Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Lone Crescent State

All this talk about Rumsfeld reminds me of my preferred model for Middle Eastern democratisation. If I had been a member of the Neoconservative cabal surrounding Bush in 2003- a state of affairs fortunately impossible- I would have said something like this:

‘Once we have half a million men on the ground and have stabilised Iraq, we will need to organise some sort of referendum about their future. Of course, we are all hoping they will vote for a stable secular democracy. But how hard is it going to be to establish that, with Iran and Syria and all the unrepresentative swill in the neighbourhood keen to see democracy fail? So, let’s make one of the options on the referendum ‘Join the United States’. This manifest destiny thing has been on hold since the Spanish-American War and its time we got it rolling again. What is easier, constructing a functioning democracy from scratch or expanding an existing democracy? If the Iraqis go for that option, we can offer them the same deal we did Texas in 1845- option to form up to five states within the union, yadda yadda. They’ll never have to worry about a Democratic Congress stopping the flow of military aid in their time of future need, like happened to Vietnam in 1974. They’ll have the freedom to move anywhere within the United States, of course, so I expect given a choice they will come to Michigan and make money instead of blowing each other up. They’ll be grateful, so they’ll probably vote Republican. They’re certainly social conservatives, so they’ll get the country moving in the right direction. And they’re not Evangelical Christian social conservatives, so they will tend to balance out the peculiarities of the Evangelical Christian right.’

9 comments:

Marco said...

That is so correct in many ways. A model in which the liberation (or conquest) of a country gives their citizens citizenship of the liberator/conqueror, would make it so much easier to win hearts and minds.

Marco said...

However the mass movement of economic migrants would make the displacement of New Orleans residents seem like a family moving down the street. Even the small number that managed to get on a boat to Australia were not welcomed as potential citizens, but undeserving outsiders. If Australia gave the option of Australian citizenship to anyone from the Solomon Islanders or East Timorese, there would be howls of protest from other people everywhere trying to get in to Australia. The USA (and Australia) should really relax entry criteria from Iraq and other liberated countries (eg. East Timor, Bosnia) to move closer to the ideal of expanding one democracy rather than creating a new one from scratch.

winstoninabox said...

I agree with you Mr. Clam, except it shouldn't be an option. If an Middle Eastern American colony/ empire is going to be made then the vanquished peoples MUST be given citizenship, a la Ancient Rome and its conquests.

And like Ancient Romans these new American citizens could vote in elections, call on the power of the legal system, and even be exempt from torture (unlike slaves).

Ah, now I see why the US won't make them citizens!

Dr. Clam said...

I don't know if the mass movement of economic immigrants would necessarily be overwhelming, since flights would doubtless remain expensive by Iraqi standards for many years, cotrolling numbers- and the U.S. is used to absorbing huge numbers of economic migrants from Latin America.

I think it is a sign that our culture has lost its gumption that nobody even suggested this idea. Past empires held together by ideology rather than race, like the Roman, would have been eager to assimilate new provinces. And I would love to see one of those Ayatollahs on the Supreme Court.

Dave said...

Not a bad suggestion, but you would think they maight have trialled it with Israel before now. I mean, sure, there's hasn't been an invasion, but there is that pre-existing co-dependent relationship they both have going.

Dave said...

Marco - leave it 20 years of slowly rising sea levels and even if the South Pacific nations do somehow manage to stay relatively functional (which many almost certainly won't) you'll be looking at a flood of people clamouring to get into Australia either way.

I'd be interested to see a comparitive estimate of the costs of propping failing and drowning countries up versus adopting them as "the Offshore Eastern states" and opening the borders.

Marco said...

Now that comparison is a no-brainer. I can tell you that employers all over Australia are clamouring for immigrant labour, especially from the friendly, needy countries of the pacific. Now is a perfect time (It seems to be happening) to loosen the rules for these countries in particular. Compare fairly substantial costs of intervening in these countries to help manage them or distribute aid with an economic boost of mainly non-refugee (economic) migrants looking for work. These countries are not huge, and integration into Australia with lots of trade and labour cross-movement is a fairly obvious economic benefit to all compared with aid/relative isolation.

Marco said...

Norfolk Island would be a reasonable comparison. For all intensive purposes it is independant, but the fact that it is technically part of Australia gives it a distinctive competitive advantage over other Pacific statelets.

Dave said...

Marco - no disagreement here about the Pacific labourers solution, which seems to be win-win to me. In fact apart from the institutional paranoia at the Cabinet level (which I boldly predict will be reverse in a heartbeat the moment it becomes a vote-winner), I'm not sure I've seen anyone argue against it.