I find it odd to be on the same side as Michelle Malkin and Charles Johnson too, but if any issue ought to unite bloggers it ought to be that people shouldn't be thrown in jail and tortured (

I remain skeptical, but optimistic.

I feel just the hints of the ME and Rim nations drifting back into another new version of the Great Power,Great Game with the EU, USA, Russia, and the new economic player China slowly trying to gain influence on their borders and interests.

oops, I thought I pressed preview but I guess I pressed post. Continuing:

(Human Rights Watch has reported that Saminejad "was initially detained on November 1 and held for 88 days in solitary confinement, where he was tortured." If there is anything that ought to unite bloggers, it is that people should not be thrown in jail and tortured for writing weblogs.)

Anyway, if Radio Farda really was partly responsible for Sagarchi's arrest, it's an especially egregious example of a depressing trend: in general, the U.S.-funded radio and TV stations in the Middle East don't do a good job at all. Read this Washington Post article on Radio Sawa, or this comparison of Al Hurra, Al Jazeera, and Al Arabiya on Abu Aardvark or this rant on Al Hurra (scroll down--and yes, I obviously don't agree with the comparison of Fox News and the Hezbollah station but the complaints about Al Hurra seemed worth reading.)

If we are to convince Muslims and Arabs that we mean it about supporting democracy and a free press--I think it is time that we show, and not merely tell. If we sponsor stations, they ought to be in Arabic, preferably spoken with an accent that will not alienate viewers. They ought to do as much serious news coverage as Al Jazeera, not spend their time on pop music and tree snakes. And they ought to be critical of and report stories that reflect badly on the United States and its allies, when we deserve it and the stories are true and important. There's an old lawyers' cliche: "If the law is on your side, pound on the law. If the facts on your side, pound on the facts. If neither is on your side, pound the table." In the Middle East the facts are, if not completely on our side, then much more so than most Arabs and Muslims believe. No need to pound the table or change the subject.

But I suspect that a U.S.-run Arabic station will be dismissed as American propaganda to some extent no matter how well it does its job. So another possibility worth exploring is seeing what we can do to support journalists and dissidents and bloggers without financial support that might compromise their perceived independence, and how private citizens or non-profits can do this instead of the U.S. government.

Blogs don't have the reach of TV or radio, but they obviously have the lowest start-up costs and barriers to entry. The clear, honest voice of a real person from your own country may have more effect than any American station broadcasting from Prague ever could. And you can blog under a pseudonym, and win credibility through what you write.

I am technically useless. But there must be technology we--we the U.S. government or we the geeks of the U.S. blogosphere--could help develop that could make life easier for a weblogger in Iran or Syria or Egypt or any other unfree country. Technology that:
--makes it harder to trace a pseudonymous weblog to an I.P. address or an individual.
--makes a site harder for the government to block
--backs up and archives a weblog's content somewhere beyond the reach of the Iranian (or whichever) government, so that it could be saved and re-posted after the site is shut down
--translates from English to their own language and back again
--works well even on a lousy web connection

I don't know to what extent those things are technically feasible--I know translating software works poorly even when going from English to Spanish, e.g. and it must be 100x harder with Arabic or Persian. And in some cases, non-high-tech solutions could work as a stopgap or as well or better than high-tech solutions. I doubt any translating software will ever work as well as a person fluent in both languages, for example. And emailing back and forth between bloggers in the West and in Iran, Uzbekistan, etc. could do a lot of work to provide backup of weblog content in case a site is shut down or blocked, and to protect bloggers' anonymity.

It seems like this would do more to help bloggers than any number of letter-writing and press campaigns (not to denigrate letter-writing and press campaigns).

Obviously, the language barrier is just an enormous problem.

If there is anything that ought to unite bloggers, it is that people should not be thrown in jail and tortured for writing weblogs.

You have more faith in bloggers than I do.

also relevant and also via the chez nadezhda/liberals against terrorism crew (praktike this time): this interview with a Ukrainian activist.

As praktike said, "These things don't just happen magically, folks."

Katherine: If we are to convince Muslims and Arabs that we mean it about supporting democracy and a free press--I think it is time that we show, and not merely tell.

I agree. But if by "we" you mean the US, it's going to remain unconvincing so long the US bans Al-Jazeera from reporting in Iraq.

I guess I'm a bad person, but I'm not any more upset that Iran is jailing bloggers than that it's jailing journalists, demonstrators, etc. It's all of a piece.

Anderson--Could you really possibly have believed that's what I meant? I think I have earned at least a little good faith.

There's obviously no moral distinction in what the Iranian regime is doing. There may be a distiction in Western bloggers' interest and capacity to help, for four reasons:

1) people tend to be most concerned about human rights abuses of people with whom they have more in common. This may be immoral but it's so close to universal that I think we might as well take it as given. And concern for the person with whom you share a religion, ethnicity, avocation, etc. sometimes gets extended to concern for people who have less in common with you. The Canadian reaction to the Maher Arar case has led to widespread awareness of and opposition to extraoardinary rendition, even in cases where Canadians are not directly effected. The Sudan first drew the interest of evangelical Christians in America because the government was persecuting Christians. As a result, the same groups are working to try to end the slaughter in Darfur, even though in Darfur Arab Muslims are mainly killing black Muslims.

2) for better or worse, stories about blogging are currently very trendy.

3) the professional press is more likely to pay attention to bloggers talking about jailed bloggers than bloggers talking about jailed reporters or protesters.

4) then there's the whole technological issue I mentioned above.

sorry, the first line was unclear. When I said, "I think I have earned at least a little good faith" I did not mean to accuse you of bad faith--I was asking that you assume good faith on my part. "I think I have earned at least some assumption of good faith" is what I should have said.

one last thing on Sigarchi and Saminejad: please see this bleg I posted. (Sebastian and Charles--if I remember correctly Pejman Yousefzadeh posts on RedState with you. Does he speak Farsi, and if so do you think he would be interested in this?)

Political Islam will be to the ME what Socialist Nationalism was to Latin America

I take issue that our "imperialism" will result in the growth of Political Islam. I think just the opposite will occur. From the most recent inaugural address:

There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment and expose the pretensions of tyrants and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant. And that is the force of human freedom.
To me, encouraging the nations of the world to pursue freedom is the opposite of imperialism because this path allows for true self determination of the people.

I have more faith in the historical record concerning indigenous political movements...as long as the Westerners, more specifically, the Americans, are the ones talking democracy and freedom, it will be heard by "family-values" type folks, in the ME, as an alien and foriegn attempt at colonialization.

If the grassroots/masses hear political Islam speaking their language and their interpretaion conserning their place in history...words like "freedom and democracy and liberty" will appear to be secular liberal elitist values (how ironic is that) too weak to deal with the real world of the ME.

And most of the masses of Islam believe the West resents them for their oil and hates Islam because of its Truth. The Cold War destroyed many secular parties of the ME because they were so leftist. Which meant, also, destroying a grass-roots movement that believed in the Enlightenment. In their place came radical Islam.

More radical Islamic groups provide the social needs families need to survive. How many pro-Western, pro-Market political parties, in the ME do that?

How would the average Red-Stater act if they were invaded by a foriegn and alien culture that told them Christianity and the rest of the culture was sick and anti-Socialist and must be reformed?

Before the Iraq war millions of people marched in protest....and were ignored!

Governments brushed aside the voices of millions inside their own countries while America ignored the millions of free voices and did deals with the governments that supported their position. And here we have bloggers (who may or may not be getting paid by America) getting lauded as the true voice of the people and Americans are jumping through hoops to try and make their voices heard. Oh the irony.

Governments brushed aside the voices of millions inside their own countries while America ignored the millions of free voices and did deals with the governments that supported their position.

You are being silly. You can't just march and get your way. The way democracy works is that we have elections.

You are being silly. You can't just march and get your way. The way democracy works is that we have elections.

That's your message to Iranians, too, then, Stan? Their last elections weren't even as close as Bush-Kerry....

That's your message to Iranians, too, then, Stan? Their last elections weren't even as close as Bush-Kerry....

You're assuming those Iranian elections actually reflected the will of the people, Nell. Not when the mullahs can arbitrarily pull any candidate they feel doesn't toe the theocratic line. Not when Iran is ranked "not free" in terms of civil liberties and political rights. Elections and freedom aren't the same thing. Saddam's last election wasn't close either, but no one can reasonably say that Saddam was truly the peoples' choice.

How would the average Red-Stater act if they were invaded by a foriegn and alien culture that told them Christianity and the rest of the culture was sick and anti-Socialist and must be reformed?

Chock full of presumptions and straw men, Neo. Ask the Afghanis and the Iraqis how they feel about representative government and free and fair elections. I don't know of anyone in the Bush administration who has said that Muslim-majority nations that Islam and Islamic culture are "sick". The people living under those repressive regimes already know that their governments must be reformed. This isn't about imperialism or colonialism.

America listens to the voices that say what it wants to hear. Like Chalabi. Explain why millions of voices were wrong and deluded but America will claim that some voices (even though they are small in number) are speaking the truth.

America listened to the Iraqis who told them what they wanted to hear and that's what it's all about isn't it. You want to hear from pro American Iranians while the anti-americans will be given as much credibility as the anti-war protesters.

Iranians have to know what price America demands in support for their freedom but we won't know and neither will they. In another thread someone suggested denying Syria Iraqi oil as a punishment. Do the Iranians know that Americans idea of freedom means that the Americans get to decide who they sell their oil to?? America might not claim that right publically but I bet you many Americans believe they have earned that right.

Isn't that what it's really about, controlling oil supplies. Is America more worried about Chinese/Iranian oil deals than Iran locking up bloggers, especially considering America feels it has the right to pick up people from other countries and lock them up indefinitely on a suspicion. What's the difference between Iran fearing a military attack locking up people who they fear support it and Americans locking up people they think support an attack on them? During the Afghan and Iraq war there were locals who had sat phones to give information to the Americans. The problem with America's aggressive prowar stance is that anyone who supports America can justifiably be seen as a traitor, wouldn't America feel the same if some country were threatening to attack them.

Like I said, America listens and deals with governments that co-operate with them and will happily ignore the voice of the people if it suits them. It's hardly a celebration of genuine freedom if you only listen to the voices that say want you want to hear.

Melissa,

Interesting comment. As an American I can only say that we seem to be hearing you right now! We seem to have heard your complaining for the last 4 years. You weren't ignored. We chose different paths.

"Like I said, America listens and deals with governments that co-operate with them and will happily ignore the voice of the people if it suits them."

To recap: I heard you. The American government has heard you. We may disagree with you. But, you were not ignored.

.

Katherine is possibly the very last blogger in the world I would accuse of "bad faith"; witness only her steadfast activity against American torture-by-proxy.

I see that I should apologize for implying that my observation was a dig at K. in particular; rather, I'd seen the "bloggers in peril" message many places around the web, & K.'s comments were the threshold at which I mused out loud as to why repression of bloggers in particular should seem especially remarkable. To wicked regimes, any free expression is anathema.

That said, my observation wasn't that necessary in the first place; again, mea culpa.

To recap: I heard you. The American government has heard you. We may disagree with you. But, you were not ignored.

Does a quotation from President Bush about "focus groups" ring any bells?

Bird,

How many families who have lost loved ones to callateral damage, appreciate their loved ones being sacrificed for a political theory they never signed onto?

Millions of humans have a sense of justice, in spite of the United States' declorations consernig "freedom, liberty, democracy." These notions have existed outside of any Western notion of political theory.

How many times do you find democracy & liberty, in the Bible?

Anderson--no problem at all. Garden variety misunderstanding. Sorry I took it the wrong way.

One country I'm worried we might have to put in the minus column soon is Mexico. Fox seems really shaky, and the PRI is reorganizing. I know there have been some anti-corruption successes, but I see less and less reason for optimism about real reform.

And of course I blame Bush for not carrying through on his early-term promises to support Fox, but then...

Nell Lancaster ,

That's your message to Iranians, too, then, Stan? Their last elections weren't even as close as Bush-Kerry....

Doesn't look like you actually read the post I've been responding to.

Do the Iranians know that Americans idea of freedom means that the Americans get to decide who they sell their oil to??

The Iraqi government sells the oil to Syria, not the Americans, Melissa. In either case, it's another straw man argument since deciding who buys oil is not a measure of freedom for Americans. There's no mention of oil in the Bill of Rights. As for listening to only the voices we want to hear, why is Jaafari prime minister and not Chalabi? We hear unpleasant noises from those who are against American interests all the time.

How many families who have lost loved ones to callateral damage, appreciate their loved ones being sacrificed for a political theory they never signed onto?

Those same families, plus millions of others, never signed on to Saddam's tyrannical rule either, Neo. Now they all have the freedom to choose.

Millions of humans have a sense of justice, in spite of the United States' declorations consernig "freedom, liberty, democracy." These notions have existed outside of any Western notion of political theory.

On a personal level, your "sense of justice" argument is true. On a governmental level, the fact is that the best vehicle for protecting citizens' rights is a representative government that codifies and upholds those rights.

How many times do you find democracy & liberty, in the Bible?

Many times, in the form of free will.

Charles,

Like it or not, the political theories conserning representative government, you are willing to kill over, are not absolute.

On a governmental level, the fact is that the best vehicle for protecting citizens' rights is a representative government that codifies and upholds those rights.

Where in that statement, are you allowed to begin slaughtering other human beings because they had a political leader you no longer had any use for?

How many times is free will mentioned in scripture? Many Calvinist died because they never found the myth of free will in their texts.

I'm begining to believe you were seduced by a political leader and you are finding excuses for your devotion after the chaos. I think its called "Battered Wife Syndrome" in its poltical form.

Those same families, plus millions of others, never signed on to Saddam's tyrannical rule either, Neo. Now they all have the freedom to choose.

Noble sentiment and all but you've omitted the crux: freedom to choose what? And are they really as free in their choices as you say?

And are they really as free in their choices as you say?

This is the crux of my ambivalence toward the bringing-democracy-to-the-Middle-East post-hoc rationale: who in the hell knows if, given an opportunity for democracy, Iraq will actually choose it? We're not going to know if this particular goal (whether it was planned this way or after-the-fact) will be realized for years, even if things are headed in the right direction right now.

Where in that statement, are you allowed to begin slaughtering other human beings because they had a political leader you no longer had any use for?

Moving from straw man to straw groups. Saddam was removed because, rightly or wrongly, he was deemed a threat to U.S. national security. The Taliban was removed for the same reason. It is only reasonable that, after removal of these dictatorships, that if a new government be formed, it should be one that is free and democratic, since free representative republics do not war against each other.

How many times is free will mentioned in scripture?

Let's not play word search games. From Genesis to Revelations, humanity has always been given the gift of choice.

Charles Bird,

I really hate to accuse you of taking liberties with scripture. However, that is exactly what you are doing.

You have faith that free will exists some where in scripture. You don't know where, or how to justify it, but it fits the current political climate, so its there anyway. You may not know nothing conserning actual existance, but its a Ghost of absolute and assured morality within scripture and this faith justifies killing hundreds of thousand Iraqis?

It's not a word game...there are specific codes of morality within scripture. Where is free will? And after establishing its existence, how do you jump to killing, rape, theft as long as it is coupled with the rhetoric of responsible government, could be considered "moral"?

You are really hoping that scripture will justify your immoral behavior in persuit of other peoples geo-political schemes. Like saying, "David commited adultury. So adultury is really a moral action to make you a better Christian."

Charles,
I tried to post on the free will idea earlier, but when the internet ate my post, I figured it was probably for the best.

Since you've reposted on the idea, I get another chance, though.

There are a lot of entries in my compendium under "will" and "agency," but almost ALL of them reference passages about "the will of God." Two notable exceptions, where God speaks directly about humans' freedom of choice, occur in Genesis: right before the fruit-eating incident and right before the brother-murdering incident. Not comforting, from a narrative point of view.

American Protestant exegesis of the Bible traditionally emphasizes agency (you should see the LDS texts!), but there are other ways to go with it. Jonathan Edwards's image of humans as powerless in the hand of a wrathful God; Catholics reading original sin as ontological; Presbyterian tendencies towards predestination...

And on that last, I really recommend the Scottish gothic novel, Confessions of a Justified Sinner, a weird theological thriller from the 1830s.

Neodude, your 1pm comment to Charles seems pretty close to the edge.

OT:

(Please forgive the horrible sentence structure and spelling. I have been a slave to WORD software. WORD would place some boundries around my brutality toward the english language.)

OT:

Jackmormon,

Is LDS part of the Anabatist tradition?

And was de Quincey's Confessions a play off of Confessions of a Justified Sinner?

"...since free representative republics do not war against each other."

Darn good thing the American Civil War never happened in this timeline.

I've always found this a dubious predictive meme. Peoples, democratic or otherwise, seem to find no end or reason to war with each other in wars that are popular at least for a time. The precise mechanism of their support seems irrelevant. But, then, I'm sure the ancient Greeks also never went to war.

Neodude,

The LDS church doesn't self-identify as part of the Anabaptist tradition, but after refreshing my memory at Wikipedia, I'd have to say that it looks about right. The age of consent: 8 (for baptism and confirmation); converts are rebaptized, even if they've had an infant baptism. The Wiki article also points to a latent anti-trinitarian strand of Anabaptism, which interested me, as I'd thought that LDS was fairly exceptional in ditching the trinity.

De Quincey's Confessions were first published in 1829; James Hogg's in, I think, 1832 or 1833. Both were inspired by Rousseau, but De Quincey's definitely came first (and it was by far the bigger hit).

Gary,
I agree with your skepticism. People have been far too excited about this idea, and of course about Thomas Friedman's "McDonalds" maxim. Correlation, not causation, past returns vs. future results, and all that. And while one can quibble about the US South not really being free and representative, or about WW1 Germany, etc., the necessary qualifiers make the historical evidence for even the correlation look pretty shaky.

Neodude, your 1pm comment to Charles seems pretty close to the edge.

Do you mean rude?

I apologize.

as I'd thought that LDS was fairly exceptional in ditching the trinity.

There is no real Pentecostal doctrine, however the trinity is never really emphasized as an article of faith, like other denominations.

Oh, and Biblical Unitarians, pretty ditched the trinity.

"...and of course about Thomas Friedman's 'McDonalds' maxim."

That one fell out of reality when our bombs hit Belgrade.

You don't know where, or how to justify it, but it fits the current political climate, so its there anyway.

This is Carnak Award territory, Neo.

You may not know nothing conserning actual existance, but its a Ghost of absolute and assured morality within scripture and this faith justifies killing hundreds of thousand Iraqis?

Let's be clear. First, if the sole purpose for removing Saddam was to install democratic governance, I would've opposed the war since there are so many other nations that are less free. Second, I dispute the numbers, that "hundreds of thousands" of Iraqis were killed. As for free will, if there were none, then we wouldn't be reading about all of the characters in the Old and New Testaments who chose to disobey God and the commandments. From the moment Eve was fooled by the serpent, humans have been given the free will to choose their paths.

neodude, I've got to run, so I won't go much into it. But for Mormons, Christ is literally the son of god and a separate person. The Unitarians see him as a historical person, a great teacher. The mormon line is three entities, one purpose. They explicitly diverge from the Nicean creed.

Darn good thing the American Civil War never happened in this timeline.

Gary, note that I said free representative republics. I'm sure a large segment of blacks in the American south would contend that the Confederacy was not one of those nations in the free category. Same goes for the Balkans.

"Gary, note that I said free representative republics. I'm sure a large segment of blacks in the American south would contend that the Confederacy was not one of those nations in the free category. Same goes for the Balkans."

Of course, the entire justification for the Southern Cause was that they were preserving their liberty as free men (their freedom to hold slaves, that is, no matter that it wasn't particularly threatened by the Federal Government, anyway, but I digress).

But, regardless, I don't see what difference is made in the proposition by whether the the democracy involved holds slaves or oppresses some of the people within their borders. I'm not saying there is no difference, but perhaps you can explain it to me? It's not obvious to me on the face of it.

What's the reasoning that's behind flatly declaring that it's impossible for democracies to war with each other? So far as I can see, at best this form of government arguably provides some restraints on going to war with another democracy, but nothing stronger.

The whole thing reminds me of the common wisdom in the immediate pre-World War I period that a World-type War, a fairly European-wide War, because of the economic globalization that had taken place between Europe and much of the world, rendered the countries so economically interdependent that such a war was, as everyone knows, impossible. Any such war must necessarily be limited and quick, because no country could afford to commit economic suicide.

And yet they did.

I put both theories under the "nice idea" category.

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