Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Highest moral traditions

At a religious broadcasters’ event, Bush says war with Iraq would be “in the highest moral traditions of our country.” Do you think when Shrub uses the word “moral” he has in mind a different definition than the rest of us?

Speaking of our moral war, the US ambassador to the Vatican last week flew a conservative theologian to Rome to try to persuade the pope that this is a just war. Your tax dollars at work.

Still speaking of a moral war, an article in the New Statesman 1/20/03 issue by John Gray suggests that the problem with American foreign policy is that Bush believes evil can be eradicated from the world by an act of will (an unforgiving moral optimism, he calls it), while Europeans, say, know better. Countries that have had experience of endemic violence (Northern Ireland, the Basques, Cyprus) know that dealing with it is a process, not a single event--while the Bushies expect to be out of Iraq within 18 months. Gray thinks that such rhetoric stops the US admitting that international relations is often about a choice among evils, and inhibits honesty about mundane interests, like oil. “But if Bush talks so insistently of evil, it is because he belongs in a tradition of American piety that does not finally believe in it. Like Woodrow Wilson before him, he does not doubt that once the world has accepted American values, it will enjoy everlasting peace and prosperity.”

The reference to Wilson is apt. Somehow with the eclipse of Kissingerian Machiavellianism in the American right by the, yes, unforgiving moral optimism of the Reagan-Shrubite wing, the optimist/pessimist view of human nature has switched between the right and left wings. The Jefferson-Adams, Paine-Burke debate is still being fought out, but the left has become institutionally conservative, advocating restraints on power such as the UN and the Bill of Rights, while the right wing has become scarily optimistic about the use of power--on the side of the angels--without any constraints, such as international treaties, the UN, or, domestically, the Bill of Rights and Congressional oversight. I mean, look at Ashcroft’s draft of the “Patriot II” Act (This time it’s personal). This isn’t actually a traditional rightist use of power; it’s not the Palmer raids or McCarthyism, it’s the French or Russian Revolutions, it’s the electronic equivalent of the Jacobin clubs and those little old ladies who used to sit in chairs in the stairwells of apartment buildings in Moscow, taking note of who came and went. And if you think the left wing was dangerous when it sought absolute power in the pursuit of creating heaven on earth, imagine Dubya exercising absolute power in “the highest moral traditions of our country.”

I trust you’ve all bought your duct tape, to defend against the next terrorist attack. Remember, we are at Condition Orange because of specific information of terrorist threats, although Tom Ridge admits that specific information does not include “time or place or methods or means.” With that definition of specific, Ridge would not have done well in journalism school.

The Pentagon has ordered 77,000 body bags.

The Guardian says that the British government is working on plans for establishing democracy in Iraq--one plan would have it fully functioning within six months. The Iraqi people would just go off to polling booths in the rubble of their nearest school or city hall.

The Bushies have successfully muddied the waters, convincing the great unwashed, but totally brainwashed, American public that Iraq is somehow linked to 9/11, that Powell was authenticating a tape of Osama bin Laden (that I predict will turn out not to be him) before he’d even heard it, and touting it as a reason to go to war with Iraq, although in a rational universe, a reminder of the existence of He Whose Name George Bush Is Not Allowed To Say Out Loud would be an embarrassing reminder of past unfinished business.

You know those commercials that people who use drugs are supporting terrorism? Yeah, but did you know they’re also not banned from joining the military? If you’re trying to enlist and you test positive for marijuana, why you can just come back in 45 days (a year if you fail a second time; or one year if you’re positive for cocaine). I assume if you have amphetamines in your system, the Air Force welcomes you with the keys to a bomber.

No comments:

Post a Comment