Another comment on PubliusPundit:
...The fact is, the paper doesn’t matter much. What matters are the facts on the ground.
A President, no matter what his official powers, is only commander of the armed forces so long as the armed forces allow him to be. In the US, we’ve managed to keep our armed forces in check and free of direct political aspiration. But in most of the world this isn’t the reality.
About the only thing that winning an election provides in a country like the Congo is a demonstration of your popular support or ability to game the system. It does not actually measure power. Oh, and it also allows you to levy taxes - again, only if you already have real power from sources other than the voting booth and a few scraps of paper.
IMO, a country like the Congo has a multiplicity of forces at play. It isn’t just two groups duking it out - although they did form two parties for the purpose of civil war. There were 30 candidates for President for a reason. In these situations, often the most stable and promising solution is to minimize the central power. Eliminate the standing army and the taxes that go with it. With a bi-polar society that would spell all out war, but with a multi-polar society accomodations will quickly be achieved. There will be no possibility of conquering everything and so things will calm down.
The multiplication of faction, as discussed by Madison in the Federalist Papers, is key to true stability.
See Chapter 6 of ReligiousLiberalism.org for more on this.
There has been a bit of a crazed reaction to President Bush's use of the term 'Islamic Fascists' because it associates Islam with the terror and violence being threated around the world.
Aside from the obvious issues, namely to deny that the war on terror is originating from fanatical Muslims is just plain weird, I think it is a valuable term.
Whether he knows it or not, Bush clearly thinks within the matrix suggested by Religious Liberalism. Namely, you have religious liberals (like himself), religious totalitarians (or fascists), secular liberals and secular totalitarians.
By branding these Muslim radical as Islamic Fascists he has clearly placed them in one camp - and not his. It is, IMO, a perfect term. It is particularly useful because it does more than identify a group. You could just call them Islamic Terrorists/Militants/Resistance etc... What this term does, and why it has rankled so many feathers, is that is identifies the true nature of the threat. It isn't just terror per se (like anarchy driven terror), it is a belief in totalitarian government as defined by religious law - and terror as a tool to achieve that.
These terrorists wouldn't be nearly so threatening if all they wanted to do was blow up some buses so a strip of land would be given to them. What these terrorists want is the establishment of an Islamic state - EVERYWHERE. It is Islamic Fascism - a great term that hits the nail on the head.
Thinking about the world today, I think it would be quite valuable to do a map of religious liberalism. A definition of battle-lines if you'd like. It would be based on four criteria.
- Individual Freedom. This would be from the Heritage list, it is centered on economic not political freedom, but is very well compiled.)
- Social Power of Religion. This is a good thing, the moral power of religion (whether Shinto or Xtian or Jewish, providing an anchor for society. This would be based on subjective analysis.
- Physically Coercive Power of Religion. This is a bad thing. It could be subjectively measured by state-imposed religion (Iran or Saudi Arabia being prime examples) or on religion with state-like powers (honor killings in Jordan or perhaps secratarian violence against religious minorities, for example).
By combining these three elements we could map the world by four broad classes and various shades. They would include:
- Religious liberal states (US, Japan?, Eastern Europe...)
- Secular liberal states (Netherlands, Canada?...)
- Secular communal states (North Korea, Cuba, France?, Germany?...)
- Religious communal states (Saudi Arabia, Iran etc....)
It is my position that this analysis could develop into a stunning map of the ideological battelines facing the world today. Care to help me carry it out?
A religious liberal is committed both to his or her religion and to the belief that governments are established primarily for the protection of individual liberty and human rights.
Chana is the academic who wrote Liberty, G-d's Gift to Humanity, Joseph relates the ideas to current events and discussions.