Tag: Democracy

The War Of Values

Today, a substantial list of countries are in the process of defining brand new constitutions or significantly revising existing ones. In the near future, several more countries may be added. Many are former Arab dictatorships turned democratic through more or less violent revolutions. Democracies, however, come in many flavors and one particularly bitter-sweet variant is the one where some elements of democracy are retained while others are not. Freedoms such as religious beliefs, speech and opinions, for example. Unfortunately, a majority of the countries busy writing up new constitutions, seem to gravitate towards just that form of “democracy”.
The question is: can democracy exist without basic human rights?

The UN is dysfunctional to the point of being counter productive. Anyone who takes an even cursory look at what goes on in the clubhouse of the UN knows that while the body officially stands on a “rock solid” base of democratic principles, universal human rights and peaceful co-existence between members, the reality is quite another. The list of members and signatories to fundamental UN charters presently counts more than 160. However, several dozen aren’t even trying to maintain any pretense of abiding to the promises they have so solemnly signed.
The UN was founded on the ashes of the League of Nations, itself built on the get-together called the Paris Peace Conference – a child of WW-I. Before that, the list of alliances to promote specific sets of ideas and values is as long as the toilet roll desired by many gastro stricken historians.
The question is: Are we ready to stand up for our version of democracy with its foundation of human rights and freedoms? At what point will the divergence of ideas and values within the UN make it untenable to renew our membership? How far must we venture into hypocrisy land and how severe an erosion of our values do we accept before enough is enough?

Who would like to co-sponsor the idea of a new body: “The United Democratic Nations”? (suggestions for a better name are welcome) Anyone can apply but unlike the UN of a previous century there will be no quasi automatic printing of membership cards. Read the rest …

(leaked) UN response to the Syrian Rebels.

We have come into possession of a draft letter from the UN General Assembly. We thought you might want to have a peek.

From: The UN General Assembly
To: The Syrian Rebels

Dear Rebels,

Thank you for all your query letters and annexed material (although you could have toned some of the accompanying video footage down a bit we think – especially all the kids stuff: We would like to remind you that some of our members are represented by women). We have now discussed your plea and here’s what we have come up with:

We’ll send you this immediately:

  • Twelve containers of diverse surgeon and medical equipment (No CAT scanners and such since you rightly point out the problems with stable power supply)
  • Several dozen medical personnel to assist in the camps outside Syria (as you so rightly underscore on pages 87 through 987, inside Syria, people risk being shot at any moment.)
  • Enough water for everyone to have a bath (again in the neighboring camps)
  • Seventy-two volunteer hair dressers.

Some of our members have held separate meetings and we are pleased to confirm the imminent shipment of

  • Sixteen advisers with special experience in the sort of predicament you are facing.
  • Two hundred brand new AK47 and about 2000 rounds of munition for each. (we prefer sending you this model since it is of Russian design – made in China on license. We hope you understand that these generous members can’t risk being pointed at if you should loose in the end.)
  • Forty-eight sat-phones (unlimited plan)
  • Eighteen crates of the latest LEGO classroom kit.
  • A box of night scopes.
  • 12000 MRE rations (Just toss the ones with pork)
  • A field handbook for successful uprising (We’re shipping the Spanish translation too since we never thought of making an Arab edition)

We sincerely hope you will appreciate this and naturally we remain at your disposal should you need anything else.



Post Script:

On the issue of your demand for a no-fly zone, real boots on the ground and more (as per your section I “top priorities”): Unfortunately we cannot accommodate you on that at this time. Many of our members are embroiled in cut-throat elections and others are a bit stretched on personnel. Also, the very democracy model you crave is – alas – quite hypocrite when it comes to military engagements. Whereas your videos have created widespread outcries for decisive action, experience tells us that once our country men and women starts coming back in body bags, the very same who cried for action, takes to the streets to demand retreat (and unless we do so, they aren’t going to vote for us next time around).
We are confident you will understand.

From our source we also have the internal discussion and analysis paper that Obama’s staff worked on for his speech. The nine gigabyte usb key is almost full to the brim with this material and it will take us some time to go through it all. However, a few elements relative to the Syrian issue can already be made public:

On the line where he says:

… the United States has not and will not seek to dictate the outcome of democratic transitions abroad

Many pages of meeting transcripts, wiki links and unpublished video and other materials, are used to discuss the intelligence of the speech line. Apparently, most members of his staff opposed the phrasing in case someone should check it out.

If there is a cause that cries out for protest in the world today, peaceful protest, it is a regime that tortures children and shoots rockets at apartment buildings.

On this specific choice of words, it seems almost all members of his staff agreed. Several notes highlight the fact that it isn’t common – or even clever – to embark on military campaigns a few weeks before election day. Background material suggests that staff estimate the chance of Syrian rebels holding out for another several months to be “good”. There are no accompanying estimates of civil casualties as a result of the unfortunate clash in appointments on the calendar.

But you never know – really vigorous and strenuous protests may have been underestimated until now… On the other hand this was predictable as seen here.


Giving birth to democracy – Tunisian baby at risk of being still-born?

This past week-end, Lina Ben Mhenni and Stéphane Hessel took part in several public debates in France [1] in which the topics of democracy and the influence of new social media were on the agenda. In particular in relation to the upcoming elections in Tunisia later this month. What they had to say would sober up any giddy guest at the democratic “victory” parties.

Lina was this years runner-up to the Nobel Peace Prize – better known as the “Tunisian Girl” from the name of her blog. She is widely recognized as having played an important role in bringing about regime-change in Tunisia through her courageous and effective use of social media to report on events as they unfolded and rallying support across the globe.

Stéphane is perhaps the last person still alive involved in drafting the UN “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” as secretary to the commission charged with the task. He is also a survivor from an extended visit to Buchenwald – curtesy of the Nazi rulers of his birth nation. His latest pamphlet – “Indignez Vous!” – has become an international bestseller with more than four million copies sold in just one year. The English version (“Time for Outrage”) can be found on Amazon. Fair warning: The guy is 93 and in his own words: “… at this age I’m fairly certain nobody will care to punch my face to pulp for what I say, so …”

A battle has been won but the war isn’t over. Read more