Posts tagged ‘Monarchies’

05/07/2012

France: What Socialist Win Means

FRANCE NOW SOCIALIST: While Republican strategists in the U.S. totally distort the meaning of the word “socialist” by claiming President Obama has become one, since he signed a bill that preserved capitalism, by placing private sector insurance companies, instead of the government, in control of America’s health care system, French voters are not that gullible, and they were not at all confused last week when they elected Francois Hollande, the Socialist Party candidate, to be their next President.

U.S. CONFUSION: Many in the U.S. confuse the meaning of political and economic systems. Political systems can range from monarchy, or dictatorship, on the one extreme, to democracy, or Republican forms of government on the other. Economic systems include pure free market capitalism, on one hand, socialism in the middle, and communism on the other end of the spectrum.

POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC SYSTEMS CAN BE MIXED: Countries are free to mix together different types of economic and political systems. Saudi Arabia has a dictatorial monarchy, coupled with a capitalist economic model. The one-party dictatorship in North Korea functions within a communist framework. Voters in the U.S. democracy lean towards more capitalism and less socialism, while those in other republics, like France, are now opting for more socialism, and less capitalism.

U.S. REQUIRES ONLY DEMOCRACY: The U.S. Constitution requires only a Republican form of government, or in other words, a democratic electoral process. The Constitution makes no mention of “capitalism” or “free markets.” U.S. House members and Senators are free to implement whatever regulations of commerce they wish, using more or less capitalism, or socialism.

SOCIALISM BEGAN IN EUROPE: After the first Socialist Party was founded in Germany in 1861, over time it gained popular support throughout Europe. While progress was made in the Russian Revolution in 1917, as the absolute monarchy of the Czar was overthrown, the movement went too far in the civil war, as a harsh dictatorial communist state gained control. Socialists, who had supported personal liberties and regular democratic elections, had no place in Stalin’s Soviet Union.

DICTATORSHIPS ARE PER SE BAD: To be clear, no country should ever return to the old Stalinist communist model, as it was dictatorial, and denied opportunities to modify economic policies in the market, or through the ballot box. One way or another, individuals had to be free to influence politics and economics.

CONTROLLED-ECONOMIES FAIL ON SUPPLY-SIDE: When government-controlled command economies decide what goods to manufacture, and determine supply, without regard to consumer demand, systems become dysfunction, shortages arise, and black markets develop. If central planners fail to open up enough retail outlets, service declines from the absence of competition.

CAPITALISM PREFERRED AS TO RETAIL GOODS: Supply should never be determined from the top down, but rather from the bottom up. It should be based on the collective demands of consumers, not guesses by bureaucratic planners. Market economies are useful when it comes to boots, blue jeans, and other goods. It is the bottom up message that creates efficiencies.

UNREGULATED CAPITALISTS TEND TO MONOPOLIZE: The government does however have an important role to play in free enterprise, particularly in maintaining competition, which is essential for the system to work. Total free market capitalists, when completely left to their own devices, ultimately devour their own. Where power concentrates, firms get too big to fail, and governments must step in with antitrust laws to bust them up. Without antitrust actions one corporation in each economic sector ultimately dominates, eliminates all competition, and the same inefficiencies observed in command economies surface.

UNREGULATED CAPITALISTS WOULD ABUSE LABOR: Without regulatory laws, workers in a pure free market economy would serve at the whim of their employers. There would be no collective bargaining, no occupational health or safety rules, wages would have no floor, and injured or laid-off workers would go uncompensated. There would be no pensions, or retirement for that matter, since everyone would just keep working.

UNREGULATED CAPITALISTS WOULD POLLUTE: Without restraints on a totally free market economy, factories would be able to dump polluted water into rivers, and motor vehicles would belch noxious exhaust fumes into the atmosphere, unabated.

SOCIAL DEMOCRATS HAVE ENACTED GOOD LAWS: Laws to improve living conditions and to give individuals some degree of security against unemployment, accident, illness, old-age, and the like were needed, and have been enacted by state legislatures using their police powers, and by the federal lawmakers under the Congressional power to regulate commerce.

SOCIALISM IS BETTER FOR ESSENTIAL SERVICES: While the free market is better when it comes to consumer goods, the pure capitalist system has many flaws in the delivery of essential services, since it does not concern itself with equitable distributions of wealth. Many people suffer when the government stays out and gives private enterprise a free hand as to everything. A system in which only those who can afford essential services can buy them, and those who cannot go without, is not a good one, and is prone towards revolution. While pure capitalists believe government should never interfere in economic affairs, no matter how much disparity exists, Social Democrats have made the world a better place, and it could be improved even more, if more nations would follow the French lead.

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06/20/2011

Saudi Arabia: Women Need Equal Rights

After the men of Saudi Arabia were recently ordered by their king to drive tanks into neighboring Bahrain to crush a pro-democracy uprising, a counterattack of sorts was launched last week when the Saudi women courageously took to the streets and drove cars in violation of a sexist law that bars them from operating vehicles.

Although the protest occurred in Saudi Arabia, discrimination against women pervades the entire Persian Gulf. I saw a sign at a hotel swimming pool in Dubai, United Arab Emirates that said women could use the pool between 1:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. only. A Ponderosa Steak House in Doha, Qatar, had one entryway for men and another for women and families. As I walked through the wrong door, not noticing the warning, the waiter escorted me to the correct section for men. Throughout the Persian Gulf, where temperatures can rise to 106 F in the shade, men wear comfortable white cotton with their faces exposed, while women dress like nuns in hot black robes, with everything covered but their eyes.

Saudi Arabia’s Stone Age policy of limiting the use of vehicles to men, and other such Persian Gulf practices, are due to a lack of a representative democracy, where women are excluded from the process, a mix of church and state, and geographical isolation.

Undemocratic monarchies, like the Saudi Arabian kingdom, should be overthrown. Voices on Wall Street and in the Pentagon, who fear change in the region, should be ignored. While markets may momentary get the jitters, during a transition away from a monarch, a democratic leader will certainly continue the sale of oil and there will be no long-term disruption in energy supply.

After establishing a republic, the mixing church and state must be addressed. The problem is any form of government in Saudi Arabia will favor Islam, since the Prophet Mohammed was born in Mecca. The only way to guarantee women freedom from backward religious beliefs is to use the tension between the Sunni and Shiite Muslims to guarantee some constitutional rights.

Perhaps the best way to move the isolated Persian Gulf and Saudi Arabian kingdom into the 21st Century is through increased communication. Not all Muslim states live in the Stone Age. Those along the Mediterranean rim, physically closer to Europe, have had a greater exposure to Western values and customs. Until recently, Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf was simply too far away to hear arguments supporting equal rights. With the Internet, the idea of equality is able to spread, and change is now possible.

The West should support democratic movements among our Persian Gulf allies; we should advance the American idea of a separation of church and state, and continue interjecting modern ideas into isolated regions through the Internet and other forms of communication, so someday soon equal rights can be achieved.

05/23/2011

Obama’s Historic Mideast Speech

President Obama delivered a historic speech on May 19, 2011, in which he first addressed the two wars President Bush started, by saying 100,000 troops have already returned from Iraq, and U.S. soldiers and will soon be coming home from Afghanistan.

Obama next referred to the peaceful changes in Tunisia and Egypt, during the Arab Spring, and the ongoing revolts in Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Bahrain. He reaffirmed U.S. support for self-determination, the freedoms of speech and religion, peaceful assembly, equality for men and women, and voting rights. He said journalists must be respected, and an open Internet access must be allowed, since legitimate democracy needs an informed citizenry.

Obama condemned Libya’s Col. Qaddafi for launching a war against his own people; advised Syria’s Assad to stop shooting at demonstrators; and asked President Saleh of Yemen to follow through on his commitment to transfer power.

While Obama reasserted a U.S. commitment to Bahraini security, he boldly admonished the royal family for using brute force, making mass arrests of Shiites, and for destroying their Mosques. He told them to release political prisoners and engage in dialogue.

Finally, Obama showed great courage, as he suggested that Israel stop building illegal settlements, and end their longstanding occupation of Palestine, by withdrawing to the pre-1967 borders.

In his historic speech, Obama lamented: “The world looks at a conflict that has grinded on and on, and sees nothing but stalemate…The international community is tired of an endless process that never produces an outcome… The status quo is unsustainable, and Israel too must act boldly to advance a lasting peace…Endless delay won’t make the problem go away.”

Obama told Israel and the world, the Palestinians have suffered “the humiliation of occupation,” and have not lived “in a nation of their own…The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their full potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.” Obama noted “Israeli settlement activity continues,” as he bravely suggested the coordination of a “full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces…”

Obama simultaneously warned the Palestinians they will never realize independence by denying the right of Israel to exist, as he said: “Our commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable.”

Obama correctly concluded a lasting peace will involve two states, Israel, as a Jewish state, and Palestine, as the homeland for the Palestinians. This is almost exactly what the UN has been saying for 44 years: “The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines, with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.”

During the past 44 years of violence, Israel has illegally occupied Palestine, and it’s about time a strong American President directly suggested giving peace a chance by retreating to the 1967 borders. It is not only the right solution, it’s the only one that has a chance.

05/09/2011

Morocco: Sultans, Sahara & Insurgents

The news reported a bomb blast at a café in Marrakech, Morocco that killed 14, and wounded 23. Although the perpetrators are not known, the bombing could be in protest of the monarchy, linked to the Western Sahara, or part of the Insurgency in the Maghreb.

A monarchy has ruled Morocco since independence (1956). Sultan Mohammed V held the throne (1957), followed by his son, King Hassan (1961). After he survived two assassination attempts (1971-72), his son, Mohammed VI, took over (1999-now).

During the recent Arab Spring (2011), Mohammed VI pledged reform, but refused to step down, or install a republic. Whether or not the recent bombing was specifically directed at the king, he should now abdicate in favor of a republican form of government.

The recent bombing could also be related to Western Sahara, a territory south of Morocco, previously governed by colonial Spain. After the UN called upon Spain to allow a vote on self-determination (1966), the Spanish instead set the area free (1975). After both Morocco and Mauritania seized Western Sahara, Mauritania gave it up, and Morocco gained sole control (1979).

The International Court of Justice gave an advisory opinion as to Western Sahara (1975), saying the people there favored independence, and though there was a historic legal tie to Morocco, they had an overriding right to self-determination.

Guerillas in Western Sahara, formed a Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), which has since been recognized by 81 UN states, and the African Union. SADR fought Morocco, in the Western Sahara War (1975-91), until a ceasefire was monitored by a UN Mission for a Referendum in Western Sahara (1991).

Although the vote as to whether Western Sahara would become independent, or be integrated with Morocco, was set for 1992, Morocco never permitted it. Morocco should now finally allow a vote and eliminate this possible cause for domestic violence.

The third source of the recent bombing could be the Islamist Insurgency in the Maghreb (northwest Africa), which started in 2002. It includes a Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group. Since the insurgency started, there were a series of suicide bombings in Casablanca (2003), a second set of Casablanca bombings (2007), and now a deadly bombing in Marrakech (2011).

Morocco needs to work on all three issues. First, it should deal with the things it can control, and then tackle the more difficult issues. Morocco should: 1) eliminate the monarchy and replace it with a republic; 2) solve the lingering issues regarding Western Sahara, by allowing a self-determination vote; and 3) deal with Islamic groups who have been barred from the political process.

04/19/2011

Iran Is No Threat to Bahrain

When the people in the Bahraini Sheikdom started demanding democratic change, some defended the monarchy, by interjecting a fear factor that Iran was behind the demonstrators. Iran however is not involved, and the world should not be fooled into thinking so. While it is true Bahrain has an old history with Persia (Iran), today, there is no realistic Iranian intervention on the horizon.

Iran and Bahrain are neighboring states in the Persian Gulf. The relatively large state of Iran is on one side of the water body, and the small island-nation of Bahrain is on the other.

Iran first fought for Bahrain, during the Persian-Portuguese War (1507-1622), when Portugal invaded the island and started an occupation (1521). Iran was determined to drive the European intruders from the Persian Gulf, and after 81 years, they did so (1602). They then occupied Bahrain for 180 years, until the current royal family seized control (1782). A British Protectorate was later superimposed upon the Bahraini government (1868).

As Britain was considering Bahraini freedom (1968), the Shah of Iran asserted a right to the island, based on the Persian presence in the colonial years. Iran soon however dropped their claim (1970), as 99% of the UN said Bahrain should become a free state. Since Bahraini independence (1971), Iran has made no further claim.

While democratic majority rule in Bahrain would bring down the Sunni ruling family, because the people are 50% Shiite, and only 40% Sunni, some jump to the conclusion the island would be controlled by Iran, since it is 89% Shiite. That sort of reasoning was used in 1960 against John Kennedy, when some argued, since he was Catholic, he would be controlled by the Pope in Rome.

The best predictor of what would actually happen in the region is to look at the Bahrain history of 103 years of British rule, and the presence of the U.S. 5th Fleet for the past 40 years. While Bahrain has allowed years of western influence, Iran has never welcomed a colonial power. Moreover, since Iran is ethnically Persian, and Bahrainis are Arab (73%), it not at all likely the Arabs will allow the Persians to rule them.

We should unconditionally support democracy for Bahrain, and ignore the bogeyman theory that Iran has been pulling the strings.

03/23/2011

Egypt: Libyan Rebels Need Your Tanks

A recent UN Resolution authorized intervention in Libya to protect the civilian population from Qaddafi. Since Qaddafi is an ongoing threat to those in the civilian population who oppose him, the only way to protect the people is to remove Qaddafi.

While the western states appear to willing to use air power to protect Libyan civilians, this alone will not work. The conflict will not end, until Qaddafi is removed, and that will not occur, until a well-equipped land force closes in on Tripoli.

We must start with the reality that Qaddafi will not step down peacefully. He has nowhere to go. He has the ability to remain, because he has oil money. He can purchase military materiel and keep his troops well paid. They will fight the rebels as long and as hard as they can, as their futures are tied to Qaddafi’s.

Force must be used. While targets have already been destroyed from the air, Qaddafi is one step ahead of the attacks. He has been through this before. U.S. planes bombed his residence in 1986 in a failed attempt to assassinate him. For over 25 years, Qaddafi has been looking over his shoulder. He has had time to think about the next bombing campaign. He will not be taken out by air.

The removal of Qaddafi must come on the ground. But who will use troops? The rebels themselves obviously must take the lead, but they are ill-equipped. Who will provide military hardware?

Qatar offered troops to fight Qaddafi, but this was not out of a desire to support democracy. It was instead because they have a monarchy and Qaddafi came to power in 1969 by overthrowing a king. Qatar’s motives are suspect. Their offer should be rejected.

France has a history of fighting Qaddafi. In Libya’s war against the former French colony of Chad (1980s), they sent in troops and planes. Qaddafi would however accuse France of neo-colonialism and the French should not put their boots on the ground.

Italy, Germany and Britain also have military experience in Libya, dating back to World War II. While U.S. troops advanced eastward from Morocco through Algeria into Tunisia, the English 8th Army won the battle at El Alamein in Egypt in 1942 and drove Irwin Rommel, the Desert Fox, and his German and Italian forces, westward through Libya also into Tunisia.

Italy and Germany will not get involved now. Italy has a colonial history in Libya, and if they used troops, Libyans would unite against them. Germany will also stay out. They abstained from the UN Res. and oppose even air strikes, let alone ground forces. With regards to Britain, they have a colonial history in Egypt and would be unable to mount an offensive from Egyptian soil.

This leads us to Egypt. The Egyptian people should identify with the Libyan rebels, as they just got rid of Hosni Mubarak, who ruled for 30 years. Egypt does not have a monarch. They forced their king to abdicate in 1952. Egypt shares the same Sunni Muslim religion with Libya. They could not be accused of conducting a Crusade. They have 79 million people, as compared to only 6.3 million Libyans, and could assemble a volunteer army large enough to help the rebels.

Egypt has military hardware, including tanks, as they are the largest recipient of U.S. aid (after Israel). The Egyptians should drive their tanks to the Libyan border and allow the Libyan rebels to reflag them, using the traditional Libyan symbol. They should then slowly drive the tanks from east to west, along 1,000 miles of Mediterranean coast, past Benghazi, where they would be greeted with support, and on to the shores of Tripoli, for a showdown with Qaddafi. With the barrel of an Egyptian tank pointed at his front door, my guess is Qaddafi would finally step down.

03/14/2011

Bahrain: Oppose Saudi Intervention

Over the past weeks, rebels in Bahrain have been struggling to bring down the royal family in Bahrain. Like most in the Persian Gulf, the people of Bahrain live under the whim of a monarch. Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates also have governments that are able to disregard the will of the people without consequence.

The United States was the first nation in global history to devise a government that had no ruling family. It was an extremely radical idea at the time. The French Revolution soon followed. Unfortunately, several European states, such as the United Kingdom, kept their monarchies. While they later diminished their powers and reduced their roles to figureheads, it would have been much better if they had joined the U.S. and France and completely eliminated them.

As Americans, all of us should support the rebels of Bahrain. Our 5th Fleet is based in Bahrain. If it had been used to help the rebels early on, the people of that country would have loved us for promoting American ideals.

Now, we should all be saddened, that just as the rebels had pushed the royal family back up against the wall, troops from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia arrived to suppress the freedom fighters. Our concern should not be the fate of the 5th Fleet, our focus should be on the principle of freedom. Ask yourself if you would be willing to live under a monarch? If not, support for the rebels of Bahrain by demanding that Saudi Arabia remove their oppressive forces from Bahrain.