Oh! And here I thought it was my targeted rudenesses for which I would have to make some accounting, but apparently, it's my world-view you've been protesting all this while.
About a year past, Lola got the notion into her pretty head that, "Goodness, I think Nimh is confusing me with his leftist mother." I thought she was being a silly little Freudian, and by way of response to that 'epiphany', I targeted some fresh insult in her direction. Now, none of this would be much relevant except in light of a spanking which dyslexia gave me recently for my participation in a pissing contest ("Drown in this Niagara of urine, you swine!) and thus, I'm keenly on the lookout for tendencies in self towards arrogance. Both dyslexia and Lola are notably further advanced in years than I, and so perhaps either voice ought to receive more rapt attention than I'm used to giving any voice less melifluous than mine. None of which is to say that I have no record whatsoever of humble posture. For example, I have always held that skiing a steep mountain in conditions where the snow is deep and dry is an experience of a higher quality than sex. But aware that I might be wrong in this opinion, I have always, as a matter of firm policy, dated only women who disagree with me.
So, I remind you of someone, or, my arguments/opinions remind you of them - the them being European leftists, related or not. I didn't realize that. Which isn't surprising as I've never read them (unless you include Isaiah Berlin, frequent dinner guest at Maggie Thatcher's table...stiff-backed Calvinist seating, certainly). But it appears you are stuffed to the gullet with such european neo-hippy theorizing, and Michael Ignatieff, writing in the June 26 NY Times magazine, seems to understand;
"As Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff of the German Weekly Die Zeit points out,
"the '68-ers now in power in Germany all spent their radical youth denouncing American support for tyrannies around the world: 'Across the Atlantic they shouted: Pinochet! Somoza! Mubarak! Shah Pahlevi! King Faisal! [who dyslexia has met, by the way]"
You've keyed in on my indictment of the US as sitting at the center of the world's woes. You've keyed in on it in a rather unbalanced manner however. As I said, this is not merely a matter of sins of commission but also (and perhaps most importantly) of its failings to construct or help construct solutions in this unique pivotal point in history. As you acknowledge yourself above, "the US as a force for betterment of the world" is a fundamental characterization of American within America's own sense of self
, and certainly that is the prime justification forwarded by this administration for Iraq (and much else). The irony regarding my indictment is, as I think you might understand, that I sincerely believe in this American capacity for good too. America is surely the grandest and most promising experiment in civic governance ever. Or, was.
And that's the other error you make in reading me. I have been pointing to America as she is and does now
. I, like yourself, cast back to these earlier instances of American violation of her own credo and mythologies in order to try and convince those Americans who believe that no bad consequence of any significance at all can possibly flow from America's presence in the world. When that is held as a fundamental principle or axiom (and many do hold it in such a manner), then you and I and beth and deb and thomas and joe and a whole host of others recognize how dangerous such blindness can be. Because that blindness will apply to America's actions right now too. And it is right now...this administration...America in 2005 of which I am speaking.
I'm going to draw on a few sources to argue my case here. A primary source will be Tony Judt's recent piece
in the NYRB. It's exceptional, and I hope you'll read it.
Another will be Anatol Lieven of the Carnegie Endowment for Peace. Three years ago, before the war began, he wrote a piece
in the London Review of Books which I posted on the first of the Iraq threads at that time. It's a rather interesting re-read at this point in time. I'll draw on some other things too and you can request citations anywhere you'd like more data.
The US now spends more on defence than all the rest of the world put together.
One ought to take a quiet walk in a park for a bit and reflect on what such a circumstance entails. Consider, if it were to be suddenly true of Canada or Belgium, the societal changes that would have to be in place...the bogglingly vast organization, the money! the potential for corruption, the need to manufacture consent in your or my populations for such militarism and how that might be achieved, the world-view or mythologies necessarily forwarded and believed regarding our innate goodness and the DANGERS of the world out there. I mean, there has to be a LOT of fukking danger out there to justify this. There are now 725 US military bases outside of the US (969 within) plus however many secret bases might be out there.
The estimated dollar figure which lobbyists spent on directing Congress into desired policies and directions last year was 3 billion.
How much did Congress earmark for appropriations bills in that same year? $32.7 billion (three times what it had been in 1998). And in the same vein, consider that arms sales in the world have been steadily increasing and that the main producer, salesman and economic beneficiary of this is the US economy. War is no longer a bad thing for the US, it is now a necessary economic factor. (And just for fun, toss in the little sugar plum that over the past decade, two corporations which have shown keen interest in moving social services into the private sector - big dollars of course - were Boeing and Northrup).
At least 240 former members of Congress or federal-agency heads are now lobbyists.
The recent case of the Philip Cooney, chief of staff of its Council on Environmental Quality, who had previously worked as a lobbyist for the oil industry and who, while in the government position above, rewrote key findings from the scientific community beneath him to soften up their findings, then two days after his shennanigans were outed, he resigned and immediately was hired on by Exxon...does any of that surprise you? And for more fun, let's tack on here that there are at minimum 31 ExxonMobil-funded groups busy disputing mainstream scientific findings on global warming.
The US consumes 25% of the world's oil supply while owning, in proven reserves of its own, 2%.
Andrew Bacevich, graduate of West Point, Vietnam vet, and conservative Catholic (his recent book is reviewed in the Judt piece..."His argument is complex, resting on a close account of changes in the US military since Vietnam, on the militarization of strategic political thinking, and on the role of the military in American culture") summarizes the...
...realist case for war - rooted in what will become the country's increasingly desperate struggle to control the fuel supply...the contest for supremacy in strategic, energy-rich regions like the Middle East and Central Asia.
I think you and I would agree that Dick Cheney is to be found here, rather than as regards any humanitarian regard for others. And it brings into focus the very real problem of a growing China who is now beginning to seriously compete for those oil supplies, cutting deals in Venezuela, Canada, and even moving to take over a US company. That dilemma is made absolutely frightening particularly given the following.
The explicit goal of this administration's foreign policy, voiced by Powell and others (you know the sources) is to prevent any other power from achieving a level of success or power which might challenge US dominance in the world.
Now, this upcoming China problem wouldn't have to be frightening, IF the modern US wasn't so ceaselessly bent on trashing internationalism as a vehicle for how to get on in the world.
For the US of President George W. Bush most decidedly does not share the interests and objectives of the international community. Many in that community would say that this is because the United States itself has changed in unprecedented and quite frightening ways. Andrew Bacevich would agree with them.
This is modern America, the America as vectored by Bush and company. Tendencies seen previously (eg, Clinton's hesitancy to sign Kyoto) are now in extremity where international institutions become handmaids
The UN in particular risks becoming, according to Rieff, a "de facto colonial office to US power"; cleaning up after American invasions and "used like a piece of fancy Kleenex...as usual," in the disabused description of one UN official in Iraq whom Rieff quotes approvingly
The modern Pentagon has the hots for "full spectrum dominance".
Now, there's another one to ponder on your walk in the park. Just what does that entail? How broad is 'full'?
As a former soldier, Bacevich is much troubled by the consequent militarization of American foreign relations, and by the debauching of his country's traditional martial values in wars of conquest and occupation. And it is clear that he has little tolerance for Washington's ideologically driven overseas adventures: the uncertain benefits for the foreign recipients are far outweighed by the moral costs to the US itself. For Bacevich's deepest concern lies closer to home. In a militarized society the range of acceptable opinion inevitably shrinks. Opposition to the "commander in chief" is swiftly characterized as lèse-majesté; criticism becomes betrayal. No nation, as Madison wrote in 1795 and Bacevich recalls approvingly, can "preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare." "Full-spectrum dominance" begins as a Pentagon cliché and ends as an executive project.
In this light, consider 'embedded rreporters' and 'management of media' and 'manufacturing consent' and Fox News. Consider how many here on this site are prepared to send off to jail (or perhaps a Cuban jail) anyone who speaks publicly against this war, the behavior of its troops, or the administration heading up the whole thing.
Now, nimh...that's just on the militarization of modern America, the interface between politics and the war machine, and a hint of the potentials towards deep corruption of democracy from it all. Another equally detailed and compelling argument can be made on the dangers of the religious right's moves into the Republican Party and governance and the uses of such a shift to other traditional rightwing forces...eg, consider the strategy of defunding institutions which have traditionally supported socially progressive policies - schools and government employees, etc., and then overlay that on top of the school vouchers drive and the faith-based inititatives. Billions are now moving away from schools and government programs and going to church groups. That's all new. 2005 stuff.
And there is the modern media picture...far different from the sixties or even the eighties...and in tandem with all the above, not easy to dismiss unless one just wishes a quiet walk in the park.