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Archive for August, 2013

There is a lot to be said for Democracy and the hope is that its form of government will spread. The truth of course is that authoritarian and quasi-democracies outnumber them in the modern world as always. The fact that full democracy’s are mostly former colonizers has never helped their cause.

 Democracy promotion has had its problems and misunderstandings in the past and is at something of a cross-roads in this century. Regimes will give lip service to its democratic institutions, accept aid and assistance and then corrupt the democratic system as a way of staying in power and building a dynasty.

 Often authoritarian regimes will be propped up and supported by States such as modern Russia who masquerade as a quasi-democracy in authoritarian guise and seek a mutual advantage.

 History tells us that Democracies don’t make war on each other and modern history is the story of democracies being tempted to intervene when authoritarian regimes abuse their own or other states populations.

 Some say there is no case in which a Democracy should ever intervene in the affairs of another nation and some say it is acceptable only if members of the United Nations Security Council vote for intervention.

 The tragedy of the Arab Spring series of government changes, initially by people on the street fed up with one man or one family rule has seen a step forward and often a step back. In particular Egypt, where Islamists have sought to create a religious backed authoritarian government against the wishes of the majority. A change which once in place would be unlikely to loosen its grip. True The Muslim Brotherhood won an election but then maneuvered to bring about irrevocable change and presented a constitution the majority would not accept.

 The current civil war in Syria goes from tragedy to catastrophe with the present member of the Assad dynasty seeing nothing wrong with bombing and killing his own people, while his opposition increasingly consists of Islamic groups (usually democracy haters) taking part for their own purposes. And the democracies wring their hands and shudder at the thought of another Iraq or Afghanistan quagmire.

 Supported by the likes of Russia and China (who tremble at the thought of regime change) Assad will stay in power for a long time now in a wrecked empty country devoid of any real wealth creation, surrounded by a million or so refugees who will fester into hate filled extremists and whose descendants no doubt will expiate their sense of injustice on a future member of the Assad dynasty. How different it could have been if Mr Assad had accepted a few demands from his own people. Isn’t that what a government is for, following the wishes of it’s people……sorry got carried away there we are talking about an authoritarian regime.

 Barack Obama held out for a very long time while things got nastier in Syria, his moving red line was a way of saying “it’s OK Assad you can do what you want…..just don’t bring WMD’s back into the news….please it makes things complicated”. But he did didn’t he, couldn’t help it in the end, just could not do it. And as we know things have got complicated again, David Cameron defeated by small politics, Hollande getting more hysterical and the US about to rain missiles onto Assad’s Russian built missile and armament stocks, and no doubt Assad’s own hiding place.

 It is said that only 11% of the world’s population is governed by full democracies and 37% by authoritarian regimes, leaving the remainder 52% ruled by hybrid/flawed democracies. We can only ponder what the world could be like if we ever get to a condition where 90% of the world’s population are governed by full democracies. It’s worth betting there would be a lot less war and a loss less murdering of innocent civilians.

                                                            A Syria 2A Syria 1

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“Hull City Tigers Formed 2013”.

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5th August 2013 Monday – Tit for Tat comments by the Gibraltar Chief Minister Fabian Picardo accusing the Spanish of “Sabre Rattling” is followed this afternoon by the UK Prime Minister David Cameron saying he is seriously worried by developments but will not compromise.

This followed the weird statement by Spain that Madrid was “preparing to impose a €50  fee on the border crossing with the British territory as well as being ready to close airspace to planes using the Gibraltar airport and to investigate alleged smuggling over the border and the tax affairs of Gibraltarians with property in Spain.”

Fabian Picardo says the Spanish plans by their foreign minister, José Manuel García-Margallo, remind him of North Korean stuff. He said “hell will freeze over” before the authorities in Gibraltar would remove an artificial reef which Madrid claims is harming the livelihoods of Spanish fishermen.  Any border fees would in any case violate European Union rules on freedom of movement rules, he added.

“Clearly, we remain seriously concerned by the events at the Spain-Gibraltar border,” a Downing Street spokesman has said today.

“Specifically on this issue of border fees, the Spanish have not raised the prospect of introducing border fees with us. We are seeking an explanation from them regarding reports that they might target Gibraltar with further measures.”

All very brave and unflinching by everyone, but it’s early days yet and when both sides have extracted as much political capital as possible from the situation we expect things to calm down until the next time it can be used.

In fact EU is involved with the argument between the UK/Gibraltar and Spain over fishing rights and it is possible that it all may end up in court to decide who has sovereignty over certain waters.

Gib

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