Socialists Are Fools But Not All Fools Are Socialists
George Handlery about the week that was. Hesitant vacillation as a policy principle. Paralyzing preconditions for soluble problems. The failed state and its benefits. Iran, the Anti-Racism Conference and nuclear negotiations. Too neutral? In whose favor? When an enemy is more useful to a dictatorship than a friend.
1. It has become fashionable to present reports on piracy that are wrapped in a tranquilizer. It is suggested that the solution of the problem is in Somalia. Save Somalia (throw money at it?) and all will be hanky-dory. One is tempted to suspect that the popularity of the mantra has to do with the trick of attaching an otherwise threateningly soluble problem to a precondition that cannot be met. The benefit is that, succumbing to the West’s luxurious self-doubts, a good reason is given to persist in doing the unreasonable. Thereafter it becomes easy to desist from solving the solvable.
2. Helping Somalia as a project assumes that Somalia’s population is ripe enough to want to be helped. The assumption that, the solution of the piracy-problem begins with the rescue of Somalia, ignores that piracy is not only a symptom but also among the causes of disorder. Chaos creates golden opportunities. Piracy pays as long as the victims that suffer from moral relativism pay and in doing so acknowledge some moral obligations that make them into virtuous suckers. If the chaos of a “failed state” results in dividends expressed by the profit from piracy then a non-PC solution recommends itself. Make piracy a losing business. Then start to give Somalia what it might be able to use.
3. The question is how to deter the addicted Somali from piracy. In the news, accounts multiply, according to which, pirates are apprehended and then released. The soothing explanation is that there is “no legal power to arrest them”. This gives hesitant vacillation posing as policy a pleasing label and a good excuse. Meanwhile, the self-imposed impotence aggravates the problem by reducing the offenders’ risks. Only by destroying pirates will piracy be restrained and, as a result, its on-shore bases dismantled. To do that security zones need to be set up and these must be patrolled from the air. Obviously, aircraft can hardly detain the mother ships and their auxiliaries. However, what it can do is to be at the aid threatened vessels within useful time. Once on the scene they can destroy buccaneers. The rest may be trusted to word of mouth propaganda. Let the news spread that raiders are unlikely to return and the hunters will desist from sailing. The winds of the present’s ineffective counter-actions might change as soon as non-Western naval forces, unrestrained by inhibitions, appear to participate in the “project.”
4. Parallels pertaining to ignored and tolerated criminality seem to exist on the home front, too.. Those who feel exposed to the unpredictable mercy of criminals, people that are uncertain of their own skill to evade crooks and folks unsure of their ability to fight them off, have a legitimate concern. The state is, under its current rules of operation and, due to the values of those who act in its name, not sufficiently able to protect them. This complaint is not about lacking laws. We have plenty of laws regulating nearly everything – even the right to fight off effectively what are, even according to the official definition, criminals. No, the problem is not that we have no laws or not enough laws. The problem is the predictable application of existing rules. What troubles is the insecurity that flows from the perception that some actions are not acted against even if they are illegal. This is because their perpetrators enjoy, for being what they are, a degree of immunity as a collective right.
5. Kim’s “Rocket and Nuke Show” might convince some analysts that the man is sick. Regardless of his mental state, the “Dear Leader’s” actions are not entirely irrational. He, as well as his Iranian clone, might have a praxis-tested shrewd understanding of how the liberal Western mind works. Let us not forget that extortion – oriented tantrums have tended to net handsome profits. When not, no harm came to visit upon clumsy actors putting on shows of fits of temper.
6. As a concession, Ahmadinedjad likes to tantalize his enemies with proposals to discuss Iran’s nuclear project. The invitations to talk begin with the other side having to accept the already existing facts and what Tehran is overtly or covertly doing. In this case the ensuing negotiations serve to signal at least short-term lenience and the relaxing -but at least the non-tightening- of sanctions.
7. “A dialogue is better than no dialogue” was the justification of Switzerland’s protocol President’s meeting with Ahmadinedjad at the opening of the Geneva Anti-Racism conference on April 19th. Mr. Merz had a reason to meet briefly the Persian at the opening of the widely and rightfully suspected gathering. Switzerland, acting in tune with her traditional role to be the neutral go-between among hostile parties, represents the US’ interest in Tehran -and the other way, too. (She performs the same service for Washington in Cuba.) Israel protested the meeting. The overly warm handshake’s justification depends on how convincingly Merz might have warned Ahmadinedjad about improving his “bad habits”. At any rate, Ahmadinedjad used his performance to reiterate his wish for Israel’s removal from the map. As a concession, he dropped his Holocaust-denial formulated in the original and distributed text. (If Switzerland’s government which is tempted to flirt leftwards would take its official reservations seriously, the Socialist-run foreign Ministry would have down-graded its presence at the summit. As things stand, Switzerland’s credibility as an honest broker and go-between has again suffered by being too neutral in favor of an impostor.)
8. Ahmadinedjad’s speech to the anti-racism conference in Geneva surpassed even the expectations of seasoned pessimists. This it did to such an extent that most scandalized Western delegations walked out during the harangue. The needless provocation in Geneva shows that Tehran is unable or unwilling to apply diplomacy to secure its interests. There are implications to the instinctive use of diplomacy limited to the tactic as an extension of war by other means. The impact of this on future negotiations about nuclear projects is left to the imagination of the reader.
9. Dealing with the enemy brings the Americas’ Summit to mind. Obama assured the prominent autocrats of the continent “I want to be your friend”. There is some potential opportunity in that phrase. Should, as it is to be expected, the addressees persevere on their current course, the President could, while he reacts, state convincingly “I have already tried everything else”. Regardless of the opportunity presented to them, some of the region’s more notorious dictatorships might need a credible enemy more than a wary friend. Why? The ideology at the base of their systems is a password to failure. Malfunctions cannot be admitted because the alleged absolute truth of the ideology legitimizes the absolute Leader. So a malign outside force is needed to explain the gap between the expectations created and the performance delivered. The same applies to the Weltanschauung-related role of the “infallible” Party.
10. We need to be careful not to over-apply the Socialist label. Admittedly, Socialism is foolish. However, this does not mean that everything that is out of whack amounts to Socialism.
11. “Tax haven” is a loosely conceived category. Highly diverse states and policies (ranging from the criminally conniving to the legitimately protective) can be stuffed into it. Exempting the institutionalized dealings with truly dirty money, the legitimate havens serve a useful purpose. They create a tax-competition between systems. Therefore, they encourage the responsible expenditure of the public’s money. Some tax havens allow those who desire to stash away portions of their legitimately created – and at the home base property taxed – reserves in a safe place offering competent management. Some US’ Senators like to grandstand with investigations of contrite havens. In doing so they overlook an important ramification of which they are apparently ignorant. It is that some tax havens like to invest in America many of the untainted billions entrusted to them. The amount is many times of whatever evaded taxes might amount to. Scores of firms and industries are major beneficiaries of these investments. Taking banks such as the UBS hostage –which repentantly admits having had employees that facilitated tax cheats – makes a good show within the congressional circus. The resulting reduction of their operations will net little profit compared to the economic negatives it creates. As usual, the proper corrective reaction to an inequity – in this case of investment advisors violating firm policy by helping clients to cheat on their taxes – lacks a sense for nuances and proportions.