Is It the Leader or the System That Creates a Closed Society?

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
September 12, 2008
North Korea Military Parade

Rumors have swirled that North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is seriously ill. The North Koreans have denied that there are any health problems with their leader. The circumstances have made people think about what life might be like in North Korea after Kim Jong-il.

Is it the leader or the system that creates a closed society and has people accept a state without freedom?

Comments

Comments

Syrian P.
|
Syria
September 12, 2008

SNP in Syria writes:

Life in DPRK will be just like life after Kim Il Song died, just as it is now after the elder Assad died in Syria, just as in the days after Breznev died in Russia, just as Morrocco is now after the father king died, just as Libya, Egypt and Burnai will be when the kids rule. The same o until the bankers had it with non IMF-World Bank compliant regime. All over the globe, almost in all countries, including the United States, the faces change, the slogans gets updates but the real rulers and the system they impose at people at will, never change.

Sam
|
District Of Columbia, USA
September 13, 2008

Sam in Washington, DC writes:

The North Korean leaders created the unique closed siciety thay no other countries come close.

Mario M.
|
United States
September 13, 2008

Mario in U.S.A. writes:

Is the system; leaders just manipulate the system in order to gain control and stablish a radical government that satisfied primarely the nucleous of such a government and its supporters.

Joe
|
Tennessee, USA
September 13, 2008

Joe in Tennessee writes:

The question is multi faceted as the part culture play, which includes religion etc., will be altered by the Economic condition of the country in question.

Even in America the poor are led by a different set of leaders socially as are the middle class and the wealthy. Even though legal representation may be provided, the degree to which one is represented even in the legal system is economically or politically oriented in the best Democracy in the world.

...so the variables, impute displays from cultural to political history to GNP to natural resources to provisional care, need to be established by exacting country to provide a proper answer.

Generalities are what leads us to make poor decisions where program implantation is concerned. American diplomats know everyones history better than they do...just ask one.

Anna
|
District Of Columbia, USA
September 13, 2008

Anna in Washington, DC writes:

I think this is a question of the chicken or the egg, which one came first? I think it comes down to individuals. Individual leaders make the decision to implement a system, and individuals around them then decide to support the system. I'm not saying the people -- the masses -- have a choice in the situation, it is often forced upon them, but the ruling elite allow individuals to implement a closed system. Then, the ruling elite buy into or are bought into the system and become stakeholders. The masses become stakeholders, too, or are forced -- often violently -- into accepting the system.

I agree with Joe in Tennessee, though, too. Culture and economics play very important roles in determining the nature of a society.

As for North Korea, will a change in the individual leader change the society? Maybe, maybe not. Will the Kim family or the military leaders hold onto their power? Will China increase its influence in North Korea? Will North Korea reunite with South Korea (if that were to happen, I think it might make the reunification of Germany look easy)? Maybe none of those things will happen. No matter what happens, though, it will come down to the decisions individuals in Korea make, with the influence of culture and the pressures of economics.

Ron
|
New York, USA
September 14, 2008

Ron in New York writes:

Yes...especially leaders who are mentally ill.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
September 15, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

(chuckle) Ron in NY and I can finally agree on something....but there's more there's more to it than just "lifestyles of the rich and brain dead".

"dear leader" is simply representitive of the system he inherited and SNP would be correct save for one thing....

In a "closed" society ruled by dictators, the people have forgotten in whose hands the real power lies.

The system may have the guns, but they are people too, including the armed forces.

When the system becomes more of a burden than change would represent, the people find creative ways to exert their authority.

There's been many example of democratic revolution in places we'd not have expected over the last decade...as example of what I'm pointing out. All the "flower" revolutions, the cedar, and I think these show also the fact that while such a system may last decades....it rarely lasts more than 50 years at best.

As a system of government it becomes calcified, unable to adapt to changes on the world stage, economics suffer, the people suffer, and change becomes inevitable at their hands whether "dear leader" is president for life or not.

Of course, such a government, like Saddam's, can do something terminally stupid like letting the international community think he has WMD and is willing to use them again. And then change comes rather quickly from outside.

But the idea of a closed society is false thinking...for it implies self isolation.

And if North Korea simply wanted to be left alone by the rest of the world to seek its own destiny, it sure has done a fair job of engaging with the world by proliferation of WMD and balistic missile systems, as well as nuclear weapon testing.

Like "dear leader" was begging the world to engage North Korea....through becoming a threat to peace in the region and beyond.

Well there are limits to just how stupid the international system will allow ethical infants to get.

And so diplomacy is generally accepted as a rational alternative to conflict, but it doesn't always find sucess among the irrational.

Survival is always a healthy motivator though, and that generally gets through to folks within the system if not the leadership itself.

And so you find cases like Ghadaffi who make a strategic choice to change the patterns of engagement with the rest of the family of nations and better the lives of his people as a result.

A nation like Iran for instance...Religious totalitarianism, WMD production, State sponsor of terror, is on the brink with inflation running over 25% for several years in a row.

No matter what spin its leadership puts on , it can't change the inevitable collapse of a failed system of government. Iranians are fed up, and know the Khomeni revolution of 79 has failed them utterly.

Folks want traditional Islam to return, having seen the fruits of political Islam. A million dead in a war with Saddam, and another war in the offing due to their leadership's radical ideology and the threats posed to peace and security of all nations.

Yet even under such a system, the Iranian people refuse to be isolated, or live in a "closed" society, regardless of how hard the government tries to isolate them from the "infidel" west.

So the leadership in a desperate attempt to justify its existance to the people, created the "great Satan" to call enemy, and distract the people from its own failings domesticly and internationally.

Well you can't fool all the people all the time....and that hasn't worked very well for them either.

Stay tuned, it's going to get interesting....

Every dictatorial system has its own dynamics, but suffer common vulnerabilities inherent in their structure.

Economic stagnation is one that inevitably forces change to come.

One may anticipate miracles, as well as a fair amount of terminal stupidity.

Syrian P.
|
Syria
September 15, 2008

SNP in Syria writes:

@Eric NM,

You mention the flower and Cedar revolutions. These required a catalyst and they were not closed societies totally, just controlled. Both received foreign help in the uprising. Dictators and the system they rule with rarely are dumb like Saddam. He managed to rule that long only because of Arab and foreign help he received. Dictators know what would be catalyst for the people and they close the society in an attempt to insure that such never surface. Like religion, dictatorships rally the people behind a cause and immerse them with it and its advantages, we are all facing one enemy, just as the Comis used to tell the Russians, or the Chinese did, the people has no time left to think with any other issue. It is really simple formula and one way or another you can find ways to break down the system no matter how closed it is.

I still think it was Levis Jeans and pop music the catalyst that broke down the Soviets, the state financial woe only secondary. It was the inability of the citizenries to catch up with life style of the West, learned about through the media that made them aggravated to act against communism in a successful and decisive way. That is why dictators ban all type of media, including internet websites because it can foster that catalyst needed to set thing straight. Dictatorships have less than decade to survive on earth. The media and internet will be the catalyst that will bring them down for the same reason the Soviet came down, as citizens became frustrated with economic conditions and the inferior life style the dictator placed them under, the smallest of issue, which that the dictatorship thought will not matter, under such miscalculation, a catalyst is born and they are hanged or shot the next week.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
September 15, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ SNP, the catalyst must originate from the will of the people to better their lives and persure liberty. All democratic revolutions including America's own had help from outside, but was home grown to begin with. Those willing to foster positive change sought no dominion or treasure, but simply saw the possibilities for constructive bilateral relations as a matter of their own national interest.

Which pretty well sums up America's intent in supporting democratic movements globally.

Folks generally appreciate those who stand by their desires for freedom, and America has more friends than detractors in this regard.

Victoria C.
|
Canada
September 15, 2008

Victoria in Canada writes:

Part I
It is not an either or scenario, both the leader and the system are needed to force a closed political society into existence. Although, a good leader may be prepared to lead, the system itself can bind the hands of a good-will leader thereby limiting the good he or she can accomplish, directly or indirectly. Likewise, if the system is politically sound and able to reinforce a leader's wishes, but that that leader is one of ill intention then the system itself will likely be used as a vehicle for the misguided intention, potentially resulting in closed society retiled with human rights violations. This being pointed out, it is also important to keep in mind that a political system could become so complex that leaders themselves can exercise little or no power over it. With this in mind, I suggest that, the ideals of the leader as well as the foundations, and structures of political systems build upon sound principles and beliefs, have safeguards for the protection of human dignity for each citizen, from the moment of conception to natural death, and give protection to The Church. Not merely because these things can be viewed as safe guards against bad leaders and/ or bad political systems but because each can cyclically cultivate the organic growth of the other.

Part II
Why do people accept a closed political society? History shows us (all one must do is read a book on World War II) that certain political regimes are imposed on people rather than freely accepted and/or chosen, and that this imposition usually comes by way of violent force and punishment coupled with propaganda; or, due to fear, ignorance, and apathy, on the part of the citizen, for that matter, lethargy of the fight for that which is true, good, and beautiful. With this in mind, how do we turn the tide on closed systems, corrupt leaders, and citizens who find themselves in bonds? The solution is simple, by transforming all things in Christ. To do this of course, citizens of a closed political society play a major role as they are connected to both the leader and the system by necessity. The words of Alexis de Tocqueville come to mind. To paraphrase his words and apply it to this situation if the people are good then the society will be good. Now, these words beg an obvious question. Does the solution to closed political societies also weigh on the shoulders of the people themselves? Perhaps a tripod solution is necessary. Perhaps it is the Leader, the system, and the people. Such a solution would entail the citizens of closed societies to find the courage to do the right thing even if that meant standing in front of tanks, as the Russian people did 1991, in order to protect and foster democracy.

joe
|
Tennessee, USA
September 15, 2008

Joe in Tennessee writes:

QUOTE: In a "closed" society ruled by dictators, the people have forgotten in whose hands the real power lies. END.

Nomadic cultures are led by their social set of immediate leadership and laws. The Romans did well by letting them continue their general cultures and not changing them. They don't care who runs the country, only who rules the family and tribe.

WE pre suppose that closed is always represented by the people. It is not always the case. It is political condition and vernacular often misunderstood...as in this war in Iraq and Afghanistan; the variables of culture will not unite as seeing any outside Leadership such as Iran as a threat to their homeostasis.

Pscyops should include a method of preconditioning and conditioning tribal cultures to the benefits of a democracy and the represented outside threats they have as a Nation. We did not do that and have suffered the consequences as did Russia in the enemies? recruitments ability.

All too often, People adapt, not change....It is not always a question of Leadership.

joe
|
Tennessee, USA
September 16, 2008

Joe in Tennessee writes:

ON KOREA:

On Korea:
When one of K J IIs sons went missing, he thought the US had kidnapped him. There was a coo of sorts in which he displaced a portion of his Military Staff. The replaced head of his Military will be the strongest contestant. He does not like the US and makes Jong seem tolerant by his standards.

We keep touting the economic reasons for them to change; but the reality is: they can be stronger now with ties to China, the Asian Pact in place. I mean, they even have an embassy/consulate in Switzerland for some unknown reason.

South Korea is hoping the newly developed factories in the Southern end of North Korea will be a sensible manner for Adaptation and Ultimate Change; but, unification by the People of North Korea to South Korea seems dim with such a strong Military presence. It would have had a chance in the past; but, if China keeps pumping money into the economy there, the leadership has no reason to change only engage South Korea at some point in time.

Unification is doubtful; regardless of leadership.

Syrian P.
|
Syria
September 16, 2008

SNP in Syria writes:

@Eric in NM, PART 1 OF 2

We discussed this on another thread. This topic is difficult to discuss on this open forum, not for you but for SNP. You see, you think and write like a typical American (not bad by itself), relying on your historical formation. Whereas, if you are educated in American and Middle Eastern history, you will be able to ascertain significant differences. For example, you make this statement QUOTE the catalyst must originate from the will of the people to better their lives END.

All people aspire to better their life naturally, what you are missing here is the element of FEAR. When American Colonies rebelled against the Brits and tossed the tea cargo in Boston Harbor, they did not fear the retaliation by plurality of State Security apparatus of the ruling regime, in DPRK nearly a Million in total. At worst, the rebels are taken by rather kings soldiers dressed not in black colored boots and uniforms, but Blues and Red attire and sports a cravat of sort, many drafted from or lead by nobilities not from the Proletariat and the common masses of peasants. The technologies available to them were of no comparison to what is available in the hand of dictators today. The rulers of America were absentee landlords, residing on another continent and would need few months to get to the rebellion area.

Then you add the fact that the immigrants to the Americas were people who are already in rebellious mode against the King and immigrated to start a new life of freedom and liberty in America, striving for better opportunity and future, they were in no term ready to go back to serfdom and be ruled by notorious king dictator in Europe. You also have great, great, great men of high education and nobilities leading the rebellion and the establishment of the worlds most novel and strongest of Constitution, which is by itself a turning point in mans history.

Now, compare that historical background above to other countries that are run either by dictators or king and Emir which deprive its people of any liberty or ruled by most archaic of systems. Each and every country case is totally independent of the other. I will just give you 2 cases, Saudi Arabia, 17 million people absolute rule by a Monarch and some 9000 prince/s who are at birth allotted a monthly income of oil and state revenue, that for the equivalent of just one month payola to a newborn prince, Ninety percent of the Saudi citizens it is more than 3 years earning. These people are not rebelling, they are kissing the king hand every day in ISTIKBAL halls. Why, because they never had it any better before in their entire history of existence. Until the fifties, no paved road, running water, a school, and a hospital were to be found, nothing at all. Why would they need freedom and democracy now, they are happy.

By contrast, take Libya for another example, I know Libyans who been since the Seventies trying to overthrow Kaddafi, they spent a life time at it. They can't even get 50 people to demonstrate in Tripoli on a worthy cause because they all are fearful of assured arrest, torture and death. In fact it is irresponsible to put people in this predicament while you are in safe heaven calling from the poppet. It is fear of brutality. They also know that no one cares about them in the so called Democracies of the West. So there is not any shelter to run to and should they do, they will join a multitude of exiled people who has no affect neither on the local Western host nor the Libyan government or people.

So you are under the impression that if one million people rebelled at once, they will cause title wave and topple the Government. LOL, you are an armchair theoretical insurgent that have no practical, real life experience. Would 5 million people rebelling in the United States now topple the government? Not even 20 millions could. So why do you expect to be any difference in other countries.

Did Iraqis under Saddam wanted to be free of his Baathist dictatorship. Did they rebel, in Shia areas and in Kurdish areas, what happened to these FOLKS, as you call them, you must remember. Just in case you did not, in the south the shia were decimated with French supplied weapon and in the North the Kurds were decimated by Anthrax and other WMD of which the Chemicals were given to Saddam by the United States Government and U.S. Department of Defense under non other than Donald Rumsfeld.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
September 16, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Actually Joe I presupposed that all societies are represented by their people, not just "closed" ones.

And I pointed out the semantic shortcomings of such an adjective fully covering the description of a society under the boot of totalitarianism.

The Iranian government is not representitive of its people by a long shot, just as Hitler was not representives of Germans in general mindset.

Think about it....born into repression, one's survival means never uttering a true opinion of the leadership, regardless of the misery, starvation, deprivation, and disreagard for the people's basic necessities expressed by the leadership. Those in the Army are fed while the people starve....big recruiting inducement.

Yet underneath the human waves, banners, parades and forced celebrations folks hate Kim ill Jong more than they could ever hate the US as "enemy" because he's in their face....24/7/365.

Familiarity breeds contempt where it concerns dictators.

My point about the people having "forgotten" where the real power lies, is that the hoplessness and despair under the boot leads to a sense of powerlessness. And thus they forget how to excercise their power of numbers over the power of guns.

In which case you don't have a closed society....it is more correct to say that a "victim" society has been created at that point.

And it is absolutly a question of leadership as to who among the "victims" will become the nexus for folks eventuaslly standing up for ther rights.

As is always the case with any revolution, Joe.

This is why so many dictators take this path to power in the first place.

Quite the paradox....

Syrian P.
|
Syria
September 16, 2008

SNP in Syria writes:

@Eric NM

Sorry Eric, SNP could not authorize the second part which contain 3 paragraphs. This is really not a subject would like to discuss. I am sure you get the idea of our thoughts from the first part.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
September 16, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ SNP,

I understand what you are saying with regard to the difficulty of mounting effective opposition to dictatorship.

But don't assume too much about me, I have slightly more than "armchair" experience in this regard.

As for history....SNP might get some valuable insight from the study of Cyrus the Great, and reading the "good sayings" of Ptah Hotep.

You need to study American history prior to 1776 to really understand why our Revolution took place. See, most colonial Americans were loyal British subjects, and the history of their coming to support independance was a long drawn out affair and arms were taken up only as a last resort against the crown's oppresive policies.

I was turned on to Cyrus the Great by some Iranian friends of mine, I didn't get my history lesson from a book. But from democrats, republicans and monarchists among the Iranian opposition who were trying to preserve their heritage and democratic ideals of long ago.

Some years ago, after many good debate and earning their trust, they asked me to help them put their thoughts and ideas in English to communicate directly with the US gov.

Apparently they liked the way I wrote. And I thought they should have a voice in the matter, so I became as a bridge between cultures. Sucessfully so.

Ultimately those efforts resulted in a meeting with various groups and Elliot Abrams and Nick Burns, special advisor to the president and Assistant Sec. of State repectfully.

Folks at State's Iran desk took the proposal I sent along with contacts for various groups expressing interest in such a meeting as a worthy idea. Apparently they followed up on it.

Unfortunately these groups could not put their mistrust of each other and political differences aside for the good of all, and while there was a good exchange of information and ideas, the opposition groups had no unity among them to present at the table.

In a letter to president Bush in 2005 which I helped put together all the workable ideas from many Iranians involved in the project..."ghost wrote" would be a better way to describe my part in the writing, for I don't take credit for the ideas, just putting them into words (with a lot of imput from the opposition community) the US gov would understand. Things like Sanctions and the freezing of assets have now been implemented under UN resolution as suggested. But they need to be further enhanced and enforced.

The notion of civil disobediance, and peaceful protest and /or national stike to effect change was the basis of their activities, not armed revolution. Nor were they suggesting America remove the regime by force.

However, I had to point out to them that regardless of their moral sense of having to raise protest in the street at every opportunity being essentially valid, the tactics of piecemeal protest was resulting in the consistant crushing of protest, jailing of dissidents and weakening the effort overall.

In my estimation they needed 5 million in the streets of Tehran at once to ensure safety in numbers, I suggested they bide their time and create a large enough protest and strike that would effectively overwhelm the state's security apparatus. Such a protest would grab international attention, and the regime would have a hard time putting it down with the world watching.

In other words, the regime would not be able to violently disband the protest without commiting Genocide. Effectively creating a no-win situation for the regime, because the world would not stand by and simply watch.

Unfortunately, my suggestion went unheeded, and three years later most of the internal opposition in Iran is either driven underground, in some hell hole of a prison, or simply "disappeared".

As for Americans , we have something called Articles of Impeachment if a leader breaks his oath of office or the law. We also have in various states something called a recall vote that can and has removed folks from office in the past.

For us the system works well enough that we don't have to take to the streets to effect change, though protests in our streets are traditional expression of democracy, and they happen mostly for issue specific cause.

You will also find if you do the research , that the US provided no WMD to Saddam, and that only one American company was ever indited for violation of export controls on dual use materials. In this case it was a sample of Anthrax for research purposes to help mitigate Anthrax infection occuring naturally through cattle and sheep herding.

The Shia uprising after Gulf war 1 was basicly spontaneous, not encoraged by the US so much as by Iran.

We then established No-fly zones to prevent Saddam from using airborn assets against civilian targets.

I do believe not removing Saddam from power at the time was in 20/20 hindsight probably one of the worst tactical mistakes ever made by the US. As we had to go back a decade later to do the job right at great expense.

Syrian P.
|
Syria
September 16, 2008

SNP in Syria writes:

Eric in NM, said: I do believe not removing Saddam from power at the time was in 20/20 hindsight probably one of the worst tactical mistakes ever made by the US.

SNP: That exact point above is another grievance SNPiers holding against the U.S. Saddam removal from Baghdad in Desert storm would not have caused any U.S. casualties, it would have been effortless, nothing like what it took now to accomplish. You have missed great opportunity back then at restructuring the Middle East, acting as, and accepted by the region people as liberators not as Invaders. The war cost was shared by many nations, not as today, the U.S. taken the entire burden on own shoulders. Iran was at weakest point, fresh out of 8 years horrendous warfare, now they are at Zenith of strength. Most importantly, almost all Mujahedeen's were on your side and willing to help USA, not fight against you as they are doing today. Even Baathists would have been supporters of U.S. role, they were not that crazy about Saddam and his loony kids, and they just don't show it for fear factors until they know it is safe. Now they are fighting liberation fight when they could have been fighting on your side as well. The Middle East missed a rare chance at a make over in positive tomes. Now, not only your financial standing shattered but your diplomacy and world prestigious as well in trouble. How long it is going to take to rebuild this image back, who will undertake such effort and what programs will they put forth to regain that standing of the past. And after all, what do you have to show for in the Middle east, nothing, the situation even worse than it was before you invaded. Could not the U.S. taken the easy way out for correction of Desert Storm mistake, could not the U.S. assemble and trains a team of disgruntled Iraqis to decapitate Saddam regime at miniscule of the costs. You could still have gained even a much favorable oil contracts as Liberators and you would have been welcome to maintain bases to keep eye on Iran, no one would have objected back then.

It is just too bad that SNP at that time was in deactivation mode and going through 3rd course of splits, the internet was not as developed today, we could not exercise the same loud mouth direct talk.

As to removing the Islamic Revolutions leaders out of Iran, not even Reza himself will contemplate that affair. It is in the roam of fantastic imagination than in realism. Even Israeli leaders, such as Peres have concluded it is wiser and more fruitful to resort to means other than a military attack.

Five millions in the street of Tehran would not make Ahmadinejad budge, nor will it make concerned if I was in his place. There are 10 million youthful Bassij volunteer men, at least 2 million Republican Guards and add one million regular armed forces and few million devout Shia Moslem that loves the Ayatollahs so much, willing to sacrifice their life and those of loved one to the Imam, all heavily armed with good weapon . How on earth do you expect Iranians, few millions of them, that bare no arm, impoverished and have no resources to manage to successfully to put a show in the street of Tehran, or even pulling a revolution off. The shah was removed because of tertiary by his Generals, intelligence apparatus and most importantly foreign powers who wanted to basically destroy Iran and have it spend couple decade fighting another Western puppet named Saddam. Do you know how many trillion of Dollars spent by Saddam on weapon in the past 40 years, France, U.K. and Russia where biggest beneficiaries, but ultimately, it was all of Europe in fact, because the Soviets earnings were all transferred to pay the USSR debt with European bankers and Governments?

Ron
|
New York, USA
September 17, 2008

Ron in New York writes:

It is the leader who designs the system.....

If the leader is a paranoid type, he will project his distorted and threatened view of the world.

A closed-system defines the regimes of mentally-ill leaders; ie: Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, Idi Amin....millions murdered...fill in the blanks....

Zharkov
|
United States
September 17, 2008

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

I think Anna posted the correct answer.

Closed societies do not automatically equate with tyranny but they offer far greater opportunities for oppression.

Democratic or open societies do not automatically guarantee individual liberty. Hitler was a democratically-elected leader of Germany and there are many other examples besides him.

It is naive to suggest that a disarmed population can retake power from a heavily armed government determined to kill them if they try. In this kind of situation, the leaders of the revolt are killed or jailed first, and their followers are eventually taken out of circulation, one by one, until the rebellion is completely suppressed.

This is one reason why it is unconscionable for the US to sell military arms and technology to marginal or oppressive regimes, whether elected or not. Someone should ask whether the arms are requested for external defense or for internal oppression.

The more heavily armed the government and the more intrusive the technology to monitor dissent, the more dangerous the tyranny.

It is not only North Korea that worships their bureaucrats with near-religious devotion; one can find this same pathology in many countries including our own -- as anyone can see from watching our political party conventions.

Freedom can be destroyed incrementally so that the imprisoned population does not realize their slow descent into state slavery, or suddenly by force of arms and executions, as in Mao's China. Either way, it is the nation's leadership which mutates the system into a closed society at gunpoint. For example, anyone who tries to assert our right to bear arms in any American city will likely be killed. Try to assert your freedom to travel by ignoring unconstitutional police checkpoints, and the same result is almost certain. A closed society evolves in different ways at different times, but whether it results in a tyranny or merely an elite club that discriminates against new members depends on whether the public has the means to resist and also the goodwill of the leader. An evil leader, however elected or appointed, can set up a system to magnify his police powers to such an extent that there is little chance of escape. Even so, North Koreans still manage to escape to China and if they evade authorities successfully, they can begin a new life.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
September 17, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ SNP, the suggestion I made was just prior to Aminidijad coming to power in 2005.

And before the massive build up of internal security forces began. As well as the purge of ethnic minorities.

At the time, 5 million would have been a third of Tehran's population...your figures of today if accurate are nationwide. Folks were willing to risk their lives in piecemeal protest, and they did consider what I had to say and the tactics outlined. They just couldn't coordinate with each other effectively enough to get that many people together at once for a nationwide strike and protest march on their parliment.

70 milion people, 70% under the age of thirty....if that many people (5 mill) had taken to the streets, there'd be twice that number the following week nationwide and it would become self sustaining. Understand that the regime would at that point have been under severe international pressure not to react violently. And that if it had, most likely would face international intervention with the force of arms involved.

We'll never know if it stood a chance or not SNP, because it never happened.

But it was the only chance they had to do this for themselves.

Now it seems far more likely that their freedom will be obtained through Amindijad and Co.'s terminal stupidity and threats to international security and the soveregnity of nations. When it comes time, the regime will be removed as a result of their miscalculations.

Arming the Taliban is not a wise move on their part. And that's just one of many causus belli.

Remember SNP, America is not psycic, we can't accurately predict the future or read the minds of madmen. And I dare you to find someone that can....living that is. Spare me the prophesy...please. I just don't buy into it, OK?

Had Saddam fully complied with the terms of the ceasefire in 91, he might still be in power today.

But he took his country to hell instead.

And that's the simple truth.

Lessons learned SNP, the US is not about to leave a dictator in power ever again if we must use force to halt his activities.

That much you can count on. And so can the regime in Tehran.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
September 17, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

You know SNP, all the "might have beens", and "what if's" don't really mean a whole heck of a lot right at the moment.

What's far more important is "where do we go from here?"

And with repect to those grievances of your's, it's probably far more productive to just let them go...they won't help you secure a future for your kids, nor make you rich....nor secure for you any agenda of worth.

I'd have to say that you are flat wrong about Reza Pahlavi...he's all for Regime Change in Iran, he just doesn't wish it to come about as a result of war.

It's no pipe dream for these folks, they are committed to seing it happen. Totally aware of the odds they face.

The secretariat itself provided a couple names for the list of individuals and groups ('bout a dozen in all) that was included with the proposal I mentioned.

I remember one fellow by the name of Hakim, a former Iranian Ambassador to Norway and a huge critic of the west....( one of those that would seriously tell you that underneath every mulla's beard was tatooed "Made in UK" with help from Jimmy Carter...) , acusing me of trying to send his fellow countryment to their deaths with such a suggestion as to put 5 million on the street.

My response was the brutal truth.

I said to him, " Your countrymen are throwing away their lives in piecemeal protest to no avail, what do you have to lose by being unwilling to throw them away all at once and have the desired outcome, if that is what it takes?"

Simple answer...and time has proved to them they lost their only chance to free themselves. However remote a possibility you may think it was to begin with.

We all wish things could have gone differently, and there will always be example to cite.

I did the best I could to save lives, and to prevent what I now believe to be inevitable. As the Israeli Defense minister once said directly to the Iranian people, "You know what you have to do." I could have told him they already do, but lack the means at this point.

"behavior change" as a strategy has proven to simply be an excercise in diplomatic frustration. Five former US Secretaries of State now think direct talks with the Iranian regime will lead to a diplomatic solution.

With all due respect for their combined years of experience which probably total more years than I've been on this planet, I don't think words are going to be what makes the difference in the long run. The history gives me no reason to think otherwise.

The UN is not "obsolete" SNP, it simply is suffering from beaurocratic nuralgia, systemic entropy, and rendered poltically ineffective by design of those who flaunt the tenets of its charter and founding documents. And thus Iran has the nerve to want a seat on the Security Council. Now that's a pipe dream for ya.

To paraphrase Rumsfeld, You don't wage peace with the diplomacy you wish was available, you wage peace with whatever tools of diplomacy you have on hand.

And that means with more than just words.

Kirk
|
Kentucky, USA
September 17, 2008

Kirk in Kentucky writes:

@ SNP in Syria

regarding Part 1 of 2

Well said!

Syrian P.
|
Syria
September 17, 2008

SNP in Syria writes:

@Eric NM
Noted your 2 comments below. Will have to refrain from commenting further on the subject.

Zharkov
|
United States
September 17, 2008

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

In 1905, thousands of people assembled in peaceful protest before the Russian Czar's Winter Palace in St. Petersburg to present a very reasonable request for the Czar's mercy for the suffering of the poor.

Without any warning, the Czar's troops suddenly opened fire on the demonstrators, and then the Czar's Cossack cavalry rode in with their sabers drawn, mercilessly cutting down many of those who had survived the bullets. Hundreds of the peaceful demonstrators were killed, and their bodies littered the bloodstained snow.

This is what usually happens when people are urged to overthrow a harsh government, whether dictatorship, monarchy, or democratic. The national guard shooting of student protestors at Kent State University is another example. Today, Homeland Security now attachs the "domestic terrorist" label to such protestors.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
September 17, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Well Zharkov, we all know what happened when a clueless lady said "Let them eat cake." don't we? And Bastille day is celebrated still to this day in France.

MLK wasn't given a chance of success when he started marching on Selma.

Nor was Ghandi when he walked across India.

Civil disobediance is a powerful tool of change. Lives may be lost, and both MLK and Ghandi payed the ultimate price for sucess. But freedom is never free.

Supporting freedom is not easy, nor would I be one to offer false hope to those dedicated to the task of freeing themselves.

It can be painful, frustrating, and requires a long term commitment on the part of those supporting the legitimate aspirations of others.

For whatever worth my years of experiance in this regard may impart to others, you only earn respect by telling the truth, keeping your word, and calling it as you see it. Regardless of whether it wins you any friends or not.

I have no regrets in that regard.

But if the President's words of support to the Iranian people are to believed by them, Congress and the federal government will have to do a much better job of supporting their aspirations for freedom than is presently funded and implemented.

I rarely have much to criticize about the Dept of State or US foreign policy in general, because policy is generally based upon sound premis and values.

I honestly cannot hold out hope that a diplomatic solution will be found with respect to Iran given the growing realization among nations that they have no interest in a peaceful solution, or fair compromise.

When a totalitarian government is on the brink of collapse due to economic mismanagement, it often turns to war to justify its existance as a government to its own people, attempting to tap into national pride to carry them through.

And it only takes one to start a war. One bullet started WW1.

These are the parameters of the mindset folks want to have direct talks with...Ok fine. Good luck with it.

I'd be the first to say I hope I'm wrong in my assesment regarding the odds against a diplomatic solution and "behavior change".

And I certainly don't want to be in a position to say "I told you so." on this.

So I hope folks at DoS will take what I've had to say publicly and privately on the Iranian problem over the years, very much to heart.

It comes with a strong warning label attached.

Susan
|
Florida, USA
September 17, 2008

Susan in Florida writes:

So much of where a country is today, in 2008, has to do with it's history. To understand the nation of today you have to go back to 1908, 1808, 1708, and so on...back through their historical evolution. You will see that a free society is based in a history of a country that fought for, and won, victories(even just small ones) for national and individual freedoms. The truth is that our nation, the United States of America, could never have become a free and democratic country if our forefathers had not fought for certain freedoms in their original countries. They laid the foundations for our own Revolution of 1776. Many countries do not even understand the concept of national freedom. The state of each nation is built upon it's history. Russia is a good, and obvious, example of this. Their history is one of totalitarianism. Which they seem to be returning to. Individuals may desire and understand "freedom" but SNP makes a valid point about the very real truth of being governed by FEAR. We live in America, relatively fear free, but try living in most of the nations of the world, Cuba, China, North Korea or Russia for example, and you begin to realize how difficult it is to speak out against a dictatorial government. You are not just sacrificing yourself but your children, your parents, your friends. Easy for us here in the United States to encourage uprisings and revolutions, but it is a whole different scenario to live in those oppressed nations. Everyday people try just to survive. As each generation lives with fear and oppression, the harder it becomes to overcome the mindset of acceptance, the mindset of just surviving. It is something that we here in America need to think about and realize how precious our freedoms are and how easily they can be lost or taken away.

Zharkov
|
United States
September 17, 2008

Zharkov in U.S.A. writes:

Susan's comment hit the target!

"You are not just sacrificing yourself but your children, your parents, your friends. Easy for us here in the United States to encourage uprisings and revolutions, but it is a whole different scenario to live in those oppressed nations."

That is precisely why I have been saying:

Make no promise to help oppressed people overthrow their oppressors that the US government will not, or cannot, perform.

If we are telling them we will provide them with military assistance if they attempt to overthrow their government, we had better do it on time as promised. If that violates international law, we had better withdraw from those treaties before we make any promises.

Otherwise, we get them killed for nothing. Not only do we get them killed, but we get their bravest leaders killed first, thereby ensuring they cannot recover and regroup.

In the Bay of Pigs fiasco, in Czechoslovakia, in Hungary, and other places, we repeated this mistake and people died believing help was on the way. It wasn't.

Ron
|
New York, USA
September 18, 2008

Ron in New York writes:

AXIS of Oval

Is this an oblique tip-off to the Iran attack?

John
|
Greece
September 18, 2008

John in Greece writes:

That's why I love debating with Zharkov. He all the time invents "guerrilla debating techniques". His new one is called "change & trap"?

ALERT!

According to the "Utopian School of Change" (USC) and this new, I would say smart technique, he first changed the topic's subject by using some of Suzan's elements, while at the same time he trapped the two probable answering paths that someone may use.

How he does this:

First he re-set up the theme by saying that "Make no promise to help oppressed people overthrow their oppressors that the US government will not, or cannot, perform". Already at this level, he actually attempts to make us talk about -- Georgia.

1. If someone answers that the U.S.A. "helped" the situation there (Georgia) or anywhere else of the places (Bay of Pigs fiasco, in Czechoslovakia, in Hungary) he's referring to, he will get back with an answer like this: "if they attempt to overthrow their government, we had better do it on time as promised. IF THAT VIOLATES INTERNATIONAL LAW, WE HAD BETTER WITHDRAW FROM THOSE TREATIES BEFORE WE MAKE ANY PROMISES". He will also mention that America is the new Hitler that attempts to alter local politics of other nations etc. (you know the way Z thinks)

2. If someone answers that the U.S.A. had no involvement in Georgia crisis he will probably come up with something like this:
"we get them killed for nothing (BECAUSE WE DID NOT HELPED THEM). Not only do we get them killed, but we get their bravest leaders killed first".

However, the most important that he is attempting (with Suzan's comment "help") to achieve is to create a prerequisite (given) that the U.S. are involved everywhere in the world and they should not. At the same time, even if Z's "theoretical U.S. involvement" exists, then according to him, America violates international laws. Note that: (he uses this element as given: Easy for us here in the United States to encourage uprisings and revolutions, but it is a whole different scenario to live in those oppressed nations)

"Change&Trap" from many angles!

WHILE THE REAL TRUTH IS THAT US POLICY DOES NOT DETERMINE, INFLUENCE OR MODIFY THE RESULTS OF OTHER NATION'S DECISIONS.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
September 18, 2008

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Susan, take it from one who has been there and done that...

It is not easy to support the legitimate aspirations of others. It's a lot of hard work for one thing. And if you think gaining trust is easy....to be able to have some influence among those trying to free themselves not only from their circumstance, but from past history and doubt of foreign intent itself....it took me a couple years of constant engagement with Iranian dissidents before I was asked to help.

State Dept.'s Iran desk once asked me, "What's your onus for doing this?" I said "I'm just trying to help a few folks free themselves." And a hearty "Good for you!" was the response.

So take it for what it's worth from one who knows what's involved in taking on such a task without personal compensation. You do it for the right reasons, or not at all.

And it can't be done without standing on principal with both feet firmly planted in personal ethics.

If the US gov had allocated 70 billion instead of something like 70 million overall in democracy programs and broasdcasting support, and allocated portions of frozen Iranian assets directly to opposition groups vetted for financial accountability and intent from 2005 on as was suggested, I believe we'd see a whole different picture in Iran at this point.

But the US gov does what it does, for the reasons it does, and the decisions are not mine to make. When things I've helped write were read on the floor of the House in debate of the Iran freedom and support act and helped pass it, your working in the realm of the do-able, not illusion or fantasy.

Either you make the effort sincerely, or you're wasting breath.

And nothing is for certain even so.

Understand this. Folks already commited to risking all to achieve freedom don't need a push from me, or anyone else.
What they need is moral support, practical suggestion, and concerned involvedment for a just cause.

What they need from the international community is all the pressure that can be brought to bear on the regime to create conditions for their success in freeing themselves.

But when it comes right down to it, I believe "Regime change" will only become official US policy when diplomacy as been utterly exhausted and the last option is the only one left on the table.

And I can't argue with that. It is what it is.

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