Wednesday, March 30, 2005

The Thieves In Three-Piece Suits

This article, by Norman Solomon, suggests that the Bush Regime's practice of imperial colonialistic warfare is not just due to a desire to control resources, but is also a reflection of extreme paranoia over issues of national identity. America must remain a super-power, they say, and the people, in their frailty or in their isolated strength, must assume whatever burdens it takes to maintain such a place in the world.

QUOTE:Released on March 18 with a definitive title -- “The National Defense Strategy of the United States of America” -- the document spells out how the Bush administration sees the world. Consider this key statement: “Our strength as a nation state will continue to be challenged by those who employ a strategy of the weak using international fora, judicial processes, and terrorism.”

A high-ranking Pentagon official, Douglas Feith, offered this explanation to reporters: “There are various actors around the world that are looking to either attack or constrain the United States, and they are going to find creative ways of doing that, that are not the obvious conventional military attacks.” And he added: “We need to think broadly about diplomatic lines of attack, legal lines of attack, technological lines of attack, all kinds of asymmetric warfare that various actors can use to try to constrain, shape our behavior.”

Translation: They’re after us! And “they” are a varied assortment of individuals, groups and nations bent on harming us while impeding our efforts to do good and protect ourselves. (The Pentagon document says: “Our leading position in world affairs will continue to breed unease, a degree of resentment, and resistance.”) Some want to murder thousands or millions of American civilians, others want the United States to respect human rights and abide by the Geneva Conventions, still others vote the wrong way at the United Nations. END QUOTE.

In other words, these people would have us believe that war is not just a force that gives us meaning, war ensures our future, makes us safe, keeps our identity and position in the world intact. So if you approve of the war, then you must also believe the assertions above. But it is not enough to support the war, one must also have a sense of inner perfection and a monopoly on righteousness and act accordingly by ostracizing or insulting the unfaithful. According to this paranoia, your dissenting neighbors are as grave a threat to national strength and security as the external enemies.

QUOTE:... The satanic ones are sneaky all right. They may cloak themselves in all manner of legalistic garb, prattling about human rights and producing other pretexts for trying to stop us because we’re on the side of the angels. But they’re after us -- they hate us for our goodness and our purity, they cannot abide the light we bring unto the world. Verily, as the Lord was commenting just the other day, America’s geopolitical agenda is the essence of virtue, and all who wish to impede it must face our wrath... END QUOTE.

I would not say I am satanic, but I am definitely antagonistic to the neocon imperialist mindset. The legalist garb is reason, which is not gossamer or shifty. If you are educated, you know when a decision is based on it and when it is not. If a judge says "I decided the case based on my feeling that . . . " or if a teacher speaks according to her teleological feelings rather than analytic science, they have led people and influenced lives without any rational basis for doing so. If a president feels that a certain country is a threat, and forces hundreds of thousands of people to die in a subsequent war based on a feeling, that president should be impeached. I do not want policy, legal decisions, legislative decisions, really much of anything decided for me based on irrational factors. All the hysteria about Terry Schiavo is just that, hysteria. There is nothing reasonable backing it. All the coverage observes emotional realities, asserts emotions, asserts feelings. The discourse is devoid of any objective element, and so it could provoke irrational and criminal behavior. And it has.

Reason is superior to religion and emotion as a ground for decision-making because it creates a context and vocabulary that all parties, regardless of religion or emotion, can agree on. Reason is more flexible than a lowest common denominator, and, unlike a problem-based LCD, requires that people understand when their emotions or beliefs are ruling their thinking. Emotions and religions create narrow, shifting, and subjective contexts that allow self-deception or more universal deceptions to exist unchallenged. An objective context can fit many problems, and thus can solve most of them. Where an objective context exists, there is some hope that a vast number of people can agree on the truth and similar hope that they harbor the same interests.

The idea that America must remain a super-power is unreasonable. It is unreasonable because this country is impoverished. It does not have the resources to support an international empire, let alone keep its infrastructure and manufacturing base intact. Most of the basic consumer goods we use are not manufactured in America, and that reality is coupled with a huge trade deficit. These conditions indicate a narrowing of the economy characteristic of a poor nation, not a rich one. As shown in an earlier post on this blog, the network of tools and services called infrastructure is deteriorating, and there are no efforts whatsoever to maintain or repair anything comprising it. 18,000 people a year are dying because they have no health insurance, and the mortality rate from cancers of various kinds is double among uninsured people. Deeper cuts in social spending, the last vestiges of public investment are being contemplated month after month. The program called Social Security, which had opponents from its inception, is about to be privatized over any public disapproval. The party in power will do as it pleases because there is no opposition, no check on its power. People will suffer as a result of these policies, and even though one might say that this argument for social spending is not reasonable, I say it is moral.

Can you think of a moral justification for the policies above? How are they good? We reason we want good government, and that the government serves the people. How do the policies above achieve that end? They do not.

Simply then, we are an impoverished nation and society, and much of that is due to our leaders' imperial ambitions coupled with persistent social neglect. They have cut the taxes of the wealthy and corporations, made undermined the welfare of the people and infrastructure, and forgotten that the goverment must serve the people. Greed and ambition are not reasonable. The desire to good, while in itself it is not reasonable, accords with the objectives of the Constitution, and therefore accords with the reasoned framework of the nation.

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