The Crisis in Samoa

Last month’s election in the small Pacific Island nation and the constitutional crisis that continues into this week has me asking: Was Samoa ever a democracy? By any intuitive account, yes. It has free elections for a parliament from which ministers are appointed and a head of state is elected, and the Samoan constitution grants several civil liberties, namely freedom of expression.

For some people, namely political scientists, these intuitive accounts are not enough. This post will take a more analytical approach, comparing a number of democracy indices, the background to the election campaign, analysis of the results, the myth of ‘dominant-party’ democracy, and remarking on the aftermath.

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A note on self-defence

The phrase “Israel has the right to defend itself” is said almost-reflexively in response to every single Israeli airstrike on Gaza. Of course, few here in the West would challenge this notion (and I certainly don’t seek to). Instead, I argue that the term self-defence has been erroneously deployed in this instance. The airstrikes, largely against city blocks, certainly aren’t self-defence. Israel already defended itself.

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