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Christopher Carr

Christopher Carr does stuff and writes about stuff.

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  1. Avatar Tod Kelly
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    One of the posts I was writing after the first GOP debate that never got finished was about conservatives’ love of any Middle East regime, regardless of how brutal or evil, if the leader just said the right things in the press about Islamic terrorists.

    It parallels pretty precisely conservatives during my growing up and early adult years, and their collective view of evil, despotic regimes in Latin America. So long as a dictator was willing to denounce communism, whatever they did with their own people — killing, “disappearing,” raping, theft — was irrelevant.Report

    • Avatar notme in reply to Tod Kelly
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      Not irrelevant but less important than the threat posed by the communists. But seriously I don’t understand why liberals expect a non-western county to share our belief in the value of freedom of the press. And regarding the Islamic terrorists, see the first sentence about the weighing threats. Just bc you and someone else have a common foe it doesn’t mean you approve of everything they do, you don’t have to go out of your way to highlight every point of disagreement.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to notme
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        Moving past the notion that American countries aren’t Western…

        Is not wanting to arm and prop up a despotic regime really just a case of being insufficiently pro-diversity? This is just a place where we agree to disagree, I suspect.Report

        • Avatar notme in reply to Tod Kelly
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          Sorry I don’t understand the your question.Report

          • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to notme
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            You were saying that my objection to arming and propping up despotic regime was that I simply didn’t appreciate that other cultures were different — and implying that they were not the worse for that.

            This is the “you’re just not pro-diversity enough” argument. Surely you’ve seen it enough from liberals to recognize it when you use it yourself.Report

            • Avatar aarondavid in reply to Tod Kelly
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              @tod-kelly
              There is actually something really important in what @notme is saying and it dovetails nicely with something @jaybird said in your post yesterday. Namely that many of the western values we take for granted (post enlightenment, liberal things such as freedom of the press) haven’t really developed in the non-western world to the degree that we might like. And further, when we deplore them, are we not “whitesplaining?” It is not a term that I like, but I do think it fits here and as it gets bandied about, often cheaply and for political points, should it not be pointed out when it truly fits?Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to aarondavid
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                Isn’t about more who we support, at least in terms of what we say about them. We have valid geo political reasons for staying on good terms with Egypt. And they have certainly a different culture and morals. But that doesn’t mean we should deny they are harsh by our standards. At least since our support does help them be harsh and we use our standards when it is convenient. Even if we feel its good to support them for geo political reasons it is somewhere between seamy and pro-dictator to make them out to be good noble guys. They are who they are and we may work with them, but that doesn’t mean they are White Knights in our eyes. Turning them into our kind of hero corrupts us.Report

              • Avatar aarondavid in reply to greginak
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                Uhm, what does that have to do with my question @greginak ?Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to aarondavid
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                Different countries have different values certainly. But saying that some R’s really seem to actively like foreign strongmen or that our money goes to help those strongmen repress their citizens are very different questions then whether we are “whitesplaining” to Egyptians. If our tax dollars are helping them or our foreign policy is supporting them then our values and how they relate to Egypt are valid questions. Also a good question is, does supporting a strongman undermine our values or hurt our messaging to the Egyptians who very much want something different from what they have.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to aarondavid
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                @aarondavid Yes, but in the case of Egypt and numerous Latin American countries when I was a teenager and young adult, the question wasn’t were we or weren’t we whitesplaining to people who saw the world from a different point of view. That’s a red herring.

                The question was, were going to arm and financially support a very, very tiny number of people who would murder/rape/torture a significantly larger percentage of that countries population? Or for that matter, just imprison anyone from that country who was critical of that tiny percentage we were arming and giving money to?

                This thought that, “yeah, the citizens of Chile really wanted to have their family members disappeared on the whim of someone thy’d never even met of rocketing no real crime, and it’s whitesplaining to tell them otherwise” is just nuts.Report

              • Avatar aarondavid in reply to Tod Kelly
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                @tod-kelly
                Setting aside that part of Notme’s question, you and Greg seem to be focusing on the Arming Dictators part of the question, what I am getting at is the specifics of saying that “liberal values” is whitesplaining. I would say that around the world, no one wants friends and family killed. That is not a liberal thing, that is a human thing. I would also say that it is an Animal Kingdom thing, in that whales and primates don’t want them killed either. But as Notme put it ” I don’t understand why liberals expect a non-western county to share our belief in the value of freedom of the press.” Isn’t freedom of the press an Enlightenment idea? In other words a Liberal Idea (in a human rights sense.) And to a group that doesn’t share Enlightenment values, aren’t they just “whitesplaining?”

                Western Worlder “Climate Change is the most important thing!”

                Developing Worlder”Your just saying that ’cause you already made your money.”

                Ad Nauseam.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to aarondavid
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                Well part of Notme’s question was just his standard hatred of liberals, but leaving that aside “whitesplaining” , fwiw as a term, only does so far. All sorts of cultures have all sorts of values. In fact most cultures have a mix or gradients of values. Dictators tend not to value freedom of the press while , at least sometimes, average citizens do. Just framing it as about different cultures seems pretty simplistic. I’ll guess some Egyptians would like a more free press whether or not we call that a Liberal Western value.

                As a more general point, just saying a culture is different so we should never say anything is pretty thin. It is mostly a strawman, not i said mostly, that liberals think Westerners or Whites or Whatever should never say anything critical of another culture. Sure you can find some who may go that far, but that is rare and more often about stupid people saying stupid things. If we talk about other cultures we really should think about how we are applying our values to them or judging them solely by our standards and if we are getting a little imperialist. But i really don’t’ have a problem with criticizing a government or a group for murder or rape or just being a dictator.Report

              • Avatar aarondavid in reply to greginak
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                Ok, but but as I said, I am not talking about murder/rape/etc., as I said above I do consider those to be universal human/animal beliefs. They were values long before the Enlightenment. What I am saying, specifically, are those Enlightenment values we take for granted, such as Freedom of the Press, may not be as important to the majority of non-westerners. Sure, there are Egyptians who think so, but do the majority? And as this would get labeled Colonialism or Whitesplaining or Cultural Imperialism if it wasn’t something that western liberals approve of, shouldn’t someone point that out to peoples on the left? Yes, it could be a strawman, but that could be said for most things one approves/disapproves of. In other words, whether or not something is made of straw often depends on your politics, but that doesn’t mean that the possibility doesn’t exist, not that someone shouldn’t point it out to those who would be inclined to accept an idea wholesale.

                As far as Notme’s knee jerk dislike of liberalism, there is so much knee jerk dislike of libertarianism or conservatism on this site that is strikes me as par for the course here.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to aarondavid
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                I guess part of the point would be that it seems like it is Liberals problem with a place not having freedom of the press but it isn’t’ a problem for conservatives. Especially if the place says harsh things about commies or terrorists then its all good to go. That seems to be talking more about attitudes of different kinds of americans as opposed to Egyptians.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to aarondavid
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                @aarondavid I’m not really sure I understand your point, at least at it relates to either CC’s OP or my comment about it that notme responded to.

                I do get, for example, why an American tsk-tsk-ing some guy in Nepal for not having a vibrant recycling program is whitespalining, and is worthy of some kind of condemnation (or maybe mocking). But I don’t understand what that observation has to do with dictators jailing members of the press who are critical or them (as in the OP) or an of the other egregious human right violations the few guys in Egypt with guns are inflicting upon their own people (as in my comment).

                If I read notme right, he’s not wondering why liberals don’t understand that different cultures have different values. (Or perhaps he is, in which case my eyes will roll for the thinness of his straw man.)

                notme’s doing what he always does here, which is to defend whatever a conservatives does or says and condemning whatever a liberal does or says regardless of merit — in this case saying that a liberal objecting to basic human rights violations is just “whitesplaining.” Because notme seems to think being horrified at the killing and jailing citizens for the crime of disagreeing with a dictator is the the cultural equivalent of telling people from China not to eat shrimp with the shells still on because that’s not how we do it in America.

                Except of course that he probably doesn’t. He probably knows that it’s very different because he’s a lawyer and therefore not that dim; rather he’s likely just throwing out a knee-jerk comment to something a liberal said without thinking about it first.Report

              • Avatar aarondavid in reply to Tod Kelly
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                “don’t understand what that observation has to do with dictators jailing members of the press who are critical or them (as in the OP) or an of the other egregious human right violations the few guys in Egypt with guns are inflicting upon their own people ”

                But that is what both Notme (I think) and myself are referring to. While I feel that freedom of speech is the single most important thing, do we know that Egyptians, as a social whole, support this? Or do they support a tame press if it is a government they support? And if they as a society do not agree a free press unless it is against a gov’t they dislike, our saying they should is, well, whitesplaining.

                We see it as human rights violation #1, they see it as the price of being a journalist. Don’t back the wrong team, etc.

                And while we may or may not agree with something, as I said to Greginak, that is no reason not to bring it up. To simply dismiss this as a strawman is to show that you have no agrument against the claim.Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to aarondavid
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                I would say that around the world, no one wants friends and family killed. That is not a liberal thing, that is a human thing.

                Well…Report

              • Avatar aarondavid in reply to Brandon Berg
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                Point.Report

              • Avatar Damon in reply to Tod Kelly
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                “were going to arm and financially support a very, very tiny number of people who would murder/rape/torture a significantly larger percentage of that countries population? Or for that matter, just imprison anyone from that country who was critical of that tiny percentage we were arming and giving money to?”

                Yes, yes we are. As long as it benefits our Foreign Policy objectives, yes. When it no longer does, or our support become untenable, or those we support become to much of a liability, then we’ll cast them to the wolves and repeat again.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Damon
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                @damon Sadly, there is nothing you say here I find to be incorrect .

                Very, very sadly.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Tod Kelly
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                The don’t support armed dictators assumption is resting on the idea that if the people are allowed to rise up and have a democratic government than you will get a liberal democracy like what we have in Europe and the United States, preferably with socialist economics though. What you often get, especially in Muslim majority countries, is an illiberal democracy.Report

              • Avatar Damon in reply to LeeEsq
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                Preach it brother.Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to LeeEsq
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                @leeesq
                When was the last time a successful revolution against a dictatorship resulted in a democracy which we call liberal by today’s standards?Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Murali
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                Does the fall of the USSR leading to democratic countries in eastern and central Europe count? It wasn’t a violent revolution but it was an overthrowing of hated dictatorships in several countries.Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to greginak
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                I would say no. The collapse of the soviet union was in part IIRC brought about by relaxing the iron hand of dictatorship (i.e. glasnost and perestroika). But really, I was thinking more along the lines of violent revolutions including the American and French revolutions. I would need to know more about exactly how they exited the ambit of the soviet union and became liberal for me to say whether they count or not.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Murali
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                Well who made you dictator of deciding what is a revolution and what isn’t? ( insert smiley face ).

                I’d say the east germany, poland, slovakia, the czech republic and the baltics were revolutions of a sort but not violent ones like the US or French. I think they count to a degree but they were countries with some history of democracy and were strongly drawn to the Western model of liberal democracy.Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Murali
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                There’s the Romanian revolution. My knowledge of Romanian history isn’t great, but I believe that it a) was violent, culminating in the execution of Ceausescu, and and b) ended pretty well.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Murali
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                How about the end of Apartheid as a revolution and very peaceful one at that? The African majority got political power but the white minority was basically allowed to keep their property and the economic power. It is a bit recent to tell but Tunisia seems to be doing rather well with the transition to liberal democracy.

                Otherwise very few. However, some revolutions have produced more liberal and more stable results than others like the Glorious Revolution or the American Revolution. Others not so much.

                Listen, nobody is realistically expecting Egypt or Iran to become liberal democracies other night. The problem is the immense suffering caused by the lack of liberalism, especially if it gets out of hand and becomes ISIS.Report

              • Avatar Christopher Carr in reply to aarondavid
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                I think presuming that liberal democracy belongs to the white race and that any attempt to promote liberal democracy in non-white societies is both factually incorrect and itself offensive.

                Our prevailing values are better than those of societies under despotic rule because we’ve managed to escape such despotism and maintain stable conditions that allow for the maximal life, liberty, and property for the majority of inhabitants.Report

              • Avatar aarondavid in reply to Christopher Carr
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                Whoa, whoa, whoa!

                If you think that is what I am saying, please step back a few! What I was saying is who are we to judge what any (any!) other society does value as better or worse? Cannot another society value social cohesion more? One religion more? Education more? Etc.

                To say our prevailing values are better, full stop, is both racist and hubristic.Report

              • Avatar Christopher Carr in reply to aarondavid
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                I’m not sure what value chauvinism has to do with race, but I agree with you that there is a delicate balance to be maintained that is likely to differ from culture to culture.

                I tend to fall more on the side of universality of humankind, as is likely evident from my last handful of posts. I think your contention that promoting American cultural values abroad is “racist” is silly.

                Our secular values are better, full stop, than say, those of ISIS, which entail genocide, mass rape, and civilian-murder in the name of Allah. To say so is not “racist”.

                In terms of helping some nations or groups defeat other nations or groups:

                The French helped us defeat the British.

                We helped the Russians defeat the Germans (and vice versa)

                We helped the Chinese defeat the Japanese, the Arabs defeat the Germans, etc. etc. etc.

                None of those actions were racist.

                Since racism is a real thing that does actually exist, I think we as a blogos and we as a society should be more sparing in its usage. Like the boy that cries wolf, or using the f-word in conversation, some things are important enough that we should take them seriously and not casually introduce them into the most innocuous and quotidian of circumstances.Report

        • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Tod Kelly
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          Not that I’m fond of despots, even the benevolent dictator sort (which may, admittedly, be outside the way you use the term), but there are times when I feel like a variation on Zakaria is the general rule — you need some combination of a big-enough rich-enough middle class and a moderately-functional bureaucracy in order to get democracy to work.Report

          • Avatar nevermoor in reply to Michael Cain
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            As with the regimes in Latin America, why are we insisting on Democracy in these cases. Isn’t self-rule better than “dictator with US weapons” basically by definition?Report

            • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to nevermoor
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              Well…no. Of course not. I’m not sure why you’d think that, unless you’re loading the definitions of “self-rule” and “dictator with US weapons” with things that aren’t actually implied by those words.Report

          • Avatar notme in reply to Michael Cain
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            Aren’t you asuming that the populace wants a democracy? Take russia for example. The russian people dont seem particularly interested in a democracy. Or iran, who’s people overthrew the shah and seem content to live undrr a theocracy.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Tod Kelly
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      One of the posts I was writing after the first GOP debate that never got finished was about conservatives’ love of any Middle East regime, regardless of how brutal or evil, if the leader just said the right things in the press about Islamic terrorists.

      I had no idea Romney actually got elected in 2012 and removed the suspension of foreign aid to Egypt after the junta.

      Mitt’s really keeping a low profile for someone who is President of These Here United States.Report

  2. Avatar Jaybird
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    Maybe if we topple this government, a good one will replace it.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Jaybird
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      If our only options in the world are supporting oppressive regimes or toppling them, we’re fished anyway.Report

      • Avatar notme in reply to Chris
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        That’s funny as we supported the Soviet Union against the Nazis given that at that time the Nazis were considered a bigger threat. Was it wrong to support the Soviets in that case? Sadly for liberals this isn’t a perfect world where we can always keep our hands clean by only supporting or ally ourselves with the right kind of regime.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chris
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        Well, maybe we should hope for a popular movement to overthrow the government from the country itself and then we can support *THAT*.Report

        • Avatar notme in reply to Jaybird
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          That’s a great idea. We can support an insurgency and then claim it is a civil war when others object, just like the communists used to do.Report

        • Avatar Chris in reply to Jaybird
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          I honestly don’t understand this way of looking at things: if I say, “I hope there alternatives, because if there aren’t, we’re fished,” and you reply, “Well here’s something even worse,” is that supposed to address what I’m saying, or is it you saying, “Yeah, we are in fact fished?” Because if it’s the latter, just say that, man.

          As it is, I imagine that if we were to scour the history of international relations, we would be able to find examples of countries attempting to wield influence on other countries without either fighting them, giving money and guns to their enemies or rebels within their country, or just saying “fish it, if you’ll help us with this problem we have, you can kill all the political dissidents you like!” If not, then like I said, we’re fished. I’d even add that I bet we can find examples that don’t involve harsh and ineffective sanction regimes.Report

          • Avatar notme in reply to Chris
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            What do you mean when you say we’re fished, anyway? It appears to be a nonsensical statement that has no meaning in relation to anything relevant. If you dislike Hillary, are you fished if you have to hold your nose and vote for her just to keep a republican from winning? Sorry but life doesn’t always give you the choices you’d like to be able to make.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chris
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            The alternatives, in practice, seem to be “support an insurrection” or “support our jerkface because he’s our jerkface” or “let’s get all Jacobin”.

            We’ve learned that Jacobin doesn’t work.
            Egypt seems to be demonstrating that insurrection doesn’t work.

            So we’re left with the jerkface option.

            Especially with Egypt because if we stop giving them money, that region is going to have another very bad six days.Report

  3. Avatar Brandon Berg
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    notme: That’s funny as we supported the Soviet Union against the Nazis given that at that time the Nazis were considered a bigger threat.

    Whoa, whoa, whoa. That’s completely different. They were communists. They were going to abolish private property and create a dictatorship of the proletariat!

    How could anyone have possibly guessed that they were going to turn out to be evil?Report

  4. Avatar Ken S
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    Brandon: What on earth are you talking about? For once, NotMe is (mostly) correct. We knew perfectly well that Hitler and Stalin were both murderous SOB’s, and given that there was a choice to be made, we decided that Stalin was the lesser threat to us and our friends. What NotMe gets wrong is that he seems to think that conservatives understand that our choices are often between bad and worse, and liberals don’t. That’s nonsense. Let’s not forget that it was W. Bush supporters who told us that we could stop supporting mideast dictatorships and bring them democracy.

    There is an important point that is missing from this entire discussion — our choices really aren’t confined to toppling or supporting foreign governments. We can stop pretending that we run the world. The simple fact is that the fate of most countries does not depend on the USA’s choices. We didn’t choose between Mubarak and Morsi and Sisi; domestic conditions in Egypt did.Report

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