Gary Hart, Peter Beinart and Richard Perle

Even if your city or town, or this country, is not attacked by terrorists, if you lost your job, you feel insecure, if your community loses its major employer, you feel insecure, if your children are poisoned by environmental pollution, you feel insecure, and if your son or daughter has to go fight Gulf War III so your neighbor can drive his Hummer, you’re really not feeling secure.

Gary Hart on Open Source

Click to Listen to the Show (24 MB MP3)

Some quotes from Gary Hart’s new book, The Shield and the Cloak: Security of the Commons:

The new security will be both national and international, defensive and offensive, and will require a shield for the homeland as well as a cloak of nonmilitary security.

Gary Hart, The Shield and the Cloak

What is strikingly obvious when security is understood from a larger, multi-dimensional viewpoint, is the limited role that the military plays in achieving it.

Gary Hart, The Shield and the Cloak

So you have to get serious about the environment and about starvation, and you have to do it not for the good of the world, but for the safety of America. Richard Perle is the author of An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror, and he is, among others, the author of the Iraq war. He is a hawk of the old breed, a protege of Scoop Jackson and an unapologetic defender of Bush’s Iraq policy. When we booked him this afternoon we suggested, with Gary Hart, that we had in one corner the Prince of Darkness and in the other, the Prince of Light. His response: “Oh, I don’t know if it’s fair to call Gary Hart the Prince of Darkness.”

This war and its execution have, from the very beginning, rested on a single premise: terror is not an issue of law enforcement, but one of war. But is that how we define security? Is it possible to look at security as a broader issue, consisting of hard-nosed offense and international aid, international cooperation and attention to pandemics of disease and poverty? Or are those latter three superfluities, luxuries to be taken up again only when the hard-nosed offense has made its point?

Gary Hart

Author, The Shield and the Cloak: Security of the Commons

Former Democratic Senator from Colorado

Peter Beinart

Editor, The New Republic

Author, forthcoming “The Good Fight: Why Liberals and Only Liberals Can Win the War on Terror and Make America Great Again”

Richard Perle

Former Chairman, Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee

Former Assistant Secretary of Defense under President Regan

Co-Author, An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror

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  • Potter

    Is it possible??? It’s essential!!!

    I expect sparks to fly. I’m pulling up a chair.

    My question to Richard Perle: How does he propose we deal with the increasing numbers of people on this planet that consider US evil?

    Thanks for having Gary Hart back.

  • avecfrites

    The US should set up a Disaster Assistance Corps of, say, 2000 people trained in responding immediately to disasters. When a disaster occurs anywhere in the world, we’d fly in an appropriate subset of that within 48 hours, to provide medical treatment, shelter, communications, etc. Our people would stay from 1 to 6 months, and no more. It would be mostly medical, engineering, and logistical people, with a small number of ex-military bodyguard types.

    The Corps would aim to be the first outside country into each disaster site, providing the most help and getting the most international press coverage. The Corps would proudly and boldly display the US flag, and leave behind buildings and packages with the US flag on it. The world would once again associate the US with goodness and capability. Extremists around the world would be much less able to convince their people that the US is only out for its self. The cost of this would be far less than the military adventures we’re prone to.

    The Corps could also be used in extreme domestic circumstances such as Katrina.

    Isn’t something like this a cost-effective no-brainer?

  • Nikos

    9-11 was an obvious instance of terrorists viewing American civilians as legitimate targets in part because we are the enablers of American foreign policy.

    Does Richard Perle think that this view is isolated to the 9-11’s perpetrators, or is perhaps a growing trend, whose fertilizer is the death by American munitions of civilians in Islamic countries — civilians and countries that had nothing to do with 9-11?

  • digitalcommuter

    Ask Richard Perle how he would deal with the Iranian threat?

  • Aside from the fact that Perle’s world view is completely immoral – it has also resulted in a massive strategic failure.

    Look at how the Iraq war has turned out:

    Our military forces are overstretched in Iraq and Afganistan. We are spending billion of dollar a month, not to mention that our military equipment is being used up. Most of those HMMV’s, and helicopters will never leave Iraq. They are getting used up in the desert.

    With our forces overstretched, other countries have been able to pursue their strategic interests at our expense. For example, who ever talks about North Korea any more? There are busy producing nuclear weapons technology with the aim of exporting it for hard currency. They have shut down talks, and openly talk about how they are building nukes. Iran’s ballistic missle technology is mostly purchased from North Korea.

    Iran is probably pursuing a nuclear weapons program.

    Russia and China are supporting Iran. Russia is selling them weapons technology. China is getting their oil from Iran. The Iranians are preparing to start selling oil in euros.

    All of these things are bad for the US, and we have no credibility to counter them. As we have become aggressive and unilateral, our allies have started to forge alliances between themselves which exclude us. Consider europe’s new Gallileo GPS system as an example of a military alliance among not only european countries, but which also includes China, who is apparently a 10% owner.

    The US, following Perle’s disastrous strategy finds that it has used up the credibility it gained in WWII, and is finding itself increasingly isolated.

    I wish Perle would also address the fact that it seems his policy ideas seem to be designed more for the benefit of Israel, than the U.S.

  • digitalcommuter

    “I wish Perle would also address the fact that it seems his policy ideas seem to be designed more for the benefit of Israel, than the U.S.”

    This is anti-Semitic canard not worth answering.

  • I would be interested in hearing Dr Pearle’s take on the “Clash of Civilizationsâ€? idea and what that means for our current situation.

    It is obvious that not all Muslims support violent Jihad but the fact that there is conflict within the Islamic world between “Islamacists� and Secular Democrats shows that the real “Clash� is mostly within Islam. The biggest reason for conflict is not between the West and Islam but between modernity and the reactionary forces within Islam and the US is simply the greatest example of the modernity that will inevitably force and end to the medieval practices within Islam.

    As a reference take the multiple reports issued from the UN where Islamic Intellectuals found that Islamic cultures are particularly backward in most, if not all, of ideas that we call important parts of modern society like Literacy (especially female) access healthcare, access to university level education and many other examples. The fact that Islamic societies are insulted by the recent cartoons is because they are “insult-able� – the cartoon with Mohamed wearing a bomb in his turbine is a true refection of what a significant portion of Muslim’s feel to be correct. That deliberate acts of murder are religiously defensible. The reason why it would not only be offensive but factually incorrect to depict say, Christ as a pedophile to illustrate the Catholic Church’s child molesting Priests is because no portion of the Church condones pedophilia much less defends the priests who are convicted yet there are many Islamic leaders who openly preach violent Jihad.

    And the earlier comments regarding innocent Muslims who are killed by US actions are simply attempts at misdirecting the debate. Muslims were indiscriminately and purposefully killing Muslims long before any Westerners got involved and saying that it is somehow worse when a “Crusader� reluctantly does so, is to repeat the mantra echoing from the most violent Mosques. The “hatred� of many in the Islamic world is mostly that of a set of societies emerging from a long nighttime of a lack of modern culture.

  • cheesechowmain

    The current Iraq war/conflict was predicated upon the probability that the Iraqi government under Hussein had WMDs. Disarming Iraq of the WMD threat was not only a tangible national security objective, but was the basis for meeting the constitutional requirements of the War Powers Act. Without the threat WMDs, the War Powers Act requirements would not have been met. Is there any serious consideration to updating and/or amending the War Powers Act to take into consideration contemporary problems with terrorism, despotic regimes, and unfriendly cartels? Stated another way, does the current version of the War Powers Act contradict the Doctrine of Preemeption?

  • Nikos

    I withdraw my question in favor of cheesechowmain’s.

  • cheesechowmain

    Hey Nikos…from a fellow KUOW area listener!

  • There is no “constituional basis” for the war powers act. Both parties, Exective as well as Legislative, have chosen to never test it because there will be a “winner and loser” and until then, the ambiguity serves both very well.

  • digitalcommuter

    Gary Hart sounds like a saner Leo Straussian.

  • cheesechowmain

    Winston Dodson: I agree with the tenor of your statement. I’m no lawyer, let alone a consitutional wonk. So, if the WPA has no constitutional/statutory basis, how come it is integrated into the legality of executing a military authorization? CYA of a kind, so a reasonable citizen has no hopes of understanding, but assumes it has some legal weight? The legal staffs of both with White House and Congress both point to this magically act as the legal basis for authorizing military action. Smoke?

  • Hart’s knowldge of what the military knew about the Iraq war is scarily limited.

  • cheesechowmain

    The price of oil for the American public has been argued to be in the range of $9 or $10 per gallon if you factor in security costs in securing flow and transporting of petroleum.

  • There was also no UN mandate for Pres Clinton’s action in the Balkans. The Russan’s actaully vetoed it. So, was that illegal?

    Both actions were “post-mandated” by UN.

  • In Bush’es speach to UN prior to the war, he spoke for 40 mins on the need to bring Democracy to Iraq and the Middle East.

  • Potter

    To what extent has Bush administration made the Iranian problem or made it worse?

  • avecfrites

    Democrats talk about using alliances, etc. But where is the plan to EARN back the alliances? What service do we offer beyond a large consumer market? Now that defending Europe against the Warsaw Pact is inoperable, and we are deeply in debt, and our reputation in parts of the world is so bad that being our friend is a liability, what do we offer? It’s in that spirit that I proposed the “Disaster Assistance Corps” above. Any other ideas for initiatives whereby American can earn back a good reputation?

  • Chris mentioned earlier that JFK asked us “To pay any price, bear any burden” and then sent US miliatry to South Vietnam for the first time.

    The fact that these kind of ideas “left” the Democrat party is why they have not won a majority in a Pres election since and have gradaully lost control of all Federal branches of govt.

    I think that if Dems want to lose, they should listen to Hart. If they want to win, they should listen to H Clinton and Warner.

  • digitalcommuter

    Hart was doing so well and then he had to attack Perle after the latter left the program. Totally unfait and may the reason why he never got the nomination.

  • digitalcommuter

    “Totally unfait and may the reason why he never got the nomination.”

    Should read: Totally unfair and may the reason why he never got the nomination.

  • digitalcommuter

    I was surprised by Perle’s performance. He seemed a lot more rational and decent than I expected. I have been led to believe that the guy was some evil counselor.

  • Potter

    Digitalcommuter- you’ve been charmed.

  • The glaring difference between Hart’s stereotypical leftist point of view and Peter’s Center Left realism is the reason why the Democratic party specializes sounding like Symphony of Intellectual Dissonance.

    We didn’t need Mr Pearle on to have both sides of the story because with Peter on, it would have 2 against one.

  • Circluar firing squad!

  • Go Chris, egg ’em on. They’ll be methaphorically “pulling each other’s hair out” in a minute!

  • Potter

    Right! Terrorism is a criminal activity. The biggest mistake that we have made is to make it into a WAR. Thank you Gary Hart.

    John Kerry was saying this but he was literally whispering it and hardly any one heard him, he never slammed it home.

  • skfranz

    Perle is a very slick arms dealer and international warmonger. As long as someone is buying guns, he wins.

    Winston: I know it is not our usual TV driven model but some ideas have more than two sides. We might do better as a country if we more often considered the nuances of debate instead of always trying to make it into a basketball game.

  • digitalcommuter

    “Digitalcommuter- you’ve been charmed.”

    It doesn’t happen often, but the guy made sense. Not that I agree with everything he said. But his views on Iran were right-on-target.

  • digitalcommuter

    “Right! Terrorism is a criminal activity. The biggest mistake that we have made is to make it into a WAR. Thank you Gary Hart.”

    This was Hart’s weakest point.

    There is terrorism that is a “criminal activity,” and there is State sanctioned and supported terrorism. In the latter case only the knid of police action we undertook during the Korean war would be able to deal with State supported terrorism.

  • hmgcpa

    While I have always found Gary Hart to be interesting, mostly due to his prolific writing, I think some of his aruments tonight are weak. There is a War on Terror. It is a real war, and it does require more than police and law enforcement activity. Iraq was a joke, but it is wrong to bury our heads and ignore the threat. Having full day kindergarten is not going to solve the issue.

  • Too bad we didn’t have John Kerry on early in the show. He could have claimed 2 purple hearts in the the first hour, and been home before 7:00 PM.

  • A little yellow bird

    Perle really is the Prince of Darkness–as William Hurt’s anchorman character in “Broadcast News” was. As Albert Brook’s character rants to Holly Hunter’s character in that movie, essentially: What did you expect Satan to look like, a snarling spike-tailed horned demon? No, he’s a charmer, a “man of wealth and taste”, as The Stones sang in “Sympathy For the Devil”. Perle’s a prime architect of the neocon world order madness. Please see “Iran Attack: Turning America into a Straussian Totalitarian State”: http://kurtnimmo.com/?p=222 & “Richard Perle Tells More Obvious Lies”: http://kurtnimmo.com/?p=219 (amongst other articles at the site).

  • If Repubs were cynical Machiavellian manipulators, they would pay to have Gary Hart be the next Dem Pres nominee’s military / foreign advisor and Howard Dean his party Chairman.

    But I am sure, that one of these two guys current occupations will change before the (possibly disasterous) next election.

    Pundits / opinion leaders like Peter Beinart, when juxtaposed against the likes of Gary Hart, simply highlight the complete absurdity of the thinking of the mainstream of the Democratic Party leadership. Note that I said leadership because I think that the average person could be so caught up in the “group think” of the various leadership / fractious clicks.

  • fiddlesticks

    A little yellow bird Says:

    February 13th, 2006 at 9:02 pm

    “Perle really is the Prince of Darkness–as William Hurt’s anchorman character in “Broadcast Newsâ€? was.”

    And he is a fictional character too, a figment of yellow bird brain’s imagination.

    If Perle is the PofD then Ralph nader is the King of Darkness.

  • cheesechowmain

    …And I, I am the Heart of Darkness…Bahaaahaaahaaahaaaa

  • jdh

    How long has it been that Americans have turned into such wimps? In this “Land of the Free and Home of the Brave”, we have become so afraid of unnamed terror that we will give up our privacy and our freedom. What are people in the heartland red states afraid of? That someone will fly a plane into a cornfield? A hog farm?

  • Nikos

    cheesechowmain: hey.

    We Washingtonians gotta stick together.

    Lame jests aside, it was easy to see the importance of your question, and thanks for formulating it.

    I still haven’t heard the show (my 28k rural phone line makes the 9PM airtime much more listenable, even way out here under the eaves of the snowy Olympics) so I don’t yet know whether your question made it into the airwaves. Hope so, though.

    And besides, two minutes after submitting mine, I knew ‘in my heart’ that even if Brendan asked it of Perle, he’d claim the question’s premise ‘baseless’, since, as our Prez always likes to remind us: ‘the terrorists need no justifications for their heinous acts’.

    Right.

    They only hate us ‘for our freedoms’.

    (I’m so damned forgetful, you know.)

    And I’m planning a cheese-mine on the Moon someday too. Soon as NASA determines whether it’s provolone as the Italians claim (from third-hand misinformation about the Apollo moon-‘rocks’), or feta, as we Greeks know it to be.

    How do we know?

    Our ideology tells us so.

    That’s why they named it ‘Apollo’!

    What a way to run the world’s only superpower, eh?

    Oh, wait! NASA spelled it the Latin way, without the ending Greek ‘n’. They’re in league with the Italians! See! NASA hates our freedons too!

    (Either that, or they like pizza more than moussaka.)

  • Nikos

    Show’s still airing out here in Puget Sound. But what seems to be missing from the “is it a military or a law enforcement problem?” debate is the concept that it’s probably neither but a ‘tweener: a “law-enforcement + international intelligence gathering agencies problem”.

    To paraphrase from elsewhere: “If you select a hammer (the US military), every problem’s solution is ‘a damn good hammering’.”

    Hammering innocents will only breed retribution from those who might otherwise have become allies, or at least have remained neutral.

    Or am I nuthin’ but a wooly-minded idealist?

  • Nikos

    Oh, & I forgot to include the likelihood that actively WILLING allies are required in any case where international intelligence agencies need to cooperate.

    Why should anybody but the British Intelligence folks want to cooperate with us at this point in our international history cum reputation?

  • Ok, I’m late getting into this, but reading these posts is mostly disappointing. Here we have some serious questions to ponder and we’re caught up in name calling. Ugh! I can’t listen live because I’m either working or putting my daughter to bed. So, I count on the blog for some intelligent dialogue.

    So, did they really discuss the difference between an act of terror being a crime rather than an act of war? And did they discuss the fact that you can’t have a war on terror. You can battle terrorists, but terror is not a person or a country. And if we’re engaging in a war on terror, does that include all the terrorism that occurs right in the homes of people here in the United States?

    Lets say we’re engaging in a war against terrorists. Who the hell are they? They certainly weren’t the country of Iraq. Even if we did suspect that Iraq had WMD, they weren’t linked to the 9/11 event, so how can we really justify going from 9/11 to Iraq? Can we even really justify invading Afghanistan? Especially given that we’re not providing the necessary support to keep the Taliban out of play there.

    How do you engage in a War against a group that is not a country? If we limit ourselves to Al Qaeda, is that really a war? Or is it more like trying to stop the Mafia?

    And how much of a threat are we really under now? How much is fear mongering? And is our declaration of war really lessening the threat?

    I don’t care whether someone is a Dem or a Rep or liberal or a conservative. I want to have a real dialogue about the subject. And I want someone around who can really referee it. Give us the real scoop when Perle or Hart or anybody makes claims or arguments. Is there anyone out there qualified to vet their crap? They have too much self-interest to be clean.

    And I don’t like charmers. Most pols are charmers. I don’t want to like the person telling me about how to end terrorism, I want to trust her and I want her to be transparent enough than her claims and arguments can be backed up with evidence.

    Enough whining….. Good night all…..

  • peggysue

    right on Nikos

    I wish I could remember which Martin Luther King speech it is where Dr King addresses the problem of Evil. He says there is a battle going on at the heart of the universe between good and evil. Then he goes on to say it is a civil war and that is taking place within the heart of every human being. Point being, Fighting evil begins at home.

    just another wooly KUOW listener

  • Nikos

    With all due respect to the happily diverse slate of bloggers this evening:

    Richard Perle believes what he says. He honestly believes he’s right.

    Neocon ideology is founded on the notion that America a ‘God-given’ beneficence to the world.

    And this is exactly the problem with ideology: if the premise is faulty, the outcome will fail.

    We’ve failed in Iraq, and we’re failing in Afghanistan.

    We’ll fail with Iran unless we quickly change the leadership of American foreign policy.

    Despite my slightly improved opinion of Mr. Perle, Gary Hart was far more sensible in every area addressed.

    Listen to the show again if in doubt.

  • Nikos

    peggysue: thanks for the ‘right on’. You’ve no idea how many times I’ve had to stop myself, because I already post so damn much, from sending one of those in reaction to your brief but incisive offerings. Just know that at least one of your fellow left-coasters always appreciates seeing your presence herein. (And oh: Ready for the cold snap we’ve got coming? Ready for the Straits to look steely grey instead of silver-blue? Brrr! I’m shivering already.)

    Allison: As you surely know by now, I find most everything you write thoughtful and sensible. So forgive me this quibble:

    Afghanistan was a worthy intervention. As peggysue said in a different thread, we Americans always seem content to live in happy ignorance of the suffering of others. In this instance, the nearly inconceivable suffering of the women of Afghanistan was by itself a reason worth the military incursion.

    Most others cite the Taliban’s hospitality for bin Laden — and until a couple of years ago, this rationale was good enoug for me, too. Rooting those sanctimonious killers out of their lairs was enough reason for me to ease my instinctual pacifism. (And I’d feel the same if we could do it to the neocon ‘collateral-damage’ killers too, btw!)

    Yet sadly, we’re now handing all that promise of humanitarian gender-liberation right back to the former (and, evidently, future) Taliban/Afghani warlords, because our military’s growing failure in Iraq means that the Bush administration’s falsehood-spewers have to cut desperation-deals with those same misogynists whose crimes against humanity ought to land them instead a cell in the Hague.

    It WAS a worthy intervention, but — like most everything else the Bushies touch — instead of gold it turns into s**t.

    I’m sorry, I meant ‘fertilizer’.

    (Which is what I’d expected to ooze from Mr. Perle’s lips until he perhaps detected that ROS wasn’t a Fox News audience. Funny how the ‘charmers’ can always sense their jeopardy!)

    Anyway, thanks again for a great offering.

  • cheesechowmain

    Somehow Nikos last post about falsehood-spewers reminded me of the following:

    “What’s the most offensive is not their lying – one can always forgive lying – lying is a delightful thing, for it leads to truth – what is offensive is that they lie and worship their own lying” — Razumihim from Dostoevsky’s “Crime and Punishment

    Remember the old bromide when considering pundits and politicians: even Old Scratch can quote The Scriptures….and don’t go quail huntin’ with him/her either.

  • Nikos

    oops!

    That was you, allison (not peggysue, who for all I know might likely think the same way anyhow) that I paraphrased from the ‘suggest a show’ thread to this one a couple of posts back.

    Sorry!

    Credit belongs where it’s due.

  • Potter

    9/11 was an opportunity for neocons like Perle ( of the Defense Policy Board advising the Pentagon) to sell their audacious and risky plan to change the Middle East. Iraq would become an oil-rich democracy ( friendly to us), the Israeli -Palestinian deadlock would dissolve, and democratic movements would take hold throughout the region in Damascus, Teheran, Riyadh etc. This was the new domino theory.

    George Packer in his NYTimes article in March of 2003 quotes Thomas Carothers of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace who calls this theory “magical realism”. It’ this magical realism theory that the charming Mr. Perle brushed off so easily last night by saying in essence that he would have done it all differently. We did not have time to explore that and so he got away with it.

    Mr. Carothers goes on to say ( in March 03 don’t forget) that these countries are stuck between autocratic governments and their Islamist opposition and that our invasion is not going to change those forces. So, he says, governments were very likely to “tighten their grip” ( I am practically quoting from the Packer article). This was more likely than an “Arab Spring” envisioned by Perle and his friends.

    Carothers goes on to say that the chances of democracy succeeding in Iraq under occupation are highly questionable. “War seldom creates democracy; according to a recent article in the Christian Science Monitor, of the 18 regime changes forced by the United States in the 20th century, only 5 resulted in democracy and in the case of wars fought unilaterally, the number goes down to one- Panama.”

    I thought Richard Perle was outrageously disingenuous saying that the war in Iraq was not a unilateral US endeavor. He was clinging to the token support we had from yes a large number of countries ( including little islands in the Pacific) that are no longer with us and who wanted to stay on our good side. ( Did we pay them?)

    Can the case be made that we are fighting a “war on terrorism” and if so are we winning it?

    Say no in both cases if you are a realist ( remove the magical). On top of that because we threaten military intervention whenever our increasingly autocratic executive deems necessary, we cause countries like Iran and North Korea to react to protect themselves. Voila- nuclear proliferation as our power (soft and hard) in the world grows weaker.

    Gary Hart and Richard Perle are on different planets.

  • Earlier I said:

    “I wish Perle would also address the fact that it seems his policy ideas seem to be designed more for the benefit of Israel, than the U.S.�

    Digital Commuter answered:

    “This is anti-Semitic canard not worth answering.”

    And yet this is the only part of the post you answered.

    I object to this characterization in the strongest possible terms. You don’t know me or anything about me and yet you are willing to slander me directly on a message board with such a gross and base accusation.

    I demand that you withdraw it.

    I still think Perle should have addressed my point – that his policy seems to be designed for the benefit of Israel. It was not me who made that point but Perle himself.

    Perle was part of a policy discussion at The Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies, where he and several others, James Colbert, Charles Fairbanks, Jr., Douglas Feith, Robert Loewenberg, David Wurmser, and Meyrav Wurmser formulated a strategy of aggressive military intervention on the Arabian Penninsula which culminated in a report called “A Clean Break:

    A New Strategy for Securing the Realm”

    You may find it here: http://www.iasps.org/strat1.htm

    In this report they specifically discuss the benefits for the nation of Israel of among other things the removal of Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq.

    Given that Perle first formulated his strategy for military intervention based on benefits for Israel, and only later made the argument that it benefits the US, I think it is entirely legitimate to question how much is advocacy for this policy – which has turned out disastrously for the US – is based on his view that it benefits Israel.

    But I want to address your criticism of my comment directly. For some people it seems, there is no such thing as a legitimate criticism of Israeli foreign policy. And any reference by anyone that Israel may have foreign policy interests which diverge from those of the United States is labelled by people like you as an ‘anti-semite’. I believe this is just a naked effort to silence any legitimate criticism of Israel.

    It seems that to people like you I cannot even question Richard Perle on his own written policy papers.

  • Potter

    The term “anti-semitic” is used and abused so much that it ceases to have any meaning beyond name-calling. It’s the same as calling criticism of US foreign policy unpatriotic simply because you disagree. This has nothing to do with whether one is a real patriot or has any sympathy towards Jews and Israel.

    Richard Perle may have felt that this Middle East project would be good for Israel ( primarily or incidentally) but I cannot see how. Yes Saddam’s regime is gone, but what has replaced that? And how has this affected Iran Syria and Israel? Mr. Perle was never asked those questions partly because he was able to disassociate himself from the policy/strategy as it evolved.

    Only the best case scenarios seem to have been considered. Mr. Perle gave advice to the Pentagon and the President. The President and his team bought it. The responsibility lies with this administration and it’s “full throated cry for war” ( words of Bob Graham, former Senate Intelligence Committee member) to the exclusion of evidence of WMD’s and serious consideration of the risks and the possible or probable consequences.

  • Chris

    From a Listener on KUOW, Seattle:

    Chris,

    Opposing Gary Hart with Richard Perle is an interesting idea for a food fight, but it distorts the public debate.

    Gary Hart has been an elected public servant who is an expert in the subject of terrorism and defense and has no ties with the current administration.

    Richard Perle, on the other hand, is a political insider with a checkered past who is certifiably one of the “crazies in the basement”. He is a draft dodger who favors world wide conflagration and if the media were doing their job, would have remained powerless and on the fringes of our society.

    If it’s bizarre, corrupt or self serving, Perle has been involved. He has been forced to resign from two administrations.

    If Perle’s policy positions deserve any airtime, it is only necessary to hear him once.

    He says the same thing over and over again. He does not respond to reality or sense. It makes no difference to him that everything he advocates has all ready been proven an unmitigated disaster.

    If the purpose of having them opposite each other was to show two points of view, you erred in not letting the audience know that one of your guests deals in apocalyptic fantasy and flirts with treason and which deals in sober facts.

    Other than your choice of guest, I liked your show. I liked the format and the tone.

    Hart makes a lot of sense. It’s just too bad the air waves are overloaded with the likes of Perle. People like Hart are not getting a fair hearing when the absurdities and dangerous fatalism of the Bush et al. are always there to drown them out.

    These deliberate distortions have created public support for policies that were doomed from the start and done a great deal of harm to us and others.

    Americans need to hear more about common sense solutions on the evening news and discussion programs without having to wade through a lot of discredited nonsense.

    Carol Davidek-Waller

    Kirkland WA

  • gesualdo

    I find it startling that in all this there is so little discussion of the tail end of the show, when the “Bear any burden, pay any price” idea was discussed. It seems to me that America has lost its way in the world – it has become a group of consumers, nothing more. In the national discourse, the concepts of justice, of responsibility, of shared humanity are gone. The Disaster Reaction corps is an excellent idea, not because it will shore up our “ratings” in the international community, but because it is right and good, when people are suffering, to come to their aid. The US intervention in the Balkans, late though it came, was well received in the world as a whole because it ended a horrific genocide and civil war.

    By contrast, the invasion of Iraq was wrong because we went in for some secret combination of reasons (which will surely remain cloudy for at least thirty years, until the documents become declassified), NOT in order to end Saddam’s tyranny and allow Iraqis to live in peace and freedom. This lie is the root of the problem: If we had the intention of occupying the country and rebuilding a functioning state, we would have used the reconstruction plans that the State Dept. developed; we would have sent in the 500, 000 troops that top military strategists thought were necessary to secure the area after the regime collapsed; we would have raised and spent the necessary money to do the job right; we would have taken the time to build a consensus among the neighbouring nations and around the world that this was a worthy cause – the international Genocide treaty would have been a good beginning; but most of all, our Administration would have come to the American people and said: “America will not be secure in a world where 97% of the population lives in a state of abject poverty compared to us, under tyrannical governments with none of our freedoms. We must remove Saddam Hussein from power and rebuild the country of Iraq to be a prosperous, free and democratic place, though it mean the deaths of our own young people and the expenditure of masses of our wealth, though it mean a responsibility on the other side of the world perhaps for decades to come, though it mean that we individual citizens must sacrifice, it must be done because we believe that in freedom lies the greatest good for all. We believe in this, and our own sons and daughters will be fighting in the front lines,” and there would have been a wide-ranging national discussion to determine the legitimate will of the people. Because democratization in Iraq was never the intention of the invasion (and because the Administration belives in planning for the Best-Case-Scenarion), preparations were not made for an occupation, or for the rebuilding of the infrastructure, or to address the potential for civil strife between the ethnic groups that Saddam had set against each other throughout his regime; the international community was hurried and bullied into passing a resolution which the US could interpret as a UN mandate for invasion, and, most importantly, the American people were kept out of the real debate. We were told that there were WMD, because it was determined at some level that this was a proposition that would play well on our fears, and for which “evidence” could be found or created. The idea that Saddam was involved in 9/11 was constantly implied by all top members of the Administration. The legitimate real-politik reasons for attacking Iraq – securing a major oil supply for a country addicted to oil, building a military presence in a region on which we will increasingly depend because our policiy-makers are afraid of asking us (or making us) cut back on our lifestyles (although it sounds like Richard Perle was hoping that Chalabi’s puppet government would serve the purpose), changing the dynamics in the region to help our strongest ally, Israel – were never publicly discussed. All those who said that attacking Iraq was not necessarily a good idea were labeled cowardly or unpatriotic, when they were in fact the most patriotic among us, as they spoke their minds about the real reasons not to go even in the face of rabid critics and hate-mongerers. And what is most disturbing and insulting to the promise of this great nation is the fact that so few even of the Democrats had the courage to stand up and say that this was wrong, that so few of the people in the media had the courage to do real investigative reporting and find out the real reasons for the war, and that individuals like ourselves did not care enough about our own country and the world that we share to do anything about it.

    It is time that we stood up and took responsibilty for ourselves, for the decisions that we make, for the government that we elect, for the destruction our lifestyle wreaks in the everyday lives of people all over the world. It is time we agreed to pay the price, to bear the burden of our own responsibilities, and it is high time that our leaders asked us to do so.

  • Gizmo Logix

    >>>Potter wrote: The term “anti-semitic� is used and abused so much that it ceases to have any meaning beyond name-calling. It’s the same as calling criticism of US foreign policy unpatriotic simply because you disagree. This has nothing to do with whether one is a real patriot or has any sympathy towards Jews and Israel.>>>

    Potter, I agree. digitalcommuter’s accusation on rafael made my blood boil! Every time someone like digitalcommuter call a American Democrat (or God forbid, an American Republican) anti-semitic!? All for questioning US foreign policy? “Get real! We are American’s. And we will fight for our interest. But when those interest get thwarted by *other* interest there’s a problem. Being pro-American doesn’t automatically mean anti-Semitic.

    digitalcommuter, do not confuse rafael, potter or myself for someone that wants to burn Jewish synagogues or claims that Israel has no right to live. Those are what you call real anti-Semites. Those type of people do exist. We are not they.

  • Gizmo Logix

    re: Richard Perle

    He’s changed his tune, time and time again. All you have to do is watch the CSPAN interviews with Perle pre-March/2003. It was those interviews that earned him the “Prince of Darkness” moniker.

    His great Wilsonian experiment has failed. Unless we call this war, the “War to perpetuate all wars.”

    By the way…Are the interest of a few multi-national corporations the same as the average American? If not. Then why should we conclude that the phrase “American interest” include average American’s interests?

    Are we fighting to defend America? Or are we fighting to defend special interest?

  • Hey Nikos, you wrote:

    Allison: As you surely know by now, I find most everything you write thoughtful and sensible. So forgive me this quibble:

    Afghanistan was a worthy intervention.

    I don’t disagree. I was really pointing to the dismal aftermath. And I wish that the plight of the women had been the motivation for going in there, and not 9/11. Though, yes, it did seem appropriate to go after Bin Laden and he was harbored in Afghanistan. I think we could have gone after him a different way. And I think the world would be better off if the focus of moving in and ostensibly creating change in Afghanistan had been the humanitarian mission of protecting the innocent victims of the oppressive culture there. Perhaps, then we would be doing the right follow through. As it is, we have abandoned them. They have no reason to be anything but cynical of us and those poor victims have, perhaps, less hope than before.

    Anyway, I don’t think we disagree on this one. I did some lazy writing at a wee hour in the morning, is all. Plus, I was grumpy, as I’m facing serious health issues and forging my way through the very unhelpful medical system here. (There’s a topic for a show – how the insurance business – which never loses money – has driven the medical system to focus on nano-specialties at the expense of a comprehensive caretaker for the patient..)

  • I support rafeal’s request that Digital Commuter publicly retract the personal slander of “anti-semitic”. I would hope that all of us who appreciate this venue, support the request as well. It would be a sign that, as a community (and you know I use this word loosely) that we are firmly establishing the ethos we ddesire here and are willing to stand up to protect it. (Hey, its not that hard. Its not as though you have to physically stand in front of the person and risk confrontation.)

    There is no consturctive place for that kind of exchange. I felt the violence of it when I read the post and it was jarring. It undermines the potential of a quality dialogue where we open ourselves to all points of view and consider all possibilities. Argue the point, don’t attack the person, please.

    I suggest that, Digital Commuter, that you offer an apology and a commitment to refrain from such behavior going forward. I then suggest that we all offer each other some peace. Perhaps we need a virtual Peace Rose. If we can’t demand that we all stay on higher ground here, how can we be critical of the state of our culture and our leaders?

  • gesualdo

    Allison, rafael, Potter, Gizmo-logix are all right. This should be a forum for ideas and meanigful discussion, not name-calling. Digital Commuter should suck up his pride and apologize for a foolish reaction that led to unwarranted slander. I might suggest to rafael, though, that when he makes comments like the one on Perle and Israel, that he perhaps give us some of his references at the time, rather than waiting until he has to defend his comment. Especially on the topic of Israeli-American relations, there are plenty of outspoken extremists on all sides of the debate, some of whom are anti-semitic, and whose comments sound a lot like rafael’s initial post.

  • Gesualdo, you’re right. I made my original post as I was going out the door. I meant to elaborate on two points. By the time I got to the second point – I was running out of time. I almost deleted that last line because I didn’t have time to explain the context. But then I figured that the show was about to air in a few hours, and that this blog seems to have a very well read and calm and reasonable community, that people would have read that report and know what I’m referring to.

    Looking at the post now, that link does look a little bit like ‘flame bait’ and for that I’m sorry.

    I’ve been reading radioopensource for awhile, and have always been impressed by the level of discussion. Unless the community is careful about building an explicit ethos of civility, blogs that allow anonymous posting almost always degenerate into chaos.

  • Potter

    Gesualdo- I agree with you. I went back and read the line that offended Digitalcommuter and the response. If you are very sensitive to this issue and hold a certain viewpoint as well I can understand the offense. It seemed as though Rafael was accusing Perle of having more allegiance to Israel than to the US. This is a common accusation. On the other hand Digitalcommuter could have handled that more diplomatically.

    I say we move on.

  • jazzman

    The 9/11 attack was an attempt by a group of misguided idealists who believe(d) that the end justifies the means. (By idealists, I mean their ideal of a unified world presumably under Wahabism/Sharia and many are willing to die for that ideal – which according to their system of logic which doesn’t comport with OUR western logic (obviously) is quite rational.) They attacked symbols which, to them represent a threat to their ideal. So they attack the USA and symbolically the World (Trade Ctr.) which is seen in their opinion as a corrupting influence despite their attempts at isolation and insulation of their adherents from the evils of modernity, along with psychological, if not physical hegemony and imperialism.

    How is a group with such a differing belief system to be reconciled with ours? (By ours I mean the tenets of the US Constitution (and I don’t mean Old Ironsides – that venerable symbol of the gunboat diplomacy our current administration seems more to embrace than that “goddamn piece of paper.�) How the US and the few countries that were hoodwinked, bullied or bribed (in kind or outright cash in the form of foreign aid) to join the effort responded, was to employ a vengeful, overwhelming tit for tat retribution to the “abettors of terrorism� and adopt an equivalent to the “terrorist’s� (one nation’s religious freedom fighters are another’s terrorists) “the ends justifies any means� canard. Ends, no matter how noble the intent, are perverted if achieved thru ignoble means (the war in Afghanistan was not a “Noble� attempt to liberate the “oppressed females� of the Taliban who only asserted their (Afghanistan’s) sovereign status (what if some other country demanded that we hand over anyone granted asylum here? Many of our “friends� won’t extradite certain parties – but we don’t attack them.) It was for revenge, punishment and petulance much like an out of control parent (lack of imagination) or teacher with a willful child. “If you don’t hand over the perpetrators, you’ll get a beating, or the whole class will be punished until someone turns in the guilty party – If you do hand them over, we’ll overlook your religion’s “quaint misogynistic predilections� and magnanimously allow you to conduct your business as usual (after all Freedom of Religion is sacred in the US.) It doesn’t sound like nobility was 1st and foremost on that agenda.

    What’s needed is the recognition that this “violent acting-out� is symptomatic of a perception of powerlessness by the perpetrators/perpetuators on both sides. The present administration perceives that it is powerless to stop terrorism so they act out inappropriately. They believe that any means to their perceived end is warranted including: Unconstitutional unilateral invasion of privacy (to protect your safety), disseminating patently false information, fear mongering, and the BIG LIE so that the majority in this country believe that an almost totally secular dictator (with absolutely NO linkage) was in league with the 9/11 religious zealots, and are “willing to pay any price� for revenge or protection from the evil doer and his “virtual WMDs.� This is a war over ideas and beliefs and needs to be countered with ideas and diplomacy. Ideas start and enable wars and they are the only way to prevent or “morally� end them. Ideas of peaceful co-existence and way to peacefully liberate people from poverty and ignorance will go a lot farther to ending conflict than applied “Old Testament – God is on our side� vengeance and war. John Lennon and Yoko Ono said “War is over – if you want it.� Do we want it?

  • Potter

    Amen Jazzman This is what happens with immature leadership. Powerlessness on a personal level had something to do with this also. The most aggregious thing a president can do with all the extraordinary power and trust vested in him is take our country to war without making sure that it is absolutely necessary.

  • Nikos

    Hi Jazzman. Nice to see you on other threads.

    Your take on the Afghanistan issue brings to mind a question or two that I think worthy of exploration.

    The following is as open to response from anyone as from jazzman, btw, because it’s a partially amorphous but nonetheless real-world question of humanitarian priorities and foreign policy-philosophy.

    So, forgetting gender for the moment:

    1. If a country falls under the rule of a government whose ideology classifies more than half its population as inferior to the remainder; and the same ideology uses this to force the ‘inferior’ into servitude for the ‘superior’, and, moreover, promulgates and enforces laws that discriminate against and judge differentially—and much more harshly—the ‘inferior’ class, and…

    2. The government owes its existence in part to US covert subversion of the preexisting government—that made no such punitive class distinctions (and our agents dealt more or less exclusively with members of the ‘superior’)…

    3. What are our obligations?

    4. Especially in the perspective and lessons of NATO/American intervention in post-Yugoslavia?

    Michael Parenti, btw, likes to point out that slaveholders pretty much invariably justify their dehumanizing hierarchies by citing the putative ‘benefits’ their slaves experience as a cost for their servitude.

    As if the enslaved were miserable and ignorant savages before the slavers came to seize control of their lives.

    Thanks in advance.

  • jazzman

    Nikos: I believe my post already answered your questions but I’ll elaborate in detail tomorrow. See diatribe in morality.

  • Nikos

    “I see nothing but the tightening of the noose around the woman, to the point where she is prevented from owning her own face. [Her face] is the property of the man, and she must not uncover it. Of what modernization in women’s issues can these (Muslim) countries speak, when the men of this world pass a law permitting the stoning of the woman [for violating religious convention], because she [harmed] man’s honor?�

    – Dr. Munjiyah Al-Sawaihi, posted on Middle East Transparent –

    http://www.metransparent.com/texts/arab_feminists_on_women_s_rights.htm

    You are the escapee son or daughter of a Pashtun family. Or a Tajik, Hazara or Uzbek family – it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you were bundled out of Afghanistan as a baby, but war, warlords, and the Taliban prevented your mother and sister from successfully matching your escape.

    Your sister, you learn from second hand accounts, is much like you: attractive and happily sensual. You, of course, suffer no guilt for your sensuality, because you are now American. American culture allows your natural instincts to feel good. Not Satanic, but good, and deserving of personal expressiveness. Your friends talk freely of sex and experiment with it. No one is guilty, no one (anymore) is a ‘slut’. (A word long overdue for eradication.)

    Your sister, however, is a ‘whore’.

    No, she didn’t sell sex for money or for favors. She was raped. By a village dandy whose father is an Imam. Who accuses her of seduction down by the river, where the villagers must go daily for water. Even without knowing the details in toto, you understand what must have transpired: her flirtatious eyes are just like yours, and the sexually repressed dandy took her innocent and appreciative glances as an invitation.

    Her accusation of rape dishonors his family. Her family is already in disgrace since you and your father escaped to America. She has no advocates. The ‘national’ government is isolated in Kabul. The ‘local government’ is your sister’s assailant’s father and his privileged buddies. The American military forces have long since abandoned this provincial backwater to the ‘barbarians that live there in their squalid huts’. (They’re not harboring Taliban, so they hardly deserve anything approaching oversight.)

    Your sister is condemned to death by stoning.

    She faints. Your mother begins tearing her hair and sobbing. She is led away, back to her brother’s hut, where her sister-by-marriage will try to console her.

    A pit is dug. It is four feet deep. Your sister is bound by hand and foot and chucked into the pit. Earth is shovelled to fill the pit, then tamped down, leaving your sister upright with only her upper chest, shoulders, neck, and head visible.

    The village men and boys have assembled. They pick up stones from a mound. Each stone is at least the size of a grapefruit, although none are as big as a head, because they must be hurled with shattering velocity.

    After the prayer condemning the guilty to eternal damnation in the flames of Satan’s hell, the men and boys begin hurling. They hurl with all the venom they feel for the Devil that lives in women. To them, your sister IS the Devil.

    Some stones miss, most others don’t.

    Your sister’s face bursts: the skin rent and bleeding; one well-aimed stone hits the top of her head and cracks the skull. Her screams and sobs begin to muddle and mumble.

    Several strikes later enough of her skull has shattered that she falls silent. Her head has sagged forward onto her chest, but the boys toward her sides have taken to aiming for her neck.

    Eventually the head snaps from the shoulders. The boys gloat.

    They have slain Satan.

    (Only temporarily, of course. But it was a good day’s work, wasn’t it?)

    “(Muslim) countries’ legislation patently discriminates against women and clearly denies their rights, which affronts them as human beings. They are still treated as though they contaminate purity, and arouse temptation and immorality. What is astounding is that most Arabs (and especially Afghanis [my addition]), at all levels and in every area – whether governments, institutions, or individuals – still consider women’s issues a religious issue, and thus believe that her concerns should be dealt with through outdated chauvinist [religious] interpretations…

    “It is known that in the Muslim countries the system permitting buying and selling slaves was abolished, as was the jizya [poll tax] system imposed on the dhimmis – the Jews and the Christians – from the Islamic conquests until the last century. This is despite the fact that there are still religious texts that permit slave trading and the poll tax – but both of these were suppressed so that [Muslims] could act according to [modern values]…

    “These practices were abolished years ago, and people have forgotten them… because they violated civil and human rights… It is also time to abolish all chauvinistic interpretations that incite to violence, discriminate, and persecute women, and deprive them of their rights…

    “…the cycle of discrimination against women begins when they are still in utero. It continues when they emerge into the world, and goes on until death. According to the male interpretation, women are always ‘lewdness and pudenda’ and part of the time ‘impure’…

    “Women are considered ‘mentally and religiously deficient’ – yet it was the mothers of the Muslims [i.e. the Prophet’s wives] who taught many of the religion’s precepts and principles. Women are ‘weak and controlled by their emotions’ – yet they are charged with educating the young generation, the country’s source of pride… Women are ‘temptation’ – yet they were created for men to trust, and to give [men] a sense of tranquillity. Women ‘have more tricks than Satan’ – yet men take two, three, or four wives. Women are ‘vases’ which must be handled gently to avoid scratching them – yet they are banished from the conjugal bed and beaten harshly.

    “From cradle to grave, women are prohibited from being their own masters because they are ‘incompetent and incapable of responsibility for their own affairs’ – yet the Prophet’s dearest and most beloved wife [‘Aisha] headed the first opposition in Islam, led an entire army, and conducted a crucial historic battle [i.e. the Battle of the Camel in 656]…

    “This abhorrent cycle of discrimination in which the Arab (and Muslim) woman lives began centuries ago, yet still exists today – fastened around her neck and restricting her movements, as if she were born [only] yesterday. This suffocating cycle wastes the talents of half of society – the more human and more giving half… The most important question today is: What is the best way to break out of the cycle of discrimination against Arab (and other Muslim) women?…â€?

    – Wajiha Al-Huweidar –http://www.metransparent.com/texts/arab_feminists_on_women_s_rights.htm

    In the recent and much celebrated (in Washington DC) Afghani elections, men were ‘permitted’ to cast their wives’ votes.

    Imagine if the US instead had insisted that the Saudi Wajiha Al-Huweidar (quoted above) head an international oversight effort that, using Muslim and Arab liberals (of which there are more than we’re led to believe) as culturally acceptable overseers, had made certain that if an Afghan woman wanted to vote for a woman, she could?

    To bring all this back toward this thread’s origins: why have we effectively abandoned Afghanistan to its former ‘barbarities’ in favor of Mr. Perle’s Iraq adventure?

    Are not the terrorized women of Taliban (and post-Taliban) Afghanistan as worthy of our military’s deployment as the interests of the American based multinational oil corporations?

    Are not human rights and humanitarian crises vastly more worthy of military interventions than wild-goose-hunts for fictional WMD’s?

    (And please let’s drop the pretense that we’d have invaded Iraq even had it no oil. Please. It was going to ‘pay for the war’, remember? Remember the neglected protection for the Baghdad museums of antiquities? And the decidedly opposite treatment given to the oil ministry?)

  • Nikos

    The fictionalized description of death by stoning given above was taken from real descriptions.

    In writing it, my emotions got the better of me — and enough so that I failed to end the post as I’d initially intended — which was to state that the final two questions (not the paranthetical) are posed rhetorically but in truth reflect my own sense of conflict.

    I don’t really ‘know the answers’.

    I hope only that posing the questions — especially after a brief description of real-life atrocity perpetuated by those we’re now forced to ally with since we sent the army to Iraq — will generate a discourse we can all learn from.

    And then use that knowledge to inform other citizens preparing to vote.

    Beinart’s forthcoming book (“The Good Fight: Why Liberals and Only Liberals Can Win the War on Terror and Make America Great Againâ€?) sure sounds promising, btw.

  • Potter

    Nikos writes: “Are not the terrorized women of Taliban (and post-Taliban) Afghanistan as worthy of our military’s deployment as the interests of the American based multinational oil corporations?

    Are not human rights and humanitarian crises vastly more worthy of military interventions than wild-goose-hunts for fictional WMD’s?”

    The US cannot deal with grave violations to human rights around the world unilaterally or even-handedly even if we had the will. We need a multinational agreement or convention and a means to actually act in a timely fashion in concert. No single power would have as much force morally. Action would be based on specific criteria and come after warnings. Perhaps this could happen or should happen through the UN.

    The breaching of sovereignty of any nation is a serious matter.

    Samantha Power has spoken about this. Here is a recent article of hers: To Save The World From Hell on the 60th anniversary of the UN.

  • Nikos

    Potter: well said.

    Please however recall that we invaded Afghanistan with the world’s acquiescence (although not necessarily with its stated approval, no matter how the Bushies might try to spin the history). It is easy to misremember: to conflate the world’s anticipatory horror of the Iraq invasion with the muted anticipation of our not-at-all-secret plan for Afghanistan.

    My point is that the two instances are very different (an apple to an orange, at least), and that our presence in Afghanistan ought to have carried the responsibility that we not neglect the place – and its oppressed people who happen to be female – once we rooted out the likes of Al Quaida.

    Yet that’s just what we’ve done.

    Kharzai (sp.?) begged it of us during the early build-up in Kuwait for the invasion of Iraq.

    Now he lives as president-in-exile within the country he supposedly presides over.

    Finally and most importantly, he passages from Wajiha Al-Huweidar imply quite baldly that the people who might implement the cultural/attitudinal changes necessary for basic human rights missing in Afghan society exist in already the Muslim world.

    And we ought to have opened the place to them, and kept our presence there strong until their seeds had grown into viable trees.

    And thank you for your post – it has helped me to articulate this hesitant pre-dawn reply.

    (And maybe I can get back to sleep instead of dreaming of unspeakable atrocities.)

    Oh, which reminds me: that girl in the death-by-stoning scene could just as easily be your real sister. The Taliban repeatedly stoned girls to death for the unconscionable crime of being human.

    Do we throw up our hands and say: “It’s not our business! Churchill made them a ‘sovereign nation’; then later we destabilized a Russian puppet government and let the Pakistani-created Taliban take over – but despite all this foreign manipulation, their sovereignty is sacrosanct.�?

    This issue simply isn’t as cut-and-dried as we like to pretend.

    One last question: how many Americans know that the Pakistani intelligence officer responsible for creating the Taliban is now Musharref’s Minister of Education?

  • Nikos

    Here’s a very incomplete list of DEPLORABLE instances of American intervention:

    Grenada

    Allende’s Chile

    Pick any Central American country – chances are good the USA has interfered with its internal politics

    Panama

    Viet Nam

    Iraq

    Saudi Arabia…

    …Saudi Arabia?

    See Robert Baer’s ‘Sleeping With the Devil’ for details (he outlines how American oil companies needed a sweetheart deal, and how the British-appointed House of Saud made just the right partner – and how the internal cost for this was the rise of Wahabi fundamentalism).

    Which brings us to Afghanistan: a patchwork quilt of tribes whose best cash crop has historically been the opium poppy. How did they unite?

    They didn’t.

    The British did it for their own foreign policy interests – just like they did to Saudi Arabia, Iraq, etc.

    Afghanistan’s ‘national sovereignty’ is founded on the fiction that these tribes would comprise an Islamic ‘Switzerland’ that would stymie the Russian imperialist drive toward Persia, India, the Indian Ocean shores, and the year-round ocean ports the Czars always craved.

    Afghanistan the crazy-quilt trundled along for a few decades as a putatively constitutional monarchy (the Brits couldn’t imagine a proper government without a king, after all) until the Soviet invasion, which the CIA ultimately subverted with the indigenous but Pakistani-created proto-Taliban.

    At which point US interest dried up. We did nothing to influence the new government – let alone to ameliorate the devastation our munitions helped to create – leaving everything instead to the Pakistani mujahadeen-clients.

    Only after 9/11 did the American press notice reports from that country, like, say, the film ‘Behind the Veil’, that in June of 2001 the BBC described thusly: “An undercover documentary film about the Taleban movement in Afghanistan (that) has shown shocking footage of mass executions, and (offers) an insight into the oppression suffered by Afghan women.�

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/1410061.stm

    That, again, was JUNE of 2001. Not October.

    June.

    My point once again is that Afghanistan is the proverbial ‘orange’ to the ‘apples’ like Iraq and Grenada in the list that opens this post.

    Excusing our disinterest, inattentiveness, and ignorance behind the feel-goodism of the constructed-for-convenience Afghanistan’s ‘national sovereignty’ is disingenuous, and as deplorable as all those American interventions wholly worthy of our shame.

  • Nikos

    OH! That last sentence about ‘excusing our disinterest’ was aimed at our corporate-obsessed government and the pilot-fish-like semi-parasitic attachments called the ‘press’, and not at you, Potter. Sorry for any possible offense.

    How, btw, do you make your book titles show up in red?

  • Nikos

    One last thought: I feel fairly confident that the hypothetical ‘President Gore’ (who I voted for and would do so again) would have immediately deconstructed the excuse for inaction under the ruse of Taliban Afghanistan’s ‘national sovereignty’, and would have intervened after 9/11 just as did the Bushies.

    I also feel confident he’d have rebuilt the place – even over the inevitable Republican cries of “no nation building!� – and never have given more than a stern staredown to Saddam.

    Why? Because he seems open to fact-based instead of faith-based decision-making.

    And the facts belie that the Taliban murderers deserved the respect normally accorded to ‘national sovereignty’.

  • jazzman

    Nikos: Slow down! It will take a week (maybe more) to repond to all your bete noires.

  • jazzman

    Should be betes noire.

  • jazzman

    Potter are you perchance a potter?

  • Nikos

    jazzman: sorry.

    I’m a blabbermouth (not in real life though — I’m actually amiable but reserved).

    Insufferably the gadfly, huh?

    It’s just that the judgmental double standard by which male chauvanism tries to defend itself just BURNS ME UP. So the flames find their way here. The Taliban were the worst of the worst in this dubious field, hence my seemingly endless verbiage.

    I’m trying to shut up for a while to let others respond.

    I suspect that most of us probably are as conflicted as I am. I’m hoping to articulately represent some of that confusion.

    Nuf for now.

    What’s a bete noire? (aside from an album by Bryan Ferry?)

  • Nikos

    And I hardly slept last night.

    Now I’m really finished.

    No, really.

    My lips are zipped.

  • jazzman

    You see? Your emotionally charged over identification with gender inequalities does tend to cloud your cognitive processes.

    Bete Noire: Literally “The black beast� – a psychological demon that haunts one.

  • jazzman

    Nikos wrote: >> 1. If a country falls under the rule of a government whose ideology classifies more than half its population as inferior to the remainder; and the same ideology uses this to force the ‘inferior’ into servitude for the ‘superior’, and, moreover, promulgates and enforces laws that discriminate against and judge differentially—and much more harshly—the ‘inferior’ class, and…>>

    Isn’t that what happened here in 2000? More than half the voting population voted for Gore but the right-wing ideology prevailed in an increasingly conservative SCOTUS and King George was appointed. Moreover the current “ruling class� promulgates and enforces laws that discriminate against and judge differentially—and much more harshly—the ‘inferior’ class. Despite their protestations to the contrary, the conservatives demonstrably view liberals and women to be inferior to them (even Phyllis Schafley and Ann Coulter believe that women in general are liberal and inferior at least to conservatives of their ilk) and I believe if it were possible, they’d love to force liberals into servitude (to some extent they already force women into servility while patronizingly pretending to place them on a pedestal which is just an example of what the Afghanis believe they are doing in the extreme.) I’m sorry (not really); I couldn’t resist poking the bear. Seriously though, as I stated to Allison in “morality� there is no shortage of egregious examples of human’s inhumanity to his fellow humans. Not enough humans on this planet have evolved (micro-evolution) “morally� to the point that they recognize such atrocities as not beneficial to the human race to alter their behavior. As much as you might like to wreak violence on the perpetrators of inhumanity – violence only perpetuates the cycle of violence and until people that ignorance, poverty and hopelessness are largely to blame for failed (in the western sense) societies these situations will persist. Awareness of the all too real reality of your horrific scenario examples is a start counter inertia (I’ll always remember the televised execution of that “adulterous� woman in the Kabul Soccer Stadium – and the matter-of-fact response from the Afghan commentator that if the US would build them an alternative public execution area that they could have soccer matches again) but I agree partially with Potter: Brackets are my comments.

    >> The US cannot deal with grave violations to human rights around the world unilaterally [ except to condemn them ] or even-handedly even if we had the will. We need a multinational agreement or convention and a means to actually act [ non-violently ] in a timely fashion in concert. No single power [ or multiple ] would have as much force morally [ whose morality? ] Action [ non-violent persuasion ] would be based on specific criteria [ Whose criterion?] and come after warnings. [ Threats of VIOLENCE? We see how well that has worked – violence has usually ensued. ] Perhaps this could happen or should happen through the UN [ an organization replete with problems – but it’s the best/only we currently have ] . >>

    We do need a multinational agreement on human rights. (Perhaps we could start in the US!!!) But unless this is resolved diplomatically and peacefully it’s another “the ends justify any means� argument of the form “Certainly there will be violent destruction and lives will be lost – but overall humanity will benefit.� I reject that argument unilaterally and co-laterally. The bandwagon fallacy of multiple nations forcing their collective “morality� on anyone is just that FALLACIOUS (because a “moral� majority of people agree that something is “right� does the imprimatur of the majority (tyranny of the majority) confer rightness on anything?) Where does the moral authority come from? Is it “God given or Evolved?� On one hand you have a God (Allah) mandated moral code which is used to justify what some call atrocities and others call righteously justified acts which glorify the deity and purify the ranks of the faithful. On the other hand you have a moral code that somehow has evolved from an accidentally created universe, which, from chaos, accidentally spawned a plethora of “life forms� and thru mindless selfish genes and self assembling chemical processes (the Machiavellian selfishness of those genes implies there is a plan – they want to survive to make more of themselves – it seems that they have a social consciousness as well) evolves from meaningless disorder into an highly ordered, sentient, reasoning, self-conscious entity which then, absent a deity to direct it, is capable of divining “right from wrong.� It’s no wonder that a fundamentalist religious backlash (Christian and Muslim) to such an hypothesis is currently in vogue. People have difficulty dealing with a universe or anything devoid of meaning and will go to great (insane) lengths to provide meaning to their existence if they feel that there is none. They are frightened and FRIGHTENED PEOPLE DO NOT WANT FREEDOM – mental or physical. They want shelter, rules and someone to make decisions for them and tell them what to do – let someone else shoulder the responsibility for the hard choices.

    Nikos wrote: >> Again brackets are my responses

    2) The government owes its existence in part to US covert subversion of the preexisting government—that made no such punitive class distinctions (and our agents dealt more or less exclusively with members of the ‘superior’)…>> [ We and other powers that seek to gain more influence (power) in the world by attempting to manipulate to advantage the internal affairs of societies/nations (artificially or historically created – only indigenous, aboriginal peoples can claim historic precedence and we see how that has worked out for most of them) have fallen afoul of the law of unintended consequences by inappropriate action. Time and again these failed strategies have produced undesirable results but the ruling elites don’t seem to learn from their errors.]

    3) What are our obligations? [ Each of us as individuals needs to voice our opposition to violence against others. Unless of course one doesn’t believe in non-violence and I’d say the majority of people don’t. This needs to be reversed in order to have world peace. ]

    4) Especially in the perspective and lessons of NATO/American intervention in post-Yugoslavia? [ Yet another “ends justify any means� to achieve what was believed to be the “right thing� “Cleansing� the “ethnic cleansers� is as inappropriate as ethnic cleansing. ]

    5) Michael Parenti, btw, likes to point out that slaveholders pretty much invariably justify their dehumanizing hierarchies by citing the putative ‘benefits’ their slaves experience as a cost for their servitude. As if the enslaved were miserable and ignorant savages before the slavers came to seize control of their lives. [ People can justify or rationalize anything. Have you looked around here lately? People condone quite reprehensible acts if they believe that it is for the putative “good.� Whose good? One’s “good� may easily be another’s “bad.� One man’s ceiling is another man’s floor – Paul Simon. ]

    Until next week – Peace to all – Jazzman

  • Potter

    Nikos- re my post of Feb 17th at 9:30 am and your query about book titles in red- that was not a book title but an article that you were supposed to click on to get to. Do you know how to make a title out of a link?

    Regarding your desire to do italics- did you ever get an answer?

  • Nikos

    Jazzman: great post.

    I agree in principle with much of it – and I honestly prefer Potter’s calm and principled response to my own near hysteria.

    (But how could I not feel nearly hysterical when the face in my nightmare scene was none other than that of my beloved sister? Such a vision is bound to awaken the ‘Mediterranean passions’ of any decently reverent Greek brother. The trouble with writing fiction is that it cultivates your imagination’s vividness.

    ‘Betes Noire’ indeed!)

    Having established a foundation for agreement, I must detail my several quibbles:

    Jazzman wrote: “Isn’t that what happened here in 2000? More than half the voting population voted for Gore but the right-wing ideology prevailed in an increasingly conservative SCOTUS and King George was appointed. Moreover the current “ruling class� promulgates and enforces laws that discriminate against and judge differentially—and much more harshly—the ‘inferior’ class.�

    Nikos replies: Despite the many chuckles your argument’s jests awarded me, this comparison borders tastelessness. No, on second thought it wanders well beyond the border.

    It is, my friend, entirely insensitive and pretty much self-obsessive to equate the political struggles of comfortable and fat Americans to the inarguable horrors of Afghanistan.

    We’ve only ourselves to blame for our rotten body-politic.

    Afghans can instead rightly point the finger at the British, the Russians, the Americans, the Pakistanis, and even the Wahabis of Saudi Arabia.

    They are victims.

    We are idiots.

    Allison, on another thread, sagely asked: “Why are we so inured to the suffering of these women? We are far too comfortable living our lives while others aren’t allowed a life.�

    Quite right.

    You get an ‘A’ for effort, pal, but an ‘F’ for content.

    (Funny though!)

    J: “Threats of VIOLENCE? We see how well that has worked – violence has usually ensued.�

    N: One of the Pentagon cabal (Rummy, I think) famously said (in paraphrase) this: ‘The trouble with Afghanistan is that our smart bombs have nothing but ruins for targets.�

    In other words, no infrastructure, no military bases. No airfields. No tanks.

    No economy.

    How would you apply, say, economic sanctions, to a country of herdsmen and subsistence agriculturalists?

    “We won’t buy your wool until you stop beating your wives�???

    “We’ll build schools for you, but only if you stop stoning your daughters�???

    My guess is that at best we’d earn the Afghani version of ‘the finger’ for such inept ‘pressure’.

    J: “The bandwagon fallacy of multiple nations forcing their collective “morality� on anyone…�

    N: Does this argument dispute the internationally recognized concept of ‘crimes against humanity’?

    Wajida Al-Huweidar might also pose a compelling counter-argument to this proposition (if we could only ask it of her…).

    Regardless, here’s my own self-generated counter:

    I sense underlying your argument the supposition that the population of Taliban Afghanistan was united in its fundamentalist Islamic morality. The first 20 minutes of the movie ‘Osama’ – http://www.afghanland.com/entertainment/barmak.html – will doubtlessly disabuse you of this ‘a priori’ assumption. (Is this the meaning of ‘a priori’?)

    Which leads to this: in all my verbiage thus far, I’ve pathetically failed to point out that the Taliban were never anything REMOTELY AKIN to an elected government. Nor can we even offer them the questionable respect due an appointed government.

    The Taliban were essentially a national gang of sadistic murderers who spewed religious dogma to justify their reign of terror.

    The Crips in Imam-drag.

    They were the incomplete victors of the warlords’ civil war that followed the Russian withdrawal. Incomplete because the Northern Alliance clung to its river valley, and, more importantly, incomplete because the population they vanquished wholly feared them—as totalitarian regimes are always feared.

    No one in Afghanistan appointed them.

    No one but sycophants acclaimed them.

    They killed and killed and killed to claim their ‘governance’.

    If you can call THAT ‘governance’.

    No one loved them but themselves.

    And only the Taliban themselves rue their subsequent defeat.

    And yet now, as the Bush-led Americans continue to turn opportunities of gold into manure, the Taliban have regained their questionable aura of ‘freedom-fighters.’

    We’re losing the place again. Thanks to thinkers like Richard Perle.

    J: “They are frightened and FRIGHTENED PEOPLE DO NOT WANT FREEDOM – mental or physical. They want shelter, rules and someone to make decisions for them and tell them what to do – let someone else shoulder the responsibility for the hard choices.�

    N: This is common platitude, but an arguable if not downright questionable one. I am not however qualified to do the arguing. (But neither will I parrot anything the Bushies might use in dispute.)

    J: “Cleansing� the “ethnic cleansers� is as inappropriate as ethnic cleansing…�

    N: The ‘cleansed’ might care to differ, but I, a comfortable and privileged American, will not dare to speak for such victims. The famous photos from places like Buchenwald make the argument far more effectively than I could ever hope to.

    Even so, I’m willing to wager that not a few Holocaust survivors might wish the Allies had acted ‘violently’ a whole lot sooner – before the survivors’ mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers were gassed or shot, and then incinerated or dumped into mass graves.

    Lastly, the sticky problem of ‘collateral damage’.

    ‘Killing them to liberate them’.

    I agree that this is an awful question—and one that seems to answer itself.

    But who are you (or I?) to assume that the girl buried to her shoulders wouldn’t wish for an American air-strike that kills her just as much as her murderers (I REFUSE to dignify such vermin with the appellation ‘executioners’), yet spares her the torture of stoning?

    Four years ago, Iranian youth famously wished for an American invasion to liberate them from their parents’ theocratic masters. Yeah, I know as well as you do that the very same Iranians disavowed their naïve wish on viewing the ham-fisted incompetence handling the American military and diplomatic bureaucracy in Iraq. This doesn’t wholly invalidate the concept, however, that the oppressed might not welcome intervention on their behalf.

    Should Lincoln have instituted only a blockade of the CSA instead of the atrocities of the Civil War?

    Maybe.

    Would more slaves have suffered and died by flogging before their eventual (and sadly incomplete) emancipation?

    Almost certainly.

    How many slave-mothers might have volunteered to die if such sacrifice would have bought the freedom of their children?

    How many Jews might have done the same for kids like Anne Frank?

    Do you know?

    Are you SURE?

    That’s enough for now.

    Potter: on my computer, the red title has no underline implying an http link. Can you give the http?

    Thanks.

  • Nikos

    Sorry, one (big) thing I forgot:

    It’s as easy as it is tempting to conflate the Iraq disgrace with the cascading Afghanistan fiasco, because both are products of the same cabal of indefensible ideologues.

    It’s tempting to misremember — to think that Afghanistan was as unworthy a target of intervention as Iraq. The facts about Afghanistan simply belie that premise.

    And that’s really what I’ve been trying to work through via all these danged words and posts. Sorry it has taken so much muddy-cogitation and thread-space.

  • I love the assumptions implicit in comment like “Iraq disgrace” that have no bearing in fact – polls by many outside groups show that a majority of Iraqis are more optimistic now about the future of their country than the were before the war.

    So I what part of “56%� do people not understand? And you have to remember ~ 20% of the 44% that don’t were Saddam’s Sunnis who will not ever be pleased because they no longer have their foot on the throat of the other 80%.

    Survey finds hope in occupied Iraq

    An opinion poll suggests most Iraqis feel their lives have improved since the war in Iraq began about a year ago. … The survey, carried out for the BBC and other broadcasters, also suggests many are optimistic about the next 12 months and opposed to violence.

    (Pic 1)

    Seventy per cent of people said that things were going well or quite well in their lives, while only 29% felt things were bad.

    And 56% said that things were better now than they were before the war. …

    About 15% say foreign forces should leave Iraq now, but many more say they should stay until an Iraqi government is in place or security is restored.

    http://medienkritik.typepad.com/blog/2004/03/iraqis_our_live.html

  • In case you need a more recent poll

    An ABC News poll in Iraq, conducted with Time magazine and other media partners, includes some remarkable results: Despite the daily violence there, most living conditions are rated positively, seven in 10 Iraqis say their own lives are going well, and nearly two-thirds expect things to improve in the year ahead.

    Surprisingly, given the insurgents’ attacks on Iraqi civilians, more than six in 10 Iraqis feel very safe in their own neighborhoods, up sharply from just 40 percent in a poll in June 2004. And 61 percent say local security is good — up from 49 percent in the first ABC News poll in Iraq in February 2004.

    http://abcnews.go.com/International/PollVault/story?id=1389228

  • Potter

    Nikos: This is the link to Samantha Power’s To Save the World From Hell.

    http://mondediplo.com/2005/09/04reforming

    I am going to try to give it here again as an experiment. To Save The World From Hell

  • Potter

    Jazzman: Yes I am a potter. Keeps me in touch with this earth.

  • The link to the article “To Save the World from Hell” worked. and I learned that all that the US has to do to accomplsih this task is to

    ” . . . tidy up its administrative house; recruit, retain and develop young talent; push to appoint the best envoys and senior staff on the basis of merit rather than nationality; and be unashamed to publicise, not internalise, predictable efforts by member states to manipulate, micromanage and under-fund UN programmes.”

    Is that all? Do something that it has never done, is not constucted to do and has no support or buy-in to do?

    The world has no hope then.

  • Potter

    Winston Dodson- I believe you meant all that the UN has to do, not all that the US has to do as you quoted from Ms. Power. But this was a good slip because it works for this administration as well. Also with regard to US/UN relations if the US (by example) trashes the UN, acts in opposition to it, then any reform will be doomed.

    These are the quotes that I would choose from Ms. Powers article:

    “The UN is a building. It is the behaviour and priorities of the states within it that need to be reformed.”

    “If the UN goes mainly to places all others wish to avoid, and with the skimpiest of resources, it is no wonder that the UN’s rate of peacekeeping success is not high.”

    “The other high-profile target of reform zealotry is the notoriously inefficient UN management. Ronald Reagan once said that accepting a US government grant, with all its rules, was like marrying a girl and finding that her entire family moved in with you before the honeymoon. The strings that member states attach to payment of their UN dues are even more demoralising; they insist that every penny they give the UN be meticulously accounted for, meaning that senior staff working in the most perilous UN missions often spend more time on paperwork than they do on the prevention of HIV, planning elections, or policing the streets.”

    “And in personnel decisions, member states insist on pushing their nationals, regardless of their suitability for the job.”

    “The UN eats its young. The quality of its staff will continue to suffer if UN leaders do not stamp out the defeatist culture in which UN officials see themselves only as the objects of member state machinations, not as the shaper of them.”

    “…..the most powerful states have yet to be convinced that a strong UN will advance their interests…….”

    The UN is what member states make it, and make it evolve into being. Members must agree to give it authority. The US must lead. Without the US behind the UN there is no hope.

  • Potter

    Winston Dodson- despite the polls, which I too noted, there is plenty of evidence that Iraq is splitting along sectarian lines. ( See today’s New York Times front page for the latest). So while it may be true that the majority are glad to see themselves rid of Saddam and perhaps feel safer, we still do not know what is in store for Iraq in the years to come or what our own role will be or have to be. Feeling safer and happy that Saddam says nothing in absolute terms. For instance what is the state of the country’s infrastructure? Do they have electricity, safe water, health care? Can they produce oil for the market to help pay the bills?

    Will they split apart into full blown civil war if/when we leave?

    What concerns me most right now is at thome: the way we were taken into this vast democracy project through a brutal war that was not proposed on humanitarian goals of liberating an oppressed people (though many approved war because of this and were later fortified by the administration’s disingenuous claims after no WMD’s were found), how we were misled with fear propaganda, the appearance of a new doctrine of preemption especially in the light of what is emerging more clearly everyday as the selective and political use of intelligence, the prospect of “endless war” in connection with the claim of increased power in the executive and no checks or balances because of acquiescence of a submissive partisan majority Congress with a weak opposition. I am concerned by the resulting deterioration in our national security because we have dispersed and increased terrorists, exacerbated or instigated nuclear proliferation and at the same time made ourselves weak by losing influence ( “soft power”) around the world while bleeding ourselves fiscally: the tremendous expense incurred ( two trillion$ I believe the bill is estimated to be). Also will we ever be able to hold the moral high ground, if we ever had it, after the shame of the torture scandals and detentions of people held without trial indefinitely broufgght upon us by this adminstration?. Finally, to put a period on it, I am very concerned about election fraud.

    Perhaps that is what Nikos means by the “Iraq disgrace”

  • Potter, I read the article and all of the paragraphs that you sited and I agree with all of them and that is my point. Those are all reason why the UN WILL NOT accomplish all that the paragraph that I sited says must be accomplished in changing the UN in order to keep the “World from Hell”. And I place those words into quotes to emphasize the irony and sheer hilariousness in the phrase – the UN has NEVER had what the article says that it needs and we’re not now “In Hellâ€?. The article makes no attempt to argue these points, it simply assumes that every reader knows that we would be in Hell if it weren’t for the UN or will go there if it doesn’t become as the article says that it should.

    That is what I find fascinating about whole-hearted supporters of the UN. I have German / European friends and after a rational discussion of what the UN was, what it is and what it could be they finally say, “Well yes, it (the UN) is rather ineffective, feckless and comical but it is all that we have to represent our views, in opposition to the US’s, in world affairs�. To this is say, if you believe this to be true, then why do you not require it to be a more effective advocate of your views?

    And, you may and thought that it was a Freudian slip foe me to accidentally US for UN but it does not require that to happen for me to say that I unabashedly say that I only support organizations who advocate for me. And part of the “me� is meant in a collective since we all live in a world together and should have organizations who facilitate that. But, as far as the application of that philosophy goes, that leaves, in my opinion about 60% of what the UN does a wanting.

    I can “put up with that 60%� as long as I feel that the other 40% contribute to the “living together part� but in absence of that I will do without both.

    And, anticipating your rejoinder that might be something like “by ‘living together’ do you mean the US has more influence, more economic success etc� and I say yes of course. If we, by means of competition of ideas, are the most successful, then we will have more influence and I think that there are no facts available that contradict that we are.

    Even though we are both agreed that a more effective UN would be a good force in the world it would seem that what / how that new UN would do that “good� would be very different.

    Lastly, I want to say that I appreciate your well thought out and researched response and the time that you took to make it. And you do seem to be sincere in your desire to improve the UN and that is commendable because I think so many people easily fall into the Nihilistic forms or arguments ruled by cynicism etc.

  • Nikos

    “That is what I find fascinating about whole-hearted supporters of the UN. I have German / European friends and after a rational discussion of what the UN was, what it is and what it could be they finally say, ‘Well yes, it (the UN) is rather ineffective, feckless and comical but it is all that we have to represent our views, in opposition to the US’s, in world affairs�. To this is say, if you believe this to be true, then why do you not require it to be a more effective advocate of your views?�

    Come on, W.D.!

    The US holds the Damocles-Sword over the head of the UN.

    It’s called ‘the threat of withdrawal.’

    The US is a passive-aggressive manipulator at best (withholding dues), and the world’s most disgusting bully most of the rest of the time (offensive gas-bags like Bolton) when it comes to the well-meaning but hamstrung collection of career conversationalists headquartered over the East River.

    I’ve much more to say in various places but no time till tomorrow.

    But I couldn’t let this typical Republican ‘blame the victim’-ism stand without pointing out its inherent baselessness.

    Later, dude.

  • I look forward to more from you Nikos but I have nothing to argue with you in the above comment. The UN is a useless talking shop until we need it and then we try and get something out of it. I won’t argue but I don’t see what the problem is?

  • Potter writes “What concerns me most right now is at thome: the way we were taken into this vast democracy project through a brutal war that was not proposed on humanitarian goals of liberating an oppressed people (though many approved war because of this and were later fortified by the administration’s disingenuous claims after no WMD’s were found),”

    Here are excerpts from Bush’s 2002 speech to UN, prior to the war: (Potter, he spoke for 50 mins and 35 of those were on the subject of bringing human rights and democracy to Iraq. The meme / urban legend / talking point that the stated desire to bring democracy and human rights to Iraq was only after the failure to find WMDs is simply false. If you’d like, I can search and find dozens more speeches by Bush, Cheney, Powell, Runsfeld, Rice and Wolfewitz all before the war, re: the same subject)

    “If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will cease persecution of its civilian population, including Shi’a, Sunnis, Kurds, Turkomans, and others, again as required by Security Council resolutions.”

    “If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will immediately end all illicit trade outside the oil-for-food program. It will accept U.N. administration of funds from that program, to ensure that the money is used fairly and promptly for the benefit of the Iraqi people.”

    “If all these steps are taken, it will signal a new openness and accountability in Iraq. And it could open the prospect of the United Nations helping to build a government that represents all Iraqis — a government based on respect for human rights, economic liberty, and internationally supervised elections.

    The United States has no quarrel with the Iraqi people; they’ve suffered too long in silent captivity. Liberty for the Iraqi people is a great moral cause, and a great strategic goal. The people of Iraq deserve it; the security of all nations requires it. Free societies do not intimidate through cruelty and conquest, and open societies do not threaten the world with mass murder. The United States supports political and economic liberty in a unified Iraq.”

    “Events can turn in one of two ways: If we fail to act in the face of danger, the people of Iraq will continue to live in brutal submission.”

    “If we meet our responsibilities, if we overcome this danger, we can arrive at a very different future. The people of Iraq can shake off their captivity. They can one day join a democratic Afghanistan and a democratic Palestine, inspiring reforms throughout the Muslim world. These nations can show by their example that honest government, and respect for women, and the great Islamic tradition of learning can triumph in the Middle East and beyond. And we will show that the promise of the United Nations can be fulfilled in our time.”

    “Our common security is challenged by regional conflicts — ethnic and religious strife that is ancient, but not inevitable. In the Middle East, there can be no peace for either side without freedom for both sides. America stands committed to an independent and democratic Palestine, living side by side with Israel in peace and security. Like all other people, Palestinians deserve a government that serves their interests and listens to their voices. My nation will continue to encourage all parties to step up to their responsibilities as we seek a just and comprehensive settlement to the conflict.”

    ” In 1991, Security Council Resolution 688 demanded that the Iraqi regime cease at once the repression of its own people, including the systematic repression of minorities — which the Council said, threatened international peace and security in the region. This demand goes ignored.

    Last year, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights found that Iraq continues to commit extremely grave violations of human rights, and that the regime’s repression is all pervasive. Tens of thousands of political opponents and ordinary citizens have been subjected to arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, summary execution, and torture by beating and burning, electric shock, starvation, mutilation, and rape. Wives are tortured in front of their husbands, children in the presence of their parents — and all of these horrors concealed from the world by the apparatus of a totalitarian state.

    In 1991, the U.N. Security Council, through Resolutions 686 and 687, demanded that Iraq return all prisoners from Kuwait and other lands. Iraq’s regime agreed. It broke its promise. Last year the Secretary General’s high-level coordinator for this issue reported that Kuwait, Saudi, Indian, Syrian, Lebanese, Iranian, Egyptian, Bahraini, and Omani nationals remain unaccounted for — more than 600 people. One American pilot is among them.”

    “He blames the suffering of Iraq’s people on the United Nations, even as he uses his oil wealth to build lavish palaces for himself, and to buy arms for his country. By refusing to comply with his own agreements, he bears full guilt for the hunger and misery of innocent Iraqi citizens.”

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/09/20020912-1.html

  • I will comment on your other comments latter Potter, but I will humbly add here that many comments in this regard are simply regurgitated talking points not based on facts. And your comment re: opposition is right on. The Dems cannot form a coherent opposition because many of the arguments complaints are fluff based on nothing. There are many things wrong and many criticisms that can be made but many are simply not valid and are easily disproved as the “Not talking about brining democracy / civil rights to Iraq prior to discovery of no WMDs . . . . “

    And this brings up the point of opposition in general and Gary Hart in particular. I read a comment in an earlier post the said that ‘Gary Hart is a military expertâ€?. LOL – The only people that can believe that are people who don’t know anything about the military and from what I heard from him during this show proved it.

    The reason why he took such a factual and rhetorical beating is because he isn’t used to having his ideas being opposed by anyone with any other factually based arguments. He simply writes a book, that says things that many want to hear and thinks that it will go unchallenged. Well, I think that we can say from this show that that simply won’t work because he is simply factually wrong on many points.

    If the Dems are ever going to form an effective opposition they are going to have to argue factually among themselves, as Hart and Beinart did, and hone their ideas. “Marketing / Political Spinâ€? all have their place (but you “can’t drink your own cool aid), Repubs / Rove have probably taken it to heights never seen before, but some of the underlying structure was worked out through years of intense argument and debate while they were in the opposition / minority party. If the Dems / opposition keep simply spouting drivel from Moveon.org and Kos they will remain just that – opposition.

    It should be people that are really concerned about ending the dominance of Repub politics who are the most critical of people like Hart whose (mostly) factless writings / speeches continue to convince the American public that the Dems cannot be trusted with the keys to US security. It’s a hurdle, if you can’t get over that you aren’t allowed to talk about anything else.

    As someone who mostly votes for Repubs, but could be persuaded otherwise, I am concerned what the lack on any true opposition has. It isn’t good for Repubs ( in the long run, great in short run though) and not good for the country. I kid you not, if Rove / core of Repubs could endow a special fund whose money was guaranteed to be used only for keeping Dean, Pelosi and Reid in front of the American people everyday, they would. I think that it is easily arguable that all of these individuals are bad leaders – in a tactical sense. But what Rove et all are worried about are that they are bad in a strategic one as well – while they are there the Dems are fixated on them and not working on any new ideas / structures and thus developing new leaders. With them, the Dems can stay in the news, but can’t stay politically competitive.

    And by “true� opposition I don’t mean the angry Kos crowd. Like Rush et al these groups have their place. In the Roman Coliseum, the Emperor had to give the crowd the blood that they wanted, but that didn’t mean that he didn’t have to also have a plan to put bread in their tables. So, the Dems / opposition have to do the same – find the plan for the bread.

  • Nikos

    A pre-emptive (belated) apology to jazzman:

    I only realized tonight after coming home, having a late dinner, and checking the threads that the smile on my face while typing the first part of my long reply to you isn’t at all evident in the writing – as I mistakenly believed it was.

    I am not qualified to ‘grade’ your (or anyone else’s) offerings here. It’s the kind of thing my old gang did back in Michigan. Friends can always tease, poke, and prod – and despite the amicability of our exchanges, we’ve not actually befriended in person.

    So, sorry pal. Sincerely.

    Who’s really the ‘tasteless’ one? Mea culpa.

    Winston: what I thought I took from your post is that Germans (like other nations) feel frustrated by the UN.

    If that’s correct, then your prescription for change can ONLY be viable if the US doesn’t sulk, pout, snarl, and threaten every time the UN’s members politely rail at the typical arrogant policies the US crams down the throats of the rest of the frickin’ planet.

    But that’s EXACTLY what the US does. Every damned time.

    Wagging the finger at countries unable to bully the US back is another typical Republican ‘blaming the victims’-ism.

    And I for one am SICK TO DEATH of that smarmy game.

    Funny how everybody in the world save American conservatives seem to easily grasp this.

    Hopefully by tomorrow night I’ll have had the time to work up a fair and balanced explanation for this conceptual impasse – but I’ll post it in the EHM thread, where I think it properly belongs.

    See ya.

  • cheesechowmain

    I’m going throw out some flame bait, and try to ignore the subsequent scorching and shellacking. Regretfully, I’m unable to talk myself out of this futile little gesture. Perhaps this thread is reached a moribund state. Please, don’t assume I’m actually trying to change one person’s mindset. Now into the breach, into the maw, into overreach…let’s quibble into oblivion…

    I want to flesh out my bringing up the issue about the War Powers Act, WPA. It may be germane to this conversation.

    The White House (and I’ll assume by fiat, Congressional) legal beagles participated in the crafting of the criteria and the objective for the Iraq incursion. This was based upon WMD threat assessments (well, it’s highly likely they were pouring over the threat assessments that met the criteria for military action, but I’ll be generous and sincerely give ’em the benefit of the doubt). The threat of WMD was and is the *only* legally defensible position available for authorizing the use of military force in Iraq of the scale we’ve seen since 2003. If there some other legal premise in play, I’ve not heard it clearly articulated and pointed to as of yet, or I’ve simply overlooked it.

    This legal basis is definitely at odds with the News cycles on-the-ground and much of the rhetorical devices being used at this time to secure the consent of the citizenry. And I know, this seems rather quaint, especially when one cynically considers all the military and covert operations run by the U.S. and it’s various coalition partners over the last few years since 1945. But, constitutionally tested or not, the WPA is the foundation that is being applied for legal cover. It probably wouldn’t be of any use in an international court, but the U.S. won’t be going down that rabbit hole any time soon.

    Clearly there is a completely different set of operational objectives at work for political cover than there are for legal cover. Understandably, we don’t hear much discussion at this time about the WPA and the Iraq conflict, but we do hear a never ending stream of rhetoric to justify the incursion and attendant pontification about the counter-insurgency. The important thing to notice is that these are not legal justifications, these are political arguments and rhetorical flourishes; there’s nothing wrong with that. At best, they are noble intentions telegraphed to a benighted world that really doesn’t understand our veracity, our resolve, and our heroic destiny. At worst, they are verbal swag handed out by political operatives, mouth pieces, and opinion peddlers across multiple channels of communication. We can confuse the moral, ethical, historical, and cynical justifications with legal justifications. It’s understandable. Moreover, the rhetoric being used for the Iraq conflict has had a half-life that might have made General Westmoreland, Bob McNamara, and Henry Kissinger blush: WMDs, terrorism, fly-paper, despostic regimes, liberation, democratization, geo-strategic, oil access, etc. I’ve quit performing this cataloging exercise. I reached Miller’s Limit a while back; the magic number seven, plus or minus two, which turns out to be our capacity for information processing. I see only one item of material importance: unintended consequences. And those consequences cut a variety of ways. On this point, I do not suffer quibblers.

    I brought the WPA issue up for two reasons:

    (1) I first heard it articulated by Richard Perle himself in an interview with Charlie Rose. He was very specific, unambigious, and spoke with a degree of clarity that could lead one to believe he had access to the process of the legal team(s) working through this issue. He did not equivocate regarding the justification for the Iraq conflict. In terms of legality it was based upon the WPA. The criteria was the WMD threat. Short and sweet. In my asking about this during the ROS show, I thought Mr. Perle might be able to expand upon the idea of bringing the WPA up to date with the Doctrine of Preemption. Or, make the case that they already coexist in legal harmony. What’s been missing is the discussion and a codified integration.

    (2) To address the problem of Republic v. Empire, it is advisable to form a statutory basis from which one can draw upon in order to meet the requirements for securing the country. The statutory basis is not a matter of image consciousness or pandering to frivilous legal pleasantries. They must contain clear, transparent parameters and clear, prescriptive remedies for the types of action that meet security challenges. Furthermore, statutory arguments should be built upon a process framework with a lifecycle clause so adjustments for contemporary challenges can be evolved into the WPA. Revisting the WPA seems like an inherently reasonable procedure: sunset the stuff that is anachronistic, debate and argue about the current and potential future challenges.

    Shampoo, Rinse, Repeat. The process holds the key to robustness and allows the opportunity of self-correction, not the static legal elements contained within a document snapshot.

    Transparency and flexible processes are strategic anathema to Empire. Opaque agendas, hidden processes, cynical rhetoric are anathema to the functioning of a healthy and secure Republic/Democratic hybrid. The WPA is one of many tactically feasible arenas to focus the moral and ethical energy. It’s younger cousin, the PATRIOT Act is another important touchstone. This is all potentially politically explosive, but that’s the process at work. You can tell it’s working by the sparks flying off the floor of our hallowed chambers. These folks need to be kept on constructive tasks. It’s an honorable and virtuous make-work project. The scandalous trivial time and effort expended for conducting the People’s business just doesn’t cut it for drawing down a juicy salary, fat perks, and bodacious retirement benefits. And honestly, I think someone else can perform brush clearing procedures in North Texas besides the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces.

    Anyway, there is alot to be said about this type of transparency, I’ll posit a couple of cursory ideas as I flesh them out and I feel the urge. Do note, at this time, as in times previous, the story tellers are swaying the information herd towards secrecy and ad hoc, reaction mode solutions for security policies. To wax Rumsfeldian, a Republic becomes Empire with the leadership it has at the time. Perhaps, we’ve been bewitched long ago. Would we be able to clearly identify the contours of a reconstituted Pax Americana? Would we be brave enough to honestly face that answer where ever it lead, even to a place of great discomfort? That kind of gaze may very well be one of many roads to self-inflicted ruin. Perhaps, it’s best not travelled?

    I am reluctant to leave this post off with a kar-azy, intractable notion I’ve been considering for the last few years. I won’t defend it, I won’t justify it. It’s a gut feeling based upon something ineffable. As Gary Hart alluded, empires certainly have come and gone. It seems to be a point where there is a absence of disagreement and bitter posturing. A discussion about empire(s), is ultimately a dig through a miserable bone yard of history. To peer into the fragility of hubris and narcissism and to exume deeds so rotten we weep for all those pitiful souls and gently, tenderly, quietly ask: why? We fend it off and secretly suggest to ourselves, not us. We won’t go down that well worn path. Our history lessons and our mama’s wisdom taught us better.

    On the other hand, there is an often overlooked flip side to this story. That inherently peaceful, untechnological beings and cultures have likely succumbed. And not always due to an invading onslaught with unquenchable, competitive angst or cranky neighbors or a complacent population. Sometimes the earth, the cosmos, or just plain ol’ reliably unreliable nature may take their toll and a once thriving population has had its time to run its course. An old adversary like dysentery can raise hell and decimate a population. I defer to the anthropological and biological record.

    In closing, it is likely that there is no silver bullet answer to the question of survival of human beings and their culture. In my opinion, this is what many of these issues boil to down to in essence. The question of whether Republic or Empire is a question that can be unasked. Both are organizing principles. They are a strategic design choices and at their core answer the questions: What is a robust, durable, enjoyable way for a group of human beings to organize themselves? What is the path to manage ourselves against the inevitable demise inherent in all lifecycles and still retain our souls, our ethos, our moral and ethical character, our brighter angels?

    Or put another way:

    “The frog is almost five hundred million years old. Could you really say with much certainly that America, with all its strength and prosperity, with its fighting man that is second to none, and with its standard of living that is the highest in the world, will last as long as. . .the frog?”

    — Joseph Heller, “Catch-22”

    I think I need a drink, an enema, and a plot of land on the moon, sometimes I just can’t tell which to do first…

  • Nikos

    cheesechowmain:

    Great, great post. Exactly why I’m a ROS addict.

    This alone deserves the on-air discussion and thread-dedication of a(nother) ROS show:

    “Transparency and flexible processes are strategic anathema to Empire. Opaque agendas, hidden processes, cynical rhetoric are anathema to the functioning of a healthy and secure Republic/Democratic hybrid. The WPA is one of many tactically feasible arenas to focus the moral and ethical energy….”

    …of the the ROS staff and listenership!

    Thanks.

    Oh, and yes, I do think this”Republic/Democratic hybrid” is also a new species of Republic/Empire hybrid too. Which means it’s unnamed, which means people can’t quite discuss it articulately, let alone honestly.

    But we could begin that process in ROS.

    If you don’t beat me to it, I’ll suggest it in the Suggest a Show thread after my rest-of-the-month (self-imposed) ban lifts. I suspect you’d frame it better than me though…

    Thanks again.

  • I think that everyone who is intersted in the idea of America – the Empire should read Nial Feguson’s Republic.

    You might find that many people study tout an “Empire” not as a derogatory term but as a legitamate polical organizing principle and nothing says that it has to be opaque inflexible nor undemocratic.

    As I have said in an earlier post, Ferguson argues that we have infact been an Empire since the end of WWII and the only real question is how effective and how long will it last.

    And the question of logevity in comaprison with the frog is a bit naive and leads to Nihlisitc outcomes – For one thing, frogs have exhisted for 360 million years (“The earliest amphibians existed 360 million years ago http://www.studyworld.com/newsite/reportessay/Science/Biological%5CAmphibians-384382.htm) and of all the species to exhist since then 99% have become extict. So asking anything to ensure that the human species will be around that long, is not very realistic and if you take that arguement for granted, impossible.

    So looking for biological metaphors to political problems may make for good reading but not good arguements.

  • cheesechowmain

    I want to attenuate the tenor and position of my last post; I wrote it pretty late. Sleep will do wonders to cool the burn and straighten out one’s jumbled thoughts. I don’t have a transcript of Mr. Perle’s interview with Charlie Rose, so regrettably I’m working from memory. Let’s just agree, things can be misrepresented to oneself in the neural architecture over time. In sleeping this off, I woke up considering the following question: Did Mr. Perle actually name the WPA? I have to be honest and admit, I sincerely can’t recall with any authority that I’m comfortable. He did address the question about the role of WMDs as justification. He was pretty succinct. He essentially mentioned the WH legal folks, and in their coming to terms with this issue, decided WMDs provided the legal protection/justification for the incursion. In my zeal to encapsulate an idea into a tidy, little legal nugget, I believe I connected this to the WPA. My apologies for potentially misrepresenting Mr. Perle. I’m really not wanting to put words in anyone’s mouth. Mr. Perle is quite capable of doing this without any help.

    However, it’s a completely understandable error in judgement. For the following: the WH legal team examined the legality before the invasion. This legal team expended some level of energy crafting the criteria for the invasion. One should expect that this legal energy is connected to some statute, codified in an artifact that we as citizens may examine. Our government, though dubious at times in handling itself, has had a working level of transparency over the years. So, I don’t think my expectations are too far off the mark. If the legal justifications are not connected to the WPA, then fine by me. I move forward. I can’t sweat the small stuff. However, if it’s not the WPA, then what legal premise is it? And then you can substitute legal premise XYZ in my post where the acronym WPA occurs. The import isn’t reduced or diminished in my opinion. It pivots around the WMD threat.

    The legal burden for this invasion is an important consideration for a variety of reasons, but I’ll posit a hopefully constructive one from many possible: a legal premise has the capacity to help articulate the criteria from which we may judge how our a priori notions square with actual results. The legality should not be a moving target, unless there are compeling reasons, and this should be handled with the utmost clarity and agreed upon by consensus. This has the potential to lead to accountability and improvement in policy decisions, especially when lethal force is applied. Call it roughly, a political policy falsifiability principle of a sort, a means by which we may tune and calibrate our behavior.

    Whether a Democracy, a Republic, an Empire, an Imperial Juggernaut, whatever this thing is, I do not feel this is inappropriate or hostile.

    …and now, time to go find a hot rock to lay on under the sun.

  • cheesechowmain

    Before I’m off to the hot rock, thank you Nikos. And Winston, I now know more about amphibians than I ever thought I would.

    I really thought folks had wandered off this thread. That’s what I get for assuming.

  • War Powers Resolution

    Questions about constitutionality

    The Supreme Court has struck down the ‘legislative veto’ embodied in Section 5(c) of the Resolution in the case INS v. Chadha (1983). However, in every instance since the act was passed, the President has requested and received authorization for the use of force (though not a formal declaration of war) consistent with the provisions of the resolution. The reports to Congress required of the President have been drafted to state that they are “consistent with” the War Powers Resolution rather than “pursuant to” so as to take into account the Presidential position that the Resolution is unconstitutional.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_Powers_Resolution

  • Potter

    W. Dodson regarding your quotes of Bush’s UN Speech of 2002. This was a speech made to that body trying to get them to okay and get behind a war on humanitarian grounds. The UN did not take that step.

    Meanwhile back home we were hearing about mushroom clouds and the threat of WMD’s. Why?Because the American people were not going to sign on to going to war to liberate the Iraqi’s for the sake of liberating them even though we were hearing a lot of Saddam bad, Saddam bad. It was the trumped up threat to us by subtly connecting or inferring Saddam to Osama Bin Laden and 9/11 that played mostly here in the “homeland” and even then it was not such an easy sell.

    We were NOT asked to support a vast democracy project costing untolled lives, and billions/ trillions of dollars. We were told that we were going after the “terrorists” and this was “a war on terrorism” your quotes from the UN in 2002 notwithstanding.

    And if you remember the famous Colin Powell speech case before the UN that is the REAL and PRIMARY case we were making to everyone. The liberating part was to sweeten the business.

  • Potter

    And as Cheesechowmein reminds me… WMD imminent threat ( based on fears stemming from 9/11) was as well the legal case and therefore the primary case being made for war to the American people as well as to the rest of the world trhough the UN.

  • Nikos

    Jazzman: re my apology for my smart-as arrogance: when you’re drafting your response, don’t bother pulling any punches. I deserve a beat down and will take without a whimper. And sorry again. 🙁

    See ya.

  • Nikos

    Jazzman: re my apology for my smart-as arrogance: when you’re drafting your response, don’t bother pulling any punches. I deserve a beat down and will take it without a whimper. And sorry again. 🙁

    See ya.

  • Nikos

    I’m not sure how I submitted while typing in the owrd ‘it’, but, oh well.

    Jazzman: I’m working up a novel concept for the Morality thread you’ll doubtlessly find worthy of scrutiny. Look for it in a day or two. 🙂

  • jazzman

    Potter, are you familiar with ceramicist Marlene Miller? I’m a big fan of her “earthy” golemesque (not gollum) creations. Check her out. millerclay.

  • jazzman

    Nikos: Thanks for the reconsideration of my opening attempt at levity (they say start with a joke.) I wanted to lighten up on your graphic recounting of human suffering. I think from the tenor of my previous posts, it should clear that I was not actually drawing a parallel between the Afghani tragedy and our political peccadilloes, however I still maintain that conservatives consider themselves superior to liberals and vice versa albeit for different reasons. Your Galahadism is well noted in these pages. We have also discussed that I consider the victim/victimizer to be a symbiotic relationship whether one is a victim of other persons, disease, or natural disasters as cheesechowmain presciently notes.

    In case you’re still in doubt, I am a consummate pacifist, (by choice not by nature) against capital punishment and war (state sanctioned murder) and believe violence only begets more violence. As I noted in “morality� I deplore violence directed at ANY life or the environment and I definitely do not believe that “noble� ends justify less than ideal means, however it seems that the majority of correspondents here have no problems with a “little� loss of life to achieve their “ideals.�

    Nikos writes:>> J[azzman writes]: “The bandwagon fallacy of multiple nations forcing their collective “morality� on anyone…�

    N[ikos writes]: Does this argument dispute the internationally recognized concept of ‘crimes against humanity’?>> YES – just because a “moral� majority (international or not) decides that certain criteria constitute “crimes against humanity� does not give them the right to commit violence on the “criminals� especially with collateral consequences.

    Nikos:>> I sense underlying your argument the supposition that the population of Taliban Afghanistan was united in its fundamentalist Islamic morality…– will doubtlessly disabuse you of this ‘a priori’ assumption. (Is this the meaning of ‘a priori’?)>> If it were my assumption it would be (but as it isn’t it ain’t) derived “a prioriâ€? (deduction by reasoning not empiricism) as I have no firsthand knowledge of Afghani religiopolitics. However it would be fallacious to assume that any group would be united in any morality (look at ROS.)

    Elected/democratic governments in the world are the exception rather than the rule. The democratic philosophy that was instrumental in forming this country was/is a bold still on-going experiment (only 230 frog years) that could easily go awry if we are not vigilant. It requires from each individual a great responsibility to uphold its ideals (that ALL citizens are equal under the law – IN THEORY but as Orwell noted in Animal Farm, some are more equal than others. Hey Nikos, remember the ERA? That must be another of your betes noire – but remember a MAJORITY of women opposed it or at least didn’t support it enough for passage.) At least under our laws you are (theoretically) innocent until proven guilty. According to most religions one starts out guilty and must be made/proven innocent by purification/Atonement/Auditing etc. Should we violently depose every non-democratic regime on the planet? How about the ones that have committed “crimes against humanityâ€? like the US vs. its own aboriginals, China vs. Tibet and its own citizens, N. Vietnam vs. S., N. Korea against its citizens, – most of Africa vs. itself. Few nations have clean hands in the human rights dept. The USSR reverted without a bloodbath except in the Muslim oriented areas, Gandhi and Mandella prevailed more peacefully than most – the exceptions that proves the rule?

    Nikos:>> J[azzman writes]: “They are frightened and FRIGHTENED PEOPLE DO NOT WANT FREEDOM… N[ikos Writes]: This is common platitude, but an arguable if not downright questionable one. I am not however qualified to do the arguing. >> Religious fundamentalists are scared of offending their respective deities and do not want freedom they want to follow the rules (dogma) and go to their eternal reward. I don’t think that point is questionable or arguable.

    As to the rest of your plea to liberate the oppressed, I’m sure anyone in an undesirable situation would like to be liberated. I would like to be liberated as I believe ALYB stated from the “well meaning� oppressive “protect me from my own stupidity laws� that our legislators and courts have seen fit to impose on the nation. Again I am not equating this largely psychological oppression with the actual oppression being suffered worldwide. As insensitive to the “victims� as this might sound, “victims� and horrific circumstances provide an opportunity for humans to re-establish a sense of their humaneness and exercise their best, altruistic selves such as Schindler or the abettors of the Frank family (but again, not violently.) I’m sure that the oppressed would object to this characterization, that they act as foci for others altruism or soul-enrichment but I believe that they are instruments in each other’s “spiritual evolution.�

    Nikos: I just saw your trio of apologies. Stop the metaphorical breast beating – as long as you don’t get to “verballyâ€? violent. I’ll continue to supply ROS with “bad tasteâ€? humor. You know the value judgment “Badâ€? is an acquired taste it takes getting used to afterwords it’s “Good”.

  • Nikos

    Jazzman: I’m starting to think that the eventual ROS totem won’t something traditionally ‘noble’ or emblematically ‘wise’ like the falcon or owl…

    …but the frog.

    What’s with our amphibian obsession?

    How did it start?

    More later on your reply. But yeah, I knew full well that you’re a pacifist, and it’s one big reason I like your posts so much.

    As for my apologies, you can just blame my damned empathy, Jazzman. And the apologies may strike you as unnecesary breast beatings, but for me they’re salves for an unhappy conscience. So grin and bear it please good sir.

    And I’ll refrain from anymore — until my next sarcastic excess. God save me.

    😉

  • Nikos

    So jazzman, my main objection to your reply is conditional (and not terribly serious, either). It’s worthy of mention mostly because it’s probably instructive.

    I’m not, I don’t think, doing “Galahadism�, and here’s why:

    My recent discovery of Wajida Al-Huweidar (and thanks again to fiddlesticks for such manna from feminist heaven) reminded me that my focus on women’s issues ISN’T just a ‘women’s issues’ thing – it’s basic HUMAN rights, not simply ‘women’s’ rights.

    Dubbing it ‘women’s rights’ risks trivializing it to men.

    And my gender is frankly ignorant and insufferable enough when it comes to humanist concern for people of the other gender, let alone regardless of gender.

    Here’s where this quibble is conditional: would I still be engaged in Galahadism if my obsession was the rights of Kuwaiti or Saudi indentured servants?

    Say yes, and you’re off the hook.

    Say no, and I keep talking.

    Good.

    Now then: despite my admiration (and envy) of your pacifism, I’ve decided to stick with my minimal tolerance for the possibility of intervention against serious, sadistic, and murderous human rights abusers.

    I agree with Potter that an international convention defining the criteria for intervention is necessary, and that, considering the plague of human rights violations around the globe, such a convention should be somebody’s very serious work NOW.

    And as you’ll see on the Morality thread, I’ve already begun a fuzzy-headed work-out of how such a convention might gain its legitimacy.

    And that, I think, is all I’ve got to say tonight.

    But thank you for your replies – they helped me find my peace of mind.

    Oops – one more: I remember well the ERA, and how its defeat was reported: men did a ‘Fox News’ attack on it in all the conservative states, successfully torpedoing it – because the Constitution is just too frickin’ difficult to amend.

    (Don’t get me started on THAT obsession, please.)

    😉

  • cheesechowmain

    Winston, thank you for the wiki link about the war powers act. First let me say, that is a page that has some pretty dense ideas floating around on it. I’ll need to think about it for a while. A quick read, slow coming to understanding. Nobody ever complained that I was the brightest bulb in the light socket.

    Secondly, I still believe as a country, we are a country of laws. We therefore need legal frameworks for how wars considered and decided upon. Moreover, they need to be articulated in a public place so a common citizen may stop and reflect upon them. Again, this encourages accountability and a means for citizens to make contributions to improvement. To my mind, the following quote from that link says something else about this notion: “”A democracy cannot… tolerate secret policies” because they undermine the legitimacy of governmental action.”

  • Nikos

    ccm: re your quote:

    Tucker Carlson would, without qualm, note that your quote’s weight is diminished by the fact that the USA (as currently constituted) is not a democracy but a republic.

    I’ve heard him do this more than once.

    He’s bright, and he’s a typical represntative of the ‘benitos’ (my newly coined but not yet formally introduced counter-attack on the quasi-slur ‘liberal’. Think ‘Mussolini’. Why? Because the neocon ideology is as bankrupt as Benito’s was.)

  • cheesechowmain

    Nikos, thanks for that post. I’ve not heard the ‘benitos’ phrase before, but I think you’ve got something there. I believe it would pass the Lee Atwater/Frank Luntz smell test for a good tactical counter-punch.

    If memory serves me correctly (always a dangerous affair), what the Italians possessed that we don’t possess is a King who could relieve El Dulce of his place on the seat of power. Not that I’d advocate we need a monarchy. Just shows how paradoxical things can get and start bumpin’ and grindin’ away. A King can probably act with more alacrity than a Congress. Ah, the trade-offs. Guess that’s what makes for a good horse race and games of chance. Imperfections and uncertainty.

    Oh, I think your post reinforces that I’m batting a nearly perfect average at being completely at odds with Mr. Tucker Bow-Tie Carlson. Perhaps his rhetoric is a really a cry for help.

    Oh, and one more item from an appeal to memory. I believe I once heard on a CNN interview with the honorable representative David Dreier that California’s proposition ballot initiatives were an example of “too much democracy.” The interviewer, who I can’t remember, perhaps Judy Woodruff, was actually slightly startled by the candor. He went on to explain the nature of our representative republic construction. I think this interview occurred around the time of the recall election 2003. There’s good arguments on both sides for ballot initiatives.

    I suppose you can view this multi-headed beast through many prisms of reality. Cheers…

  • jazzman

    Nikos, Cheese: No time for this thread due to Cold War – more here tomorrow I hope.

  • jazzman

    Nikos writes:>> I’m not, I don’t think, doing “Galahadism� I realize that “Galahadism� has “damsel in distress� connotations and that it really is a human rights issue, I would say that more properly it is a “Knight in Shining Armor� championing the downtrodden – but you do have a penchant for championing those y-challenged among us as you are so empathetic regarding the multitude of abuse perpetrated on the gender possibly due to your fraternal consideration for your sisters poor choice in a partner. But as we can agree to disagree on violent intervention you know I will not under ANY circumstances advocate well intended violence to end violence it will never be any more than a temporary assuagement of immediate conditions at a great price. It will not solve the root problems.

    CCM: Too much democracy can be a problem. Without limits it can result in the tyranny of the majority, or end up disenfranchising the majority – multiple candidates as in Minnesota resulted in ~60% of the voters winding up with some one they didn’t vote for. BTW I liked Jesse; he spoke his mind and had some good ideas, especially the one devoting a congressional session to reviewing “settled lawâ€? and repealing the no longer relevant and “stupidâ€? laws. If one were to fill book cases 8 feet high with all the extant federal statutes they would stretch 200 yards. Ignorance of any of these is no excuse and that’s just federal. Congresses have been making laws since the beginning and rarely repeal any. Too many laws beget too many lawyers. But I agree ballot initiatives often are the only recourse to overturning an entrenched out-of-touch legislative body, but they need to pass constitutional muster. They can’t be used for example to favor one class of people over another.