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Is it possible to have an ethical foreign policy? Watch

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    (Original post by felamaslen)
    Many would argue that Iraq today is "worse" (somehow) than it was before 2003, and what with ISIS on the rampage, it is hard to disagree. And I have little optimism there.

    Vietnam was of course a big failure, though mainly due to the communists and the retreat of America.

    By the way, you're arguing with the wrong person if you think that liberal democracies invading tyrannies is a bad thing. I'd love to see all the tyrants of the world be demolished by the West.
    I'm not really arguing with you, I'm contesting the claim - which is an almost universal statement in these conversations that simply doesn't stand up to any real empirical evidence.

    The Iraq situation is 12ish years old - that is little more than a hiccup in terms of the challenges of statehood - a country can easily go through grim times of their own doing eg poor political management, recovering from a natural disaster etc. I'm not saying it's a good thing, I'm just pointing out that if you take a short timeline as your benchmark, you are very likely to find issues of state are behind your desires (though look up Zhou Enlai and the French Revolution!). Remember (though neither of us actually do first hand) that we still had rationing after WWII until about 1952 and the Berlin Wall didn't fall until 1989 - yet we didn't/don't question our involvement because of those after effects.

    And in the 1990s, ie 30 or so years after the conflict in Vietnam - were the citizens of Vietnam in a worse position than before the war? I don't know much about the conflict so I can't quote figures either real or hypothetical, but I very strongly suspect that the trajectory of the average Vietnamese citizen in 1990 is very much better than the hypothetical position had the war not happened. Although that is not to deny that it was a very badly fought conflict in many, many ways.
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    (Original post by threeportdrift)
    I'm not really arguing with you, I'm contesting the claim - which is an almost universal statement in these conversations that simply doesn't stand up to any real empirical evidence.

    The Iraq situation is 12ish years old - that is little more than a hiccup in terms of the challenges of statehood - a country can easily go through grim times of their own doing eg poor political management, recovering from a natural disaster etc. I'm not saying it's a good thing, I'm just pointing out that if you take a short timeline as your benchmark, you are very likely to find issues of state are behind your desires (though look up Zhou Enlai and the French Revolution!). Remember (though neither of us actually do first hand) that we still had rationing after WWII until about 1952 and the Berlin Wall didn't fall until 1989 - yet we didn't/don't question our involvement because of those after effects.

    And in the 1990s, ie 30 or so years after the conflict in Vietnam - were the citizens of Vietnam in a worse position than before the war? I don't know much about the conflict so I can't quote figures either real or hypothetical, but I very strongly suspect that the trajectory of the average Vietnamese citizen in 1990 is very much better than the hypothetical position had the war not happened. Although that is not to deny that it was a very badly fought conflict in many, many ways.
    Vietnam is complicated by the fact that after the Americans left, the communists murdered millions of people (making My Lai and Agent Orange look rather irrelevant). Everybody recognises that the West lost Vietnam (and to this day it remains a communist state with no human rights).
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    (Original post by felamaslen)
    People don't like being dictated to. People should be free to live their lives according to their own wishes - that's why we need human rights. Human rights are not upheld in dictatorships, since in order to maintain power as a dictator, you must restrict people's human right to boot you out of power. You must also restrict freedom of expression (another human right), since the free exchange of ideas will result in people becoming sceptical of your legitimacy as a dictator. That's why the CPC in China bans free speech.

    I'd preface this by saying I'm playing Devil's advocate here, although I am of the view that democracy is merely the least worst form of government rather than the best.

    I would not wholeheartedly agree that people don't like being dictated to. It depends upon how it's done and who's doing it. Anyway they also don't like seeing the amount of time and money that is wasted, in the average Western democracy, as a result of debates, committees, voting, campaigning, corruption, etc... etc...

    I assume you're referring to the Universal Declaration? Regardless Human Rights are a product of Western Civilisation and its traditions of philosophy, etc... Just because we consider it a human right to be able to vote in free elections, does not make it so the World over.

    Furthermore I am not making any comparisons to any real dictators around the world but to the hypothetical idea of a benevolent dictator. Such an individual might well uphold Human Rights since, as you correctly point out, people both should be, and like to be, fairly free to enjoy their lives as they wish. More to the point they will not tolerate despotism that intrudes too much in their lives.

    I don't see that allowing freedom of expression would necessarily undermine such a dictator. It's equally possible that people might look at democracies and, after rigorous debate, conclude that they still had things better. For example, government projects might take less time and be much more efficient (indeed they often are in China).

    The CPC imposes censorship because it is not even close to being benevolent and does not serve the people as it should. It is despotic and flawed in so many ways, going far beyond Human Rights abuses alone, that to allow free speech would quickly undermine it.
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    (Original post by felamaslen)
    Or were you thinking of something else?
    I was thinking of the 600,000 Iraqi civilians killed in the attempt to kill Saddam Hussein.
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    (Original post by Simes)
    I was thinking of the 600,000 Iraqi civilians killed in the attempt to kill Saddam Hussein.
    No I mean were you thinking of something else with regards to what to do about dictators like Saddam Hussein (other than sanctions or war)?

    By the way, most of those deaths were the responsibility of the jihad, not the coalition.
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    (Original post by B-FJL3)
    I'd preface this by saying I'm playing Devil's advocate here, although I am of the view that democracy is merely the least worst form of government rather than the best.

    I would not wholeheartedly agree that people don't like being dictated to. It depends upon how it's done and who's doing it. Anyway they also don't like seeing the amount of time and money that is wasted, in the average Western democracy, as a result of debates, committees, voting, campaigning, corruption, etc... etc...

    I assume you're referring to the Universal Declaration? Regardless Human Rights are a product of Western Civilisation and its traditions of philosophy, etc... Just because we consider it a human right to be able to vote in free elections, does not make it so the World over.

    Furthermore I am not making any comparisons to any real dictators around the world but to the hypothetical idea of a benevolent dictator. Such an individual might well uphold Human Rights since, as you correctly point out, people both should be, and like to be, fairly free to enjoy their lives as they wish. More to the point they will not tolerate despotism that intrudes too much in their lives.

    I don't see that allowing freedom of expression would necessarily undermine such a dictator. It's equally possible that people might look at democracies and, after rigorous debate, conclude that they still had things better. For example, government projects might take less time and be much more efficient (indeed they often are in China).

    The CPC imposes censorship because it is not even close to being benevolent and does not serve the people as it should. It is despotic and flawed in so many ways, going far beyond Human Rights abuses alone, that to allow free speech would quickly undermine it.
    I disagree. I think the world would be a far better place if all of it had human rights. (Yes, the UN declaration is good, but it isn't the defining document for me). I am for Western cultural hegemony, because Western culture is better than all others.

    Also, corruption is far worse in the average dictatorship than in Western democracies.

    There has never been an actual benevolent dictator (I hope you agree), so going by that evidence, I think it is safe to assume that dictators are necessarily non-benevolent. (We are not operating to a mathematical level of rigour here).
 
 
 
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