Libertarian Jackass

"Life is short, but truth works far and lives long; let us speak truth." -- Schopenhauer

Monday, September 22, 2003

The Tragedy of the Great Power Politics and Why Its Not Just "about Saddam"

In reading "The Tragedy of the Great Power Politics" by John J. Mearshimer, I encountered a key insight into the nature of political regimes:

"Furthermore, evil leaders, like Hitler [or Saddam, as the neocons assert] often enjoy widespread support: not only do they sometimes represent the views of their body politic, but nationalism tends to foster close ties between the political leaders and their populations, especially in wartime, when all concerned face a powerful external threat." (Mearsheimer, 109)

The point, missed by those leading the U.S. assault on Iraq, is that the political regime does have support from key coalitions within Iraqi society, otherwise it would have been removed from power long ago. As such, targeting Saddam, his sons, or even the top 50 idiots, will not change the fundamental problems in annexing Iraq. All political power rests on some level of support from the public. This reminds us of the thoughts of Etienne de la Boetie in "The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude," where he says:

"FOR THE PRESENT I should like merely to understand how it happens that so many men, so many villages, so many cities, so many nations, sometimes suffer under a single tyrant who has no other power than the power they give him; who is able to harm them only to the extent to which they have the willingness to bear with him; who could do them absolutely no injury unless they preferred to put up with him rather than contradict him. Surely a striking situation! Yet it is so common that one must grieve the more and wonder the less at the spectacle of a million men serving in wretchedness, their necks under the yoke, not constrained by a greater multitude than they, but simply, it would seem, delighted and charmed by the name of one man alone whose power they need not fear, for he is evidently the one person whose qualities they cannot admire because of his inhumanity and brutality toward them. A weakness characteristic of human kind is that we often have to obey force; we have to make concessions; we ourselves cannot always be the stronger. Therefore, when a nation is constrained by the fortune of war to serve a single clique, as happened when the city of Athens served the thirty Tyrants one should not be amazed that the nation obeys, but simply be grieved by the situation; or rather, instead of being amazed or saddened, consider patiently the evil and look forward hopefully toward a happier future."

In fact, the analytic and forecasting brilliance of LJ provided this blog several weeks ago, "Wow some of you are just plain dumb," to show that the success of a U.S-controlled Iraq depends on maintenance of the coalitions that gave the Saddam regime power.

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