Occasionally I talk to folks about this-or-that use of American violence against some poor and defenseless country and I point out that the recipient of our state-sponsored violence offered peace numerous times.
In 1990 Saddam tried to get out of Kuwait through "linkage."
In 2001 the Taliban offered numerous peace offers to stop the US bombing.
Without fail the proponent of American violence says, "They were bluffing!"
And without fail I respond by pointing out that we should have called them on their bluff for obvious reasons. First, if we value the lives of those who would inevitably get killed in a war we would not rush to kill them. Second, if we called their bluff and found out they were stalling then a stronger case could be made for intervention.
This logic should be considered when reading the "Transparency and Open Government" memorandum issued out by President Barack Obama. It is not too long so I will cite it in its entirety:
My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.
Government should be transparent. Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing. Information maintained by the Federal Government is a national asset. My Administration will take appropriate action, consistent with law and policy, to disclose information rapidly in forms that the public can readily find and use. Executive departments and agencies should harness new technologies to put information about their operations and decisions online and readily available to the public. Executive departments and agencies should also solicit public feedback to identify information of greatest use to the public.
Government should be participatory. Public engagement enhances the Government’s effectiveness and improves the quality of its decisions. Knowledge is widely dispersed in society, and public officials benefit from having access to that dispersed knowledge. Executive departments and agencies should offer Americans increased opportunities to participate in policymaking and to provide their Government with the benefits of their collective expertise and information. Executive departments and agencies should also solicit public input on how we can increase and improve opportunities for public participation in Government.
Government should be collaborative. Collaboration actively engages Americans in the work of their Government. Executive departments and agencies should use innovative tools, methods, and systems to cooperate among themselves, across all levels of Government, and with nonprofit organizations, businesses, and individuals in the private sector. Executive departments and agencies should solicit public feedback to assess and improve their level of collaboration and to identify new opportunities for cooperation.
I direct the Chief Technology Officer, in coordination with the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Administrator of General Services, to coordinate the development by appropriate executive departments and agencies, within 120 days, of recommendations for an Open Government Directive, to be issued by the Director of OMB, that instructs executive departments and agencies to take specific actions implementing the principles set forth in this memorandum. The independent agencies should comply with the Open Government Directive.
This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by a party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
This memorandum shall be published in the Federal Register.
For those of us who advocate Participatory Economics or Participatory Budgeting or a Participatory Society in general we should be jumping on this to organize and call Obama’s bluff.
What have we got to lose?