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A Founding Father Discusses Iraq

"At a time when their habitations were in flames, when many of their citizens were bleeding, and when the progress of hostility and desolation left little room for those calm and mature inquiries which must ever precede the formation of a wise and well-balanced government for a free people, it is not to be wondered at, that a government instituted in times so inauspicious, should on experiment be found greatly deficient and inadequate to the purpose it was intended to answer."

- Alexander Hamilton John Jay, The Federalist No. 2, 1787

In actual fact, Mr. Hamilton Jay was addressing the new American government and the many complaints made against its early structure. It serves as a reminder that new democratic republics often seem less than equal to the task, but that in no way makes the venture unwise or wrong. So too in Iraq, the high cost and unstable chances the government faces, are still worth the effort.



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Comments (7)

Federalist No. 2 (written ... (Below threshold)
BarneyG2000:

Federalist No. 2 (written by John Jay) was if reference to the dangers of foreign influences on an emerging government.

The Federalist Papers were an argument against the current structure of government (Articles of Confederation) and for the proposed Constitution.

That is like saying Iraq, in it's current state, is a failure and a new form of Government (without outside influence from the US) is needed.

DJ:The use of Alex... (Below threshold)
ryan:

DJ:

The use of Alexander Hamilton's quote in association with the current war in Iraq is completely inaccurate, IMO.

How can you compare the philosophical musings of Hamilton, who was talking about democracy emerging from within a nation that had excised itself from colonial control, to Iraq, where a war-torn nation is being handed "democracy" by an outside force while everybody INSIDE continues to fight for power???

I understand the fact that we all want democracy to take in Iraq. That's what I hope for.

But comparing the current state of affairs over there to the rise of the USA just isn't accurate.

Democracy isn't really going to occur until the Iraqis start doing it themselves.

True democracy in Iraq might be something that the Unites States isn't very excited about--that's a possiblity, you know. True democracy will be when people over there finally start working together and forging a new government for themselves, without the US guiding their every move.

Duuuuuh Hamilton said that ... (Below threshold)
Reaganite:

Duuuuuh Hamilton said that about America, but of course, and we STILL have plenty of our own problems that stop us being very democratic. We need to reform the electoral college and restore democracy two ways:

1. Independent redistricting. No more party politics gerrymandering the seats. Citizens pick their politicians. They do not chose their voters.

2. Greatley expand the house. It's been done many times before. We need an average of 1 rep per 200k people. That's the optimum figure of our entire history...until about the 20's. Now it's p to 1 rep per 700k and rising. No reperesentation there.

It'd also mean the college would be tweaked, since it forms based on the seat numbers, meaning the parasitic tiny states will cease to be crucial in any presidential vote, and the large states, where people are screaming out to be heard via voting and have never been able to be, will finally get a proportionate voice.

America is broken, who cares about Iraq. We need to fix ourselves.

DJ, You are quoting... (Below threshold)
SCSIwuzzy:

DJ,
You are quoting Jay, not Hamiltion.
BG2k,
You get the gist of the FPs, but miss the point of FP#2, in that there was a movement a foot to fragment the union (esp popular in NY), which Jay thought would weaken the US in relation to foreign powers. France, IIRC, would have loved a disorganised US, as would have Spain, since neither had given up on North America as a place for conquest/colonization.
Anyway, Jay was more concerend with multiple confederacies forming than just reforming/abandoning the Articles of Confederation. He favored the Constitution, but he doesn't discuss it until FP#64 or 65, if I recall, and that is just to discuss the Senate.
Ryan,
I think the point isn't to make a direct compare, but to make it clear that if newly independent USA couldn't get it right on the first pass, how absurd is it to expect Iraq to be perfect out of the gate.
The colonies had far more experience with self rule and "rule of law" than Iraq has had since the days of Persia or Babylon (OK, might be more recent than that) and did not have hostile undermining neighbors to contend with. Even with these advantages, it took years between independence was declared and a government to "stick".

My bad, it was Jay.<p... (Below threshold)

My bad, it was Jay.

Just as well, Hamilton could be as pompous as Al Gore.

SCSIwuzzy:I thi... (Below threshold)
ryan:

SCSIwuzzy:

I think the point isn't to make a direct compare, but to make it clear that if newly independent USA couldn't get it right on the first pass, how absurd is it to expect Iraq to be perfect out of the gate.

Indeed, it is absurd to expect perfection from Iraq considering the current state of affairs. Democracy there is, I think, a ways off. I hope not, but I think that's the case. We can do all we want, but until the masses within that nation start working TOGETHER instead of fighting one another for power, democracy is a pipedream.

It cannot be imposed from the outside, or overlayed like some kind of band-aid--especially when the major political players are still fighting one another.

What we call Iraq is a political and geographic result of British control from just after the first world war---THERE IS NO HISTORY OF SELF RULE for this new nation. They were immediately controlled by British-installed monarchies, and then a little while later the Ba'ath Party took over...that takes us from the 1920s to the present, basically.

Their new national identity is being shaped as we speak. Obviously, judging by the violence, there are many differing opinions as to how things should go.

Duuuuuh Hamilton ... (Below threshold)
_Mike_:
Duuuuuh Hamilton said that about America, but of course, and we STILL have plenty of our own problems that stop us being very democratic. We need to reform the electoral college and restore democracy two ways:

The U.S. is not a democracy. In fact, the founders went out of their way to insure that it wasn't.

1. Independent redistricting. No more party politics gerrymandering the seats. Citizens pick their politicians. They do not chose their voters.

2. Greatley expand the house. It's been done many times before. We need an average of 1 rep per 200k people. That's the optimum figure of our entire history...until about the 20's. Now it's p to 1 rep per 700k and rising. No reperesentation there.

It'd also mean the college would be tweaked, since it forms based on the seat numbers, meaning the parasitic tiny states will cease to be crucial in any presidential vote, and the large states, where people are screaming out to be heard via voting and have never been able to be, will finally get a proportionate voice.

The problem isn't that the larger states need more of a voice. In fact, that's the very reason for the current two house system - to give a larger voice to the smaller states. The problem is that there's too much government from the Federal level. Move the majority of government back to the local and state level where the founders intended it to be (and where it should be).




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