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Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Essays around the Blogosphere

Enabling Evil

Americans are complicit in the deaths and maiming of thousands of American soldiers for no valid purpose. Americans are complicit in the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqi women and children as "collateral damage." No one knows how high the number is because the Bush administration does not regard Iraqi lives as worth counting.
How much more shame and complicity will Americans allow Bush and his neocon brownshirts to shovel onto their shoulders before Americans say "enough!" and remove from office the war criminal who has sullied America’s good name?

A Walk On the Dark Side

Let us suppose that some mysterious foreigners managed to pull off a major atrocity someplace in America, killing close to three thousand people. You become, understandably, both fearful and angry: fearful that you or your loved ones might be vulnerable to attack, and angry that someone could make you feel vulnerable. Your fear is enhanced by the anonymous nature of the attackers, so there is no clear target upon which, or whom, to focus your anger.

A political leader whom you respect informs you that he knows the identity of the forces behind this atrocity. "It is the Lower Ruritanians," he tells you, "who are in league with the Slobovian Liberation Front, who engineered this attack as the first step in destroying America and taking over the world!" This leader then tells you that he has located the center of this wicked conspiracy in Lockstockia, whose national leaders are on the verge of an all-out attack on American cities; an attack that can be averted only if "we" attack and destroy "them" first!

Your fears having been mobilized to a sufficient level of frenzy, you join your like-minded neighbors to demand the most unrestrained retribution against all Lockstockians for their collective guilt for ill-defined wrongs. Those who urge caution are denounced as "traitors," "America-haters," or, perhaps, even "terrorist sympathizers." No amount of military force is regarded as too much to inflict upon such agents of evil; no police-state restraints are beyond the pale of permissibility if a "free" society is to protect itself. Flags must be thrust into the breezes; the leader who advised you of these threats must be deified: to be against this man is to be against God!

When it is later shown that the "evidence" upon which the leader relied to enlist your support had been fabricated out of smoke and mirrors, that his solemn pronouncements were all lies, and that the Lockstockians were no more responsible for the original atrocity than was Elvis Presley’s ghost, such information does little to abate your energies. The truth-tellers are simply added to the list of "enemies" and "traitors" to be exorcised by a more intense devotion to the leader and his purposes. The truth puts the leader in a negative light and reflects badly upon you for having supported him.

Palaver from Persimmon Crossing

Do you listen to the radio? Why do talk shows pander to hate and fear instead of positive attitudes?

Why are liberals supporting an illiberal system? Social Security's current structure consistent with Democratic values, ... or are the Democrats falling all over themselves to defend a legacy of discrimination?

As it has evolved, Social Security has attempted to provide American workers and their families with three things: retirement benefits, disability insurance, and survivor benefits. Those are solid liberal goals. But because of the program's age, aspects of Social Security discriminate against many modern families, particularly gay couples, unmarried couples, dual-earner couples, and divorcees.

Compulsion: It’s What’s for Dinner

Most recent free-speech controversies have been about government efforts to restrict someone’s right to express himself. So it is noteworthy that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in a case involving not stifled speech, but rather coerced speech. Alas, it decided the case wrongly.
Scalia makes explicit what few like to think about: government by nature routinely aggresses against peaceful individuals. It takes their money for a variety of purposes, including advocacy, with which they may vehemently disagree, and they have no legal standing to object. So much for the vaunted “rights of the minority.” [emphasis added]

The Secret's Out – Now What?
The first paragraph of the Downing Street minutes of July 23, 2002, warns that they "should be shown only to those with a genuine need to know its contents." In a democracy, we the people have a genuine need to know the background of decisions on war and peace – so the source(s) who leaked the minutes and other documents were performing a duty that can be seen as truly patriotic. And patriotic leaks can be done without revealing information that truly needs to be protected.

UN Bill Not What It Appears to Be (by Rep. Ron Paul)
The official adoption ... by the United Nations would have the effect of making resistance to any government or any international organization an international crime. It would make any attempt to overthrow a government an international casus belli for UN military action. Until this point, a sovereign government retained the legal right to defend against or defeat any rebellion within its own territory. Now any such activity would constitute justification for United Nations action inside that country. This could be whenever any splinter group decides to resist any regime – regardless of the nature of that regime. [emphasis added]

Web of cold-blooded lies

Sir Richard Dearlove ("M" to James Bond fans) reported that U.S. President George Bush had decided to invade oil-rich Iraq in March 2003, in a war "to be justified by the conjunction of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. The intelligence and facts are being fixed around the policy."

Translation: The U.S. and British governments would concoct charges against Iraq to justify war.

After Britain's attorney general warned that unprovoked invasion of Iraq would violate international law, Dearlove opined with oily cynicism, "If the political context were right, people would support regime change." Translation: Use propaganda and scare tactics to whip up war fever.

Iraq and Moral Corruption

Consider the Soviet failure in Afghanistan. The ostensible goal of the Russian government – which invaded the country by citing security concerns – was to replace a backward religious regime with an enlightened one that brought rights to all, guaranteed a higher standard of living, and put the country on the path to progress.

Of course we all saw through these lies. To us, the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan was a transparent and brutal exercise of empire. It was evidence of the moral rot in the Kremlin. In the end, the Soviets controlled only the ground underneath their tank treads. It was the last hurrah of an evil empire.
Americans need to face the reality that most of the world sees our nation as the new evil empire, and many people in the Gulf region are dedicated to making sure that the Iraq War is the last hurrah for American militarism. How tragic to admit that the analogy is not entirely implausible.