Why go with success?
Posted by aogTuesday, 13 December 2005 at 11:43 TrackBack Ping URL

Raoul Ortega asks

why when we clean up a country and help it establish a democratic system, be it Germany, Japan or Iraq, why do we use the parliamentary model? Why do we inflict a system which is ultimately going to fail them.

I often wonder that myself. The flip answer is that parlimentary systems allow a certain type of ruling class to run the country and the people in our government who make these decisions are members of that ruling class and don’t want to burden their fellows with the handicaps the American system creates for a self perpetuating ruling class.

Or, alternatively, we’re actually fiendishly clever and long thinking, and saddle these former enemies with broken governments in order to keep them down in the future and preserve the American Hegemony.

But one is left wondering if it’s because, at a fundamental level, the type of people who inhabit the State Department do not view the USA as a successful country. In many other ways, the State Department crew act as if they view Old Europe as far more successful in the things that matter than the USA and may well make their decisions based on that viewpoint. While it would be nice to have a State Department staffed with people who think their own nation is the best in the world, I don’t see much prospect of that any time soon.

Comments — Formatting by Textile
cjm Tuesday, 13 December 2005 at 12:31

the state department problem is part of the answer, but i think it’s also partly due to not wanting to be seen to be dictating things to the conquered. it does cause a filtering effect though, which drives the more ambitious and entrepenurial members of these societies to our shores.

bink Friday, 16 December 2005 at 08:10

Another interesting question is why do the countries that we “free” end up being economic power houses that take over much of our country’s primary businesses?

bink Friday, 16 December 2005 at 08:12

And, in the case of Iraq, it will be the first country that we leave with a stronger, better trained, better equipped military force than when we came in. That, combined with the economic successes of the Japan and Germany examples, has to be a cause for concern for the long term interests of the U.S., especially considering the like theological government that will form over time in Iraq.

Annoying Old Guy Friday, 16 December 2005 at 09:19

I fail to grasp your logic. Are you claiming that the economic success of Japan and Germany has been harmful to American interests? But, yes, I think the economic success of Iraq will be just as “harmful” to the USA, i.e. we will end up wealthier and more secure as a result. It is precisely this fact, that turning enemies in to economically successful liberal democracies is in the long term national interest that drives our involvement in Iraq. Such an Iraq is the means by which we will achieve our national security goals.

As for a theological government, you mean like the one that runs the USA? Again, I fail to see why this would be viewed as a problem. Perhaps you are alluding to a mullahocracy like Iran’s, but the indications are that it’s Iran that’s far more likely to end up like us than Iraq is to end up like Iran.

bink Sunday, 18 December 2005 at 15:08

I think that interests and citizens must be considered separately. I’m not sure which side of the fence I fall in wrt. to this issues; I said it was an interesting observation, as is the fact that neither of those countries was allowed to have a standing army, and certainly not one supplied by the American military industrial complex.

These things all need to be considered, but in the end, America is actually also responsible for it’s own citizens. I don’t think America should be run like a business, because I don’t believe that money all this country should be concerned with. And while the net result of some of the administrations recent actions may be improved security, I’m skeptical that the motivation was something other than money.

Annoying Old Guy Sunday, 18 December 2005 at 18:18

Uh, Japan and Germany were not allowed to have standing armies? That’s completely false. In fact, the Japanese SDF is one of the largest and best funded militaries on the planet. Japan is limited to 1% of GDP to military spending, but 1% of the Japanese GDP is a seriously large wad of cash. The Bundeswehr wasn’t any too shabby during the Cold War and was an integral part of NATO forces in Europe.

As for the motivation of the Administration, I think that money was the least of their concerns. Their current efforts in the Middle East are, in y view, the best that can be expected in terms of long term security of the nation and its citizens. Do you think waiting until some Caliphascist crazies get access to WMD to confront them is a better plan?

pj Monday, 30 January 2006 at 15:57

One possible answer has to do with the levels of cooperation required to make a system work. The more hurdles you put on law and budget making — e.g., multiple houses of Congress, independent president with veto, supermajority requirements like filibusters — the more people have to cooperate to accomplish necessary activities. So a high-hurdle system has a failure mode from insufficient cooperation or willingness to compromise. A low-hurdle system like the parliamentary system can more easily get things done, but has the failure mode of bad/evil/corrupt things getting done too easily.

The optimum choice depends on how cooperative a society is. The founders famously said that our republican system was “suited to a religious people, and no other.” By religious, they implied forgiving, moderate, charitable, and cooperative. However, a place like Iraq, where people have little experience cooperating, may do better at first with a low-hurdle system, until they develop the cooperative habits that enable a republican system to function.

I’m not saying that a parliamentary system is better than a republican system for developing nations; only that the manifest superiority of the republican system for a cooperative people does not necessarily establish that it is superior for all people.

Annoying Old Guy Monday, 30 January 2006 at 16:24

But OJ claims that everyone is ready for liberal democracy!

I see your point. I am a person who always looks at the long term and the problem with starting out with a parlimentary system is that I can’t see any hope of transitioning to an American style system.

It may be that the USA is unique in being to able to start with our style of government and other regions can’t. It does bring up the interesting issue of whether a transition to an American style government can arise during the coming devolution of polities.

Post a comment