Saturday, January 26, 2008

The New Republican Flip

Do you ever tire of hearing me say: “you heard it here, first”? Take the growing realization, across the board, that the plight of the US military ought to be a top issue in this election cycle. That Democrats should reach out to the crewcut members of the horrible abused US Officer Corps... arguably the Bushites’ biggest victims. Finally, a few liberals and moderates have started to take up this crisis -- the destruction of our Army and military readiness -- as a matter of simple patriotism. (The REAL kind, not that flag-waving fakery.) For a lengthy article relating the latest in this vital story, see “The US Military Breaking the Ranks.”

And yes, you heard it here first. Find one person who raised this issue before I did, in 2004.

Only now, let’s talk about something else you are sure to hear more about. But no earlier than here. A growing phenomenon among “ostrich republicans” as they start, ever-so reluctantly, to waken from a torpor of denial.

In fact, many old-style Goldwater-Dole conservatives of my acquaintance, some as notable as author Jerry Pournelle, have begun expressing actinic fury over Bushite imperialism, deceit, mismanagement and outright criminality, which has done America devastating harm. They admit that their movement has been hijacked by either morons or monsters... and that the Pax Americana which once seemed to tower so high and bright has been demolished...

...moreover, they can see a world community that till-recently admired us, now reviles us.

They admit (and more like them will soon admit) that we are no safer because of arrogant, pushy attempts at thug-like international bullying and so-called “nation-building.” They avow that every decent principle espoused by Barry Goldwater has been systematically reversed, turning conservatism into a caricature of its old self.

And yet...

And yet... are they ready to shake hands with us and join forces so we all -- liberals, moderates and decent conservatives -- might purge the monsters together, forming a coalition of national salvation and sending the GOP back to the drawing board?

Far from it! These are human beings, after all. Like us, they are supreme rationalizers. And so, you’ll find very few willing to own-up that the whole American right spent the first part of the Twenty-first Century stark, jibbering crazy.

No, emerging from one hypnotic, incantatory trance-of-denial does not mean that a person won’t plunge, just as swiftly, into yet another! (Witness the number of neoconservative putz-intellectuals who were formerly Trotskyites or Maoists; till they “saw the light” of their next transfixing dogma, sponsored by Fox and the Heritage Foundation.) Personality trumps reason, every time.

No, these wakened ostriches may be mad at Bush, Cheney and the neocons... but they are NOT about to turn around and take our offered hands. They have their own ideas about what America needs. And here’s the news, boys and girls, it means going back to some of the less-wise and disproved earlier versions of conservatism.


Political Bipolar Disease and The Return of Isolationism.

Yes, like sufferers of a bipolar ailment, the reaction of many half-wakening ostriches to the devastation wrought by the manic, imperialist/interventionist debacle of the Bush/Cheney clan...

...is to swing totally the other way! To go utterly depressive and demand that Americans withdraw inside our borders!

Consider how this helps our half-wakened ostrich deal with the quandary of plummeting American popularity, around the world. No, they don’t try to deny it. The figures and signs are too blatant and overwhelming. Sure, they admit that this unpopularity shatters alliances, recruits enemies and pulverizes our role (so high under Bill Clinton) of unipolar leadership in the world. Nevertheless, in conversations with many of my smart-conservative friends, I have been stunned by their answer.

”So? Who needs to lead the world, anyway? F$#@! the world!"

To these fellows, our stunning international unpopularity is not proof that we've disappointed our allies, behaved like imbecilles, squandered our good will and need to offer better leadership. To them it is proof that the world is un-leadable and we should take our marbles home.

Never mind that this traditional conservative fallback position was espoused by GOP leaders in the 1930s against FDR standing up to fascists and nazis... and by those of the late forties against Truman and Marshall, when Vandenberg et. al. tried to thwart them from creating NATO and crafting the ultimately successful policy of containing Soviet aggression. Never mind that Bill Clinton’s Pax Americana was incredibly popular, creating an acceptance of unipolar leadership that was effective, efficient, productive and boded well for a world community increasingly based on Enlightenment values.

Never mind all that. When you are dealing with Political Bipolar Disease, the swing from manic to depressive phase is virtually unstoppable.

And it offers these guys one more important benefit. By repudiating the Bushites, yet clinging to an older conservative value, they do not have to say to any moderate or damned liberal “I guess you folks were right.” They can hate Bush and call him an “aberration” while maintaining their fierce loathing of - say - Hillary Clinton. Above all, they can sulk and refuse to meet our offered hand. Or join a coalition of national salvation. Instead, they can drag themselves to the polls in order to vote for some other GOP shill of the same corrupt interests. Telling themselves “surely this one is telling the truth” and “she’d be even worse.”

(Want irony? The core icon of this older conservatism, Barry Goldwater, not only presciently rejected the neoconservatie jerks, seeing clearly where they were headed, but, before he died, Goldwater urged his fellow conservatives to negotiate with Bill Clinton and work with him, calling him “a very good president.”)

If I am right about this trend -- of surly, foul-tempered “ostriches who only half-waken” -- then watch the GOP candidates as their platforms and talking points evolve. Even if it’s war-fighter, stay-in-Iraq McCain, there will be hints and asides, suggesting that a return to isolationism just might be in the cards. JUST enough hints and hopes to let these demoralized, half-wakened, smart-conservatives stay in second stage denial, hypnotized by a desperate need to believe that America’s moderates and liberals can’t have been right again. No, no.

Denying to themselves that they need ever shake our offered hand.


====

Sorry about two blogs in a row. Off to Europe....

36 comments:

grayburst said...

Sorry, Dr. Brin. I have great respect for your insight and fully agree with the attacks on the Enlightment in our nation. But when it comes to political stance I think Dr. Jerry Pournelle's point of view is closer to what I think our nation needs. I have spent 16 years in the military and seen both Iraq and Afghanistan numerous times. I am not above us helping and staying engaged with the world, but I do stand by the stance of American first priority is keeping it's own house in order. Right now we are messed up, over spent, and worn down. I don't think the cultural warmongers of the left or the right should have power anymore. I grew up on the state of Arkansas and have spent my entire life listening to family members in state government gnash teeth at the Clintons. My time serving active duty in the Air Force before going to the Air Guard was through the nineties. There I heard the upper echelons and ranks gnash teeth about the Clintons again. If the independents and moderates of the Democrats want the old school conservatives like me to step up and form political alliances with them, then power hungry politicians like the Clintons need to go just like the ranting power hungry, corrupt NeoCons.

Michael said...

Grayburst: All politicians on the national stage are power-hungry. Nobody would go through what they go through to get there if they weren't.

Huckabee is power-hungry. Obama is power-hungry. Romney is power-hungry. Guiliani, McCain, Edwards, and Ron Paul are all power-hungry.

The issue is not "do they want power"? The issue is "What will they do to get and keep power?" - and in our society, there are politicians who seek to acquire power by governing well.

What we need to do is encourage those politicians.

t said...

If the denigrated ostriches are going to flock back to isolationism, why hasnt Ron Paul done better among 'real' republicans?

He is the strongest advocate for isolationism/withdrawal from the world in generations.

He makes Pat Buchanan look like a globalist.

Zechariah said...

I have to disagree with you on the Pax Americana.

1. I would not like having foreign bases on our soil, even if they paid us a few billion a year to keep them here. I cannot justify doing to another country what I would not tolerate being done to mine. (now if we can just get rid of the mercenary bases . . . )

2. It's sad to see you fall to Godwins Law so quickly. I think I'm one of the few who say that maybe we should have actually tried being neutral in WWII. Sell oil to Japan and suddenly we don't have to get into the war. Who cares if they conquer China? They would have been out eventually anyway. Seriously. How long could the occupation last, really? Look how much trouble we're having with little Iraq, and that's a country where at least some of the people want us there. Eventually Japan would have withdrawn, US involvement or no.
And Germany? Please. The outcome of that theater was decided as soon as Germany invaded Russia. We helped, but we didn't need to. The only difference we made was that a little bit more of europe stayed out of the Evil Empire. And, as we've seen, even if most of Europe fell, they wouldn't have stayed down forever. We spent 400,000 lives so a few countries could avoid 50 years of moderate oppression? Maybe we need longer term thinking here.

3. We don't seem to be able to tell when intervention will have nasty consequences and when it won't. We help Afghanistan beat off the Soviets . . . and then they turn around and bomb us. We put missiles in Turkey, and then act surprised when we find some in Cuba.
Blowback is real. Thinking you can avoid it by being smart is arrogant.

4. It's not that world can't be led (although maybe it can't), so much as it shouldn't be led. It's arrogant.

5. Pax Americana was never real. We didn't go into Rwanda, did we? I don't know why we went to Bosnia, but it was not to preserve peace. To gain goodwill in Europe? Maybe, although I hear the Greeks are still pissed off at us over the issue.
Anyway, "Pax Americana" is supposed to mean that the United States enforces peace in the world. It does not and never has. It has intervened in local wars yes, but not really all or even most conflicts. Therefore there is no Pax Americana.

6. I think we can spend the money better somewhere else.

NoOne said...

Good timing. The New York Times carried a book review today of Buchanan's new book "DAY OF RECKONING." The title of the review: "The Isolationist."

Apropos of nothing: I was called a "sand n*gg*r" today. (I'm originally from India.) Do y'all think I should have told the guy that the correct term was "monsoon n*gg*r" :-)?

Anonymous said...

David Brin here. frustrated in Liechtenstein. The wifi in this expensive hotel sucks and suddenly it seems that Yahoo is unavailable anywhere, so I can.t get email or even write home.


Stefan could you drop a line to my home email informing Cheryl I.m fine, had a great meal, heading to bed, miss everybody, and am suffering from the weird keyboads over here.

Will try again when possible.

Oh, SoCarolina cool.

Stefan Jones said...

DB:

Will do!

Stefan Jones said...

I like the tone of San Francisco Chronicle's endorsement of Barack Obama:

The American political system needs a period of reprieve and renewal.

It needs a reprieve from a White House that draws power from fear, sneers at any science that gets in the way of corporate or theocratic missions and stubbornly adheres to policies that leave the nation sinking in debt and mired in war. It craves a reprieve from the politics of bloodsport that prize clever calculation over courage, winning over principle, party label over national interest.

The renewal must come from a president who can lead by inspiration, who can set partisanship aside to define and achieve common goals, who can persuade a new generation of Americans that there is something noble and something important about public service.

Anonymous said...

Is anything going on with yahoo? can't seem to get into it from Europe. May be a local problem but it's really exposed a vulnerability.

Zechariah... with repect,your position is unsupportable in countless ways.

* Thw people of China wer being slaughteed by the MILLIONS. It was entirely our business to intervene, at least with an embargo and over the long run with much more. The world that resulted bcause we DID is vastly better than any where we didn't.

* the infinite resiliency of the Russian defence during WWII is one of the most incredibly overrated fantasies of al time. Even after the Brits forced H to delay Barbarossa by TWO MONTHS, Stalin's forces just barely held on with the arrival of winter blizzards. Their very very last trained forces, from Siberia, hit the lines juat in time.

For two subequent years, entire soviet divisions were armed straight off british freightors in Murmansk and Iran.

This fantasy, "The Russkies coulda done it wit out us" is portrayed in C Priest's wretched novel THE SEPARATION. Remind me to post my review, later.

db from liechtenstein

Hawker Hurricane said...

Dr. Brin, I must disagree somewhat about the conservative impulse toward isolationism. You can trace it back to WW1 ("Not our fight!") or further (No Foriegn Entanglements). The current version is an extension of the anti-Woodrow Wilson Republicans of the 1917-1920, who objected to our participation in WW1 and successfully blocked our joining the League of Nations. Completely discredited after WW2, they are finally staging a comeback on the national stage, lead by a Pat Buchanan who SUPPORTED the Vietnam war as Nixon's speechwriter, supported the interventions in Lebanon and Kuwait (Gulf War I)...

Grayburst, a question... do your relative in the state gov. of Arkansas gnash thier teeth at "Tax Hike Mike" Huckabee, or are they partisan about it?

In my (admittedly limited) experience, there are three types of politicians: Reformers, Careerists, and Statesmen. Reformers have a cause, which may be unstated, and will often lie to promote the cause. Careerists want to be re-elected, and will often do what the people want to do so. Statesmen have reached the highest level they'll get, and know it, and will tell you the truth...
Bushco are Reformers. The Clintons are Careerists. Carter is a Stateman.

HH, SM1(SW) USN (ret)

Andrew S. Taylor said...

DB,

Millions of Chinese were slaughtered by other Chinese during their Civil War - ongoing throughout and after WW2, and many millions more afterwards thanks to Mao. The U.S. killed millions in Cambodia and Vietnam in subsequent decades. It's not entirely clear to me that the world is better in the aggregate as a result of the Pacific War. Japan was far from the only malefactor in Asia, and given the historical reality of colonialism, arguably not the worst. Mind you, I'm not saying it isn't better that we fought, just that the case is not so easy to make as you seem to suggest.

I half-agree with you about fighting Germany. I do not think the U.S. should have sat out the war in Europe - we had to participate. However, it is also undeniable that Russia was crucial to Germany's defeat, and that their contribution in lives and sheer brute force far outstipped ours.

Anonymous said...

Apropos of nothing: http://scienceblogs.com/zooillogix/2008/01/the_science_of_bubble_rings.php

When I saw the dolphins doing what looks like magic in their own environment, I thought of your books.

Zechariah said...

Oh, I also wanted to comment on this bit from an earlier thread:

Zechariah, we hire presidents to CHECK their facts or have smart professionals do so. The levels of sheer panic and imminent threat and screeches "here's proof!" mean that W is responsible for every lie. In fact, it's a bit scarier to imagine that he believed his crap.

So what does that say about Hillary? Do we not elect senators who check their facts before authorizing a war?

Brother Doug said...

I have to agree with Zechariah we had the perfect opportunity to stop Japan after there sinking the USS Panay and attacks on British ships during the rape of Nanking in 1937. As a result Japan losing the Russians were able to bring the communists to power in China that caused the death of 20-40 million people.

As to Russia showing such poor results at the beginning of the conflict. Had Roosevelt not encouraged Churchill to ignore Hitler’s peace plan Russia would have likely fought the defensive war that succeeded at Stalingrad. As it was he moved forward his armor during the daylight hours and it was destroyed.

Anonymous said...

In fact, many old-style Goldwater-Dole conservatives of my acquaintance, some as notable as author Jerry Pournelle, have begun expressing actinic fury over Bushite imperialism, deceit, mismanagement and outright criminality, which has done America devastating harm. They admit that their movement has been hijacked by either morons or monsters...

Um...yes...maybe so. Though maybe not quite in those terms.

As for "their movement" being hijacked, I think the quick "rationalization" that has been taking hold - as always - is that WASHINGTON (i.e. government) is to blame. And who says "Washington" says "Democrats."

QED

Understand that this is not a view that I am defending, but it is what is being sold, what will be said.

The ambiguous behavior and equivocal allegiance of the Joe Lieberman and Hillary Clinton Democrats (and their controversial support for resolution 114) didn't help.

H.J.Res. 114 - Why did they do it?

Do you really think that Hillary Clinton didn't know better when she voted for the resolution?

Nausicaa said...

David, David, David, you are a sweet, sweet man David Brin.

I most sincerely mean it.

Alas, dear David, you have been so intent hunting the so-called "ostriches" amongst Republicans , that you have been oblivious to the "Ostriches" amongst the Democrats.

You didn't see it coming?

Alas, dear David, I don't blame you. You are not alone. There are people, good people, like senator Ted Kennedy, who are now waking up.

But is it too late already?

Here is a question for you to think about:

Do you believe Hillary Clinton when she tells you that she didn't know better, when she voted for H.J.Res. 114?

Do you sincerely believe it?

H.J.Res. 114 - Why did they do it?

If the General Election comes to a John Mc Cain - Hillary Clinton face-off will it really matter, then, insofar as foreign policy is concerned, who becomes the new US President?

You think it does?

I envy your confidence...

You think that what happened to the GOP cannot happen to the DLC?

Aaah, but it has happened already.

Do I need to spell it out?

Haven't you noticed?

This is no ordinary Primary for the Democrats.

There is a fight going on for the soul of the Democratic Party.

It might be too late already.

David Brin said...

Look, I am supporting Obama and I have many reasons to prefer that Hillary Clinton not be the democratic nominee. But people who rage at her because of one vote fall into the same GENERAL category as the fundies and neocons we are trying to defeat. Romantics who pick a single item to fixate upon...

...precisely the way Republicans will shriek "perjury!" at you over and over and over again, when you try to point out the overall good presidency of Bill Clinton.

They have a catechism, a reflex answer for anything you might say. No matter that the very QUESTION Bill Clinton was asked was later deemed illegal, and that not one member of the administration was ever even indicted for acts of office. They howl perjury and that is that.

Frankly it probably never occurred to most of the democrats who voted for the Iraq authorization, that a GOP administration would lie THAT much, especially with the supposed adult, Colin Powell, fronting so many of the lies. Am I disappointed in the majority of liberal and moderate lawmakers for wimpiness, over the last half dozen years? Sure. Can I guarantee I would not have done the same...?

20/20 hindsight is marvelous. But we had just finished toppling TWO sets of horrid monster dictators with incredible speed and precision and low cost. The Milosevic murder gang and the Taliban. And many, many people overseas were very glad of those surgical and professional operations. Me? I would not have minded a bit going on to surgically remove Saddam Hussein, as well...

...correcting a horrid blunder that was perpetrated on the world by Bush SENIOR, when he (on orders from his king) left Saddam with his boot on the necks of the Iraqi people. We actually OWED it to those people to remove Saddam!

But, of course, the Cheneykleps did NOT have in mind a "surgical and professional" operation. That would not achieve their real aims (e.g. half a trillion dollars in waste and Halliburton-theft and skyrocketing oil prices and more theft, plus destruction of the US Army.)

Oh, I could see what they were doing from the beginning. Their choice of methods for dealing with Saddam, starting with lies, then driving away a potential regional ally (Iran) then setting up a brute force invasion and then disbanding every Iraqi system of law and order... it was obvious to me.

But I am not about to judge too harshly others, who needed more time to realize just how deliberate it all has been. Indeed, NOBODY other than me seems to realize... ah, well...

The crux is this. THE WAR IN IRAQ IS NOT THE ISSUE!

The core issue is the real prize of this struggle. American civilization. I oppose Hillary Clinton for the nomination, because she cannot win a knockout, blow-out victory in that fight...

...but I sure as Heck WILL support her if she'd the nominee anyway. Because any democrat will do the basic things needed to restore the professional civil servants and officers to their duties and tasks. And that, alone, will be enough to save this country. Our role of leadership in the world may be lost. But at least we'll still have a chance to save our lives and our national soul.

Stefan Jones said...

Off the current topic, but I wanted to point out this a promising looking entry over at Jamais Cascio's blog:

Open the Future: The Big Picture

Anonymous said...

(Zorgon the malevolent again. Logon toast.)

Wow. Everyone seems to be jumping all over Dr. Brin for his latest "Republican Flip" essay, but in my estimation he has nailed it 100%.

In fact, the Repubs will probably go one better than flipping into sullen isolationism -- when the 2008 election sweeps the Repubs out of power in both houses of Congress to the extent that they can no longer even materially affect the country's agenda with their relentless obstructionism, the Repubs will probably just pick up their marbles and leave to pout on the sidelines, offering no new ideas at all, and refusing even to significantly engage the political process. We can already see this happening with the Christian right. They have decided that if Huckabee isn't the nominee, they're going to sit out the next election and effectively secede from the Republican party. On the other side, the Richard Viguerie wing of the party has become so disgusted by the Christofascist big-government control freak totalitarian tendencies of the current Republican party that Viguerie and his cohorts have stated their hope for Demos to win big in the next election, so as to drive the "invasion of the party-snatchers" out of the Republican party (as Victor Gold called the neocon/fundamentalist alliance in his eponymous book).

So the Repubs are on course not only to getting shut out of power, but to becoming completely impotent politically because of a sullen unwillingness to engage in politics as usual. That requires compromise. It would require listening to the opposition. But the current Repubs seem intent on doing neither. We can see this with the infantile kindergarten style of governing of the drunk-driving C student in the Oval Office. He petulantly declares that if Congress won't give him exactly what he wants, he will simply veto all bills. That's not politics, that's a 6-year-old throwing a tantrum and banging his little spoon on his little high chair while shrieking at the top of his voice.

And it looks like this is the near-term future of the Republican party. So I would judge that not only is Dr. Brin dead-on accurate in his prediction, but we're in for more of the same from the Repubs for the next few years. The mindset of the sociopaths who've hijacked the Republican party was aptly described by Richard Hafstadter in his classic 1964 article "The Paranoid Style In American Politics."
http://nationalism.org/patranoia/hofstadter-paranoid-style.htm

Such people cannot compromise, because they regard their opponents as not merely wrong, but depraved and evil beyond all redemption -- that puts the current Repub leadership outside of traditional political bargaining, and, once they're out of power, leaves them peculiarly handicapped in coping with the basic process of politcs.

Dr. Brin didn't mention why the Republican party has embarked on this suicidal course. It's worth mentioning.

Normally we would expect moderate Republican superstars to emerge and steer their party back toward the center, re-engaging with the opposition instead of indulging in vacuous name-calling. Such moderate Repubs typically jump-start the process of pragmatic compromise and make their party a viable force again. That happened in earlier eras when the Repubs fell into knee-jerk isolationism in the 1930s and early 1940s, and the superstar Dwight D. Eisenhower got them out of their funk and re-introduced pragmatism and dialogue after Joe McCarthy's disastous reign of error. After Watergate, Gerald Ford and Barry Goldwater dragged the party out of its reflexive ideological cocoon, admitted Nixon's crimes, and moved on.

But right now, a peculiar run of bad luck has hit the Repubs, because their two superstar moderates have been permenantly sidelined by cruel twists of fate. Ordinarily, I would expect Colin Powell and Arnold Schwarzenegger to vie for the Repub presidential nomination in 2012, perhaps even winning the election. Either one would re-introduce pragmatism and dialogue back into the Republican party, chasing out the Jacobin element (like Giuliani and Rove and Huckabee and Gingrich) who view all compromise as defeat. Either Powell or Schwarzenegger as President would mark the end of the hegemony of Repubs who judge Demos not merely mistaken, but the focus of evil in the modern world.

But that can't happen. Arnold has been clobbered by the unfortunate fact that he was born in Austria, which stymies his political aspirations. He can never become president unless we change the constitution -- and that ain't gonnna happen. Arnold might aspire to be a senator, or even a congressman -- but he can't serve more than the 2-term limit as Governor of California...and after leading the wealthiest and most populous state in the U.S., becoming a senator would represent a distinct come-down. As a congressman, Arnold would cut an even less impressive figure, so I don't expect him to run for Congress. He might aspire to a cabinet post, or possibly even an ambassadorship, but let's face it -- Arnold will never become a really major player in Republican politics because everyone knows he can't ever become President. That makes his influence extremely limited within his party.

Colin Powell tragically blew his rep in the WMD scandal. I believed Saddam had WMDs and for a couple of months actually supported the invasion of Iraq, and all because I believed in Colin Powell. Millions of people doubtless feel as deeply betrayed as do I. Powell has fatally lost his credibility and he can never get it back, nuking his chances of ever becoming President. If he were ever to run, you can imagine the oppo ads: footage of Powell delivering his bogus WMD "intel" at the U.N. intercct with dead U.S. marines getting hauled out of wrecked smoking humvees. Powell is a truly tragic figure and he would probably make a fine president (like Arnold) but because of a twist of fate, he is forever debarred from that office.

This leaves the Republican party without any superstar moderates to ride to the rescue. At this juncture, it's an open question what will happen. Will the Republican party suffer the "evaporative cooling" catastrophe, growing ever more fanatical and increasingly distant from mainstream America until it finally implodes and vanishes entirely as a viable political force?
http://www.overcomingbias.com/2007/12/evaporative-coo.html

Might sound outlandish, but it happened before -- to the Whig party in 1860. Unable to deal with the crisis of slavery, the Whig party blew up and essentially disappeared within a generation. It has not been heard from since.

Early studiers of cults were surprised to discover than when cults receive a major shock - a prophecy fails to come true, a moral flaw of the founder is revealed - they often come back stronger than before, with increased belief and fanaticism.
Overcoming Bias, op cit.

Indeed, this sounds like what's happening to the Repubs right now.

Alternatively, the Republican party could fragment and spend time in the wilderness, possibly as much as a generation, mulling over new ideas and generating new leaders, before it steps back into the limelight as a meaningful force in American politics. This has happened to both Demos and Repubs in the recent past -- after 1929 it happened to the Repubs for a generation, after Woodrow Wilson's ill-advised hyperidealism and the debacle of WW I it happened to the Demos for a generation.

It remains to be seen which course the Republican party will take. It surprises me to hear Dr. Brin describe the neocons/theocrats as "being in power," however. It seems clear that they have become entirely impotent. All the Repubs can do at present is filibuster and obstruct, and they can't even do that enough to get the polices they want. The theocon/neocons are so weak right now that they can't even force through immunity for the ilelgal wiretapping of their pet telcos, which would noramlly be a no-brainer:
http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2008/01/26/immunity/index.html

These kleptocrats are so weak that they can only slightly prolong their own agony. Every element of their agenda has blown up: privatizing social security is dead, the RealID has been rejected by 17 states with more lining up to oppose every week; telco immunity for illegal spying is dead; the Gitmo kidnap victims are relentlessly moving toward getting their day in court; creationism in schools is dead; revoking Roe v Wade is off the table. Everywhere we turn, the theocon/neocons find themselves circling the bowl, and the suction is drawing them down.

So looks like it's my turn to play the optimist and chide Dr. Brin for his undue gloom. I think whomever the next president happens to be, we will see a turnaround that will shock everyone with its suddeness and vibrancy. Remember: all the current gloom & doom about heavy debt overhang, a faltering economy, a stumbling middle class, American technology losing ground against the rest of the world...we've heard all this stuff before, except 20 years ago it was fear of Japan and the little tigers in Asia, and terror about the Reagan debt overhang and the ostensible collapse of the American automative industry and the huge S&L scandal. Today, the chicken littles run around screaming that America is doomed to permanent backwater status because of our piss-slow internet and Indian & Chinese outsourcing and our balance of payments debt overhang and the rot in Wall Street symbolized by the sub-prime mortgage blow-up.

Well, I have faith in our country. I believe, like Spiro Agnew, that "America is the greatest nation in the country," and along with Dwight David Einsenhower, I firmly contend that "things are more like they are now than they have ever been."

Seriously, though, I really think Dr. Brin is underestimating the briliance and resourcefulness of American entrepeneurship and the American education system and American society. I'm betting we'll dig our way out of the current messes in record time with the help of the next Democratic president, and wind up more globally competitive and freer and with a more prosperous middle class than ever.

Hawker Hurricane said...

Wow, Zorgon, that was great.

I'm going to add (history prof. wannabe mode ON!) that the Whig disintergration was in 1852, and quickly formed a new coalition by 1856: a coalition of Bankers, Industrialists, Abolitionists, Free Soilers, Anti-Immigrant (especially Papists!) Know Nothings, Prohibitionists, former Whigs and other's I've forgotten: The Republicans.

I imagine that IF the Republicans disintergrate, a new coalition party will form in time for the 2010 congressional election. It's the nature of American politics.

And they'll work hard and help keep the Democratic Party honest, because that's what the opposition party does.

OR

The Democrats will absorb the Republican moderates, moving to the right to do so, and a new coalition will develop around the Green Party to the left of the Democrats... that will take longer.

Anonymous said...

On Republican Party disintegration, I have two perspectives to offer:

1) I lived in Canada for the post-Mulroney implosion of the Progressive Conservative Party. After a spectacularly unpopular PM left, his party was thrown out of office and never recovered. They went through a decade of fracture and re-merge cycles, eventually returning as a new party who could only get elected, four elections and 13 years later, as a minority government. (In the meantime, Canada's economy grew leaps-and-bounds faster than the US.)

2) I live in Boston now, where one of the loudest RW-radio hosts is Jay Severin (who I was once dismayed to find listed on the same page of "notable libertarians" as David Brin). He's dangerously smart and entertaining, and unfortunately influential. I recently heard him pledge that if the Republicans nominate John McCain (who Severin deems an undercover Democrat), he will work tirelessly towards dismantling the Republican Party. This from a guy who I once heard described as a "Republican strategist".

It can happen. We could be looking at welcome respite from the kleptocons for long enough to regain some national sanity.

David Brin said...

Excellent missive from Zorgon (and not only because this time he agrees with me!;-) Those are excellent and informative reference-links. Alas, though, I cannot claim to be anywhere near as optimistic as Zorgon, that the GOP and its affiliates will simply implode after taking its punishment at the polls.

1) If the defeat is only narrow, or even normal, in proportions, this may drive elements of the mad coalition together, under Rove’s Big Tent, in order better to sabotage, obstruct and wage Culture War. Never forget the power of proportion-delusion... the ability of any Republican, any time, to counterbalance all of his side’s sins with a single mantra. “Clinton committed perjury!”

2) If it is a blow-out (please, God), there will be recriminations and strife on the right. But never forget the real powers that stand behind the ideologues. Rupert Murdoch, the Saudis, the Halliburton/Blackwater cabal... these people have the money and power and motivation to keep plenty of steam in the right wing boilers.

For this reason, we need to keep our eye on the neo-neo-neocon intelligencia that will start innovating fresh incantations, over at the Heritage Foundation et. al. And it is not too soon to start pondering a concerted, post election confrontation of Fox. The most common mistake of moderates is not to follow victories with further body blows to the defeated foe. Yes, that’s not nice and we should never do it to honorable adversaries who played fair.

But Fox never played fair. It is a commercial enterprise, remember. After defeating its shills, we need to start telling its advertisers a thing or two.

3) Zorgon lists a whole series of initiatives that the GOP has failed to pass, in recent months... but it is all minor stuff. None of it even remotely important. What IS important is that Bush et al continue to harass, oppress and cripple the United States Civil Service, the FBI, the Intelligence Community and the Officer Corps... and thus the normal operation of the government that we pay for continues to be stymied. And WILL continue to be stymied for a ‘whole nother year.’

And, meanwhile, the mega-theft of a titanic kleptocratic raid continues. Secret mercenary armies continue to build. The supremely competent and professional real Army continues to decline toward exhaustion and ruined reputation. Our allies are driven ever-farther away, our popularity shrivels away and any chance of American influence over a rapidly changing world evaporates into a fume of derision.

Zorgon, do not lecture me about the lesson of Japan in the 1980s. I was among the very few who, at that time, laughed and said “this will pass.” Indeed, I nurse fond hopes (please, God) that this robust and resilient nation will overcome every injury that has been done to it by a gang of vicious traitors and thieves. But it won’t be easy. And meanwhile, Civil War Part III still rages across the land.

Hawker, actually, I think the Green Party surge on the left is a real possibility. Remember Nader, who helped make the mess we’re in. On the other hand, the Republican infrastructure is hugely pervasive and powerful at lower levels -- the states and counties.

Which brings me to point #4) This will only have a real happy ending if a dozen states also swing hard, in November. If that happens -- if the GOP is tossed out across such a wide scale -- then the gerrymandering pendulum will swing hard, having two effects. (a) reinforcing the Dems’ victory for 2010 and (b) over a longer term, making the dems the Party of Gerrymandering and finally making this a national issue, with one party (the GOP) demanding it be put front and center.

When that happens, just watch me put on my elephant costume, for a little while.

-------
I’ve just returned from Liechtenstein where I consulted with a bunch of “private wealth bankers” who were curious about this “transparency” thing. In attendance were some gilded families including the Prince Regent of Liechtenstein, (who later hosted us in his castle), a Norwegian princess and a fellow who shook my hand and simply murmured the word “Hapsburg.” I doubt if I made much of a dent with my counter-intuitive notions. But I came away deeply impressed with European linguistic skills. Yes, English is the international language. Still, for a room full of native German speakers to hold an entire conference in English, almost solely on my account, was remarkable..

And now the key question -- do I sound any different? I don’t feel like a pod-person. Nor are there any signs (yet) of Struldbrug-induced cancer. I’ll keep you posted. But maybe I am just not important enough. Sigh.

David Brin said...

This, as if in addendum, from Greg Bear:

"Fox News’ John Gibson launches into a vicious “har-har” tirade about Heath Ledger’s death, playing to an audience of supposedly hyper-moral, law-and-order conservatives, and how does he get away with it? Because Ledger once played a gay man in a movie. That is how lynching begins."

David Brin said...

Dang... no sooner did I ask for it...

Republicans make Fox News sick

"The point is that Fox News years ago made an obvious decision to appeal almost exclusively to Republican viewers. The good news then for Fox News was that it succeeded. The bad news now for Fox News is that it succeeded."

http://www.salon.com/opinion/feature/2008/01/31/fox_news/

Zechariah said...

Look, I am supporting Obama and I have many reasons to prefer that Hillary Clinton not be the democratic nominee. But people who rage at her because of one vote fall into the same GENERAL category as the fundies and neocons we are trying to defeat. Romantics who pick a single item to fixate upon...

By that standard Richard Nixon was a pretty good president. Ordering people to break into an office and then trying to cover it up is worse than Bills perjury, but not as bad (IMO) as voting for this trillion dollar boondoggle. And after all, he did do a lot of good. Got us into China? Signed some good envirnomental protections? He did keep Vietnam going, but overall he did a good job.

Except he was a lying creep and nothing he ever did could atone for his corruption.

David Brin said...

Oh how silly. He had all the power and deliberately abused it. Not just in Watergate but countless other times. HC was just a Senator, in a time of urgent crisis, who had to depend upon a respected Secretary of State to be doing his job and vetting the veracity of a President who had just said we were in dire danger.

That "adult in the room" let her down, as he did the rest of us. But your convenient amnesia forgets how it really seemed we were on a roll. Afghanistan had the world deeply impressed. We seemed justified AND invincible.

Moreover, we OWED the people of Iraq some kind of correction of the Betrayal of 1991, when Bush Sr. stabbed them in the back. Saddam was our monster.

None of which is to say that I agree with her vote. I found it blithering nonsense to claim that we were in immediate danger from Iraqi WMDs - and the govt's refusal to even consider offering an alliance to the Iranians, who had lost a million sons to Saddam, was proof that the neocons had something in mind other that justice or efficient realpolitik.

But I refuse to condone one--moment romantic purity in politics. Nixon had a LOT more than one moment to atone for. And Republicans who shriek "Clinton's perjury!" over and over are NOT role models to emulate.

Gilmoure said...

Interesting article in Scientific American on transparency in business: Do All Companies Have To Be Evil?

Discussing Enron, early on:Evil often happens in hidden places, removed from social accountability, such as in the deep recesses of Abu Ghraib. The first line of defense against evil, then, is transparency, open communication and the constant surveillance of every aspect of a system. Kinder—known at Enron as “Doctor Discipline”—demanded up-to-the-minute reports such that he always knew who was doing what to whom and when. As one long-term Enron executive recollected, “Kinder would sit in that room with his yellow pad, and he knew every goddamned thing happening in that company.”

In political news: Nader Ponders Run for White House.

Looks like the spoiler's thinking of muddying the waters again.

David Brin said...

Re oil companies, there have always been "less evil" companies. ARCO under Thornton Brandshaw. And now British Petroleum, whose chief Scientist is Steve Koonin, my old Caltech classmate and a brilliant guy. Google him and his recent talks. Great ostrich ammo.

Nader is a freaking maniac, a poster boy for self-righteousness addiction. Too stupid to even realize that his OWN side has passed him by, with ever-more liberals and environmentalists turning toward nuclear power as a safe stopgap against climate change.

Rob said...

Sorry, David, you still sound like you. Nice of the Prince to host you at his home, though. I am too hoi polloi to have ever met that crowd; the most I rated was a baker from Salzburg who was born in that city's castle. His father was the painter...

WA caucuses Saturday after next! I've been watching the training videos...

Sidereus said...

We were recently discussing SETI and proactive broadcasts:

NASA on Monday will broadcast the Beatles’ song “Across the Universe” across the galaxy to Polaris, the North Star.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22951001/

Pffft. Dolphins :-) Watch these otters! Guranteed to bring a smile. Otters holding hands:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=epUk3T2Kfno

Anonymous said...

Re: Transparency in Corporations

All of Enron's problems were well reported in documents to stockholders (that remained mostly unread, due to the sheer length of the documents).

In sharp contrast, it was private individual/s who ordered the tests on lead painted toys (due in part to recognizing the color in stockholder documents). By shorting the relevant stocks (after they got the lab tests back), they made a killing.

Even the market can correct itself, if the people within the market are intelligent enough.

Stefan Jones said...

Thumbs up to Rob for being an election (Caucus) worker.

My parents do this. Free lunch and a few dollars.

Nausicaa said...

Hmmm… just finished reading David Brin's juxtaposition of my earlier comment on this thread with - GASP! - “[those] people who rage at [Hillary Clinton] because of one vote [and who] fall into the same GENERAL category as the fundies and neocons we are trying to defeat… Romantics who pick a single item to fixate upon.... precisely the way Republicans will shriek ‘perjury!’ at you over and over and over again, when you try to point out the overall good presidency of Bill Clinton.”

LOL

Well, I am certainly not one of those people and the article I was referencing (H.J.Res. 114 - Why did they do it?) doesn’t particularly strike me as operating on the basis of “a catechism of reflex answer for anything one might say” --- have you even read it? As for Romanticism, well, it’s a movement which had been associated with the paintings of Eugene Delacroix (Liberty Leading the People) and the novels of Victor Hugo (Les Miserables and Ninety-Three)---things, a libertarian like yourself would relate to, one can imagine---so I guess, I am in good company, and I’ll take that as a compliment. LOL… No hard feelings.

You say in your response that you “would not have minded a bit going on to surgically remove Saddam Hussein...,” but seriously now, you know better than that, don’t you? And I know you know that no informed politicians worth their salt could seriously have thought for a second that removing surgically Saddam Hussein without it resulting in civil war or us installing another dictator, or (if we were so lucky) a client regime was even remotely possible, and you know that too. I think there can be no doubt that the Bush administration knew that. The Project for the New American Century, which is said to have been influential in this administration’s policy, was very clear about that too. Those who told the people that our soldiers would be welcomed as liberators and greeted with flowers were not deluded (they knew better), they were just trying to present the invasion of Iraq as something it was not (people are more willing to support a war if they are told they are fighting for a noble cause, and, most importantly, that it will be a bed of roses.)

As Tom Bombadil put it:

What's wrong about this picture, what's so terribly wrong about it, is not whether or not conducting regime changes throughout the globe is the right thing (ethically or geopolitically) to do for the US, it's not the exhortations of the PNAC or the recommendations of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq - a more recent group staffed entirely by PNAC members (this is a free country, anyone is entitled to their own opinion), and it is not what people are saying now about "the flaws in the conception and horrendously bad execution" of the "liberation" of Iraq, or the "incompetence of the Bush administration," or whether or not the "surge" is working.

What's wrong with this picture is that, for better or for worse, what Hillary Clinton alluded to in her speech (the creation of "the possibility of a secular democratic state in the Middle East"), what the PNAC envisioned (regime change, or "a substantial American force presence in the Gulf"), are NOT what H.J.Res. 114 spoke of: This is not the mandate this president was given to execute. It is not what congress was told. It is not what the American people were told at the onset of the invasion. What America was told was that Saddam Hussein's possession or imminent development of nuclear and biological weapons and his purported ties to al-Qaeda made his regime a "grave and growing" threat to the United States and the world community.


You say, in your response that "THE WAR IN IRAQ IS NOT THE ISSUE!" [emphasis yours]

Well, I couldn’t agree with you more, this is not about IRAQ, it’s about AMERICA.

And it’s about our institutions.

It’s about how straightforward the people, who represent us and speak for us, are.

And so ultimately, yes, it’s about philosophy. Philosophy and… the notion of Noble Lies:

A martial elite lies to its people about the need for war---and feels righteous about it.

And the question is this:

Does the current administration believe in our institutions or does it think that something more transcendent, such as "manifest destiny" or maybe "divine providence" or just simply the belief that it "knows better", somehow supersedes those institutions and imbues it with some sort of a "mission," perceived or imagined, that gives it (in its mind) the right or the duty to govern by deception?

As for senator Clinton, well, CNN moderator Wolf Blitzer’s question to Hillary Clinton in which he asked her if she was willing to admit she made a mistake with her vote, says it all:

"You were naive in trusting President Bush?" Blitzer asked.

This is where it all stops making sense to me. (A Lieutenant Columbo moment, if you will.)

Because, you see, a lot of things can be - and have been - said about Hillary Clinton BUT "politically naive" is not one of them.

What gave then?

All the things developed in the article i was referencing (H.J.Res. 114 - Why did they do it?), Hillary already knew at the time --- and more (if she is worth her salt, as a Senator.)

Why did she vote the way she did?

She has never been able to present a clear and convincing explanation of why she voted the way she did in spite of everything she knew.

Where was she when Senator Byrd argued on the floor of the Senate that the resolution amounted to a "blank check" for the White House. Didn’t she hear him? What part of "blank check" exactly didn't she understand.

Hillary Clinton's argument that she was misled by the Bush administration is unconvincing. Or else, Wolf Blitzer was right and Hillary Clinton is politically naive.

BUT I do not believe that she is. In fact, everything we know about Hillary Clinton (including the speech she gave on the floor of the senate that day), all seem to point out that in fact she did know better!

So, no one is "raging" against the Senator here, but people want to understand. And, I think that it is a good thing that they do ask questions, especially during an election in which the Senator is running for the Presidency.

QED

Anonymous said...

I understand your affection for the Clintons, Dr. Brin. The first time I ever voted was for Bill.

He's a very charismatic guy, and always had the sense to use Vaseline when he buggered the American People.

However, it's important to understand what's happening right now, and why endorsements are falling the way they are. The endorsements Obama has been getting left and right all have one thing in common - they are from Senators and Congressmen who are not part of the DLC.

The DLC strategy was to throw "red states" over board, and in pushing another Clinton they are knowingly continuing the same "strategy" that mirrors and plays into Roves hands.

Senator Kennedy has declared all out war on them for the heart and soul of the party, even if he hasn't mentioned them by name. It was Teddy that got Dean into the Chairmanship, and gave us the "every State" strategy of 2006.

The DLC are not "pragmatists", they are a coalition of wedge-and-split power hungry animals that see politics as a way to personal wealth.

The DLC strategy of merely "mobilizing" with negative slams on the opposition, and their "people vote angry" mantra is still from the same playbook as Roves, even if it contains fewer outright lies.

See also : the Clinton camps mailers in NH accusing Obama of not supporting a Woman's right to choice, based on present votes that were requested by planned parenthood.

It's a "strategy" based on ignoring root causes of crime and drug addiction, while throwing 100,000 more cops on the street and expanding prisons, then claiming victory when the Crack Wars ran their course like every other major drug epidemic in our history.

It's a strategy that relies on people not noticing hundreds of millions in aid to Suharto while he butchered the Timorese, so long as gas prices stayed low at the pump.

It's a strategy that relies on people ignoring that only 2,000 people had been killed in Slobadons ethnic cleansing before we started bombing, and that the end result of our intervention was exactly the ethnic cleansing he had sought to achieve in the first place!

It's a strategy that requires that otherwise intelligent people fail to notice that there is no evidence that our bombing, completely illegal under international law, can be reasonably claimed to have lowered the death toll involved in achieving that ethnic cleansing one iota.

It’s a strategy that requires that we ignore who first authorized “extraordinary rendition” and outsourced torture, and who first gave billion dollar no-bid contracts to Halliburton.

It’s a strategy that requires that we ignore that the biggest proponents of media consolidation and the largest banks responsible for both the mortgage and credit card crises are among Clintons top campaign donors, while 90% of Obamas donations have come from private citizens, and the average amount is under 100 dollars.

It’s a strategy which requires who deregulated media ownership in the first place, and allowed a politically biased 1,100 station behemoth like Clear Channel to rise.

This is the wing of the Party that has ignored voter suppression and voter fraud, refusing to stand up for our most crucial right.

While "being against Globalization" is like being against earthquakes, being against NAFTA is like being against shutting down hospitals the moment an earthquake happens. The results have been a disaster for the US and for Mexico, and are the primary cause of the huge wave of illegal immigration we have seen in the last decade. I can explain why if you don't already know.



Today, the DLC employs people fresh off the Christian Coalition boat, like Marshall Wittman, who attacked Democratic Senators for questioning Bush's' pure and noble motives for illegal wiretapping.

The DLC is not “moderate”, it is utterly and completely without vision, without ethics, without morals, and without any goal but political power and the wealth it can bring.

Electing Hillary means losing this fight for the Democratic Party.

Bill and Hillary were worth just under 1 million when they entered the White House, and are worth over 60 million today.

Jimmy Carter was worth just under a million when he entered the White House, and is worth just over 4 million today.

Now, he's certainly not living in a mud hut, but this ought to tell us something about priorities.

Throwing out a straw woman wearing a blue dress when we discuss this is merely avoiding the argument.

I don't know any Democrats, and very few independents, who give a fat rats ass what Bill used for an improvised humidor, this is about Clinton policies and alliances.

I know you support Senator Obama, and I know you oppose dynastic political families, but remember that Clinton required NOTHING from the PRC in return for essentially ignoring Tiananmen ... and never batted an eye about maintaining most favored nation trading status for that nation, whose human rights violations make Iran look like the Netherlands.

Added -

Senator Clinton did not just vote for authorization to use force, she voted against the Levin amendment which would have required Bush to come back for approval before launching a war.

By the time he was ready to invade, we had the report of inspectors screaming that Saddam was complying, and we knew to a virtual certainty that he had no significant stockpiles.

Plenty of others had the judgment not to vote for this war, and to realize that we did not "owe" the Iraqi people "shock and awe".

Some of us see Kipling's ironic bitter grin as he wrote The White Mans Burden.

Allyourbase-R-belong2us said...

Reading Nausicaa's comment further above, I come to notice on the part of Mr. Brin, whom I respect as a SF writer (I am one of his most enchanted readers) a certain tendency to disparage and label as "one of those" the posters on this thread who happen to disagree with him (I don't hold it against him, we all are only humans, I am sure we all do it to one degree or another, even those among us we admire), so before I start let me emphatically stress here, that I am not a conspiracy theorist, and that I am not now, nor have I ever been among those who have been nurturing some kind of obsessive personal animosity towards either Hillary Clinton or "the overall good presidency of Bill Clinton."

Nausicaa, above, mentioned a "Lieutenant Colombo" moment when CNN moderator Wolf Blitzer asked Hillary Clinton if she was willing to admit she made a mistake with her vote on Joint Resolution 114:

"You were naive in trusting President Bush?" Blitzer asked.

Well, I am no Lieutenant Columbo, and I am no Sherlock Holmes, either---I am not a complicated person, and I usually relate more easily with the simple common sense of the Show Me state than with that of the great detective---but I know what Sherlock Holmes would have said:

“Elementary, my dear Watson."

"Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth."

What it appears to me, is that the project of the PNAC is well and alive!

It is in fact doing VERY WELL!

The AIPAC wants it.

The PNAC spelled it out.

And the show must go on. Which was practically a given once the first step was taken: once the Saddam Hussein regime was toppled, EVERYONE MODERATELY KNOWLEDGEABLE ABOUT GEOPOLITIC KNEW that there would be no turning back. Or, very certainly, no easy way of doing so, in any case. A fact that Senator Obama had warned about in his famous speech on 26 October 2002 at an anti-war rally in Chicago, and a fact that he reiterated on Thursday night (Los Angeles, 31 January 2008) when he said "it is important for us to be as careful getting out as we were careless getting in."

Barack Obama also said "We shouldn't have invaded in the first place. It was part of the reason that I think it was such a profound strategic error for us to go into this war in the first place."

Well, it depends on one's viewpoint. There are those who did not think it was a mistake then, and who still do not think that it is a mistake now. It is only a mistake from the viewpoint of all of those among us who do not share the PNAC's neoconservative approach to foreign policy and the AIPAC's Likudist policies toward the Middle East, BUT insofar as the Bush administration is concerned, well, he said it all, when he said "mission accomplished": the Pandora’s box is opened - good luck trying to shut it done. Or as Macbeth put it (Act III, scene iv):
I am in blood
Stepp'd in so far, that, should I wade no more,
Returning were as tedious as go o'er.


The people of this once great nation were deceived, not just about the nonexistent WMD in Iraq, BUT about the true nature of the Bush administration commitment there.

And for all the heavy criticism of the PNAC, its ongoing influence on our Foreign Policy has not been repudiated. As a matter of fact, and for all practical purposes, if one reads the PNAC's "fundamental propositions," one can see that we are right on course.

For all the protests around the world (which James F. Moore dubbed at the time, The Second Superpower Rears its Beautiful Head), the manufactured reality envisioned by the PNAC/AIPAC for the Middle East is the world we live in right now.

Nothing has changed.

Don't you find it a great irony that unless Senator Barack Obama wins the nomination for the Democratic party, what we are going to have, yet again, in the general election, are possibly some of the most hawkish candidates of either party.

So very little has changed:

Dear Mr. President,

[The letter was originally written to George W. Bush on September 20, 2001 by the members of the PNAC, but the prime directive has not changed very much, just fill in the blank with the name of the prospective presidential candidates:

Dear John McCain (or whoever ends-up the war nominee for the much coveted 911 Presidency in the Republican party)

Or, Dear Hillary Clinton (the most hawkish Democrat of them all)

We write to endorse your admirable commitment to “lead the world to victory” in the war against terrorism. We fully support your call for “a broad and sustained campaign” against the “terrorist organizations and those who harbor and support them.”
(…)
We agree with Secretary of State Powell’s recent statement that Saddam Hussein “is one of the leading terrorists on the face of the Earth….”
(…)
…the administration should consider appropriate measures of retaliation against these known states [Iran and Syria] sponsors of terrorism.

Israel has been and remains America’s staunchest ally against international terrorism, especially in the Middle East. The United States should fully support our fellow democracy in its fight against terrorism. We should insist that the Palestinian Authority put a stop to terrorism emanating from territories under its control and imprison those planning terrorist attacks against Israel. Until the Palestinian Authority moves against terror, the United States should provide it no further assistance.
(…)
A serious and victorious war on terrorism will require a large increase in defense spending… We urge that there be no hesitation in requesting whatever funds for defense are needed to allow us to win this war.


Amen!

As Gail Collins (while not being Sherlock Holmes, Gail Collins sometimes has some solid good sense about her) plainly observed on November 1, 2007 already, in an op-ed published in the New York Times, Hillary Clinton is relying on her Democratic audience to understand that all her peculiar positions and triple-waffles have to do with a fear of being demagogued by the Republicans in the general election. But you would have to be a very, very committed Hillaryite to be comfortable listening to two solid hours of dodging and weaving on everything from her vote on the Iran resolution to her husband’s attempt to keep records of their White House communications secret until after 2012. (“... Certainly we’ll move as quickly as our circumstances and the processes of the National Archives permits.”)

But, but, what of the will of the people, will you say?

Aren’t people tired of the war?

I’ll answer with another question.

Who has been supporting the most warmongering candidates in this election?

Who elected George W. Bush for a second term?

Who is supporting Hillary Clinton in this primary?

Although, Hillary Clinton has been making some noise to appease the growing anti-war sentiments in her base, I think everyone knows better.

But people just “don’t want to know.” A large segment of the people don’t want to know. Just as they did not want to know about George W. Bush in 2004.

Gail Collins, again:

“Well, first of all, I am against a rush to war,” [Hillary Clinton] said. That would have been disturbing even if she had not attacked the idea of "rushing to war" twice more in the next 60 seconds. Being against a rush to another war in the Middle East seems to be setting the bar a tad low. How does she feel about a measured march to war? A leisurely stroll? And how could she have voted for an Iran resolution that was sponsored by Joseph Lieberman, who was basically drummed out of his party in Connecticut because of his hyperhawk stance on Iraq?

The rallying cry of 2004 was “anyone but Bush.”

And who did we get?

The rallying cry of 2008 is anyone but a warmonger.

And who will we get?

The names on the Billboard are changing but the show must go on, and the production remains the same.

And the names have a lot of star appeal.

In 2000, it was Bush - the son of the 41th President!

And Bush again in 2004.

Now what? Clinton 2008 - the spouse of the 42nd President!!!

Can Mr. Smith go to Washington?

Could he ever?

I can’t wait for the 2016 Billboard:

Chelsea Clinton vs. Jeb Bush ???

Nausicaa said...

FOREIGN POLICY IN FOCUS:

Foreign Policy In Focus (FPIF) is a project of the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC.

FPIF is a "Think Tank Without Walls" that brings together over 600 writers, scholars, academics, artists and activists to connect research and action on United States foreign policy.

The foundation of FPIF's work is rooted in believing that "U.S. security and world stability are best advanced through a commitment to peace, justice and environmental protection as well as economic, political, and social rights."

This is how FPIF feels about this:

Perhaps the most terrible legacy of the administration of President George W. Bush has been its utter disregard for such basic international legal norms as the ban against aggressive war, respect for the UN Charter, and acceptance of international judicial review. Furthermore, under Bush’s leadership, the United States has cultivated a disrespect for basic human rights, a disdain for reputable international human rights monitoring groups, and a lack of concern for international humanitarian law.

Ironically, [Hillary Clinton] the current front-runner for the Democratic nomination for president shares much of President Bush’s dangerous attitudes toward international law and human rights.


The complete commentary, Hillary Clinton on International Law, was published on December 11, 2007, and deserves, I think, to be read from beginning to end. One may agree or disagree with Stephen Zunes on any of the points the author brings up in this essay. But regardless of how one might feel about Hillary Clinton one way or another, the article raises questions about many issues that are often overlooked in terms of where it is people feel this country stands in terms of foreign policy and whether it is or not up to the people to decide what the right course is for their nation or for mankind at large, individually and collectively.

There are some who claim that people "can't handle the truth," and that this is why the conduct of such matters as Foreign Policy should be left to those "who know," tough-minded people like G.W. Bush or Dick Cheney, people of "experience" like Hillary Clinton, people who have access to "intelligence" provided by agencies such as the CIA, intelligence which they cannot share with the common people. They contend that Foreign policy is so complex and so far reaching that it goes way above the head of the average folks and should therefore be left to those who “know better,” people who will do all the thinking for us, people who will do the right thing for the best interest of the people and, as they see it, humanity at large.

If this is the world you live in and you are happy with it. This is fine. For one's own peace of mind, this is evidently best.

After all what can anyone do? Isn't it the way the world has always been?

There are those who believe a better world is possible.

In "The One Percent Doctrine" Ron Suskind reminds us of the "awesome power" that rises from the ‘informed consent’ of the governed, and asks what should inform that consent. He suggests that consent is traditionally informed by facts, but that the reality is that people’s consent is manipulated by appeals to faith, fear, or fictions.

Stephen Zunes echoes a similar concern:

Though an overwhelming majority of Americans, according to public opinion polls, believe that human rights should be a cornerstone of American foreign policy, Senator Clinton has repeatedly prioritized the profits of American arms manufacturers and the extension of Washington’s hegemonic reach in parts of the world. Similarly, a Hillary Clinton presidency would simply be a continuation of the efforts by the Bush administration to undermine the UN Charter and the basic international legal framework in place for much of the past century. Historically, it has been the right wing of the Republican Party that has opposed international legal restrictions on the activities of the United States and its allies to advance America’s hegemonic agenda. Now, however, the front runner for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination also shares this view, indicating a clear break with the internationalist and law-based principles espoused by such previous Democratic leaders as Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and Harry Truman. Indeed, Senator Clinton’s notions of what constitutes the legitimate use of force by the United States are so extreme, she would – if elected – likely become the most aggressive-minded Democratic president since James K. Polk.

The coming primaries and caucuses will test whether the Democratic Party can make a firm break with the hegemonic, unilateralist, and militaristic agenda of the Bush administration, or simply pursues an only somewhat nuanced version of the current dismissive attitudes toward human rights and international law that amounts to little better than Bush Lite.