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Why the world needs virtuous autocrats
By Robert Kaplan (senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security)

Analysis is built on distinctions. And in these times of upheaval in the Arab world, distinctions are being lost. All autocrats are not bad, as some neoconservatives are proclaiming, and should not be overthrown. The moral differences between one dictator and another are as vast as those between dictators and democrats. There is such a thing as a benevolent dictator - and we should not turn our back on all those that remain.

Vision, perceived legitimacy, the existence of a social contract and the ability to make society more institutionally complex - and thus ready for more freedom - are the distinguishing characteristics of good dictators.

Wind power
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Thu Mar 3rd, 2011 at 01:13:11 PM EST
House of Saud are a pretty cool crowd. But that Saddam... Yuck.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Mar 3rd, 2011 at 01:17:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Shouldn't that be "Not all autocrats are bad"?  And is he saying neocons believe they are all bad and disagreeing, or agreeing with neocons' beliefs that they are not all bad?

Kaplan needs to go back to 7th Grade and learn to write.  Then maybe we can deal with the stupidity that is his point.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Mar 3rd, 2011 at 01:30:28 PM EST
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'perceived' legitimacy

vee haff ze media for zis!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Mar 3rd, 2011 at 01:34:27 PM EST
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Daily Kos: Madison, WI: injustice and humiliation

For 16 years, as a citizen of Wisconsin, I have been welcome in our state capitol building. As a university professor, I have testified at hearings; as a constituent, I have met with my elected representatives; as a citizen, I have taken my family to gaze with awe at the rotunda ceiling and learn about our state's history. My partner and I even decided to hold our wedding ceremony in the capitol building, testimony to the respect we felt for the traditions, institutions, and freedoms of our state.

But today when I went to the capitol to visit my representative, Janis Ringhand, and discuss my concerns about the governor's proposed budget and its effects on natural resources, I was treated like a common criminal. Instead of walking freely through the capitol building, I was subjected to the myriad humiliations of a woman visiting her husband in federal prison. I was forced to empty my pockets of every dime, expose all my belongings to the scrutiny of a line of officers, even take off my coat so that I could be security-wanded by an officer. I could not walk through the building unless I was accompanied by both a staffer and a police officer, every single step of the way to my representative's office. I was told that I would not be allowed to use the restroom without a police officer in attendence.  I had to pass inspection before at least 30 officers, lined up both outside and inside the King Street entrance.

feel the love... frreeedum rulz

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Mar 3rd, 2011 at 01:38:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Libya, of course, represents a level of megalomania and social pulverisation straight out of antiquity that has few recent parallels.

Just ask the surviving populations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But wait! Kaplan does love his antiquity. From the usual source:

"Kaplan places him where he himself would like to stand, with the realists of this world against the idealists, with the tough-minded pagans of antiquity against the soft-minded strand of Christianity and its offshoots that too often shape modern thought and policy in the West." - Donald Kagan

Apparently he's written an entire book about this - because that "realist" tough-minded pagan revival worked so well in Germany, presumably.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Mar 3rd, 2011 at 01:42:23 PM EST
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A swedish kind of death:
Just ask the surviving populations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Is bombing civilians a crime yet even if performed by a state? Or is it only when the state is collapsing it becomes a crime?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Thu Mar 3rd, 2011 at 03:51:48 PM EST
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It's hard to make sense of Kagan's remark... The confrontation of Christian mores and supposed pagan toughness was put forward by Machiavelli in his Prince. Isaiah Berlin discussed the point at length in his "The Originality of Machiavelli" (The Proper Study of Mankind.)

Kagan's remark that softy Christian values shape modern thought and policy is off base and not the point, just as this curious dichotomy between "idealists" and "realists." "Realism" in the long run would not support tyranny of any sort. Democracies manage society and international relations better than tyrannies- or whatever other term an author might favour to obfuscate the discussion (dictatorship, authoritarian, totalitarian.)

Tyrants are often supported for short-term advantages, a state of necessity or dissimulated collusion. Baring the last reason we can speak of tactical realism so long as it is circumscribed in time. But over time a guiding realism would seek the demiss of the allied tyrant to be replaced by democracy.

Put aside the idealist rhetoric, the Carter Doctrine has had far-reaching pragmatic effects. Ironically South America was freed of tyrants under Reagan despite Reagan's coziness with international relations based on the boss-minion paradigm (see below).

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Thu Mar 3rd, 2011 at 05:20:09 PM EST
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Kirkpatrick Doctrine - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Kirkpatrick Doctrine was the doctrine expounded by United States Ambassador to the United Nations Jeane Kirkpatrick in the early 1980s based on her 1979 essay, "Dictatorships and Double Standards".[1] The doctrine was used to justify the U.S. foreign policy of supporting Third World anti-communist dictatorships during the Cold War.[2]

Kirkpatrick claimed that states in the Soviet bloc and other Communist states were totalitarian regimes, while pro-Western dictatorships were authoritarian ones. According to Kirkpatrick, totalitarian regimes were more stable and self-perpetuating than authoritarian regimes, and thus had a greater propensity to influence neighboring states.

The Kirkpatrick Doctrine was particularly influential during the administration of President Ronald Reagan. The Reagan administration gave varying degrees of support to anti-Communist dictatorships, including those in Guatemala (to 1985), the Philippines (to 1986), and Argentina (to 1983), and armed the mujahideen in the Soviet war in Afghanistan, UNITA during the Angolan Civil War, and the Contras during the Nicaraguan Revolution as a means of ending (or preventing) Communist rule in those countries.[citation needed]

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Thu Mar 3rd, 2011 at 02:52:21 PM EST
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