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28.5.03

(follow-up to the previous post)

There are plenty of examples of the Mr. Jordan strategy in politics. The trade sanctions on Cuba and Iraq were in part justified by Mr. Jordan -- if we hurt the people enough, they'll rise up against their dictator. "Divest from Israel" campaigns at colleges are a sort of double-Mr. Jordan -- the activists pressure the school to withdraw its investments in certain companies, which in turn pressures those companies to cease operations in Israel, thus pressuring Israel to end its occupation of the West Bank. Note that a characterization of "Mr. Jordan" does not apply when the immediate target is a body with a clear responsibility to the activist group. So, for example, for Americans to pressure the US government to pressure Ariel Sharon would not constitute a Mr. Jordan because the US government is supposed to represent and be the agent of Americans' wishes regarding Middle East policy.

By giving it a goofy name, I've probably tipped you off to the fact that I'm skeptical of the Mr. Jordan strategy, though the justice of it varies (the software company is more complicit in HLS's doings than the Iraqi people are in the Hussein regime), as does the potential effectiveness. The Mr. Jordan strategy also seems like it wouldn't be very effective in general, as it seems more likely to provoke a backlash against the instigators than to result in passing along the pressure to the real target. To be justified, a Mr. Jordan strategy would have to be used when the need to pressure the real target is very high, direct pressure on the real target is practically impossible, and the passing on of the pressure is likely.

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