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Influence, Imperialism, and Hegemony

PretzelCorps

Registered Member
We seem to be faced with a conflict of sorts these days. On one hand, we're all aware of the tragedies and atrocities that the citizens of some countries have been subject to both in the past and present, from genital mutilation to execution, and we all feel an obligation to those people to do what we can for them. On the other hand, however, a large part of our success in the West is attributable to the notion that no single person should hold the power of God, nor deem on whim what it is that is right and proper; all persons are fallible. Since it is often argued that these situations are the result of differing cultures and ideologies, and that we have little power to garner influence against a thousand-year tradition without forcible measures, we therefore arguably face a hypocrisy against our own ideologies; how can you use force and violence to impose human rights?

So where would you draw the line? Violence to impose human rights, or passivity allowing atrocity?
 

ExpectantlyIronic

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No nation is really in a position to police the world thoroughly enough to prevent most human rights abuses. America is probably the most militarily powerful nation in the world, and has had difficulty keeping order in Iraq and Afghanistan. The lesson I take from this is that you can't bomb a nation into modernity. The embrace of liberal ideals seems to go hand-in-hand w/ economic wellbeing, and since trust and cooperation fosters as much, I suspect it is only through as much that we can successfully fight human rights abuses in a way that our efforts have any permanence. I suspect a nation is more likely to reform willingly in the face of the urgings of a trading partner, than under the boot of a conquerer.

So I would say we have no need to choose between the two unsavory options presented, and instead opt for an intolerance of human rights abuses, but recognition that force is not a practical way to bring about our desired results. We can walk a pragmatic middle-road it seems.
 

Wade8813

Registered Member
No nation is really in a position to police the world thoroughly enough to prevent most human rights abuses. America is probably the most militarily powerful nation in the world, and has had difficulty keeping order in Iraq and Afghanistan. The lesson I take from this is that you can't bomb a nation into modernity. The embrace of liberal ideals seems to go hand-in-hand w/ economic wellbeing, and since trust and cooperation fosters as much, I suspect it is only through as much that we can successfully fight human rights abuses in a way that our efforts have any permanence. I suspect a nation is more likely to reform willingly in the face of the urgings of a trading partner, than under the boot of a conqueror.

So I would say we have no need to choose between the two unsavory options presented, and instead opt for an intolerance of human rights abuses, but recognition that force is not a practical way to bring about our desired results. We can walk a pragmatic middle-road it seems.
On the other hand, during WWII, we bombed Nazi Germany into stopping atrocities, and I think we should have started even sooner.

I think it varies from situation to situation, and trying to come up with a catch-all is likely to fail.

With Islamic terrorists, it's impossible to bomb them into submission because there's no cohesive "them" to bomb, and they hate us enough to persist. On the other hand, we can't reason with them for the exact same reasons.
 
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MenInTights

not a plastic bag
As a society we shouldn't allow this:


But like Wade said, there's just not an easy across the board solution. I think the only real solution in Afghanistan is turn them into an industrial nation. They have amazing amounts of wealth in the ground ready to be mined, but if the people reject that path I don't see where there is a good solution.
 

Bjarki

Registered Member
On the other hand, during WWII, we bombed Nazi Germany into stopping atrocities, and I think we should have started even sooner.
The atrocities kept on occuring till the very end. I don't see how bombing can have any impact on genocides, or the violation of human rights in general. On the contrary, dropping bombs on people makes them even more hostile and vengeful.

The only thing that works is completely overthrowing regimes, which is pretty darn hard when the population prefers local tyrants over foreign occupation, or when the regime is tied to a larger hierarchy of power deeply ingrained in local customs (like in afghanistan). It's even harder when you're trying to put an end to human rights violations that directly come forth from cultural or religious beliefs (Islam).
 

Wade8813

Registered Member
The atrocities kept on occuring till the very end. I don't see how bombing can have any impact on genocides, or the violation of human rights in general. On the contrary, dropping bombs on people makes them even more hostile and vengeful.
The atrocities continued until the end - the end was brought about by bombing them.

The only thing that works is completely overthrowing regimes, which is pretty darn hard when the population prefers local tyrants over foreign occupation, or when the regime is tied to a larger hierarchy of power deeply ingrained in local customs (like in afghanistan). It's even harder when you're trying to put an end to human rights violations that directly come forth from cultural or religious beliefs (Islam).
The problem usually isn't in overthrowing regimes - it's when there's no regime to overthrow. Grassroots movements that have adherents willing to die for their cause are almost impossible to remove without resorting to wholesale slaughter.

And yeah, the cultural/religious beliefs make things exponentially harder.
 

Gavik

Registered Member
But like Wade said, there's just not an easy across the board solution. I think the only real solution in Afghanistan is turn them into an industrial nation. They have amazing amounts of wealth in the ground ready to be mined, but if the people reject that path I don't see where there is a good solution.
There is no amount of money that can solve Afghanistan. A violent, foreign occupation cannot just "fast forward" a country into wealth.

On the other hand, we can't reason with them for the exact same reasons.
Not true at all. There are very specific reasons for foreign resentment of America.
 

Sim

Registered Member
Much what EI said.

You can't establish a perfect Western-style system in a country that's poor and where more than 50% of the people are illiterate and almost as much have never visited a school, except for Quran lessons.

First, a people needs to internalize values of freedom and democracy, then it can have such a system. In order to do that, you need a certain degree of economic development. The other way around doesn't work.

In case of Germany, it worked because the country was very developed and because a sufficient number of people shared Western values. After the Nazi regime was toppled, there were enough other people to take over, who could run the new free system (in the West, at least). The economic boom of the 50s finally convinced most of the remaining people.

What we can do, though, is trying to create some stability. We probably can't keep Afghanis from violating human rights in the name of tradition and religion, but we may be able to keep them from slaughtering each other, or from exporting violence to other countries. And we may be able to get all warlords on the same table, institutionalize this meeting and create a more or less stable system around it. That's a lot already. But it won't be enough to keep backward illiterate fanatic peasants from dominating their wives.

And when we underestimate the task, the costs can easily turn out to be much higher than the benefits of an invasion. So we should probably be more careful, before we decide to invade somewhere. Human right violations are not nice, but sometimes, we have to realize there is not much we can do about it, and leave it alone. Simply because an intervention wouldn't really change it, and because it gives us extra trouble.
 

Wade8813

Registered Member
Not true at all. There are very specific reasons for foreign resentment of America.
There are certainly things we've done wrong, that we (possibly) can fix. But from what I've heard, there are other things that many Muslims hold against us (such as our wealth, or our beliefs that aren't Islam).
 

Gavik

Registered Member
There are certainly things we've done wrong, that we (possibly) can fix. But from what I've heard, there are other things that many Muslims hold against us (such as our wealth, or our beliefs that aren't Islam).
Don't hear, think. Follow me on a thought experiment.

Imagine continental America was not a country, but a region of 48 small nations. Sure these nations may have their disputes, but they also have a common history, shared ethnicities and a general religious consensus as well as strong economic ties.

Now imagine that for hundreds of years, imperial nations from across the ocean has been invading, occupying and imposing embargoes on a majority of these small nations. Sure, it might not be your nation, but when they bomb the nation next to you, refugees spill over your borders, the foreign textile factory your small business depends on shuts down and you can't find out if your cousin that lives across the border is alive or dead.

Across the region, bombs are dropped on schools ("collateral damage" or not, children are dead with no accountability), pro-foreign dictators installed and foreign corporations are allowed to control your oil exports - your main source of national wealth.

Throw in Israel and you've got more than enough reason to hate the west. It's not about "freedoms." Not really even about Islam. You attack the foreign hornets' nest for centuries, this is what you get.
 
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