Sincerest Form of Flattery
Plebiscites Masquerading as Elections

Authoritarians’ New Year’s resolution: to have their votes be as close to a Napoleonic plebiscite as they can!

Published on: January 22, 2018
Thomas O. Melia was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State (2010-2015) and Assistant Administrator of USAID (2015-2017) during the Obama Administration, and is currently a fellow at the George W. Bush Institute and a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute.
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  • D4x

    Will anyone sane ever think and write about how higher education in America managed to create two generations of incurious symbolic analysts who can not identify, or solve, a problem, yet still have jobs writing about problems that do not exist?

    Not worth the price per kilowatt per word.

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    • Give TAI some slack. I takes superhuman intelligence to tell some of the anonymous commenters apart from Kremlin bots.

      • Jim__L

        It’s gratifying to know that you have such a high opinion of D4x’s intelligence, as he was able to figure out exactly the profile of these bots (see his third paragraph.)

        I’m even more happy to say that having that level of intelligence is more common than you think. 🙂

        Keep reading posts from people like D4x, if you keep an open mind you’ll be sure to learn a great deal.

        • The spam message was a very easy one to identify: off topic, obviously shady advertisement. With all due respect to D4x, it didn’t require much human intelligence to see it was spam.

          As for you…. on the one hand Jim_L doesn’t seem to be a bot. On the other hand humans normally recognize humor, so perhaps Jim_L does lack a fundamental human attribute.

          Who knows? Who cares?

          • Jim__L

            According to your criteria, we are equally human. 😉

        • D4x

          Pait has confirmation bias reading comprehension to stubbornly state “off topic, obviously shady advertisement… spam”, because, it looks like spam. Missed what you read clearly: “a cybertag reply disguised as spam […]”

          The credentialed class, the Wilsonians allied with neo-con neverTrumpers, is so entrenched by their explicit bias, they will destroy…whatever. Sherman in Georgia, with words, not fire.
          I really miss what used to be so many good reads, there was no need to fight back with a keyboard.

      • Anthony

        Pait, “…the awful truth is that stoking whatever divisions most polarize American citizens just happens to be in the political interests of both our president and of the foreign actors who want to see America weakened by demagoguery and infighting.” ( https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/01/trump-russia-twitter/551093/ )

        • Paul Lies

          The American government supports and does business with regimes which don’t allow divisions in their own land, not to mention CIA interference operations abroad. Perhaps you can have your cake and eat it, too, in some instances, but this is not one of those instances.

          • Anthony

            A given and your point is?

          • Paul Lies

            My point is that neither you nor the Atlantic have much of one. Seems that you acknowledge that 🙂

          • Anthony

            You may or may not be a BOT but “Paul Lies” resonates.

          • AnonymoussSoldier

            Is it not french? And who here is using their full name and family photo?

          • Anthony

            See Pait’s reply above (or below) regarding last word.

          • Paul Lies

            Dutch actually, or the French-Dutch flavor I should say. We are witnessing projection here. No reason to believe that Pait and Anthony arent “bots” or more likely just one in the same “troll.”

          • Anthony

            We’re neither but we (Pait and Anthony) certainly both identify BOTS and online aggregators since late 2016 to present.

          • Paul Lies

            Oh I bet you do! Sitting there under a bare bulb running the Pait account. Chalk boards and clipping plastered all over. Like the Beautiful Mind movie! But somehow I doubt youre goin to have anything to with Nobel prizes.

          • Anthony

            Nobel Prizes or their winning is typical diversion (Bot specialty) and not at issue! Real simple: if you have a problem with Atlantic Article (which is where this thread began hours ago), write there. I have appraised Pait of its content and Paul Lies interposed – otherwise, whether you are (prior to your interposition) virtual or real remains irrelevant to me.

          • AnonymoussSoldier

            LOL that might not be too wide of the mark. Perhaps Anthony/Pait also believe they’re/he’s/she’s helping a balding CIA agent, as in that movie, too. Only this time it’s hunting supposed “BOTS and online aggregators” instead of soviet agents and nuke coordinates.

          • Anthony

            Final clarification (for both Pait and Anthony): in America, we “call” it a “tell” and you “aggregators” have been identified (by the knowing eye) for some time but you remain irrelevant once exposed where it matters (despite irrelevancies of references to Nukes, Russian agents, Bot deflection, etc.) – but Pait said it best leave last word to anonymous….

          • Paul Lies

            Oh we got him/her/them. And you sent that reply to me! Makes Anthony’s/Pait’s need to yet again reference the other egos comment about having last words even more strange.

          • I think the lesson here is one should allow anonymous trolls to have the last word….

          • Anthony

            Touche! You’re always ahead of the curve.

          • Non sequitur. The fact that the US interferes abroad does NOT obligate US citizens to welcome any and every form of intervention in the US.

          • Paul Lies

            The people aren’t responsible for what their elected government does? I think not lol. Another failed attempt to have cake and eat it too. Until Americans change what their own government does then you can’t cry foul

  • Paul Lies

    Sounds a lot like what the Undemocratic Party did to Sanders at the National level, and what they did to California progressives at the state level when they tried to at least takeover the state party. CA progressives didn’t know they have state super delegates too

    • CheckYourself

      The author does have to preface with “most” tyrannies pretend to be democracies because there is the giant elephant in the room called China. Not a democracy. Doesn’t pretend to be one. Does kidnap foreigners and Chinese alike. Persecutes non-Han peoples openly, and Han dissidents a little less openly. Etc.

      • KremlinKryptonite

        Just a couple of points (I can’t help myself as I’m an avid China-watcher in both my professional and personal lives!).
        First, China does not go through the pomp and circumstance of holding large, national elections, that’s true. Such a scene would be absurd and little more than farce, of course. However, it’s worth acknowledging that collective leadership does exist in China, it’s just not democratic.

        In China, the communist party controls every facet of political life and each state apparatus, but there is no supreme leader, at least not since Deng. The system, while opaque, is certainly fractured. We know that much. There’s a lot of jockeying and competition, and obviously a lot of corruption. The ministries fight among themselves, provincial leaders steal as much as possible and fight, and the seven-man politburo standing committee (PSC) and the overall 25-man politburo really do have competing interests. That says nothing of the military which the party is supposed to own and control, although that’s not always the case.

        Second, you have to look at the party with a pre-1989 lens and a post-1989 lens. More on that, but first there is a state constitution from 1982 that at least needs mentioning. True, it’s of little importance because the party controls everything. Noteworthy that the state constitution does mention the CCP’s leadership FIVE times in the PREAMBLE. I guess Chinese kleptocrats don’t do subtleties. Consequently, with a state constitution that’s essentially useless and meaningless, it looks more useful to read the Communist Party constitution in most cases. Although, I will leave you with a quote from the 1982 state constitution at the end.

        The Tiananmen massacre in summer of 1989 really did change the relationship between the people and the party post Mao. Being a decade and a half after Mao’s death, and with Deng a modest reformer, there were reasonable expectations and hopes that the party would move for some political liberalization in the way that it had moved for some economic liberalization. For the protesters, that calculus was tragically incorrect.

        There are as many as eight minor parties in the Chinese system, but of course these are tokens and each of them pledges loyalty to the communist party. I was not a Chinese reformer in the 80s, but I can guess perhaps they expected some of these parties would be allowed a real shot at some power. How wrong they were.

        “Under the leadership of the Communist Party of China and the guidance of Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought, the Chinese people of all nationalities will continue to adhere to the people’s democratic dictatorship and follow the socialist road…” -1982 State Constitution.

        Democratic dictatorship. Yum.

        • CheckYourself

          Very informative. Thanks! Yeah that’s all that I meant. They don’t go through the nonsense of having elections like Assad who inherited the “presidency” from his dad and the Assad family wining with like 95% for 40 years lol.

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  • Greg

    one wonders what sate democracy will be in at the end of Trump’s term? Trump’s efforts to stop all negative stories about himself and only accept what he thinks is true is worrisome at the least. trump would like to arrest reporters. Truth is the first thing to go when a person is trying to overtake a nation or its government, Trump lies every day. He never acknowledges his lies and errors, much the same as other leaders, Putin and his sort. Trump is working to divide a nation.

    • Jim__L

      I strongly suspect that to Trump, arresting reporters would be far, far less fun than arguing with them and calling them names in as public a forum as possible.

      He’s truly the first real Internet president.

      • Greg

        Trump is truly the first President to be controlled by a foreign power!

        • Jim__L

          I’m not sure anyone or anything controls Trump, and that includes Trump.

          Obama was controlled to a great extent by what Euro-types thought of him. I think that level of influence is greater (and was a greater detriment to the interest of the United States) than any imagined “control” anyone might have over Trump.

          • Greg

            Trump has demonstrated his allegiance to Putin and this will only increase even as Trump says otherwise. Fake news, disinformation is all directed by Russian interests to bring the USA down to Russia’s miserable existence in the world.

          • Jim__L

            Is TAI fake news?

            https://www.the-american-interest.com/2017/02/24/trump-isnt-sounding-like-a-russian-mole/

            If Trump is supposed to be acting in the best interest of Russia, he’s doing a very poor job of it.

          • Greg

            Actually Trump is doing a great job for Putin, the US government is in disarray, American institutions are being challenged, Trump refuses to acknowledge Russian interference in US elections, Trump refuses to bring forth sanctions against Russia. Putin is getting his money worth and more from Trump. Trump will sell his soul and the nation for a nickel.

          • Jim__L

            American institutions have been challenged by the Left for over fifty years now; nothing new there. The US government is still as functional as it’s been since the grownups left office in 1992.

            Russian interference with the US election was minimal, and anyone who says otherwise needs to put on his big-boy pants (dry ones would be nice, wouldn’t they?) and deal with it.

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