Tuesday, September 18, 2007

U,S, Foreign Policy in One Word

Before we get into the meat of today's edition, just a bit more from Alan Greenspan. In addition to his criticisms of BushCo, he stated yesterday that the current crop of candidates' call for universal health care is irresponsible in the face of economic reality.

He's may be right in the face of the massive debt created by this amazingly wasteful war and BushCo's corporation friendly tax cuts, but when BushCo took over we had a surplus that could have helped finance some domestic imrovements. One of the ways Clinton was able to bring us to surplus status was by reducing military expenditures, and it is high time we examined our national paranoia in order to get over the habit of handing our "protectors" blank checks backed by tax dollars. This country so far outspends every other nation on earth that we have been able to become the world's bully. It is time we stopped.

Here's an idea for Congress. How about passing a law to put a list of national budget expense headings on the tax return so that each taxpayer can designate the percentage of his/her money to be spent on each category? Now that would be true democracy.


Once in a while, a good friend from Minnesota sends out jewels of political writing he comes across. They are often satirical, but this one is a straight essay that puts the finger on one of our most visible national traits. I hope you'll enjoy:


by Syl Jones
Published: September 17, 2007

We are large; we contain multitudes -- of ugly examples.

The winner of the Most Arrogant Nation In The World award is clearly the United States of America. We are arrogant in our dealings with sovereign nations like Iraq. We are arrogant toward our own citizens. We are arrogant in assuming that we have a special place in history. We are arrogant in believing that all nations want and need our kind of democracy. So, let's all reach around and pat ourselves on the back. We've won. "Arrogance Is U.S.," and the whole world knows it.

We insisted on putting our massive footprint in the heart of the Middle East, where we don't belong. Arrogance. We lied to the world about WMDs, about a link between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein and about our real purpose in Iraq, for political reasons. Arrogance. We proclaimed that we'd be welcomed as liberators. Arrogance. We told the world that we were fighting them "over there" so we don't have to fight them "over here." More arrogance.

We sent troops to Iraq and Afghanistan without the needed armaments and equipment. We told soldiers who spilled their blood on foreign soil that, "You go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you want." Supreme arrogance. We disbanded the Iraqi army and put 100,000 armed men out of work, further destabilizing the nation. Incompetence and arrogance.

Far from following the advice of those on the ground, as President Bush has repeatedly claimed, we ignored and vilified Gen. Eric Shinseki for saying that we needed at least 250,000 troops to stabilize Iraq. Total arrogance. We didn't start planning an interim government for Iraq until 50 days before the invasion. We allowed sacred and historic sites in Iraq to be looted while our troops stood by and watched. Unforgivable arrogance.

Everywhere we look in this war, the United States is on the defensive not because the enemy is overwhelmingly strong but because we were unprepared. Now, the president has announced modest troop withdrawals in order to buy time for himself and for his failed policy of converting Iraq into a democracy on the backs of American soldiers. No, scratch that. The goal keeps changing. We'll settle for a brokered cessation of hostilities between the rival militias and movement toward a functional coalition government. Absolute arrogance.

Furthermore, we have no intention of leaving Iraq -- ever. We are building the largest embassy in the history of the world in Baghdad. We will maintain a military foothold there even after the militias have been subdued because our geopolitical interests are underneath the ground: oil. With friends like us, who needs enemies? We pedal arrogance 24/7 -- it's who we are.

Not that the American people are bad -- heavens, no. We don't want people to suffer. But we're willing to abdicate moral responsibility for military adventurism to leaders who don't have a clue, Republicans and Democrats alike. The terrorist masterminds of 9/11 aren't in Iraq. They are in Pakistan and Afghanistan, operating with the protection of the simple peasant folk who hide them. What malady other than arrogance would make us think that the misdirection in which we are engaged in Iraq will help us capture Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice?

Finally, the misappropriation of language, a hallmark of totalitarianism, is another sign of our arrogance. Starting now, I'm taking the language back from its abusers. The "surge" is an escalation of an ill-fated, badly planned and executed war. The "homeland" -- a vaguely melodramatic term straight out of the Nazi Dictionary of Manipulative Phrases -- means the nation in which we happen to live. "Vietnam" is a war we fought to prop up an anticommunist dictatorship, and it took over 50,000 American lives. "AWOL" is where Bush resided during part of that war. "Five deferments" refers to Dick Cheney's ticket out of the Vietnam War. And "Mission Accomplished" means we didn't do our homework.

The fact that we do not seem to grasp these concepts does, indeed, make us look like the most arrogant nation on earth. If that assessment proves to be true, then the outcome will be more tragedy, less safety at home and abroad, and a resurgence of international scorn.

Syl Jones, of Minnetonka, is a journalist, playwright and communications consultant.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored.
But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

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