The results of Kuwait's elections last month -- in which Islamists were rebuffed and four women were elected to parliament -- will likely reinvigorate the movement for greater democracy in the region that has stalled since the hopeful "Arab spring" of 2005. It also puts pressure on the Obama administration to end its deafening silence on democracy promotion.
Although ruled by a hereditary monarch, Kuwait is the most democratic of the Arab countries. The press is relatively free, parliament has real power, and politicians are chosen in legitimate elections. However, Kuwait is a part of the Persian Gulf, where the subordination of women is traditionally most severe. Historically, Kuwait's political process was for males only. But in 2005 parliament yielded to female activists and approved a bill giving women the right to vote and hold office.
In 2006 and 2008, several women ran for parliament, though none won. The women that captured four of the 50 seats last month weren't aided by quotas; they won on their own merits. Their success will undoubtedly inspire a new wave of women's activism in nearby countries.
Almost as significant as the women's gains were the Islamist losses. The archconservative Salafist Movement's campaign for a boycott of female candidates obviously fell flat, and the number of seats held by Sunni Islamists fell sharply.
Thus continues a string of defeats for Islamists over the last year and a half from west to east. In September 2007, Morocco's Justice and Development Party, a moderate Islamist group, was widely forecast to be the winner. Its support proved chimerical: It came away with 14% of the seats, trailing secularists. Iraq's provincial elections this January signaled a turn away from the sectarian religious parties that had dominated earlier pollings. This trend, capped by Kuwait's elections, has important implications.
What sapped the vitality of the "Arab spring" was the triumph of Islamists -- the Muslim Brotherhood's strong showing in Egypt's 2005 parliamentary election, Hamas's victory in Gaza, and Hezbollah's ascendance in Lebanon. In response to these election results, the Bush administration muffled its advocacy of democracy in the Middle East. Some democrats in the region even took a go-slow stance.
To put it bluntly, these outcomes renewed questions about whether the Arabs were ready for democracy. If elections produce victory for parties that are not themselves democratic in practice or philosophy, then democracy is at a dead end. But the Kuwait election, following those in Iraq and Morocco, suggests that such fears may have been overblown.
We have to give them room to become moderate, and acknowledge movement toward real moderation, g(r)omgoru. The final test is accepting Jews as equals, but accepting Muslim females as equals is a solid first step.
To those who know this most peaceful of nations intimately, the question is bound to sound bizarre. Boasting attachment to the rule of law and democratic government, the English have not had a revolution since the 17th century.
Nevertheless, these days it is hard to be in the company of Englishmen without hearing talk of the need, indeed the imminence, of revolution.
"I do sense a revolutionary mood," David Starkey, one of Britain's foremost historians, told the BBC. "I won't be surprised if we did end up having a revolution."
Starkey is not alone in his analysis.
Even Gordon Brown, believed to be the most unpopular Prime Minister Britain has ever had, admits that "revolutionary change" might be needed to "reform the way we are governed."
Revolutions happen when a system suffers a major loss of political legitimacy.
Not that the pols understand that. They simply believe all they have to do is issue orders and perform the proper rituals of government to rule. Those who rule and those they rule are simply the 'natural' division of hierarchy to them. How dare the serfs become uppity. It was all done for their own good. /sarc off
They'll be 'revolting' against their own elected government, leaving a power vacuum for the EU to fill with its bland-faced bureaucrats from Brussells, and no recourse at the ballot box or anywhere else.
The big question is the political party adjustment. Will the right wing UKIP, which has been to a great extent excluded from the government, make major inroads? They are very nationalistic and Euroskeptic.
With such a major turnover, everything could be up in the air. Gun control, capital punishment, fox hunting, immigration, welfare, EU integration, home rule, the size of government, rebuilding the military, etc., etc.
How much does party matter? Legislation takes time, and I gather most things are run there (as here) by layers of unelected officials, who I assume have the same kind of civil service protections as our bureaucrats. (Anybody remember "Yes Minister?")
Last week Jerry Pournelle wrote this about the legitimacy of government. The dread secret is that almost any form of government can work, and there is little a priori to show which is better. "Your fathers swore allegiance to my father, and you to me, and I am the son of the king" is no less absurd than "Fifty percent plus one of those who bothered to vote have chosen me to rule," and neither proposition has more apparent merit than "We are the best and the brightest, as were our parents; we are the natural rulers of this land, don't you agree?" Or "The Army has chosen me to be Emperor. Hail me, or dread the fury of the Legions."
Governments work so long as people will allow them to work. The primary -- elemental -- political act is that someone gives an order and it is obeyed. The primary necessity for government is that the loser of the selection process -- whether election by adult suffrage, election by manhood suffrage, election by an aristocratic elite, hereditary aristocracy, monarchy -- that the losers of the selection process stand down and submit. There is a certain degree of magic in that. The United States has been fortunate that for most of its history the losers of elections have submitted, and they did so back in the times when there were qualifications for being a voter as well as in more "progressive" times when place of birth and age are the only qualifications. When people begin to question the reason for obedience, a republic is in danger, because there will inevitably arise an issue people feel very strongly about.
He was writing about "allowing state and federal courts to amend constitutions without action of the legislature or people is that there seems to be no limit to what they can do; and once the notion is out that anything can be legal, the society may not be able to recover from the resulting loss of respect and awe for constitutions and the amending process. " But his summary of the source of government legitimacy is useful in other areas.
He was writing about "allowing state and federal courts to amend constitutions without action of the legislature or people is that there seems to be no limit to what they can do; and once the notion is out that anything can be legal, the society may not be able to recover from the resulting loss of respect and awe for constitutions and the amending process. "
You mean like Kaliphornia? I said it before: If we could recall the judges it would be better than marching on the capitol with machetes and pitchforks.
Jerry lives in California, but he was also referring to the Federal level. A key part of the problem is legislators who don't write, read or understand the laws they pass, thus forcing poorly-thought out issues into the courts, and neglect to clarify laws that would then not need adjudication. One constitutional amendment I would like to see is some way to force supreme court justices out of office (short of death). Life-time tenure is a bad idea, especially considering advances in modern medicine.
'Da street' here is saying these guys and gals are out, how much that splits the BNP and UKIP will be seen.
As deemed by a trough-swilling bunch of retards loot the reserves and issue Well, with the uncontrolled immigration, and a foreign war, the most immediate UK question is Europia, let's hopes you keep liking us, when we make a decision. The emeny within has been the Government, of all stripes.
In November 2008 a Dutch journalist, Joanie de Rijke, was abducted by Taliban fighters in Afghanistan. She was held captive, raped repeatedly, and released after six days for a ransom of 100,000 euros ($137,000). After her ordeal, she acknowledged that her captors did horrible things to me, but added in several media interviews They also respected me, and emphasized They are not monsters.
Does Timothy F. Geithner support jihad? Of course not. But the Treasury secretary on Tuesday lost a major round of a court case in which a taxpayer argues that government ownership of the insurance giant American International Group Inc. amounts to an unconstitutional government "establishment" of Islam. The controversy involves Shariah-compliant financing, part of which requires charitable contributions to those who "struggle for Allah" ("jihad").
The Thomas More Law Center, representing the plaintiffs in this case, has claimed there are a number of links between charities that receive funds as a result of Shariah-compliant financing and "terrorist organizations that are hostile to the United States." This is a long-standing practice whereby some front groups exploit charitable contributions to fund Islamic extremists.
Regardless of jihad, there is no dispute that, as U.S. District Judge Lawrence P. Zatkoff wrote on May 26, "AIG is the market leader in Sharia-compliant financing, which features financial products that comply with the dictates of Islamic law." It's undisputed that the government, as a result of last fall's bailout, now owns 77.9 percent of the "aggregate voting power of the common stock" of AIG. Furthermore, Judge Zatkoff wrote, "after the government acquired a majority interest in AIG ... the government co-sponsored a forum entitled 'Islamic Finance 101.' "
Why is all this important? Because in the case of Kevin J. Murray v. Timothy F. Geithner and Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Mr. Murray argues that if the government owns AIG and AIG extensively practices Shariah-compliant finance, then the government effectively is supporting Islam. That would be unconstitutional.
Mr. Geithner and the Fed filed a motion for the judge to dismiss the case immediately before coming anywhere near a full trial. In a devastating 16-page decision, Judge Zatkoff slapped down Mr. Geithner and company, allowing the case to go forward. The judge acknowledged that the government bought AIG only to stave off an apparent crisis. He then wrote: "Times of crisis, however, do not justify departure from the Constitution."
This case tests important constitutional precepts and deserves a full hearing. It also puts heat on the government's overactive economic masters, who ought to be more wary of rash government takeovers of private industries.
"Times of crisis, however, do not justify departure from the Constitution."
Judge Posner in his book "The Constitution is not a Suicide Pact" disagrees.
The Ninth Circuit has ruled that requiring kids in public school to adopt Muslim names, read the Koran and participate in Muslim prayers is a not a violation of church and state separation. The ACLU, keepers of the separation of Church and State flame, took a case in Florida defending a Muslim woman who wanted to wear a veil on her driver's license photo.
One intellectually interesting problem raised by this whole War on Terror policing human caused disasters thing is that many Eastern religions don't separate nicely into private and public affairs. For example, which is Halal (or Kosher for that matter)? The left is going to have a very fine time dealing with creeping Sharia in the U.S.
The left is going to have a very fine time dealing with creeping Sharia in the U.S.
No, they won't! One, (Sharia) is desired and acceptable. The other (all other religions) are not. One set of rules for thee, another for me.
Reaching a political accommodation with the Left is not possible, why the Right continues to try is beyond me. The Left will need to be cut out like the cancer they are, and the longer the Right takes to see and accept that eventuality the more difficult the task is going to be.
You cannot cling to a lets "play nice" mentality when your opponent believes that the means justify the ends and whatever it takes is okay. While the Left may live in some fantasy land vis-a-vis their perpetual quest for Utopia™ and the Workers Paradise™, the Right is equally living in a fantasy land if they think they'll ever be rid of the parasites without violence.
These days no citizen militia stands a chance against a professional army.
True enough. Except that 80+% of the Military is conservative and takes their Oath to the Constitution seriously, as do most veterans.
I've been speaking (away from the flagpole) with quite a few active members of the services and veterans as well. The consensus is that when the time comes the Professional Military isn't going to be firing on the citizenry. The Police, and Federal LEO Agents, probably.
The media wing of the global jihad apologium would like you to know that military solutions won't work. Also send some money, stat. Preferably lots of money. I should also note that no clear definition of "victory" is offered...
Pakistan says it is close to beating the Taliban in the Swat Valley, but battlefield success alone does not equal victory: Militant commanders are still at large, local governments and police forces have been decimated and millions of residents are displaced from their homes.
Continued on Page 49
Well despite Pak Army claims of killing thousands of Taliban (not too many photos of dead bodies oddly) the leadership seemed to have escaped to the mountains, which is what happened the last couple times there were Swat operations.
The trouble that Hassan Nasrallah finds himself in today is too great for Mr. Jumblatt to fix. Hezbollah has lost its reason and has committed a number of self-inflected mistakes and things have gotten worse with the publication of the Der Spiegel report that accuses the group of being involved in the death of [former Lebanese Prime Minister] Rafik al-Hariri.
Bin Nasrallah, who previously announced that he would not be giving any new speeches, retracted from this position and gave a speech on Friday that was evidence of the trouble that Hezbollah is going through. [In this speech] Bin Nasrallah sought protection from Iran, and its Supreme Leader, he stated that "Khamenei has never been miserly towards Lebanon." This represents a [public] revelation of a secret that is already well-known, namely Hezbollah's subordination to Iran. This speech also acknowledged that should Hezbollah and its agents win at the forthcoming elections, this would represent an end to Lebanon's relationship with the international community. Nasrallah tried to reassure the Lebanese by saying that Iran would be their supporter. He said that in the event of an electoral victory he would reveal to them who would aid them in arming the Lebanese military, and there can be no doubt that he means Iran.
The trouble that Nasrallah is having speaks for itself. Today Nasrallah speaks of Walid Jumblatt's courage, yet in May 2008 he described Jumblatt as a "thief, killer, and a liar." This is not the first contradiction [made by Nasrallah]. When Hezbollah embroiled Lebanon in the 2006 War that resulted in 1200 Lebanese casualties Nasrallah accused his critics of being allies of Israel, however he later retracted from this [position] and said "Had I known the size of the Israeli response, I would not have kidnapped the two soldiers." Despite declaring victory, his forces have been pushed back behind the Litani River, and he must now go through international forces if he wishes to confront Israel.
Reality shows that Hezbollah is the elephant in the room, and that it is in major trouble, this is why Ahmadinejad rushed to support the movement. Hezbollah is also still facing the issue of its sleeper cell in Egypt, and then there is the danger of the Hariri Tribunal, for it would have domestic and international impact should Hezbollah be formally charged [of involvement in al-Hariri's death].
In the event of Hezbollah losing at the [forthcoming Lebanese] elections, the group will have been exposed domestically, whilst victory at these elections means international isolation, which is why Nasrallah is using the Iranian Supreme Leader. In addition to all of this, should the [Middle East] peace process be re-launched, and should Syria be involved, Hezbollah will be geographically and politically cut-off.
Whist if armed confrontation occurs between Iran [and another power], Hezbollah will find itself in an unenviable position; for how will Nasrallah convince the Lebanese that Lebanon must rush to Tehran's aid?
Hezbollah in Lebanon probably gets at least 60% of their revenue from Iran. This hasn't been enough to repair all the buildings destroyed or damaged by the Israelis. This has, I think, led to Hezbollah trying to extort more $ from Iran and some folks in Iran complaining (not loudly) about the burden of subsidizing Hezbollah.
Unless oil goes back to about $80/barrel or more, Iran is eventually going to have to reduce its Hezbollah subsidy and, if and when that happens, it will be a painful day for Nasrallah.
Posted by: lord garth ||
06/01/2009 12:42 Comments ||
A multi-volume chronology and reference guide set detailing three years of the Mexican Drug War between 2010 and 2012.
Rantburg.com and borderlandbeat.com correspondent and author Chris Covert presents his first non-fiction work detailing
the drug and gang related violence in Mexico.
Chris gives us Mexican press dispatches of drug and gang war violence
over three years, presented in a multi volume set intended to chronicle the death, violence and mayhem which has
dominated Mexico for six years.