Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Boycotts, Good Advice and Slow Successes

The new Carnival of the Vanities is up, and, as usual, it's a mixed bag, but my pick of the bunch is this short discussion of Sharansky's Case for Democracy, in which "The Chainik Hocker" recounts the success of US economic pressure put on the USSR to permit slight dissent and emigration, and suggests that some kind of manipulation of trade law could produce similar results -- the collapse of dictatorships and terroristic regimes -- today.

My only quibble with that on first read is that I don't think we can do that anymore: we're too tightly bound by WTO, etc. -- pet causes of the current administration and its unfettered-trade allies -- to get away with politicizing trade at official levels. We've put so much faith in the power of free trade to transform the world in our likeness.... hmmm.

The new Grand Rounds is up, as well. In the category of "things you didn't think you'd have to say" comes these admonitions
1. Don’t drink to excess.
2. If you do, don’t try to sober up using crack cocaine.
3. Don’t visit prostitutes, whether or not you adhere to lessons 1 and 2.
4. If you do visit prostitutes (and I’m not suggesting that you do–see lesson 3), pay them for their services.
5. If you refuse to pay them (and I’m not suggesting that you do–see 3 and 4), don’t inform them of this fact while standing around in your birthday suit.
6. If you decline payment for the services of a lady of the evening, while still in your birthday suit, be sure she doesn’t have rapid access to sharp knives.
Other useful posts include one clarifying (i.e. debunking) the "low fat diet doesn't help" story, and some unhelpful things parents say to and around children and nurses.

Pretty basic stuff, you'd think. But damn....


The Chainik Hocker said...

Thanks for the kind words.

Perhaps we can no longer apply pressure directly using MFN, but there is still plenty of ways stinky foriegn dictators rely on the US for their basic survival, and we can use that as leverage.

For example- Saudi Arabia relies on the US military for their security needs. See Gulf War I.

Egypt gets like a gazillion dollars a year in foriegn aid money from us thanks to Jimmy Carter, in exchange for not attacking Israel and getting thier butts kicked.

The Palestinian Athourity gets a gazillion dollars a year in foreign aid for... nothing very tangible that I can tell.

The Phillipines gets both foriegn aid, military assistance, and military training (in order for us to be able to, obliquely [sp?] go after the Filipino Al-Quada-likes.

The US spends blood and treasure the world over in order to buy itself allies for strategic purposes. We need them, but they need us just as badly. I suggest an international game of chicken is in order. Let's tell Egypt "give women the vote" or something, "or you don't get your usual gazillion dollars this year".

I bet they blink first.

Ahistoricality said...

Fair enough, and I think we should have been doing stuff like that a lont time ago. Two more quibbles, then. Sharansky's history suggests that the changes had to come slowly, and there's lots of historical precedent to suggest that imposed changes from the outside rarely take, at least not in the way intended.

I think we could do something a bit less drastic: warn them that aid will decrease by, say, 10% a year until XYZ is done....

The Chainik Hocker said...

Will they believe us?

I hope so...

Ahistoricality said...

Well, the first time they'll probably try to lobby their way out of it. What it will take is that exeedingly rare commodity, Congressional discipline, not to mention a chief executive who can stand sharing a little foreign policy decision-making with the legislature.

If we had that...