Monday, December 29, 2008

Guinea, Military Rule, and Terrorism: Beware Hasty Judgment

Lansana Conte didn't go on television last week, to assure the people of Guinea that he was alive, because this time he actually had died.

Guinea: You Want a Civilian Ruler? You Got a Civilian Ruler!

Conte had been the leader of Guinea since 1984, when President Toure died. Having a military ruler hasn't been in vogue for some time, so General Conte put on an election and became President Conte. Three times. Some people quibbled about "irregularities" in the polls, but Conte kept his title anyway.

What, if Anything, Does Guinea Have to do With The War on Terror?

Not much, actually. But Guinea's 'democracy' is an example of why I'm not all that particular about what a country's leader is called - or how the leader gets selected. It's what the president, king, or whatever, does that's important.

Military Rule as the Ideal Form of Government

No, I don't really think so, but look at this:
  • Government by Religious Leaders
    Example: Afghanistan under the Taliban
    Result: Terrorism
  • Government by Monarch
    Example: Saudi Arabia
    Result: Terrorists
    • (15/19 of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudis)
  • Government by Elected Leaders
    Example: Somalia
    Result: Terrorists - and pirates
  • Government by Military Ruler
    Example: Guinea
    • Assuming that the elections were as well-managed as critics claim
    Result: No terrorism (and no pirates, either)
You see?! That 'proves' that military rule is superior to old-fashioned monarchies, theocracies, and constitutional democracies.

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Pretty obvious, isn't it? I carefully selected examples that supported my claim. That can make for effective propaganda, but it's not good reasoning.

As a matter of fact, I don't have the visceral, reflexive revulsion that many Americans have toward the idea of having a country run by military or religious rulers. I think it depends on what individuals are running the show, and which side of the eighteenth century most of the country's people live on.

For example, it's arguable that Turkey is a country where military leaders have the unofficial task of monitoring the democratically-elected rulers. When elected rulers start doing crazy things - like making adultery a crime for women, but not for men - the military steps in and sees to it that the next elected government is a bit less out of step with the real world.

That seems to work for Turkey, but I'm not at all sure that it's the arrangement I'd recommend.

Taking the Mental Blinders Off: It's Important

The African Union's Peace and Security Council suspended Guinnea from membership today. They said that the military coup was a "a flagrant violation of the Constitution of Guinea and of the relevant AU instruments" - and they may be right.

The AU also issued a press statement from it's Commission that "condemns the ongoing air raids on the Gaza Strip by Israel, since 27 December 2008." The statement has quite a bit to say about Israel's "massive and disproportionate attack" "which has resulted so far in the death of more than 300 Palestinians, while about 1,000 others, including women and children, have been injured."

Hamas isn't mentioned. At all. Attacks on Israel, also not mentioned. I suppose that would just complicate things.

I don't blame the African Union for taking the standard-issue 'it is the fault of the Jews' position. Many of its member nations have massive Muslim majorities, and Africa merges into the Middle East - which makes it expedient to follow the lead of that area's culture and philosophy.

I would much prefer, however, if the AU and other organizations were willing to accept the idea that killing Jews isn't nice, and that people who kill Jews should be stopped.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.