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WTF? George Will: "the first task of government is to establish a monopoly

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milkyway Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 12:15 AM
Original message
WTF? George Will: "the first task of government is to establish a monopoly
on violence."--from his WP column Weds a.m.

Well, so much for democracy. I thought this nitwit likes to pretend he's a conservative? What's conservative about a government violently imposing its will against its people? I wonder if he thought the same way when Clinton was President.

In the last paragraph, Will gets pissy with bush* for not being open about the sacrifices Americans will have to make for the multiple regime changes to come if bush* wins in November.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A56305-20...

registration required

<snip>

By proclaiming himself <Moqtada Sadr> allied with two terrorist organizations -- "I am the beating arm for Hezbollah and Hamas here in Iraq" -- he compelled U.S. commanders to seek his arrest, which would mean martyrdom in the eyes of his followers. In the war against the militias, every door American troops crash through, every civilian bystander shot -- there will be many -- will make matters worse, for a while. Nevertheless, the first task of the occupation remains the first task of government: to establish a monopoly on violence.

When Sadr's forces took to the streets with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers, many of the freshly minted Iraqi security forces took flight. It is too late for debate about being in Baghdad. And the (relatively) pretty phase of empire -- the swift dispatch of an enemy army -- is over. Regime change, occupation, nation-building -- in a word, empire -- are a bloody business. Now Americans must steel themselves for administering the violence necessary to disarm or defeat Iraq's urban militias, which replicate the problem of modern terrorism -- violence that has slipped the leash of states.

<snip>

Since Sept. 11, 2001, Americans have been told that they are at war. They have not been told what sacrifices, material and emotional, they must make to sustain multiple regime changes and nation-building projects. Telling such truths is part of the job description of a war president.
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rockymountaindem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 12:19 AM
Response to Original message
1. That quote about the monopoly on violence comes from
one of those enlightenment philosophers, I think. It is correct though. I can't commit violence against you, and you can't commit violence against me; however the government can commit violence against either of us if we break the rules. That's the difference between government and anarchy.
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Davis_X_Machina Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 12:22 AM
Response to Reply #1
3. Locke? n/t
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WillyBrandt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 12:23 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. Max Weber
In Politics as a Vocation, which I've read part of and is brilliant. Definition

"A state is a human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory"
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WillyBrandt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 12:20 AM
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2. Better and worse than you think
Will's definition isn't that off. Max Weber defined the state as (I paraphrase) that agency which has a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence.

Will misses the word legitimate. And given the situation of this occupation, it will require more than violence to grant legitimacy to the incipent Iraqi state--actually, if we ever had a window of opportunity with which we can do that (right after the war, bring in the UN, etc.), it's already closed.
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opihimoimoi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 12:29 AM
Response to Reply #2
6. Yup, window closed.
The Bush guys had the opportunity to drop Iraq onto the U.N. but would not think of giving up control. Instead they dislay signs of a long occupation period.
Big Blunder.

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jobycom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 12:27 AM
Response to Original message
5. I think the original quote
is about governments controlling violence within their countries and protecting their countries from outside attack.

Will is not half as smart as he's credited as being. He's got a decent vocabulary and a good literary education to draw from, but all of his skills are in his writing, not in the ideas he tries to express through his writing. It would be like him to misunderstand the quotes he uses.
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teryang Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 12:38 AM
Response to Original message
7. Poor diction and it's a little late
The government has to establish a monopoly of force not violence, there's a big difference. Such a monopoly exists only so long as the people allow.

As far as it being a first task, we are way behind schedule on that we never even secured Baghdad, that would have been too costly, so we just pretended we did for the TV cameras. They called it psychological warfare. It didn't work.

Another first task of government is to provide clean water and utilities, we didn't provide that either.
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milkyway Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 12:39 AM
Response to Original message
8. I didn't know this was not Will's original idea.
Perhaps what makes it seem creepier to me is Will dropping the word "legitimate," and also saying that it is the first task. Without "legitimate" it sounds like he's favoring a Saddam-like iron-fisted government.

Did Weber say this was the first task? Many would disagree with Will that the way for the U.S. to achieve its goals in Iraq is to first quell all violence. A "hearts-and-minds" strategy that improved the quality of life for Iraqis would work a whole lot better.
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