March 21, 2003
Update: it could be worse; stating the need for control of refugees and in order to preclude any establishment of a Kurdish state [not a quote], a Turkish spokesperson announced that troops would be crossing into Northern Iraq. Reports are that an advanced force of 1,500 commandos have done so and that the Turkish force likely will be in the range of 10,000, advancing 10 or 15Km. It could be worse ... which is not to say it's good.
With humanitarian requirements estimated at US$15-20 Billion, first figures (of course contingent on how much the rubble is made to bounce) on reconstruction are in the range of US$280 Billion ... a lot of hambruger helper!
posted by Bernard 3/21/2003 07:58:57 PM
Is Uncle Sam behaving like a psychopath?
The popular image of "Mr. P" is very unfortunately mstaken: the dripping-blood leering chainsaw wiedling monster is some sort of extreme sociopath, but the psychopath is much more likely to get his rocks off through shrewd and heartless manipulation than pure gore; Mr. P isn't motivated by sadism so much as the need to excercise his will. The real characteristic is absence of conscience, a real lack of shame.
American foreign policy, I'm sorry to say, is drenched in blood. Whether it's putting the fascist Pinochet in power, or meddling with Nicaragua, or slaughtering Panamanians to get at Noriega when he started acting independently (the official line had been "He's a son-of-a-bitch, but he's our son-of-a-bitch"), or propping up Hussein's minority group because the majority community might be on good terms with Iran (the same way the minority was put into power In Lebanon ... the same era the CIA overthrew the democratic government in Iran to put the Shah's regime in power) ... it's a bloody tale of corporate interest.
Much decorated and beloved Marine General Smedley Butler, writing 20 years or more before President's Eisenhower's warning against the military industrial complex, described his military career in "War is a Racket" (1935):" If a nation comes over here to fight, then we'll fight. The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns 6 percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag.There is an alternative to war for greed ... the choice of war or nothing is a false choice offered by those who are motivated by greed. The processes of civil society are raw and slow and clumsy because they are new, often untried, and constantly being sabotaged by the oligarchs who have a near monopoly on wealth and power. Like the elite who executed Christ and Socrates, the greed-frenzied megalomaniacs are allergic to the good; every year hundreds and perhaps thousands of community workers are murdered, kidnapped, arrested, tortured, or simply "disappeared" by instituted power ... yet this does not rate as "state sanctioned terrorism" (why is the US pouring military aid into Colombia, the state that is worst of all?!).
I wouldn't go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.
There isn't a trick in the racketeering bag that the military gang is blind to. It has its "finger men" to point out enemies, its "muscle men" to destroy enemies, its "brain men" to plan war preparations, and a "Big Boss" Super-Nationalistic-Capitalism.
I spent thirty- three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country's most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle- man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.
I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.
I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912 (where have I heard that name before?). I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.
During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents." [my emphasis throughout bdt]
The Bush / Rumsfeld / Wolfowitz gang are preaching "might makes right". How is that different from "power comes from the barrel of a gun"? Have the robber-barons dropped the mask and become gangsters? It has happened before: "A curious footnote to American history suggests that, except for the personal integrity of a remarkable American general, a coup d'état intended to remove President Franklin D. Roosevelt from office in 1934 might have plunged America into civil war." ("An American Coup d'État?")
Here's a site that really deserves some good press: Ending Corporate Governance; We The People Revoking Our Plutocracy is the page I have onscreen just now, and here is the full text of Smedley's "War is a Racket" (1935) which is on the site's "Crimes Against Humanity" page along with The Enemy Within, by Gore Vidal. The page is fabulous on its own; site is quite awesome.
"An American Coup d'État?", which ends "the plot that Butler exposed - if what MacGuire claimed was true - is a sobering reminder to Americans. We were not immune to the sentiments that gave rise to totalitarian governments throughout the world in the 1930s. We make a serious mistake when we assume, 'It can't happen here!'", is part of Friendly Dictators Trading Cards
Another site my Smedley googling brought me was first Smedley Butler on Interventionism in the Military Analysis section of the site for Federation of American Scientists.
[Note: Kurdish interests may have to be bartered away to the Turks because of ham-fisted bullying by US maniacs: Turkey had been offered between US$15B and US$20B (how's that for arm-twisting!) for right of way ... which they refused ... but then granted over-flight (which puts them on the list of 30 / 35 / 40 / 45 [you pick a number!] who are in the coalition!) ... and so they wanted the bucks ... and US now says that deal is no longer on the table ... but they got overflight ... so now the Turks feel jerked around *well DUHH!*. Day 2 and the dog-fighting is about to begin.]
Who gets control of the US$6B in approved contracts for humanitarian aid? who controls the multi-billion dollar reconstruction?
posted by Bernard 3/21/2003 11:14:48 AM
March 20, 2003
Yaa, that's what I was talking about!
When I heard about Arianna Huffington's "Corporate America Divvies Up The Post-Saddam Spoils" filed March 19, I almost fell out of my chair. It reads in part:"Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a winner in Iraq. Yes, I know that the first smart bomb has yet to be dropped on Baghdad. But that's just a formality. The war has already been won. The conquering heroes are not generals in fatigues but CEOs in suits, and the shock troops are not an advance guard of commandos but legions of lobbyists.It turns out that Ms Huffington has undergone something of a "road to Damascus" metagnoia ... a profound change of orientation based on experience. Not only does she reflect this in her columns, but she has written an entirely sufficient short essay on the subject. I recommend it, highly: "What prompted the transformation in my political thinking". (I sometimes wish I had had my revelation after having profited from my career for a decade or two instead of just as it was lifting off ... but HeyHo, karma's like that.)
The Bush administration is currently in the process of doling out over $1.5 billion in government contracts to American companies lining up to cash in on the rebuilding of postwar Iraq. So bombs away! The more destruction the better -- at least for the lucky few in the rebuilding business."
posted by Bernard 3/20/2003 10:31:50 PM
Win Without War - A mainstream voice advocating alternatives to preemptive war against Iraq
posted by Bernard 3/20/2003 06:27:41 PM
posted by Bernard 3/20/2003 06:15:39 PM
March 18, 2003
Two modest proposals
After the fighting is done, the American authorities will substantiate its claim for having waged the "pre-emptive" strike; they will be in a position to present the smoking gun, the clear proof that their President has been alluding to for months. As a civil democracy, they can be expected to do no less.
Neither the UK nor US will have special powers in dispensing oil rights; the UN "oil for food" program can be expanded until there is a fully legitimate set of civil institutions empowered, that program taking care of not only health and education but also rehabilitation of those imprisoned by the Hussein regime as well as those orphaned and displaced over the past 14 years. Full intervention on the ground with some form of protectorate is appropriate.
posted by Bernard 3/18/2003 11:18:45 PM
From [who else?!] Michael Moore: A Letter to George W. Bush on the Eve of War
Dear Governor Bush:
So today is what you call "the moment of truth," the day that "France and the rest of world have to show their cards on the table." I'm glad to hear that this day has finally arrived. Because, I gotta tell ya, having survived 440 days of your lying and conniving, I wasn't sure if I could take much more. So I'm glad to hear that today is Truth Day, 'cause I got a few truths I would like to share with you: [...]
[I'd say the letter is a "must read" ... the site is definitely a "must bookmark".]
posted by Bernard 3/18/2003 01:06:55 AM
March 17, 2003
[nota: I wrote this a couple of hours before
Caesar'sDubya's speech] Are we ready for round two?
If one can hope for good from what is about to unfold, I hope for this: that many many people experience the searing realization that liberal law exists to protect the right of the powerful to profit; with all its high ideals, even the UN is crippled by the wealthy if it dare move to protect people.
A new generation of cynics will be born with this war, and they will seed the ground with salt with a destructiveness that any terrorist could only wish for.
The point of the attack is to discredit diplomacy and the United Nations (the Prince of Confusion inspires contempt), to humble the nations of Europe, and to humiliate the movement of peoples around the globe who have been active under the banner of "A Better World is Possible" ... but the people cannot be defeated, simply because the emancipation project is nothing other than the unfolding of history itself; however it may be delayed, and however it might be obstructed, justice will remain always, if only as a distant horizon.
posted by Bernard 3/17/2003 06:32:52 PM
The Observer | Deep roots of Bush's hatred for Saddam - This article describes how today's policy came about, beginning twelve years ago when, shortly after the Gulf War, Dick Cheney (now Vice-President of the United States) and Paul Wolfowitz (presently Deputy Secretary for Defence) collected their thoughts concerning a trajectory for US foreign policy."What they argued in that memo was that America should have no rival on the planet - neither among friends nor enemies - and should use military might to enforce such a new order.There was nothing sudden about this development, nothing suprising, no change of aim or even of tack. What has changed is marked by a slight increase in typical citizens' willingness to acknowledge how corporate capitalism drips blood from every pore.
The paper's initial concern was raw power. Formally a draft for the Pentagon's 'Defence Planning Guidance' for the years 1994-1999, the document's first stated objective was to 'establish and protect a new order' and 'to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival' to the US.
Crucially, it would include a second innovation: a doctrine of the use of pre-emptive military force that should include the right and ability to strike firs against any threat from chemical or biological weapons, and 'punishment' of any such threat 'through a variety of means', including attacks on military bases or missile silos.
The two men had not finished there. In a rebuff to the multilateralism of the UN, they argued that the US should expect future alliances to be 'ad-hoc assemblies, often not lasting beyond the crisis being confronted'. In Europe, Germany was singled out as a possible rival to US power, on the Pacific Rim Japan. 'We must seek to prevent the emergence of European-only security arrangements,' said the document.
By the spring of 1997 a hard core of activists from the neo-conservative wing of the Republican Party had begun pushing hard for a new policy on Iraq. Many were men such as Wolfowitz who had enjoyed positions in the first Bush administration and their efforts were coalescing around a new think-tank. Donald Rumsfeld, Cheney and others had formed the Project for the New American Century, whose vision included the enactment of Cheney and Wolfowitz's dream of unilateral US power. Soon they would begin lobbying for regime change in Iraq.
[In early 1998] the group called for 'the removal of Saddam's regime from power', insisting that the US 'should establish and maintain a strong US military presence in the region, and be prepared to use that force to protect our vital interests in the [Persian] Gulf - and, if necessary, to help remove Saddam from power.' "
The end of this new age of robber barons will come when individuals take back onto themselves, singularly and as members of community, the responsibility of defying bullies. Until then it's just a matter of seeking protection from thugs for hire.
posted by Bernard 3/17/2003 11:18:00 AM
March 16, 2003
Musicians For Peace
Peace Not War Compilation CD - A streaming radio station playing a series of anti-war songs. Listen to everything from a track by Public Enemy, to an unreleased Billy Bragg song, to a Tariq Ali speech remixed by the Asian Dub Foundation. Listen and learn.
posted by Bernard 3/16/2003 11:02:26 PM
Listening to CBC Radio's weekly national forum March 16, 2003 - The end of diplomacy? (other forums) and came up with the following for the web-based message board (I can't afford to have long distance phone connected)
Greed beyond Need
The world situation is a pretty good reflection of our personal relations: we have to conquer to avoid being conquered, and the US position is nothing more than a representative of that view.
"It's a long road and we're not done with it yet" says Gwynn Dyer, and that's so. What has to be recognized is that those who have been operating under the guise of liberalism and "the rule of law" have to show their true colours now. Citiznes have trusted too much for too long (corporations have more power and political clout than any true democrat can feel comfortable), and governments have signed away their powers for the sake of re-election on platforms of balanced budget. In short, the only thing we can count on is dedication to the historic project of emancipation (call it "enlightened self-interest" if you will), and that means relying on the integrity and vision and strength of the individual ... along side the likes of Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahattma Gandhi.
As is spelled out in a document from the US Naval Academy (The Pentagon's New Map) the American's view of empire makes it seems necessary, and what they say is necessary carries a lout of clout: might has never made right, but it has always been a compelling argument.
We didn't build for a peaceful world, we don't have a peaceful world, and so when push comes to shove we get pushed and shoved around.
Our mistake was thinking we could sit back and let the experts run things (with all respect due Gwynn and his peers).
Note: this morning I read through the World Federation of United Nation Associations to see how UN activities could be brought into the community ... what did you do today?
posted by Bernard 3/16/2003 06:17:14 PM
Only in America
by Norman Mailer
"For those of the rest of us who are not going to depend on the power of prayer, we will do well to find the rampart we can defend over what may be dire years to come. Democracy, I would repeat, is the noblest form of government we have yet evolved, and we may as well begin to ask ourselves whether we are ready to suffer, even perish for it, rather than readying ourselves to live in the lower existence of a monumental banana republic with a government always eager to cater to mega-corporations as they do their best to appropriate our thwarted dreams with their elephantiastical conceits."Norman Mailer's Commonwealth Club speech in San Francisco
February 20, 2003
The New York Review of Books: Only in America
posted by Bernard 3/16/2003 01:00:38 PM
An Agenda For The Future
by Dr. Robert Muller, Chancellor of the United Nations University for Peace in Costa Rica
Decide to be peaceful
render others peaceful
Be a model of peace
Irradiate your peace
Love passionably the peace
of our beautiful planet
Do not listen to the warmongers,
hateseeders and powerseekers
Dream always of a peaceful,
warless, disarmed world
Think always of a peaceful world
Work always for a peaceful world
Switch on and keep on, in yourself,
the peaceful buttons,
those marked love,
serenity, happiness, truth,
understanding and tolerance
Pray and thank God every day for peace
Pray for the United Nations
and all peacemakers Pray for the leaders of nations
who hold the peace of the world
in their hands Pray God to let our planet at long last
become the Planet of Peace And sing in unison with all humanity:
"Let there be peace on Earth And let it begin with me."
Action Coalition for Global Change"Until the age of seventeen I went to French Schools where I had to learn all the French rivers and their effluents, all the French provinces and their capitals, the French history, its heroes and victories, the French literature and its great authors, etc. The world and its history were taught us accessorily and mostly towards the end of our studies.
Then, one day the Germans invaded France and a German teacher appeared who told us that France was a decadent country and that they taught us lies. And we had to learn the German rivers and their effluents, the German heroes and victories, the German famous authors and philosophers, etc.
At the end of the war, I took a Doctorate of Law degree at the University of Strasbourg and was lucky to get a job at the United Nations on the basis of an essay I wrote. In the US the Americans told me that I had learned the wrong thing and that instead of law I should have studied economics. So I went to Columbia University and took a degree in economics.
In the middle of my life I discovered that the only true, objective education I had received was from the United Nations where the earth, humanity, our place in time and the worth of the human being were the overriding concerns."
Earth Charter Initiative
posted by Bernard 3/16/2003 12:30:46 PM
March 14, 2003
Earlier today I heard something interesting about the speech President George W. Bush gave at the Johnson Space Center commemorating the astronauts who died aboard STS-107 Columbia ... I watched that speech live on NASA TV ... thought it was touching. Bush talked about having visited the Space Center in better times, while Governor of Texas. The President of the United States of America lied. He lied. He made that up, during a commemoration to dead astronauts. George W. Bush never visited the Johnson Space Center while Governor, but it was a good thing to say, so he said it.
In another example of Enron-style democracy (or is it Goebbels ... did you know that Goebbels kept assuring the Germana people that the Nazi's didn't want war, that Britain was forcing the war on them?) the New York Times knows that truth is a powerful thing, and it's there responsibility to suppress any of it that doesn't suit the gangsters in power. Have a look at this re-jig, and wonder why they don't want peace demonstrators to know that NYPD sharp-shooters had them in their sites: The Memory Hole - New York Times Deletes Mention of Police Snipers
And parallel nothing at all, if the American Right is so Christian in their caring about human rights, why is their #1 recepient of military aid the nation that is also #1 for the murder and disappearance of civil rights workers and labour activists? (Colombia, on both counts.) How is it that good people think they can profit or benefit from Enron logic?
BTW, one of my old pages is on psychopathy, those who are charming, and charismatic, and ambitious, and energetic, and goal-directed, and focused ... and entirely lacking conscience. One of the things I studied was how decent people came to be recruited into psychopath's programs ... turns out good and decent people are unlikely to judge something as being too good to be true, on one hand. On the other, good and decent people are unlikely to believe that people in power are capable of hugely monstrous lies. (Goebbles was on top of that one, too. His tactic was to rigidly avoid little lies, which people would detect, and then put one right over the top, knowing that good folk would be unwilling to credit his savage treachery. It worked, too. Like the snake in Eden, he knew his trade. And we've only gotten better at manipulating human appetites ... it's called marketing. Just think of the fabulous science that went into designing cigarettes and gambling machines!)
posted by Bernard 3/14/2003 01:12:59 AM
March 13, 2003
The Pentagon's New Map by Thomas Barnett, US Naval War College sets out just why the oligarchs are going to murder thousands of Iraqi civilians and assassinate Saddam Hussein.
The rationalization begins like this: "Let me tell you why military engagement with Saddam Hussein’s regime in Baghdad is not only necessary and inevitable, but good. When the United States finally goes to war again in the Persian Gulf, it will not constitute a settling of old scores, or just an enforced disarmament of illegal weapons, or a distraction in the war on terror. Our next war in the Gulf will mark a historical tipping point—the moment when Washington takes real ownership of strategic security in the age of globalization."
Well, I guess we've been told! (And yes, they really are insane with pride. As the old saying goes, after hubris comes nemesis.) I can think of no finer example of hawkish self-centered Americanism, except perhaps the US statesman who explained that interfering with the Nicaraguan election was justified because "it was in our interests".
(In case you want a glimpse of the hyper-rationalistic militarism that drove me out of the military in '73 [drove me out of my mind would be very nearly as true ... it's so Darth Vaderish that good people have filters against seeing it for what it is], have a look at the site directed by the paper's author: U.S. Naval War College's NewRuleSets Project)
posted by Bernard 3/13/2003 12:13:31 AM
March 10, 2003
Uniting for Peace, a tactic from the Center for Constitutional Rights"[L]ong ago, the members of the United Nations recognized that due to the permanent members veto powers, impasses would occur within the Security Council. They set up a procedure for insuring that such stalemates would not prevent the UN from carrying out its mission to “maintain international peace and security.” The aptly titled “Uniting for Peace” Resolution 377 was the solution to this problem. The resolution provides that, if because of the lack unanimity among permanent members of the Security Council, the Council cannot maintain international peace, the General Assembly “shall consider the matter immediately…” The General Assembly can meet within 24 hours to consider such a matter and can recommend collective measures to “maintain or restore international peace and security."In Jeremy Brecher's article at CounterPunch we read, "When Egypt nationalized the Suez Canal in 1956, Britain, France, and Israel invaded Egypt and began advancing on the Suez Canal. U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower demanded that the invasion stop. Resolutions in the UN Security Council called for a cease-fire--but Britain and France vetoed them. Then the United States appealed to the General Assembly and proposed a resolution calling for a cease-fire and a withdrawal of forces. The General Assembly held an emergency session and passed the resolution. Britain and France withdrew from Egypt within a week."
The Bush regime believes that they have God, big business, and manifest destiny behind them. They need to be reminded about the community of nations, the rule of law, and democracy; since they share Saddam Hussein's megalomania they cannot be otherwised appeased.
posted by Bernard 3/10/2003 11:08:57 AM
March 9, 2003
While the American oligarchs are spending millions of dollars to project military might to the other side of the planet, a more mundane form of oppression is being applied close to home: the level playing field that has been established for those who already have wealth is crushing those who have always had little, and leaving them with less.
I just discovered this online paper today and in it found this article, The Mexican Farmers' Movement: Exposing the Myths of Free Trade which reads in part:"Since the "lost decade" of the eighties and the polarization of wealth in the nineties, the "trickle-down" theory has fallen into disrepute. Even so, today's neoliberals still insist that the poor will eventually benefit from the model, and all that's needed is for the laggards to catch up, convert, modernize, integrate, etc. As NAFTA enters its 10th year and after nearly two decades of trade liberalization under GATT, Mexican agriculture has steadily lost ground: statistics show 1,750,000 people displaced, as well as increases in poverty, malnutrition, and school desertion. While President Fox and his cabinet boast of six billion pesos in agro-export earnings, farmers point out that that money went into the pockets of fewer than 7% of Mexico's farmers."
posted by Bernard 3/9/2003 10:35:43 PM
March 6, 2003
The drums of war are music in the ears of "Christian" fundamentalists. If you think you can stomache it, here's a piece of main-stream religious intolerance ... you'll notice the reasonable tone throughout: WorldNetDaily: In the name of Allah?
Interestingling, State Rep. Lois McMahan (who was one of the "only two people's representatives who stood against"), has issued a well reported apology. She wrote, in part, "Specifically, I want to state that it was not my intention to slight or show any ill will toward Imam Mohamad Joban or any other American member of the Islamic faith." She continued, saying she respects individuals' freedom of religion, whether the religion is hers or not."
posted by Bernard 3/6/2003 02:33:06 PM
March 3, 2003
The Register reports in "Leaked NSA email exposes UN bugging offensive" that "The US National Security Agency is mounting a bugging offensive against UN delegations in order to gain ''information that could give US policymakers an edge in obtaining results favorable to US goals or to head off surprises'' in the Iraq debate. According to an email from one Frank Koza leaked in yesterday's Observer, UN Security Council members are prime targets, but paying attention to non-Security Council members "UN-related and domestic comms for anything useful related to the UNSC deliberations/debates/votes" is also important."A smart shopper can buy a 5-pound bag of Gold Medal flour for 69 cents. That's enough to feed three people for a day - 7,500 easy-to-digest, relatively nutritious, and potentially tasty calories. All for less than 0.7 percent of an average American's income. [...]Something like half the world's population lives on $2 a day or less ... over a third lives on $1 or less. On the other hand, 6% of us own very nearly 60% of the world's wealth ... 220 or so individuals own as much as 45% of the global population? "Geee, why can't people just get along!" (It is any surprise that whole groups are getting incenced and indignant? There's one certain antidote to terrorism: justice.)
The 7,500 calories in today's bag of flour would equal the diet of a four-person peasant family for a whole day; the difference is that it would take three days of medieval work to afford.
From 300 percent to 0.7 percent: By the bags-of-flour standard, we are some 430 times wealthier than our typical rural ancestors of half a millennium ago. Today - at least for the average American - getting enough calories to stay healthy has dropped off the radar screen. Quite the contrary: The surgeon general has warned that obesity is a literal threat to national security.
Impressive as it is, the steep rise in bags-of-flour wealth probably understates the magnitude of transformation we have already been through. [...]
William Gibson once famously said that the future is already here, it's just not evenly distributed. Guess what: The present isn't evenly distributed, either. The human race today has a tremendous degree of wealth and productivity, with an extraordinarily unequal distribution. ... Bringing the future to the world's leading-edge cities is a piece of cake. The challenge is bringing more than a few bread crumbs' worth of the present to the rest of the globe.
posted by Bernard 3/3/2003 01:56:09 PM
In The Village Voice Nation, Nat Hentoff's "Ashcroft Out of Control" reads in part:"Until now, in our law, an American could only lose his or her citizenship by declaring a clear intent to abandon it. But—and read this carefully from the new bill—"the intent to relinquish nationality need not be manifested in words, but can be inferred from conduct." (Emphasis added). Who will do the 'inferring'?" [likewise, emph. added h_b]
posted by Bernard 3/3/2003 01:06:11 AM
March 2, 2003
The following is the text of John Brady Kiesling's letter of resignation to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell. Mr. Kiesling is a career diplomat who has served in United States embassies from Tel Aviv to Casablanca to Yerevan.
Dear Mr. Secretary: I am writing you to submit my resignation from the Foreign Service of the United States and from my position as Political Counselor in U.S. Embassy Athens, effective March 7. I do so with a heavy heart. The baggage of my upbringing included a felt obligation to give something back to my country. Service as a U.S. diplomat was a dream job. I was paid to understand foreign languages and cultures, to seek out diplomats, politicians, scholars and journalists, and to persuade them that U.S. interests and theirs fundamentally coincided. My faith in my c ountry and its values was the most powerful weapon in my diplomatic arsenal.
It is inevitable that during twenty years with the State Department I would become more sophisticated and cynical about the narrow and selfish bureaucratic motives that sometimes shaped our policies. Human nature is what it is, and I was rewarded and promoted for understanding human nature. But until this Administration it had been possible to believe that by upholding the policies of my president I was also upholding the interests of the American people and the world. I believe it no longer.
The policies we are now asked to advance are incompatible not only with American values but also with American interests. Our fervent pursuit of war with Iraq is driving us to squander the international legitimacy that has been America's most potent weapon of both offense and defense since the days of Woodrow Wilson. We have begun to dismantle the largest and most effective web of international relationships t he world has ever known. Our current course will bring instability and danger, not security.
The sacrifice of global interests to domestic politics and to bureaucratic self-interest is nothing new, and it is certainly not a uniquely American problem. Still, we have not seen such systematic distortion of intelligence, such systematic manipulation of American opinion, since the war in Vietnam. The September 11 tragedy left us stronger than before, rallying around us a vast international coalition to cooperate for the first time in a systematic way against the threat of terrorism. But rather than take credit for those successes and build on them, this Administration has chosen to make terrorism a domestic political tool, enlisting a scattered and largely defeated Al Qaeda as its bureaucratic ally. We spread disproportionate terror and confusion in the public mind, arbitrarily linking the unrelated problems of terrorism and Iraq. The result, and perhaps the motive, is to justify a vast misallocation of shrinking public wealth to the military and to weaken the safeguards that protect American citizens from the heavy hand of government. September 11 did not do as much damage to the fabric of American society as we seem determined to so to ourselves. Is the Russia of the late Romanovs really our model, a selfish, superstitious empire thrashing toward self-destruction in the name of a doomed status quo?
We should ask ourselves why we have failed to persuade more of the world that a war with Iraq is necessary. We have over the past two years done too much to assert to our world partners that narrow and mercenary U.S. interests override the cherished values of our partners. Even where our aims were not in question, our consistency is at issue. The model of Afghanistan is little comfort to allies wondering on what basis we plan to rebuild the Middle East, and in whose image and interests. Have we indeed become blind, as Russia is blind in Chechnya, as Isr ael is blind in the Occupied Territories, to our own advice, that overwhelming military power is not the answer to terrorism? After the shambles of post-war Iraq joins the shambles in Grozny and Ramallah, it will be a brave foreigner who forms ranks with Micronesia to follow where we lead.
We have a coalition still, a good one. The loyalty of many of our friends is impressive, a tribute to American moral capital built up over a century. But our closest allies are persuaded less that war is justified than that it would be perilous to allow the U.S. to drift into complete solipsism. Loyalty should be reciprocal. Why does our President condone the swaggering and contemptuous approach to our friends and allies this Administration is fostering, including among its most senior officials. Has "oderint dum metuant" really become our motto?
I urge you to listen to America's friends around the world. Even here in Greece, purported hotbed of European anti-Americanism, we have more and closer friends than the American newspaper reader can possibly imagine. Even when they complain about American arrogance, Greeks know that the world is a difficult and dangerous place, and they want a strong international system, with the U.S. and EU in close partnership. When our friends are afraid of us rather than for us, it is time to worry. And now they are afraid. Who will tell them convincingly that the United States is as it was, a beacon of liberty, security, and justice for the planet?
Mr. Secretary, I have enormous respect for your character and ability. You have preserved more international credibility for us than our policy deserves, and salvaged something positive from the excesses of an ideological and self-serving Administration. But your loyalty to the President goes too far. We are straining beyond its limits an international system we built with such toil and treasure, a web of laws, treaties, organizations, and shared values that sets limits on our foes far more effectively than it ever constrained America's ability to defend its interests.
I am resigning because I have tried and failed to reconcile my conscience with my ability to represent the current U.S. Administration. I have confidence that our democratic process is ultimately self-correcting, and hope that in a small way I can contribute from outside to shaping policies that better serve the security and prosperity of the American people and the world we share.
posted by Bernard 3/2/2003 03:09:19 PM