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 Is it possible to extend legitimacy too far? 
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OK, I know, and weep about, the foul-ups in Iraq and Afghanistan -but is it possible that the discussions about legitimacy and the arguing for a consensus, in situations like Libya, can sometimes be carried on for too long?

I have this gut feeling the Gaddalfi was playing a light hand early one because he thought he would get an early slapping from the rest of the world. That is consistent with the bully type personality. As time went on and no-one arrived to offer pragmatic assistance to the rebels he became braver and started to fight back.

Now he stands a chance of winning and will make every piece of political capital he can out of his success. Unfortunately Libya produces an fair percentage of the world's oil, and good stuff it is it seems. The censorious west, and allies, will suffer for the lack of this supply, the quiet Chinese will probably gain - the BRIC countries are still on the up-curve.

It is very hard to differentiate between altruistic support of human rights and political/economic national needs - and we are slap bang in the jaws of that dilemma it seems. What makes it worse is spouting words against an autocrat and then allowing inaction to maintain him in power - you have just effectively made an enemy and supported him.

Is age and experience making me reactionary? Possibly so, but there may be times when it seems necessary to go against the rules, and the apparent ethics, to achieve a future that is better.

On the other hand some might say that the sooner we are forced to give up our dependency on fossil fuels the better - even if hundreds of thousands must suffer in the cause before viable alternative energy sources are found for all. And ones that do not involve using much needed agricultural land to grow green energy crops rather than food.
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March 11th, 2011, 8:54 pm
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Dave B wrote:
On the other hand some might say that the sooner we are forced to give up our dependency on fossil fuels the better - even if hundreds of thousands must suffer in the cause before viable alternative energy sources are found for all. And ones that do not involve using much needed agricultural land to grow green energy crops rather than food.


Firmly in the some camp :)
We know peak oil has, or will very soon, be reached. It could be argued that if US/UK etc foreign policy had removed oil from the political equation we wouldn't be where we are now. We wouldn't be in the stupid situation of supporting corrupt and autocratic regimes to ensure our continued dependence on the oil they produce. No suddenly holier-than-thou 'oh yes the citizens must have a democratic choice' as if we know squat about democracy. Where were all these pontificating governments when it was patently clear many producers of black gold treated their citizens like shit? Blinding their eyes to get the gold so they don't face the hard political realisation that oil is finite.

At least France, who some here seem to have an abhorrence for, have recognised the legitimacy of the Libyan rebels.

Personally, disgusted at our politicians goes nowhere near how angry I am... The bed has been made. We reap what we sow. I weep.


March 11th, 2011, 10:54 pm
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Leaving aside the interesting thought of reaping what we have sown in bed.... :wink: , how can we be so sure that Gaddafi's opponents (including the Muslim Brotherhood) are better than Gaddafi? What about Gaddafi's supporters? We in the West don't have a particularly good record at picking good post-repression governments, do we?

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At least France, who some here seem to have an abhorrence for, have recognised the legitimacy of the Libyan rebels.
Once again ploughing their own furrow, without consulting their allies. And what ever happened to the old idea that we shouldn't intervene, no matter how many thousands were being killed, as happened before the 2nd Gulf War...?

I'm not saying we should or we shouldn't. It's a difficult decision, especially if Gaddafi is able to cling onto power, even if there is a no-fly zone, just by machine-gunning his people with his superior fire-power.... Hmmm....

Many moons ago, when I was in the 6th Form at school, I remember being set an examquestion: "What makes a government legitimate?" I'm still trying to work out a good answer....


March 12th, 2011, 2:20 am
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Dave B wrote:
Is age and experience making me reactionary? Possibly so, but there may be times when it seems necessary to go against the rules, and the apparent ethics, to achieve a future that is better.


I have just finished reading Sam Harris - The End of Faith ( I know - it is an old one). He suggests that we may suffer from being too PC and pacifist and that there indeed may be times when we must fight. Gaddafi is a prime example. We should not have sidled up to him years ago and now will pay the price.
As for the dependence on fossil fuels...we need to develop alternates; say I from oil sands country!

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March 12th, 2011, 2:26 am
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Leaving aside the interesting thought of reaping what we have sown in bed.... :wink: , how can we be so sure that Gaddafi's opponents (including the Muslim Brotherhood) are better than Gaddafi? What about Gaddafi's supporters? We in the West don't have a particularly good record at picking good post-repression governments, do we?
That is always part of the danger and has probably been so since the first alliance between two groups was established. History is littered with "allies" who have turned out to be less than loyal! (I wonder if we gained some of our own Empire that way?)

Er, is the Muslim Brotherhood also active in Libya? I do worry about them in Egypt I will admit. I can see the possibility of a repeat of the two Russian Revolutions, yes, two. It was the Boyars, the nobles, who actually deposed the Tsar and wanted to spread the authority out a bit thinner (though, like the Magna Carta, keeping it mainly in their hands). Then, having "gained power" they relaxed a bit too much, may be. In October the Bolsheviks simply walked in, tossed the law books and the old rules into the fire and - being well prepared and well armed in advance - rounded up the decadent Boyars and took over.

So, are the MB simply sitting there waiting for that point of relaxation to slip in through the gaps? Listening to the vast majority of the vox pop that has been broadcast (not a safe thing) most Egyptians just want a country where they feel safe and can carry out their businesses. This is where it differs from the Russian situation, there the masses were effectively owned by the Boyars and subjugated to virtual slave-hood. Thus they were ripe conscripts for the Bolsheviks. In Egypt the MB might find themselves fighting the majority of the people. But then, the Taliban were a small group that had authority (after being supported and armed by the States, oh shit!)

With regards to France. I tend to agree that they will look after their own first and ignore their European responsibilities when it suits them. Some might say all should do the same . . .

I did start thinking about the ethics in starting this thread. Those are still part of the picture but perhaps the thread should be moved to the misc. discussions section?

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March 12th, 2011, 11:29 am
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there's almost too much to respond to here, but Dave, I think if you start a new thread based on a difficult concept like legitimacy, you should have a bash at defining what you are talking about rather than launching into opinion. I think in fact that you could continued the "Egypt etc" thread with your comments rather than starting a new one. More from me later


March 13th, 2011, 9:40 am
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I agree with you, Nick - should have defined my ideas more closely and drifted off course.

Lesson to learn, keep away from forums when you have imbibed in the grape juice!

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March 13th, 2011, 11:32 am
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Re.: Libya
I believe the quickest, cheaper and wiser political move would have been for all (or almost) Countries to recognise the rebels as legitimate interlocutors to the UN/NATO. The move would have clipped Gaddafi wings (both metaphorically and physically), the crisis would have lasted for a limited time and more time could have been spent to look inside the rebels' movement. Let's not forget that some rebels' high chevrons have resigned from the regime because unwilling to fight fellow countrymen!

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March 13th, 2011, 12:24 pm
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Dave B wrote:
I agree with you, Nick - should have defined my ideas more closely and drifted off course.

Lesson to learn, keep away from forums when you have imbibed in the grape juice!

it's me, pedantic animist actually, Dave (so are you still on the juice? :laughter:) If you're like me, a bit of juice does get the ideas flowing as well - at the risk of later regretting what you said!

on the actual issue, I agree with Gottard


March 13th, 2011, 12:30 pm
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Quote:
on the actual issue, I agree with Gottard
One might have thought that would happen when the UN ambassador declared for the rebels.

I often think of trying to draw a logical map of legitimate rebel/illegitimate rebel/autocrat/democrat/enemy/ally/terrorist/freedom fighter . . .

Then I get sensible and put the pencil and paper away. They are whatever the politicians decide from day to day.

Bloody politics :angry:


Yes, still on the sauce. I am a firm believer that a couple of glasses of good red wine, full of anti-oxidants and flavenoids, every week or so do more good than harm, both psychologically and physically.

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March 13th, 2011, 12:51 pm
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Nick wrote:
Leaving aside the interesting thought of reaping what we have sown in bed.... :wink: , how can we be so sure that Gaddafi's opponents (including the Muslim Brotherhood) are better than Gaddafi? What about Gaddafi's supporters? We in the West don't have a particularly good record at picking good post-repression governments, do we?

Quote:
At least France, who some here seem to have an abhorrence for, have recognised the legitimacy of the Libyan rebels.
Once again ploughing their own furrow, without consulting their allies. And what ever happened to the old idea that we shouldn't intervene, no matter how many thousands were being killed, as happened before the 2nd Gulf War...?

I'm not saying we should or we shouldn't. It's a difficult decision, especially if Gaddafi is able to cling onto power, even if there is a no-fly zone, just by machine-gunning his people with his superior fire-power.... Hmmm....

Many moons ago, when I was in the 6th Form at school, I remember being set an examquestion: "What makes a government legitimate?" I'm still trying to work out a good answer....
well I agree with the last comment, but why should we Westerners be "picking" governments that we consider "better" than others? In the Libyan case, Gaddafi never had legitimacy as he came to power in a military coup, and it would be hard to make a case for helping him to remain; whether the rebels can produce a viable government is certainly another matter. You mention Iraq yet again, but is simply not true that thousands were being killed by the regime before the second Gulf War - the killings happened after it was overthrown


March 13th, 2011, 12:53 pm
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animist wrote:
Nick wrote:
Many moons ago, when I was in the 6th Form at school, I remember being set an examquestion: "What makes a government legitimate?" I'm still trying to work out a good answer....
well I agree with the last comment, but why should we Westerners be "picking" governments that we consider "better" than others? In the Libyan case, Gaddafi never had legitimacy as he came to power in a military coup, and it would be hard to make a case for helping him to remain; whether the rebels can produce a viable government is certainly another matter.
Hmmm... If military strength is not enough to confer some sort of legitimacy (eg recognise their ambasador) then you are going to have a tough time talking to most of the world., but at least we seem to agree that whatever we do, it could all go wrong.

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You mention Iraq yet again, but is simply not true that thousands were being killed by the regime before the second Gulf War - the killings happened after it was overthrown
Oh? I know it is Wiki, but I give you this, about Saddam's cousin, "Chemical Ali" [my bold]:

Quote:
During the late stages of the Iran–Iraq War al-Majid [Chemical Ali] was given the post of Secretary General of the Northern Bureau of the Ba'ath Party, in which capacity he served from March 1987 to April 1989. This effectively made him Saddam's proconsul in the north of the country, commanding all state agencies in the rebellious Kurdish-populated region of the country. He was known for his ruthlessness, ordering the indiscriminate use of chemical weapons such as mustard gas, sarin, tabun and VX against Kurdish targets during a genocidal[3] campaign dubbed Al-Anfal or "The Spoils of War". The first such attacks occurred as early as April 1987 and continued into 1988, culminating in the notorious attack on Halabja in which over 5,000 people were killed.[15]

With Kurdish resistance continuing, al-Majid decided to cripple the rebellion by eradicating the civilian population of the Kurdish regions. His forces embarked on a systematic campaign of mass killings, property destruction and forced population transfer (called "Arabization") in which thousands of Kurdish villages were razed and their inhabitants either killed or deported to the south of Iraq. He signed a decree in June 1987 stating that "Within their jurisdiction, the armed forces must kill any human being or animal present in these areas."[16] By 1988, some 4,000 villages had been destroyed, an estimated 180,000 Kurds had been killed and some 1.5 million had been deported.[15] The Kurds called him Chemical Ali ("Ali Kimyawi") for his role in the campaign; according to Iraqi Kurdish sources, Ali Hassan openly boasted of this nickname.[17] Others dubbed him the "Butcher of Kurdistan".


March 14th, 2011, 6:07 pm
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Nick wrote:
Quote:
You mention Iraq yet again, but is simply not true that thousands were being killed by the regime before the second Gulf War - the killings happened after it was overthrown
Oh? I know it is Wiki, but I give you this, about Saddam's cousin, "Chemical Ali" [my bold]:

Quote:
During the late stages of the Iran–Iraq War al-Majid [Chemical Ali] was given the post of Secretary General of the Northern Bureau of the Ba'ath Party, in which capacity he served from March 1987 to April 1989. This effectively made him Saddam's proconsul in the north of the country, commanding all state agencies in the rebellious Kurdish-populated region of the country. He was known for his ruthlessness, ordering the indiscriminate use of chemical weapons such as mustard gas, sarin, tabun and VX against Kurdish targets during a genocidal[3] campaign dubbed Al-Anfal or "The Spoils of War". The first such attacks occurred as early as April 1987 and continued into 1988, culminating in the notorious attack on Halabja in which over 5,000 people were killed.[15]

With Kurdish resistance continuing, al-Majid decided to cripple the rebellion by eradicating the civilian population of the Kurdish regions. His forces embarked on a systematic campaign of mass killings, property destruction and forced population transfer (called "Arabization") in which thousands of Kurdish villages were razed and their inhabitants either killed or deported to the south of Iraq. He signed a decree in June 1987 stating that "Within their jurisdiction, the armed forces must kill any human being or animal present in these areas."[16] By 1988, some 4,000 villages had been destroyed, an estimated 180,000 Kurds had been killed and some 1.5 million had been deported.[15] The Kurds called him Chemical Ali ("Ali Kimyawi") for his role in the campaign; according to Iraqi Kurdish sources, Ali Hassan openly boasted of this nickname.[17] Others dubbed him the "Butcher of Kurdistan".

but Nick, this was before the first Gulf War, not the second.


March 14th, 2011, 8:15 pm
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Nick wrote:
animist wrote:
In the Libyan case, Gaddafi never had legitimacy as he came to power in a military coup, and it would be hard to make a case for helping him to remain; whether the rebels can produce a viable government is certainly another matter.
Hmmm... If military strength is not enough to confer some sort of legitimacy (eg recognise their ambasador) then you are going to have a tough time talking to most of the world., but at least we seem to agree that whatever we do, it could all go wrong.
yes, a sort of legitimacy is implied by making practical links, as you say (but then you talk to your enemies, don't you?) I remember learning that there can be recognition of a regime de facto (as in fact in control) and recognition de jure (by right) - really only the latter is a recognition of genuine legitimacy, I would have thought. What the criteria for such recognition are I don't know, but I assume that these days the appearance of democracy and the rule of law would count, and Libya under Gaddafi has not had these - nor Egypt under Mubarak, which is why most of the West did urge these two leaders to go. Further back, I suppose legitimacy was more a matter of customary rule, so that a royal house would be considered legitimate simply by being there (and rebellions denounced, especially since failure to denounce a rebellion abroad would risk encouraging one at home!)


March 14th, 2011, 11:24 pm
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animist wrote:
but Nick, this was before the first Gulf War, not the second.
If it is before the first, it can't help but be before the second, can it?


March 15th, 2011, 1:46 am
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Nick wrote:
animist wrote:
but Nick, this was before the first Gulf War, not the second.
If it is before the first, it can't help but be before the second, can it?

er, this response was one I thought you might make. Yes, indeed it was before the second war. But since the point at issue (I think) is the state of play at the time of the decision to invade Iraq in 2003, these appalling crimes - which, as I have said before, were not thought to be worthy of international intervention at the time - can hardly be adduced as a good reason to invade 15 years later


March 15th, 2011, 11:13 am
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animist wrote:
Nick wrote:
animist wrote:
but Nick, this was before the first Gulf War, not the second.
If it is before the first, it can't help but be before the second, can it?

er, this response was one I thought you might make. Yes, indeed it was before the second war. But since the point at issue (I think) is the state of play at the time of the decision to invade Iraq in 2003, these appalling crimes - which, as I have said before, were not thought to be worthy of international intervention at the time - can hardly be adduced as a good reason to invade 15 years later

At the risk of being tedious, I think it's important to re-iterate that, those of us who marched against the war pre-2003 invasion (some of us, not the entire million, just the 'usual suspects' :wink: ) were also demonstrating against Saddam at the time of the atrocities listed above, whist Rumsfeldt and co, and major trade delegations from the UK, were doing deals with him. Including arms deals.


March 15th, 2011, 11:28 am
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