June 28, 2017 – Arsenal For Democracy Ep. 186

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Bill interviews returning guest Emily Robinson (@see_em_play), a Socialist organizer in Scottish Labour from the US, about the June 2017 UK election results and aftermath. Produced: June 25th, 2017.

Episode 186 (53 min):
AFD 186

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Music by friend of the show @StuntBirdArmy.

May 10, 2017 – Arsenal For Democracy Ep. 179 Extended

Posted by Bill on behalf of the team.

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Topics: French presidential election results; the Republican House passes their healthcare bill; recalling the Battle of the Bulge in 2017. People: Bill and Nate Produced: May 8th, 2017.

Episode 179 (58 min, incl. 8 bonus minutes):
AFD 179

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March 22, 2017 – Arsenal For Democracy Ep. 174

Posted by Bill on behalf of the team.

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Topics: 2017 French presidential election campaign and the UN counterinsurgency mission in Mali. People: Bill and Nate. Produced: March 20th, 2017.

Episode 174 (51 min):
AFD 174

Further reading:
– 2014: “EU Elections, the Rising Populists, and Why Europe is Worried”
Our partial archives on Mali

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iTunes Store Link: “Arsenal for Democracy by Bill Humphrey”

Music by friend of the show @StuntBirdArmy.

Oct 12, 2016 – Arsenal For Democracy Ep. 155

Posted by Bill on behalf of the team.

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Topics: What broad lessons on direct democracy and foreign policy should be drawn from the Colombia peace deal referendum failure? People: Bill, Jonathan, Kelley, and Greg. Produced: Oct 10th, 2016.

Episode 155 (55 min):
AFD 155

Discussion Points:

– Why did Colombia’s peace deal referendum fall apart?
– When is it appropriate to use direct democracy referenda and when is it better to use representatives to make decisions?
– When achieving justice and reaching peace are conflicting goals, which gets sacrificed?

Related links:

The Nation: “Did Human Rights Watch Sabotage Colombia’s Peace Agreement?”
Chapo Trap House episode on Colombia
July 2015 AFD report on Colombia negotiations

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Watching Egypt’s revolution die

Arsenal Bolt: Quick updates on the news stories we’re following.

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Germany’s Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom – an NGO dedicated to promoting liberalization of governments and markets – recently announced it was closing its longstanding Egypt office, citing unsustainable pressure from the illiberal environment of the current military-backed government. Ronald Meinardus, now directing the South Asia office in New Delhi but formerly directing FNFF’s Egypt office, reflects in The Globalist on his experience watching the revolution die:

Never, on the other hand, will I forget the images of the massacre at Rabaa Al Adawiya where, in a blood bath, Egypt’s military ended all democratic experiments in the Arab world’s biggest nation.
[…]
One of my biggest frustrations was that long time Arab friends and partners would publicly argue that their part of the world was neither ready nor suitable for liberal ideas and practices. Many of these people would support authoritarian rule, arguing it was by far better than giving space to the Islamists, whom they saw as the biggest threat.

The announcement of the closure of the regional office of the liberal Foundation in Cairo coincides with the fifth anniversary of what used to be termed Egypt’s Revolution of January 25.
[…]
Future chroniclers without ideological blinders will note that Egyptians enjoyed most freedoms under the brief rule of the Muslim Brothers who, not by chance, won every single democratic election they were allowed to participate in.

 

No politics without choices

Arsenal Bolt: Quick updates on the news stories we’re following.

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From an article in The Economist from July 2015, on bailouts, monetary versus fiscal policy for stimulus, and the tendency of politicians to try to offload key decisions onto “non-partisan” technocrats:

Voters may also want inconsistent things: lower taxes, higher spending and a balanced budget at the same time. Politicians ought to make those tough choices. To the extent that they pass the buck to technocrats, or to international bodies making backroom deals, politicians lose control of their own destiny. Indeed, the feeling that their elected leaders are not in control may be one reason why voters in some countries are so angry, and are turning to parties outside the mainstream.

 


Previously from Arsenal For Democracy on this topic:

A world without politics would be bad
Drawbacks of Technocracy, Part 1: Europe’s Political Crisis
Drawbacks of Technocracy, Part 2: Blue-ribbon America
The EU’s ill-conceived TTIP technocracy strikes again
On technocracy in democracies

Burkina Faso completes 13 month transition

Previously from Arsenal For Democracy: Burkina Faso political transition coverage.

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Just over a year after protesters burned down Burkina Faso’s parliament and ejected the president of 27 years, a free presidential election has, at last, been held. It went off without much of a hitch in the first round (which will be the only round this time). Here’s how it played out in the end…

The basics (France24):

Provisional results from Sunday’s election showed [Former Prime Minister] Roch Marc Kaboré won 53.5 percent of the vote to defeat former Finance Minister Zéphirin Diabré, who scored 29.7 percent, and 12 other candidates, the electoral commission said. Turnout was about 60 percent.

 
The good (The Economist):

Early signs are that this will be the first peaceful transfer of power since independence.

The less good:

Yet others have pointed to the ubiquity of the CDP old guard at the top despite the ruling. Mr Kaboré was a close ally of Mr Compaoré until only nine months before the latter’s overthrow and was widely regarded as the continuity candidate, despite pledging to bring about “real change”. His main presidential rival, Zéphirin Diabré, also held several ministerial posts before defecting in 2010.

“The CDP is everywhere,” says one foreign election observer. The ranks of both Mr Kaboré’s new party, the Movement of People for Progress (MPP), and Mr Diabré’s Union for Progress and Change (UPC), contain many former CDP members, and the UPC, despite three years as the country’s official opposition, enjoyed the unofficial support of what remains of Mr Compaoré’s former party in the presidential vote.
[…]
[T]here is little ideological difference between the two [leading parties in the legislature]. “All that’s changed is the name of the party,” says Daniel Eizenga, an expert on Burkinabé politics at the University of Florida.

 
I’m cautiously more optimistic than this, although it certainly poses risks. Why? Because as I argued last month when the voting kicked off, it’s sort of inevitable when there is single-party/one-man rule for decades that its successors will come from that background. Anyone who goes into public service ends up working for the regime at some point.