Sep 5, 2013

A Royal Address for the week of September 1st, 2013

To the Citizens and Nobles of Edan and the Peoples of all the World, Greetings.

  As global tensions remain high we have been repeatedly asked for our position on the unrest within the Middle East. To repeat a phrase from an opinion issued during the revolt in Libya,
"We have watched the various rebellions in the Middle East with the sadness that comes from having predicted the events years ago and realizing that these revolts are in response to the natural desire for a proper, personal government based upon joint moral obligations and that successful rebellions may, in the long term, be worse than the status quo because the rebels only know what they do not want"
  It brings us no joy to see our predictions proven correct in Libya, Egypt, and other, similar, nations.  We are no champion of dictators, but the current chaos was too predictable to make the time, methods, and actors of change more palatable.
  Syria is slightly different. Assad does not embrace the core concepts of Edan, but the forces that have been fighting to overthrow him are, again, no more palatable. The recent apparent use of chemical weapons has attracted increased foreign scrutiny of this terrible conflict, but no more clarity and certainly no greater moral standing on any side.
  Before continuing, let us make clear a few points. Edan currently has no citizens within the borders of Syria unless they are currently travelling; Edan has no level of diplomatic exchange with Syria; Edan has no economic interests in or related to Syria or the Syrian government.
  The Assad regime is the recognized legitimate government of Syria by international treaty, diplomatic relations, and UN membership. According to the Montevideo Convention (to whom the United States is a signatory but Syria is not) which in article 3 states that,
“The state has the right to defend its integrity and independence, to provide for its conservation and prosperity, and consequently to organize itself as it sees fit, to legislate upon its interests, administer its services, and to define the jurisdiction and competence of its courts.”
  and in article 8 states,
“No state has the right to intervene in the internal or external affairs of another.”
  Together these show that the United States is bound to treat the Syrian government's defense of its own integrity against either internal rebellion or outside subversion as legal and internal and to not interfere in this conflict unless the Syrian government requests it.
  The United States being bound by this convention could be argued to not apply to Syria, which is not a signatory. However, the United States, France, and Syria are all members of the United Nations and signatories to the UN Charter, which has the legal power of a treaty. The UN Charter repeats the provisions of the Montevideo Convention in slightly different language including article 2, paragraph 4 which states,
"Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.”
  And in article 51 states,
 “Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self- defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations”
  Together, these clearly state that unless the United Nations Security Council authorizes such intervention no UN member can legally do the things being publicly debated by various members of the UN, including 'limited strikes' or 'regime change'.
  There are some claims that [paraphrase] 'the use of chemical weapons allows [some nation or group] to directly intervene in the absence of UN Security Council approval'.  We assume this is a reference the the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) which permits slightly more broad action of its signatories.
  This is, bluntly, false. The CWC only permits assistance and cooperation between signatories, it does not allow various signatories to pursue unilateral international actions against other members who violate the treaty. Further, even if it did, it only permits actions by and between entities which are members of the CWC - and Syria is not a CWC signatory.

  Let us be clear; we are not so naive as to think that 'international law' is more than a vague hope for some and a thin screen for realpolitik for others. At the same time, however, treaties are meant to be as binding as internal laws upon their signatories. This is certainly the conceit of the United States as it attempts to use treaties to force internal change upon other nations in its pursuit of American tax revenue. If the United States demands that other signatories cleave to the letter and spirit of a tax treaty, should they not be expected by other nations to do the same regarding the UN Charter, the Montevideo Convention, etc?
  Certainly the United States is not alone. Great Britain was eager to likewise violate a variety of its treaties, as France remains.
  Thus, before we even grapple with the uncertainty of who is at fault for the origin of Syria's internal strife, who performed the chemical weapons attacks (and there have been at least 4), or the moral standing of any of the parties involved we must understand that this is, in the end, Syria's war to fight.

Sep 3, 2013

Choosing Illusions

  One of the most chilling concepts in theology is the idea that we choose Hell: the idea is that at the time of judgement everyone is presented with heaven, part of which is a clear, perfect view of reality, including the reality of ourselves. The damned are the ones who decide not to look, who reject reality for lies because reality is too much for them. The damned choose to be damned because, to them, eternal torment is preferable to the truth.
  Perhaps most people participating in modern politics are likewise rejecting reality for illusion.
  I have expressed my views on Communism elsewhere. It seems obvious to me that the various people and groups that still adhere to and promote Communism do so out of improper motives. They are, in the end, rejecting reality.
  Are the members of Democracies that much better at recognizing reality? The slide of Democracy to collapse is so well known and understood that some of America's founders opposed Democracy and, when they were overruled by the democratic process, warned the nation of the danger. The French First Republic was notable for the Reign of Terror, a bloodbath that presaged the horrors of the 20th Century, and for lasting barely over a decade before being transformed into an empire that started the first global war and transformed civilians and such into 'acceptable strategic targets' of war. The French Second Republic lasted only about three and a half years but was still riddled with riots, uprisings, and death and, again, collapsed into a bellicose empire. The French Third Republic fell to invasion and the French Fourth Republic collapsed under its own weight. The French are on their Fifth Republic, so far, and still cling to the idea that the concepts that created the Terror, the Napoleonic Wars, are important to France being a great nation....
  From France to Germany, the USA to the UK the rise of democracy has seen the decline of nations and, much more importantly, decline for the citizens of those nations. I am not discussing increases in material goods, I mean the legal rights and moral health of people. Considering the level or unrest visible in these nations, I do not think greater wealth replaces less freedom and degraded public morals. From the rise of nationalist parties in Europe to movements such as Occupy and the Tea Party in the USA people demonstrate that they know they are losing ground but continue to return to Democracy again and again.
  Because, in the end, Democracy is a comforting illusion. The spectacle of 'the electoral process' catches the eye; the platitudes of politicians and pundits engage the ear; the ritual of voting lulls the mind; the continual, meaningless bickering between interchangeable empty suits numbs the spirit. The flashy pomp and weightless rhetoric of 'politics' is so ubiquitous that people become sick of 'hearing about politics' and tune it out without realizing that is the goal - apathy. Yet even those who want to change, want to make an impact stick to the same pattern, use the same formulas, try to 'engage voters' and 'frame the narrative' and 'create a grassroots movement' and on, and on, and on... just like the people they wish to replace for being ineffectual (at best) or corrosive (as usual). They don't realize that they are just slapping a new coat of paint on the same Potemkin village.
  The question that strikes at the core of modern Democracies isn't 'which party should I vote for?' it is 'why is it that, no matter who is in power, things never get better?'
  Sure, this constituency might get that tax increase/break they wanted, and that group might get the program increase/cut they spent sixty million euros lobbying for, but overall things still got worse; the economy is still booming and busting with each boom a little lower at apogee and each bust a little lower at perigee; the overall burden f taxes, fees, fines, and such still creeps up each year, somehow; the burden of laws and regulations makes it harder and harder to get anything really done and done well; but once the 'electoral process' parade begins most people get in line for the ritual of casting a vote.
  The Western culture really hammers us all with the idea that political systems boil down to "Democracy vs. various types of tyranny" and has done so for over a Century. The replacement of centuries-old, stable Monarchies with Democracies was of key importance to Western Democracies after WWI and WWII and we are still reaping the fruits of these changes in the Balkans and the Middle East. But the most stable nations in the Middle East are still monarchies; Lichtenstein is a beacon of success in Europe (and the citizens routinely vote down attempts to introduce more democracy to their nation), and it seems that as the Constitutional Monarchies of Europe degrade the powers of their monarchs their nation's see their own wealth and influence degrade as well. Yet, still, Democracy is idolized.
  Certainly, some few see the issues with Democracy and go too far, rejecting all government as inherently bad, but this is just another form of accepting the illusion that there is either Democracy or nothing worthwhile.
  So, what do we do?
  Start pointing at the 'electoral process' and laughing. Long and loud. Start asking the real questions, such as,
 'But what was the real meaning of the speech? Not the signals, not the opposition to another party - the real, inherent meaning?'
 'When did your life get better because of Democracy?'
  'If your duty conflicts with Democracy, what would win?"
  And be a proud monarchist!