Sunday, December 4, 2011

Rogue Regimes

The (right-wing, expansionist) Israeli lobby puts its foot in its mouth and clarifies the debate over whether or not the U.S. can afford an alliance with the current Israeli regime.

An organ of the rightwing faction of Israelis called the Emergency Committee for Israel just made the following statement [kudos to Mondoweiss for alerting us to this]:

The Obama message is loud and clear: the world would be a safer, simpler, and more peaceful place if not for the troublesome Jewish state. [Committee for Israel.]

My thanks to the ECI for dispensing with propaganda and, finally, getting to the nub of the issue. Given the trend of Israeli foreign policy over the past generation,  ECI's spokesperson William Kristol, always prepared to put the factional interests of the Israeli right-wing ahead of U.S. (or long-term Israeli) national interests, has accurately stated the question the world now faces:

Would the world be a safer, simpler, and more peaceful place if not for the troublesome Jewish state?

The world would indeed be a safer, simpler, and more peaceful place without regimes that:
  • violate international law;
  • terrify their neighbors by launching aerial overflights with manned or remote-controlled bombers;
  • murder scientists and political activists in other countries;
  • commit ethnic cleansing;
  • practice religious discrimination and encourage hatred of particular religions
  • advocate preventive war in the absence of a clear and present danger;
  • demand special rules for themselves, like the right to weapons others are forbidden from having;
  • refuse to sign the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty;
  • practice collective punishment.

We can all name multiple regimes that engage in some of these political and moral sins, though the list of regimes that practice all of these activities on a regular basis is short. Such regimes (not states or societies or populations--regimes) should be opposed. Is the particular regime with which Kristol is always so obsessed on that list? You decide.
Methodological Note

For those interested in political science theory, the above may be read as defining the term "rogue state," a very loaded term that users in our wonderful mainstream media almost never actually define. To call a state a "rogue" state is not just a free insult; it implies that it is out-of-control and endangering the world. So now we have a definition, composed of the above enumerated policy positions, which taken together represent the "rogue" extreme on a continuum from "civilized" to "rogue" behavior. 


Rogue State = V1-9

More precisely, then, the greater the degree to which a state's foreign policy is characterized by the 9 elements enumerated above, the more accurate it is to identify that state as a "rogue" state.

Now, instead of pointless arguments about whether or not State X is a rogue state, we can ask which of the listed rogue behaviors characterize the behavior of a state and calculate the score for the point in time of interest. This helps reduce the room for miscomprehension, focuses attention on the specific behaviors, facilitates comparison among states (many of which are sometimes guilty of some of the enumerated behaviors) by generating a score, and guides us to move away from glib characterizations of "states" toward the more accurate and useful characterizations of "regimes," which are actually the guilty parties.

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