1. War with Iran: the target package Irfan Khawaja, Policy of Truth
  2. A century of sanctions Benjamin Coates, Origins
  3. The tragedy of the liberal middle class Jonathan Rutherford, New Statesman
  4. The novel Morocco had to ban Adam Shatz, NYRB


  1. Can we still learn from Lincoln? Forrest Nabors, Law & Liberty
  2. On Brexit and beyond Lionel Barber, Financial Times
  3. On Morocco’s most revered leftist Khalid Lyamlahy, Los Angeles Review of Books
  4. 2015: France’s bad year Andrew Hussey, Literary Review

When Europe Rejected Morocco

Did you know that in 1987 the government of Morocco formally submitted an application to become a member of the European Union?

Brussels flatly rejected the application, arguing publicly that Morocco was not a European country and also that Morocco had a poor human rights record. This rejection marks one of the biggest mistakes that Brussels has ever made in its short-but-brilliant history (along with instituting a central bank).

Does anyone know of any scholarly literature showing that the admittance of authoritarian states to the EU or other federal-esque institutions will have the effect of liberalizing the political regimes of such states, as long as the republics admit these states one or two at a time? I did a blog post on it awhile back, but a blog post is not a peer-reviewed journal article.

The best counter-example of federalism-as-a-path-to-liberty that I can think of is the pre-Civil War US. The US federal system was made up, in part, of a number of authoritarian states that promoted and enforced chattel slavery. This example does not address the EU model, however, where Brussels admits neighboring poor states and a gradual liberalizing effect takes place.

In the US example, factions within the slave states benefited economically from the use of slaves, and this economic prosperity was tied up directly to the political institutions of the US. So, the US Senate had a number of pro-slavery representatives that not only made sure slavery could not be attacked politically, but also that the interests of slaveholders were advanced at the expense of the non-slaving states (and, of course, the slaves themselves). In other words, a powerful minority with interests very different from the general intent of the classical liberal framework of Madison’s constitution.

Once the number of free states became great enough to overcome the number of slave states in the Senate, a war became much more likely. It became more likely because the interests of the (illiberal) slaveholders were directly challenged by the numerical superiority of free state representatives in both houses.

In short, the pre-Civil War US was made up of two factions – one liberal and one illiberal – that were almost equal in power. The EU does not have to worry about this, though. It should be much bolder in admitting despotic, neighboring states into its apparatus. (The same goes for the US.) Imagine if Morocco had been admitted into the EU in 1987. There would likely be representatives in Brussels bitching about austerity instead of representatives of the King torturing and imprisoning Moroccan citizens for reasons unknown.

From the Comments: Islam and Islamism

Matthew riffs off of my recent post on imperialism:

I am far too lazy at present to read the links you embedded in this article, so I will shoulder the lazy man’s burden, and provide some simple anecdotes.

A very common reaction is to blame Islam itself for the problems Islamists cause in the West, and in their own countries. I have never opened the Koran, and I have only cursorily read the statements of Islamist groups such as Hamas. I cannot honestly speak to whether Islam is at fault in toto, because I know too little about Islam’s tenets to deduce a causal relationship between Islamist extremism and the creed they espouse. What I have been noticing, however, in my brief travels in the Islamic world (I am currently in Meknes, Morocco) is the difference in practice between what I will call “media Muslims” (the straw men the media set up as representative of all Muslims) and the real, flesh and blood Muslims you meet in your every day encounters. I have met pious Muslims, who pray five times a day, and have had theological discussions over the differences between Judaism and Islam. I have not hidden my Judaism, as many Jews do out of fear for their lives – misplaced oftentimes, I would say – and have had no problems. I have met young Muslims who eat pork and drink alcohol and don’t give a jot about Allah or Muhammad. I have tried to flirt with Muslim girls and failed, probably because my only Berber words are “yaaah” (yes) and “oho” (no).

There is a very large pressure in culture and in the media to reduce everything to social forces. We must fear “Islam,” and “Communism,” and “Terror,” without considering that all of these social forces are composed of many individuals, with different ideals, and different means of pursuing them. Islam is, like everything else, a pluralistic social movement. There is Wahhabism on one end, and cultural Islam on the other, and many people fall in between. So, I do not think Islam can be blamed for the West’s problems with Muslims. A particular strain of Islam, adhered to by a particular type of individual, is one factor. Western meddling and overt racism is another.

The rest of the ‘comments’ thread is, of course, well worth the read too. I am not much of a bragger but, as I’ve repeated on here many times, the ‘comments’ threads at NOL are some of the best on the web. I look forward to Matthew’s posts teasing out what it means to be Western.

Also, Matthew, with Moroccan girls you have to feign ignorance and let them believe that they are doing the hunting and that you are the prey. (Let us know how it goes, of course.)

Around the Web

  1. Obama, immigration, and the rule of law
  2. Free markets, racial equality, and Southern prosperity
  3. Reflections on the Arab Uprising
  4. GOP hawks sink libertarian bid to lead key House conservative bloc
  5. Morocco and its arts

Around the Web

  1. Are Iran and Israel trading places?
  2. Morocco’s mentally ill await deliverance from their demons
  3. Bangkok’s ‘Mexican’ Gangsters (think about the infinite promise of globalization while you browse through this short, mostly photographic, essay)
  4. ¿Qué tiene de malo el muro?
  5. 10 Questions Libertarians Can’t Answer, and Hope You Won’t Ask!